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.

Kazakhstan: CSTO sends peacekeepers

Brussels 06.01.2022 The Collective Security Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) approved the decision to send peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, who chairs the Council in 2022, said on Thursday, January 6.

“In view of the address of President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and considering the threat to national security and sovereignty of the Republic of Kazakhstan, caused in particular by interference from the outside, the CSTO Collective Security Council in accordance with Article 4 of the Collective Security Treaty made the decision to send CSTO Collective Peacekeeping Forces to the Republic of Kazakhstan for a limited period with the aim of stabilisation and normalisation of the situation in this country,” Pashinyan wrote in Facebook.

On January 2, crowds took to the streets in the cities of Zhanaozen and Aktau in the Mangystau Region, in southwestern Kazakhstan, protesting against high fuel – liquid gas – prices.

Two days later, the protests engulfed Almaty, in the country’s southeast, where the police used flashbangs to disperse the crowd, as well as other cities, including Atyrau, Aktobe (in the west), Uralsk (in the northwest), Taraz, Shymkent, Kyzylorda (in the south), Karaganda (in the northeast) and even Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan.

The president imposed a two-week state of emergency in the Mangystau Region and in the Almaty Region, as well as the republic’s largest city of Almaty and the capital Nur-Sultan.

On January 5, the head of the state also accepted the government’s resignation, but vowed to keep his grip on power.

Reportedly 353 members of Kazakhstan’s law enforcement were injured in the clashes with protesters in Almaty, 12 were killed, the Khabar-24 TV channel said quoting the Almaty commandant’s office.

According to the TV channel, one of the victims was beheaded. “This proves the terrorist and extremist nature of criminal formations,” the commandant’s office was quoted by national media.

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”.

Russia-Turkey: Chechen war memory clash

Brussels 22.12.2021 Kremlin has conveyed its disapproval to Ankara via diplomatic channels over an attributing a name of Dzhokhar Dudayev, the leader of Chechen separatists, to one of the city parks, the spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Wednesday, December 22. (Image: Caucasus, illustration)

“We have already notified our Turkish colleagues via diplomatic channels that we, to put it mildly, do not approve of such names in Turkish cities,” he said.

The Kremlin official also said that the reaction of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov to this event was quite understandable. “This is a very emotional yet understandable reaction of the head of a Russian region who suvived several wars, several wars that were provoked, started by terrorists who attempted to take control over that Russian region,” he said. Putin’s press secretary reiterated that “one of the terrorists who did it was at some point their leader Dudayev.”

“Recently, unfortunately, in one of Turkey’s regions one of the parks was named after this terrorist. Of course, this is a very painful decision for all Chechens, for the Republic of Chechnya within the Russian Federation,” the spokesman asserted. Therefore, in his opinion “such an emotional reaction is quite understandable.”

On December 21, Kadyrov addressed the Russian Foreign Ministry asking to respond to the actions of Turkish authorities. The Chechen leader also urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to determine whether he supports “transparent and honest relations with the Russian Federation.” According to the Chechen leader, the current actions by the Turkish authorities are a direct threat to Turkish-Russian relations, they should be noticed and preventive diplomatic measures should be taken.

Earlier, media outlets reported that a park was opened in Korfez, a town in Turkey’s north-west, named after Dudayev, the president of the self-proclaimed Chechen Republic of Ichkeria who led an armed resistance after federal troops were deployed to the region in 1994. He was neutralised in a special operation in 1996.

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.

Russian diplomat warns NATO against “delusions”

Brussels 28.11.2021 The assumptions heard in the United States that Russia is likely to be frightened with NATO capabilities in Ukraine and the Black Sea are dangerous delusions, Russia’s Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov said on the YouTube channel during a TV show on Saturday, November 28.

“NATO states are taking over the Black Sea, Ukrainian territory. There are assumptions, which are voiced here, that certain daredevils or a group of combatants may turn up in Ukraine, who will try to test the strength of Russian defenses, expecting that we will not respond fearing the NATO potential. I would like to say and emphasize unequivocally that it is a very dangerous delusion,” the diplomat said.

Antonov pointed out that Washington is increasingly expanding the range of weapons delivered to Ukraine.

“Militarily speaking, this range of weapons funneled to Ukraine is expanding more and more. The Stinger [man-portable air-defense systems], Javelin [anti-tank weapons] and even our Mi-17 [helicopters] got there,” he said.

“They keep saying that these are defensive weapons. But we know what ‘defensive weapons’ mean, what the US Mk-41 systems are like, which, on the one hand, are certainly defensive, as they are anti-missile systems, but it has already been proven, and the Americans are not concealing now that they can be used for launching intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles,” the diplomat stressed.

Russia response to NATO Black Sea drills

Brussels 13.11.2021 President Vladimir Putin finds it inappropriate to carry out its drills in the Black Sea in response to NATO exercises there, there is no need to escalate the situation, he explained it in an interview with Pavel Zarubin.

“I should say that our Defense Ministry also came up with a proposal to hold its own unplanned exercises in this water area, but I believe that this is inappropriate and there is no need to further escalate the situation there. Therefore, the Russian Defense Ministry does not go further than escorting aircraft and ships,” Putin said.

The President drew attention to the fact that now the United States and its NATO allies are now conducting unplanned exercises in the Black Sea.

Moreover, “not only they formed a fairly powerful naval group there, but they also use aviation, including strategic aviation, in the course of these exercises,” Putin noted.

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.

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.