Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic for NATO leadership

Brussels 25.07.2021 Is Former Croatia President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in Line for Top NATO Job?
As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Politico portal, announced that for the first time in the 72-year history of the Alliance, the incumbent Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is looking for a successor, preferably from Eastern Europe. Taking into consideration the equity agenda, the time for change and break glass ceiling,
the main candidate is Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, who was a former Vice President of NATO and was also an ambassador to the United States.

(Image above: archive, Moscow The 2018 FIFA World Cup Final: Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovich with Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin)

Another factor is whether the country from which the presidential candidate is coming from meets the NATO target of spending of a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

It has been noted that Croatia’s former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has an “impressive biography”, leading this hypothesis to be regarded among relevant political leaders and diplomats.

Back during the 2015 Croatian presidential campaign, the then HDZ candidate didn’t want to reveal what her salary was as an assistant working at North-Atlantic Treaty Organisaton.

“I still follow the instructions given to me by NATO, which oblige me as a former NATO employee to make sure this data isn’t to be disclosed to the public, and the salary is much less than twenty thousand euros,” said former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic at the confrontation at which the matter was discussed with Ivo Josipovic (SDP), who claimed that salaries in NATO were not kept secret.

Afterwards in late 2016, there was speculation that former British Prime Minister David Cameron potentially becoming NATO’s new secretary general, and the British newspaper The Independent reported that the salary for the post was £220,000 a year (which is around €21,000 per month). According to the document from the beginning of 2020, the highest monthly salary paid out to a NATO employee stood at €23,646.

Fast forward to November 2020, NATO asked its members to increase funds in order to further improve the salaries of its employees, in accordance with the agreed methodology, which some allies refused, considering it inappropriate at hard times of the pandemic.

At Headquarters, formal talks on Stoltenberg’s successor have just begun, and the new Secretary-General is scheduled to introduce the NATO leaders’ summit in Madrid in late spring or early summer next year.

Image below: A competitor of Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovich  in NATO top job race – incumbent Estonia President Kersti Kaljulaid.

Continue reading “Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic for NATO leadership”

EU stands with Russian civil society

Brussels 23.07.2021 “Russian authorities recently announced a number of new decisions targeting independent media outlets, journalists and civil society organisations” reads the statement by the European External Action Service spokesperson on the continued crackdown on independent media outlets, journalists and civil society in Russia.

“The Institute of Law and Public Policy (ILPP) and a number of journalists were designated as so-called “foreign agents”, and the media outlet Project Media, Inc. was declared a so-called “undesirable organisation”. In addition, the association of lawyers and journalists Team 29 (Komanda 29), defending human rights and fundamental freedoms in Russia, decided to cease its activities following pressure and unjustified accusations by the Russian authorities”.

“The cumulative impact of these latest developments, in conjunction with a raft of repressive measures targeting highly respected NGOs and individuals in Russia, results in further quashing dissent, opposition, critical voices and independent institutions from the Russian public sphere. This is particularly worrisome ahead of the State Duma elections in September”.

“The European Union has repeatedly condemned Russian laws on “foreign agents” and “undesirable organisations”, as they run counter to Russia’s international obligations and human rights commitments, including with regard to freedom of expression and association. We reiterate our call on the Russian authorities to reverse these decisions and to stop the unabated crackdown on civil society and independent media”.

“The European Union stands in solidarity with Russian civil society, human rights defenders and independent journalists and will continue to support them in their important work”.

Kremlin issues warning to Taliban

Brussels 14.07.2021 Russian senior official accused the Afghan government of hypocrisy and said it needed to start proper negotiations with the Taliban about the country’s future before it was too late. (Image above: illustration, Afghanistan).

Zamir Kabulov, a special Representative on Afghanistan, issued the warning ahead of upcoming talks about the Afghan crisis in Tajikistan where Foreign Ministers from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation were meeting.

In an interview with state RIA news agency, the high official said that while the Afghan government paid lip service to the idea of talks it was not doing enough to make them happen.

“It’s hypocrisy. It’s an attempt to close their eyes to the reality which exists and these are empty words,” Kabulov told RIA when talking about the Afghan’s government’s stance on negotiations with the Taliban. “We need deeds” Kabulov has underlined.

The only way out of the current crisis which has seen the Taliban make military gains on the back of an exit by U.S. and NATO forces was for all sides to assemble at the negotiating table in Kabul, the official continued. Russia and other regional powers favoured a transitional government in Afghanistan, he added.

Any attempt by the Taliban to damage the security of Russia’s allies in Central Asia will be fraught with large losses for the Taliban movement, continued Zamir Kabulov.
“We are closely monitoring the situation. Taliban should understand that “any attempt to damage the security of our allies in Central Asia will be fraught with great losses for them, if not the loss of everything” Kabulov continued.

EU diplomats to convene in Brussels

Brussels 11.07.2021 The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell.

The Council will start with a discussion on current affairs, during which ministers will have the opportunity to receive updates and react to the latest developments concerning Afghanistan, South Caucasus and Lebanon.

The meeting will then continue with an exchange of views on the geopolitics of new digital technologies, Ethiopia and the Strategic Compass.

Ministers are also expected to approve conclusions on a Globally Connected Europe and on the EU’s priorities at the 76th General Assembly of the United Nations.

Over a working lunch, they will have the opportunity to informally exchange views with the Israeli Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Yair Lapid.

Russia new National security strategy

Brussels 04.07.2021 President Vladimir Putin endorsed the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation. An executive order to this effect was posted on the official legal information website on Saturday, July 3.

“To approve the attached National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation,” the document reads.

According to existing laws the executive order comes into effect from the date of its signing.

“The implementation of this strategy will contribute to protecting Russia’s people, developing human potential, improving the quality of citizens’ life and their prosperity, strengthening the country’s defense capacity, the unity of cohesion of Russian society, achieving national development goals, increasing the competitiveness and international prestige of the Russian Federation,” the document reads.

Hungary receives support

Brussels 28.06.2021 Heading against the all-out campaign of the liberal mainstream against Hungary’s recently adopted child protection law, several European politicians rushed to its defense, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó wrote on his Facebook page. (Image belovw: Prime Minister Viktor Orban with his grandchildren).

Hungary’s new law, which enacted a variety of anti-abuse and anti-pedophile laws, also banned LGBT content or content that promotes children changing their gender from being shown to children under 18. The law has been criticised by the president of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

“The liberal mainstream has launched an unscrupulous fake news campaign against Hungary because we have made it clear that parents have the exclusive right to educate their children about their sexual orientation. But no matter what they say about us, we won’t let go of it! Get your hands off our children!” Szijjártó wrote, causing further polemics.

However Szijjártó has underlined the fact that there were those who “stood by us in spite of the terror of opinion from those who commit stigmatising, lying attacks. Thank you for standing by our country, you can count on us too!”

Among those who support Hungary were politicians in Poland, Italy, Estonia, and Slovakia.

“Children and families must be protected from being affected by any indoctrination activity. (…) There are clear rules that parents have the right to raise their child. I want to underline this very strongly, because I have a very deep conviction that it is a good attitude for parents to be able to decide who and on what principles can hold any kind of teaching-educational activities,” said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

According to Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, the Hungarian law must be “satisfactorily explained”.
“I can’t judge, we agreed that we should discuss it in a V4 framework to make sure the interpretations are correct,” Babis has underlined.

“We are a little concerned about what is happening around Hungary. In Hungary, a law has been passed in the parliament to combat pedophilia, and there are also provisions dealing with homosexual education. (…) Is this a reason to exclude someone from the EU?” said former Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, adding that “the whole EU and the whole European Commission stood on its head”.

Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League party also came to the defense of the Hungarian law.

“Each state is free to decide how to organise its own schools, universities and judiciary. I don’t understand the interventions,” he said.

PM Sanna Marin trashes EU dress code

Brussels 25.06.2021 Anna van Densky OPINION There is no official dress code in the EU institutions, “however you are expected to dress adequately” the site of the European Commission announced. For most businesses throughout Europe, business attire is formal, which means dark suits, subdued ties, and lace-up shoes. Women’s clothing follows suit.
(Image: Finnish PM Sanna Marin “Friday” casual look at doorstep of the European Council).

Business attire is a formal dress code for many offices and corporate events in the EU. It denotes a professional style of dress that appears smart and sophisticated. For men, a suit is generally required. Women as “newcomers” can interpret business attire in a range of ways. While pantsuits and skirt suits are ideal, polished separates and business dresses are accepted if applied with discretion.

Business casual is a somewhat relaxed style of office wear which is accepted on certain occasions. It is often called upon for contemporary places of work in offices, however nowadays with distant working everything has been even more relaxed due to teleconferencing.

Previously along with “casual Fridays” in more conservative offices. Formal business attire is more sophisticated than business casual and is typically reserved for more traditional offices along with certain professional occasions, such as meetings and presentations.

According to modern dress code women can wear casual pants or skirts. Neither should be tight. Fabrics should be crisp; colours should generally be solid; navy, black,  gray, brown and khaki are always safe bets. For the most business-like appearance, pants should be creased and tailored; neither extreme of tight or flowing. (Image below: Christine LAGARDE -President of the European Central Bank):

“If you are pursuing a conservative industry and are in doubt, observe well-dressed women in your industry on the job, at career fairs, at information sessions, or consult your career coach” the University of Maryland School of Business instructs.

However new generation EU politicians are not willing to look up to the pre-COVID19 era. Lockdowns, social distancing and teleworking reflected upon modern looks. Future is clearly unceremonious! 

Russia-UK Black Sea altercation

Brussels 23.06.2021 Russian Black Sea Fleet, jointly with the Border Guard Service, halted the violation of the “Russian state border by a UK naval ship off Crimea coast”, the Defense Ministry of Russia reported on Wednesday, June 23. (Image: illustration).

A guard ship of the Black Sea Fleet fired warning shots while a Su-24M bomber conducted preventing bombing, the ministry informed.

“At 11:52 on June 23 this year, the UK Navy’s guided missile destroyer Defender operating in the northwestern part of the Black Sea crossed the state border of the Russian Federation and moved 3 km into the territorial sea near Cape Fiolent,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet jointly with the Border Guard Service of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia “halted the violation of the Russian state border by the UK Navy’s guided missile destroyer Defender,” the statement says.

The UK Navy’s guided missile destroyer Defender was floated out in 2009. The warship can develop a speed of about 30 knots and operates various armaments, including Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers and short-and medium-range air defense systems.

The Type 45 destroyers were built to replace the Type 42 (Sheffield-class) destroyers that had served during the Falklands War (10-weeks war between Argentina and the UK in 1982 over two British dependent territories) with the last Type 42 being decommissioned in 2013. The National Audit Office reported that, during an “intensive attack”, a single Type 45 could simultaneously track, engage and destroy more targets than five Type 42 destroyers operating together.

The class HMS45 is primarily designed for anti-aircraft and anti-missile warfare.

HUNGARY: Leyen expresses “legal concerns”

Brussels 23.06.2021 “This Hungarian bill is a shame. I have instructed the responsible commissioners to send a letter to express our legal concerns before the bill enters into force”

This bill clearly discriminates against people based on their sexual orientation. It goes against the fundamental values of the European Union. Human dignity, equality and respect for human rights.

“We will not compromise on these principles. I have said it before: I believe in a European Union where you are free to be who you are and love whomever you want. I believe in a Europe which embraces diversity.
I will use all the powers of the Commission to ensure that the rights of all EU citizens are guaranteed. Whoever they are and where ever they live within the European Union”.

Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg led the charge against Hungary’s anti-LGBT law while the European affairs ministers from the 27 EU countries met to discuss the rule of law. In total, 16 member states out of 27 expressed their disapproval of the Hungarian law.

Last week, the Hungarian parliament passed a new law tabled by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán that bans the portrayal of homosexuality and sex reassignment during school education material and TV programmes addressed to people under 18 years of age.

The bill, approved during Pride month, was facing the condemnation from high-ranking officials of several EU countries and political groups in the European Parliament. The outrage over the Hungarian law was discussed by the EU Council, with the Benelux ministers gathering linked-minded countries in a critical statement against the legislation.

Following behind-the-scenes consultations, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Spain, Sweden and Latvia endorsed the Benelux text. Italy waited until the end of the meeting to add its name to the list, while Austria and Greece did so the following day.

“[The law] represents a flagrant form of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and hence deserves to be condemned. Inclusion, human dignity and equality are core values of our European Union, and we cannot compromise on these principles,” the countries said.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has expressed his opinion during the radio programme “Good morning, Hungary”, explaining that the law is not anti-gay, but defending children’s rights. “This is a law about the protection of our children” the Hungarian Prime Minister has underlined.

CoE calls Spain to release political prisoners

Brussels 21.06.2021 The Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France, has officially called on Spain to release Catalonia’s political prisoners and withdraw the extradition requests for their exiled colleagues. The parliamentary assembly of the institution green lighted a report by its Committee on Legal Affairs on the situation of political leaders behind bars in Spain and Turkey by 70 votes in favour, 28 against and 12 abstentions. They also overturned one by one and by a large majority the amendments of Spain’s PSOE and PP representatives who wanted to reduce the report’s critical content.

Latvian Socialist Boriss Cilevičs, who acted as rapporteur, visited Catalonia in February 2020 in order to write a report on political prisoners in Europe for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe after a score of council deputies proposed the initiative a month earlier.

During the session on Monday, rapporteur Cilevičs opened the debate, with a speech upholding his work and saying the convictions are “disproportionate” and “do not comply with the rule of law.” The representative highlighted that the politicians and activists are facing “a long time in jail, similar to rapists” for issues such as votes in parliament and peaceful protests during the exercises of their mandates.

While Cilevičs acknowledged that the referendum was held despite not being allowed by the Constitutional Court, he also reminded that holding such a vote was decriminalized in Spain. He said that disobedience – not carrying prison – could have been a reasonable crime for which to be convicted, but sedition “requires elements of violence” and the rallies ahead of October 1, 2017 were “peaceful.”

The politician, who also rejected the independence campaigners “using the report to promote separatism,” defended that public representatives should be “allowed to make statements that go against the Constitution.”
Spain’s resounding defeat: Council of Europe demands release of Catalan political prisoners and return of exiles

Report passed by a majority of 70 to 28 calls convictions “disproportionate” and demands withdrawing extradition requests for exiles.