France’s Macron to push EU lawmakers on reforms

French President Emmanuel Macron will travel to Berlin for crucial talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to try to win her support for his plans for the future of the eurozone. (AFP)
Updated 17 April 2018
0

France’s Macron to push EU lawmakers on reforms

  • EU leaders are set to adopt preliminary Macron-backed plans for eurozone reforms and for an overhaul of its troubled asylum system in June

STRASBOURG, France: French President Emmanuel Macron will on Tuesday address the European Parliament for the first time in a bid to shore up support for his ambitious plans for post-Brexit reforms of the EU.
The energetic young French leader wants big changes in the face of growing skepticism about the European project, but there has been a marked lack of enthusiasm from Berlin to Budapest.
Macron’s speech to MEPs in the eastern French city of Strasbourg is part of a charm offensive ahead of European Parliament elections in May 2019, the first after Britain’s departure.
“He will say that it is urgent to take action at a difficult time both inside the European Union, and outside,” said the Elysee, the French presidency, ahead of Macron’s address.
Internal problems include election results in Italy and Hungary which both saw euro skeptics surge in popularity, compounding fears that the 2016 Brexit vote was part of a pattern.
Externally the EU is dealing with the war in Syria — France and Britain joined the US in air strikes targeting the regime’s alleged chemical weapons at the weekend — a hostile Russia, and the unpredictable figure of Donald Trump in the United States.
Macron said in a television interview on Sunday that Europe was experiencing a “rise in illiberalism... the populism of people who call the rule of law into question.”
Later this week Macron will travel to Berlin for crucial talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to try to win her support for his plans for the future of the eurozone.
Merkel’s conservative CDU party pushed back on Monday against plans for deeper eurozone integration, including a separate eurozone budget and the expansion of the EU’s bailout fund.
Any reforms have to be “in the European and in the German interest,” CDU secretary-general Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told reporters.
EU leaders are set to adopt preliminary Macron-backed plans for eurozone reforms and for an overhaul of its troubled asylum system in June, but there is still a large amount of work to do.
Merkel is due to address the European Parliament in November, officials said on Monday.
In contrast, Merkel made a joint speech with then-French president Francois Hollande in Strasbourg in 2015 in which they urged unity in the face of the migrant crisis.
European lawmakers welcomed Macron’s decision to address the parliament but urged him to turn words into action as soon as possible.
Macron had “lots of projects for Europe” but “not everything he has proposed has been well received,” said Manfred Weber, a Merkel ally who heads the center-right European People’s Party, the biggest group in the European Parliament.
He added that it was a “handicap” that Macron — who rose to power on the back of his new En Marche party — did not belong to any of the main political groups in the European Parliament.


Moon says Kim agreed to allow nuke inspections

In this image made from video provided by Korea Broadcasting System (KBS), South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pose after signing documents in Pyongyang, North Korea Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. (AP)
Updated 19 September 2018
0

Moon says Kim agreed to allow nuke inspections

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have started their second day of summit talks in Pyongyang over the nuclear standoff and other inter-Korean issues
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has greeted South Korean President Moon Jae-in upon his arrival in Pyongyang for their third summit this year to improve ties and help resolve the nuclear standoff

SEOUL: North Korea has agreed to “permanently” abolish its key missile facilities in the presence of foreign experts, and is willing to close its main nuclear complex if the United States takes reciprocal action, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a joint news conference following their summit talks in Pyongyang, Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said they agreed to turn the Korean peninsula into a “land of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear threats.”
Kim said he will visit Seoul in the near future, in what would be the first-ever visit to the South’s capital by a North Korean leader.
The latest summit will be a litmus test for stalled negotiations on the North’s nuclear program between Pyongyang and Washington, and for another meeting Kim recently proposed to US President Donald Trump following their historic encounter in June in Singapore.
Moon was seeking to engineer a proposal that combines a framework for the North’s denuclearization and a joint declaration ending the 1950-53 Korean War.
Kim pledged to work toward the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” during his first encounter with Moon, and at his summit with Trump in June.
But discussions over how to implement the vague commitments have since faltered, with Washington demanding concrete action toward denuclearization by North Korea before agreeing to a key goal of Pyongyang — declaring an end to the war.
North Korea has given no indication it is willing to give up its nuclear arsenal unilaterally and is seeking relief from crippling international sanctions.
North Korea has offered to stop nuclear and missile tests but did not allowed international inspections for a dismantlemnt of its only known nuclear site in May, drawing criticism that its action could not be verified and could be easily reversed.

ART TOUR
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a news briefing on Tuesday that Washington hoped the latest inter-Korean summit would bring about “meaningful, verifiable steps toward the denuclearization of North Korea” and called it a “historic opportunity” for Kim to follow through on commitments he made with Trump.
Later on Wednesday, Moon’s delegation will tour the Mansudae Art Studio, the North’s largest producer of art where state artists build statues and produce propaganda at a sprawling complex in Pyongyang.
The institution was sanctioned by the UN Security Council last year as part of global efforts to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs by drying up its revenue sources.
Moon is also scheduled to watch the North’s signature “Brilliant Fatherland” Mass Game which was reintroduced this year following a five-year hiatus, with a formation of glowing drones, lasers and stadium-sized gymnastics shows designed to glorify the country.
The United States is pressing countries to strictly observe international sanctions, which will likely be a key theme when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hosts a Security Council meeting on North Korea on Sept. 27 on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly.

“NEW ERA“
This week’s summit is intended to craft concrete steps to implement the Panmunjom Declaration, named after the border village where they first met, Seoul officials said.
The two Koreas also adopted a separate military accord aimed at preventing armed clashes between the old foes, which are technically still at war because the Korean War ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.
The neighbors have already agreed to withdraw some guard posts and equipment, in a bid to transform the world’s most heavily fortified border into a no-weapons area.
Pyongyang says it has destroyed its main nuclear and missile engine test site, and has halted atomic and ballistic missile tests, but US officials and analysts believe it is continuing to work on its weapons plans clandestinely.
South Korea is pinning high hopes on Kim’s remarks to Moon’s special envoys earlier this month that he wanted to achieve denuclearization within Trump’s first term in office ending in early 2021. Kim at the same time also stressed Washington must reciprocate his initial “goodwill” gestures.
“While Moon has expressed his desire to agree on a concrete plan on denuclearization, we believe that the two nations still differ on this concept,” said Anwita Basu, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.
In previous, failed talks, North Korea has said it could consider giving up its nuclear program if the United States provided security guarantees by removing troops from South Korea and withdrawing its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from the South and Japan.
US officials involved in the latest negotiations have said North Korea has refused to even start discussions about defining denuclearization. (Reporting by Hyonhee Shin, Joyce Lee and Soyoung Kim; additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Lincoln Feast.)