Belgian Prime Minister De Croo responds to Putin: “As far as Belgium is concerned, you couldn’t have a more threatening situation”

Brussels (Belga) – Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo underlined the seriousness of the escalation of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine at the United Nations headquarters in New York on September 21. “We are here at the seat of multilateralism, at a time when one of its founding members is violating all the rules of multilateralism and attacking a former colony. As far as Belgium is concerned, you couldn’t have a more threatening situation.”

De Croo arrived at the UN headquarters on the day Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a partial mobilization to reinforce troops in Ukraine and expressed support for the referenda in the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia, which are seen in the West as a stepping stone to Russian annexation. Putin also lashed out harshly at the West, including allusions to nuclear retaliation.

“What we are witnessing today is unprecedented. I think that even in the most difficult period of the Cold War, there have never been such direct threats about the use of nuclear weapons,” De Croo said. But it is not the first time Moscow has threatened to use nuclear weapons, and Belgium and NATO must maintain their dual response, according to the prime minister: “Not to be intimidated, but not to throw oil on the fire either”.

In an interview, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for new sanctions against Russia, but according to De Croo priority must be given to the rapid disconnection from Russian gas and oil. “That has an impact. At first we thought it would take years, but now it is more a matter of months.” In the meantime, Europe must also increase efforts to clarify to the rest of the world that it is not Western sanctions, but Russian aggression at the root of global instability, De Croo concluded. (September 22)

Brussels in favor of Slovenia’s candidacy for the UN Security Council

New York (STA) – The European Commission takes a favorable stance on Slovenia’s candidacy for a non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council for the period of 2024-2025, even though the Commission not directly involved in the selection of candidates, European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič told STA on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York.

“Slovenia is a member of the European family that would defend the values ​​of multilateralism and the UN Charter much better than Belarus, whose regime persecutes dissidents and its own people, while at the same time helping Russia in its outrageous aggression against Ukraine. In fact, Belarus does not deserve membership, and the sympathies of the European Commission are quite clear here,”

stressed European Commissioner Janez Lenarčič.

According to the Slovenian Commissioner, Russia has aggravated the global humanitarian crisis with its attack on Ukraine, which the EU is trying to alleviate, while Moscow is trying to blame the problems on the West or the sanctions that were introduced as a result of the war.

“Of course, this is not true in the slightest, because none of the sanctions relates to food, agricultural products or fertilizers and the like,” Lenarčič asserted in an interview with STA, adding that the Russian attack on Ukraine exacerbated a crisis that had already arisen with the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and other conflicts. (September 21)

European Commissioner criticizes a lack of progress in solving Slovakia’s Roma issue

Košice (TASR) – The European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, sees a lack of improvement in the situation of marginalized Roma communities in Slovakia, despite the available resources from European funds. “The European Union supplies a lot of funds for this purpose, but we have to see that these funds are used in the right way and really help these communities to improve their lives,” she said during her visit to eastern Slovakia on September 21.

Dalli visited the Roma settlement Habeš in eastern Slovakia and discussed with representatives of non-governmental organizations in Košice. Based on her experience, she concluded that many things still need to be changed, despite some progress in areas such as housing and education. “An important aspect that I still saw is the problem of segregation, where the Roma community is cut off from the rest of society. And that’s what we don’t want to happen. We talk about the inclusion of the Roma, that’s our policy,” she said.

She considers the education of Roma children and adults, as well as good projects, to be essential. “Without education, it will not be possible to break the vicious circle of poverty,” she concluded. The European Commissioner pointed out that many children from the settlements are still not attending school. “At the same time, we would like to see children attending regular and not segregated schools,” she said. (September 21)

Bulgarian Agency BTA becomes seat of the Association of Balkan News Agencies

Burgas (BTA) – Bulgaria becomes the seat of the Association of Balkan News Agencies (ABNA) – Southeastern Europe (SE). The idea to create an Association of Balkan News Agencies arose in September 1994 at a meeting of the representatives of information agencies from the Balkans in Sofia. The first General Assembly of the informal ABNA-UEE took place in June 1995 in Thessaloniki, Greece. The aim of the organization is to enable the development of cooperation between news agencies from the region, as well as to contribute to the establishment of a climate of peace, friendship and cooperation in the Balkans.

The director general of the Bulgarian News Agency (BTA), Kiril Valchev, will be the general secretary of the organization with a mandate of three years. This was accepted by a full majority of representatives of news agencies from 11 countries, participants in the 30th ABNA-UEE General Assembly, which BTA hosted in Burgas.

The director general of the Greek agency ANA-MPA, Emilios Perdikaris, was elected as the chairman of ABNA-UEE. The next assembly of the Association will take place in Thessaloniki, Greece, in the spring of 2023. The Republic of Turkey will host ABNA-EU in 2024. (September 19)

German data retention overturned after ECJ ruling – what’s next?

Luxembourg/Berlin (dpa) – With its ruling on German data retention, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) has set clear guidelines for the storage of telecommunications data. Now the German government must decide what a possible successor regulation might look like. The most important questions and answers:

What exactly did the ECJ decide?

The European Court of Justice actually repeated what it has most frequently said on the subject in recent years: The storage of communications data without any reason – for example, who is calling whom from which location and when – is impermissible. An exception applies in the event of a serious threat to national security. However, the concept of a threat to national security is narrowly defined: As recently as April, the ECJ ruled on data retention in Ireland that serious crimes such as murder are not covered. According to the ruling, IP addresses can be stored – but only to combat serious crimes. The ECJ therefore does not put a definitive stop to data retention.

How useful is data retention anyway?

In recent years, advocates had argued primarily with the benefits of this instrument for solving cases of sexual child abuse. After all, the IP address of the perpetrator who posts pertinent photos or videos on the Internet and shares them with others is often the only clue for investigators. A large proportion of the investigations into child pornography on the Internet that the German police deal with are triggered by tips from the non-profit child protection organization NCMEC. In three out of four cases, the perpetrator can be identified without warrantless data retention. According to estimates, the success rate would increase to over 90 percent if the investigators had access to automatically stored data from telecommunications companies.

How do other EU countries handle data retention?

Data retention is a hot potato throughout Europe. Many EU member states use some form of data retention or are drafting legislation to that effect. Regulations have repeatedly ended up before the ECJ in recent years. On September 20, together with the ruling on Germany, the ECJ overturned a regulation from France on data retention for combating market abuse crimes. In April, the ECJ ruled that the Irish scheme was illegal. Two years ago, a Belgian scheme was also declared incompatible with EU law. (September 20)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Wednesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.