World News #16

Western Europe

EU

Green light from the European parliament for the Covid vaccination certificate

The work of MEPs on the document aimed at facilitating travel within the Union and contributing to economic recovery has been completed. The text will now have to be formally adopted by the Council and published in the Official Journal, for it to enter into force and become applicable on the first of July, 2021.

EU flight ban for Belarusian aircraft

Following the arrest of journalist Roman Protasevich, a ban on Belarusian aircrafts flying over EU airspace and accessing European airports came into force on the 4th of June. The decision follows the conclusions of the European Council of the 24th and 25th of  May 2021, in which EU heads of state and government strongly condemned the forced and illegal landing of the Ryanair flight in Minsk on the 23rd of May, which had endangered air safety.

Von der Leyen: “The recovery is about to begin”

“I thank all 27 Member States for the titanic work they have done. So, in less than a year, we are there, our recovery is about to begin, the plans are the beacon and the money will start arriving in the coming weeks”. These were the words of the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen during her speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. “To date we have received 23 national plans, plans that send a very clear message: Europeans are ready for a new start. Our citizens are ready to live sustainably, more digitally and more resiliently in the future,” the President of the European Commission added.

Rome

Government, redundancies: hypothesis on interventions based on sectors

The government has opened the door to the possibility of selective intervention in the layoffs freeze; there could be an extension only for the sectors most in crisis, such as textiles and footwear , with a release instead for those in recovery, such as construction. As of the first of  July, companies using the ‘Covid Layoff ‘ will no longer be subject to the ban on dismissing employees. 

United Kingdom 

Policeman pleads guilty to murder of Sarah Everard

At a pre-trial hearing in London’s Old Bailey court, former Scotland Yard officer Wayne Couzens pleaded guilty to kidnapping, raping and murdering 33-year-old Sarah Everard in March. Couzens admitted that he caught the woman as she was returning home in the evening in a residential area of London, that he abused her to the point of death and that he dumped her body in a remote part of Kent. However, he rejected the charge of voluntary manslaughter.

France

Beaune, EU Council 2022: priority is minimum wage and equal pay

Clément Beaune, French Minister for European Affairs, gave an interview to Le Monde in which he explains the objectives he intends to achieve when he takes over the rotating presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2022. “The issues on which we hope to make progress will be the directive being negotiated on minimum wages, equal pay for women and men or the issue of platform workers,” he said.

Germany

Cdu’s victory in Saxony Anhalt

The Christian Democrats have won the elections in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, increasing their support from 29.8% to 35% compared to five years ago. The prospect of a breakthrough by the right-wing Alternative fur Deutschland vanished. Beate Bettecken, a member of the Cdu leadership in Saxony-Anhalt, said of the victory: “I’m happy that so many people went to vote for us and confirmed the party as the strongest here, despite the negative polls we had seen.

Spain

Catalonia, Junqueras: referendum agreed only way 

Catalonia’s former vice-president Oriol Junqueras has declared himself against the possibility of holding a new referendum on the Spanish region’s independence that is not the result of a pact with the state. He signed this in a letter published by Catalan newspaper Ara and Spanish television La Sexta. “More than three years after the 1 October referendum, we in ERC must be aware that our response was not understood as fully legitimate by an important part of society, including in Catalan society.” For this reason, according to Junqueras, the solution comes through a “granted referendum” like Scotland’s in 2014, because “other paths are neither feasible nor desirable”.

Eastern Europe

Belarus

Protasevich’s confession on state TV, for many extorted

Roman Protasevich, in an interview aired on state TV, admitted to organising ‘mass unrest’ and trying to overthrow Lukashenko’s government. The Lukashenko regime speaks of an “interview”, but for many observers, the declarations of the Belarusian opponent are,in fact, the result of a blatant violation of human rights: a confession snatched by force and a new abuse of power by the Belarusian authorities after the hijacking of the Ryanair flight to Misk.

Slovenia

Prime Minister Janša accused of restricting freedom of expression 

Slovenia’s prime minister is accused of restricting freedom of expression in the country. Every Friday in the capital Ljubljana, for the past year, hundreds of protesters have gathered in front of the parliament to demonstrate against Janez Janša’s government and in defence of press freedom. “They are trying to destroy our media. This government is not doing anything good for us. As a future journalist, I am angry and sad,” said one protester.

Hungary

Protests against Chinese university in Budapest

Thousands of people took to the streets in a large anti-government demonstration to protest against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party and its decision to build a Chinese Fudan University campus in Budapest. It is scheduled to open in 2024. There is an ongoing clash between Beijing and liberal Budapest mayor Krisztina Baranyi who says “We will stop the Fudan project”.

Africa and Mediterranean 

Congo

57 killed in an attack on refugee camps in eastern Congo

The UN has confirmed the killing of 57 civilians following attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) on refugee camps in eastern Congo. The UN High Commissioner stressed its outrage at the atrocities, which also involved the massacre of seven children with firearms and machetes.

Lebanon 

Crisis and protests in Beirut and other cities in the country

The worst economic crisis in 30 years continues in Lebanon. In the last few days, several cities, including Beirut, have been filled with protesters denouncing living conditions that have reached their limits, the shortage of electricity, medicines and the devaluation of the local currency (down 90% from its initial value). There were also several roadblocks in Beirut, but also in Tripoli. 

Sudan

The American turnaround in Sudan

The new Sudanese government’s decision to break off the agreement for the installation of a logistics point in Port Sudan by the Russian militias seems to be final. Chief of Staff Mohamed Osman al-Hussein stressed the possibility of the country cancelling the pact signed by the lapsed president. The political weight of the decision was demonstrated by the removal of Sudan from the US list of countries considered supporters of international terrorism. The new relationship with Washington has also been strengthened through new funding for the Sudanese economy and the project to install a military base.

Tunisia

Protests in front of the Tunisian parliament

Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of parliament calling for an end to the Mechichi government and a no-confidence vote for President Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamic Ennhadha party. Today’s event was the latest in a long series led by Abir Moussi, leader of the PDL (Free Destourian Party), which is leading in the polls. Moussi had long since started an accusatory campaign against the government, accused of being the author of Tunisia’s ruin. 

Al Soumoud and opposition call for referendum on current political system

The opposition coalition, led by Al Soumoud, is increasingly calling for a referendum on the effectiveness of Tunisia’s political system. The coordinator of the opposition, Houssem Hammi, denounced in the Asharq al Awsat newspaper the impossibility of establishing a constructive dialogue with the institutions, stressing the inability of the government, which is indicated as the cause of the numerous political crises that have prevented the country from achieving health, social and economic improvement. 

Nigeria

Victim count of cattle rustlers rises 

According to police reports, the attack by a large group of cattle thieves, which took place last Thursday near seven villages in the north of the country, has reached 88 victims. Spokesman Nafiu Abubakar, however, confirmed that investigations were continuing. 

Twitter suspended in Nigeria

The Nigerian government has decided to suspend Twitter indefinitely. The news comes after the online platform deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari. 

Burkina Faso 

Jihadist offensive claims more than 100 victims

The attack in the north of the country proved to be the bloodiest since clashes with jihadist groups began. Security forces report a still provisional death toll, while a local source says the offensive initially hit the army post but later also civilian homes. A new attack in the village of Tadaryat immediately followed, killing 14 people.

Asia

China

The consequences of birth control on the Uighur population 

According to Reuters, the Chinese government’s birth control of the Uighur population could result in an estimated drop of between 2.6 and 4.5 million new births within the next 20 years. The projections are based on a study by German researcher Adrian Zenz, who has already catalogued a considerable drop in the number of births in the Xinjiang region.

Taiwan: new tensions between China and US

China condemned the visit of three US senators to Taiwan. The senators arrived in Taipei on Sunday and announced that the US would donate 750,000 doses of anti-Covid vaccine to the country. The Chinese government protested, calling on the US to break off all formal contact with Taiwan. Beijing, in fact, supports the ‘One China’ policy and the formal protest urges the US to “avoid sending wrong messages to secessionist forces”.

Russia

Russia withdraws from the Open Skies Treaty

President Vladimir Putin’s decision to withdraw Russia from the international Open Skies Treaty is official. The deciding factor was the unanimous votes of the lower and upper houses of parliament on 19 May and 2 June respectively. The international agreement provides for the achievement of transparency regarding military aviation activities based on the principle of reciprocal aerial observation. 

Navalny returns to the penal colony

Alexey Navalny returns to the Pokrov penal colony after being temporarily transferred to hospital. The news comes from the colony’s administration in anticipation of the hearing on the case initiated by Navalny, who will participate by videoconference. Navalny has also expressed his intention to withdraw the complaint arising from his being prevented from choosing the Koran from among his chosen books and from the censorship of some articles in newspapers. According to Tass, an agreement in principle has been reached. 

The Kremlin’s view on the Minsk case 

During a phone call between the President of the European Council Charles Michel and Vladimir Putin, the Russian President accused the sanctioning measures adopted by the EU of being counterproductive for mutual relations.

America

United States

Kamala Harris urges migrants not to enter US

US Vice President Kamala Harris spoke during her first foreign visit, addressing migrants from Guatemala and Mexico and urging them not to enter the US. Vice President Harris went on to emphasise her commitment to border protection and stressed that there are legal avenues for immigration that must be pursued. 

US prepares to respond to cyber attacks 

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the US will respond if the damaging Russian actions against the country continue. The reference was specifically to Russian cyber-attacks. 

Assault weapons ban in California overturned

A federal judge has overturned a ban on assault rifles in California. The ban had been in place for 32 years, but the judge, in compliance with the Constitution, stated “Like the Swiss Army knife, the popular Ar-15 semi-automatic rifle can serve just as well to defend one’s home and country”. The state governor, Gavin Newsom, has criticised the ruling, citing the rise in shootings and has already said he will appeal the ruling. 

Latin America

Peru

Elections: With only a few hours to go before the end of the polls Fujimori takes the lead

According to the latest polls, the prediction of a “technical tie” advocated by the Ipsos Peru institute seems to be taking shape. However, contrary to what the research says, it is candidate Keiko Fujimori who is ahead of her opponent Pedro Castillo, with the negligible advantage of 0.19%. This distance translates effectively into just 31,000 votes, with just over 7% of ballots still to be counted. 

Colombia

Strike committee decides to stop dialogue with government

Negotiations between the government and the National Strike Committee (CNP) were suspended in Colombia, following a decision by the latter, which also considered ending the dialogue for good. The Committee accused the government of President Iván Duque of obstructing solutions and denounced their refusal to reach an agreement on security in popular demonstrations.

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