“Today, the Institutions in Kosovo have announced the adoption of the three laws initiating the process of transition of the Kosovo Security Force“- Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO said in an issued statement.
“I regret that this decision was made despite the concerns expressed by NATO. While the transition of the Kosovo Security Force is in principle a matter for Kosovo to decide, we have made clear that this move is ill-timed.
“NATO supports the development of the Kosovo Security Force under its current mandate. With the change of mandate, the North Atlantic Council will now have to re-examine the level of NATO’s engagement with the Kosovo Security Force.
“NATO remains committed through KFOR to a safe and secure environment in Kosovo and to stability in the wider Western Balkans.
“All sides must ensure that today’s decision will not further increase tensions in the region. All responsible political actors in the region need to focus on progress with reforms, and on dialogue. I reiterate my call on both Pristina and Belgrade to remain calm and refrain from any statements or actions which may lead to escalation. NATO continues to support the EU-sponsored dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina as the only lasting political solution for the region.” – the statement concludes.
Patriarch Cyril (Kirill) of Moscow and All Russia launched an appeal to heads of the the United Nations and OSCE secretary generals and the leaders of France and Germany, drawing their attention to violations of the rights of bishops, priests and parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations said in a statement.
“The authorities of the secular state of Ukraine, who have been interfering in the affairs of the Church for quite a while, have recently moved to exert brutal pressure on bishops and priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which makes it possible to say that a large-scale persecution has begun,” Cyriil claims, according to TASS news agency.
Ukrainian priests will meet on December 14 to work towards an independent from Moscow church, following an Orthodox “schism”, in what Kiev authorities hope will mark a further step out of Russia’s influence.
The meeting will seek to realise a landmark decision by Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I to recognise Kiev’s independence from the Moscow Orthodox Church.
October ruling sparked protests in Moscow claiming its rights on the part of Ukrainian Orthodox Church as an integral part of the Moscow Patriarch establishment, also claiming all the historic buildings and properties.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who is expected to attend the council, has made an independent Church a campaign pledge for his election campaign for the next mandate.
In hope to promote her Article 50 deal among UK lawmakers in Westminster British Prime Minister Theresa May requested clarifications from Brussels, however instead of the shoulder, she received an elbow from EU top executive Jean-Claude Juncker, who criticized Britons as being ‘nebulous‘ .
At press-conference in Brussels May said she has been “crystal clear” with the European commission president and other EU leaders during the Summit meeting over Brexit about the assurances she needed over Irish border ‘backstop’.
The description of the UK position Theresa May presented as ‘nebulous‘ caused diplomatic raw in Brussels, and beyond, questioning Juncker’s intentions to defend the the Article 50 deal in these challenging times, when there is a considerable opposition among MP to endorsing it. The vote has been postponed, and a new date will be announced shortly, highly likely in the beginning of new year, but the latest on January 21.
European Council addressed the implementation of its approach to migration, which combines more effective control of the EU’s external borders, increased external action and the internal aspects.
European Council notes that the number of detected illegal border crossings has been brought down to pre-crisis levels, and that the overall downward trend is continuing. This is the result of the external migration policy of the Union and its Member States, based, in particular, on control of the external borders, the fight against smugglers and cooperation with countries of origin and transit, which has been intensified in recent months. This policy should therefore be continued, further developed and fully implemented.
Vigilance on all existing and emerging routes should be maintained, in particular in view of recent increases on the Western and Eastern Mediterranean Routes.
As regards the internal policies, the European Council invites the co-legislators to rapidly conclude negotiations on the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG).
It welcomes the agreement reached at the level of the Council on 6 December 2018 with regard to enhancing the EBCG’s mandate in the area of return and cooperation with third countries. It also calls for further efforts to conclude negotiations on the Return Directive, on the Asylum Agency and on all parts of the Common European Asylum System, respecting previous European Council conclusions and taking into account the varying degree of progress on each of these files.
At European Union Summit in Brussels the leaders unanimously endorsed the prolongation of the economic sanctions against Russia for its actions against Ukraine for another six months with the official rollover expected next week.
The sanctions, mainly targeting the Russian banking and energy sectors, were first imposed in the summer of 2014 in aftermath of Maidan revolution in Ukraine and have been extended every six months since then.
“EU unanimously prolongs economic sanctions against Russia given zero progress in implementation of Minsk agreements,” European Council President Donald Tusk wrote in his Twitter micro blog referring to peace accords brokered by Germany and France in the Minsk, Belarus capital, aiming to end ongoing armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.
‘In a short term, the impact of oil prices is much more important for Russia than any sanctions,” said Sergey Khestanov (Сергей Хестанов), a professor at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) . Oil income makes up 40% of federal budget revenues and is trading at its highest level in more than four years.
The European Council (Article 50) on 13 December 2018 adopted conclusions on Brexit.
1. The European Council reconfirms its conclusions of 25 November 2018, in which it endorsed the Withdrawal Agreement and approved the Political Declaration. The Union stands by this agreement and intends to proceed with its ratification. It is not open for renegotiation.
2. The European Council reiterates that it wishes to establish as close as possible a partnership with the United Kingdom in the future. It stands ready to embark on preparations immediately after signature of the Withdrawal Agreement to ensure that negotiations can start as soon as possible after the UK’s withdrawal.
3. The European Council underlines that the backstop is intended as an insurance policy to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland and ensure the integrity of the Single Market. It is the Union’s firm determination to work speedily on a subsequent agreement that establishes by 31 December 2020 alternative arrangements, so that the backstop will not need to be triggered.
4. The European Council also underlines that, if the backstop were nevertheless to be triggered, it would apply temporarily, unless and until it is superseded by a subsequent agreement that ensures that a hard border is avoided. In such a case, the Union would use its best endeavours to negotiate and conclude expeditiously a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop, and would expect the same of the United Kingdom, so that the backstop would only be in place for as long as strictly necessary.
5. The European Council calls for work on preparedness at all levels for the consequences of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal to be intensified, taking into account all possible outcomes.
UK will outline its post-Brexit immigration policy next week, House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom announced, confirming the release of publication awaited by Britons and foreigners.
The new strategy will prioritize high-skilled workers and give the European Union citizens the same rights as to those from elsewhere after Britain leaves end March 2019. The policy will meet businesses interests to attract employees from overseas but at the same time keep promise to control the UK borders.