Belarus and Turkey top a thorny agenda at EU summit

Brussels – EU leaders on Thursday tried to break long-standing bottlenecks over Belarus, Turkey, the Coronovirus Recovery Fund and the rule of law, an impression of interlinked issues that are complicated one by one. Will go.

President Alexander in Belarus on 9 August. The sanctions have been blocked by Cyprus in response to a flawed election by Lukashenko, which seeks penalties imposed in Cyprus for its energy discovery in Cypriot and Greek waters. Delaying punishing Belarus is a huge embarrassment for the bloc, and one that Charles Mitchell, the president of the European Council, which includes the bloc’s leader, hopes to resolve for a long time over dinner.

With Turkey now in talks with Greece after German mediation, there is little appetite among many leaders to make Ankara more angry, particularly given its importance in helping manage migration flows to Europe. The general is unhappy with the aggressive positions taken by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, again on display with Azerbaijan’s support in the conflict with Azerbaijan.

But the European Union needs to find a modus vivendi with Mr Erdogan, and opposing him further is unlikely to change his behavior.

If the leaders, as expected, manage to lift their effective veto to Cyprus, sanctions on key Belarusian officials may follow quickly, even if they are potentially, as many predict, Mr. There is no effect on Lukashenko’s behavior or power.

But the bloc has a problem with violations of the rule of law in member states hanging over dinner, and how efforts to punish those violations are compounded with money. Of particular concern are the Coronovirus Recovery Fund of 750 billion euros, or about $ 880 billion, and the European Union’s € 1.1 trillion multiyear budget.

In July, leaders vaguely agreed to spend to follow the rule of law. The insistence of several northern countries, notably Austria, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands, attracted immediate opposition from Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, which seemed targeted by the measure.

A German proposal to open negotiations on the situation with the European Parliament, which should approve the spending, is considered too lax by a third of the member states, as it focuses more on misuse of funds over violation of the law Is seen. But without a deal, the delivery of funds, countries that have been badly affected by the virus, such as Italy and Spain, are in dire need, they will be delayed even more next year.

So between two worthy goals – enforcing the rule of law with conditions on money and then distributing wealth more quickly – is a political question that is unlikely to be resolved quickly.

In the background, the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, has launched a less confrontational effort to warn countries about authoritarian backsliding. For the first time, the Commission has published an assessment of the state of democracy in each of the 27 member states, avoiding singles outside Hungary and Poland (although their report was the most important).

The report noted that democratic standards, particularly in Hungary and Poland, are facing “significant challenges”. He found that the prosecution of high-level corruption in Hungary was “very limited,” and considered Poland’s deficiencies in the four main areas reviewed: the national justice system, the anticorruption framework, freedom of the press, and checks and balances.

Prosecution of high-level corruption is also limited in the Czech Republic and Malta, reports said, and there were particular challenges to a free press in Bulgaria, Hungary, Malta and Poland.

Poland received special attention, as Bloc officials believe there is more potential for remedial action than in Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban called for the resignation of the Commissioner in charge of the reports, Vera Jurova of the Czech Republic , Who called them “a sick democracy”

Ms. Jorova, Commissioner of European Values, told reporters, “It is relevant to observe these issues and see the relationship between them – not least because deficiencies often merge into an unimaginable cocktail.”

“The European Union was also created as an antidote to those authoritarian tendencies,” he said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen declined Mr Orbán’s demands. But Hungary and Poland announced that they would set up their own institute to assess the rule of law in all member states to avoid “double standards”, the Hungarian Foreign Minister, Peter Szilarto, said. He said he had “one of the few Western European politicians using us as a punching bag.”

Hungary and Poland have repeatedly clashed with Brussels on issues such as judicial independence, freedom of speech, the role of the news media and LGBQQ rights.

But the commission has fewer arms. It initiated proceedings before the European Court, whose rulers are followed, albeit reluctantly, by Budapest and Warsaw. And it put in place a mechanism that could theoretically lead to the loss of voting rights, but which is useless because it requires a unanimous vote, and Poland and Hungary have vowed to protect each other.

Authorities are reluctant to file an avalanche of cases before the court for fear of being seen as target countries and because they will take a long time to resolve.

Hence the attempt to tie the disbursement of wealth to the rule of law. The German proposal will face a serious challenge in the European Parliament. Sergei Lagodinsky, a green jurist in the chamber, said, “According to the report it is a toothless tiger, unless it is accompanied by an effective enforcement mechanism, including a funding cut in case of deficiencies.”

The proposal, he said, “removed the initial idea.”

But soon without a deal, Michael Claus, who was the German ambassador, warned, “The delay will most likely not be accompanied by the consequences of Europe’s economic recovery.”

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