Russian top diplomat warns Greeks of facing same fate as Kurds

Russia’s Ambassador to the EU: “We warned the Kurds that the Americans would abandon them”. [EPA/ STEPHANIE LECOCQ]

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“We warned the Kurds that the Americans would abandon them. And here in Rhodes, I can personally warn the Greeks to think about whether a similar fate awaits them,” said Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s Ambassador to the EU.

Speaking at the International Forum of Dialogues of Culture in the Greek island of Rhodes, Chizhov criticised the extended defence agreement signed between the US and Greece during a visit in the region of US State Secretary Mike Pompeo earlier this month.

During that visit, Pompeo also slammed Turkey for its drilling for hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean, calling the country’s actions “illegal” and “unacceptable”.

“I think it was a mistake, but this is my personal opinion. Of course, you should ask the Greeks about the reasons why such a decision was made. But I do not rule out that they did so amid tensions between the United States and Turkey. However, this does not mean that this decision is well weighed from a perspective point of view,” he told TASS news agency, according to Greek media reports.

Regarding the Syrian crisis, he backed the idea of dialogue saying Moscow stands ready to mediate between Ankara and the Kurds and between the Kurds and Damascus. He also said the EU had not included the government in Damascus as partners in these negotiations.

Chizhov is knowledgeable of the region: he has served as a diplomat and as Ambassador to Cyprus, and as a Russian Special representative in the Balkans.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria has asked neighbouring Turkey to halt its military offensive in northeast Syria, saying the violence could lead to rising numbers of migrants crossing the border. The Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov reiterated his support for the deal that the EU struck with Turkey on refugees in 2016. “I want the deal with Turkey to be respected […] If 50,000 or 100,000 or 200,000 migrants enter Bulgaria, I do not know what will happen with the country,” Borissov said.

The UK and Spain joined other major powers on Tuesday (15 October) in suspending military exports to Turkey following its incursion into northeastern Syria. But it seems that the EU is not fully united.

Quoting Hungarian media, EURACTIV’s senior editor Georgi Gotev wrote yesterday that Turkish President Erdoğan thanked Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán for his support at the international stage. The two leaders met in Baku on Tuesday (15 October), on the fringes of a summit of the Turkic Council, a group of countries speaking the same family of languages, which Hungary wants to join.

Read more: Erdogan thanks Orban for ‘support at the international stage’

“Recently Hungary has been instrumental in “removing the teeth” of an EU statement criticising the Turkish incursion in Syria, in which the word ‘Kurds’ does not appear. The main goal of the Turkish operation is to cleanse the territory along its border with Syria of Kurds and re-settle 2 million of the Syrian refugees currently on Turkish soil.”

While Europe is struggling to deal with its “spoiled child”, Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry called on Brussels during a visit in Croatia to do more against Turkey.

In light of Ankara’s actions in the region, especially regarding drilling off-Cyprus, Cairo, Athens and Nicosia have significantly come closer in recent years. Earlier this month, they held their seventh trilateral summit, which raised eyebrows in neighbouring Turkey.

“We consider the condemnation by the EU to be just the beginning. The EU should take real steps to prevent Turkey’s further presence in Syria and the continuation of the military operation in the north of Syria”, he said.

“Turkey is not only present in Syria, but it is present also in Iraq, and it does contribute to this area’s destabilisation”, the Egyptian minister said.

His Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlić Radman also condemned Turkey and warned about a possible new wave of refugees. “This year, Croatia has been witnessing a 211% increase in illegal migration on its border with Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said.

(Sarantis Michalopoulos, Georgi Gotev |,, Željko Trkanjec |





Franco-German copyright alliance. France and Germany are preparing to jointly address Google’s recent announcement that it won’t pay online French publisher’s to display their content, despite the EU copyright directive coming into force in October.

>>So far, France is the only country that has transposed the right for press publishers to seek remuneration, from copyright reforms, into national legislation. The move has provoked a heated response from the platform industry with Google recently announcing technical changes to their news-display service. The giant aims to avoid the legal obligation to pay press publishers for the content they create under the new rules. Read more on the Capitals Special Edition: The Copyright Directive

Paris called on Berlin to force Google to respect the spirit of the EU copyright law, which aims to better share profits between online platforms and content creators. “With Germany, we share the idea that something must be done at a bilateral or European level, particularly in terms of competition,” said a French source close to Macron.

French and German political leaders are meeting on 16 October in Toulouse for a joint minister meeting, where they are expected to take joint action against the American giant. “The French market isn’t unimportant for Google. And it is not in Google’s interest to alienate all European cultural and political stakeholders,” the same source added.

France’s Competition Authority is currently looking at the legal aspect of Google’s announcement. At the EU level, France and Germany will ask EU Competition chief Margrethe Vestager to examine whether legal action is also possible. “There is a need to grant online platforms a specific status in order to be able to launch sanctions more quickly than is currently possible under the current competition rules,” the French source said. (EURACTIV.FR)



Paris and Berlin on a collision course. Italy’s PM Giuseppe Conte met in Tirana with his Albanian counterpart Edi Rama. “At the European Council, I will firmly defend a position in favour of opening EU accession negotiations as the best instrument to ensure Albania’s development and in the interest of Italy and the EU,” Conte said. He added that Albania has already been asked to enact bold reforms and believed the country had not yet taken advantage of its economic potential. Conte also confirmed his support to North Macedonia: “Together with Albania, they did their homework and now they both deserve the opening of negotiations without conditions.”

However, at a meeting of EU general affairs ministers on Tuesday (15 October), France refused to give the two countries a target date next year to start entry talks.

Amélie de Montchalin, France’s Minister for European Affairs, said there was no opposition from France with regard to Balkan countries in general, but that “things had to be done in a credible way”. She also described the accession negotiations process as “ineffective” and “disappointing” and emphasised the need for reform. EU media reported that the Netherlands also partly agreed with Paris on Albania. The unanimous backing of all EU member states is needed to greenlight the launch of accession talks. The French move will likely put Paris in a collision course with Berlin, which has advocated for opening EU accession talks with the two countries.

“I regret very much that member states could not make a decision,” EU enlargement chief Johannes Hahn said.

The US has repeatedly called on member states to speed up the EU accession of both countries in light of Russian rising influence in the region as well as increased Chinese investments.

(Gerardo Fortuna, Sarantis Michalopoulos|

Read also the op-ed of Sergei Stanishev, MEP and the president of PES (Party of European Socialists): Leaders must take action, giving signals is not enough.

Also have a look at Georgi Gotev’s story: France halts EU enlargement.



In other news from the capitals…


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Read also EURACTIV’s Jorge Valero Brief on “A new dialogue with Catalonia



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[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck]

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