Category Archives: EEAS

Crimea anniversary EU declaration

Today the Declaration was issued by the High Representative Josep Borrell-Fontelles, on behalf of the European Union, on the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (pictured) and the city of Sevastopol.
Six years on from the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, the European Union remains steadfast in its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The European Union reiterates that it does not recognise and continues to condemn this violation of international law. It remains a direct challenge to international security, with grave implications for the international legal order that protects the territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of all States.

“The European Union remains committed to fully implementing its non-recognition policy, including through restrictive measures. The European Union calls again on UN Member States to consider similar non-recognition measures in line with the UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262. The European Union does not and will not recognise the holding of elections by the Russian Federation in the Crimean peninsula.

“The increasing militarisation of the peninsula continues to negatively impact the security situation in the Black Sea region. In violation of international humanitarian law, Russian citizenship and conscription in the armed forces of the Russian Federation have been imposed on Crimean residents. The unjustified use of force by Russia against Ukraine on 25 November 2018 is a reminder of the negative effects of the illegal annexation on regional stability. The return of the illegally-captured Ukrainian servicemen and vessels, as requested by the Order of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea and called by the EU, was long overdue when it eventually took place in the second half of 2019.

“The European Union condemns the construction of the Kerch Bridge without Ukraine’s consent and the recent opening of a railway section. These are yet further steps towards a forced integration of the illegally-annexed peninsula with Russia, and a further violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The EU expects Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage of all ships through the Kerch Strait to and from the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law. The illegal restrictions to such passage are still ongoing and have negative economic consequences for Ukraine’s ports in the Azov Sea and the whole region.

“Since the illegal annexation by the Russian Federation, the human rights situation in the Crimean peninsula has significantly deteriorated. Residents of the peninsula face systematic restrictions of fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression, religion or belief and association and the right to peaceful assembly. In accordance with UN General Assembly resolution 74/168 of 18 December 2019, it is crucial that the regional and international human rights monitoring mechanisms as well as the non-governmental human rights organisations have unimpeded access to Crimea and Sevastopol.

“The rights of the Crimean Tatars have been gravely violated through the shutting down of Crimean Tatar media outlets, and the banning of the activities of the Mejlis, their self-governing body, and the persecution of its leaders and members of their community. The EU expects Russia to reverse these decisions and to end the pressure on the Crimean Tatar community. Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians and all ethnic and religious communities in the peninsula must be ensured the possibility to maintain and develop their culture, education, identity and cultural heritage traditions, which are currently threatened by the illegal annexation.

“Furthermore, Russian Federation should stop changing the demographic structure of the population by transferring its own civilian population to the peninsula. Russia must also take measures to improve the environmental situation, which has considerably worsened since the illegal annexation.

“The EU reiterates its call for the immediate release of Emir-Usein Kuku and his five co-defendants, Oleh Prykhodko and all others who have been detained in the Crimean peninsula and sentenced in breach of international law. The EU calls for full compliance with international human rights standards in the peninsula. Journalists, human rights defenders and defence lawyers should be able to work independently and without undue interference and intimidation. All pending cases of human rights violations and abuses, such as enforced disappearances, torture and killings, violence, politically motivated prosecutions, discrimination and harassment should be thoroughly investigated. Full, free and unrestricted access for international human rights actors to the whole territory of Ukraine, including Crimea and Sevastopol, continues to be paramount. The EU recalls UNGA Resolution 74/168 of 19 December 2019, and calls for its full implementation, including the Russian Federation’s obligations under applicable international humanitarian law.”

Illustration: Crimea, Livadia Palace

JCPOA: diplomats reiterate strong support to non-proliferation

“A meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) took place in Vienna on 26 February 2020. Under the terms of the JCPOA, the Joint Commission is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the agreement” reads the statement of Josep BorrellFontelles, who chaired the meeting of the Joint Commission.

“The Joint Commission was chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell Fontelles, by EEAS Secretary General Helga-Maria Schmid and was attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran at the level of Ambassadors/ Political Directors/Deputy Foreign Ministers. 

“The meeting addressed both Iran’s steps in reducing its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA including its announcement of 5 January 2020, as well as longstanding concerns, recognised by all participants, regarding the impact of the US withdrawal from the agreement in 2018 and the re-imposition of sanctions by it.

“In this context, serious concerns were expressed regarding the implementation of Iran’s nuclear commitments under the agreement. Participants also acknowledged that the re-imposition of US sanctions did not allow Iran to reap the full benefits arising from sanctions-lifting. 

“All participants reaffirmed the importance of preserving the agreement recalling that it is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture.

“As a follow up to the statement of the High Representative of 24 January 2020 participants reviewed expert-level discussions which have taken place in different formats in past weeks, both as regards nuclear implementation issues and the wider impacts of the withdrawal of the US from the JCPOA and its re-imposition of sanctions and benefits arising from sanctions-lifting. Experts were tasked to take these discussions forward”.

“Participants welcomed positive developments in the processing of first transactions by INSTEX and the addition of four European countries as new shareholders, with more to follow, while acknowledging the importance of further strengthening the instrument.

“Participants reiterated their strong support and collective responsibility for the continuation of key nuclear non-proliferation projects that are an essential part of the JCPOA.

“They welcomed continued efforts by the Arak Working Group Co-Chairs, China and the United Kingdom, in taking the Arak Modernisation Project forward. They took note of recent developments concerning the Fordow facility and expressed strong support for the work of Russia in continuing the implementation of the stable isotope project.

“The meeting took place against the background of the COVID-19 outbreak. Participants expressed their solidarity with China, Iran and all countries affected, in their efforts to address the outbreak and, in particular, the contribution of China and those later affected to the global fight against this public health challenge.”

Borrell meets Zarif in New Delhi

On the margins of the multilateral conference in New Delhi, the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif. For Borrell it was the first meeting with Zarif in his EU High Representative capacity on Thursday, 16 January 2020 in New Delhi.

In a frank dialogue, they discussed the latest developments around the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Josep Borrell underlined the continued interest of the European Union to preserve the agreement, which is now more important than ever, in light of the dangerous escalations in the Middle East and the Gulf region.

Both partners agreed to remain in close touch and continue their engagement in the coming weeks.

High Representative Borrell and Minister Zarif met in the Indian capital on the margins of the Raisina Dialogue 2020, which is a multilateral conference committed to addressing the most challenging issues facing the global community.

Their meeting follows a series of contacts they had since the start of the current crisis on 3 January.

JCPOA: Zarif invited to Brussels

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said that the recent developments in Iran and Iraq and the whole region are “extremely worrying”.

Subsequently the current situation puts at risk the efforts of the past years and also has implications for the “important work” of the Global Coalition Against Daesh, Borrell underlined.

The latest rocket attacks on air bases in Iraq used by the U.S. and the coalition forces, among them European forces, are yet another example of escalation and increased confrontation. It is in no one’s interest to turn up the spiral of violence even further” the diplomat said.

The EU diplomacy reacted upon the developments in Middle East with an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on January 10 to discuss what the European Union “can do in the short-, medium- and long-term to help stabilise the region”.

The EU diplomat refered to the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) with Iran as “more important than ever” because of it uniqueness in international relations, offering multilateral format of cooperation with Russia and China on the issues of security and non-proliferation.

Borrell has invited the Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran Javad Zarif to Brussels.

Maybe we will have a meeting soon in order to analyse together the situation of this agreement, into which the European Union has put a lot of effort in order to maintain it after the withdrawal of the United States” the diplomat said.

Once again he confirmed being “in touch” with all participants as coordinator to keep the “unity” of the group, of the European countries represented in the work of the JCPoA, and the importance of the full implementation by all parties.

Borrell calls for extraordinary Council

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell has called for an extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council with the Member States on Friday afternoon, 10 January, to discuss recent developments in Iraq and Iran.
“EU will play its full role to seek de-escalation of tensions in the region”, Borrell wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

Initially the Council of Foreign Affairs was scheduled on 20 January 2020.

EU diplomatic appointments

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy announces the intention to appoint two new Heads of EU Delegations. They will be formally appointed following receipt of the agréments:

•          Olof SKOOG has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the United Nations. He is currently Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations.

•          Sven KUEHN VON BURGSDORFF has been nominated as Head of the EU Office to West Bank and Gaza Strip. He is currently Senior Advisor on Mediation to the Deputy Secretary General in charge of Common Security Defence Policy-Crisis Response, European External Action Service (EEAS).

EU-OSCE against Russia «foreign agent» law

“The State Duma of the Russian Federation this week passed, in the third and final reading, a legislative act widening the scope of the already existing “foreign agent” media law, under which also individuals may be recognised as “foreign agents” says the statement of the European External Action Service spokesperson.

“The European Union has repeatedly said that the existing Russian legislation on labelling both NGOs and media outlets as “foreign agents” imposes additional administrative and financial burden as well as stigmatises the media or NGO concerned, thus restricting the exercise of fundamental freedoms. This practice clearly goes against Russia’s human rights obligations and commitments.

“Taking into account the already limited space for free media in the country, a further extension of the scope of the legislation is yet another worrying step against free and independent media and access to information as well as further attempt to silence independent voices in Russia.

“We support the call by OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media for Russian lawmakers to abandon the law”.

Image above: Moscow, Russia

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