Category Archives: International

G7: Borrell insists on aid to Iranians

EU top diplomt Josep Borrell participated in a G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that took place via video-teleconference call on Wednesday, 25 March.

“The discussion focussed on the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The High Representative Borrell (pictured) stressed that the pandemic represented a global challenge of unprecedented nature, with far-reaching consequences for the economic and geopolitical spheres, which required a global response. He underlined the importance of a strongly coordinated and multilateral approach, while stepping up international cooperation and providing humanitarian assistance to most affected countries, with a particular view to Africa. High Representative also stressed the need to ensure that citizens receive correct information related to the pandemic, that special measures are consistent with democratic values and that all countries share an interest in pushing back against disinformation and false narratives. 

“During the meeting, several other foreign policy and security issues were addressed, including those related to Iran, Syria, the regional situation in the Gulf and Middle East, Libya, Sahel, Afghanistan, security in the EU neighbourhood and in Asia. The importance of enhancing international cooperation in multilateral frameworks was also highlighted by Borrell.

“On Iran, the High Representative drew the attention of G7 partners to the difficult situation in the country because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the potential spill-over to neighbouring countries and the need to step up assistance to the Iranian people as a matter of priority. In this regard, he clarified that humanitarian aid and medical services are outside of the scope of sanctions. He underlined the importance of an effective response, including through unimpeded humanitarian assistance and stimulus measures in view of the dramatic impact of the outbreak on the livelihoods of ordinary Iranian people. The EU top diplomat supports Iran´s request for aid from the IMF and the need for avoiding any punitive measures in addressing the pandemic. He also addressed the state of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA). He stressed the need to preserve the deal and for full implementation of the JCPoA by all sides. He also referred to the ongoing efforts by the EU to contribute to de-escalation and pursue stability in the wider region.

“The High Representative highlighted the necessity of renewed international efforts in order to address the Syrian crisis and pave the way for a political solution. He reaffirmed the EU’s focus on addressing the humanitarian situation and informed G7 partners that the EU will again organise a Brussels Conference for the Future of Syria and the region.

“The High Representative agreed to stay in close contact with all G7 counterparts in the coming weeks and months, in order to ensure close international coordination and cooperation on all of the pressing issues.”

EU condemns Russia EED limitations

“The decision by the Russian authorities to include the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) on their list of “undesirable organisations” is unacceptable” reads the statement of the European External Action Service spokesperson.

“The EED is a values-based organisation. It represents tenets and principles that are shared by the EU, its Member States, and by many other countries around the world.

“We urge the relevant Russian authorities to reconsider their decision, and withdraw the European Endowment for Democracy from the list of “undesirable organisations”.

“The EU has repeatedly condemned the Russian legislation on “undesirable organisations” and “foreign agents”. Both laws contribute to restricting civil society, independent media and political opposition, and have a negative impact on the work of civil society in Russia.

“Democracy is a universal value that includes respect for human rights as enshrined in international law”, the statement of the EU diplomat concludes.

Image: Moscow, Russia

Erdogan requests aid for migrants

We had tonight a meeting with President Erdoğan. A few days after my visit in Ankara, it was important to have this occasion to exchange our views on different topics related to the relationship between Turkey and the European Union. And of course, the first topic we discussed is the implementation of the deal between the European Union and Turkey on migration. We had the occasion to share our different opinions about the implementation of this deal a few years after this agreement” said the EU Council president Charles Michel.

“It is also very important to share with you that we will debrief the member states. We consulted a lot the member states the last days. It was, of course, necessary in order to inform them, in order to listen to the member states and to their concern regarding the different topics we have to discuss with Turkey. We will debrief the member states and it will also be the occasion later with the member states, after this process, this High-Level Political and technical process, between Turkey and the European Union through Josep Borrell and his counterpart in Turkey. It will also be the occasion to have, again, a political dialogue at the level of president Erdoğan in the next days and in the next weeks in order to continue this process of information and consultation of the different member states” Michel continued.

We also had the opportunity to explain the difference for the European Union between the means which are paid and disbursed, because the procedures are accomplished and the projects carried out, and the means which are committed, ie reserved in the case of the six billion euro envelope that was mobilized in connection with this agreement. This is a first point. Second point: we also had the opportunity to discuss security issues in the region, especially in Syria, and to highlight our mobilization in support of any political solution to bring more stability, but above all to highlight the the great humanitarian concern we have in Idlib, as well as on the border between Turkey and Syria. And the possible mobilization of the European Union to try to provide support in this area” Michel underlined.

However President Erdogan did not participate int he final press-conference, and some commentators assessed the meeting did not pass as foreseen, ending by abrupt departure of Turkish delegation.

The experts pointed at the talks failure, indicating that the positions of the parties are too far away to reach any rapprochement, especially responding to President Erdogan’s request to open Greek borders to let the migrants to pass further to the other European countries. In 2016, the EU struck a a financial arrangement with Turkey that prevented displaced Syrians from entering the EU via Greece in exchange for six billion euro aid. The agreement, although criticised by many, for time being has helped to stop Europe’s biggest refugee influx since World War II. It is unclear if Erdogan has accepted the explanations of the EU side on delays of transfers of six billion migrant funds to Turkey. In line with his previous strategy Erdogan continued to request visa-free travel to Europe for Turkish citizens.

EU rejects Turkey migratory pressure

The Foreign Affairs Council adopted a statement on the crisis in Idlib and the situation at the EU external borders with Turkey. (Image: illustration).

In its statement, the Council acknowledges the increased migratory burden and risks Turkey is facing on its territory and the substantial efforts it has made in hosting 3,7 million migrants and refugees. The Council also strongly rejects Turkey’s use of migratory pressure for political purposes and restates that the EU and its member states remain determined to effectively protect EU’s external borders, in accordance with EU and international law.

In this context the Council reiterates the EU’s full solidarity with Greece, which faces an unprecedented situation, as well as with Bulgaria, Cyprus and other member states in their efforts to manage the EU’s external borders.

On Idlib, the Council notes that the recent and continuing offensive by the Syrian regime and its backers, including Russia, is creating untold human suffering and has provoked the worst humanitarian crisis since the beginning of the Syrian conflict.

The Council therefore calls for an urgent de-escalation of the conflict in Syria in order to avert a slide into international military confrontation, and prevent further suffering.

The Council notes the outcome of the Russia-Turkey meeting yesterday in Moscow and reiterates, in the strongest possible terms, its call on all parties to keep in place an immediate and a sustainable ceasefire, to guarantee the protection of civilians on the ground and from the air and to enable the unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance by the international community.

EU diplomats focus on Russia and Turkey

#Gymnich: Statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell following the informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Zagreb, (Image: archive).

“…Turkey and Russia were in our agenda. Our relations with these two countries are difficult, but we have to improve them from different points of view. We have been accumulating difficulties and we have to restart a new approach to overcome these difficulties. [In our relations] with Russia we have five guiding principles since the Crimea crisis, which are very well fitted to the situation. We have to increase our engagement on selective issues, in which we have to have a good partnership with Russia: energy, climate change, Artic, Russia’s engagement in Syria and Libya, playing important roles that affect our security. Today has been an interesting approach on how to deal with that.

“On Turkey the situation is strongly linked to the crisis in Idlib. [We are] at the beginning of a migration crisis, the consequences of the Turks letting people go, making [them] maybe believe that the borders of Europe were open. We have to defend our borders, we have to conciliate the respect of the human rights of migrants with the fact that our borders cannot be violated, people cannot across the borders illegally. At the same time we have to talk with the Turks about many issues that affect directly our security, because Turkey is also playing an important role in the Libyan crisis.

“Tomorrow we are going to approve a statement putting [down in] black and white the conclusions, but today has been an open discussion about these two important neighbours which are unavoidably part of our security and part of our most important concerns.”


Idlib: Putin meets Erdogan “confidentially”

President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Recep Erdogan on March 4 that a face-to-face meeting was necessary amid the escalation in Idlib, Syria.

We always have something to talk about, but now the situation in the Idlib zone has escalated so much that this requires our face-to-face conversation,” the Russian leader said opening the Russian-Turkish talks.
According to Russia’s President, the situation in Idlib must be discussed in a key that it does not ruin Russian-Turkish relations.

We must definitely discuss everything, the entire situation we have today, so that similar things […] never happen again and so that […] it does not destroy the Russian-Turkish relations, which we — and I know that you too — treat carefully and prize highly,” Putin underlined.
Putin reiterated his condolences over the death of Turkish troops in Syria to Erdogan, underlining that the Syrian Army had been unaware of the Turkish forces’ location.

“I would like to reiterate my deepest condolences over the death of your troops in Syria,” Putin said to Erdogan. The Russian president added that “the loss of human life is always a tragedy.”

“Unfortunately, as I told you before in a phone call, no one, including the Syrian troops, was aware of their location,Putin said. He added that Syrian troops had likewise sustained losses recently.

Putin thanked Erdogan for finding the opportinity to travel to Moscow to hold the meeting. He noted that the conversation would begin “confidentially“, as the Turkish leader had asked, and later, if necessary, the two countries’ delegations would join it.

Idlib: NATO calls to stop offensive

The North Atlantic Council had a meeting upon Turkey request to hold consultations under article 4 of NATO’s founding Washington Treaty on the situation in Syria.

“Under article 4 of the Treaty, any Ally can request consultations whenever, in the opinion of any of them, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened. I spoke to the Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu last night about the situation in Syria” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at Turkey’s request for Article 4 consultations on the situation in Syria.

https://twitter.com/jensstoltenberg/status/1233353765476061184?s=21

“And he requested these consultations. Today Turkey briefed on the serious security situation in Syria. Allies offer their deepest condolences for the death of Turkish soldiers in last night’s bombing in Idlib. And expressed their full solidarity with Turkey.Allies condemn the continued indiscriminate air strikes by the Syrian regime and Russia in Idlib province. I call on them to stop their offensive. To respect international law. And to back UN efforts for a peaceful solution.

This dangerous situation must be deescalated and we urge an immediate return to the 2018 ceasefire. To avoid further worsening of the horrendous humanitarian situation in the region. And to allow urgent humanitarian access for those trapped in Idlib.

https://twitter.com/anadoluagency/status/1233363151032397825?s=21

Today’s meeting is a clear sign of solidarity with Turkey. Turkey is a valued NATO Ally and Turkey is the NATO Ally most affected by the terrible conflict in Syria, which has suffered the most terrorist attacks, and which hosts millions of refugees.NATO continues to support Turkey with a range of measures. Including by augmenting its air defences. This helps Turkey against the threat of missile attacks from Syria.

I thank Turkey for briefing Allies regularly on the situation in Syria.

Allies will continue to follow developments on the South-eastern border of NATO and to consult very closely”.

“…We also stated very clearly that we call on Russia and the Assad regime to stop the attacks, to stop the indiscriminate air attacks and also to engage and support UN-led efforts to find a lasting peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria. And we also call on Russia and Syria to fully respect international law. Because we have seen bombing of civilian targets, we have seen increased humanitarian suffering and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes. NATO Allies provide support for Turkey today. We augment their air defences, we have AWACS planes helping to patrol the skies, and we also have port visits and provide support in other ways. But Allies are constantly looking into what more they can do to provide further support for Turkey”.

https://twitter.com/russianembassy/status/1233406197845417984?s=21

Presidents Putin-Erdogan talks might take place on 5-6 March, Russian TASS news agency reports.

https://twitter.com/rt_com/status/1233436705434136576?s=21

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