Category Archives: News

EU: Leyen compares UK-Ireland to Ukraine

Brussels 03.12.2022 The European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) risked a diplomatic row with the UK by likening Britain’s rule in Ireland to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The EU top executive made the remarks in an address to a joint sitting of the Parliament in Dublin to mark Ireland’s 50-year European Union membership.

‘I would like to dwell on five Irish virtues that will help our union to face our common challenges ahead. First, the Irish passion for freedom. This country knows what it means to struggle for the right to exist” Von der Leyen said.

‘Today, another European nation is fighting for independence. Of course, Ireland is far away from the front line in Ukraine. But you understand better than most why this war matters so much to all of us. Just like our friends in Eastern Europe, you know that in Ukraine there is more at stake than the future of one country alone…’

Her comments threatened to sour relations amid talks over renegotiating the post-Brexit Northern Ireland protocol trading arrangements.

‘It is an extraordinary thing for Ursula von der Leyen to say, undiplomatic, unwise and wrong’ Former business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said.

Borrell: EU commitment to OSCE

Brussels 01.12.2022 “…In 1975, our predecessors signed the Helsinki Final Act. The principles were agreed: [renouncing the use of force, respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, and protecting human rights and freedoms]. These values are universal, not just Western” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, while addressing the plenary session of the OSCE Ministerial Council on behalf of the European Union.

“Russia has flouted not only the specific Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) commitments, but [also] violated the core principles on which European security is built.

“There can be no respect of the OSCE values as long as Russia continues its war of aggression against Ukraine with Belarus’ complicity.

“Russia has brought the war back in Europe. Russia is now turning this into a purely punitive campaign, trying to inflict as much pain as possible on Ukrainian citizens, using winter as a weapon, putting them into the darkness and the cold. The Russian army is deliberately targeting energy and water infrastructure on which normal Ukrainian citizens depend.

“The commitment of the European Union to Ukrainian territorial integrity, security and freedom is steadfast. Let’s be clear: Russia is fighting a total war against Ukraine. We have to answer with a total support [to Ukraine].

“The European Union and its Member States have been at the forefront of the solidarity effort with Ukrainian people. We have mobilised over €19 billion of assistance to Ukraine. Another package of €18 billion has already been proposed for next year. The [European] Union Member States’ military assistance is estimated at about €8 billion.

“Russia’s war of aggression has effectively destroyed the security in Europe. We are here to discuss how to address this situation and to reinforce the OSCE in order to pave the way for rebuilding the European security architecture.

“Apart from its brutal attack on Ukraine and its people, Russia continued destabilising the Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova and severely deteriorate the security situation in the whole OSCE area.

“This is a historic opportunity to achieve a sustainable conflict settlement in the South Caucasus. We strongly encourage Armenia and Azerbaijan to seize this opportunity.

“We equally condemn Russia’s systematic crackdown on human rights freedoms internally, and we also call on the Belarusian authorities to release all political prisoners and meet the demands of the people for free and fair elections.

“In this context, our contribution to the Support Program for Ukraine is an opportunity to both support the OSCE and to provide meaningful assistance to Ukraine. We have committed €1.2 million for the OSCE mine activities in Ukraine.

“To conclude, let me reiterate again our steadfast commitment to the OSCE and the values this organisation represents.

“With that in mind, I would like to wish every success for North Macedonia’s next Chairmanship in 2023. You can count on the European Union’s full support in steering the Organisation”.

MEPs label Russia “sponsor of terrorism”

Strasbourg 24.11.2022 Following the atrocities carried out by Vladimir Putin’s regime against Ukrainian civilians, MEPs have recognised Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

On Wednesday, Parliament adopted a resolution on the latest developments in Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine. MEPs highlight that the deliberate attacks and atrocities committed by Russian forces and their proxies against civilians in Ukraine, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and other serious violations of international and humanitarian law amount to acts of terror and constitute war crimes. In light of this, they recognise Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and as a state that “uses means of terrorism”.

As the EU currently cannot officially designate states as sponsors of terrorism, Parliament calls on the EU and its member states to put in place the proper legal framework and consider adding Russia to such a list. This would trigger a number of significant restrictive measures against Moscow and have profound restrictive implications for EU relations with Russia.

In the meantime, MEPs call on the Council to include the Russian paramilitary organisation ‘the Wagner Group’, the 141st Special Motorized Regiment, also known as the “Kadyrovites”, and other Russian-funded armed groups, militias and proxies, on the EU’s terrorist list.

Parliament calls on the European Union to further isolate Russia internationally, including when it comes to Russia’s membership of international organisations and bodies such as the United Nations Security Council. MEPs also want diplomatic ties with Russia to be reduced, EU contacts with official Russian representatives to be kept to the absolute minimum and Russian state-affiliated institutions in the EU spreading propaganda around the world to be closed and banned.

Against the backdrop of the Kremlin’s escalating acts of terror against Ukrainian civilians, the resolution further calls on EU member states in the Council to swiftly complete its work on a ninth sanctions package against Moscow. MEPs also want EU countries to actively prevent, investigate and prosecute any circumvention of current sanctions and, together with the European Commission, consider possible measures against countries trying to help Russia circumvent restrictive measures already put in place.

The resolution was adopted by 494 votes in favour, 58 against with 44 abstentions.

For more information on the designation of states as sponsors of terrorism and similar legal frameworks in other countries, check out the latest briefing by the European Parliament’s Research Service.

MEPs condemn Belarus for political justice

Strasbourg 24.11.2022 The European Parliament strongly condemns the unjustified and politically motivated sentences handed down to more than 1 400 political prisoners in Belarus, among others members of the so-called “Autukhovich twelve”. It also denounces the ongoing incarceration of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ales Bialiatski and urges the regime of Belarusian dictator Aliaksandr Lukashenka to ensure his release ahead of the award ceremony in Oslo on 10 December. (Image above: archive)

While endorsing the Belarusian democratic opposition’s position that Belarus should be recognised as an occupied territory from which Russian troops should immediately withdraw, Parliament strongly condemns the Lukashenka government’s involvement in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The resolution notes that the Belarusian regime shares responsibility with Russia for war crimes in Ukraine, for which it should be held accountable before an international tribunal and the International Criminal Court.

In addition, MEPs reiterate their call on EU countries and the European Commission to strictly impose the same sanctions on Belarus that they have imposed on Russia. They also encourage the EU institutions to support Belarusian independent news outlets such as Nexta . and call for more systematic cooperation between the EU and representatives of Belarusian democratic forces.

The resolution was adopted by show of hands. F

MEPs: human rights in Afghanistan concerns

Strasbourg 24.11.2022 On Thursday, the European Parliament adopted three resolutions on the respect for human rights in Afghanistan, Belarus and Democratic Republic of Congo. (Image above: European Parliament building, Strasbourg)

Human rights situation in Afghanistan, especially the deterioration of women’s rights and attacks against educational institutions

The staggering regression in women and girls’ rights under the Taliban qualifies as gender apartheid, warn MEPs. They call on Afghanistan’s de facto authorities to ensure that women can again actively participate in public life. This must be a key condition, they say, if the international community is to engage with the Taliban. Denouncing the egregious ban on secondary education for girls, Parliament recalls the Taliban’s promises that women’s access to education would be restored and demands that the Taliban now honour their own commitments.)

Parliament deeply regrets that, since the Taliban takeover, access to information has become increasingly difficult, journalistic independence has been curtailed, and civil society organisations have been subjected to increasing pressure.

MEPs also express their alarm at the devastating impact of climate change and environmental degradation in Afghanistan, which is ranked by the UN as the sixth country in the world most affected by climate-related threats, and call for urgent action by the international community to help Afghans address this dramatic situation.

Finally, MEPs ask the EU to establish a long-term strategy on Afghanistan in light of the current situation and the failure of the Taliban to deliver on any of their initial promises.

The resolution was adopted by 532 votes in favour, 8 against with 25 abstentions.

MEPs against funding Hungary

Strasbourg 24.11.2022 Commission and Council should resist pressure from Hungary and go ahead with adopting the proposed rule of law conditionality measures to suspend EU cohesion funds.

In a resolution passed on Thursday by 416 votes in favour, 124 against and 33 abstentions, MEPs say that the 17 remedial measures negotiated by the Commission and Hungary are “not sufficient to address the existing systemic risk to the EU’s financial interests”, even if implemented fully.

They call on EU member states to adopt the proposed measures under the Conditionality Regulation in order to protect the EU budget against breaches of the principles of the rule of law in Hungary, and to lift them only after the Hungarian remedial measures have had a sustainable effect. “If these measures are reversed in the future, the Union should proceed to financial correction”, they add.

Regarding Hungary’s recovery and resilience plan (RRF), they deplore that, because of the government’s actions, recovery funds have not yet reached the Hungarian people. According to the EP, the risk of misuse of EU funds in Hungary remains and the Commission should not approve Hungary’s RRF plan until the country has fully complied with all recommendations in the field of the rule of law and all relevant judgments of the EU Court and the Court of Human Rights.

Pressure from Hungary and final beneficiaries

MEPs call on the Commission and Council not to give in to the pressure Hungary is exerting on them by blocking crucial EU decisions, such as €18 billion in macro-financial aid to Ukraine and the global minimum corporate tax rate deal. This “abuse” of the rule on voting by unanimity should “not have any impact” on the decisions regarding the Hungarian recovery plan and the application of the rule of law conditionality legislation, the text says.

Parliament stresses that final beneficiaries of EU funds should not be deprived of support due to their government’s lack of cooperation, and call on the Commission to find ways to distribute EU funds via local governments and NGOs.

Finally, MEPs complain that the proposal to trigger the Conditionality Regulation against Hungary has been long overdue and does not go far enough -“after a long delay and with too limited a scope”. Parliament urges the Commission to take action also concerning other breaches of the rule of law, particularly those relating to the independence of the judiciary.
On 18 September 2022, the Commission proposed to freeze 7.5 billion euro in EU funds for Hungary, citing corruption and public procurement concerns, after having triggered the rule of law conditionality mechanism against Hungary in April.

After negotiations with the Commission, Hungary has presented 17 remedial measures, such as creating an anti-corruption task force and changes to its public procurement rules, to address the concerns.

The Council has until 19 December to take a decision, by qualified majority, based on a Commission proposal.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government has said that it was willing to pay its share of support for Ukraine but would rather pay it bilaterally than through the EU’s joint borrowing.

“The government continues to be committed to take part in financial support to war-gripped Ukraine,” the decree reads.

European Parliament 70th birthday

Strasbourg 22.11.2022 The European Parliament is marking 70 years of democracy in action – from its first assembly in 1952 to being stronger than ever during challenging times today.
Seventy years ago, the first session of the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community took place in Strasbourg, marking the starting point of the European Parliament we know today.

Over the decades, six European countries grew into a union of 27 member states fostering democracy, fundamental rights, economic stability and growth. The Parliament was a key player in the development of the EU, growing from 78 national representatives in 1952 to 705 directly-elected MEPs today.

“In 70 years the assembly has grown from strength to strength, from being a consultative body with limited powers to being a true institution embracing European democracy and the expression of European public opinion,” said Roberta Metsola, the President of the European Parliament during September’s plenary session.

As the only directly elected, multilingual, multiparty, transnational parliament in the world, it is a powerful forum for political debate and decision-making with legislative and budgetary powers that affect millions of EU citizens.

“With an ongoing illegal war in the Ukraine that destroys, kills and undermines the political will of the people, we know, today, more than ever, the importance of upholding the democratic voice of citizens and the democratic European values that this house stands for,” the President said.

On Tuesday 22 November, Parliament has been celebrated the historical and legislative achievements of the last 70 years with a special ceremony.

“Awkward moment when Poland’s Ryszard Legutko from ECR group violently attacks European Parliament, Strasbourg, accusing it of “harming Europe”, “infecting Europe with partisanship”, intolerance, to “dictate things to Hungarian and other societies”, to serve the left” journalist Maria Udrescu Tweets.

The President of the European Parliament Robert Metsola stepped in after the professor Legutko speech, saying that his criticism is the sign of democracy being alive in this House.

EU-Kazakhstan: welcome to reforms

Brussels 21.11.2022 “The European Union takes note of the preliminary results of the 20 November presidential election in Kazakhstan” reads the statement by the spokesperson of the European External Action Service on the outcome of Presidential elections.

“We welcome their efficient preparation as well as wider political and socio-economic reforms initiated by President Tokayev after the tragic January events. The development of resilient democratic institutions and a strong civil society is key for Kazakhstan’s stability and development” the EU diplomacy continues.

“The EU takes note of OSCE/ODIHR’s preliminary conclusions stating that the election took place in a political environment lacking competitiveness. We call for Kazakhstan’s authorities to strengthen the reform process to increase political pluralism and citizens’ participation in political life. Looking ahead, it will be crucial for Kazakhstan to implement fully the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations.

“The EU will continue to work with Kazakhstan in line with our Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA), and to support the implementation of important reforms, to enable a fully transparent and competitive political environment as key steps towards a new democratic and fair Kazakhstan.

“Kazakhstan is an important and valuable partner of the European Union. We share an interest to develop our cooperation further as we prepare to mark 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in February 2023. We remain committed to the universal principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity in line with the UN principles, as well as international security, fundamental freedoms and human rights”.

Europarliament birthday celebrations

Strasbourg 20.11.2022 MEPs will mark the creation of the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952, with a ceremony in the hemicycle on Tuesday at 11.30.

EP President Roberta Metsola will open the ceremony with a statement, followed by plenary speeches by the Prime Ministers of Parliament’s three host countries – French Prime Minister Ms Élisabeth Borne, Mr Alexander de Croo of Belgium, and Luxembourg’s Mr Xavier Bettel. The ceremony will finish with an orchestra performance of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

10 September 2022 marked the 70th anniversary of the first meeting of the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). Convened in 1952, it comprised 78 appointed parliamentarians from the national parliaments of each member state. In 1958, following the creation of the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community, the Common Assembly of the ECSC was enlarged and renamed the ”European Parliamentary Assembly”. In 1962, it adopted the name “European Parliament”.

The official ceremony with the participation of dignitaries will take place on Tuesday 22 November.

Kazakhstan: Tokayev for multi-vector policies

Brussels 20.11.2022 Given its geopolitical location, Kazakhstan should pursue a multi-vector policy, incumbent President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (pictured) said today to a group of journalists after voting in the presidential election.

“I believe that given our geopolitical situation, given the fact that we have over $500 billion invested in our economy, given that there are global companies operating in our market, we simply have to pursue a multi-vector, as they say now, foreign policy,” Tokayev said.

The election platform of the incumbent President declares the creation of a fair Kazakhstan as the main goal. It also says that the foreign policy course aimed at protection of national interests, strengthening of mutually beneficial cooperation with all interested states, international peace and security will be continued.

In addition, at the end of October, President Tokayev said that in the coming years the authorities of the Republic foresee the launch of a network of border trade and economic centers with Russia, China, and Central Asian countries. Earlier this year, in September, Tokayev pointed out that Kazakhstan would make every effort to further develop allied relations with Russia, along with China – the other geo-political strategic partner, and comprehensive cooperation with neighboring Central Asian states.

Early presidential elections started in Kazakhstan on Sunday, November 20. Six candidates are in the running, including incumbent President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev who represents the People’s Coalition.

The voter turnout was 23.37% at 10am local time, according to the country’s Central Election Commission.

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