Category Archives: Politics

Michel invites Biden to Brussels

Brussels 30.11.2020 President of the European Council Charles Michel has invited the U.S. for a Summit in persona or virtual in the first half of 2021, an EU official said, adding the representatives from the EU countries with the rank of ambassador to the European Union (Coreper) will have a discussion on Monday, November 30, to prepare the European Council on strategic debate on relations between the U.S and the EU, based on a “non-paper” sent out on Friday, which includes five building blocks.
The official also underlined that the European Council president will hold consultations as of next week with all EU leaders on the topic of the EU-U.S. relations, constructed on “building blocks”: fighting the COVID-19 pandemic; enhancing economic recovery; combating climate change;upholding multilateralism and shared values; promoting peace and security.

The official added that Charles Michel and his team are currently in close contact with NATO Secretary General NATO Jens Stoltenberg to see if they can arrange a common visit.

The President of the European Council Charles Michel spoke Monday 23 November 2020 with the US President-elect Joe Biden and congratulated him on his election as the 46th President of the United States and Kamala Harris as the future Vice-President. During the call President Michel proposed to rebuild a strong transatlantic alliance based on common interests and shared values. He welcomed the strong commitment of the President-elect Biden to America’s allies and his support for European cooperation.

President Michel has already invited the President-elect Joe Biden to a special meeting with the members of the European Council in Brussels in 2021 to discuss shared priorities.

The EU stands ready to tackle together with the US today’s pressing challenges: the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery, climate change, security, and multilateralism, Michel said.

“Now is the time to join forces. In a changing world, our partnership will be more important than ever to protect our citizens, relaunch our economies, stop global warming and create a safer world. The EU and the US will always have more impact when taking steps together” Charles Michel said.

President Michel also thanked the President-elect for his clear support regarding the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement the EU concluded with the UK last year. This agreement preserves peace and stability in Ireland and fully respects the Good Friday Agreement.

EU: Georgia elections “competitive”

“Georgia held the first round of its 2020 Parliamentary elections on 31 October, under a revised electoral system and with high voter turnout, despite the challenging context of the COVID-19 pandemic.” the statement of the European External Actions Service reads.

“According to the joint statement of preliminary findings and conclusions of the international observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Parliamentary Assemblies of the OSCE, Council of Europe and NATO, the elections were competitive and, overall, fundamental freedoms were respected.

“The observers noted, however, that the conduct of the elections was impacted by pervasive allegations of pressure on voters and blurring of the line between the ruling party and the state throughout the campaign and on election day, reducing public confidence in some aspects of the process.

“Ensuring the highest democratic standards throughout the entire electoral process, including during the second round, remains key, as well as a fair, transparent and rigorous handling of all complaints and appeals. It is important that all parties continue to adhere to democratic principles and standards and respect for human rights. Ensuring conditions for a free and pluralistic media environment is extremely important including to allow voters to make a fully informed choice. The European Union will remain very attentive to developments during the remainder of the electoral period and in particular on the day of the second round.

“The revised legal framework provided a sound basis for the holding of democratic elections. Recent legislative amendments partially addressed previous OSCE/ODIHR and Council of Europe/Venice Commission recommendations, however, although a number remain outstanding. It will be important to continue addressing shortcomings in the electoral framework, including the final recommendations of OSCE/ODIHR, through an inclusive dialogue, after the second round on 21 November.

“The European Union stands by a democratic, stable, prosperous and inclusive Georgia and continues to support Georgia’s process of political association and economic integration with the EU as per its Association Agreement”.

Borrell warns Erdogan against isolation

Brussels, 25.10.2020 Today the head of the European Union (EU) diplomacy Josep Borrell reacted upon the inflammatory rhetoric of President Erdogan, warning him against international isolation of Turkey as the direct result of the confrontational policy. The EU top diplomat considered the remarks of the Turkish head of state were “unacceptable”, and called on Ankara to “stop this dangerous spiral”. (Image: archive)

The diplomat reminded President Erdogan about the recent conclusions of the European Council containing a “real offer” to relaunch our relationship. He has underlined that “political will” from the Turkish authorities is needed on this positive agenda. Otherwise, Turkey will be even more isolated.

Paris said it was recalling its envoy to Ankara H.E.Hervé MAGRO for consultations after comments by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggesting French counterpart Emmanuel Macron needed a “mental health” treatment that quai d’Orsay condemned as unacceptable.

President Emmanuel Macron has unveiled a plan to defend France’s secular values against “Islamist radicalism”, adding that Islam was a religion “in crisis”. The assessment caused a vivid reaction among Muslim communities across the world, calling for boycotting French export products.

Three weeks ago the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told reporters that the EU wanted “a positive and constructive relationship with Turkey and this would be also be very much in Ankara’s interest”.
The EU top executive also warned that it would only work if the “provocations and pressures stop.”

“We therefore expect that Turkey from now on abstains from unilateral actions. In case of such renewed actions by Ankara, the EU will use all its instruments and options available. We have a toolbox that we can apply immediately.” The statements were issued int he context of the Ankara unilateral actions in the eastern Mediterranean, while Greece and Cyprus are in a standoff with Turkey over exploratory drilling in the sea.

EU-UK: no-deal looming

Brussels 16.10.2020 The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that it was time to prepare for a UK exit from the European Union without a negotiated deal (so called no-deal scenario) on their future relationship unless there is a drastic change in the bloc’s position. (Image: archive).

In the aftermath of statements by European Council President Charles Michel who has underlined that it was up to London to make compromises to avoid a disorderly break-up on January 1, Boris Johnson felt that the continuation of the negotiations planned for next week in London was now unnecessary .

The UK officially left the EU on January 31 but remains subject to EU rules during a transition that runs until the end of the year, while the two sides agree on their future relationship and avoid the “leap into the void” of a brutal Brexit.

“Unless there is a fundamental change of approach, we are moving towards the Australian-style solution and we must do so with great confidence,” said Boris Johnson, referring to relations between Australia and the EU, which are not supported by any extended bilateral free trade agreement.

His spokesperson hit the nail on the head hours later when he said that talks between Brussels and London for a trade deal on their future relationship were over. He added that EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier was only due to visit London next week if the bloc’s approach changed.

“The trade negotiations are over: the EU has put an end to them de facto by saying that it does not want to change its negotiating position,” he said. The various announcements by the British government have caused movements of fluctuation up and down on the pound.

Asked if he is now staying away from the talks, Boris Johnson said: “If there is a fundamental change in approach, of course we are always ready to listen, but it has not. seemed particularly encouraging at the Brussels summit. ”

“They (the Europeans) want to keep the ability to continue to control our legislative freedom, our fishing activities, in a way that is obviously unacceptable to an independent country,” he added.

Before Boris Johnson’s spokesman said Brexit talks were over, the EU said the European Commission intended to continue seeking a deal, considering the UK PM’s comments to be rhetoric.

Hungary dabs HR Report “absurd”

Brussels 30.09.2020 Immediately after the Rule of Law presentation by the European Commission, the Hungarian government issued a communication, providing an assessment of the document, viewing it as highly subjective, and politically motivated tool serving other purposes than declared.

Commission’s Rule of Law Report is not only fallacious, but absurd. It cannot serve as a basis for any further discussion on rule of law in the European Union. The concept and methodology of the Commission’s Rule of Law Report are unfit for purpose, its sources are unbalanced and its content is unfounded.

The Commission’s Rule of Law Report makes no reference to objective benchmarks that apply equally to all Member States.

The choice of sources in the report is biased and non-transparent. It is unacceptable for the Commission’s Rule of Law Report to be written by organisations forming part of a centrally financed international network engaged in a coordinated political campaign against Hungary. The Hungarian chapter makes reference to twelve “civil society organisations”, eleven of which have in recent years received financial support from the Open Society Foundations linked to Mr. Soros.

Hungary is one of the few Member States where genuine pluralism prevails in the media, in ideological debates, and in the public sphere in general. Unlike the Western European media landscape, which is overwhelmingly dominated by leftist and liberal outlets, in Hungary the situation is more balanced, with conservative and Christian Democratic views also receiving meaningful coverage in the public sphere.

The Fundamental Law of Hungary and the country’s state structure are based on the rule of law. The protection of Hungary’s constitutional identity is the obligation of every organ of the state.

Objective and impartial analysis of all reliable information concerning the situation in Hungary can only lead to the conclusion that the fundamental values of the European Union are being respected, and that the rule of law is being observed”.

The European Commission has today published the first EU-wide report on the rule of law. Today’s report includes input from every Member State and covers both positive and negative developments across the EU. It shows that many Member States have high rule of law standards, but important challenges to the rule of law exist in the EU. It also reflects relevant developments stemming from the emergency measures taken by Member States due to the coronavirus crisis. The report covers four main pillars with a strong bearing on the rule of law: national justice systems, anti-corruption frameworks, media pluralism and freedom, and other institutional issues related to the checks and balances essential to an effective system of democratic governance.

European Liberals welcome new Belgium PM

Brussels 30.09.2020 Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Development Cooperation in the Wilmès Government has been nominated the next Prime Minister of Belgium today, 30 September. De Croo is a former leader of the ALDE Party member Open VLD.

“I warmly welcome Alexander as the new Prime Minister of Belgium and the formation of a new coalition government following the elections of May 2019. Alexander has served his country for many years and brings a lot of experience and achievements to the role having served as Deputy Prime Minister as well as Minister of Finance and Development Cooperation” reacting to the nomination of Alexander De Croo, ALDE Party President Hans van Baalen said.

“I would at the same time like to pay profound tribute to Sophie Wilmès, who not only made history as her country’s first Première Minister, but also stepped up in challenging circumstances to honourably and respectably lead her country through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.”

“Liberals will continue to play a strong role in the government of Belgium, and we look forward to continuing our very close cooperation with OpenVLD and Mouvement Reformateur, and to welcoming Alexander De Croo to meetings with his fellow liberal European Prime Ministers, the second largest political family in the European Council”.

MAVRIDES: CYPRUS-SANCTIONS-DISTORTIONS

Costas MAVRIDES, MEP, OPINION Cyprus position on sanctions vs distortions
Erdogan is breaking fundamental EU and International Law in his expansionist policies to restore the Ottoman empire and turn himself into the Sultan of modern times. Domestically, he crashed the media and imprisoned thousands of journalists, academics, judges and political opponents. He is obsessed with Islamism, recently converted two of the finest Byzantine Christian cathedrals into mosques against UNESCO rules and promoting political Islam in Europe. He has breached NATO obligations by buying Russian missiles. He turned the migration flow into a tool for blackmailing the EU and interferes in the politics of European countries including France and Germany, insisting that Turkish EU citizens owe loyalty only to Turkey. He invaded into Iraq and Syria where still occupies the Afrin area. He has an open war on the Kurds within and around Turkey. He intervened in Libya and continues his aggression with the supply of arms against the UN Security Council Resolutions. He has illegally militarize the sea in the Aegean, acting against the sovereign rights of Greece. He has invaded in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus extending Turkish illegal occupation of the northern part of the Republic of Cyprus into its waters zones.

The invasion in the Cyprus water zones is taking place for some years now for which Cyprus is pleading for EU solidarity. Last week, the European Parliament has spoken once again, condemning the aggression of Turkey in the Mediterranean and calling the European Council to consider targeted and sectoral sanctions against Turkey. These blatant violations of rule of law within Turkey and against EU and International Law -against the sovereign rights of two member states of EU-, take place while Turkey is an EU accession country.
The last few weeks we have seen the authoritarian regime of Belarus actions against its citizens. During the Council in Berlin an agreement was reached that EU sanctions are going to be imposed on Belarus and Turkey. Now, some member states don’t want sanctions on Turkey, while Cyprus insists on the implementation of the agreement reached asking for sanctions on both Turkey and Belarus. The EU High Representative Josep Borrell stated in the EP that sanctions will be imposed on Turkey over its actions in the Cypriot EEZ and called the EU member states to implement the Berlin agreement. The above are the facts without any distortions. Anyone can decide who is the defender of European values, EU Law and Europe long term interests.
Costas Mavrides, Member of European Parliament
Chair of the Political Committee of the Mediterranean
Member of Cyprus Democratic Party

Opposition politician arrest in Minsk

A member of the Belarusian opposition’s Coordination Council Maria Kolesnikova #Kalesnikava has been arrested and placed in a pre-trial detention center in Minsk, to various sources report. (Image: social media).

“The head of the investigative group of the Investigative Committee’s main investigation department Vasilyuk called me and informed that she had been arrested,” Maria’s father Alexander Kolesnikov said on September 9, according to tut.by portal.

Meanwhile, the Belarusian State Border Committee noted that information on Kolesnikova’s whereabouts and a legal assessment of her actions would be provided later.

On Tuesday, Belarus-1 state TV channel reported on its Telegram channel that Kolesnikova had been detained while trying to illegally cross the border with Ukraine. According to the Belarusian State Border Committee, she was going through border control together with the Council’s spokesman Anton Rodnenkov and executive secretary Ivan Kravtsov. The two men passed the control and later headed to Kiev, where they established contact.

The representatives of former presidential hopeful Viktor Babariko announced that Kolesnikova had been allegedly in the Mozyr border guard detachment and was later taken to Minsk.

The presidential election in Belarus was held on August 9. According to the Central Election Commission, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko was an absolute winner with 80.10% of the vote. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was considered as his key rival, came in second with 10.12% of the vote.

She refused to recognize the official election results and exiled in Lithuania. Shortly after the exit poll results were announced, mass protests broke out in the country, which degenerated into clashes with law enforcement officers.

The authorities demand the end of the rallies, while the Coordination Council set up by the opposition calls to continue protests, demanding to cancel sham elections results, and set a new date for free and fair elections, releasing all political prisoners, who could not participate.

Navalny in Omsk – stabilised but in coma

Russian opposition politician and relentless anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, 44, is still unconscious in Omsk hospital suffering from suspected poisoning, his spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said.

Navalny wife, Yulia, and his GP arrived to Omsk, but they have diffiuclty in obtaining the necessary documents to move the patient to another, better equpped clinic. However the staff of the hospital do not share their plan, and refuse to release patient. They insist that they have all necessary equipment to provide required treatment, and that they have had a series of consulations via teleconferencing with the leading medical centers in Russia. Refering to the legislation the representative of the hostpial declined to comment of the diagnosis, he explaind his position with the legal restriciton, and added that there are ceratin improvements, which allow to regard the patient’s condition with cautions optimism.

Navalny spokesperson expressed indignation about the rumers circulating in different Russian media about Navalny alcohool poisoning. The pro-Kremlin newspapers suggested he suffered depression, and was drining poor quality alcohool, while travelling in Siberia.

The anti-corruption campaigner fell ill during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow, and the plane made an emergency landing in Omsk, where doctors said he was in a coma and they were trying to save his life. (Image below: Lubov Sobol, “FBK”)

Navalny team team suspects something was put in his tea at an airport cafe, blame the authorities the “special operation” of physical removal of the political opponent.

The Kremlin spokesperson said that it wished Navalny a “speedy recovery”.

The Kremlin is aware of the hospitalization of Alexei Navalny and wishes him “a speedy recovery.” Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin is ready to assist in transporting Navalny for treatment abroad.

The Kremlin is aware of the hospitalization of Alexei Navalny and wishes him “a speedy recovery.” Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin is ready to assist in transporting Navalny for treatment abroad.

Alexey Navalny has for years been among President Vladimir Putin’s staunchest critics.

In June he described a vote on constitutional reforms as a “coup” and a “violation of the constitution”. The reforms allow Presient Putin to serve another two terms in office, after the four terms he has already had.

EU: Belarus elections «falsified»

The EU Foreign Ministers addressed the Belarusian Presidential elections that took place on 9 August.

“Ministers reiterated their repeated call to the Belarusian authorities to stop the disproportionate and unacceptable violence against peaceful protesters. The EU expects the authorities to release immediately all unlawfully detained persons. In light of shocking reports of inhumane treatment and detention conditions, the European Union expects a thorough and transparent investigation into all alleged abuses, in order to hold those responsible to account.

“During their discussions, the Ministers sent a strong signal of the EU’s support to the Belarusian population in their desire for democratic change. The Ministers noted the exceptional work of the domestic election observers, whose reporting, in the absence of international election observers, has been crucial in helping to reveal the true picture regarding last Sunday’s elections. They discussed how to support this vital work.

“The Ministers reiterated that the elections were neither free nor fair. The European Union considers the results to have been falsified and therefore does not accept the results of the election as presented by the Belarus Central Election Commission. The European Union will therefore put forward to the Belarusian authorities a proposal for EU support in in establishing and facilitating a dialogue between the political authorities, opposition and broader society in view of resolving the current crisis. The High Representative/Vice-President and his services will begin work on this proposal immediately.

“Ministers also agreed on the need to sanction those responsible for violence, repression and the falsification of election results. The work on additional listings within the existing sanctions framework for Belarus will start immediately.

“The Ministers expressed appreciation for the work of journalists in the difficult conditions that they are facing and condemned attacks on and detentions of journalists, including EU citizens.

“The Ministers agreed to revert to reviewing EU-Belarus relations at their upcoming informal meeting end of August. As part of this review, the European Union will look at how to increase its support to the Belarusian people, including through enhanced engagement with and financial support to civil society, additional support to independent media, and increasing opportunities for student and academic mobility”.

Image: archive

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