Declaration by Federica Mogherini on recent developments in north-east Syria

10-10-19 09:17:00,

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In light of the Turkish military operation in north-east Syria, the EU reaffirms that a sustainable solution to the Syrian conflict cannot be achieved militarily. The EU calls upon Turkey to cease the unilateral military action. Renewed armed hostilities in the north-east will further undermine the stability of the whole region, exacerbate civilian suffering and provoke further displacements. Prospects for the UN-led political process to achieve peace in Syria will be more difficult.

Unilateral action on Turkey’s part threatens the progress achieved by the Global Coalition to defeat of Da’esh, of which Turkey is a member.

Military action will indeed undermine the security of the Coalition’s local partners and risk protracted instability in north-east Syria, providing fertile ground for the resurgence of Da’esh which remains a significant threat to regional, international and European security. The secure detention of terrorist fighters is imperative in order to prevent them from joining the ranks of terrorist groups.

It is unlikely that a so-called ‘safe zone’ in north-east Syria, as envisaged by Turkey, would satisfy international criteria for refugee return as laid down by UNHCR. The EU maintains its position that refugee and IDP returns to their places of origin must be safe, voluntary and dignified when conditions allow. Any attempt at demographic change would be unacceptable. The EU will not provide stabilisation or development assistance in areas where the rights of local populations are ignored.

We share the goal of ending violence, defeating terrorism and promoting stability in Syria and the wider region. Turkey is a key partner of the European Union and a critically important actor in the Syrian crisis and the region, and the European Union commends Turkey for its important role as a host country of Syrian refugees. Turkey’s security concerns should be addressed through political and diplomatic means, not military action, in accordance with international humanitarian law. The EU continues to urge all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and unhindered, safe and sustainable humanitarian access throughout Syria.

The European Union remains committed to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian state. These can be assured only through a genuine political transition in line with UNSCR 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communique, negotiated by the Syrian parties within the UN-led Geneva process.

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Declaration by the EU on the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol

18-03-19 10:22:00,

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Five years on from the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, the European Union remains steadfast in its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The European Union reiterates that it does not recognise and continues to condemn this violation of international law. It remains a direct challenge to international security, with grave implications for the international legal order that protects the territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of all States.

The European Union remains committed to fully implementing its non-recognition policy, including through restrictive measures. The European Union calls again on UN Member States to consider similar non-recognition measures in line with the UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262.

Russia’s violations of international law have led to a dangerous increase in tensions at the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov. The unjustified use of force by Russia against Ukraine on 25 November 2018 is a reminder of the negative effects of the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula on regional stability.

The EU reiterates its call on Russia to release the illegally captured Ukrainian crewmembers, vessels and equipment unconditionally and without further delay. Pending their release, Russia should respect their rights to legal representation and access by consular authorities, and to provide the injured crewmen with appropriate medical treatment.

The European Union condemns the construction of the Kerch Bridge without Ukraine’s consent which constitutes a further violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The EU expects Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage of all ships through the Kerch Strait to and from the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law. The illegal restrictions to such passage have negative economic consequences for Ukraine’s ports in the Azov Sea and the whole region.

The European Union does not and will not recognise the holding of elections by the Russian Federation in the Crimean peninsula. The increasing militarisation of the peninsula continues to impact negatively the security situation in the Black Sea region. In violation of international humanitarian law, Russian citizenship and conscription in the armed forces of the Russian Federation have been imposed on Crimean residents.

Since the illegal annexation by the Russian Federation, the human rights situation in the Crimean peninsula has significantly deteriorated.

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Lima Group Declaration

05-02-19 03:01:00,

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The Governments of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, members of the Lima Group, express the following:

They reiterate their recognition and support for Juan Guaidó as the Interim President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as per its Constitution. Salute the growing number of countries which have recognized interim President Guaidó and call upon the international community to give its strongest support to Interim President Guaidó and the National Assembly in their efforts to establish a government of democratic transition in Venezuela.

Accept with great pleasure the request from interim President to incorporate the legitimate government of Venezuela in the Lima Group and welcome him amongst us.

They agree to recognize and work with the representatives designated by the government of Interim President Juan Guaidó in their respective countries.

They note that the attempts for dialogue initiated by various international actors have been manipulated by the Maduro regime, transforming them into delaying tactics in order for him to remain in power and, consequently, consider that any political or diplomatic initiative that is developed must aim to support the constitutional roadmap presented to the National Assembly and interim President Juan Guaidó, which seeks a peaceful transition for Venezuelans, will result in the exit of the dictatorial regime of Maduro, allow for holding of elections and the restoration of democracy in Venezuela.

They call for the immediate re-establishment of democracy in Venezuela through the holding of free and fair elections called by the legitimate authorities, according to international standards as soon as possible. These elections should be conducted with sufficient guarantees, with the participation of all political leaders and with international observation, including the appointment of a new National Electoral Council.

They condemn the persistent and serious violations of human rights in Venezuela. In this regard, they reject acts of violence and repression of popular demonstrations by the security forces which have caused many deaths, injuries and detentions.

Urge the restoration of full freedom of the press, the end censorship and to the normalization of the functions of the media whose operations has been arbitrarily impeded by the Maduro regime.

They reiterate the importance of effectively applying the Resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council approved on September 27,

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NATO’s “Summit Declaration” moves troops into direct confrontation with Russia (Video)

03-08-18 05:04:00,

In writing about several projects such as the Crimea Bridge, the Russia-Sakhalin Bridge, The Sakhalin-Japan bridge, and the dreams of the Bering Strait bridge/tunnel.

I have yet to discuss the two new bridges under construction over the Amur River between Russia and China, which are now close to completion stages.

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The Chinese name for the Amur River, Heilong Jiang, means Black Dragon River, and its Mongolian name, Khar Mörön, means Black River. The eastern border section is over 4,000 kilometers long.

Presently, three railway lines cross the entire Russo-Chinese border. The two railway border crossings at Zabaikalsk/Manzhouli and Suifenhe/Grodekovo are over a century old, brought into existence by the original design of Russia’s Trans Siberian Railway that took a shortcut across Manchuria (the Chinese Eastern Railway). The third railway crossing, near Hunchun/Makhalino, operated between 2000 and 2004, was then closed for a few years, and only recently was partially reopened.

Construction has started a while ago on a cross-border Amur River railway bridge near Tongjiang/Nizhneleninskoye, which will become the fourth and the key railway border crossing of the Russian Far East. In fact, it is the only one so far in that vast region.

Not a lot has been reported in our English language press, nonetheless these bridges are key insofar as they represent the first that connect Russia and China by road and rail in what was previously an unbroken 3,000+ kilometer transportation void.

The only ways to cross along this border-defining river was either by ferries, or over the winter ice by truck at one of the few border checkpoints along that huge expanse. The choices did not leave much room for freight or serious recurring trade.

Numerous metaphors arise from the concept of bridge building, not all of which concern bricks and mortar. For example Isaac Newton famously said, “We build too many walls and not enough bridges”, or Nikita Khrushchev who observed, “Politicians are the same all over.

They promise to build bridges even when there are no rivers”. There are many such sayings; even fortune cookies have a “wise men build bridges but fools build walls”. Perhaps the best I heard here in Moscow is “Build a bridge and get over it” which seemed to me to be especially apt given our times and  the geopolitical reality show once called diplomacy.

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