Category Archives: Conflict

EU doesn’t recognise Taliban

Brussels 21.08.2021 The European Union has not recognised the Taliban, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Saturday, August 21, nor is it holding political talks with the militants, a week after they seized control of Afghanistan. However during her visit to Spain the EU top executive expressed determination to support Afghan people. (Image above: archive)

Von der Leyen noted that despite the Taliban’s rhetoric, accepting inclusive approach, there have already been numerous reports of oppression targeting women, revenge killings and abductions.

“Not a single euro can go to a regime … that denies women and girls their full freedom and rights to education and careers,” she said.

“The situation is still very unclear and very unpredictable,” she added. “We will measure [the Taliban] above all by their deeds and their actions.”

Borrell convenes urgent Council

Brussels 16.08.2021 “Following latest developments in Afghanistan, and after intense contacts with partners in the past days and hours, I decided to convene an extraordinary VTC (video-tele- conference) of EU Foreign Ministers FAC (Foreign Ministers Council) tomorrow afternoon for a first assessment” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

The EU’s relationship with Afghanistan is guided by the 2017 EU Strategy for Afghanistan, aimed at strengthening the country’s institutions and economy. The 2017 Cooperation Agreement provides the basis for developing a mutually beneficial relationship in several areas such as: human rights, the rule of law, health, rural development, education, science and technology, the fight against terrorism, organised crime and narcotics. Most recently, EU27 have given further steer in the May 2020 Conclusions of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council.

On 26 April 2021, the European Union and Afghanistan signed a Joint Declaration on Migration Cooperation. The Joint Declaration will help to address irregular migration and promote joint efforts in the fight against migrant smuggling and human trafficking and will facilitate the sustainable reintegration of people returning to Afghanistan by focusing on their individual needs and the needs of host and return communities, including opportunities for both skills development and employment.

The Joint Declaration continues the positive EU-Afghan cooperation achieved under the previous Joint Way Forward on Migration Issues, which expired earlier in April.

In line with the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, which places particular emphasis on strengthening partnerships between the EU and countries of origin and transit, the Joint Declaration brings significant improvements based on lessons learned from the implementation of the Joint Way Forward, including: a preference for the voluntary return of Afghan nationals, better protection of children, clearer definition of certain vulnerable groups, and a clarification that all EU Member States may participate in joint return operations by non-scheduled flights.

EU: concerns about sexual violence

Brussels 18.06.2021 “One year ago, the UN Secretary-General called for a cessation of violence both on battlefields and in homes. Yet his latest report shows that conflict-related sexual violence has continued unabated during the COVID-19 pandemic and remains a cruel and widespread tactic of war, torture, terror and political repression,

reads the Joint Statement by EU High Representative, Josep Borrell and UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten. The statement is issued on June 18, referring to the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

(Image: illustration).

“The report records cases of sexual violence against women detained for alleged violations of curfews and quarantines, as well as violations by armed groups that have taken advantage of the pandemic to intensify their operations and gain ground. The pandemic has also laid bare the intersecting inequalities that plague our societies, as compounded by conflict, displacement, and institutional fragility.

“We are deeply concerned about the impact on women and girls of recent events, including the use of sexual violence in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and the persistent threat and occurrence of sexual violence in many countries affected by conflict, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Colombia, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, as documented in the UN Secretary-General’s report.

“The level of compliance by all parties to conflict with international obligations, including relevant Security Council resolutions, remains low. Yet this does not deter us. We continue our work to implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda, to prevent conflict, and to uphold women’s rights, agency and safety.

“We urge all state and non-state parties to conflict to adopt specific commitments to address conflict-related sexual violence, which must include peacekeeping missions receiving the necessary budgetary allocations to properly implement their Women, Peace and Security mandates. The protection of survivors and a survivor-centred approach, including in terms of justice and reparations, is essential, particularly in fragile conflict-affected settings, and when survivors face multiple forms of stigma and discrimination.

“We are committed to keep strengthening our partnerships with civil society, women’s rights organisations, human rights defenders, peace builders and local and religious leaders. We look forward to the high-level meeting of the Generation Equality Forum in Paris on 30 June to 2 July, which provides an opportunity to accelerate the work to end sexual violence in peacetime, as well as during conflict by mobilising states and other stakeholders.

“Building back better in the wake of this pandemic requires political resolve and resources equal to the scale of the challenge. A gender-responsive and inclusive global recovery from COVID-19 should promote a new social contract in which no one in power is above the law, and no one rendered powerless is beneath its protection. Responses must be comprehensive, multisectoral, age-appropriate and survivor-centred, Survivors’ rights, needs and voices should inform national COVID-19 response and recovery plans.

“On this day, we call on all parties involved in armed conflicts to heed the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire and immediately end all acts of conflict-related sexual violence. We call on the international community to put the safety of women and girls first in the response to COVID-19. The goal of achieving safer, fairer, more secure and more peaceful societies will require the international community to demonstrate sustained vigilance and dedication”.

Georgia troops return from Afghanistan

Brussels 22.05.2021 Following an end to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission (RSM), Georgia has started pulling its troops out of Afghanistan. In Tbilisi, the Defence Ministry said on Friday, May 21, that 100 infantrymen of the Western Command’s 3rd Brigade were the first troops returning home. (Image above: illustration).

The unit was stationed under German forces at Camp Marmal in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, as part of RSM. Upon homecoming, the returnees were given at a welcome ceremony at the Vaziani Military Base near the capital Tbilisi.

Georgian Defence Minister Juansher Burchuladze, Defense Forces Chief Major General Giorgi Matiashvili and Ambassador Hubert Knirsch attended the event. Defense Minister Burchuladze said: “We are proud that Georgia significantly contributed to ensuring world peace in international missions.”

In April, NATO allies decided in to withdraw from the Resolute Support Mission with effect from May 1.

Prior to the withdrawal, Georgia was contributing around 860 servicemen to the mission in Afghanistan.

Gaza: Hamas inside AP building

Brussels 16.05.2021 Israel shared intelligence with the US showing how Hamas operated inside the same building with Associated Press and Al-Jazeera in Gaza, officials in Jerusalem said on Sunday, 16 May.

Officials in more than one government office confirmed that US President Joe Biden’s phone call to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, May 15, was, in part, about the bombing of the building, and that Israel showed Biden and American officials the intelligence behind the action.

We showed them the smoking gun proving Hamas worked out of that building,” a source close to Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said. “I understand they found the explanation satisfactory.”

Another senior Israeli official admitted that the fact that the bombing took place two days after a tweet by the IDF misled some foreign media into reporting that ground troops had entered Gaza made the situation more difficult, from a public diplomacy perspective.

EU: Gaza violence must stop

Brussels 13.05.2021 “The grave escalation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the major upsurge in violence in and around Gaza, must stop. This follows days of tension and clashes in Jerusalem, including at the holy sites and increasing violence in towns in Israel and the West Bank.

“The EU is dismayed at the large numbers of civilian deaths and injuries, including children. The priority must be to protect civilians. All efforts should be directed at avoiding civilian casualties, and supporting de-escalation.

“The indiscriminate launching of rockets from Hamas and other groups towards Israeli civilians is unacceptable.

“While recognising Israel’s legitimate need to protect its civilian population, this response needs to be proportionate and with maximum restraint in the use of force.

“The EU calls for an immediate end to the ongoing violence. Everything must be done to prevent a broader conflict, which will, first and foremost, affect the civilian populations on both sides. In Jerusalem, the status quo at the holy sites must be respected and freedom of worship guaranteed.

“I am in contact with the relevant parties in the region and with the international community, including through the Middle East Quartet, to de-escalate the situation as a matter of priority and to support efforts aimed at ending further violence”.

Taliban versus U.S.troops

Brussels 15.04.2021 International troops plan to stay in Afghanistan beyond the May deadline envisaged by the insurgent Taliban’s deal with the United States, four senior NATO officials said, a move that could escalate tensions with the Taliban demanding full withdrawal.

“There will be no full withdrawal by allies by April-end,” one of the officials told Reuters.

“Conditions have not been met,” he said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “And with the new U.S. administration, there will be tweaks in the policy, the sense of hasty withdrawal which was prevalent will be addressed and we could see a much more calculated exit strategy.”

The administration of then-President Donald Trump signed an agreement with the Taliban early last year calling for the withdrawal of all foreign troops by May in return for the insurgents fulfilling certain security guarantees.

Bardot defends N.Karabakh animals

Brussels,1.12.2020 Legendary French animal welfare defendant Brigitte Bardot, President of the Foundation bearing her name, addressed an open letter to the attention of the Presidents of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, regarding the dramatic situation of the abandoned animals of Nagorno-Karabakh. The thousands of abandoned animals of Nagorno-Karabakh were left behind after the military operations in disputed territory led to the massive exodus of Armenians.
In her letter Mme Bardot has drawn the attention of Presidents to the situation in the region, where the animal welfare activists were eager to come to rescue thousands of animals, mainly dogs and cats, but they are kept away from dangerous areas by the military, who conduct necessary works to remove munition, and explosives. The abandoned cats, dogs, and other domestic animals who suffer without care, deprived of water and of food, doomed to die painful death.

The animal welfare activists report about tens of thousands of abandoned animals, dying in absence of food and water. There are mutes of dogs, who are looking for food in vain in deserted villages in the regions around Nagorno-Karabakh. The only solution for the problem, is the inclusion of care for the abandoned animals into humanitarian missions, conducted by the Russian peacekeepers, and Azerbaijan regular army.

“Open letter to the attention of the Presidents
of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev

Dear Presidents,

I appeal to you not to forget about the abandoned animals of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The activists are eager to rescue them, but they are being kept away from the dangerous areas where military experts are working, and where there are thousands of dogs, cats and other abandoned domestic animals who are suffering without care, deprived of water and food.

Confronted with such a situation which could go on for some time and leave no chance of survival for the animals, I call you to include the caretaking of the abandoned animals in the humanitarian missions.

This dramatic situation of suffering of animals abandoned by people, mainly dogs and cats who have been our most faithful companions since the dawn of time, is a matter of great concern but trust in your good will to provide an exceptional aid during this transitional period after the entry into force of the ceasefire agreement inspires the hope that I place in you.
Caring for animals suffering along with humans from the consequences of conflicts and wars can only help to heal recent and old traumas that haunt humanity and, in this particular situation, would contribute significantly to the appeasement of the Nagorno-Karabakh region by encouraging people to build a better future for all.

The humanitarian and charitable missions towards the animals of Nagorno-Karabakh carried out under your orders, dear Presidents, are among the keys to this much desired peaceful future, which animal welfare groups are ready to support.

I look forward to receiving your positive response to my urgent appeal.

Please accept, dear Presidents, the assurance of my highest consideration”.

NK: EU expect full implementation of ceasefire

Brussels 11/23/2020 The “scorched earth” strategy of Armenians leaving the Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan did not escape the attention of the European Commission.
“We take note of various information and various complaints that come from the parties in the situation regarding Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions. Since there is no direct access to the territories, it is very difficult for us to verify these statements, and therefore I will not be able to answer specific accusations that concern the situation in these territories, but what is important, is the observance of the ceasefire regime, which must be fully implemented” the spokesperson said.

The EU was very clear in its expectations, the EU diplomat added, referring to the EU Declaration 27 of November 19,
underlining the “importance of guaranteeing humanitarian access and the best possible conditions for the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of the displaced populations in and around Nagorno-Karabakh”. The preservation and restoring the cultural and religious heritage in and around Nagorno-Karabakh was also included into the Declaration, along with the demand of investigation of “any war crimes that might have been committed”.

The EU is “closely watching how the situation, regarding the ceasefire”, which was concluded with the mediation of Russia and how it is being implemented on the ground, the spokesperson continued.

The media reports on the “scorched earth” strategy used by the Armenians leaving the Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan, have caused a great deal of concern of the ecologists, who have pointed at the disaster of the forests set ablaze, and the intentional destruction of unique flora and fauna of the mountains.

The “scorched earth” strategy that is prohibited by the 1977 Geneva Conventions, being defined as “war crime”. It has been reportedly used by local inhabitants of the Kelbajar region, while they were abandoning the area. They set ablaze houses, gardens, forests, and also massively culled animals, which can subsequently lead to sanitary problems. The pictured and videos of the devastation, and fires were shown on the CBC TV Azerbaijan channel.

Armenia receives hundreds of millions from the EU in to aid programmes, but now the government in Yerevan will face the multi-million claims of Azerbaijan for the damages to nature of Kalbajar caused intentionally, since the Minister of Ecology of Azerbaijan has already begun to prepare claims to the International Court in the Hague, the Azerbaijan media reports.

 

The ‘scorched earth’ strategy is a war crime as defined in the 1977 Geneva Conventions. This barbaric strategy of destroying anything that could potentially be used by the enemy is condemned by international law, and the procedures concerning war criminals are under the jurisdiction of International Criminal Court in The Hague.
It is a permanent international criminal justice body whose competence includes the prosecution of those responsible for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, as well as military aggression. Established by the 1998 Rome Statute, the Court has officially began its work on July 1, 2002. (Image below: culled cattle left behind).

Armenia signed end of Nagorno-Karabakh war

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a statement on ending the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian leader wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

“I signed a statement with the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan on ending the Karabakh war since 01:00 (00:00 Moscow Time). The text of the published statement is inexpressibly sensitive for me personally and for our people. I made the decision after a deep analysis of the military situation and the assessment by people who know it better than anyone,” Pashinyan said, noting that he made “a very and very hard decision”.

According to Pashinyan, “this step is based on a conviction that this is the best possible solution in the current situation.” “I will speak in detail about all this in the coming days. This is not victory, but there won’t be a defeat unless you recognize yourself as a loser. We will never recognize ourselves as losers and this should usher in our era of national unification and revival,” he said.

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