Category Archives: Europe

Germany: centre-left at rise

Brussels 27.09.2021 The projections suggest the centre-left parties were the biggest winners of the election. Both the SPD and the Greens are on course to gain more than 5% compared to their result in the last federal election in 2017.

The conservative bloc suffered heavy losses as the Angela Merkel era comes to an end. They were down by over 8% on the previous election and are heading towards their worst result since World War II.

It’s unclear if Die Linke will be in the next German parliament. The latest projected results have the democratic socialist political party below the 5% threshold required to join parliament, while the SPD maintain their lead over the CDU/CSU, the DW writes:

The first projected results are in for Germany’s 2021 federal election, with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) on 25.8%, narrowly ahead of the centre-right Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party (CDU/CSU) on 24.1%.

Both the conservative bloc and the SPD have said they want to lead the next government, and mathematically, either party could if they secure the necessary allies.

The environmentalist Greens are on course to record their best ever result, headed for around 14% of the vote. The pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) had 11.5%, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) had 10.5%. The socialist Left party was hovering around the 5% mark.

Kosovo: EU calls to de-escalate

Brussels 26.09.2021 “I continue to follow the situation in the north of Kosovo closely. Serbia and Kosovo need to unconditionally de-escalate the situation on the ground, by immediately withdrawing special police units and dismantling of roadblocks. Any further provocations or unilateral and uncoordinated actions are unacceptable” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

“Kosovo and Serbia must find solutions to defuse the situation and agree on the way forward. The EU will actively support these efforts. Both Kosovo and Serbian leaders are fully responsible for any risks to the safety and well-being of local communities is on both Kosovo and Serbia. I stressed this in my calls with President Vucic and Prime Minister Kurti this week.

“The EU-facilitated Dialogue continues to be the only platform to address and resolve all open issues between the Parties, including those related to freedom of movement and licence plates, and I strongly urge Kosovo and Serbia to use it. Both Chief Negotiators coming to Brussels in the coming days is a first positive step. It is crucial that they come with a mandate to discuss the way forward and find sustainable solutions that are in the interests of the citizens.

“We repeat that we expect both Kosovo and Serbia to return to fostering an environment conducive to reconciliation, regional stability and cooperation for the benefit of their citizens. This is crucial for reaching a comprehensive and legally-binding agreement on normalisation of their relations, which is necessary for both to advance on their respective European paths.

“I am in close touch with NATO Secretary General, whom I thank for the excellent cooperation between KFOR and EULEX. KFOR plays a key role in supporting regional stability in the Western Balkans”.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the UN General Assembly: “When it is beneficial to the West, the right of peoples to self-determination is elevated to an absolute. And then, in violation of the UN Security Council resolution, they recognise the artificially created formation of Kosovo, which was forcibly torn away from Serbia. No one is embarrassed that the Malvins are 12 thousand km from Britain…”

BELARUS: EU demands political prisoners release

Brussels 07.08.2021 This week in Minsk political prisoners Marya Kaliesnikava and Maksim Znak were sentenced to 11 and 10 years in prison respectively. In August 2020, Marya Kaliesnikava, together with Ms Tsikhanouskaya and Ms Tsepkalo, became a symbol of the movement for democratic Belarus.

“In a trial behind closed doors, together with a prominent lawyer, Mr Znak, she was tried on unfounded charges of “conspiring to seize state power in an unconstitutional way”, “calling for actions aimed at damaging the national security of Belarus through the use of media and the Internet” and “establishing and leading and an extremist group” reads the statement of the statement by the European External Action Service spokesperson on sentencing Marya Kaliesnikava and Maksim Znak in Belarus.

“The EU deplores the continuous blatant disrespect by the Minsk regime of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Belarus”.

“The EU also reiterates its demands for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Belarus (now numbering more than 650), including Ms Kaliesnikava and Mr Znak, journalists and all people who are behind bars for exercising their rights. Belarus must adhere to its international commitments and obligations within the UN and OSCE. The EU will continue its efforts to promote accountability for the brutal repression by the Belarusian authorities”.

Russia: Estonia diplomat expulsion

Brussels 03.08.2021 Estonian Ambassador to Moscow Margus Laidre was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry Tuesday, August 3, where he was informed about the expulsion of an Estonian diplomat within seven days, the Ministry announced on its website.(Image: Moscow, City)

“Estonian Ambassador to Russia Margus Laidre was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry. He was presented with a decisive protest and a note saying that one Estonian embassy employee must leave Russia within seven days under the principle of reciprocity,” reads the announcement.

The diplomats warned Estonia against escalating the situation.

“Otherwise, a decisive response from the Russian Foreign Ministry will follow. Meanwhile, all responsibility for the deterioration of bilateral relations will lie entirely with the Estonian side,” the Ministry said.

On July 15, Estonian Foreign Ministry expelled a Russian diplomat as a response to expulsion of Estonian consul in St. Petersburg Mart Latte, who was previously apprehended by the Federal Security Service while receiving classified materials. The intelligence service underscored that “such activity is incompatible with the diplomatic status and is openly hostile towards the Russian Federation.”

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.

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