For the first time, the EU’s foreign affairs council has accepted an other member to take part of discussions. After the recall of the cooperation during the few last years, Shoukry has expressed his vision of the 2030 Sustainable Development Strategy—announced in February 2016—as a reference for the Egyptian side to negotiate on priorities of engagement with the European Union, in order to ensure the implementation of the national development agenda. It is the beginning of a new partnership said Abu Zaid, between Egypt and EU. the EU ministers expressed full appreciation for the central role played by Egypt in working to find possible solutions for issues in the Middle East, with the Libyan crisis as a top priority. They were also appreciative of Egypt’s role in the resumption of negotiations between Palestine and Israel, as well as its efforts to counter terrorism.
The National Commission for Lebanese Women organised a high level closing event to showcase the successful results of the project. There was a discussion about women partecipation in political processes and the necessity od adopt women’s quota in eectoral law. A democratic and consitutional process is in place, based on the women’s equality and respect.
More than 50 ombudsmen from 40 countries are going to discuss the refugee issue at an upcoming symposium in Turkish capital Ankara, according to Turkey’s chief ombudsman on Wednesday. Seref Malkoc said that 55 ombudsmen would be attending the 4th International Symposium on Ombudsman Institutions to be held on Thursday and Friday at the presidential complex. Malkoc recalled Turkey was hosting around three million Syrian refugees — more than any other country in the world — and provided education for around 500,000 Syrian children. “We are going to try to inspire the ombudsmen of the world with our activities. We will try to mobilize people who are sensitive about human rights,” he said, adding they would be sharing Turkey’s services in this regard with the other ombudsmen. “Migration and refugees” is the main theme of the symposium which is co-financed by Turkey and the EU. The topics to be discussed in the symposium are the countries’ policies on migration and refugees, vulnerable groups including women and children, and xenophobia, racism and islamophobia in relation with migration. Turkey has spent around $25 billion helping and sheltering refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011, which has left more than a quarter of a million people dead and upwards of 10 million displaced across the war-torn country, according to the UN.
As we mentioned in our previous and first article on Estonia, we are now going to concentrate on its evolution in the EU institutions context. Let’s start from something easy to be told. Better: let’s start from something very difficult and technical, but very easy to be explained to readers. Let’s talk about eu-LISA. We mentioned this agency in some of our previous articles last year, speaking about the specularity between UN Agencies and EU ones. eu-Lisa is special, and has no twins in the UN context.
Its acronym refers literally to eu (of course, Europe), L(iberty), I (“I” or “J” mean the same: is the first letter for Justice), S(ecurity), A(gency). The extended name is European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT Systems in the area of freedom, security and justice.
The Agency is settled in Tallinn, the pretty Estonia’s capital, since 2012, and provides technological support for EU Member States and Institutions, managing the large-scale integrated IT systems whose aims are to maintain internal security in the Schengen countries, to enable Schengen countries to exchange visa data and to determine which EU country is responsible for examining a particular asylum application, according to the well known Dublin system.
The Agency is also in charge to test new technologies to put in place a modern and secure border management system in the EU. For example, it was tasked to put in place and start the testing and follow-up phases of the “Smart Borders” project, the operational step of the “Smart Borders package” drawn by the European Commission, and discussed by the Council of the European Union, in its Justice and Home Affairs modality. This “package” will institute – only after an agreed and well-concluded co-legislation process – an Entry-Exit System (EES) and an European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). Both of them are supposed to start in 2020. The first one will ensure border security tracing all the movements of third countries citizens through the external borders of the Union in both directions. Of course, monitoring the flow of tourists and travellers, the system should check visas, passports, ID documents, verifying if any of the checked persons are criminals, terrorists, or involved in some way in illegal immigration or, worst, in migrant smuggling. This EES should in effects prevent and deter crimes related to immigration, terrorism, and human trafficking. In addition, it should automatically alert the law enforcement agencies about the so called “overstayers”, people who exceeded the maximum period of their stay within the EU borders, according to their visa.
The ETIAS will be very similar to the American ESTA, and is instituting a sort of reservation for achieving a permission to travel to Europe. The entrance of this system in the EU legislation environment is meaning that the Schengen Border Code must be changed. But, of course, it will increase the prevention and the prosecution of crimes involving borders and internal security. That’s sure: people suspected to be criminals or terrorists will not be allowed to enter the Union.
We think that eu-LISA presence in Estonia is a source of pride for this evoluted, smart and resolute country.
The Agency has a management board that meets twice a year and in which all Member States are equally represented, and uses some advisory groups, made of technicians and experts in both the IT and JHA issues. It manages the 3 main JHA systems and databases: the Schengen Information System, the Visa Information System and the Eurodac (whose main task is to collect and examine the fingerprints of people asking for asylum in the EU).
Of course, the Agency studies the way to make Europe safer, from a technical point of view, but has no legislative or cogent powers. It cooperates with single Member States and all the European Institutions – in the JHA area – aging as a high specialized and very qualified consultant and advisor.
The Agency is also part of the network of the JHA Agency which, once a year, organize a joint meeting of their key representatives, in order to exchange methodological information, best practices and training. The network chair is rotational and is chosen from all the agencies Directors for one year. The agency which holds the presidency of the network is also in charge to host the meeting in the country in which is settled in. All the Agencies, after the meeting, approve and disseminate a document containing their joint conclusions, whose aim is to make their policies and actions more coherent, deconflicted, and better linked.
eu-Lisa and Tallinn were in charge of this in 2015. Another reason to look to Estonia as a key partner and actor in the EU, which is increasing its role in the european security framework.
Our next step will be a focus on the upcoming Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
The EU is continuing to demand the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island and the end to Turkey’s guarantor state status.
Any agreement reached under these conditions will be the end of the gains of the TRNC, as well as the end of the Turkish Cypriots, and will pose a serious threat to Turkey’s existence and security in the Mediterranean. The thesis that the Turkish side has been defending all along has been the solution based on “bi-zonal and bi-communal” equality with two democracies. European countries behind them have never accepted this solution. At each negotiation phase, they have asked for and insisted on more territory, the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island and the acceptance that Turkey is not a guarantor state. The two major obstacles standing in the way of the Greek Cyprus Administration to abolish the TRNC and extend sovereignty over the Turkish Cypriots is Turkey’s guarantor state status and the presence of Turkish troops on the island. It is not realistic for the Greek side to think that they could easily remove these assurances that are vitally important for the Turkish Cypriots.
Iraq has signed on Sunday for an European Union grant of 86 million euros (US$91 million) to be spent on rehabilitating areas liberated from ISIS. The grant is designed for supporting stability at the liberated areas, according to the spokesperson, who added that the amount will be disbursed over a number of years, which he did not enumerate. Abdul-Zahra al-Hindawi, a spokesperson of the Planning Ministry, said in a press statement that Minister Salman al-Jameeli signed in Baghdad the grant with EU Ambassador to Iraq, Patrick Simonnet. Iraq’s war against Islamic State militants since 2014 cost 35 billion dollars, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in statements on Saturday. The war has given several damages to infrastructures and services at several cities occupied by the extremist group.
On Friday, a high-level representative of the European Union affirmed that the European Council will not discuss the extension of sanction against Russian Federation during the meeting of next Monday. The source noted that the EU has time to make a decision on the matter until January 31 when sanctions are scheduled to expire. According to the source, the extension of economic sanctions is unlikely to be included in the agenda of the EU summit scheduled to be held in Brussels on 15th and 16th of December. On September 15, the European Union extended the ban of Russian and Ukrainian citizens and organizations for six months. The EU blacklist includes Russian officials, politicians, businessmen and law enforcement officers as well as almost all government members of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic.
Moscow has blasted as “outrageous twisting of the facts” a statement by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who said the EU was the only party providing aid to Syria. The Russian Foreign Ministry also officially responded to Mogherini’s statement and said that Russia, “unlike other international players, is actively supplying thousands of tons of humanitarian aid to various regions in Syria, including the liberated areas in eastern Aleppo, at the risk of Russian military lives.” Mogherini’s words aren’t the first aimed against the Russian humanitarian effort in Syria: last week, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said that the Syrian regime and their influencers are preventing aid from reaching Aleppo. In response, Russian Defence Ministry’s spokesperson, Major General Igor Konashenkov, said that the UK government has lost an objective view of what is happening in Syria, including Aleppo, due to Russophobia, adding that the UK has not sent a single gram of flour, any medicine or blankets to help civilians in Aleppo during the whole Syrian conflict.
MEPs in Strasbourg have voted on a non-legislative resolution which calls the EU to respond to the information warfare by Russia. RT and Sputnik news agency are alleged to be among from the most dangerous tools of hostile propaganda. Early in October, the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs approved a report on combating propaganda which named the Russian media one of the main threats. Commenting the news, Russian President Vladimir Putin affirmed that the European Parliament’s resolution on the Russian media’s activities proves the fact that the Western countries’ perception of democracy has been degrading. In the Wednesday vote, 304 MEPs supported the resolution based on the report ‘EU strategic communication to counteract propaganda against it by third parties’, with 179 voting against it and 208 abstaining. The report suggests that Moscow provides financial support to opposition parties and organizations in EU member states, causing disintegration within the bloc. At the same time, Russia is accused of “information warfare” with such entities as RT TV channel, Sputnik news agency, Rossotrudnichestvo federal agency and the Russkiy Mir (Russian World) fund alleged to be among its most threatening propaganda tools.
45 European envoys, including 36 European Union consuls, entered the blockaded Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning via the Israeli-controlled Beit Hanun border-crossing. According to local sources the visit is the first of its kind in terms of the number of EU delegates who reached out to the blockaded coastal territory. The stopover involved diplomats from Sweden, Denmark, Malta, Slovenia, Ireland, Finland, Lithuania, Austria, Hungary, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Cyprus, Italy, Greece and Portugal. The local sources denied underway arrangements for meetings with political factions.