Category Archives: Europe

Macron hosts Normandy Summit

The meeting in “Normandy format” concerning Donbass conflict will take place in Paris on December 9 in Élysée Palace, hosted by President Macron, and will include Russian President Putin, Ukrainian President Zelensky, and German Chancellor Merkel. The name of the event is a reference to 2014 peace talks, initiated by President Hollande on the margin of ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Negotiations in Paris will focus on the implementation of the 2014-15 Minsk peace agreement, which provided for an immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, the withdrawal of heavy weapons, and an effective truce, putting an end to casualties among military and civilians.

Since Zelensky’s election victory in April an exchange of 70 prisoners, the withdrawal of the troops from three small areas on the front line, and the return of Ukrainian warships seized by Russian coast guards.

Vladimir Putin had conceded “cautious optimism” on the issue of the break-away Russian-speaking regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, both proclaiming their independence in aftermath of the coup d’état in Kiev, when democratically elected Ukranian President Yanukouvych was overthrown and field the country.

Earlier in the week Zelensky indicated that he initially wanted the Paris talks to focus on three points: a new exchange of prisoners, the implementation of a durable ceasefire, and the dismantling of any armed group “illegally” in Ukrainian territory – implicitly referring to Russian-speaking militia in Donetsk and Lugansk.

Moscow’s priority, in contrast, is to create condition for the elections in the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, moving to the point “8” of the Minsk Agreements, guaranteeing de-centralisation of power, and permanent Special status of Donetsk and Lugansk regions. People of Donbass been also insisting on their linguistic rights, peoples militia, and border trade with Russia.

Macron and Merkel share the goal of reviving peace process, which is the only active armed conflict in Europe, which has caused more than 13,000 deaths since it occurred in 2014. Tomorrow’s gathering will be the first meeting between Putin and Zelensky, who was elected upon promise to resolve the Donbass conflict, and establish lasting peace in East of Ukraine.

Putin to meet Zelensky bilaterally

Russian President Vladimir Putin schedules bilateral meetings with Ukrainian, French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and President Vladimir Zelensky at margins of the Normandy Four Summit in Paris on December 9, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced.

Peskov underlined that the Kremlin expected the Normandy Four summit will contribute to conflict resolution in southeastern Ukraine.

“[Putin’s] attitude is serious, the only expectation is to facilitate efforts to resolve the domestic conflict in southeastern Ukraine, ensure a common understanding that there is no alternative to implementing the Minsk Agreements and prevent attempts to dilute them,” spokesperson said.

Peskov expressed confidence in French authorities capabilities to succeed in creating necessary conditions for thec Summit despite the current protests in Paris.

We are not inclined to exaggerate the threats the Summit could face as we believe that the French authorities are capable of creating conditions for the meeting and will do it,” Peskov said.

London assailant hardcore djihadist

A man and a woman were killed and three pedastrians were stabbed on London Bridge on November 29. Police are still working to identify those who died.

The assailant in a fake suicide vest,carrying out the attack was named by police as 28-year-old Usman Khan, who was out of prison on licence at the time, having been convicted for terrorism offences in 2012.

Neil Basu, Scotland Yard’s assistant commissioner, said that Khan was “known to authorities” after being convicted in 2012. He had also been fitted with an electronic tag to monitor his movement since being released from prison on licence in December 2018, The Times newspaper reported.

Khan, who was from Stoke-on-Trent, in 2010 was arrested in a major counterterrorism operation, alongside eight others who had formed an al-Qaeda-inspired terror cell.
Khan was shot dead by police after members of the public restrained him. Passersby were widely praised by political leaders and others for showing “extreme courage”.

Police are carrying out searches at an address in Staffordshire where Khan had been living.

This morning, a police search believed to be linked to the London Bridge investigation is being carried out at a three-storey block of flats in Wolverhampton Road, Stafford, close to the town centre.

“Terrorist incident” at London Bridge

The UK police has declared the stabbing near London Bridge terror-related. Several people were injured, but at the moment the gravity of wounds in not made public. The suspect shot dead by police at scene, while wearing “hoax explosive device”.

At present neither of Islamists groups has claimed the attack, however the experts say in its style it is ISIS “inspired”.

There were some reports in social media about pedestrians, attempting to disarm the assailant, and they have succeeded.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan thanked the emergency services, police and the “members of the public, who risked their own safety this afternoon – they are the best of us”, he concluded, asking Londoners to stay vigilant at all times.

Floods in Italy by Sentinel-1

Torrential downpours have battered many parts of Italy this month, with extreme flooding wreaking havoc across northern Italy. The province of Alessandria is said to be one of the worst-affected areas according to Italian media, with around 200 people evacuated and 600 said to be left stranded.

This multi-temporal image uses two separate images captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 missiom on 13 November and 25 November. The flooded areas can be seen depicted in red, the Po River in black, and urban areas in white.

Copernicus Sentinel-1 radar ability to ‘see’ through clouds and rain, and in darkness, makes it particularly useful for monitoring floods. It can even easily differentiate water bodies, highlighting the difference between the Po River in black, and the extent of the flooding in red.
Around 500 people were evacuated further north in the Aosta Valley, where many roads were closed in fear of potential avalanches. Part of a viaduct serving the A6 motorway near Savona, in the northern region of Liguria, was washed away by a mudslide – leaving a 30 m gap in the road.

Images acquired before and after flooding offer immediate information on the extent of inundation and support assessments of property and environmental damage.

Earlier this month, the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service was activated
to help respond to the floods in northeast Italy, where Venice saw record-breaking water levels and the worst flooding in 50 years.

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

Zagreb: Tusk longing for «order & harmony» 

“In times of uncertainty, and most probably there will be no other times, when everything changes around us, and runs off in all directions, people want to be certain, that those in power will not abandon them, that they will not turn their backs on them. When left alone, they start looking for those, who offer care and concentration on their problems. They desire attention. “Look at us” – they seem to say – “we are here”. They, or should I say, we all are hungry for appreciation, dignity and importance, and we all feel the need to be part of a bigger community. And to be proud of it. This is why it is so easy to win people’s hearts by those who shout in a loud voice: “get up off your knees, make your country great again, take back control”. In other words, those who strike the right chord, the chord of dignity, will get people’s votes.” said Donald Tusk in his speech at European Peoples Party Summit in Zagreb.

https://twitter.com/eucopresident/status/1194714921990328321?s=21

 “In a political fight, truth and decency cannot be completely helpless against fake news, manipulation and hate. You must believe in yourselves and the power of your arguments. Do not be afraid to say in public what you really feel (even if you may sometimes think it’s a dangerous experiment), and  you will surely evoke people’s emotions and capture their attention” he added.

Congratulations, dear Donald Tusk, on your election as President of the EPP. Throughout your career you have given much to the EU project and I am sure that you will continue to serve a united Europe – one that is firmly based on democracy, the rule of law and social justice” wrote the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, reacting upond EPP decision of endorsing Tusk as leader.

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