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”

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.

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! 

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.

Putin: “extraordinary individual” Trump

Brussels 11.06.2021 Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his interview with NBC News that he respects former US leader Donald Trump, defining him as a “extraordinary individual”. (Image: meeting in Helsinki, July 2018)

“Well even now, I believe that former U.S. president Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual, talented individual, otherwise he would not have become U.S. President,” Putin said.

“He is a colorful individual. You may like him or not. And, but he didn’t come from the U.S. establishment, he had not been part of big time politics before, and some like it some don’t like it but that is a fact,” Putin noted.

The full version of the interview will be aired on Monday, June 14 on Trump’s birthday.

On Thursday, June 10, Trump asked Joe Biden in a written statement to give Putin his “warmest regards” at the upcoming Geneva summit. The former president said his meeting with the Russian leader in Helsinki, Finland in 2018 was “great and very productive.”

In the statement the 45th President of the United States of America Donald J. Trump wrote:

As President, I had a great and very productive meeting in Helsinki, Finland, with President Putin of Russia. Despite the belated Fake News portrayal of the meeting, the United States won much, including the respect of President Putin and Russia. Because of the phony Russia, Russia, Russia Hoax, made-up and paid for by the Democrats and Crooked Hillary Clinton, the United States was put at a disadvantage—a disadvantage that was nevertheless overcome by me. As to who do I trust, they asked, Russia or our “Intelligence” from the Obama era, meaning people like Comey, McCabe, the two lovers, Brennan, Clapper, and numerous other sleezebags, or Russia, the answer, after all that has been found out and written, should be obvious. Our government has rarely had such lowlifes as these working for it. Good luck to Biden in dealing with President Putin—don’t fall asleep during the meeting, and please give him my warmest regards!”

Previously President Putin has already expressed his opinion about the impeachment of President Trump in an interview in 2019: “Absolutely far-fetched reasons. This is just a continuation of the political struggle. Democrats are charging Trump with charges of collusion with Russia, or they have invented some kind of pressure on Ukraine.” Putin added that Senate Republicans are unlikely to want to impeach their president.

Russian President added that Russia is interested in developing relations with the United States, regardless of who sits in the White House.

EU-Russia: combating coronavirus

Brussels 07.06.2021 “I conveyed a message of EU unity in my call with president Putin. The downwards trend in EU-Russia relations can only change if Russia stops disruptive behaviour. Fighting the pandemic and making effective vaccines available to everyone is a goal we discussed” Charles Michel, the EU Council President wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

Telephone conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel:

Telephone conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel
“Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel.
Relations between Russia and the European Union, as well as a number of current international issues, were discussed in detail.
“Vladimir Putin stressed that, although Russia and the European Union remained significant trade and investment partners, the current state of Russia-EU relations could not be considered satisfactory. It was noted that a return to pragmatic and respectful cooperation would be in the interests of both. Mutual opinion was expressed that it is important to step up cooperation in specific areas like healthcare, the climate agenda, and settling regional conflicts.

“Combating the spread of the coronavirus infection was also discussed, including the prospects for certifying the Russian vaccine Sputnik V in the European Union and ensuring conditions for mutual travel while complying with anti-pandemic restrictions.

“Developments around Nagorno-Karabakh were discussed in terms of the importance of the further and consistent implementation of the statements made by the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia on November 9, 2020 and January 11, 2021. Priority tasks include unblocking economic and transport connections in the region and resolving local humanitarian problems. Charles Michel expressed support for these efforts, including the work of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs (Russia, the US and France).

“Regarding the additional sanctions pressure on Belarus from the European Union, Vladimir Putin noted that such an approach, like any attempt to interfere in this sovereign state’s domestic affairs, was counterproductive.

“When discussing the internal Ukrainian crisis, both sides noted that the 2015 Minsk Package of Measures remained the only basis for the settlement process. The President of Russia said that the Kiev authorities must strictly implement all previously reached agreements, primarily on establishing a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk and legalising the special status of Donbass.

“During the discussion of developments in Libya, Vladimir Putin and Charles Michel spoke in favour of further promoting the political process and supporting the established authorities during the transition period”.

Steven Seagal joins pro-Kremlin party

Brussels 30.05.2021 Hollywood actor Steven Seagal, who has Russian citizenship, has joined a pro-Kremlin political party Справедливая Россия (Just Russia). The A Just Russia party backs almost all Kremlin initiatives and supports President Vladimir Putin but formally is a rival of the ruling United Russia party.

At a ceremony on May 29, Seagal posed for pictures next to one of the party leaders, Russian writer Zakhar Prilepin, who is associated with Russia-backed separatists of Lugansk and Donetsk in Donbass reagion.

Seagal, who has personal ties with President Putin, was given Russian citizenship in 2016.

The 69-year-old actor has starred in Hollywood action movies such as Above The Law (1988), Hard To Kill (1990), and Under Siege (1992). His movies were popular in the Soviet Union and then in Russia and other ex-Soviet republics.

One of several Western actors and athletes who have been granted Russian citizenship under Putin, he was appointed by the Foreign Ministry as a special envoy for cultural ties with the United States in 2018.

The U.S.-born martial artist has retained his American citizenship.

Airlines: Russia attempts to retaliate

Brussels 28.05.2021 Airlines revealed Russia has blocked some European flights avoiding Belarus airspace in a standoff over the arrest of a Belarusian journalist, as his parents pleaded Thursday for international help to get him released.

The G7 global powers also demanded Minsk release Roman Protasevich and the EU’s foreign policy chief threatened hard-hitting economic sanctions.

Belarus’s strongman President Alexander Lukashenko sparked international outrage by dispatching a fighter jet Sunday to intercept a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius carrying Roman Protasevich, 26, and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega, 23.

A nervous-looking Protasevich was last seen in a video released by Belarusian authorities on Monday in which he was seen supposedly admitting to helping to organise mass unrest, a charge that could land him in jail for 15 years.

“I want you to relay our appeal everywhere, throughout the world, to government representatives, to EU countries, to EU leaders, to US leaders: I am appealing, I am begging, help me free my son,” his mother Natalia told journalists in Warsaw, visibly moved.

Roman’s father, Dmitry said his son was “a tough man” and “a hero”. After almost three decades of service in Belarus armed forces Dmitry was sacked by Lukashenko order as a demonstrative punitive measure for his son’s political activity.

“Throughout his life he fought for the truth and passed it on to people, which is why Lukashenko committed this despicable act,” he said.

The family and their lawyer confirmed that they have not had any communication with their son since his arrest.

Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven wealthy nations on Thursday, May 27, demanded the “immediate and unconditional release” of Protasevich, “as well as all other journalists and political prisoners held in Belarus”, in a joint statement published by the British government.

Belarus expels Lativa diplomats

Brussels 24.05.2021 Belarus is expelling the Ambassador of Latvia H.E. Einars Semanis, he was asked to leave the country within 24 hours. This was announced by the head of the Belarusian diplomacy Vladimir Makei.

“The Latvian ambassador was invited to the Foreign Ministry in connection with the insult of the state flag of Belarus in Riga,” Makei explained.

Together wit the Ambassador, Belarus expels the entire Embassy staff, ​​with the exception of one administrative officer who is allowed to stay in Minsk.

Explaining the actions of Minsk in relation to the Ambassador of Latvia, Makei called the reaction of politicians of a number of Western countries to the situation with the plane “coordinated actions and a planned provocation.” At the same time, Makei noted that Minsk does not exclude a response from Riga.

The head of the Belarus diplomacy has underlined that no country has yet requested information from Belarus on the incident with Ryanair.

The down spiral of the diplomatic raw in the aftermath of the Belarus journalist Roman Protasevich, 26, (pictured above) arrest continues. Protasevich was returning to Vilnius from an economic conference in Greece with Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Greek officials explained.

The RyanAir flight, which had been carrying some 170 passengers, should have taken about three hours. As it approached the border between Belarus and Lithuania, a MiG-29 fighter jet was sent to intercept it. After the forced landing Protasevich has been arrested. There is also an information that the other activist with Russian citizenship, travelling with the same board was detained in Minsk.

Alexander Lukashenko, 66, who is often referred to as “Europe’s last dictator,” personally ordered the fighter jet to escort the Ryanair plane to the Minsk airport after a bomb threat, his press service said. According to the statement, Lukashenko, an ally of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, gave an “unequivocal order” to “make the plane do a U-turn and land.”

The EU Council president Charles Michel has defined the incident as an “international scandal”, pointing out that the forceful landing of the civil aircraft was compromising safety and security of all passengers on board and the EU is going to discuss this issue first at the ongoing Summit of the leaders of 27 to ensure the adequate response: “What happened yesterday in #Belarus is an international scandal. It endangered the lives of civilians & threatens international security. We will discuss different options of sanctions today at #EUCO. A strong reaction is needed” Michel said at the doorstep of the meeting in Brussels.

ECHR: Navalny Foundation lawsuit

Brussels 21.05.2021 The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has given priority to the case on the lawsuit of the Navalny Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) labeled an extremist organisation by Russian government, the director of the Foundation, Ivan Zhdanov, said live on the Navalny Live YouTube channel.

According to Zhdanov, Russia was given a deadline until May 20 to answer questions from the ECHR on this case. Navalny Foundation must announce its position by May 24. At the same time, all the procedures in the case, which can take years, the fund passed in a month, noted Ivan Zhdanov.

The director of the Foundation hopes that the ECHR will deliver its ruling earlier than the Russian court. Ivan Zhdanov suggested that it is precisely because of the consideration of the complaint in the European Court that the case on the recognition of the fund as an extremist organisation in the Russian court is being delayed.
“We believe that the lawsuit against the Anti-Corruption Foundation is a fundamental case that separates us from truly massive repression,” Zhdanov said. “The European Court of Human Rights has also realised that this lawsuit is one of the key events in modern Russian history. “.
In April, the Moscow prosecutor’s office turned to court with a demand to recognise the Anti-Corruption Foundation and Navalny’s headquarters as extremist organisations. As explained in the supervisory department, these organisations are engaged in the destabilisation of the social and socio-political situation “under the guise of liberal slogans.”
“The actual goals of their activities are to create conditions for changing the foundations of the constitutional order, including using the scenario of the “color revolution” the prosecutor’s office has underlined.

All Navalny’s headquarters stopped their activities under unprecedented pressure from Russian state.