RIGA (Reuters) – The European Union is ready to step up sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine conflict, but the priority is to bolster a fragile ceasefire agreed in Minsk, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Friday.
Mogherini, attending a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Latvia, said the need now was to strengthen ceasefire monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a European rights and security watchdog.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union said on Thursday it had extended a freeze on the assets of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and 17 others suspected of stealing from the Ukrainian state.
It will also will lift current sanctions on four people. Diplomats said legal proceedings in Ukraine had not produced enough evidence of their role in misappropriating funds which Kiev’s new leaders allege ran into tens of billions of dollars.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe’s highest court threw out a challenge by a Hamburg-based Iranian trade bank to its inclusion on the European Union’s sanctions list on Thursday, a victory for the EU after a number of its Iran sanctions rulings were overturned by courts.
The EU had imposed an asset freeze on Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank (EIH) in 2011 as part of sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to address concerns over its nuclear program.
BRUSSELS, March 4 (Reuters) – Europe’s defence industry is
under threat unless the continent tackles a worrying drop in
spending on research and technology, the new chief executive of
the European Defence Agency said on Wednesday.
Many European governments have cut spending on defence and
related research and development since the 2008 financial
crisis, squeezing defence contractors. Only now, with the
Ukraine conflict stoking tensions, are some governments pledging
to spend more on defence.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union launched a review of the way it handles neighboring nations on Wednesday after its policy of offering closer ties to former Soviet republics led it unwittingly into confrontation with Russia.
The EU’s executive Commission also began work on a new immigration policy, which will offer expanded opportunities for legal migration as a way of reducing a wave of illegal migrants that has led to thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean sea.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The three West African states hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak asked for help from donors on Tuesday to repair the damage to their economies now that the epidemic seems to be waning.
Leaders of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone voiced confidence at a major international conference on the Ebola outbreak in Brussels that they were winning the battle but said they must remain focused on stamping out new infections.
JERUSALEM/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – High-level discussions are underway on increasing involvement of Arab powers to reinvigorate a four-member group overseen by Britain’s Tony Blair that has been seeking to mediate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 2002.
Rather than formally expanding the Middle East Quartet’s membership, the idea is to have more frequent top-level meetings with at least Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt to ensure the region is more closely engaged at a time of tumultuous change, senior diplomats based in the Middle East and Europe said.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Russia is moving ahead with the “creeping annexation” of two breakaway Georgian regions as part of an aggressive strategy to broaden its influence in the region, Georgia’s foreign minister said on Thursday.
In talks with EU and NATO officials in Brussels this week, Tamar Beruchashvili said she had underlined Georgia’s concern about agreements Moscow has signed deepening integration with the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A U.S. soldier who deserted because he thought the Iraq war was illegal could have grounds for seeking asylum in Germany but only if he can show he would have been involved in war crimes, Europe’s highest court said on Thursday.
The European Court of Justice added that even if Andre Shepherd could prove war crimes were very likely to have been committed, he would still have to show he had no alternative to desertion, such as becoming a conscientious objector.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko’s hosting of Ukraine peace talks may have a side effect at home – helping thaw relations between the European Union and a man the West calls “Europe’s last dictator”.
A meeting in Minsk on Friday with the foreign minister of neighbouring Latvia, travelling in his capacity as chair of the EU ministerial council, will mark another step in what diplomats say is an accelerating process that could see some easing of sanctions on Lukashenko and even an invitation to a May summit.