Category Archives: Conflict

EU €55M aid to Syria refugees

As part of the EU’s global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis has mobilised an additional €55 million for refugees from Syria and vulnerable persons in Jordan and Lebanon to fight the pandemic. It will provide critical and targeted support in key areas such as health, water, sanitation and hygiene. The newly adopted package brings the total assistance mobilised through the EU Trust Fund to over €2.2 billion since 2015, doubling the target originally set.

“Jordan and Lebanon are showing huge resilience and solidarity in hosting Syrian refugees. It is our duty to continue supporting them, especially in the current coronavirus pandemic situation. The EU will host the fourth Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region on 30 June in direct support of the UN efforts for a comprehensive political solution to the Syrian conflict and to mobilise necessary financial support for Syria and neighbouring countries. The Conference will also continue to provide a unique platform for dialogue with civil society organisations from the region,” High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security  Josep Borrell, said.

“Our continued commitment to support Syrian refugees and partner countries like Jordan and Lebanon hosting them remains unwavering. We are responding today to the urgent needs in fighting the COVID-19 crisis with a substantial and targeted assistance package. Despite the European Union’s continued strong solidarity with partner countries, the needs of the Syrian refugees continue to be important and cannot be neglected. In this regard, the 2020 Brussels IV Conference will provide an opportunity for the international community to mobilise the necessary financial assistance” Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, commented.

EU rejects Turkey migratory pressure

The Foreign Affairs Council adopted a statement on the crisis in Idlib and the situation at the EU external borders with Turkey. (Image: illustration).

In its statement, the Council acknowledges the increased migratory burden and risks Turkey is facing on its territory and the substantial efforts it has made in hosting 3,7 million migrants and refugees. The Council also strongly rejects Turkey’s use of migratory pressure for political purposes and restates that the EU and its member states remain determined to effectively protect EU’s external borders, in accordance with EU and international law.

In this context the Council reiterates the EU’s full solidarity with Greece, which faces an unprecedented situation, as well as with Bulgaria, Cyprus and other member states in their efforts to manage the EU’s external borders.

On Idlib, the Council notes that the recent and continuing offensive by the Syrian regime and its backers, including Russia, is creating untold human suffering and has provoked the worst humanitarian crisis since the beginning of the Syrian conflict.

The Council therefore calls for an urgent de-escalation of the conflict in Syria in order to avert a slide into international military confrontation, and prevent further suffering.

The Council notes the outcome of the Russia-Turkey meeting yesterday in Moscow and reiterates, in the strongest possible terms, its call on all parties to keep in place an immediate and a sustainable ceasefire, to guarantee the protection of civilians on the ground and from the air and to enable the unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance by the international community.

Idlib: Putin meets Erdogan “confidentially”

President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Recep Erdogan on March 4 that a face-to-face meeting was necessary amid the escalation in Idlib, Syria.

We always have something to talk about, but now the situation in the Idlib zone has escalated so much that this requires our face-to-face conversation,” the Russian leader said opening the Russian-Turkish talks.
According to Russia’s President, the situation in Idlib must be discussed in a key that it does not ruin Russian-Turkish relations.

We must definitely discuss everything, the entire situation we have today, so that similar things […] never happen again and so that […] it does not destroy the Russian-Turkish relations, which we — and I know that you too — treat carefully and prize highly,” Putin underlined.
Putin reiterated his condolences over the death of Turkish troops in Syria to Erdogan, underlining that the Syrian Army had been unaware of the Turkish forces’ location.

“I would like to reiterate my deepest condolences over the death of your troops in Syria,” Putin said to Erdogan. The Russian president added that “the loss of human life is always a tragedy.”

“Unfortunately, as I told you before in a phone call, no one, including the Syrian troops, was aware of their location,Putin said. He added that Syrian troops had likewise sustained losses recently.

Putin thanked Erdogan for finding the opportinity to travel to Moscow to hold the meeting. He noted that the conversation would begin “confidentially“, as the Turkish leader had asked, and later, if necessary, the two countries’ delegations would join it.

EU adds €170M aid to Syrians

“…In all our meetings I had the opportunity to express our understanding for the difficult situation Turkey is currently facing. But also I stressed that the current developments at the European borders are not leading to any solution” said EU top diplomat Josep Borrell adressing the crisis situation at EU-Turkey border. (Image above: illustration).

“Increased pressure at the European Union – Turkey border and unilateral actions are not bringing any positive answer. They are not bringing benefit to anyone. On the contrary it can only create problems and make the situation worse. And the ones who will pay the price are the people – the Syrian refugees and migrants.

“We also talked a lot about the situation in Idlib. Turkey and the European Union, have a common interest to end the conflict in Syria. We need to work hand in hand to address the common challenges. We need to cooperate in order to find a way to achieve this conflict. The situation is dramatic. The humanitarian consequences of military escalations are extremely grave. Humanitarian access needs to be urgently granted.”

“This is why today with my colleague the Commissioner in charge of crisis management [Janez Lenarčič] we have announced an additional €170 million in humanitarian aid to continue assisting the most vulnerable people in Syria, and among this money there are €60 million specially addressed to the humanitarian crisis in north-west Syria. The problem there is not funding, the problem is logistics, the problem is how to reach through the border, in a situation which is in the middle of the war, making every day more difficult to bring help to the people who need it…”

Idlib: NATO calls to stop offensive

The North Atlantic Council had a meeting upon Turkey request to hold consultations under article 4 of NATO’s founding Washington Treaty on the situation in Syria.

“Under article 4 of the Treaty, any Ally can request consultations whenever, in the opinion of any of them, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened. I spoke to the Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu last night about the situation in Syria” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at Turkey’s request for Article 4 consultations on the situation in Syria.

https://twitter.com/jensstoltenberg/status/1233353765476061184?s=21

“And he requested these consultations. Today Turkey briefed on the serious security situation in Syria. Allies offer their deepest condolences for the death of Turkish soldiers in last night’s bombing in Idlib. And expressed their full solidarity with Turkey.Allies condemn the continued indiscriminate air strikes by the Syrian regime and Russia in Idlib province. I call on them to stop their offensive. To respect international law. And to back UN efforts for a peaceful solution.

This dangerous situation must be deescalated and we urge an immediate return to the 2018 ceasefire. To avoid further worsening of the horrendous humanitarian situation in the region. And to allow urgent humanitarian access for those trapped in Idlib.

https://twitter.com/anadoluagency/status/1233363151032397825?s=21

Today’s meeting is a clear sign of solidarity with Turkey. Turkey is a valued NATO Ally and Turkey is the NATO Ally most affected by the terrible conflict in Syria, which has suffered the most terrorist attacks, and which hosts millions of refugees.NATO continues to support Turkey with a range of measures. Including by augmenting its air defences. This helps Turkey against the threat of missile attacks from Syria.

I thank Turkey for briefing Allies regularly on the situation in Syria.

Allies will continue to follow developments on the South-eastern border of NATO and to consult very closely”.

“…We also stated very clearly that we call on Russia and the Assad regime to stop the attacks, to stop the indiscriminate air attacks and also to engage and support UN-led efforts to find a lasting peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria. And we also call on Russia and Syria to fully respect international law. Because we have seen bombing of civilian targets, we have seen increased humanitarian suffering and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes. NATO Allies provide support for Turkey today. We augment their air defences, we have AWACS planes helping to patrol the skies, and we also have port visits and provide support in other ways. But Allies are constantly looking into what more they can do to provide further support for Turkey”.

https://twitter.com/russianembassy/status/1233406197845417984?s=21

Presidents Putin-Erdogan talks might take place on 5-6 March, Russian TASS news agency reports.

https://twitter.com/rt_com/status/1233436705434136576?s=21

Stoltenberg welcomes Afghanistan violence reduction

“I welcome today’s announcement that an understanding has been reached on a significant reduction in violence across Afghanistan.”
“This is a critical test of the Taliban’s willingness and ability to reduce violence, and contribute to peace in good faith.”

“This could pave the way for negotiations among Afghans, sustainable peace, and ensuring the country is never again a safe haven for terrorists.
NATO Allies have been in Afghanistan since 2001. NATO currently has 16,000 troops in the country to support the Afghan security forces with training and funding, so that they can create the conditions for peace. NATO remains committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security and stability”

EU focus on counter-terrorism in Iraq

The Minister of foreign affairs discussed the latest developments in Iraq. The diplomats have been assessing the consequences of the recent escalation of tension and major security incidents in Iraq and its impact on the entire the region. They also considered the impact of these developments on the international coalition engaged in the fight against Da’esh.

Ministers have exchanged views on possible ways to de-escalate tensions both in the short and long term.

Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO, invited to the Council has assessed the discussion with Foreign Ministers as important.

He expressed the opinion of a profound need to continue to support Iraq, fighting  international terrorism, and stay united in face of the threat.

JCPOA: Zarif invited to Brussels

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said that the recent developments in Iran and Iraq and the whole region are “extremely worrying”.

Subsequently the current situation puts at risk the efforts of the past years and also has implications for the “important work” of the Global Coalition Against Daesh, Borrell underlined.

The latest rocket attacks on air bases in Iraq used by the U.S. and the coalition forces, among them European forces, are yet another example of escalation and increased confrontation. It is in no one’s interest to turn up the spiral of violence even further” the diplomat said.

The EU diplomacy reacted upon the developments in Middle East with an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on January 10 to discuss what the European Union “can do in the short-, medium- and long-term to help stabilise the region”.

The EU diplomat refered to the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) with Iran as “more important than ever” because of it uniqueness in international relations, offering multilateral format of cooperation with Russia and China on the issues of security and non-proliferation.

Borrell has invited the Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran Javad Zarif to Brussels.

Maybe we will have a meeting soon in order to analyse together the situation of this agreement, into which the European Union has put a lot of effort in order to maintain it after the withdrawal of the United States” the diplomat said.

Once again he confirmed being “in touch” with all participants as coordinator to keep the “unity” of the group, of the European countries represented in the work of the JCPoA, and the importance of the full implementation by all parties.

EU welcomes Ukraine exchange of prisoners

“A significant exchange of detainees took place following an agreement reached by the Trilateral Contact Group” reads the statement of the European External Action Service on exchange of detainees between Kiev and sefl-proclaimed Republics of Donetsk and Lughansk.

“This is a welcome example of implementation of one of the measures agreed at the Normandy 4 Summit of 9 December. The European Union expects all parties to further build on this momentum. Work to implement the measures agreed at the Summit must continue.

“We take note of the exchange of people related to the tragic events on Maidan in 2014. We expect all accusations will continue to be investigated and the parties concerned to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.

“The European Union reaffirms its support to the work of the Normandy format, the OSCE and the Trilateral Contact Group. It stresses the importance of the implementation of the Minsk agreements in full, including a permanent ceasefire. It is the only way to reach a sustainable and peaceful solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The European Union remains in steadfast support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Kiev and Donbass exchange prisoners

Kiev is exchanging dozens of prisoners with the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics in the first time in two years. The swap is a direct result of the recent Normandy Four talks in Paris, hosted by President Macron.

The Donetsk authorities has handed over 51 people to Kiev, while receiving 61. The Lugansk region returned 25 and took in 63 prisoners; nine people held by Kiev refused to take part in the exchange.

The office of Ukrainian President confirmed that Kiev had received a total of 76 people from Donetsk and Lugansk.
Donetsk’s responsible for the exchange said their list could be longer, as some people asked to be repatriated shortly before the exchange.

The swap, carried out under an “all for all” formula, was the first since a similar humanitarian effort in December 2017.

The prisoner exchange was overseen by officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). No ceasefire violations were recorded on the frontier during the exchange operation.

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