Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch – From June 18 to June 25, 2022

The Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch Team: Olga Chekhurska, Louis Harand, Victor Martin, Alicia Tintelin, supervised by Clelia Frouté.

06/20/2022 : Ukrainian President addresses African Union on agricultural issues and hopes to garner support. – Alicia Tintelin –

On June 20, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the African Union through a video-conference requested in April by Ukraine but long delayed by African states. While these latter wish to maintain a predominantly neutral position in the conflict provoked by Russia, Volodymyr Zelensky aspires to garner their support. The outcome of this meeting, however, is mixed: only four heads of state attended the conference themselves, which already questions the success of the Ukrainian president’s communication.

However, nearly half of the African States currently depend on wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia, and the Ukrainian president then tried to start his conference around the agricultural issues that concern to his interlocutors since the blockage of Ukrainian ports by the Russian fleet in the Black Sea still prevents the export of millions of tons of cereals and threatens the food security of many regions, notably Africa. The Chair of the African Union Commission admitted the “urgent need for dialogue” to restore this security.

For Volodymyr Zelensky, who described Africa as a «hostage» of the war during his speech, the world food crisis «will last as long as this colonial war continues». Earlier this month, Senegalese President Macky Sall told Vladimir Putin that African countries were innocent victims of the war and asked Russia to alleviate the suffering caused.

06/20/2022: The Ukrainian Parliament ratified the Istanbul Convention on June 20 -Olga Chekhurska-

The Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, ratified the Istanbul Convention on June 20. It is a human rights treaty that aims to prevent violence against women and domestic violence. The Convention sets legally binding standards for governments. Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric said “this is a huge step forward in protecting women and girls from all forms of violence, whether in Ukraine or abroad.”

According to Ukrainian analysts, ratification is an important signal on the eve of the European summit on 23 and 24 June, during which the issue of granting Ukraine the status of candidate for EU membership was discussed.

Ukraine signed the convention in 2011. The document was created on 11 May 2011 in Istanbul by the 47 member states of the Council of Europe. This is the first European agreement to combat violence against women. The Convention establishes minimum standards for the prevention of ill-treatment, the protection of victims and the prosecution of perpetrators. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted the Convention on 7 April 2011. By 2019, 34 countries had already ratified and signed the Convention, and 11 countries had signed but not ratified it. In March 2021, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree withdrawing Turkey from the agreement.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after signing a law ratifying the Istanbul Convention, said: “Its main content is simple, but extremely important. It is an obligation to protect women against violence and various forms of discrimination. We share European values. For us, human life and health are of the highest value.”

06/24/2022: Russian foreign minister says Moldova is removing all things Russian. -Victor Martin-

On June 24, during an interview with the Belarusian press, Serguei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister declared that “Moldova is trying to suppress everything that is Russian, like Ukraine”. 

This statement comes as Moldova passed a law on information on June 19 that bans all press articles and other media resources produced in countries that have not ratified the Council of Europe’s European Convention on Transfrontier Television. This is the case with Russia, which means that Russian news is no longer allowed on the territory of Moldova. 

The President of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu, replied that Moldova simply provides “an objective information space”.

06/24/2022: Bulgaria gives green light to French Presidency proposal. -Louis Harand-

With 170 votes in favour, the Parliament adopted the proposal of “Democratic Bulgaria” to give a mandate to the Council of Ministers to accept the proposal of the French Presidency on North Macedonia.

The National Assembly confirms the conditions under which Bulgaria can support any stage of the European integration process of North Macedonia, namely

– Effective implementation of the 2017 Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighbourliness and Cooperation and the protocols of the meetings of the Intergovernmental Commission under this treaty.

– Guaranteeing the rights of Bulgarians in the Republic of North Macedonia, including their inclusion on an equal footing with other nationalities in the constitution of North Macedonia.

– European guarantees on the fulfilment of the conditions referred to in points 1 and 2.

To this end, the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria should approve the draft negotiating framework and EU Council conclusions proposed by the French Presidency, subject to the following conditions

– Clarifying the text of the draft Council Conclusions in order to ensure the inclusion of Bulgarians in the Constitution of North Macedonia in the provisions that mention other nationalities, on an equal footing with those nationalities;

– To improve the proposed draft Framework for Negotiations and the proposed draft Council Conclusion, in order to reflect more clearly that nothing in the process of accession of the Republic of North Macedonia to the EU can be interpreted as a recognition by the Republic of Bulgaria of the existence of a “Macedonian language

– To ensure that good neighbourly relations remain a horizontal criterion throughout the process of accession of the Republic of North Macedonia to the EU, for the implementation of which the European Commission undertakes to inform the Council before each Intergovernmental Conference;

– Include in the Negotiating Framework a reference to the 2017 Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighbourliness and Cooperation and the protocols of the meetings of the Joint Intergovernmental Committee under Article 12 of that Treaty, in connection with the approval by the EU Council of the common positions on the EU-Northern Macedonia Intergovernmental Conferences.

The adoption of the decision to lift the veto on North Macedonia was welcomed by applause in the plenary session.


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