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Newsline: Diplomats say EU could agree to new sanctions on Chinese firms next week

EU sanctions on Chinese firms accused of funnelling banned European goods to the Russian military could be agreed as early as next week, according to diplomatic sources. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/eu-could-agree-sanctions-chinese-093000864.html) Eight companies based in mainland China and Hong Kong are on a draft list of entities accused of reselling European chips and microelectronics that can be used in high-grade weaponry, such as cruise missiles. As part of previous sanctions packages, Russian buyers have been banned from accessing such goods that are made in Europe. The sanctions would be sure to ratchet up tensions between the European Union and China, which has repeatedly warned Brussels that it will retaliate.

Newsline: EU’s top diplomat pledges to send human rights envoy to Cuba

The European Union will send a special human rights envoy to Cuba this year to discuss the aftermath of anti-government protests in July 2021, but the EU’s top diplomat said it will not “impose” demands on the Communist-run Caribbean nation. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, on a visit to Cuba this week, said EU Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore would visit the island in late November “to analyze the situation created before, during and after the demonstrations and arrests.” (https://neuters.de/world/eu-send-human-rights-envoy-cuba-will-not-impose-demands-2023-05-26/) Borrell said the European Union, Cuba’s top trade partner, would stop short of making demands on the government despite disagreements over human rights. The 27-member EU has repeatedly rejected the United States´ Cold War-era trade embargo, and Washington putting Cuba on a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Newsline: EU top diplomat pledges ‘mutual respect’ with Cuba

The European Union´s top diplomat said in Havana on Thursday that the 27-member bloc remains Cuba´s top trade partner, and one committed to “mutual respect” despite U.S. sanctions and the communist-run island´s increasing overtures towards Russia. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, during his first public appearance on a four-day trip to Cuba, told a group of local entrepreneurs the European Union was also the second-largest source of tourists to Cuba, behind Canada. “Despite all the limitations [and] the restrictive measures of the U.S. blockade, which does not make things easy, we are [Cuba´s] principal trade partner,” Borrell said. (https://neuters.de/world/eu-remains-cubas-top-trade-partner-committed-mutual-respect-top-diplomat-says-2023-05-25/) The United States imposed a trade embargo on Cuba shortly after Fidel Castro´s 1959 revolution, a relic of the Cold War which continues to complicate financial and banking transactions with the Caribbean island nation. Such sanctions, Cuba says, have contributed to its recent drive to increase commercial and trade ties with Russia, which has also faced sanctions from both the United States and the European Union.

Newsline: Chinese ambassador sparks European outrage

European countries were demanding answers from Beijing after its top diplomat in Paris questioned the sovereignty of former Soviet republics, in comments that could undermine China’s efforts to be seen as a potential mediator between Russia and Ukraine. The remarks by China’s ambassador to France Lu Shaye, who said during a television interview that former Soviet countries don’t have “effective status in international law,” have caused diplomatic consternation, especially in the Baltic states. (https://lite.cnn.com/2023/04/24/china/china-ambassador-lu-shaye-baltic-soviet-states-europe-intl-hnk/index.html) Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia would be summoning Chinese representatives to ask for clarification, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis confirmed. Officials including from Ukraine, Moldova, France and the European Union also all hit back with criticisms of Lu’s comments.

Newsline: EU top diplomat pledges to keep pushing for settlement in Sudan

The European Union will keep working for a political settlement to the conflict in Sudan despite the recent evacuation of diplomatic staff and other EU citizens from the country, the bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Monday. “We have to continue pushing for a political settlement. We cannot afford that Sudan implodes because it would send shockwaves throughout the whole of Africa,” Borrell said before a meeting with EU foreign ministers. (https://neuters.de/world/eu-will-keep-pushing-settlement-sudan-borrell-says-2023-04-24/) Borrell added that the EU’s ambassador to Sudan was still in the country. “The captain is the last one leaving the ship. He is in Sudan but no longer in Khartoum,” Borrell said.

Newsline: EU ambassador to Sudan assaulted

The European Union’s ambassador to Sudan was assaulted at his home, said Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign affairs chief. He called the incident “a gross violation of the Vienna Convention,” adding that “security of diplomatic premises and staff is a primary responsibility of Sudanese authorities and an obligation under international law.” (https://news.yahoo.com/top-us-diplomat-says-fighters-144049162.html) Violence first broke out across Sudan on Saturday when clashes erupted between forces loyal to the two rival generals, who had been jockeying for power following a 2021 military coup that they orchestrated together.

Newsline: German top diplomat to voice united EU line on China

Europe must not turn a blind eye to the tensions between China and Taiwan because a military escalation in the region would be a “worst-case scenario” for the global economy, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Thursday. Speaking during a visit to China, Baerbock struck a different tone to French President Emmanuel Macron, who warned the European Union last week not to get “caught up in crises that are not ours” with regard to Taiwan. “Germany and the European Union are economically vulnerable, which means that we cannot be indifferent to the tensions in the Taiwan Strait,” Baerbock said – in an audio file provided by her ministry – during a stopover in the Chinese port of Tianjin. (https://neuters.de/world/baerbock-warns-europe-against-turning-blind-eye-tensions-over-taiwan-2023-04-13/) Macron’s comments drew a backlash in the United States and Europe as they were widely perceived as taking a weak line on Taiwan and a gift to what analysts called Beijing’s goal of dismantling transatlantic unity. As a result, the stakes of Baerbock’s inaugural China trip have risen, with many EU members hoping Germany will use this opportunity to set out a clear and united EU line on China.

Newsline: US and EU ambassadors criticized at Kremlin ceremony

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday told the new U.S. and EU ambassadors in blunt language that their countries were responsible for a dramatic deterioration in relations since Russia sent its armed forces into Ukraine last year. The ambassadors were among 17 who formally presented their diplomatic credentials to Putin at a televised ceremony in the Kremlin. Putin told new U.S. ambassador Lynne Tracy that U.S. support for a revolution in Ukraine in 2014 had led to the current situation where Russia and Ukraine were in conflict. He said relations were in “a deep crisis” that was “based on fundamentally different approaches to the formation of the modern world order”. “Dear Madam Ambassador, I know you may not agree, but I cannot but say that the United States’ use … of such tools as support for the so-called ‘colour revolutions’, support in this regard for the coup in Kyiv in 2014, ultimately led to today’s Ukrainian crisis,” Putin said. Putin took a similar line with the new EU ambassador, Roland Galharague, who took up his position in September, telling him that “the European Union initiated a geopolitical confrontation with Russia”. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/putin-berates-us-eu-ambassadors-kremlin-ceremony-2023-04-05/) In his opening remarks, Putin said Russia was open to constructive partnership with every country and would not isolate itself, despite the complex situation in the world.

Newsline: EU’s top diplomat says China should not mediate peace in Ukraine

China cannot be a mediator in the war in Ukraine as it leans too much toward Russia but it could play the role of facilitator to reach a peace deal with Moscow, the European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, told a panel at the Spanish capital Madrid. “China doesn’t call for a withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.” But China should use its influence over Russia to pressure for peace in Ukraine, he added. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/china-could-facilitate-not-mediate-peace-ukraine-eus-borrell-2023-03-31/) In Borrell’s view, the only peace plan on the table is the one presented by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in November, including demands to withdraw Russian troops and restore Ukraine’s territory to the status quo before Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Borrell’s comments echoed the call by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Beijing for Chinese leader Xi Jinping to talk to the Ukrainian president and learn first-hand about Kyiv’s peace formula. Beijing last month put forward its own 12-point peace plan and called for a comprehensive ceasefire in the conflict.

Newsline: EU top diplomat urges Israel to disavow minister’s comments on Palestinians

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called on Monday on the Israeli government to disavow a minister’s comments that there was no Palestinian history or culture and no such thing as a Palestinian people. Borrell told reporters in Brussels that Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s comments “certainly cannot be tolerated”. “I call on the Israeli government to disavow those comments and to start working together with all parties to defuse tensions,” Borrell said. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/eu-top-diplomat-borrell-urges-israel-disavow-ministers-comments-palestinians-2023-03-20/) “I have to deplore these unacceptable comment by Minister Smotrich. It is wrong, it is disrespectful, it is dangerous, it is counter-productive to say this kind of things in a situation which is already tense,” he added.