Category Archives: diplomacy

EU top diplomats convene in Luxembourg

Brussels 20.06.2022 The Foreign Affairs Council taking place in Luxembourg will be informed about current affairs and ministers will be able to exchange views on recent events and on fast-moving developments in external relations.

The Council will then discuss the latest developments in the Horn of Africa, and EU relations with Egypt.

Lastly the Council will exchange views on Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, in the light of the special meeting of the European Council on 30-31 May 2022 and the adoption of a sixth package of economic and individual sanctions against Russia.

Over an informal lunch EU ministers will have the opportunity to hold a discussion with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt Sameh Hassan Shoukry.

Estonia indignent over Putin’s remarks

Brussels 11.06.2022 President Vladimir Putin paid tribute to Tsar Peter the Great (pictured) on the 350th anniversary of his birth, drawing a parallel between what he portrayed as their twin historic quests to win back Russian lands.

“Peter the Great waged the Great Northern War for 21 years. It would seem that he was at war with Sweden, he took something from them. He did not take anything from them, he returned (what was Russia’s),” Putin said after visiting an exhibition dedicated to the tsar.

“Peter I fought the Northern War for 21 years. It would seem that he fought with Sweden and rejected something there. He didn’t reject anything! He returned,” the head of state explained.

He noted that the fate of modern Russia also fell to “return and strengthen” its sovereignty and territories.

In 1721, the Northern War, which had lasted two decades, ended. The result was that the aspirations of the Muscovite tsars to establish themselves on the Baltic shores became a fait accompli. On August 30, 1721, in the town of Nystadt, the Swedes concluded a peace treaty with the Russians: the victories of Russian arms left little hope to win.

Sweden forever parted with Livonia, Estonia, Ingria and part of Karelia with Vyborg. Russia, on the other hand, had to return Finland to the Swedes, and also pay 2 million efimki (silver coins), or 56 tons of silver, for new territories. The money for those days and even today was huge, and in its own way they helped Sweden to improve the economic situation that had been shaken during the war. But the geopolitical losses could not be replenished.

Borrell: new diplomatic appointments

Brussels 08.06.2022 Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, announced the nomination of 31 Heads of Delegations of the European Union.

They will be formally appointed following receipt of respective agréments from their host countries:

Christiane HOHMANN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Albania. She is currently Ambassador of Germany to Estonia and formerly served as German Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Gabriel VISENTIN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Australia. He is currently Special Envoy of the European Union for the Indo-Pacific. He served previously as Head of the EEAS Division for Parliamentary Affairs.

Petra PEREYRA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Botswana and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). She is currently Head of Unit for Communication in the Directorate-General of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations of the European Commission. She previously served as Team leader for West Africa in the same Directorate-General.

Jorge TOLEDO ALBIÑANA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to China. He is currently Ambassador of Spain to Japan. He formerly served as Secretary of State for European Affairs in the Spanish Government.

Francesca DI MAURO has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Côte d’Ivoire. She is currently Head of Unit for Western Africa in the International Partnerships Directorate-General within the European Commission. She also served as Head of Unit for Eastern and Central Africa in the same Directorate-General.

Vesna Bastistic KOS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Council of Europe (Strasbourg). She is currently Permanent Representative of Croatia to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva. She previously served as Director-General for multilateral issues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia.

Sylvie TABESSE has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Djibouti and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). She is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Haiti and also served as the Head of the EEAS Inspection Division.

Gianluca GRIPPA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Eritrea. He is currently Adviser to the EEAS Africa Managing Directorate. He also served as Head of the EU Delegation to the Dominican Republic.

Pawel HERCZYNSKI has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Georgia. He is currently EEAS Managing Director for CSDP and Crisis Response and also served as Director for Security and Defense Policy in the EEAS. Prior to that he served as Ambassador of Poland to the Political and Security Committee (PSC).

Artis BERTULIS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Guinea Bissau. He is currently Ambassador of Latvia to India and Sri Lanka, and also served as Ambassador to Italy, Albania, Malta, San Marino, and as Latvia’s Permanent Representative to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Jolita PONS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Guinea Conakry. She has served as Head of the Political section of the EU Delegation to Russia and previously as Head of the Political Affairs, Press and Information section of the EU Office to Hong Kong.

René VAN NES has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Guyana, for Suriname, and with responsibility for Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Saint Barthélemy, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten. He was Head of the EEAS Division Conflict Prevention and Mediation Support, and he also served as Deputy Head of the EEAS Division Integrated Approach – Methodology and Implementation.

Stefano GATTO has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Haiti. He is currently Senior Inspector for Delegations in the EEAS Inspection Division. He also served as Head of the EU Delegation to Guatemala.

Jean-Eric PAQUET has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Japan. He is currently Director-General for Research and Innovation within the European Commission. He formerly served as Deputy Secretary-General in charge of policy coordination and better regulation within the European Commission.

Marilyn JOSEFSON has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Kyrgyz Republic. She is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Tajikistan and previously served as Head of Office of former EEAS Secretary-General Helga Maria Schmid.

Isabelle DELATTRE has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Madagascar. She is currently Head of Unit for Southern Africa, Indian Ocean in the International Partnerships Directorate-General within the European Commission. She also served as Deputy Head of the EEAS Division for Regional Affairs, ASEM and Indo-Pacific.

Antonino MAGGIORE has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Mozambique. He is currently Ambassador of Italy to Zambia, Malawi and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). He also served as Head of Division for the OSCE in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy.

Salvador PINTO DA FRANCA ROUX has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Niger. He is currently Head of the Political, Press and Information section of the EU Delegation to Mali. He also served as Deputy Head of Mission, Head of Political section at the Portuguese Embassy in Egypt.

Riina KIONKA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Pakistan. She is currently Head of the EU Delegation to South Africa. She previously served as Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to the former President of the Council of the European Union Donald Tusk.

Izabela MATUSZ has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Panama. She is currently First Counsellor in the Department of the Americas in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, and has previously served in the Cabinet of the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Jacques FRADIN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Papua New Guinea. He is currently Head of the EEAS Division for Integrated Strategic Planning for CSDP and Stabilisation. Previously, he was Head of the Africa and Europe sections in the EEAS Crisis Management Planning Directorate.

Roland GALHARAGUE has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Russia. He is currently Ambassador of France to Malaysia. He also served as Director responsible for Russia, Ukraine, Caucasus and Central Asia countries in the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France.

Belén CALVO UYARRA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Rwanda. She is currently seconded from the EEAS to the Cabinet of the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation and is responsible for Africa and Development Cooperation. She also served as Head of the Political, Press and Information section of the EU Delegation to South Africa.

Jean-Marc PISANI has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Senegal. He is currently Head of Division for Horn of Africa, East Africa at the EEAS, and also served as Head of the EEAS Division for Conduct of Operations.

Sandra KRAMER has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to South Africa. She is currently Director for Africa in the Directorate-General International Partnerships within the European Commission. She also served as Director for Coordination and Administration in the Cabinet of the former President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker.

Timo OLKKONEN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to South Sudan. He is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe. He also served as Ambassador of Finland to Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and COMESA.

Aidan O’HARA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Sudan. He is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Djibouti. He also served as Director of the European Union Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ireland.

Raimundas KAROBLIS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Tajikistan. He is currently Vice minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania. He also served as Minister of Defence of Lithuania.

Marc FIEDRICH has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Timor-Leste. He is currently Acting Director of the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments within the European Commission. Earlier in his career, he was also posted in the EU Delegation to Venezuela.

Jan SADEK has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Uganda. He is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Botswana. He also served as Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia and Djibouti, and Special Representative to the African Union and IGAD.

Jobst VON KIRCHMANN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe. He is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Ivory Coast, and also served as Head of Unit of Southern Africa, Indian Ocean in the International Partnerships Directorate-General within the European Commission.

The EEAS has also nominated 4 new Deputy Heads of Delegation of the European Union:

Raffaella IODICE has been nominated as Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Afghanistan. She is currently Head of Unit for Asia, Latin America, Caribbean and Pacific in the International Partnerships Directorate-General within the European Commission. She also served as Head of Unit for Middle East and Gulf, Central Asia, South Asia in the same Directorate-General.

Florence LIOU has been nominated as Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Morocco. She is currently Deputy Head of the EEAS Division for Rights, Obligations and Medical Cell. She also served as Deputy Head of the EEAS Division for Maghreb.

Plamena HALACHEVA has been nominated as Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia. She is currently Policy coordinator in the Citizens, Equality, Democracy and Rule of Law Unit of the Secretariat-General within the European Commission. She also served as Policy and Political Desk for Kosovo in the Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Directorate-General within the European Commission.

Sara REZOAGLI has been nominated as Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Thailand. She is currently First Counsellor, Head of Political Section of the Embassy of Italy in China. She also served as Head of Southeast Asia and Ocean Unit in the Directorate-General for Global Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy.

Moscow expells European diplomats

Brussels 18.05.2022 Moscow said on Wednesday, May 18, it was expelling a total of 85 embassy staff from France, Spain and Italy in response to similar moves by those countries, highlighting the damage to relations with leading EU members since it launched its war on Ukraine. (Image above: Moscow, City)

The Foreign Ministry said it was ordering out 34 diplomatic staff from France, 27 from Spain and 24 from Italy.

The three countries are among European nations that have collectively thrown out more than 300 Russians since the February 24 invasion. In many cases, they accused Russian diplomats of spying, which Moscow has denied.

Russia’s response has included sending home 45 Polish staff and 40 Germans last month. It has also announced tit-for-tat moves against Finland, Romania, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Japan, among others.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called Wednesday’s announcement by Moscow a “hostile act” and said diplomatic channels must not be interrupted.

France said it deplored the Russian move as an unjustified response to what it said was its own decision in April to expel “several dozen Russian agents acting on our territory under diplomatic status and working against our security interests”.

EU top diplomats convene in Brussels

Brussels 11.04.2022 The Foreign Affairs Council will review recent events and current affairs, including the situation in Mali, Libya and Yemen.

Ministers will also discuss the latest developments concerning the Russian aggression against Ukraine, following the European Council of 24-25 March 2022.

They will then exchange views on the Global Gateway, the new European strategy to boost smart, clean and secure links in digital, energy and transport sectors and to strengthen health, education and research systems across the world.

Over lunch, EU foreign affairs ministers will hold an informal discussion with the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Anniken Huitfeldt, and the Icelandic Foreign Minister, Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir.

EU-China video-Summit

Brussels 30.03.2022 The 23rd EU-China summit will take place on 1 April 2022 via video conference.

President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, accompanied by High Representative Josep Borrell, representing the EU, will meet Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang in the morning and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the afternoon.(Image: Shanghai, China)

The main focus of the summit will be on the war in Ukraine, the engagement of the international community to support Ukraine, the dramatic humanitarian crisis created by Russia’s aggression, its destabilising nature for the international order and its inherent global impact.

The leaders will also discuss the state of bilateral relations and areas of shared interest such as climate change, biodiversity and health, as well as ways to ensure a more balanced and reciprocal trade relationship.

The EU will take the opportunity to stress the need to uphold the rules-based international order and universal values. The EU will call for the resumption of the EU-China human rights dialogue in a substantial way.

Hungary prepares for 1M Ukraine refugees

Brussels 25.03.2022 The Hungarian government position on the war in Ukraine, as Prime Minister Orbán reiterated on a number of occasions in recent weeks, remains clear and concise:

“We cannot allow Hungary to be dragged into an armed conflict, but we will continue to help all those fleeing war. So far, we’ve welcomed nearly 600,000 refugees from Ukraine, making Hungary the second-biggest host country after Poland; and we will continue to do our best to help those fleeing the war as we have done in the past” Orban said.

To this end, the government has organised care for refugees from Ukraine. By taking the necessary government decisions and coordinating the work of the armed forces, police, disaster relief services, government agencies, local authorities, health workers and volunteers, the government has ensured that the care of refugees is ongoing and covers everything from asylum procedures to treatment of the sick or wounded arriving in our country.

The government is also coordinating the accommodation of refugees from Ukraine, even helping them find a job, should they choose to stay in Hungary mid- to long-term

Help points have been set up near all border-crossing points on the Ukrainian-Hungarian border; these are available 24/7 to provide acute medical care, transport, accommodation and other assistance.

PM Orbán spent the second half of last week visiting towns and villages close to the Ukrainian border and confirmed that “everything is going smoothly.” According to him, “coordination at the border is working well, and, in the coming weeks, we will be able to continue to help all those in need.”

In Budapest, the Hungarian government turned a major sports and concert hall, called the BOK Sports Hall, into a humanitarian transit point, with more than 4,400 square meters of indoor space where refugees can receive a variety of services available to them. Since March 21, the transit point has been open around the clock and provides food, drink, medical care, sanitation, travel arrangements, a children’s corner and internet access, in cooperation with charities and volunteers. Additionally, Hungarian Railways (MÁV) is operating an international ticket office at the transit point where refugees can collect their solidarity tickets. For those traveling on from the transit point, special buses are available to the Keleti and Nyugati railway stations as well as Ferenc Liszt Airport, and for those staying in Hungary, accommodation is provided.

Meanwhile, through the National Humanitarian Coordination Council, the government is coordinating the collection of aid, donations, humanitarian aid supplies, and the work of domestic relief organizations.

On top of this, Hungary has organised healthcare for refugees, for everything from treating sick children to helping cancer patients, and GPs and ambulance staff can request Ukrainian-language assistance if they need interpretation.

A 24-hour hotline is available to provide information in Hungarian, Ukrainian and English on issues of importance to refugees. These include the procedures for recognition as an asylum seeker, border crossing, entry, and required documentation; the help desk also tries to offer assistance in individual life situations. The hotline is available at the following phone numbers: 06/80-310-310 from Hungary, 0-800/504-546 from Ukraine and +36/1-550-1828 internationally.

When it comes to material support, Hungary has provided around HUF 2 billion in humanitarian aid to date, including HUF 1.35 billion within the framework of the Hungary Helps Program, utilized to help local communities in Transcarpathia. In addition, Hungary has sent HUF 600 million worth of aid and disaster relief equipment so far.

The Hungarian government has recently provided HUF 500 million worth of support to each of the six charity organisations involved in the Bridge for Transcarpathia coalition, amounting to HUF 3 billion. The Coalition continues to receive donations by phone and by bank transfer, with the total amount raised now at HUF 792 million. This amount is received by the six charities through the National Humanitarian Coordination Council and can only be used to cover the costs of caring for refugees.

While taking in those who have fled is a high priority, Hungary has not forgotten that the sick and wounded in the war also have to be treated. This is why Hungary has also donated medical equipment and medicines to Ukraine as part of a coordinated EU assistance: We sent 120 ventilators to hospitals in Transcarpathia and other Ukrainian hospitals immediately before the outbreak of the war, and we have recently donated more than 200 ventilators, 250 patient monitors, 25 central monitors, 100 infusion pumps and blood bags.

The Hungarian government expects the refugee influx to intensify in the coming days and weeks, with the total number of refugees admitted by Hungary reaching 1 million very soon. Hungary, Hungarian society, and our charity organisations, authorities and volunteers are all ready and prepared to do a superhuman job in making sure that everyone is cared for, the Hungarian diplomacy ensured.

Poland expels 45 Russian diplomats

Brussels 23.03.2022 Poland ordered the expulsion of 45 Russians identified as “intelligence officers” using their diplomatic status as cover to operate in the country, officials said Wednesday, March 23.(Image: Warsaw skyline).

Poland’s Internal Security Agency said it has asked the Foreign Ministry to urgently expel Russians, who were described as a danger to Poland’s security.
“These are people who have and operate using their diplomatic status, but in reality conduct intelligence activities against Poland,” said Stanislaw Zaryn, the state security spokesperson.

Russian Ambassador Sergei Andreev, who was summoned to the Foreign Ministry has criticised the decision, and said those being kicked out of Poland “were carrying out normal diplomatic and trade activity.”

Polish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lukasz Jasina said the Russians were offered five days to leave the country, with the exception person who must leave in 48 hours.

“Russia is our neighbour and will not disappear from the map of Europe, but the aggression against Ukraine proves that it is a hostile state, and even hostile to Poland,” Jasina added.

The spokesperson didn’t explain the reasons behind the actions, but suggested that they pose an especially grave threat while Poland is accepting large numbers of refugees from Ukraine.

“The illegal activities of these diplomats can also pose a threat to those people who left their country to flee the war and found protection in our country,” he continued.

“Poland, in coordination with our allies, decided to significantly reduce the diplomatic staff of the Embassy of the Russian Federation”, he said, and added that the Russian services are increasingly offensive and “are acting aggressively against Poland.”

Zaryn said in a separate statement that the security agency found that the activities of the 45 Russians have served “the objectives of the Russian undertakings designed to undermine the stability of Poland and its allies in the international arena and poses a threat to the interests and security of our country.”

EU focus on Strategic Compass

Brussels 21.03.2022 “Today is going to be a very long day. We are going to have a joint meeting with the Defence Ministers in order to approve – I hope – the Strategic Compass. Which is not the answer to the Ukrainian war, but it is part of the answer. We have been working on that for two years, and when we started working, we could not imagine that it the last moment of approval, the situation would be so bad, and that Europe was going to face such a big challenge,” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said upon arrival to the Foreign ministers Council in Brussels.

“This is the moment to rethink the future of European capacities to face challenges like a war. That is why the European Union Member States will have to increase their military capacities. [And to] do it in a coordinated manner. As responsible for the Common Security and Defence Policy, we will be working to make us stronger militarily and use our capacities in a more coordinated way.

“We are going to continue providing support to Ukraine – with the second tranche of the European Peace Facility providing more financial support. We are going to have a meeting with the [Deputy Prime Minister] and Foreign Affairs Minister of the [Republic of] Moldova [Nicu Popescu]. Moldova is providing incredible support to the Ukrainian refugees. And then we will have a video-conference with the Defence Minister of Ukraine [Oleksii Reznikov], who will talk about the war situation.

“Russia is really committing a lot of war crimes – that is the word, we have to say it. What is happening in Mariupol is a massive war crime. [They are] destroying everything, bombarding and killing everybody in an indiscriminate manner. This is something awful that we have to condemn in the strongest terms. This is a war crime, a massive war crime, what is happening in Mariupol. The city will be completely destroyed, and people are dying. We will continue working and supporting Ukraine, with all of our resources. We will continue talking about what kind of sanctions we can think of again, more – especially related with energy. And we will see from [our discussions with] the Defence Minister of Ukraine, what is the situation there and how we can continue supporting them.

The enhancement of the EU defence plans is due to the France Presidency of the Council of the European Union. President Emmanuel Macron has ensured that his goal is to “to move from being a Europe of cooperation inside of our borders to a powerful Europe in the world, fully sovereign, free to make its choices and master of its destiny.” The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell clarified that it is means the EU should be “learning the language of power,” and being willing to act more rigorously to defend its interests wherever they are threatened.

The France Presidency has an ambition to upgrade the European defence to become fully operational. That is why the Strategic Compass has been promoted as the first White paper on the EU defence, becoming the major achievement of the French presidency. The document will lay out a common strategic vision for EU security and defence, and set the practical objectives in accordance with the timetable, or a roadmap.

There will be strong incentives to follow up on the commitments included, the EU diplomats ensure, as the document will be endorsed by the heads of state and government and will leave room for potential adaptations. The Strategic Compass will be a barometer for both member states’ and the bloc’s ambitions to make the EU a leading security provider for its citizens on the continent and beyond.

Lavrov denounces NATO arrogance

Brussels 16.03.2022 Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told RBC News that “neutral status is now being seriously discussed along, of course, with security guarantees.”

The ‘arrogant’ US-led West ignored Moscow’s proposed security guarantees following many years of admonitions and exhortations from the Russian side regarding NATO’s steady eastward expansion, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

“Once the Warsaw Pact dissolved, and even after the Soviet Union became extinct, NATO, at its own discretion and without consultations whatsoever with anyone, who had been a part of the balance of power on the European continent, set out on moving eastward and kept moving the line of the defence, pushing it further and further in the direction to the east,” Lavrov said in an interview with Russia’s RBC TV channel.

“When this line was pushed right up [to Russian borders] and all our admonitions over the past 20 years were not taken seriously, we drafted our own initiatives on European security and they, to our deep disappointment, have been shrugged off by our arrogant Western partners,” Lavrov explained.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on March 12 that the previously proposed security guarantees to the United States and NATO were no longer valid because the situation has dramatically changed.

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