Tag Archives: MEPs

Turkey shifts away from EU values

Brussels 29.11.2020 Members of European Parliament condemn Turkey’s activities in Varosha, Cyprus, and call for sanctions, calling Turkey to refrain from any action that alters Cyprus’ demographic balance.

In a resolution adopted on November 26 by 631 votes in favour, 3 against and 59 abstentions, MEPs condemn Turkey’s illegal activities in the Varosha suburb of the city of Famagusta and warn that its partial “opening” weakens prospects of a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem, exacerbating divisions and entrenching the permanent partition of the island.

MEPs call on Turkey to transfer Varosha to its lawful inhabitants under the temporary administration of the UN (in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 550 (1984)) and to refrain from any actions that alter the demographic balance on the island through a policy of illegal settlement.

A sustainable solution to reunify the island of Cyprus and its people can only be found through dialogue, diplomacy, and negotiations, MEPs stress. They call on the European Council to maintain its unified position on Turkey’s illegal actions and impose tough sanctions in response.

MEPS regret that the Turkish authorities have endorsed the two-state solution for Cyprus and reiterate their support for a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement on the basis of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with a single international legal status. They also call on the EU to play a more active role in bringing the negotiations under UN auspices to a successful conclusion.

As Turkey distances itself more and more from European values and standards, EU-Turkey relations are at a historic low, warns Parliament. Its illegal and unilateral military actions in the Eastern Mediterranean infringe on the sovereignty of EU member states Greece and Cyprus. MEPs also point out Turkey’s direct support of Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as well as its actions in Libya and Syria.

The Turkish army fenced off Varosha immediately after the invasion of Cyprus in 1974. The Greek Cypriots who fled from Varosha were not allowed to return and with public entry prohibited, Varosha has effectively become a ghost town.

MEPs refuse “golden” passports scheme

Brussels 22.10.2020 EU citizenship cannot be traded as a commodity, according to a majority of speakers, who want to end the “golden passports” schemes currently in place in some member states.

In a plenary debate with Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, MEPs stressed the inherent risks that these programmes give rise to, namely money laundering, tax evasion and corruption. They insisted that Europe must not have “a fast-track entrance for criminals”.

MEPs underlined that granting EU citizenship to third-country nationals without proper checks and transparency has negative consequences in other member states, eroding mutual trust and undermining common values.

Several speakers referred to the recent scandal in Cyprus, where high-ranking officials – including the Speaker of the national parliament – were secretly recorded offering to assist a fictional Chinese executive with a criminal record in getting a Cypriot passport through the national “citizenship by investment” scheme. They also acknowledge the Commission’s decision to open infringement procedures against Cyprus and Malta, though some complained that it has taken too long to act.

Some MEPs noted that the share of revenues from these programmes is significant for countries such as Cyprus, whilst many argued that EU values and rights should not be for sale.

Cyprus, Malta, and Bulgaria are the three EU countries where it is possible to get citizenship in exchange for an investment, the so-called “golden passports”. As many as 19 EU countries operate “residence by investment” programmes, known as “golden visas”.

In January 2019, the European Commission established a group of experts with representatives from all EU member states to develop common standards and guidelines in this area. After four meetings last year, the group has so far not met in 2020.

MEPs demand  full EU-US visa reciprocity

MEPs call on the European Commission to take the measures foreseen in EU legislation to guarantee full visa reciprocity between the EU and the US.

“The discrimination that Bulgarians, Croatians, Cypriots and Romanians experience when travelling to the US is unacceptable. Respecting the fundamental principle of solidarity among EU members, we call on the Commission to act as established in European legislation and table a proposal to suspend the visa waiver for US nationals. It will then be up to the Parliament and the Council to assess the political consequences of this move”, said Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES), Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee and rapporteur.

With 376 votes to 269 and 43 abstentions, the Chamber adopted on Thursday a resolution urging the Commission to present a legal act suspending the visa waiver for US nationals for twelve months, as established in the so-called reciprocity mechanism.

Bulgarian, Croatian, Cypriot and Romanian nationals are still required to hold a visa to enter the US, while all other EU citizens are exempt from that requirement for short-stays (up to 90 days in any 180-day period), as are US nationals when they visit the European Union.
According to EU legislation, if a third country does not lift visa requirements within 24 months of being formally notified of a situation of non-reciprocity, the EU Commission must adopt a legal act suspending the visa waiver for its nationals for 12 months. Both the European Parliament and Council could object to such an act (Article 290(2) of the Treaty).
The situation of non-reciprocity affecting Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania was formally raised on 12 April 2014 (at the time, Poland was also affected, but since last year Polish citizens can travel to the US visa-free), so the deadline for the Commission to act expired on 12 April 2016.
Parliament already asked the Commission to comply with the rules in a plenary resolution adopted in March 2017.

(Image below: MEP Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES), Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee and rapporteur,  archive).

EP: Borrell on arms control

Brussels 20.10.2020 The head of the EU diplomacy Josep Borrell exchanged opinions with the Members of the European Parliament on Non-Proliferation Treaty. In his remarks Josep Borrell has reflected on the preparation of the 2020 NPT review process, arms control and nuclear disarmament options. (In light of the situation related to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, States Parties have decided to postpone the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to a later date, as soon as the circumstances permit, but no later than April 2021. Information on the new dates of the Review Conference will be posted in due course by the UN). control

“This upcoming Review Conference is the next most important event on global non-proliferation and disarmament – at least what still remains of it. Despite current uncertainty about when the conference will take place, it remains the most important event in the world of non-proliferation and disarmament.
“We are all concerned about the deteriorating security environment as well as the continued pressure on the nuclear non-proliferation architecture, illustrated by the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces in Europe Treaty. We regretted it a lot when it happened and we continue regretting it now.
It is essential that all States Parties comply with their ;Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations and fully implement all commitments under the Treaty.
Upholding and preserving the Non-Proliferation Treaty must remain a key priority for the European Union’s foreign policy. The European Union strongly supports all three pillars of the Treaty – non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy – and will continue to promote comprehensive, balanced and full implementation of the 2010 Review Conference Action Plan”.

Through intensive diplomatic engagement backed up by the [Common Foreign and Security Policy] (CFSP) funded Council Decisions we are promoting the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the preparations of negotiations for a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. We are also proud to support regional conferences in preparation for the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.
We are going to redouble our efforts to uphold international norms, to restore dialogue and trust, and to promote transparency and confidence-building measures.
Together with Member States, we are preparing a strong and forward-looking common European Union position for the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. And I would like to stress some of the key elements of our position in the context of your Report.
First, we will continue to strongly call for the extension by the United States and Russia of the New START Treaty before February 2021 and we will encourage negotiations for a broader future agreement.
Second, we welcome the various initiatives of nuclear disarmament, including the Stockholm Initiative.
Third, we acknowledge the increased attention given to risk reduction and we hope discussions on this topic could gain broad support.
The promotion of universal adherence and the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty – as I already mentioned – remains a top priority for the European Union.
This conference will be an occasion to address non-proliferation crises as well. We continue calling on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to refrain from further provocations and to take concrete steps towards abandoning all its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.
We will also reaffirm our commitment and support for the Iran nuclear deal, the so-called JCPOA, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. We deeply regret the 2018 withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal and the subsequent re-imposition of United States sanctions on Iran. At the same time, we are gravely concerned by Iran’s activities that are inconsistent with the JCPOA and have severe proliferation implications.
Finally, let me underline that we also take due note of your proposal to encourage talks about the possibility of a multilateral ballistic missile treaty’.
The head of the EU diplomacy thanked the Members of the European Parliament who have contributed to the recommendations ahead of the 2020 Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT).

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. The NPT represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States.

Daphne Caruana Galizia PRIZE

Brussels 19.10.2020 The European Parliament has launched Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism on anniversary of her murder commemorating the third time the assassination of the Maltese investigative journalist, the prize will reward journalism reflecting EU principles and values.

The purpose of the prize is to distinguish outstanding journalism that reflects the European Union’s principles and values, as enshrined in the European Charter of Human Rights. The European Parliament considers that protecting press freedom around the world, and particularly that of investigative journalists whilst exercising their duties, is in the vital interest of democratic societies.

Even though the prize is initiated and supported by Parliament, it will be managed by an independent EU-based media partner in order to protect the independence of the prize and the work of the media.

The European Parliament will soon begin selecting an independent organisation to establish the detailed criteria for awarding the prize and decide on who will sit on the jury. A call for tender to select such an organisation will be launched before the end of 2020.

The call for nominees for the prize will be launched around 03 May 2021 – World Press Freedom Day. The annual award ceremony will take each year around the anniversary of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was a Maltese anti-corruption investigative journalist and blogger who was killed in a car bomb attack on 16 October 2017. She focused on investigative journalism, reporting on government corruption, allegations of money laundering and organised crime.

The launch took place online on Friday 16 October on the EP’s Facebook page. It was led by the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Heidi Hautala (Greens, FI), and MEP David Casa (EPP, MT). They were joined online by the murdered journalist’s son, Andrew Caruana Galizia, from Malta.

Strasbourg #EPlenary to be held remotely

Brussels 15.10.2020 “I regret to announce that next week’s plenary will not take place in Strasbourg, but will be held remotely” David Sassoli announced on his Twitter micro blog.

“The situation in France and Belgium is very serious and travelling is not advised” he added.
However “Strasbourg remains the home of the European Parliament, and we will do everything we can to return”.

President Macron will impose a 9pm-6am curfew for Paris and eight other big French cities from Saturday, October 17, in an attempt to contain a “second wave” coronavirus outbreak that has spread across Europe.

During the announcement on October 14 President Macron ensured his compatriots, that the exceptional measure will last four weeks, with a possibility of prolongation until December 1. There are fines of 135 euro and 1500 euro foreseen for “non-respect” of the curfew. The popularity of President Macron has dropped almost 40% after the announcement, because the effectiveness of this extreme restrictive measure is not understood.

On contrary, to European continental restrictive and punitive measures, in countries like Sweden, where the accent was made on a dialog with the citizens, and educational strategy, the COVID-19 is largely in the past.

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.

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:

MEPs CALL for new elections in Belarus

17.09.2020, Brussels. MEPs call for new presidential elections in Belarus and urge the EU to sanction President Lukashenko.

In a resolution adopted by 574 votes in favour, 37 against with 82 abstentions on Septembere 17, the European Parliament rejects the official results of the “so-called presidential elections” in Belarus on 9 August this year, as these elections were conducted in a “flagrant violation of all internationally recognised standards”. Once the term of office for the incumbent authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko expires on 5 November, Parliament will no longer recognise him as the president of the country.

In the meantime, MEPs welcome the recently established Coordination Council as an “interim representation of the people demanding democratic change” in Belarus that is open to all political and social stakeholders. They also reiterate the many calls for new, free and fair elections to take place as soon as possible under international supervision.

MEPs call for EU sanctions against the group of individuals responsible for falsifying the election results and for the violent repression in Belarus, including President Lukashenko, and call on EU member states in the Council to implement these restrictive measures without delay, in close coordination with international partners.

MEPs also staunchly condemn the mass arrests and ongoing violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, strike leaders and journalists in the country, with many reports of ill-treatment, rape and torture emerging from
Belarusian detention centres and jails.

The resolution finally underlines the important contribution made by prominent female opposition members, led by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Veranika Tsapkala and Maria Kalesnikova, during the protests. It demands the immediate release of the arrested members of the Coordination Council and all those arbitrarily detained for political reasons.
The text notes that many Belarusians consider Tikhanovskaya to be the winner of the presidential elections and Belarus’ real president-elect.

MEPs «disappointed» by Internal Market Bill

The UKCG and the EP political group leaders issued the following statement after meeting with Chief EU Negotiator Michel Barnier and Joint Committee Co-Chair Maroš Šefčovič, on Friday, September 11,202O.

“The European Parliament’s UK Coordination Group (UKCG) met today to assess the impact of the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement with EU-UK Joint Committee Co-Chair Maroš Šefčovič and to evaluate the ongoing negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship with EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier.

“EP political group leaders and UKCG members are deeply concerned and disappointed that the UK Government published an Internal Market Bill that clearly represents a serious and unacceptable breach of international law. It violates the Withdrawal Agreement that was signed and ratified by the current UK Government and Parliament less than a year ago. The Internal Market Bill gravely damages the trust and credibility that the European Parliament has already said is “an essential element of any negotiation”, thus putting at risk the ongoing negotiations on the future relationship.

“The European Parliament supports EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič in asking the UK government to withdraw these measures from the bill immediately; by the end of September, at the very latest. The European Parliament’s UK Coordination Group stresses that:

“the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, has legally binding force regardless of whether or not the EU and the UK conclude any new treaty governing their future relationship; and

any issue regarding the implementation of its provisions should be addressed by the Joint Committee and in no case unilaterally by any party to the agreement.
The European Parliament expects the UK government to uphold the rule of law and demands nothing less than the full implementation of all provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, which is essential to protect the Good Friday Agreement and peace and stability on the island of Ireland.

Should the UK authorities breach – or threaten to breach – the Withdrawal Agreement, through the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill in its current form or in any other way, the European Parliament will, under no circumstances, ratify any agreement between the EU and the UK.

Regarding the outcome of the eighth negotiating round, the European Parliament remains committed to an ambitious partnership with the UK. We are disappointed with the continued lack of reciprocal engagement from the UK side on fundamental EU principles and interests.

The European Parliament calls on the UK to work with the EU constructively and find compromises that are in the interests of our citizens and companies on both sides. Any potential deal should not only preserve our interests, but also respect the integrity of the European Union and its single market.

For any deal to take effect, democratic oversight institutions on both sides of the Channel must be able to carry out a meaningful assessment, as stated in the Withdrawal Agreement. The European Parliament recalls that its consent to any deal will only be granted after detailed scrutiny of the legal provisions. The European Parliament will not accept having its democratic oversight curbed by a last-minute deal beyond the end of October.”

Signed by EP group leaders:

Manfred WEBER (EPP, DE)

Iratxe GARCÍA PEREZ (S&D, ES)

Dacian CIOLOŞ (Renew, RO)

Philippe LAMBERTS (Greens/EFA, BE) co-chair

Ska KELLER (Greens/EFA, DE) co-chair

Raffaele FITTO (ECR, IT) co-chair

Ryszard LEGUTKO (ECR, PL) co-chair

Martin SCHIRDEWAN (GUE, DE) co-chair

Manon AUBRY (GUE, FR) co-chair

and by the UK Coordination Group:

David McALLISTER (EPP, DE), chair

Bernd LANGE (S&D, DE)

Nathalie LOISEAU (Renew, FR)

Christophe HANSEN (EPP, LU)

Kati PIRI (S&D, NL)

Kris PEETERS (EPP, BE)

Pedro SILVA PEREIRA (S&D, PT)

Morten PETERSEN (Renew, DK)

Gunnar BECK (ID, DE)

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