From 23-25 November, EU NEIGHBOURS east is partnering with the European Journalism Symposium to bring journalists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova to this major international event, taking place in Brussels around the theme “Being a journalist in Europe today”.
This free event will bring together around 100 speakers from at least 25 different countries, offering a unique opportunity for networking and professional exchanges between visiting journalists from the Eastern Partnership region, the Southern Mediterranean and the EU, around discussions on the role of the media in their countries.
Organised for the first time, the European Journalism Symposium aims to become a major biannual meeting where professionals will be able to discuss the challenges of their professions with the public, researchers, political and economic experts, and civil society representatives.
“Today, as the war in Ukraine is bloodying the heart of Europe and smearing the right to have access to free and fair information, we need to create this space for dialogue and reaffirm the role of a free and pluralistic information system, at the service of peace and democracy,” the organisers say.
The programme includes sessions on a wide range of topics, including propaganda and fake news, threats to journalism, media literacy, cyberattacks, and press freedom. On 24 November, there will be a special evening, organised with Reporters without Borders, on ‘Telling the war in Ukraine’, with the participation of journalists from Ukraine and Belgium.
The event is co-organised by IHECS (the Institut des hautes études des communications sociales – École de journalisme de Bruxelles) and the French association Journalisme & Citoyenneté.
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During the address at the autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the member of Parliament of Ukraine, Serhii Soboliev said that it's impossible to realise how Europe and the European Union can be without such nations as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia.
“it's very important to understand that as well, as it's impossible to realise how Europe and the European Union can be without the free nations of the Western Balkans, including Kosovo. It's also impossible to realise how Europe and the European Union can be without such nations as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. This report has the excellent possibility to understand that now we are all in one boat: a boat of democracy, but this boat must be protected, and must be protected not only by economical methods, but by military methods as well”, - said Serhii Soboliev.
In addition, the member of the Social Democratic Party Titus Corlățean noted: “all the time the EU enlargement process was a huge asset for the European Union”.
“It was the case with the Central Eastern former communist countries; it is the case now with some of the Eastern partners, such as Ukraine, Republic of Moldova, and I hope also Georgia before the end of the year. It should definitely be the case, but not only in making reference to a European perspective. We should use the proper words”, - said Titus Corlățean.
The senator of the French Senate, member of the Union Centrists group, Claude Kern also addressed to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. He said that the European perspective of the Western Balkans should be strongly reaffirmed, without the difficulties associated with joining the European Union.
“The same goes for Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova – and perhaps, I hope, one day for Georgia. But the pre-accession phase is a crucial step if we are to avoid importing systemic problems into the European Union”, - said Claude Kern.
Remind you that the autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is holding in Strasbourg from 10 to 14 October.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is due to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe by videoconference on Thursday.
There will also be addresses by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, and the President of the Swiss Confederation, Ignazio Cassis, as well as the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama.
Thomas Byrne, Ireland’s European Affairs Minister, will present the Communication from the Committee of Ministers in the framework of the Irish Presidency of the Council of Europe.
The Organization’s Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić will hold the usual question time with PACE members.
Ireland’s President Higgins: we need a longer-term vision of the Council of Europe’s role in a post-conflict EuropeTuesday, 11 October 2022 23:31
STRASBOURG. Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins has called for a longer-term vision of the Council of Europe’s role in a post-conflict Europe, and how that might fit within the wider multilateral architecture, in order to effectively uphold human rights, the rule of law and democracy whilst ensuring there is no immunity for human rights violations.
Speaking to the Parliamentary Assembly in the context of Ireland’s Presidency of the Committee of Ministers, President Higgins stressed that we should revert to the Council of Europe’s fundamental strengths in rebuilding peace, notably the European Convention on Human Rights.
“It must be re-invoked, extended, bolstered, re-asserted, resourced and become part of the discourse of the European street,” said President Higgins, calling for Council of Europe and UN associations to be created in member states.
President Higgins underlined that we must focus on the indivisibility of human rights and commit to a wider definition of comprehensive security on the continent, as a European step towards a universal human rights-based approach to security – including food security.
Any review of the Convention framework must incorporate additional basic rights, said the President, such as the right to a clean environment and the right to be free from hunger.
Record high: In the first eight months of the year, 8,701 China-Europe freight trains passed through Xinjiang's Alataw Pass and Horgos ports, injecting the region with a huge boost to foreign trade growth.
Produced by Xinhua Global Service
Trade turnover between China and Turkmenistan for the first seven months of this year increased by 53.4%. This figure was cited in a China Daily article citing data from China's General Administration of Customs in a September 12 publication titled "China strengthens ties with Central Asian countries."
Cooperation within the framework of the One Belt, One Road project between China and Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan by the countries of Central Asia has yielded first results. The countries of the region have received new investments, technologies and markets, as well as improved the level of their infrastructure, especially transport and logistics, writes the publication, which refers to experts.
According to analysts, the One Belt, One Road project has contributed to the growth of exports of the Central Asian countries, balanced the growth of their industry and opened up opportunities for their industrial modernization and the development of a green and digital economy.
The Silk Road Economic Belt was first proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to Kazakhstan in 2013, and the five countries of Central Asia were among the first countries to take part in this initiative.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the five countries, with trade between the two sides rising from $460 million in 1992 to $50 billion last year.
During the PRC-CA virtual summit in January marking the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations, Xi Jinping outlined a vision for trade between China and the five countries to reach $70 billion by 2030, saying that Beijing was ready to import more high-quality goods from the five countries and step up cooperation in the field of energy and high technologies.
Central Asia is a key gateway on the western China-Europe freight train route. As of July, this transport corridor, which was launched in 2011, has carried over 57,000 train trips and shipped 5.3 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent) of goods worth nearly $300 billion. The launch of China-Europe freight trains has reduced the time for transporting goods between Kazakhstan and Europe by five times, according to a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
During the January summit, Xi Jinping said China would provide $500 million in aid to Central Asian countries to support development programs and offer 5,000 seats in seminars and workshops to help the region train specialists in areas such as health, agricultural development and Information Technology.
The publication notes that China's booming economic ties with Central Asia have spawned hundreds of freight forwarding companies in Xinjiang.
EU annual report on Georgia: some progress in Association Agreement implementation and the need for further inclusive reformsTuesday, 16 August 2022 14:23
The European Union has published its annual Association Implementation Report on Georgia, which reviews Georgia’s progress in implementing reforms under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement over the past year. The publication comes ahead of the next EU-Georgia Association Council meeting scheduled for 6 September 2022.
“Georgia continued its reform path under difficult circumstances, against the background of its socio-economic recovery from COVID-19, a tense political environment and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” said the EU High Representative Josep Borrell. “However, we have seen setbacks in the key areas of rule of law, governance and human rights. As Georgia embarks on the new phase of its relations with the EU, with its European perspective, Georgia needs to take a responsible and conscientious approach that matches its stated objectives and its citizens’ aspirations.”
A report prepared by the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the services of the European Commission shows that the EU-Georgia Association Agreement continues to be a driving force for reform. Overall, the process of aligning national legislation with EU legislation under the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, is well underway and successful. Inclusive and green growth remains central to the EU-Georgia cooperation. In 2021, the EU continued assistance related to COVID-19 and contributed to a strong and sustainable socio-economic recovery, laying the groundwork for the implementation of the Eastern Partnership’s economic and investment plan.
“However, in 2021, challenges threatened to undermine the country’s democratic foundations and there were setbacks with regard to the rule of law. This demonstrates the need for a renewed and serious commitment to democratic consolidation, judicial reforms, and action to reduce political polarisation and to strengthen the rule of law and to guarantee a professional and pluralistic and independent media environment. These are essential priorities for Georgia to advance on its European path,” says a press release by the EEAS.
“The ball is now in Georgia’s court. A serious commitment to democratic consolidation, judicial reforms, strengthening the rule of law as well as fight against corruption and organised crime will be key,” said Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement.
The EU-Georgia Association Agreement, which includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, was fully actioned on 1 July 2016. It deepens political ties, strengthens economic ties and respects shared values, and is the basis for EU-Georgian cooperation and EU support to reforms in Georgia.
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Culture Moves Europe: EU rolls out new €21 million mobility scheme for artists and cultural professionals
On 20 July, the European Commission signed an agreement with the Goethe-Institut to implement a new €21 million mobility scheme for artists and cultural professionals: Culture Moves Europe.
It will offer grants to artists, cultural operators, and host organisations from all the sectors covered by the and from the countries participating in the Creative Europe programme (within its CULTURE strand). Emerging artists will receive special attention.
Among the Eastern Partnership countries, Georgia and Ukraine partially participate in the Creative Europe programme. Armenia is also negotiating a partial accession to the programme.
During the next three years, the programme will allow around 7,000 artists, creators and cultural professionals to go abroad for professional development or international collaborations, co-produce, co-create, and present their works to new audiences.
The first calls are expected in autumn 2022.
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EU expands list of sanctions against individuals and entities supporting Russian aggression against UkraineFriday, 22 July 2022 12:46
The EU has expanded its list of sanctions against individuals and entities supporting Russian aggression against Ukraine. The list of the additional 57 individuals and 10 companies and organisations has been posted in the EU’s official journal. This decision comes in addition to the “maintenance and alignment” package of sanctions adopted by the Council on 21 July 2022.
Personal sanctions under this latest package of sanctions include Sergei Sobyanin, Moscow mayor, Stanislav Chemezov, son of the head of Rostec, Yury Chaika, member of the Russian Federation Council and former prosecutor-general, well-known Russian actors Sergei Bezrukov and Vladimir Mashkov, Alexander Zaldostanov, leader of the ‘Night Wolves’ motorcycle club, and other Russians who actively support Russian aggression against Ukraine.
The sanctioned entities include Sberbank, a major financial institution, the ‘Night Wolves’, companies operating in the military sector or the shipbuilding industry or involved in the stealing of Ukrainian grain, and a variety of entities that have disseminated pro-Kremlin and anti-Ukrainian propaganda.
The all-Russia ‘Young Army’ Military Patriotic Social Movement, the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo), Russkiy Mir Foundation and the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund are also on the sanctions list.
A number of individuals involved in the leadership of the territories of Ukraine occupied by the Russian authorities have also been put on the sanctions list.
Altogether, EU restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine now apply to a total of 1,212 individuals and 108 entities. Those designated are subject to an asset freeze and EU citizens and companies are forbidden from making funds available to them. Natural persons are additionally subject to a travel ban, which prevents them from entering or transiting through EU territories.
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The European Union and its partners welcomed the successful conclusion of Pride Week 2022 in Georgia, which took place in Tbilisi on 2 July.
In this regard, a joint statement was issued by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia and the Embassies to Georgia of the Czech Republic, France, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The signatories congratulated the organisers, Tbilisi Pride and other civil society organisations, and expressed their solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+) community and support towards their right as Georgian citizens to exercise their constitutional rights without fear.
The following was stated: “We acknowledge that marking Pride Week is still connected to safety risks and other stressful situations that many have to live through on a daily basis. It is our sincere hope that this year’s successful holding of events marks a step forward in protecting the rights of LGBTQI+ persons, including their right to freedom of assembly.”
In this context, the EU and its partners have also reminded the Georgian authorities of the need to take appropriate measures in relation to the events on the 5 July 2021 , including a full investigation and prosecution of the instigators and organisers of the violence.
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The House of Europe programme has mobilised €1.5 million for a dedicated war response package aimed at artists, cultural managers, doctors, educators, entrepreneurs, journalists, and leaders of youth organisations who face Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Since 24 February 2022, the programme has redirected its funding to seven areas of emergency support, focusing on creating new support schemes to address wartime challenges.
In addition, the House of Europe has collected and informed about hundreds of opportunities for both displaced people and Ukrainians left behind: scholarships and residencies for cultural workers, scholarships for academics and scholarships for students, emergency support for NGOs, media workers and entrepreneurs, among others.
The House of Europe has supported the preservation of cultural heritage in Ukraine, provided individual support for Ukrainian professionals and allowed current grantees to repurpose their funding instantly.
The war response package includes:
– 28 museums from Lviv, Odesa, and Kyiv, as well as Donetsk, Luhansk, Sumy, and Mykolaiv regions received €146,359 to protect their collections.
– 10 civil society initiatives receive funding for documenting war crimes, re-equipping teachers from Mariupol, holding a children’s film festival, instructing pregnant women how to give birth in shelters, etc. 13 cultural organisations that have transformed into shelter places for the displaced have been funded.
– 150 members of House of Europe’s Alumni community received stipends of €1,000 each for renewing their professional activities, but foremost for essentials like accommodation, food, medication, and fuel.
– Civil society representatives and House of Europe partners involved in evacuations of citizens, safeguarding of cultural heritage, volunteering, and other life-saving operations across Ukraine received 75 sets of protective and medical kits.
– Professionals and organisations that won House of Europe grants and have not carried out their projects yet in full were offered to spend the money on emergency needs and withstanding the Russian aggression. This includes 36 selected recipients of Individual Project Grants, who were unable to proceed with their projects; those received alternative funding – a lump-sum fixed contribution, which may be spent for emergency purposes.
At the beginning of June 2022, the House of Europe will offer infrastructure grants of up to €15,000 each to Ukrainian organisations in an open competition to restore equipment and facilities and resume activities.
In July 2022, the House of Europe will also hold the third edition of Hatathon, an online hackathon bringing together cultural and IT professionals in search of start-up solutions in the cultural, creative industries and beyond.
House of Europe is an EU-funded programme fostering professional and creative exchange between Ukrainians and their colleagues in EU countries and the United Kingdom. The programme focuses on different professional fields: culture and creative industries, education, health, social entrepreneurship, media, and youth.
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