‘Uphill, but an essential and a worthy battle’: Michel welcomes the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Assembly
Сivil society have played and is playing a crucial role in making progress in the critical areas of the Eastern Partnership, including political cooperation, economic recovery, and democratic reforms, said President Charles Michel addressing the participants of the Civil Society Assembly.
The 13th Annual Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF), ‘Road to recovery: fostering reform and resilience for a stronger Eastern Partnership’ is taking place from 30 November to 2 December bringing together online more than 300 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and decision-makers from the Eastern Partner countries and the EU.
We have advanced our partnership in spite of challenges ranging from economic crises to armed conflicts and the COVID pandemic,” said Charles Michel. “You must continue to step forward and make your voices heard.”
The President added that the EU will insist in tackling challenges facing the Eastern Partnership: “Strengthening democracy, fighting corruption, defending the rule of law, guaranteeing a free media, and countering disinformation – this is an uphill battle, but an essential and a worthy battle”.
The Assembly will prepare its recommendations in the run-up of the 6th Eastern Partnership Summit (15-16 December 2021).
Michel: Armenia and Azerbaijan agree to move forward on bilateral peace treaty
On 31 August, European Council President Charles Michel met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
The fourth discussion in this format focused on recent developments in the South Caucasus and relations between the EU and the two countries. All sides agreed to step up substantive work to advance on the peace treaty governing inter-state relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and tasked the Foreign Ministers to meet within one month to work on draft texts.
“Our exchanges were open and productive – and I would like to thank both leaders for that,” said Michel. “It is positive to see that quite a few steps have been taken to take forward the agreements reached during our last meeting.”
Michel, Aliyev and Pashinyan also had a detailed discussion on humanitarian issues, including demining, detainees and the fate of missing persons.
They also reviewed progress on all questions related to the delimitation of the border and how best to ensure a stable situation.
The next meeting of the Border Commissions will take place in Brussels in November. By the end of this month, the next, fifth meeting in a similar format will take place.
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Charles Michel at G7 meeting: Ukraine needs more and we are committed to providing more
Support for Ukraine is the focus of discussions at the G7 meeting taking place in Schloss Elmau, Germany, from 26 to 28 June. During these days, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the European Union will work mainly on the global economy, partnerships for developing countries, foreign and security policy, sustainability, food security, multilateralism, and digital transformation.
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, highlighted the support that the EU has provided to Ukraine, including €2 billion to provide military equipment. “Ukraine needs more and we are committed to providing more. This comprises more military support, more financial means and more political support. We are also committed to supporting Ukraine’s reconstruction,” said Michel.
“The EU and the G7 share the same goals: bringing Russia’s war machine to a halt, while protecting our economies and those of our partners. The EU will stand by the people of Ukraine for the long haul and will help defend Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Our aim is to strongly defend our common democratic values,” said Michel.
The President added that during the G7 meeting, he would highlight food security – “the Kremlin is using food as a silent weapon of war” – and energy security in the light of the war.
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European Council: Ukraine and Moldova granted EU candidate status
On 23 June, EU leaders meeting in the European Council agreed to grant Ukraine and Moldova EU candidate status.
“A historic moment. Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU,” wrote European Council President Charles Michel on Twitter. “Congratulations to Zelenskyy and Maia Sandu and the people of Ukraine and Moldova. Our future is together.”
At the same time, the Council decided to recognise the European perspective of Georgia, and, according to Michel, “is ready to grant candidate status once the outstanding priorities are addressed”.
The decision follows the Opinions issued by the European Commission on all three EU accession applications on 17 June.
“I am very pleased with the Leaders’ endorsement of our Opinions,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the press conference following the Council. “Of course, the countries all have homework to do before moving to the next stage of the accession process. But I am convinced that they will all move as swiftly as possible and work as hard as possible to implement the necessary reforms.” She added that the changes needed for the EU accession would primarily benefit the states’ democracies, economies and citizens.
“This decision strengthens us all. It strengthens Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, in the face of Russian imperialism and it strengthens the European Union, because it shows once again to the world that we are united and strong in the face of external threats,” said Ursula von der Leyen.
In their Conclusions adopted on 23 June, EU leaders said:
- The European Council recognises the European perspective of Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia. The future of these countries and their citizens lies within the European Union.
- The European Council has decided to grant the status of candidate country to Ukraine and to the Republic of Moldova.
- The Commission is invited to report to the Council on the fulfilment of the conditions specified in the Commission’s opinions on the respective membership applications as part of its regular enlargement package. The Council will decide on further steps once all these conditions are fully met.
- The European Council is ready to grant the status of candidate country to Georgia once the priorities specified in the Commission’s opinion on Georgia’s membership application have been addressed.
- The progress of each country towards the European Union will depend on its own merit in meeting the Copenhagen criteria, taking into consideration the EU’s capacity to absorb new members.
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Public Defender’s Letter to European Council President Charles Michel
On June 22, 2022, the Public Defender of Georgia sent an official letter to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, requesting the President and the Heads of the EU Member States to consider the aspirations of the Georgian people towards the European family, their fight and efforts in this process, and to grant Georgia a candidate status, in order to prevent that Georgia is separated from the common space it has shared with Ukraine and Moldova and misses this important opportunity.
See the letter of the Public Defender of Georgia to Charles Michel, President of the European Council
Your Excellency, I hereby extend the assurances of my highest consideration personally to you, as well as the President of the European Commission, and the Heads of State/Government of the 27 EU Member States. The EU has always been a firm supporter of Georgia in its European aspirations and the results of this support have been felt by many of us for decades. Let me express our utmost gratitude for this assistance. I remain convinced that the EU-Georgian cooperation will keep strengthening, while the progress that comes with the European integration will benefit the citizens of both the EU and Georgia who share the common values and are united in forging more humane, peaceful, and prosperous future.
I am addressing you today as the Public Defender (Ombudsman) of Georgia, which is an independent constitutional body that supervises the protection of human rights and freedoms by public authorities in Georgia. The Ombudsman has over the decades been acting resolutely within its constitutional mandate and enjoys a wide support and trust from the members of the public as well as the international community at large.
During such critical times I feel obliged to address you ahead of the upcoming European Council meeting on 23 and 24 June 2022, which is expected to make a final decision about the membership applications from Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia. As you are aware, on 17th of June 2022, the European Commission issued Opinions on Georgia’s, the Republic of Moldova’s and Ukraine’s application for the EU membership in which the Commission recommended granting European Perspective to all three states. Furthermore, while for Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova the Commission recommended granting a candidate status, with respect to Georgia the Commission has put forward a clear set of conditions to be met before the candidate status is granted. This risks separation of Georgia from the rest of the Associated Trio, even though it has been seen for many years as a frontrunner among the three and shares with them the threats coming from the Russian Federation.
This is an existential matter and moment for the whole nation, who have already made their conscious choice of European and Euro-Atlantic integration, embodied in the Constitution of Georgia. In Georgia the European integration is not only a foreign policy option, but a moral and cultural choice shared by a wider political spectrum and supported by the absolute majority of Georgians. Unprecedented number of demonstrators marching in Tbilisi on the 20th of June is a recent confirmation of this. The civil society led rally was held for the sole purpose of expressing unwavering support for Georgia’s EU integration, regardless of the political affiliation. Europe is a historic choice and aspiration of the Georgian people, for which all generations have made sacrifices. The idea of European perspective consolidates society and reduces polarization
Consequently, in the face of the most acute domestic and foreign policy challenges, it is crucial for us now that Georgia, together with Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, is granted the EU candidate status with the precise conditions to be met within strict timelines. The European Commission has already outlined the most challenging issues to be addressed immediately by Georgia and let me confirm that the issues set out in the Opinion have been voiced by the civil society and majority of Georgians, as well as the Ombudsman for many years already.
It is for the reasons outlined above that I appeal to you today to consider granting the EU candidate status to Georgia. I firmly believe that the European integration is the only driving force for a progress in Georgia and the recommendations of the European Commission will act as a road map in this process. Let me assure you that the Public Defender will oversee this process and the Georgian people, civil society, and the media will be there to safeguard the fulfillment of these conditions.
Please accept, You Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration!
The Public Defender (Ombudsman) of Georgia
Michel at UN Security Council: ‘It is a war against all that we have built over generations since World War II’
The EU will continue to back Ukraine and pressure Russia and confront it with the truth, said European Council President Charles Michel, addressing the UN Security Council on 6 June.
“The Kremlin may prohibit and prosecute the use of the word ‘war’, but that does not change the heartbreaking reality. Thousands of dead Ukrainian women, children and men. Atrocities. Rapes. Countless Ukrainian cities bombed into rubble. This is a war. A barbaric war waged by a permanent member of this Council,” said Michel.
Addressing the current Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzia, Michel noted that the Kremlin is using food supplies as a “stealth missile” against developing countries, and that Russia is solely responsible for the upcoming food crisis: the war “is driving up food prices, pushing people into poverty and destabilising entire regions”.
“I have seen it with my own eyes. A few weeks ago in Odesa, millions of tons of grain and wheat were stuck in containers and ships because of Russian warships in the Black Sea and because of Russia’s attack on transport infrastructure. And it is Russian tanks, Russian bombs and mines that are preventing Ukraine from planting and harvesting,” said Michel.
The European Council President also said the Kremlin was targeting grain storage and stealing grain in Ukraine while shifting the blame on others.