Trump insists on fair burden-sharing in NATO

At NATO Summit in Brussels headquarters the U.S. President Donald Trump  called allies for fair sharing of the defense spending in face of the growing terrorist threat.

“Terrorism must be stopped in its tracks, or the horror you saw in Manchester and so many other places will continue forever,” Trump said, referring to the suicide bombing that killed 22 people, including children, and left many injured.

In his speech, Trump pointed out that  certain member countries owed “massive amounts of money” to the American tax-payers. “…NATO members must finally contribute their fair share,” Trump underlined.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg defended Trump, saying that although he was “blunt” he had “a very plain and clear message on the expectations” of allies.

The request of  fair burden-sharing within the Aliiance is not new as such, it has been debated for a long time, defining the Europeans as the ‘consumers’ or ‘dependents’ of the US defence system, however none of the US presidents have articulated the request in such a clear-cut form.  As counter-argument the Europeans consider they ‘pay’ with their participation in the US-led campaigns.

The NATO Secretary General Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg repeatedly stated that in its entire history the Article 5 of the collective defence was recalled once to support the US in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and join the American troops in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan.

 

 

Brexit EU Summit to set out positions

On 29 April, 27 EU leaders meet to agree guidelines for the Brexit talks ahead. This will define the framework for negotiations and set out the overall EU positions and principles during negotiations. The summit comes one month after the UK officially notified the EU of its intention to leave.

Europol crack on money-laundering

Moeny EURO

The initial results of a preliminary investigation carried out by the French National Financial Public Prosecutor’s Office, commenced in September 2015, has revealed a vast and complex money laundering network in six Member States (Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Latvia, Lithuania) and in the offshore financial centres outside Europe (Hong Kong, Singapore).

The initial results of a preliminary investigation carried out by the French National Financial Public Prosecutor’s Office, commenced in September 2015, has revealed a vast and complex money laundering network in six Member States (Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Latvia, Lithuania) and in the offshore financial centres outside Europe (Hong Kong, Singapore).

An alert issued by the French Financial Intelligence Unit (TRACFIN) and a complaint by the Directorate General of Public Finance (DGFiP) led to the investigation, assigned to the Central Directorate of the judicial police (Office for Combating Corruption and Financial and Fiscal Offences and the Regional Judicial Police Service of Clermont-Ferrand).

Coordinated by Eurojust and Europol in cooperation with the magistrates and investigators of the requested countries, the objective of this international criminal investigation was to dismantle an extensive money laundering network involved in two types of offences: money laundering, originating from France, other crimes suspected of being linked to illicit online gambling, and money laundering for the purpose of tax evasion.

At this stage of the investigation, the crimes have resulted in laundering of over EUR 200 million since 2009 and income tax evasion currently estimated at EUR 3 million.

Will EU impose censorship on Twitter?

Twitter

This week the European consumer protection commissioner  has proposed to the US social media companies Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc and Twitter Inc to amend their terms of service within one month or face fines,  Reuters claims, referring to anonymous sources.

U.S. technology companies have been already  confronted with scrutiny in European Union for the way of conducting business, from privacy to censorship of presumably ‘hateful’ content, in the other words, practicing censorship.

Reportedly the EU authorities sent letters to the social media companies in December last year, with a request to align the services to European Union consumer protection law, including the obligation to tackle ‘fraud and scams’ on their websites.

In case the request agreed upon, it will have a huge impact on the political life in Europe, pushing the EU critics out of the communication field.  The independent experts unanimously underlined the power of social media as viable alternative to  traditional mass-media, fulfilling their crucial role in ‘teleguided democracy’ modern societies. The Twitter has been chosen a tool by the US President Trump to struggle with traditional mass-media over what he considers to be a misrepresentation of his ideas and activities.

The move of the EU Commission, if confirmed, might signify the closure of the using of the social media as a channel for political communication under the pretext of care for the European consumers. The one month term reportedly imposed will already hinder the communications during French presidential elections on the 27 April – 7 May, depriving Marine Le Pen, the major critic of the EU, from her major tool of communication with the electorate.

 

 

 

 

Defence: MEPs to upgrade EDA

Rafale
 

 Increasing defence cooperation in the EU now depends more upon the political will to make it happen than upon legal considerations, say MEPs in a resolution approved by Parliament on Thursday. They stress that member states can and should use the treaty tools in place to build a truly common defence policy.

MEPs want the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) to be treated as sui generis EU institutions, like the EU External Action Service, and funded through a specific section in the Union budget.

“This is an ambitious and strategic report that comes at an opportune time, as the Security and Defence Union will be one of the top priorities in the Rome Declaration next week,” –  Co-rapporteur Esteban González Pons (EPP, ES), on behalf of the Constitutional Affairs Committee.

“There is also a general agreement that achieving a common defence is now more necessary than ever. In an unpredictable international climate, we need a common defence policy which reinforces unity, strategic autonomy and integration in order to promote peace and security inside the Union and in the world”, – he added.

The resolution, approved by 360 votes to 212, with 48 abstentions, underlines that developing an EU common defence policy depends, above all, on the political will of member states, given that the Lisbon Treaty already provides a sufficient framework for building a truly common defence policy.

“Member states permanently ignore the fact that the funding of the administrative and operating expenditures for EDA and PESCO from the Union budget is the only option under the Treaties. The decision of 6 March to start the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) was, however, a milestone on the way towards the European Defence Union. By establishing this new military capability, the member states have finally acted upon one of parliament’s longstanding demands, which we repeated in our report, ” – concluded the co-rapporteur Michael Gahler (EPP, DE), for the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Queen grants Brexit launch power to May

Queen El

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth on Thursday formally granted Prime Minister Theresa May the power to trigger exit talks with the European Union, approving legislation which passed through parliament late on Monday.

The announcement, made in parliament by speaker John Bercow, confirms that May can begin divorce talks at any time, although her spokesman hinted on Monday that any such decision was likely to come towards the end of the month rather than in the coming days.

Rutte receives congratulations as major winner of Dutch elections

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France congratulates Dutch for ‘stemming’ rise of far-right: France’s foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has congratulated the Dutch people for seeing off the challenge of the far-right led by Geert Wilders after Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s centre-right party appeared to win the national election on Wednesday, 15 March 2017.

Photo: Dutch parliament, The Hague

Dutch elections: a way to #Nexit?

Black Tulipe One

Anna van Densky . OPINION  The Dutch began voting in the general elections today, selecting politicians for the ‘Tweede Kamer’- the parliament; the event is out of ordinary, expecting to influence the direction of the nation’s development for decades to come. The major competition is between the center-right and right parties, having contrasting programmes, especially vis-à-vis  the Dutch membership in European Union. The victory of Eurosceptic leader of the Freedom Party (PVV) Geert Wilders can pave the way for the referendum on #Nexit.

The Eurocentric, center-right VVD party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, 50, according to the recent polls, is in shoulder-to-shoulder  with the PVV of Eurosceptic Geert Wilders, 53, who is predicted to form the biggest group in the parliament.

Wilders became prominent for his denial of cultural relativism, expressed in disbelief that Islam  is compatible with modern democracy, especially with women’s rights, and minority rights. His frank speech about the radical Islam being a threat to the Western way of life, and the urgent need to react accordingly, found many supporters among Dutch electorate, propelling Wilders in ranks among fellow politicians.

Wilder’s  need to life under 24 7/7 protection has also become a political factor as such, showing the degradation of the level of freedom of speech in one of the most liberal societies, where he risks his life, criticising dogmatism of Islam, wich does not have a notion of minority rights, lacking a crucial element to become compatible with modern democracies.

Wilders is supportive of immigration as such, being a child of a mixed marriage himself, and married to a Hungarian diplomat, however the makes a difference between Islamic and non-Islamic, legal and illegal, mass and individual types of migration, unlike the other European politicians, preaching open door policy for millions of migrants from Africa and Middle East.

The latest events in Rotterdam, degenerating into Turkish riots are considered to be of a serious influence of a hesitant part of the electorate, as well as part of the centre-right electorate, considering state policy towards migration inadequate, demonstrating the failure to integrate the strangers, who even born in The Netherlands consider themselves as ‘Turks’, ‘Maroccans’, loyal to the country of origin.  The capabilities of the The Netherlands to receive migrants massively, being already one of the most populated countries in the world is also questioned.

Wilder’s potential victory will hardly deliver him the prime minister  portfolio, as all the other parties vowed to avoid coalition with Freedom Party, so he will not be able to construct a coalition as required, however if winning a solid number of seats, Wilders will represent a significant political force to promote his agenda, including the Nexit referendum as a priority.

More than 13 million voters began casting ballots at polling stations across the country that will close at 9:00 p.m. The postal votes were opened earlier, with a possibility to sent a conventional paper envelope or vote electronically via internet.

Photo: illustration Dutch tulipe

 

End March – invocation of Article 50

Mayy vawing hand

According to the UK media reports,  the end of March (27-30) – last four days of the parliament, Prime Minister  Therea May will make an announcement. A spokesman has stressed she planned to send the trigger letter at “the end” of the month.

The European Council President Donald Tusk promised to react within 48 hours after the reception of the letter, sending it around to the EU27 members his draft of negotiating guidelines.

Further Tusk needs about four weeks to prepare a special summit for EU27 to endorse his suggestions of guidelines and mandate the EU executive’s Michel Barnier to negotiate on behalf of their behalf. With Easter on April 16, the first round of French presidential voting on April 23, public holidays on May 1 and the French runoff on May 7, May 4 is a possible date.

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Sturgeon to banalise independence

N Sturgeon

Anna van Densky, OPNION

Banalising independence referendum Scottish First minister Nicola Sturgeon has become a ‘false friend’ of the European Union, opening wide Pandora box of the disputed claims of national political elites in EU members  eager to arrange the states of their own.

The referendum, that was organized as a unique opportunity after 400 years of togetherness,  also reflected in a winning campaign #bettertogether, definitely can not be downgraded to opinion polls, the public is used to on daily basis.
Brussels has already expressed its view, underlined in so-called ‘Barroso doctrine’, named after the former president of the European commission.
Back in 2012 Barroso wrote, that “the separation of one of a member state or the creation of a new state ould not be neutral as regards the EU Treaties”.
“A new independent state would, by fact of its independence, become a third country with respect to the EU and the Treaties would no longer apply on its territory.”
Further insistence of the independence referendum will push Scotland into isolation, and even hypothetically visualising the scenario, one can  foresee Scottish people facing double burden of the departure from the UK,  and the EU,  resulting  in a huge bill to pay by the citizens for ambitions of their political leaders to upgrade their ranks internationally.

Sturgeon for second referendum for Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon demanded a new independence referendum in late 2018 or early 2019, once the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union have become clearer.

A vote that could tear apart the United Kingdom just months before Brexit would become a negative factor in the two-year process of leaving the EU after more than four decades.

“If Scotland is to have a real choice – when the terms of Brexit are known but before it is too late to choose our own course – then that choice must be offered between the autumn of next year, 2018, and the spring of 2019,”- Sturgeon said to reporters.

The intention cause a wave  of irony from the internauts:

EU prolongs individual sanctions aganist Russians

 

On 13 March 2017, the Council prolonged the restrictive measures over actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine for a further six months, until 15 September 2017. The measures consist of asset freezes and a travel bans.

The assessment of the situation did not justify a change in the sanctions regime. The list was reviewed and the Council removed two deceased persons from the list of persons and entities subject to these restrictive measures, which now apply to 150 persons and 37 entities. Identifying information and statement of reasons for listing related to these persons and entities were updated as necessary.

The legal acts are available in the EU Official Journal of 14 March 2017. They were adopted by written procedure.

Security of diplomats in Turkey questioned

Turkey Dutch flag

Although  Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg condiers the tensions between The Netherlands and Turkey as a “bilateral” issue, he called allies for “calm and respect”. However the fears for the  security of the diplomatic corps in Turkey remain vivid – during the  weekend protestors pulled down the Dutch flag from the mast on the territory of the General Consulate of The Netherlands in Itambul. The incident demonstrated the persistent breach in security of of the foreign missions in Turkey.

The concerns for the safety of the Euopean diplomats in Turkey is vivid, and well grounded:  just a few month ago the Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov was shot by a terrorist at opening an exhibition in Ankara (19.12.2017). Many experts blamed the lack of an adequate security measures from behalf of the Turkish authorities.

Karlov dead

Stoltenberg said he has been in contact with both Dutch and Turkish authorities, passing the message of keeping even a “robust debate” with mutual respect, and focus on threats and challenges NATO faces, that need united response from the all NATO allies.

Turkish protestors  burning French flage, mistaken for Dutch one.

https://twitter.com/TurkishMinuteTM/status/841268670349348864

 

EU calls Turkey to "refrain"

 

“We have taken good note of the Venice Commission’s Opinion on the amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey adopted by the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 21 January 2017,” – says the joint statement by High Representative Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn on the Venice Commission’s Opinion on the amendments to the Constitution of Turkey and recent events. (Photo: President Erdogan, illustration).

“As highlighted by the Venice Commission’s Opinion, Turkey has the sovereign right to decide over its system of governance. We acknowledge the fact that the country is going through challenging times and stand by it in its fight against the scourge of terrorism. We will continue to support the country’s hospitality to refugees from war-torn areas in its close vicinity”.

“We appreciate that Turkey has announced actions to address the Council of Europe’s recommendations regarding the State of Emergency and bring the measures taken in line with European standards”.

“However, the Venice Commission’s comments on the proposed Constitutional amendments raise serious concerns at the excessive concentration of powers in one office, with serious effect on the necessary checks and balances and on the independence of the judiciary. It is also of concern that this process of constitutional change is taking place under the state of emergency”.

“The proposed amendments, if approved at the referendum of 16 April, and especially their practical implementation, will be assessed in light of Turkey’s obligations as an EU candidate country and as a member of the Council of Europe”.

“We encourage Turkey to pursue and further deepen its close cooperation with the Council of Europe and its bodies, and to address their concerns and recommendations”.

“Following the tensions of these last days between Turkey and some EU Member States, it is essential to avoid further escalation and find ways to calm down the situation. Decisions with regard to the holding of meetings and rallies in Member States are a matter for the Member State concerned, in accordance with the applicable provisions of international and national law”.

“The European Union calls on Turkey to refrain from excessive statements and actions that risk further exacerbating the situation. Matters of concern can only be resolved through open and direct communication channels. We will continue to provide our good offices in the interest of EU-Turkey relations”.

Stoltenberg to release NATO report 2016

Jens Stoltenberg

The Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg will hold a press conference at NATO Headquarters on Monday 13 March 2017 at 12:30. On this occasion, the Secretary General’s Annual Report for 2016 will be released to the public.

Among the major issue is the NATO-Russia relations, appearing at its lowest since Cold War times.

Tajani calls for more investment in Africa

Tajani Africa

The European Parliament (EP) president Antonio Tajani (pictured) called for a balanced approach to immigration.

“ We must be just as rigorous in taking in people who qualify for asylum as we are in countering illegal immigration. We cannot leave the management of migration to people traffickers and terrorists. We need decisive political action at EU level to strengthen controls at our borders and, at the same time, to tackle the problem of migration at its roots, ” – Tajani said.  He also underlined that Europe needs to step up the efforts directed towards the countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean and in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular those in the Sahel, and also called for more investment.

Previously Tajani was criticized by his opponents from the EP Socialist group for not doing enough for problems of mass migration from Africa.

 

The issues of illegal migration will dominate the upcoming EU27 Summit in Rome. The EU heads of state or government will meet in Rome, Italy, on 25 March, for the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties. On this occasion they are expected to adopt a declaration.

 

 

 

Ankara threatens Dutch to retaliate

erdogan Rotterdam

Turkish leadership vowed to retaliate in the “harshest ways” after their ministers were denied a rally in Rotterdam in support of President Erdogan, degenerated in riots of Turkish diaspora  on Saturday night.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu declared the Netherlands a “capital of fascism”, joining the other European countries in blocking Turkish politicians to rally due to fears that tensions in Turkey might contaminate their communities.

The Dutch government rejected Cavusoglu the visit to Rotterdam on Saturday, 13/03/2017, and denied the similar request to Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, who completely ignored it, and upon her own initiative entered The Netherlands by car, crossing German border. She also attempted to  enter the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam,  however Dutch police managed to block the attempt, and escorted her out of the country to Germany with the status of ‘persona non grata’.

Dutch police used anti-riot dogs and water cannons on Sunday early hours to disperse hundreds of protesters waving Turkish flags outside the consulate in Rotterdam. Some became violent, throwing bottles and stones into police agents and vehicles.

Many observes consider the tough response of Prime Minister Mark Rutte a necessity ahead of the general elections of the 15th of March, when he enters a competition with his major rival from Freedom Party (PVV) Geert Wilders.

“If you can sacrifice Turkish-Dutch relations for an election on Wednesday, you will pay the price,” Erdogan said in a speech at an awards ceremony in Istanbul.

“I thought Nazism was dead, but I was wrong. Nazism is still widespread in the West,” he added “The West has shown its true face.”

Speaking to reporters before a public appearance in the northeastern French city of Metz, Cavusoglu said Turkey would continue to act against the Netherlands until it apologizes.

At present 153 journalists, 13 elected MPs, 80 elected mayors, countless activists jailed in Turkey. The Dutch government does not accept lessons on democracy from president Erdogan and his crowned, however Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he would do everything to “de-escalate” the confrontation, which he described as the worst the Netherlands had experienced for years.

Istambul: Dutch flag pulled away from Consulate

Turks Istambul

After the Turkish riots in Rotterdam,  caused by denial of the Dutch authorities to honor Turkish diaspora request for a rally in support of the President Erdogan, the relations between The Netherlands and Turkey continued to degenerate.

Today the Dutch flag was removed from the General Consulate building by protestors in Istanbul, and replaced by the Turkish one with the Islam symbol of half-moon. A man, conducting the replacement loudly shouted “Allah Akbar!” (Video below).

Dutch leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) dabbed the Turkish diaspora the 5th column (‘Quinta columna’), and requested to end practise of the double nationality, and open borders.”The 5th column should go out… Borders closed.”

The hypocrisy of the Turkish authorities organizing the rally in support of Erdogan in Rotterdam startled many: the numbers of jailed victims of regime actively circulated in social media: 153 journalists, 13 elected MPs, 80 elected mayors, countless activists remain jailed in Turkey.

Salvini met by violence outbreak in Naples

Naples

Italian police have clashed with protesters in Naples amid a visit by the leader of the Northern League party – Matteo Salvini.

 

Riot police fired tear gas and used water cannon against masked groups armed with Molotov cocktails, local media report.

The protesters were marching through the southern city in opposition to the Northern League’s anti-mass migration policies.

However Lega Nord, led by Matteo Salvini, is expecting to gain support in the region.

Rotterdam: police uses water cannons to end Turkish riots

 

Roterdam watercannons

Hundreds of Turkish protesters scuffled with police as authorities tried to end a demonstration at the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam, where a Turkish minister was refused to enter, and escorted back to German border, where from she came on her own initiative, in spite of the refusal of Dutch authorities to honor a rally request in Rotterdam.

As the situation degenerated, the protesters were throwing bottles and mobbing police vehicles as they moved away from the consulate in central Rotterdam. But soon, police charged on horseback and moved forward with batons wielding. (Photos and video from Twitter – courtesy of citizens-journalists).

At the moment there is no information if there are detained or injured. The operation is conducted by special riot police forces.

Turkey protests: Wilders for recall of ambassadors

 

WIlders Red background

The leader of the Freedom party (PVV), and the major contestant of the incumbent Prime minister in upcoming general elections on the 15th of March, – Geert Wilders considers the recall of ambassadors as a logical step after offensive remarks of the Turkish leaders, and the sequence of events, rooted in an absence of respect to Dutch authorities from Ankara.

The relations between two countries degenerated within a few hours, when Turkish family minister ignored the refusal of the Dutch authorities to organize a rally in support of president Erdogan in Rotterdam with diaspora. The minister was escorted back to German border in spite of her protests and attempts to get into Turkish Consulate to continue her mission.

The rejection of rally was followed by the insults from Turkish leaders, calling Dutch ‘fascists’.

 

Rotterdam: emergency order over Turkish protest

Turks Rotterdam riots

The mayor of Rotterdam issued an emergency order late Saturday in an attempt to contain a pro-Turkish demonstration outside the consulate which has turned into a flashpoint of the worsening relations between the Netherlands and Turkey.

Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said he needed special powers to assure security throughout the center of the city fearing that more people.

Earlier Dutch authorities declared a Turkish cabinet minister an “undesirable alien” and detained her Saturday, local media reported, after the Turkish official was stopped 30 meters away from the Turkish consulate in the Dutch city of Rotterdam and prevented from entering the building.
According to local media, police escorted Family minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya back to the German border, after she travelled to Rotterdam by road earlier after the Dutch government barred Turkey’s foreign minister from flying there.

Dutch authorities having clearly expressed their objection of making use out of their country for Turkish President’s Erdogan rally, however they were not heard by Turkish politicians. Ankara is conducting a political campaigning throughout the Turkish diaspora in Europe, while several EU countries have banned referendum meetings on public order grounds.

 

Turkish protests in Rotterdam

Rotterdam turks

Several hundred demonstrators waving Turkish flags gathered outside the Turkish consulate in the Dutch city of Rotterdam on Saturday, demanding to see the Turkish minister for family affairs as a dispute between the two countries escalated.

Police erected metal barriers and patrolled on horseback to keep the demonstrators away from the consulate as the crowd grew with more pro-Turkish protesters arriving from Germany.

Turkish Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya traveled by road to the Netherlands from neighboring Germany after the Dutch government revoked landing rights for a plane carrying Turkey’s foreign minister earlier the same day.

 

 

 

UN: 20 million facing famine

Famine Africa

The world faces the largest humanitarian crisis since the United Nations was founded in 1945 with more than 20 million people in four countries facing starvation and famine, the U.N. humanitarian chief said.

Stephen O’Brien told the U.N. Security Council that “without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death” and “many more will suffer and die from disease.”

He urged an immediate injection of funds for Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and northeast Nigeria plus safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid “to avert a catastrophe.”

“To be precise,” O’Brien said, “we need $4.4 billion by July.”

Without a major infusion of money, he said, children will be stunted by severe malnutrition and won’t be able to go to school, gains in economic development will be reversed and “livelihoods, futures and hope will be lost.”

 

 

 

 

 

Italy prepares to celebrate EU 60th birthday

Belgium EU Summit

The Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni praised Europe highly, convinced that Europeans have plenty of reasons to be proud of the EU, and was confident it will heal the scars left by a prolonged economic and migration crisis, and Britain’s decision to abandon the project.

European Union leaders are willing to relaunch Europe with a focus on security and jobs when they meet in Rome in two weeks’, 25th of March, the moment of celebration of the 60th anniversary of the bloc’s founding treaty in Rome, Italy’s Prime Minister said.

“All leaders showed an interest in using this occasion to relaunch Europe,” Gentiloni told reporters at the EU summit in Brussels.

EU27 leaders without  the UK Prime Minister Theresa May will attend the event on the 25th of March in Rome. As host of the celebrations, Italy is in the lead to prepare a text that will set the EU’s priorities for the next 10 years.

The document is still being drafted by diplomats, but EU leaders agreed during the March Summit that it will focus on four key areas: security, growth, social issues and the EU’s foreign policy.

Gentiloni said the Rome Declaration will make clear that the EU members interested to do more together will be able to do so. However there will be no reference to a multi-speed Europe, a senior EU official said, as that could upset east European countries who are less willing to cede national competences to Brussels.

Gentiloni pointed to security and migration as the top priority in the coming years as the flows of the illegal migrants continue Europe cause problems for the southern countries, especially Italy, expecting solidarity from the other EU member-states in burden-sharing.

Tusk appointment as 'discord apple'

Tusk simile

Poland will continue with the asymmetrical responses to European Union, obstructing bloc affairs in a line of protest to the EU imposing a Polish politician – Donald Tusk – as a chair of the EU Council meetings against the will of the Polish government.

The foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski said  Poland will “play a rough game” with Brussels as a response to the EU openly opposing Warsaw by reappointing Donald Tusk as head of the European Council, the foreign minister said.

Waszczykowski underlined that his government will continue to react to the reappointment of Tusk by “blocking other initiatives, to play a very rough game” with the EU, the way it had happened already at the last Council meeting, when conclusions were not validated in absence of the Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo signature.

“One has to state it openly: EU policy turned out to be a policy of double standards and cheating,” Waszczykowski  said in an interview to Super Express. However Poland could not boycott the European Council and will take part in its meetings. “We must be aware that we may be cheated any moment,” – the minister repeated. “For sure we must drastically lower our level of trust toward the EU.”

Warsaw insists that with Tusk’s reappointment Polish vital national interests had been ignored by the Brussels burocracy dominated by Germany. The attribution of the position at head of the major EU body to a rival politican has already caused the effects of ‘discord apple’. However Donald Tusk himself said the felt “optimistic” while receiving the second mandate,  demonstrating little sensitivity to the dark emanations of the Polish ruling party.

The Polish government of the eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) party has already had frictions with the European Commission over the rule of law, migrant crisis, climate change policy and environmental protection, none of the issues were compromised by either side.

Turkey claims EU visa-free

BELGIUM-EU-TURKEY-POLITICS

The deals with the European Union, including an agreement on hosting the flow of migrants in Turkey, would be jeopardized if the bloc failed to implement promised visa liberalization for Turks, – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (pictured) said.

Speaking to CNN Turk television Cavusolgu said Turkey would present a final text to the EU “and either it will all be canceled, including the visa liberalization and migrant deal, or it will all be implemented.”

Turkey and the EU last year agreed a deal to stem massive flows of illegal migrants to Europe for readiness to footing the bill for the migrants stay in Turkey in a controversial multibillion deal, including visa-free for Turkish citizens.

https://twitter.com/JoumanaGebara/status/835118571378311168

Photo: illustration

Benelux attempts to make up with V4

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The Benelux countries – Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg – invited Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia for talks in the Netherlands on the future of the European Union, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at press conference after the Informal Summit of the EU in Brussels.

The Dutch meeting between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ states will take place ahead of the  historical meeting in Rome on March 25 to celebrate the EU’s 60th anniversary and  discuss a new concept of the EU. A few scenarios have been proposed in White paper presented by Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, with the winning at the moment ‘multi-speed’ Europe, proposing different levels and intensity of integration processes among the member-states. An issue Juncker claimed was on the agenda since the times he “entered the European politics”.

The trio of Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, Rutte told reporters they initiated the meeting of  the Benelux countries to engage in a action to play a positive role in shaping the future of the EU.

“We have decided to invite the members of the Visegrad (V4) countries to come to the Netherlands to have a meeting jointly with the Benelux and later this year we will also have a meeting with the three Baltic countries, also to discuss the future of the European Union,” Rutte said, commenting of the invitation of the V4: Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.

The Benelux invitation follows a standing conflict between Polish government and the other 27 leaders of the EU over the re-appointment of incumbent Donald Tusk for the second term as the EU Council president, which Warsaw  opposed, motivating by Tusk failure to keep impartiality,  actively supporting the opposition, using his high status.

As a result of the opposition the official Summit conclusions were not signed by Polish Prime Minister Beata Shidlo in an asymmetrical answer to the neglect to Polish concerns. The snubbing that might cost  a lot to the EU projet, already suffering from the rise of eurosceptic parties, blaming the EU to abandoning the citizens for all kind of “other” interests.

 

 

EU27 towards common defence

SAM_6459

The plans to move forward with the EU Defence did not get consensus due to an asymmetrical answer of the Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo to the imposition of the rejected by Poland candidate – Donald Tusk – at the top of the European Council. Szydlo blamed Tusk a failure of impartiality, peddling hard in favor of the opposition against the democratically elected government of Poland.

However the EU Council published the document, endorsed by EU27 minus Poland, with a note it has not gathered consensus “for the reasons unrelated to its substance”.

‘In the present international environment, Europe must do more to protect its citizens and contribute to peace and stability in its neighbourhood and beyond, including by committing sufficient additional resources, while taking into account national circumstances and legal commitments.”

“In this respect, the European Council welcomes the work done by the Council on 6 March, which provides an extensive overview of where we stand on all issues (CSDP crisis management structures, Permanent Structured Cooperation, Coordinated Annual Review on Defence, Developing Civilian Capabilities) and shows real progress in some key areas.”

“It also recalls the need to implement the “Common set of proposals” for enhanced cooperation with NATO. Building on that momentum, work must be taken further with even greater determination and speed.”

“The European Council welcomes the holding of a high-level conference on security and defence in Prague on 9 June 2017. The European Council will revert to this issue in June 2017 and provide further strategic guidance. 9. The EU remains fully engaged in supporting Member States to ensure internal security and to fight terrorism. We have made major progress in this respect in recent years but we continue to face unprecedented challenges.”

“The European Council calls on co-legislators to agree on the proposal for an Entry and Exit System by June 2017 and speed up work on the proposal for the European Travel Information and Authorisation System. Continuing to implement the renewed European Union Internal Security Strategy 2015-2020 is therefore crucial; the European Council will keep this under review.”

 

Verhofstadt for Brittons EU rights beyond Brexit

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Guy Verhofstadt – the top Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament is willing to guarantee the benefits of the European Union citizenship to Brittons beyond the UK formal departure from the block..

Guy Verhofstadt in an interview to the BBC radio said last year’s Brexit vote was a tragedy for both the UK and the EU but he hoped to convince European leaders to allow Britons to retain a set of rights if they were applied for on an individual basis.

Verhofstadt, a liberal (ALDE), and a federalist, noted that all British citizens as EU citizens currently enjoy benefits such as consular aid, participation in European elections and freedom of travel.

“We need to have an arrangement in which this arrangement can continue for those citizens who on an individual basis are requesting it,” he said. The same time he said  there were several issues on which the European Parliament was not prepared to compromise and he warned it could use its power to veto a deal if disagrees.

Donald Tusk confirmed for second mandate

Today, Donald Tusk approved for the second mandate as the president of the EU Council.

The president of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani announced the re-eclection of Donald Tusk as a president of the EU Council for the second term.

The decision was taken in spite of the opposition of Polish government.

Tusk: will EU humiliate Poland?

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Brussels. Talking to the EU journalists ahead of the Summit in Brussels,  Prime Minister Beata Szydlo made clear that any pressure on Poland, even if in minority opposing over Donald Tusk second mandate as the president of the European Council , is unacceptable. Anyway it does not comply with the tradition of taking decisions in consensus, while respecting minority is one of the fundamental European values.

The argument over the candidacy of Donald Tusk for the second mandate imprints the Summit as real suspense, everything it should not be in view of the 60 anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, presumably organised to demonstrate to the rest of the world the unity of EU27, without the UK. However, instead of unity the EU opts for pressures and collisions, creating further cracks in the already shaken by Brexit project.

The position of the majority of states is similar to expressed by Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban (pictured), who said ahead of the Summit: “We are not discussing personality of Donald Tusk, but supporting the European People’s party candidate.”

Clearly, Poland finds itself in isolation, and can be overruled overwhelmingly, however the deepening of the conflict between EU26 versus Poland will cause a long-term turbulence. So far Polish have been loyal to the EU project, it is up Brussels to demonstrate if Polish loyalty is precious in times of calamity, when Brittons are preparing to start the procedure of triggering Article 50. The question is if Donald Tusk second mandate is worth of humiliating the government of one of the biggest and at most loyal to EU member state?  (Continuation follows).

Anna van Densky, from the Justus Lips building

https://twitter.com/WorldnewsPoli/status/839857928613982209

EU dilemma over Tusk reappointment

Holland Tusk

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo’s reportedly will try to reason the fellow EU leaders to postpone their decision to endorse the second mandate to her compatriot the incumbent president of the European Council Donald Tusk. The Polish government is interested in entering a negotiation period, selecting a compromise candidate. Apparently, the Polish delegation will not insist of the candidacy of Jacek SaryuzWolski,  the Member of the European Parliament, and a long-standing opponent of incumbent president Tusk. Evicted from the European People’s Party Saryuz-Wolski will not be able to enter a competition, however there are the other more objective factors, making him an unsuitable contestant. Traditionally the position is given to a statesman with a high function experience,  but Saryuz-Wolski never had any in spite of his excellent curriculum, and personal influence.

“We will do everything to ensure that the reappointment does not take place today,” said Poland’s Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski.

“The Netherlands supports the candidacy of Donald Tusk… He is always fair as chairman with his eye on the ball. In very turbulent times he has kept a cool head,” – said  Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, commenting on probable reappointment.

Although the EU Council of the European leaders can flex the muscle, imposing Donald Tusk in spite of the rejection of his compatriots,  it would subsequently lauch a chronic friction with the Polish government, which will create a long-term toxic effect on the entire project, challenging its unity.

On a number of occasions Donald Tusk passed a message that he would not claim the second mandate, entering clash with his compatriots. However he has not expressed himself lately. The information of his re-appointment was streaming from the EU diplomats, confirming high-profile support for Tusk, led by French President Hollande, who continued to stand by his ‘protégé’.

 

 

Tusk invites for EU Summit

Tusk at Council

Invitation letter by the president Donald Tusk to the members of the European Council:

“We will start the March European Council with our traditional exchange of views with the President of the European Parliament, Mr. Antonio Tajani, at 15.30 on Thursday. Following this exchange, and before we move on to other matters, we will proceed with the election of the European Council President for the period from June 2017 to November 2019. In accordance with established practice this will be the first item of our agenda, and I will leave Prime Minister Muscat in charge of handling it.”

“Next, we will revert to our usual format, where Prime Minister Muscat will update us on how we are doing implementing our previous conclusions, including on migration. After adoption of the conclusions on migration, we will hold our traditional spring debate about the economy. The overall outlook in terms of growth, employment and public finances is getting better. And we need to use this momentum to make the economies stronger while spreading the benefits of growth more widely and fairly among citizens. The deepening of the Single Market and a robust trade policy are two avenues to help us achieve those goals. At the same time, we also need to avoid the creation of new barriers, both in Europe and on the global stage. I have invited the President of the European Central Bank to share with us his observations on the EU and the euro area economies.”

“At the end of the working session, we will briefly address the possible establishment of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office. After adopting the relevant parts of the conclusions, we will break to meet the press.”

“Over dinner, we will review the situation in the Western Balkans, which is fragile. Several of you requested this discussion at our last meeting, given growing concern over recent developments. The EU will remain engaged in the Western Balkans and stand by its commitments. During dinner, we will also look at how to sustain the momentum behind our common objective of reinforcing Europe’s security and defence.”

“The day following the European Council, the 27 Heads of State or Government will meet informally at 10.00 to prepare for the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. This discussion is intended to build on our fruitful debate in Malta. We should conclude our proceedings before lunch”.

“As we will meet for the first time in the new Europa Building, let us hope our new premises will be conducive to substantive discussions and, most importantly, good results for Europe and its peoples. I look forward to seeing you in Brussels”.

 

EU on Rustavi2 TV in Georgia

Rustavi2 TV

The European Court of Human Rights has confirmed until further notice the suspension of the enforcement of Georgia’s Supreme Court verdict of 2 March concerning the ownership rights of the Rustavi 2 TV Company. The Supreme Court’s verdict might have an impact on the country’s media landscape, affecting the diversity of views available to citizens through broadcasting channels. We are confident that the authorities will respect the decision of the European Court of Human Rights.

Looking forward, we reiterate that a continued commitment to political pluralism and freedom of the media is fundamental for the preservation and consolidation of democracy. We trust that the Georgian Government will treat these principles as an absolute priority and will actively uphold them, corresponding to essential commitments in the EU-Georgia Association Agreement.

Owen Bonnici: EU 'better-equipped' against terrorism

Informal Meeting of EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Malta

On 7 March 2017 EU ministers approved a set of new measures which will update and extend the tools available to Member States to respond to the evolving threat of terrorism.

The new Directive will enable law enforcement and judicial authorities in the EU to be better-equipped to act to prevent and prosecute individuals planning terrorist activities. In doing so, the EU is providing authorities with a new set of preventative tools needed to adapt to the changing nature of terrorism. The new rules criminalise a series of acts across the EU, such as undertaking terrorist training or travelling for terrorist purposes, as well as organising or facilitating such travel.

“With this agreement, the EU is now better-equipped to meet the challenge of the evolving terrorist threat. Terrorism knows no borders, but the message is now clear: foreign fighters, whether they travel to, from or within the EU, will be stopped. But security without the respect for fundamental rights is unacceptable. That is why the new rules also strengthen victims’ rights and include safeguards to individual freedoms,” – said Owen Bonnici, the Maltese Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government.

EU defence community

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“EU foreign and defence ministers meeting jointly today all gave a very clear message: we are progressing steadily towards strengthened defence cooperation and we will continue to do more. This is about protecting our citizens. The European Union has unique tools to help Europeans to take more responsibility for their own security, and to do more effectively.  This is what we are doing with our work in security and defence,” – said High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federcia Mogherini (pictured).

On 6 March the Council adopted conclusions setting out the progress achieved in implementing the EU global strategy in the area of security and defence. The conclusions assess what has been done to implement  the various lines of action agreed by the European Council on 15 December 2016. They form the basis of a report for the European Council of 9 and 10 March 2017.

 

Initially the plan proposed for a creation of a European army, with the eventual involvement of German units, to be placed under a single military and political European authority was promoted by Jean Monnet,  sought to organise European defence on a supranational basis. Jean Monnet put his proposal to René Pleven, French Premier and former Defence Minister, who in turn submitted it to the French National Assembly on 24 October 1950. 

This proposal sparked fierce debate in France. Although it was accepted by most Western countries, the plan for a European Defence Community (EDC) was rejected by the French National Assembly in August 1954.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MSF vows to continue transporting migrants to Europe

At arrival to port of Valencia (Spain) Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF,  Doctors without Borders) running the Mediterranean rescue operation on vessel #Aquarius gave press-conference, criticising the EU governments, and vowing to ignore the laws and continue to transport migrants from African coast to Europe.

The MSF team is determined to continue saving lives, and resist the intimidation of the governments, obsessed by rejection of migrants at all costs”,  said Thierry Allafort-Duverger, the MSF Director general in a statement.

In spite of joy of the migrants on #Aquarius, reaching European coasts after being rejected by Italian government, and accepted by Spain, the issue of illegal migration to EU if far from being settled. The new Italian Interior minister Matteo Salvini uses the framework of the international law, confirming the sovereign states right to establish jurisdiction over its aquatorium, and fight illegal migration, rejecting vessels from entering their waters.

I am fed up with this trafficking of human beings and children who die at sea. I’m going to do everything possible that these guys don’t need to escape. In the meantime to block ships of the NGOs that had transformed Italy into a large refugee camp” – Salvini said commenting on the situation during Italian TV show.

The illegal mass-migration from Africa occurred after the overthrow of Gaddafi dictatorship in Libya, destabilizing the entire region. The subsequent failure of the EU to ensure the solidarity of relocation of migrants among member-states caused concentration of migrants in Italy beyond capacity to host all those who continue to arrive.

N.Macedonia to open EU accession talks end June

Many people were sceptical about the possibility of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement. We are there, thanks to the dedication, the commitment, I would say the courage, the leadership, and the hope that the Prime Ministers, the Foreign Ministers have put in this process” – said EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini at ceremony of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece of the signature of agreement on the name issue at Prespa lake.
“The European Union and the two of us personally have been accompanying this process step by step” – Mogherini reminded. “We are here today, first of all to thank the two sides, because they make us all Europeans proud of the capacity to find – through diplomacy, through dialogue – a win-win solution for a problem that was long-standing for too many decades. It makes Europe more peaceful, more united and that also opens the way for the entire region of the Balkans to live in a different kind of atmosphere.”
Regarding EU membership perspective for Severna Macedonia Mogerini continued:
the EU External  Actions service has already  recommended as the European Commission to start the negotiations, and in a fortnight the European Council (28-29 June).

Swedish city votes for ‘begging licence’

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven assessed the decision of Eskilstuna Council to introduce an obligatory  begging licence “interesting”.
Eskilstuna city council has voted for an obligatory licence for “passive” begging in the streets. The regulation was voted in by a majority coalition between the Social Democrats, Moderates and Centre Party in the council of Eskilstuna, a city west of Stockholm. The nationalist Sweden Democrats has agreed to the move, which was opposed by the Left Party, Green Party, Liberals and Christian Democrats.
The council’s chair Jimmy Jansson said the permit requirement was a way of better regulating begging with the aim of helping those living in hardship, rather than banning the practice.

It could help people “come into contact with  charity Stadsmissionen or other charitable organizations, or getting help to travel home again,” Jansson underlined.

The begging came to Sweden with a wave of migrants, and has become a business already back in 2010, however it has grown last years it became widespread, hardly leaving any supermarket entrance with a ‘professional’ beggar.

In Sweden, as well as in the other EU countries, ‘professional’ beggars  are often victims of forced begging, related to human trafficking. The decision of the Swedish city Council is in the line with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) encouraging safe migration and public action to stop exploitation and human trafficking.

 

External Action Service proposes €123 bln budget

We now propose a new instrument that will cover pretty much the whole world – it is called the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI). It will be comprehensive in geographic and thematic terms. A few exceptions are, obviously, the candidate and potential candidate countries for membership to the European Union and the overseas countries and territories, but also humanitarian aid and, for legal reasons, nuclear safety” – the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said, while presenting the new initiative.

I will leave to the Commissioners to go more in detail on their respective fields of responsibility, but I would like to stress the fact that the single instrument approach will give us more coherence and more focus on policies” – Mogherini continued.

It does not mean having less targeted policies towards certain regions or certain countries. On the contrary, we are proposing to increase the allocation of resources where our political priorities are and in particular our Neighbourhood, our region, Africa, the Western Balkans, climate change, migration, humanitarian aid and human rights and democracy. So the clear political priorities are defined and the allocation of money is reflecting these political priorities”.

World Cup: leading Russian animal rights activist arrested

The leading Russian animal rights activist and a chairman of the Alliance for animals, Yuri Koretsky (Юрий Корецких) has been arrested in Moscow on his way to a meeting in memory of culled street dogs #Killed4WorldCup. The moment of silence was planned in Moscow and the other Russian cities, where the mass killings of stray animals took place ahead of the World Cup. ” I’m in police van. Police is next to the clock” – he tweeted.

In absence of infrastructure, in absence of shelters and responsible civil servants in each municipality, the killings of animals will go on. We hoped that FIFA World Cup 2018 will bring joy and festivity to Russia, but our government destroyed the celebrations by killings of tens of thousands of dogs and cat in hosting cities. They broke the promise. It is a grim day for us and for sports– Koretsky said in a distributed ahead of the action press-release.

“People are gathering next to the ‘football clock’ to remember animals killed ahead of the Championship” – the activist wrote shortly before his arrest, retweeting photos in his microblog.

The NGO led by Koretsky invited journalists and all those who care about animals to join the moment of silence next to the World Cup clock.

The Alliance invites press to join our event ‘Killed for World Cup dedicated to brutally taken away lives of homeless dogs and cats in cities hosting FIFA World Cup. The animal rights defenders call Russian government to respect right for life of street animals, to treasure life as such of all sentient being, especially of those, who contribute immensely to humankind like dogs and cats. The Alliance reterierates its call for moratorium on killings of street animals, which will be conducive to public good, while spreading humane and civilized practises”.

However Koretsky had no chance to participate in the event #Killed4WorldCup himself, being arrested without any explanation on the way to the meeting. At present the animal rights activists are very much concerned about his ‘preventive‘ arrest. They communicated that Koretsky is kept in custody until Court hearing in the morning.

15/06 22:00 AMENDMENT: Yuri Koretsky jailed for eight (8) days for his attempt to draw public attention to stray dogs killings in Russia. All the demonstrations and actions during World Cup are strictly prohibited.

Killed4WorldCup

 

 

Arron Banks orders Verhofstadt to retract false claims

Lawyers for Brexit campaigner Arron Banks ordered the European Parliament’s chief Brexit coordinator to retract a claim that Banks colluded with Russia to deliver the UK vote to leave the European Union.

Guy Verhofstadt, who leads the European Parliament Brexit coordination team, said on Twitter that far-right and right wing leaders across Europe made up a fifth column of cheerleaders for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a letter to Verhofstadt, Bank’s lawyers, Mishcon de Reya, quoted the tweet which mentioned former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage as a cheerleader and he “colluded w/ Russians to deliver #Brexit”.

Macedonian President rejects new name

Macedonia’s president Gjorge Ivanov (pictured) said that he would not sign off on a historic deal that would change the country’s name, the most potentially disruptive reaction so far to the agreement with Greece that has received diverging reactions in both countries.

President Gjorge Ivanov said the agreement, which would rename Macedonia as the Republic of North Macedonia, or Severna Macedonia, gave too many concessions to Greece: “Such a harmful agreement, which is unique in the history of mankind, is shameful and unacceptable for me,” Ivanov said in a TV address.  “It violates the Constitution (and) the laws … I will not legalize political illegal agreements.”

If the president refuses to sign, the deal would return to parliament for another vote. Ivanov would have to sign off on the agreement if it is passed a second time.

The deal reached by the prime ministers of the two countries is expected to be signed by their foreign ministers this weekend.

 

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