Macron: “demanding dialogue” with Russia

Strasbourg 19.01.2022 An initiative on European security will be proposed to Russia
“We will ensure that Europe makes its voice heard, unique and strong”, also argued Emmanuel Macron. (Image: illustration)

“These next few weeks should lead us to bring to fruition a European proposal building a new order of European security and stability”, continued the French president.
“We must build it between Europeans, then share it with our allies within the framework of NATO, and then offer it for negotiation with Russia,” he explained.

Emmanuel Macron also called for “seeking a political solution in Ukraine, which remains the source of current tensions”.

“Europe must finally build a collective security order on our continent. The security of our continent requires a strategic rearmament of our Europe as a power of peace and balance, in particular in the dialogue with Russia. This dialogue, I have been defending it for several years. It is not an option because both our history and our geography are stubborn, both for ourselves and for Russia, for the security in our continent which is indivisible. We need this dialogue. We Europeans must collectively set our own demands and put ourselves in a position to enforce them. A frank, demanding dialogue in the face of destabilization, interference and manipulation” Macron said.

Dialogue with Russia, “I have been defending it for several years, it is not an option”, hammered the French president on Wednesday before the European Parliament, in full tension between Russia and the West.

In Strasbourg, Emmanuel Macron gave the traditional speech marking the launch of the rotating presidency of the European Union, which France will exercise until June 30. Before the MEPs, and less than three months before the French presidential election, the Head of State expressed a vision deeply attached to this continent, a long symbol of an “intangible peace” but now subject to “doubts”. To “rebuild our Europe”, the tenant of the Élysée has drawn up the major projects to come and established three promises: democracy, progress and peace.

Russia construction ambitions in Greece

Brussels 11.12.2021 In a very unusual format the spokesperson of Kremlin gave an interview to a Greek TV Channel, acting like a diplomat.
Dmitry Peskov said Russia is interested in implementing megaprojects in Greece much like it does in Turkey, while talking to an English-language interview with the Greek Antenna TV channel. The conversation took place before the December 8 meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Sochi. The full interview was issued on Saturday, December 11.

The Kremlin official said that Russia is interested in expanding economic cooperation with Greece. “We have lots and lots of Russian companies who are ready to invest in Greek economy. We are interested in implementing huge, mega projects like we do it in Turkey. Of course, it is not that every project is allowed [in Greece], for example, we are building a nuclear station in Akkuyu in Turkey, but, unfortunately, nuclear energy is forbidden in Greece,” he explained.

Peskov said that Russia holds the decisive role of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in high esteem. “He is the type of man that is being appreciated by President Putin because when President Erdogan said something he meant it and he did it. This is important.”

As for the differences between Russia and Turkey on a number of issues, the Kremlin official said that “it’s impossible not to have them,” pointing out that in Syria, the two countries used to have quite tense moments where their interests were colliding in several spheres. “But every time the two presidents found it possible to come together, to sit for five, six, seven hours and not going in front of the press without reaching a solution. Every time they managed to do it,” the spokesman noted.

In response to a question as to whom Russia would support in case of an armed incident in the Aegean Sea, the Kremlin official said that “the last thing we would like to see in the Aegean or in the Mediterranean Sea is us being closer to a conflict. We were very worried in August of 2020 when there was a collision between the ships of two countries,” stressing that it is desirable to avoid any repetition of similar incidents in the future. According to him, Russia would like to support the resolution of issues between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea. “We would like to support a solution,” he said, noting that Russia would like to see both sides proceed taking the reality into account “because every solution is a two-way street, with the reciprocal wish to reach the solution.”

In response to a question whether Greece may expect Russia’s full support against Turkey’s actions in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, the Kremlin official said that Turkey insisted that the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and Greece’s demands to establish the internationally recognized width of the continental shelf of inhabited islands in the Aegean Sea as well as the scale of the exclusive economic zone would definitely harm Turkey’s national interests and deprive it of its right to use the natural resources of the region. “So, we call for both sides to be calm and to be reasonable in solving the problem,” Putin’s press secretary concluded.

Europarliament imposes COVID19 Certificate

Brussels 31.10.2021 EP’s Bureau decided that the request to present an EU Digital COVID Certificate to access Parliament’s buildings will be extended to all people wishing to enter, reads the announcement on the site of the European Parliament.

As of November 3, all people entering Parliament’s buildings in its three places will be requested to present a valid EU Digital COVID Certificate, including journalists. The EU Digital COVID certificate proves that a person is either fully vaccinated, has immunity after having recovered from COVID-19 or can show a recent negative PCR test result. Both digital and paper formats of the EU Digital COVID Certificate or of a recognised equivalent certificate will be accepted.

A proof of a negative result of a PCR test carried out within the last 48 hours in Belgium, Luxembourg or France will also be accepted.

Please note that the existing precautionary measures like the compulsory wearing of a medical face mask and temperature checks at entrances remain in place.

The measure, taken by the Bureau will enable MEPs the return to in-person meetings for parliamentary activities, while continuing to guarantee safety. The decision takes into account the specificity of the European Parliament, an Institution gathering MEPs and other actors travelling to and from different Member States on a regular basis and the significant differences in vaccination level in Member States, according to the latest ECDC data. Please note that the measure was already in place for all external visitors since the beginning of September.

Personal data retrieved from the Certificate during the scanning process will only encompass the name of the holder, the authenticity and the validity of the Certificate. The personal data will be processed in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 and its use will be strictly limited to granting access to Parliament’s buildings. Personal data will not be stored, recorded or retained locally or externally or transferred to any other Union body or third party.

Russia denies gas use for politics

Brussels 29.10.2021 The European Union is perfectly aware that Moscow uses gas for mutually beneficial cooperation, and never blackmails anyone, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her Telegram channel on Friday, October 29, following Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s claims that Russia was allegedly using gas to blackmail the EU into making favourable decisions.

“Russia does not use gas for blackmail, but for mutually beneficial cooperation. The EU and Poland know this quite well,” Zakharova has underlined.

Russian diplomat added that Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo had reacted in a rather bizarre way to Marowiecki’s claims the EU was threatening Poland with World War III.

“The Belgian Prime minister said that those who utter such statements ‘are playing with fire when waging war with your European colleagues for internal political reasons’,” Zakharova wrote.

On Friday, October 29, Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Belgian ambassador to Poland, Luc Jacobs, out of discontent over Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo’s criticism of Warsaw’s approach to its rule-of-law argument with Brussels.

Jacobs met Poland’s Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk on Friday afternoon, the Ministry’s spokesperson said. Diplomats typically use such requests to convey displeasure.

Belgium’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also confirmed the meeting, which illustrates the growing tension within the EU over alleged democratic deficit in Poland. The EU institutions are frustrated with the Polish judiciary reforms, which law experts said have undermined judicial independence, as well as a court ruling that questioned the supremacy of EU law.

Navalny wins Sakharov Prize

Strasbourg 20.10.2021 Sakharov Prize for Navalny is completely justified: “It is quite right that the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought should be awarded to Navalny. Alexei Navalny is constantly opposing Vladimir Putin’s regime, despite the Russian president’s efforts to silence him in every possible way.” That is the reaction of MEP Peter van Dalen (ChristenUnie) to the announcement just now.

By awarding the Sakharov Prize to Alexei Navalny, the European Parliament is giving the Russian opposition a great boost, says Van Dalen: “We are making it clear loud and clear that Putin’s attempts to silence opponents are not working.” Navalny was nominated by the EPP group for the Sakharov Prize more than a month ago, after MEP Peter van Dalen (Christian Union) nominated him. He then justified it as follows: “Navalny deserves this award for his continued resistance to Putin and his regime. For this fight he almost paid the highest price: his life. He has been bullied, harassed, imprisoned, arrested, poisoned and re-arrested countless times since 2006.”

According to Van Dalen, the former opposition leader stands for human rights, open democracy and transparency and advocates reforms against corruption in Russia: “The result of this, however, is that he is now in a Russian prison camp. As far as I am concerned, there is therefore no other person who meets the criteria of this award as well as Navalny. He is truly committed to freedom of thought.” Van Dalen hopes that a large group in Russia may feel supported by this award: “In addition to Navalny, we also honor the enormous list of others who have become victims of Putin’s regime in recent years. Navalny is therefore the icon of resistance against the dictator in Moscow.”
The official presentation of the Sakharov Prize is on December 15 in Strasbourg.

Crimea: EU non-recognition policy

Brussels 15.10.2021 The EU condemns the decision of the Russian Federation to conduct a population census in the “illegally annexed Ukrainian territory of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol” from 15 October until 14 November, and the launching of yet another conscription campaign on 1 October.

“These actions are an attempt to legitimise the illegal annexation of Crimea and further undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders”.(Tweet below: new road infrastructure).

The European Union calls on Russia to stop all violations of international law and international humanitarian law on the Crimean peninsula. The European Union will continue to work for a peaceful end of Russia’s “illegal annexation of the peninsula”, as reiterated at the first summit of the International Crimean Platform on 23 August. The European Union will continue and to enforce its non-recognition policy.

AUSTRIA refuses Afghan migrants

Brussels 07.09.2021 This week Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has reiterated that he does not want to see a surge of Afghan migrants and praised Greece for reinforcing the external border of the European Union.

Chancellor Kurz made the remarks on Monday, September 6, during a press conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić in Belgrade.

“If there are waves of migration from Afghanistan, migrants must be cared for in neighbouring countries. That is why we are in contact with the countries of that region,” Kurz said, according to Euronews.

Adding: “They must not go to Europe.”

President Vučić agreed with the Austrian chancellor’s sentiments, stating: “Those who leave Afghanistan have a clear goal: Western Europe and the United States. Not many of them want to stay in the Western Balkans. We will show solidarity with everyone, but we will not be the place where they can camp.”

Chancellor Kurz also praised the Greek government for its stance on fortifying the European Union external border, saying: “Today, at the external borders of the EU, these phenomena are better dealt with, and the approach is different than it was in 2015 when with European funds, i.e. European taxpayers’ money, migrants were promoted through Greece to other countries in Europe. ”

“This has changed. Greece is now making a significant contribution, making great efforts, to guard the EU’s external borders,” he said.

While Sebastian Kurz has come out against taking in large numbers of Afghan migrants, at home, his Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and their stance on the issue has conflicted with their Green Party coalition partners.

The debate takes place while about 500 homeless people, mainly migrants including Afghans and families with children, set up tents on Wednesday September 1 in Paris, under the windows of the prefecture of the Ile-de-France region, in order to ask the state “Dignified and lasting hosting solutions”.

550 Afghan migrants welcomed in Hauts-de-Seine, accommodated in hotels.
At the same time, a homeless person is sentenced to prison for not wearing a mask.
“Hotel *** Mercure (in Strasbourg) for migrants, prison for the French” write indignant users of social networks.

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”.

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.

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.