Category Archives: International

EU: Borrell talks with Blinken in Washington

Brussels 15.10.2021 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell met with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on Thursday,October 14.

The European diplomat welcomed recent intense engagement with the U.S. Administration and expressed the importance to further deepen the EU-U.S. strategic partnership to jointly address foreign policy, security and global challenges. Further he welcomed, in particular, the launch of the Trade and Technology Council in Pittsburgh as a strong example of the shared commitment to work together to provide answers to some of today’s most pressing challenges.

Borrell and Blinken highlighted the intention to launch a dialogue on security and defence by the end of the year. The EU diplomat welcomed the setting up of this dedicated channel to discuss common security and defence challenges, building on the mandate agreed by the EU and U.S. Leaders at the EU-U.S. Summit in June. He welcomed the US support for a stronger and more capable European defence and stressed that stronger EU capabilities contribute positively to transatlantic and global security, and also strengthen NATO.

Both diplomats agreed to launch EU-U.S. consultations on the Indo-Pacific, with the aim to step up transatlantic cooperation and joint engagement in the region. They agreed to hold a first high-level meeting this year.

They welcomed the work done under the EU-US Dialogue on China and agreed to hold the next high-level meeting in December. They also agreed to launch the High-level Dialogue on Russia, with the first meeting planned to take place before the end of this year.

Borrell and Blinken discussed some of the most urgent foreign and security policy issues. They addressed, amongst others, the latest developments related to Afghanistan, with the High Representative underlining the utmost priority for the international community being to prevent the socio-economic collapse of the country and the need to work jointly on solutions for Afghan people.

They further discussed the opportunities for continued EU – U.S. partnership in the Western Balkans in support of the region’s progress on its European path, underlined the importance of EU-facilitated Dialogue in addressing issues related to the comprehensive normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo and, referring to recent developments, highlighted the need for de-escalation and re-engagement in negotiations. They agreed to further strengthen their cooperation on these matters.

The diplomats also discussed the situation in Venezuela and their strong will to support political processes to restore stability and democratic reconciliation in the country. In addition, they discussed the efforts towards stabilisation in the Sahel region.

They paid attention to high energy prices, the global impact of this crisis as well as the green energy transition. They looked forward to the next meeting of the EU-U.S. Energy Council early next year, agreed on the need for an ambitious outcome at the COP 26 climate conference.

Concluding the talks Josep Borrell once again has drawn attention to the modality of the relations between two partners. “The European Union and the United States share an important and unique relationship. We will continue to work closely not only because we are partners of first resort but also because friends and allies look at us and expect us to work together to address global challenges” the EU diplomat said.

EU preservation of Arctic policy

“…The European Union engagement in the Arctic is not a matter of convenience or the way to prove our importance in geopolitical field” said the Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius during following the adoption of the new EU Arctic Policy.

“It is a necessity. First of all, because the Arctic is home for hundreds of thousands of Europeans. Secondly, environment crisis and climate change already showed us that what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. Similarly, global actions and demand patterns do not stay out of the region. Geopolitical competition is growing and the balance in the Arctic has been lost in climate field. We have to bring this balance back.

“This is the reason why today we adopted the new Joint Communication for a stronger EU engagement for a peaceful, sustainable and prosperous Arctic with the European Green Deal at its heart.

“This is the make or break decade in the fight against the climate and biodiversity crises. Our generation has the unique and only opportunity to change the world and the Arctic is at the centre of this change.

“The Arctic is warming up three times faster than the rest of the planet. Forest fires are becoming the norm in some parts of the region. Collapsing infrastructure led last summer to a huge oil slick. This must be fixed and the reason is simple: the melting of ice and thawing of permafrost in the Arctic further accelerate climate change and have huge knock-on effects, felt by Europeans and throughout the world. The EU is ready to lead by example.

“…We will enhance our strategic foresight, especially regarding the links between climate change and security. We will look to extend our Civil Protection capacities in the Arctic and offer new services from our world-leading Copernicus and Galileo satellite systems, to help environmental monitoring, maritime safety and search and rescue.

“In this, it will be important to work together with all Arctic partners in Europe, with the US and Canada, and with other partners involved in Arctic affairs.

“In the entire climate change or geopolitical action local and indigenous people are at the center of our efforts. There are many Europeans among them and we will support an inclusive and sustainable development of the Arctic to the benefit of them and future generations. We will be stimulating better education, sustainable growth and jobs.

“We aim to increase the involvement of young, women and Indigenous Peoples in Arctic decision-making. We seek to boost digital connectivity through EU space programmes and the Connecting Europe Facility and support technologies and solutions for the green transition, including through the EU Recovery Plan.

“The EU is in the Arctic. We have strategic and day-to-day interests, both in the European Arctic and the broader Arctic region. By this strategy, the EU aims to promote sound environmental management, biodiversity protection and efficient energy use, support climate change mitigation and adaptation, and contribute to the resilience of the people in the face of climate change effects”.

Borrell heads to Washington D.C.

Brussels 13.10.2021 The European Union top diplomat Josep Borrell will travel to Washington D.C. from 13 to 15 October for a number of high-level meetings focused on the relationship between the EU and the USA, on advancing the Transatlantic agenda and on pressing international developments. This will be the first official visit by Borrell to Washington since the new US administration took up office. It takes place in the follow-up to a number of contacts already held by the EU diplomat and his US counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and in the follow-up to the EU-US summit held in Brussels in June.

In his talks with US partners Borrell will underline that strong alliance between the EU and US is key for addressing global challenges, such as pandemic and economic recovery, climate change and democratic backsliding, as well as to continue to uphold common values, ensure global security and prosperity.

On Thursday, 14 October Borrell will meet with Blinken to discuss current foreign policy issues and initiatives to deepen further the EU-US strategic partnership and advance an already close cooperation on foreign and security policy.

Later on, the EU diplomat will hold meetings with the US Deputy Secretary of Defence Kathleen Hicks to discuss how to pursue enhanced bilateral cooperation in the field of security and defence.

NATO expels Russian diplomats

Brussels 07.10.2021 “There is a glaring discrepancy between NATO officials’ statements about their wish to normalize relations with our country and real actions. These actions, of course, leave no room for illusions regarding the normalization of relations and the resumption of the dialogue with NATO. These prospects are rather completely upset,” Peskov said.

NATO’s decision to expel Russian diplomats and accusations of hostile activity totally upset the chances for normalization of relations and a resumption of the dialogue, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media on Thursday, 7 October.

“There is a glaring discrepancy between NATO officials’ statements about their wish to normalize relations with our country and real actions. These actions, of course, leave no room for illusions regarding the normalization of relations and the resumption of the dialogue with NATO. These prospects are rather completely upset,” Peskov said.

NATO has decided to expel eight Russian diplomats and halve the size of Russia’s mission to the alliance in response to suspected “malign activities”, Sky News said on Wednesday, October 6.

The eight diplomats are expected to leave Brussels, where the alliance is headquartered, by the end of the month and their positions scrapped. Two other positions that are currently vacant will also be abolished, Sky News said.

“We can confirm that we have withdrawn the accreditation of eight members of the Russian Mission to NATO,” a NATO official said later.

Ghostwriter: Borrell on Russia malware

Brussels 24.09.2021 “Some EU Member States have observed malicious cyber activities, collectively designated as Ghostwriter, and associated these with the Russian state. Such activities are unacceptable as they seek to threaten our integrity and security, democratic values and principles and the core functioning of our democracies” reads the Declaration by the EU top diplomat on behalf of the European Union on respect for the EU’s democratic processes.(Image: Moscow City, Russia).

“These malicious cyber activities are targeting numerous members of Parliaments, government officials, politicians, and members of the press and civil society in the EU by accessing computer systems and personal accounts and stealing data. These activities are contrary to the norms of responsible State behaviour in cyberspace as endorsed by all UN Member States, and attempt to undermine our democratic institutions and processes, including by enabling disinformation and information manipulation”.

“The European Union and its Member States strongly denounce these malicious cyber activities, which all involved must put to an end immediately. We urge the Russian Federation to adhere to the norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace”.

“The European Union will revert to this issue in upcoming meetings and consider taking further steps”.

SOTEU: Afghan Support Package in view

Strasbourg 15.09.2021 “…Recent events in Afghanistan are not the cause of this change – but they are a symptom of it” the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said, while delivering the State of Union speech at European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg.
“And first and foremost, I want to be clear. We stand by the Afghan people. The women and children, prosecutors, journalists and human rights defenders”.

“I think in particular of women judges who are now in hiding from the men they jailed. They have been put at risk for their contribution to justice and the rule of law. We must support them and we will coordinate all efforts with Member States to bring them to safety.

“And we must continue supporting all Afghans in the country and in neighbouring countries. We must do everything to avert the real risk of a major famine and humanitarian disaster. And we will do our part. We will increase again humanitarian aid for Afghanistan by 100 million euro.

“This will be part of a new, wider Afghan Support Package that we will present in the next weeks to combine all of our efforts” the president of the Commission concluded.

Borrell visits Kurdistan

Brussels 07.09.2021 “…It would be impossible to visit Iraq without paying strong attention to the Kurdistan region” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, during his meeting with the President of the Kurdistan region of Iraq Nechirvan Barzani.

“We have had a very productive discussion about many issues of mutual interest. The President has referred to them and I am most grateful, President, for the great insights that we have had during our discussion.

“We know that the region has witnessed difficult times. Difficult times in the past and many challenges remain. I am here to express, on behalf of the European Union, our solidarity and support. The European Union is and will be still more a friend and a partner.

 

“In these difficult times, the Kurdistan Region plays a crucial role in ensuring stability in Iraq and in the wider region. We, therefore, attach high importance to the relations between the leadership in Erbil and the Federal authorities in Baghdad.

“We understand the difficulties and encourage all efforts to resolve existing differences and ensure good cooperation. And we are ready also to try to help on that.

“In my discussion with the President I had the opportunity to acknowledge and commend the important contribution by the Kurdistan Regional Government in the efforts of the Global Coalition against Da’esh.

“The important contribution of the Kurdistan people in terms of casualties suffered and the courage of your soldiers have been decisive in the fight against Da’esh.

“We, in the European Union, remain firmly committed to this Global Coalition, to continue working with partners, as the job to end Da’esh is unfortunately not finished given the repeated attacks in the recent times.

“In this context, I am pleased to announce that this summer we have expanded our European Union Advisory Mission in Iraq (EUAM) by opening a permanent presence here in Erbil. Our team is ready to provide advice and expertise on civilian security sector reform to the Kurdistan Regional Government, President. Talks have already started in the areas in which our support can be useful for you.

“I also commended the Kurdistan Region of Iraq for the momentous generosity and responsibility you have shown giving refuge to so many persons internally displaced by Da’esh, among them many Christians and Yazidis. The figures, President, are impressive. You were able to receive in six months two million refugees, which represents one third of your population. I do not think there is another example of such a big effort receiving people and helping them. I know how much money and efforts it has cost and I have to praise you and the Kurdistan society for this extreme effort of solidarity. We tried to support you as much as we can. Since 2019, about 240,000 people in Iraq have benefitted from European Union management services in their camps. And we also support projects aiming to improve relationship between Internally Displaced Persons and local communities.

“We also had the opportunity to talk and to exchange on regional issues of mutual interest and concern. This Region is located in a very complicated neighborhood. In that context, and bearing also in mind recent developments – I am thinking of Afghanistan – we discussed the migration file, very important for us and for all Member States of the European Union”.

Gymnich on Afghanistan

Brussels 03.09.2021 Press statement by High Representative Josep Borrell at the informal meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers (Gymnich) on Afghanistan:
“As I said at the beginning, the discussion today was going to be focused on Afghanistan. It is the most urgent priority. This is a polyhedric (many-sided, multifaceted) issue, we have to look at the situation in Afghanistan under the new circumstances: the lessons learnt, the state-building management, the relations with the United States. All of that.

“But today the Ministers had immediately driven their efforts on the discussion on the most pressing issue of this very much complex agenda. We will have time to go deeper on these other subjects not finished today, but today the Ministers have concentrated on how to deal with the new situation, how to deal with the new government in Afghanistan under the Taliban’s rule.

“I am going to try to summarise the main elements of the discussion with Foreign Ministers about this specific approach. This is my take of the debate, and Minister [of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia] Anže [Logar] will complement also. But as you know very well, this is an informal meeting, no decisions, no conclusions of the Council, [these are] conclusions of the High Representative taking stock of the general feeling of the debate among the Ministers.

“What is clear is that the future of Afghanistan remains a key issue for us. It affects us, it affects the region, international stability and it has a direct impact on European security. At the same time, the Ministers strongly insisted on the idea that we remain committed to supporting the Afghan population.

“In order to support the Afghan population, we will have to engage with the new government in Afghanistan, which does not mean recognition, it is an operational engagement. And this operational engagement will increase depending on the behaviour of this government. In order to measure the behaviour, we need benchmarks and the following are the benchmarks that we discussed as the basis for the European Union engagement with Afghan power-holders following the Taliban takeover.

“We will judge the behaviour and engage according to commitment of the Afghan government for Afghanistan not to serve as a basis for the export of terrorism to other countries.

Second, the respect for human rights, in particular women rights, the rule of law and freedom of the media.

“The third benchmark will be the establishment of an inclusive and representative transitional government through negotiations among political forces in Afghanistan.

“The fourth will be the free access for humanitarian aid, respecting our procedures and conditions for its delivery. We will increase humanitarian aid, but we will judge them according with the access that they provide to this help according to our procedures and conditions.

“The last benchmark will be the fulfilment of the Taliban commitment about the departure of foreign nationals and Afghans at risk, who wish to leave the country, in line with what was already decided by United Nations Security Resolution 2593.

“It is an engagement with the Taliban themselves, the international community is pressing for it. We will judge their behaviour according to these five benchmarks. Some will say ‘oh, but the Taliban will not fulfil them’. Let us see. Our engagement will depend on the fulfilment of these conditions.

“This is one very important aspect of our discussion today: how do we engage with the new power in Afghanistan?

“The second one is how do we continue supporting the people that we wanted to evacuate and were unable to do that due to the end of the air lifting and on the last days of August. People at risk, people who were working with us, people who were supporting the process of democratisation of Afghanistan and they are still there. We know them. They have to be evacuated.

“On that, the Foreign Affairs Ministers took good notice of what the Council of the Home Affairs Ministers decided on the 31st of August. And individual Member States will decide, on a voluntary basis, on the persons at risk that they are willing to receive under their protection, in accordance – as I said – with the statement of the situation adopted by the Council the past 31st of August.

“The benchmark of the new power in Afghanistan allowing movement of people is something different from the evacuation of national personnel from Afghanistan under the protection of Member States, which will be done on an individual and voluntary basis.

“In order to implement this evacuation, and in order to assess the implementation of the above benchmarks, we have decided to work in a coordinated manner. To coordinate our contacts with the Taliban, including through a joint European Union’s presence in Kabul, coordinated by the European External Action Service – if the security conditions are met.

“If you want to do it in a coordinated way, to evacuate the people who we are willing to accept, each Member State, we need a strong engagement, a strong contact, a close presence. And this will be done in a coordinated manner through a joint European Union’s presence in Kabul, coordinated by the European External Action Service – if the security conditions are met.

“Another agreement is on the need to coordinate the engagement of the regional and relevant international partners. And for that, the Ministers considered appropriate that under the auspices of the European External Action Service, the European Union will initiate a regional political platform of cooperation with Afghanistan’s neighbours.

“This will be built on the already existing broad relations of the European Union and Member States with these countries and this political platform will consider, among other issues, the management of population flows from Afghanistan; the prevention of the spread of terrorism; the fight against organised crime, including drug trafficking and human being smuggling.

“This will represent a strong diplomatic effort of all Member States going together, coordinated by the European External Action Service, in order to create this regional political platform with Afghanistan’s neighbours, which is very much needed if we want to stabilise the whole region.

“Certainly, we will continue working with specialised agencies in addressing the challenges in Afghanistan. We welcome the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2593. We had the opportunity to listen the report of the Head of the United Nations Agency for Refugees in Afghanistan, who explained us the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, which is dire.

“We will coordinate strongly with the United States, as well as with other partners and regional organisations in the framework of the G7 and the G20.

“So, engagement with the Taliban, benchmark to measure how this engagement is going on, coordinated effort in order to continue the evacuation of our nationals and Afghan people under our protection on an individual basis among Member States, but coordinated among all of us to make this evacuation possible, which will require certainly engagement with the Afghanistan power [holders], and creation of a regional political platform together with the neighbours of Afghanistan.

“It has been an intense discussion and I thank [for] the help that you, Anže, provided to me in order to get these conclusions. I am sure that you will like to add some considerations about it”.

Afghanistan: EU on migration

Brussels 31.08.2021 Council of the EU Statements and remarks 31 August 2021 18:10:
Statement on the situation in Afghanistan (Image above: illustration, Europa building, Brussels).

“The EU Ministers of Home Affairs met today for an extraordinary Council meeting to discuss developments in Afghanistan, more specifically in relation to potential implications in the areas of international protection, migration and security. The seriousness of the evolving situation requires a determined and concerted response to its many dimensions by the EU and the international community.

“The evacuation of our citizens and to the extent possible of Afghan nationals who have cooperated with the EU and its Member States and their families, has been conducted as a matter of priority and will be continued. In this regard, intensive work is underway to identify targeted solutions for the remaining specific cases of persons at risk in Afghanistan.
As an immediate priority, the EU will continue to coordinate with international partners, in particular the UN and its agencies, on the stabilisation of the region and to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches the vulnerable populations, in particular women and children, in Afghanistan and in neighbouring countries. To this end, the EU and its Member States will step up financial support to relevant international organisations.
“The EU will engage and strengthen its support to third countries, in particular the neighbouring and transit countries, hosting large numbers of migrants and refugees, to reinforce their capacities to provide protection, dignified and safe reception conditions and sustainable livelihood for refugees and host communities. The EU will also cooperate with those countries to prevent illegal migration from the region, reinforce border management capacity and prevent smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings. To this effect, the mandates of EU agencies should be used to their full extent. In particular, the European Asylum Support Office should step up its external operations for asylum capacity building. Furthermore, as part of global efforts, support could be provided in the form of resettlement on a voluntary basis, prioritising vulnerable persons, such as women and children.

“The Action Plan on Afghanistan should be prioritised and revised in light of this statement and changed circumstances to make it more operational. A Team Europe approach is needed to work with Afghanistan’s neighbours to address the impact of displacement in the region. The Council urges the Commission to assess all options for the necessary financial assistance under the Multiannual Financial Framework, in particular NDICI and asylum, migration and border management instruments.

“Based on lessons learned, the EU and its Member States stand determined to act jointly to prevent the recurrence of uncontrolled large-scale illegal migration movements faced in the past, by preparing a coordinated and orderly response. Incentives to illegal migration should be avoided. The EU should also strengthen the support to the countries in Afghanistan’s immediate neighbourhood to ensure that those in need receive adequate protection primarily in the region. The need for unified and coordinated external but also internal communication is key. Targeted information campaigns should be launched to combat the narratives used by smugglers, including in the on-line environment, which encourage people to embark on dangerous and illegal journeys towards Europe.

“The EU and its Member States will do their utmost to ensure that the situation in Afghanistan does not lead to new security threats for EU citizens. All efforts must be pursued to ensure that the Taliban regime ceases all ties and practices with international terrorism and that Afghanistan does not become once again a sanctuary for terrorists and organised crime groups. The EU will use all its available tools to closely monitor and respond to developments on the ground that might impact its security, in particular in the area of organised crime and terrorism, including its financing. Europol will provide an analysis of the criminal risks linked to the situation in Afghanistan. Exchange of information and intelligence, in line with national competences, also with third countries, and the sharing of regular threat assessments, are of utmost importance. The timely performance of security checks of persons being evacuated from Afghanistan remains crucial.
The EU and its Member States, with the support of Frontex, remain determined to effectively protect the EU external borders and prevent unauthorized entries, and assist the most affected Member States. Appropriate security checks should be carried out, including through the full use of relevant EU databases, as well as registration in Eurodac. Furthermore, as part of our comprehensive approach to external cooperation on migration, third-country national clauses in the readmission agreements between the EU and certain transit countries should be used where the legal requirements are met.
The Council recognizes the need to support and provide adequate protection to those in need, in line with EU law and our international obligations, and to bring closer Member States’ practices in the reception and processing of Afghan asylum seekers.

“The Council will closely follow the developments in the area of international protection, migration and security. It will respond to attempts to instrumentalise illegal migration for political purposes and other hybrid threats, including by developing new tools. The Council will also monitor closely the implementation of the actions mentioned above and ensure regular stocktaking in order to further improve the EU’s crisis management capacity, building upon the tools already developed. Coordination of all dimensions of this situation (humanitarian, development, international protection, migration, security, foreign policy) is crucial”.

Taliban assures free departures

Brussels 29.08.201 The following statement was released initially by the Governments of the United States of America, Albania, Australia, Belgium, Belize, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Canada, Central African Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Eswatini, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guyana, The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, North Macedonia, Norway, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Cyprus, Republic of Korea, Republic of Kosovo, Romania, Rwanda, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, St. Kitts and Nevis, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland , The Bahamas, The Gambia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Union of the Comoros, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Yemen, and Zambia.

“We are all committed to ensuring that our citizens, nationals and residents, employees, Afghans who have worked with us and those who are at risk, can continue to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan”.

“We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorization from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country”.

“We will continue issuing travel documentation to designated Afghans, and we have the clear expectation of and commitment from the Taliban that they can travel to our respective countries. We note the public statements of the Taliban confirming this understanding”.

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