Category Archives: diplomacy

Venezuela cancels EU Ambassador eviction

“The Ministry of People’s Power for Foreign Affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the European Union’s External Action Service inform the international community that today, the Venezuelan Minister of People’s Power for Foreign Affairs, Jorge Arreaza, and the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, held a phone conversation in which they agreed on the need to maintain the framework of diplomatic relations, especially at times when cooperation between both parties can facilitate the path of political dialogue” reads the text of the statement of the Euroepan External Action Service (EEAS) attributed to a spokesperson.

“Consequently, the Venezuelan Government decided to rescind the decision taken on June 29, 2020, by which Ambassador Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa, Head of the Delegation of the European Union in Caracas, was declared persona non grata.

“They both agreed to promote diplomatic contacts between the parties at the highest level, within the framework of sincere cooperation and respect for international law”.

President Maduro expels EU Ambassador

President Nicolás Maduro has ordered the European Union’s Ambassador H.E. Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa (pictured) to leave Venezuela within 72 hours.

In his announcement on Juin 29 broadcast on state television, speaking of the EU, Mr Maduro said: “If they can’t respect Venezuela, then they should leave it.”
He added: “A plane can be loaned for her [Pedrosa] to leave.” Venezuela’s air space is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The diplomat expulsion came hours after the EU placed sanctions on 11 Venezuelan officials for acting against the National Assembly headed by opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

Juan Guaidó declared himself interim President of Venezuela last year but has failed to remove Mr Maduro.
The opposition leader has the backing of the EU and the US.

EU renews Russia sanctions

EU Council today decided to renew the sanctions targeting specific economic sectors of the Russian Federation for a further six months, until 31 January 2021.

This decision follows the latest assessment of the state of implementation of the Minsk agreements – foreseen to take place by 31 December 2015 – at the video conference of the members of the European Council of 19 June 2020. Given that full implementation has not yet been achieved, EU leaders took the political decision to roll-over the economic sanctions against Russia.

Such restrictive measures were originally introduced in 2014 in view of Russia’s destabilising actions against Ukraine, and target the financial, energy and defence sectors, as well as the area of dual‑use goods.

The sanctions limit access to EU primary and secondary capital markets for certain Russian banks and companies and prohibit forms of financial assistance and brokering towards Russian financial institutions. The measures also prohibit the direct or indirect import, export or transfer of all defence-related materiel and establish a ban for dual-use goods which may have military use or be used by military end users in Russia. The sanctions further curtail Russian access to certain sensitive technologies that can be used in the Russian energy sector, for instance in oil production and exploration.

Image: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Borrell visits Cyprus

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell paid visit to Nicosia to meet the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides as well as the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades and the Defence Minister Savvas Angelides, “after having heard the strong message delivered by the President of the Republic [of Cyprus, Nicos] Anastasiades at the last European Council and also having heard you many times at the Foreign Affairs Council, to discuss recent events and the deteriorating situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, mainly because of exploration and drilling operations performed by Turkey in contested areas [by Turkey]. I want to come and see for myself, to listen to Cyprus’ concerns and to work on a way out of this complex situation”.

“To start, let me underline that the European Union is firmly supportive of the Republic of Cyprus and its sovereignty and sovereign rights. My message is a message of strong solidarity. Cyprus’ concerns, your concerns, are the European Union’s concerns. You have difficult relations with Turkey in general, these relations are currently facing important and difficult challenges.

“On the Turkish drillings, the European Union is continuously demonstrating its unwavering support to and solidarity with Cyprus as expressed in various European Council conclusions and statements, and most recently in the Foreign Affairs Council in May and also shown in concrete measures taken.

“This being the situation, and expressing our solidarity and concerns, we need to try to do our best, and I know you are also very much interested in improving the relations with Turkey through an open dialogue, in order to try to avoid an escalation that could be very damaging for all of us.

“For that, the delimitation of exclusive economic zones and the continental shelf must be discussed in good faith, fully respecting international law and the principle of good relations between neighbours. Because at the end of the day, we should try to be good neighbours and that is why the European Union was invented, to foster good neighbours’ relations and to find solutions through dialogue and negotiations.

“In this respect, we welcome the invitation by the Government of Cyprus to Turkey to negotiate in good faith the maritime delimitation between their relevant coasts. We will also be engaging on that, because regional stability is a priority for the European Union. I hope that the next Foreign Affairs Council, with your contribution, will help to clarify the options and the way forward in order to solve these problems and improve our relations with Turkey”.

EEAS senior diplomatic appointments

Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, announced today senior appointments in the European External Action Service (EEAS) in headquarters:

Joanneke BALFOORT as Director for Security and Defence Policy. She was previously Ambassador of the Netherlands to the EU Political and Security Committee.

Angelina EICHHORST as Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia. She was previously EEAS Director, Deputy Managing Director Western Europe, Western Balkans, Turkey and United Kingdom.

Carl HALLERGARD, as Director, Deputy Managing Director Middle East and North Africa. He was previously Deputy Head of Delegation to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Geneva.

Javier NIÑO PEREZ as Director, Deputy Managing Director Americas. He was previously Head of the EEAS United States and Canada Division.

Josep Borrell also announced today senior nominations in the EEAS in EU Delegations in the world, who will be formally appointed following receipt of their respective agréments by the host country:

Andreas VON BRANDT has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Afghanistan. He is currently Deputy Director in the Cabinet of the NATO Secretary General.

Birgitte MARKUSSEN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the African Union. She is currently EEAS Director, Deputy Managing Director Africa.

Jeannette SEPPEN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Angola. She is currently Senior Civilian Representative to the EMASoH mission (European-led Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz).

Malgorzata WASILEWSKA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM. She is currently the Head of the EU Delegation to Jamaica.

Irchad RAZAALY has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. He is currently Head of the EEAS West Africa Division.

León DE LA TORRE KRAIS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Chile. He is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Bolivia.

Charles-Michel GEURTS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Ecuador. He is currently Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Indonesia.

Christian BERGER has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Egypt. He is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Turkey.

Thomas PEYKER has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Guatemala. He is currently Adviser, Senior Inspector in the EEAS Inspection Division.

Jaume SEGURA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Honduras. He is currently Political Counsellor in the Embassy of Spain in Mexico.

Thomas GNOCCHI has been nominated as Head of the EU Office to Hong Kong and Macao. He is currently Deputy Head of the EEAS Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Division.

Lucie SAMCOVA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Iceland. She is currently Deputy Head of the EEAS Migration and Human Security Division.

Marianne VAN STEEN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Jamaica, Belize, Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahamas and the Cayman Islands. She is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Ecuador.

Maria CASTILLO FERNANDEZ has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Korea. She is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Malaysia.

Thomas SZUNYOG has been nominated as Head of the EU Office in Kosovo. He is currently Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the Political and Security Committee of the European Union.

Ina MARCIULIONYTE has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. She is currently Ambassador of Lithuania to China, Thailand, Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam and Myanmar.

Laurent DELAHOUSSE has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Liberia. He is currently Special Envoy for Public Diplomacy in Africa, Department for Africa and the Indian Ocean, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Paris, France.

Jose SABADELL has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Libya. He is currently Director of Policy Planning in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain.

Michalis ROKAS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Malaysia. He is currently the Head of the EEAS Support to Delegations Division.

Oana Cristina POPA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro. She is currently the Ambassador of Romania to Serbia.

Ranieri SABATUCCI has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Myanmar. He is currently Head of the EU Delegation to the African Union.

Nona DEPREZ has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Nepal. She is currently Head of the FPI Partnership Instrument Division, European Commission.

David GEER has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of North Macedonia. He is currently Head of the EEAS Sanctions Policy Division.

Alexandra VALKENBURG has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to The Holy See, Order of Malta, UN Organisations in Rome and to the Republic of San Marino. She is currently Ambassador of the Netherlands to Cuba and Jamaica.

Patrick SIMONNET has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Sultanate of Oman. He is currently Head of the EEAS Horn of Africa, East Africa Division.

Christian BADER has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to South Sudan. He is currently Ambassador, Special Adviser to the Director of the Crisis and Support Centre, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Petros MAVROMICHALIS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. He is currently Head of the EEAS Open Source Intelligence Division.

Luc VERON has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Philippines. He is currently Head of the EEAS Selection and Recruitment Division.

Marcus CORNARO has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Tunisia. He is currently Principal Adviser to the EEAS Secretary General.

Nikolaus MEYER-LANDRUT has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Turkey. He is currently German Ambassador to France and Monaco.

Image above: Europa buildng Brussels

Europe regrets US Open Sky withdrawal

“I regret the announcement by the United States to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty. The Treaty on Open Skies is a key element of our arms-control architecture and serves as a vital confidence and security-building measure” says the statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on the announcement by the US on their withdrawal from the Open Sky Treaty.

“Since it came into force in 2002, this agreement has enabled to carry out more than 1.500 reconnaissance missions over the territories of all the signatory states.The treaty provides transparency and predictability. It is an important contribution to European and global security and stability. All State parties must continue to acknowledge this and ensure the full implementation of the Treaty. Withdrawing from a Treaty is not the solution to address difficulties in its implementation and compliance by another party. While continuing to urge Russia to return immediately to the full implementation of the Treaty, I call upon the United States to reconsider their decision.The European Union will be examining the implications this decision may have for its own security”.

Moscow rejects the United States’ ultimatums concerning the Treaty on Open Skies, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on May 22, following Washington’s decision to withdraw .
The Ministry noted that US officials say Washington may revise its decision on the withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty if Russia implements all of its demands in the coming months.
“It is an ultimatum and this is not the right groundwork for negotiations,” the ministry underlined.

Signed on March 24, 1992, the Open Skies Treaty permits each state-party to conduct short-notice, unarmed, reconnaissance flights over the others’ entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities. Observation aircraft used to fly the missions must be equipped with sensors that enable the observing party to identify significant military equipment, such as artillery, fighter aircraft, and armored combat vehicles.

Though satellites can provide the same, and even more detailed, information, not all of the 34 treaty states-parties1 have such capabilities. The treaty is also aimed at building confidence and familiarity among states-parties through their participation in the overflights.

EU diplomacy discusses Israeli-Palestinian conflict

EU ministers of foreign affairs today on May 15 held a video conference, chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell.

They had an in-depth discussion on the Middle East Peace Process. The resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains a priority and in the strategic interest of the European Union.

Josep Borrell first had a comprehensive discussion on the Middle East Peace Process in the context of the formation of a new government in Israel. Ministers expressed their willingness to work comprehensively and constructively with the new government once it is sworn in, but also reaffirmed their support for a negotiated two state solution.

Foreign affairs ministers also had a discussion on the Southern Neighbourhood and situation in the wider Middle East, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this context ministers expressed their concern about the socio-economic fallout of the pandemic, and agreed that the current crisis is an opportunity to reflect on the EU’s relations with the region in the medium and long term.

Then ministers approved a statement about the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Borrell: Afghan people deserve peace

“There are few words that can do justice to the horrors we have witnessed today in Afghanistan. At the same moment an attack was targeting a maternity ward in Kabul, a terrorist detonated his bomb in the middle of a funeral in Nangarhar. Dozens of innocent civilians were killed or injured in these most reprehensible acts of terror” reads the statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on two attacks targeting civilians in Kabul and Nangarhar.

“To target and kill mothers, newly born babies and nurses, as well as bereaved and mourning families, are acts of evil and show an appalling degree of inhumanity. The attack on the Dasht-e-Barchi hospital maternity ward, run by Médecins Sans Frontières, also seems to have targeted international aid workers. The European Union stands in solidarity with them. These acts constitute clear violations of International Humanitarian Law, for which the perpetrators will have to bear the consequences. Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones and we wish those who were injured a quick recovery.

“The Afghan people deserve peace. For too long has their country been ripped apart by terrorism and violence that no political objective can ever justify. A permanent ceasefire is absolutely vital, and the European Union calls on all stakeholders in Afghanistan and the region to make it a reality.”

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).

Borrell denies “kowtow” to China

Disinformation around the coronavirus pandemic: Opening statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell at the European Parliament on April 30.

“…As is the case for all of the European External Action Service’s publications, there are internal procedures to ensure the appropriate structure, quality and length of our products. Given the sensitive nature of the information, every claim is verified before it is used in public material, which often delays by some days its publication. However – and let me underline this – the content and the timing of the European External Action Service’s public assessments on disinformation around the coronavirus pandemic are determined by the European External Action Service, and the European External Action Service alone. We have not bowed to anyone.

“Let me be clear: we are a diplomatic service. We maintain constant contact with representatives of third countries. This includes listening to their views on our policies and our assessments. But this cannot be presented as bowing to political pressure from outside. Especially on such crucial issues as disinformation at the time of this pandemic, where transparency is key.

“Let me address, therefore, directly what I can call the main “accusation”, if I can refer to it in such terms. An accusation that, I believe, has led to our discussion today: that the European Union “bowed” to Chinese pressure, as formulated in an article by the New York Times.

“After having been informed by the services about the way they proceeded in this case, I can assure you that no changes have been introduced to the report published last week to allay the concerns of a third party, in this case, China. The report very clearly points out State-sponsored disinformation campaigns and very specifically names the actors behind them – including China. There was no “watering down” of our findings, however uncomfortable they could be. Please check it personally, it is all online (link is external). You can compare the three reports, where we have progressively been refining our analysis and increased our understanding of how the different actors have been developing their messages and narratives.

“Let me also make a point about the functioning of a diplomatic service and activities. As you know, calls to present complaints or to advise in favour of a given course of action are the daily bread of diplomacy. We, at the European Union, practice them constantly, as do all other international actors, even our closest partners. It would be wrong to consider this inappropriate. I can assure you that I am very much used to it.

“Large international actors can accompany diplomatic demarches with a range of incentives and disincentives, which sometimes do not even need to be explicitly mentioned. We all bring things to the table, so that other decision makers take them into account. This is happening every day, from everybody, including us.

“The European Union is an international player, and this is our added value. Most of our Member States, taken separately, would stand no chance at all when faced with larger powers. Unsettling us is not easy as long as our Member States stand together. Those that are currently fanning the idea that the European Union may be giving up on its interests or principles under pressure by third countries should read attentively the report we published on disinformation. They should read it, and then they will acknowledge that we are among the very few to dare refer to such facts and publicise them.

“The choice of words used by those that criticise the European Union, saying “bowing to pressure”, has a clear historical resonance: it comes from Georges Macartney, a British diplomat who, in the XVIII century, went to China and failed due to his refusal to “kowtow” to the Emperor, which in Chinese means “to bow”. You see, now the word comes back. Working in the field of disinformation raises awareness regarding narratives, some of them rooted in the historical unconscious of the people who use it.

“Let me finish by saying that the European External Action Service will strive to maintain its position as the leading institution collecting, analysing and challenging disinformation, including on the coronavirus…” (Image: archive)

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