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Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the alleged chemical attack in Idlib, Syria

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The EU condemns in the strongest terms the air strike that hit the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on 4 April 2017, which has had horrific consequences, causing the deaths and injuries of scores of civilians including children and relief workers, with many victims displaying symptoms of gas poisoning. The EU urges the United Nations Security Council to come together, strongly condemn the attack on Khan Sheikhoun and ensure a swift, independent and impartial investigation of the attack. Those guilty of violations of international law and the use of chemical weapons have to be sanctioned accordingly. In March, the EU added 4 high-ranking Syrian military officials to the sanctions list for their role in the use of chemical weapons against the civilian population, in line with the EU’s policy to fight the proliferation and use of chemical weapons.

EU must demand a say in Syria negotiations.

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This week Europe will hold a conference on the future of Syria. The EU is the largest humanitarian donor for Syria, but has become marginalised in political negotiations. By initiating this conference, the EU illustrates its readiness to take up a significant part of Syria’s reconstruction. But jumpstarting a large-scale reconstruction programme without a mutually consented political solution under UN auspices could become an implicit endorsement of Assad’s control over Syria, and hence a betrayal to the aspirations of large parts of Syria’s civil society. The EU should now leverage its role as the largest financial donor, to demand a say in any negotiations on the political transition and future of Syria.



GCC calls for closer economic cooperation with EU.

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During the meeting held at GCC Secretariat in Riyadh on Wednesday the assistant secretary-general for political negotiations and affairs of the GCC called for closer cooperation with the EU. The event was a Forum on the achievements and lessons learnt from EU integration in occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome and it was attended by EU and GCC ambassadors and other diplomats from various missions in the capital. The aim is to diversify the GCC countries’ economy and consequently reach a better prosperity and maintain stability and security in the region. Moreover the ambassador D’Urso, head of the EU delegation, said GCC member states are important strategic partners to the EU and that the EU wants to expand and consolidate cooperation with them to promote mutual understanding and narrow gaps.


The Cabinet renewed Saudi Arabia's condemnation of Syrian air attacks on UN humanitarian aid convoys.

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During the meeting chaired by King Salman, the Cabinet renewed Saudi Arabia’s condemnation of Syrian air attacks on UN humanitarian aid convoys, that led to the suspension of assistance in the country. The Cabinet also expressed concern on war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the regime,ita allies and militias against Syrian people. Moreover the EU on Monday imposed sanctions against four senior Syrian military officials accused of using chemical weapons on civilians and also targeted Syrian companies accused of manufacturing them. The four military officials will be banned from travelling to the EU. In fine EU sanctions also include an oil embargo, restrictions on investments, a freeze of Syrian central bank assets and a ban on exports of equipment and technology that could be used against civilians

EU-GCC forum to explore dialogue.

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To mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome on Wednesday the EU-Gulf Cooperation Council Forum on the achievements of EU integration will be held in Riyadh, that will begin with a welcome address by the GCC assistant secretary-general for political negotiations, followed by speeches from ambassadors of countries that founded EU. Moreover EU ambassador D’urso will address the gathering. He also said that GCC member countries are ideal partners for EU members for their stability and economic viability and added that EU is interested in the affairs of neighboring countries such as Syria,Yemen,Iraq and Lybia. In this occasion the Saudi envoy said reforms to diversify the economy and improve education will have a positive effect on the countries of the region.

Shoukry, EU FMs discussed advancing relations

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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.

EU funded project, Gender Equity and respect of Women in Lebano

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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.

"Migration and refugees" is the main theme of the symposium which is co-financed by Turkey and the EU.

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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.

Focus on Estonia: chapter 2

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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.

downloadIts 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 (1)

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.     


Turkey’s existence and security in the Mediterranean depend on Cyprus

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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.

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