European Union

Loss of European Union influence at UN put lives at risk

United NationsNew York  - The European Union's failure to strongly defend human rights has endangered human lives in Sri Lanka as more countries oppose interfering in domestic politics, the European Council on Foreign Relations said Thursday.

The body's UN experts said China and Russia this year blocked EU efforts in the UN Security Council to force the Sri Lankan government to release thousands of civilians caught in the fighting with Tamil Tigers rebels.

EU seeks to boost civilian help to Afghanistan, condemns bombing

EU seeks to boost civilian help to Afghanistan, condemns bombing Stockholm  - The West should work with the Afghan people, "not bomb them", French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Saturday ahead of European Union talks on how to boost the bloc's civilian help to the war-torn nation.

The informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Stockholm was taking place a day after a NATO airstrike targeting two Taliban-hijacked oil tankers killed some 60 people, including civilians, in Kunduz.

Turkish foreign minister: Turkey will strengthen EU

Turkish foreign minister: Turkey will strengthen EU Stockholm  - Turkey will strengthen the European Union even if the road to future membership in the bloc is "long and stony," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Saturday.

The country is undergoing a "silent revolution" and carrying through reforms that "were unthinkable just a few years ago," he wrote in an op-ed article in the Stockholm daily Dagens Nyheter.

Turkey aimed to become one of the world's 10 largest economies and become "indispensable" for the EU's economic force, he said.

Israel to announce settlement freeze soon, EU says

Italian Foreign Minister Franco FrattiniStockholm  - The European Union expects Israel to announce a freeze of its settlement activity in the Palestinian territories ahead of key talks in New York later this month, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Friday.

"We are optimistic that Israel will accept a reasonable solution on the freezing of settlements," Frattini said on the sidelines of an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Stockholm.

EU to continue with twin-track approach on Iran

European UnionStockholm  - The European Union will continue to pursue its carrots-and-sticks policy towards Iran in the hope that Tehran may respond positively to a US-imposed deadline for disclosing details of its controversial nuclear programme, EU foreign ministers said Friday.

"We have a so-called twin-track approach. We'll stick to it," Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said on the sidelines of an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Stockholm.

Consensus towards the imposition of new sanctions against Iran has grown within the EU ahead of an end-of-the-month deadline set by US President Barack Obama.

EU to hold extraordinary summit ahead of financial meeting

EU to hold extraordinary summit ahead of financial meeting Stockholm  - European Union leaders are to hold an extraordinary summit on September 17 to prepare a common position ahead of a Group of 20 meeting on reforming global finance, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said Friday. (dpa)

EU finance ministers declare war on bankers' bonuses

EU finance ministers declare war on bankers' bonuses Brussels  - The European Union's finance ministers were meeting in Brussels on Wednesday in a bid to curb bankers' bonuses amid strong opposition from Britain, home to the bloc's most important financial centre.

"Bankers are partying like it's 1999, and it's actually 2009. The bonus culture must come to an end, and it must come to an end in Pittsburgh," said Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg, who was chairing the meeting as current holder of the bloc's rotating presidency.

Solana: Europe supports Palestinian premier's state vision

European Union foreign policy chief Javier SolanaRamallah  - European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Monday night that Europe supports Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's vision of an independent Palestinian state that could be established within two years.

Speaking at a news conference after an hour-long meeting with Fayyad in Ramallah, Solana said that "we support the Fayyad plan. It is very good and it shows the fact that the Palestinian government is functioning."

Solana arrives in Damascus for peace talks

EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana Damascus  - EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana arrived on Sunday in Damascus for talks with Syrian President Bashar al Assad and Foreign Minister Walid al Muallim to discuss means to resume the peace process in the region.

The visit is the first leg in a four-day tour of the region that will also take Solana to Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Egypt.

Following his meetings in Damascus, Solana is expected to hold a joint conference before he departs later Sunday for Israel.  dpa

Malta hopes to resettle immigrants to rest of EU

Malta hopes to resettle immigrants to rest of EUValletta, Malta  - Malta hopes to resettle all immigrants with legal status to other European Union member states through the first EU-wide relocation programme, the government said Friday.

Some of these refugees, about 2,000, including families and children, have been stranded on the tiny Mediterranean island for years.

During recent meetings in Malta, the government expressed its wish to European Commission officials to resettle all refugees, The Times of Malta reported.

UN says racism entrenched in Australia

Melbourne, Aug. 27 : THE United Nations special rapporteur on indigenous rights has said there is "entrenched" racism in Australia.

James Anaya didn''t pull any punches after his two-week visit of the country, saying the Rudd Government should reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory "right away" because the intervention into remote Aboriginal communities is clearly discriminatory.

"It undermines the right of indigenous peoples to control their own destinies, their right to self-determination," news. com. au quoted him, as saying.

EU renews call for Afghan unity, patience ahead of vote result

Stockholm  - The European Union on Saturday repeated calls for "all stakeholders to promote national unity and stability," in a statement hailing the recent presidential elections in Afghanistan.

The Afghan security forces and international forces were commended for preventing "any major disruptions of the elections," said the statement issued by Sweden, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.

Pending the final vote count, supporters of Afghan president Hamid Karzai and his chief rival, Abdullah Abdullah, and others were urged to "refrain from pre-judging any results, and to resort only to legal means and the appropriate state institutions for the resolution of disputes and complaints."

EU says member states should share tax data to fight VAT fraud

EU says member states should share tax data to fight VAT fraud Brussels - European Union officials Tuesday called on member states to share information about their taxpayers to help combat value added tax (VAT) fraud, which costs governments billions of euros in lost revenues each year.

To do so, the EU's executive arm in Brussels, the European Commission, is proposing the creation of a new structure, referred to as Eurofisc, that would allow governments to exchange information and devise common strategies.

West has high stakes in Afghan elections

West has high stakes in Afghan electionsBrussels  - Javier Solana, the European Union's chief diplomat, wants Thursday's vote in Afghanistan to lead to the formation of a government that can "bring the country forward".

US President Barack Obama hopes it will herald a new "phase in Afghanistan", one in which foreign security forces are no longer needed.

Since 2001, the West has invested billions of dollars, and has sacrificed more than 1,300 of its young men and women, to help Afghanistan become a functioning state.

Now, its patience is running thin.

Iran's Ahmadinejad condemns EU, US over post-vote policies

Iranian President Mahmoud AhmadinejadTehran  - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday condemned policies adopted by the US and European Union following the disputed June 12 presidential election, state media reported.

"You have clearly interfered in Iran's internal affairs and were naïve enough to think that you can damage the system but with God' help you failed," Ahmadinejad said.

The EU and US have not acknowledged Ahmadinejad's re-election and decried the country's harsh approach towards protests over alleged election fraud as well the detained dissidents.

Iranian ayatollah calls for confrontation with EU

Tehran  - A senior Iranian ayatollah called Friday for a confrontation with the European Union over its support for recent political protests in Iran.

"The foreign ministry should adopt measures and confront the European states in a way that they regret their approach and apologize to the Iranian nation," said Ahmad Ahmad Khatami during the Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran.

The EU has supported the popular unrest against alleged fraud in the June 12 presidential election and has not acknowledged the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

EU calls for probe into murder of Chechen human rights activists

EU calls for probe into murder of Chechen human rights activiststockholm  - The European Union has demanded a probe into the recent murders of a leading human rights activist and her husband in Chechyna and urged that Russian authorities protect human rights activists.

Sweden, the current president of the 27-nation bloc, issued a statement late Wednesday condemning the murders of Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband Alik Dzhabrailov.

Italy's lottery jackpot climbs to new record in Europe

Italy's lottery jackpot climbs to new record in EuropeRome - Italy's lottery jackpot climbed to a European record of 131 million euros (185 million dollars) after no one picked the correct numbers in Tuesday's draw.

Needed to win are six numbers in a field of 1-to-90 at the next drawing on Thursday. The jackpot is currently the largest in the world.

On May 10, a Spanish player won 126.2 million euros in a multiple- country lottery.

Italy's Superenalotto jackpot was last won in January. Its largest to date was 100.7 million euros in October 2008.(dpa)

EU to stiffen Myanmar sanctions over "unjustified" Suu Kyi verdict

EU to stiffen Myanmar sanctions over "unjustified" Suu Kyi verdict Brussels  - The European Union said Tuesday it would stiffen its sanctions against the Myanmar regime following the "unjustified" sentencing of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

"The European Union condemns the verdict against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and the unjustified trial against her," the EU's Swedish presidency said in a statement issued on behalf of the bloc's 27 member states.

Bildt renews criticism of dissident trial in Iran

Bildt renews criticism of dissident trial in Iran Stockholm  - Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt Tuesday said the European Union was prepared to take "further steps" to secure the release of local embassy employees and a French national held in Iran.

"We are prepared to take further steps if necessary, naturally in consultation with all 27 EU member states. But I believe the Iranians are aware that we are prepared to take further steps," Bildt told Swedish radio news.

Bildt declined to elaborate.

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