Tag Archives: USA

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.

NATO Stoltenberg participates in EU Council

On Friday, 10 January 2020, the NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg will attend the Extraordinary Meeting of the European Union Foreign Affairs Council, NATO announced via the site of the organisation.

They also informed a transcript of the Secretary General’s remarks, will be available on the NATO website following the event.

“Sharing strategic interests and facing the same challenges, NATO and the European Union cooperate on issues of common interest and are working side by side in crisis management, capability development and political consultations, as well as providing support to their common partners in the east and south. The EU is a unique and essential partner for NATO. The two organisations share a majority of members, have common values and face similar threats and challenges.

NATO and the EU currently have 22 member countries in common.

Both NATO and the EU are engaged in combating terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). They have exchanged information on their activities in the field of protection of civilian populations against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks.

Iraqi Parliament voted January 5 to obligate Iraq’s government “to work towards ending the presence of all foreign troops on Iraqi soil,” according to the media office of the Iraqi Parliament.

NATO announced on that it had suspended its training mission, which fields 500 instructors.

The NATO official said other mission personnel were being moved to other parts of Iraq, and emphasised that “NATO maintains a presence”.

The alliance plans to resume its training there “when the situation permits”.

The US was “disappointed” in Iraq’s actions Sunday, a US State Department spokeswoman said.

JCPOA: Zarif invited to Brussels

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said that the recent developments in Iran and Iraq and the whole region are “extremely worrying”.

Subsequently the current situation puts at risk the efforts of the past years and also has implications for the “important work” of the Global Coalition Against Daesh, Borrell underlined.

The latest rocket attacks on air bases in Iraq used by the U.S. and the coalition forces, among them European forces, are yet another example of escalation and increased confrontation. It is in no one’s interest to turn up the spiral of violence even further” the diplomat said.

The EU diplomacy reacted upon the developments in Middle East with an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on January 10 to discuss what the European Union “can do in the short-, medium- and long-term to help stabilise the region”.

The EU diplomat refered to the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) with Iran as “more important than ever” because of it uniqueness in international relations, offering multilateral format of cooperation with Russia and China on the issues of security and non-proliferation.

Borrell has invited the Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran Javad Zarif to Brussels.

Maybe we will have a meeting soon in order to analyse together the situation of this agreement, into which the European Union has put a lot of effort in order to maintain it after the withdrawal of the United States” the diplomat said.

Once again he confirmed being “in touch” with all participants as coordinator to keep the “unity” of the group, of the European countries represented in the work of the JCPoA, and the importance of the full implementation by all parties.

Borrell calls for extraordinary Council

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell has called for an extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council with the Member States on Friday afternoon, 10 January, to discuss recent developments in Iraq and Iran.
“EU will play its full role to seek de-escalation of tensions in the region”, Borrell wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

Initially the Council of Foreign Affairs was scheduled on 20 January 2020.

Iraq milita protests at US Embassyш

Reportedly the protesters, among which the majority are the militia fighters, enraged by U.S. air strikes on Iraq staged a violent demonstration outside the American Embassy in Baghdad at New Year eve, setting ablaze a security post and hurling stones as security forces. The embassy guards retaliated with stun grenades and tear gas.

Iraqi officials said the ambassador, the diplomats and the staff had been evacuated, but this could not be confirmed with American officials, according to Reuters news agency.

In Washington, President Trump accused Iran of orchestrating the violence and underlining that Tehran would be held responsible.

AMENDED: Image source social media.

EU prepares Magnitsky Law

The human rights were high on the agenda of the EU foreign ministers gathering in Brussels for December Council.

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell underlined that the issue of human rights remains a clear priority for Europeans and this trend will continue during his mandate. It is “very timely” to talk about it at eve of the International Human Rights Day, he added.

“The important thing is that, under the request of several Member States, we have agreed to launch the preparatory work for a global sanctions regime to address serious human rights violations, which will be the EU equivalent of the so-called Magnitsky Act of the United States. I was asked on this issue in my presentation at the Parliament last week and today we have decided, with strong consensus, to launch the preparatory work – and the European External Action Service will prepare the documentation for this – in order to prepare the equivalent of this Act. This will be a tangible step reaffirming the European Union’s global lead on human rights” the diplomat announced.

The Member States have also been informed about – and they have showed broad support for it – a new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy that will be prepared by EEAS services for the next five years, Borrell explained. “The EU diplomacy will present the proposal early next year, a reference document on human rights in the world” he declared.

Answering questions of press during the conference, he added that there have been consensus on Magnitsky law already.

“Had there been an opposition from just one Member state, we could not be acting the way we have decided to act, because as you know, it requires unanimity in the Council. So there is a strong consensus”, Borrell ensured.

“Some Member States who were opposing have abandoned the opposition and joined the broader consensus. Others may still have some collateral questions and some concerns, but as Chair of the Council, I think it could be considered that [there was] consensus in order to launch the technical process of preparing [the legislative acts] to address [the matter] to the relevant bodies of the Council, in particular the working group on human rights and RELEX. We will prepare all the papers and we will launch the process.

“Well, it is important because we have some methods of this kind to deal with violations of another issue, cyber security, for example. And I think that to have a tool like this that gives across the board a method of reacting with an approval by the Council in general terms, gives us much more strength and much more capacity to react in front of serious human rights violations. We are talking about serious human rights violations. And many Parliamentarians where asking for that. And I put the question on the table of the Council of Ministers and there was enough consensus to go ahead.” 

https://twitter.com/billbrowder/status/1204349016844230656?s=21

Magnitsky Act is a bipartisan bill passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2012, aimed at punishment of Russian officials responsible for the death of Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky (37) in a Moscow prison cell in 2009.There is a strong suspiction that Magnitsky was killed by the prison wards, refusting to accept the false accusations against him. Initially he was imprisoned after investigating a $230 million fraud of Russian tax officials, the crime was covered by prosection, twisting against Magnitsky.

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