Thursday

21st Feb 2019

EU says Israel "totally wrong" on ceasefire message

The Finnish presidency of the EU has denied giving Israel a green light to continue its operations in Lebanon and suggested that Jerusalem's interpretation of Wednesday's international crisis talks in Rome was "totally wrong."

The strong message from Finnish foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja came after Israel's justice minister Haim Ramon said that divisions among world leaders meeting in Rome could be seen as "permission" for Israel to continue its offensive.

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

Mr Tuomioja met Israel's top officials on Thursday (27 July) and is due to travel to Beirut on Friday. His protest against Jerusalem's misinterpretation of the Rome conference conclusions was echoed by Berlin and Rome.

Italian prime minister Romano Prodi pointed out that "The position expressed by the conference cannot be interpreted as an authorisation."

And German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier insisted the Rome emergency talks had signalled "just the opposite," as all its participants "wanted to see an end to the fighting as swiftly as possible."

Wednesday's conference was attended by several European foreign ministers, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and UN secretary general Kofi Annan, as well as Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt but not Syria or Iran.

Under US pressure, the top-level meeting abstained from calling for an immediate ceasefire in the region - but has endorsed the idea of a peacekeeping force "under a UN mandate."

Blair to lobby Bush on UN resolution

The sensitive issue of whether to explicitly call for a ceasefire in the conflict in which at least 424 Lebanese and 52 Israelis have been killed so far will also dominate Friday's (28 July) meeting between the British and American leaders in Washington.

UK prime minister Tony Blair is planning to press US president George W. Bush to support "as a matter of urgency" a ceasefire in Lebanon as part of a UN security council resolution to be voted on next week, according to UK daily, The Guardian.

Britain and the US are isolated in their refusal to urge the two parties to immediately stop fighting, arguing the region needs a "sustainable" solution in a position viewed by some European diplomats as buying time for Israel to pound Hezbollah.

London and Washington have been circulating a text of the draft resolution which suggests a two-phased procedure to restore peace in the region.

The first phase would involve a ceasefire deal between Israel and Lebanon with a small international force deployed on the border while Israeli troops withdraw from the country.

Thee second stage would see a larger force of up to 20,000 UN-mandated troops disarming Lebanese militias - mainly Hezbollah - and helping the Lebanese army to take control of the country's southern border.

Peace plan competition

Meanwhile, Paris - currently holding the presidency of the UN security council - has prepared a competing resolution of its own.

The French draft calls for an "immediate halt to the violence" and "a handover of prisoners to a third party enjoying the trust of the two belligerents."

It also foresees the deployment of international troops in support of the Lebanese army and a buffer zone on the Isreal-Lebanon border, press reports say.

EU foreign ministers will meet for an extraordinary session in Brussels on Tuesday (1 August) to debate the bloc's position on the Middle East crisis.

Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table

EU probes into Hungary and Poland on rule of law and democracy are back on the agenda of EU affairs ministers - but with little guidance from the Romanian presidency, without a clear idea where the procedures are headed.

Calls for Tajani's resignation over Slovenia, Croatia row

The European Parliament's Italian president referred to Croatia and Slovenia as former Italian regions at the weekend, sparking outrage. Although Antonio Tajani apologised, somer former leaders and MEPs are now calling for his resignation.

MEPs call on EU countries to deal with Hungary

MEPs who launched a procedure examining the democratic situation in Hungary last year now want member states to step up efforts. The government in Budapest meanwhile accuses MEPs of attacking Hungary over migration.

Analysis

France and Germany hope to revive EU with Aachen treaty

In the face of attacks on the liberal world order and the EU, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron renew German-Franco cooperation - but their lack of political capital prevents bold visions or ambitious goals.

News in Brief

  1. Juncker pledges climate action alongside Swedish activist
  2. Swedbank brings in external help on money laundering revelations
  3. No-deal Brexit danger 'very serious', Corbyn says after Brussels meeting
  4. Tusk to back pro-EU candidates in Polish EP vote
  5. Germany rejects UK appeal on Saudi arms sales
  6. French senators decry 'dysfunction' on Macron security aide affair
  7. France to ban far-right groups over antisemitism
  8. Swedish climate activist to face Juncker in Brussels

EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news

The European Commission has branded the latest campaign by the Hungarian government as 'fake news', after Orban's government accused Juncker of pressing ahead with migration proposals that threaten the country's security.

Opinion

Italy will keep blinking in 2019

Italy's 'marriage of convenience' coalition government likes picking battles with Brussels. But with the economy now in recession, and deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini needing to keep the business lobby on board, expect Rome to blink first.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Microsoft warns EU on election hack threat
  2. Brexit talks to continue after May-Juncker meeting
  3. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  4. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  5. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says
  6. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  7. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  8. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us