Tag Archives: EU

MEPs label Russia “sponsor of terrorism”

Strasbourg 24.11.2022 Following the atrocities carried out by Vladimir Putin’s regime against Ukrainian civilians, MEPs have recognised Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

On Wednesday, Parliament adopted a resolution on the latest developments in Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine. MEPs highlight that the deliberate attacks and atrocities committed by Russian forces and their proxies against civilians in Ukraine, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and other serious violations of international and humanitarian law amount to acts of terror and constitute war crimes. In light of this, they recognise Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and as a state that “uses means of terrorism”.

As the EU currently cannot officially designate states as sponsors of terrorism, Parliament calls on the EU and its member states to put in place the proper legal framework and consider adding Russia to such a list. This would trigger a number of significant restrictive measures against Moscow and have profound restrictive implications for EU relations with Russia.

In the meantime, MEPs call on the Council to include the Russian paramilitary organisation ‘the Wagner Group’, the 141st Special Motorized Regiment, also known as the “Kadyrovites”, and other Russian-funded armed groups, militias and proxies, on the EU’s terrorist list.

Parliament calls on the European Union to further isolate Russia internationally, including when it comes to Russia’s membership of international organisations and bodies such as the United Nations Security Council. MEPs also want diplomatic ties with Russia to be reduced, EU contacts with official Russian representatives to be kept to the absolute minimum and Russian state-affiliated institutions in the EU spreading propaganda around the world to be closed and banned.

Against the backdrop of the Kremlin’s escalating acts of terror against Ukrainian civilians, the resolution further calls on EU member states in the Council to swiftly complete its work on a ninth sanctions package against Moscow. MEPs also want EU countries to actively prevent, investigate and prosecute any circumvention of current sanctions and, together with the European Commission, consider possible measures against countries trying to help Russia circumvent restrictive measures already put in place.

The resolution was adopted by 494 votes in favour, 58 against with 44 abstentions.

For more information on the designation of states as sponsors of terrorism and similar legal frameworks in other countries, check out the latest briefing by the European Parliament’s Research Service.

MEPs condemn Belarus for political justice

Strasbourg 24.11.2022 The European Parliament strongly condemns the unjustified and politically motivated sentences handed down to more than 1 400 political prisoners in Belarus, among others members of the so-called “Autukhovich twelve”. It also denounces the ongoing incarceration of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ales Bialiatski and urges the regime of Belarusian dictator Aliaksandr Lukashenka to ensure his release ahead of the award ceremony in Oslo on 10 December. (Image above: archive)

While endorsing the Belarusian democratic opposition’s position that Belarus should be recognised as an occupied territory from which Russian troops should immediately withdraw, Parliament strongly condemns the Lukashenka government’s involvement in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The resolution notes that the Belarusian regime shares responsibility with Russia for war crimes in Ukraine, for which it should be held accountable before an international tribunal and the International Criminal Court.

In addition, MEPs reiterate their call on EU countries and the European Commission to strictly impose the same sanctions on Belarus that they have imposed on Russia. They also encourage the EU institutions to support Belarusian independent news outlets such as Nexta . and call for more systematic cooperation between the EU and representatives of Belarusian democratic forces.

The resolution was adopted by show of hands. F

MEPs: human rights in Afghanistan concerns

Strasbourg 24.11.2022 On Thursday, the European Parliament adopted three resolutions on the respect for human rights in Afghanistan, Belarus and Democratic Republic of Congo. (Image above: European Parliament building, Strasbourg)

Human rights situation in Afghanistan, especially the deterioration of women’s rights and attacks against educational institutions

The staggering regression in women and girls’ rights under the Taliban qualifies as gender apartheid, warn MEPs. They call on Afghanistan’s de facto authorities to ensure that women can again actively participate in public life. This must be a key condition, they say, if the international community is to engage with the Taliban. Denouncing the egregious ban on secondary education for girls, Parliament recalls the Taliban’s promises that women’s access to education would be restored and demands that the Taliban now honour their own commitments.)

Parliament deeply regrets that, since the Taliban takeover, access to information has become increasingly difficult, journalistic independence has been curtailed, and civil society organisations have been subjected to increasing pressure.

MEPs also express their alarm at the devastating impact of climate change and environmental degradation in Afghanistan, which is ranked by the UN as the sixth country in the world most affected by climate-related threats, and call for urgent action by the international community to help Afghans address this dramatic situation.

Finally, MEPs ask the EU to establish a long-term strategy on Afghanistan in light of the current situation and the failure of the Taliban to deliver on any of their initial promises.

The resolution was adopted by 532 votes in favour, 8 against with 25 abstentions.

MEPs against funding Hungary

Strasbourg 24.11.2022 Commission and Council should resist pressure from Hungary and go ahead with adopting the proposed rule of law conditionality measures to suspend EU cohesion funds.

In a resolution passed on Thursday by 416 votes in favour, 124 against and 33 abstentions, MEPs say that the 17 remedial measures negotiated by the Commission and Hungary are “not sufficient to address the existing systemic risk to the EU’s financial interests”, even if implemented fully.

They call on EU member states to adopt the proposed measures under the Conditionality Regulation in order to protect the EU budget against breaches of the principles of the rule of law in Hungary, and to lift them only after the Hungarian remedial measures have had a sustainable effect. “If these measures are reversed in the future, the Union should proceed to financial correction”, they add.

Regarding Hungary’s recovery and resilience plan (RRF), they deplore that, because of the government’s actions, recovery funds have not yet reached the Hungarian people. According to the EP, the risk of misuse of EU funds in Hungary remains and the Commission should not approve Hungary’s RRF plan until the country has fully complied with all recommendations in the field of the rule of law and all relevant judgments of the EU Court and the Court of Human Rights.

Pressure from Hungary and final beneficiaries

MEPs call on the Commission and Council not to give in to the pressure Hungary is exerting on them by blocking crucial EU decisions, such as €18 billion in macro-financial aid to Ukraine and the global minimum corporate tax rate deal. This “abuse” of the rule on voting by unanimity should “not have any impact” on the decisions regarding the Hungarian recovery plan and the application of the rule of law conditionality legislation, the text says.

Parliament stresses that final beneficiaries of EU funds should not be deprived of support due to their government’s lack of cooperation, and call on the Commission to find ways to distribute EU funds via local governments and NGOs.

Finally, MEPs complain that the proposal to trigger the Conditionality Regulation against Hungary has been long overdue and does not go far enough -“after a long delay and with too limited a scope”. Parliament urges the Commission to take action also concerning other breaches of the rule of law, particularly those relating to the independence of the judiciary.
On 18 September 2022, the Commission proposed to freeze 7.5 billion euro in EU funds for Hungary, citing corruption and public procurement concerns, after having triggered the rule of law conditionality mechanism against Hungary in April.

After negotiations with the Commission, Hungary has presented 17 remedial measures, such as creating an anti-corruption task force and changes to its public procurement rules, to address the concerns.

The Council has until 19 December to take a decision, by qualified majority, based on a Commission proposal.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government has said that it was willing to pay its share of support for Ukraine but would rather pay it bilaterally than through the EU’s joint borrowing.

“The government continues to be committed to take part in financial support to war-gripped Ukraine,” the decree reads.

EU-Kazakhstan: welcome to reforms

Brussels 21.11.2022 “The European Union takes note of the preliminary results of the 20 November presidential election in Kazakhstan” reads the statement by the spokesperson of the European External Action Service on the outcome of Presidential elections.

“We welcome their efficient preparation as well as wider political and socio-economic reforms initiated by President Tokayev after the tragic January events. The development of resilient democratic institutions and a strong civil society is key for Kazakhstan’s stability and development” the EU diplomacy continues.

“The EU takes note of OSCE/ODIHR’s preliminary conclusions stating that the election took place in a political environment lacking competitiveness. We call for Kazakhstan’s authorities to strengthen the reform process to increase political pluralism and citizens’ participation in political life. Looking ahead, it will be crucial for Kazakhstan to implement fully the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations.

“The EU will continue to work with Kazakhstan in line with our Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA), and to support the implementation of important reforms, to enable a fully transparent and competitive political environment as key steps towards a new democratic and fair Kazakhstan.

“Kazakhstan is an important and valuable partner of the European Union. We share an interest to develop our cooperation further as we prepare to mark 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in February 2023. We remain committed to the universal principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity in line with the UN principles, as well as international security, fundamental freedoms and human rights”.

Europarliament birthday celebrations

Strasbourg 20.11.2022 MEPs will mark the creation of the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952, with a ceremony in the hemicycle on Tuesday at 11.30.

EP President Roberta Metsola will open the ceremony with a statement, followed by plenary speeches by the Prime Ministers of Parliament’s three host countries – French Prime Minister Ms Élisabeth Borne, Mr Alexander de Croo of Belgium, and Luxembourg’s Mr Xavier Bettel. The ceremony will finish with an orchestra performance of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

10 September 2022 marked the 70th anniversary of the first meeting of the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). Convened in 1952, it comprised 78 appointed parliamentarians from the national parliaments of each member state. In 1958, following the creation of the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community, the Common Assembly of the ECSC was enlarged and renamed the ”European Parliamentary Assembly”. In 1962, it adopted the name “European Parliament”.

The official ceremony with the participation of dignitaries will take place on Tuesday 22 November.

EU: Borrell travels to Central Asia

Brussels 17.11.2022 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell will travel to Central Asia, starting his visit in Astana, Kazakhstan, on 16 to 17 November, and continuing to Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on 17 to 19 November. His mission aims to further strengthen and build on the positive dynamics in EU’s bilateral and regional relations, in particular through chairing the EU-Central Asia Ministerial and co-hosting the EU-Central Asia Connectivity Conference: Global Gateway.

In Kazakhstan, the High Representative will meet President Tokayev and Foreign Minister Tileuberdi, following which a joint press conference is planned at 11:40 local time (06:40 CET) on 17 November.

Josep Borrell will then travel to Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where he will chair the 18th EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting, which is hosted by the Uzbek Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov.

The meeting will provide an opportunity to step up cooperation with the countries of the region in areas such as security, trade and investment, transport, green energy and sustainable growth, improved connectivity as well as closer cooperation in education, science and innovation. Ministers will also exchange on regional challenges, including the situation in Afghanistan and the negative consequences caused by Russia’s illegal military aggression against Ukraine. Following the meeting, a joint press point with Foreign Minister Norov is planned around 19:00 local time (15:00 CET) on 17 November.

On 18 November, High Representative Borrell, will co-host the EU-Central Asia Connectivity Conference: Global Gateway. The conference will explore three themes: digital connectivity, transport connectivity, and energy connectivity between Central Asia and the European Union. In this context, the EU, together with International Financial Institutions, will aim to stimulate investment in the region. Hight Representative will deliver the opening statement at 10:00 local time (06:00 CET).

In the margins of the Conference, Borrell will meet with the President of Uzbekistan and Foreign Ministers of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan to discuss bilateral relations and regional cooperation.

Hungarian forced labour victims for justice

Brussels 17.11.2022 “The deportation of the Hungarians of Slovakia for forced labour 1946-1947” hearing took place in the European Parliament on November 16 under the chairmanship of the MEP Jordi Sole from the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya party, Spain, belonging to the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance.
“In order to understand the question of deportation of the Hungarian population of Slovakia towards the Czech countries some enlightenment is necessary”, said the keynote speaker Mikulas Krivansky, a Slovakian born Hungarian journalist, President of the Association of Victims of Deportations and their Descendants.

At the end of the Second World War the Czechoslovak leaders were deeply convinced that reconstituted Czechoslovakia had to become ethnically homogeneous.
The Conference of Potsdam accepted the evacuation of Germans but opposed the expatriation of Hungarians. As a consequence the Czechoslovak government asked the Peace Conference to compel Hungary to accept a Treaty on the exchange of populations, such a Treaty being signed on Febrary 27th 1946.
The Czechoslovak authorities decided to proceed to an unilateral and violent solution of this issue.
Instrumentalising the Law 88/1945 on general work liability (obligation) the displacement of the Hungarians towards the Czech country proceeded.

Comparing the Law itself and its application, in fact it has been used as a pretext to the displacement of the Hungarian population.

By virtue of such a law, in the case of an urgent and public interest work, it was foreseen, for a year at most, to impose the obligatory work on men aged from 16 to 55 and women from 18 to 45.

Those not to be constrained to work were gravid women and women with one child under 15, nor women having at least one dependent person. Married workers could only be called if the number of workers was not sufficient.

In spite of this, as early as November 19th 1946, forced transfers were executed, army and police troops encircled the Hungarian districts along the Danube.
The deportations produced many tragic victims and caused a lot of suffering; newborn babies at the breast and elderly people died, others suffered serious illnesses.
The displaced families were posted as rural servants or daily-workers for Czech big farmers and landowners.
Such a proceeding was contrary to the Czechoslovak laws, because the authorities had repeatedly violated the legislation in force.

According to the sources of the ministry of Social Affairs, in January 1948, 11 746 “economic units”, a term used to designate families, were deported, namely 44 129 persons.

The majority of the victims managed to go back to Slovakia after the communists took power in 1948.
Only after the change in 1989, did the victims express their claims, demanding justice to be served.
This is the reason why the Association of Victims of Deportations and their Descendants was founded. The Association represents 3 000 registered victims.

During the two mandates of Mr. Dzurinda’s Government ( 1998-2002 and 2002-2006 ) the Slovak Parliament voted for laws aiming to compensate certain victims of the past. These laws covered the 1939 to 1945 fascist period and the 1948 to 1990 communist period but excluded from any compensation the victims of the 1945 to 1948 period considered as a democratic one.
The exclusion of the victims of forced labour from all compensation is based on ethnicity and constitutes, in our opinion, a serious discrimination between the different groups of Slovak citizens.

Subsequently 1 500 members of our association have written personally a letter to the Prime Minister Mr. Dzurinda and to the European Commissioner Mr. Romano Prodi. The European Deputies mobilized in favour of the victims of forced labour. The question was put forward within various Parliamentary Committees: Nelly Maes, Miquel Mayol i Raynal, Bernat Joan i Marí travelled many times to Slovakia to attend the General Assembly of our Association.
Written questions were raised at the Commission and at the Commissioner for Enlargement Mr. Verheugen.
The MEP Erik Meijer confronted the latter four pertinent questions, but got only vague answers based on evasive generalities.

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The Czech Government under Mr. Jiří Paroubek finally decided to make a humanitarian gesture towards the victims of the past. Thanks to the intervention of many European Deputies from a variety of political adherences, the Czech citizens of Hungarian origin, victims of forced labour, are now included in the Declaration of the Czech Government.
In the light of the preceding facts one is entitled to raise a question: has there then been indifference or complicity on behalf of the decision-making politicians?
To sum up the the main violations of legality incurred in by the state authorities are the following:

– Use of coercion and armed force
– Non-respect of the prescriptions of the law when being enforced
– Non-respect of salary related provisions in force
– Absence of proper housing and food as indicated by law
– Exploitation of child labour
– Denial to include in pension schemes the period of work
– Absence of all benefits issuing from social security coverage.

“We believe that all those who have been through these works, contributed to the reconstruction of the Republic caused by World War II, they deserve recognition for their dignifying effort. Many are those, among which are the MEPs, who feel there is a compelling need for legislation aimed at repairing prejudice caused to the Slovak citizens – victims of forced labour” Krivansky continued.

The recent role of the European Parliament and elected representatives in matters of forced labour is reflected in the decisions taken against companies resorting to these practices.
The EU ban of products from forced labour is an encouraging gesture for our struggle for justice.

Presentetion by Mr. Krivansky, President of the Association of Victims of Deportations and their Descendants – Slovakia, during the Public Hearing held by MEP Jordi SOLÉ in Brussel on Nov.16th 2022

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Defence: EUMAM Ukraine launch

Brussels 15.11.2022 The Council is launching today the European Union Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine (EUMAM Ukraine) to continue supporting Ukraine against the ongoing Russian war of aggression. (Image: illustration)

The aim of the mission, formally established on 17 October, is to enhance the military capability of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to allow them to defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognised borders, as well as to protect the civilian population. EUMAM Ukraine has a non-executive mandate to provide individual, collective and specialised training to up to 15 000 Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel over multiple locations in the territory of EU member states.

The Mission Commander will be the Director of the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), Vice Admiral Hervé Bléjean.

Furthermore, the Council adopted an assistance measure under the European Peace Facility (EPF) worth €16 million to support the capacity building of the Ukrainian Armed Forces by the EUMAM Ukraine. Both EUMAM Ukraine and the assistance measure were designed based on Ukraine’s operational requirements and will finance the provision by EU member states of: ammunition, military equipment and platforms designed to deliver lethal force transportation, custody and maintenance and repair of the equipment financed through the assistance measure.
The assistance measure will have a duration of 24 months, and adds to the successive EU contributions for Ukraine under the EPF, which now amount to more than €3.1 billion.

The European Union reiterates its support to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, and its legitimate right to defend itself against the Russian aggression. The EU stands firmly with Ukraine and will continue to provide military, economic, social and financial support for as long as it takes.

EU condemns Taliban restricting women

Brussels 14.11.2022 “The EU condemns the additional restrictions by the Taliban on women’s freedom of movement, including the newly announced rules barring women from entering public parks and gyms.

“These restrictions come in addition to the already severe violations by the Taliban of the rights of Afghan women and girls – in contradiction to Taliban’s own initial promises. Afghan women and girls remain deprived of secondary education, face restrictions in their travel and movement, and are excluded from most aspects of public and economic life.

“The EU calls on the de facto authorities to honour Afghanistan’s obligations under international law, in particular human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, and to ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of all the Afghan population”.

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