Tag Archives: Europe

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.

EU: Charles Michel convenes Council

Brussels 20.10.2022 Invitation letter by President Charles Michel (pictured) to the members of the European Council ahead of their meeting on 20 and 21 October 2022

“Dear colleagues,

“I would like to invite you to our European Council meeting on Brussels on 20 and 21 October 2022.

“Our discussions in Prague allowed us to have a frank exchange. We will build concretely on this at our European Council meeting.

“The focal point of our agenda is the energy crisis, on which we must act with the utmost urgency. In particular, we must imperatively intensify our three lines of action: reducing demand, ensuring security of supply and containing prices.

“Our meeting will be the opportunity to examine further measures that can reduce prices. This includes: fully capitalising on the negotiating clout of our unity at 27 by jointly purchasing gas, developing a new benchmark that more accurately reflects conditions on the gas market, and examining a temporary dynamic price limit. I also expect us to address other short and long-term market interventions, such as an EU framework to cap the price of gas for electricity generation. I am confident that, despite differing national constraints, we will approach our energy debate constructively, mindful of our urgent collective interest.

“Our economic outlook will depend to a large extent on how we manage our energy crisis. As a corollary to our energy discussion I would like us to also focus on coordinating our economic policy responses effectively including with the support of common European solutions.

“We will also return to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The Kremlin has chosen to take several escalatory steps, including launching a mobilisation campaign, orchestrating sham “referenda” to illegally annex Ukraine’s territories and pursuing a threatening rhetoric. Most recently, Russian forces have indiscriminately bombed civilian areas. Perpetrators of those war crimes should be held accountable. At our meeting, I would like us to discuss our assistance to Ukraine, and address in particular Ukraine’s immediate needs with a view to preparing it for this winter, as well as the sustainability of our mid- and long-term assistance.

“Furthermore, in the light of the recent sabotage attacks against the Nordstream pipelines, we will also look into ways of intensifying our cooperation to protect critical infrastructure.

“Lastly, in the light of the current geo-political context, we need to hold a strategic discussion on China, exchanging views on how we wish to frame this critical relationship in the future. I would like us to also discuss preparations for the EU-ASEAN summit, taking place on 14 December in Brussels.

“The European Council meeting will start at 3pm on Thursday 20 October. After our traditional exchange with the President of the European Parliament, we will tackle the energy crisis and its economic implications. We will then address the remaining topics, not least the situation in Ukraine and other foreign policy issues.

“I look forward to welcoming you in Brussels.”

MEPs debate energy crisis

Strasbourg 19.10.2022 In a debate with Council and the Commission on the October European Council, MEPs urged leaders to not waste any more time and take urgent action to tackle the energy crisis. (Image: illustration)

For the Czech Presidency, Minister for European Affairs Bek announced that the summit will give a “strong, common European response” to Russia’s war against Ukraine and soaring energy prices. He reiterated the EU’s “unwavering support for Ukraine”, stressed that Russia will be held accountable for the war crimes it is committing and announced that, with regard to the energy crisis, Europe will protect the most vulnerable, while staying competitive.

Commission President von der Leyen called Russia’s attacks on civilians and civil infrastructure “acts of pure terror”. The EU will back Ukraine “for as long as it takes”. The best response to the Russian war on energy is “European solidarity and unity” she said, pointing to the Commission’s proposals to address the energy crisis. Buying gas together and pooling demand, saving energy and sharing gas are absolutely critical. “Energy solidarity is a fundamental principle of our treaties”, she said. With regard to electricity prices, she said that the “Iberian model needs to be considered at EU level” and called for massive investment into infrastructure, energy efficiency and renewables.

In their responses, MEPs urged EU leaders to take bold and determined actions to address the energy and cost of living crises without further delay. Most called for European solidarity and unity in the face of what they labelled a Russian attack on Europe using energy supply as a weapon. Some welcomed the Commission’s proposals to contain energy prices, in particular the mechanism for joint gas purchases, while many considered that they come late and fall short of what is necessary.

Beyond the actions in the energy field, several MEPs asked for stronger EU social initiatives, including a new support instrument for the most vulnerable, as well as a European investment fund, to consolidate Europe’s energy and industrial autonomy and support the green transition, among others aims.

EU: Sanna Marin Europe debate

Strasbourg 13.09.2022 Following the “This is Europe” debate with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, EP President Metsola and PM Marin will hold a joint press conference today at 12.00.

WHEN: Tuesday 13 September at 12.00

WHERE: Anna Politkovskaya press conference room

At 10.30 today, MEPs will discuss the European Union and its future prospects with the Prime Minister of Finland, Sanna Marin, followed by a round of interventions by political group leaders.

EP President Roberta Metsola and Prime Minister Marin will have a bilateral meeting before the latter’s plenary address.

This will be the sixth “This is Europe” debate to take place at the European Parliament; previous iterations have featured Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (in March), Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi (in May), Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheál Martin (in the first June plenary), Croatian PM Andrej Plenković (in the second June plenary) and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (in July).

Interpretation will be available in English, French, German, Finnish, Italian and Swedish.

You can follow the press conference in person or via the streaming on Parliament’s multimedia centre or on EbS.

EU top diplomats convene in Brussels

Brussels 17.07.2022 The Foreign Affairs Council will exchange views on the Russian aggression against Ukraine, with the participation via video teleconference of Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba. The Council will also hold a discussion on relations between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean, and digital diplomacy.

Under current affairs, ministers will discuss foreign information manipulation and interference, the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a possible EU-Israel association council, the upcoming ministerial meeting between the EU and the League of Arab States, and the situation in Sri Lanka and Tunisia.

The Council is due to approve conclusions on: EU Digital Diplomacy, foreign information manipulation and interference, EU priorities at the 77th United Nations General Assembly, and EU development aid targets for 2022.

The EU and its citizens stand in full solidarity with Ukraine and its people. The EU has taken concrete actions to support Ukraine and its neighbouring countries that are providing protection for people fleeing the war. Measures include:

The reception of refugees through the temporary protection mechanism:
€348 million in humanitarian aid for Ukraine and Moldova
material assistance to Ukraine and its neighbouring countries through the EU civil protection mechanism
€20 billion to support member states hosting refugees
€2.2 billion in macro-financial assistance to foster stability
€2 billion to support the Ukrainian armed forces

Belarus joins Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Brussels 15.07.2022 Belarus has officially filed a request to become a member state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the Secretary General Zhang Ming told the reporters.

“Recently, Belarus officially filed a request to join the SCO as a full-fledged member,” he said.

The official membership procedures will begin in the nearest future, following the announcement.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was established in June 2001 in Shanghai. Its current members are India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

NATO: Turkey opens perspective to Scandinavians

Madrid 29.06.2022 Turkey Sweden and Finland signed a trilateral memorandum on Tuesday, 28 Juin, in view of the perspective of the Nordic countries’ NATO membership process after an important meeting in Madrid in which Ankara has framed its demands, especially in the field of terrorism.

Turkey “got what it wanted” from the talks with Sweden and Finland talks, the Turkish presidency said in a written statement, underlining that full cooperation was agreed on with Turkey on fighting the PKK terrorist group and its affiliates.

Solidarity will be demonstrated towards Turkey in its fight against all branches of terrorism, it said. Furthermore, Sweden and Finland also agreed not to support the PKK organization’s Syrian wing, the YPG, as well as the Gülenists Group (FETÖ), all of them regarded as extremists in Ankara.

“As prospective NATO Allies, Finland and Sweden extend their full support to Turkey against threats to its national security,” the trilateral memorandum read.

“To that effect, Finland and Sweden will not provide support to the YPG/PYD, and the organization described as FETÖ in Turkey” the document continues.

“Finland and Sweden reject and condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, in the strongest terms,” it continued, highlighting that Finland and Sweden condemn all terrorist organizations perpetrating attacks against Turkey, and express their deepest solidarity with Ankara.

“Finland and Sweden commit to preventing activities of the PKK and all other terrorist organizations and their extensions, as well as activities by individuals in affiliated and inspired groups or networks linked to these terrorist organizations,” the memorandum said, adding that Finland and Sweden will address the issue of Turkey’s pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects expeditiously.

However, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told reporters after the meeting that the trilateral memorandum does not list individuals for extradition but rather describes principles for extraditions related to terrorism, not individual citizens.

NATO leaders will formally invite Finland and Sweden to join the alliance Wednesday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said during the membership process.

“I’m pleased to announce that we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO. Turkey, Finland and Sweden have signed a memorandum that addresses Turkey’s concerns, including around arms exports, and the fight against terrorism,” Stoltenberg said Tuesday after crunch talks in Madrid.

The Turkish presidency added that the Nordic countries have also agreed to lift their embargoes on weapons deliveries to Turkey, which were imposed in response to Ankara’s 2019 operation into Syria.

The two countries will ban “fundraising and recruitment activities” for the PKK, and “prevent terrorist propaganda against Turkey.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted Sweden and Finland to abandon their long-held nonaligned status and apply to join NATO. However, Turkey had opposed the move on the grounds that these two countries were supporting terrorist organizations.

The agreement comes at the opening of a crucial summit dominated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. U.S. President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders arrived in Madrid for a summit that will set the course of the alliance for the coming years. The summit was kicking off with a leaders’ dinner hosted by Spain’s King Felipe VI at the 18th-century Royal Palace of Madrid.

Diplomats and leaders from Turkey, Sweden and Finland earlier held a flurry of talks in an attempt to break the impasse over Turkey’s opposition to expansion. The three countries’ leaders met for more than two hours alongside Stoltenberg on Tuesday, Juin 28, before the agreement was announced.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson hailed the “very good agreement” with Turkey and said the move would make the alliance stronger.

“Taking the next step toward a full NATO membership is of course important for Sweden and Finland. But it’s also a very important step for NATO, because our countries will be security providers within NATO,” Andersson told Agence France-Presse (AFP) in an interview.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also hailed Turkey’s agreement to drop its objections to Finland’s and Sweden’s membership of NATO.

“Fantastic news as we kick off the NATO Summit. Sweden and Finland’s membership will make our brilliant alliance stronger and safer,” Johnson wrote on Twitter.

On the other side, a U.S. official said on the same day that Turkey did not demand concessions from Washington to support Finland and Sweden.

“There was no request from the Turkish side for the Americans to make a particular concession,” a senior administration official told reporters.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official called Turkey’s decision a “powerful shot in the arm” for NATO unity, Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah writes.

Crimea: EU renews sanctions

Brussels 20.06.2021 The Council has today decided to renew the sanctions introduced by the EU in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, until 23 June 2023.

“The restrictive measures currently in place were first introduced in June 2014, and include prohibitions targeting the imports of products originating from theillegally annexed Crimea or Sevastopol into the EU, and infrastructural or financial investments and tourism services from the illegally annexed Crimea or Sevastopol. Furthermore, the exports of certain goods and technologies to Crimean companies or for use in illegally annexed Crimea in the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors or for the prospection, exploration and production of oil, gas and mineral resources are also subject to EU restrictions.

“As stated by Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in his Declaration on behalf of the EU on 25 February 2022, eight years since the violent, illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, the EU does not recognise and continues to condemn the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula as a serious violation of international law. The EU remains steadfast in its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders and dedicated to fully implementing its non-recognition policy.

“Russia has further violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity with its unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine which theEU continues to condemn in the strongest possible terms. It urges Russia to immediately stop its indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.

“The European Union is unwavering in its commitment to help Ukraine exercise its inherent right of self-defence against the Russian aggression and build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future. It also remains committed to continue bolstering Ukraine ability to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Moscow expells European diplomats

Brussels 18.05.2022 Moscow said on Wednesday, May 18, it was expelling a total of 85 embassy staff from France, Spain and Italy in response to similar moves by those countries, highlighting the damage to relations with leading EU members since it launched its war on Ukraine. (Image above: Moscow, City)

The Foreign Ministry said it was ordering out 34 diplomatic staff from France, 27 from Spain and 24 from Italy.

The three countries are among European nations that have collectively thrown out more than 300 Russians since the February 24 invasion. In many cases, they accused Russian diplomats of spying, which Moscow has denied.

Russia’s response has included sending home 45 Polish staff and 40 Germans last month. It has also announced tit-for-tat moves against Finland, Romania, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Japan, among others.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called Wednesday’s announcement by Moscow a “hostile act” and said diplomatic channels must not be interrupted.

France said it deplored the Russian move as an unjustified response to what it said was its own decision in April to expel “several dozen Russian agents acting on our territory under diplomatic status and working against our security interests”.

Future of Europe conference report

Strasbourg 05.04.2022 A report on the final outcome of the Conference will be presented to the Presidents of the EU institutions during a closing event on 9 May in Strasbourg.

On Europe Day, three Co-Chairs of the Executive Board will present a final report of the Conference to the Presidents of the EU institutions. During the event, President Metsola, President von der Leyen and President Macron will deliver their speeches alongside speeches by citizens from the National and European Panels and by the Conference Co-Chairs. Cultural performances by Danse l’Europe and youth orchestra DEMOS are also planned.

Apart from 449 Plenary Members, including 108 citizens, 120 European Citizen Panellists and 200 citizens from local schools and Erasmus students will be invited to the event.

Ministers for European affairs and other VIP guests will also participate in the ceremony.

When: Monday 9 May, 12:00 – 14:00 Where: European Parliament in Strasbourg

During a final meeting, that took place from 29 April to 30 April at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the Conference Plenary reached a consensus on its final draft proposals.

The 49 proposals, on nine themes, include more than 300 measures on how to achieve them. They are based on recommendations from the European Citizens’ Panels, the National Citizens’ Panels and events, ideas recorded on the Multilingual Digital Platform as well as discussions held during the Conference Plenary and Working Group sessions.

The three institutions will examine swiftly how to follow up effectively to this report, each within their own sphere of competences.

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