Category Archives: Europe

EU-Swiss talks on ice

Prospects for a new treaty formalising ties between Switzerland and the European Union, its biggest trading partner, appeared bleak after four years of negotiations failed to produce a effect by the EU mid-October deadline.

The talks are complicated by the UK negotiations on departure terms from the European Union, with the Commission being reluctant to be too flexible to the Swiss demands, setting a precedent for Britons.

“I can honestly say I find it difficult to believe that the government will be able to present by year’s end a solution to all the open questions,” Petra Goessi, leader of the pro-business Liberals party in the four-party cabinet, told the Neue Zuercher Zeitungn paper.

Brussels has been mounting pressure on Switzerland to agree on a frame that would assemble the 120 accords in different sectors and subsequently lead the Swiss to endorse changes to adapt to Single market.

It would aim at aligning to five areas of the Single market: free movement of people, civil aviation, land transport, mutual recognition of industrial standards and processed farm goods.

The treaty would also provide a more powers to the EU while resolving disputes, and providing clarity of procedures.

Should treaty talks fail, and time is short ahead of elections in Switzerland and for the European Parliament both due next year, the existing accords would stay in place, but bilateral EU-Swiss ties would enter a low-tide phase.

The fate of the EUR1.3 billion Swiss donation to EU cohesion fund to develop the EU Eastern member-states was unclear since last year. Although Swiss politicians deny the tit-for-tat approach there is a clear correlation between  funds donation and opportunities for Helvetic banks in operating within euro zone.

Russia on brink of Council of Europe

The Council of Europe (CoE) member states will have to make a decision reacting upon Russia’s refusal to resume payments to the organization’s budget, while there is a scenario that Moscow will be requested to leave the Council, Secretary General of the CoE Thorbjorn Jagland said.

“The matter is now urgent. Our member states will soon have to take a decision on Russia’s non-payment. This procedure could lead to Russia being asked to leave. It is not too late to prevent RUXIT. I am appealing to our governments to take their responsibility seriously and to find a solution with Russia. There must be a dialogue at the highest level for the conference of Foreign Ministers in Helsinki in May 2019,” Jagland told reporters.

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Norway delegation visits Crimean parliament

A delegation from Norway headed by the chairman of the public organization “Norwegian People’s DiplomacyHendrik Weber arrived to the Republic of Crimea on a five-day visit, organised for nine people representing  intellectual professions and various political parties.

Norwegian guests will visit the Viking park located in the Dobrovskaya Valley, the children recreation camp Artek ICC. Also in the program – a visit to the Livadia Palace, the house-museum of writer  Anton Chekhov, the wine production enterprise “Massandra“, a tour of Yalta (pictured above), Sevastopol and Bakhchisarai.

Delegation will have a exchange with the speaker of the Crimean parliament Vladimir Konstantinov (Pictured below)

Criema speaker

AMENDED 5/10/2017 Norwegians plan to open a travel agency to offer trips to tourists from the EU to Crimea,  the leader of the public organization “People’s Diplomats of Norway” Hendrik Weber said during the visit.

 

Clashes in Barcelona ahead of referendum anniversary

Six people arrested, and 24 injured during protests in Barcelona degrading in clashes between police and demonstrators ahead of the anniversary of the 2017 Catalan independence referendum. Police have attempted to prevent protesters who gathered in downtown Barcelona to confront another march in support of Spanish police.

Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau asked to “avoid confrontation” between pro-independence groups and people marching in support of Spanish police, who are demanding higher salary.

Catalan police Mossos d’Esquadra, have been active in attempting to avoid the opponent protest groups to confront, Catalan News reports, while pro-independence groups passed along the streets same time as the Spanish agents.

There were moments of tension, when police agents have been violently hitting people with their batons. Protesters later chanted messages against the Catalan police and urged the Catalan minister of Home Affairs, Miquel Buch, to resign.

Although there was some tension in the frontline of the pro-independence march, the atmosphere remained enthusiastic at Plaça Sant Jaume, where thousands of people were protesting against the Spanish police presence in the city.

A helicopter has been monitoring the city center of Barcelona, where the two opposed demonstrations were taking place.

A year ago hundreds of Catalans were injured in clashes between Spanish national police and civilians on the day of the referendum as police tried to stop people from voting.

Russian Embassy cars vandalized in Kiev

Russian Embassy in Kiev has failed a complaint with Ukraine Foreign Ministry about damage to  diplomats’ cars which were vandalized, Russian media reports.

The vandals smeared diplomats’s cars with human experiments and scrawled insults with paint. Tires were punctured and license plates torn off.

The incident is not unique, as Russian diplomat’s cars have been vandalized in Kiev previously:

Russia will stay in Council of Europe

Russia will not quit the Council of Europe, because this platform is essential for upholding its national interests, Russia’s CoE envoy Ivan Soltanovsky told Izvestia newspaper.

“Right now, Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe is off the table. Our work there has not been interrupted. On the contrary, we are actively promoting the position of building a united Europe without dividing lines. We are actively involved in the work of such bodies as the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers and the European Court of Human Rights. Efforts are underway along various lines, specifically, fighting drug trafficking, terrorism, money laundering, and (supporting) legal cooperation, sports and cultural issues,” Russian diplomat said.

“All crises end sooner or later. We all know perfectly well that it is easy to slam the door (and leave), but it’s far more difficult to return,Soltanovsky added.

According to the envoy, those forces, which seek to demonize Russia and use all available means for that objective, are currently working overtime in the West. “Unfortunately, the Council of Europe is not immune to this development. We believe that the Russian delegation to PACE was stripped of some of its rights precisely in this context. All that can have far-reaching consequences for the organization, and we have drawn our partners’ attention to that,” the diplomat concluded.

 

 

Amsterdam CS violence victims remain in hospital

Dutch police shot and injured a suspect following a stabbing which left two people wounded at Amsterdam Central railway station.

The victims, as well as the suspected attacker, were sent to a local hospital, Dutch police communicated in Twitter micro blog.

Eyewitness said to Dutch media, there were around 15 police cars and a helicopter monitoring the scene.

Commuters are advised to avoid the area and the station was partially closed for a time, however it has since been fully reopened.

Dutch police has not given any comment on the incident, leaving unanswered question is it was terrorism-related. The name of the attacker was not revealed.

AMENDED 01.09.2018

The two people injured in a stabbing incident at Amsterdam’s central station were U.S. citizens, the U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands said in a statement:

Ambassador Pete Hoekstra said the pair were tourists visiting the city. They remained in hospital on Saturday, with serious injuries, local police said.

Police said the attacker, a 19-year old Afghan citizen who was shot and taken into custody shortly after the incident, would be interrogated later in the day. He also remained in hospital, with injuries to his lower body.

On Friday evening, police said the man’s motives were still unclear. “All scenarios are taken into consideration, including a terrorist motive”, authorities said in a statement.

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