Category Archives: Politics

EU on Serbia elections

Serbia held parliamentary, provincial and local elections on 21 June; one of the first elections held in Europe since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

While contestants in Serbia’s parliamentary elections were able to campaign and fundamental freedoms were respected, voter choice was limited by the governing party’s overwhelming advantage and the promotion of government policies by most major media outlets, according to the preliminary findings and conclusions of the international observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

The European Union looks forward to the OSCE/ODIHR final report and recommendations for future elections to be issued in the coming months. We expect all political actors and relevant institutions to engage in a transparent, decisive and inclusive dialogue on the implementation of these recommendations to address long-standing electoral shortcomings well ahead of the next elections.

We encourage the new parliament to continue to engage in the inter-party dialogue led by the European Parliament, with a view to forging broad cross-party consensus on EU-related reforms, which is vital for the country’s progress on its EU path. We also encourage the Serbian leadership to engage in a genuine dialogue across the political spectrum to take forward important reforms on the rule of law, fight against organised crime and corruption.

The European Union looks forward to engaging with the next government to take forward swiftly the urgent reforms necessary for Serbia’s EU accession. This concerns in particular the rule of law, which lies at the heart of the accession process and should be at the forefront of the next government’s political priorities, and socio-economic reforms, crucial for post COVID-19 pandemic recovery. We also count on Serbia’s continued full engagement in the EU-facilitated Dialogue as well as regional cooperation more broadly.

As Serbia’s top donor and investor, and its most important trade and economic partner, the European Union is fully committed to continue supporting Serbia’s EU accession process as well as economic recovery following the coronavirus crisis, including through the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans due in the autumn.

Image: Belgrade, Serbia

Malta ambassador resigns after verbal assault

Malta’s Ambassador to Finland has resigned after comparing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Adolf Hitler in a public message in the context of Europe remembering the end of World War II.

Malta government ensured that the official apology will be send to Berlin.
The Maltese high diplomat to Finland resigned after comparing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Adolf Hitler.

Michael Zammit Tabona’s anti-Merkel Facebook entry, posted on May 8, which was removed later.

The Foreign affairs minister Evarist Bartolo informed he had accepted the resignation of the Maltese businessman appointed as Malta’s ambassador to Helsinki in 2014.

In his message on Friday, the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe, Zammit Tabona had posted: “75 years ago we stopped Hitler. Who will stop Angela Merkel? She has fulfilled Hitler’s dream! To control Europe.”
Maltese media reported May 10 that the offending post had since been deleted, and that Zammit Tabona could not be contacted for comment.

The Times of Malta newspaper said Zammit Tabona’s posting had been as non-residential and quoted Bartolo as saying he had instructed the ambassador to remove the comment “as soon as I was alerted to it.
The newspaper also quoted Maltese opposition leader Adrian Delia as saying that Zammit Tabona’s Facebook post was “unbecoming of an ambassador.”

Delia told the newspaper Angela Merkel had consistently backed Malta on various issues, describing her as a source of stability in Europe — seven decades after the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Malta’s Chamber of Commerce, in a statement also carried by the newspaper, said Zammit Tabona’s remark had harmed the country’s reputation. It welcomed his resignation.
All persons holding public office and diplomats no less, should take extra care when expressing themselves, as the country’s reputation is no one’s to put in compromising situations,” the chamber reportedly said.

Relations between the two EU nations, Malta and Germany, are becoming increasingly complex over Mediterranean migrant flows and Eurozone debt.

Kazakhstan: Nazarbayev daughter dissimssed

Incumbent Kazakhstan President Qasym-Jomart Toqayev, dismissed the daughter of ex-President Nursultan NazarbayevDarigà from her position of a speaker of the Senate, however the reasons for this decision were not revealed publicly. He also thanked her for “active and fruitful work” in her capacity as a speaker in a Tweet on his official micro blog.

Some analysts perceive it as a clash between two prétendants for presidency, indicating the daughter has never hidden her ambition to become the head of the state, de facto inheriting the position from her father.

According to Kazakhstan political scientist Dosym Satpayev, Tokaev’s decree on the termination of powers of speaker Dariga Nazarbayeva is a reflection of the tension within the country’s political elite, which has been observed since last year.

Because the position of the Senate speaker is important. According to the Constitution, this is the second person after the president. Any personnel changes in this post will always be of great interest,” the Satpayev said to Interfax-Kazakhstan.

According to the expert, this reassignment was most likely agreed upon with the first president of Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev. “The most interesting question will be what position Dariga Nazarbayeva will be offered instead of the post of speaker of the Senate,” the political scientist said.

“The second important question is the question of who will take the place of Dariga Nazarbayeva as the speaker of the Senate,” the political analyst underlined, adding that, in his opinion, this personnel reshuffle is very important precisely from the point of view of the balance of power within the elite. He also suggested that the incumbent President might be willing to see a close ally at his post rather than an ambitious competitor.

The daughter of the first president of Kazakhstan Dariga Nazarbayeva should understand that after her father leaves, no formal positions and powers can guarantee her neither power nor security“, expert Nikita Shatalov wrote in June 2019.

The independent analysts say that they expect first President to leave public scene after his 80 birthday celebrations on July 6. Futher modernisation of Central Asian state is expected from President Tokaev, facing the traditional in Kazakh society challenges of endemic corruption and nepothism.

Kazakhstan is the 113 least corrupt nation out of 180 countries, according to the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International.

COVID19: G20 pivotal role in global coordination

Today, Thursday 26 March 2020, the President of the European Council Charles Michel and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen participated in the extraordinary G20 Leaders’ videoconference called by Saudi Arabia that currently holds the G20 Presidency.

Against the backdrop that Europe currently is at the epicentre of the global COVID-19 crisis, the Presidents thanked all G20 leaders for the solidarity shown to the European Union and its Member States most affected by the crisis.

They also underlined that the European Union is committed to international cooperation in tackling this pandemic and will continue to assist vulnerable countries and communities around the world, especially in Africa.

The Presidents of the Council and the Commission stressed that unprecedented events call for unprecedented action and that fast, massive and coordinated global action is necessary on the health and economic fronts to save lives and avoid a further economic crisis.

The G20 has a pivotal role in ensuring such global coordination.

The Presidents insisted that G20 countries should coordinate their macroeconomic policies, mobilising all instruments available, to mitigate the economic downturn, support workers and companies most affected.

President Michel and President von der Leyen also stressed that in order to limit the economic impact on our economies – and to maintain our ability to manufacture and provide the necessary protective and medical equipment, it is imperative that we keep trade flows and supply chains open and avoid any new restrictions.

The EU called on G20 members to assist each other in repatriating citizens stranded abroad who wish to return home.

The European Union thanked the G20 Presidency for its focus on global coordination towards enhancing our collective pandemic preparedness and welcomed the fact that the G20 asked the WHO, working closely together with relevant organizations, to come up quickly with a global initiative on pandemic preparedness and response.

In this context, Europe stands ready to set up an international online pledging event to ensure adequate funding to develop and deploy a vaccine against COVID-19.

Putin arrives to Crimea

President Vladimir Putin arrived to Crimea for a working visit, which will last two days, Russian media reports.

Russian President has a meeting with representatives of the public of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol.

The head of state also awarded to the builders of the Crimean bridge with distinctions and medals.

There are also scheduled working meetings with the head of the Republic of Crimea Sergey Aksenov and interim governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhaev.

March 18, Crimea marks the sixth anniversary of reunification with Russia, which is regarded as “annexation” by the European Union, supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine after Maidan Revolution, ousting President Yankovich.

In March 2014, a referendum was held in the Republic of Crimea, following which the peninsula became a territorial part of Russia, and Sevastopol became a city of federal significance.

Catherine the Great invested a year GDP of Russia to conquer the peninsula responding to complaints of her subjects against Crimea Khanate kidnapping people and slave trafficing to Ottoman Empire. The successful military campagne ended with Crimea joining Russian Empire under name of Tavria in 1783, and closure of all slave markets on the peninsula. Traditionally this historic day of issuing the Manifest of Catherine II is celebrated on April 19.

Borrell on situation in Idlib

“The war in Syria is now in its ninth year. The most severe humanitarian catastrophe and security crisis is unfolding right now in the northwest of the country. In other parts of Syria we continue to see instability and dramatic human suffering.

“Last Thursday we heard the United Nations Special Envoy [Geir] Pedersen and the Head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA] Mark Lowcock briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in Idlib. They described how regime forces, aided by Russia and Iran, are launching heavy military offensives with no regard for the civilian population or civilian infrastructure. “We appear to have lost sight of the principle of proportionality”, United Nations Special Envoy [Pedersen] said.

“The intensification of military operations in Idlib has resulted in the indiscriminate killings of hundreds of civilians. Attacks continue on civilian targets in densely populated areas, medical facilities and settlements for internally displaced people. These are blatant and serious violations of international humanitarian law. There has to be accountability for those responsible.

“Since military operations began in Idlib in February 2019, one year ago, more than 1 million people have been displaced towards Turkey. We are talking about one million displaced people in one year. Every day more Syrians are fleeing the fighting and another wave of refugees is quite possibly in the making.

“We also see clashes between the Syrian regime and Turkish forces, plus the risk of Turkish and Russian militaries confronting each other. These tensions could in turn trigger a wider regional conflict. The ceasefire agreed between Ankara and Moscow must be implemented.

“This is the situation. Now, let me say this. After almost a decade of violence, the suffering of the Syrian people at the hands of the regime and its backers must cease. Too many people have died, and those that are alive face a bleak future.

“The EU has major stakes in Syria and in the surrounding region. We cannot afford more regional instability and another migrant crisis. We must avoid a resurgence of Da’esh and other terrorist organisations at Europe’s doorstep. The EU has a duty to preserve the rules based international order including the legitimacy of the United Nations Security Council. Yes, I know, we say that once again and we have to continue saying that.

“Recent military gains by the Syrian regime are not translating into stability, on the contrary. The Syrian regime will not bring peace and stability to Syria if it continues to pursue a military logic and the repression of its people. The economic situation is deteriorating rapidly, exacerbated by the banking crisis in Lebanon. The regime must change its behaviour.

“[Honourable] Members of the European Parliament, we have stated from the very beginning that only a comprehensive and inclusive political solution in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 will allow sustainable peace and stability in Syria and the region.

“The European Union will continue to support the efforts of the United Nations Special Envoy Pedersen in relaunching the Constitutional Committee in Geneva. We also need to focus on other parts of this resolution [UNSCR 2254] such as a nationwide ceasefire, the release of detainees and getting progress on the file of missing persons.

“Let’s recall that the European Union is and remains the largest humanitarian donor in relation to crisis in Syria and to its people, both inside [Syria] and to Syrian refugees and host communities in neighbouring countries. We are supporting the resilience of ordinary civilians and civil society to maintain the social fabric of Syrian society.

“We are convinced that our support is a fundamental investment – it is not an expenditure it is an investment – in the future of Syria and the region which is part of our future. And as a partner in the Global Coalition to defeat Da’esh, the EU is conducting stabilisation projects in the north east of Syria.

“We are always prepared to do more on all these lines of action, within the limits of our common redlines. These are: no normalisation with the regime; no risking of our funding being diverted to the regime or to terrorists, and no reconstruction before a political process is firmly under way. Syria: Speech by HR/VP Josep Borrell in the EP on the current security situation in Syria, on February 12.

“Honourable members, we will continue to apply European Union sanctions targeting individuals and entities associated with the regime and responsible for its repressive and inhuman policies, and not the Syrian people.

“As I said before: the conflict in Syria is a geopolitical struggle. The European Union has a responsibility to lead, for the sake of the Syrian people and to protect our own interests. While difficult, we must redouble our efforts to identify common interests with other international stakeholders, Russia, U.S., Turkey and others.

“Maybe I will have the occasion to update you on our discussions in Washington about this issue. ” Strasbourg, European Parliament Plenary, Syria: Speech by High Representative Josep Borrell in the EP on the current security situation in Syria.

Fine Gael looking for coalition

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said a coalition between his center-right Fine Gael party and left-wing nationalists Sinn Fein is not an option as the parties’ policies are “not compatible”. (Image: archive)

“For us coalition with Sinn Fein is not an option, but we are willing to talk to other parties,” Varadkar told journalists in Dublin, speaking following Saturday’s election. The head of rival center-right party Fianna Fail earlier on February 9 declined to rule out a coalition with Sinn Fein.

Italy 5-Star leader quits

Luigi Di Maio stepped down as leader of Italy’s co-governing 5-Star movement, as it seeks to stem a wave of defections that threatens the government’s parliamentary majority.

Luigi Di Maio stepped down on Wednesday as leader of Italy’s co-governing 5-Star movement, as it seeks to stem a wave of defections that threatens the government’s parliamentary majority.

He said Vito Crimi, the head of the anti-establishment party’s internal rules committee, would take over as caretaker until a new leader is chosen following a party congress to be held in the coming months.

The move by Di Maio, who will remain as foreign minister, comes days before a regional election in Emilia Romagna in which the right-wing League is threatening to end 75 years of uninterrupted PD rule.

That outcome could put the five-month-old government’s survival at risk.

He said Vito Crimi, the head of the anti-establishment party’s internal rules committee, would take over as caretaker until a new leader is chosen following a party congress to be held in the coming months.

Zarif rejects revision of JCPoA

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has dismissed a proposal for a new nuclear deal proposed by the U.S.President Trump to replace the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, saying the accord is not previous US president Barack Obama’s deal to expire.

We did not sign an “Obama deal” to go for a “Trump deal” now. Even if we did, who’s to say we won’t need Biden, Sanders or Warren deal next year?” Zarif said in a tweet on referring to American nominees competing against Trump in the 2020 presidential race.

Zarif added that Iran believed in diplomacy “but not in re-negotiating a UNSC Resolution we agreed on with six Governments and the EU.”

JCPOA remains a topical issue despite all the challenges. We advocate its purposeful and comprehensive implementation under the parameters that were coordinated during the conclusion of the agreements in 2015 and formalised in UNSC Resolution 2231″ Russian Foreign Affairs stated on their Twitter microblog.

Iraq: Borrell calls for restraint

“The current cycle of violence in Iraq must be stopped before it spirals out of control. The EU calls on all the actors involved and on those partners who can have an influence to exercise maximum restraint and show responsibility in this crucial moment. Another crisis risks jeopardizing years of efforts to stabilise Iraq. Furthermore, the ongoing escalation threatens the whole region, which has suffered immensely and whose populations deserve life in peace” says the statement of the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell (Pictured).

“More dialogue and efforts to enhance mutual understanding are necessary to offer long term solutions to the stabilisation of the Middle East. The EU stands ready to continue its engagement with all sides in order to contribute to defusing tensions and reverse the dynamics of the conflict.”

AMENDED:

Josep Borrell wrote on his Twitter page that he spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif about recent developments in Iraq, underlining the need for de-escalation of tensions, to exercise restraint and avoid further escalation. The diplomats have also discussed importance of preserving JCPOA, which remains “crucial for global security“.

I am committed to role as coordinator” Borrell confirmed.

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