Borrell calls on EU countries to ‘urgently’ deliver 1 billion euros worth of ammunition to Ukraine

Brussels (Belga) – Following a European leaders’ pledge to Ukrainian President Wolodymyr Selenskyj to speed up their arms deliveries, EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell called on EU countries to “urgently” deliver the ammunition requested by the Ukrainians. In a document from Borrell seen by AFP, he called for 1 billion euros from the European Peace Facility to be spent on buying 155 mm grenades for the Ukrainian army this month.

If the 1 billion euros were released, then the Ukrainian army could soon be supplied with 250,000 shells from EU member states’ stocks, Brussels stated.

The foreign representative called on EU countries to draw from their strategic stocks. “We must quickly mobilize the resources at our disposal and we have to make do with what we have,” Borrell said at a joint press conference with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Koeleba on 21 February.

EU defense ministers will discuss Borrell’s proposal at an informal council of ministers of defense in Stockholm on 7 March.

The EU took the historic decision to release funds for arms supplies to Ukraine immediately after the Russian invasion on 24 February of last year. Total European financial aid currently amounts to 3.6 billion euros. The money is taken from the European Peace Facility (EPF), an off-budget fund set up in 2021 to finance European foreign policy operations. Originally, the fund had a budget of 5.7 billion euros for the period until 2027, but late last year Member States decided to raise the budget by 2 billion euros.

The money is used to reimburse member states for supplies of arms and ammunition from their stockpiles. In his proposal, Borrell suggests granting “a favorable reimbursement rate, up to 90 per cent,” if the ammunition is delivered before a certain date. (March 1)

BiH starts EU project for testing new technologies in the election process

Sarajevo (FENA) – The European Union’s test project for the introduction of new technologies in the electoral process in Bosnia and Herzegovina was officially launched in the Central Election Commission (CEC) of BiH. CEC President Suad Arnautović and the EU’s Special Representative in BiH Johann Sattler emphasized that the project includes an electronic system for the identification of voters and faster transmission of election results from polling stations.

The project will be implemented at 165 polling stations in 10 municipalities/cities that have been selected for testing the electronic voter identification system, the online entry system and the quick transfer of election results from the polling station to the CEC. This is the first time that digital technologies are being tested at polling stations.

The EU’s Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Johann Sattler, said that the project provided an opportunity to test new technologies for the first time in terms of voter identification and vote counting.

“Its primary purpose is to test voter identification tools and secure communication of counted votes. The total value of this project is almost 700,000 euros,” added Sattler.

The Agency for Identification Documents, Records and Data Exchange (IDDEEA) will provide all the infrastructure for the implementation of the project, and stated that the efforts of the responsible institutions to introduce new technologies into the electoral process were innovative. (March 1)

Baerbock: guidelines and an ambassador for feminist foreign policy

Berlin (dpa) – An 80-page catalogue full of guidelines and her own ambassador: Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wants to anchor the concept of feminist foreign policy as a working principle in the Federal Foreign Office. “Women’s rights are an indicator of the state of our societies,” writes the Green politician in the foreword to the guidelines, which are to be presented in Berlin on 1 March. The concept is also to be applied to project funding and humanitarian aid.

Baerbock wants to present the new approaches together with Development Minister Svenja Schulze after the cabinet meeting. “We are pursuing a feminist foreign policy because it is sorely needed and because men and women are still not equal worldwide,” Baerbock said, explaining the new approach. It is not about “foreign policy for women, but for all members of a society.” Minister Schulze wants to present a separate concept for feminist development policy. She wants more than 90 per cent of the newly committed project funds to flow into projects that promote gender equality by 2025. The concept of feminist development policy is to be anchored in cooperation with partner countries. At least 50 per cent of the leadership positions in the development ministry are to be filled by women.

Baerbock wants to name “historically grown power structures” to overcome them and thus “promote fair participation and equality for all people worldwide.” In addition, she wants to create the post of a “Foreign Office ambassador for feminist foreign policy” from the summer onwards, primarily to work internally. “We will work hard to give our Foreign Service a more feminine face and increase the proportion of women in leadership positions,” she announced. According to the Federal Foreign Office, 49.8 percent of its employees are currently women. 27 percent of the 226 German missions abroad are headed by women. (February 28)

Kosovo and Serbia still have a long way to go after Brussels agreement

Brussels (ANSA) – During a meeting with EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovan Prime Minister Albin Kurti agreed that no further discussions were needed on the EU’s proposed agreement to normalize relations between the two countries. “We have made some progress, but more work is needed,” Borrell commented, announcing a new meeting in March to “finalize discussions on the implementation annex,” an integral part of the agreement.

The proposal was presented to the parties last September and is supported by the 27 EU Member States – as stated in the European Council conclusions of 9 February – and the United States. Italy, France and Germany played a leading role in the negotiations. This was demonstrated most recently by a letter sent by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron on the eve of the meeting in Brussels, asking Vučić and Kurti to support the proposal. The text includes several elements that constitute a de facto recognition of Kosovo by Serbia.

Vučić spoke of a “difficult meeting” with Kurti and European mediators Josep Borrell and Miroslav Lajcak. In statements made at the end of the meeting, he said he believed more meetings would be needed in the future to make progress. The first, he added, would take place on 18 March in North Macedonia on the sidelines of a mission by Borrell to the region. “Today in Brussels, we both agreed on the EU proposal supported by Germany, France, Italy and the United States without changes. I offered to sign formally, but Serbia was not ready. Negotiations on implementation will follow soon,” Kurti wrote, thanking Borrell and Lajcak. (February 27)

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