Category Archives: EU

HMA Kate Smith Meets With Expats In Crete

British Ambassador Kate Smith CMG visited Crete to speak with UK nationals living on the island and to meet with local authorities and businesses

HMA Kate Smith CMG

HMA Kate Smith CMG

During her 2-day visit to the island of Crete, HMA Kate Smith CMG spoke to over 400 UK nationals about EU exit-related issues, emphasising that safeguarding the rights of UK nationals living in the EU has been a top priority throughout the negotiating process. Meetings were also held with local officials and businesses.

Beginning in Western Crete, the Ambassador met with the Mayor of Apokoronas, Charalampos Koukianakis, and Reverend Canon D. Bruce Bryant-Scott of the Anglican Church of St. Thomas, which is located in the region. The Ambassador then spoke to a large audience of UK nationals at the Town Hall of Apakoronas, providing official information and answering questions.

The next stop was the city of Rethymno, where the Ambassador spoke to another large group of UK nationals. Just outside of Rethymno, HMA Kate Smith CMG then visited the facilities of Creta Farms, one of the largest companies in the meat and deli meats sector in Greece, where she met with the Director of Industrial Production.

On the second day of her visit to Crete, the Ambassador visited the East side of the island where she met with the mayor of Agios Nikolaos, Antonis Zervos, and then spoke to another large group of British UK nationals who reside in that area.

Continuing on to Heraklion, HMA Kate Smith CMG was part of a very constructive round table discussion with the President of the Heraklion Chamber of Commerce, Manolis Alifierakis, the President of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Yiannis Retsos, and local businessmen who export products to the UK or are supported by British tourism. The focus was on the mutual interest of all to secure positive commercial relations, post-EU exit, between Greece and the UK.

The fourth and final outreach event took place in the town of Malia.

The meetings in Crete were organised as part of a wider series of such events being planned across the country, in an ongoing effort to reach as many UK nationals living in Greece as possible.

Conclusion Of Yemen Consultations In Sweden

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The United States commends participants from the Yemen consultations in Sweden for making progress on key initiatives, including a cease-fire and withdrawal of forces in Hudaydah, prisoner exchanges, and opening humanitarian corridors to the city of Taiz. Although many details remain subject to further discussion, these consultations between the Republic of Yemen Government and the Houthis marked a pivotal first step. All parties have an opportunity to build upon this momentum and improve the lives of all Yemenis. Moving forward, all must continue to engage, de-escalate tensions, and cease ongoing hostilities. This is the best way to give these and future consultations a chance to succeed. The United States thanks UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths for his leadership on these efforts, continued optimism, and ability to inspire reconciliation. We also thank the Government of Sweden for hosting, as well as the governments of Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the many others that helped facilitate and support the consultations. The work ahead will not be easy, but we have seen what many considered improbable begin to take shape. Peace is possible. The end of these consultations can be the beginning of a new chapter for Yemen.

Launch Event And First Regional Workshop Of The GCTF Initiative To Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems Threats

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The United States and Germany, under the auspices of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), launched the Initiative to Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS) Threats on December 13, 2018 in Berlin. The launch event was held alongside the Initiative’s first regional workshop on December 14, which focused on countering the UAS threat in Europe. The GCTF C-UAS Initiative aims to develop a set of non-binding good practices that can assist countries in developing or expanding national action plans to identify, prioritize, and implement policies and measures to counter terrorist use of UAS.

The GCTF works at the forefront of addressing emerging terrorist threats, such as the use of UAS against civilian targets. ISIS and other terrorist groups are using this technology to conduct reconnaissance, drop explosives, and spread propaganda. Rapidly improving technology and easier access increase the possibility of terrorists using UAS against civilian targets. As these attacks are increasing in complexity and frequency, multilateral cooperation is needed to develop a substantive guide for governments to counter terrorist use of UAS.

Participants from national and local governments and international organizations at the launch event and workshop exchanged assessments of the threat, national policies, and legislative responses towards terrorist use of UAS, and established technologies to counter UAS. The GCTF C-UAS Initiative will convene three additional regional workshops throughout 2019 in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. These workshops will inform the development of a good practices document for countering terrorist UAS threats, which will be put forward for endorsement at the GCTF Ministerial in 2019.

Kazakhstan’s Independence Day

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

On behalf of the American people, I warmly congratulate the people of Kazakhstan as you celebrate 27 years of your nation’s independence on December 16.

Following President Nazarbayev’s trip to Washington, which charted a path forward for increased cooperation between our two countries, the United States and Kazakhstan have embarked on an enhanced strategic partnership. We congratulate Kazakhstan on the upcoming successful conclusion of its two-year term as rotating chair in the United Nations Security Council, and have appreciated the leadership Kazakhstan has brought to the world stage on regional security and development issues, particularly with respect to Afghanistan. We also express our appreciation to the Government of Kazakhstan for deploying its first peacekeeping force to assist the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. Kazakhstan has assumed a key role on the global stage as a partner in ensuring peace and stability, and in promoting economic development and connectivity in Central Asia and beyond.

We look forward to continuing to expand our dynamic relationship with Kazakhstan in new ways for the benefit of both the Kazakhstani and American people.

Joint Statement Regarding The Inaugural United States-Greece Strategic Dialogue

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America and Greece on the occasion of the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue.

Begin Text:

The Governments of the United States and Greece held the inaugural U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue in Washington, D.C. on December 13, 2018. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Greek Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs George Katrougalos launched the Dialogue, which included high-level interagency representation from both countries.

The Strategic Dialogue builds on a year of intensive engagement, highlights the strength of the bilateral relationship, and confirms the mutual commitment of the United States and Greece to deepen cooperation in the areas described below.

Regional Cooperation

The United States and Greece shared views of the Eastern Mediterranean and Balkans, noting their common vision for a peaceful and prosperous region, the need to integrate the countries of the Western Balkans into European and transatlantic institutions, according to the choice of their people, and the aim of further linking partners in the Eastern Mediterranean in a framework of political and economic ties. The two countries underlined the importance of respect for international law and the peaceful resolution of differences, as a guiding principle to good neighborly relations and as a means to resolving problems and addressing tensions. The United States lauded Greece’s leadership and vision in promoting regional stability and cooperation, in particular, Athens’ initiatives in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans to facilitate common regional economic and security benefits, as well as in reaching the Prespes Agreement with Skopje and working towards its implementation. The two sides also reviewed investment and infrastructure development in the Western Balkans. Greece emphasized the continued challenges related to refugees and migrants in Europe, and the two governments discussed the possibility for U.S. support in this area. Greece discussed its trilateral partnerships in the Eastern Mediterranean and the United States expressed interest in increasing its support for the Greece-Israel-Cyprus trilateral discussion, as invited.

Defense and Security

The United States and Greece discussed common security concerns, such as international terrorism and instability in the Eastern Mediterranean region and reaffirmed their commitment to further enhance their strategic defense and security partnership, which promotes stability and prosperity in the region and contributes to the strength of NATO. The two governments also expressed their desire to modernize and expand their multifaceted defense relationship in order to better meet the needs of both countries and to more effectively address regional and global security challenges, citing recent successes in combined joint training and security exercises, and an increase in our joint activities.

Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism

Both sides emphasized the importance of their cooperation on law enforcement and counterterrorism issues that has led to many important successes in the areas of convictions, seizures of weapons and many-hundred kilogram quantities of illicit narcotics, repatriation of antiquities, and disruption and dismantling of transnational criminal organizations. The United States highlighted Greece’s participation in the Visa Waiver Program and the positive progress Greece has made toward fulfilling the commitments of the 2016 Joint Statement. The two governments committed to enhance law enforcement cooperation, including in the areas of information exchange, border security cooperation, and countering illicit activity.

Trade and Investment

Building on the positive momentum from the Thessaloniki International Fair, Greece, and the United States committed to boosting bilateral trade and investment, including in key sectors such as energy, defense, IT, entertainment, and infrastructure. The United States congratulated Greece on its exit from financial support programs and on opening a new economic chapter, while acknowledging the challenges Greece still faces as it continues on the path to recovery. The United States highlighted the increasing role of Greece as an energy, transport, and commercial hub in the region, and the two countries committed to cooperate in further strengthening this role. The United States and Greece committed to work together to strengthen intellectual property rights protection in Greece. The United States reaffirmed its support for Greek efforts to make the necessary reforms to improve competitiveness, with the two sides committing to continued engagement through the Trade and Investment Working Group.

Energy

The two governments noted the need to improve Europe’s energy security and diversification, highlighting the recent spot purchase of U.S. LNG and ongoing negotiations for a long-term supply agreement. The United States commended Greece’s progress on energy projects to expand regional interconnectivity to include the enlarged Revithoussa LNG terminal, the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, and the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector, and supports additional infrastructure designed to diversify routes and supplies, to include the proposed LNG terminal in Alexandroupolis and the Eastern Med pipeline, where commercially feasible. The two sides also discussed cooperation on renewables and clean and efficient coal technologies. The United States supports Greece’s joining the Three Seas Initiative and related efforts to strengthen Europe’s North-South interconnectivity.

People-to-People Ties

Both sides recognized the strong people-to-people ties connecting the two countries and the vital role these ties play in fortifying the bilateral relationship. The two governments discussed ways to increase cooperation between museums, student exchange programs and English language programs, and celebrated the summer 2019 launch of the FLEX exchange program. The United States announced the selection of Greece as the host for the first-ever Gilman Scholar Regional Summit, expected to take place in 2019. The two sides also reaffirmed their commitment to the Fulbright Program on its 70th anniversary.

The United States and Greece look forward to continuing these discussions throughout the coming year, with the aim of reviewing progress at the next Dialogue in Greece in 2019.

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