Tag Archives: Josep Borrell

Borrell warns Erdogan against isolation

Brussels, 25.10.2020 Today the head of the European Union (EU) diplomacy Josep Borrell reacted upon the inflammatory rhetoric of President Erdogan, warning him against international isolation of Turkey as the direct result of the confrontational policy. The EU top diplomat considered the remarks of the Turkish head of state were “unacceptable”, and called on Ankara to “stop this dangerous spiral”. (Image: archive)

The diplomat reminded President Erdogan about the recent conclusions of the European Council containing a “real offer” to relaunch our relationship. He has underlined that “political will” from the Turkish authorities is needed on this positive agenda. Otherwise, Turkey will be even more isolated.

Paris said it was recalling its envoy to Ankara H.E.Hervé MAGRO for consultations after comments by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggesting French counterpart Emmanuel Macron needed a “mental health” treatment that quai d’Orsay condemned as unacceptable.

President Emmanuel Macron has unveiled a plan to defend France’s secular values against “Islamist radicalism”, adding that Islam was a religion “in crisis”. The assessment caused a vivid reaction among Muslim communities across the world, calling for boycotting French export products.

Three weeks ago the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told reporters that the EU wanted “a positive and constructive relationship with Turkey and this would be also be very much in Ankara’s interest”.
The EU top executive also warned that it would only work if the “provocations and pressures stop.”

“We therefore expect that Turkey from now on abstains from unilateral actions. In case of such renewed actions by Ankara, the EU will use all its instruments and options available. We have a toolbox that we can apply immediately.” The statements were issued int he context of the Ankara unilateral actions in the eastern Mediterranean, while Greece and Cyprus are in a standoff with Turkey over exploratory drilling in the sea.

#NK: Borrell warns against xenophobic rhetoric

Brussels 22.10.2020 The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, met today with the President of the Republic of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian, in Brussels. The leaders were no available for journalists of Brussels press-corps, however the press-release has been issued by the European External Actions Service:

“They discussed the situation in and around the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone. The High Representative/Vice-President referred to the 10 October and 17 October ceasefire agreements, mediated by Russia and France respectively in coordination with the other OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, which were agreed to by both Armenia and Azerbaijan but not respected. The European Union continues to call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and strict respect for the agreed ceasefire by all. Any actions that target civilians or bring about further suffering to the civilian population must stop immediately. The High Representative/Vice-President also stressed that the sides have an obligation to comply fully with international humanitarian law”.

“The High Representative/Vice-President urged the sides to return to the negotiations on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, without preconditions and without delay. All actors, including external parties, should refrain from any actions that may result in the continuation of hostilities and further casualties. This includes bringing an end to the dangerous, inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric. High Representative/Vice-President Borrell reiterated the EU’s supports for the on-going efforts of the Co-Chairs through active high level contacts, as well as via the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus”.

EU ready for Cyprus negotiations

Brussels 20.10.2020 “The Turkish Cypriot community selected Mr. Ersin Tatar as its new leader. It is important now to see a constructive engagement with a view to reaching a comprehensive settlement and reunification” reads the Joint Statement by the High Representative Borrell and Commissioner Ferreira on the electoral process in the Turkish Cypriot community.

The European Union supports the resumption of negotiations, under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), and remains fully committed to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, and of reunification based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, within the UN framework and in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, including UNSC resolutions 550 and 789, and in line with the principles on which the EU is founded. A solution to the Cyprus problem would be to the benefit of Cyprus and the EU in general.

The EU stands ready to play an active role in supporting these negotiations. A stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and the development of cooperative and mutually beneficial relationships amongst all partners in the region, bilaterally and multilaterally, is in the EU’s strategic interest.

EU top diplomats meet in Luxembourg

Luxembourg 12.10.2020 The meeting of Foreign ministers, chaired by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, will review recent developments and debate issues related to the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, Russia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

The EU Ministers will first be briefed by Borrell about a number of recent developments and upcoming events, including: Nagorno-Karabakh,the Kyrgyz Republic, Mozambique, the EU-Ukraine Summit, Venezuela, and the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024.
The Council will discuss the evolving situation in Belarus and follow up on the four strands of action agreed at EU level, including support to Belarusian society. Ministers will adopt new Council conclusions on Belarus which will guide the finalisation of the in-depth review of EU-Belarus relations.

Josep Borrell and the EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other Western Balkans regional issues, Miroslav Lajčák, will update the Council on the latest developments and challenges regarding the Dialogue.
Ministers will be invited to reflect on the state of EU-Russia relations within the framework of the five guiding principles, and taking account recent developments, like the Navalny case.
The Council will have a strategic discussion on EU relations with Latin America and the Caribbean, building on discussions held at the July 2020 Foreign Affairs Council about the considerable impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the region and the EU response. Ministers will also consider the potential revival of high level EU political engagement with the region.

Ministers will be informed about the Indo-Pacific region, and the Council is expected to adopt conclusions on Bosnia and Herzegovina and Operation EUFOR Althea.
Over a working lunch, ministers will have a strategic discussion on multilateralism.

Cyprus: Famagusta in MEPs focus

Brussels 07.10.2020 “…I share the concerns of the Honorable Member who took the floor a moment ago. For sure this issue of Famagusta was taken into consideration at the European Council as well” – Josep Borrell, the head of the EU diplomacy said, while addressing the Members of the European Parliament.

” The opening of this area, which is a closed area according to the ceasefire agreements under the auspices of the United Nations is a serious violation of this agreement and yesterday we issued an statement and today the 27 [EU Member States] will issue another one asking Turkey to stop doing this activity. You know that the European Council issued a statement on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. For sure this is not going to help. On the contrary, it is going to increase tensions and to make it more difficult to reach an agreement on an especially difficult situation for all of us on the Eastern Mediterranean”.

The Turkish Cypriot authorities announced on October 6 they would open the seafront to the public on , sparking protests by the Cyprus government which has taken the issue to the UN Security Council.

European Commission spokesperson said the EU leaders will assess Turkey’s actions on Varosha (Famagusta) and determine further action as part of the dual approach decided in the European Council on October 1-2.

“We are watching the facts and we are stating what we think it is going on,” he said, adding that the EU’s position was very clear, both in his previous statements and in the European Council conclusions.I

Image below: Famagusta, social media.

N.Karabakh: Borrell growing concerns

Brussels 7.10.2020  “Members, the current military confrontation along the Line of Contact in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone is of our utmost concern. It is the largest confrontation since 1993-1994. We have been very engaged on this issue” said Josep Borrell, the head of the EU diplomacy, while addressing the Members of the European Parliament.

“On the day that fighting erupted, I released a statement as High Representative, calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities, de-escalation and strict observance of the ceasefire. During the past days, I have had several phone calls, separately, with the Armenian and the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers, urging both sides to stop the hostilities and to return to the negotiating table.

“Our position is clear: the fighting must stop. Both sides need to re-engage in meaningful negotiations – which, by the way, have not been very fruitful in the last 30 years – without preconditions, under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. There can be no military solution to the conflict, nor external interference. This position was reinforced by the European Council held on the 1st and 2nd of October.

“We have seen extremely worrying reports of a surge in attacks on populated areas, which is taking a deadly toll on civilians. We strongly urge the sides to fully observe their international obligations to protect civilian populations. And, with the resources we have, we have urgently allocated a small amount of money [€500,000] in humanitarian aid for the affected populations.

“In fact, we do not have a lot of information about how the conflict is developing. Detailed information is scarce and there is a lot of fake news.

“OSCE monitoring on the ground remains suspended, so we do not have observers. But what we observe is an increasing amount of disinformation, which is aimed at mobilising the domestic audiences in both countries and could be used to pull regional actors into the conflict. Media reports need, therefore, to be examined with great caution, because we do not have confirmation of some of the news that has been disseminated.

“At this stage, further escalation of the conflict and involvement of regional actors, unhappily, cannot be excluded. This would seriously threaten the stability of the whole region.

“On the 30th of September, I discussed the situation with the Russian Foreign Minister and I also spoke with the Turkish Foreign Minister – the two regional actors that are closer to the conflict. I emphasised the importance of de-escalation, the importance that regional actors refrain from any activity and rhetoric that could inflame things even further.

“I spoke to the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan during the weekend. I stressed that the increase of civilian casualties is unacceptable. I heard from both sides the actions taken by the other side; each one of them blames the other for starting and for attacking civilian populations, not in Nagorno Karabakh itself, not in the region in dispute, but from Armenia to Azerbaijan and from Azerbaijan to Armenia.

“The fighting should stop. The OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs are going to have meetings this week with the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the two countries, and the only way to get out of this situation is that the Minsk Group Co-chairs pushes for immediate negotiations as soon as possible.

“We will continue working with key partners to try to help stop the hostilities, because the only solution is to go back to the negotiating table. But this negotiation table has been open for the last 30 years without any kind of advance. War is not an alternative; we have to push both parties to stop fighting and start negotiating without preconditions. But this is, for the time being, not the case.

“I am sorry that I cannot inform you more about that, because as I said, the information is very much scarce and we have to take care not to disseminate news that has not been confirmed”.

The intense shelling in the break-away region of Nagorno-Karabakh is taking its toll on the civilian population as fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces showed no signs of halt on October 7.

Clashes between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces in the region since September 27 have killed hundreds in the worst escalation of hostilities since 1994 when a truce ended a war that raged for several years. Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognised territory of Azerbaijan, but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Yerevan since ethnic cleansing erupted during the process of the collapse of the USSR. The enmity started with pogroms of Armenians on February 27, 1988 in Sumgait city, when Azerbaijan was one of the Soviet Republics. Since Sumgait massacre the relations between Armenians and Azerbaijanies have been suffering a profound malaise, producing a “frozen conflict” with unsolved territorial dispute.

EU-Ukraine Summit condemns Russia

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, and Josep Borrell, Vice-President of the European Commission on behalf of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, met in Brussels today for the 22nd EU-Ukraine Summit, hold a press-conference and issued a statement.

In the statement they have reiterated their condemnation of Russia’s “aggression”, and “continued to condemn” the “illegal annexation” of Crimea and Sevastopol.

“…We reiterated our strong condemnation of the clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014. We continue to condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia, the militarisation of the peninsula, the severe deterioration of the human rights situation there as well as restrictions of the freedom of movement for Ukrainian citizens to and from the Crimean Peninsula. We condemned the voting procedures on constitutional amendments of the Russian Federation concluded on 1 July 2020 that took place in the Crimean Peninsula, as well as the election of the so-called “governor of Sevastopol” on 13 September 2020, in violation of international law. We called on Russia to allow unhindered access of international organisations and human rights actors to the areas currently not under the control of Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula, and to respect international humanitarian law. We called for the immediate release of all illegally detained and imprisoned Ukrainian citizens in the Crimean Peninsula and in Russia, including Crimean Tatar activists. We continue to call on Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage to and from the Sea of Azov, in accordance with international law. We remain fully committed to implementing and keeping our respective non-recognition policies updated, including through restrictive measures and cooperation in international fora. In this context, we welcomed the diplomatic efforts aimed at restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders”.

We reaffirmed our full support to the endeavours of the Normandy format, the OSCE, the Trilateral Contact Group and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. We welcomed the renewed engagement by the parties at the Normandy Summit in Paris last December, and stressed the importance of implementing the measures agreed on that occasion in view of the full implementation of the Minsk agreements by all sides, underlining Russia’s responsibility in this regard. We praised the constructive approach of Ukraine in the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group and called on Russia to reciprocate. The comprehensive and unlimited ceasefire is an achievement that should be preserved.

“We called on Russia to fully assume its responsibility in this regard and to use its considerable influence over the armed formations it backs to meet the Minsk commitments in full and to ensure free and unhindered access of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to the non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine, including the areas along the Ukrainian-Russian State border, in accordance with its mandate. We again called on Russia to immediately stop fuelling the conflict by providing financial and military support to the armed formations it backs, and we remain deeply concerned about the presence of Russian military equipment and personnel in the non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine. We reiterated our condemnation of the Russian continuing measures entitling Ukrainian citizens of the areas currently not under the control of the Government to apply for Russian citizenship in a simplified manner, in contradiction to the Minsk agreements. The EU recently renewed its economic sanctions on Russia, whose duration remains clearly linked to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.

“We agreed to continue cooperating to address the socio-economic and humanitarian consequences of the conflict, highlighting the necessity to ensure the supply of water, electricity and gas across the contact line, to facilitate the movement of people and goods, and to ensure that the people living in areas not under Government’s control fully benefit from their rights as citizens of Ukraine, in full respect of international humanitarian law. In the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more essential that humanitarian aid continues to be delivered and that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and the International Committee of the Red Cross have unimpeded access to the non-government controlled areas. We underlined the importance of pursuing demining activities also in new areas to be agreed. We also agreed on the need for Ukraine to establish a national mine action centre in order to effectively address the contamination by mines and unexploded ordnances in the conflict affected region. The EU stands ready to further support Ukraine’s inclusive approach towards its citizens in the affected areas and to play a leading role in reconstruction efforts of the country, including in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, once the Minsk agreements have been implemented…”

NK: MEPs urge Borrell to act

Brussels 06.10.2020 Today upon the initiative of the Cyprus MEP Loucas Fourlas (EPP) 48 Member of the European Parliament sent a letter to the head of the EU diplomacy Josep Borrell calling him to undertake “meaningful actions” versus Azerbaijan aggression on breakaway Republic of Artsakh – Nagorno-Karabakh, and Armenia.

(Image above: illustration, European Parliament, Strasbourg).

We write to you to express our concern for the situation in Artsakh⁄Nagorno-Karabakh and submit the following requests: As of Sunday morning, 26 October, the Artsakh population has been under attack by the Azerbaijani armed forces, in gross violation of international humanitarian law and the logic of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. The missile and aerial attacks against the indigenous population in Nagorno-Karabakh, including the capital Stepanakert, forced civilians to hide inside shelters. Schools in Nagorno-Karabakh have been bombed while there are numerous casualties across the region. We, the undersigned Members of the European Parliament are appalled by this and call on the Azerbaijani army to immediately stop the aggression against the civilian population of Nagorno-Karabakh. We call upon the EU High Representative Josep Borrell to take immediate and concrete measures on this direction. We recall and stress that the OSCE investigative mechanism for cease-fire violations which would prevent the sides from blaming each other for initiating deadly attacks, is an absolute necessity for regaining trust and a meaningful negotiation process. We also call you, High Representative Borrell, to exercise high pressure to halt any interference by Turkey, de facto destabilising yet another neighbouring region, the South Caucasus. The disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh is in urgent need of a peaceful solution. Any kind of escalation due to the involvement of third countries, such as Turkey, will rapidly worsen the situation with unpredictable consequences for the whole region.
We expect to see meaningful actions to help resolve this conflict from your side very quickly.
Yours sincerely,
The undersigned Members of the European Parliament:

EU invests in Western Balkans

Brussels 06.10.2020 Today, the European Commission adopted a comprehensive Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, which aims to spur the long-term economic recovery of the region, support a green and digital transition, foster regional integration and convergence with the European Union.

“The citizens of the Western Balkans are part of Europe and we have a shared interest in helping these six partners move forward on their EU path. With the Economic and Investment Plan, we are backing our Enlargement Package assessment with action, providing deep and strong support for economic recovery and reform – for a modern, greener and more prosperous Western Balkans delivering better to their citizens on the road to the EU” EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, said.

“Today we are presenting our Economic and Investment plan for the Western Balkans to boost the economic development and recovery of the region. We will mobilise up to €9 billion of funding for investment flagships in the areas of transport, energy, green and digital transition, to create sustainable growth and jobs. The Plan also offers a path for a successful regional economic integration to help accelerate convergence with the EU and close the development gap between our regions, ultimately speeding up the process of EU integration. This plan should help to transform the Western Balkans into one of the most attractive region for investments in the world. Implementation of course will need to go hand in hand with reforms” presenting the new Plan, EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, commented.

The Economic and Investment Plan sets out a substantial investment package mobilising up to €9 billion of funding for the region. It will support sustainable connectivity, human capital, competitiveness and inclusive growth, and the twin green and digital transition.

In parallel to the Economic Investment plan to support the region, the Commission has presented guidelines for implementing the Green Agenda in the Western Balkans, expected to be adopted at the Western Balkans Summit in Sofia in November 2020. It foresees actions around five pillars. These are (i) climate action, including decarbonisation, energy and mobility, (ii) circular economy, addressing in particular waste, recycling, sustainable production and efficient use of resources, (iii), biodiversity, aiming to protect and restore the natural wealth of the region, (iv), fighting air, water and soil pollution and (iv) sustainable food systems and rural areas. Digitalisation will be a key enabler for the above five pillars in line with the concept of the dual green and digital transition.

The Plan identifies ten investment flagships to support major road and railway connections in the region, renewable energy and the transition from coal, renovation of public and private buildings to increase the energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, waste and waste water management infrastructure, as well as the roll out of broadband infrastructure. Other flagships include increased investments in the private sector to boost competitiveness and innovation, in particular of small and medium sized companies and a Youth Guarantee.

In addition to the EU’s significant grant funding to the region, the EU can provide guarantees to help reduce the cost of financing for both public and private investments and to reduce the risk for investors. Support through the new Western Balkans Guarantee facility, under the EU External Action Guarantee and the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus, is expected to mobilise potentially investments of up to €20 billion in the next decade.

The investment package will be a key driver for facilitating increased public and private investments in the region by European and international financial institutions.

Better connecting the economies of the Western Balkans within the region and with the EU requires a strong commitment from the Western Balkans to implement fundamental reforms, deepen regional economic integration and develop a common regional market on the basis of the EU acquis in order to make the region a more attractive investment area.

The Commission has been supporting the efforts of the Governments of the region to develop a new vision for the creation of a regional economic area expected to be endorsed at the Sofia Summit in November 2020. The EU will strive to bring the region closer to the EU Single market. Good governance is the foundation for sustainable economic growth. Boosting investment and economic growth will therefore only be possible if the Western Balkans firmly commit to and implement fundamental reforms in line with European values.

As reflected in the enhanced enlargement methodology, partners which progress in reform priorities should benefit from increased funding and investments.

Borrell welcomes intra-afghan talks

“The European Union welcomes the launch of the direct Intra-Afghan Negotiations between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban mouvement” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell. He described the talks which started in Doha, capital of Qatar, as a “ground-breaking moment”.

It marks the start of a genuine peace process, which should lead to the peace that the people of Afghanistan deserve and have long demanded.

“As the European Union, we urge the parties to accompany the start of the peace talks with an immediate, comprehensive, nationwide and unconditional ceasefire.

“With this new chapter opening, a mere reduction of violence is no longer enough. Now all preconditions are fulfilled, nothing should prevent a ceasefire from being accepted and implemented by both parties” the head of the European diplomacy continued.

“This process must now be truly owned and led by Afghans. International partners must respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty and independence when supporting these negotiations.

It must preserve and build on the political, economic and social achievements of the citizens of Afghanistan since 2001, especially on women’s rights” Borrell said.

“To achieve this, the European Union is working with all parties. We want to ensure that peace negotiations are inclusive and respectful of the wish of Afghans to live in a peaceful, secure and prosperous country. A country with economic development and growth, providing new opportunities for its citizens, where rights are upheld and vulnerable groups are protected”.

“Let the start of these negotiations be the much-needed and long overdue beginning of a new and more peaceful chapter for Afghanistan”.

However, the experts say that assembling all groups involved in the conflict at the negotiating table doesn’t necessarily mean they all believe a mutually acceptable political settlement. It can be tactical for all sides to demonstrate that the situaiton is evolving, and for the government in Kabul to show to the international community the progress they have achieved.

The success of peace negotiations depends directly on the resources of the groups involved and their capablities to continue fighting. However it also depends on them changing their perception of the conflict which in almost two decades has shown that neighter of the sides is capable of the definitive victory.

While all parties express their willingness to end the prtotracted conflict, there are doubts whether the peace efforts could have got this far without US pressure for intra-Afghan negotiations to begin. In spite of the the US diplomatic involvement aimed at the end of the violence, and Trump administration insistance to reach the deal before the US election on November 3, the perspectives of implementing it is not guaranteed.

The talks could be concluded with a de jure peace agreement being imposed on Afghanistan, however there are doubts in sincere will of the envolved parties to respect it on long term, while Taliban has never renounced its ambition to ascend power in Kabul. In some areas the differences are still remarkable: the administration of the President Ashraf Ghani is seraching for preservation of numerous rights, namely women’s rights. Among the delegation of the 21 government negociators, who came to Doha, four are women, while among Taliban they are none.

The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, said that “Afghan society doesn’t have a deadline”. Taking into consideration the massive human cost of the two decades of war, these peace efforts must be given a genuine chance – along with the necessary time and space to succeed, the experts conclude.

« Older Entries