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At a low key but dignified ceremony held in the EUMS premises on 30 Jun 2020, Vice Admiral Hervé Bléjean (FR) assumed command of the EU Military Staff and the Military Planning Conduct Capability from his predecessor Lieutenant General Esa Pulkkinen (FI). Normally such an occasion would be marked by a formal public military parade with many distinguished guests and military bands but owing to COVID-19 today's event was minimalist in terms of pomp and ceremony but no less important for that.

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The EU and Georgia held the 13th round of their annual Human Rights Dialogue by video-conference on 2 July 2020. Reviewing developments since the previous dialogue in May 2019, the dialogue allowed as previously for an open, constructive exchange on the human rights situation in Georgia, on Georgia's commitment to making sustainable progress in human rights protection and on the latest developments with the EU's policy for the promotion and protection of democracy and human rights.

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Nationwide voting in the Russian Federation on constitutional amendments concluded on 1 July. Some amendments concern changes in the political system and the work of the executive, legislative and judicial branches.

The European Union regrets that, in the run up to this vote, campaigning both for and against was not allowed, thereby denying voters access to balanced information.

In the almost ten years since civil war began in Syria, I have followed closely its appalling developments and the horrors that the Syrian people have gone through. I come from a country that went through a civil war and perfectly know how it divides and destroys a society.

More than 12 million Syrians, half of the pre-war population, had to flee their homes. Over half a million have lost their lives. An entire generation of Syrian children has only known war. As Europeans, we have collectively been unable to stop these massacres at the gates of our continent. When we pursue our efforts to build a stronger Common Foreign and Security Policy for the EU, I often think of Syria and what we could have done there.

The Ministry of People's Power for Foreign Affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the European Union's External Action Service inform the international community that today, the Venezuelan Minister of People's Power for Foreign Affairs, Jorge Arreaza, and the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, held a phone conversation in which they agreed on the need to maintain the framework of diplomatic relations, especially at times when cooperation between both parties can facilitate the path of political dialogue.

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Establishing a strong and independent National Bank has been a fundamental achievement for Ukraine, and remains crucial to the country’s future success. Over the past years, the National Bank of Ukraine has taken bold and much needed steps to ensure Ukraine’s macro-financial stability and facilitate a sustainable economic recovery.

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Today, as part of the EU's global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the EU - through its Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) - has adopted a new assistance package to protect migrants, stabilise local communities and respond to COVID-19 in North Africa. This package includes €80 million in new funds as well as €30 million reallocated from non-contracted actions under the EUTF.

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On 18 June, the European Union and Mercosur concluded negotiations on the Political Dialogue and Cooperation part as well as on the Preamble, and on the General, Institutional and Final provisions of the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement.

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The EU welcomes Indonesia’s decision to allow safe disembarkation and provide humanitarian assistance and protection to the nearly 100 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, stranded off the northern coast of Aceh last week.

The rescue of the Rohingya refugees - facing dire conditions – respects international law and proves the generosity of the Indonesian people and government.

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