Category Archives: International

N.Korea diplomat applied for asylum in Italy

North Korea’s top diplomat in Italy has applied for asylum and gone into hiding, Seoul lawmakers told reporters after a closed-door meeting with South Korean intelligence officials.

It would mark the latest high-profile defection by a senior North Korean envoy since the deputy ambassador in London in 2016.

Acting ambassador Jo Song Gil’s term was ending in late November last year and he escaped the diplomatic compound in early November” with his wife, lawmaker Kim Min-ki told reporters.

Jo Song-gil (48), has been acting ambassador in Rome since October 2017 after Italy expelled the then ambassador Mun Jong Nam in protest at a North Korean nuclear test a month earlier in violation of UN resolutions.

Italy is an important diplomatic mission for Pyongyang, as it handles relations with the Rome-headquartered UN Food and Agriculture Organization and North Korea suffers from chronic food shortages.

4.01.2019/ AMENDED:

A North Korean diplomat in Italy said to be seeking asylum is from a “prestigious diplomatic family” with both his father and father-in-law having worked in Pyongyang‘s foreign ministry,  Agency France press reports.

Pope wishes “path of peace” in conflicts

In his ‘Urbi et Orbi speech Pope Francis addressed a number of issues of conflicts, and protracted conflicts in various places across the world.

For the Israelies and Palestinians, the Pope wishes resumption of the dialogue and path to peace to end the 70-year conflict rending “the land chosen by the Lord to show his face of love”.

For Syrians he wishes that they can “find fraternity after long years of war” and that through international cooperation those who have fled may return home.

For Yemen, the hope that the truce will hold and bring relief to her people and children “exhausted by war and famine”.

For Africa, that the “Holy Child, the King of Peace” might “silence the clash of arms” allowing a “new dawn of fraternity to rise over the entire continent”.

For the Korean peninsula he prayed for the consolidation of the “bonds of fraternity” set in motion this year.

For Venezuelans the Pope hopes they might “recover social harmony” so as to “work fraternally” toward the country’s development.

For Ukrainians, he hopes “the Newborn Lord” might “bring relief” and “a lasting peace” which is possible only through respect for the “rights of every nation”.

For Nicaraguans he prayed that they might “see themselves once more as brothers and sisters” through reconciliation and building Nicaragua’s future together.

Pope Francis also mentioned those whose “freedom and identity” are compromised through modern forms of colonialisation, those suffering from hunger, lack of education and health care.

For those celebrating Christmas in hostile situations, Pontifex prayed that all minorities might live peacefully through respect for the right of religious freedom.

Urbi et Orbi  the Papal address to the of Rome and to the World denotes a speech and blessing to the city of Rome and to the entire world by the Pontiff on certain solemn occasions. At present according to the Pew Research there are more than two billion Christians in the world due to the population growth. Among them 1,3 million Catholics, with 40% of them residing in Latin America, where the Argentinian Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergogliocomes from.

EU ‘Sanctions war’ with Russia continues

On 21 December 2018, the European Council prolonged the economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy until 31 July 2019.

This decision follows an update from President Macron and Chancellor Merkel to the European Council of 13-14 December 2018 on the state of implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which the sanctions are linked. Given that no progress has been made, the European Council took the political decision to roll-over the economic sanctions against Russia.

The West should either recognize the results of Crimea referendum on reunification with Russia,  or stop imposing sanctions against people living in Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his traditional annual news conference on December 20.

In his words, “it is a curious situation” as Russia is being accused of Crimea’s annexation or in the other words of taking Crimea by force. “But if it was annexation and forcible takeover, then people living in Crimea have nothing to do with that,” he noted. “And if it was their choice in voting, then it was not annexation whatsoever.”

However not all the political forces in the EU share the European Council point of view: since 2014 Marine Le Pen, the leader of French RN (former Front National) has not seen any reason to dispute the result of the referendum.

I see no grounds whatsoever to question this referendum,” she said. She also added that she regards Crimea as a integral part of Russia. According to TASS News Agency Marine Le Pen “hopes to visit Crimea in April” 2019.

Putin approves of US troops removal from Syria

Vladimir Putin said that agrees with the assessment of Donald Trump that the terrorist group, the Islamic State (ISIS/Daesh) was in general  defeated.

As for the victory over the Islamic State, I agree with the US President in general,” Putin said at annual news conference. “We’ve achieved considerable transformation in the struggle against terrorism in these territories and caused severe damages to the Islamic State in Syria.

The  presence of the US troops in Syria is “not necessary” Putin added. “Let us not forget that the presence of US troops in Syria is not legitimate” he continued, poiting that  there is no UN Security Council resolution to justify it. A military contingent can stay there only under a UN resolution or at the invitation of Syria’s legitimate government. “We are in Syria at the government’s invitation” the President concluded.

The United States has neither”, so pulling out the troops if a “right decision” Putin said.

 

 

 

EU-Japan ‘strategic partners’ era

From December 2018 to February 2019 EU-Japan relations are set to receive a major lift with the signing of a new trade agreement and a strategic partnership.

Although EU and Japan already enjoy good relations, they have agreed to upgrade their partnership against a background of increasing international tensions and protectionism.

The proposed trade agreement will make it easier for European companies to export to Japan, while a planned strategic partnership will boost cooperation on common challenges such as security and the environment.

 

The European Parliament endorsed both proposals of the Commission during the December plenary. The Council will also have to approve both agreements before they can enter into force.

EU companies export more than €58 billion worth of goods and €28 billion in services to Japan a year, but the trade agreement will boost this even further by removing remaining barriers to trade. This includes eliminating 90% of tariffs on more than 90% of the EU’s exports to Japan. This is expected to save EU exporters about €1 billion in customs duties a year. In addition, Japan will recognise the special status of more than 200 European agricultural products from specific regions, known as Geographical Indications. Measures will also be taken to lower non-tariff barriers, for example by relying on international standards rather than specific Japanese requirements.

The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement sends a timely signal in support of open, fair, values- and rules-based trade at a time of increasing protectionism and an erratic trade policy by US President Donald Trump. This agreement also represents an opportunity for the European Union (EU) in the Asia-Pacific, especially since the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) regional free trade agreement, and helps promote EU values and high standards in the region.”  MEP Pedro SILVA PEREIRA a Portuguese member of the S&D group, said the agreement was being concluded at an important time:

“This agreement will foster not only closer bilateral economic ties, but also concrete cooperation on sustainable development like the fight against climate change. The agreement can, in addition, enhance coordination on multilateral issues with Japan and help shape rules for the global economy in line with our high standards and shared values of respect for human rights, democracy and the rules of law” the MEP added.

MEPs said they saw the agreements as possible models for cooperation with other countries.

It is the first EU trade agreement with a commitment to the implementation of the Paris Agreement to combat climate change and with dedicated chapters on corporate governance and small and medium-sized enterprises. The agreement also upholds the EU’s high standards on environmental protection, consumer protection, food safety and labour rights, protects public services and respects the right to regulate
Silva Perreira said.

The two agreements have been possible because the EU and Japan are like-minded partners with shared values of democracy and a common vision for global trade and cooperation… high standards and the readiness to address current global challenges should be the cornerstone of future cooperation agreements” MEP Alojz
Peterle said.

Media attention to Putin at rise

A record number of journalists – 1,702 – have been accredited to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s traditional annual news conference due to take place on December 20, according to the Kremlin website which posted the final list of accredited journalists.

Press secretary Dmitry Peskov said earlier this year’s news conference had attracted increased interest, with the number of applications for accreditation at rise.

Applications were received from Russian journalists registered with the national mass media watchdog Roscomnadzor and from foreign press with the Russian foreign ministry (MFA) accreditation.

Putin on TV

 

 

Nine listed for elections in Donetsk and Luhansk

The Foreign ministers Council added nine persons to the list of those subject to restrictive measures over actions “undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.  Formally listed because of their involvement in unrecognised by the EU elections in two entities, resulted from the break-away of the communities of Russian-speaking regions in aftermath of the Maidan Revolution (2014) –  the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic

Through their actions, they further undermined the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine” – the Council concluded. (Image: elections in Donetsk) RIA Novosti agency.

The EU considers these elections illegal and illegitimate and does not recognise them. In a declaration issued on 10 November 2018, the EU condemned these elections, motivating the decision by the breach of international law, undermine the commitments taken under the Minsk agreements and violate Ukraine‘s sovereignty and law.

The actual measures consist of a travel ban and an asset freeze, meaning that these persons cannot enter the territory of any EU member state and all of the assets (if any) in the EU belonging to these persons are frozen and EU persons and entities cannot make any funds available to them.

The decision brings the total number of persons listed by the EU to 164. In addition, the EU imposed an asset freeze on 44 entities under this sanctions regime.

The legal acts, including the names of the persons concerned, are available in the EU Official Journal.

There was no reaction from the break-away regions so far. The head of Donetsk Republic Denis Pushilin tweeted the awarding of an Ombudsman office staff: “Today, on International Human Rights Day, he awarded the Ombudsman and the staff of the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights in the DPR. The rights of citizens should be at the forefront of any state. Especially in wartime conditions“.

11/12/2018 AMENDED:
The “black list” includes the head of the LNR, Leonid Pasechnik (Леонид Пасечник), who replaced Igor Plotnitsky (Игоря Плотницкий) on this post, elected heads of parliaments of the DPR and LPR — Vladimir Bidyovka (Владимир Бидёвка) and Denis Miroshnichenko (Денис Мирошниченкo), and Olga Pozdnyakova (Ольга Позднякова)— the chairman of the CEC of the DPR, Elena Kravchenko (Елена Кравченко)— the chairman of the CEC of the LPR, Alexei Naidenko (Алексей Найденко) – Deputy Chairman of the CEC of the DPR; Vladimir Vysotsky (Владимир Высоцкий) – Secretary of the CEC of the DPR; Maxim Svidchenko (Максим Свидченко) – Deputy Chairman of the CEC of the LPR; Ekaterina Tereshchenko (Екатерина Терещенко) – Secretary of the CEC of the LPR.

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