Category Archives: featured

BRAFA Art Fair to resume in January 2023

Brussels 04.10.2022 The Brussels Fine Arts Fair fair will take place from Sunday January 29th to Sunday February 5th at Brussels Expo, Heysel, the organisers report. According to them 130 exhibitors will participate in the 68th edition of BRAFA, which is back on the international art fair calendar.

BRAFA will be the first major European art fair to visit in 2023, positioning it, as per tradition, as a
true barometer of the art market. The 68th edition of BRAFA will take place from Sunday, January
29 th to Sunday, February 5 th at Brussels Expo at the Heysel in Halls 3 and 4, where 130 exhibitors will
be taking over the entire space. This venue, the new setting for BRAFA since June, was greatly
appreciated by its visitors at the last event, both for the openness of its aisles and for the very
pleasant atmosphere that reigned there.


Harold t’Kint de Roodenbeke, the Chairman of BRAFA, explains: “We had a kind of trial gallop with a
first BRAFA outside of our usual standards, since we proposed an event in a new space and at a
different time due to a disrupted schedule. January will therefore be both a return to normality in
terms of dates and also the writing of a new page in our history with Brussels Expo. Our current goal
is to get back to our rhythm and our loyal customers, whilst developing the potential of the space.”
For this 2023 edition, a theme has been chosen in correlation with the initiative of the Brussels-
Capital Region, which will make 2023 a year devoted to Art Nouveau. BRAFA will be highlighting this
movement in several ways. The King Baudouin Foundation and some galleries specialised in this field
will be presenting exceptional Art nouveau pieces. The creation of the BRAFA 2023 carpet will be
based on original drawings by Victor Horta, and art lovers will be able to attend two “BRAFA Art
Talks” devoted to Art nouveau.

Borrell on Russia major escalation

Brussels 22.09.2022 “What President Putin announced today constitutes another major escalation in the unprovoked war that he has launched against Ukraine” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, while addressing press at margins of his visit to the UN, New York.

“It looks like he is speaking in a measure of panic and desperation. Putin is doubling down a failing strategy.

“By the threat of using nuclear, he is trying to intimidate Ukraine and all countries that support Ukraine. But he will fail. He has failed and he will fail again.
Unfortunately, this latest escalation is in line with the approach taken by the Russian regime until now.

“Putin’s threat to use “all weapon resources at our disposal” – this was his sentence – implies the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. And such a threat is unacceptable.

“Threatening with nuclear weapons is a real danger to the whole world. The international community has to react in front of this threat.

“Doing it on the International Peace Day is even more cynical. Maybe it is a coincidence, but it is particularly shocking to hear such threats during the United Nations General Assembly when the world community unites to work on peace and progress.

“Russia’s Putin is demonstrating again that it completely disregards the international norms, rules and principles. Rules, principles and norms that we have all signed [up to] – Russia also – as members of the United Nations. And these rules and principles start with territorial integrity.

“The intention to annex territories occupied by force since February 2022 and to hold sham referenda will not change their legal status. They are and they will remain internationally recognised as an integral part of Ukraine. And this is not going to change by holding sham referendum.

“Now it is clear that Russia wants to destroy Ukraine by all means, violating international law and the United Nations Charter since the beginning. But now it looks like Russia’s Putin wants to destroy Ukraine. The international community gathered here in New York needs to take the full measure of what is at stake.

The [United Nations] Security Council will meet and discuss about Ukraine tomorrow in [the light of] this new scenario. I will speak on behalf of the European Union to the Security Council. I will have the great honour and responsibility of addressing the Security Council on behalf of the European Union at that critical moment.

And tonight, immediately after hearing about the words of Mr Putin, I am convening an extraordinary and ad-hoc informal meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Ministers with the purpose to agree on a common line. And the common line – I am sure – could be summarised saying that we will not be intimidated and we will continue our full support for Ukrainian sovereignty and democracy, and continue working for this war to stop as soon as possible – before going into bigger challenges, before facing bigger threats, and before the international community has to react to such threats.

Baku-Yerevan: EU welcomes ceasefire

Brussels 15.09.2022 The EU welcomes the agreement on a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which entered in force yesterday at 20:00. We are encouraged by local reports stating that the ceasefire is being respected so far.

“We call on the sides to continue its implementation and coordinate humanitarian steps, such as the handover of bodies of soldiers.

The EU Special Representative, Toivo Klaar, carries on his high-level consultations, as mandated by HR/VP Borrell, in Baku yesterday and in Yerevan today.

The EU remains strongly involved in the normalisation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan, including at the highest level through President of the European Council, Charles Michel”.

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.

U.S. Ambassador leaves Moscow

Brussels 05.09.2022 The U.S. Ambassador to Russian John Sullivan has concluded his work in Moscow and departed on Sunday, September 4, the U.S. Embassy said in a press statement on its website.

“U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation John J. Sullivan has concluded his tenure as U.S. envoy and departed Moscow today,” it said. “Elizabeth Rood will assume duties as Charge d’Affaires at U.S. Embassy Moscow until Ambassador Sullivan’s successor arrives.”

Sullivan was appointed as the Ambassador to Russia in December 2019 and has served for nearly three years.

“…Why the change? Ambassadors have little power to set policy, but they control the *tone* of daily diplomatic communications. The Biden administration wants to take a harder line with Russia. Expect the new ambassador to be someone the Russians will hate,” the foreign policy analyst Clint Ehrlich writes.

EU on Armenia-Azerbaijan hostilities

Brussels 03.08.2022 “The European Union calls for an immediate cessation of the hostilities which have broken out between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces around the Lachin corridor and other places along the Line of Contact. Regrettably, these clashes already led to loss of life and injuries.

“It is essential to de-escalate, fully respect the ceasefire and return to the negotiating table to seek negotiated solutions.

“The European Union remains committed to help overcome tensions and continue its engagement towards sustainable peace and stability in the South Caucasus”.​​

Kremlin vows to retaliate RT Channel ban

Brussels 27.07.2022 The Kremlin vowed to hinder the work of Western media in Russia after a European court of Justice upheld a broadcast ban imposed on Russian news channel RT France.

“Of course, we will take similar measures of pressure on Western media that operate in our country,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

“We will also not let them work in our country,” he continued, assessing the Kremlin’s reaction to the ban as “extremely negative.”

“Essentially, RT has been blocked and cannot operate in Europe,” Peskov said. “Europeans are trampling on their own ideals.”

As part of EU sanctions imposed on Moscow over its intervention in Ukraine, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg issued a judgement refusing an appeal from state-owned outlet RT against the ban, which the EU imposed earlier in March over accusations that the network spreads disinformation.

Consistently accused of diffusing Russian state propaganda, RT has been blocked in the EU member-states contrary to the organisation’s values of free speech.

Launched in 2005 as Russia Today, the channel had expanded its reach through broadcasts and websites in several languages including English, French, Spanish, German and Arabic, establishing its reputation among the leading world news brands.

EU renews Russia sanctions

Brussels 27.07.2022 EU renews economic sanctions over Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine for further six months. On July 26 the Council today decided to prolong by six months, until 31 January 2023, the restrictive measures targeting specific sectors of the economy of the Russian Federation.

These sanctions, first introduced in 2014 in response to Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine, were significantly expanded since February 2022, in light of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine. They currently consist of a broad spectrum of sectoral measures, including restrictions on finance, energy, technology and dual-use goods, industry, transport and luxury goods.

In addition to the economic sanctions on the Russian Federation, the EU has in place different types of measures in response to Russia’s destabilising actions against Ukraine. These include: restrictions on economic relations with the illegally annexed Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as well as the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts; individual restrictive measures (asset freezes and travel restrictions) on a broad range of individuals and entities, and diplomatic measures.

Since 24 February, the EU has adopted a number of unprecedented and hard-hitting packages of sanctions in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The EU condemns in the strongest possible terms Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, which blatantly violates Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It urges Russia to immediately stop its indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.

The European Union is unwavering in its commitment to help Ukraine exercise its inherent right of self-defence against the Russian aggression and build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future. It also remains committed to continue bolstering Ukraine’s ability to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

EU humanitarian assistance to Ukraine

Brussels 13.05.2022 Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has created one of the largest humanitarian crises in Europe’s recent history, with the ongoing war causing increasing numbers of casualties, destruction and displacement within and outside Ukraine’s borders.(Image: Roberta Metsola, archive)

Ukraine’s civilian population is being subjected to shelling and violence and an estimated one-third of Ukrainians have been forced from their homes, either within the country or to neighbouring states. As of 6 July, more than 5.6 million Ukrainian refugees have been recorded across Europe, including Poland (1,207,650), but also Germany (867,000), the Czech Republic (388,097), Turkey (145,000) and Italy (141,562) . About 90% of them are women and children, who are also at a higher risk of violence and abuse, including human trafficking, smuggling and illegal adoption.

The numbers keep changing, but more than 2.5 million Ukrainians have returned home since the beginning of the Russian invasion. Some are returning to areas which were threatened by Russian forces at the beginning of the war but are now considered safer.

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

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