Category Archives: development

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.”

TALIBAN: UNICEF cautious optimism

Brussels 17.08.2021 The chief of field operations of the U.N. children’s agency expressed cautious optimism about working with Taliban officials following their seizure of power in Kabul on Sunday August 15, citing their early expressions of support for girls’ education.

The U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF) is still delivering aid to most parts of the country and has held initial meetings with new Taliban representatives in recently seized cities like Kandahar, Herat and Jalalabad.

“We have ongoing discussions, we are quite optimistic based on those discussions,” UNICEF’s chief of field operations in Afghanistan, Mustapha Ben Messaoud, told a U.N. briefing, adding that 11 out of 13 field offices were currently operational.

“We have not a single issue with the Taliban in those field offices.”

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 following strict Islamic law, forbidding women from working. Girls were not allowed to attend school and women had to cover their faces and be accompanied by a male relative if they wanted to venture out of their homes.

U.N. chief Antonio Guterres warned on Monday of “chilling” curbs on human rights under the Taliban and mounting violations against women and girls and a U.N. official warned on Tuesday that thousands of Afghan rights workers were at risk. read more

UNICEF cited some Taliban local representatives as saying they were waiting for guidance from their leaders on the issue of educating girls, while others have said they want schools “up and running”.

One Taliban health director in Heratwhere UNICEF is the only U.N. agency present had also asked female employees to report to duty, Ben Messaoud said. UNICEF had not yet established a direct communication with the Taliban in the capital Kabul, he added.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the worries of many Afghans about the Taliban were “thoroughly understandable”.

“We call on the Taliban to demonstrate through their actions, not just their words, that the fears for the safety of so many people from so many different walks of life are addressed,” he said.

Unlike many countries which are scrambling to evacuate their diplomats from the country, the United Nations does not plan staff evacuations and is appealing for additional aid for its operations amid warnings of growing humanitarian needs.

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.

Rules-based multilateralism

Brussels 17.02.2021 Today, the Commission and the High Representative put forward a new strategy to strengthen the EU’s contribution to rules-based multilateralism. The Joint Communication lays out the EU’s expectations of and ambitions for the multilateral system. Today’s proposal suggests to make use of all tools at the EU’s disposal, including its extensive political, diplomatic and financial support to promote global peace and security, defend human rights and international law, and to promote multilateral solutions to global challenges.

“Multilateralism matters because it works. But we cannot be ‘multilateralists’ alone. At a time of growing scepticism, we must demonstrate the benefit and relevance of the multilateral system. We will build stronger, more diverse and inclusive partnerships to lead its modernisation and shape global responses to the challenges of the 21st century, some of which threaten the very existence of humanity” High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy/Vice-President for a Stronger Europe in the World, Josep Borrell, said.

“The EU has been and will continue to be the best ally of multilateralism and its institutions. However, the more complex global environment calls us to be more united, coherent, focused, and better leverage our collective Team Europe strength. This new strategy spells out our ambition on inclusive multilateralism, our strong commitment to renew it and it will be underpinned by specific actions” Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said.

Defining and defending EU priorities and values in the multilateral system
The challenges of the 21st century call for more, not less, multilateral governance and rules-based international cooperation. The EU has defined clear strategic priorities on issues that no country can face alone: peace and security, human rights and the rule of law, sustainable development, public health, or climate. Now, it needs to advance these priorities multilaterally in a strategic approach to ensure a safer world and a sustainable, inclusive global recovery.

The EU must step up its leadership and ‘deliver as one’ to ‘succeed as one’. To this end, the EU will advance more efficient coordination mechanisms around joint priorities and making better use of its collective strength, including building on the Team Europe approach. Its democratic and unique regulatory strengths are assets to help build a better world, while its security and defence structures support global efforts to keep, sustain and build international peace and security.

To ensure the global multilateral system is ‘fit for purpose’ to address today’s challenges, the EU will continue to support the UN Secretary-General’s reform efforts. It will promote the modernisation of key institutions such as the World Health Organisation and the World Trade Organisation. It will also spearhead the development of new global norms and the establishment of cooperation platforms in areas such as taxation, the digital sphere or Artificial Intelligence.

To change the multilateral landscape, we need a new generation of partnerships. The EU will build new alliances with third countries, reinforce cooperation with multilateral and regional organisations, as well as other stakeholders, especially those with whom it shares democratic values and, with others, it will seek a common ground issue by issue. It will support partner countries in engaging more effectively in the multilateral system and ensure systematic follow-up of bilateral commitments with partners to advance multilateral objectives. EU aims to build a more inclusive multilateralism. It is important to engage also with civil society as well as the private sector, social and other stakeholders.

COVID19: EU allocates Kyrgyzstan €36M aid

Аs part of the EU’s global response to the coronavirus outbreak in Kyrgyz Republic, a support package of €36 million will assist the gouverment of the Central Asian country in addressing immediate needs in the health sector and in its short- and longer-term socio-economic recovery. The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell discussed the importance of intensified regional cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus, and welcomed the commitment of Central Asian leaders in this respect.

On 7 May, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, held a phone call with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic, Chingiz Aidarbekov. They discussed the global response to the coronavirus pandemic and the EU’s support to Kyrgyzstan in that context, as well as the EU-Kyrgyzstan bilateral agenda and broader regional issues.

The high diplomat conveyed the EU’s strong solidarity with Kyrgyzstan in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The High Representative stressed that the EU continued to be a reliable and committed partner for countries around the world, including Kyrgyzstan and the other countries in the region.

High Representative Borrell and Foreign Minister Aidarbekov welcomed progress in EU-Kyrgyzstan relations, which is centred around a broad reform agenda, sustainable development, and shared principles and values, including human rights, as illustrated by the initialling last year of an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

Josep Borrell welcomed the willingness of Kyrgyzstan to sign the agreement by the end of the year and stressed the importance of developing bilateral relations across all areas, as well as regional cooperation under the EU’s Central Asia Strategy.

COVID19: Uzbekistan receives EU aid

On 4 May, the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell held a phone call with the Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan, Abdulaziz Kamilov, to discuss the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, the EU’s support to Uzbekistan in respect of this challenge, the EU-Uzbekistan bilateral agenda, and broader regional issues relating to Central Asia.

The head of the EU diplomacy passed a message of European solidarity with Uzbekistan in the face of the common challenge represented by the coronavirus pandemic. Borrell outlined the measures that the EU has prepared for Uzbekistan and the other countries of Central Asia to assist their efforts to tackle the pandemic and its impact.

As part of the EU’s global response to the coronavirus outbreak, a support package of €36 million will assist Uzbekistan in addressing immediate needs in the health sector and in its short- and long-term socio-economic recovery. The EU High Representative and the Foreign Minister discussed the importance of enhanced regional cooperation to cope with the pandemic and its repercussions.

Borrell also thanked the Foreign Minister for his government’s assistance in facilitating the repatriation of EU citizens from Uzbekistan.

High Representative Borrell and Foreign Minister Kamilov also discussed EU-Uzbekistan relations. They confirmed their ambition to conclude negotiations on an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement as soon as possible. Borrell expressed the EU’s support for Uzbekistan’s application to become a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

EU allocates €3.3bn to Western Balkans

Ahead of the 6 May meeting between the EU and the region, the European Union reinforces its support to the Western Balkans to address the coronavirus crisis.

As announced on April 29, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank will mobilise over €3.3 billion to benefit the citizens of the Western Balkans. This support will continue addressing the immediate health and resulting humanitarian needs of the COVID-19 pandemic and will help with the social and economic recovery of the region.

The EU and the Western Balkans are facing this crisis together. Given their European perspective, the EU has included the Western Balkans in several initiatives and instruments reserved for EU Member States. These include the joint procurement of medical equipment, exempting the region from the EU’s export authorisation scheme for personal protective equipment and the supply by the EU of testing material. The EU has also ensured the fast flow of essential goods across land borders through “green lanes”. The region is also associated to the work of relevant EU health bodies as well as to the research and innovation effort.

With today’s package, the EU sent another strong and clear signal that it will continue to support the Western Balkans partners.

This support also extends to the reforms needed to advance on the EU path, considering that the post-COVID-19 recovery will only work effectively if the countries keep delivering on their commitments related to the EU accession. In this context, Western Balkans partners are encouraged to strongly focus on the reforms related to rule of law, the functioning of democratic institutions and public administration.

Once the immediate COVID-19 crisis is over, an Economic and Investment Plan for the region will be put forward later this year to support long-term recovery, economic growth and reforms required to move forward on the EU path. (Image North Macedonia, archive)

EU calls Haiti to avoid violence

“The grave deterioration of the living conditions of the Haitian population and profound worsening of the security situation together with a slowdown of economic activity and challenges the Haitians face on a daily basis have provoked serious, long-lasting and violent social unrest.

https://youtu.be/6X-u1sDH9nI

“The right to demonstrate freely and peacefully needs to be ensured while violence by both sides must be avoided under all circumstances to prevent further instability and suffering of the population.

“The engagement of all actors in a frank, open and inclusive inter-Haitian dialogue should lead to an urgent consensus to better respond to the basic needs of the population and should identify realistic and lasting solutions to the current political, economic and humanitarian crisis.

“The European Union is committed to support the Haitian people on their path to stability, development and democracy, including the rule of law, and will cooperate closely with its international partners to this end.

EU €100M for Lebanon-Jordan-Iraq refugees

The EU – via the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis – adopted a €100 million new assistance package to support the resilience of refugees, internally displaced person (IDP) host communities in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. This will be done through the strengthening of public service delivery systems, improved access to higher education, and improved child protection services.

With this new package €1.6 billion out of a total of €1.8 billion mobilised by the EU Trust Fund have now been turned into financing concrete actions helping refugees and host countries alike. 

Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn commented: “The EU delivers on its commitments. With these additional €100 million of assistance, the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis continues to support refugees to become increasingly economically self-reliant. Through access to income generating opportunities, they are able to take their livelihoods in their own hands, provide for themselves, and preserve their dignity. At the same time we are supporting host communities and Syria’s neighbours in their effort to expand their economies while coping with challenges related to the conflict which is still ongoing”.

The newly adopted €100 million aid package consists of the following actions:

  • €55 million to support the resilience of refugees, IDPs, returnees and host communities in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq; 
  • €28.4 million for access to higher education for refugees and vulnerable host youth in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq; 
  • €12.5 million to provide protection services to children and women victim of gender based violence in Lebanon;
  • €3.6 million to continue and strengthen the Trust Fund’s horizontal monitoring and evaluation framework.

This assistance package has been adopted by the EU Trust Fund’s Operational Board, which brings together the European Commission, fifteen EU Member States, and Turkey. Observers of the Operational Board include members of the European Parliament, representatives from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the World Bank, and the Syria Recovery Trust Fund.

The EU Trust Fund is now in its fifth year of implementation, but the Syria crisis is far from being over. Over time, the needs have changed and the Trust Fund has evolved from providing early recovery assistance focusing on addressing basic needs of those affected by the Syria crisis to equipping refugees and local communities with tools and skills for greater self-reliance. The Trust Fund also focuses on reinforcing the national systems for public service delivery to meet refugee and local community needs in the longer term. Currently 67 projects have been contracted to implementing partners on the ground.

 

 

 

Half a billion EU aid to Afghanistan

The European Commission has today announced a financial package worth €474 million to support state building and public sector reforms, health, justice, and elections, as well as to address migration and displacement challenges in Afghanistan. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, made the announcement today at the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan, signing the financing agreements with the Afghan Minister of Finance Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi.

 

“The EU stands side by side with Afghanistan and its people to build a stronger future for the country. The EU’s new assistance package of €474 million will contribute towards addressing peace and security challenges and set up the foundations for a more stable and economically sustainable society. Through joint efforts we intend to reduce aid-dependency and invest in democratic governance for the benefit all citizens of the country”, Commissioner Mimica said.

The EU support package consists of:

Budget support through a State and Resilience Building Contract: the EU will support the Government of Afghanistan in pursuing its reform agenda with an allocation of €311 million. Funding will support: public sector reform and the fight against corruption; basic service delivery and gender equality; public financial management and macro-economic stability with a particular focus on domestic revenue mobilisation. Human rights, democratic values, peace and gender equality will continue to be at the core of EU action and in its discussions with the Government of Afghanistan.

Justice sector: €31 million will support justice reform by supporting the Attorney General’s office to become more effective and Afghan civil society to ensure that the Afghan justice system is accountable to citizens.

Health and nutrition: zero hunger and quality health for all remain central priorities of the European Union in the country. With a new €80 million support package, the EU will work in partnership with the Government of Afghanistan to improve the health and nutrition of the population, in line with the national plans and strategies until 2020.

Electoral process support: an ad hoc instrument worth €15.5 million will support the presidential and provincial council elections in 2019.

Migration and forced displacement: The European Union and the Government of Afghanistan signed a new commitment worth €37 million, which reinforces EU assistance to Afghanistan in addressing migration and forced displacement challenges, in particular the reintegration of people on the move and returnees in Afghanistan. This commitment brings the total EU contribution to the challenges in the region in this field to almost € 230 million.

We believe that this is the moment to begin serious peace talks. All of us at this table have something to contribute. On the European Union’s side, we are ready: as a facilitator; as a reliable provider of incentives; as a partner of all countries in the region; as a force for peace and cooperation; and, most importantly, as a reliable friend of the Afghan people” EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said, addressing the Geneva conference.

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