Tagged US

Talks between the “six powers” (US, Russia, China, UK, France, Germany plus the EU) and Iran successfully concluded in Lausanne, Switzerland with agreement on key parameters to draft a of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to be drafted by 30 June 2015.   Joint Statement by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad…

Strange EU member silence on Yemen

As the Saudi-led air strikes against the Houthi rebels in Yemen were starting on 26 March 2015, Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, issued a statement saying that she was convinced that military action was not a solution. Did anybody listen? Apparently not the UK and France, who along with the US are providing support to the Saudi-led coalition. In view, though, of the risks and inconsistencies involved, Europe should be taking the lead in bringing armed hostilities to a halt and convening the international community and the Yemeni parties for immediate negotiations within fair parameters.

On 16 March 2015 the Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, was in Brussels for talks with High Representative Mogherini and the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and the UK. This was part of the six-power talks (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) with Iran on the latter’s uranium enrichment programme. 16 March was also the day of the EU Foreign Affairs Council (EU Foreign Ministers) in Brussels, chaired by Ms. Mogherini.

Rediscovering a sense of right and wrong in international affairs

Three recent developments, two from the US and one from Europe, give us some reason to believe that a gradual end to hypocrisy and double standards may be coming about in the world of international affairs and diplomacy. They concern Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. In the latter case, you may have heard that the Swedish government decided not to renew a military cooperation agreement with the oppressive kingdom despite protests by the Swedish business community.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid a one-day visit to Brussels on 4 March, and met with the European Commission President and the entire College of Commissioners. One wonders whether that would have happened if any of the other 27 EU member state leaders had been visiting. Of course, nobody doubts the prominence that Ms. Merkel has, because of the special weight that Germany carries in the European economy and politics, but also because of her own personality and leadership skills.

Three documents issued by the European Commission on 25 February 2015 aim to advance work on the Energy Union, a project figuring prominently on the Juncker Commission’s agenda. It is hoped that the proposed actions will help diversify Europe’s energy sources and turn the EU from the world’s largest energy importer to the world’s leader in renewable energy production.

Poland’s complicity in CIA torture programme confirmed 

The European Court of Human Rights has confirmed that the Polish government was complicit in the CIA’s secretive programme of rendition, detention and interrogation. The Court in Strasbourg rejected a challenge from the Polish government to a landmark ruling from last July, a decision which now makes that original judgement final. July’s judgment said that two current Guantánamo inmates, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, were held in a CIA prison in Poland, that they had been subject to torture, and that Poland failed in its duty under European human rights law to protect them or investigate what happened.

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