Tag Archives: USA

EU: Borrell talks with Blinken in Washington

Brussels 15.10.2021 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell met with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on Thursday,October 14.

The European diplomat welcomed recent intense engagement with the U.S. Administration and expressed the importance to further deepen the EU-U.S. strategic partnership to jointly address foreign policy, security and global challenges. Further he welcomed, in particular, the launch of the Trade and Technology Council in Pittsburgh as a strong example of the shared commitment to work together to provide answers to some of today’s most pressing challenges.

Borrell and Blinken highlighted the intention to launch a dialogue on security and defence by the end of the year. The EU diplomat welcomed the setting up of this dedicated channel to discuss common security and defence challenges, building on the mandate agreed by the EU and U.S. Leaders at the EU-U.S. Summit in June. He welcomed the US support for a stronger and more capable European defence and stressed that stronger EU capabilities contribute positively to transatlantic and global security, and also strengthen NATO.

Both diplomats agreed to launch EU-U.S. consultations on the Indo-Pacific, with the aim to step up transatlantic cooperation and joint engagement in the region. They agreed to hold a first high-level meeting this year.

They welcomed the work done under the EU-US Dialogue on China and agreed to hold the next high-level meeting in December. They also agreed to launch the High-level Dialogue on Russia, with the first meeting planned to take place before the end of this year.

Borrell and Blinken discussed some of the most urgent foreign and security policy issues. They addressed, amongst others, the latest developments related to Afghanistan, with the High Representative underlining the utmost priority for the international community being to prevent the socio-economic collapse of the country and the need to work jointly on solutions for Afghan people.

They further discussed the opportunities for continued EU – U.S. partnership in the Western Balkans in support of the region’s progress on its European path, underlined the importance of EU-facilitated Dialogue in addressing issues related to the comprehensive normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo and, referring to recent developments, highlighted the need for de-escalation and re-engagement in negotiations. They agreed to further strengthen their cooperation on these matters.

The diplomats also discussed the situation in Venezuela and their strong will to support political processes to restore stability and democratic reconciliation in the country. In addition, they discussed the efforts towards stabilisation in the Sahel region.

They paid attention to high energy prices, the global impact of this crisis as well as the green energy transition. They looked forward to the next meeting of the EU-U.S. Energy Council early next year, agreed on the need for an ambitious outcome at the COP 26 climate conference.

Concluding the talks Josep Borrell once again has drawn attention to the modality of the relations between two partners. “The European Union and the United States share an important and unique relationship. We will continue to work closely not only because we are partners of first resort but also because friends and allies look at us and expect us to work together to address global challenges” the EU diplomat said.

AUKUS: France geopolitical response

Brussels 14.10.2021 Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann OPINION: What is France and Europe response to AUKUS? Non-alignment and a pivot to Russia. Within the framework of the Indo-Pacific strategy, the alliance of the three Anglo-Saxon states, the United States (USA), Australia (AU) and the United Kingdom (UK) – AUKUS -has been implemented to the detriment of France and the European Union, which have been left out. What geopolitical response could be envisaged for France and its close European and Asian partners?

France, as a balancing power, should seek to avoid the hegemony of both China and the Anglo-Saxons and promote a policy of non-alignment with Germany, Italy, Hungary and Russia in Europe, and India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and New Zealand in Asia, as well as all the states that do not wish to be dragged into a confrontation, in order to avoid an American-Chinese condominium. The principle of variable coalitions should be preferred to the illusory unity of the European Union or NATO on this issue.

The question of the inadequacy of the priorities of NATO and the EU, organisations created in the context of the Cold War, in the new European and global geopolitical configuration is clearly posed for France. A reform of the European Union is therefore necessary for its adaptation to the emerging multi-polar world and its role should above all accompany the objective of strategic autonomy of the most ambitious member states. The reinforcement of cooperation programmes in the field of defence is necessary, above all at the bilateral level, within restricted coalitions and when possible at the EU level to promote more strategic independence for France and its European partners, in parallel with a rapprochement on the perceptions of security and the geopolitical aims of the European project, which are currently too divergent.

Russia has already announced its intention to adopt a non-alignment posture in an event of a strengthening of the American-Chinese confrontation. In Europe and in the world, it is therefore also with a pivot from France to Russia that France could widen its margin of manoeuvre, preferably with Germany. A Franco-Russian rapprochement would re-establish a relative balance with the Anglo-Saxons and Germany, and reduce the risk of too close a tactical understanding between Russia and China, with the more distant goal of promoting a new European security architecture.

Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann – Doctor in geopolitics, and expert on European and global issues.

Borrell heads to Washington D.C.

Brussels 13.10.2021 The European Union top diplomat Josep Borrell will travel to Washington D.C. from 13 to 15 October for a number of high-level meetings focused on the relationship between the EU and the USA, on advancing the Transatlantic agenda and on pressing international developments. This will be the first official visit by Borrell to Washington since the new US administration took up office. It takes place in the follow-up to a number of contacts already held by the EU diplomat and his US counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and in the follow-up to the EU-US summit held in Brussels in June.

In his talks with US partners Borrell will underline that strong alliance between the EU and US is key for addressing global challenges, such as pandemic and economic recovery, climate change and democratic backsliding, as well as to continue to uphold common values, ensure global security and prosperity.

On Thursday, 14 October Borrell will meet with Blinken to discuss current foreign policy issues and initiatives to deepen further the EU-US strategic partnership and advance an already close cooperation on foreign and security policy.

Later on, the EU diplomat will hold meetings with the US Deputy Secretary of Defence Kathleen Hicks to discuss how to pursue enhanced bilateral cooperation in the field of security and defence.

MEPs review EU-US relations

Strasbourg 05.10.2021 “…There are some difficult issues: secure the change of supply on the field of semiconductors, to be sure that we are not going to create in the future an overcapacity; to talk about tariffs; data protection; artificial intelligence. This is an incredibly broad set of issues that will shape the future and on which we have to engage more with the United States” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, addressing the European Parliament plenary.

“A last word on COP-26, we look forward to continuing our close coordination with the United States to get every country to do more to fight climate change. Yesterday, I was in Saudi Arabia talking about it. Sometimes it is a difficult discussion, because we, Europeans, are only 8% of the global emissions. Even if we cancel them tomorrow, zero emissions, the problem will be the same. It will still be the 92%, the rest…”

Diplomatic relations between the EU and the U.S. date back to 1953. The relationship between the EU and the U.S. is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world. The EU and U.S. are the biggest economic and military powers in the world, dominate global trade, play the leading roles in international political relations, and whatever one says matters a great deal, not only to the other, but to much of the rest of the world.

Relations between the U.S. House of Representatives and the European Parliament can be traced back to 1972, when a group of Members of the House, led by Representative Sam Gibbons of the House Ways and Means Committee, traveled to Brussels for the express purpose of meeting and exchanging views with the Parliament. The first congressional visits to Brussels were arranged by Members of the House Committee on Ways and Means who were interested in issues such as agriculture subsidies, steel-tariffs, anti-dumping initiatives, and general trade-related areas. These initial parliamentary contacts, which only involved the House of Representatives, became known as the United States European Community Interparliamentary Group. Soon after these early exchanges were initiated, Members of the House and MEPs began meeting twice a year, once in the United States and once in Europe. On January 15, 1999, during the 50th inter-parliamentary meeting in Strasbourg, the European Parliament and the U.S. House of Representatives formalized their institutional cooperation into a framework called the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue (TLD). This inter-parliamentary relationship is, indeed, the longest and most intensive one in the history of the European Parliament.

EU needs more “European Defence”

Brussels 02.09.2021 “Today, we are going to have a meeting that will be dominated by the events in Afghanistan. Afghanistan will be the backdrop of our discussions today” said the High Representative Josep Borrell upon arrival to Informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers.

“I think that it is clear that the need for more ‘European Defence’ has never been as evident as today – after the events in Afghanistan. I am sure that the Ministers will discuss how to face this new situation and how we can be more prepared for future challenges.

“The Strategic Compass is a work in progress. In a couple of months, I think we will be able to present the report of our work, but sometimes there are events that catalyse the history. Something happens and pushes the history, it creates a breakthrough. I think that the events in Afghanistan this summer are one of these cases.

“I hope that today the discussion will be more lively and we will be more engaged on concrete results – no, [there will be no] decisions today, because it is an informal meeting, but to prepare, no later than October or November, the final draft of the Strategic Compass”.

According to Reuters news agency in the last call between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Afghanistan counterpart before the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, the leaders discussed military aid, political strategy and messaging tactics, but neither Biden nor Ashraf Ghani appeared aware of or prepared for the imminent danger of the entire country falling to feet of insurgents, a transcript reviewed is a convincing evidence of this lack of awareness.

The politicians spoke for roughly 14 minutes on July 23. On August 15, Ghani fled the presidential palace, and the Taliban entered Kabul. Since then, tens of thousands of desperate Afghans have fled and 13 U.S. troops and scores of Afghan civilians were killed in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport during the frenetic U.S. military evacuation.

Kabul: Mullah Ghani Baradar assumes control

Brussels 15.08.2021 Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Qatar’s Al-Jazeera English satellite news channel that they are “awaiting a peaceful transfer of Kabul.” He declined to offer specifics on any possible negotiations between his forces and the government.

Shaheen acknowledged that they were seeking an “unconditional surrender” by the central government.

Taliban negotiators headed to the presidential palace Sunday,August 15, to discuss the transfer, said an Afghan official who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. It remains unclear when that transfer would take place, however it is generally presumed that it it question of hours.

The negotiators on the government side included former President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan National Reconciliation Council, an official said. Abdullah long has been a vocal critic of President Ashraf Ghani, who long refused giving up power to get a deal with the Taliban.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the closed-doors negotiations, described them as “tense.”

Acting Defense Minister Bismillah Khan sought to reassure the public in a video message.

“I assure you about the security of Kabul,” he said. Earlier, the Taliban also tried to calm residents of the capital. “No one’s life, property and dignity will be harmed and the lives of the citizens of Kabul will not be at risk,” reads their statement.

However, a voice message circulating social media purportedly from a Taliban commander also warned “no one is allowed to enter into Kabul province.”

Despite the pledges, panic set in as many rushed to leave the country through the Kabul airport, the last route out of the country as the Taliban now hold every border crossing.

Rapid shuttle flights of Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters near the U.S. embassy began a few hours later after the insurgents seized the nearby city of Jalalabad. Diplomatic armored SUVs could be seen leaving the area around the post, the AP sources reported.

Russian diplomats to leave U.S.

Brussels 02.08.2021 The United States has handed Russia a list of 24 diplomats who are imposed to leave the country by September 3 due to a unilaterally established three-year limit on the assignment period for Russian personnel in the U.S., Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said. (Image: Washington D.C.)

“Unfortunately, the situation does not change for the better. Russian diplomatic missions in the United States are still forced to work under unprecedented restrictions that not only remain in effect, but are stepped up,” the diplomat said.

“Regardless of the [US President Joe] Biden administration’s declarations concerning the important role of diplomacy and willingness to develop stable and predictable relations with our country, the Russian diplomatic presence experiences continuous strikes,” Antonov continued.

“U.S. colleagues get persistent and creative in this business. The expulsions of diplomats are implemented under far-fetched pretexts now and then. Last December the State Department unilaterally established a three-year limit on the assignment period for Russian personnel in the United States that, as far as we know, is not applied to any other country,” the diplomat has underlined.

EU: 60% vaccinated adults

Brussels 02.07.2021 Today,the European Commission president announced that 60% of all adults in the EU are now fully vaccinated. “Full vaccination protects us from #COVID19 and its variants” the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen wrote on her Twitter micro blog.
“Let’s stay vigilant. Let’s get vaccinated! For our own health – and to protect others” the EU top official called.

Pfizer company is raising the price of its Covid19 product in Europe by over 25% under a newly negotiated contract with the European Union (EU), according to a report from the Financial Times (FT) newspaper. Competitor Moderna is also hiking the price of its vaccine in Europe by roughly 10%.

Pfizer’s Covid19 biological agent is already expected to generate the most revenue of any medicine in a single year—about $33.5 billion for 2021 alone, according to the pharmaceutical company’s own assessment. However the company says it’s providing poorer countries the vaccine at a highly discounted price.

Pfizer company previously charged the EU €15.50 per dose for its vaccine, which is based on new revolutionary mRNA technology. The company will now charge €19.50 for 2.1 billion doses that will be delivered through the year 2023, according to the FT newspaper.

EU welcomes US execution moratorium

Brussels 03.07.2021 “The European Union welcomes United States’ Attorney General’s announcement on Thursday, July 1,to impose a moratorium on federal executions until the US Department of Justice reviews its policies on the death penalty. This is a promising first step that we hope will bring a definitive end to this practice at federal level, and pave the way for the nationwide abolition of capital punishment in the US” reads the statement by the European External Action Service (EEAS) spokesperson on halting federal executions.(Image above: EU building).

“The European Union strongly opposes the death penalty at all times and in all circumstances. It is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent to crime and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity”.

“The European Union continues to work for the universal abolition of the death penalty”.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a moratorium on federal executions, a shift from the Trump administration, which had resumed the use of the death penalty in federal cases.

Garland wrote in the memo that the Justice Department would also review its policies and procedures to make sure they “are consistent with the principles articulated in this memorandum.”

“The Department of Justice must ensure that everyone in the federal criminal justice system is not only afforded the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States, but is also treated fairly and humanely,” Garland announced in a statement. “That obligation has special force in capital cases.”

Derek Chauvin mother claims his innocence

Brussels 25.06.2021 Derek Chauvin the former Minneapolis police officer found guilty of murdering George Floyd, is sentenced to spend more than 22 years in prison.

The sentencing comes just hours after his team unsuccessfully tried to throw out the original verdict, a sign that they may launch an appeal. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill handed down the sentence following four victim impact statements from Floyd’s friends and family, including his 7-year-old daughter Gianna, his nephew Brandon Williams who said his family “is forever broken,” and Floyd’s brother Terrence.

Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, spoke on his behalf saying she will always support him, believes in his “innocence,” and said, “the public will never know the loving and caring man he is but his family does.”

Chauvin spoke briefly at the hearing and stated his condolences to the Floyd family, but added: “There’s going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest. And I hope things will give you some peace of mind. Thank you.”

Outside the courthouse, a crowd was gathered. Some listened to the hearing on their cell phones and responded to the testimonies accordingly.

Chauvin had been sitting in a maximum-security prison cell since a 12-member jury in April found him guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s May 25, 2020, death. Forty-five people testified at Chauvin’s trial, which lasted three weeks. The jury deliberated a little more than 10 hours before returning a guilty verdict. Chauvin did not testify in his own defense, has never apologized, but has claimed he is the product of a broken system.

“Between the incident, the video, the riots, the trial – this is the pinnacle of it,” Michael Brandt, a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney who has been following the case closely, said.”The verdict was huge too, but this is where the justice comes down.”

Under Minnesota law, Chauvin could only be sentenced on the most serious charge – unintentional second-degree murder which carries a sentence of up to 40 years.

Prosecutors had pushed for a 30-year-sentence, arguing that there were five aggravating factors in Floyd’s death. Last month, Cahill said the prosecution had proven four of those factors. He ruled Chauvin abused his position of trust and authority; treated Floyd with cruelty; committed the crime with children present “who witnessed the last moments” of Floyd’s life; and had actively participated in the crime with at least three people.

Cahill said prosecutors failed to prove Floyd was vulnerable at the time.

Floyd’s death sparked national outrage and led to coast-to-coast protests.

He was killed after police officers responded to a report that he had used a counterfeit $20 bill. The 46-year-old was handcuffed facedown on the street. He yelled, cried out for his mother, and repeatedly said he could not breathe as Chauvin pressed his knee to his neck for nine minutes. Bystanders who watched the incident unfold were also heard on the video footage telling officers Floyd could not breathe.

Chauvin’s conviction was rare. He is one of 11 nonfederal law enforcement officers who have been convicted of murder for on-duty killings since 2005, Philip Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, said.

The three other Minneapolis police officers that were at the scene and charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter will be tried in March. Thomas Lane, who held Floyd’s legs down, J. Alexander Kueng, who knelt on Floyd’s back, and Tou Thao, who tried to block bystanders, had previously been scheduled to go to trial in August, but the judge decided to delay their trial so that the federal case against them could go first.

A federal grand jury indicted all four former officers on charges of violating Floyd’s constitutional rights.

Just hours before sentencing, Cahill denied Chauvin a post-verdict motion for a new trial.

Cahill ruled that Chauvin’s legal team “failed to demonstrate … the court had abused its discretion or committed error such that defendant was deprived of his constitutional right to a fair trial.”

Cahill also ruled that Chauvin failed to prove prosecutorial or juror misconduct.

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