Tag Archives: EEAS

EU prolongs Belarus arms embargo

Today the Council decided to prolong the restrictive measures against Belarus for one year, until 28 February 2021. These measures include an embargo on arms and on equipment that could be used for internal repression, as well as an asset freeze and travel ban against four people designated in connection with the unresolved disappearances of two opposition politicians, one businessman and one journalist in 1999 and in 2000.

The Council also prolonged the derogation to the restrictive measures to allow the export of biathlon equipment and limited number of specific-use sporting rifles and sporting pistols to Belarus, which remain subject to prior authorisation by national competent authorities on a case by case basis.

The restrictive measures against Belarus were initially introduced in 2004 in response to the disappearance of the four persons referred to above. Additional restrictive measures were adopted in 2011 against those involved in the violation of international electoral standards and international human rights law, as well as in the crackdown on civil society and democratic opposition. The arms embargo was introduced in the same year.

On 15 February 2016, the Council decided to lift the restrictive measures against 170 individuals and four companies, while maintaining the arms embargo and the sanctions against the four persons.

Image: illustration EU Council Europa building interior

EU diplomatic appointments

Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy announced today three senior appointments in the European External Action Service (EEAS):

Enrique MORA BENAVENTE as Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs, Political Director. He is currently Political Director at the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and previously Head of Cabinet of High Representative / Secretary General of the Council of the European Union Javier Solana.

Stefano SANNINO as Deputy Secretary General for Economic and Global Issues. He is currently Ambassador of Italy to Spain and was previously Permanent Representative of Italy to the European Union and Director General for Enlargement in the European Commission.

Charles FRIES as Deputy Secretary General for Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and crisis response. He is currently the Ambassador of France to Turkey and was previously Ambassador of France to Morroco and Secretary General for European Affairs in Paris.

The three Deputy Secretary General will work under the guidance of Secretary General Helga Schmid.

Josep Borrell announced he “wants to further strengthen the European External Action Service to address changing international realities effectively“.

With the appointments announced today, the EEAS will have a strong and experienced management team to advance the work in implementing the political priorities set by the High Representative”.

Image: illustration

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.

EU welcomes Ukraine exchange of prisoners

“A significant exchange of detainees took place following an agreement reached by the Trilateral Contact Group” reads the statement of the European External Action Service on exchange of detainees between Kiev and sefl-proclaimed Republics of Donetsk and Lughansk.

“This is a welcome example of implementation of one of the measures agreed at the Normandy 4 Summit of 9 December. The European Union expects all parties to further build on this momentum. Work to implement the measures agreed at the Summit must continue.

“We take note of the exchange of people related to the tragic events on Maidan in 2014. We expect all accusations will continue to be investigated and the parties concerned to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.

“The European Union reaffirms its support to the work of the Normandy format, the OSCE and the Trilateral Contact Group. It stresses the importance of the implementation of the Minsk agreements in full, including a permanent ceasefire. It is the only way to reach a sustainable and peaceful solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The European Union remains in steadfast support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Chile: EU deplores loss of life

“The European Union recognises the relevance of the recent demonstrations in Chile and its people’s legitimate demands, noting also the latest decisions of the President on a social package and changes in his government, as well as the cancellation of the COP 25 and APEC Summits”reads the statement by the spokesperson of the European External Action Service on the latest developments in Chile.

“We deplore the loss of life and reject any violence. Human rights must be respected in all circumstances and any breach should be duly investigated. In this context, the decision of the Chilean government to request the presence of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and of other human rights organisations is important.

“The lifting of the state of emergency and the government’s intention to launch a broad dialogue with all Chileans could be conducive to effective responses to the expectations of the citizens.

“As a longstanding partner and friend of Chile, the European Union is ready to support the Chileans in their aspirations to move towards a more sustainable, equitable and inclusive development.”

Clashes at demonstrations in the capital of Santiago have left at least 20 people dead and led to the resignation of eight key ministers from Pinera’s cabinet.

The Chilean President has now canceled the hosting of the economic APEC forum and COP25 environmental summit, which were both due to take place later this year.

Josep Borrell faces MEPs scrutiny

Anna van Densky from Brussels The MEPS of Foreign Affairs Committee questioned Josep Borrell, Spanish candidate for High Representative/Vice-President for foreign affairs and security policy.

Political groups’ coordinators from the committee will meet within 24 hours to assess the performance of Josep Borrell, candidate EU top diplomat job.

During his introductory speech  Borrell stressed his intention to engage in reforms in the Western Balkans, support democracy and the integrity of Ukraine, address the challenges in the southern neighbourhood, develop a new strategy towards Africa, work on political relations with Asia, step up cooperation with Latin America and reinstate transatlantic relations (US-EU). “The world has changed for the worse…There are few agreements, more vetoes”, he said.

MEPs enquired how he intends to reach consensus among member states on decisions regarding e.g. Russia or generally related to security and defence. “We need shared strategic culture and empathy to understand the different points of view”, he replied. MEPs also asked about the role the EU could play in creating global security, when non-proliferation agreements are being breached. They also raised the issue of protecting EU maritime interests worldwide.

Asked about Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, Borrell replied that negotiations have lasted too long and Europe has to engage in helping Kosovo and Serbia out of the deadlock. His first visit as High Representative/Vice-President would be to Pristina, Commissioner-designate announced.

MEPs also asked how he intends to achieve a more strategic and coherent union, as announced in the Mission letter of the Commission President Borrell said that the EU has tools for foreign policy, such as a powerful common trade policy or diplomatic power. “The EU has to learn to use the language of power”, he stressed.

EU “extremely concerned” about Iran decision

The European Union is “extremely concerned” about Iran’s announcement on stepping out of nuclear deal (JCPOA), and starting to enrich uranium above internationally-approved levels. The bloc calls on Islamic Republic to “stop and reverse” any action that goes against the nuclear deal, the European Commission spokesperson said on July 8.

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