Tag Archives: UK

Draghi: avenues for peace dialogue

Brussels 19.04.2022 “So far, Putin’s goal has not been the search for peace, but the attempt to annihilate the Ukrainian resistance, occupy the country and entrust it to a friendly government. We will stay close to our Ukrainian friends: the reopening of our Embassy in Kiev is good news. Yesterday I heard from our ambassador Zazo to congratulate him directly” said Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi (pictured), interviewed on Sunday, April 18, by Corriere della Sera.

“The line of all allies – added Draghi – remains that of avoiding a direct involvement of Europe in the war. One of the cornerstones of this conflict is the assertion by all NATO leaders, started by the U.S. President Biden, that there will be no direct involvement of the Alliance. I understand the reasons that push Sweden and Finland to think about joining NATO ”.

“All the crucial decisions, were taken with a very wide parliamentary consensus. Since the first debate on the war, some parliaments have tried to reproach antiquities and I have been asked to say what I thought of it. I replied: this is not the time to reproach oneself with the sympathies and affairs of the past. It’s time to all be together. And I keep repeating it. Among other things, this is a debate of especially some politicians. It does not seem to me that among the majority of citizens there is time to make trials in the past ” Draghi continued.

The Prime minister also spoke about the phone calls with Putin. “I am beginning to think that those who say are right: it is useless for you to talk to them, time is wasted. I have always defended Macron and I continue to believe that as the incumbent President of the EU it is right to try every possible avenue of dialogue. But I have the impression that the horror of war with its carnage, with what it did to children and women, is completely independent of the words and phone calls that are made “.

NATO pledge for heavy weapons to Ukraine

Brussels 07.04.2022 The NATO member states have agreed to supply new types of advanced weaponry to Ukraine, alliance representatives have said, as Kyiv prepares for a next offensive by Russia in the Donbass region.

The pledge has been announced after a plea from Ukraine Foreign minister to move faster with weapons supplies. Six weeks since Russia invasion of Ukraine, some of the troops have largely withdrawn from territory north of Kyiv after failing to seize the capital, but are regrouping and rearming ahead of an attempt to advance in the Eastern region near Donbass.

These events influenced demands from Kyiv for western countries to supply more heavy weapons, armour and more advanced systems. Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said he would use the Alliance meeting in Brussels to ask for aircraft, missiles, armoured vehicles and heavy air defence systems, additionally to the other types of equipment.

UK foreign secretary Liz Truss said to press that member states had agreed to send more weapons.

“There was support for countries to supply new and heavier equipment to Ukraine, so that they can respond to these new threats from Russia,” the top diplomat explained. “And we agreed to help Ukrainian forces move from their Soviet-era equipment to NATO standard equipment, on a bilateral basis.”

Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, said Washington was looking at sending “new systems” to Ukraine.

“We are not going to let anything stand in the way of getting Ukrainians what they need,” he said. “We are looking across the board right now, not only at what we have provided . . . [but] whether there are additional systems that would make a difference.”

Previously the allies have supplied Ukraine with anti-tank missiles, drones and other defensive weaponry before and during the war. However, they have declined to supply other classes of weapons or impose a no-fly zone, as Kyiv has demanded, over the risk of engaging Russia in a wider war.

Ukrainian defence forces with NLAW anti-tank weapons in Kyiv last month: Nato countries have promised to send more advanced systems as a fresh assault by Russia looms
Kuleba said afterwards he was “cautiously optimistic” that alliance states would meet his demand but warned that delays would result in more deaths.

“Either you help us now, and I am speaking about days . . . or your help will come too late,” Kuleba said. The Ukranian diplomat added also added that without these weapons many people might die.

He added: “I was very specific about the requests and the timeline that they should be accommodated. I will be looking forward to the follow-up from allies.”

Ukraine has warned Russia is preparing a fresh offensive in the Donbas, aimed at seizing territory in the two administrative regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, which separatists have partially occupied since a Moscow-backed uprising in 2014.

Ukraine’s military authorities on Wednesday called on residents living in the regions to leave “while they still had the chance”.

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary-general, said allies had agreed to “further strengthen” support for Ukraine immediately and in the “medium and long term”.

The promise of further military aid came amid regrets of Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, admitting Russia had suffered “significant losses of troops” during the invasion of Ukraine, which he described as “a huge tragedy” for his compatriots.

Peskov said Russia had withdrawn from Kyiv and Chernihiv in central Ukraine last week as a “goodwill act to lift tension from those regions and show Russia is really ready to create comfortable conditions to continue negotiations”, however fighting would continue in the Donbas, he added.

“It was a clear message from the meeting today that allies should do more and are ready to do more to supply more equipment. They realise and recognise the urgency,” he said.

Borrell sends EU formal response to Lavrov

Brussels 10.02.2022 Anna van Densky: The European Union has formally handed over its collective response to the letter of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the European security issues, the EEAS spokesperson announced, and Russian diplomatic mission to the EU confirmed.

“Permanent Representative of Russia to the EU Vladimir Chizhov met Director Security and Defense policy at the European External Action Service Joanneke Balfoort, who on the instruction of the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell handed over his address to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on behalf of foreign ministers of 27 EU member-states,” the Permanent Mission said.

The document is the response to the address of the Russian Foreign Minister on the security indivisibility topic, sent on January 28 of this year to top diplomats of certain European countries, the US and Canada.

Russian diplomatic mission made it clear that the EU does not anticipate to make the contents of this response public, the diplomatic mission source added, mentioning as a reference the name of Joanneke Balfoort, the Director Security and Defence policy at European External Action Service.

Meanwhile in Moscow Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has informed British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss of Kiev’s reluctance to implement the Minsk Agreements, as Lavrov had underlined at a press conference following his talks with Truss.

“We thoroughly explained the situation around Kiev’s reluctance to implement the Minsk Agreements as the Ukrainian regime is not only unwilling to fulfil them but openly rejects them,” Lavrov said .

According to the top diplomat Russia also “explained what steps we are taking to convince those who have influence on the Kiev regime to make [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky and his government implement their obligations under the Minsk Agreements, which were enshrined in the UN Security Council’s resolution,” Lavrov continued.

Further Lavrov added that Moscow and London interpreted the Minsk accords in different ways.

“We have different interpretations of the Minsk Agreements though I don’t understand how it is possible to have different interpretations of what is written in black and white,” the Russian top diplomat explained.

Camilla future Queen Consort

Brussels 06.02.2022 The British monarch Queen Elizabeth II said she wants Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, to be known as Queen Consort when Prince Charles becomes King.

In a message marking the 70th anniversary of her reign, the Queen said it was her “sincere wish” that Camilla would have that title.

The Queen is the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee.

She is spending her day privately on the Sandringham estate, with national celebrations to be held in June.

The Queen’s reign began when she was 25 years old, following the death of her father, George VI, on 6 February 1952.

The monarch said that, 70 years on, the day is one she remembers “as much for the death of my father, King George VI, as for the start of my reign”.

UK: #PartyGate allegations mount

Brussels 25.01.2022 British police will investigate alleged lockdown breaches at Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street residence after receiving evidence from an internal government probe into a series of gatherings.

Boris Johnson has entered a crucial week for his premiership, ahead of a report over alleged parties at Downing Street during lockdown.

Civil servant Sue Gray is expected to publish her findings this week – although the date is not confirmed.

Ms Gray – who is currently a permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office – is investigating a series of allegations about lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street.

Her report is “the biggest threat” to Mr Johnson’s premiership on what is expected to be a significant week for his government, the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg says.

She says many MPs see Ms Gray’s report as the crucial piece of evidence that will help them make up their mind about whether it is time to end Mr Johnson’s leadership.

The prime minister is reported to be determined to hang on to his position – believing he has done nothing wrong.

So far six Conservative MPs have publicly declared no confidence in Mr Johnson.

But more are thought to have submitted letters to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 committee, who organises Tory leadership contests.

If 54 letters are submitted a no confidence vote is triggered which could result in a leadership election.

EU welcomes Serbia reforms

Brusssels 14.01.2022 “France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union welcome Serbia’s January 16 national referendum on constitutional changes as a key step to strengthen the independence of the judiciary and to enhance the transparency and effectiveness of the country’s rule of law institutions. We believe that these reforms are a step forward towards Serbia’s alignment with European standards and will support Serbia’s EU accession process”, reads the Joint Statement by Embassies of France, Germany, Italy, UK, USA and the Delegation of EU on the Referendum. (Image: Belgrade,Serbia).

“We have encouraged all Serbian citizens to take part in the referendum and believe it important for eligible voters to be able to vote in elections and referenda. We note with regret that the Kosovo government has not allowed the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to collect ballots of eligible voters living in Kosovo for the upcoming referendum in accordance with past practice. We call on the Kosovo government to allow Serbs in Kosovo to exercise their right to vote in elections and electoral processes in accordance with this established practice”.

“We call upon the governments of Kosovo and Serbia to refrain from actions and rhetoric that increase tensions and to engage constructively in the EU-facilitated Dialogue. It is important that both governments achieve progress towards a comprehensive agreement that unlocks the EU perspective and increases regional stability”.

EU-UK fishing opportunities

Brussels 23.12.2021 The Council has approved an agreement between the EU and the UK on fishing opportunities for 2022, paving the way for EU fishermen and women to exercise their fishing rights in the Atlantic and the North Sea.

The decision determines fishing rights for around 100 shared fish stocks in EU and UK waters, including the total allowable catch (TAC) limit for each species.

At the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 12-13 December, ministers set provisional TACs for fish stocks shared with the UK pending the outcome of the EU-UK consultations; these catch limits will be amended to take account of the new agreement.

The regulation on fishing opportunities for 2022 – including the amendment containing the final quotas – will be finalised by the Council’s legal and linguistic experts, following which it will be formally adopted by the Council and published in the Official Journal. The provisions will apply retroactively as of 1 January 2022.

Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, fish stocks jointly managed by the EU and the UK are considered shared resources under international law. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the two parties sets out the terms under which the EU and the UK determine their respective fishing rights in the Atlantic and North Sea.

Under the TCA, both parties agree to hold annual talks with a view to determining TACs and quotas for the following year. Consultations are led by the Commission and take into account a number of factors, including:
the international obligations
the recommended maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for each species, to ensure the long-term sustainability of fishing in line with the common fisheries policy
the best available scientific advice, with a precautionary approach taken where such advice is not available
the need to protect the livelihoods of fishermen and women
The Council provides political guidance to the Commission throughout the negotiation process and formally endorses the final agreement.

The UK has concluded annual fisheries negotiations with the EU, providing certainty for the fishing industry on catch limits for 2022.

“We have now concluded negotiations with the EU, setting catch levels for 2022. As an independent coastal State, we entered discussions representing the interests of the entire UK fishing industry and have secured certainty for the incoming year” Environment Secretary George Eustice said.

The UK-EU catch limits, known as Total Allowable Catches, have been agreed for around 70 fish stocks. They will provide around 140,000 tonnes of fishing opportunities for the UK fleet, estimated to be worth around £313 million, based on historic landing prices.

The agreement also commits the UK and the EU to rapidly develop multi-year strategies for non-quota species, to ensure sustainable management of these stocks. The UK and the EU exceptionally agreed not to apply tonnage limits for non-quota stocks in 2022, meaning that non-quota stocks will be treated in the same way as in
previous years.

G7: Borrell supports Ukraine

Brussels 11.12.2021 “Today at this gathering of the big democratic countries, I’m representing the European Union as a whole. The big issue has been the situation at the eastern border of Europe, in Ukraine, where Russia is massing troops. This represents a threat. In the meeting today, all of us have been united in standing behind Ukraine in support of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. We are in deterrent mode to make Russia understand that anything that could represent an attack on Ukraine would have a high price. We are there supporting Ukraine all together” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said at margins of the G7 following the meeting of Foreign and Development ministers in Liverpool, UK.

“We also talked about China. China represents today a challenge, a strategic and ideological challenge. And there also, we have to be vigilant, gathering our forces in order to ensure, for example, the freedom of navigation in the South China sea where 40% of the exports of European Union pass by these waters. For us, to keep free navigation in these waters is very important. This part of the world is the aorta vein of the economics of Europe.

“Le G7 est la réunion des grands pays démocratiques du monde. Je représente, dans son ensemble, l’Union européenne. Et le sujet aujourd’hui a été surtout la situation à la frontière est de l’Europe, là où la Russie amasse des troupes, à la frontière ukrainienne, avec le risque de d’escalade militaire. Nous sommes unis derrière l’Ukraine pour l’aider à faire face à cette menace, et nous soutenons son intégrité territoriale et sa souveraineté. C’est très important que la Russie comprenne que n’importe quelle attaque contre l’Ukraine possible aurait un coût économique très fort pour elle, parce que de toute façon nous sommes prêts à défendre et continuer de soutenir l’Ukraine.

“On a beaucoup parlé de la Chine. La Chine est en ce moment un grand acteur, une grande puissance émergente qui représente des soucis stratégiques avec une attitude idéologique très différente de la nôtre. Et là aussi, les démocraties, nous devons rester unis pour faire face à ces défis surtout dans la mer de Chine méridionale. On sait bien que les 40% des exportations européennes passent par la mer de Chine du sud et nous sommes absolument préoccupés par la sécurité des navigations dans ces eaux-là”.

Epilogue: human rights 1948-2021

Brussels 11.12.2021 Brussels 11.12.2021 On 10 December, every year, we mark the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. This year’s theme “Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights” is particularly important as the pandemic and its socio-economic consequences have a growing negative impact on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, including on civic space. They further deepen pre-existing inequalities and increase pressure on persons in vulnerable situations and challenge human rights globally.

Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are at the heart of the EU’s response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Investing in human rights, democracy, the rule of law and enabling civic space is essential to achieving and rebuilding better societies for present and future generations. No one should be left behind, no human right ignored. The EU recalls that any restrictions to human rights in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic must be strictly necessary, proportionate, temporary in nature and non-discriminatory.

Human Rights Day reminds us that human rights are universal, indivisible, inalienable, interdependent and interrelated. It reminds us, however, that these rights cannot be taken for granted and that they must be continuously defended. The EU will continue to uphold the universality of human rights and exercise vigilance against any attempt to undermine international commitments. On Human Rights Day, we commit to re-double our efforts to stand with and speak out for the oppressed and those under threat, wherever they may live. Our solidarity and support goes out in particular to civil society actors and human rights defenders including those with whom we engaged at the EU NGO Human Rights Forum on 7-8 December.

Throughout 2021, under the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024, the EU has continued to reinforce global action to defend and reinvigorate human rights around the world, making full use of our unique range of instruments. For the first time, the EU has imposed sanctions on persons and entities from China, DPRK, Libya, South Sudan, Eritrea and Russia involved in serious human rights violations and abuses, under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime adopted last year. Furthermore, in 2021 the EU took the lead in United Nations Human Rights fora on initiatives aimed at addressing human rights violations in Afghanistan, Belarus, Burundi, DPRK, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Myanmar.

The EU also further expanded concrete support to civil society organisations and human rights defenders to advance human rights and democracy worldwide through a specific thematic programme, amounting to over €1.5 billion for the period 2021-2027, reaffirming its role as world leader in this field.
Achieving human rights is not only an imperative of human dignity; it is a cornerstone of democracy, peace and security, and sustainable development.

Wikileaks Assange closer to extradition

Brussels 10.12.2021 WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared to be a step closer to facing criminal charges in the United States for one of the major leaks of classified information after Washington won an appeal over his extradition in an English court.

U.S. authorities accuse Australian-born Assange, 50, of 18 counts relating to WikiLeaks’ release of vast troves of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables which they said had put lives in danger.

Assange’s supporters profile him as an anti-establishment hero who has been persecuted by the United States for exposing U.S. wrongdoing and double-dealing across the world from Afghanistan and Iraq to Washington.

At the Royal Courts of Justice in London, the United States won an appeal against a ruling by a London District Judge that Assange should not be extradited because he was likely to commit suicide in a U.S.
prison.
Back in A cross-group of MEPs are calling on the European Commission to intervene and stop the extradition of Julian Assange from the UK to the US.

The letter, signed by 37 MEPs – including 32 from the Left – deplores the US request to prosecute the founder of Wikileaks, and it underlines the importance of the right to information as a fundamental pillar of our democracy.

MEPs shared the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer’s grave concerns that the extradition would put Assange at risk of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

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