Category Archives: Politics

EU-Russia: “many disagreements”

Brussels 22.03.2021 With a view to the European Council meeting of 25 and 26 March a phone call between the President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin took place on Monday 22 March 2021.

The Presidents discussed relations between the EU and Russia.

President Michel expressed the view that EU-Russia ties are at a low point and confirmed the EU’s approach of the five guiding principles, based on the EU’s core values.

There is currently disagreement in many areas.

From the EU perspective, the relationship with Russia can only take a different direction if there is sustained progress on issues like the implementation of the Minsk agreements, stopping hybrid and cyber-attacks on Member States and respect for human rights. In this context Alexey Navalny’s case was raised. Charles Michel reiterated the EU’s call on the Russian authorities to release Mr Navalny and proceed with a transparent investigation into the assassination attempt on him.
The leaders also exchanged views on the Covid pandemic, on vaccines and on regional and global issues.

Kremlin readout: “Taking into account the upcoming discussion at the European Council meeting on March 25-26 of the problems of relations between Russia and the EU, Charles Michel touched upon a number of issues concerning the current state of affairs and the prospects for dialogue between Moscow and Brussels.

Vladimir Putin assessed the unsatisfactory state of Russian-EU ties, which has developed due to the non-constructive, sometimes confrontational line of partners. The Russian side emphasized its readiness to restore a normal, depoliticized format of interaction with the European Union, if a real reciprocal interest is shown in this.

The issues of combating the coronavirus pandemic were also touched upon, in particular the possibility of using the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, the political settlement of the internal Ukrainian conflict, the situation in Belarus and some other topical issues”.

EU leaders spring Council

Brussels 19.03.2021 On 25 and 26 March, EU leaders will meet in Brussels to discuss the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Single Market, industrial policy, digital transformation and the economy, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, and relations with Russia.

COVID-19
The European Council will take stock of the roll-out of vaccines and the epidemiological situation and pursue the coordinated response to the pandemic crisis.

COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic: the EU’s response
Single market, industrial policy, digital transformation and the economy
The European Council will discuss the key priorities for the single market, industrial policy and the digital transformation. The leaders will look at the Digital Compass, including targets set for 2030, and review work on digital taxation.

The European Council will address the priorities for the 2021 European Semester and leaders will be invited to endorse the recommendation on the economic policy of the Eurozone.

A digital future for Europe
EU single market
Eastern Mediterranean

The European Council will discuss the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. The High Representative and the Commission are expected to submit a report on EU-Turkey relations ahead of the meeting, following the conclusions of the European Council in December 2020.

Russia

The EU leaders will hold a strategic debate on the relations with Russia.

EU: Venezuela envoy announced unwelcome

Brussels 25.02.2021 “On the initiative of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council today agreed that the head of the Mission of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the European Union be declared persona non grata” the statement of the European Council reads.

“This is a response to the decision by the Venezuelan government to declare the head of the EU delegation to Venezuela as persona non grata. The EU considers this declaration as wholly unwarranted and contrary to the EU’s objective of developing relations and building partnerships in third countries”.

On Wednesday, February 24, Caracas has ordered the expulsion of the chief European Union envoy following the bloc’s decision to impose sanctions on several Venezuelan officials accused of undermining democracy or violating human rights. The European Union sanctioned 19 additional Venezuelan officials on Monday, February 22, on grounds of human rights abuses and undermining democracy or the rule of law.

Among those added to the sanctions list are several judges of the constitutional chamber of the supreme court and members of the national electoral council.

They join another 36 officials who have already been banned from travelling to the EU and saw their assets in the EU frozen. Exports to Venezuela of weapons and equipment that could be used against civil society are also banned.

Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa was given 72 hours to leave the troubled country. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Brilhante Pedrosa was declared persona non grata by decision of President Nicolás Maduro.

EU calls Armenians to calm

Brussels 25.02.2021 “The European Union is following developments in Armenia very closely. We ask all actors for calm and to avoid any rhetoric or actions that could lead to further escalation”, the EU spokesperson declaration reads.

“Political differences must be resolved peacefully and in strict adherence to the principles and processes of parliamentary democracy. In line with the Armenian Constitution, the armed forces “shall maintain neutrality in political matters and shall be under civilian control”.

“Maintaining the democratic and constitutional order is the only way Armenia can effectively tackle the challenges it is confronted with”.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has warned of an attempted military coup, after the country’s army generals said he and his cabinet must resign.

The army “must obey the people and elected authorities,” he told to crowds of supporters in the capital Yerevan. His opponents the same time held a rival rally.

Addressing his supporters at a rally in Yerevan, Pashinyan says that Armenians will not allow a military coup to take place and tells the army to do its job and defend the country.

Pashinyan said the question of his resignation could only be decided by the people because he was elected by the people.

PM Pashinyan has faced protests after losing last year’s bloody conflict with Azerbaijan over a disputed region.

Draghi receives greetings from EU

Brussels 13.02.2021 The EU top executive Ursula von der Leyen sent her congratulations to the former head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, who had been sworn-in as Italy’s next Prime minister.

“Congratulations to Mario Draghi, the new Prime Minister.
His experience will be an extraordinary resource not only for Italy, but for all of Europe, especially in such a difficult time. Ready to work together soon for the common recovery and for an ambitious Flag of the European Union” – the European Commission president wrote on her Twitter page.

Draghi put together a unity government of the main political parties, following the collapse of the previous administration last month.

It was thrown into turmoil amid a row over how to spend EU coronavirus recovery funds.

Italy is still wrestling with the pandemic and is also facing its worst economic crisis in decades.

The EU Council president Charles Michel has also sent his congratulations, looking forward to cooperation with the Prime Minister Draghi.

Italy: Matarella proposes Draghi to lead government

The Italy head of state Sergio Matarella summoned Mario Draghi for talks on Wednesday, February 3, at noon (1100 GMT) after hearing that efforts to salvage the collapsed coalition of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had failed.
Mattarella looks set to ask former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi to form a government of national unity to tackle the twin coronavirus and economic crises battering the country.

“I have a duty to appeal to all political forces (to support) a high-profile government,” Mattarella told reporters, ruling out the only other possibility, early elections, as ill-advised given the array of challenges facing Italy.

Draghi made no immediate comment on the presidential summons and it was not initially clear which parties in the deeply fractured parliament would support an administration he headed.

Mario Draghi is widely credited with pulling the euro zone back from the brink of collapse in 2012, pledging to do “whatever it takes” to save the single European currency.

Later the banker has largely vanished from the public eye since his ECB term ended in October 2019, but his name emerged as a potential premier in recent weeks as political turmoil combined with the health and economic emergencies to form a perfect storm. President Mattarella said one of the most important things the next administration had to do was to draw up rapidly plans for how to spend more than 200 billion euros ($243 billion) from a European Union fund designed to help overcome the economic slump.

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.

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