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EU prepares for a 2nd wave of corona virus infections

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The EU is making preparations for a possible second wave of corona virus infections. Just as some countries and regions ease up slightly on lockdown rules, it seems possible that things will get worse again. The current position was explained at today's European Commission briefing by spokesperson Stefan De Keersmaecker...

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Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan to work with the EU on climate conference in Nur-Sultan

Catherine Feore

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Following the meeting of the EU-Kazakhstan Cooperation Council (10 May), Portuguese Minister for Foreign Affairs Augusto Santos Silva and Kazakhstan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Mukhtar Tleuberdi confirmed the mutual commitment in further strengthening bilateral relations. 

The Cooperation Council reviewed the progress made in the implementation of the EU-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (EPCA), which entered into force on 1 March 2020. Bilateral co-operation between Kazakhstan and the European Union has progressed steadily, even in these challenging times, through continued exchanges in the Co-operation Committee, Subcommittees and dialogues, and today’s Co-operation Council.

Santos Silva said: “Bilateral co-operation between Kazakhstan and the European Union has progressed steadily in relation to trade. Even in a year as difficult as last year, the EU has consolidated its position as Kazakhstan’s main trade partner and first foreign investor and Kazakhstan remains the main trade partner of the EU in Central Asia.”

Abolition of the death penalty

The Co-operation Council also provided an opportunity for reinforced political dialogue and addressed issues of good governance, the promotion and protection of human rights, and engagement with civil society. Santos Silva congratulated Kazakhstan for the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights concerning the abolition of the death penalty. The EU strongly supports Kazakhstan’s further democratization. 

Climate neutrality

Tleuberdi said: “Kazakhstan, like the EU, plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. In this regard we expressed our interest in finding new areas for co-operation under the Paris Agreement and the European green deal.” The EU looks forward to the EU-Kazakhstan Climate Conference on 3 June, in Nur-Sultan, and joint work towards the COP26 on climate.

The Co-operation Council discussed recent developments as regards Central Asian regional co-operation and the EU side thanked Kazakhstan for its active role in promoting peace, stability and security in the wider region, including with Afghanistan. 

Visas

Tleuberdi also raised the issue of visas for Kazakh citizens to facilitate person-to-person contacts, making it easier to visit EU countries. He said the issue remained high on his agenda and that he looked forward to launching negotiations with European colleagues on this issue.

The EU looked forward to the first official visit of President Tokayev to Brussels when conditions allow.

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Israel

Borrell condemns violence in Sheikh Jarrah says Israel’s actions are illegal under international humanitarian law

Catherine Feore

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Foreign ministers meeting in Brussels today (10 April) discussed the situation in Jerusalem and the postponement of Palestinian elections. EU High Representative Josep Borrell said that ministers were deeply concerned over the recent clashes and violence in and around the Temple Mount, Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah in East Jersusalem where Israeli forces are forcing Palestinian residents from their homes.

Borrell called for the full respect of the status quo of the holy sites. Ministers also said: "Political, religious and community leaders on all sides should show restraint and responsibility and make every effort to calm down this volatile situation."

In response to attacks from Gaza this afternoon, German foreign minister Heiko Maas tweeted: "All sides have a duty to prevent further civilian casualties."

On Sheikh Jarrah, Borrell reminded Israel that its actions are illegal under international humanitarian law and fuel tensions on the ground. He described the decision to stop Jewish worshippers from accessing the esplanade as a positive one that could calm the situation.

Borrell said that the EU had been pushing the Palestinian Authorities to hold elections but that Israel not allowing the holding of the elections in East Jerusalem has led them to opt for a further delay. 

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Africa

South African political parties and civil society plan mass Palestine protest march

EU Reporter Correspondent

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South African political parties and civil society will be uniting in a Palestine protest march to take place this week in Cape Town. The Palestine protest march is being organized by, among others, the Muslim Judicial Council, Al Quds Foundation, National Coalition 4 Palestine (NC4P), the ANC,  GoodParty, Economic Freedom Fighters, SACP, ANC Youth League, NFP, Al Jamaah, Kairos Southern Africa, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and #Africa4Palestine. To this end a protest notification submission has been made to the City of Cape Town and we are awaiting the outcome of the application. The organizers are committed to adhering to all COVID-19 protocols. Organizations that would like to endorse and form part of the mass Palestine protest can contact the MJC, Al Quds Foundation or #Africa4Palestine. Final details, upon approval from the City of Cape Town, of the Mass Palestine Protest March will be made public tomorrow (Tuesday 11 May).  

On Friday and Saturday nights (7-8 May), Israeli forces stormed the AlAqsa mosque attacking worshippers who were praying. Hundreds of Palesintinian civilians were left injured, with several losing their eyes . Israeli forces have recently resorted to shooting directly in the face. One Palestinian youth had to have both his eyes removed (see image above). One Palestinian has also been killed.    The weekend violence by Israeli forces against Palestinians comes on the back of the forced removals currently underway in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah where Israeli extremists are forcibly removing Palestinian families from their homes. So far several families have already lost their homes to Israeli vigilantes who have, in the dark of night, illegally entered the homes of Palestinian families and unlawfully evicted them. The crime of the Palestinian - they are the wrong ethnicity. 

Click here for a short 25 minute video explaning what is happening in the area. 

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