Category Archives: Politics

Athens recalls ambassador from Moscow

Tensions between Athens and Moscow culminated in July, when Greece expelled two Russian diplomats from the country over national security concerns, prompting Russia to retaliate.

 

Greece has recalled its ambassador to Russia, Andreas Fryganas, according to mass media reports. It is unclear if Greece has plans to restore the previous level of diplomatic relations.

The experts say the protracted argument will hit Russian tourism to Greece, already losing support while state is increasingly interested in developing infrastructure at Black Sea, especially  in Crimea. Reorientation of tourist flows from Greece to Crimea would become a substantial resource for growing economy of the peninsula in need for renovation and modernization.

Earlier Greece expelled two Russian diplomats and imposed a travel ban on two other, accusing them of meddling in security issues and attempting to bribe Greek officials.

Explaining the decision over the Russian diplomats, Athens stated they intended to thwart a deal between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Greece, which would allow Macedonia to join NATO.

A protracted argument between Greece and Macedonia was settled this June, after Skopje decided to agree to change the name to North Macedonia.

Kurz welcomes plans for refugee centres outside EU

I am glad that it has come to one in the European . For the first time, there is approval for refugee centres outside the so-called #Anladeplattformen“, Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz said at arrival for the second day of the EU Summit on migration (#EUCO).

European leaders called on the Council and the Commission to swiftly explore the concept of regional “disembarkation platforms” in close cooperation with relevant third countries, UNHCR and IOM. Such platforms should operate, regarding individual situations in “full respect of international law and without creating a pull factor“,  EU Council final document says.

 

Orban warns against “chaos” of hasty answers to migration

Ahead of the upcoming EU Summit on migration (28-29 June) Hungarian Prime minister Viktor Orban expressed from behalf of the Visegrad group countries the understanding of the depth of the migrant crisis in a number of the EU member-states. However, he also expressed the reserve against any decisions taken “in haste“, warning against possible grave consequences of European “chaos“.

We understand that in some countries there are internal political difficulties, but this must not be allowed to lead to ill-considered haste at a European level: the European Union has a complex system of institutions, and acting in haste will lead to chaos”, – PM Orban said. 

The Visegrad group suggested to focus areas of cooperation, were agreement can be reached rather than on the dividing issues, leading to confrontation. Namely agree on two major areas: of border defence and hotspots. Orban returned to an ‘old proposal‘ to erect refugee camps outside the EU territory.

There is no point in forcing issues on which there is no agreement, such as migrant quotas, because that will never result in cooperation: it will only increase divisions and confrontation”Orban stated from behalf of V4.  “Therefore what we propose is that in the coming weeks and months we should solve the questions related to migration that we are able to solve: that we should place the emphasis on the points on which we agree“.

Dutch Parliament blocks Albania EU accession talks

The Netherlands is blocking the opening of negotiations with Albania on joining the European Union. A majority of the House of Representatives gave a clear opinion to the upcoming meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels on June, 25.

The decision did not come as a surprise, because Dutch lawmakers have already expressed serious concerns with organised crime and corruption in Balkan country.

“We have serious concerns about the fight against corruption and organized crime,” said Dutch minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok. “More progress needs to be made on these points first.” However Blok does not close the door for Albania to join the EU in the future.

The parliamentary factions of VVD, CDA, CU, PVV, SP and 50Plus are “forbidding” the government to agree on negotiations with Albania on accession, The Telegraaf newspaper reports.

Three of the four government parties, including liberal-conservative VVD, the party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, as well three opposition parties, have indicated that the progress of the Albanian government has not been sufficient to discuss the opening of negotiations. Subsequently Rutte has no mandate to accept the talks opening during upcoming European Council the end of this month, as it was previously planned by the EU officials.

The situation with Northern Macedonia (Severna Makedonia) is complex due to the name change, but there is no similar block imposed to restrict Rutte movements.

However there is a word in Brussels, that contrary to the EU officials plans, Austrian government will block the accession talks with N.Macedonia.

Albania occupies 91 place among 180 countries in corruption index of Transparency International.

 

 

 

Refugee Day: Timmermans calls for EU asylum reform

“Every minute, every day, nearly 31 people are forcibly displaced. Today, more than 68.5 million people have been forced to leave their homes due to conflicts and violence, persecution, natural disasters or the very real consequences of climate change –25.4 million of them are refugees.

“More than 67 years after the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees, its international principles remain more valid than ever. These principles are enshrined in the EU’s asylum acquis, and the EU remains committed to continue standing up for those who are in need of help.

“As a global player, we are working to tackle and solve the main crises through diplomatic means. As the leading global aid donor in the world, we provide humanitarian assistance and support to refugees, asylum seekers, displaced people, inside and outside Europe. We have shown unprecedented support during the migratory crisis of 2015 and 2016 by accommodating hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war and persecution, and we continue to provide protection to those in need: in 2017 alone, EU Member States granted protection to more than 538 000 people.

“Our support also reaches those displaced by long-standing conflicts, from Afghanistan to Colombia to the Horn of Africa, while responding to emerging crises, such as the displacement of the Rohingyas. It has given a lifeline to millions of Syrian refugees and their host communities inside the country and across the region.

“In this endeavour we work hand in hand with our partners around the world, certain that only a global response can match the challenge ahead. To this end we are building an ever closer relation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, responding to the plight of refugees worldwide and developing innovative solutions. For example, in November 2017, together we put in place an Emergency Transit Mechanism to evacuate those in need of international protection from Libya for further resettlement to Europe and have so far already helped over 1,600 people. These very same principles of solidarity, shared responsibility, multilateralism and engagement will be guiding us towards the adoption of the UN Global Compact on Refugees later this year.

“But challenges remain. We must continue our work together with our Member States to establish more legal and safe pathways and close the dangerous and irregular migration routes. Over the next two years, Member States have committed to resettle more than 50,000 of the most vulnerable persons and provide them with a new home in the EU. We must also reach, without delay, an agreement on the reform our Common European Asylum System based on the principles of responsibility and solidarity. And we must work harder to foster the integration of those who receive protection in the European Union and in particular the most vulnerable, such as women and children.

“In times of increasing divisive rhetoric against vulnerable people fleeing war and persecution, the EU is and will continue to protect those in need, and we will continue to endeavour to bring stability where there is conflict.”

The statement was jointly issued on the occasion of World Refugee Day by the following EU officials:

Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission;

Federica Mogherini, Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President;

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy;

Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development;

Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs;

Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management;

Vera Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality.

Austrian politicians propose to end EU sanctions against Russia

Austria’s vice chancellor and leading Freedom Party called for ending the European Union’s sanctions against Russia, ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a trip to Vienna.

Heinz-Christian Strache, whose party is a partner to Chancellor Sebastian Kurz conservatives, said in the past he also did not favor EU sanctions against Moscow over its backing of rebels in Ukraine.

“It is high time to put an end to these exasperating sanctions and normalize political and economic relations with Russia” – he said in staccato  in an interview with the newspaper Oesterreich printed on Sunday  (4/06/2018).

 

Socialist Pedro Sanchez becomes Prime minister of Spain

Mariano Rajoy,  the Prime minister of Spain, whose Partido Popular (People’s Party) has been plagued by corruption scandals, is stepping down after losing a no-confidence vote. Socialist Party leader Pedro Sanchez will replace him.
The no-confidence motion was initiated by the opposition Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) on Thursday and supported by Catalan parties and the leftist Podemos. With the centrist party Ciudadanos abstaining, Rajoy’s People’s Party (PP) and its allies was left at the mercy of the Basque Nationalist Party and its five crucial votes.

Earlier on Friday, Rajoy conceded defeat to PSOE leader Pedro Sanchez, who will now become prime minister.

Rajoy had refused to step down before the no-confidence vote, and has defended his party in the corruption scandal that has now proven to be his downfall. Last week, dozens of former PP officials were jailed for money laundering and fraud, and the party fined €240,000 over a kickbacks-for-contracts scheme they ran between 1999 and 2006.

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