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by Euro Reporter
2009-05-09 09:11:40
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European Commission sees alternatives to EU Energy Charter with Russia

An agreement between Brussels and Moscow on the EU Energy Charter is difficult and cannot be reached at once, a European Commission energy official said on May 2. “Who was expecting an agreement on the Energy Charter? The Energy Charter is a question that has been hanging on for almost 10 years,” Ferran Tarradellas Espuny, spokesman for EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, told New Europe.

He was commenting on the results of the fourth EU-Russia Permanent Partnership Council on Energy in Moscow on April 30. Piebalgs, Minister of Trade and Industry of the Czech Presidency Martin Riman and Minister for Enterprise and Energy and Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden Maud Olofsson met the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and the Russian Minister of Energy Sergei Shmatko in Moscow to discuss in particular latest developments in the EU-Russia energy dialogue and other issues, including energy efficiency, synchronisation of the two electric systems and the Early Warning Mechanism. “There was no point on solving the Energy Charter question at once – that was completely out of question,” Tarradellas Espuny said.

The EU energy spokesman noted that the EU-Russian energy council discussed a Russian energy paper by President Dmitri Medvedev announced in Helsinki earlier in April. Tarradellas Espuny said that the paper was a positive development, but reminded that it is not a treaty. “The meeting on Thursday (April 30) was kind of first discussion on the issue,” he said, adding that the paper on energy would probably discussed again in the next G20 meeting.

The EU’s Energy Charter is a legally biding document adopted in 1991 and signed by 49 countries and the European Union. It sets out principles for integrating the energy systems of Eastern Europe and Western Europe along market lines, for protection of foreign investment and resolution of disputes. But Russia, which supplies almost a quarter of EU gas needs, has refused to ratify the charter, arguing that in addition to being a dominant producer, it must also have access to the downstream distribution sector.

Medvedev said in April his document aimed to achieve “a balance of producers of energy resources, transit states and consumers.” The EU energy spokesman said the European Commission is open to Russia’s suggestions on the Energy Charter. “What we said to Russia is that if they’re not going to accept it the way it is, then they can tell us which articles they don’t like, which articles they would like to change of the treaty and what they will be proposing instead. And all these changes in the Energy Charter we can negotiate with the other members of the Energy Charter Treaty organisation,” he said.

“If they think that with the European Union there are bilateral issues that cannot be addressed with the Energy Charter Treaty, then we are negotiating with Russia a new EU-Russia agreement that could also be a good framework to deal with energy issues because it would be a legally binding agreement between two parties. Or if they need channels of discussion and information we have the energy dialogue in place so that could be another framework where issues can be discussed and solved,” Tarradellas Espuny said.

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Baltics agree route of undersea link to Sweden

The three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania agreed on April 27 that a new undersea electricity connection linking their energy grid to Sweden will make landfall in Lithuania, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported. The surprise announcement was made at an energy conference being held in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, where the three leaders signed a joint declaration. Until now, both Lithuania and Latvia had competing claims to be linked to the Nordic energy grid via the undersea cable dubbed “Swedlink.”

“The Baltic countries have once again demonstrated that a common goal allows us to find solutions acceptable to all sides,” said Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius. “The most important thing is that the project will be implemented as soon as possible,” he said. The decision contradicts earlier statements from the Baltic leaders and European Union Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs that no decision on the cable could be made before a group of experts deliver reports on the project in July.

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MEPs question Turkish attitudes


Progress has been made on women’s rights in Turkey in recent years but much remains to be done, according to the speakers at a public hearing held by the European Parliament Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee. Constitutional and legislative measures can only achieve so much: society’s attitudes need to change too, MEPs said. The need to protect women against violence and trafficking and to improve their educational opportunities were among the issues highlighted in the introduction to the hearing - titled The role of women in Turkey in Social, Economic and Political life, given by MEP Emine Bozkurt (PES, NL,) the author of reports on women in Turkey in 2005 and 2007. It was not enough to adopt new laws, she said, these laws also need to be implemented.

There are now about 50 women’s shelters in Turkey and another eight in construction but according to the law there should be a shelter in any city of over 50,000 inhabitants. This means there should be at least 231 shelters in Turkey, it was said. Nimet Cubukcu, Turkey’s state Minister of Women’s and Children’s Affairs, said she agreed. She first pointed out that Articles 9 and 10 of the Turkish constitution provided for gender equality.

And although the legislative process could be slow, “A law adopted in 15 minutes can take 15 years before it is implemented and sometimes even 150 years before it becomes part of the cultural reality.” She stressed, “The greatest need is for social and cultural change.” Fortunately, some change in social attitudes could be seen. For example, violence against women was fortunately “now seen as a huge social issue” and was widely discussed in the media. “Women who have been victims of violence often remain silent,” so there must be questions about any official statistics on this matter, according to Yakin Erturk, UN special rapporteur on violence against women.

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EU strives to put stop to loss of biodiversity by 2010


At the start of a two-day biodiversity conference in Athens on April 27, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU will seek to put a stop to the loss of biodiversity in Europe by 2010. The conference was attended by 230 environmental chiefs, trade associations, non-governmental organisations and lobby groups, have found a new momentum following a G8-Plus charter to protect biodiversity adopted on April 24 by environmental ministers from Group of Eight members Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

The 25-point G8 Syracuse Charter explicitly links safeguarding biodiversity to the fight against global warming. The G8 charter also urges raised awareness that “ecosystems provide a steady flow of goods and services - by providing clean drinking water, pollinating crops and decomposing waste.
Climate change, land use change, habitat destruction, pollution and waste disposal all pose a growing threat to biodiversity at a time when most of Europe’s species and habitats are at the risk of extinction. There is growing evidence that the decline of ecosystems and species is continuing despite the progress made with the establishment of the Natura 2000 network, the largest network of protected areas in the world. “The protection of biodiversity lacks sanctions, legislative muscle and political will,” said Tony Long, the Brussels director of conservation group WWF.

Barroso said the EU‘s objective of stopping biodiversity loss will be met by “implementing existing legislation such as the Birds and Habitats Directives, completing the network of protected areas in Europe and agreeing on new policies to address deforestation and to reduce the EU’s ecological footprint.”

   
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john2009-05-10 20:11:38
Did you also know that terrorism affects women more than any other demographic group?

Please help us to stop terrorism by filling out a short survey at:


http://www.johnmaszka.com/SURVEY.html


I would really value your opinion and the opinion of your readers. The long-term goal of this project is to facilitate a more diplomatic American foreign policy in the years ahead.
Thank you,

John Maszka


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