On the other side, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu said that since the country “cannot agree on the federation”, the sides need to meet to discuss which items will be included in the agenda and to “find a formula for a permanent solution,” Turkish-owned state media reported. While each side has its own red lines, for Greece, the solution needs to be based on the United Nations Security Council resolutions and in line with EU law, which support the formation of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation. EPA-EFE/JUSTIN LANE

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The United Nations on Thursday confirmed it will hold a five-party meeting in Geneva in April to examine the prospects of resolving the Cyprus conundrum. The unofficial meeting, which will be held on April 27-29, will be the first since 2017, when the talks about the de facto divided island collapsed. Commenting on the announcement, Greece, which is a guarantor power in the island along with the UK and Turkey, said that the goal of the talks is to find “common ground that will lead to substantial negotiations on the resolution of the Cyprus issue”. The unofficial talks will come a month after a progress report of EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell on Turkey and the an EU summit scheduled for March 25-26. The annual meeting of world leaders at the United Nations is being held without the usual heads off state in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>UN’s Guterres to hold Cyprus talks in April

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08688469 A model of United Nations headquarters at the start of the General Debate of the 75th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, New York, USA, 22 September 2020. “The purpose of the meeting will be to determine whether a common ground exists for the parties to negotiate a lasting solution to the Cyprus problem within a foreseeable horizon,” the UN Secretary-General Spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric said in a statement. EPA-EFE/JUSTIN LANE

A model of United Nations headquarters at the start of the General Debate of the 75th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, New York, USA, 22 September 2020.

Gas project from Russia to Germany does not contribute to EU security, DG Energy says

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Despite calls from the European Parliament to stop the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, the project is subject to national law so the European Commission cannot stop construction of the pipeline as long as Gas Directive complies, DG Energy Director General Ditte Juul Jorgensen said. So, no support from the European level but as I said no legal tool under energy policy to address this question,” Jorgensen said. “In terms of the action regarding energy law it is been implemented enforced by the Commission, the European Union, and by member states through their national legislation, including the transposed Gas Directive in this case,” Jorgensen said. “The Bundesnetzagentur, the national regulator, has to take a number of other decisions as well under the transposed Gas Directive, it has to look at the security of supply, whether security of supply is at risk in relation to the project in question and again here the Commission has the possibility to issue an opinion and may do that in this point in time,” Jorgensen explained. “In this case it means that the German regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, will be accessing a number of the key requirements of the Gas Directive and accessing if Nord Stream 2 lives up to these requirements. “Nord Stream-2 is not a project of common European interest. She also clarified there’s no strong link between the H2 strategy and Nord Stream 2 project. This is a consideration under energy policy and the Commission has been clear in stating that,” Jorgensen told the members of the EU Parliament’s ITRE Committee during an exchange of views on February 23. follow on twitter @energyinsider “And for the last two points third party access and tariff decisions there is no possibility for the Commission to give an opinion but, of course, the Commission will look at the national decisions taken to ensure that the national decisions are taken in full accordance with the European legal framework,” she said. She stressed that gas currently represents an important part of the EU energy mix. Alignments with the EU Green Deal
“Here we are talking about a national decision, but we are also talking about a project that will not meet any European support or any European level investment. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Commission not to stop Nord Stream 2 if pipeline complies with EU law

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

Ditte Juul Jorgensen, the director general of DG Energy of the European Commission, discusses Nord Stream 2 with the European Parliament’s ITRE Committee in Brussels, February 23, 2021. She added, however, that the Russian-backed project is not supported by the European Union. The third aspect where there will be a decision taken again by the national regulatory authority is third party access rules where there needs to be an approval of the relevant points in the transmission system under the gas regulation in this case and this is relevant for the tariff decisions, Jorgensen said. “The national regulatory authority has four months to take this decision. In particular the transmission system operator must be certified in being compliant with the unbundling requirements, so unbundling certification,” Jorgensen explained. It does not contribute to achieving the targets we have set ourselves. In the long run this gas will be replaced by a mix of alternative sources including hydrogen produced from renewable energy or from green sources and power-to-X synthetic fuels produced from renewables. “The objective of the Gas Directive is to make sure that the market functions. So again, you have a national decision but a clear European role and a clear obligation both for the national authority but also the transmission operators,” she said. She noted that Germany has transposed the Gas Directive into its national legal system and that is, of course, highly relevant for Nord Stream 2 because it is the German national regulator that will apply the German law in accessing Nord Stream 2 when it comes into operation under that legal framework which is the Gas Directive in its transposition into German law. She noted that since the Gas Directive entered into force in 2019, the Commission has had very clear rules in place in terms of the application of EU rules to all pipelines that link the EU or the European gas market to third countries via these gas pipelines. Regarding US sanctions against Nord Stream 2, Jorgensen also said the Commission opposes third-countries sanctions against EU companies that conduct legitimate business within the EU. Regarding the legal framework, she undermined that the Commission objective has always been to make sure that should Nord Stream 2 come into operation, then it must operate in a manner that is transparent and non-discriminatory and it must have an appropriate degree of regulatory oversight and it must in line with the principles of both international rules and European energy law. The Commission has the opportunity to issue an opinion and the national regulatory authority has two months to finalize a decision and must take utmost account of the Commission position. Ensuring compliance to EU energy law
“Exactly a year ago tomorrow there was a legal deadline for member states to transpose the Gas Directive into national law,” the Commission’s DG Energy Director General said. Again, it’s not a project of common European interest, it is not supported by the EU budget and will not receive support from the EU budget. The decision to invest here is for the companies in question and the national government in question. We make sure that we avoid preferential action for some and make sure there is equal treatment,” she said.

She focuses on corruption and anti-corruption measures, good governance, democracy, citizen engagement, and political parties. Furthermore, there are no signs that the ruling party has any plan to overcome the poverty and hopeless situation in Georgia. As it stands now, the opposition apparently has a limited number of loyal voters to enough headway in any of the country’s elections. He is strongly affiliated with the country’s strict banking policy and the confiscation of property for creditors because of unpaid debts. Newly named Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili returns to the role he held from 2013-15. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Georgian Institute of Politics and the National Endowment for Democracy. However, the authoritarian and lawless behavior of the UNM’s leader in recent years, the increasingly erratic Saakashvili, makes the party’s future less credible for voters when it comes to a de-facto implementation of a balance of power and general democratic rule. The right-wing libertarian positions of the party known as Girchi are unacceptable in most cases and, generally, do not represent the wishes of the majority of the population. The move was meant to foment a deeper sense of fear amongst voters about what the future might hold if the opposition was to return to power. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Understanding Georgia’s current political situation

By Teona Zurabashvili
Policy analyst at the Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP). More than two dozen widely respected local civil society organizations called last autumn’s parliamentary elections “the least democratic and free among the elections held under the Georgian Dream government”. The UNM, particularly during the second of its time as the ruling party, was regularly accused of and tied to human and property rights violations, mass incarcerations, crackdowns on protestors and opposition groups, and widespread illegal surveillance. Garibashvili has, in the past, been linked to the smear campaigns that the Georgian Dream has used against the opposition since 2012, including cases where incriminating information about the UNM candidates was leaked in the days leading up to the last vote. FLICKR
In the near-decade that has passed, the political landscape of Georgia has not significantly changed. *This publication was produced with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). However, the Georgian Dream’s decision to back the 38-year-old Garibashvili as the new prime minister – a position which Garibashvili already held from November 2013 to December 2015, which made him the youngest head of government along with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un – indicates that the Georgian Dream is not interested in reducing the political tension in the country due to the fact that the appointment of someone like Garibashvili, who is the most radical Georgian Dream politicians in regards to his anti-UNM views, means that the incumbent party is still relying on the legitimacy of the election results of 2012, in which they defeated the UNM. The voters who helped the Georgian Dream sweep to power a decade after the Rose Revolution never received the social justice they were promised. Undoubtedly, the Melia case does not give the ruling party a moral advantage in this political crisis. A Tbilisi city court sentenced Nika Melia, the chairman of the United National Movement (UNM), the country’s main opposition party, to prison
That was followed a day later with an announcement by Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia that he would resign, effective immediately. According to the most cynical political traditions in Georgia’s political history, the Georgian Dream completely squandered the political capital that they earned when the public gave them a massive mandate in 2012. So long as strong disagreements and a lack of commitment between the ruling party and the opposition continue to exist, a widening polarization will undermine any chance to continue to build a democratic Georgia. Giorgi Gakharia, now the former prime minister, reportedly stepped down after a disagreement with his own party over the arrest of opposition leader, Nika Melia. Political parties that have recently emerged have all shared the fate of the more established parties in regards to credibility. They do not, however, ever consider that the supreme and dominant figure of their party, Ivanishvili, officially announced he was quitting politics back in January. This underpins the self-satisfaction and complacency of the Georgian Dream. FLICKR
Garibashvili, who returns as prime minister after serving as a defense minister, is one of the last people capable of holding negotiation with the opposition to de-escalate the current political crisis considering his openly virulent hatred of the UNM leader who can lead the negotiation’ process. Ivanishvili promised social justice and the protection of human rights, both of which had been deeply eroded in the latter years of the UNM’s rule. As was expected, all of the opposition parties rejected the results and demanded that fully transparent elections be held again. Georgian opposition demands extraordinary parliamentary elections in Georgia. As for Gakharia, a man who, due to his personal charisma, managed to create a positive image of Ivanishvili and for himself even for Georgian Dream supporters who are disappointed by the ruling party’s political and economic outcomes, is now a former prime minister after having stepped down in mid-February. They believed that, in the eyes of the international community, this would help emphasize the Georgian Dream’s undemocratic rule and the fact that political institutions in Georgia have ceased to exist. Gakharia said he made the decision based on a disagreement with his own party on the jailing of Melia. The court’s decision to jail Melia significantly deepens the ongoing political crisis in Georgia, which first erupted on October 31, 2020, following disputes over the results of parliamentary elections. Instead, they were forced to live through an unfocused economic program, clannish rule in the judiciary system, rampant nepotism in the civil service, decreased direct foreign investments, a devaluation of the national currency, and clear signs of state capture. Gakharia said he hoped that his resignation would help deal with the country’s current tension and political polarization. One of the other main opposition parties, European Georgia, represents a splinter group that broke away from the UNM in 2016. This limits the opportunities to improve the country’s flagging democracy. Only hours after Gakharia’s announcement, the ruling Georgian Dream party appointed former prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili, as Gakharia’s replacement. According to the election results after 2012, the UNM remains the only legitimate opposition party that can challenge the Georgian Dream at the polls
The steady support that the UNM has received in every election since 2012 indicates that the party continues to have electoral support, generally at the voters’ expense, mainly from the UNM’s strong party identification, which stems from the positive changes that the UNM brought to the country from 2004 to 2006, the first two years that the party and its leader, Mikheil Saakashvili, were in power. This was the increased amount of bail when the prosecution charged Melia with fomenting mass violence during a protest rally after the Georgian Dream decided to controversially invite a Russian lawmaker to Georgia’s parliament in 2019. The Georgian Dream continues to show a deep reluctance to turn the temperature down in the current political crisis. The Georgian Dream’s complacency is still built upon the idea that their institutionalized bad governance is still far superior to the “even worse opposition”. The main reason why the UNM has relatively low popular support can be traced back to cases where it was accused of abuse of power while it was still in office. The founder of the liberal Lelo party, Mamuka Khazaradze, is the co-founder of Georgia’s TBC Bank. Ivanishvili’s image as a philanthropist was seen by many average Georgian voters as a legitimate political alternative to the UNM, who were the then-incumbents and had been in power since the 2003 Rose Revolution. Since being defeated by the Georgian Dream nine years ago, that support, however, the UNM has never been able to capture enough votes or widespread public back to catapult the party back into power. Officially, the court is holding Melia in pretrial detention after he and his supporters refused to post a $12,000 bail. EPA-EFE/ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE

EPA-EFE//ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE

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Georgia has been facing a political crisis for more than three months, which reached its peak on February 17. epa07996724 Georgian opposition supporters take part in a protest rally in front of the parliament building in Tbilisi, Georgia, 14 November 2019. Furthermore, the opposition’s last attempt to organize a mass protest rally immediately after the elections in November mostly fell flat. European Georgia chose to emphasize its key differences with the UNM, but still carries the stigma for the majority of Georgians of having been a part of the UNM for a dozen years from 2004 to 2016. In an attempt to put pressure on the incumbent party, the opposition chose the strategy of boycotting the seating of the new parliament. These major transgressions significantly neutralized the significant social and economic reforms of the UNM’s early years, many of which can still be felt in present-day Georgia. In the run-up to the 2012 election, Georgia’s sole oligarch – billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili – emerged on the political scene and founded the Georgian Dream. While the opposition claims that there is no independent judiciary in Georgia, Gakharia’s statement about “a disagreement with his team over the Melia case” shows that the Georgian Dream wields significant influence over, and is willing to openly discuss certain politically motivated cases, in what is supposed to be an independent judiciary system. Considered a staunch Ivanishvili loyalist, Garibashvili is widely seen as a divisive figure.

This engagement reflects the strength of U.S.-Greece relations and the importance of further deepening our countries’ partnership. First of all, at the helm of the DFC, Trump nominated Adam Boehler, who was incidentally a college roommate of son-in-law Jared Kushner.  
The plan to create the DFC was seen as the biggest change in US development policy in the last 15 years, and the newly rebranded organization was thought of, and sold as, a tool to partially counter China’s heavily funded One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. Boehler was thrust into supporting US policy in the region because the agreements the US had mediated over 2020 between Kosovo and Serbia all aimed to improve bilateral economic cooperation and transport infrastructure with US financing where possible.  
Boehler also participated in a rushed ceremony to open the DFC’s at-that-point-unstaffed Belgrade office and some documentation for that office was reportedly approved during Trump’s last day in office. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Development Finance Corporation’s first overseas office sparks controversy

By Alec Mally
Director for Global Economic Affairs at IPEDIS

US DFC Website

Confusion over the need to utilize US development funding in an EU country

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A controversy has erupted in Washington over a Trump-era plan to establish the first overseas office of the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), covering all of Southeast Europe, in Belgrade, Serbia. Reports have also surfaced that a good number of DFC officials believe the organization should focus its resources on lower-income countries, not those in Eastern Europe or EU members. It took over a year for OPIC’s reorganization to be completed, and DFC formally began operations in January 2020, after absorbing USAID’s Development Credit Authority into its existing structure. OPIC has done investment and insurance projects in Southeast Europe for many years. Instead they jumped into the fray for one reason, believing that the DFC office itself was also a symbol of the so-far unrealized US commitment to use federal funds to support Greece’s extensive infrastructure and energy privatization/development projects and accordingly assist Greek economic development, something that US legislation on development financing partially restricts because Greece is an EU member state with a high per capita income level, and already has adequate access to EU financing. Rumors have been circulating in Washington in recent weeks that the DFC Belgrade office might not be a priority for the Biden administration and accordingly not get fully staffed up, triggering more concern and reaction from the Greek American Washington-based organizations than from others across the region who would be expected to show concern.  
When the so-called “Washington Agreement” was signed in the White House in September 2020, Boehler and Kushner were important players in the signing ceremony; shortly thereafter Boehler was in Belgrade and Pristina signing vaguely worded cooperation agreements, enabling President Trump to claim a small foreign policy victory for his re-election campaign which many observers at the time believed was the principal motivating force.    
As is often the case, once any kind of media release from these ethnic lobby groups is published, the Washington Greek media corps will lock onto the message. Signals that the Biden administration was taking a second look at this initiative — mainly focused on promoting the Trump-era Kosovo-Serbia economic dialogue — and rushed to approval in the final hours of the Trump administration in the style of a last-day-in-office presidential pardon, triggered alarm bells from some of the initiative’s politically connected supporters — largely but not exclusively in the powerful Greek American community. It is unclear when the extra responsibilities for the rest of Southeastern Europe were added to the Belgrade office’s list of projects and responsibilities, but high-level interest from Greek officials in the DFC’s work, most likely a result of information provided by the US Embassy in Athens, was enough to add Greece to the list.  
Never allowing a signal of a “wavering US commitment” in the Greek media to go unchallenged, a senior level phone call was arranged on February 24 between the new DFC CEO and the Greek Minister of Development for damage limitation purposes. DFC issued the following statement:    
“U.S.  
Ironically, most of the Washington groups engaged in the defense of the DFC Belgrade office initiative have little or nothing invested in the success of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue. DFC into the Balkan fray
There is a strong Trump legacy that explains the DFC’s moves to open its first overseas office anywhere in the world in Belgrade. Some EU sources claimed in September that the Trump Kosovo-Serbia negotiating team was working so fast to get documents ready for a Trump signature that it agreed to finance projects the EU was already planning to handle. Marchick and Minister Georgiadis discussed new opportunities to expand DFC’s work in Greece under the Biden administration. In Washington, there was strong bipartisan support for the policy changes Trump proposed. The DFC was to be authorized to provide up to $60 billion in insurance, loans, and loan guarantees for projects mainly in developing countries, with the focus on infrastructure; but that massive funding stream has not materialized. However, it is completely normal in the Washington context for such ethnic lobby groups to take issue with US government staffing decisions, although usually, the focus is on the provision of consular services (visas and passport services) for groups of Americans abroad and not economic policy. Boehler visited Greece as well and developed a good rapport with senior officials there, even though the DFC’s primary mandate is supposed to be targeted towards projects in low income and developing countries where Chinese project financing is often provided on a “take it or leave it” basis with no other options available.   Much of the funding will come from the fees DFC charges for services provided. DFC is strongly committed to advancing strategic investments and supporting development and economic growth in the Aegean, especially reinforcing energy independence and sustainability in Greece while the region faces increasing geopolitical competition.” International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) Chief Operating Officer David Marchick today spoke by phone with Greek Minister for Development and Investment Adonis Georgiadis. The DFC is new in name only
Another unusual aspect of the developing debate is the relative lack of knowledge shown by many of the participants, who appear to believe that the DFC is some new federal agency with an all-new set of financial tools and capabilities and not just a re-imagination of its predecessor organization, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), which is the case of the DFC. In the DFC case, they rebroadcast it to Greece as evidence that the US commitment to Greece was somehow faltering, with local Greek correspondents quickly bombarding the DFC’s Washington media office with questions and on Twitter. Mr. Trump signed the legislation authorizing the reorganization of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation into the DFC in October 2018.

In the meanwhile, the Biden administration is considering a stronger response against Erdogan. But Turkey is determined to continue an aggressive policy of what it considers to be its rights in the East Med. On a positive note, the East Med Gas Forum (EMGF) comes into force on 1 March. In fact they said that Turkey appears to be orchestrating an ‘incident’ to portray Greece – to the US and the EU – as the instigator of tension, before the forthcoming crucial meetings in March. I am sure the key players will work behind the scenes to calm the situation down and allow these to take place. Turkey will be expected to abide by accepted international law, and not just its own, ‘unique’, interpretation of it. Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis on 10 August 2020 called a meeting with Greek military chiefs following a Turkish announcement that the Oruc Reis has set sails to a disputed area near Greek island of Kastellorizo. But as the FT pointed out “this outbreak of reasonableness could be little more than precautionary atmospherics.” Turkey still sees maintaining tension as a means to enforce its demands – Erdogan probably perceives backing-off as a weakness. Elsewhere in the East Med
Egypt’s Petroleum Minister, Tareq El Molla, in a first visit to Israel on February 21, agreed with his Israeli counterpart, Yuval Steinitz, to work together toward an inter-governmental agreement on the construction of an offshore gas pipeline from the Leviathan gas-field to Egypt’s liquefaction facilities. The timing of sending Cesme in the Aegean is at best regrettable. This, and low prices, make it difficult to see how Israel and Egypt expect to be able to proceed with plans to export LNG to Europe. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Turkey starts exploration in the Aegean

By Dr. They specifically referred to increasing “gas exports to Europe through the liquefaction facilities in Egypt, in light of the growing demand in Europe for natural gas.” But this runs contrary to developments currently taking place in Europe about the future of natural gas in the EU’s future energy mix, in view of the commitments for a 55% cut in emissions by 2030 and net-zero by 2050. It could be related to the fact that the Biden administration and the EU are considering a tougher line with the country. Even though the debate is still raging, the EU’s own projections show European gas consumption declining by 25%-30% by 2030. EPA-EFE//TOLGA BOZOGLU

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Following the issue of an advisory note (Navtex) blocking an area in the Aegean between the Greek islands Limnos, Skyros and Lesbos from February 18 to March 2, the Turkish oceanographic vessel Cesme started surveys on February 18. On February 23 the Turkish state news agency Anadolu, citing sources in the Turkish Ministry of Defense, said that “four Greek fighter jets harassed Cesme while conducting surveys in the Aegean.” The Greeks strongly denied this. The two sides agreed to a follow-up meeting in Athens. The EU’s taxonomy regulation on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment has left natural gas completely out. Lowering tensions in the East Med is key to resolving problems and to future stability in the region. It is not something that could not wait until later. Alarmed, Turkey may be trying to present itself as the victim, rather than the aggressor, in the area. The Biden administration is increasingly questioning the state of the ‘strategic partnership’ with Turkey. EPA-EFE/TOLGA BOZOGLU

Turkey's exploration vessel Oruc Reis sails through the Bosphorus. Charles Ellinas
Senior Fellow, Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council

epa08595715 (FILE) – National seismic exploration vessel Oruc Reis sails on the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, 21 November 2018 (re-issued 10 August 2020). Not much is known about it, but it is estimated to have been caused by about 1000 tonnes of tar leaking into the sea, which has now spread over about 190km of coastline. In a sign of hope for the future, the exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece that resumed at the end of January were constructive. Let’s hope that the recent events do not derail this. Linking Turkey with China must be of great concern to Erdogan, who hopes for a closer relationship with the US, especially as it now looks likely that the US will side with the EU over Turkey’s aggressive pursuit of its maritime claims in the East Med. The dangers to the Mediterranean’s fragile environment are obvious. A Greek government spokesman called it “an unnecessary move which does not help positive sentiment.”
Sending Cesme to the Aegean followed a meeting of Turkey’s National Security Council end of January, chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that declared that the country is “determined to protect its rights, relevance and interests in the East Med, the Aegean and Cyprus.” Erdogan appears to be determined to maintain a position of strength come-what-may. Turkey’s maritime claims and actions in the East Med is one of the concerns shared by the EU and the US. Whatever lies behind these developments, it is very unfortunate. The deployment of Cesme in the Aegean is indicative of Turkey’s determination to maintain the ante, even at a time when Erdogan has embarked on a charm offensive towards Europe and the US. And as a reminder of the environmental dangers that lurk in a closed sea like the Mediterranean, in early February there was an oil spill off the coast of Israel that has now spread all the way to Lebanon. How effective they will be I wouldn’t know, but then I do not have great expectations that there will be any breakthroughs. This was confirmed following a telephone discussion end January, between US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Bjoern Seibert, head of the European Commission cabinet, that identified Turkey, along with China, as issues of “mutual concern.” Coming so soon after US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken accused Turkey – at his Senate confirmation hearing – of not acting like an ally, it adds to the pressure on the country. If so, it will be surprising if this works. For LNG to be delivered in April the price in Japan has dropped to $6.25/mmbtu and in western Europe down to $5.37/mmbtu. After a spike in January, spot prices have returned to low levels. This could eventually become a catalyst in the development of regional energy markets, especially local natural gas resources to facilitate renewable energy integration. The forthcoming exploratory meetings between Greece and Turkey, the European Council summit in March and the meeting on the Cyprus problem are important to all. Greece suggested this takes place in early March.

Permitting rules and procedures are too complex. Cefic Director General Marco Mensink noted that renewable electricity including wind power is a cornerstone in the decarbonization of the Chemical industry in Europe. Steel and chemicals are two energy-intensive sectors that both want more wind farms, to help electrify their processes or to power them with renewable hydrogen. Many decommissioned wind farms are being repowered but not enough of them. More encouragingly, Poland built a significant amount of new onshore wind and has committed now to a major build-out of offshore wind. The sheer volume needed by different industries, who all will increase electrification at the same time and increase demand requires targeted action,” he said, adding that specific focus on electrification in industry, sectoral roadmaps to inform and strengthen the Commission’s Industrial Ecosystems model, greater policy coherence across the board and adaptive state aid and competition law frameworks to enable the new models of cross-sector cooperation which Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called for are all needed. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Europe builds 14.7 GW of new wind farms in 2020, 19% less due to COVID

By New Europe Online/KG

epa07148412 A general view of a Gamesa wind turbine on hills near the village of Ardales in Andalusia, southern province of Spain, 21 October 2018. “Wind energy and steel already today form a critical ecosystem in Europe and will so even more on Europe’s way to carbon neutrality and circularity. Otherwise the Green Deal is at risk,” he added. “Permitting rules and procedures are too complex, and government at all levels are not employing enough people to process permit applications. “Wind is now 16% of Europe’s electricity,” WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said. But this is well below the pace needed to deliver the Green Deal and climate neutrality. The EU27 accounted for 10.3 GW of the new capacity. According to the statistics, 80% of the new capacity was onshore wind. Governments have to address this. Permitting has been the main problem, but the number of new wind farm permits actually increased last year. There are not enough people working in the permitting authorities to process permit applications. The Netherlands built the most (2 GW, mostly offshore) followed by Germany, Norway, Spain and France. It was 27% in Germany and the UK, 22% in Spain – and 48% in Denmark. According to WindEurope, the main problem is permitting. EPA-EFE/MAURITZ ANTIN

Wind is growing too slow for EU economy to go climate-neutral

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Europe built 14.7 GW of new wind farms in 2020, which was 19% less than what was expected before COVID, statistics on wind energy in Europe in 2020 published by WindEurope on February 25 showed. Obstacles to repowering resulted in Austria ending 2020 with less wind capacity than it had at the start of the year. Dickson said it’s not just the wind industry that’s worried. Many of its wind auctions were undersubscribed. Meanwhile the number of older wind turbines reaching the end of their operational life is increasing. Our industry is eager to deliver not only 100% recyclable, perfectly circular steel to its clients, including the wind industry, but also steel that is CO2 neutral,” Eggert said, adding, “For this, we need wind energy to help providing the 400 TWh of electricity that our industry requires by 2050, an amount comparable to the electricity consumption of France”. Their competitiveness depends on adequate amounts of affordable wind energy. So are Europe’s core manufacturing industries that are looking to wind energy to support their decarbonisation goals, he said. “But Europe is not building enough new wind farms to deliver the EU’s climate and energy goals. EUROFER Director General Axel Eggert said the EU needs to speed up significantly the installation of wind capacity that provides affordable electricity for Europe’s green transition. The result is it’s taking too long to get permits for new projects, permit decisions are being challenged in courts and developers are deterred from pursuing new projects because of the risks and costs involved,” WindEurope said, calling on governments to take urgent action to address this. WindEurope’s new figures clearly reveal a problem in the future supply as simply not enough capacity is added. In the next five years 38 GW of wind farms will reach 20 years of operation and require a decision on their future: repowering, life-time extension or full decommissioning. EPA-EFE/MAURITZ ANTIN

A Gamesa wind turbine on hills near the village of Ardales in Andalusia, southern province of Spain.   The EU27 are set to build only 15 GW/a new wind over 2021-25, whereas they need to build 17 GW/a over 2021-30 to deliver the existing 2030 EU renewables target and 27 GW/a to deliver the higher target that’s now coming with the 55% climate target. Looking ahead, WindEurope said it expects Europe to build 105 GW new wind farms over the next 5 years, over 70% of which will be onshore. The main problem is permitting. France saw further steady expansion of onshore wind and will start installing its first commercial offshore wind farms in the coming years. Wind was 16% of all the electricity consumed in Europe in 2020. This suggests a recovery is ahead, but Germany remains far off from what it needs to install to meet its renewables targets. “We simply need it, we need it at a competitive price and we need more, both for direct electrification and to fulfill our central role in the hydrogen economy. Germany which has long been the engine of the wind energy in Europe only installed 1.65 GW of wind farms last year, its lowest in a decade, WindEurope said. In 2020 Europe decommissioned 388 MW of wind energy.

“The European Union is gravely concerned about the continuing pressure against the HDP and several of its members, which has materialised lately through arrests, replacing elected mayors, what seem to be politically motivated judicial proceedings and the attempt of lifting parliamentary immunities of Members of the Grand National Assembly,” the bloc’s External Action Service (EEAS) said in a statement issued on Tuesday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey will hold the snap election on 24 June 2018. Turkey: 🇪🇺gravely concerned about continuing pressure against @HDPenglish members w/arrest,politicised judicial actions & attempt 2lift parliamentary immunities. The presidential and parliamentary elections were scheduled to be held in November 2019, but government has decided to change the date following the recommendation of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli. PKK has been classified as a terrorist organisation by the US and Western countries, as well as by the European Parliament. As @coe member & EU candidate country 🇹🇷 must respect human rights, rule of law & freedoms https://t.co/gsLbUps9bg
— Peter Stano (@ExtSpoxEU) February 23, 2021

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is accusing HDP of having ties to Kurdish militants, meaning to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). EPA-EFE/TURKISH PRESIDENTAL PRESS OFFICE HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

A handout photo made available by the Turkish Presidential Press Office shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives to speak during a press conference at at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, 18 April 2018. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU voices concerns over Turkey’s continuing pressure against HDP

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa06677137 A handout photo made available by the Turkish Presidential Press Office shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives to speak during a press conference at at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, 18 April 2018. “As a CoE member and an EU candidate country, Turkey must respect human rights, rule of law and freedoms,” the Commission’s spokesperson, Peter Stano tweeted, referring to the former HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtas, who has not yet been released despite a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgement asking Turkish authorities to do so. EPA-EFE/TURKISH PRESIDENTAL PRESS OFFICE HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

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The European Union has voiced its concerns over Ankara’s increasing pressure against the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), urging the country to safeguard its democratic system. Accusations were further stepped up after Turkish captives were executed in northern Iraq earlier this month, with the government arguing they were killed by PKK rebels, also announcing the detention of more than 700 people over alleged links to group.

The measure will therefore contribute to energy savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants emissions. The Bucharest district heating system is the largest in size in the EU, and the second largest in the world, serving 1.2 million inhabitants, covering around 940 km of thermic pipes for the transmission system and 2,800 km pipes for the distribution system.  
  Romania notified the Commission of its plans to provide public support of approximately €254 million (1,208 billion RON ) for the rehabilitation of the distribution network, notably the transmission pipelines of hot water to the main distribution points, of the district heating system in the urban area of Bucharest, the Commission said, adding that the planned support will take the form of a direct grant financed by EU Structural Funds managed by Romania. The Commission concluded that the measure does not distort competition and is in line with EU State aid rules, notably thanks to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and other polluting substances and the improvement of the energy efficiency of the district heating system. The contribution of a grant from EU Structural Funds is needed to cover the financing gap of the project. Therefore, the project would not be financially viable without public support. As demonstrated by the Romanian authorities, despite the reduction by around 10% of operating costs, the overall operation of the district heating system will not generate sufficient revenues to cover the investment costs, the Commission said. EUROPEAN UNION, 2021/EC – AUDIOVISUAL SERVICE/JENNIFER JACQUEMART

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Romanian plans to support the upgrade of the district heating system of the municipality of Bucharest comply with EU State Aid rules, EU Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, has said. The rehabilitation of the Bucharest District heating will consist in the replacement of sections of main hot water transmission pipelines for approximately 10% of the overall length of Bucharest’s district heating network, the Commission said, adding that this investment will reduce heat losses, water refill losses, network maintenance costs, as well as other losses. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Romanian aid for district heating system rehabilitation in Bucharest gets EU nod

By New Europe Online/KG

Margrethe Vestager

EU Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, in Brussels, February 22, 2021. “This €254 million aid measure, funded thanks to EU structural funds, will help Romania achieve its energy-efficiency targets and will contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas and other pollutants emissions, without unduly distorting competition,” Vestager said.

The ESI combines the thriving ecosystem of solar PV players created over the years by SolarPower Europe and the successful blueprint of the European Battery Alliance, led by EIT InnoEnergy, with its Business Investment Platform (BIP). “To quickly scale up green energy, we need the insights and cooperation of the industry. “Following the successful launch of the Solar Manufacturing Accelerator in May 2020, today we are delighted to further boost the solar industry, with EIT InnoEnergy, by launching the European Solar Initiative,” she said. EUROPEAN UNION, 2021/EC – AUDIOVISUAL SERVICE/ CLAUDIO CENTONZE

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SolarPower Europe and EIT InnoEnergy launched on February 23 the European Solar Initiative (ESI), with the support of EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, and French Minister Delegate for Industry Agnès Pannier-Runacher. For his part, EIT InnoEnergy CEO Diego Pavia reminded that enabling strategic value chains which accelerate the energy transition is at the core of EIT InnoEnergy’s mission. This will generate €40bn of GDP annually and create 400,000 new direct and indirect jobs across the PV value chain. “This ESI for the PV industry would be our third, after batteries (EBA) and hydrogen (EGHAC),” he said, adding that the mix of National Energy and Climate plan demand, low cost of capital, notable successes in European technology development and a return of investment into the sector has created fertile ground for a rebirth of European PV. “Europe has learnt from its previous experiences and with the Green Deal’s powerful, unambiguous political and business framework in place, scale and speed are going to be the key to unlocking PV’s potential,” he said. EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson noted that the future of the European energy system is renewable and solar energy has an important role to play in that. A day earlier, Simson said the future of the European energy system is renewable and solar energy has an important role to play in that. The ESI aims to scale up a strong PV manufacturing industry in Europe across the entire value chain from raw materials to recycling, which will capture the additional 20 GW of annual solar demand forecasted in Europe for the next decade. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>SolarPower Europe, EIT InnoEnergy launch European Solar Initiative

By New Europe Online/KG

Kadri Simson

EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson during the weekly meeting of the von der Leyen Commission in Berlaymont, Brussels, February 24, 2020. “As the lowest-cost and most job-intensive renewable technology, solar is poised to deliver the goals of the European Green Deal and Green Recovery,” SolarPower Europe CEO Walburga Hemetsberger said, adding that the momentum is building to scale up manufacturing activities in the EU, based on the sustained technological leadership of European companies and strong domestic market uptake confirmed in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. According to SolarPower Europe, the ESI will accelerate Europe’s climate agenda and economic recovery, contributing to the delivery of the European Green Deal objectives. I am therefore very happy to see the launch of the European Solar Initiative, which I’m confident will give a boost to the entire solar PV value chain in Europe,” Simson said.

Think of protecting and restoring wetlands, or developing urban green spaces or restoring peatlands. “If we fail to prevent a 3-degree rise in temperature, this could go up to €170 billion a year. Thirdly, to speed up adaptation, we need to bridge the gap between planning and implementation. There is a lot for us to learn, especially from countries like Bangladesh and small island developing states. Think about what is happening in the Pacific: adaptation has been an existential task for them for some time already, existential in the most literal meaning of the word,” Timmermans said. We will also intensify our collaboration with the insurance sector,” Timmermans said, noting that the climate protection gap across Europe is still high, and too often the financial burden of natural disasters falls on uninsured families and businesses or public finances. The Royal Institute would support the insurance sector with up-to-date information and the best possible scientific knowledge so that insurers know better how to plan and can provide better products at a fairer price to their clients,” he said. The Vice President said that the EU will also start monitoring the health effects of the climate crisis with a new Climate Health Observatory. “First, to make adaptation smarter, we need more data collection and data sharing. The EU will promote sub-national, national and regional approaches to adaptation, with a specific focus on adaptation in Africa and Small Island Developing States. “The EU has consistently lived up to our responsibilities, and we will intensify our work to bring other partners along too. Tailored advice for especially the most vulnerable communities, so that they can find the expertise to plan, and the resources to take action. Commitments on climate finance will play an important role for a successful COP in Glasgow in November. Climate impacts outside our borders will increasingly affect Europe as well. We need to put the money on the table for the emerging part of our planet to be able to take part in facing the climate crisis,” the Vice President said, adding, “If we step up work on adaptation today, we can make the EU, and the planet, much better prepared for the unavoidable changes we will face tomorrow. We will work with the European Investment Bank to boost adaptation financing. We will promote nature-based solutions as much as possible. “Finally, we need to do more at the international level. He also called for considering the impact of climate change on fiscal policies. “It will look at the direct impact of hot and cold extremes and what it means for the spread of new diseases,” he said. EUROPEAN UNION, 2021/EC – AUDIOVISUAL SERVICE/CLAUDIO CENTONZE

Aims to be climate-resilient by 2050

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The new Climate Adaptation Strategy adopted on February 24 will have to help make the European Union not only climate-neutral but also climate-resilient by 2050, European Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said. Under the Climate Adaptation strategy, the Commission will start a dialogue with Member States on the impact of disasters on public finance, he said, adding that this will be the starting point of designing more climate-proof fiscal frameworks. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU Commission adopts new Climate Adaptation Strategy

By New Europe Online/KG

Frans Timmermans

EU Commission Executive VP for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans speaks on the New EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change, in Berlaymont, Brussels, February 24, 2021. And we need to do it immediately”. They help adaptation, and at the same time protect the biodiversity, give us cleaner air and give us cooler cities,” Timmermans said. Slower developing threats like sea level rise pose a big risk to the 40% of European GDP that is generated in coastal areas and I think the 40% of Europeans living in coastal areas,” he said. The Paris Agreement established a global goal on adaptation and highlighted adaptation as a key contributor to sustainable development. “Yesterday, in the country I know best, an agreement was reached between the insurance sector and the Royal Institute for Public Health and Environment. With more precise modelling on future hazards, farmers can better plan the crops they plant, families buying a home will know what climate risks they may face, businesses will know how to make new production facilities fit for a hotter planet, and cities will know how to protect their residents from weather extremes,” Timmermans said. Already, extreme weather alone causes an average €12 billion a year in losses. This is one of the first things I say when I speak to my colleagues from other parts of the world, whether it’s Alok Sharma who chairs the COP, or John Kerry, or our Chinese counterparts. “Next, to make adaptation more systemic, we will target more support at the local level. “If we make our adaptation smarter, swifter, and more systemic, we will be able to – and especially also add the international component – we will be able to learn from our partners, to learn from each other, and to make sure we adapt more quickly,” he said.

style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Venezuela’s National Assembly asks government to expel EU ambassador

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08290599 A security member of the President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro removes plastic from the microphone that the president used before a press conference, in Caracas, Venezuela, 12 March 2020. Maduro announced this Thursday the suspension for a month of all flights from Europe and Colombia ‘to add to the preventive processes at the international level’ due to the coronavirus, which, he said, has not yet reached Venezuela. The EU move brings to 55 the total number of individuals subject to sanctions. EPA-EFE/Miguel Gutierrez

A security member of the President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro removes plastic from the microphone that the president used before a press conference, in Caracas, Venezuela, 12 March 2020. The 2015 National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday urged President Nicolas Maduro to call Brilhante Pedrosa persona non grata and to close the EU office in Caracas. Earlier in the week, the Union’s foreign affairs ministers decided to add 19 leading Venezuelan officials to their sanctions list, due to their “role in acts and decisions undermining democracy and the rule of law in the country, or as a result of serious human rights violations.” 
The officials are targeted for undermining the oppositions’ electoral rights and the democratic functioning of the National Assembly, and for serious violations of human rights and restrictions of fundamental freedom, according to a statement issued on Monday. In January, the EU’s heads of state and government had stated they were ready to adopt additional targeted restrictive measures following the outcome of December’s elections in the country. The country’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza would meet with the EU ambassador on Wednesday, along with ambassadors and diplomatic representatives from other EU countries, including from France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. EPA-EFE/Miguel Gutierrez

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Venezuela’s National Assembly has called on the government to expel the European Union’s ambassador to Caracas, Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa, after the bloc adopted fresh sanctions against 19 Venezuelan officials.

Denmark has also placed restrictions at its borders since the beginning of the pandemic. Despite recommendations by the Commission, the six EU countries have taken unilateral measures to curb the spread of Coronavirus. “The commission wants to recall to the European member states that it is a necessity to go back to a coordinated approach on all the measures taken in relation to the free movement of people and goods,” the bloc’s justice commissioner Didier Reynders said on Tuesday in a video posted on Twitter. 🇪🇺@EU_Commission has also written to 6 MS to obtain more information on the measures taken. Reynders argued that the measures have gone “too far”, citing that less restrictive measures, such as discouraging travel could also work instead of banning movement from one state to another. #COVID19 @EU_Justice pic.twitter.com/cRDEZ8rc0R
— Didier Reynders (@dreynders) February 23, 2021 Finland has imposed a non-essential travel ban until February 25, while Sweden has blocked entry for those coming from the UK, Denmark and Norway. Hungary, for its part, has kept its borders closed to almost all foreigners since summer. The countries have ten days to provide the EU Executive with explanations about their ban on non-essential travel. In January, Belgium imposed a non-essential travel ban that has been extended to April 1, while earlier this month, Germany placed entry restrictions at its borders with the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

European flags in front of European commission headquarters, also called Berlaymont Building in Brussels, Belgium, 13 March 2018. His comments came ahead of a General Affairs Council (GAC) on Tuesday morning, which gathered the bloc’s EU affairs ministers. “The EU Council has agreed on a coordinated approach on free movement to ensure proportionate measures and preserve essential travel,” the Justice Commissioner wrote in another post. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Brussels warns six EU countries against travel restrictions

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa06599923 European flags in front of European commission headquarters, also called Berlaymont Building in Brussels, Belgium, 13 March 2018. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

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Ιn a letter sent to Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary and Sweden, the European Commission has urged the countries to respect the travel restrictions recommendations of the European Council and to align with the Union’s principles in regard to freedom of movement. Doorstep EN | I am participating in the #GAC this morning to recall the importance of a coordinated approach to restrictions on free movement.

This has been developing and escalating ever since the country’s lone oligarch, Bidzina Ivanishvili – a man who made his fortune in Russia in the 1990s – took power in 2012. The Georgian government is now, instead, ruling the law and blocking democracy. A new mission regarding human rights needs to be appointed in order to secure broad support for how said rights are defended and democracy safeguarded. What has happened in Georgia is not a sudden development. If the Georgian government says goodbye to democracy. epa08444570 A man holds a small Georgian national flag while marking the 102th anniversary of the Georgian Independence in Tbilisi, Georgia, 26 May 2020. The EU must stand firm, otherwise, Georgia risks turning into a new Belarus. Furthermore, it must also call for an independent inquiry to look into the issue of the rule of law within the Georgian institutions to secure their independence. It must first call halt the police brutality against the opposition and the immediate release of their leader, Nika Melia. The Act of Independence of Georgia was adopted on 26 May 1918. In order to stabilize democracy and clarify the need for the rule of law, the EU has offered cooperation and a closer relationship, but it hasn’t helped. The hope over the last eight years of Ivanishvili’s formal and informal rule has been that the Georgian vision of belonging to Europe, and not being a satellite of Vladimir Putin’s post-Soviet sphere of influence, should be stronger than the authoritarian instincts of Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream party. By Gunnar Hökmark
President of Stockholm Free World Forum and a former Member of European Parliament. EPA-EFE//ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE
Opposition leaders have in the past been jailed and held in detention, without trials, but Europe’s reactions have always been firm and in the end, they have been freed. Ivanishvili made his fortune in the 1990s in Russia with investments in metals, real estate, and banking.  
Bidzina Ivanishvili speaks during a joint news conference in Tbilisi. At the time a Russian citizen, Ivanishvili returned to Georgia shortly before the 2003 Rose Revolution. If the Georgian government does not listen, the EU must clarify that it will end the Association Agreement that came into force in 2016 as well as the visa-free travel regimen that came into being in 2017. EPA-EFE/ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE

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What we are seeing today in Georgia is a broken democracy. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Is this goodbye to Georgia’s democracy? Since Ivanishivili’s rise to power, Georgia’s democracy has been, step-by-step, undermined. it must understand that it also says goodbye to the European Union. When the main opposition leader is dragged out of his party’s headquarters on the direct orders of the government, the country has said goodbye to democracy. At that point, Georgia’s spectacular success in fighting corruption, creating economic growth and increased prosperity – all of which began in the wake of the 2003 Rose Revolution – came to an end. He was deeply involved in the work with the Eastern Partnership and its parliamentary structures, as well as in closer relations with Georgia. Elections have been manipulated, but they have at least taken place and have ultimately proven to be a problem for the governing party they have been forced to rig the results as well as persecute the opposition and crackdown on the independent media.

He stressed, however, that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would not have the same level of access and there will not be any snap inspections, but IAEA would still be “able to retain the necessary degree of monitoring and verification work”. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Iran, IAEA agree to nuclear inspection deal with less access

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08039292 Designated Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi of Argentina, delivers a speech during a Special Session of IAEA General Conference at the IAEA headquarters of the UN seat in Vienna, Austria, 02 December 2019. The announcement marked another challenge to Biden, who hopes to restore the nuclear deal, after Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement in 2018. His visit to Iran for emergency talks came amid advanced efforts between the US under Joe Biden’s administration, EU nations and Tehran to salvage the 2015 deal. Grossi will assume office as IAEA Director General on 03 December 2019. “We are going to keep this understanding we reached under review constantly – so if we want to suspend it or extend it, this can be done,” he added, noting that the agreement “salvages the situation for now”. Last week, Iran threatened to block snap inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog from next week if other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal do not uphold their obligations. However, following Trump’s withdrawal from the deal, Tehran began breaching some of the terms. “If others do not fulfil their obligations by Feb. EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA

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The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, Rafael Mariano Grossi said it reached an agreement with Iran to continue the “necessary monitoring” of the country’s nuclear activities for up to three months. EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA

Designated Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi of Argentina, delivers a speech during a Special Session of IAEA General Conference at the IAEA headquarters of the UN seat in Vienna, Austria, 02 December 2019. In January, the country resumed enriching uranium to 20% purity at the Fordow facility, exceeding by far the limit of 3.67% allowed under the nuclear deal. 21, the government is obliged to suspend the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol,” the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said. Under the deal, namely the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran agreed to curbs on its uranium enrichment program in return for the lifting of US sanctions. “We reached a temporary bilateral technical understanding whereby the agency is going to continue its necessary verification and monitoring activities for a period of up to three months,” Grossi told reporters after his return from Tehran, Reuters reported.

Supported by the French agency for ecological transition Ademe, the Gaya platform is in line with the targets set by the French Law on Energy Transition for Green Growth, which aims for a 50% reduction in the quantity of waste going to landfill by 2025 compared with 2010 and a 30% reduction in fossil fuel consumption in 2030 compared with 2012, with a view to preserving the environment and strengthening France’s energy independence. From 2026, this will allow 70,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste per year to be used to produce up to 150 GWh of renewable gas, equivalent to the consumption of 670 urban buses. The tests carried out using SRF show that we now know how to produce renewable gas from this type of waste,” she added. In the absence of dedicated recycling channels, this type of fuel is mostly made up of waste wood, paper, cardboard and plastic resulting from economic activities. Based on the work already undertaken, Engie plans to build a first industrial unit in Le Havre, France, starting in 2023, the Salamandre project. As an alternative to landfill, which is due to be phased out, the Gaya chain is positioned as the channel of reference for making use of non-recyclable waste to produce a storable renewable gas, which can substitute for natural gas and as such has multiple end uses: sustainable mobility, industry, the tertiary sector. It contributes directly to the Engie Group’s purpose, “to act to accelerate the transition towards a carbon-neutral economy, through reduced energy consumption and more environmentally friendly solutions,” Engie said in a press release. ENGIE

Construction of a first industrial unit in Le Havre could begin in 2023

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Through a project called Gaya, France’s Engie has recently started the production of renewable gas from solid non-recyclable waste. A year after successfully producing biomethane from forest biomass, the Gaya platform achieved a world first and took a historic step forward with the production of its first cubic metres of renewable gas from Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF). ENGIE’s demonstrator has validated the integrated operation of the entire chain of innovative technologies under industrial conditions. The platform model contributes to the energy transition with the production of renewable gas and to the circular economy by making use of waste that until now was destined for landfill. In addition, the multi-energy process will allow production of 45 GWh of renewable heat to meet urban and industrial needs. This configuration maximises the production of renewable gas. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Engie produces renewable gas from solid non-recyclable waste

By New Europe Online/KG

The biomethane plant in Vermandois. “With GAYA, we have made major scientific advances in the development and industrialisation of renewable gas production sectors,” said Adeline Duterque, director of Engie Lab Crigen, the corporate group’s Research & Development centre.