Tag Archives: USA

Black sea: Russia restricts navigation

Brusssels 20.04.2021 The United States voiced deep concern over Russia’s plans to restrict navigation for foreign naval ships and other state vessels in its territorial waters in the Black Sea, slamming this as “unprovoked escalation,” the State Department said in a statement.

“The United States expresses its deep concern over Russia’s plans to block foreign naval ships and state vessels in parts of the Black Sea,” the statement reads.

“This represents yet another unprovoked escalation in Moscow’s ongoing campaign to undermine and destabilize Ukraine,” the US State Department said.

The State Department also noted that this development “is particularly troubling amid credible reports of Russian troop buildup” on the border with Ukraine.

According to a bulletin of the Russian Defense Ministry’s navigation and oceanography department, on April 24-October 31 navigation of foreign naval ships and other state vessels in some parts of the Black Sea in Russia’s territorial waters will be suspended. The document did not specify the particular reason for the move.

Earlier Russia asked Washington many times about the goal of US warships’ navigation in the Black Sea.

Russia retaliates U.S.measures

Brusssels 16.04.2021 Moscow will shortly publish a list of eight senior US officials and public figures that will be permanently banned from entering Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on Friday, April 16. (Image above: Moscow City).

“Soon, the official website of the Russian Foreign Ministry will publish the names of eight current and former American high-ranking officials and public figures involved in developing and implementing the anti-Russian policy course. They will be permanently banned from entering the Russian Federation. This is a tit-for-tat measure in response to the sanctions against Russian officials blacklisted by the US last month,” the statement says.

Moscow calls on Washington to display wisdom and reject confrontation, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in its statement Friday, adding that now is high time to do so. “It is high time for the US to display wisdom and reject the confrontational course. Otherwise, we will implement a set of decisions, sensitive to the US, such as ordering US diplomatic missions in Russia to reduce their staff to 300 people,” the statement says. Thus, the ministry points out, real parity will be reached regarding the number of employees of diplomatic missions, with the exception of Russia’s Permanent Mission to the UN in New York.

Taliban versus U.S.troops

Brussels 15.04.2021 International troops plan to stay in Afghanistan beyond the May deadline envisaged by the insurgent Taliban’s deal with the United States, four senior NATO officials said, a move that could escalate tensions with the Taliban demanding full withdrawal.

“There will be no full withdrawal by allies by April-end,” one of the officials told Reuters.

“Conditions have not been met,” he said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “And with the new U.S. administration, there will be tweaks in the policy, the sense of hasty withdrawal which was prevalent will be addressed and we could see a much more calculated exit strategy.”

The administration of then-President Donald Trump signed an agreement with the Taliban early last year calling for the withdrawal of all foreign troops by May in return for the insurgents fulfilling certain security guarantees.

Vienna: Borrell chairs JCPOA

Brussels 08.04.2021 The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal, will resume its work in a physical format on 9 April at 10.00 CET in Vienna.

The Joint Commission will be chaired on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell by the Deputy Secretary General and Political Director of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora. It will be attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran.

Participants will take stock of the discussions held at various levels this week, including the relevant expert groups, in the view of a possible return of the United States and to ensure the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA by all sides.

EU-USA: Blinken visits Brussels

Brussels 24.03.2021 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell and the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
have issued a joint press-release: EU-U.S. joint readout
“Joint press release on the meeting between High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

On 24 March, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, and the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Antony J. Blinken met in Brussels to discuss ways to strengthen the EU-U.S. relationship and coordinate responses to priority foreign policy, security, and economic issues. They also committed to cooperate in the face of global challenges, including addressing the global climate crisis, bringing an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, facilitating a sustainable economic recovery, and defending democratic values and fundamental freedoms including within multilateral structures.

During the meeting, the two sides decided to re-launch the bilateral dialogue on China, as a forum to discuss the full range of related challenges and opportunities. They acknowledged a shared understanding that relations with China are multifaceted, comprising elements of cooperation, competition, and systemic rivalry. They also decided to continue meetings under the framework of the dialogue at senior official and expert levels on topics such as reciprocity, including economic issues; resilience; human rights; security; multilateralism; and areas for constructive engagement with China, such as climate change.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken confirmed that credible multi-party democracy, the protection of human rights and adherence to international law support the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific. Both aim to cooperate to promote secure, sustainable, free and open maritime supply routes and supply chains and look forward to deepening cooperation with like-minded partners where interests and approaches intersect.

The two principals also discussed EU-U.S. partnership on climate action and working cooperatively to raise global ambition to put the world on a path to net-zero emissions by 2050.

The two sides plan to work together in multilateral fora, such as through the WHO and COVAX initiative to jointly address the global challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including facilitating global distribution of safe and effective vaccines, addressing humanitarian impacts, and building future pandemic preparedness, including through advancing global health security.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken acknowledged that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) remained a key achievement of multilateral diplomacy despite existing difficulties. They shared concerns about Iran’s continued departure from its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA and underlined their full support for the work of the IAEA to independently monitor Iran’s nuclear commitments. Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the U.S. readiness to reengage in meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA by the United States and Iran. The High Representative welcomed the prospect of a U.S. return to the JCPOA. Both sides expressed support for the ongoing diplomatic efforts, and the contacts of the High Representative as JCPOA Coordinator with all relevant partners, to ensure full implementation of the JCPOA nuclear and sanctions lifting commitments. The United States expressed readiness to engage in result-oriented discussions to that end.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken noted their determination to further address, in a coordinated manner, Russia’s challenging behaviour, including its ongoing aggression against Ukraine and Georgia; hybrid threats, such as disinformation; interference in electoral processes; malicious cyber activities; and military posturing. Both sides also decided to coordinate their response to the shrinking space in Russia for independent political voices, civil society and media freedom and the dwindling respect for human rights and the rule of law. At the same time, both sides declared that they are ready to engage with Russia on issues of common interest and to encourage Russia to abandon confrontational approaches.

They also decided to continue close cooperation to encourage comprehensive reforms in the EU Eastern neighbourhood, including South Caucasus countries.

The two principals underscored that the EU and the United States share a strong interest in a stable and prosperous Western Balkans region. They reaffirmed their commitment to work together to support reconciliation and improve governance, build resilience and push forward key reforms for EU integration across the region. EU-U.S. cooperation on the ground is vital for progress, including on the EU-facilitated dialogue on normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken affirmed the EU and the United States have a strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and will work hand in hand for sustainable de-escalation. Both the United States and the EU are interested in the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey, underpinned by rule of law and respect for fundamental rights.

The two principals shared their concern about the continuing humanitarian tragedy and human rights violations and abuses in Tigray. They discussed a variety of measures to support unhindered humanitarian access, investigations of human rights violations and abuses, a cessation of hostilities, and the immediate withdrawal of Eritrea from Ethiopian territory.

On the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations, they called on all parties to show flexibility and move promptly to resume productive negotiations in the coming weeks. They expressed concern over increased tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia and encourage both countries to resolve their difference through peaceful means. They also discussed the situation in Somalia, where they expected a political consensus to deliver an election without delay.

The European Union and United States intend to intensify their cooperation on Afghanistan, together with key partners, to advance the peace process and to ensure the long-term stability and prosperity of the country. The European Union and its Member States are the largest civilian assistance donors to Afghanistan, contributing to the common goal of stability in the region.

High Representative Borrell and Secretary Blinken expressed support for continued NATO-EU cooperation. They agreed that NATO and the EU need new ways of working together and a new level of ambition because the multiple and evolving security challenges that NATO Allies and EU Member States face make robust NATO-EU cooperation essential to our shared security. The two principals recalled that capabilities developed through the defence initiatives of the EU and NATO should remain coherent, complementary and interoperable. They also noted that EU defence initiatives should enhance the European contribution to Transatlantic security and can offer concrete opportunities for cooperation between the EU and the United States. With this in mind, the principals supported the fullest possible involvement of the United States in EU defence initiatives and enhanced dialogue on these issues”.

EUCO: EU-Turkey relations on rocks

10.12.2020 Brussels The EU top diplomat Josep BoTrrell upon arrival at the European Council made the following remarks:

“We have three important [external affairs] items today on the agenda of the European Union Council: we have Turkey, once again; we have our relations with the US and the prospects of the new presidency; and we have the Southern Neighbourhood”.

“The Southern Neighbourhood is a very important part of the world for us. We are closely working with them in order to push for their progress but we have to do more. I hope that the debate in the Council today will provide guidelines for this continued effort and to prepare the [Joint] Communication that the Commission will put forward in February.

“We have just celebrated the anniversary of the Union for the Mediterranean in Barcelona. This was also an important event and I will inform the Council about this meeting.

“We are also going to discuss the relationship with the US – the prospects for the new administration, how to engage with them. We hope that this is going to be a more positive one. It has been a bumpy road in the last years, and there is a lot of hope for the future work between the European Union and the US.

“On Turkey, the Foreign Affairs Council reviewed the latest events and we cannot provide a positive assessment. The behaviour of Turkey has not changed fundamentally. We can even say that, from some points of view, things have been worsening. The assessment is not a positive one and we have to deal with it”.

Michel invites Biden to Brussels

Brussels 30.11.2020 President of the European Council Charles Michel has invited the U.S. for a Summit in persona or virtual in the first half of 2021, an EU official said, adding the representatives from the EU countries with the rank of ambassador to the European Union (Coreper) will have a discussion on Monday, November 30, to prepare the European Council on strategic debate on relations between the U.S and the EU, based on a “non-paper” sent out on Friday, which includes five building blocks.
The official also underlined that the European Council president will hold consultations as of next week with all EU leaders on the topic of the EU-U.S. relations, constructed on “building blocks”: fighting the COVID-19 pandemic; enhancing economic recovery; combating climate change;upholding multilateralism and shared values; promoting peace and security.

The official added that Charles Michel and his team are currently in close contact with NATO Secretary General NATO Jens Stoltenberg to see if they can arrange a common visit.

The President of the European Council Charles Michel spoke Monday 23 November 2020 with the US President-elect Joe Biden and congratulated him on his election as the 46th President of the United States and Kamala Harris as the future Vice-President. During the call President Michel proposed to rebuild a strong transatlantic alliance based on common interests and shared values. He welcomed the strong commitment of the President-elect Biden to America’s allies and his support for European cooperation.

President Michel has already invited the President-elect Joe Biden to a special meeting with the members of the European Council in Brussels in 2021 to discuss shared priorities.

The EU stands ready to tackle together with the US today’s pressing challenges: the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery, climate change, security, and multilateralism, Michel said.

“Now is the time to join forces. In a changing world, our partnership will be more important than ever to protect our citizens, relaunch our economies, stop global warming and create a safer world. The EU and the US will always have more impact when taking steps together” Charles Michel said.

President Michel also thanked the President-elect for his clear support regarding the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement the EU concluded with the UK last year. This agreement preserves peace and stability in Ireland and fully respects the Good Friday Agreement.

COVID19: EU succumbs to China pressure

A report by the European External Action Service (EEAS) looking at the spread of disinformation about the COVID-19 outbreak was, according to unnamed European official, pulled from publication because of concerns about Chinese reaction.

The report, which had already been circulated to member states and leaked to media, was quioted saying that China was undertaking a global campaign to deflect blame for Covid-19 with the aim of improving the country’s international status and said there had been both overt and covert activity.

The EEAS denied a report was due to be published, saying an internal report was leaked.

Analysts underline they have seen a push from Chinese media to emphasise the country’s success and other’s failings in dealing with the virus, along with Russia also adopting the strategy on Western failures and errors.

Beijing’s messaging is believed to reflect fears of the Chinese leaders of a backlash once the crisis is over.

A New York Times report this week also claimed that Chinese “agents” had been pushing misinformation in March about a lockdown in the US.

The initial European Union report, obtained by The New York Times, was not particularly strident: a routine roundup of publicly available information and news reports.

It cited the Chinese leadership efforts to curtail mentions of the virus’s origins in Wuhan, in part by blaming the United States for spreading the disease

It also noted that Beijing had criticized France for its slow response to the pandemic and had pushed false accusations that French politicians used racist slurs against the head of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Ethiopian microbiologist and internationally recognized researcher).

The report also highlighted Russian efforts to circulate false information and sow distrust in Western institutions.

Western officials say China is keen to play up its success in combating the virus and minimise any fallout from its role as the origin of the COVID-19 and early failures to be open about the outbreak.

Image: Chinese “wet” market, source: social media

Borrell completes U.S. visit

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell returned on February 9 from the first official visit in his current capacity to the Unites States.

In the meetings with the representatives of the US Administration and the US Congress, he reaffirmed the strong transatlantic bond between the Europeans and people in the US, which is essential to the security and prosperity of the transatlantic area and beyond. High Representative/Vice-President J.Borrell presented the foreign policy priorities of the EU and underlined a desire for close cooperation with the United States in advancing shared interests and strengthening the rules-based international order. The High Representative also spoke about his recent outreach in the Middle East and Gulf region, which he had visited in the past week.

Speaking with US Secretary of State, Michael R. Pompeo, Josep Borrell expressed the position of the European Union on the latest international developments. They discussed the need to find a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the High Representative offered the European Union’s support to all efforts aimed at reviving a political process and negotiations in line with international law, which ensures equal rights and which is acceptable to both parties.

They also discussed the wider situation in the Middle East, including Syria and Libya. Josep Borrell underlined his determination to contribute to de-escalation and restoration of stability in the region. The High Representative and the Secretary of State also discussed the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the need for full implementation of the Minsk Agreements, and Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. They expressed their full support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.

The High Representative/Vice-President reiterated the European Union’s full commitment to preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and expectation that Iran returns to full compliance with its nuclear commitments. Furthermore, they also discussed the opportunities for continued EU – US partnership in the Western Balkans in support of the region’s progress on its European and transatlantic path, as well as the stabilisation efforts on the African continent.

The latest US proposals as regards the peace process in the Middle East were also part of the conversation with the US National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien and Special Advisor to the President, Jared Kushner.

The meeting with the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, provided an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of transatlantic alliance and a need for close collaboration in addressing global challenges.

In all of his meetings, the High Representative stressed and was reassured of the importance of continued close and regular EU-US dialogue at appropriate levels. The European Union-United States partnership remains strong and crucial for people on both sides of the Atlantic, and around the world. They will continue to work together for positive change, peace, stability and prosperity. “International relations travel at the speed of trust. And an international agenda based on trust between the EU und the United States is key to successfully tackle global challenges that we jointly face. We should always remember that we sit on the same side of the table when it comes to most core challenges, even if we don’t agree on everything,” J.Borrell stated when concluding his talks with US partners in Washington.

New US Ambassador arrives to Moscow

The newly appointed US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan, who is arriving in Moscow on January 16, looks forward to enhancing the relationship between the two countries and strengthening cooperation between Moscow and Washington, US Embassy in Russia said in a statement.

“Ambassador Sullivan plans to arrive in Moscow on January 16 and present his credentials to the Russian government soon thereafter. Ambassador Sullivan looks forward to enhancing the overall bilateral relationship and strengthening US-Russian cooperation on several global and regional issues of mutual interest,” the statement said.

Sullivan will lead the US embassy in Moscow and its consulates in Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok “as they further US foreign policy goals, protect American citizens, and expand trade and business opportunities between the United States and Russia,” the diplomatic mission noted.

Sullivan will succeed Jon Huntsman who tendered his resignation in early August 2019. Huntsman’s tenure expired on October 3. Two weeks later, US President Donald Trump nominated Sullivan who earlier served as Deputy Secretary of State, for confirmation by the Senate. On November 20, the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations approved his candidacy.

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