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DOMINICAN-HAITIAN RELATIONS: A meeting with H.E. Faruk Miguel Castillo

Understanding current Dominican-Haitian relations: A meeting with H.E. Mr. Faruk Miguel Castillo

Diplomat Magazine (01.05.2022) – https://bit.ly/38qzCg9 – In an interesting conversation at his residence in Port-au-Prince, H.E. Mr. Faruk Miguel Castillo, the Dominican Ambassador to Haiti, exchanged with Diplomat Magazine some insights about his mandate, the relationship between the two countries and the current situation in Haiti.

 

To understand Dominican-Haitian relations, we have to look at them from a geographical, historical and evolutionary perspective. These bordering countries have experienced political crises, natural disasters, an armed conflict in 1844 that resulted in the independence of the Dominican Republic, but also successful border and labor agreements, commercial exchanges and a relationship of cooperation and permanent exchange on topics that concern both countries. Between the two countries, there is always an open communication.

 

“We are obliged, as a diplomatic mission and as a country, to have as interlocutor the authorities in office in Haiti. Currently, the authority in office in Haiti is Prime Minister Ariel Henri and his ministerial cabinet, with whom we maintain excellent relations and constant exchanges. We also relate and communicate constantly with different political, socio-professional, cultural and business organizations, as well as with the different diplomatic missions accredited in this country. We have a very important economic and migratory relationship with this country, which is our second commercial partner. We are committed to maintain a harmonious relationship, based on agreements and on fundamental aspects of environmental preservation. It is a process that does not end, it is constant, it is lifelong” – the Ambassador said.

 

One of the main responsibilities of the Dominican diplomatic mission in Haiti is to give the necessary follow-up to the agreements that have been signed between the two countries. “There is an important number of Haitian workers working in the Dominican Republic in agriculture, construction, tourism, the sugar industry and many other areas of national production. This represents an important contribution for Haiti because these workers send money to their country and support their families in Haiti, but also Haiti buys many products from the Dominican Republic”, Mr. Faruk Miguel Castillo continued.

 

Last year, the presidents of both countries – Jovenel Moise for Haiti and Luis Abinader Corona for the Dominican Republic – met in a mountainous area of the border called Calimet and signed a nine-point agreement. Their discussions included issues related to migration, the environment, trade, border security, health, and energy issues. In this context, the Dominican Republic offered assistance to Haiti for the construction of three maternal and child hospitals. This is a sensitive issue, in light of the large number of Haitians who go to give birth in the Dominican Republic, as well as of the problems tied to human trafficking that have arisen in this context.

 

“With the death of the president, all these agreements were put on hold, but they must continue because they are agreements signed by both sides. We understand that the situation of insecurity that the country is living has not given them the tranquility nor the time to take care of following up on these things. But I have the certainty and the hope that this year the Haitian society will follow these agreements that will help the stability of the country” – the Ambassador said.

 

Another important task of the Dominican mission is to provide consular services. Currently, the mission maintains five active consulates in different points of Haiti, since the demand for visas is very large. There is a great demand for business visas, tourism visas and visas for workers who work in the Dominican Republic. There are between 10 and 12 thousand regular students going to universities and higher education centers in the Dominican Republic. In the border zone the populations are very confused: people cross from one side to the other, the border is very permeable and there are communities that live in a harmonious relationship.

 

During the conversation, Ambassador Miguel also explained the delicate conditions of his mandate in this country “The first thing is the state of the situation in Haiti, to know in what environment we are operating. This is a mission that I have been given in very difficult conditions, because I arrived precisely at a time when there was a lot of political instability in the country, during the government of Jouvenel Moise.  During his term as president, the chamber of deputies ran out of time and was not renewed; 2/3 of the senate also ran out of time and was not renewed either, so that today only 1/3 of the senate remains. On the other hand, it is the opinion of many that they should have handed over in January. At the moment, there is no president, because as we all know, the president was assassinated in his residence on July 6 last year. Even before that, there were already problems with the Chamber of Accounts in crisis and also in the Ministry of Justice with a situation of dismissed judges”.

 

“The country is very divided and faces a situation of deep insecurity. The armed groups of the parties control many parts of the national territory. Even in the capital of the country, where political decisions are made, these groups show more strength than the Haitian police forces. They are heavily armed. These groups are often in conflict with each other and attack each other, they attack the population and the police headquarters, which increases the violence.  Kidnappings are the order of the day, not only of nationals but also of foreigners” – the Ambassador explained.

 

“From our point of view, the main problem in Haiti is insecurity. Haiti must be pacified to be able to hold its elections and to be able to develop citizen life with tranquility; to make life flow normally, so that children can go to school, and common people and businesses can carry out their activities without fear of attacks by armed gangs, kidnappings or assassinations. In that sense, there have been many important advances, including meetings of traditional opposition groups seeking agreements. PM Ariel Henri has provided a space in his ministerial cabinet to the opposition and that is a big step forward, it is a unitary effort. I believe that Haiti is on track in the coming days to continue these dialogues, in order to agree on the solution to the most important challenge, which is to pacify the country and organize free democratic and participatory elections”.

 

The Ambassador also explained the role that his country foresees for the international community vis-à-vis the situation in Haiti. “The international community has to lend all its support so that the Haitians can reach the necessary agreements for their political stability. The Dominican Republic is and will always be in an attitude of collaboration, of cooperation, respecting Haiti’s independence and its self-determination, cooperating to the extent that Haiti requires it and requests it. In all international fora, the Dominican Republic advocates for the support that Haiti needs. We want the situation to improve in Haiti, that Haitians manage their problems and that the international community gives them the necessary means and assistance so that Haitians can manage their own problems”.

 

The security situation, according to the Ambassador, has strong repercussions for all other aspects of society, including in the economic sector. “At the moment, many Haitian businessmen, due to the insecurity situation in their country, are requesting to move their companies to the Dominican Republic. This is not good, neither for Haiti nor for the Dominican Republic, because Haiti needs more companies to maintain the labor market active, so that more people can find work. If the companies migrate to the Dominican Republic, there will be less job offers in Haiti, so Haitians will  have to go to work in the Dominican Republic. It is better if the companies are established in Haiti, and that generates jobs, wealth and development for the country. When Haiti does well, the Dominican Republic does well too” – the Ambassador concluded.

Read more + video HERE





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UKRAINE: Over 5000 cases of treason and collaboration with the enemy opened

Over 5000 cases of treason and collaboration opened, the Prosecutor General says

Up to 15 years and life imprisonment

 

By Willy Fautré

 

HRWF (17.05.2022) – On 13 May, Prosecutor General of Ukraine Irina Venediktova declared that  5,360 cases on treason and collaboration have been opened in Ukraine.

Among these cases, there may be

  • real traitors in the pay of the enemy
  • ideological collaborators
  • people who revealed information of military importance under torture or various forms of blackmail, such as threats on their families

Inquiries are carried out to determine if the suspects are traitors or collaborators or victims of coercion by the occupiers. The position of mayors and members of city or oblast councils in regions occupied by the Russian army is indeed sometimes difficult to clarify. In such cases, some thorough and objective investigation is needed to establish the truth.

A few cases under investigation:

 

About 20 People’s Deputies of Ukraine who are now abroad are wanted in Ukraine “for having previously shown a non-patriotic position.” This was announced at mid-March by the First Deputy Speaker Kornienko when after the adoption of the law on treason and collaboration with the enemy he was asked about the number of MPs having fled abroad.

 

Former People’s Deputy Ilya Kyva has been put on the international wanted list. Kivu is accused of treason, propaganda of war, encroachment on territorial integrity, calls for the seizure of state power and the spread of communist symbols. This was reported by the press service of the SBI.

 

“Strana” reported that the SBU is investigating the possible treason of ex-Nardep Svyatash, a former Ukrainian MP. He was said to be a candidate of the Russian Federation for the position of “gauleiter of Kharkiv”.

 

In the Luhansk region, four heads of communities sided with Russia: in Rubezhny, Milovoye, Markovka and Stanitsa Luganskaya. In a video, the mayor of Rubezhny, Sergey Hortiv, called Ukrainian servicemen “fascists” and declared the local residents had been victims of genocide by the Ukrainian army. Hortiv was elected mayor of Rubezhny from the “Our Land” opposition party, the leader of which is People’s Deputy Shakhov.

 

The mayor of Buryn Viktor Ladukh, in Sumy region, his deputy and another member of the city council are under suspicion of collaboration with the enemy. According to the prosecutor’s office, the officials cooperated with the Russian Federation during the temporary occupation of Sumy region. This is reported by the Office of the Prosecutor General.

 

A trio of suspects during the capture of the Buryn community by Russian troops agreed to cooperate with the aggressor state. They are charged with cooperation with the enemy and material support for its armed groups.

 

In Kharkiv region, the head of Stary Saltov, Eduard Konovalov and the secretary of the Olkhovatsky Village Council Nadezhda Antonova are under suspicion of high treason.

 

The SBU reported suspicion of treason to the head of the shift of the Azovstal plant, who was accused of “surrendering” the scheme of underground tunnels to the enemy at the enterprise where the Ukrainian military keeps defense. This was reported by the press service of the SBU.

 

In the Nikolaev area, SBU special forces installed and detained a fire corrector who helped the enemy artillery damage the “Nikolaev Armored Plant”.

 

In an unrevealed location, the Security Service of Ukraine arrested a hacker who provided sensitive information to Russian occupiers. The SBU established that in one day up to a thousand calls passed through this hacker. A significant part of them were from the top leadership of the Russian army.

The accused of treason and collaboration face punishment of imprisonment for up to 15 years with confiscation of property. Procedural management is carried out by the Office of the Prosecutor General.

 

At mid-March, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky signed two bills on criminal liability for cooperation with Russia: Bills No. 5143 and No. 5144. They prescribe terms of up to 15 years and life imprisonment.

 

Treason and willful collaboration by Ukrainian citizens with military forces illegally occupying the country are very serious offences against the security and the sovereignty of the country. Such activities result in the destruction of Ukrainian defence and civilian facilities, the shelling of housing, the killing of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

 

Photo credits: Facebook





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TAIWAN: The Tai Men Case comes from Taiwan to Brussels-EU

The Tai Men Case comes from Taiwan to Brussels-EU

HRWF (09.05.2022) – On 4 May 2022, at the Press Club Brussels-Europe, a seminar presented to an EU and international audience the case of Tai Ji Men, discriminated against in Taiwan.

 

Tai Ji Men is a menpai (similar to school) of qigong, martial arts, and self-cultivation, and its shifu (master) and dizi (disciple) have long been committed to international cultural exchanges, spreading the concepts of love, peace, and conscience, purifying people’s hearts, and practicing world peace. It has been highly praised by Taiwanese presidents, vice presidents, and foreign ministers.

 

Since its inception in 1966, Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy has never had any tax problem; however, in 1996, it was persecuted during a political purge in the name of a religious crackdown. Prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen fabricated witnesses and evidence to falsely accuse Tai Ji Men of fraud and tax evasion.

 

In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that Tai Ji Men was innocent of all charges and did not owe any taxes but the saga went on because the National Tax Bureau refused to fully apply the court decision and on 21 August 2020, the National Taxation Bureau, in cooperation with the Administrative Enforcement Agency, unlawfully auctioned Tai Ji Men’s land.

 

Conclusion of the seminar held on the day after World Press Freedom Day

 

In the first part of the event, a number of experts shared their perception of the injustice Tai Ji Men has been a victim of for 25 years.

 

In the second part, members of that movement testified about their own perception of this ordeal which has been part of their daily life for so many years.

 

“Yesterday, 3rd of May, was the World Press Freedom Day and lots of initiatives were taken everywhere to celebrate this Day. The zero press freedom in Russia to report about the invasion and the war in Ukraine shows how important it is to support bloggers, journalists and media outlets. Indeed, when freedom of expression is muzzled, there is a vacuum that a dictator can fill in with his propaganda to be accepted as THE truth, his truth.

 

Brave journalists risk their liberty and even their life to report freely and independently but there are also so-called journalists who willingly contribute to spread fake news because of monetary or ideological corruption, said Massimo Introvigne, former OSCE representative on combatting racism, xenophobia and discrimination. This is the case in the dictatorial regime of Vladimir Putin but it is also the case in democratic countries like France, Germany, Italy and even the US where peaceful and law-abiding religious and spiritual minorities have been raided by state armed forces with tragic consequences. In such countries police forces or magistrates have unofficially told media people about their unannounced upcoming crackdown on religious groups so that they send reporters and camera operators.

 

This is what also happened to Tai Ji Men in Taiwan in 1996 when Prosecutor Hou Kuan-Jen perpetuated this illegal practice. As a result, Tai Ji Men, its leaders and its members were demonized by media people whose biased shocking story-telling was just meant to increase the sale of their newspapers but indirectly they also served the interests of the State which wanted to stigmatize Tai Ji Men and find some sort of public justification of its operation.

 

As a conclusion of his presentation, Massimo Introvigne said “As we celebrate the World Press Freedom Day, we should tell journalists that we are here to defend their freedom, but we cannot defend them against their own personal corruption.”

 

Marco Respinti paid a vibrant tribute to US Senator Orrin Hatch who passed away two weeks ago at the age of 88. His two main interests were the fight for religious liberty and against abuses of the tax administration targeting religious and spiritual movements. Senator Hatch was well aware that leaks from state officials to the media did not happen by coincidence but were an attempt by some tax bureaucrats to damage certain movements for ideological or political reasons. He reminded the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that nobody, even a powerful tax agency, is above the law. In his mind, tax reform and the defense of freedom of religion or belief were inseparable.

 

The testimonies of the dizi are always very precious for the debate in our webinars.

 

Susan Liu

 

Susan Liu, an international hotel staff, stressed that Prosecutor Hou violated the investigation’s non-disclosure rule and continued to leak biased news to the media, with more than 400 sensational serial reports (an average of 3-4 per day during the investigation period), and more than 70 broadcasts by 12 TV stations, creating a negative perception of our case by public opinion. The TV news and print media reports have caused anxiety in Taiwanese society as well as great harm to their Shifu and the Tai Ji Men dizis. The media at that time did not verify the news about TJM, nor did they make balanced reports, she said. They just reported whatever information the prosecutors gave them without checking it. This is not ethical journalism, she said.

 

Joanne Dai

 

Joanne Dai, an educator, recalled that three reports on the Tai Ji Men case had been submitted by a French NGO, CAP/ Conscience et Liberté, to the United Nations, warning that taxes are often used as a weapon of discrimination against minority religion and spiritual groups. This has become a global issue and one that the human rights community should be aware of, she said.

 

Yawen Chen

 

Yawen Chen focused on the breaches of the laws by Prosecutor Hou and the NTB committed which were officially identified.

 

The Control Yuan, the inspection arm of Taiwan’s government, indicated in its 2002 report eight major violations of law by Prosecutor Hou. In 2009, the Control Yuan carried out another investigation on the NTB in relation to their misconducts for handling Tai Ji Men case. Seven instances of serious misconduct were found.

 

Despite these thorough reports, no Directors, officers or prosecutor was penalised by any disciplinary actions.

 

Sonia Wang

Sonia Wang, a senior High School Teacher, said that according to the report on World Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders in 2021, China, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Djibouti, and Vietnam have the worst press freedom in the world.

 

The top countries are Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Costa Rica; in Asia, South Korea ranked 42, ranking first and Taiwan ranked 43.

 

While Taiwan’s journalism industry is less oppressed, she said, it is easy to polarize the news environment for profit. This indicates that Taiwanese media still has room for improvement in balancing reporting and monitoring power, she concluded.

 

Ajong Tseng

 

Ajong Tseng, a live streamer, stressed that the Taiwanese media is greatly influenced by political and commercial interests.  Many editors and media reporters lack independent thinking and are often moved by political purposes.  As a result, facts and truth are covered up and the views of the public are manipulated by the media. This has quite a negative impact on freedom, democracy, and human rights in Taiwan.

 

To thwart this trend in the Taiwanese media, Ajong Tseng created, with others, a media public service channel on a social platform to debunk the fake news about Tai Ji Men and publish the true facts.

 

Yin Liu

 

Yin Liu, the managing director of a biotechnology company, recalled that in 1996, the Taiwanese government carried out a political purge in the name of cracking down on cults that had allegedly committed crimes. Tai Ji Men was on the blacklist of the government although it had not violated any law.

 

At that time, the internet was only in its infancy. TV and print media were the major information sources for most people. For this reason, when Tai Ji Men was demonized by the government and the media, tens of thousands of Tai Ji Men dizi and their families were also vilified, stigmatized and discriminated against in society. I can still remember, he said, that when I was dressed in my Tai Ji Men uniform and walking through the streets, there were always people looking at me and commenting negatively.”

 

He also remembers that a friend working in the Ministry of Justice had told his parents that they were on their investigation list.”

 

Further reading: Press coverage in Brussels

 

The Tai Ji Men Case comes from Taiwan to Belgium

Tai Ji Men: Abusive taxation and denial of justice in Taiwan

Abusive Taxation and Denial of Justice in the Tai Ji Men Case in Taiwan

The Tai Ji Men Case and European Values: A Test for Democratic Taiwan

 

Photo credits: EU Today





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RUSSIAN FAKE NEWS CORNER: 2nd May 2014 Tragedy in Odessa: Russian lies, lies, lies…

FAKE NEWS CORNER: The 2nd May 2014 Tragedy in Odessa: Russian lies, lies, lies…

By Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers

 

HRWF (06.05.2022) – https://bit.ly/39H51uZOn 5 May 2022, the spokesman of the Russian ambassador in Paris said on the French LCI TV channel that Ukrainian pro-Maidan activists had killed over 30 Ukrainian pro-Russian activists in 2014 and this was then a war crime!

 

As usual, it is the opposite that is true. In chronological order, Ukrainian pro-Russian activists then attacked pro-Maidan demonstrators in the center of the city and hours later staged another provocation kilometers from the center which got out of control and led to a human tragedy. By chance, I was there two weeks later, carried out an investigation for several days and published a report that was confirmed by the Council of Europe years later. Since 2014, Russia has repeated its lies again and again about the tragedy in Odessa.

 

HRWF Report HERE

Council of Europe Report HERE

Kharkiv Human Protection Group Reports:

https://khpg.org/en/1407453894: Odessa ‘massacre’ propaganda v. the facts (2015)

https://khpg.org/en/1407682047: Dangerous silence over police role in Odessa events (2015)

https://khpg.org/en/1424029464: Odesa May 2 trial turns into farce as Russia continues ‘massacre’ propaganda (2015)

https://khpg.org/en/1427458492: Fake Odesa ‘mass riots’ staged for Russian TV (2015)

https://khpg.org/en/1428196611: More evidence against incendiary lies about Odesa 2 May (2015)

https://khpg.org/en/1430087187: Odesa May 2 Investigation: A failed test for Ukrainian justice (2015)

https://khpg.org/en/1432470441: Finding the real culprits of the events in Odesa on May 2, 2014 (2015)

https://khpg.org/en/1432412747: Movement at last in Odesa May 2 investigation (2015)

https://khpg.org/en/1441584924: Vital Probe of Odesa May 2 Tragedy stymied because of questions answered? (2015)

https://khpg.org/en/1444010513: Odesa May 2 Suspect ‘We were financed by Moscow’ (2015)

https://khpg.org/en/1446644277: Ukrainian authorities slated over Odesa May 2 investigation (2015)

https://khpg.org/en/1448751774: Prosecutor suspected of involvement in Odesa May 2 tragedy (2015)

https://khpg.org/en/1448801025: Why Ukraine’s leaders abetting Russian ‘May Massacre’ lies (2015)

https://khpg.org/en/1455403660: Ukraine’s Prosecutor General shelves vital Odesa May 2 investigation (2016)

https://khpg.org/en/1459171051: Two years later, Kremlin’s lethal lies about Odesa fire still motivate Donbas recruits (2016)

https://khpg.org/en/1459115877: Sabotage or corruption? Crucial suspect in Odesa May 2 tragedy allowed to escape (2016)

https://khpg.org/en/1505775298: Dramatic acquittals in trial over Odesa 2 May 2014 riots (2017)





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RUSSIA: Invaders fire on evacuation buses, abduct driver for propaganda video

Russian invaders fire on evacuation buses, abduct driver for propaganda video

By Halya Coynash

 

KHRPG (04.05.2022) – https://bit.ly/3FhIhxn – Two days after Russian forces fired on evacuation buses in Popasna (Luhansk oblast), the volunteer driver of one of the buses has been forced to appear on a propaganda video for Russian television.  The other bus, which was carrying humanitarian aid, has vanished. 

 

Luhansk Regional Governor Serhiy Haidai reported on 1 May that the driver, Mykhailo Pankiv, had been found, in Russian custody, two days after the invaders shelled evacuation transport in Popasna.  Ukrainian soldiers had gone to the scene after the shelling, but found only one bloodstained but empty bus.  He explained that there is no sign of the second bus which was carrying humanitarian aid, but was due to collect people on the way back.  All contact with the driver has been lost.

 

Haidai first explained early on 30 April that 31 people had been evacuated from Popasna, but that, since there were more people who wanted to leave, they had sent two buses back to the city, one of them with humanitarian aid.  They knew that they had reached Popasna before coming under fire.

 

It became clear that at least Pankiv had been seized by the Russians on 1 May after NTV, one of the most notorious Russian propaganda channels, broadcast a video of an ‘interview’ with the Ukrainian driver.  Haidai is doubtless correct in stating that Pankiv was forced by his captors to say that the Ukrainian authorities were not evacuating people and that they had left them to their own devices.  “Lies which Russians just live on.  They kill, lie and destroy”.

 

From numerous other such propaganda videos over the past eight years,  there are, unfortunately, strong grounds for fearing that Pankiv was tortured, or perhaps threatened, into repeating the lies.  Haidai explains that Pankiv is a school history teacher who has for many weeks now been helping Popasna residents from fleeing to safety, as well as taking food to those in need.  He had already come under fire on several occasions, but continued his work until seized by the invaders.

 

It is also disturbing, Haidai adds, that the Russians have seized a school bus and could use it to stage some kind of false flag stunt. 

 

Haidai has been urging residents of all of government-controlled Luhansk oblast to evacuate for several weeks now, for their own safety and to enable the Ukrainian Armed Forces to defend the oblast against a major Russian offensive.  He stated on 30 April that, despite the loss of the two buses in Popasna and another bus in Rubizhne, they were continuing to evacuate people every day,  

 

On 21 April, Ukraine’s Military Intelligence [HUR] reported that they had intercepted a conversation between the Russian invaders essentially ordering the killing of almost all Ukrainian prisoners of war.  The order is to “release them forever, forever, so that nobody, including their families ever see them again”.  HUR points out that this is a clear war crime, for which those responsible will be held to answer.

 

Just before beginning Russia’s total invasion and war against Ukraine, Russian leader Vladimir Putin enacted a farce in which he pretended to seek advice from high-ranking officials and then ‘recognized’ the Russian proxy ‘Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics’.  It was clear even then that this was an effective statement of war since he said that Russia ‘recognized’ these illegal armed formations, not as they existed then (over around one third of Donbas), but covering the entire Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.   While it is these that Russia is claiming as its excuse for bombing and killing civilians throughout most of Ukraine, it has also seized parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts which it is clearly not planning to give up.

Photo credits: KHPG





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RUSSIA: Putin’s War on Europe: Where lies South Asia?

Putin’s War on Europe: Where lies South Asia?

 

HRWF (03.05.2022) – On April 22, 2022, South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) held a webinar entitled “Putin’s War on Europe – Where Lies South Asia?”. The event was moderated by Paulo Casaca, Director of SADF, with two invited guests, namely Dr. Siegfried O. Wolf, Director of Research at SADF, Affiliated Senior Researcher at South Asia Institute at Heidelberg University in Germany, and Dr. Zsuzsa Anna Ferenczy, Assistant Professor at National Dong Hwa University in Hualien, Taiwan, Expert Consultant on China, Taiwan, India and the Korean Peninsula at HRWF, and former Political Advisor in the European Parliament.

 

Speaking on Pakistan, Dr. Wolf first presented the recent developments in domestic politics in the country, in light of the demise of Prime Minister Imran Khan. In power since 2018, Khan has had to face many challenges, enjoying the support of the army, until now. According to observers, relations with the United States were a factor leading to his fall, although not the most important one.

 

Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Khan travelled to Moscow on an official visit, seeking to expand bilateral cooperation in the energy sector and to reinforce trade relations more broadly. Khan also refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, suggesting this was proof of the country’s independent foreign policy. In contrast, prior to Khan’s fall, General Bajwa of Pakistan condemned Russia’s aggression, making a parallel between Ukraine, as a country threatened by a large aggressive neighbor, and Pakistan. He also stressed that Pakistan’s army does not support Moscow’s war.

 

In her remarks on India’s stance on the war in Ukraine, Dr. Ferenczy first stressed that the war against Ukraine, as well as Beijing’s political support for Moscow are pushing the EU to re-evaluate its relations with both Russia and China, as well as its own self-perception as a geopolitical power in the Indo-Pacific.

 

Since the war started, Ukraine, while under attack, has been strengthening its democracy, while Russia has grown increasingly isolated, and NATO and the EU more united than ever. The EU’s ties with China and a focus on the Indo-Pacific are the central pillars of the EU’s efforts to redefine its role, the Indo-Pacific being a region that has become the key driving force of trade-led growth, but also a region where China’s coercion has been the most acute. In the past years, Australia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan have all been victims of China’s economic coercion.

 

While the idea of an Indo-Pacific region is not new, the EU has only recently embraced the concept with its own Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, in a response to the changing balance of power in Asia. The Strategy is based on the understanding of the fact that although the region may seem far away from Europe, a conflict in the Indo-Pacific will have an impact on European prosperity and security. Europe has an interest in maintaining a rules-based order in the region, Dr. Ferenczy stressed, and relies on partnerships with like-minded partners. India, as well as Taiwan, are important partners in this regard.

 

Concerning India’s stance on the war against Ukraine, Delhi has been seeking to balance its position. It has for years maintained its longstanding friendship with Russia, while growing closer to the EU and US. But the geopolitical reality is that India sits in a tense security environment and essentially seeks to look out for its own strategic interests. India is also dependent on Russia in terms of its defence, and given that its biggest concern in the region is China, defence remains crucial for Delhi.

 

India’s ambivalent posture on the war should therefore be understood in this context. Seen from this perspective, for India to seek a diplomatic balance on Ukraine it is an uncomfortable necessity. It is important for the EU to consider and understand this reality, given India’s relevance in the Indo-Pacific to the EU’s geopolitical ambitions.

 

Europe sees India as crucial for maintaining the balance of power in the region, Ferenczy stressed, but it is also in India’s interest to stay close to the EU and support European countries as they face Russia’s aggression. Such support is something Europe expects, as it expects the same from China. Yet, relations with China are at present in a very different stage, as the EU-China bilateral summit in April suggested. Beijing’s political support to Moscow, and their rhetorical alignment are not helping EU-China ties get back to ‘business as usual’, which is certainly what Beijing might want to see. This is not what Brussels would welcome, given the imbalance in bilateral ties at the expense of European interests.

 

Going forward, the China factor will remain central to how India relates to Russia’s war against Ukraine. It will be important however that the EU and India find a way to strengthen their cooperation. The EU should elevate India in its own approach to the Indo-Pacific, and India should equally proactively support ongoing cooperation with the EU, in areas such as maritime security, AI, digital transition, climate change.

 

The EU and India should also cooperate more and better in multilateral initiatives. As such, there is value in exploring cooperation within the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, that India, Australia and Japan have put forward in order to build sustainable, diverse and secure post-pandemic global supply chains that take the focus away from Chinese manufacturing. This could also create more space for Taiwan’s participation and contribution, Dr. Ferenczy concluded.

 

Photo credits: BBC


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