Tag Archives: Strasbourg

Mamikins MEP challenges Latvian PM

MEP Andrejs MAMIKINS (Latvia) criticises disparities between slogans and realities of respect of human rights in Latvia, namely the situation of 12% of stateless inhabitants of the country, who are excluded from political life. There are around Soviet 200 000 inhabitants of Latvia who voted independence, but nowadays are forgotten, and they will not vote in upcoming European elections in May 2019.

Socialist MEP also raised an issue of conflict of interest of Prime minister Arturs Krisjanis KARINS, who keeps his American citizenship while chairing Latvian government. The interview was taken in Strasbourg after the debate between Latvian Prime minister and Members of European Parliament on Future of Europe. The debate has concluded the discussion between heads of states and government and MEPs on future of the EU.

Mr Kariņš was the twentieth EU head of state or government to debate the future of Europe with MEPs, the last one in this parliamentary term.

Latvian PM shares vision of Future of Europe

The EU needs to strengthen the its core principles, Latvian Prime Ministers Krišjānis Kariņš said in the debate on the Future of Europe, on April 17 at European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg.

Kariņš suggested four main fields of EU action: completing the Single Market, controlling external borders, undertaking a smart transition towards clean energy and boosting security. “Don’t fight the populists, address the causes of people’s malcontent,Prime Minister said. With people worrying about their jobs, the EU needs to sharpen its main tool for job creation – the Single Market. Europe needs to foster “National Champions” by opening up the Single Market, not embarking on a Chinese way of protectionism. “We need to continue to tear down the barriers to the Single Market. This is what will create more jobs and more wealth in Europe,” he said, singling out digital industry and services as the two main fields of action.

To avoid re-erecting internal borders and allow for an unhindered Single Market, the EU needs to shore up its external borders, control migration and make sure people arriving in the EU accept European values. “It is extremely important to maintain our national identities. Arrivals need to adapt themselves,” Mr Kariņš said, suggesting that Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency need to be beefed up further.

“If we truly want to increase the share of renewable energy in our system, we need to open up markets and deregulate prices. Consumer choice is what can best drive energy transition,” the Latvian PM suggested. “By opening electricity markets to competition and market prices, we can greatly increase the uptake in renewable energy sources and increase energy efficiency.”

My country spends 2% of its GDP on the military. I believe we all should. But we also need to work on strengthening our information defence”, PM Kariņš said, adding that new legislation could help to hold social media platforms to account for allowing disinformation to spread .

The Prime minister had discussion with MEPs, many of whom knew him as a colleague in the European Parliament.  

However Prime minister has been also confronted with harsh criticism for disparity between his speech and realities.  Lativian MEP Andrejs MAMIKINS raised a range of problems, including double citizenship of Mr.Kariņš, who kept his American passport while being head of Latvian government. MEP Mamikins pointed to the chronic situation of conflict of interests.

Today was the prime Minister of Mr. Kariņas to participate in the ES future debate. The Prime minister spoke of the diversity in Europe and the need to fight dirty money. In return, I offer the prime_minister to look in the mirror”, MEP MAMIKINS said.

MEPs battling over Brexit

Debating with European Council president Donald Tusk and Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker the European Parliament largest political group leaders gave their support to the decisions taken by the EU heads of states and governments, concluding March 21-22 Summit to avoid a disorderly Brexit, giving additional opportunities to Theresa May government to avoid the UK departing from the bloc without an agreement. At In the second March European Parliament plenary numerous MEPs also individually expressed solidarity with pro-EU UK movements and bitterly criticised Westminster for incapacity to build a majority around any of possible models of moving forward.

The UK MEPs represented a variety of view, from ardent supporters of the EU membership, to staunch sovereignists, requesting immediate departure from they bloc without further delay.

In the situation when the Article 50 Agreement has not been delivered by the government, and the proposed deal was voted down twice by the Westminster, Alyn Smith from Scottish National Party (UK, Greens) MEP says the best way out is to stay in the EU. He reminded that his native Scotland voted to remain in the bloc.

Nigel Farage MEP, accused UK politics of being dishonest, while attempting to stop Brexit,the “Westminster has betrayed the greatest democratic vote in the history of our country“, he said,  and vowed Brexiteers would not let it happen without consequences.

The top EU negotiator for Article 50 Agreement Michel Barnier reiterated that the deal was produced in co-operation with the UK, and not “against” the UK. He also underlined the unprecedented difficulty of the process, being not “trade talks“, but “exit” talks, and that it was a unilateral decision of Britons to leave, so they a have to assume the responsibilities for the consequences.

 

MAMIKINS MEP on Russian sanctions “stalemate”

MEP Andrejs MAMIKINS (Socialist, Latvia) reflects on the “stalemate” of anti-Russian sanctions, and strategy chosen by the European Parliament to continue their further imposition. MEP considers a new resolution, proposing  to strip Russia from the status of a ‘strategic partner‘, and imposing additional sanctions as a part of the upcoming European election campaign, pleasing a part of electorate, and flaunting the might and significance of the European Union.

However even the rapporteurs here, in the European Parliament don’t believe that Russians will react on the reports, Russian simply doesn’t read them”, MAMIKINS said. “None of Russian civil servants with self-respect will read them, and nobody believes they will have any effect. The real sanctions, or the construction of the second pipeline of the Nord Stream II  to be abandoned, orthe sectoral sanctions to be strengthened, – all this will not happen, because the European Parliament is a big lightening rod, it is blowing off steam, but the real power is with the European Council, and the decisions are taken there by the heads of states and governments. We know that recently Mekel agreed with Macron on the Nord Stream II, and that is all – as soon as there is an agreement in the Council, that will be implemented”, MEP underlined.

Regular Europeans don’t read what is issued by the European Parliament, MEP continued, regretting that politicians don’t hear opinions, and wishes of millions of the EU citizens, affected by sanction war initiated by the EU, defining it as a “philosophic” question to the European political class. He also mentioned fading interest of the Europeans in the Europarliament, referring to the declinign turnout in the 2014 elections: in eastern Latvia 22%, in Slovakia 13%, indicating the attitude to the EU project in member-states. “This shows to what extend the regular people believe in what we are doing here” MAMIKINS lamented.

The failure of the political class is compensated by the citizens, who in “parallel develop their own ‘people’s diplomacy'” MEP  explained, mentioning enlarging, and broadening the exchanges of students, scientific and business cooperation, but also growing interest to invest in Russia, illustrating with example of Austria, formally supporting sanctions, but multiplying its investments the same time.

Concluding MAMIKINS reiterated his assessment of the EU sanctions policy as the “stalemate,” a result of a self-imposed ‘mantra‘ repeated last five years dabbing Russia as “foe” and Putin as an “aggressor, which caused their current awkward posture, they have no clue how to correct.

Is is very similar to NATO, spending 16 times more than Russia, but repeating relentlessly that “Russia is our foe”, and “danger is looming from the East“, – MEP pointed out. Subsequently or they “steal this money“, which is beneficial to some circles, or they “lie” that Russia is a foe, able to attack any moment, he added.

However even before the Ukrainian crisis, and Crimea, Russia has been an effective ‘scarecrow‘ for quite some time.  When President Putin, during his trip to Siberia suggested to join the North Atlantic Alliance, the reaction was absolutely negative MAMIKINS reminded.

Nevertheless counter-terrorism, space programmes, exploring Arctic,  energy dialogue, including nuclear energy, and nuclear waste, – cooperation in all these fields between the EU and Russia will continue in spite any sanctions, so will the gas and oil export, MEP ensures. “This is real politics, not the loudmouths here in the European Parliament – the civil servants in the European Commission understand that European can’t without Russia’, – he said.

MEP believes that in the upcoming election forces, promoting normalisation of relations with Russia will be represented by ultra-right and ultra-left parties, as Matteo Salvini, and European Left with portrait of Che Guevarabut not the systemic political congregations unable to get out of the actual impasse.

VIDEO: in Russian language from the European Parliament, Strasbourg 12 March 2019.

MEP Andrejs MAMIKINS (43) “Saskaņa” (Harmony) party, Latvia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEPs against Russia ‘strategic partner’ status

At Strasbourg Plenary (13.03.2019) Members of the European Parliament agreed that the EU should remain open to imposing further sanctions if Russia continues to violate international law.

Parliament adopted a resolution by 402 votes to 163, with 89 abstentions, assessing the current state of EU-Russia political relations.

The time for nice and diplomatic language is over. There is very little room for any cooperation as long as Russia continues to occupy parts of Ukraine and attacks other European countries“, said rapporteur Sandra Kalniete (EPP, Latvia).

Sanctions must be prolonged MEPs also draw attention to new areas of tension between the EU and Russia which have occurred since 2015, including Russia’s intervention in Syria, interference in countries such as Libya and the Central African Republic, and continuous aggressive action in Ukraine. They also highlight Russia’s support for eurosceptic parties and far-right movements, and accused Russians in meddling in elections and systematically violating human rights.

MEPs underlined that the EU should consider adoption of further sanctions against Russia, especially those targeting individuals. Sanctions should be proportionate to the threats posed by Russia, they add. In December last year, the Council prolonged economic sanctions until 31 July 2019.

The Europarliament resolution underlines that the EU should review its current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Russia and limit cooperation to areas of common interest. Global challenges, such as climate change, energy security, cyber, artificial intelligence and counter terrorism, calling for selective engagement.

Closer relations will only be possible MEPs suggest on condition of Russia full implementation of the Minsk agreements to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine and respect to international law, says the text.

MEPs condemn Russia‘s disinformation campaigns and cyber attacks, aimed at increasing tensions within the EU and its member states. They are deeply concerned that the EU‘s response to propaganda and disinformation is insufficient and should be further strengthened, in particular before the upcoming European elections in May 2019. In this regard, the funding and human resources for the EU‘s East Stratcom Task Force must be substantially increased, they stress.

In resolution MEPs strongly denounce Russia‘s violation of the airspace of EU states, especially in the Baltic Sea region, where territorial waters and the airspace have been repeatedly breached. This disregard for international rules poses a threat to Russia‘s neighbours in the Black Sea, Baltic Sea and Medditeranean regions.

MEPs also reiterate their concerns that the Nord Stream-2 project could reinforce the EU‘s dependence on Russian gas supplies and threaten the EU internal market.

In the resolution the concern is expressed about Russia‘s continuous support for authoritarian regimes and countries such as North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Syria. They also regret that in order to destabilise EU candidate countries, Russia gives its support to organisations and political forces like those opposing the Prespa Agreement that has resolved the long-standing dispute on the name between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece.

MEPs condemn illegal financial activities and money laundering by Russia, potentially amounting to hundreds of billions of euros being laundered through the EU every year, which poses a threat to European security and stability. Sandra Kalniete’s report underlines that EU countries concerned must end all ‘golden visa/passport‘ programmes, which benefit Russian oligarchs.

 

 

Piri MEP believes in Turkey European future

Reacting upon the severe political and democratic regress, the European Parliament recommended suspending EU accession negotiations with Turkey.

If the EU takes its own values seriously, no other conclusion is possible than to formally suspend the talks on EU integration. Our repeated calls to respect fundamental rights have fallen on deaf ears in Ankara. On top of the severe human rights violations, the dismantling of the rule of law and the fact that Turkey holds the world record for the number of journalists in jail, the recently amended constitution consolidates Erdoğan’s authoritarianism” Dutch Socialist MEP Kati Piri Rapporteur on Turkey said.

Kati Piri believes that the definitive closure of the accession talks, suggested by ENF group is a wrong move,  rejecting those forces, who desire change and who share European values. Although fully admitting that today’s Turkey does not match the Copenhagen criteria, she considers crucial to keep the door open for possible positive changes in the future.

“I realize that stopping the accession talks is not a step which will help Turkey’s democrats. For that, the EU leaders must use all possible tools to exert more pressure on the Turkish government. The Parliament, therefore, calls for dedicated funds to be made available to support civil society, journalists and human rights defenders in Turkey. In addition, modernising the customs union must remain conditional on clear improvements in the field of human rights. And more efforts must be put into people-to-people exchange programmes” MEP added.

A resolution was adopted March 13 by 370 votes in favour, 109 against with 143 abstentions. Kati Piri thanked her all those who participate in working on the resolution, including shadow rapporteurs.

MEPs for suspension of Turkey accession talks

Following years of severe political and democratic backsliding, the European Parliament recommended suspending EU accession negotiations with Turkey.

MEPs remain seriously concerned about Turkey’s violations of human rights, the rule of law, media freedom and the fight against corruption, authoritarian trends .

However MEPs welcome Turkey’s decision, last year, to lift the state of emergency introduced after the failed coup attempt in 2016. However, they regret that many of the powers granted to the President and executive following the coup attempt remain in place, and continue to limit freedom and basic human rights in the country. MEPs express concern about the shrinking space for civil society in the country, as a large number of activists, journalists and human rights defenders are currently in jail.

Taking into account the human rights situation and the new Turkish constitution, the European Parliament recommends that the current EU accession negotiations with Turkey be formally suspended.

 

Despite the serious situation, MEPs express their will to stand behind Turkish citizens, and keep the political and democratic dialogue open. EU funds must be made available – not via Ankara, but to Turkish civil society – for human rights defenders, students and journalists to promote and protect democratic values and principles.

 

 

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