Category Archives: Europe

Ukraine applies for NATO membership

Brussels 30.09.2022 Ukraine has submitted an official application to join NATO, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said after Moscow organised referenda in controlled by Russian troops four Ukrainian regions. (Image: social media)

“We are de facto allies already,” Zelenskyy said. “De facto, we have already proven compatibility with Alliance standards.”

“Ukraine is applying to confirm it de jure by an expedited procedure,” he stated.

NATO’s “open door policy” is based on Article 10 of the Alliance’s founding document, the North Atlantic
Treaty (1949).

The Treaty states that NATO membership is open to any “European state in a position to
further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area”.
It states that any decision on enlargement must be made “by unanimous agreement”.
NATO claims it has helped increase stability and prosperity in Europe. It also announces that the Alliance is aimed at promoting stability and cooperation, and at building a Europe united in peace, democracy and common values.

To join the Alliance, nations are expected to respect the values of the North Atlantic Treaty, and to meet certain political, economic and military criteria, set out in the Alliance’s 1995 Study on Enlargement. These criteria include a functioning democratic political system based on a market economy; fair treatment of minority populations; a commitment to resolve conflicts peacefully; an ability and willingness to make a military contribution to NATO operations; and a commitment to democratic civil-military relations and institutions.

EU suspends Russia visa facilitation

Brussels 09.09.2022 The European Union countries have decided to fully suspend the visa facilitation agreement with Russia, the Council informed in a press release published on Friday, September 9.

“Today the Council adopted a decision that fully suspends the visa facilitation agreement between the EU and Russia. Consequently, the general rules of the visa code will apply to Russian citizens,” the press release reads.

The decision will result in “an increase in the visa application fee from 35 euros to 80 euros, the need to present additional documentary evidence, increased visa processing times and more restrictive rules for the issuance of multiple-entry visas.”

“The decision is expected to be published in the Official Journal on 9 September 2022. It will enter into force on the day of its adoption and will apply as of 12 September 2022,” the Council of the EU indicated.

The full suspension of the visa facilitation agreement with Russia was proposed by the European Commission on September 6.

Borrell: Queen Elizabeth Il remarkable reign

Brussels 09.09.2022 “Queen Elizabeth Il’s remarkable reign oversaw key events of the 20th & 21st century. The EU pays tribute to her unique contribution to building peace & reconciliation” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell writes.
“While her loss will be felt around the world, our immediate thoughts are with her family & the people of the UK”

“In honour of HM Queen Elizabeth II, all EU delegations around the world will be flying the flag on half-mast. We stand with the Royal Family and the people of the United Kingdom in mourning Her Majesty’s passing”.

At the moment the Queen died, the throne passed immediately and without ceremony to the heir, Charles, the former Prince of Wales.

But there are a number of practical – and traditional – steps which he must go through to be crowned King.

EU Ambassador left Moscow

Brussels 05.09.2022 The European Union changed the Ambassador to Moscow on a scheduled basis and German diplomat Markus Ederer, who has already left Russia, will be succeeded by Roland Galharague of France, a diplomatic source in Brussels told TASS New Agency on Sunday, September 4.

“The rotation of the head of the EU delegation to Russia is carried out on a schedule basis. Markus Ederer has left Russia and this post will soon be taken by France’s former Ambassador to Malaysia Roland Galharague. His appointment was endorsed by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in June,” the source said.

The diplomat noted that despite the unprecedented crisis in relations with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, “the European Union upholds the position that diplomatic channels of communication with Moscow should be kept open.”

In an interview with RTVI recorded on August 31 and released on Friday before the departure H.E. M.Ederer said that August 31 was his last working day as the EU Ambassador to Russia.

Ederer was born in 1957 in Germany. In 1988, he started his career in the German Foreign Ministry; between 1990 and 1993 he served in the economic department of the German Embassy in Moscow. After a number of diplomatic offices, he served in the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND), where he headed the department of political and economic analysis. Later, he continued his service in the Foreign Ministry. On May 16, 2017, he was appointed the EU Ambassador to Moscow, succeeding Lithuania’s Vigaudas Usackas.

EU: Ukraine €1 bn macro-financial loan

Strasbourg 07.07.2022 On Thursday, MEPs gave the green light to a €1 billion macro-financial loan to help Ukraine cover its external financing needs that have ballooned due to the war. (Image above: illustration).

Parliament agreed to a Commission proposal to provide Kyiv with an additional loan on highly favourable terms, on top of €1.2 billion disbursed already in March and May 2022. The current amount is the first tranche of upcoming exceptional macro-financial assistance worth €9 billion.

Ukraine’s external financing needs ballooned due to the Russian invasion: besides the tremendous damage to roads, bridges, factories, houses, hospitals and other physical infrastructure, the country has also lost its access to the international financial markets. As a result, Ukraine is short $39 billion (€37.3 billion) to meet its financing needs for 2022, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The loan serves as “swift financial support in a situation of acute funding needs and to ensure the continued functioning of the most critical functions of the Ukrainian state”, the proposal states. It will be disbursed in one instalment conditional on fulfilling various criteria including enhanced transparency and reporting on its use. The EU budget will exceptionally finance the interest costs.

A precondition for granting the assistance should be that Ukraine respects effective democratic mechanisms despite the concentration of power in the executive branch during the war, the proposal states.

The resolution, adopted under the urgent procedure, passed with 522 votes for, 17 against and 25 abstentions.

Macro-financial assistance is an emergency resource, provided on highly favourable terms, for EU neighbourhood countries struggling to pay their bills. The total amount of such favourable loans from the EU to Ukraine since the start of the war will reach €2.2 billion in 2022, and could reach up to €10 billion if the whole exceptional package is agreed upon.

Ukraine corruption index in 2021 indicated 23% public services users paid a bribe in last 12 months, overall Ukraine scores 122 place from 180 countries, where the research took place.

The measure will apply on the day following its publication in the Official Journal of the EU

Ukraine and Moldova EU candidates

Brussels 23.06.2022 Ukraine and Moldova have both been granted the EU candidate status, President of the European Council Charles Michel has announced at the press-conference, following the Summit.
“Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU,” Mr Michel said, describing the European Council’s decision as a “historic moment”.

Ukraine applied on February 28, the days after the Russian invasion, and the process moved at a record speed.
Its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, hailed the EU Council decision.

“It’s a unique and historical moment in Ukraine-EU relations…” he tweeted. “Ukraine’s future is within the EU.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen declared that “today is a good day for Europe.”

The top EU executive added that the decision strengthens Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, “in the face of Russian imperialism.” The leaders also officially recognized the “European perspective” of Georgia, saying it was moving toward candidate status.

Ukraine scored 32 points out of 100 possible in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2021. Our indicator has decreased by one point, and now Ukraine ranks 122nd out of 180 countries in the CPI.

The information is available on the website of Transparency International Ukraine. The African state of Eswatini (Swaziland) is next to Ukraine. Zambia, Nepal, Egypt, the Philippines, and Algeria are one point ahead — with 33 points each.

On March 20 Ukraine’s President Zelensky announced ban on the activities of 11 political parties in the country, eliminating the entire opposition.

Mélenchon: Assange French citizenship

Brussels 19.06.2022 Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of France’s left coalition NUPES: “If I’m Prime Minister on Monday, Julian will be a naturalised French citizen and we will ask for him to be sent to us. Mr. Assange should be decorated for his services to the French people.”

While the UK Home Secretary Prity Patel approved the extradition of the WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to the US, France’s far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon promises grant him French nationality if he’s appointed Prime minister.

The British Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday, Juin 17, approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder and whistleblower Julian Assange to the U.S.

Last December, the U.K. The High Court in London ruled that Assange could be extradited from Britain to the U.S. to face espionage charges. This week the Home Office has signed the extradition order for Assange, which means that he could be sentenced for 175 in the State of Virginia, and as political prisoner vanish forever behind the barbed wire in “gulag”.

In a statement, a Home Office spokesperson said: “In this case, the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange. Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”

Estonia indignent over Putin’s remarks

Brussels 11.06.2022 President Vladimir Putin paid tribute to Tsar Peter the Great (pictured) on the 350th anniversary of his birth, drawing a parallel between what he portrayed as their twin historic quests to win back Russian lands.

“Peter the Great waged the Great Northern War for 21 years. It would seem that he was at war with Sweden, he took something from them. He did not take anything from them, he returned (what was Russia’s),” Putin said after visiting an exhibition dedicated to the tsar.

“Peter I fought the Northern War for 21 years. It would seem that he fought with Sweden and rejected something there. He didn’t reject anything! He returned,” the head of state explained.

He noted that the fate of modern Russia also fell to “return and strengthen” its sovereignty and territories.

In 1721, the Northern War, which had lasted two decades, ended. The result was that the aspirations of the Muscovite tsars to establish themselves on the Baltic shores became a fait accompli. On August 30, 1721, in the town of Nystadt, the Swedes concluded a peace treaty with the Russians: the victories of Russian arms left little hope to win.

Sweden forever parted with Livonia, Estonia, Ingria and part of Karelia with Vyborg. Russia, on the other hand, had to return Finland to the Swedes, and also pay 2 million efimki (silver coins), or 56 tons of silver, for new territories. The money for those days and even today was huge, and in its own way they helped Sweden to improve the economic situation that had been shaken during the war. But the geopolitical losses could not be replenished.

Crimes Group in support of Ukraine

Brusssels 27.05.2022 This week the European Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom announced the creation of the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group (ACA), a mechanism aimed at ensuring efficient coordination of their respective support to accountability efforts on the ground. The ACA will reinforce current EU, US and UK efforts to further accountability for atrocity crimes in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It advances commitments made by the European Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom to demonstrate international support and solidarity at this crucial historical moment for Ukraine.

The overarching mission of the ACA is to support the War Crimes Units of the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine (OPG) in its investigation and prosecution of conflict-related crimes. The ACA seeks to streamline coordination and communication efforts to ensure best practices, avoid duplication of efforts, and encourage the expeditious deployment of financial resources and skilled personnel to respond to the needs of the OPG as the legally constituted authority in Ukraine responsible for dealing with the prosecution of war crimes on its own territory.

EU High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell said: “It is critical to ensure that all those responsible for the terrible atrocities committed during the unprovoked Russian military aggression in Ukraine are brought to justice. There can be no impunity for war crimes. The Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group will be providing advice and supporting the ongoing efforts of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s War Crimes Units to collect, preserve, and analyze evidence of atrocities to help the investigations and ensure justice takes its course.”

US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said: “This initiative will directly support efforts by the Ukrainian Office of the Prosecutor General to document, preserve, and analyze evidence of war crimes and other atrocities committed by members of Russia’s forces in Ukraine, with a view toward criminal prosecutions. The ACA is an essential element of the United States’ commitment that those responsible for such crimes will be held to account.”

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “We are determined to ensure those responsible for the vile atrocities committed in Ukraine are held to account. The UK has already made a clear commitment to supporting Ukraine in its investigations, including through deploying war crimes experts to the region and releasing additional funding to aid the ICC in their investigations. We are now stepping up our efforts through this landmark initiative with our partners in the US and EU. Justice will be done.”

General Prosecutor of Ukraine, Iryna Venediktova said: “There is ample evidence of the atrocities committed by Russia’s forces on the territory of Ukraine against civilians, including children. The creation of this support group and the advice of international experts with experience in other international criminal tribunals and national criminal law practice will help the ongoing work of our teams in investigating and prosecuting these crimes.”

The ACA will bring together multinational experts to provide strategic advice and operational assistance to OPG specialists and other stakeholders in areas such as collection and preservation of evidence, operational analysis, investigation of conflict-related sexual violence, crime scene and forensic investigations, drafting of indictments, and co-operation with international and national accountability mechanisms. This engagement with the OPG and other justice, law enforcement and security agencies of Ukraine has been and will continue to be driven by the needs of the Ukrainian government and the parameters of its support will be developed in close consultation with the OPG. To this end, it will closely associate its activities with the ongoing operational work taking place in cooperation with EU Member States, partner third countries and the International Criminal Court, including the Joint Investigation Team coordinated by Eurojust.

EU €600M assistance to Ukraine

Brussels 23.05.2022 The European Commission, on behalf of the EU, has disbursed €600 million in Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) to Ukraine. Following Russia’s invasion, this urgent financial support helps Ukraine address its acute financing gap related to its exceptional humanitarian and defence needs. The first instalment of €600 million from this emergency Macro-Financial Assistance operation was disbursed in two tranches on 11 and 18 March.

These funds are provided to Ukraine in the form of long-term loans on highly favourable terms. They contribute to financing part of the sizable funding gap of the country, estimated by International Financial Institutions at around $15 billion for the second quarter of 2022. This Macro-Financial Assistance is enhancing Ukraine’s macroeconomic stability and supporting the continuous operation of state functions at this critical juncture. The disbursement is a tangible demonstration of the EU’s unwavering support for Ukraine.

The disbursement follows an assessment of the authorities’ progress with implementing the structural policy measures agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding. The Commission has concluded that the authorities, overall, have taken action towards the implementation of the agreed conditionality. However, the current war circumstances constitute an event of force majeure that impedes the effective completion of the structural policy measures. As an exceptional response to the acute financing needs of Ukraine, and since the conditionality cannot be achieved at this stage for reasons of force majeure, the Commission decided to proceed with the disbursement of the second tranche as a matter of urgency.

“In these extremely difficult times, the EU unwaveringly stands in support of Ukraine and of its courageous people”, President Ursula von der Leyen said. “Today, we disbursed €600 million in emergency Macro-Financial Assistance to address Ukraine’s acute financing needs, thereby ensuring it can keep on running essential services and addressing basic daily needs. Today’s disbursement is the last tranche of the €1.2 billion financial aid package I announced at the end of January. Going forward, the EU will continue to provide short-term financial support to Ukraine while accompanying it in its long-term reconstruction, in line with the plans announced on Wednesday. Ukraine will get back on its feet as a democratic and prosperous country”.

“Europe has not flinched from supporting Ukraine in the face of Russia’s relentless military aggression. Since this invasion began, the EU has provided €4.1 billion to help Ukraine and its people. This includes €1.2 billion in emergency macro-financial assistance – and today, we paid out €600 million to Ukraine as the second tranche of this programme. The EU will continue to provide financial support: this week, we announced new exceptional macro-financial assistance of up to €9 billion in loans and started working on a financial plan for Ukraine’s long-term reconstruction” said Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People.

“Two days after we announced our new plan to support Ukraine financially in both the short and long term, today we bring further relief to the country’s budget with the disbursement of the remaining €600 million in emergency macro-financial assistance decided earlier this year. This is a further meaningful contribution to Ukraine’s immediate financing needs, which are under unprecedented pressure due to Russia’s invasion. We stand in solidarity with Ukraine today and will do so tomorrow” Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy said.
Macro-financial assistance (MFA) operations are part of the EU’s wider engagement with neighbouring countries and are intended as an exceptional EU crisis response instrument. They are available to EU neighbourhood countries experiencing severe balance-of-payments problems.

Since the Russian aggression started, the EU has significantly stepped up its support, mobilising around €4.1 billion to support Ukraine’s overall economic, social and financial resilience in the form of macro-financial assistance, budget support, emergency assistance, crisis response and humanitarian aid.

Addressing Ukraine’s significant short-term financial support to sustain basic services, to address humanitarian needs and to fix the most essential destroyed infrastructure will require a joint international effort, in which the Union will be ready to play its part. On 18 May, the Commission set out plans in a Communication for the EU’s immediate response to address Ukraine’s financing gap, as well as the longer-term reconstruction framework. With this Communication, which follows from the European Council call to address the consequences of the war in Ukraine via a dedicated Europe-led effort, the Commission envisages to propose granting Ukraine in 2022 additional macro-financial assistance in the form of loans of up to €9 billion, to be complemented by support from other bilateral and multilateral international partners, including the G7.

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