Category Archives: News

Brexit happens in weeks

Prime Minister Boris Johnson won the decisive election victory that will end three years of political paralysis and take Britain out of the European Union within weeks.

The Article 50 procedure represents a substantial political and economic challenge for the United Kingdom after half a century of integration into the bloc (1973).

Britain and the United States will now be free to strike a massive new Trade Deal after BREXIT. This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the E.U.,” President Trump wrote on Twitter “Celebrate Boris!”

https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/1205368801438707713?s=21

Earlier this year President Trump has already expressed his wish to seal a trade with U.K., explaining that trade between the two countries “could be four to five times higher.”

EU extends Russian sanctions

European Union leaders intend to extend sanctions against Russia over Crimea and Moscow’s involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the European diplomats say. (Image above: Crimea bridge at night)

According to EU diplomats the European Council will confirm its united support for Ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity, and continue policy of the duration of the economic sanctions against Russian Federation.

Recently French President Macron has stepped forward in favour of rethinking the strategy vis-à-vis Russia, and some influential EU countries, namely Italy and Germany, have powerful lobbies pushing for effective relations with Moscow.

13.12.2019 AMENDMENT

We also had the opportunity, in the case of Russia and Ukraine, to listen to a debriefing presented after the meeting of the Normandy format, which was held in Paris by Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel. This was an opportunity to exchange views on the situation in the region and it was an opportunity, as you are certainly aware, to decide to extend the sanctions for another six months, taking into account the fact that we consider that the implementation of the Minsk agreement remains an extremely essential point for us. This is a point for which we will continue to be very attentive and very active in the future” said Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, while commenting on sanctions extension for next six months.

#EUCO: Charles Michel chairs EU Summit

“I look forward to welcoming you to the December European Council – my first European Council meeting as President” reads the invitation letter of the EU Council President Charles Michel.(Image above: archive).

“My intention is to build on the impressive work of my two predecessors and create a strong relationship with you, based on trust, confidence and transparency.

Together, we will provide the strategic guidance that Europe needs to tackle the many challenges identified in the Strategic Agenda adopted in June 2019.

Concerning this week’s European Council, the meeting will start at 15:00 on 12 December with an exchange of views with the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli. This will be followed by our first working session, in which we will begin by adopting our conclusions on the Conference on the Future of Europe.

We will then move to the vital challenge of Climate Change. I want us to agree on the commitment for the EU to become climate-neutral by 2050. This would be a major signal from the European Council that the EU will take a global leadership role on this crucial issue. It is my conviction that the transition to climate neutrality will create new opportunities for economic growth and development.

However, we must also recognise that it will require efforts from all Member States. We will put in place a framework and the necessary resources to chart a fair and balanced path towards our objective. This means taking into account the different national realities and starting points.

Over dinner, we will discuss the Multiannual Financial Framework. This is another key area for the future of our Union. We must enter into a new stage of our work and engage seriously. There is no point repeating known positions and maximalist requests; concessions will be needed from all sides. We will work to identify the key elements of a final agreement.

The first day will conclude with a debrief on the implementation of the Minsk Agreement along with short conclusions on WTO, Africa and Turkey.

On Friday, our meeting will begin at 10:00 in the presence of European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde and Eurogroup President Mario Centeno. After an exchange of views on the economic situation, we will take stock of the progress made by the Eurogroup on strengthening the Economic and Monetary Union and give some indications on future work. A statement will be adopted to that end.

The proceedings will conclude in the Article 50 configuration.  We are ready for the next steps and reaffirm our desire for as close a relationship as possible with the United Kingdom. We will adopt short conclusions on Brexit.

I look forward to working closely with all of you on these issues, and many others, to make Europe bolder, more prosperous, and more self-confident.”

EU prepares Magnitsky Law

The human rights were high on the agenda of the EU foreign ministers gathering in Brussels for December Council.

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell underlined that the issue of human rights remains a clear priority for Europeans and this trend will continue during his mandate. It is “very timely” to talk about it at eve of the International Human Rights Day, he added.

“The important thing is that, under the request of several Member States, we have agreed to launch the preparatory work for a global sanctions regime to address serious human rights violations, which will be the EU equivalent of the so-called Magnitsky Act of the United States. I was asked on this issue in my presentation at the Parliament last week and today we have decided, with strong consensus, to launch the preparatory work – and the European External Action Service will prepare the documentation for this – in order to prepare the equivalent of this Act. This will be a tangible step reaffirming the European Union’s global lead on human rights” the diplomat announced.

The Member States have also been informed about – and they have showed broad support for it – a new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy that will be prepared by EEAS services for the next five years, Borrell explained. “The EU diplomacy will present the proposal early next year, a reference document on human rights in the world” he declared.

Answering questions of press during the conference, he added that there have been consensus on Magnitsky law already.

“Had there been an opposition from just one Member state, we could not be acting the way we have decided to act, because as you know, it requires unanimity in the Council. So there is a strong consensus”, Borrell ensured.

“Some Member States who were opposing have abandoned the opposition and joined the broader consensus. Others may still have some collateral questions and some concerns, but as Chair of the Council, I think it could be considered that [there was] consensus in order to launch the technical process of preparing [the legislative acts] to address [the matter] to the relevant bodies of the Council, in particular the working group on human rights and RELEX. We will prepare all the papers and we will launch the process.

“Well, it is important because we have some methods of this kind to deal with violations of another issue, cyber security, for example. And I think that to have a tool like this that gives across the board a method of reacting with an approval by the Council in general terms, gives us much more strength and much more capacity to react in front of serious human rights violations. We are talking about serious human rights violations. And many Parliamentarians where asking for that. And I put the question on the table of the Council of Ministers and there was enough consensus to go ahead.” 

https://twitter.com/billbrowder/status/1204349016844230656?s=21

Magnitsky Act is a bipartisan bill passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2012, aimed at punishment of Russian officials responsible for the death of Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky (37) in a Moscow prison cell in 2009.There is a strong suspiction that Magnitsky was killed by the prison wards, refusting to accept the false accusations against him. Initially he was imprisoned after investigating a $230 million fraud of Russian tax officials, the crime was covered by prosection, twisting against Magnitsky.

EU updates Arctic policy

“While recognising the primary responsibility of the Arctic states for the development of the region, the Council notes that many of the issues affecting the region are of a global nature and are more effectively addressed through regional or multilateral cooperation. It notes that the EU should continue to make a significant contribution in both regional and multilateral fora which deal with arctic matters.”

“In light of the new challenges and opportunities across the Arctic and growing international interest, the Council invites the High Representative and the Commission to continue to actively implement EU Arctic policy, to initiate a process in order to update this policy and to continue to report to the Council regularly.”

Macron hosts Normandy Summit

The meeting in “Normandy format” concerning Donbass conflict will take place in Paris on December 9 in Élysée Palace, hosted by President Macron, and will include Russian President Putin, Ukrainian President Zelensky, and German Chancellor Merkel. The name of the event is a reference to 2014 peace talks, initiated by President Hollande on the margin of ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Negotiations in Paris will focus on the implementation of the 2014-15 Minsk peace agreement, which provided for an immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, the withdrawal of heavy weapons, and an effective truce, putting an end to casualties among military and civilians.

Since Zelensky’s election victory in April an exchange of 70 prisoners, the withdrawal of the troops from three small areas on the front line, and the return of Ukrainian warships seized by Russian coast guards.

Vladimir Putin had conceded “cautious optimism” on the issue of the break-away Russian-speaking regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, both proclaiming their independence in aftermath of the coup d’état in Kiev, when democratically elected Ukranian President Yanukouvych was overthrown and field the country.

Earlier in the week Zelensky indicated that he initially wanted the Paris talks to focus on three points: a new exchange of prisoners, the implementation of a durable ceasefire, and the dismantling of any armed group “illegally” in Ukrainian territory – implicitly referring to Russian-speaking militia in Donetsk and Lugansk.

Moscow’s priority, in contrast, is to create condition for the elections in the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, moving to the point “8” of the Minsk Agreements, guaranteeing de-centralisation of power, and permanent Special status of Donetsk and Lugansk regions. People of Donbass been also insisting on their linguistic rights, peoples militia, and border trade with Russia.

Macron and Merkel share the goal of reviving peace process, which is the only active armed conflict in Europe, which has caused more than 13,000 deaths since it occurred in 2014. Tomorrow’s gathering will be the first meeting between Putin and Zelensky, who was elected upon promise to resolve the Donbass conflict, and establish lasting peace in East of Ukraine.

Putin to meet Zelensky bilaterally

Russian President Vladimir Putin schedules bilateral meetings with Ukrainian, French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and President Vladimir Zelensky at margins of the Normandy Four Summit in Paris on December 9, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced.

Peskov underlined that the Kremlin expected the Normandy Four summit will contribute to conflict resolution in southeastern Ukraine.

“[Putin’s] attitude is serious, the only expectation is to facilitate efforts to resolve the domestic conflict in southeastern Ukraine, ensure a common understanding that there is no alternative to implementing the Minsk Agreements and prevent attempts to dilute them,” spokesperson said.

Peskov expressed confidence in French authorities capabilities to succeed in creating necessary conditions for thec Summit despite the current protests in Paris.

We are not inclined to exaggerate the threats the Summit could face as we believe that the French authorities are capable of creating conditions for the meeting and will do it,” Peskov said.

« Older Entries