Tuesday

19th Mar 2019

EU ministers to speak out on Ukrainian pilot

  • Mogherini's office has published six statements on Savchenko, but they "don't produce any effects," Linkevicius said (Photo: eeas.europa.eu)

A handful of EU foreign ministers plan to speak out on Nadiya Savchenko at Monday’s (14 March) meeting in Brussels, amid a call by MEPs to broaden sanctions.

“Statements of concern from our [EU] side do not produce any effects, as this brave woman is dying in front of our eyes during this farce, which is called ‘court proceedings’ by Russia,” Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevicius told EUobserver ahead of the event.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Austrevicius: "The only right response from us must be: those who are criminals are not welcome in the EU" (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

“We must strive for more effective actions so that the people involved … bear consequences,” he said.

Savchenko is a Ukrainian fighter pilot who was, according to the EU, abducted by Russia-linked forces inside Ukraine almost two years ago and taken to Russia.

Russia says she crossed the border herself in order to plot attacks.

It subsequently put her on trial in proceedings that were discredited by international observers. Her courtroom defiance and on-off hunger strikes have made her a hero in Ukraine.

An EU source said ministers from Poland, Romania, Sweden, and the UK plan to join Lithuania on Monday.

A British foreign office spokesperson told EUobserver it can’t “pre-empt” its minister’s statement.

But the spokesperson said: “We are deeply concerned by Nadiya Savchenko’s illegal trial and detention in Russia ... We will continue to raise Ms Savchenko’s case and call for her immediate release.”

EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini is also expected to mention Savchenko in press briefings on Monday, an EU diplomat said.

But the case is not intended to feature in ministers’ formal conclusions the diplomat said.

Mogherini’s office has so far published six official statements on Savchenko to no avail.

The Polish, Romanian and Swedish ministries were not available to comment on Friday.

MEPs’ appeal

The foreign ministers' meeting comes after a cross-party group of 64 MEPs last week said those responsible for Savchenko's detention should be put under an EU visa ban and asset freeze.

They urged Mogherini to “initiate at the EU level the imposition of personal sanctions against those officials of the Russian Federation who are involved.”

They named 29 people, including Russian president Vladimir Putin because, they said “all power in the country is concentrated in [his] hands” and he is “responsible for the political decision” to detain her.

Most of the other 28 are little-known judges and prosecutors.

A parliament source told EUobserver: “Politicians have a right to ask for Putin to be on the list - then it's for diplomats to take him out and to explain that they want keep channels open and so on.”

Parliament has no formal say on EU foreign policy and member states often ignore its appeals.

It previously called for the EU to follow the US in listing Russian officials on human rights grounds over the case of slain Russian anti-corruption activist Sergei Magnitsky.

But the EU’s Russia blacklist designates only people whose actions “threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”

Petras Austrevicius, a Lithuanian liberal MEP who initiated the Mogherini letter, said the EU should target human rights abusers.

“[Russia] is becoming a criminal state … The only right response from us must be: those who are criminals are not welcome in the EU,” he said.

Russia debate

With Savchenko in mind, foreign ministers will on Monday also hold informal talks on broader Russia relations.

“Every minister round the table will have a chance to say how things are going, what problems they face with Russia,” the EU diplomat said.

“Some might make reference to sanctions, but this isn’t the official subject,” the diplomat said, referring to EU economic sanctions on Russia, which expire in July.

France puts spotlight on Ukraine in Russia peace talks

Paris talks saw France and Russia put pressure on Ukraine on ceasefire compliance despite US reports of Russian "violence". Separately, Ukraine was told it will not join the EU for at least 20 years.

West told Ukraine to abandon Crimea, document says

US moved warships out of Russia's way. Germany urged Ukraine not to fight - newly-published minutes of a Kiev crisis meeting in 2014 show how the West let Putin seize Crimea out of "fear."

News in Brief

  1. Blow for May as third vote on Brexit deal ruled out
  2. Three killed in possible 'terror' gun attack in Utrecht
  3. Third Brexit vote this week only if DUP will support it
  4. Germany's two largest banks confirm merger talks
  5. Serbian pro-democracy protests reach 15th week
  6. 'Yellow Vest' riots leave Paris shops vandalised
  7. European woman older when having first baby
  8. Majority of Germans want Merkel to stay on

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  2. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  3. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  6. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  11. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  12. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  2. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  5. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us