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Common Foreign and Security Policy

Launch of European Academy for constructive dialogue

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Speaking at the launch meeting in Brussels on 22 July, Professor Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, MEP

The Academie Européenne - a Strasbourg-based NGO has introduced a programme of constructive European dialogue with neighbouring non-EU states. Speaking at the launch meeting in Brussels on 22 July, MEP Professor Jean-Luc Schaffhauser stressed the need to improve the quality of communications about EU-Russia and EU-Ukraine affairs; it would be a prime function of the academy to introduce a more objective and fact based process to inform Parliamentarians.

The launch focused on the crisis in Ukraine and the need to establish a more effective dialogue so that Parliamentarians could enjoy a balance of information, and not be bombarded with a one- sided ideological version of the facts.

The meeting heard from a group of 9 young professionals from Nikolaev, Donetsk and Kharkiv in Eastern Ukraine about the impact of the current crisis and true ongoing military operations in the region on their daily lives and the lives of their families.

"It is necessary to find a peaceful solution," said a young engineer from Kharkiv who preferred to be named by his first name Artem. "People worry about what will happen to Ukraine, and what direction the country will take. The only solution is dialogue and a peaceful settlement. What we want is more autonomy from Kyiv; we are not in favour of separation or federalisation, but we do want to see more power for the regions."

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9 young professionals from Nikolaev, Donetsk and Kharkiv in Eastern Ukraine

Asked whether they would vote in the next parliamentary elections in Ukraine the young professionals were equivocal; "We shall wait and see" was the most popular answer, suggesting a willingness to participate in the democratic process, but expressing a guarded view of what that would mean in practice.
Jean-Luc Schaffhauser was supported at the launch meeting of the Academy by his parliamentary colleagues Edouard Ferrand, Aymeric Chauprade and Philippe Loiseau who had a dynamic exchange of views with the visiting delegation.

Edouard Ferrand stressed the need to rebuild friendship between Russia and France, and stated his opposition to Ukraine or Georgia joining NATO. Aymeric Chauprade expressed disappointment that the level of rhetoric in the European Parliament was now aggressively anti-Russian, which he found disturbing, and which he considered to be to the disadvantage of those in Eastern Ukraine who were only trying to defend their rights.

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Professor Schaffhauser

In closing the meeting, Professor Schaffhauser pointed out that this was the first in a series of meetings for the Academy to be continued every month on Tuesday during the Strasbourg plenary of the European Parliament. He encouraged all participants to support this new initiative which was designed to improve the flow of information and communications between parliamentarians and the general public.

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Asylum policy

Turkey’s policy in #Libya threatens EU

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The Turkish intervention into the Libyan conflict caused the negative effect for the region: the balance of power changed and the GNA liberated Tripoli from the LNA forces and recently started a big-scale offensive on Sirte city. On 6 June after negotiations with the Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, and the speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh Issa  and Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the president of Egypt, issued the Cairo Declaration.

It is based on the agreements reached at the Berlin Conference on Libya in January. According to Cairo Declaration, "all parties undertake to cease fire from 6h local time on Monday, 8 June". In addition, it provides for the continuation of negotiations in Geneva under UN patronage of a joint military committee in the 5+5 format (five representatives from each side). Further progress on other issues, including political, economic and security, will depend on the success of its work.

EU Foreign Affairs Minister Josep Borrell, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Mayo welcomed the declaration and called for the cessation of all hostilities in Libya and the withdrawal of all foreign troops and military equipment from the country.

The French president noted that Turkey is playing "a dangerous game" in Libya. "I don't want in six months, or one year or two, to see that Libya is in the situation that Syria is in today," Macron added.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendyas announced on Wednesday 24 June in a statement following the visit of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrel to Evros that Turkey "continues to undermine security and stability, as well as peace in the Eastern Mediterranean", causing problems for all its neighbours. "Turkey has continuously violated the sovereignty of Libya, Syria, Iraq and our EU partner, the Republic of Cyprus. In Libya, again in clear disregard for international legitimacy, it violates the UN embargo in pursuit of its neo-Osmanian aspirations. It openly ignores Europe's repeated calls for respect for international legitimacy," Dendyas said.

Turkey rejected the Cairo Declaration: The "Cairo Initiative" on the Libyan settlement is “not convincing” and insincere, declared Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. After the Cairo Declaration Chairman of Presidential Council, Fayez Al-Sarraj urged the GNA troops to "continue their path" towards Sirte.

The recent success of the GNA troops is caused by the participation of Syrian mercenaries, connected with jihadists, who actively were sent in Libya by Turkey to fight against the LNA from may 2019. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the number of fighters from the pro-Turkey Syrian factions today can reach more than 18 000. Generally, the mercenaries are from Al-Mu'tasim Brigade, the Sultan Murad Brigade, the Northern Falcons Brigade, Al-Hamzat and Suleiman Shah. The mercenaries are promised to be paid 1500-2000 $ a month, but the current monthly salary of each fighter is around 400$.

The policy of Turkey in the Libyan region represents destructive neo-Ottoman and pan-islamist strategy, which is based on the neocolonialist ambitions. The possible explanation for the intervention to Libya is the instability in Turkey itself and the Erdogan’s loss of popularity (the support of AKP party came from 33.9 in February 2020 to 30.7 in May 2020 according to Metropol). The Turkish president uses the Islamic narrative (in Libya as the war on side of the GNA, in Turkey – the initiative to convert Hagia Sophia back into Mosque) for the legitimation of his power. İbrahim Karagül , the columnist in the mainstream Yeni Şafak media of Turkish Republic wrote:“Turkey will never withdraw from Libya. It will not give up before achieving its aim.”

The major pro-Erdogan media spread this neocolonialist agenda about from November 2019 (when GNA signed 2 deals with Erdogan): Libya is seen as a part of the neo-ottoman empire.

Threat for the EU

The negative effect of the neo-ottoman agenda in Libya is the threat of the new migration crisis, which can happen to the EU. In march 2020 Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Tayyip Erdogan, declared, that Turkey will not close the borders for refugees until the EU fulfills its promises to Ankara. Recently Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has noted the surge of a new wave of refugees to Europe amidst the stabilization of the COVID-19 situation. If Turkey responds to this challenge, Europe will face a new migration crisis and its social services will feel the main blow from the new wave of refugees.

The other front of threat is the Libyan costs, the starting point for the trip of migrants to Europe. Nearly 2,000 Turkish-backed Syrian militants that were transported to Libya over the last five months have fled the north African nation for Europe according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

European governments are taking steps to actively counter Turkish policy in Libya: France has already addressed NATO on this issue. French president has already discussed the issue with U.S. President Donald Trump, and more exchanges on the issue are expected in the coming weeks.

In order to protect European interests, it is important to protect Libya from Turkish expansion and to prevent Erdogan from gaining control over the country's assets.

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Common Foreign and Security Policy

Reinforcing EU efforts to build peace in #Syria

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eu syria flagThe European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have today (15 March) adopted a Joint Communication proposing a forward-looking EU strategy for Syria.
The Joint Communication comes at a crucial moment for Syria, as we mark the 6th year of the conflict and with the resumption of the UN-led talks in Geneva, supported by a ceasefire mechanism established as a result of the Astana talks.
The High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: "The Joint Communication adopted today strengthens not only our current engagement and support for a political solution to the war as the only way we can bring peace back to Syria, but also what the European Union could do in a post-agreement context in which reconstruction can start. And there is much the European Union is ready to do, together with the United Nations and the rest of the international community. The Syrians want peace, they deserve it, as they want and deserve to finally have the possibility to shape the future of their country. We are at their side to support the future of Syria."
In his 2016 State of the Union address, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "I call today for a European Strategy for Syria. So that Europe can help rebuild a peaceful Syrian nation and a pluralistic, tolerant civil society in Syria."
The Joint Communication presents the current political, security and humanitarian context in Syria and the state of play of the EU's assistance in response to the Syrian crisis. It contains an assessment of the risks and threats posed by the continuation of the war to the EU's core interests, regional and global stability, as well as the definition of a set of clear objectives for the EU's policy for Syria.
As a next step, the Communication proposes clear lines of action to implement these objectives, in close coordination with regional partners and international organisations.
As outlined in the Joint Communication, the European Union's engagement in Syria goes beyond the current state of play. It is defined by a longer term perspective in support of the EU's strategic goals on Syria.
The European Union will continue its direct support for the UN political process and ongoing work to strengthen both the Syrian political opposition and civil society organisations. It will continue to be the first and leading donor in the international response to the Syrian crisis, having mobilised over €9.4 billion since the outbreak of the conflict, providing life-saving humanitarian assistance and resilience support to the Syrian people and neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees.
High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini will present the Joint Communication to EU Foreign Ministers at the Foreign Affairs Council on 3 April; it will also be presented to the European Parliament. The Communication will also serve as an important input for the Brussels Conference "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” on 5 April 2017 that the EU will co-chair with the UN, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar and the United Kingdom.
More information
Read the full press release here and related Q&A here.

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Borders

#Brexit: MEPs react to EU Commissioner for Security role proposed for last British Commissioner, Sir Julian King

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securityThe decision by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to name Sir Julian King as EU Commissioner for the Security Union has been welcomed, by different parties within the European Parliament. Though some concerns have arisen about whether the post of Commissioner for Security is appropriate for a British Commissioner when the UK has an opt out of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and can choose to opt out of Justice and Home Affairs rules.

Conservative Home Affairs spokesman Timothy Kirkhope MEP said the appointment reflected the UK's continuing leadership role in security issues. Kirkhope said: "We face a global terrorist threat and this announcement sends a strong signal that the security relationship between Britain and the EU will remain of key importance post-Brexit."

"Sir Julian's extensive diplomatic experience, including spells working with NATO, the UN Security Council and as Chairman of the EU's Political and Security Committee, make him perfectly suited to fulfil this role."

Kirkhope is one of the leading MEPs of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties committee and piloted the landmark Passenger Name Record directive through the European Parliament.

Guy Verhofstadt MEP, leader of the Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) group in the European Parliament, welcomed the nomination of a commissioner tasked to deal with security: "The fact that Mr Juncker has chosen to nominate a commissioner to coordinate anti-terrorism policies at a European level is definitely a good thing. I am also pleased to see that the commissioner's task is thought through at an operational level and that a clear role has been carved out for him.

However, he wondered if a UK-commissioner for the Security Union is the right choice. Verhofstadt is concerned that the UK has a long-standing opt-out from Justice and Home Affairs measures, an area that is crucial for building a European anti-terrorism capacity. He said, it would be odd to give such an important portfolio to someone who has no incentive to further the European interest in general, or more specifically, to enhance the EU's security capabilities.

S&D (Social and Democratic) Group President Gianni Pittella MEP, said: “Security is a vital topic for the EU and it is good that we will now have someone working specifically on coordinating the European Agenda on Security. This is something European citizens have called for and something we fully support.  It is important that this work is done in support of Home Affairs Commissioner Avramopoulos, and under the direction of first Vice-President Timmermans. The approach of leading a task force of experts from existing departments and providing advice is the correct one.”

Background

Sir Julian is currently Britain's ambassador to France. If confirmed in the EU post, he will replace Lord Hill, the former Financial Services Commissioner, who resigned after the Brexit vote.

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