Category Archives: Europe

Belarus: Borrell declaration on migrants

Brussels 30.07.2021 “The instrumentalisation of migrants and refugees is utterly unacceptable. Using human beings in need to advance political goals violates fundamental European values and principles. Accordingly, the EU and its member states condemn the instrumentalisation of migrants and refugees by the Belarusian regime” reads the Declaration by the High Representative Josep Borrell on behalf of the European Union on the instrumentalisation of migrants and refugees by the regime.

“The EU and its member states will address the ongoing surge in irregular crossings into the EU from Belarus to preserve the integrity of its external border. In line with its gradual approach, the EU will consider the possibility of restrictive measures targeted at migrants’ smugglers abusing human rights or those otherwise involved in trafficking in human beings.

“The EU and its member states remain determined to effectively manage migratory flows in order to protect the EU’s external borders. People who have no right to stay in the EU shall be returned. In this context, the EU and its member states will take all necessary measures in accordance with EU and international law.

“The EU and its member states, in solidarity, already increased their support, including through the deployment of the FRONTEX rapid border intervention and additional technical assistance, and are ready to strengthen it even further. Member states will swiftly provide the support necessary to ensure the immediate deployment of the relevant teams and assets.

“We will continue to implement our external migration policy. We will work to further strengthen EU return capacities as part of a comprehensive approach, including through dialogues and partnerships with the countries of origin and transit”.

Belgium: Day of mourning

Brusssels 20.07.2021 Belgium held a day of mourning Tuesday,July 20, for the victims of the devastating floods, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel undertook her second visit to the region worst hit by the disaster.

“In this day of mourning, we observed a minute of silence for the victims of the devastating floods. No words can describe the suffering and destruction caused.The European Commission stands with the communities rebuilding their lives and homes. We will support in any way we can” the top EU executive Ursula von der Leyen wrote on her Twitter micro blog.

“The Belgian king and queen visited the eastern town of Verviers to console people who had lost family members, friends, and neighbours, and many lost their possessions as the flows swept through villages in eastern Belgium, taking at least 31 lives.

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde discuss with each of the victims invited to the official ceremony of national mourning. Queen Mathilde spoke at length with an upset little girl.

Some 70 people are still missing or have been unable to be contacted after massive rains turned streets in eastern Belgium into deadly torrents of water, mud and debris. Flags flew at half staff and at noon, sirens wailed throughout the nation, followed by a moment of silence.

Help is pouring in from across the nation and some 10,000 volunteer workers have offered to visit the hilly region to start the cleanup once the waters have receded enough.

“Please accept my most sincere condolences on the tragic consequences of floods in the southern and eastern regions of your country” reads letter of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the King of Belgium Philippe.
“Russia shares the grief of those who lost their loved ones as a result of this natural disaster, and hopes for a speedy recovery of all those affected”.

Lukashenko regime self-isolates

“The Belarusian authorities ordered Head of Mission at the Embassy of Lithuania in Minsk and the Consul General in Hrodna to leave the country by 11 July, drastically limiting Vilnius’ diplomatic presence in the country” reads the statement by the spokesperson on limiting the diplomatic presence of Lithuania. (Image:Viktar Babaryka)

“With this, the Lukashenko regime is closing further diplomatic channels of communication. By also reducing the consular staff of EU member states’ diplomatic missions, the regime limits the opportunities for the Belarusians to travel to the EU. Already last October, at the request of the regime, the Lithuanian and Polish Ambassadors left the country, and in May this year the entire staff of Latvia’s embassy in Minsk was ordered to leave. Most recently, the Belarusian authorities asked the Head of the EU Delegation in Minsk to return to Brussels for consultations.

“By these actions, the regime further isolates itself. Such decisions are also detrimental to Belarus and its population. Keeping diplomatic channels of communication open in time of difficulties is crucial. The EU calls on the Belarusian authorities to allow full presence of the EU’s and it Member States’ diplomatic missions to allow diplomacy to work”.

Belarus suspends Eastern Partnership

Brussels 28.06.2021 “Belarus has taken another step backwards today by suspending its participation in the Eastern Partnership” the EU Council President Charles Michel (pictured) wrote on his Twitter micro blog page.
“This will escalate tensions further and have a clear negative impact on the people of Belarus by depriving them of opportunities provided by our cooperation” he added.

The head of the European Union’s Delegation to Belarus Dirk Schuebel was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today. The diplomats have informed him about the steps Belarus has been “forced to take” in response to the “unprecedented restrictive measures” imposed on the country by the EU.

Belarus has suspended its participation in the Eastern Partnership initiative of the European Union, the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on its website on 28 June.

Russia exits OPEN SKIES TREATY

Brussels 18.06.2021 “The announcement by the Russian Federation of its withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty is regrettable and will have a detrimental effect on the global arms-control architecture” read the statement by the High Representative Josep Borrell on the announcement by the Russian Federation on its withdrawal from the Treaty.

“The next Conference of the State Parties will be an important moment to reflect on the way forward following this latest withdrawal. The European Union will be examining the implications this decision may have for its own security and for that of our partners”.

“By providing transparency and predictability, the Open Skies Treaty has contributed to vital confidence building. A return by all to their obligations under this Treaty would strengthen European and global security and stability”.

Russia has notified all the member states about its decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty six months after sending a notice. Therefore, this will occur on December 18, 2021,” the statement says.

Following the federal law “On the Denunciation of the Treaty on Open Skies by the Russian Federation” that has entered into force and in compliance with the established procedure, Moscow has sent notices to Hungary and Canada as the document’s depository states and to the other member states through the embassies in the corresponding capitals, the Foreign Ministry said.

“A request has been sent to the depository states of the Treaty on Open Skies to immediately inform all the member states of the corresponding notice and convene within the shortest time possible stipulated in the Treaty (i.e. in 30 days) a conference of the member states to examine the consequences of Russia’s exit,” the document reads.

Cornwall G7: tempering ambitions

Brussels 11.06.2021 The G7 summit is being held in these often tranquil, and picturesque coastal communities less than 20 miles/32km from Land’s End in Cornwall. Although 5,500 extra police officers have been sent on errand there are not many around the harbour, and delivery vans are passing through without problems.

Preparations have been ongoing since the shock announcement in January 2021, and now the reality has arrived.

Following the unsuccessful UK-EU talks to resolve differences in implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol, French president Emmanuel Macron has repeated his insistence that the Protocol is not negotiable, according Bloomberg reports.

Macron is set to discuss the issue and the access of French fishermen to UK waters during a meeting with prime minister Boris Johnson on Saturday, June 12, on the sideline of the G7 Cornwall.

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Joe Biden appeared to put their differences behind them for the limelight in Cornwall. Johnson assessed the meeting with the American president as a “breath of fresh air”, reports the Telegraph newspaper.

Despite the previous reports Joe Biden was preparing to play down the differences with his British counterpart over the Northern Ireland Protocol, and the leaders traded compliments, and gallantries to underline the everlasting strength of the Atlantic ties.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May has criticised the “incomprehensible” travel rules that mean the UK is “shut for business”, the Telegraph newspaper reports.

While praising the UK’s advancing vaccine programme, May said that if ministers blocked travel every time there was a new COVID-19 variant, “we will never be able to travel abroad ever again”.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to make a milestone decision next week on whether to go ahead with lifting the final Covid-19 restrictions on 21 June.

EU leaders heading G7 Cornwall

Brussels 10.06.2021 The G7 summit hosted by this year’s UK G7 presidency will take place from 11 to 13 June in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, UK.

The EU will be represented by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

The UK has invited leaders from Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa to attend part of the meeting as guest countries.

At the end of the summit, the leaders are expected to adopt a leaders’ communiqué.

The UK Presidency’s overarching theme is ‘Building Back Better’ from the pandemic. This will be reflected in all six working sessions.

“On 11-13 June, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel and the President of the
European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will represent the EU at the 46th G7 Summit hosted
by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.
This will be the first G7 Summit since the 2019 summit in Biarritz.
The summit comes after the G20 Global Health Summit and just before the EU-US Summit on 15
June. It will provide an impetus for the G20 Summit in October, the UN COP15 on Biodiversity in
October, the COP26 on Climate Change in November and the World Trade Organisation
Ministerial Conference in December.
As societies and economies guided by shared values, G7 leaders will commit to beating COVID-19
and tackle the recovery to ensure a more resilient international order.
The UK’s Presidency’s overarching theme this year is ‘Building Back Better’ from the pandemic.
This theme will be reflected in the six working sessions taking place between Friday 11 June and
Sunday 13 June”.

EU bans Belarus flights

Brussels 07.06.2021 The Council on Juin 4 has decided to strengthen the existing restrictive measures in view of the situation in Belarus by introducing a ban on the overflight of EU airspace and on access to EU airports by Belarusian carriers of all kinds. (Image above: illustration).

EU member states will therefore be required to deny permission to land in, take off from or overfly their territories to any aircraft operated by Belarusian air carriers, including as a marketing carrier.

Today’s decision follows up on the European Council conclusions of 24 and 25 May 2021, in which EU heads of state and government strongly condemned the unlawful forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk on 23 May 2021 endangering aviation safety.

The conclusions also condemned the detention by Belarusian authorities of journalist Roman Protasevich and Sofia Sapega, and called on the Council to adopt the necessary measures, including additional listings of persons and entities on the basis of the relevant sanctions framework, and further targeted economic sanctions.

“We renew our call in the strongest terms to release all political prisoners in Belarus” the president of the EU Council Charles Michel wrote in his Twitter micro blog.

Further sanctions on entities and individuals following rapidly in response to the interception of a passenger jet by Belarus, EU leaders on demanded the release of opposition activist Roman Protasevich and his companion, Sofia Sapega, Russian citizen, and called for a barrage of new sanctions against the government of strongman Alexander Lukashenko.

EU governments, which described the incident as state piracy, say they are looking at targeting sectors that play a central role in the Belarus economy, to inflict real punishment on President Alexander Lukashenko. They could include bond sales, the oil sector and potash, a big Belarusian export.

EU-Switzerland breakaway

Brussels 26.05.2021 Switzerland cancels ratification of framework agreement with EU. “Based on the results of negotiations in recent months, the Federal Council has determined that the talks with the EU … “haven’t led to the necessary solutions,” said Swiss President Guy Parmelin. (Image above: Geneva, Switzerland).

After months and months of uncertainty, the Federal Council has decided to pull the plug. “Substantial differences” remain between Switzerland and the EU “concerning central areas of the agreement,” said the Swiss government. The conditions necessary for the conclusion of the agreement are therefore not met: end of negotiations. The Federal Council, however, asked the Federal Department of Justice and Police to assess how bilateral relations could be stabilised by means of “autonomous adaptations” of Swiss law. Discussions with Brussels are not about to end.

“Discussions with the EU have not resulted in the solutions Switzerland needs with regard to the directive on the rights of citizens of the Union, wage protection and state aid. Substantial differences remain, above all as regards the protection of wages and the directive on the rights of citizens of the Union “. It is therefore over for the institutional agreement.

EU Condemns Russian actions

Brussels 25.05.2021 The European Council held a strategic debate on Russia.
– It condemns the illegal, provocative and disruptive Russian activities against the EU, its Member States and beyond. It reaffirms the EU’s unity and solidarity in the face of such acts as well as its support to Eastern partners. (Image above: Crimea bridge, Azov sea).

– The European Council expresses its solidarity with the Czech Republic and supports its response.
– The European Council reaffirms its commitment to the five principles governing EU policy vis-à-vis Russia. – It invites the High Representative and the Commission to present a report with policy options on EU-Russia relations, in line with these principles, with a view to its meeting in June 2021.
– The EU will continue coordination with like-minded partners.

Since March 2014, the EU has progressively imposed restrictive measures against Russia. The measures were adopted in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and the deliberate destabilisation of Ukraine:

The EU imposes different types of restrictive measures:

Diplomatic measures
individual restrictive measures (asset freeze and travel restrictions)
restrictions on economic relations with Crimea and Sevastopol
economic sanctions
restrictions on economic cooperation

Diplomatic measures
In 2014, the EU-Russia summit was cancelled and EU member states decided not to hold regular bilateral summits. Bilateral talks with Russia on visa matters as well as on the new agreement between the EU and Russia were suspended.

Instead of the G8 summit in Sochi, a G7 meeting was held in Brussels on 4-5 June 2014. Since then, meetings have continued within the G7 process.

EU countries also supported the suspension of negotiations over Russia’s joining the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Individual restrictive measures
Asset freeze and travel restrictions
177 people and 48 entities are subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban because their actions undermined Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.

The measures were introduced in March 2014. They were last extended until 15 September 20

« Older Entries