Tag Archives: MEPs

MEPs defend Lithuanian judges

Russia should stop prosecuting Lithuanian judges and EU countries should refuse any legal assistance, says European Parliament.

In the text adopted by 493 votes in favour, 43 against and 86 abstentions on November 28 MEPs call on Russia to end the “politically motivated” prosecution of Lithuanian judges and prosecutors who found 67 Russian, Belarussian and Ukrainian citizens guilty of war crimes against Lithuania, following the events of 13 January 1991 in Vilnius.

Parliament denounces Russia’s actions as “unacceptable external influence”, “politically motivated” and a “violation of fundamental legal values”, especially the independence of judiciary.

MEPs ask all member states to refuse the transfer of any personal data to Russia that could be used in criminal proceedings against Lithuanian judges as well as to refuse Russia’s requests for related legal assistance. EU countries and Interpol should also ignore all international arrest warrants against the accused Lithuanian officials”, MEPs say.

They also call for EU member states to be more consistent in their policies towards Russia.

On 13 January 1991, following Lithuania’s declaration of independence from the Soviet Union, fourteen peaceful civilians were killed and nearly 800 wounded during a crackdown by Soviet troops on the Vilnius TV tower.

In March 2019, a Lithuanian Court issued a ruling on this act of aggression against Lithuania by finding 67 people, including the then Defence minister and KGB chief of the Soviet Union, guilty of war crimes.

Russia did not respond to the Lithuanian judiciary’s request for cooperation. The majority of those accused were therefore put on trial in absentia. In 2018, Russia retaliated by starting a criminal case against the Lithuanian judges, prosecutors and investigators involved in investigating the tragic events on 13 January 1991 in Vilnius.

MEPs approve of Leyen Commission

The plenary vote has concluded the process of careful examination by Parliament of the proposed team of commissioners. Its objective has been to ensure that the EU’s executive body has the democratic legitimacy to act in the interest of Europeans.

The MEPs approved of Ursula von der Leyen team with +461 in favour, -157 against and 89 abstentions.

MEPs elected Ursula von der Leyen as Commission president in July. Then, from the end of September to mid-November, parliamentary committees organised hearings with each of the nominees to judge their suitability for their proposed post.

On 21 November political group leaders and Parliament’s president Sassoli agreed that the process of examination had been completed and that Parliament is ready to hold the final plenary vote.

The vote took place after the introduction of the opinions of the leaders of the political groups on Wednesday 27 November in presence of Ursula von der Leyen, who will her team and the new Commission’s programme. Following a debate, MEPs will decide by simple majority whether to elect the Commission or not.

The new Commission will start work on 1 December.

Sentsov to receive Sakharov prize in Strasbourg

Ukrainian film director and human rights activist Oleg (43) will visit the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 26 November to receive in persona the 2018 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

When Parliament’s Human rights prize was awarded last year, Sentsov was in prison in Russia serving 20 years, convicted of terrorism for setting fires to the doors of the offices of the ruling United Russia party in Crimea, and plotting to blow up a monument to Lenin. Sentsov became world famous due to 145 days hunger strike, which evoked a lot of sympathies, and reactions among public, supporting an international campaign for his release.

After serving five years he became one of thirty-five Ukrainian citizens released by Russia in exchange for Ukraine freeing an equal number of Russians.

MEPs to vote Commission team on 27 November

The Conference of Presidents – President Sassoli and political groups’ leaders – closed the the European Commission candidates hearings process today. MEPs will vote on the new Commission on 27 November. (Image: illustration)

During the last two months, the European Parliament has played its democratic role, scrutinising the performances of the proposed Commissioners closely. The hearings have been detailed, and sometimes difficult, but they provide a unique and transparent way for Members to verify whether the Commissioners-designate are ready for the job ahead. Today we completed the final assessment and are ready to vote on the full College of Commissioners next week” said European Parliament President David Sassoli after the meeting.

Over the next five years, Europe has many issues to face – from providing long-term solutions on migration and asylum to leading the world in the fight against climate change. We need a European Commission ready to act on the issues that matter to Europeans. As the direct link with EU citizens, the Parliament will continue to hold the Commission to account and ensure it delivers on its promises.”

After an exchange of views with the Commission’s three executive Vice-Presidents-designate Frans Timmermans, Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis, the Parliament’s Conference of Presidents conducted their final assessment of the hearings of all Commissioners-designate.

Having analysed the evaluation letters from the committees in charge and the recommendation of the Conference of Committee Chairs, it gave its green light and declared the hearings officially closed.

A vote in Parliament will now take place on 27 November at noon, following a presentation by Ursula von der Leyen of the College of Commissioners and their programme.

MEPs condemn Ankara military intervention in Syria

MEPs strongly condemned the unilateral Turkish military intervention in northeast Syria, urging Ankara to withdraw all of its forces from Syrian territory.

In a resolution, adopted on October 24 by show of hands, MEPs warn that Turkey’s intervention in northeast Syria is a grave violation of international law, undermining the stability and security of the region as a whole.

Since Ankara launched its military invasion, alongside a high number of civilian and military casualties, at least 300 000 citizens have been displaced, underline MEPs, quoting United Nations sources. MEPs advocate that a UN-led security zone should be established in northern Syria.

They firmly reject Turkish plans to establish so-called “safe zone” along the border in north-east strongly condemned the unilateral Turkish military intervention in northeast Syria, urging Turkey to withdraw all of its forces from Syrian territory.

Parliament expressed its solidarity with the Kurdish people, underlining the important contribution of Kurdish-led forces, particularly that of women, in fighting Daesh. MEPs are extremely concerned over reports that hundreds of ISIS prisoners escaped from camps in northern Syria amid the Turkish offensive, which increases the risk of a resurgence of the terrorist group.

Libyan Foreign Minister exchanges opinions with MEPs

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Libyan Interim government Abdulhadi Ibrahim Lahweej visited the European Parliament on October 15 to exchange opinions with MEP on the Libyan conflict resolution. Although the top diplomat had discussions behind closed doors, he was eloquent with Brussels press corps about the range of problems in focus: the issues of interférence into home affairs of Libya by foreign governments, growing terrorist threat, illicit arms trafficking, and humanitarian crisis.

In violation of UN ban Turkey provides with armement, conducting ongoing aggression against Libya, while Qatar ensures financing, the Minister said, accusing both of supporting terrorism.

We are confronted not only with a problem of militias, but also with aggression of Turkey and Qatar“, Minister Lahweej said. “We are taking about authorities of these states, but not people”, he added.

The violation of UN arms embargo and terrorism are the issues of grave concern of the Libyan top diplomat, who started his visit to Brussels with a highly symbolical gesture of laying the wreath to victims of Brussels terrorist attack at Metro station Malbeek.

The visit of the Minister to Brussels is a significant step towards the efforts of German diplomacy to organise the announced conference on Libya end October – beginning November. However the terrorism remans the major obstacle on the way to peace and reconciliation between two major centre of power in the East and West of the torn by conflict country.. In May Tobruk Parliament defined the Muslim Brotherhood at power in Tripoli as “terrorist group“. Minister Lahweej repeatedly confirmed the determination of Interim government to built democratic *inclusive* Libya, where “every citizen is heard“.

While seeing political divergence of views as a feature of modern democratic societies, the Libyan top diplomat underlined that the compromise with terrorism is not possible.

Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who commands the Libya National Army (LNA) started march on Tripoli in April, announcing the intention to liberate the capital city from terrorist groups, keeping “hostage” Chairman Al Sarraj, and his administration, backed by UN and the EU.

Josep Borrell faces MEPs scrutiny

The MEPS of Foreign Affairs Committee questioned Josep Borrell, Spanish candidate for High Representative/Vice-President for foreign affairs and security policy.

Political groups’ coordinators from the committee will meet within 24 hours to assess the performance of Josep Borrell, candidate EU top diplomat job.

During his introductory speech  Borrell stressed his intention to engage in reforms in the Western Balkans, support democracy and the integrity of Ukraine, address the challenges in the southern neighbourhood, develop a new strategy towards Africa, work on political relations with Asia, step up cooperation with Latin America and reinstate transatlantic relations (US-EU). “The world has changed for the worse…There are few agreements, more vetoes”, he said.

MEPs enquired how he intends to reach consensus among member states on decisions regarding e.g. Russia or generally related to security and defence. “We need shared strategic culture and empathy to understand the different points of view”, he replied. MEPs also asked about the role the EU could play in creating global security, when non-proliferation agreements are being breached. They also raised the issue of protecting EU maritime interests worldwide.

Asked about Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, Borrell replied that negotiations have lasted too long and Europe has to engage in helping Kosovo and Serbia out of the deadlock. His first visit as High Representative/Vice-President would be to Pristina, Commissioner-designate announced.

MEPs also asked how he intends to achieve a more strategic and coherent union, as announced in the Mission letter of the Commission President Borrell said that the EU has tools for foreign policy, such as a powerful common trade policy or diplomatic power. “The EU has to learn to use the language of power”, he stressed.

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