Lavrov reflects upon Russia-NATO relations

Brussels 27.12.2021 Anna van Densky There is no way that Russia joins NATO, since the West does not want to have rivals comparable in influence at the global stage, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the Solovyov Live YouTube channel on Monday,December 27. (Image: illustration).

Reflecting the question about the possibility of joining NATO on certain conditions, on an equal footing, the diplomat said that he did not assume such an opportunity for Russian Federation.

“I do not consider this possible, as the whole process does not revolve around NATO or the EU, it is about the West’s unwillingness to have any competitors in the international arena that are in the slightest degree comparable in terms of influence,” Lavrov explained.

According to the Minister, such attitude of the Western states derives their “hysteria over the rise of China”, which agreed to the rule introduced in the global economy and “outplayed the West on its own field”.

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.

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.

Lavrov: AUKUS undermines ASEAN

Brussels 03.10.2021 New AUKUS alliance between the US, the UK, and Australia as well as the four-sided dialogue on security between the US, Japan, India, and Australia (Quad) are directed at eroding the long-standing universal formats of cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region existing under the auspices of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the 29th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy on October 2, Saturday.

The Russian top diplomat noted, “one of the most fashionable trends today is the so-called Indo-Pacific strategies that are invented by the United States,” in particular, AUKUS and Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between United States, India, Japan and Australia).

“All of this follows the line of eroding the universal formats in the Asia-Pacific Region which existed for the past decades under the auspices of ASEAN,” Lavrov underlined.

The minister named “East Asian summits, the ASEAN security forum, meetings of ASEAN defense ministers and partners, the so-called ASEAN+, and a number of other formats” based on the “principle of consensus” among such universal formats.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has previously questioned whether the EU would be able to strike a trade deal with Australia, in solidarity with France.

But on Friday, September 1, spokespersons for the European Commission explained than it is not “punishing anybody”. The decision to delay the talks by a month took place a couple of days ago and would “allow us to prepare better”, they said, adding that it was not “unusual” to push back trade talks.

UN: Borrell-Lavrov meeting in NYC

Brussels 24.09.2021 The EU High Representative Josep Borrell met with the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, in the margins of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly on Thursday. They discussed EU-Russia relations as well as pressing international issues.(Image: archive)

High Representative Borrell addressed some of the challenges in EU-Russia relations, the objective being to aim at a more stable and predictable relationship. Disagreements persist, in particular in regards to Russia’s violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in the area of democracy and human rights, as well as with regard to cyber, disinformation and other hybrid threats.

The discussion focused on international issues where the EU and Russia should continue to cooperate, with a view to addressing global security challenges such as the situation in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, the Middle East Peace Process or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

ex-President Ashraf Ghani brother joins Taliban

Brussels 21.08.2021 Ashraf Ghani’s brother joins Taliban, EHA News reports. Former President Ashraf Ghani’s brother Heshmat Ghani pledged allegiance to Taliban,the video of the ceremony was released on the social media.

Heshmat Ghani Ahmadzai joined the Taliban in the presence of Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani, a senior Taliban member, and declared his support for the Taliban.

Local Pajhwok news agency said on Saturday, August 21, that Hashmat Ghani, brother of former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, had pledged allegiance to the movement. Heshmat Ghani, who heads the Kush (Bedouin) Grand Council in Afghanistan, held no official post during Ashraf Ghani’s eight-year presidency.
Heshmat Ghani appeared in a video pledging allegiance to Khalil Rahman, a prominent member of the Taliban movement, according to the Afghan agency.

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Tajikistan has accused Afghan President Ashraf Ghani of stealing nearly $170 million while fleeing Kabul, and the diplomat is calling for international authorities to arrest him.

Ambassador Zahir Aghbar, during a news conference said said Ghani, who fled the country as the Taliban entered Kabul on Sunday, on August 15, and “stole $169 million from the state coffers,” according to The Associated Press.

He did not offer any additional details regarding his allegation.

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”

Geneva awaiting for Biden-Putin talks

Brussels 13.06.2021 The authorities of Geneva welcome the choice of Villa La Grange as the venue of the June 16 meeting of Russian and US presidents, the spokesperson for the Canton of Geneva, Emmanuel Cuenod, told TASS News agency.

“We are happy, and we are looking forward to having this meeting there, in this beautiful Villa La Grange, which is one of the most gorgeous places in Geneva,” Cuenod said.

The spokesperson said La Grange Park, where the villa is located, is a very popular site that Geneva’s residents and visitors visit for recreation. In particular, he mentioned a beautiful view of Geneva Lake and the fountain Jet d’Eau. Both delegations and journalists will be able to enjoy the beauties of the Geneva region, he said.

Cuenod refrained from comment as to what was being done for the past few days to get the villa ready for the summit. Currently, the building houses the city’s library.

Earlier on Thursday, the Swiss Foreign Ministry said the summit meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden would be held at the Villa La Grange on June 16. The 18th-century villa is in the very center of a 21-hectare park on the shores of Geneva Lake. The villa has belonged to the city since 1917.

On June 8-18, the villa is closed to visitors, and a steel barrier has been placed around the park. The authorities of the Canton of Geneva on June 9 said security would be tightened on June 14-17. All flights by drones over the canton have been prohibited. Geneva’s waterfronts, the lake, La Grange Park, and the adjoining Eaux-Vives Park were included in a special security perimeter where special measures of control are in effect.

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.