Tag Archives: US

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).

Borrell-Pompeo transatlantic dialogue

“Today we have had an important Foreign Affairs Council with a video conference with the Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo.

“The main point of the agenda was this: transatlantic relations.

“We engaged in a strategic dialogue with Mike Pompeo on our relations and on the key foreign policy issues both for the European Union and the United States.

https://twitter.com/eu_eeas/status/1272551225947537413?s=21

“…It is unnecessary to stress it, but let me do it – the transatlantic partnership is one of the key pillars of the world order and today’s video meeting reaffirmed the commitment of the European Union Member States to continue this close transatlantic cooperation. Maybe we do not agree on everything, but our commitment to transatlantic cooperation is as strong as ever.We focused on three main issues: China, the Peace Process in the Middle East, and the Eastern neighbourhood, with an emphasis on Ukraine. And we discussed as a cross-cutting issue, the problem of disinformation, which is affecting the three of them – and mainly the ones related to the Eastern neighbourhood and China.

“…We exchanged views on China and its growing assertiveness on many fronts. There are issues that we face together in the relationship with China and where our close cooperation is very important to address them jointly. This includes, for sure, the situation in Hong Kong. I suggested to launch a distinct, bilateral dialogue focussing on China and the challenges its actions and ambitions mean for us – the United States and the European Union.

“On the Middle East Peace Process, we made it clear that it is important to encourage the Israelis and the Palestinians to engage in a credible and meaningful political process.We recognise that the United States’ plan created a certain momentum about a political process that had stopped for too long, and this momentum can be used to start joint international efforts on the basis of existing internationally-agreed parameters. We, from the European Union, stand ready to help and to facilitate such a process.We were also clear about the consequences of a possible annexation for the prospects of a two-state solution, but also for regional stability. On that I think that many Member States were very clear about it.

On the Eastern Neighbourhood, which was the third pillar of our conversation today, we confirmed that the strong European Union-United States partnership will remain crucial – particularly on Ukraine.

Of course, we still need Russia to do its part in the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, and our position remains clear and unchanged.

Some Member States also raised the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, where we are increasingly concerned about the recent escalations from Turkey. We agreed on the need for de-escalation and to return to a true partnership. There have been some incidents during the last days around Operation Irini. We are aware of that and tomorrow we will talk about it in the Council of Defence Ministers.

I also recalled that we are organising the Brussels Syria Conference [Supporting the future of Syria and the region – Brussels conference] on the 30th of June. It will be the fourth time that we do that, and I asked for the United States’ participation.

Finally, disinformation – this is a shared challenge. External disinformation actors are targeting both of us and we agreed to look at ways to reinforce our partnership in responding to this growing problem. Truth has to prevail. Democracy is a system that works on the basis of free and fair information. If citizens do not have access to free information or if citizens are poisoned with fake news, then their participation in democratic processes can be jeopardised”.

Europe regrets US Open Sky withdrawal

“I regret the announcement by the United States to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty. The Treaty on Open Skies is a key element of our arms-control architecture and serves as a vital confidence and security-building measure” says the statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on the announcement by the US on their withdrawal from the Open Sky Treaty.

“Since it came into force in 2002, this agreement has enabled to carry out more than 1.500 reconnaissance missions over the territories of all the signatory states.The treaty provides transparency and predictability. It is an important contribution to European and global security and stability. All State parties must continue to acknowledge this and ensure the full implementation of the Treaty. Withdrawing from a Treaty is not the solution to address difficulties in its implementation and compliance by another party. While continuing to urge Russia to return immediately to the full implementation of the Treaty, I call upon the United States to reconsider their decision.The European Union will be examining the implications this decision may have for its own security”.

Moscow rejects the United States’ ultimatums concerning the Treaty on Open Skies, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on May 22, following Washington’s decision to withdraw .
The Ministry noted that US officials say Washington may revise its decision on the withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty if Russia implements all of its demands in the coming months.
“It is an ultimatum and this is not the right groundwork for negotiations,” the ministry underlined.

Signed on March 24, 1992, the Open Skies Treaty permits each state-party to conduct short-notice, unarmed, reconnaissance flights over the others’ entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities. Observation aircraft used to fly the missions must be equipped with sensors that enable the observing party to identify significant military equipment, such as artillery, fighter aircraft, and armored combat vehicles.

Though satellites can provide the same, and even more detailed, information, not all of the 34 treaty states-parties1 have such capabilities. The treaty is also aimed at building confidence and familiarity among states-parties through their participation in the overflights.

COVID19: EU disapproves US travel ban

“The Corona virus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action.

The European Union disapproves of the fact that the US decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.

The European Union is taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus” said in a joint statement presidents Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen with the Croatian Presidency, reacting on US travel ban related to COVID-19.

Release of 5K Taliban prisoners

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree promising to release 1,500 prisoners belonging to Taliban as a goodwill gesture to get intra-Afghan negotiations started. (Image: social media)

A recent peace deal signed between the United States and the Taliban called for the release of up to 5,000 prisoners as precondition of the negotiations.

There was no official response from the Taliban, but the Associated Press news agency claims they saw a letter that Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, the head of the Taliban’s Prisoners Commission, sent to the prisoners, their families and Taliban leaders promising there would be no intra-Afghan talks until all the prisoners are released.

In a letter, sent around last weekend, President Ghani wrote that Taliban would verify that each prisoner released is among those on the list given to an American delegation.

The first round of 1,500 prisoners will be selected based on age, health and the length of their sentences already served. Each released Talib will be biometrically identified, and obliged to sign a written guarantee that they will not return to the battlefield. Taken in condiseration that the majority of them are illiterate, highly likelty that they will use ink to make an fingerpirnt on the document.

The remaining 3,500 prisoners will be released after intra-Afghan negotiations start and 500 will be released every two weeks providing the Taliban reduce violence on the battlefield, Ghani’s decree said.

NATO suspends training in Iraq

NATO Ambassadors met on 6 January 2019 in Brussels headquaters to address current tensions in the Middle East and implications for NATO’s training mission in Iraq.

“…Allies expressed their strong support for the fight against ISIS and for the NATO mission in Iraq. In everything that we do, the safety of our personnel is paramount. As such, we have temporarily suspended our training on the ground,” – Jens Stolenberg said.

Allies called for restraint and de-escalation. A new conflict would be in no one’s interest. So Iran must refrain from further violence and provocation” he added.

Speaking after the meeting of NATO’s North Atlantic Council, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed that the safety of NATO’s personnel in Iraq is paramount and that the Alliance had temporarily suspended training activities on the ground. He added that NATO was prepared to continue training and capacity-building when the situation permits, emphasizing that the Alliance remains strongly committed to the fight against international terrorism, namely Daech in Middle East.

Iraq: Borrell calls for restraint

“The current cycle of violence in Iraq must be stopped before it spirals out of control. The EU calls on all the actors involved and on those partners who can have an influence to exercise maximum restraint and show responsibility in this crucial moment. Another crisis risks jeopardizing years of efforts to stabilise Iraq. Furthermore, the ongoing escalation threatens the whole region, which has suffered immensely and whose populations deserve life in peace” says the statement of the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell (Pictured).

“More dialogue and efforts to enhance mutual understanding are necessary to offer long term solutions to the stabilisation of the Middle East. The EU stands ready to continue its engagement with all sides in order to contribute to defusing tensions and reverse the dynamics of the conflict.”

AMENDED:

Josep Borrell wrote on his Twitter page that he spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif about recent developments in Iraq, underlining the need for de-escalation of tensions, to exercise restraint and avoid further escalation. The diplomats have also discussed importance of preserving JCPOA, which remains “crucial for global security“.

I am committed to role as coordinator” Borrell confirmed.

Soleimani assassination stirs tensions

Top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was assassinated on December 3 in a US pointed strike on Baghdad’s international airport in a dramatic escalation of tensions between the two countries.

President Trump ordered an airstrike, assassinating Iran’s most powerful general in the early hours on December 3, in a dramatic escalation of power struggle between Washington and Tehran for influence across Middle Est.

Qassem Suleimani was hit by the drone strike while local allies from the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) drove him from Baghdad airport. The de facto leader of the PMU, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a close Suleimani associate, was also killed in the attack.

General Suleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” a Pentagon statement announced. “This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.”

The White House has issued a statement saying the strike was a “decisive defensive action” carried out “at the direction of the president”.

Putin thanks Trump for counter-terrorism cooperation

Vladimir Putin called to Donald Trump to thank him for what White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said was “information the United States provided that helped foil a potential holiday terrorist attack in Russia.”

No details were provided, but Moscow announced it had thwarted attacks reportedly planned in St. Petersburg thanks to the information from Washington.

American and Russian Presidents discussed the state of relations between their two countries in a phone call instigated by Putin, the White House said.

President Putin of Russia called to thank me and the U.S. for informing them of a planned terrorist attack in the very beautiful city of Saint Petersburg. They were able to quickly apprehend the suspects, with many lives being saved. Great and important coordination!” President Trump wrote in his Twitter micro blog.

Moscow suggests US reparations for Yugoslavia bombings

The United States must ask for forgiveness for its bombardments of the former Yugoslavia(1999) and pay reparations to the relatives of those killed and injured in air raids, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on September 15.

And for a start, the United Stets should ask for forgiveness to those they bombed, pay reparations for those killed and to those who were wounded and lost their health because of shells stuffed with depleted uranium. And only with this done, with a proper groundwork laid, it can call on others to move forward,” the diplomat wrote on her Facebook page, commenting on the statement by the US outgoing ambassador to Serbia, Kyle Scott, who said that the Serbs should look at NATO’s bombings in 1999 from a “broader perspective.”

On March 24, 1999, NATO began a military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Alliance leadership claimed that prevention of genocide of the Albanian population in Kosovo he as the ultimate reason behind the air operation called Allied Force. NATO said that during the 78-day operation its aircraft flew 38,000 sorties to carry out 10,000 bombing strikes.

Military experts have found that the Alliance launched 3,000 cruise missiles and dropped 80,000 bombs, including cluster bombs and low-enriched uranium bombs. According to Serbian forces, the bombardments killed 3,500-4,000 and injured 10,000 people, two thirds of them civilians.

According to Serbian experts, NATO dropped 15 tonnes of depleted uranium over the three months of bombings to make the country Europe’s number one in terms of cancer cases. About 30,000 new cancer cases were registered in the first ten years after the bombings, with the lethal rate from 10,000 to 18,000 patients.

Material damage totaled $100 billion. The strikes against oil refineries and petrochemical plants poisoned the country’s water supply system with toxic chemicals.

According to Ljubisa Rakic, an acknowledged Serbian scientist, the amount of low-enriched uranium dropped by NATO on the Balkans was enough to make 170 A-bombs like the one that was dropped by the United States on Japan’s Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

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