Ukraine and Moldova: arms trafficking threat in focus in wake of Russian invasion
The EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM), together with Europol, the OSCE, Frontex, UNODC, and law enforcement agencies from Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova last week convened a meeting of the Arms Working Group on fighting the trafficking of weapons, ammunition and explosives from Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.
The online meeting focused on the assessment of threats related to arms trafficking in Europe, with a particular emphasis on the availability of weapons, as a consequence of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.
Experts from international institutions and law enforcement agencies from Moldova and Ukraine presented the latest cases and trends in the detection of illegal weapons at border crossing posts and in the border area.
“The main objective of establishing this Group has been a consolidation of the knowledge, experiences, and efforts of Moldovan and Ukrainian law enforcement agencies as well as international actors to strengthen joint countermeasures against the trafficking of weapons, ammunition, explosives and CBRN materials,” saidSlawomir Pichor, Head of EUBAM.
The purpose of the joint cross-border working group is to assist Moldovan and Ukrainian authorities in effectively countering illicit weapons trafficking and related serious and organised crime in the region and to foster international cooperation.
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Covenant of Mayors in Eastern Partnership marks its 10 Years in the region
Over the course of ten years of its fruitful work, the Covenant of Mayors East brought together national stakeholders, regional authorities, local governments, civil society, and communities from almost 500 municipalities from the six Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. With more than 42% of the total population living in the municipalities committed to CoM East objectives, there is a clear positive trend of local authorities in the region joining the initiative.
The cooperation within the initiative aims to embark on the path of energy and climate transition, share the experience among signatories of the project, exchange the best practices, take advantage of the technical expertise and funding opportunities, encourage each other, and jointly search for efficient solutions to shared obstacles.
Organised in the framework of the EU-funded project Covenant of Mayors – Eastern Partnership, the high-level conference “10th Anniversary of the Covenant of Mayors in the Eastern Partnership Region” will take place on 29-30 November 2022 in Tbilisi, Georgia. The Conference will host over 150 representatives, including local and national authorities, associations of local officials, and other stakeholders from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, along with the EU institutions, EU Member States and international organisations’ representatives.
“I am very happy to see that the Covenant of Mayors initiative in the Eastern Partnership is ready to deliver on the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. The ambition to cut emissions by 35% by 2030 demonstrates that your municipalities are truly stepping up to this challenge. With over 460 signatories, the Eastern Partnership region is a frontrunner and a great example for local authorities around the globe,” said Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighbourhood East and Institution Building from the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) at theEuropean Commission.
During the Conference, speakers will present the progress achieved by the Covenant and its signatories, and will reaffirm the EU’s strong political will to support EaP authorities in designing and implementing sustainable policies. The event will offer opportunities for discussing the main bottlenecks and barriers encountered by the signatory cities, providing effective recipes for success. It will also outline the future of the initiative and EU support to EaP municipalities in the perspective of the Green Deal and other European initiatives. The workshops, taking place on the second day of the event, will create a space for dialogue between local, national, and EU representatives on the implementation of SECAPs, examples of demonstration projects, and climate policy objectives.
Along with the project’s 10th Anniversary in the Eastern Partnership countries, the event also marks the launch of the CoM East third phase that started its work earlier this year. Moreover, from 2014 to 2021 a total of 33 Covenant of Mayors demonstration projects were implemented in the framework of the initiative with the budget of around 38.5 M€.
The Eastern Partnership countries, throughout the past ten years, were able to build a strong and supportive Covenant community, where both ministries and regional authorities’ associations play an important role by assisting the signatories in meeting their CO₂ reduction commitments and implementing climate change adaptation measures.
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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Teimuraz Janjalia has participated in the forum dedicated to joining the European UnionOn 28 November 2022, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Teimuraz Janjalia, participated in virtual mode in the Accession Exchange Forum held in Kyiv.The forum was organized by the Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine and non-governmental organizations with the support of the European Union. It was attended by representatives of EU institutions, officials of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, as well as international and local non-governmental organizations.
Speaking at the session - "EU candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova, potential candidate status for Georgia: the road to membership", the Deputy Minister highlighted that given the new geopolitical realities, it is important to develop new approaches and a new vision for the EU.
In this context, the need for more involvement and support from the EU was highlighted. Teimuraz Janjalia spoke about the irreversibility of Georgia's accession to the European Union and noted that the recognition of the European perspective brought the relations with the European Union to a completely newer level and opened up new opportunities for the country. The Deputy Minister focused on the importance of greater economic and sectoral integration with the European Union, which will support the country's progress on the path to accession and practically prepare it for this goal.
The deputy minister spoke about the importance of peace and stability in the region and emphasized the role of EU support in strengthening the country's resilience to hybrid threats.MFA of Georgia
Statement on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November)
This joint statement is issued by the United Nations system in Georgia, the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, the Council of Europe Office in Georgia, the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia and the Embassies to Georgia of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we would like to join hands with survivors, activists, decision-makers, and people from every walk of life to take a bold stand against this global scourge.
Stigma and impunity have allowed violence against women to escalate to pandemic proportions. Across the world, as well as in Georgia, violence against women and girls remains one of the most pervasive and latent human rights violations, both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality and discrimination.
A world where violence against women and girls is not just condemned but stopped is possible. It can and must be prevented.
As highlighted in the GREVIO baseline report on Georgia published on 22/11/2022, over the past decade, Georgia has made significant progress towards effectively addressing the shadow pandemic of violence against women and girls by putting in place a comprehensive policy and legislative framework, producing data and strengthening institutions to effectively enforce the laws. Moreover, specialized services for survivors such as shelters, crisis centres and a hotline have been created, and law enforcement has been specialized to handle cases in a more sensitive and qualified manner. Importantly, there have been positive shifts in public perceptions and an increase in survivors’ trust in the justice system and services.
Despite these significant measures taken to tackle gender-based violence in Georgia, women continue to die as a result of these atrocious crimes. Often, femicide represents the continuum of other forms of violence experienced by women and girls. Sexual violence also persists in Georgia, with an extremely low number of reporting and respective cases reaching the courts. The persistent patriarchal norms and deeply entrenched stereotypes in Georgian society tend to blame victims and condone violence against women and girls.
We call for the strengthening of a holistic national framework to prevent all forms of violence against women and girls in Georgia. Efforts should be translated into concrete actions through the necessary legislative measures by, inter alia, amending the definition of rape in the Criminal Code of Georgia to ensure compliance with the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention and other international standards, as well as by exercising due diligence to prevent (including through integrating the issue into the general education programmes), investigate, punish, and provide reparation for acts of violence. Building and strengthening an enabling environment for women’s economic, political, and social empowerment is paramount.
Since everyone has a pivotal role to play in tackling violence against women and girls, we remain steadfast in our determination to support the Government of Georgia, civil society, and other partners to ensure that the inalienable right of women and girls to live a life free from violence is observed and enjoyed for the benefit of everyone.
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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