Category Archives: diplomacy

EU deplores Czech diplomats expel

Brussels 19.04.2021 “The European Union stands in full support and solidarity with the Czech Republic and deplores Russia’s response to expel 20 Czech diplomats. Russia’s decision follows the announcement by the Czech Republic on 17 April to expel 18 Russian embassy staff, based on reasonable suspicion about the involvement of Russian military intelligence service (GRU) agents in the 2014 explosion of an ammunition depot in the town of Vrbětice, resulting in the death of two Czech nationals. These GRU agents were also in charge of the attempted murder of the Skripals in Salisbury in 2018” reads the statement of the EU spokesperson.

“The European Union is deeply concerned about the repeating negative pattern of dangerous malign behaviour by Russia in Europe. Russia must stop with these activities, which violates well-established international principles and norms and threaten stability in Europe”.

Prague authorities demand that Russian Embassy vacate an area of 5,000 square meters, currently occupied by the diplomatic mission. Before 1968, the mentioned area was a part of the adjacent Stromovka Park, Prague-7 district head Jan Cizinsky said on Twitter.

“The Prague city council called on the Czech government to hold negotiations in a bid to bring the Russian Embassy territory to the state that preceded the Warsaw Pact forces invasion in 1968,” he tweeted.

According to the Czech media, the area in question is about 5,000 square meters. The city authorities plan to plant trees and flowers on this area, as it was prior to August 1968, when a Soviet military camp was deployed there.

This decision was made amid a sharp escalation of relations between Russia and the Czech Republic, following the expulsion of 18 Russian Embassy employees and accusations of Russian intelligence’s involvement in explosions at arms depots in 2014.

Russia expels 5 Polish diplomats

Brussels 16.04.2021 Russia will expel five Polish diplomats in response to Warsaw’s actions, the Russian Foreign Ministry (MFA) said in a statement published on Friday, April 16.(Image above: Moscow city).

“By the way, we noted how quick Warsaw was to chime in with the U.S. administration, demanding that three Russian diplomats leave Poland. In turn, five Polish diplomats will be expelled from Russia,” the ministry said.

On April 15, Poland declared three Russian diplomats personae non gratae.

Poland expelled on Thursday three Russian diplomats accused of “hostile actions,” the Polish Foreign Ministry said. The move comes after the US expelled 10 Russian diplomats earlier on Thursday and imposed sanctions against dozens of companies and people.

Washington says the measures are retaliation for alleged Kremlin interference in last year’s presidential election and a massive cyber attack on federal agencies known as SolarWinds.

Russia retaliates U.S.measures

Brusssels 16.04.2021 Moscow will shortly publish a list of eight senior US officials and public figures that will be permanently banned from entering Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on Friday, April 16. (Image above: Moscow City).

“Soon, the official website of the Russian Foreign Ministry will publish the names of eight current and former American high-ranking officials and public figures involved in developing and implementing the anti-Russian policy course. They will be permanently banned from entering the Russian Federation. This is a tit-for-tat measure in response to the sanctions against Russian officials blacklisted by the US last month,” the statement says.

Moscow calls on Washington to display wisdom and reject confrontation, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in its statement Friday, adding that now is high time to do so. “It is high time for the US to display wisdom and reject the confrontational course. Otherwise, we will implement a set of decisions, sensitive to the US, such as ordering US diplomatic missions in Russia to reduce their staff to 300 people,” the statement says. Thus, the ministry points out, real parity will be reached regarding the number of employees of diplomatic missions, with the exception of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the UN in New York.

Vienna: Borrell chairs JCPOA

Brussels 08.04.2021 The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal, will resume its work in a physical format on 9 April at 10.00 CET in Vienna.

The Joint Commission will be chaired on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell by the Deputy Secretary General and Political Director of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora. It will be attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran.

Participants will take stock of the discussions held at various levels this week, including the relevant expert groups, in the view of a possible return of the United States and to ensure the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA by all sides.

EU-USA: Blinken visits Brussels

Brussels 24.03.2021 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell and the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
have issued a joint press-release: EU-U.S. joint readout
“Joint press release on the meeting between High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

On 24 March, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, and the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Antony J. Blinken met in Brussels to discuss ways to strengthen the EU-U.S. relationship and coordinate responses to priority foreign policy, security, and economic issues. They also committed to cooperate in the face of global challenges, including addressing the global climate crisis, bringing an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, facilitating a sustainable economic recovery, and defending democratic values and fundamental freedoms including within multilateral structures.

During the meeting, the two sides decided to re-launch the bilateral dialogue on China, as a forum to discuss the full range of related challenges and opportunities. They acknowledged a shared understanding that relations with China are multifaceted, comprising elements of cooperation, competition, and systemic rivalry. They also decided to continue meetings under the framework of the dialogue at senior official and expert levels on topics such as reciprocity, including economic issues; resilience; human rights; security; multilateralism; and areas for constructive engagement with China, such as climate change.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken confirmed that credible multi-party democracy, the protection of human rights and adherence to international law support the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific. Both aim to cooperate to promote secure, sustainable, free and open maritime supply routes and supply chains and look forward to deepening cooperation with like-minded partners where interests and approaches intersect.

The two principals also discussed EU-U.S. partnership on climate action and working cooperatively to raise global ambition to put the world on a path to net-zero emissions by 2050.

The two sides plan to work together in multilateral fora, such as through the WHO and COVAX initiative to jointly address the global challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including facilitating global distribution of safe and effective vaccines, addressing humanitarian impacts, and building future pandemic preparedness, including through advancing global health security.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken acknowledged that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) remained a key achievement of multilateral diplomacy despite existing difficulties. They shared concerns about Iran’s continued departure from its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA and underlined their full support for the work of the IAEA to independently monitor Iran’s nuclear commitments. Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the U.S. readiness to reengage in meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA by the United States and Iran. The High Representative welcomed the prospect of a U.S. return to the JCPOA. Both sides expressed support for the ongoing diplomatic efforts, and the contacts of the High Representative as JCPOA Coordinator with all relevant partners, to ensure full implementation of the JCPOA nuclear and sanctions lifting commitments. The United States expressed readiness to engage in result-oriented discussions to that end.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken noted their determination to further address, in a coordinated manner, Russia’s challenging behaviour, including its ongoing aggression against Ukraine and Georgia; hybrid threats, such as disinformation; interference in electoral processes; malicious cyber activities; and military posturing. Both sides also decided to coordinate their response to the shrinking space in Russia for independent political voices, civil society and media freedom and the dwindling respect for human rights and the rule of law. At the same time, both sides declared that they are ready to engage with Russia on issues of common interest and to encourage Russia to abandon confrontational approaches.

They also decided to continue close cooperation to encourage comprehensive reforms in the EU Eastern neighbourhood, including South Caucasus countries.

The two principals underscored that the EU and the United States share a strong interest in a stable and prosperous Western Balkans region. They reaffirmed their commitment to work together to support reconciliation and improve governance, build resilience and push forward key reforms for EU integration across the region. EU-U.S. cooperation on the ground is vital for progress, including on the EU-facilitated dialogue on normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken affirmed the EU and the United States have a strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and will work hand in hand for sustainable de-escalation. Both the United States and the EU are interested in the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey, underpinned by rule of law and respect for fundamental rights.

The two principals shared their concern about the continuing humanitarian tragedy and human rights violations and abuses in Tigray. They discussed a variety of measures to support unhindered humanitarian access, investigations of human rights violations and abuses, a cessation of hostilities, and the immediate withdrawal of Eritrea from Ethiopian territory.

On the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations, they called on all parties to show flexibility and move promptly to resume productive negotiations in the coming weeks. They expressed concern over increased tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia and encourage both countries to resolve their difference through peaceful means. They also discussed the situation in Somalia, where they expected a political consensus to deliver an election without delay.

The European Union and United States intend to intensify their cooperation on Afghanistan, together with key partners, to advance the peace process and to ensure the long-term stability and prosperity of the country. The European Union and its Member States are the largest civilian assistance donors to Afghanistan, contributing to the common goal of stability in the region.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken expressed support for continued NATO-EU cooperation. They agreed that NATO and the EU need new ways of working together and a new level of ambition because the multiple and evolving security challenges that NATO Allies and EU Member States face make robust NATO-EU cooperation essential to our shared security. The two principals recalled that capabilities developed through the defence initiatives of the EU and NATO should remain coherent, complementary and interoperable. They also noted that EU defence initiatives should enhance the European contribution to Transatlantic security and can offer concrete opportunities for cooperation between the EU and the United States. With this in mind, the principals supported the fullest possible involvement of the United States in EU defence initiatives and enhanced dialogue on these issues”.

EU condemns Belarus repressions

The EU strongly condemns the repression carried out by the Belarusian authorities since the falsified elections of August 2020. The unacceptable harassment of human rights defenders, media workers, trade union representatives, and defence lawyers has escalated in recent days.

Two BelSat journalists, Daria Chultsova and Katsiaryna Andreyeva, were both sentenced to two years’ imprisonment on groundless charges. Other media workers are facing a similar fate. Such verdicts aim to intimidate and silence journalists and media workers, who are simply doing their jobs, as well as aim to prevent factual information from reaching the Belarusian people and beyond.

The European Union also recalls that diplomats must be allowed to work without intimidation and derogatory treatment and disinformation on the part of State-run media, which has happened in the past days.

The EU urges the Belarusian authorities to cease their violations of human rights, fundamental freedoms – including press freedom, and abuse of the rule of law. Rather than escalating the use of violence, the Belarusian authorities should respect the wishes of its citizens and engage in an inclusive national dialogue.

EU new Agenda for Mediterranean

Brussels 09.02.2021 To relaunch and strengthen the strategic partnership between the European Union and its Southern Neighbourhood partners, the European Commission and the High Representative today adopted a joint communication proposing an ambitious and innovative new Agenda for the Mediterranean.

The new Agenda is based on the conviction that by working together and in a spirit of partnership, common challenges can be turned into opportunities, in the mutual interest of the EU and its Southern neighbours. It includes a dedicated Economic and Investment Plan to spur the long-term socio-economic recovery in the Southern Neighbourhood. Under the new EU’s Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), up to €7 billion for the period 2021-2027 would be allocated to its implementation, which could mobilise up to €30 billion in private and public investment in the region in the next decade.

“This Communication sends a crucial message about the importance we attach to our Southern Neighbourhood. A strengthened Mediterranean partnership remains a strategic imperative for the European Union. 25 years after the Barcelona Declaration and 10 years after the Arab Spring, challenges in the Mediterranean – many of which resulting from global trends – remain daunting. To address these challenges, we need to renew our mutual efforts and act closely together as partners, in the interest of all of us”, High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell said. “This is what this new Agenda is all about. We are determined to work together with our Southern Partners on a new Agenda that will focus on people, especially women and youth, and help them meet their hopes for the future, enjoy their rights and build a peaceful, secure, more democratic, greener, prosperous and inclusive Southern Neighbourhood” the diplomat added.

“With the Renewed Partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood we are presenting a new beginning in our relations with our Southern partners. Based on common interests and common challenges; developed together with our neighbours” Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi underlined. “It shows that Europe wants to contribute directly to a long-term vision of prosperity and stability of the region, especially in the social and economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. In close dialogue with our partners, we have identified a number of priority sectors, from creating growth and jobs, investing in human capital or good governance. We consider migration to be a common challenge, where we are ready to work together to fight irregular migration and smugglers together with our partners as it is a risk for all of us. We will work together to bring real change on the ground for the benefit of both our neighbours and Europe!” he continued.

The new agenda draws on the full EU toolbox and proposes to join forces in fighting climate change and speeding up the twin green and digital transition and harness their potential, to renew our commitment to shared values, to jointly address forced displacement and migration, and to strengthen the unity and resolve of the EU, its Member States and Southern neighbourhood partners in promoting peace and security in the Mediterranean region. It focuses on five policy areas:

Human development, good governance and the rule of law: Renew the shared commitment to democracy, the rule of law, human rights and accountable governance;
Resilience, prosperity and digital transition: Support resilient, inclusive, sustainable and connected economies that create opportunities for all, especially women and youth;
Peace and security: Provide support to countries to address security challenges and find solutions to ongoing conflicts,
Migration and mobility: Jointly address the challenges of forced displacement and irregular migration and facilitate safe and legal pathways for migration and mobility,
Green transition: climate resilience, energy, and environment: Taking advantage of the potential of a low-carbon future, protect the region’s natural resources and generate green growth.
A dedicated Economic Investment Plan for the Southern Neighbours aims at ensuring that the quality of life for people in the region improves and the economic recovery, including following the COVID-19 pandemic, leaves no one behind. The plan includes preliminary flagship initiatives to strengthen resilience, build prosperity and increase trade and investment to support competitiveness and inclusive growth. Respect for human rights and the rule of law are an integral part of our partnership and essential to ensure citizens’ trust in the institutions.
In 1995, the Barcelona Declaration launched the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership with the objective to create an area of peace, shared prosperity, and human and cultural exchanges. The last European Neighbourhood Policy review took place in 2015.

Russia: Borrell condemns expulsion of diplomats

“During my meeting earlier today with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, I learned that three European diplomats are going to be expelled from Russia. I strongly condemned this decision and rejected the allegations that they conducted activities incompatible with their status as foreign diplomats. The decision should be reconsidered. I stressed the European Union’s unity and solidarity with the Member States concerned” reads the Statement by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell on the expulsion of European diplomats from Russia.

Russia informed that the diplomats from Sweden, Poland and Germany would be expelled over their alleged participation in recent “unauthorized” rallies in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, the Foreign Ministry said Friday, February 5.

EU Media envoy to Middle east

Brussels 26.01.2021 The EU’s first Arabic speaking regional media officer for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) takes office today. Luis Miguel Bueno, an Arabic speaking European diplomat, will be based in Beirut, Lebanon. His role will be to communicate EU priorities, policies, positions and projects, which are of interest to the MENA region, in close engagement and interaction with the local and pan-Arabic media based in and focused on the region.

This appointment puts into practice the commitment to engage more with the Arab world, both on topics relevant to the region but also on other global issues such as the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, as recently highlighted by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.The new appointment should help extend the EU message in the local language to an ever wider audience in a neighbouring region of key strategic interest. This media engagement is being formally launched today with the Twitter account (link is external)@EUinArabic.

Over the next few weeks, Mr Bueno will focus on social media engagement with audiences in the Arab world through this Twitter account, before widening his tasks to regional media engagement and other social media platforms too.This is the first time that the EU creates a post of regional media officer to act as spokesperson in the local language. He will work closely with the 15 EU Delegations present in the MENA region. With more than 15 years’ experience in diplomacy, first in the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then at the European External Action Service, Mr Bueno has focused on the Middle East during most of his career. He started his professional experience in Arabic while he was deputy Head of the Spanish mission in Khartoum, Sudan in 2008. He then worked at the Spanish embassy in Amman, Jordan. Over the past seven years, he has been working in the Middle East Directorate at the European External Action Service in Brussels.

 

EUCO: EU-Turkey relations on rocks

10.12.2020 Brussels The EU top diplomat Josep BoTrrell upon arrival at the European Council made the following remarks:

“We have three important [external affairs] items today on the agenda of the European Union Council: we have Turkey, once again; we have our relations with the US and the prospects of the new presidency; and we have the Southern Neighbourhood”.

“The Southern Neighbourhood is a very important part of the world for us. We are closely working with them in order to push for their progress but we have to do more. I hope that the debate in the Council today will provide guidelines for this continued effort and to prepare the [Joint] Communication that the Commission will put forward in February.

“We have just celebrated the anniversary of the Union for the Mediterranean in Barcelona. This was also an important event and I will inform the Council about this meeting.

“We are also going to discuss the relationship with the US – the prospects for the new administration, how to engage with them. We hope that this is going to be a more positive one. It has been a bumpy road in the last years, and there is a lot of hope for the future work between the European Union and the US.

“On Turkey, the Foreign Affairs Council reviewed the latest events and we cannot provide a positive assessment. The behaviour of Turkey has not changed fundamentally. We can even say that, from some points of view, things have been worsening. The assessment is not a positive one and we have to deal with it”.

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