Author Archives: Europe correspondent

Barnier warns Brexit talks running out of time

Britain’s proposals on its future relationship with the European Union contain constructive elements, but many questions remain, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said.

In a press statement Barnier ensured that he will continue discussion with Dominic Raab in a constructive way, suggesting the main focus must be the finalisation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

“Let me recall that the Withdrawal Agreement is the prerequisite for an orderly withdrawal, for the transition period, and for creating the trust that we need to build a solid partnership for the future” – Barnier said.

The border issue between Ireland and Northern Ireland is in first ranks, Barnier continued, because Europe is committed to protect Ireland and Northern Ireland against the consequences of Brexit and to preserve the Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions.

“Let me simply recall the commitment taken by Prime Minister Theresa May to have a backstop in her letter to President Tusk in March. The respect of this commitment is essential” – Barnier reminded. He also made clear to Dominic Raab  that “we are not asking for a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. What we need is checks on goods because the UK wants to leave the Single Market, the Customs Union and our common commercial policy”.

Barnier pointed out that the time is running out, asking UK to continue working on issues without pause.

“We are open to any solutions as long as they are workable and can be transformed into a legally operative text in time for the Withdrawal Agreement”.

However, he underlined that it is also EU27 responsibility to be prepared for all scenarios, including a “no deal”, quoting the European Council request to be prepared for for “all scenarios”.

“We are encouraging national administrations and companies to use the time we have, which is very short, to accelerate this preparation” – Barnier concluded.

 

Mogherini announces diplomatic nominations

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini announced the nomination of 24 new Heads of EU Delegations:

Luigi SORECA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Albania. He is currently serving as Director for Security in DG HOME, European Commission.

Jan SADEK has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Botswana.  He is former Swedish Ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Bertrand SORET has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Chad. He is currently serving as Head of the Political, Press and Information Section in the EU Delegation to Democratic Republic of Congo.

Nicolas CHAPUIS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to China. He is former Ambassador of France to Canada.

Raul MATEUS PAULA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Congo.  He is currently serving as Head of the EU Delegation to Niger.

Meglena KUNEVA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Council of Europe (Strasbourg). She is a former Minister of Education and Science, Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria for European Policies and a former EU Commissioner.

Carl HARTZELL has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Georgia. He is currently serving as Senior Foreign Policy Adviser in the Cabinet of the President of the European Council.

Diana ACCONCIA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Ghana. She is currently serving as Head of Unit for Economic Partnership Agreements and relations with Africa, Caribbean and Pacific in DG TRADE, European Commission.

Josep COLL I CARBO has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Guinea.  He is former Head of EU Delegations to Benin and Cape Verde.

Jobst VON KIRCHMANN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Cote d’Ivoire. He is currently serving as Head of Unit Southern Africa and Indian Ocean in DG DEVCO, European Commission.

Patricia FLOR has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Japan. She is currently serving as Ambassador, Director General for International Order, UN and Arms Control in the German Foreign Office and is a former EU Special Representative for Central Asia.

Sven-Olov CARLSSON has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Kazakhstan.  He is currently serving as Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Russia.

Eduard AUER has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Kyrgyzstan.  He is currently serving as Head of the EEAS Western Balkans Division.

Alan BUGEJA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Libya.  He is former Ambassador, Representative of Malta to the European Union Political and Security Committee.

Giovanni DI GIROLAMO has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Madagascar. He is currently serving as Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Nicaragua and Chargé d’Affaires a.i. to Panama.

Sandra PAESEN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Malawi. She is currently serving as Head of the Political, Press and Information Section in the EU Delegation to Uganda.

Antonio SANCHEZ-BENEDITO has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Mozambique. He is currently serving as Head of the EU Delegation to Madagascar and Comoros.

Denisa-Elena IONETE has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Niger. She is currently serving as Head of the EU Delegation to Chad.

Irene MINGASSON has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Senegal. She is currently serving as Head of Unit for Regional Cooperation in the Southern Neighbourhood in DG NEAR, European Commission.

Sinead WALSH has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to South Sudan. She is currently serving as Deputy Director Multilateral Unit, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland.

Marilyn JOSEFSON has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Tajikistan. She is currently serving as Deputy Ambassador of Sweden to the European Union Political and Security Committee.

Walter STEVENS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the United Nations (Geneva). He is currently serving as Permanent Chair of the European Union Political and Security Committee.

Stavros LAMBRINIDIS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the United States of America. He is currently serving as EU Special Representative for Human Rights.

Timo OLKKONEN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe. He is currently serving as Ambassador of Finland to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

 

Criminal tiger trade in Europe florishes

Prague, 18 July 2018 – Recent police raids in the Czech Republic as well as research by the international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS show that tiger trade is not only an issue in Asia: The lucrative commercial trade with a highly protected species and their parts is happening right in the centre of Europe as wellOn Monday 15th July the Czech police along with custom officers raided properties in Prague and in central and northern Bohemia in suspicion of illegal killing of tigers and possession of tiger products.

On the 18th July the Czech authorities announced that they seized a recently killed tiger at one of the properties and that one of the suspects was processing tiger bones and other tiger products. The suspects were shooting the tigers in the eyes to not damage the skins and that the tigers were killed and used to make tiger broth. Furthermore, the Czech authorities also raided the Vietnamese market, Sapa in Prague and discovered tiger meat and products on sale.

One of the target facilities raided this week belonged to well-known circus leader, Mr. Ludvik Berousek. FOUR PAWS research conducted in June show a meeting with Mr. Berousek where he proudly showed his tiger breeding facility near Prague and discussed the sale of tigers to Asia. Mr Berousek offered to sell the tigers to Asian buyers and to help facilitate the documents and transfer and boasted that he had already sold tigers to China in the last three months.

“It is shocking how the EU does so much to combat the trade in wildlife in other parts of the world, but we have turned a blind eye to protecting an endangered species on our own doorstep. FOUR PAWS is calling on the European Commission to protect all tigers and to ban the commercial trade in live captive bred tigers. The EU should take a leading role in protecting these endangered species and ban all commercial trade ensuring tiger traders and businesses have no place in the EU” – Kieran Harkin, Head of Wildlife Campaigns at FOUR PAWS, stated.

Tigers: A highly endangered species
In the 20th century the world already lost over 90 per cent of its tigers with current estimates indicating that there are only about 3,900 tigers left in the wild. The relentless demand for tigers to be displayed commercially and traded for their body parts to be used in traditional Asian medicines significantly contributes to this decline. Shockingly, tigers born in captivity in Europe can still be traded for commercial purposes such as circuses or for private keeping or for photo opportunities. In some European countries it is not only possible to buy tigers but to also rent tigers for private parties.

How can this happen in an EU-country?
The European Union does not only lack effective regulation concerning the trade of tigers or their parts, there is also no clear overview of the actual number of captive tigers and trade of these animals. No authority, organisation or country knows how many tigers are currently kept in Europe, where they are moved during their lifetime or how they are used for entertainment purposes, where they die and finally whether in worst cases these animals are being turned into tiger bone wine or traditional medicines. Only by ensuring there is no market for tigers and their parts in Europe the European Commission can be serious about contributing to protecting wild living tigers in Asia and playing a positive role in fighting the illegal trade of all wildlife. FOUR PAWS has launched a petition today through which all supporters can call on the European Commission to ban the commercial trade in tigers: https://help.four-paws.org/en/ban-tiger-trade
ABOUT FOUR PAWS
FOUR PAWS is an international animal welfare organisation with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Founded by Heli Dungler in 1988, the organisation strives to help animals in need with sustainable campaigns and projects. The work is based on substantiated research and scientific expertise as well as intensive national and international lobbying. FOUR PAWS focuses on animals that are directly under human influence: stray dogs and stray cats, farm animals, companion animals and wild animals including bears, big cats and orangutans kept in inappropriate conditions. With offices in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, United Kingdom and USA, FOUR PAWS aims to help animals in need directly and quickly. www.four-paws.org

Image: FOUR PAWS below

Prague tiger

Image: FOUR PAWS: illegal tiger trade in Czech Republic

Norway joins EU measures against Russia over Crimea

In a declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the alignment of certain countries concerning restrictive measures in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, Federica Mogherini welcomed the decision of Montenegro, Albania, Norway, Ukraine and Georgia.

The Council extends the existing restrictive measures until 23 June 2019.

The Candidate Countries Montenegro and Albania, and the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and Georgia, align themselves with this declaration.

They will ensure that their national policies conform to this Council Decision.

The European Union takes note of this commitment and welcomes it.

Recently at Helsinki Summit President Vladimir Putin reiterated that Crimea joined Russia as a result of a democratic referendum.

“People in Crimea went to a referendum and voted for joining Russia. If this is annexation, what is democracy then?” Putin raised a rhetorical question. “We are aware of president Trump’s posture, that… Crimea is part of Ukraine,” Putin said. “He told me this today. I responded with the words pretty much similar to what I’ve said to you, and I think we should leave the discussion at that.”

Citizens of Crimean Republic votes to join Russian Federation in the aftermath of dramatic events of Euromaidan Revolution (2014) culminating in a violent overthrow of democratically elected President, and legitimate government.

Initially Crimea joined Russia as Tavrichesky region by ‘ukaz’ (1784) singed by Catherine the Great ending a protracted military campaign against Crimean Caliphate slave-trade, and systemic abduction of her subjects (mainly women and children) for sales at biggest  market between Europe and Asia. According to different historical sources from two to three million people passed through Caliphate slave market by date.

Mid-July Crimean officials reported maximum of  31 thousand cars passing Crimean bridge à day, and one million vehicles crossed the bridge since opening in May.

 

 

Russia ready to prolong START nuclear treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he informed U.S. President Donald Trump about Russia readiness to extend the New START nuclear treaty expiring in 2021.

“I reassured President Trump that Russia stands ready to extend this treaty, to prolong it, but we have to agree on the specifics at first, because we have some questions to our American partners,” Putin told Fox News in an interview after Helsinki summit with Trump.

The New START treaty, signed on April 8, 2010, agrees for deployable nuclear warheads and bombs to be capped at no more than 1,550. It limits deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and nuclear bombers to 700 and non-deployed ICBMs, SLBM and bombers to 800.

The treaty lasts for 10 years and can be extended by up to five years. The New START treaty gave both countries until February this year to reach the treaty limits.

Putin arrived to Helsinki

President of Russian Federation Vladimir Putin arrived to Helsinki for his bilateral meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump. Although there is no official agenda, two leaders are expected to cover not only bilateral relations, but a broader range of international issues: conflict in Syria, Donbass, nuclear deal with Iran (JCPOA), and North Korean non-proliferation in first ranks. Ahead of the talks between two delegations, Trump-Putin will have a tete-à-tete meeting, where only two interpretors would be present. The press-conference is announced by the end of the Summit.

The expectations of the international community are high, especially for those who live in regions of conflict, wating the superpowers to start a dialogue to release tensions to benefit of all. The relations between Russia and the U.S. are at lowest since the times of Cold War.

The meeting of two leaders in the Finnish Presidentaial palace is expected to start around 13:00 (local time).

Trump: “Rigged Witch Hunt” damages relations with Moscow

Hours before the meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki President Donald Trump blamed “U.S. foolishness” for bad relations between Washington and Moscow, while the Kremlin said it expected a tough meeting.

President Trump wrote in his Twitter microblog that “foolishness and stupidity and now. the Rigged Witch Hunt” are causes of poor relations with Russia.

“…So common sense tells us that the countries of the world, especially European countries, should be interested in the normalization of relations between Moscow and Washington” – Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told ahead of the visit. However The Kremlin must be on alert in case the North Atlantic Treaty Organization increases the military budget. The Alliance is “an instrument of confrontation,” designed for the purpose, he continued. As NATO openly considers Russia an opponent, the government in Moscow is determined to ensure parity in weapons systems, including nuclear arms, Peskov said to RT TV channel.

 

« Older Entries