A busy December in Brussels: sprint before Christmas

This December is a hot month for the European agenda. We will have several fronts and many moments of action, with a European Council on December 10 and 11 and a plenary session of the European Parliament that will begin on 14. What are the fronts?

Budget pulse

Hungary and Poland decided last week to cast their veto on the budget package, which includes the € 750 billion Recovery Fund from which Spain could get up to 140 billion. It is in retaliation for the agreement on a rule of law mechanism that could cut off their access to European funds for their attack on judicial independence.

Press conference of the Prime Ministers of Poland (in the foreground) and Hungary.  (EFE)
Press conference of the Prime Ministers of Poland (in the foreground) and Hungary. (EFE)

The safest thing is that this matter is pending until the summit of December 10 and 11. Charles Michel, President of the European Council, intends to hold this meeting in person in Brussels, because the videoconference format has proven to be of little use in solving serious problems.

When Hungary and Poland formalized their veto two weeks ago, it was thought that a change in the wording could be enough, but Budapest and Warsaw are directly opposed, and the rest of the Member States and the European Parliament do not feel like making concessions. That is why many voices in Brussels believe that it is only a matter of waiting for them to continue seeing each other alone and without the possibility of obtaining concessions so that they end up withdrawing their bluff in exchange for some minimum transfer.

The agony of Brexit

After Michel Barnier, chief negotiator of the European Commission, traveled to London on Friday after a difficult week, this past weekend has been one of intense negotiations. Many assume that the Frenchman’s trip is due to a good signal from the British side.

Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, in London for another round of Brexit negotiations.  (EFE)Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, in London for another round of Brexit negotiations.  (EFE)
Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, in London for another round of Brexit negotiations. (EFE)

The three pending issues are those already known to all: governance of the agreement, fishing and ‘level-playing field’ or equal conditions. With 95% of the agreement completed in its technical aspects, as they have assured from the European Commission, these three issues are linked to an ideological element. That is precisely what is making them especially difficult to negotiate.

Once an agreement is reached, if at all, the job is not done. The ratification process will not be straightforward either, and Brexit will surely have to continue to be paid attention to well into December. The European Parliament has been willing to ratify the agreement as late as is December the 28th.

If it is not possible to close a deal, it goes without saying that the matter will gain importance as Member States have to prepare for an unknown scenario in their trade with the United Kingdom. as of January 1, 2021. Again, deal or no deal, Brexit will be one of the main issues at this month’s summit and will keep diplomats busy for weeks to come.

Turkey continues to give problems

European leaders promised Cyprus, which was calling for sanctions against Turkey for its oil and gas exploration in Cypriot and Greek waters, that they would take up the issue in December. In the meantime, Ankara would be offered the possibility of building a “positive agenda”. Despite strong friction between Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron, the dialogue between Berlin, Brussels and Ankara has not ceased.

Ships of the Turkish navy in the Aegean.  (Reuters)Ships of the Turkish navy in the Aegean.  (Reuters)
Ships of the Turkish navy in the Aegean. (Reuters)

But the tensions between the Hellenic, Cypriot and Turkish governments have not abated either. “Europe cannot pretend that Turkey is acting as an acceptable player in the regionNikolaos Dendias, the Greek foreign minister, complained last week, calling Ankara’s behavior “delinquent and provocative.” Last week, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy, the Spanish Josep Borrell, explained to the European Parliament that the EU bloc is at a “critical moment” in its relationship with Turkey.

The European Parliament called in a non-binding resolution addressed to the meeting of leaders on December 10 and 11, that the European Union “act and impose harsh sanctions in response to the illegal actions of Turkey.” The atmosphere will heat up in the coming days, especially if there is any kind of tension in the Aegean Sea.

This week

This coming week, the one prior to the key dates of December, it will also come loaded, with meeting of finance ministers of the Eurozone and the European Union this Monday and Tuesday, with a review of the national budget plans, including the Spanish one, which have received the general approval of the European Commission.

Huawei's counter at an electronics conference in China.  (Reuters)Huawei's counter at an electronics conference in China.  (Reuters)
Huawei’s counter at an electronics conference in China. (Reuters)

Also on Monday there will be a videoconference of ministers of Education and also of Youth. It will be the turn of those of Culture and Sports on Tuesday, and on Wednesday that of the Ministers of Justice, who will discuss the launch of the European prosecutor’s office, and also of those of Health, who in an informal meeting will address the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in the European Union. Also on Thursday Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, will have a meeting with Ken Hu, CEO of Huawei, and also with Abraham Liu, CEO of Huawei in Europe.

The week will close with an employment and social affairs council. In addition, Yolanda Díaz, Minister of Employment, will see a lot of faces with the commissioner of the branch, the Luxembourgian Nicolás Schmit, because in addition to the Council they will participate together in a videoconference on social economy that same Friday.


Turkey sentences 27 to life imprisonment for 2016 coup

A Turkish court has sentenced 27 people to life in prison for the failed 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

All were found guilty of “an attempt to overthrow the constitutional order”, “attempted assassination of the president” and “voluntary homicides”, according to what the French news agency reported on Thursday. AFP.

The majority of those convicted is made up of the pilots, who bombed emblematic sites in Ankara, the capital, such as Parliament, and the officers who led the attempt from the Akinci military base. Four civilians, including businessman Kemal Batmaz, were also sentenced to 79 aggravated life sentences.

In total, 475 people were tried in this trial, considered the most important, on the failed coup from July 15 to 16, 2016.

Erdogan accuses the preacher Fethulá Gülen of having plotted the coup, but he – a former ally of the Turkish president who resides in the United States – denies any involvement.

mnz / ncl / mkh / hnb


Turkey: Turkey on target

Since the signing of the Ankara Agreement in 1963, Turkey It was one of the closest partners of the then European Economic Community. With the signing of the agreement for a Customs Union in 1995 and its consideration as a suitable candidate for accession, it seemed that relations between the Eurasian country and the Union were at their best. Following the rise to power of President Tayyip Erdogan, relations between the Union and Turkey have been deteriorating, until reaching the current situation.

The government of Erdogan, aware of the geostrategic situation in Turkey, has tightened the rope on more than one occasion to exercise pressure on its European neighbors. Its privileged geographical position, bordering on Iran and Iraq and being the country that moves the Syrian war away from the borders of the Union, makes it a main actor to solve important geostrategic challenges. This role has come to interfere in the EU’s own policies, since most of the refugees from the Syrian war who have entered Europe have entered through Turkey and – on many occasions – with the consent of the authorities (causing one of the biggest humanitarian crises in decades).

Likewise, since gas was discovered in 2013 in the Eastern Mediterranean, conflicts over the delimitation of territorial waters between Greece, Cyprus and Turkey have been increasing. The Cypriot government, following Turkish explorations, has requested on more than one occasion the imposition of sanctions on Turkey. The drilling in the seabed would not only have caused seismic movements in parts of Greece and Cyprus, but also would have violated – according to these countries – their territorial sovereignty. Despite the lack of a common front within the European Union regarding sanctions against Turkey, The Union has already imposed sanctions against Turkish citizens related to the Government, as well as against companies involved in oil exploration and those who support them.

In addition to tightening the rope with the EU, Turkey also has diplomatic disagreements with the United States. Since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict, the intersection of accusations and the clash between the two powers has increased, at first they were the accusations of the then vice president, Joe Biden, on the possible financing that the Turkish Government was providing to Al-Nusra (one of the local affiliates of Al-Qaeda), the support of the American troops to the Kurdish militias or the increasing rapprochement between the Turkish Government and Russia from Vladimir Putin. The constant friction has led the Erdogan government to also consider Turkey’s possible exit from NATO, which would mean the definitive break with the West.

At the height of this dispute, the statements of the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, about Islam, caused a new clash between Tayyip Erdogan and the European Union. The Turkish president questioned the mental health of the French leader and called on other Muslim countries to boycott French products as a gesture of protest.

All these acts have been rejected by the European Union, which has been verified through the High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell who has expressed, together with Parliament and the Commission, their rejection of both President Erdogan’s personal attacks and the boycott of French products, which is contrary to the tariff agreements in force between Turkey and the Union. In addition, the turbulent situation in Cyprus has also led to the imposition of economic sanctions by the Union as well as to rethink the commercial relationship that gives a status singular and preferential to Turkey.

As is always the case when international sanctions turn out to be the tool of choice, the main losers are foreign companies who have made investments and are already present in the market. As for Spanish companies, Turkey has become one of its preferred investment destinations having increased investments from 2012 to 2019 between 3 and 4% per year. In addition to Spanish investment, commercial relations are intense given that Turkey is one of the main destinations for Spanish exports of automobiles and other metallurgical resources, while Turkey -for its part- exports a large quantity of textile products to Spain.

The risks posed by diplomatic tension and instability impairs trade relations with Turkey. In particular, the legal certainty on which the foreign investments already established and that bet on the Ottoman country as a developing market and regional ‘hub’ rest (as it enjoys a privileged position as a gateway to the markets of its surroundings). Proof of your promotion and ambition from the local authorities of consolidate Istanbul as ub financial and commercial of the region is the Istanbul Financial Center project, which aims to turn Istanbul into a center for business by 2022.

However, the Turkish government does not seem to be concerned about the increase in tension and is sparing no effort in clashing head-on with its European allies and the United States. It would seem that Erdogan’s dream of asserting Turkish influence over the region passes – with the support of Russia – through feel comfortable on the target.

* José María Viñals Camallonga. Socio en Squire Patton Boggs.


Erdogan: ″ Turkey sees itself as an inseparable part of Europe ″ | Europe | DW

“Turkey sees itself as an inseparable part of Europe … However, this does not mean that we will bow to open attacks on our country and our nation, veiled injustices and double standards,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. this Sunday (11/22/2020) in a speech to members of his party, the moderate Islamist AK. The European Union, he added, should keep its promises regarding the refugee crisis and make Turkey a full member of the group.

“We do not believe that we have problems with countries or institutions that cannot be resolved through politics, dialogue and negotiations,” added Erdogan, who maintains a pulse with Greece and Cyprus when carrying out oil exploration in waters that correspond to these countries. . As the German Chancellor announced on Thursday, the EU will discuss this issue at its next summit in December.

The Turkish president urged the European authorities to fulfill their promises. He was referring to a 2016 agreement under which Ankara stopped immigrants from entering Europe in exchange for financial aid and visa-free travel in the Schengen area.

Erdogan, who participated in his party’s event by videoconference, also criticized himself and said he was willing to improve the country’s legal infrastructure, increase production and improve employment.

lgc (reuters/karar)


Erdogan: A painful fate awaits Turkey’s enemies

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatens Turkey’s enemies with a “painful fate” if they dare to approach their country’s soldiers.

“Whoever is trying to undermine our homeland, our flag, (…) must realize that a painful fate awaits him in the hands of our forces”Erdogan has indicated in a speech given this Friday during a military ceremony.

The Turkish leader praised the level of awareness and combat readiness of the Turkish Army commandos, then underlined that “the flag of any Turkish Army unit will not fall, unless the last soldier dies.”

These Erdogan statements come at a time of high tension in the region due to the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh, where on September 27 the confrontations between Armenia and Azerbaijan resumed.

Both parties have been at odds since the beginning of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict in 1988, when this enclave, with the support of the Government of Armenia, decided to become independent from the then Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.

In 1994, a ceasefire put an end to the conflict between these countries – with a death toll of 30,000 – but it did not solve the problem, so skirmishes have been frequent on the border since then.

Both parties signed a “total ceasefire” agreement last Tuesday to end the war in the disputed area. Turkey has been the only country to openly express its support for Azerbaijan since the start of hostilities in the region.

Ankara accused Yerevan of occupying Azerbaijani lands and promised “full solidarity” with Baku. In addition, there were reports of the transfer of terrorists through Ankara to Nagorno Karabakh, which could lead the region into a “full-scale war”, according to experts.

nkh / lvs / mjs / mkh


Erdogan: Turkey will monitor truce in Nagorno Karabakh

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announces that his country will participate in the supervision of the truce achieved in the disputed region of Nagorno Karabakh.

The presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan, Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliev, respectively, as well as the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, signed an agreement of “total ceasefire” to end the war in the disputed Nagorno Karabakh from Tuesday .

Through a statement, the Turkish Presidency reported that Erdogan, in a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart, declared that Ankara will control, together with Moscow, the ceasefire in the disputed area between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

“Erdogan declared that Turkey will carry out together with Russia the control and supervision of the ceasefire on the platform of a joint center to be created (…) in the territory liberated from the Armenian occupation”, it reads in the text.

According to the note, Erdogan also emphasized that “a correct step” had been taken towards the solution of the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh, where on September 27 the fighting resumed.

It is important, according to the Turkish leader, that the Azerbaijanis return to Nagorno Karabakh and that a corridor be opened between Azerbaijan and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan.

Turkey, which has been the only country to openly express its support for Azerbaijan, since the beginning of hostilities in the region accused Armenia of “occupying” Azerbaijani land and promised “full solidarity” with Baku. Furthermore, there were reports of the transfer of terrorists through Ankara to Nagorno Karabakh.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have been at odds since the beginning of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict in 1991, when this enclave, with the support of the Government of Armenia, became independent from the then Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1994, a ceasefire ended the war between these countries, but did not solve the problem, so skirmishes have been frequent on the border since then.



The IARA convened the second caravan for peace in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh

The Armenian Institutions of the Argentine Republic (IARA) called this afternoon the second massive caravan to ask for peace in Armenia and the region of Arts/Nagorno Karabaj.

Unlike the previous one, which took place on October 8 until the Obelisk, this mobilization in vehicles had a South American character since it was carried out simultaneously with the cities of Montevideo, Santiago de Chile, Sao Paulo, and the Argentines Cordoba, Rosario, La Plata, Mar del Plata, Rio Gallegos, Bariloche and Neuquen.

The caravan in the Buenos aires city had as its starting point Airpark Jorge Newbery to finish in the Plaza Armenia on Avenida Figueroa Alcorta where the closing ceremony took place that coincided with the other marches in Latin America.

The Armenian community as a whole, with Armenian immigrants, Argentine descendants and friends of other nationalities, mobilized to ask for a ceasefire on the attacks on Armenia and the Nagorno Karabakh region by Azerbaijan helped by Turkey. In addition, to repudiate the actions of the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and the first Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Protesters expressing their position with posters

“The Armenian community will say NO to a new genocide, which is being perpetrated 105 years after the Armenian Genocide carried out by the Turkish-Ottoman Empire in which a million and a half Armenians were assassinated, “the proclamation of the convocation asserted.

Another reason for the caravan the repudiation of the violation of Human Rights, to war crimes and to “ethnic cleansing“by Turkey together with”ISIS mercenaries“contractor for them.

Along these lines, they will ask for the “real” cessation of attacks (Azerbaijan has already violated three humanitarian ceasefires) and the lasting restoration of peace, plus a diplomatic solution with the intervention of central countries that guarantee that peace.

The preparations

Starting at four in the afternoon, families began to arrive in front of Aeroparque on Avenida Costanera in their cars listening to typical Armenian music and waving their flags. Conversations between older people take place in that typical language that mixes Armenian with “porteño”. Concern and hope are two sides of the same coin in this march.

The caravan also shows diversity. The immigrants, called hayastanziThey brought their customs, closer to the oriental, and here they mixed with people of different ages, the majority born in Argentina, with local customs. “We are diverse and we are one”, repeated those present.

The Hayastanzi are also saddened by the fact that they have direct relatives fighting and dying. Meanwhile, there is music, music that is usually used for festivities, here it helps to exorcise the pain.


Manfred Weber: “We have to respond to the Turkish attacks on the EU”

The escalation of tension between Turkey and the EU has reached a new fever pitch after the Turkish president questioned the French president’s mental health.

Brussels has raised the tone against Ankara, but has still failed to take concrete action, although more and more voices are calling on the European Union to use its economic power.

The European Union is Turkey’s main trading partner. At the import level, it represents 32.3% of the total volume of transactions, and at the export level, 42.4%. And the main exporting countries are Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

The leader of the popular Europeans believes that regardless of national economic interests, the EU must speak with one voice.

“It is not a Greek problem, it is not a Cypriot problem, it is not a French problem, it is a European problem. We have to respond to the attacks against the European Union,” says Manfred Weber. “If President Erdogan prevents French products from reaching Turkey, then he must understand that this affects the Customs Union, the agreement between the European Union and Turkey, according to which all European products must have free access to the Turkish market.”

EU member states also have different interests at other levels: investments, bank exposure, and even arms sales.

The largest arms exporters to Turkey are France, Spain, Italy and Germany, although France imposed a partial embargo on the attacks in Syria. Greece has asked them to suspend the licenses.

The migration pact between Ankara and the European Union is also at stake, which is why many diplomats consider that communication channels should remain open.

Mandred Weber is firm. “It can be deduced that Erdogan is playing with us. That is why we must act. It is a question of credibility, words are no longer enough. We must use our economic power. The European Union is much more important to Turkey than Turkey is to it. us “, concludes the German MEP.

EU leaders have given Erdogan until December to avoid sanctions, but the Turkish president shows no signs of wanting to make amends.


Turkey accuses Macron of “fascist” practice against Muslims

Turkey denounces the fascist policy applied by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, against Muslims residing in the Gallic country.

Macron considered last Wednesday that the publication of the controversial cartoons of the Great Prophet of Islam, the Hazrat Muhamad (peace be upon him) in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, was in line with freedom of expression, so he refused to condemn her.

The Communications Director of the Turkish Presidency, Fahrettin Altun, stressed on Monday that The Gallic leader seeks to lead Europe and, for “political reasons”, has adopted a fascist policy towards Muslims residing in this European country.

“Macron is not only propagating discrimination against Muslims in France and other European countries, but he is seeking to achieve his own political goals by spreading hatred and Islamophobia. Macron pursues the old fascist policy that was directed towards Jews in Europe “ during Nazi Germany, Altun indicated on his Twitter account.

The Elysee’s anti-Muslim stance, according to the Turkish official, reflects “Europe’s disappointing new political strategy.”

Faced with such a situation, Altun demanded punishments for irresponsible politicians like Macron, who do not hesitate to attack religions to cover their defeats at the national level.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in turn, on the same Monday, called on the leaders of the European Union (EU) countries to stop the hate campaign against Muslims, led by Macron. Similarly, he urged Turkish citizens to boycott French products; in reaction to Islamophobic comments from his French counterpart.

Iran, Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait have denounced the publication of the controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons and pointed out that freedom of expression does not imply, at all, launching “insults to the values ​​of Islam and the beliefs of Muslims”. What’s more, they stress that these types of blasphemous messages only cultivate greater incitement to hatred and extremism in the world.



Tension mounts between US and Turkey: Erdogan confirms Russian missile tests | The World | DW

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed this Friday (10.23.2020) that he has been carrying out tests of the Russian S-400 defense system and rejected US criticism in this regard.

“The tests have been done and will continue to be done,” the president revealed to journalists in Istanbul. “The position of the United States on this does not concern us at all,” he added. According to the media, the test took place in the province of Sinop (north).

Washington maintains that Ankara’s purchase of the Russian systems compromises the defenses of NATO, of which Turkey is a member, and has threatened sanctions.

Turkish media claimed that on October 16, Turkey carried out the first test of the S-400s, which provoked the rejection of the US State Department and the Pentagon. The test had not been officially confirmed until now.

The Russian S-400 missile system on display in Moscow’s Red Square (05/07/2017)

Russian missiles are incompatible with NATO, Washington threatens sanctions

“If confirmed, we would condemn in the strongest terms the test of the S-400, incompatible with Turkey’s responsibilities as an ally within NATO and a strategic partner of the United States,” US diplomatic spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus had reacted.

The acquisition by Ankara of the S-400, in a context of rapprochement between Turkey and Russia, caused disagreements with several Western countries that highlight the incompatibility of these Russian systems with NATO devices.

The United States has already threatened Ankara with sanctions if it activated the S-400s. But despite repeated warnings from Washington, Erdogan reiterated that the system would be deployed.

Ankara justifies the purchase of the Russian missiles by stating that the United States refused to sell it its Patriot anti-area and anti-missile defense system.

rrr (afp / reuters / dpa)