EU Foreign Affairs Ministers meet on Ukraine.


As NATO relases a factsheet to refute the “lies of Russia”

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© photocredit

NATO’nun Karadeniz politikaları Türkiye’nin çıkarlarına uyuyor mu?

Türkiye’den NATO’ya Ukrayna için tanker uçak taahhüdü

Kırım’ın yeni anayasası parlamento tarafından oybirliği ile kabul edildi

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS Council – including security and defence issues -14 and 15 April 2014 in Luxembourg


The Council will assess developments in Ukraine and adopt conclusions.


The Council will express its support to Ukraine and is set to adopt several elements of the support package proposed on 5 March: it will approve macro-financial assistance to Ukraine in order to support the country’s economic stabilisation and reforms. The aid, in the form of a medium-term loan of up to €1 billion, is intended to contribute to covering Ukraine’s urgent balance-of-payments needs as identified in the government’s economic programme supported by the IMF. This comes in addition to the already approved, but not yet disbursed macro-financial assistance of €610 million.


The Council will also grant autonomous trade preferences to Ukraine until 1 November so as to advance the application of certain provisions of the Association Agreement on a deep and comprehensive free trade area. According to the Commission, the fully-fledged free trade area, as envisaged in the Agreement, would save Ukrainian exporters almost €500 million in customs duties annually.


The Council will strengthen EU sanctions targeting persons responsible for misappropriating Ukrainian state funds. On 5 March, the Council had imposed an asset freeze on 18 persons subject to related judicial investigations in Ukraine.
The political chapters of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement were signed on 21 March. The first meeting under the political dialogue envisaged in the Agreement is to take place this month. At the same time, EU remains committed to signing the full agreement including the deep and comprehensive
free trade area.


The European Council of 20/21 March strongly condemned the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol to the Russian Federation and refused to recognise it. At the same time, the European Council reiterated that further steps by Russia to destabilise the situation in Ukraine would lead to additional and far reaching consequences for relations between the EU (and its member states) and the Russian Federation in a broad range of economic areas. As requested by leaders, the Commission is currently evaluating the legal consequences of the annexation of Crimea for the EU.


In response to Russian actions so far, the European Council cancelled the next EU-Russia summit; member states’ regular bilateral summits with Russia were also annulled. Instead of the G8 summit in Sotchi, the G7 will meet in Brussels in June. In addition, negotiations on visa matters and a new agreement with Russia have been suspended. The EU has also targeted 33 persons responsible for actions that threaten or undermine the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine with an asset freeze and a ban from entering the EU.


For more details, see European Council conclusions and. factsheet on EU-Ukraine relations


The EU will remain at the forefront of efforts to facilitate and engage in a meaningful dialogue involving Ukraine and Russia, with a view to finding a political solution. In this respect, EU High Representative Ashton is set to meet the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, Russia and the United States next week.


The Council will also take the opportunity to reiterate support to Georgia and Moldova. The Association Agreements with Moldova and Georgia were initialled at the Vilnius Eastern Partnership summit in November 2013. Their signature will be accelerated so as to take place before the end of June 2014.

Syria


Over lunch, ministers will consider the latest developments in the Syrian conflict, in particular the state of play in diplomatic efforts to bring an end to the crisis, on the ground and the implementation of the UN Security Resolution (2139), on humanitarian access, and progress in the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. The Council is due to adopt conclusions.


The Council is set to reiterate that there can only be a political solution to the conflict, based on the full implementation of the Geneva Communique of 30 June 2012, which the EU High Representative has made clear means the establishment of a transitional governing body, and a genuine Syrian-led inclusive political process to establish a democratic and pluralistic Syria. The Council will reiterate support for the UN and Joint Special Representative Brahimi and call for the Syrian regime to show a clear commitment to the negotiation agenda. It will also reiterate that any elections in Syria should only take place within the framework of that the Geneva communique.


The Council will strongly condemn war crimes and crimes against humanity; in addition, it will deplore grave abuses committed by terrorist groups. Once more, the Council will insist on unfettered humanitarian access, calling on all parties to immediately comply with a related UN Security Council resolution (2139).
The EU and its member states have been quick to support the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.


The EU is the largest financial contributor to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and supports its work towards the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, including with €5 million for armoured cars and technical assistance and €12 million for the destruction phase.
Member states have also contributed financially and in kind.
The EU and its member states are the largest humanitarian donor for the Syrian crisis. The total response from EU and member states to the crisis stands now at €2.6 billion.


For more details on EU positions and restrictive measures, see factsheet European Union and Syria Full background (other issues).

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CSDP: getting third states on board


Approximately forty-five non-EU states have participated in CSDP operations since the first mission (about thirty if the countries that have joined the EU since 2004 are subtracted). Back in 2003, the EU Police Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina (EUPM) benefited from the contribution of fifteen third states, among which were ten of the twelve countries that later joined the EU in 2004 and 2007. The first military operation in Africa – Artemis – saw the participation of five third states, most notably South Africa and Brazil. Since then, third states have been present in almost all CSDP operations and missions, albeit with uneven levels of contribution (see Table on page 3).


There is no third state involved in the EUMM in Georgia and only one in EUPOL
Afghanistan, while more than ten have participated in EUFOR Althea in Bosnia. All EU candidate countries (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey) have participated in CSDP missions and signed FPAs with the EU – as had most of the thirteen states that joined the EU in 2004, 2007, and 2013 prior to their accession. This is also the case for all non-EU NATO states (Albania, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Turkey, the US), with Canada, Norway and Turkey standing out in particular as contributing countries. Turkey has participated in eight operations and has been a major contributor to EUFOR Althea in Bosnia-Herzegovina, ranking second in terms of numbers with 274 troops deployed in the autumn of 2013. Norway has contributed to ten CSDP missions and is a participating nation in the Nordic Battle Group, while Canada has also been a regular contributor to EU missions. The United States has contributed to three operations (EULEX Kosovo, EUSEC RD Congo, EUPOL RD Congo), mainly by providing advisors and personnel to assist the work of the police, prosecution and judiciary.


Although the United States signed an FPA with the EU in March 2011, due to the country’s reluctance to place US troops under non-US command, the agreement only covers ‘contributions of civilian personnel, units, and assets by the United States to EU crisis management operations.’
Beyond EU candidates and non-EU NATO states, three regional powers – namely Russia, Brazil and South Africa – have contributed to CSDP operations.


The most significant contribution involving one of the BRICS was made by Russia to EUFOR Tchad/RCA in 2008-09, in which it provided airlift capacity. Negotiations on an FPA with Russia were opened some years ago, but are now stalled due to difficulties related to Russian demands on the political and operational modalities of their participation. Brazil and South Africa contributed to operation Artemis in 2003, in both cases with logistical assets. The other two BRICS – China and India – have yet to participate, however cooperation between these two countries and the EU has developed in the context of the anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden. Full brief.

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    Russia’s accusations – setting the record straight


    Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has led to Russia’s international isolation, including NATO’s suspension of all practical cooperation with Russia.


    To divert attention away from its actions, Russia has levelled a series of accusations against NATO which are based on misrepresentations of the facts and ignore the sustained effort that NATO has put into building a partnership with Russia.


    Russia has also made baseless attacks on the legitimacy of the Ukrainian authorities and has used force to seize part of Ukraine’s territory.


    This document sets the record straight.

    NATO – Russia relations


    Russia claims that NATO has spent years trying to marginalise it internationally. Since the early 1990s the Alliance has consistently worked to build a cooperative relationship with Russia on areas of mutual interest, and striven towards a strategic partnership.


    Before the fall of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, NATO began reaching out, offering dialogue in place of confrontation, as the London NATO Summit of July 1990 made clear (declaration here). In the following years, the Alliance promoted dialogue and cooperation by creating new fora, the Partnership for Peace (PfP) and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
    (EAPC), open to the whole of Europe, including Russia (PfP founding documents here and here). As a sign of Russia’s unique role in Euro-Atlantic security, in 1997 NATO and Russia signed the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security, creating the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council. In 2002 they upgraded that relationship, creating the NATO-Russia Council (NRC). (The Founding Act can be read here, the Rome Declaration which established the NRC here.)


    Since the foundation of the NRC, NATO and Russia have worked together on issues ranging from counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism to submarine rescue and civil emergency planning. No other partner has been offered a comparable relationship. Far from marginalising Russia, NATO has treated it as a privileged partner.

    NATO’s continuation and enlargement


    Russian officials say that NATO should have been disbanded at the end of the Cold War, and that the accession of new Allies from Central and Eastern Europe undermines Russia’s security. NATO was not disbanded after the Cold War because its members wanted to retain the bond that had guaranteed security and stability in the transatlantic area, as the London Declaration makes clear: “We need to keep standing together, to extend the long peace we have enjoyed these past four decades”. Upholding the values that have always guided it, NATO became more than a powerful military Alliance: it became a political forum for dialogue and cooperation.


    NATO’s Open Door policy has been, and will always be, based on the free choice of European democracies. When Ukraine decided to pursue a “non-bloc policy,” NATO fully respected that choice. Russia’s long-time assertion that NATO tried to force Ukraine into its ranks was, and remains, completely false. Full relase.

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    NATO Must Avoid New Cold War Borders

    by: Judy Dempsey – Thursday, April 10, 2014 : NATO’s big member states, such as Germany, Britain, France, and Italy, are highly reluctant to even consider offering Georgia—the most pro-NATO country in the region—NATO’s Membership Action Plan.

    That plan puts any signatory on the path to joining the alliance, and once a country is a member, it benefits from the mutual security guarantee enshrined in the organization’s Article 5. In practice, that could mean NATO defending Georgia against Russia—something that neither the United States nor any other NATO country would be prepared to do today.

    It would be an entirely different matter if Russia amassed its troops on the borders of Estonia or Latvia. NATO would have no option but to defend those countries, which are already members. Russia knows that.

    Whatever Rasmussen says, NATO’s security guarantee will not be extended to countries beyond its current borders. That does make it seem as if countries like Ukraine, Moldova, or Georgia were—to use a cynical expression—up for grabs.

    Yet no cheap replay of the Cold War will make the peoples of these countries give up their aspirations of democracy and freedom, prosperity and sovereignty, security and stability. Putin will soon realize that even without any further action by NATO, his attempts to regain a lost empire will be resisted. Full analysis.

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    Central Europe’s Real Vulnerability Toward Russia

    by: Jana Kobzová – Friday, April 11, 2014 : Before Russia’s annexation of Crimea, debates about sanctioning Russia were mostly reserved for foreign policy experts with a penchant for science fiction. Now, those debates have become a reality—and tougher sanctions are on the cards.

    Nowhere in the EU is the potential effect of these measures more actively discussed than in Central Europe, where the Ukraine crisis has brought to the light the region’s vulnerabilities vis-à-vis Moscow. If the EU aims to act in a unified way without undermining solidarity, there needs to be a better understanding of what these vulnerabilities are and how to face them.

    Despite some progress, Central Europe remains exposed to Russian pressure in a number of areas. Yet the issues at stake are sometimes opaque and sometimes politically sensitive. To understand the region’s real weaknesses, one needs to set aside two basic misconceptions.

    The first is that energy dependency is Central Europe’s key vulnerability vis-à-vis Russia. That is no longer a straightforward matter. Dependency on Russian energy supplies still exists, but it is far from being as critical as some observers (and certain Central European governments) claim. Full analysis.

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    Russia’s Policy Towards Ukraine Following Recent Events

    Against the background of recent developments in Ukraine, this edition examines the future of the Eurasian Union integration project. Firstly, Arkady Moshes notes that Moscow’s efforts to persuade Kiev to join the Eurasian Union were always instrumental, rather than an end in itself. Hence, Moscow’s goal vis-à-vis Ukraine remains the same: keeping it within Russia’s spheres of influence. The method has, however, changed, from an emphasis on carrots to a focus on sticks, namely utilising economic leverage and the threat of a military invasion. Secondly, David Lane considers the Eurasian Union’s trajectory from the perspective of the increasing regionalisation of world politics. He suggests three scenarios are possible: isolation from the world economy; a ‘stepping stone’ to further integration in the world economy; and a more autonomous ‘counter-point’ within the world economy. Thirdly, Matthew Frear assesses the Belarussian perspective on the Eurasian Union. He outlines that although some in Belarus question the economic rationale, Minsk remains heavily dependent on Russian support and thus Belarus is a consistent participant in Moscow’s Eurasian integration project, with the crisis in Ukraine further limiting Minsk’s geopolitical room for manoeuvre. Fourthly, Aida Abzhaparova examines Kazakhstan’s position on the Eurasian Union. She argues that Astana’s active participation is linked to the significance placed on being “Eurasian” within Kazakh state identity, and for this reason Kazakhstan is playing an important role in developing the Eurasian Union. Full digest.

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    Vladimir Putin: ‘We urgently need to stabilize Ukraine’s economy’

    By Vladimir PUTIN – Yesterday the Russian President Vladimir Putin made public his Open letter to European politicians on dire economic situation in Ukraine and urgent need to coordinate an economic assistance package to this nation. We’re publishing the full text of this letter.

    Ukraine’s economy in the past several months has been plummeting. Its industrial and construction sectors have also been declining sharply. Its budget deficit is mounting. The condition of its currency system is becoming more and more deplorable. The negative trade balance is accompanied by the flight of capital from the country. Ukraine’s economy is steadfastly heading towards a default, a halt in production and skyrocketing unemployment.

    Russia and the EU member states are Ukraine’s major trading partners. Proceeding from this, at the Russia-EU Summit at the end of January, we came to an agreement with our European partners to hold consultations on the subject of developing Ukraine’s economy, bearing in mind the interests of Ukraine and our countries while forming integration alliances with Ukraine’s participation. However, all attempts on Russia’s part to begin real consultations failed to produce any results.

    Instead of consultations, we hear appeals to lower contractual prices on Russian natural gas – prices which are allegedly of a “political” nature. One gets the impression that the European partners want to unilaterally blame Russia for the consequences of Ukraine’s economic crisis.

    Right from day one of Ukraine’s existence as an independent state, Russia has supported the stability of the Ukrainian economy by supplying it with natural gas at cut-rate prices. In January 2009, with the participation of the then-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, a purchase-and-sale contract on supplying natural gas for the period of 2009-2019 was signed. The contract regulated questions concerning the delivery of and payment for the product, and it also provided guarantees for its uninterrupted transit through the territory of Ukraine. What is more, Russia has been fulfilling the contract according to the letter and spirit of the document. Incidentally, Ukrainian Minister of Fuel and Energy at that time was Yuriy Prodan, who today holds a similar post in Kiev’s government.
    The total volume of natural gas delivered to Ukraine, as stipulated in the contract during the period of 2009-2014 (first quarter), stands at 147.2 billion cubic meters. Here, I would like to emphasize that the price formula that had been set down in the contract had NOT been altered since that moment. And Ukraine, right up till August 2013, made regular payments for the natural gas in accordance with that formula.However, the fact that after signing that contract, Russia granted Ukraine a whole string of unprecedented privileges and discounts on the price of natural gas, is quite another matter. This applies to the discount stemming from the 2010 Kharkiv Agreement, which was provided as advance payment for the future lease payments for the presence of the (Russian) Black Sea Fleet after 2017. This also refers to discounts on the prices for natural gas purchased by Ukraine’s chemical companies. This also concerns the discount granted in December 2013 for the duration of three months due to the critical state of Ukraine’s economy. Beginning with 2009, the total sum of these discounts stands at 17 billion US dollars. To this, we should add another 18.4 billion US dollars incurred by the Ukrainian side as a minimal take-or-pay fine. Full text.

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