Category Archives: EEAS

EU reminds Pakistan need to address terrorism

“Following the recent terrorist attack in Pulwama, tensions along the ‘Line of Control‘ between India and Pakistan have escalated militarily during the last days. This has the potential to lead to serious and dangerous consequences for the two countries and the wider region”- the statement of  the EU top diplomatFederica Mogherini says.

We expect both countries to now exercise utmost restraint and avoid any further escalation of the situation. To this end, the resumption of diplomatic contacts at political level and implementation of urgent measures by both sides is vital.

“Terrorism can never be justified. I spoke a few days ago by telephone with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, to emphasise the need to continue to address terrorism, including clear and targeted actions related to all forms of terrorist activity.

“The European Union will remain in contact with both countries and will continue to closely monitor the situation”.

 

Venezuela contact group stays EU diplomatic tool

The EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini confirmed the determination of the Foreign ministers to continue efforts for Venezuela crisis resolution through the international contact group. Apparently, the denial of entry to four Members of the European Parliament (MEP) will not deviate from the endorsed policy vis-à-vis Caracas.

Four Members of the European parliament (MEPs) from European People’s Party (EPP)  were denied entry to Venezuela under “conspiratorial motives.” The calls of the leader of the EPP group Manfred Weber to “immediately” recognise Juan Guaido as the President of Venezuela, did not receive any response from the EU foreign ministers.

Esteban Gonsalez-Pons (Spain), José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra (Spain),  Gabriel Mato (Spain), and Esther de Lange (NL) travelled to Caracas upon their own initiative in their individual capacity as MEPs.

 

The MEPs attempted to enter Caracas to meet with opposition leader Juan Guaidó, after the European Parliament last month recognized him as “interim head of state”.

Last month given the urgency of the situation in Venezuela the EU ministers decided to establish an international contact group on Venezuela (26.01.2019) that was agreed among EU Member States and with some Latin American countries.

AMENDED:

The Foreign Minister of Spain Josep Borrell confirmed the intention to step up effort to resolve Venezuela crisis via contact group, as the EU major diplomatic tool. He also underlined that Juan Guaido is recognised an ‘interim President’ of the country.

 

EU Eastern partnership ambiguity

Dr Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann – OPINION –  There have been no celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership project between the European Union and the former Republics of the USSR.  Officially  launched as a joint policy initiative which “aims to deepen and strengthen relations” between the European Union Member States and its six Eastern neighbors: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, with time it failed to clarify its strategic goals.

In reality the ambivalence of the aims the EU pursues, namely in the frame of the Enlargement policy, the obscurity of perspective of the membership for, at least some of the six, – are the elements which plague the endeavor for participants from both sides. 

Ten year after the EU narrative on the Eastern Partnership is partially biased since it does not explain the complete picture and maintains ambiguity about future relations between the EU and Eastern neighbors.

Previously on the occasion of the 5th Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit in Brussels,  24 November 2017, EastStratCom, a unit within the European External Action Service (EEAS) of the EU, set up to address Russia‘s ongoing disinformation campaigns, published a document on its website, entitled “Myths about the Eastern Partnership”  supposed to counter false information about this policy. 

According to its website, the East StratCom Task Force “develops communication products and campaigns focused on better explaining EU policies in the Eastern Partnership countries“. The document pretends to counter the myth that participation in the Eastern Partnership (Eap) leads to EU membership. It underlines that this claim is false” and that the Eastern Partnership initiative “is not a EU accession process“, however its aim is to build “a common area of shared democracy, prosperity, stability and increased cooperation“.

In reality the situation is even much more ambiguous, than its reflection in the document, which omits to mention that although the accession is not mentioned in EU or other Eastern Partnership documents, further EU Enlargement to the East is an objective of some members in the bloc.  The EU Enlargement has to be approved by Member States at unanimity and Member States are today divided on the issue. However, the pro-enlargement countries think the situation can change in the future.

Subsequently Ukrainian think tanks in Brussels are promoting future enlargements after a process of Europeanisation through the Eastern Partnership program. East StratCom omits to inform about the implicit sides of this policy. The EaP policy is from its origins, used both by the EaP countries and some EU Member States to push for further EU enlargement in the longer term.

Geopolitical analysis is about highlighting the implicit objectives of actors. In this respect, the former EU ambassador to Russia has unveiled his support for EU enlargement to the Ukraine. The Lithuanian Vygaudas Ušackas, declared in October 2017 that “we need not only to acknowledge Ukrainians’” European aspirations but at some point grant them a path towards EU membership.

We know from experience that the prospect of membership works as a stimulus for reforms. Uncertainty about Ukraine’s geopolitical position also leaves it exposed to further destabilisation by Russia, which in turn has a negative impact on EU-Russia relations. A successful Ukraine will contribute to stability in our region and represent a powerful example for the Russian people.”

Unsurprisingly, this is in  line of Poland and Baltic countries, but also more recently Romania and Croatia, who are openly in favour of further EU enlargement and this is precisely why they support the Eastern Partnership policy. The President of the European People’s Party (EPP) Joseph Daul also underlined we must offer concrete European prospect to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. And we must offer them the hope that one day they can join our family“. 

The EU narrative on the Eastern Partnership is therefore partially biased since it does not explain the complete picture and maintains ambiguity about future enlargement. This ambiguity is reducing trust, not only with Russia, but also with EU citizens. To resolve this crucial problem, as part of this reform, the EU needs to fix its frontiers in order to preserve its cohesion, strengthen its identity and facilitate the identification of its interests.

 

EU sets contact group for Venezuela

“On Venezuela: First of all, I have seen a very united position among Member States on a position we have already expressed several times, but it was reiterated strongly today – that is that the Presidential elections that were held in last May in Venezuela were lacking democratic legitimacy”, said EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini at the press conference following the first day of informal meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers in Bucharest.

“This is why the European Union and its Member States decided not to attend the inauguration of Maduro on 10 January and this is why we underline strongly and all united today our full support to the National Assembly as the democratic, legitimate body of Venezuela and the strongest possible support to its President in its institutional role.

“We have decided the establishment of an international contact group that has been agreed among our Member States and with some Latin American countries that will participate in it. I believe the terms of reference of this international contact group can be made public, as an act of transparency. 

“The objective of this international contact group that will be coordinated by the European Union will be, first of all, to have a limited time framework – 90 days – to promote a common understanding and a concerted approach among key international actors on the situation in Venezuela, aiming at a peaceful and democratic outcome for the crisis. The group will help to build trust and create the conditions that are necessary for a credible process to emerge in line with the relevant provisions of the Constitution of Venezuela, enabling Venezuelans to determine their own future through the holding of new elections, with all guarantees for a free and fair electoral process that can be supervised by international, independent observers. 

“The objective – and I want to underline it very clearly – is not to open a formal mediation process and not to open a formal dialogue, but to support a political dynamic that the group can then further accompany and consolidate.

The group has a clear mandate with different phases and a clear time framework, because the work and the results possibly achieved by the contact group will be reviewed after 90 days of its creation, and it will be terminated in the absence of sufficient progress.

The first meeting of the group shall take place at ministerial level in Latin America – hopefully we will be able to convene it already next week. We will have meetings both at ministerial and at technical level and, as I said, it will have a permanent secretariat for these initial 90 days in the EU. Part of the group will be on the European Union side – obviously, the European Union, but also some of our Member States: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the UK – and on the Latin American side we already have confirmation from Ecuador, Costa Rica, Uruguay and Bolivia. And we are waiting for confirmation from another few countries of which I would not mention the name today. But hopefully in the coming one or two days I will be able communicate them to you.”

“As you see, it is countries that have different positions and that will help the contact group to have contacts to accompany the process, in particular of new presidential elections” Mogherini concluded.

However not everyone believes the American narrative about Maduro being a tyrant, there are more free voices on social media, accusing Trump administration in seeking control over the largest in the world oil resources.

Mogherini to counter disinformation

At January Foreign Affairs Council participants discussed the action plan against disinformation presented earlier (5.12.018).

Ministers exchanged views on the implementation of the action plan, focusing on its external aspects. They underlined the need to build a common and holistic response to the security challenges posed by foreign interference, while respecting national approaches and protecting freedom of expression and of the media.

They highlighted the creation of an EU “Rapid Alert System to share expertise and best practices, and to promote coordinated action, notably through awareness raising campaigns. Ministers stressed the need to engage with civil society to tackle disinformation, including with CSOs, NGOs, business and academia, as well as to work with international partners, in particular NATO and the G7, to address disinformation more efficiently. They also underlined the importance of contributing to strengthening the resilience of neighboring countries.

First of all, our work on disinformation, to counter disinformation coming from outside the European Union. This is a work we are doing together with the different institutions – we have put together an Action Plan that we presented already at the end of last year – and that is now subject to a common work for the implementation that requires a stronger determination and inputs also from our Member States”, the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said, while commenting on Foreign Ministers Council agenda.

We discussed with the Foreign Ministers their side of the work and ways in which we can do better in this respect. Obviously, in particular in view of the European Parliament elections, but there was a very strong focus on the need to look at all different kind of disinformation that come from within, from outside the European Union, and in different forms. We decided to move forward together, at full speed, with a lot of determination, and implement the Action Plan we have put forward” Mogherini added.

“European mandarins will decide for you what is truth. Brrrr”, wrote Belgium politician Theo Frnacken.

Nagorno Karabakh signal for progress

Exchanges in recent months between the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, and the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, as well as meetings of the Foreign Ministers under the auspices of the Co-Chairs of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, most recently in Paris on 16 January 2019, send a positive signal for progress in the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict” said the statement by the European External Action (EEAS) service spokesperson on recent developments toward the peaceful settlement of the frozen conflict.

“The European Union is looking forward to the full implementation of their outcomes, including the recent Foreign Ministers’ agreement on the need to take concrete measures to prepare the populations for peace, as well as the consideration of steps aimed at reinvigorating the negotiations.

“The European Union continues to fully support the mediation efforts and proposals of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, including through the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, as well as through civil society confidence-building measures across the conflict divide. All would stand to benefit from lasting peace, which would help to enable the South Caucasus region to fulfill its potential.”

Political analyst Stepan Danielyan reminded before the meeting in Paris, that the election thesis of the incumbent Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan on the issue of Nagorno Karabach was Yerevan refusal to conduct negotiations on behalf of Stepanakert. Many voters made their choice based on this thesis, Danielyan underlined.

Now the ministers of foreign affairs of Armenia and Azerbaijan continue negotiations – they are discussing the Karabakh problem. What is discussed is not clear” the expert said. “In the past, Charles de Gaulle deceived the French, promising that France would not leave Algeria, before the elections, but after winning he did the opposite”, but Nagorno Karabakh is not Algeria, and Pashinyan is not de Gaulle, the expert warned.

According to the Armenian prosecutors the military casualties in Nagorno Karabakh in 2018 amounted to 38 servicemen, non-combat losses to 25 people.

EU ‘Sanctions war’ with Russia continues

On 21 December 2018, the European Council prolonged the economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy until 31 July 2019.

This decision follows an update from President Macron and Chancellor Merkel to the European Council of 13-14 December 2018 on the state of implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which the sanctions are linked. Given that no progress has been made, the European Council took the political decision to roll-over the economic sanctions against Russia.

The West should either recognize the results of Crimea referendum on reunification with Russia,  or stop imposing sanctions against people living in Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his traditional annual news conference on December 20.

In his words, “it is a curious situation” as Russia is being accused of Crimea’s annexation or in the other words of taking Crimea by force. “But if it was annexation and forcible takeover, then people living in Crimea have nothing to do with that,” he noted. “And if it was their choice in voting, then it was not annexation whatsoever.”

However not all the political forces in the EU share the European Council point of view: since 2014 Marine Le Pen, the leader of French RN (former Front National) has not seen any reason to dispute the result of the referendum.

I see no grounds whatsoever to question this referendum,” she said. She also added that she regards Crimea as a integral part of Russia. According to TASS News Agency Marine Le Pen “hopes to visit Crimea in April” 2019.

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