Category Archives: Politics

EU top diplomats convene in Brussels

Brussels 17.07.2022 The Foreign Affairs Council will exchange views on the Russian aggression against Ukraine, with the participation via video teleconference of Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba. The Council will also hold a discussion on relations between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean, and digital diplomacy.

Under current affairs, ministers will discuss foreign information manipulation and interference, the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a possible EU-Israel association council, the upcoming ministerial meeting between the EU and the League of Arab States, and the situation in Sri Lanka and Tunisia.

The Council is due to approve conclusions on: EU Digital Diplomacy, foreign information manipulation and interference, EU priorities at the 77th United Nations General Assembly, and EU development aid targets for 2022.

The EU and its citizens stand in full solidarity with Ukraine and its people. The EU has taken concrete actions to support Ukraine and its neighbouring countries that are providing protection for people fleeing the war. Measures include:

The reception of refugees through the temporary protection mechanism:
€348 million in humanitarian aid for Ukraine and Moldova
material assistance to Ukraine and its neighbouring countries through the EU civil protection mechanism
€20 billion to support member states hosting refugees
€2.2 billion in macro-financial assistance to foster stability
€2 billion to support the Ukrainian armed forces

New Ambassadors to EU

Brussels 15.07.2022 On 14 July 2022, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, received the credentials of the new Heads of Mission to the EU from the following countries: Vietnam, Australia, Timor-Leste, Ecuador, Djibouti, Mongolia, Cambodia, Comoros, Brunei, Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Congo (DRC), Monaco, Bahrein, Nicaragua and Samoa.

Russian diplomat resigns over Ukraine

Brussels 24.05.2022 A veteran Russian diplomat to the United Nations Office in Geneva on Monday, May 23, said he had handed in his resignation before sending out a scathing letter to foreign colleagues inveighing against the “aggressive war unleashed” by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. Nothing was said about Boris Bondarev (pictured) further steps, if intended to return to Russia, or he asked for a political asylum in Switzerland.

The bowing out civil servant published his open letter on his LinkedIn page:
“Long overdue, but today I resign from civil service. Enough is enough.
For twenty years of my diplomatic career I have seen different turns of our foreign policy, but never have I been so ashamed of my country as on February 24 of this year. The aggressive war unleashed by Putin against Ukraine, and in fact against the entire Western world, is not only a crime against the Ukrainian people, but also, perhaps, the most serious crime against the people of Russia, with a bold letter Z crossing out all hopes and prospects for a prosperous free society in our country.

“Those who conceived this war want only one thing – to remain in power forever, live in pompous tasteless palaces, sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian Navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity. To achieve that they are willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes. Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have already died just for this.

“I regret to admit that over all these twenty years the level of lies and unprofessionalism in the work of the Foreign Ministry has been increasing all the time. However, in most recent years, this has become simply catastrophic. Instead of unbiased information, impartial analysis and sober forecasting, there are propaganda clichés in the spirit of Soviet newspapers of the 1930s. A system has been built that deceives itself.
Minister Lavrov is a good illustration of the degradation of this system. In 18 years, he went from a professional and educated intellectual, whom many my colleagues held in such high esteem, to a person who constantly broadcasts conflicting statements and threatens the world (that is, Russia too) with nuclear weapons!
“Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not about diplomacy. It is all about warmongering, lies and hatred. It serves interests of few, the very few people thus contributing to further isolation and degradation of my country. Russia no longer has allies, and there is no one to blame but its reckless and ill-conceived policy.
“I studied to be a diplomat and have been a diplomat for twenty years. The Ministry has become my home and family. But I simply cannot any longer share in this bloody, witless and absolutely needless ignominy”.

EU: Russians stripped of “golden” passports

Brussels 28.03.2022 In a recommendation issued today, the Commission is urging Member States to immediately repeal any existing investor citizenship schemes and to ensure strong checks are in place to address the risks posed by investor residence schemes. The Commission has frequently and consistently raised its serious concerns about investor citizenship and residence schemes and the inherent risks they pose. Today’s recommendation forms part of the Commission’s broader policy to take determined action on these schemes. The current context of the Russian aggression against Ukraine is once again highlighting these risks. (Image: illustration).

Some Russian or Belarusian nationals who are subject to sanctions or are significantly supporting the war in Ukraine might have acquired EU citizenship or privileged access to the EU, including to travel freely in the Schengen area, under these schemes. To address these immediate risks, the Commission is also recommending today that Member States assess whether citizenship granted under a ‘golden passport’ scheme to Russian or Belarusian nationals on an EU sanctions list in connection to the war in Ukraine should be withdrawn. Residence permits granted under an investor residence scheme to Russian or Belarusian nationals subject to sanctions should be immediately withdrawn, following an individual assessment and in accordance with the principle of proportionality, fundamental rights and Member States’ national law.

These measures should apply to Russian or Belarusian nationals significantly supporting the war in Ukraine.

“European values are not for sale. We consider that the sale of citizenship through ‘golden passports’ is illegal under EU law and poses serious risks to our security. It opens the door to corruption, money laundering and tax avoidance. All Member States concerned should end their investor citizenship schemes immediately. In addition, they should assess whether they should revoke any ‘golden passports’ already granted to sanctioned individuals and others significantly supporting Putin’s war” said Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, Didier Reynders.

“The right to travel freely within the Schengen area is among our greatest assets. We need strong checks to make sure this right is not abused. Golden residence permits issued to Russians and Belarusians under EU sanctions should be revoked. Now more than ever, in the face of war, we must do everything to ensure that Russians and Belarusians under sanctions and those supporting Putin’s war of aggression cannot buy their way into the EU” said Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson.

Investor Citizenship Schemes

Every person that holds the nationality of an EU Member State is at the same time an EU citizen. EU citizenship automatically gives the right to free movement, access to the EU internal market, and the right to vote and be elected in European and local elections. This affects all Member States, and the inherent risks of such schemes have once again been highlighted in the context of the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Today’s recommendation stresses that:

Any Member State still operating investor citizenship schemes needs to terminate them immediately. Such schemes are not compatible with the principle of sincere cooperation and with the concept of EU citizenship enshrined in the EU treaties. On 20 October 2020, the Commission opened infringements against two Member States regarding their investor citizenship scheme. In addition, the Commission has been urging another Member State to proceed with ending its scheme. Two Member States abolished their schemes in the meantime or are in the process of doing so.
The Member States concerned should carry out assessments in order to determine whether citizenship previously granted to Russian or Belarusian nationals subject to sanctions or significantly supporting the war in Ukraine should be withdrawn. While carrying out the assessments, the Member States concerned are to take into account the principles established by the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding the loss of EU citizenship.

Investor Residence Schemes

Investor residence schemes raise inherent security, money laundering, tax evasion and corruption risks for Member States and for the EU as a whole. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has once again underlined these risks.

In the recommendation issued today, the Commission asks Member States to:

Establish and conduct strict checks before issuing any residence permit by investment: Member States should take all necessary measures to prevent investor residence schemes from posing security, money laundering, tax evasion and corruption risks. This includes establishing and carrying out checks related to the conditions of residence and security before issuing such residence permits, and verifying whether residence is continuous.
Immediately withdraw or refuse the renewal of the residence permits granted under an investor residence scheme to Russian or Belarusian nationals who are subject to EU sanctions in connection to the war in Ukraine, following an assessment.

The same measure should also apply to those significantly supporting the war in Ukraine or other related activities of the Russian government or Lukashenko regime breaching international law.
Suspend the issuance of residence permits under investor residence schemes to all Russian and Belarusian nationals.

All measures need to be applied in compliance with the principle of proportionality, with fundamental rights and with Member States’ national law.

EU-US:enhancing transatlantic security & defence

Brussels 24.03.2022 Today, the European Council was joined by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. of the United States have issued the joint readout:

“The leaders discussed the coordinated and united response of the European Union and the United States to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression in Ukraine.

“They reviewed their ongoing efforts to impose economic costs on Russia and Belarus, as well as their readiness to adopt additional measures and to stop any attempts to circumvent sanctions.

“Leaders discussed the urgent needs caused by Russia’s aggression, committed to continuing providing humanitarian assistance, including to neighbouring countries hosting refugees, and underscored the need for Russia to guarantee humanitarian access to those affected by or fleeing the violence.

“Leaders welcomed the opening of international investigations, including by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, and ongoing efforts to gather evidence of atrocities.

“In addition, leaders discussed EU-U.S. cooperation to reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels, accelerate the transition to clean energy, as well as the need to respond to evolving food security needs worldwide.

“The leaders also concurred on the importance of strengthening democratic resilience in Ukraine, Moldova, and the wider Eastern partnership region.

“Finally, leaders underscored the importance of enhancing transatlantic security and defence, including through robust NATO-EU cooperation as described in the EU’s Strategic Compass”.

NATO-Russia: Biden announces new sanctions

Brussels 24.03.2022 President Biden has given a press-conference after NATO and G7 Summits in Brussels touting unity in the Western response to Russia as allies worked behind the scenes to formulate their plans for the next phase of the conflict in Ukraine.

Biden said he supported ejecting Russia from G20, which is scheduled to convene in November, though other members of that grouping would have to sign on, admitting that at the moment there are some state opposing this perspective.

Biden maintained his view that direct U.S. military intervention in Ukraine would result in catastrophe and defended a sanctions regime which, according to him should bring results, if used on a wholesome and permanent basis as long as needed.
“Putin was banking on NATO being split,” Biden said in a news conference at NATO headquarters late afternoon.
“NATO has never, never been more united than it is today. Putin is getting exactly the opposite of what he intended to have as a consequence of going into Ukraine.”

During the critical day of meetings, Biden announced new measures directed at members of Russia’s Parliament – Duma – and unveiled a plan to accept as many as 100,000 refugees fleeing the violence in Ukraine, steps intended to show American resolve in confronting the crisis.

A discussion of NATO’s force posture along its eastern border was also part of the last-minute diplomatic effort. And leaders conferred on what to do if Russia deploys a chemical, biological or even nuclear weapon,the answer should be united, and decided on a consensus basis.

“The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use,” Biden said, answering a question.

As the Summit got underway Thursday morning, leaders heard a call for more help from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who addressed the gathering online. He stopped short of issuing his usual request for a no-fly zone, however he insisted Ukraine needs fighter jets, tanks and air-defence systems.

Poland expropriation of Russian property

Brussels 21.03.2022 The government of Poland expressed will to confiscate Russian property and assets Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in an interview Sunday, March 20.

According to the Prime Minister, Polish authorities plan to have a meeting with the opposition Monday, March 21, during which they will “raise a question on how to freeze and confiscate Russian property in the country.”

“We have a bit of such property. On the one hand, there are constitutional restrictions for such actions, connected to the right of property; on the other hand, more and more Polish people fail to understand why we can’t have such action in our country, if the Italians confiscate yachts of Russian oligarchs,” Morawiecki said.

“We want to take it thought the Sejm [the lower house of the parliament – TASS], and we decided that the opposition must be involved in this process,” he explained.

The statesman has underlined that, although there are no Russian yachts in Poland, “there is some real estate and financial assets, shares of companies.”

“In any case, our authority camp firmly supports this,” the Prime Minister said.

MEP Donato denounces Facebook ban

Brussels 14.03.2022 “They closed my Facebook page. The attack on me started in a heavy way. Draw conclusions». The Venetian MEP Francesca Donato denounces this action of Facebook in her Twitter micro blog, explaining that her Facebook page with over 143 000 followers has been closed.

«I was immediately informed by my communication staff of the disappearance of the page which took place without any notification or warning from Facebook. I can only think that Zuckerberg’s company, which in these hours has also decided to make legitimate threats and insults to Russian citizens, has instead considered my page too free or in any case not compliant with the mainstream vulgate. This had been clear to me for some time, but I didn’t think they would silence a democratically elected Member of parliament and candidate for mayor in the fifth city of Italy».

The Facebook page of the independent MEP had already suffered limitations due to the very critical positions expressed on the vaccination campaign and on Covid management. «The blackout of my page comes incidentally after my vote against the European Parliament sanctions against Russia and my critical position on the government’s line of exacerbating the conflict in Ukraine. Limiting or even preventing the free expression of political opinions seems to me a way of operating on the part of Meta that is incompatible with the need to defend freedom and democracy. Anyone who thinks of silencing me or intimidating me should put his mind in peace: I don’t stop “, concludes Donato

MEP Donato has been exposing atrocities of the Ukranian troops towards civilians in Donbass, calling for peaceful resolution of the conflict, which lasted for eight years after Maidan Revolution in Kiev.

Zelensky visits wounded servicemen

Brussels 14.03.2022 Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelesnky visited injured soldiers in a Kiev hospital Sunday, 13 March, shaking hands and presenting medals to the wounded servicemen in their beds.

Photos and videos from the scene showed the President talking to members of Ukraine troops, who were recovering from the wounds at various locations, including Hostomel Airport near the capital.

One snap captured him appearing to take a selfie with a bedridden soldier, who he later awarded a medal.

Another showed Zelesnky with full personal protective equipment, including a mask, as he talked to a service-member hooked up to a slew of medical machines.

The president’s visit to the Kiev hospital comes as Russian forces encircle the capital.

The figures of perished and wounded among Ukrainian and Russian servicemen are various, dependent on the source, while each national news agency publishes information amplifying the loss of the foe, and reducing the loss of their own.

Ukraine officials have reported 1,581 civilian casualties. Among them was award-winning journalist Brent Renaud, a former New York Times contributor who was killed caught in ongoing battle near Kiev.

Conference on the Future of Europe

Strasbourg 11.03.2022 #FutureofEurope The Conference plenary of 11-12 March 2022 will discuss the recommendations of the European Citizens’ Panels on ‘the EU in the world / migration’ and ‘a stronger economy, social justice and jobs / education, culture, youth and sport / digital transformation’ as well as related recommendations from National Citizens’ Panels.

The Plenary’s Working Groups will also meet and continue their preparatory discussions. The Plenary and the Working Groups will be web streamed and can be followed via the Platform.

The Conference of Europe Plenary debates the recommendations from the national and European Citizens’ Panels, and the input gathered from the Multilingual Digital Platform, grouped by themes, without a predetermined outcome. After these recommendations have been presented by and discussed with citizens, the Plenary will on a consensual basis put forward its proposals to the Executive Board. The latter will draw up a report in full collaboration and full transparency with the Plenary.

The Conference Plenary is composed of 108 representatives from the European Parliament, 54 from the Council, 3 from the European Commission, 108 from national Parliaments on an equal footing, and 108 citizens: 80 representatives from the European Citizens’

Panels, 27 from national Citizens’ Panels or Conference events (one per Member State), as well as the President of the European Youth Forum. 18 representatives from the Committee of the Regions and 18 from the Economic and Social Committee, 6 elected representatives from regional authorities and 6 elected representatives from local authorities, 12 representatives from the social partners and 8 from civil society also take part.

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is invited when the international role of the EU is discussed. Representatives of key stakeholders may also be invited.

The meetings of the Conference Plenary are presided by the three Co-Chairs of the Executive Board and held in the European Parliament premises in Strasbourg.

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