Full implementation of the standards enshrined in EU legislation is important to effectively protect human health and safeguard the natural environment. Although the Slovenian authorities have shared monitoring data aimed to show compliance with the requirements of the Directive, the deficiencies and gaps therein identified lead the Commission to conclude that the authorities have failed to prove compliance for the above-mentioned agglomerations. EPA/ANTONIO BAT

General view of the Slovenian Capital Ljubljana

EPA/ANTONIO BAT

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The European Commission said it will refer Slovenia to the European Court of Justice for failure to comply with the requirements of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU to refer Slovenia to the European Court of Justice over waste water

By New Europe Online/KG

epa00161778 Picture dated 28 September 2002 showing a general view of the Slovenian Capital Ljubljana. In addition, the agglomerations Kočevje, Trbovlje, and Loka fail to meet additional requirements of the Directive related to sensitive areas, as urban waste water entering collecting systems is not subject to more stringent treatment before being discharged into those areas, the press release read. The Directive requires Member States to ensure that urban agglomerations – towns, cities, settlements – properly collect and treat their waste waters, thus eliminating or reducing all their undesirable effects, the Commission said in a press release on February 18. According to the Commission, Slovenia should have been fully compliant with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive requirements since 2016, according to its agreements under the Accession Treaty. The Commission said it sent a letter of formal notice to the Slovenian authorities in February 2017, followed by a reasoned opinion in 2019. The European Green Deal steers the EU towards a Zero Pollution ambition.   However, four agglomerations with a population of over 10,000 (Ljubljana, Trbovlje, Kočevje, and Loka) do not comply with such requirements because urban waste water entering collecting systems is not subject to the appropriate level of treatment before being discharged.

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.

EPA/BARTLOMIEJ ZBOROWSKI POLAND OUT

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Boeing Co has recommended that airlines suspend the use of 777 jets after the engine on a United Airlines flight caught fire and fell apart over Denver on Saturday, dropping debris over residential areas before landing safely. The plane was checked by the security authorities and is expected to proceed to San Francisco. “Safety remains our highest priority, which is why our crews take part in extensive training to prepare and manage incidents like UA328,” the statement further reads. EPA/BARTLOMIEJ ZBOROWSKI POLAND OUT

Turkish Airlines Boeing 777 flight from Istanbul, Turkey to San Francisco, USA, takes off from Warsaw after earlier emergency landing at the Warsaw Chopin Airport in Warsaw, Poland, 30 July 2015. Reacting to the call, the United Airlines, which currently has 24 of the 777s in service said: “We are voluntarily and temporarily removing 24 Boeing 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000 series engines from our schedule,” the company wrote in a Twitter on Monday. — United Airlines (@united) February 22, 2021

A similar engine failure took place over the weekend on a Boeing 747 cargo plane in the Netherlands, which was also using a Pratt & Whitney engine, but a smaller version of the PW4000 model, according to Reuters. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Boeing recommends grounding certain 777s

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa04866538 Turkish Airlines Boeing 777 flight from Istanbul, Turkey to San Francisco, USA, takes off from Warsaw after earlier emergency landing at the Warsaw Chopin Airport in Warsaw, Poland, 30 July 2015. In particular, the company has suggested that 128 of its 777s operating with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines, be grounded for full inspections due to the incident that brought the turbine makers to the spotlight. The move is expected to impact 69 aircraft that are currently in service and another 59 that are in storage. Pratt & Whitney is owned by Raytheon Technologies. In the meantime, Japan has imposed a mandatory suspension, while South Korea said it was monitoring the situation. We will continue to work closely with regulators to determine any additional steps and expect only a small number of customers to be inconvenienced. We are voluntarily & temporarily removing 24 Boeing 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000 series engines from our schedule. The Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300 with 332 people on board asked for clearance for an emergency landing at the Chopin airport after a suspicious package was found on the aircraft.

“The African continent needs to immunize all its caregivers to allow its health system to resist. Let us be united, let us be efficient,” Macron wrote in a Twitter post. EPA-EFE/FRANCOIS MORI / POOL MAXPPP OUT

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech after a meeting via video-conference with leaders of the G5 Sahel, in Paris, France, 16 February 2021. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Macron urges Europe to send vaccines to Africa

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa09015891 French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech after a meeting via video-conference with leaders of the G5 Sahel, in Paris, France, 16 February 2021. pic.twitter.com/PJ836fvC8e
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) February 19, 2021

“We are allowing the idea to take hold that hundreds of millions of vaccines are being given in rich countries and that we are not starting in poor countries,” Macron said. Je lance un appel : Européens, Américains, nous pouvons fournir à l'Afrique les 13 millions de doses de vaccins nécessaires. Soyons solidaires, soyons efficaces. French President Macron urged West African leaders to step up efforts in the fight against Islamic extremists in the Sahel region both on the military and political fronts, with support from the international community. Macron joined by video from Paris a summit organized in N?Djamena, Chad with the leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Mauritania. I appeal: Europeans, Americans, we can provide Africa with the 13 million doses of vaccines needed. The 13 million doses of the Coronavirus vaccines account for up to 0,43% of the bloc’s current vaccine supplies and would mark an effort to avoid an unprecedented acceleration of global inequality, the French President told the Financial Times in an interview published on Friday 

Le continent africain a besoin de vacciner tous ses soignants pour permettre à son système de santé de résister. His comments came ahead of a scheduled G7 summit on Friday, led by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Allocating between “3-5 percent of the vaccines we have in stock to Africa…won’t delay [our vaccination effort] by a single day, given the way we use our doses,” he added, referring to France, which is going to transfer the jabs jabs either for free or at a very low price, even if other Western countries do not follow, according to a spokesperson from the Elysee Palace. EPA-EFE/FRANCOIS MORI / POOL MAXPPP OUT

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The European Union and the United States need to provide African countries with vaccines, to prevent exacerbation of global inequality, French President Emmanuel Macron has said.

The M23 rebel group, who has taken control of Goma and nearby town of Sake already, has advanced to the next town of Kirotshe, only about 10km away from Minova where Congolese government forces have retreated to. EPA/DAI KUROKAWA

A Congolese government soldier wears a belt of ammunitions as he stands guard at their headquarters in the town of Minova, some 45km from the provincial capital Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, 24 November 2012. EPA/DAI KUROKAWA

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The Italian Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Luca Attanasio and two other people have been killed on Monday during in an attack on a United Nations convoy. Commenting on the news, the Italian Foreign Minister, Luigi di Maio, who was in Brussels for a meeting with his European counterparts (FAC), said that “the circumstances of this brutal attack are not yet known and no effort will be spared to shed light on what happened.” Reuters quoted a source from the Virunga National Park saying that the convoy was attacked by unidentified assailants near the town of Kanyamahoro, a few miles north of the regional capital Goma, at around 10.15 am local time. “The ambassador and the soldier were traveling in a car in a convoy of MONUSCO, the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” the statement reads. According to a statement issued by the Italian Foreign Ministry, the 43-year-old ambassador, a carabinieri police officer who was providing security for him and a third person, were killed in Goma, during an attempted kidnap. African leaders from the Great Lakes region including Congolese President Joseph Kabila began talks over Congo on 24 November, but Paul Kagame of Rwanda who has been widely accused of supporting the M23 rebels, did not attend the meeting. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Italy’s ambassador to DR Congo killed in attack on UN convoy

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa03485185 A Congolese government soldier wears a belt of ammunitions as he stands guard at their headquarters in the town of Minova, some 45km from the provincial capital Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, 24 November 2012.

style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU launches Secretariat to help coal regions in transition in Western Balkans and Ukraine

By New Europe Online/KG

epa05762968 Miners of the Zasyadko coal mine, who were blocked underground, leave a mine elevator in Donetsk, Ukraine, 31 January 2017. The initiative’s secretariat will provide direct support for its implementation and ensure collaboration across the diversity of institutions and actors that the initiative will engage, the Commission said in a press release on February 15. The two initiatives will benefit from manifold synergies and support each other’s implementation. The first objective of the new initiative is to create an open platform allowing for region-wide, multi-stakeholder dialogue and providing a space for sharing experiences, knowledge and best practices on transition-related issues amongst coal regions in the Western Balkans and Ukraine. This includes regions with ongoing coal mining activity and people currently active in the coal sector,” he added. The partners launched the initiative on 10-11 December 2020. The Commission said 17 regions with significant coal mining activities and coal-based energy production will be the key beneficiaries. Finally, the initiative’s partners will help coal regions in the Western Balkans and Ukraine to access financing for transition projects or programmes, based on various available sources, including from the European Commission, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The secretariat of the initiative for coal regions in transition in the Western Balkans and Ukraine is based in Brussels and run by a consortium with expert knowledge of the situation in all of the participating countries. According to the Commission, a further ambition is to establish a coal academy in order to provide capacity building among relevant stakeholders on transition-related issues, providing dedicated trainings on governance, community engagement, environmental reclamation, and repurposing of land and assets. All 207 miners were evacuated from the Zasyadko coal mine on the pro-Russian separatist controlled territory after it lost its power supply, allegedly as a result of shelling. These activities focus on the EU’s just transition efforts, which aim to alleviate socioeconomic consequences of transition, while promoting the development of new, future-oriented economic activities. The European Commission is collaborating in this new initiative with international partners, notably including the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Energy Community Secretariat, Poland’s National Fund for Environment Protection and Water Management, and the College of Europe in Natolin. According to the Commission, mirroring the successful EU Initiative for coal regions in transition, the newly established secretariat will deliver support to coal regions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Ukraine. The new initiative builds on the experiences of the initiative for coal regions in the EU, which has connected stakeholders, provided technical assistance and developed support materials for affected regions since 2017. “The EU has put ‘just transition’ at the very heart of its roadmap towards a resilient, climate-neutral and future-proof economy and the European Green Deal,” EU Commission Director-General for Energy Ditte Juul Jorgensen said. EPA/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/FILE PICTURE

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The European Commission has launched the Secretariat of a new initiative to help coal regions in the Western Balkans and Ukraine transition away from coal towards a carbon-neutral economy. EPA/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO

Miners of the Zasyadko coal mine in Donetsk, Ukraine. “We recognize that not all regions and countries have the same starting point on the path to climate neutrality, and that is why the European Green Deal includes a ‘just transition’ chapter, which provides for specific support to the regions and people most affected by the transition. Selected pilot regions will be provided with access to technical assistance in the form of expert support in order to develop transition roadmaps for relevant public authorities. From there, the aim is to build ties between EU coal regions and their counterparts in the Western Balkans and Ukraine through twinnings, as a way to foster exchange and to transfer knowledge, experience and best practices on transition-related issues.

The agency’s budget is to grow from 281 million Euros (349 million US dollars) in 2017 to 322 million Euros (377 million US dollars) in 2020. This marks an important first step in ending the current impunity of the EU's border agency after numerous reports of #FundamentalRights violations. EPA-EFE/JAKUB KAMINSKI POLAND OUT

A View of the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, 21 November 2017. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>MEPs to investigate alleged human rights violations by Frontex

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa06342100 A View of the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, 21 November 2017. Since the reports emerged, Frontex has come under fire, with several lawmakers calling for the resignation of the chief of the Warsaw-based agency, Fabrice Leggeri, citing that he failed to effectively investigate properly the agency’s involvement in the illegal pushbacks. Frontex helps manage the EU’s external borders, ensuring their security, and carrying out regular risk analyses and assessments. According to January’s decision, the Frontex working group will investigate the compliance of the Agency with fundamental rights, the agency’s internal management and its transparency as well as accountability towards the European Parliament. Two Left MEPs will be members of this Scrutiny Working Group on @Frontex: @sirarego @ErnstCornelia. The move followed a decision by the parliament’s Civil Liberties committee on January 29 that set up a temporary working group on Frontex to further investigate the allegations of pushbacks and the body’s management practices. First meeting: tomorrow. EPA-EFE/JAKUB KAMINSKI POLAND OUT

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Fourteen MEPs are set to investigate the activities of the bloc’s border guard agency after several reports emerged unveiling that Frontex was involved in illegal migrant pushbacks and other human rights violations. The so-called Frontex Scrutiny Working Group (FSWG) includes two MEPs from all political strips, mandated to carry out a fact-finding mission on the allegations, within the first four months of its existence. The move “marks an important step in ending the current impunity of the EU’s border agency after numerous reports of Fundamental Rights violations,” the group of The Left in the European Parliament tweeted on Monday, ahead of the first meeting of FSWG, scheduled for February 23. https://t.co/IM4bVXJTon
— The Left in the European Parliament (@Left_EU) February 22, 2021

Calls for tougher sanctions against the Kremlin mounted after Russia expelled earlier in February, three European diplomats, from Germany, Poland, and Sweden, on grounds they attended illegal rallies in support of Navalny. The foreign ministers of the 27-nation bloc are meeting in Brussels for talks that will also include a videoconference with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was detained after his arrival to Moscow from Germany on 17 January 2021. Thus, when the sentence comes into force, the term will be 2 years 8 months. Russian courts, however, have rejected the call, accusing the body of interfering in its domestic judicial affairs. A Moscow judge on 18 January ruled that he will remain in custody for 30 days following his airport arrest. “I am to be given the order to prepare sanctions – listing of individuals. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU foreign ministers likely to approve new sanctions against Russia

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08982535 A handout picture provided by Moscow City court press service shows Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny stands in the glass cage during a hearing in the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia, 02 February 2021. The move could come a day after the Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, threatened Moscow with fresh sanctions for ignoring a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) arguing that Navalny should be released. EPA-EFE/MOSCOW CITY COURT PRESS SERVICE HANDOUT MANDATORY CREDIT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

A handout picture provided by Moscow City court press service shows Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny stands in the glass cage during a hearing in the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia, 02 February 2021. Speaking before the meeting, Germany’s FM, Heiko Maas said that he will be mandated to prepare a list of Russian individuals to be sanctioned. The visiting session of the Simonovsky city court decided to grant the Federal Penitentiary Service petition to replace the suspended sentence with a real one. 3.5 years in a general regime colony, while the time spent under house arrest during the investigation of the ‘Yves Rocher’ case must be credited. The move was made during Borrell’s visit to Moscow, in a rather embarrassing moment for the bloc’s foreign policy chief who came under fire for his passive stance against Moscow. EPA-EFE/MOSCOW CITY COURT PRESS SERVICE HANDOUT MANDATORY CREDIT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

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European Union foreign ministers are likely to approve on Monday new sanctions against Russia over the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and the violent crackdown on protesters demanding his release. At the same time, however, we have to look for ways of maintaining a dialogue with Moscow,” Maas told reporters.

With GB leaving the IEM, the two markets are no longer coupled across the two interconnectors that link both islands – the island of GB and the island of Ireland – for the common 11AM day-ahead auction, he said. In turn, this means that the SEM needs access to more indigenous generation which may be more expensive than in GB. This means that prices in both markets will be more extreme as they no longer share energy at the day-ahead stage,” Hewitt said, adding that for the 11AM day-ahead auction, 11 of the 14 highest prices ever seen have occurred since Britain left the IEM with the peak value being €500/MWh equivalent to 50c per kWh unit. EPA/STEVE PARSONS

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Britain’s exit from the EU has resulted in reduced trading on the electricity interconnectors between GB and Ireland and increased the frequency of extreme prices, data consultancy EnAppSys said. “Also, because there is less volume than capacity in the IDA1 and IDA2 intraday auctions, which now are the only auctions that determine the interconnector flows between GB and the SEM, this means that the interconnectors are utilised less. The January figure was the typical level when one of the interconnectors suffered an outage before the GB left the IEM. “Before Brexit, the SEM was coupled with the IEM via the two interconnectors to GB, via a common day-ahead auction that ran at 11AM for the following day,” EnAppSys Director Phil Hewitt said. According to that EnAppSys Director it’s likely that the reduction in the ability to bring in cheaper power from GB or export cheaper power to GB will result in more extreme prices in the future. This ensured that if prices were higher in the SEM than in GB, energy would flow from GB to the SEM to reduce prices for consumers in the SEM and vice versa,” he added. The GB electricity market left the internal energy market of the European Union (IEM) following the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1, 2021. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Brexit cuts trading on GB-Ireland interconnectors fueling power prices

By New Europe Online/KG

epa04009033 Electricity pylons are immersed deep in flood water near Shinfield, Berkshire, west of London 5 January 2014 after the nerby River Loddon burst its banks as large areas of the country continue to experience heavy rainfall, strong winds and high tides EPA/Steve Parsons UK and Republic of Ireland Ou EPA/Steve Parsons UK and Republic of Ireland Ou EDITORIAL USE ONLY EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Electricity pylons near Shinfield, Berkshire, west of London. As part of the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU, the Northern Ireland protocol ensured that the single electricity market (SEM) of the island of Ireland would remain intact. EnAppSys said this reduced usage had led to an increase in the frequency of extreme prices as liquidity decreased. “The current situation with lower-than-usual dispatch on the interconnectors will continue until SEM market participants increase their use of the IDA1 and IDA2 auctions,” he said, adding, “This also requires more participation on the GB side”. However, the effect of the GB electricity market leaving the IEM has still resulted in a decrease in the use of the SEM’s interconnectors that link it with Britain, EnAppSys said in an emailed note.   “As the interconnectors no longer participate in this auction, the liquidity pool is therefore reduced, both in the SEM and the GB market. Average utilisation in January was around 350MW, compared with 500MW prior to Brexit. In addition, when it is windy in Ireland there is less opportunity to push this excess wind energy over the interconnector to GB,” Hewitt said.

Of course, we are open to dialogue with the other partners like Russia, but with China, we noticed that they tried to occupy far too much space in our country. Yesterday, Berlusconi mentioned in an interview a ‘United States of Europe’ – this is the same direction that we are following. The previous Conte government was too oriented towards China and far-less focused on our relations with the US. Tajanai spoke broadly about the pandemic, the recovery plan, the new attitude that Lega has adopted towards the EU, and what the foreign policy stance will be of Draghi government. EPA-EFE//GIUSEPPE LAMI

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On the same day as the confidence vote for Italy’s new Mario Draghi-led government, New Europe was in  Rome to speak with current MEP and former President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, from Forza Italia about his party’s view of the new administration, which is the first in Italy’s history to be led by for former head of the European Central Bank. This is what we have to do now. We have our solutions. We risk a new unemployment wave with thousands of small and medium-sized businesses who are under threat of bankruptcy. This is already a net positive that Lega is part of the Draghi government. Remember, that we are the only party that presented a vaccination plan and a plan to access the recovery fund. NE: Do you think Lega could be part of the EPP in the future and are you trying to support this process? We share the view of this government that the two top foreign policy priorities are our relations with Europe and the US. This is a positive fact because till now, Lega didn’t ask to enter the EPP, as was reiterated by Matteo Salvini a few days ago. Last but not least, we should not be part of the current 5G rollout, because our data has to stay in safe hands. In this regard, we have to do some reforms, including a fiscal plan. The non-participation of the Brothers of Italy in the Draghi government is a choice that we respect. Silvio Berlusconi said, if needed, we are available to speak with and support a path towards the EPP for Lega. This is not a new political majority. Under this difficult scenario, we will have to sacrifice some parts of our program. We would be bad politicians, and bad Italians, if this wasn’t a priority for us. We will stay part of the center-right coalition as a liberal, Catholic, and reformist party that is also pro-EU and pro-EU-US relations in its foreign policy. We shouldn’t sell our ports (to the Chinese). All they did was decide to fight together against unemployment and rebuild the country. There were big concerns about the steel, ceramic and bicycle industries and unfair competition from Chinese companies. When the pandemic ends, everybody will be back to their previous political corners. It is only for Lega who has to decide on this path. We already have millions of Italians suffering because of the economic crisis. New Europe (NE):  What’s your feeling about a government with so different political forces? EPA-EFE/GIUSEPPE LAMI

Italian MEP Antonio Tajani attends a lecture at the Italian Banking Association headquarters in Rome. The priority now is to save lives because, every day, hundreds of Italians are dying from COVID. What’s your opinion? NE: Regarding the political program, from what we heard Draghi, it seems to be the type with a low profile in its approach to fiscal reform. We also asked about a carbon tax for goods imported into the EU. NE: On the foreign policy front, do you see any shift in Italy’s relations with third countries? According to media reports Tajani called to soften European Central Bank (ECB) requirements for european banks, announced on 04 October 2017, to set aside additional capital to cover billions of euros in bad loans. We must also cut Italy’s bureaucracy and finally implement efficient justice reform. This process will take time, but it is already important for us to stop the possibility of creating new taxes. AT: This government is changing Italy’s approach to foreign policy. Antonio Tajani (AT): This is a government of national unity,  build up to manage the pandemic. As for a pro-EU stance, this doesn’t that you bow your head to the Brussels bureaucracy. It is important to build up a project where Italy is one of the main players in Brussels. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>INTERVIEW with Antonio Tajani: Italy’s reset under the new Draghi government

By Federico Grandesso
Italian Editor, Journalist

epa06248104 President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani attends the lectio magistralis (lecture) at the Italian Banking Association headquarters, in Rome, Italy, 06 October 2017. The United States must be our main partner. AT: This government was created with the priority to defeat the Coronavirus and to implement a recovery plan. If we form the next government, we will push to have a flat tax. we are in an emergency period, like after World War II, where the Christian Democrats and Communists didn’t create a political alliance. We are also not in favor of an unconditional partnership with China and its Belt and Road initiative. AT: There is a new path in the more pro-EU attitude, one that is in favor of the social economy.

Commenting on the agreement, the bloc’s Health chief, Stella Kyriakides said that “this is essential, particularly in the context of travel. Our citizens need clarity and predictability.”
The move followed a Council recommendation on January 21, during which, the EU heads of state and government set a common framework for the use of rapid antigen tests and the mutual recognition. “The common list of rapid antigen tests will be regularly reviewed by Member States in the context of Health Security Committee meetings, and, if necessary, be updated in line with new results from independent validation studies becoming available and new tests entering the markets, reads a statement by the EU Health Security committee. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU countries agree to mutually recognise rapid antigen tests

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08827327 Greek medical staff performs a Covid 19 rapid test just after collecting a swab from passing drivers in Argos, Peloponnese, Greece, 18 November 2020. EPA-EFE/BOUGIOTIS VANGELIS

Greek medical staff performs a Covid 19 rapid test just after collecting a swab from passing drivers in Argos, Peloponnese, Greece, 18 November 2020. EPA-EFE/BOUGIOTIS VANGELIS

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The EU’s Health Security committee agreed on Thursday on a list of rapid antigen tests, which will be mutually recognised by member states, as well as on a common standardised set of data to be included in COVID-19 test result certificates.   The recommendation, adopted during an informal summit on the coronavirus coordination, included a common list of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests that are considered appropriate for use, a selection of rapid antigen tests of which Member States will mutually recognise the test results for public health measures and a common standardised set of data to be included in COVID-19 test result certificates, that will facilitate the mutual recognition of the rapid antigen tests.

He was seen as out of touch with reality as he catered to a small hysterical bubble of Facebook users while a vast majority offline didn’t care about his bombastic rhetoric. Poroshenko also bet on dividing the country and pandered to a nationalist electorate to stir up war hysteria. All the proceedings were entirely secret. Conclusion
Regardless of Zelensky’s hypocrisy, it is true that enemies of a free society – such as the Kremlin in Ukraine’s case – can use its free media to spread their lies and promote their interests. The irony is that, almost two years later, Zelensky has turned into a Poroshenko on steroids. The freedom of speech consists exactly in allowing the most virulent, most unpleasant and most unpopular speech: it is essentially the freedom to offend. EPA-EFE//TOMS KALNINS

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was elected in 2019 as the antithesis of his predecessor, Petro Poroshenko. EPA-EFE/TOMS KALNINS

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a joint press conference with his Latvian counterpart following their October 2019 meeting in Riga. However, Ukraine’s impotent, corrupt and unprofessional law enforcers are incapable of this. Pro-Russian voters will simply use Internet news sites, VPNs to circumvent blocks and satellite TV (in that case they will resort to the even more virulent Russian channels instead of the banned Ukrainian ones). Zelensky is also helping the Russian aggressors by trying to fire Artem Sytnyk, head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine – a body that is attempting to investigate Tatarov and other top presidential allies. If Ukraine does want to become part of the free world, it should reject the Soviet legacy of empty publicity stunts like the closure of the channels. It’s true that the banned channels have spouted pro-Russian propaganda and featured unsavory guests and questionable journalists. For instance, Zelensky is helping the Russian aggressors by blocking a bribery case against his deputy chief of staff Oleg Tatarov. The way to win the war with Russia is to create a stable Western democracy with the rule of law, zero tolerance for corruption and a vibrant free economy. No evidence was presented for Shariy receiving orders or money from Russia or spying for the Kremlin. Where are the limits of such “propaganda”? If freedom only applied to the speech that most people like, the concept of free speech would become redundant since few would oppose it. Along Poroshenko’s lines, he also sought to whip up a pseudo-patriotic hysteria by targeting “enemies of the state”, thus diverting attention from the real problems – omnipresent corruption, lawlessness and disastrous poverty. The channels – NewsOne, 112 Ukraine and ZIK – went off the air immediately. Any censorship uses benign excuses such as national security and children’s welfare. Andrey Yermak answers questions during a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine. Lawlessness
Second, an arbitrary ban without any procedural safeguards or due process is a disastrous blow to the rule of law. This happened before under Poroshenko, when he and his supporters labeled his pro-Western critics as “Kremlin agents.”
Furthermore, even from the pragmatic standpoint of countering Kremlin propaganda, such bans are often useless because in the modern world there are lots of ways to bypass censorship unless the state controls everything – like in North Korea. Moreover, this infantile policy will definitely lead to Kozak and Medvedchuk winning a case against Ukraine at the European Court of Human Rights. It’s an inevitable cost of a free society. Due to his reluctance to pursue judicial reform, the International Monetary Fund had to suspend talks with Ukraine on a $700 million tranche on February 13. Lawless actions by Zelensky and his cronies – primarily against his critics – will only increase from now on. Zelensky’s publicity stunt diverts attention from the real problems that prevent Ukraine from becoming a successful Western liberal democracy and winning the war with Russia. By trying to turn into a smaller copy of the semi-totalitarian Russian state that stifles free speech, Ukraine is losing the moral battle. There’s an argument that Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine justifies banning pro-Russian propaganda. By shutting down the media that criticize him, Zelensky – just like Poroshenko before him – aimed to prevent his approval rating from plummeting even further. Instead of the lawless ban on the critical channels, Zelensky’s law enforcement bodies should have vigorously prosecuted Kozak and Medvedchuk to the fullest extent of the law – with due process, proper evidence and valid court verdicts. On February 2, Zelensky imposed sanctions that included a sweeping ban on three Ukrainian television channels owned by Taras Kozak, an associate of pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk. These are exactly the values that are being destroyed by Zelensky. There are several reasons why this is an extremely flawed, stupid and dangerous policy. Ironically, Zelensky’s Kvartal 95 studio sold a comedy show to a Russian television channel just before the pro-Russian channels were banned, prompting parallels with Poroshenko’s Lipetsk confectionery factory in Russia. On February 16, the SBU – Ukraine’s Security Service – charged exiled pro-Russian blogger and politician Anatoly Shariy with committing high treason by spreading pro-Kremlin propaganda in the media. In 2018, Oksana Marchenko, Medvedchuk’s wife, became the godmother of Kholodov’s son. Diverting attention
Third, this policy is dangerous because it tries to eliminate the symptoms rather than the disease. In 2020 Yermak also triggered a controversy by announcing plans to include representatives of the Kremlin’s proxies in Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Donbas in a negotiation group. Zelensky is on a one-day official visit to Latvia. He bet on uniting the country by appealing to common values – economic prosperity, anti-corruption reforms and the rule of law. This is why Europe should not be deceived by Zelensky’s public relations show. Yermak used to be an aide to a representative of the Ossetian Tedeyev family, which has ties to both the Russian government and ex-President Viktor Yanukovych’s pro-Russian Party of Regions. Zelensky himself, a former comedian and film producer, has been doing business in Russia for many years, including long after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in 2014. In the same year, Zelensky also appointed pro-Russian official Vitaly Komarnitsky as governor of Lugansk Oblast. 73 percent of the voters were so pissed off with Poroshenko that they chose an “anti-Poroshenko” – the opposite of a corrupt career politician who used pompous pseudo-patriotic rhetoric as an excuse for stealing, sabotage of reforms and economic disaster. Zelensky’s loyal Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova has appointed Maxim Yakubovsky, a close associate of Medvedchuk, as one of her deputies. His statements and background have prompted speculation that Yermak favours getting Ukraine back into the Kremlin’s orbit. Ukraine will only become immune to Russian propaganda when it becomes a powerful, prosperous and civilized country – and the only way to do that is through promoting liberty and the rule of law. In fact, his supporters made the argument that Zelensky “out-Poroshenkoed” Poroshenko himself – he closed the channels that his predecessor did not dare to crack down on. Censorship
First, this is outright censorship – more radical than anything Poroshenko has ever done. Komarnitsky has called for uniting Ukraine with Russia and allegedly supported a resolution by Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas in 2014, although he denies the second assertion. This childish public relations stunt will most likely result in pro-Kremlin politicians and journalists presenting themselves as martyrs and increasing their popularity among the pro-Russian electorate. Moreover, Zelensky is helping the Russian aggressors by refusing to reform Ukraine’s corrupt judiciary. No, it doesn’t. Nobody defined those limits when banning the three channels, which means that any media may be arbitrarily shut down without any criteria or standards. Andrey Kholodov, a lawmaker from Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, is also an associate of Medvedchuk. Medvedchuk’s people
The hypocrisy of Zelensky’s claim to be an anti-Russian crusader is also obvious. Zelensky also promised that Poroshenko and his allies would be punished for corruption. Thus, Zelensky is trying to attract the nationalist voters whom Poroshenko has courted and at the same time stop losing his pro-Russian voters by destroying the opposition media that cater to them. It goes without saying that Poroshenko and his friends stay unpunished. It halved from about 40 percent in May 2020 to around 20 percent in February 2021. In contrast to Poroshenko, Zelensky, an outsider who had never been a politician before, seemed to be easy-going, laid-back, modern and not losing contact with reality. There is plenty of evidence implicating them in wrongdoing, and such cases would be a correct and adult response to their activities. But if a free society does relinquish this freedom in the fight, then what is it fighting for? Later he was also accused of foiling a Ukrainian security service operation to arrest Russian mercenaries, although he denies the accusations. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Ukrainian president fools EU with cheap stunts while killing his country’s future

By Oleg Sukhov
Independent Journalist/Political Commentator

epa07924791 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a joint press conference with Latvian President Levits following their meeting at Riga Palace in Riga, Latvia, 16 October 2019. Then and only then Ukraine will have defeated the Kremlin both militarily and morally. Brussels should help Ukraine create Western institutions rather than the Soviet circus that Zelensky is building. In 2019 Zelensky’s friend Ivan Bakanov, the head of the SBU, attended a birthday party of Medvedchuk’s associate Grigory Surkis and received a $539 gift from him, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. EPA-EFE//SERGEY DOLZHENKO
Yermak and Zelensky
Meanwhile, Zelensky’s chief of staff Andrey Yermak also has ties to Russia and a good working relationship with Putin’s deputy chief of staff Dmitry Kozak. Medvedchuk was at the ceremony too. They will likely launch new channels that may eventually come back with a vengeance and destroy the remnants of Zelensky’s rating. The Zelensky administration will surely be tempted to censor any media that criticize it using the slightest excuses even if such media are the most patriotic and pro-Western. The channels allegedly “threatened national security.” No evidence was given, and no explanations were provided.

It has been submitted to the Next Generation EU programme and is aligned with the pillars of the Spanish government’s Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan. The study, design and engineering could begin this year and it could generate more than 2,800 jobs per year until it becomes operational in 2026. The project is one of 150 initiatives submitted by the company to the Next Generation EU programme – in the fields of heat electrification, floating offshore, sustainable mobility, green hydrogen, innovative renewables, smart grids, circular economy and energy storage – that would mobilise investments of €21 billion and involve hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprises. Hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprises in Spain would be involved in the projects, which could boost the competitiveness of Spanish industry in the short, medium and long term, Iberdrola said, noting that the developments will contribute to the green and digital transition established by the European Union and are aligned with the Spanish Government’s Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan. The renewable facility would become a driver of the country’s industrialisation and job creation. In addition, Iberdrola is deploying an investment plan of €14.3 billion by 2025 in Spain, as part of a growth strategy that will lead it to invest €75 billion worldwide. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Iberdrola plans €1 bln-industrial scale floating offshore wind farm in Spain

By New Europe Online/KG

Iberdrola President Ignacio Galan during his visit to an offshore wind farm. IBERDROLA

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Spanish multinational electric utility company Iberdrola said the company is planning what will be the first industrial scale floating offshore wind farm in Spain, to which it would allocate more than €1 billion of investment to commission 300 MW of clean energy off the Spanish coast. The projects would generate 45,000 jobs/year, generate economic growth of more than 1.5% of GDP, improve competitiveness and the balance of payments – between €500 and €1 billion per year – and contribute to the demographic challenge, as they include more than €7 billion in rural areas.   The scheme would require the participation of 66 Spanish companies and technology centres, including 52 SMEs. The project represents an opportunity to develop the country’s supply chain and establish Spanish industry as an international benchmark. In the short term, the initiative could generate between 1,000 and 2,000 jobs during 2021-2022, before the start of the construction phase, Iberdrola said, adding that the project would also contribute to the fight against climate change, with 202,500 tonnes of carbon emissions saved per year. This innovative and pioneering project would spearhead the development of up to 2,000 MW of floating offshore wind projects identified by the company off the coasts of Galicia, Andalusia and the Canary Islands.

The article followed the raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and was focused on the relationship between the United States and Pakistan, but was focused on how Washington’s key ally in the War on Terror contributed more to the problem than to the solution. Turkey and Ukraine signed a military agreement including Turkey’s armed drones’ sales and technology transfer to Ukraine. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaking before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the Capitol in Washington, DC. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Is Turkey Biden’s “ally from hell”? Therein may lie the best prospects for reducing tensions without completely thawing the wider relationship. Both the US and Turkey have designated the PKK as a terrorist organization. Whether that actually leads to any form of goodwill from Washington, weakening Turkey’s sense of encirclement will have to be central to any future decision. None of this is helped by tension with Washington, who is allied to all but one of these Erdogan’s foes and has the potential to severely damage Turkey’s struggling economy through more sanctions. Neither side is likely to change their stances without any initial concessions. EPA-EFE//ROMAN ISMAYILOV
Any sort of improvement in US-Turkey relations will be difficult, but not impossible. Biden will also remain saddled by expectations from other stakeholders at home and abroad. Now they oppose Biden’s current foreign policy priority – rejoining the Iran nuclear deal. EPA-EFE//ALEX EDELMAN
Today on Capitol Hill, there are few figures more loathed than Erdogan. For Erdogan, he has too much at stake geopolitically and at home to meet every American demand for improvement. By Nicholas Morgan
A New York-based freelance journalist focusing on Russia and Eurasia. As a result, for an administration with limited room for bipartisanship, confronting him is one of the easier areas for American lawmakers to find common ground. The EU has already made it clear that it seeks American support in confronting Erdogan, and Biden may be more sympathetic to their desires than Trump ever was. To date, the two leaders have yet to speak. This would mean de-emphasizing any personal relationships by moving the center of any interaction to the institution-level with input from the US Congress and American partners overseas. Similarly, Turkey has made it abundantly clear it will not do so or budge on its opposition to the Americans’ support of the Syrian Kurds. During the Trump years, American policy in regards to the US-Turkey relationship was seen as too accommodating and deferential to Ankara’s wishes, due to Trump’s personal friendship with Erdogan. Nor is it a surprise that President Biden is now keeping them at arm’s length. The State Department issued a conditional condemnation of the PKK, who Turkey says is responsible for the deaths, but Turkish officials went one step further and accused the US of backing the group. This does not bode particularly well for Erdogan, who had forged a close, if highly controversial, relationship with Trump. The NATO-sceptic Trump somehow saw fit to blame his predecessor, Barack Obama, for the purchase as a way to excuse his refusal to impose sanctions. It remains an open question, however, about how much the relationship can actually improve given the existing gap that is only growing wider. Even if Biden succeeds in shifting relations with Turkey in another direction, it is unknown whether or not it will improve ties between Washington and Ankara. Ankara may not be harboring American enemies the way Pakistan knowingly or unknowingly did with bin Laden, but it has actively challenged US campaigns against other adversaries from ISIS to Russia. After the incoherernt Trump years of swinging from policy decision to policy reversal, Biden aims to chart a consistent American foreign policy that will make clear its priorities to friends and rivals alike. Turkey has always expressed its anger for the US’ continued support of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is ideologically affiliated with the PKK, the armed Kurdish group that has been at war with Turkey since the 1970s. In a recent interview with Turkey’s Sabah newspaper, Turkish defence minister Hulsi Akar said American support for their Kurdish allies was Ankara’s main concern. In both cases, Biden was opposed to Erdogan’s poisition. During the Trump administration, congressional fury at Turkey burned white-hot after Trump allowed the Turks to attack the Syrian Kurds and shielded Ankara from accountability over the purchase of the S-400. In Biden’s case, avoiding Trump’s mistakes in his relations with Turkey is a must, while at the same time he will have to thread the needle with Erdogan in order not to push Turkey further from the US orbit and closer to that of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s. In a survey by the German Marshall Fund (GMF) and Bilgi University in Istanbul, 48% of Turks consider the US to be the biggest threat to Turkey compared to only 3.9% of Turks who see it as an ally. To be sure, Erdogan’s not unique among the authoritarian leaders of the world who were emboldened by Trump. EPA-EFE//TOLGA BOZOGLU

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Ten years ago, The Atlantic ran as its cover story a piece titled “The Ally From Hell”. To do that, it would require some agreement on where to begin addressing issues. In this sense, American relations with Turkey have come to resemble those with Pakistan, to a degree – allies on paper, based on a narrow set of shared interests, but in practice too deeply distrustful of one another to meaningfully cooperate. Trump’s former Syria envoy James Jeffrey also said in a recent interview that he believed the S-400 was the biggest wedge in relations. The two signed an arms deal last autumn for Turkish military technology to be transferred to Ukraine. This carried over as Trump provided near-impenetrable cover for Turkey after it purchased the S-400 surface-to-air missile system from Russia. This disagreement came into focus this week following a Turkish raid into northern Iraq that resulted in the discovery of 13 hostages that had been killed. To this end, Biden will be open to resolving the S-400 issue, but it would be contingent on Turkey abandoning it. It is tempting to explain this away as a product of years of Erdogan’s rule, but that would not account for the fact that a noticeable part of the Turkish opposition holds this negative view of the United States. Both were Trump allies who used their relationship with him to push their own national interests ahead of the US’. Biden has already put the new framework into practice. There does remain room for the Biden administration to prevent relations with Turkey from plunging to deeper lows. This led to both internal confusion for the rest of Trump’s own government and deeply enraged Congress. As such, this proves that while a new government without Erdogan may be less openly hostile to the US, it would not spell the end of geopolitical disagreements. It took until this week for Biden to speak to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his press secretary made clear the president is putting off a conversation with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman. On top of this, Biden has made renewing US partnerships in Europe a priority. Turkey has taken steps to tamper down the tensions with other neighbors like Israel and Saudi Arabia, before Biden was sworn in. Secretary of State Antony Blinken openly spoke about this when he referred to Turkey as a “so-called strategic ally” in his confirmation hearing in January. Biden allies have made clear during the transition that they viewed Turkey as a challenge, but not as an irredeemable partner that they want to drive further away.  
The two remain NATO allies, but the reservoir of antipathy is unlikely to decrease now that Joe Biden has entered the White House and his administration has signaled that it will engage Turkey on terms that are different than his predecessor, Donald Trump. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev (R) attend a military parade in Baku, Azerbaijan dedicated to the Azeri victory over Armenia in the most recent Karabakh War, December 10, 2020. In the final line of its conclusion, it reads “There is no escaping this vexed relationship—and little evidence to suggest that it will soon improve.”
Such a description has in several ways grown to apply to the United States’ relationship with Turkey in the last decade. EPA-EFE/TOLGA BOZOGLU

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a signing ceremony with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Istanbul on October 16, 2020. During the transition, when the president-elect traditionally speaks with his soon-to-be counterparts around the world, Biden reportedly rebuffed Erdogan’s request for a phone call, a serious snub to the Turkish leader. The most immediate decision that could be addressed by the White House could involve the sanctions that were levied in December 2020 for the S-400. Twice he moved to withdraw from Syria at Erdogan’s request and he openly embraced his rhetoric against the Syrian Kurds, who played a significant role in helping to defeat the Islamic State. In fact, the Biden administration was openly supportive of Turkey’s talks with Greece to resolve their disputes and reduce intra-NATO tensions. After-all, Turkey’s opposition has staunchly backed some of Erdogan’s most controversial foreign policy positions, including his territorial claims against Greece and Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterrenean and his military support for Azerbaijan in its war against Armenia late last year. That said, it will mean starting small and keeping expectations in check, lest it wants to see Turkey go from a flawed partner to a second “ally from hell.”  Though they may disagree with the US president for wanting to re-engage Iran, Turkey remains a key American partners in the Middle East. Unlike those in his administration, and in Congress, Trump had something of a soft spot for Erdogan. After years of interventions, sabre-rattling and aggressive rhetoric, Ankara has woken up to the fact that it is now surrounded by a ring of rivals, who increasingly see it as a common cause to rally against. For that reason, tamping down the furor over the Americans’ response became part of the first call Blinken had with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu. While Turkey can claim that it too has suffered from American policies in recent decades, the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has effectively cast Washington as another foe looking to destroy the country. epa08750946 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a signing ceremony with Ukraine’s President after their meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, 16 October 2020. With a list as long as the one that has weighed down US-Turkey relations for several years, this will be no easy task for the new Biden adminstration. The new Biden administration has indicated that it will take a harder line against Erdogan. None of this will mean a renewal of the deep “strategic partnership” that it existed in the pre-Erdogan years of the Cold War and the immediate aftermath of the 1990s. For years, the European Union has found itself at odds with Erdogan on migration, territorial disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean, and debates over Islam in Europe. The Turkish opposition has also spoken out against the sanctions over the S-400, despite their own disagreement with Erdogan and his ties Russia. If the S-400 is Washington’s main problem, American support for the Syrian Kurds is Ankara’s. The shared problem for both is the reality that their interests are more at odds than ever, regardless of any outward proclamations of a partnership.

There are six stages recognised within every crisis: warning, risk assessment, response, management, resolution, and recovery. Navalny was detained after his arrival to Moscow from Germany on January 17, 2021. He is an experienced politician and diplomat who entered politics in the 1970s during Spain’s transition to democracy following decades of rule by its Fascist dictator, Francisco Franco. And so, against the protests of some, he went to Moscow earlier this month to test, in his own words, his counterpart’s position through principled diplomacy, whether or not the Russian government was interested in addressing the two side’s differences and reversing the negative trend in their relations. This more open approach replaced the tougher stance towards the Soviet bloc of earlier West German governments, which was known as Hallstein Doctrine. They should be optimized and prioritized, with the most efficient packages preserved and additions conditioned on Moscow taking certain peaceful steps toward political solutions and the legitimate introduction of human rights in Russia. Lavrov then went on to also announce that Russia was to expel three European diplomats for attending demonstrations in support of Navalny; to which Borrell could only offer, in typical meek Brussels fashion, a mild disagreement. His timing was fundamentally wrong again. French President Emmanuel Macron also favors dialogue and even hopes for a strategic reset in EU-Russia relations. Merkel’s administration is resisting calls to back out of the controversial Nord-Stream II gas pipeline project with Russian energy giant Gazprom, as she prefers to use targeted sanctions against wealthy Kremlin supporters to punish Moscow for Navalny’s arrest and the subsequent violent dispersal of peaceful anti-Putin protestors across Russia. Amid the impassioned calls, however, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen backed Borrell and said through her spokesperson that her foreign policy head had her full support. The West’s approach to regimes, like Putin’s, should not include life-long bans or anticipate passive tolerance. There is now a need to strengthen and expand Europe’s sanctions against Russia. News coverage showed Borrell sitting on an edge of his chair and semi-smilingly while Lavrov lectured him and the EU. The EU’s foreign policy team went to Moscow looking for a recovery before they had reached any sort of crisis resolution. Restrictions on investment visas have already been in place since 2015, but more could be done against anonymous companies and dubious investments. In the meantime, while some other EU members often sit on the fence, Poland and the Baltic states want far tougher actions to be taken. The EU has been at crossroads with Russia since 2014 when the main parameters of the European geopolitical landscape of the 21st century were drawn following the Russian occupation of Crimea. Taken by itself, the idea that both von der Leyen and Borrell want to keep the diplomatic channels open with Russia should not be criticized. Even though Germany played a major role in bringing about the EU’s sanctions against Russia after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, it is still traditionally insisting on talking to Russia, regardless of Putin’s shenanigans. PACE’s decision nearly a year ago was done prematurely. This is unlikely to change. French President Emmanuel Macron at the Necker Hospital in Paris. EPA-EFE/RUSSIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTRY HANDOUT — MANDATORY CREDIT — HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

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People remember moments. Borrell and the EU establishment are seemingly caught behind the ball and are unprepared to stand up to the violent and manipulative machine of Putin’s illiberal regime. Of all the sanctions imposed against Russia, the most viable are those that prohibit Russian companies from having access to vital Western technologies and financial systems. It has also fully subjugated Russia’s pliant media sphere and is backed by an all-powerful security apparatus. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>The aftermath of a rare visit to Moscow that went badly wrong

By Sasha Borovik
Former First Deputy Minister of Economy of Ukraine responsible for the international donor coordination, and Former Acting Deputy Governor at Odessa Regional State Administration. It was not enough for Borrell to have the determination or to present his own views, it was necessary for him to anticipate an interlocutor’s position and to select the right moment and then act decisively. A participant of a single protest in support of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny holds a poster saying ‘Freedom for Navalny, Putin on trial’ in St.Petersburg. To preserve his regime, Putin has built a type of mafia capitalism that projects an image of strength through people, like Lavrov, talking tough. Within days a cross-party group of over 70 MEPs wrote in a letter initiated by Riho Terras,  an MEP from Estonia, demanding that Borrell resign or be dismissed for “Borrell’s misjudgment in proactively deciding to visit Moscow and his failure to stand up for the interests and values of the European Union”. Since then, Putin’s regime has been caught apparently sponsoring military invasions, cyber and other terrorism abroad, as well as carrying out a violent campaign of oppression against political dissent in Russia. Following this humiliation, as well as the outcry in media, and the criticism from MEPs and analysts of all stripes, Borrell sharpened his rhetoric and called the situation ‘a crossroads for the EU’. Merkel and her future successor, whoever that may be in 2021, are likely to continue pursuing this path. Instead, national strategic and economic interests – which are in no way aligned – have taken precedence. Europe is a liberal continent. EPA-EFE//YURI KOCHETKOV
Borrell is an aeronautical engineer and economist by training, as well as a professor of mathematics. epa08988624 A handout photo made available by the press service of the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry shows Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell (L) during a joint news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia, 05 February 2021. Simple things, such as having a meeting with Lavrov, shaking hands with him in public, or appearing at a press conference, would send a message. EPA-EFE//THOMAS SAMSON
A significant part of the West’s current sanctions against Russia were introduced prior to the start of the Ukraine crisis. These gaps need to be closed. There is an internal contradiction within liberalism as to whether our tolerance for others should include tolerating and extending outreach to illiberal regimes, such as Russia. Josep Borrell is on a working visit to Moscow. Over the years, Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, has stressed the importance of talking to Russia. Borrell certainly knows that diplomacy has its own codes. The timing for the visit was unfortunate. Borrell, himself, is to blame for the fiasco as this was his time to deliver. As it stands now, Borrell should probably step down. Since then, additional packages have been imposed for Russia’s intermingling with Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, and Syria. As the EU will be contemplating the response to Russia in the coming days and weeks, the manipulations and humiliation of the EU senior foreign policy representative by Lavrov, and the rhetoric in Russia that followed Borrell’s visit, should not be left unpenalized. EPA-EFE//ANATOLY MALTSEV
Germany continues to follow the historic Ostpolitik (eastern policy) of former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, which, in the second half of the Cold War, anticipated a gradual reconciliation between Eastern and Western Europe – a view that was held at many Germans at the time.  
Despite claiming to have understood the risks, Borrell was caught by surprise and was utterly outplayed by Russia’s veteran foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov. The West’s main adversary has demonstratively outplayed him, and it would be hard for Borrell to recover from the embarrassment that will now, most decidedly, negatively reflect on the entire EU. The European Union needs to manage this and prepare a more robust response, if necessary, and long before a desirable resolution may appear. However, they often don’t cover the entirety of a targeted sector and, consequently, their impact is weaker than expected. Despite many of Europe’s capitals growing increasingly alarmed by Moscow’s behavior, there still remains no general consensus about a ‘unified EU position’ towards Russia. That 2019 PACE decision marked the first time that a European institution has completely abandoned one of the major sanctions that have been placed on Russia since 2014. The first sanctions, in fact, appeared in 2005 when Russia became involved in an active global confrontation with the West over increased human rights violations. Borrell also went to personally deliver the EU’s condemnation of the arrest of Russia’s opposition leader, Alexey Navalny, following his return from Germany, where he had been recovering for the last six months after being poisoned with a chemical nerve agent while in Siberia. The free world should not shy away from passionately confronting them on every turf and on our terms. On June 24 of last year, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) – an institution charged with upholding human rights, democracy, and the rule of law – reinstalled Russia’s voting rights after it had been stripped following the annexation of Crimea. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during his meeting with the Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization Saeb Erekat in Moscow. The far bigger problem, however, is that the bloc remains woefully divided in regards to policy when it comes to dealing with the Kremlin. Navalny’s poisoning and imprisonment demonstrate that Russia has wholly ignored the concepts of the rule of law and the promotion of democracy. The same approach also applies to Russia’s support of right-wing political parties in Europe, the US, and UK. Moscow has been trying to weaken, or fully free themselves from, these sanctions due to the fact that they are having an impact, even though Russia is still actively undermining the world’s stability. His experience should have left him well-equipped to tackle Lavrov and deliver a stern message from the world’s biggest trading bloc to the government of the Russian Federation. The European Union must, together with the United States and the United Kingdom, do much more to tackle the billions of euros of Russian dirty money that is laundered through investments that are managed in the EU and by British financial institutions.