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Newsline: EU condemns ‘deplorable’ vandalism at embassy in Israel

The EU condemned as “deplorable” messages spray-painted in its embassy in Israel on Sunday, for which a right-wing, anti-immigration activist has claimed responsibility. A photo posted by Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret on Twitter shows one message spray-painted in red says “German money kill Jews,” while another says “EU get out.” Giaufret called the attack “deplorable” and “threatening.” (https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-condemns-deplorable-vandalism-at-israeli-embassy/) A far-right, anti-asylum seeker activist, Sheffi Paz, claimed responsibility and turned herself in to police, according to Haaretz. A video shared by Israeli journalists on Twitter shows Paz spray-painting one of the messages while another woman tapes a sign on the wall saying “STOP PAYING THE KILLERS OF OUR CHILDREN.” Paz also reads from a statement in the video, saying “stop subsidizing terrorists, stop financing illegal immigration or get out of Israel.” Israel is in full campaign mode ahead of a legislative election on Tuesday. Ayelet Shaked, chairwoman of the right-wing alliance Yamina, had previously announced a deal with Paz, agreeing to push for tougher legislation on migration, according to Haaretz. Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, announced in a tweet that the country’s police force is investigating the vandalism. “I am appalled by and condemn the disgraceful vandalism of the EU Mission in Israel. Israel is committed to maintaining the security of all diplomatic missions,” Katz wrote.

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Newsline: EU ambassador says Mercosur trade deal unaffected by Amazon wildfires

A trade deal between Europe and the Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) provides a clear commitment to the Paris Agreement in combatting climate change, the new EU ambassador in Brasilia, Ignácio Ybáñez, told EURACTIV’s partner EFE in an interview. However, he hinted that the deal was not at risk. “We have been negotiating the agreement for 20 years, which is a commitment to the future between the two regions, so it is not true to think that parliaments will react against specific things,” he said. In light of the worst wildfires in the Amazon rainforest, one of the world’s largest carbon sinks, Ybáñez said, “The Mercosur agreement contains some commitments of how we want our future relationship to be. For example, on the environmental issue, there is a clear commitment to compliance with the Paris agreement and international agreements by Brazil and Mercosur”. (https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/news/eu-ambassador-says-mercosur-trade-deal-unaffected-by-amazon-wildfires/) But the lack of action from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to tackle the critical situation in Amazon has triggered the strong reaction of some EU member states. France and Ireland threatened to block the Mercosur deal, while conservative Bolsonaro warned French President Emmanuel Macron not me meddle in his country and stop using the issue for domestic political reasons.

Newsline: The EU’s Embassy In Russia Was Hacked But The EU Kept It A Secret

The European Union’s embassy in Moscow was hacked and had information stolen from its network, according to a leaked internal document seen by BuzzFeed News. An ongoing “sophisticated cyber espionage event” was discovered in April, just weeks before the European Parliament elections — but the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s foreign and security policy agency, did not disclose the incident publicly. (https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/albertonardelli/eu-embassy-moscow-hack-russia) Russian entities are believed to be behind the hack, a source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told BuzzFeed News. The EEAS confirmed an incident had taken place and, asked whether the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini knew about the incident, said that EEAS hierarchy had been informed. “We have observed potential signs of compromised systems connected to our unclassified network in our Moscow Delegation. Measures have been taken and the investigation is in progress — at this stage we cannot comment further,” a spokesperson said. According to the leaked document, the initial attack took place in February 2017, but it was only detected in April this year. An analysis of the hack found activity affecting at least two computers and concluded that information had been stolen.

Newsline: Iran dissidents call for Tehran’s embassies in Europe to be shut down

A top Iran resistance group is calling on European nations to shut down Tehran’s embassies in response to the regime’s alleged use of embassies to plot terror attacks against its political opponents across the continent — as the Trump administration ramps up sanctions against the Islamic republic led by President Hassan Rouhani. “What we are calling for is closing the Iranian regime’s embassies,” National Council of Resistance of Iran Deputy Director Alireza Jafarzadeh told reporters at a news conference in Washington, D.C. this week. “These diplomatic relations have allowed the regime to plot terrorist attacks and assassinations in the West.” (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/iran-dissidents-calls-for-tehrans-embassies-in-europe-to-be-shut-down-amid-terror-threat) The news conference was held to discuss the release of the group’s new book “Iran’s Emissaries of Terror,” which seeks to highlight Tehran’s use of embassies in plotting terror attacks against political opponents in the U.S. and Europe. Iranian-backed plots have surged in recent years, particularly in 2018, when the NCRI logged 10 instances of terror plots or terror-related arrests against Iranian officials. The most significant was the foiled plot to bomb an annual gathering of Iranian dissident groups (under the umbrella of the NCRI) in Paris last year — an event that was attended by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. An Iranian diplomat based in Vienna was one of four arrested for the plot.

Newsline: United States citizens will need a visa to visit Europe starting in 2021

US citizens traveling to Europe without a visa will be a thing of the past come 2021. The European Union announced that American travelers will need a new type of visa — a European Travel Information and Authorization System or ETIAS — to visit the European Schengen Area. The Schengen Area is a zone of 26 European countries that do not have internal borders and allow people to move between them freely, including countries like Spain, France, Greece, Germany, Italy and Poland. Currently, US citizens can travel to Europe for up to 90 days without a visa. To apply for the ETIAS, US citizens will need a valid passport, an email account and a credit or debit card, the EU said. Minors, the website said, will still only need their normal passports to travel after the visas go into effect. (https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/us-citizens-need-visas-to-visit-europe-in-2021/index.html) The Union said that the ETIAS visa is valid for three years and allows Americans to enter the Schengen Area as many times as necessary. On the ETIAS website, the European Union said it “has recently decided to improve their security level to avoid any further problems with illegal migration and terrorism.”

Newsline: U.S. Offers EU Olive Branch Restoring Embassy’s Status

Frosty relations between the U.S. and the European Union warmed on Mar. 4 when Washington reversed its decision to downgrade the bloc’s embassy, a move late last year that had strained already tense trans-Atlantic ties. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-offers-eu-olive-branch-restoring-embassys-status-11551705872) The downgrade, which designated the EU as an international organization from its previous rank as a bilateral mission equivalent to a nation state, was, EU officials say, never formally announced by Washington.

Newsline: EU in talks with US over embassy ‘downgrade’

The European Union said it is in talks with US officials after President Donald Trump’s administration reportedly “downgraded” the bloc’s embassy in Washington, in the latest blow to transatlantic relations. The US State Department lowered the EU mission’s diplomatic status from member state to international organisation late last year, according to a report by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. The move apparently only came to light when the EU ambassador in Washington did not receive an invitation to the funeral of former US president George H W Bush in December, DW reported. “We understand that there was a recent change in the way the diplomatic precedence list is implemented by the United States’ Protocol,” Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for the European Commission’s diplomatic service, told AFP in an email. “We are discussing with the relevant services in the administration possible implications for the EU Delegation in Washington.” Kocijancic confirmed the EU was not notified of the change and said the bloc expected “the diplomatic practice established some years ago to be observed”. The news comes at a sensitive moment for EU-US relations, with the bloc’s top trade negotiator Cecilia Malmstrom on her way to Washington to try to breathe life into efforts to strike a trade deal and calm raging commercial tensions.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/416359-eu-in-talks-with-us-over-embassy-downgrade