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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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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On 22 June in Brussels, the EU and Georgia held the 15th round of the annual Human Rights Dialogue.
Participants exchanged views on the human rights situation in Georgia and on recent developments in the promotion and protection of democracy and human rights since the last dialogue in July 2021.
The Georgian delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Teimuraz Gianjalia, and the EU delegation was led by Richard Tibbels, from the European External Action Service. The EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, also participated in the meeting.
The next EU-Georgia human rights dialogue is planned to take place in Tbilisi in 2023.
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Crimea and the city of Sevastopol: EU extends sanctions over Russia’s illegal annexation by one yearTuesday, 21 June 2022 11:04
On 20 June, the Council of the European Union extended the sanctions introduced by the EU in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, until 23 June 2023.
The restrictive measures currently in place were first introduced in June 2014. They include prohibitions targeting the imports of products originating from the illegally annexed Crimea or Sevastopol into the EU, and infrastructural or financial investments and tourism services from the illegally annexed Crimea or Sevastopol. Furthermore, the exports of certain goods and technologies to Crimean companies or for use in illegally annexed Crimea in the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors or for the prospection, exploration and production of oil, gas and mineral resources are also subject to EU restrictions.
The EU reminds that it does not recognise and continues to condemn the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula as a serious violation of international law. It also condemns in the strongest possible terms the unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine, started by Russia on 24 February.
The European Union also says it is committed to help Ukraine exercise its inherent right of self-defence against Russian aggression and build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future. It also remains committed to continuing to bolster Ukraine’s ability to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
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European Commission is drawing closer to presenting its opinion on candidate status to Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova – members of the Association Trio. Meanwhile, questions and suggestions are mounting how to proceed in this way to find a “golden mean” amidst the war in Ukraine and highly unpredictable geostrategic context.
The stakes are high and considering all circumstances the European Union (EU) faces a difficult but historical decision. While, it is premature to talk in which direction the scales will swing, it’s evident that either negative or some intermediary decision about on any of the applicant state, will significantly affect their geopolitical future in the short and mid-term perspective. What about Georgia – the sole strategic ally of the West in the South Caucasus, the situation with regard to the status, still remains unclear. While we watch Ukraine as arena of a brutal geopolitical competition between the West and Russia on the European theater, Georgia remains another arena of geopolitical rivalry between Russia and the West. The absence of war nowadays, doesn’t mean it will not be unleashed tomorrow, if Russia finds Georgia alienated by the West. Thus, it's safe to say that EU candidate status for Georgia is highly likely to strengthen the EU foothold in the region and have a far-reaching influence on the other states of the region.
Before the pendant conclusion of the European Commission about candidate status for Georgia some opinions are present both in Georgia and outside calling the EU on either refraining from granting the status to Georgia, or suggesting something transitional. These suggestions are largely generated by ongoing domestic political infighting in the country.
The benefits from granting candidate status to Georgia, which considerably outstrips other members of the Association Trio by the pace of fulfillment of the components of the EU Association Agreement appeared to be far more tangible, than conditional gains in case of refusal.
Let's put the questions specifically and directly. Whether it’s a prudent step to hold Georgia back from the candidate status, as some groups argue, and detach it somehow from the Association Trio in this truly extraordinary situation?
What will the EU gain and what will it lose if decides to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, and say "NO" to Georgia, or give it something different? Hardly this “cold shower” from the EU would contribute to political stability in Georgia, which is apparently important for the EU in this turbulent geopolitical environment. Georgia’s opposition groups and their supporters are highly likely to use this “NO” to embark on mass anti-governmental protests and Georgia is expected to plunge into another cycle of confrontation, turbulence, and uncertainty, with the ensuing consequences. It’s hard to imagine that the EU would be satisfied with such state of affairs in its key partner in the region.
Refusal to grant Georgia candidate status under any plausible pretext, can significantly increase not only Euro-skepticism but outright anti-Western sentiments in a sizeable part of Georgian society, providing anti-Western forces with an excellent opportunity to increase their influence and strengthen their stance. Nowadays, they are quite industrious in creating an anti-European atmosphere in society. Will the EU be satisfied with this perspective?
Pinning hope that the refusal to give a candidate’s status will force Georgia’s ruling party to become more malleable to the EU demands looks unconvinced. Quite the contrary, the care for its own political future, will make the current government far more dutybound to implement the EU-recommended reforms. The idea cultivated by some Georgian and foreign pundits and politicians that Georgia will better meet EU standards under the new government after the pre-term elections, looks rather emotional than well-calculated. If consider the balance of political powers in Georgia, as well as composition of the current political landscape, this scenario looks unrealistic.
And, last but not least,the status of the candidate for EU membership is not an act of mercy for Georgia. It will give the country a strong and unequivocal signal from the EU to take the road to justice, peace and security, or be faced, even more than before, with tension and confrontation that would not be in the interests of any party. It’s time for making extraordinary but geopolitically far-sighted decisions.
Zaal Anjaparidze, political analyst, Tbilisi, Georgia
On 16 June, the European Union and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) donated four modern boats to Georgia’s Coast Guard.
These rapide response boats with a total cost of around 5 million laris will be deployed in Poti and Batumi. They will support the Coast Guard in patrolling coastal waters and conducting effective search and rescue operations, as well as to enhance interdiction capabilities.
The main technical specifications of the boats have been tailored to the needs of the Coast Guard to ensure compatibility with the maritime surveillance equipment and systems already in place in Georgia.
“Safe and secure borders are key for citizens in Georgia, as in any country. Ensuring security of and around the Black Sea – the physical bridge between the EU and Georgia – is a shared priority for both Georgia and the EU,” said Catalin Gherman, from the EU Delegation to Georgia, during the ceremony in Poti.
The boats were donated within the project ‘Support to Integrated Border Management in Georgia’, implemented by the IOM in the framework of the EU’s ‘EU4 Security, Accountability and Fight against Crime in Georgia’ (SAFE) programme.
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EU-supported rural festival took place in Tsalka, Georgia.
The ‘Visit Tsalka’ festival was organised as a part of the EU-funded EMBRACE Tsalka project by the Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN), Tsalka Local Action Group (LAG), and Georgian Farmers’ Association.
The festival included an exhibition and sale of products from entrepreneurs, start-ups, small businesses and other EU-funded projects. There was also an educational event for young people and an exhibition and sale of children’s drawings. The proceeds from the sale of the drawings were donated to support the Ukrainian people.
Guests of the festival were also invited to explore the tourist route in Tsalka Canyon and the tourism potential of Tsalka in general.
“This festival is an excellent opportunity to discover Tsalka, support integration among locals, develop tourism potential and establish business partnerships,” said Melano Tkabladze, CENN’s Project Manager.
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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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The Deputy Foreign Minister has discussed with his Irish counterpart current issues relating to Georgia-EU relationsMonday, 13 June 2022 16:19
The sides highlighted the common values and interests, on which Georgia-Ireland relations are based, as well as the common vision of the sides on the strengthening of the rules-based international order.
Reviewing the current agenda of bilateral cooperation, the sides emphasized the importance of exchanging high-level visits in terms of further deepening cooperation and moving to a qualitatively newer level.
The conversation focused on the further development of trade-economic and sectoral cooperation. The opportunities in bilateral relations and the importance of its full use were mentioned. Emphasis was placed on the effective functioning of the Georgia-Ireland Business Council and the promotion of contacts between business circles. In this context, the focus was on visa facilitation with Ireland, which will have a significant impetus to deepen both interpersonal contacts and trade and economic ties.
One of the main issues of the meeting was Georgia's integration into the European Union and the main reforms carried out by the country within the framework of the Association Agreement. The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia reviewed the current directions of Georgia-EU relations, the country's application for EU membership and the government's commitment to the European integration process and the irreversible course of reforms.
The sides positively assessed Georgia’s progress on the implementation of the Association Agreement. It was noted that the agreement creates a good ground for Georgia's integration into the EU in various fields.
During the meeting, the focus was on the situation in the region. The sides discussed the large-scale military aggression by Russia against Ukraine, which poses significant challenges to the idea of a united, free and peaceful Europe, and to the existing security architecture.
The Georgian and Irish delegations exchanged information on efforts to support Ukraine, both at the political and humanitarian level.
The Irish side reaffirmed its unconditional support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Deputy Secretary General noted that Ireland, as a small country, shares the challenges facing Georgia and will do its utmost to maintain the urgency of the issue on the international agenda.
Teimuraz Janjalia welcomed Ireland’s strong position and active support for Georgia amid the fragile environment created in the region.
The sides discussed current issues of multilateral cooperation. The Georgian side underlined the role of Ireland as a member of the UN Security Council and the chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
During the consultations, regional security challenges and current issues on the international agenda were also discussed.
On 8 June, EU High Representative Josep Borrell announced the appointment of a new EU ambassador to Georgia, among 31 new heads of EU delegations.
Polish diplomat Pawel Herczynski will replace his Swedish colleague Carl Hartzell.
Pawel Herczynski is currently European External Action Service (EEAS) Managing Director for the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and Crisis Response, and also served as Director for Security and Defence Policy at the EEAS. Prior to that, he was Polish ambassador to the EU Political and Security Committee (PSC).
The new ambassador will be formally appointed once the relevant host country agreements have been received.
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