Tag Archives: Borrell

Niger: Borrell on defeating terrorism

Brussels 23.03.2021 “A few days after the attack on Banibangou, Niger is grieved by another massacre in the Tahoua region” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell tweeted, reacting upon the recent events in the Sahel region.
(Picture above: illustration).

“In one week, more than 200 civilians were victims of the indiscriminate and borderless violence of terrorist groups”.
“Nigeriens have not been intimidated by the various attacks that have marked these past weeks. On the contrary, they have completed a historic democratic process which constitutes a decisive stage for the consolidation of democracy in their country. They can count on the European Union to continue to lead with them the fight which will bring back security and stability to their country”, Borrell continued.

“By perpetrating these attacks against defenseless civilians, terrorists strengthen our resolve to confront them” the European diplomat concluded.

At least 137 Nigerien civilians were killed on Sunday, March 21, in an attack on several localities near the Malian border, the Nigerien government said in a statement late Monday.

“In the afternoon of Sunday March 21, 2021 at around 1 p.m. (1200GMT), the localities of Intazayane, Bakorat, Wirsnat and several other hamlets and camps located in the department of Tillia, Tahoua region, witnessed an attack perpetrated by armed bandits,” said the statement read on national TV by government spokesperson Abdourahamane Zakaria.

At least 137 people were killed and several others were injured, Zakaria said, adding that “reinforced security and health measures have been taken in the area and an investigation has been opened”.

The spokesperson also announced a three-day national mourning to pay tribute to the victims of the attacks.

It is the second deadly attack on Nigerien civilians in a week. On March 15, unidentified gunmen attacked and killed at least 58 civilians returning from a weekly market in the Banibangou department, Tillaberi region, near the Malian border, according to Zakaria.

Niger’s Tillaberi and Tahoua regions, bordering northern Mali, have been facing recurrent armed attacks since 2017 attributed to terrorist groups operating in northern Mali. As a result of these attacks, the entire Tillaberi region and part of Tahoua were placed under a state of emergency.

Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali in the Sahel are at the epicenter of one of the world’s fastest-growing displacement and protection crises.

The region hosts 851,000 refugees and nearly 2 million displaced people, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

In January, around 100 people were killed in attacks in two Tillaberi villages after the first round of presidential elections.

Mozambique in MEPs focus

Brussels 15.12.2020 “The crisis in the northern part of Mozambique is already causing more than half a million displaced people and more than 2,000 deaths” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, while debating the situation with Mozambique with the Members of the European Parliament in Brussels.

“And we, the European Union, continue to try to help through the humanitarian, development and peace-building axis, defending human rights at the centre of our response.

As if that were not enough, Cabo Delgado, one of the poorest provinces in Mozambique, with a tremendously fragile social structure, was devastated by Cyclone Kenneth in 2019. This has only aggravated a situation that is now complicated by the extension of the terrorism that comes from the north, from Somalia.

We have specialised teams working on the situation in Mozambique. We have permanent contacts with the government and with international institutions, the United Nations, the African Union and the United States.

We have allocated 100 million euros in the resilience program with the government to respond to the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19. And, of course, we are ready to study the possibility of contributing more resources.

This year we have already contributed 37 million euros in humanitarian aid, primarily to Cabo Delgado.

We are strengthening cooperation with all countries in the region, combating the impact of human trafficking – which, unfortunately, will increase with this situation – and helping to implement the Maputo peace agreement between the Mozambican government and RENAMO.
But the prospects are not positive, ladies and gentlemen. The situation in Mozambique is deteriorating under the protection and heat of natural disasters and of a country with extremely serious government difficulties.

In reality, it is the entire façade from the Horn of Africa to the Indian Ocean that is being the scene of an extension of conflicts and the spread of terrorist forces.

We are very concerned about the situation. It does not appear that we have improved in the Somalia area to the south. The recent tensions between Somalia and Kenya are not going to help either, but within Mozambique we must surely take stronger measures.

I have asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal [Augusto Santos Silva], who will assume the presidency shortly, to travel to the region as my personal envoy – since I cannot go due to scheduling reasons – and I have asked him as colleague of the [Foreign Affairs] Council, please pay special attention during your presidency to what is happening in that country, which Portugal knows very well.

Is what I can tell you. I cannot bring you many positive elements, just rest assured that we mobilize all the resources we have to act in Mozambique”.

Sahel: EU debt relief efforts

Brussels 30.11.2020 The EU is committed to furthering international debt relief efforts for African countries. The Council today approved a set of conclusions in response to a call from the European Council of 15-16 October 2020 to prepare a common approach in this respect.

The conclusions highlight the increasing debt vulnerability in low income countries, particularly in Africa, and underscore the EU’s support for a coordinated international approach on debt relief efforts for African countries.

The Council welcomes the G20 – Paris Club Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which offers a temporary debt moratorium to the poorest countries to help them manage the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its extension until 30 June 2021 with the possibility of a further extension by 6 months. It commits to a full and transparent implementation of this initiative.

The Council also recognises that for countries with unsustainable debt levels further debt relief may be required. It welcomes the G20 agreement on a “Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the DSSI” as a major step forward in the sovereign debt restructuring international architecture. In this context, it advocates the negotiation of debt restructuring where necessary, on a case-by-case basis, while ensuring strong conditionality on public financial management, anti-corruption frameworks and domestic resource mobilization in the context of an IMF programme.

The Council also stresses that debt transparency is critical for a sound assessment of debt sustainability, debtor government accountability, and to enable informed decisions for borrowers and creditors in the context of debt relief efforts. It takes the view that all public debt data should therefore be disclosed and supports international efforts aimed at strengthening debt transparency in low-income countries.

EU contributes €183M to debt relief

The EU will contribute €183 million to the IMF’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust for debt relief in 29 low-income countries, allowing them to increase their social, health and economic spending in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This contribution, announced just after the G20 Summit endorsed a Common Framework on Debt Treatments beyond Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), is fully in line with Commission President von der Leyen’s proposal for a Global Recovery Initiative that links investments and debt relief to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tanzania, Tajikistan, Togo and Yemen will benefit from the contribution.

”The EU is combining injections of funds for the rapid easing of budget constraints to help the immediate response – through contributions like this one – with a sustained longer-term plan to assist partners in weathering a severe social-economic storm, which is far from over. The EU has been leading global efforts to do more on debt relief and debt restructuring efforts. It is our hope that our contribution will pave the way for others to join those global efforts” Josep Borrell, High Representative and Vice President for Foreign and Security Policy, said.

“Today, Europe makes an important contribution to multilateralism and debt relief. The EU as a member of the G20 strongly supports the Debt Service Suspension Initiative and the new Common Framework on Debt Treatment. This contribution to the IMF debt relief trust is a further demonstration of our firm commitment to helping low-income countries deal with their debt burden” Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy, added.

“The Commission is determined to continue supporting its partner countries in maintaining their path toward the SDGs despite dire financial situations. Debt levels were already high before the crisis and in many countries they are now simply becoming unsustainable. This is why we have decided to contribute €183 million for debt relief through this IMF mechanism” Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, stressed.

“I am very thankful to the EU for the generous contribution of €183 million to the CCRT—a critical step to help the world’s most vulnerable countries provide health care and economic support for their people during the ongoing pandemic. The EU and the IMF have a strong partnership on development financing. I urge others to join the EU and our other contributors in giving to the CCRT. Contributions from our member countries are instrumental in helping the Fund support the most vulnerable countries” Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director, participated in the virtual European Foreign Affairs Council of Development ministers to maximise common awareness of the worsening debt situation in many countries, said.

The EU funds channelled through the IMF’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) will provide debt service relief to 29 of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries.

The CCRT pays debts owed to the IMF for eligible low-income member countries that are hit by the most catastrophic natural disasters or battling public health disasters—such as epidemics or global pandemics. This allows them to free up resources to meet exceptional balance of payments needs created by the disaster rather than having to assign those resources to debt service.

Experience from the first two six-month tranches of CCRT relief showed that benefitting countries were able to boost their projected 2020 priority spending by some 1.2 percentage points of GDP; with expenditure on health and social protection increasing, on average, by about a 0.5 percentage point.

Another positive benefit from this short-term liquidity support is that it will also contribute to the countries’ macro-economic stability.

With this €183 million contribution, the EU becomes the largest donor to the CCRT, which so far has received over $500 million in grants from donor countries.

Low-income countries are facing large short-term liquidity needs, hampering their ability to find the necessary funds to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, and fuelling concerns about a fully-fledged external debt crisis.

The EU, as a global player, can help integrate debt relief into a broader policy dialogue, financing strategies and actions, in order to ‘build back better’.

CCRT-eligible countries are those eligible for concessional borrowing through the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) and whose annual per capita gross national income level is below $1,175. Vulnerable countries most seriously affected by the COVID-19 crisis benefit from the CCRT.

Ethiopia: EU reacts upon atrocities reports

Brussels, 13.11.2020 The European Union diplomacy has been “extremely vocal” about the events in Ethiopia, Tigray region, the spokesperson said, while reacting upon the Amnesty International reports on hostilities there. The EU diplomacy have been following the situation closely, and both the High Representative Josep Borrell, and Janez Lenarčič, the Commissioner on Crisis management, have expressed deep concern about the situation there, she added.

Ethnically targeted measures, hate speech and allegations of atrocities occurring in Ethiopia are deeply worrying. The demonisation of ethnic groups is a vicious and lethal cycle from which Ethiopia must be spared” the statement of Borrell and Lenarčič reads.

The danger of a major humanitarian crisis is imminent and an immediate de-escalation is needed. All parties should show restraint and reinforce their calls to avoid incitement to hatred and violence”.
“Human rights and international humanitarian law need to be upheld, including ensuring safe and free movement of civilians as well as a timely, independent, unimpeded and unconditional access of humanitarian workers to most vulnerable”.

Amnesty International can today confirm that scores, and likely hundreds, of people were stabbed or hacked to death in Mai-Kadra (May Cadera) town in the South West Zone of Ethiopia’s Tigray Region on the night of 9 November” according to the statement of the organisation, published on their site.

The organization’s Crisis Evidence Lab has examined and digitally verified gruesome photographs and videos of bodies strewn across the town or being carried away on stretchers. It confirmed the images were recent and using satellite imagery, geo-located them to Mai-Kadra in western Tigray state (14.071008, 36.564681)” .

On November 4, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military offensive against forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which is the governing authority of the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray.
(Image below: Orthodox priest in a church of Axum; in 1980, UNESCO added Axum’s archaeological sites to its list of World Heritage Sites due to their historic value).

 

SAHEL: EU mobilises €238M

Brussels 09.10.2020 This Monday, November 9, 2020, the Mauritanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Mauritanians Abroad, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, co-chaired with the High Representative, Josep Borrell, the 6th G5 ministerial meeting Sahel-EU.

Two points were on the agenda of the discussions: the follow-up to the commitments made since the meeting between the leaders of the European Union and the Heads of State of the G5 Sahel of April 28, 2020 within the framework of the Coalition for the Sahel ; and an exchange on the new Sahel strategy of the European Union.

On the first point, the two parties welcomed the European Union’s commitment beyond the additional 194 million euros announced in April, in support of the security-development nexus: in total, nearly 238 million euros have already been mobilised for projects in the field of stabilisation of the most vulnerable regions (security and resilience). The two parties also recalled that the European mission to support the Malian defence forces (EUTM Mali) can now gradually expand its training in Burkina Faso and also in Niger. The establishment of the P3S secretariat by the EU should allow increased and coordinated support to the security and stability capacity of the G5 countries.

The G5 Sahel Ministers reaffirmed the determination of their Governments to pursue their efforts in the fields of security and development, in particular with regard to the delivery of basic services to the populations and respect for human rights and of international humanitarian law by the security and defense forces. The continuation of the ongoing investigations into the suspected cases of abuse is fundamental in this context.

With regard to the fight against Covid-19, the European Union, in Team Europe format, recalled the actions taken to redirect 449 million euros to provide medical equipment, finance awareness campaigns, and accelerate budget support disbursements to address the economic and social consequences of the pandemic. A total of 92 million euros will be disbursed today for Chad, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger, to support the implementation of plans to respond to the pandemic, without worsening debt levels .

Underlining the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the already fragile balances existing in the Sahel, the Foreign Ministers of the G5 Sahel once again called for a total cancellation of the debt of the G5 Sahel countries and for the mobilisation of resources financial resources to help restart the economies of the Sahel. The two sides agreed to continue international efforts to reduce debt and access international sources of finance in a coordinated manner within the relevant multilateral frameworks.

Insisting on the need to find lasting solutions to the crisis, the EU and the G5 welcomed the organization of a conference on the central Sahel on October 20, during which the EU announced an additional contribution of 43 million euros, to help the more than 13 million people in need of humanitarian aid in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

On the second point, the meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss the ongoing review of the European Union’s Sahel strategy. The EU top diplomat underlined that the European Union would remain one of the main partners of the G5 Sahel States but that this partnership will henceforth be more demanding, the contribution of the European Union, however important it may be, only support the strong political will of the G5 Sahel States. From this perspective, the focus will be more on achieving results and implementing reforms aimed at strengthening governance.

The Foreign Ministers of the G5 Sahel welcomed the continued European engagement in the Sahel. The Ministers hoped that European and international support would come in support of local initiatives and in a coordinated manner between the various partners. As such, they are delighted to see the European Union involving them in the review of its Sahel strategy.

In conclusion, the High Representative and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the G5 Sahel welcomed the holding of the next meeting between the Heads of State of the G5 Sahel and the President of the European Council on November 30, 2020.

Ethiopia: Borrell conveys concern

“Over the past days, I have been holding talks to support efforts to restore peace and political dialogue in Ethiopia” reads the statement of Josep Borrell (pictured) on the latest developments in Ethiopia.

“During my talks with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, I conveyed the EU’s concern for the risks to the integrity of the country and the stability of the wider region should the current situation endure. In this regard, I have offered the support of the EU for any action contributing to de-escalation of tensions, return to dialogue and securing rule of law throughout Ethiopia” the EU top diplomat continued.

“In talks with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, of Sudan, in his capacity as Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and with Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, I renewed the EU’s support to any initiative of IGAD and the African Union to address the situation”.
“Additional consultations have occurred with other partners in the wider region and will continue”.
“Stability in the region remains a priority for the European Union”.

Côte d’Ivoire: EU concerned with violence

“On the eve of the presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire, the European Union associates itself with the statement by the Secretary General of the United Nations” reads the statement of the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, addressing the upcoming presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire.

“It expresses its greatest concern following the violent incidents and hate speech observed in recent weeks. “She urges all political actors to show responsibility, restraint and reject any violence.
It calls on the institutions in charge of the electoral process to ensure a transparent, credible and peaceful ballot”.

Ivorian voters have planned vote this Saturday, October 31, to designate their President. The campaign for this ballot has already resulted in around thirty deaths – mainly due to hate crimes between the north and south – and there are fears of new violence on the election day and during the announcement of the results.

The opposition parties have insisted that the incumbent President Ouattara has served the maximum two terms allowed by the Constitution. Mr Ouattara’s supporters insist that the two-term limit was reset when a new constitution was adopted in 2016.

Henri Konan Bédié, 86, from Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PCDI). Served as president between 1993 and 1999, deposed in coup, and Pascal Affi N’Guessan, 67, from Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) faction, who served as prime minister between 2000 and 2003 under then-President Laurent Gbagbo are the major competitors of the incumbent President Ouattara.

Libya: EU imposes individual sanctions

Brussels 21.09.2020 The Council today decided to impose targeted restrictive measures on two persons responsible for human rights abuses in Libya and three entities involved in violating the UN arms embargo in place for Libya. They will be added to the EU’s list of persons and entities subject to restrictive measures related to the Libyan conflict. The sanctions imposed comprise a travel ban and an asset freeze for natural persons, and an asset freeze for entities. In addition, EU persons and entities are forbidden from making funds available to those listed. With these new designations, the EU now has travel bans on 17 listed persons and has frozen the assets of 21 persons and 19 entities.

The EU imposes restrictive measures on persons and entities whose actions threaten the peace and security of Libya or obstruct the successful completion of its political transition. The EU has repeatedly called on all parties to respect human rights and international law and is committed to holding anyone violating them accountable. The EU is also determined to see the UN arms embargo in Libya fully respected. These new listings show the EU’s strategic use of its sanctions regime and ability to react to developments on the ground in support of the political process and to deter past and present perpetrators from further violations.

The EU’s sanctions complement and reinforce the sanctions adopted by the UN, which include an arms embargo and individual measures, including for human rights abuses. The UN has imposed a travel ban on 28 persons and an asset freeze on 23 persons.

The relevant legal acts, including the names of the persons and entities concerned, have been published in the Official Journal.

Libya: Borrell on foreign interfiernece

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell insisted on need to «stop all interferences fuelling the conflict and join forces to support an inclusive, Libyan-owned and Libyan-led process leading to a political solution». In the statement on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya he said the following:

«…The protracted conflict in Libya caused immense suffering for all Libyans and has become a major challenge for the region and ultimately the international community.

https://twitter.com/euatun/status/1280976520597639168?s=21

As European Union, we believe it is high time to put an end to this military conflict, right on our doorstep, and manage a proper transition in Libya. We must preserve the country as one single Libya -a united, stable, prosperous and reliable partner for all.

This meeting brings together all countries which have the capacity, if genuinely committed, to contribute to a political transition in Libya. We all took strong commitments in the Berlin conference in January; it is now time to translate our words into concrete actions. We need to work collectively, under a strong United Nations leadership, to implement truly the conclusions of Berlin, which everybody accepted. The polarisation, which has turned Libya into a theatre of proxy wars, needs to stop. Actions in support of one or the other Libyan party fuel the conflict, and some constitute clear provocations. Unilateral initiatives go against the spirit of the consensual international dialogue which Libya urgently needs and which we need to encourage.

“…We must go back to our Berlin-commitments, starting with the enforcement of the United Nations arms embargo, which unfortunately continues to be violated on all sides and every day, in all impunity, as we heard from the United Nations and as Heiko [Maas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany] has recalled. And we need a collective effort to favour the return of the Libyan parties to the negotiating table, starting with the UN-led 5+5 military talks to reach an agreement on a sustainable ceasefire. And we support the initiative to de-militarise the conflict around Sirte and Jufra.

We, the European Union, are doing our part. I have promoted a strong European Union commitment to the Berlin process, to respect and implement what we all agreed. That is why we launched Operation Irini, with core tasks to implement the United Nations arms embargo and to stop the flow of weapons into Libya, as well as to monitor oil smuggling. We are reporting regularly to the United Nations Panel of Experts on the basis of the mandate given by the United Nations Security Council. It is also clear that control of arms flow into Libya requires action beyond the maritime domain. But for that, the United Nations Security Council should enlarge the mandate.

As co-chair of the Economic group, we also hope to find a sustainable solution for the exploitation of oil resources in Libya, a key issue in the conflict, which is directly linked to the increasing build-up of presence in Sirte. And that is of utmost importance, all of the European help to Libya is the equivalent of the oil revenues that Libya could generate in one week.

Later this month, we will co-host the next international follow-up committee on Libya, where these discussions can continue».

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