Abolishing visas for Ukraine and Georgia is postponed
Despite all the allegations and suggestions, Ukraine and Georgia hasn't obtained the EU visa-free regime so far. The date of abolishing visas has been postponed many times, and yet we still we don't know when will the Ukrainians start travelling Europe freely. According to the latest news, the EU officials fail to approve the necessary suspension mechanism by the end of 2016, so abolishing visas for Ukraine and Georgia is likely to be postponed again - at least until summer 2017, just after holding crucial presidential elections in France.
Grain from Ukraine: European Commission pays to ship 40,000 tons of Ukrainian grain via two boats
On 26 November, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the European Commission would pay for the transportation of 40,000 tonnes of Ukrainian grain on two ships, as part of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s ‘Grain from Ukraine’ initiative.
This will be on top of the 28 million tons of agri products shipped via the EU’s Solidarity Lanes and the Black Sea Grain Initiative, von der Leyen added.
Ukraine launched the ‘Grain from Ukraine’ initiative at the International Summit on Food Security, organised in Kyiv on the anniversary of the Holodomor, the starvation of millions of Ukrainians caused by Soviet policies in 1932-33.
“90 years after the Holodomor, we honour the memory of Ukraine’s victims. They died in silence, starving to death, and, at that time, the world did not rise to help them. We will not let this happen again,” said von der Leyen. “Today, Russia is again using food as a weapon.
As part of its brutal aggression against Ukraine, Russia has destroyed your agricultural production, targeted your grain silos, and blockaded your ports.”
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European Commission proposes unprecedented support package for Ukraine – up to €18 billion for 2023
The European Commission today proposed an unprecedented support package for Ukraine of up to €18 billion for 2023. These funds will be provided in the form of highly concessional loans to be repaid in regular instalments starting in 2033.
“This stable, regular and predictable financial assistance – averaging €1.5 billion per month – will help cover a significant part of Ukraine’s short-term funding needs for 2023, which the Ukrainian authorities and the International Monetary Fund estimate at €3 to €4 billion per month,” says a press release from the European Commission.
Thanks to this package, Ukraine will be able to keep on paying wages and pensions and keep essential public services running, such as hospitals, schools, and housing for relocated people. It will also allow Ukraine to ensure macroeconomic stability, and restore critical infrastructure destroyed by Russia in its war of aggression, such as energy infrastructure, water systems, transport networks, roads and bridges.
The funds will be provided through highly concessional loans, to be repaid in the course of maximum 35 years, starting in 2033. The EU also proposes to cover Ukraine’s interest rate costs, through additional targeted payments by Member States into the EU budget.
EU Member States and third countries will also be able to add more funds to the instrument, to be used as grants, should they wish to do so. The funds will then be channelled through the EU budget, allowing Ukraine to receive the support in a coordinated manner.
The MFA+ instrument will be accompanied by reforms to help Ukraine advance on its path to becoming a member of the EU. This means that the Ukrainian government will have to complement the financial support with sectoral and institutional reforms, including anti-corruption and judicial reforms, respect of the rule of law, good governance, and modernisation of the national and local institutions.
The Commission’s proposal will need approval by the European Parliament and EU Member States in the Council before entering into force.
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EU urges Georgian authorities to ensure highest legal standards in cases against media owners
The European Union has urged the Georgian authorities to ensure the highest legal standards in cases against media owners.
Reacting to the Tbilisi Court of Appeal decision to uphold charges against Nika Gvaramia, Director General of one of the TV channels in Georgia, including the sentence of 3 years and 6 months’ imprisonment, the EU said that it has been monitoring this case closely.
“The European Union does not comment on the merits of individual Court cases, but we note once again that questions have been raised, including by the Public Defender, in relation to this case,” says a press release by the European Union External Action Service.
The press release also reminds that the European Union remains committed to supporting Georgia in addressing all 12 priorities in order to live up to the European aspirations of its citizens.
In this respect, the EU recalls that “stronger efforts to guarantee a free, professional, pluralistic and independent media environment, notably by ensuring that criminal procedures brought against media owners fulfil the highest legal standards” represent one of the priorities identified by the European Commission.
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SHALVA PAPUASHVILI: THE PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATIONS WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO YET AGAIN SHOW THEIR SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE
"The Parliamentary Delegations will have the opportunity to yet again show their support for Ukraine on the International Crimea Platform”, - the Speaker, Shalva Papuashvili, who, attending the First Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform in Croatia along with the Parliamentary Delegation, stated.
According to the Speaker, Georgia is well aware of what Russian aggression means and how important it is to respond appropriately from the international community.
"As for our delegation and my speech, based on the experience of Georgia, we will focus on the meaning of Russian aggression, possible improper response of the international community at the time, and the correct response to Russian aggression. We are a country that has experienced Russian aggression several times and we know very well what the right reaction should be. Based on our experience, we will dwell on what solidarity with Ukraine should mean”, - Shalva Papuashvili stated.
The Speaker is expected to address the participants of the session of the First Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform.
43 delegations of 32 parliaments, 5 international parliamentary organizations and 26 parliament chairpersons are participating in the Platform.
As part of the visit, bilateral meetings of the Speaker and the Parliamentary Delegation are also scheduled.
The Parliamentary Delegation of Georgia is composed of the Vice Speaker, Archil Talakvadze and the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Nikoloz Samkharadze.
EBRD commits up to €3 billion to Ukraine
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will commit up to €3 billion over 2022-2023 to help Ukraine’s businesses and economy keep functioning.
On a visit to Kyiv, EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of the Bank’s determination to support Ukraine while it defends itself against Russia’s aggression.
Since the invasion began in February, the EBRD has committed more than €1 billion, and aims to triple that figure by the end of 2023. Its primary focus will be to support the “real” economy – maintaining energy and food security, restoring rail infrastructure, and supporting the pharmaceutical industry.
EBRD investment has already been made into Ukraine’s electricity company Ukrenergo, as well as providing up to €500m liquidity support for ‘Naftogaz’, the country’s main gas supplier. Discussions are also underway to scale up funding for urgent repairs of the electricity grid and to support municipal authorities in Kyiv, Lviv and Dnipro, says the EBRD.
EBRD investments are backed by donors or guarantors from EU and G7 countries, including the US. Norway recently pledged €200m in support.
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