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European Union Geopolitical Watch – from March 12 to March 18, 2022

European Union Geopolitical Watch Team: Sara Brouwers, Victor Martin, Etienne Mathieu

03/14/2022: Olaf Scholz meets Recep Tayyip Erdogan to strengthen their cooperation: strategic and energy. -Sara Brouwers-

As part of his inaugural visit to Turkey march 14, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Olaf Scholz was received by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in an audience in Ankara to discuss developments in the context of Ukraine and Russia, as well as their respective countries’ bilateral relations.

Acknowledging Turkey’s efforts regarding the significant progress in bringing the parties together and establishing dialogue (meeting on 10 March), President Erdoğan and the German Chancellor affirmed that there could only be a diplomatic solution to this conflict. In addition to this, and in view of the several hundred thousand refugees, especially in Poland, but also in Germany and Turkey, the Chancellor stressed the need for Ukraine to defend itself «financially, but also humanitarian and with weapons».

Against this background of support, Olaf Scholz thanked the Turkish government for closing the Bosphorus passage to Russian warships in application of the Montreux Convention and «the extraordinary violation of European law and peace in Europe». He also stated that, as a result, Germany, with the help of other NATO states, will strengthen its concrete presence along NATO’s eastern border.

Furthermore, in the framework of their cooperation, the Chancellor stressed the importance of further developing economic relations, especially on energy cooperation. For the German Chancellor, «there are possibilities for cooperation with Turkey, for example in the establishment of LNG terminals on the German coast for global gas imports».

03/14/2022: The European Union adopts a fourth package of sanctions against Russia. -Victor Martin-

On March 14, the European Union (EU) adopted a fourth package of sanctions against Russia and Belarus following the invasion of Ukraine. These sanctions are directed against three sectors in particular: exports of luxury goods are banned, as well as imports of Russian iron and steel and finally European energy companies are prohibited from investing in Russia.

In addition, the EU has approved a list of 15 Russian personalities to be sanctioned, including Roman Abramovitch, the owner of Chelsea soccer club.

In addition, the European Union has also approved the declaration of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that suspends the most-favored-nation clause for Russia and the examination of the application of Belarus.

The European Union continues to take sanctions against Russia because as Valdis Dombrovskis, vice-president of the European Commission, explains, «we see that this aggression continues and that the atrocities committed by Russia against civilians continue, so we really have to keep up the pressure».

 03/15/2022 : The prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia meet the Ukrainian president in Kiev. -Sara Brouwers-

On the twentieth day of the war, the Prime Ministers of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki, of the Czech Republic Petr Fiala and of Slovenia Janez Janša met in Kiev march 3 with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Chmygal, marking the first visit by foreign leaders to the Ukrainian capital, which was under siege after the Russian invasion. The aim of the three ministers’ visit was to «reaffirm the unequivocal support of the entire European Union for the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine and to present a comprehensive package of measures in support of the Ukrainian state and society», setting aside the fact that they had no «official mandate», said a statement published on the Polish government website. During the meeting, Mateusz Morawiecki reaffirmed his willingness to integrate Ukraine into the European Union and provide them with «defensive weapons». Jaroslaw Kaczynski called for a «NATO peacekeeping mission, or possibly a larger international alliance, to be sent to defend itself».

03/15/2022: Gérald Darmanin evokes the idea of ​​autonomy for Corsica. -Etienne Mathieu-

On the evening of March 15, the French Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin reacted to the violent riots that shook Corsica. These riots are due to the assassination attempt on the Corsican separatist Yvan Colonna, on March 2. The Corsican separatist was violently attacked in his prison by another prisoner, and remains in critical condition. Demonstrations and riots broke out, accusing the French government of neglecting the problems of Corsica.

On March 15, Gérald Darmanin announced that the government was «ready to go as far as an autonomy» for the Island of Beauty. The word aroused strong reactions, because it represents a turning point for Corsica. The autonomist President of the Corsican Executive Council, Gilles Simeoni, welcomes the terms used by the Minister of the Interior, which open «a perspective» for the future of the island. He took the example of the Azores, a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic with a very large autonomy.

03/16/2022: The Ukrainian electricity network connects to the European network. -Victor Martin-

On March 16, Volodymyr Zelenksy, the Ukrainian president, declared on twitter that «Ukraine is now a member of the European Energy Union» after the Ukrainian electricity network was connected to the European network. The Ukrainian grid is historically linked to Russia’s, but as part of its partnership with the European Union, Ukraine had aimed to cut itself off from Russia and join the EU in 2023. But the Russian invasion has precipitated things and as Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the CEO of the Ukrenergo network, congratulated himself, «we have managed to accomplish in three weeks what we had to do in a year and a half!»

This change allows Ukraine to secure electrical resources: in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the latter could not afford to depend on Moscow and cannot rely solely on its own power grid in the context where its energy sources are threatened by war. It should also be remembered that Moldova and Ukraine had previously connected their electricity grids, which means that Moldova is now also connected to the European grid.

03/18/2022: Olaf Scholz exchanges with Vladimir Putin and calls for a quick ceasefire. -Etienne Mathieu-

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had a telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin on March 18. The head of government called for a ceasefire as soon as possible. He also stressed the urgency of the humanitarian situation, which requires rapid improvement.

Indeed, 3 million Ukrainians have already taken refuge outside their country, including nearly 1.4 million minors. The majority of these war refugees are hosted in Poland; many others are in Romania, Hungary and Moldova. At least 150,000 refugees from Ukraine came from another country; some are therefore refugees for the second time.

Olaf Scholz reminded the Russian president that he should advance negotiations towards a diplomatic solution. Vladimir Putin, for his part, said after the conversation – via the Russian Presidency website – that Ukraine’s demands for peace were «unrealistic». He criticized Europeans for turning a blind eye to «war crimes» on the Ukrainian side, condemning only those committed by Russian forces.

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