Tag Archives: featured

Russia: Estonia diplomat expulsion

Brussels 03.08.2021 Estonian Ambassador to Moscow Margus Laidre was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry Tuesday, August 3, where he was informed about the expulsion of an Estonian diplomat within seven days, the Ministry announced on its website.(Image: Moscow, City)

“Estonian Ambassador to Russia Margus Laidre was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry. He was presented with a decisive protest and a note saying that one Estonian embassy employee must leave Russia within seven days under the principle of reciprocity,” reads the announcement.

The diplomats warned Estonia against escalating the situation.

“Otherwise, a decisive response from the Russian Foreign Ministry will follow. Meanwhile, all responsibility for the deterioration of bilateral relations will lie entirely with the Estonian side,” the Ministry said.

On July 15, Estonian Foreign Ministry expelled a Russian diplomat as a response to expulsion of Estonian consul in St. Petersburg Mart Latte, who was previously apprehended by the Federal Security Service while receiving classified materials. The intelligence service underscored that “such activity is incompatible with the diplomatic status and is openly hostile towards the Russian Federation.”

Belarus activist suspicious death

Brussels 03.08.2021 Belarusian anti-government activist was found dead in a park near in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on Tuesday, August 3, and according to the police they had begun an investigation into whether it was a suicide or a murder.

The activist, Vitaly Shishov, went missing a day before after going out for a morning jog, said his colleagues, who accused the Belarusian authorities of assassinating him. On Tuesday, the Kyiv police said that he had been found hanged in the park and that their investigation included the possibility that the death was a “murder masked as a suicide.”

“The full picture of events will be confirmed after the questioning of witnesses, the analysis of video recordings” and other investigative operation, the police said.

Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, Belarus’s authoritarian leader since 1994, has jailed thousands after large-scale protests over his rule last year. Now, events in recent weeks have indicated that he is also escalating his campaign against the growing number of Belarus activists, living in exile abroad.

Shishov’s acquaintances told the Viasna human rights center that he had previously noticed that he was being watched while jogging. Also, he and his girlfriend were approached by suspicious people who tried to start a conversation.

“Belarusian House in Ukraine” is a non-profit public organization that provides assistance to Belarusian citizens who fled to Ukraine.

AMENDMENT:

Russian diplomats to leave U.S.

Brussels 02.08.2021 The United States has handed Russia a list of 24 diplomats who are imposed to leave the country by September 3 due to a unilaterally established three-year limit on the assignment period for Russian personnel in the U.S., Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said. (Image: Washington D.C.)

“Unfortunately, the situation does not change for the better. Russian diplomatic missions in the United States are still forced to work under unprecedented restrictions that not only remain in effect, but are stepped up,” the diplomat said.

“Regardless of the [US President Joe] Biden administration’s declarations concerning the important role of diplomacy and willingness to develop stable and predictable relations with our country, the Russian diplomatic presence experiences continuous strikes,” Antonov continued.

“U.S. colleagues get persistent and creative in this business. The expulsions of diplomats are implemented under far-fetched pretexts now and then. Last December the State Department unilaterally established a three-year limit on the assignment period for Russian personnel in the United States that, as far as we know, is not applied to any other country,” the diplomat has underlined.

EU: 60% vaccinated adults

Brussels 02.07.2021 Today,the European Commission president announced that 60% of all adults in the EU are now fully vaccinated. “Full vaccination protects us from #COVID19 and its variants” the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen wrote on her Twitter micro blog.
“Let’s stay vigilant. Let’s get vaccinated! For our own health – and to protect others” the EU top official called.

Pfizer company is raising the price of its Covid19 product in Europe by over 25% under a newly negotiated contract with the European Union (EU), according to a report from the Financial Times (FT) newspaper. Competitor Moderna is also hiking the price of its vaccine in Europe by roughly 10%.

Pfizer’s Covid19 biological agent is already expected to generate the most revenue of any medicine in a single year—about $33.5 billion for 2021 alone, according to the pharmaceutical company’s own assessment. However the company says it’s providing poorer countries the vaccine at a highly discounted price.

Pfizer company previously charged the EU €15.50 per dose for its vaccine, which is based on new revolutionary mRNA technology. The company will now charge €19.50 for 2.1 billion doses that will be delivered through the year 2023, according to the FT newspaper.

Taliban ceases Helmand RTA media

Brussels 02.08.2021 Militants from the Taliban movement seized the building of the regional state TV and radio center in the city of Lashkar Gah on Monday, August 2, the administrative center of Afghanistan’s Helmand province, TOLOnews television network reports referring to its sources.

According to TOLOnews, all local media outlets in Helmand province have stopped operating. The staff of the TV and radio center left the building two days ago.

Early in July, the Taliban took control over Afghanistan’s regions along the border with five countries – Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, China and Pakistan – against the background of the withdrawal of western coalition troops.

The new commander of the Afghan Armed Forces, General Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai, said the army’s priority was to protect the main cities of the country, border crossing points and roads against the Taliban. According to him, Taliban leaders intend to first cut off the main roads via which goods are supplied, and then launch an offensive on cities and regions.

Belarus: Borrell declaration on migrants

Brussels 30.07.2021 “The instrumentalisation of migrants and refugees is utterly unacceptable. Using human beings in need to advance political goals violates fundamental European values and principles. Accordingly, the EU and its member states condemn the instrumentalisation of migrants and refugees by the Belarusian regime” reads the Declaration by the High Representative Josep Borrell on behalf of the European Union on the instrumentalisation of migrants and refugees by the regime.

“The EU and its member states will address the ongoing surge in irregular crossings into the EU from Belarus to preserve the integrity of its external border. In line with its gradual approach, the EU will consider the possibility of restrictive measures targeted at migrants’ smugglers abusing human rights or those otherwise involved in trafficking in human beings.

“The EU and its member states remain determined to effectively manage migratory flows in order to protect the EU’s external borders. People who have no right to stay in the EU shall be returned. In this context, the EU and its member states will take all necessary measures in accordance with EU and international law.

“The EU and its member states, in solidarity, already increased their support, including through the deployment of the FRONTEX rapid border intervention and additional technical assistance, and are ready to strengthen it even further. Member states will swiftly provide the support necessary to ensure the immediate deployment of the relevant teams and assets.

“We will continue to implement our external migration policy. We will work to further strengthen EU return capacities as part of a comprehensive approach, including through dialogues and partnerships with the countries of origin and transit”.

EU: Lebanon restrictive measures

Brussels 30.07.2021 Today the Council adopted a framework for targeted restrictive measures to address the situation in Lebanon. This framework provides for the possibility of imposing sanctions against persons and entities who are responsible for undermining democracy or the rule of law in Lebanon through any of the following actions:

obstructing or undermining the democratic political process by persistently hampering the formation of a government or by obstructing or seriously undermining the holding of elections;
obstructing or undermining the implementation of plans approved by Lebanese authorities and supported by relevant international actors, including the EU, to improve accountability and good governance in the public sector or the implementation of critical economic reforms, including in the banking and financial sectors and including the adoption of transparent and non-discriminatory legislation on the export of capital;
serious financial misconduct, concerning public funds, insofar as the acts concerned are covered by the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, and the unauthorised export of capital.

Sanctions consist of a travel ban to the EU and an asset freeze for persons, and an asset freeze for entities. In addition, EU persons and entities are forbidden from making funds available to those listed.

Gibraltar: EU-UK agreement

Brussels 21.07.2021 Today the European Commission has adopted a Recommendation for a Council decision authorising the opening of negotiations for an EU-UK agreement on Gibraltar. The Commission also presented its proposal for negotiating guidelines.

It is now for the Council to adopt this draft mandate, after which the Commission can begin formal negotiations with the United Kingdom.

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, the EU’s co-chair of the Joint Committee and Partnership Council, said: “By putting forward this draft mandate, we are honouring the political commitment we made to Spain to start the negotiations of a separate agreement between the EU and the UK on Gibraltar. This is a detailed mandate, which aims to have a positive impact for those living and working on either side of the border between Spain and Gibraltar, while protecting the integrity of the Schengen Area and the Single Market.”

Gibraltar was not included in the scope of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement agreed between the EU and UK at the end of 2020. The Commission committed to begin the negotiation of a separate agreement on Gibraltar, should Spain request so. That is why the Commission is now recommending that the Council authorises the launch of specific negotiations on Gibraltar.

Today’s Recommendation builds upon the political understanding reached between Spain and the UK on 31 December last year. It is without prejudice to the issues of sovereignty and jurisdiction, and focuses on cooperation in the region.

The proposed negotiating directives put forward solutions to remove physical checks and controls on persons and goods at the land border between Spain and Gibraltar, while ensuring the integrity of the Schengen area and the Single Market. The proposals include rules establishing responsibility for asylum, returns, visas, residence permits, and operational police cooperation and information exchange.

Other measures are included in different areas, such as land and air transport, the rights of cross border workers, the environment, financial support, and establishing a level playing field. It envisages a robust governance mechanism, including a review of the implementation of the agreement after four years, the possibility for both parties to terminate the agreement at any time and the possibility of unilateral suspension of the application of the agreement under certain circumstances.

Spain, as the neighbouring Schengen Member State and as the Member State to be entrusted with the application and implementation of certain provisions of the future agreement, will be particularly affected by the agreement. The Commission will therefore maintain close contacts with the Spanish authorities throughout the negotiations and afterwards, taking their views duly into account.

With regard to external border control, in circumstances requiring increased technical and operational support, any Member State, including Spain, may request Frontex assistance in implementing its obligations. The Commission acknowledges that Spain has already expressed its full intention to ask Frontex for assistance.

EU message to Taliban

Brussels 21.07.2021 “The EU supports an inclusive, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process leading to a negotiated political settlement” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell writes concluding his visit to Central Asia.

“This requires the Taliban to commit to a negotiated settlement. For this to happen, all concerned – neighbouring countries, the EU and all international partners – have to be clear and frank in our messages to the Taliban. We must spell out the consequences of their chosen course of action, including for the EU’s engagement” the diplomat continues.

“A military takeover by the Taliban, or attempts to restore an Islamic Emirate are unacceptable – to a majority of Afghans, to the countries in the region and to the international community. It would lead to non-recognition and isolation. Future support to Afghanistan by its international partners, including the EU, is and will remain conditional on the preservation of the democratic progress of the last twenty years. This includes the respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, including the rights of women and the protection of minorities, as well as the strengthening of state institutions and the fight against corruption”.

On July 21 The Taliban said they would fight only to defend themselves over the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, but stopped short of declaring a formal ceasefire. The militants are waging offensives across the country, expanding their control, seizing border crossings and encircling cities, with the withdrawal of foreign troops all but complete.

“I can confirm we are in defence status during Eid,” a spokesman for the Taliban told AFP, without delivering further information.

Eid al-Adha is one of the biggest festivals on the Muslim calendar, and sees livestock sacrificed to share the meals with the less privileged. In Afghanistan, celebrations started this Monday, July 19 and will run to the end of Friday, July 23.

Varosha: EU response to Turkey announcement

Brussels 20.07.2021 “The High Representative of the European Union expresses his deep concern over the announcements made by President Erdoğan and Mr. Tatar on 20 July 2021, with respect to the fenced-off area of Varosha, which constitutes an unacceptable unilateral decision to change the status of Varosha” reads the announcement of the European External Action Service.

“The EU continues to be guided by the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions with respect to Varosha, which must be respected in full — including Resolutions 550 (1984) and 789 (1992). No actions should be carried out in relation to Varosha that are not in accordance with those Resolutions. The EU continues to hold the Government of Turkey responsible for the situation in Varosha. The EU will follow tomorrow’s closed consultation of the UN Security Council on Cyprus closely and decide on next steps accordingly.

“The EU once again underlines the need to avoid unilateral actions in breach of international law and renewed provocations, which could raise tensions on the island and compromise a return to talks on a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue in line with UN Security Council Resolutions.

“The EU calls for the immediate end to restrictions on the freedom of movement of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) imposed in the Varosha area, so that the mission may patrol and implement its mandated activities.

“The EU remains fully committed to the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem on the basis of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality, in accordance with the relevant UNSC Resolutions and in line with the principles on which the EU is founded and expects the same of Turkey”.

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