Category Archives: Politics

MEPs defend Lithuanian judges

Russia should stop prosecuting Lithuanian judges and EU countries should refuse any legal assistance, says European Parliament.

In the text adopted by 493 votes in favour, 43 against and 86 abstentions on November 28 MEPs call on Russia to end the “politically motivated” prosecution of Lithuanian judges and prosecutors who found 67 Russian, Belarussian and Ukrainian citizens guilty of war crimes against Lithuania, following the events of 13 January 1991 in Vilnius.

Parliament denounces Russia’s actions as “unacceptable external influence”, “politically motivated” and a “violation of fundamental legal values”, especially the independence of judiciary.

MEPs ask all member states to refuse the transfer of any personal data to Russia that could be used in criminal proceedings against Lithuanian judges as well as to refuse Russia’s requests for related legal assistance. EU countries and Interpol should also ignore all international arrest warrants against the accused Lithuanian officials”, MEPs say.

They also call for EU member states to be more consistent in their policies towards Russia.

On 13 January 1991, following Lithuania’s declaration of independence from the Soviet Union, fourteen peaceful civilians were killed and nearly 800 wounded during a crackdown by Soviet troops on the Vilnius TV tower.

In March 2019, a Lithuanian Court issued a ruling on this act of aggression against Lithuania by finding 67 people, including the then Defence minister and KGB chief of the Soviet Union, guilty of war crimes.

Russia did not respond to the Lithuanian judiciary’s request for cooperation. The majority of those accused were therefore put on trial in absentia. In 2018, Russia retaliated by starting a criminal case against the Lithuanian judges, prosecutors and investigators involved in investigating the tragic events on 13 January 1991 in Vilnius.

MEPs debate Rule of Law in Hungary

The Chairman of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee of the European Parliament Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar expressed his disappointment with the low attendance at the hearing on Rule of Law in Hungary, taking place on November 21 in Brussels. During the hearing the Finnish presidency representative Marja Rislakki reported on the results of the previous discussion, and announced the issue would be further presented to the General Affairs Council on December 10
to consider Article proceedings against Hungary.

The Article 7(1) procedure triggered by the European Parliament should assess if Hungary is at risk of breaching the bloc core values. According to milestone “Sargentini report” issued in September 2018 named after Green MEP rapporteur, the judicial independence, freedom of expression, corruption, rights of minorities, and the situation of migrants and refugees are in jeopardy.

The majority of four fifths among member-states would be sufficient to launch the procedure foreseen in Article 7 of the EU Treaty, which might trigger sanctions, such as the suspension of the country’s voting rights in the Council. However the Finnish representative Ms.Rislakki acted with reserve, reluctant to anticipate the outcome of the December meeting, and promising to deliver MEPs opinions to the Council, she added that’s during December Council hearing the new developments in Hungary will be also discussed.

At present the Fidesz party has delayed the judiciary reform, which caused the EU outrage, namely highly criticised system of administrative courts to deal with sensitive public administration lawsuits. However the MEPs has criticised Viktor Orban government, claiming the moving of the Central European University (CEU) to Vienna is symbolising the level of ‘unfreedom’ in Budapest,

Among a few MEPs, showing interest to the subject, the Renew Europe MEP Ramona Strugariu (shadow rapporteur) has put forward a request to participate in the General Affairs Council, explaining her wish in the line of “cooperation” between the European institutions.

While taking a floor the Hungarian MEP Baslazs Hidveghi (Fidesz, EPP) denied any problems with the Rule of Law, explaining that in the EU the issue is interpreted in politically bias manner, used by the Liberal left in an asymmetric attack on Orban government for refusal of migrants relocation. According to the opinion, widespread among Hungarians, the Liberal left has focused on his country in an unprecedented way, imposing requests, which no other member of the bloc has ever faced, Hidveghi underlined. And the reason for this pursuit is in their discontent with the Hungarian attachment to the Christian values, and the determination to conduct sovereign policies, MEP concluded.

Polish Tusk endorsed for EPP leadership

The European People’s Party (EPP) Congress has overwhelmingly voted Polish politician Donald Tusk as the EPP President with 491 in favour (93%) and 37 against. His mandate will start on 1 December 2019.

“Dear Joseph, it will be very difficult to replace you, you did an excellent job. You gave us all a feeling of safety and a meaning to our actions. You were a true leader of our community” Tusk said, addressing the incumbent EPP leader French Joseph Daul.

“Let me also thank you for your trust. It was you, who more than a year ago, came to me with the suggestion that I become your successor, and you took such good care of this idea that I am the only candidate. This is another example of your extraordinary effectiveness, Joseph, thank you. And so, here I am, at your disposal” Tusk added.

He succeeds French Joseph Daul after his two mandates as EPP President.

“Under no circumstances can we give away the sphere of security and order to political populists, manipulators and autocrats, who lead people to believe that freedom cannot be reconciled with security. That protecting our borders and territory cannot be reconciled with liberal democracy, and an effective governance with the rule of law” Tusk declared.

https://twitter.com/vonderleyen/status/1197414900244582401?s=21

Biography of Donald Tusk published by EPP:

Donald Tusk was born in 1957 in Gdańsk, Poland. In 1976 he started studying history at the University of Gdańsk, where he got involved in illegal activities against the Communist regime.

In the 1980s he was an activist in the underground Solidarity movement. In 1980 he founded the Independent Students’ Association (NZS), part of Solidarity. In 1983 he launched the Political Review, a monthly that promoted economic liberalism and democracy. An informal think-tank supporting Lech Wałęsa was centred around the periodical.
After the fall of communism the think-tank members known as the Gdańsk Liberals formed a government following the first free presidential elections in Poland. They also founded the Liberal Democratic Congress, with Tusk as its leader.
In the 1990s Tusk served as an MP and deputy Speaker of the Senate. He also published books on the history of Gdańsk.
In 2001 he was one of the initiators of the centrist Civic Platform party, which he led from 2003. Tusk was Prime Minister from 2007-2014, making him the longest-serving premier in democratic Poland, and the first to be reelected.
Donald Tusk was elected President of the European Council in 2014, reelected for a second term

Zagreb: Tusk longing for «order & harmony» 

“In times of uncertainty, and most probably there will be no other times, when everything changes around us, and runs off in all directions, people want to be certain, that those in power will not abandon them, that they will not turn their backs on them. When left alone, they start looking for those, who offer care and concentration on their problems. They desire attention. “Look at us” – they seem to say – “we are here”. They, or should I say, we all are hungry for appreciation, dignity and importance, and we all feel the need to be part of a bigger community. And to be proud of it. This is why it is so easy to win people’s hearts by those who shout in a loud voice: “get up off your knees, make your country great again, take back control”. In other words, those who strike the right chord, the chord of dignity, will get people’s votes.” said Donald Tusk in his speech at European Peoples Party Summit in Zagreb.

https://twitter.com/eucopresident/status/1194714921990328321?s=21

 “In a political fight, truth and decency cannot be completely helpless against fake news, manipulation and hate. You must believe in yourselves and the power of your arguments. Do not be afraid to say in public what you really feel (even if you may sometimes think it’s a dangerous experiment), and  you will surely evoke people’s emotions and capture their attention” he added.

Congratulations, dear Donald Tusk, on your election as President of the EPP. Throughout your career you have given much to the EU project and I am sure that you will continue to serve a united Europe – one that is firmly based on democracy, the rule of law and social justice” wrote the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, reacting upond EPP decision of endorsing Tusk as leader.

Borrell’s undiplomatic offensive

European Commission has been confronted with questions of journalists over a Twitter micro blog embarrassing message, mounting up to “malfeasance in office” by its next EU top diplomat and incumbent Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, who posted a sensitive document from UK authorities on his feed.

The document, not meant for public release, related to a Spanish request for the arrest and extradition from Britain of a Catalan politician, Clara Ponsati, who is engaged as an academic at a Scottish university.

It contained a British query, made through an EU police cooperation database for the Schengen free movement area called SIRENE, asking for more information to support the Spanish warrant and revealed some of Ponsati’s personal data.

Borrell posted it to his Twitter account on Wednesday and later deleted it — but not before its was screengrabbed and triggered a complaint from a Catalan MEP, Diana Riber, who demanded Borrell be barred from taking up his job as the next EU High Representative for foreign affairs.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission told reporters Friday that “there are very clear rules in place regarding access to and use of the Schengen Information System… and we would expect that everyone shall respect the letter and spirit of these rules, notably any confidentiality requirements.”

The spokeswoman, Mina Andreeva, said it was a Spanish matter and should not affect Borrell’s future post in the Commission.

“This tweet was posted by Mr Borrell in his capacity as acting foreign minister. It is now for the national competent authorities to look into this matter,” she said, passing the buck to Madrid.

Claiming to be Catalan, Borrell, 72, is endorsed to become the EU’s top foreign policy official in the Ursula von der Leyen Commission.

That new team was scheduled to start working this month but has been delayed by at least a month because some of nominated commissioners failed to receive their consent. 

Spain’s European arrest warrant against Ponsati is part of Madrid’s crackdown on Catalan independence movement.

Ukraine caught in U.S. domestic debate

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov (pictured) said Russia sees “similar symptoms in U.S. attempts to persuade allies… that Russia will make attempts to meddle in their domestic affairs”. Political forces in the United States are trying to use Ukraine to achieve their own goals, Sergei Ryabkov said at the meeting with the participants in the annual scientific and educational program of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund.

Everything that has been going on recently around U.S.-Ukrainian contacts cannot be considered otherwise than another attempt to use external circumstances for domestic political purposes,” he said. “We see similar symptoms in US attempts to persuade its allies, which defer to Washington’s opinion, that Russia will make attempts to meddle in their domestic affairs.”

Ryabkov has underlined that such accusations have not grounds: “We have proposed more than once to discuss such issues in a calm and professional atmosphere. There are specialists who understand better than diplomats what the use of information and communication technologies for illegal and unacceptable purposes means,” the diplomat underlined.

The Democratic Party of the the U.S. House of Representatives  announced on  September 24  the launch of impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. The proposal came after reports emerged in the media that Trump had allegedly attempted to pressure his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky to take actions, which would help the incumbent U.S. president to get reelected for a second mandate in 2020.

Tusk congratulates Kurz with spectacular victory

On behalf of the European Council I would like to congratulate you on your spectacular victory in the recent election. Your official tasking today to form a new government is a reflection of the victory and I wish you every success in this endeavour.

https://twitter.com/eucopresident/status/1181246915272478720?s=21

“Your past contributions to our work in the European Council have been much appreciated and I trust that the future Austrian government will continue to play an important and constructive role in the European Union.

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