27th Oct 2016


Eastern neighbourhood in the forefront this WEEK

  • The Maidan in Kiev. Van Rompuy will be visiting Ukraine Monday (Photo: Christopher Bobyn)

The EU this week will see a flurry of visits to and from the eastern neighbours - Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia - as Russia continues to stir trouble in the region.

On Monday (12 May), foreign affairs ministers in Brussels will consider whether to expand the Russian travel ban to more officials following the "illegal" referendum in eastern Ukraine on Sunday.

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The same day, EU council chief Herman Van Rompuy will travel to Ukraine where he is to meet Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

On Tuesday, Yatsenyuk is set to come to Brussels and meet EU commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Van Rompuy then travels to Georgia and Moldova, with whom the EU is speeding up the signature of an association agreement, now scheduled to take place in June.

Russian vice-premier Dmitry Rogozin travelled to the separatist Moldovan region of Transnistria where 1,500 Russian troops are stationed. He offered support to the separatists who seek Crimean-style annexation and criticised Moldova's government for wanting to sign the EU association agreement.

He also delivered ballots to Transnistria residents, which were subsequently seized by the Moldovan authorities.

Rogozin, a former Brussels-based Russian ambassador to Nato known for his confrontational style accused Romania and Ukraine for "following orders from the US" when closing their airspace to his plane and threatened that the "next time, I will fly in a TU-160 bomber."

Moldovan Prime Minister Lurie Leanca, along with his entire government, is expected in Brussels on Thursday for meetings with the EU commission.

That same day, the top candidates for the EU commission post from the main parties in the upcoming EU elections will hold another televised debate from the European Parliament from 21.00 Brussels time.

The Eurovision debate - organised by the same network who carried the Eurovision Song Contest last week - will be broadcast live in 15 EU countries plus on the international news channels Euronews, TV5 Monde and Deutsche Welle. A full list of tv channels, webstreams and radio transmissions can be found here.

Meanwhile, in Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, for the third time in three weeks. Lagarde is tipped for a top EU post after the EU elections.

The week ends Saturday with an Open Day in the EU institutions - the European Commission, the EU diplomatic service, the European Council and the European Parliament will be open for the public to see the meeting rooms where key decisions are taken.

Poland defies EU on rule of law

Prime minister Szydlo said the European Commission concerns over rule of law in Poland were political grudges.

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