EU member states call for respect of all citizens’ rights in Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Brussels (Belga) – On Sunday, the 27 EU member states issued a joint statement calling for the rights of all citizens to be respected in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

In the statement, the EU countries condemn Hamas and its brutal terrorist attacks on Israel. They stress that Israel has the right to defend itself, albeit in line with humanitarian and international law.

Hamas is called upon to release the Israeli hostages immediately and without conditions. The 27 stress the importance of urgent humanitarian aid and say they are ready to support civilians in Gaza, while ensuring that this support is not misused by terrorist organisations. Finally, they reiterated the importance of a two-state solution.

Also on Sunday, Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, said that the bloc’s foreign policy is defined by European leaders and the 27 foreign ministers. He was responding to comments by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who had pledged Europe’s unequivocal support for Israel on Friday, drawing criticism from several MEPs. On Saturday, the Commission announced an increase in the humanitarian aid budget for Gaza from 25 million euros to 75 million euros.

On Tuesday, European leaders will hold extraordinary consultations on events in the Middle East. They will meet by video conference at 17:30. (15 October)

Lindner offers UK closer economic relationship

Marrakech (dpa) – German Finance Minister Christian Lindner has offered the UK a closer economic relationship with the EU. “If you want to intensify your trade relationship with the EU – call us,” Lindner, referring to the British government, told the BBC on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in Marrakech.

He said London had a “standing invitation” for talks with the EU on how to reduce trade barriers. “We really appreciate the United Kingdom and its values, its people,” Lindner said. Therefore, he would welcome more intensive trade relations.

The UK left the EU at the end of January 2020 and the EU customs union and single market in January 2021. Despite a far-reaching trade deal, businesses on both sides of the Channel have since complained about a huge increase in red tape, making it harder to use labour, for example. Tariffs are now in place in some industries. Britain has dropped out of Germany’s top ten of trading partners. (14 October)

Ex-minister Korčok is finalising collection of 15,000 signatures for presidential candidacy

Bratislava (TASR) – Ivan Korčok, a long-time diplomat, former head of the Permanent Representation of the Slovak Republic to the EU and former foreign minister, continues to collect signatures for his presidential candidacy. He told TASR that he is “on a very good track” to meet the legal requirement of 15,000 signatures.

“In five weeks, I have personally visited all regional towns, as well as Senec, Pezinok, Považská Bystrica and Zvolen, and on Friday I was in Štúrovo,” Korčok said, adding that he received dozens of completed petition sheets by mail every day. “So, I can say that I am on a very good way to meet the legal requirement of 15,000 signatures from citizens, and will thus be able to run for the post of head of state as a civic candidate,” he added.

Korčok announced his intention to run at the end of August. Diplomat and former foreign minister Ján Kubiš is also collecting signatures for a civic presidential candidacy. If either Korčok or Kubiš were to win the presidential election, Slovakia would for the first time have a career diplomat with a good reputation abroad as head of state. Both candidates are a guarantee that the country will remain in the European and Euro-Atlantic community.

The head of state is elected by the citizens of the Slovak Republic in direct elections by secret ballot for a five-year term. The constitution of the Slovak Republic stipulates that presidential candidates are proposed by at least 15 members of the National Council of the Slovak Republic or by citizens on the basis of a petition with 15,000 signatures. Nominations must be submitted to the House Speaker no later than 21 days after the announcement of the election.

The current President of the Slovak Republic, Zuzana Čaputová, is due to leave office in 2024. She will not stand for re-election. (14 October)

EU representatives support opening of negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina

Strasbourg (FENA) – Fifty representatives of 16 national parliaments of European Union member states, including Croatia, support the initiative of the European Union to quickly open accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, which they believe would be an incentive for the country’s progress.

At the last session in Strasbourg, the members of the Delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe managed to gather the support of many colleagues.

In November, the European Commission is due to publish a report on BiH’s progress over the past year and an assessment of whether the 14 priorities set for the country, including electoral reform, have been met.

This assessment, together with other political criteria and evaluations, should form the basis for the European Council to decide in December whether to endorse the opening of negotiations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s state representatives and numerous officials from the country are lobbying for this to happen.

In a statement released to the media by the Delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, it is expected that the support of the representatives will be followed by the governments of the EU member states, whose heads of state and government will decide whether to give the green light for the opening of accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina. (13 October)

Secretary of State Laurence Boon expressed French support for Bulgaria in Schengen

Sofia (BTA) – France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Laurence Boon expressed Paris’ support for Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen. During her first visit to Bulgaria, she said that France recognises Bulgaria’s outstanding contribution to strengthening the security of NATO’s southeastern flank in the Black Sea.

“I express France’s support for your country’s efforts to implement its important internal reforms to join the Schengen area and the euro area,” Boon said after her meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mariya Gabriel.

Bulgaria is part of the solution if one wants to tackle illegal migration and strengthen EU security, Gabriel noted.

The possibilities for cooperation with France in the field of nuclear energy were discussed by Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov and Boon.

The supply of nuclear fuel from France for unit 6 of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant has already been agreed upon, and the French side is also interested in the project for two new reactors. (12 October)

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.