U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis will meet Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli next week in Brussels and discuss the situation in Afrin and Manbij. Mattis said the situation in the Syrian town has not changed despite the Turkish pressure. Mattis described Ankara’s rhetoric on Manbij as something very concerning for the U.S. and he added that operation in Manbij is a distraction from the fight against Daesh. The Obama administration previously had promised Ankara that once Manbij was cleared of Daesh, the YPG would leave the town, but YPG-affiliated commanders are still in the town, according to Turkey government.
Foreign Minister Khemais Jhinaoui, who is visiting Brussels on Monday, said that 2018 will be a very important year for partnership between Tunisia and the European Union. A partnership which, he said, has reached “a maturity” reflected in particular by the move to “a higher level of the EU’s commitment to Tunisia” and the launching of a reflection on the future of post-2020 relations, which requires “a renewed, more inclusive partnership based on common democratic values”. The minister said he had discussed with Ms. Mogherini EU financial support to Tunisia in particular regarding the release of the second tranche of the 150 million Euro macro-financial assistance.He also said that Tunisia and the EU have agreed to move to a higher level in terms of mobility and exchanges between young people and strengthening programmes for Tunisian youth. We have, he explained, examined the possibilities of implementing new initiatives dedicated to youth such as Erasmus + for young entrepreneurs and Erasmus + for young apprentices.
Avni Arifi, Chief of Kosovo delegation in technical talks with Serbia, announced to online media Telegrafi that the EU-facilitated talks between Pristina and Belgrade will resume in Brussels by the end of February. Arifi said the date was yet to be set but the resumption of the dialogue is expected in late February, after the cancellation of talks following the killing of the Kosovo Serb politician, Oliver Ivanovic, on 16 January in Mitrovica North. Such dialogue is oriented both on the integration of Serbian community within Kosovo legal frame, and the normalization of relations between the two countries.
Prime ministre R. Duterte said that he is not keen on attending the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting on Oct. 18 and 19 in Brussels, Belgium. Duterte adamant in turning down 6.1 million euros (about P382 million) in trade-related assistance from the European Union (EU) because he don’t like eurepean values neither the fact that they continued to be imperialists by imposing their values on Filipinos. It was happened for examble about Duterte’s drug war.
In Brussels took place the 9th Subcommittee meeting on Trade, Industry, Customs and Taxation between the European Union and Albania. On this occasion, is taken into consideration the progress achieved by Albania, in particular regarding the alignment of national legislation with the European acquis. Albanian representative illustrated progress on the removal of restrictions on the free movement of goods, and on measures to facilitate tax procedures. They also informed about ongoing negotiations on trade agreements with third countries, presented an update concerning industrial policies, including support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as providing information with regards on measures to improve the business environment in line with Albania’s commitments under the Economic Reform Programme (ERP). As reported by Albanian Daily News, the Commission looked positively the increase of Albania exports to EU and welcomed measures to align legislation to the European acquis as well as the adoption of the CEFTA Additional Protocol 5. Thus, the Commission encouraged the government of Albania to further proceed in the engagement with CEFTA, the participation in COSME, and the Tourism Strategy.
On January 16th, an agreement on the answers to the seven remaining questions from the European Commission Questionnaire was reached. The questionnaire will be ready to be sent to Brussels in the next few days. Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denis Zvizdić, considers this cooperation as a positive signal to the European Union especially in the light of the new strategy for the Western Balkans that the EU is preparing
Following the assassination in Mitrovica of the top Kosovo Serb Politician Oliver Ivanovic, the Serbian authorities made unilaterally the decision to suspend the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue. Ivanovic, considered as one of the most moderate Kosovo Serbs, was shot dead in front of his party’s office in the Serb-run north of Mitrovica. As reported by the Albanian Daily News, the Head of the Serbian delegation in the bilateral dialogue which is taking place in Brussels, Marko Djuric, announced the withdrawal from the dialogue as well as the return to Serbia. Djuric, responding to the journalists, defined Ivanovic’s Murder “a terrorist and criminal act that must be punished”.
The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Ditmir Bushati participated at the conference, organized in Brussels by the German Foundation Hanns Seidel, “High expectations for 2018. Albania’s next step in the European Integration Process”. The Minister underlined the progress made by the government to reach the established priorities, referring in particular to the justice system reform and the fight against organized crime. Thus 2018 is expected to be a ‘decisive year’ for the European Union accession process. In reiterating the government’s willingness to achieve the required objectives, Bushati said he also felt encouraged by the support regarding the enlargement to the Balkans expressed both by the President of the European Commission and by the French President Macron. The Director-General for Enlargement at the European Commission, Mr. Christian Danielson, complimented the Albanian government on the effort of reforms.
As the UK moves to exit the EU, the Western Balkans are pushing for the opening of the Union’s door. In spring, Brussels can give a green light for opening accession negotiations with Macedonia and Albania, the Austrian daily newspaper Kurier reads. The EU Commissioner for the European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn also told EU-Western Balkans Media Days that took place on Nov. 9 to 10 in Tirana that Macedonia and Albania are on the right track, MIA reports.EC President Jean-Claude Juncker pointed to 2025 as a possible term for admitting new EU members, but according to Hahn, no state has a guarantee that it will join by then. If a specific deadline is set, it can be a danger for the Western Balkans that will not be able to meet the deadline, to remain waiting and to lag behind. A positive moment, which was pointed out at Hahn’s meetings in Tirana, is the improved climate in the relations between Greece and Macedonia. This opens opportunities in the coming months for a possible end of the Greek blockade due to the long-standing name dispute with Macedonia. In regard to Albania, the problem with the thousands of Albanians still seeking asylum in the EU should be solved. It affects the image of the country and therefore has to change, but this cannot be done in a year or two.
A seven-member delegation from the Saudi Parliamentary Friendship Committee, led by Prince Khalid bin Abdullah bin Mishari, met in Brussels on Monday with members of the European Parliament, who reaffirmed the strong ties between the Kingdom and Europe. The head of the Parliament’s Delegation for relations with the Arabian Peninsula (DARP), Michele Alliot-Marie, said that the presence of the Saudi delegation was very significant and reflected the desire to strengthen the Kingdom’s relations with the EU. Saudi Arabia is determined to end the suffering of the Yemeni people by supporting the legitimacy and efforts of friendly countries to negotiate reconciliation. Alliot-Marie pointed out that the political crisis between Qatar and Saudi, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt is of concern to the EU, which hopes a quick solution can be reached.