You can find below the brand new paper of the institute:
You can find below the brand new paper of the institute:
Complaints about discrimination will in future be handled by an institution with stronger constitutional guarantees than the office the cases are currently assigned to, Justice Minister Judit Varga said on Facebook on Friday.
The minister said Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, had “political motives” for expressing concern in the media over bills the Hungarian government submitted to parliament last week. Varga added that the “Parliament and lawmakers are doing their job and are conducting meaningful debates on the bills in question.”
The minister said: Contrary to the allegations that have been made, the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights is set to integrate the Equal Treatment Authority (EBH) with its full powers.
The office will offer the same protections the EBH had and bodies that fail to meet equal treatment requirements will still face fines, she added.
Varga said that “every sovereign state has the right to choose its own institutional solutions.” She added that “it is not the human rights commissioner’s job to judge these.” Varga also noted that unlike the EBH, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights was an institution governed by Hungary’s constitution, adding that the commissioner is elected by parliament.
Having complaints about discrimination be handled by the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights is in line with Hungary’s EU obligations concerning the effective enforcement of equal treatment, the justice minister said.
(21. 11. 2020 via hungarytoday.hu)
Erdogan’s message comes as EU leaders consider imposing further sanctions on Turkey over Eastern Mediterranean dispute.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on the European Union for dialogue, warning the bloc not to become a “tool for enmities” during escalating tensions over the Eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey’s deployment of a vessel to search for natural gas in waters claimed by Greece set off a fierce war of words between Ankara and EU member states, who early this month extended sanctions against Ankara for another year.
The measures included allowing visa bans and asset freezes against individuals involved in contested gas exploration in the Mediterranean.
“We expect the EU to keep its promises, not to discriminate against us or at least not to become a tool to open enmities targeting our country,” Erdogan said in a video address to his ruling party congress on Saturday.
“We don’t see ourselves elsewhere but in Europe,” he added. “We envisage building our future together with Europe.”
Hours after Erdogan’s address, Ankara extended its mission in the Eastern Mediterranean until November 29, despite protests from Athens.
EU leaders are to decide in a December summit whether to impose further sanctions over Turkey’s recent activity.
Dispute flared in August
Turkey’s exploration activities remain at the centre of the tensions.
The dispute originally escalated in August when Turkey first sent exploration ship Oruc Reis into waters also claimed by Greece and Cyprus.
Ankara said it withdrew Oruc Reis last month to allow for diplomacy between the sides.
Turkey sent the vessel out again on October 12, prompting an angry response from the EU. Turkey has extended the duration of the vessel’s exploration multiple times since then.
Greece and Turkey dispute the extent of their continental shelves and their claims to hydrocarbon resources in the region.
Athens says Ankara is breaking international law by prospecting in Greek waters and has been urging the EU to reconsider its customs union to punish Turkey’s “imperial fantasies”.
Turkey insists it is within its rights in the energy-rich Mediterranean region, saying not all Greeks islands are large enough to count when it comes to delineating the extent of Greek sovereignty.
Concerns remain high over a potential military conflict between Greece and Turkey. Both have been carrying out manoeuvres in the region with frigates and fighter jets.
Message to the US
In Saturday’s speech, Erdogan also said Turkey wanted to “actively use its long and close alliance relations with the United States for a solution to regional and global problems”.
He was not among the first world leaders to congratulate US President-elect Joe Biden.
While Erdogan enjoyed close ties with US President Donald Trump, there have been tensions between the two countries over several issues.
Turkey’s purchase of a high-tech Russian S-400 missile defence system angered Washington, while Ankara has protested against the US refusal to extradite a Muslim religious leader and businessman, Fethullah Gulen, who Erdogan blames for staging a failed 2016 coup.
(21. 11. 2020 via aljazeera.com)
A new US Army headquarters will begin operating in Poland on Friday, officials have announced.
The new forward command post of the U.S. Army’s Fifth Corps is scheduled to be launched at noon in the western Polish city of Poznań, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.
Officials including Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak and the US ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, are expected to attend the high-profile launch.
The ceremony comes after Poland’s president this month ratified a major military deal with the United States under which at least 1,000 extra American troops are expected to be stationed in his country.
The new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was signed by the two countries in Warsaw in August.
Duda said on November 9 that “the US military presence strengthens the security of this part of Europe, strengthens the security of the NATO alliance, and is a guarantee that Article 5 of the [North] Atlantic Treaty will be respected.”
The deal had long been sought by Poland, a staunch US military ally fearful of Russia. Around 4,500 American troops are already stationed in Poland on a rotating basis.
The western Polish city of Poznań was in September named as the location of a forward command post of the U.S. Army’s Fifth Corps headquarters.
Lt. Gen. John Kolasheski, a senior US military officer with Polish roots, was in August introduced as the commander of the new US Army headquarters in Poland.
(20. 11. 2020 via thenews.pl)
Budget and coronavirus recovery fund blocked in rule-of-law wrangle.
Hungary and Poland blocked the EU’s historic €1.82 trillion budget-and-recovery package on Monday, setting off what top officials and diplomats branded an institutional crisis with no evident path out of the stalemate.
Even for Brussels, which often sees itself as never better than when managing an emergency, the crisis over the carefully-negotiated response to the coronavirus crisis seemed to confront the bloc with one crisis too many.
The standoff will now be the top item on the agenda when EU heads of state and government meet via videoconference on Thursday, but senior officials warned that they did not expect any resolution by then. Officials were left contemplating an open-ended delay even as EU countries are being battered by a second wave of the pandemic, with many countries in various forms of lockdown, partially paralyzing their economies.
While both Budapest and Warsaw blocked progress, many diplomats and officials placed most of the blame on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has often railed against the EU and its institutions.
“Everybody knows that this is a deadlock,” a senior official said. “We are at a crossroads and nobody knows where this is leading. We only know that the whole package cannot be approved as long as we don’t have the Hungarians on our side.”
“We will continue with consultations, but at a certain point in time, the Hungarians will have to show their cards on the table,” the official said. “Otherwise we are in deep shit.”
Hungary and Poland blocked the package during a meeting of EU ambassadors on Monday, citing opposition to a new mechanism that would allow the EU to cut off funds to a country found to be violating the rule of law in certain circumstances tied to the budget. The ambassadors were able to approve the rule-of-law mechanism itself despite those objections because it required only a qualified majority. But Hungary and Poland then used their veto power to block a step toward finalizing the so-called Own Resources Decision, a prerequisite for the bloc to borrow money for its new €750 billion recovery fund.
The two countries also signaled that they are withholding political support for the bloc’s €1.074 trillion seven-year budget, which is due to start on January 1. Officials were quick to point out that the budget-and-recovery package includes tens of billions for Hungary and Poland, essentially accusing Budapest and Warsaw of harming their own citizens.
Poland and Hungary are both major recipients of EU funds — and have been very heavily hit by the second wave of the coronavirus. Officials and diplomats said that Orbán had refused to budge even after a series of meetings and personal entreaties, including from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Council President Charles Michel, and top officials from France, Italy, Spain and Portugal — some of the countries worst affected by the coronavirus.
“Even after having had discussions with the German chancellor and the pressure from the southern countries,” the senior official said. “Even after all that, and even with all the money that is at stake … there is no movement. They are just fully entrenched.”
“Even in tete-a-tetes or very private conversations, nobody sees how this can be solved. If you are confronted with one partner who doesn’t understand what’s at stake, how urgently this is needed, there is no sense of logic,” the official said.
Fudge found wanting
Some diplomats said the EU was paying the inevitable price for not fully resolving the rule-of-law dispute during the July summit when the budget-and-recovery package was approved. To clinch a deal after long negotiations, leaders agreed there would be a link in the budget to rule-of-law standards, but left the wording open to interpretation.
“It’s not the end of the story, we are now entering a political phase,” one senior EU diplomat said. “But if the paralysis goes on, we risk finding ourselves with a very reduced budget and only mandatory spending, and no commitment on structural funds, foreign policy etc.”
In fact, the options are quite limited.
Even if the 25 other heads of state and government on the European Council were willing to surrender, the seven-year budget requires agreement of the European Parliament, which fought hard in protracted negotiations to fashion the rule-of-law mechanism. Some MEPs had only reluctantly accepted the deal, saying the provision was not tough enough.
And while, theoretically, the recovery plan could be adopted outside the EU’s budget — as an “intergovernmental agreement” between countries — European Commission officials had carefully considered that route last spring, and dismissed it as overly complicated and time-consuming, potentially causing a repeat of many difficulties faced in managing the eurozone debt crisis.
The EU institutions and many EU national governments have complained for years about what they view as backsliding by Warsaw and Budapest when it comes to rule of law and other fundamental principles of democracy. But Hungarian and Polish officials said they were being blackmailed by Brussels, and refusing to surrender after years of being held to unfair double standards.
“There is no clear objective criteria or clear definition of principles of rule of law, so you cannot use it as a tool for [a] concrete sanctioning mechanism,” Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga told reporters.
“The political blackmailing is a very bad and irresponsible tactic from the European Parliament and some member states,” the minister said. “It is not our task to find [a] solution to the problem.”
Polish officials were equally defiant.
“This is an issue that will determine if Poland is a sovereign subject in the EU community, or it will be politically and institutionally enslaved,” Poland’s justice minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, told reporters. “It’s not about a rule of law … but about political and institutional slavery.”
More obstacles ahead
There is still a long road ahead — and multiple potential hurdles — for the bloc’s €1.8 trillion package to become a reality. The seven-year budget will need to win support in the European Parliament and garner unanimous support in the Council before it can come into effect. The Own Resources Decision also needs unanimous support in the Council, before being ratified by member states’ national parliaments.
Even if a temporary political fudge could be found in the Council with Poland and Hungary, national parliaments in Budapest and Warsaw will have the opportunity to in effect veto the funding arrangements for the €750 billion recovery fund, if they so choose — adding extra pressure on negotiators. The national parliaments’ ratification is, however, a double-edged sword. Some parliaments in countries such as Finland are unlikely to ratify the Own Resources Decision if legislators feel that Hungary and Poland were given too many concessions on the rule-of-law front.
While the decision to block progress did not come as a surprise, there was still an explosion of outrage at Hungary and Poland for standing in the way of what many view as a landmark funding plan.
Germany’s Europe minister, Michael Roth, said no country had any reason to oppose the rule-of-law provision unless it intended to violate EU principles. “If you adhere to the principles of the rule of law, then you have nothing to fear,” he said.
France’s Europe minister, Clément Beaune, insisted a compromise would be found but said Paris was not backing down from its support for the rule-of-law mechanism. “The blocking by Hungary and Poland of the European budget does not call into question our determination on recovery and on the rule of law,” Beaune tweeted.
Manfred Weber, the German leader of the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament, insisted that the rule of law provision did not unfairly target Hungary, Poland or any country. “The peoples of Europe have one single enemy at the moment, and that is the coronavirus, and they expect us to deliver now,” he said.
Iratxe García, the leader of the socialist group in the Parliament, said: “Blocking the EU budget is unfair to all Europeans and it only hurts citizens, also Polish and Hungarians.”
Still, the senior EU official said it appeared that Orbán was enjoying his spot at the center of the storm.
“This drama is part of the negotiations and he knows that,” the senior official said. “The more we talk about him the more he likes it.”
(16. 11. 2020 via politico.eu)
President Donald Trump said on Twitter that President-Elect Joe Biden did defeat him in this month’s election, but claimed he only appears to have done so because “the Election was Rigged.”
The president continued his campaign against the election results early Sunday, claiming—again without providing any evidence to support his assertions—that electoral officials have engaged in electoral fraud to cheat him out of the election.
The president’s team has resorted to long-shot litigation and conspiracy theories to dispute the election results. Trump has ordered multiple investigations and recounts in key swing states, though experts have said his chances of overturning Biden’s significant leads are incredibly slim.
Regardless, the president has been appealing to his political and media allies, plus his base, to push back on the result. Reports suggest, however, that Trump has privately accepted his defeat and is simply fighting back for the sake of appearance.
Trump tweeted Sunday morning: “He won because the Election was Rigged. NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left privately owned company, Dominion, with a bad reputation & bum equipment that couldn’t even qualify for Texas (which I won by a lot!), the Fake & Silent Media, & more!”
As with many of Trump’s tweets since the election, Twitter flagged Sunday morning’s post as “disputed.”
Election officials have said there is no evidence of electoral fraud or irregularities. Trump and his team have failed to provide any evidence to suggest otherwise, with lawyers even forced to admit in court there is no substance to their legal challenges.
Trump was replying to a tweet by Watters’ World, the Twitter account of Fox News anchor Jesse Waters’ show. “There’s something that just doesn’t feel right about this,” the account wrote, quoting the Fox News anchor.
“Joe Biden didn’t earn it, he didn’t really even campaign. He thought was going to lose, you could see it. He ran a losing campaign. So 10 days after the election, how’s he ahead?”
Trump and his allies have repeatedly cited Biden’s number of mail-in ballots as evidence of fraud. The president initially seemed ahead on Election Day because of his support among in-person voters, ballots from whom were counted first in some states. But this apparent “lead” was overhauled by Biden as early mail-in absentee ballots were counted.
These broke heavily in Biden’s favor, in part because Trump urged supporters not to submit absentee votes and baselessly claimed they were susceptible to voter fraud. The president and his allies have falsely tried to frame these votes as illegal and proof of the supposed plot against him.
Though the race seemed tight on Election Day, Biden is projected to have won a comfortable victory. He is expected to collect 306 electoral college votes; far above the 270 threshold needed to win and the same number garnered by Trump in 2016. Biden also beat Trump in the popular vote by more than 5.5 million ballots.
(15. 11. 2020 via newsweek.com)
Justice Minister Judit Varga said that Hungary was treated as a “black sheep just for rejecting migration”, in an interview published in the German daily Die Welt on Friday.
Varga praised the work of the European Union’s German presidency, saying its “balance is positive … despite the coronavirus epidemic” ravaging the continent. The priority now should be distributing the 750 billion euro recovery fund, allocated to offset the fallout of the pandemic, as quickly as possible, she said.
She noted that under German presidency, the Council and the European Parliament have concluded an agreement on making EU funding conditional on adhering to rule of law regulations. Varga called the agreement a “bad compromise” that endangered the rule of law rather than protecting it.
One consequence of the agreement could be that Brussels could employ “ideological blackmail” against member states by forcing them to adopt its political views, she said.
Varga noted that the European Council had in July adopted an agreement saying that the EU’s multiannual budget and the recovery fund could not be tied to rule of law issues. The Hungarian government views all packages running afoul of that agreement as unacceptable, she said.
The core values of the EU should be protected by open debate and “unanimous amendments to the EU treaty,” she said.
“We want to protect our Christian roots. We don’t want a multicultural society. We want to keep marriage as a bond between a woman and a man … Certain issues are decided by the states,” Varga said.
(14. 11. 2020 via hungarytoday.hu)
Poland “cannot accept” plans to link the rule of law and access to EU funds, the country’s prime minister has said.
Mateusz Morawiecki said in a social media post on Thursday that he had sent a letter to European Union leaders to outline Poland’s “perspective on conditionality mechanisms related to the EU budget.”
Morawiecki said Poland could not accept a proposed link between access to EU funds and respect for the rule of law because the mechanism was based on “arbitrary and politically motivated criteria.”
“In recent days I have sent a letter to EU leaders showing our perspective on conditionality mechanisms related to the EU budget,” Mateusz Morawiecki said on Facebook.
He added that “discretionary mechanisms, based on arbitrary and politically motivated criteria, cannot be accepted because they do not take into account the essential, substantive aspects of European law.”
He argued that “their adoption could lead to sanctioning the application of double standards and different treatment of individual EU member states.”
Morawiecki also said that “the proposed solutions are against the conclusions of the July 2020 European Council and raise serious legal doubts in light of the wording of the Treaties.”
Such an approach could pose “serious threats to the rule of law in the EU,” he insisted.
“That is why Poland cannot accept this version of the mechanism as it would lead to the primacy of political and arbitrary criteria over a substantive assessment,” Morawiecki wrote.
His letter was sent to European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, European Council head Charles Michel, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to Polish state news agency PAP.
Morawiecki’s letter comes after negotiators from the European Parliament and the German presidency of the EU last week reached an agreement on the rule of law mechanism for the bloc’s 2021-2027 budget, a push that has met with criticism from Poland and Hungary, the PAP news agency reported.
Under the proposal, which still needs to be approved by European lawmakers and the EU Council, a decision to freeze funds for a member state found in breach of the EU’s rule of law principles could be passed by a qualified majority, the news agency said.
(13. 11. 2020 via thenews.pl)
Macron and Kurz each promised ‘a Europe that protects’ but Europe is still waiting.
The Europe that protects is coming, just wait a few minutes — or years.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz met French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Tuesday, speaking by videoconference with other top EU leaders in an effort to show resolve and determination in responding to recent terror attacks.
But their efforts only highlighted the slow and inconsistent responses from Brussels and national capitals alike, despite many deaths and leaders repeatedly proclaiming the need for urgency.
At a news conference, Kurz, Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Council President Charles Michel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pledged to speed up legislation that was proposed five years ago after the attacks that killed 130 people at multiple locations in and around Paris.
The somber anniversary of that 2015 attack will be observed on Friday when EU interior ministers will discuss a new draft statement put forward by France and Austria on how to address terrorism.
But it is also more than two years since Austria adopted the slogan “A Europe that Protects” for its presidency of the Council of the EU, and more than a year since Macron made that same phrase the clarion call of an ambitious proposal for greater European integration.
Since then, however, little has been done, with an exception being the setting up of a European border and coast agency, although the process has not been completed. And in response to the recent violence, including the beheading of a teacher in France, officials are once again falling back on tired proposals such as programs aimed at encouraging better integration of immigrants, and populist messages about tightening border controls.
“The priority is to fully implement all the measures that we adopted in 2015 after the terrorist attacks of that time,” Macron said Tuesday, referring to a package of measures that included stronger cooperation among police forces, joint databases and better intelligence sharing.
Both Kurz and Macron stressed the need for better protection of external borders to ensure the survival of the visa-free Schengen travel area. The Schengen zone once again became a target of criticism after investigators revealed that the assailant who killed three people in a knife attack in Nice last month was born in Tunisia and reached France as a migrant via Italy. The attacker, who was carrying a copy of the Quran when he stabbed worshippers in a church, is believed to have reached the island of Lampedusa by boat, like many migrants from North Africa.
In addition to the Nice attack, and the beheading of the teacher, Samuel Paty, who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class as part of a lesson on free speech, a gunman killed four people and wounded 23 others in Vienna. Austrian authorities later said the attacker was a 20-year-old “Islamist terrorist.”
The recent attacks triggered yet another debate on the role of online platforms in promoting fundamentalist Islam. Such platforms are part of the focus of the draft statement on how to tackle radicalization that interior ministers will discuss on Friday.
Macron on Tuesday reiterated his support for Brussels’ efforts to curb the online spread of terrorist content, including the removal of such material within one hour after it is reported.
But while the leaders on Tuesday voiced clear consensus on the need for stronger protection of the EU’s external borders, several of them sought to reject the idea of tension between Christianity and Islam.
“The issue here is not, and we also agreed on this today, about a conflict between Islam and Christianity,” Merkel said.
Rutte stressed that the fight against extremism was a common one. “There are major, major societal issues across the European Union,” he said. “Unfortunately we all have to fight against organizations and individuals who deeply hate the values that we regard as our most important assets: democracy, rule of law and freedom of expression.”
Rutte added, “We should never create or fuel discourse in our societies by singling out groups of people because of their origin or their religion. As Chancellor Kurz said, this is not a conflict between Christians and Muslims or between Austrians and migrants — no. This is a fight between civilization and barbarism.”
According to one diplomat, the convergence between Macron and Kurz in the fight against terrorism was also the convergence of two young leaders eager to appear tough. Macron is facing a battle for re-election in one and a half years and is determined to move to the right, to leave little room for his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen. Kurz, meanwhile, has long taken a hard line on migration, and is competing to be the new face of the center-right European People’s Party ahead of Merkel’s expected retirement at the end of next year.
Von der Leyen announced that the Commission would work to develop an EU-wide program to promote the integration of migrants and refugees. Michel talked about the need to train imams “to fight against extremist ideologies.”
But it was Macron, as host of Tuesday’s meeting, who faced a question about whether his recently toughened rhetoric, seeking to tamp down on migration and radical Islam and to more tightly control the EU’s external borders, signalled a change from his previous push of more progressive ideals.
“I reassure you on the fundamentals that remain the same,” he said, “but also point out the pragmatism that we should have to confront the threats.”
(10. 11. 2020 via politico.eu)
After Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election, Warsaw’s relations with Washington are expected to be as strong as ever, the Polish prime minister’s top aide has said, refuting claims.
“World leaders, including Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, have congratulated the new president of the United States on his election,” Michał Dworczyk told public broadcaster Polish Radio on Monday.
“Contrary to opinions and emotions among some politicians and commentators, I am convinced that Polish-American relations will be as strong as ever, and that our alliance will continue to be strengthened,” he added.
Democrat Joe Biden captured the US presidency on Saturday as voters narrowly rebuffed Republican incumbent Donald Trump’s tumultuous leadership and embraced Biden’s promise to fight the coronavirus pandemic and fix the economy in a divided nation, the Reuters news agency reported.
The Polish president congratulated Biden in a Twitter post on Saturday.
“Congratulations to Joe Biden for a successful presidential campaign,” Duda said in his tweet.
“As we await the nomination by the Electoral College, Poland is determined to upkeep high-level and high-quality Polish-US strategic partnership for an even stronger alliance,” he added.
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau has also sent his congratulations to Biden and running mate US Senator Kamala Harris.
“Congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their electoral victory. We’re looking forward to working with the new U.S. administration,” Rau tweeted on Saturday.
“We remain determined to further develop our strategic partnership and strengthen transatlantic relations,” he added.
Warsaw and Washington last month signed an intergovernmental deal to work together in developing nuclear energy in Poland, the latest in a series of bilateral agreements under the Trump administration.
The Polish president said last year that his country enjoyed a win-win relationship with America in which both nations benefited from pursuing their convergent interests.
(9. 11. 2020 via thenews.pl)