Newsletter Exclusive – Regional Press Review (12-15 Oct.)
What is happening to the Russian Kamchatka Peninsula?
- An environmental catastrophe is emerging in Kamchatka, a 1250 km long peninsula situated in the Far East of Russia. This region is known as the “land of fire and ice” due to its frosty atmosphere and abundant supply of active volcanoes. Earlier this month, inhabitants of Kamchatka started complaining of various illnesses. People who had been in the water, especially surfers, reported that they were suffering from fever, vomiting, ocular burns, and skin irritation. It is believed that the water has been polluted with petroleum. It is still uncertain where these harmful chemicals could have originated from, but some experts have argued that they could be connected to a military base. (Euronews, October 9)
Russian police arrested protesters in the midst of ongoing demonstrations in Khabarovsk.
- The Khabarovsk police arrested dozens of protesters as riots continued against the Kremlin ‘s sudden dismissal of the regional Governor. The Far Eastern city on the Chinese border has witnessed frequent demonstrations since Governor Furgal was detained in July on decades-old charges of murder and taken to Moscow. (Radio Free Europe, October 10)
Trump’s Administration is renewing its move towards a nuclear arms deal with Russia before the elections.
- With only weeks to go until the general election, the Trump Administration is renewing its push to finalize a nuclear deal with Moscow, hoping that an agreement might force China to reconsider its position on the trilateral arms negotiations. The meeting, which took place in Geneva, initiated a follow up meeting between Trump’s Arms Control envoy Billingslea and his Russian counterpart Ryabkov. (CNN, October 13)
EU Foreign Ministers agree to sanction Russia.
- The 27 EU Foreign Ministers have agreed to sanction Russia over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and will soon start preparing measures to correspond with the proposals made last week by France and Germany. The sanctions are not expected to be approved immediately, as legal texts must be prepared and green-lighted, but the EU diplomats stated that there was wide support for asset freezes and travel bans on several Russian GRU military intelligence officials. German FM Maas added the EU is also willing to impose more sanctions on people linked to the crackdown on protesters in Belarus. (Deutsche Welle October 12)
UN chief welcomes Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire.
- UN Secretary-General Guterres has welcomed agreement on a ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone following talks held in Russia on Friday, and commended the Russian Federation for its mediation efforts. The Secretary-General also welcomed the commitment on both sides to begin substantive negotiations under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), through its Minsk Group. The cease-fire calls for a complete cessation of hostilities and allowing ethnic Armenian forces and Azerbaijan to swap prisoners and bodies of the people killed during two weeks of fighting (UN News October 10)
Nagorno-Karabakh cease-fire strained as Azerbaijan, Armenia trade accusations.
- A day-old cease-fire between Armenia and Azerbaijan has come under strain as both sides have accused the other of violations. Azerbaijan on October 11 accused Armenia of shelling a residential district in Ganca, claiming nine casualties and 34 wounded in the attack, which Armenia’s Defense Ministry called “an absolute lie” and accused Azerbaijan of shelling Stepanakert instead. The cease-fire was supposed to come into effect at noon. Leader of the ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh Haratiunian declared that the cease-fire was holding, but that the situation remained tense. EU Foreign Policy Chief Borrell urged all sides to abide by the agreement and called on “all actors, including external parties, to refrain from any actions that may lead to further casualties.” (Radio Free Europe October 11)
Azerbaijan, Armenia trade blame for truce violations in Nagorno-Karabakh fighting.
- Armenian and Azerbaijani forces continue to exchange fire in and around Nagorno-Karabakh despite international calls for both sides to implement and stick to a cease-fire, which both sides accuse the other of violating. Russian FM Lavrov invited Armenian FM Mnatsakanian to talks in Moscow on October 12, and stated that work was underway to put in place mechanisms to monitor the cease-fire. (Radio Free Europe October 13)
Azerbaijan says France is not neutral in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
- FM Bayramov accused France on Saturday of not being neutral when it comes to mediating the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The official claimed that France had violated the principle of neutrality, mentioning that he had not noticed any such violations by Russia. (Reuters October 10)
Azerbaijan’s Aliyev warns Moscow talks “Last Chance” For Armenia.
- President Aliyev stated he is giving Armenia a “last chance” to resolve a conflict over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, as his country will reclaim the territory “either via peace or by war.” “The conflict is now being settled by military means and political means will come next,” the official warned, criticizing the nearly three decades of international talks as not yielding “an inch of progress; we haven’t been given back an inch of the occupied lands.” (Radio Free Europe October 9)
Russian, Turkish Defense Chiefs discuss Karabakh war.
- The Defense Ministers of Russia and Turkey discussed continuing hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone by phone on Monday. Turkish Defense Minister Akar told his Russian counterpart Shoigu that Armenian forces must immediately be removed from Azerbaijan’s “occupied lands,” with Turkey supporting the Azeri offensive to retake them. Russian FM Lavrov also called Turkish FM Çavuşoğlu to inform him that Moscow expects Ankara to support the ceasefire agreement. A senior advisor to Armenian PM Pashinian stated earlier in the day that the Turks are “pressuring” Azerbaijan to continue military operations in Karabakh and thus torpedo Russian mediation efforts. (Azatutyun October 12)
Russia suspends two Bulgarian diplomats.
- Russia declared that it is evacuating two Bulgarian diplomats after two employees at the Russian Embassy in Sofia were forced to leave after being accused of military espionage. Describing Bulgaria’s move last month as groundless, the Russian summoned Bulgaria’s Ambassador to Moscow to inform him on 12 October that the two Bulgarian diplomats had been declared “personae non gratae.” (Radio Free Europe, October 12)
Commission calls for “good faith” in Greece-Bulgaria deals with North Macedonia.
- The implementation of North Macedonia’s Prespa Agreement and Treaty on Good Neighborly Relations, both signed in 2018, should continue to be implemented in “good faith,” EU spokesperson Pisonero declared. The deals allowed North Macedonia to join NATO and revive its EU talks, which could begin next year. The Prespa Agreement called for then-Macedonia to add the word “North” to its name to end a dispute with Greece. The Friendship Deal with Bulgaria provided a joint committee to resolve bilateral historical issues, but the committee has not met in one year. Bulgaria has circulated a memorandum regarding Skopje’s “red lines,” calling it unable to cope with its own past; earlier this week, a group of Bulgarian scientists criticized the memorandum, asking Bulgarian authorities to “change their paradigm.” (Euractiv October 8)
Bulgaria: MEPs call for EU values to be fully and unconditionally respected.
- In a resolution adopted with 358 votes in favor, 277 against and 56 abstentions, MEPs have expressed their “unequivocal support for the people of Bulgaria in their legitimate demands and aspirations for justice, transparency, accountability and democracy.” They condemned the police violence and “disproportionate intervention,” as well as the “unlawful and excessive audits” into businesses that support the protests. The officials noted a “significant deterioration of respect for the principles of rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights, including the independence of the judiciary, separation of powers, the fight against corruption and freedom of the media,” among other concerns. (IBNA October 8)
BRUSSELS/SOFIA–Heavy defeat over Bulgaria’s rule of law.
- The European People’s Party (EPP) suffered a heavy defeat on October 8 over a resolution condemning the democratic backsliding and corruption under the rule of Bulgarian PM Borissov, and supporting the protests demanding his resignation. The EPP had made efforts to amend the draft resolution by replacing its critical texts with praise for GERB, and by deflecting criticism toward President Radev. However, all the amendments introduced by the EPP’s MEP Metsola (Malta) were defeated in a vote on October 7. (Euractiv October 9)
2020 Polls: OSCE/ODIHR cancels short term election observation.
- OSCE/ODIHR has announced that it will limit the Election Observation Mission deployed to Georgia to a core team of 13 experts and 27 long-term observers, cancelling plans for sending 350 short-term observers due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions. According to the statement, OSCE/ODIHR member states were unable to provide short-term observers in sufficient numbers “for meaningful observation of election day procedures.” The same cutback also affected observation missions in Moldova and Ukraine. (civil.ge October 11)
Constitutional Reform Commission formed in Abkhazia.
- On October 9, Moscow-backed Abkhaz leader Bzhania signed a decree on the formation of Constitutional Reform Commission, aimed to develop amendments to the Abkhaz “constitution,” involving reform of the state power and governance system. Bzhania introduced the idea of constitutional changes soon after coming into power in April, stating that amendments should be undertaken to “deal with a number of problems.” The Abkhaz constitution was adopted in 1994 and has been amended several times, most recently in 2016. (civil.ge October 12)
ECHR finds Georgia guilty in 2009 LGBT office raid.
- The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that the 2009 police raid on an LGBT rights organization office in Tbilisi violated the European Convention on Human Rights. The complaint was filed by two employees in 2011, claiming that “the police had subjected them to physical and mental abuse with clear homophobic and/or transphobic overtones” when 17 police officers raided their office and strip-searched employees, also claiming that the discriminatory nature of the raid was disregarded in the investigation process. The ECHR held that Georgian authorities “had not undertaken a single investigative act” or probed into “the role played by homophobic/transphobic motives” in the alleged police abuse, and ruled that Georgia was to pay each applicant EUR 2,000 in respect of nonpecuniary damage. (Civil.ge October 8)
MFA Georgia responds to opening of so-called Embassy of occupied Abkhazia in Syria.
- Georgia has “strongly condemned the Assad Regime’s illegal decision on the establishment of so-called diplomatic relations with the Russian occupation regimes in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali.” Calling the opening of the Embassy of Abkhazia to Syria “a follow-on to the totally illegal decision, which the Assad Regime took in 2018, under Russia’s pressure, and yet another violation of the fundamental norms and principles of international law,” Georgia announced that it will suspend its diplomatic relations with Syria in response. (Georgia Today October 6)
Georgia detains two state experts over ceding lands to Azerbaijan.
- The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG) has detained two Border Demarcation Commission members, stating that the two deliberately used maps from the 1970-80s, did not conduct the necessary expert works, and did not include cartography specialists when agreeing on the state border, which led to a discrepancy of 3500 hectares. They are now facing investigation for violation of the territorial integrity of the country, which foresees imprisonment for a term of 10 to 15 years. (civil.ge October 7)
Moldovan diplomacy head has phone discussion with Georgian counterpart.
- Foreign Affairs and European Integration Minister Tulea had a phone conversation with Georgian FM Zalkaliani. The two officials discussed Moldovan-Georgian relations and prospects for their development in more sectors, including through extending the formats of regional cooperation and international organizations, as well as preparatory measures for the forthcoming elections in both countries. The FMs agreed on boosting contacts and mutual support within the elective bodies from the UN, BSEC (Black Sea Economic Cooperation), GUAM (Organization for Democracy and Economic Development), as well as the Eastern Partnership’s platform. (Moldpres October 9)
Just weeks before presidential vote, GRECO raps Moldova over failure to tackle corruption.
- A new report from the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body GRECO has found that Moldova has made little progress in implementing reforms to improve the prevention of corruption since 2018. Criticizing the lack of progress made to meet its recommendations, and pointing out continuing issues in the abuse of emergency procedures for the adoption of laws, the lack of a code of conduct and other anti-corruption measures for parliamentarians, the lack of clear, predictable and comprehensive rules on the appointment and promotion of judges, and the lack of transparent procedures and monitoring in the judiciary process, GRECO concluded that Moldova’s level of compliance remains “globally unsatisfactory.” (Emerging Europe October 13)
Progress made in United Nations—Moldova Partnership assessed at joint meeting.
- PM Chicu and UN Resident Coordinator Springett co-chaired the fourth meeting of the UN–Moldova Partnership Framework for Sustainable Development 2018-2022. The event was attended by the coordination committee of the UN-Moldova Partnership Framework and by representatives of UN agencies in Moldova. The participants reviewed progress made in 2019 in the context of the UN-Moldova Partnership Framework, and established joint working plans for 2020 and for the UN Moldova Covid-19 Response and Recovery Plan. (Moldpres October 12)
Moldova’s Reintegration Bureau takes note in case of policeman seized by breakaway Transnistrian structures.
- On October 8, the Florești Police Inspectorate were notified of a police officer being kidnapped by hooded persons wearing clothes with the КГБ inscription. The Reintegration Policies Bureau and Moldova’s Delegation to the Joint Control Commission (JCC) have contacted the Transnistrian side to ask for explanations. The subject was forwarded to mediators in the 5+2 format and will be tackled by Moldova’s Delegation to JCC at the Commission’s meeting this week. The Interior Ministry has mobilized forces to locate and release the police officer, and the Florești Prosecutor’s Office has opened a criminal file. (Moldpres October 7)
Romania, U.S. sign 2020–2030 defense cooperation roadmap.
- Romania’s Defense Minister Ciuca and U.S. Secretary of Defense Esper signed the Roadmap for Defense Cooperation for 2020-2030 on October 8 in Washington. The document outlines strategic priorities for strengthening cooperation in the Black Sea region and the continuous rotation of U.S. forces in Romania. It also includes collaboration in cybersecurity, resilience, and U.S. assistance to help Romania modernize its armed forces. (Romania Insider October 12)
Implementation plan for Romanian’s 2020-2024 National Defense Strategy, Defense White Paper approved.
- The Supreme Council for National Defense (CSAT) has approved documents for Romania’s 2020-2024 National Defense Strategy, including an implementation plan, a strategic defense analysis, and the Defense White Papers. The implementation plan will secure an updated legal framework, streamline and modernize public institutions, and better monitor strategies and documents. The strategic defense analysis plans three stages to complete the Army Modernization Program by 2026, the reorganization of the Romanian Army by 2032, and the Army Program in 2040. The Defense White Papers concern the implementation of established objectives to ensure the security of citizens and the defense of the land, national values, and interests, and underpins the military strategy and the Defense Planning Directive. (Actmedia October 7)
Borrell throws Turkey hot potato back into EU leaders’ hands.
- The Turkish Navy has announced that the Oruç Reis research ship, which had been withdrawn “for maintenance” in September, will be sent back to disputed waters in the Mediterranean. “This will lead to new tensions instead of contributing to de-escalation efforts we were calling for at the last European Council,” EU top diplomat Borrell stated after an EU Foreign Ministers gathering in Luxembourg. Earlier this month, the EU threatened to bring in sanctions on Turkey if it failed to stop what the bloc called illegal drilling and energy exploration activities in waters claimed by Cyprus and Greece, but Turkey called the threat of sanctions “unconstructive.” The issue will be once again on the table at the next EU summit on 15 October. (Euractiv October 13)
Turkish Cypriots vote for new leader amid east Mediterranean tensions.
- Turkish-held Northern Cyprus voted for a new leader on October 11, amid charges of meddling by President Erdoğan. The election pitted the incumbent Mustafa Akıncı, who supports the eventual reunification of Cyprus as an EU member, against right-wing nationalist and current leader Ersin Tatar, who is backed by Erdoğan. Preliminary estimates from the electoral commission predicted Tatar won more than 33% of the votes, followed by Akıncı with 28%. The two leading candidates will face off in a second round on October 18. (Euractiv October 12)
Iraqi official stresses closer cooperation with Turkey.
- During an October 11 meeting with the Turkish Ambassador to Iraq, Iraqi National Security Advisor al-Araji stressed the importance of coordination between the two countries. Their coordination “must be developed and all obstacles in front of such coordination should be removed … in order to create balanced relations on the basis of mutual interests,” the official declared. The Turkish Ambassador has offered an official invitation to PM al-Kadhimi to visit Turkey. (Hurriyet October 12)
Amos J. Hochstein: Naftogaz faces increasing sabotage from corrupt forces.
- U.S. Energy Expert Hochstein announced his resignation from the supervisory board of state-owned energy firm Naftogaz, citing constant sabotage by outside forces, political pressure, and efforts by oligarchs to enrich themselves through questionable transactions. Hochstein’s resignation is the latest warning sign that reforms in Ukraine are being stymied by powerful politicians and oligarchs. The nation’s largest producer of natural gas, Naftogaz has been at the center of Ukraine’s corruption scandals over the past two decades. After Ukrainians overthrew President Yanukovych in 2014, the U.S. and Europe tied financial aid to the country’s progress on reforms, with a major focus on Naftogaz. (Radio Free Europe October 13)
Venice Commission criticizes parts of Zelensky’s judicial reform bill.
- The Venice Commission has criticized some aspects of Ukraine’s judicial reform legislation in an October 9 assessment of a bill submitted by President Zelensky to the Verkhovna Rada in June. The Venice Commission lambasted Ukraine’s efforts to increase the powers of the controversial High Council of Justice, called for ensuring its integrity, and also recommended improving criteria for ensuring the independence and integrity of foreign experts who will help Ukraine choose judicial bodies. (Kyiv Post October 11)
Kuleba advocates expanding Ukraine’s diplomatic presence in Central Europe.
- FM Kuleba has advocated optimizing Ukraine’s diplomatic presence abroad, particularly in Central Europe. The Minister previously announced the opening of a new Consulate in Sighetu Marmației, Romania, and on October 12 President Zelensky announced the opening of another Consulate in Wroclaw, Poland. (Ukrinform October 13)
Taiwanese Leader praises relations with the Czech Republic during Forum 2000 speech.
- Taiwanese Leader Tsai praised Czech-Taiwanese relations in her opening speech to the annual Forum 2000 international conference, stating that the two countries share the same values and cooperation may boost the prosperity of both, while praising the September visit of Czech Senate head Vystrčil to Taiwan. Vystrčil, who also spoke during Forum 2000, stated that freedom, solidarity, and democracy are the basis of prosperity, while populism is lethal to freedom and democracy. (expats.cz October 12)
Brussels greenlights contentious media sale in Central Europe.
- The EC has approved the sale of Central European Media Enterprises (CME) to the PPF Group, whose owner had been accused of acting as a proxy for China. The CME operates 30 television channels in five CEE markets. Civil society groups warned that the sale could boost China’s influence on the TV sector in CEE countries, and raised concerns over market concentration. The EU executive body dismissed the objections. Last February, U.S. Senator Rubio urged U.S. authorities to launch “a full review of the national security implications” of the sale, insisting that the deal would advance “the Chinese Communist Party’s political interference” in the countries where CME operates. (Balkan Insight October 7)
Bulgaria, Slovakia, Czech Republic recall Ambassadors from Belarus.
- Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia announced on October 8 that they are recalling their ambassadors from Minsk, following similar action by fellow EU countries Poland and the Baltic States over the disputed presidential election in Belarus. The announcements came a day after Estonia and Latvia said they were recalling their ambassadors. Lithuania and Poland did so on October 5, after the Government in Minsk recalled its Ambassadors in Vilnius and Warsaw in the wake of EU sanctions against Belarusian officials accused of election fraud and human rights abuses. (Radio Free Europe October 8)
Justice Minister: EC Rule of Law Report ignores detailed summaries submitted by Hungary.
- Justice Minister Varga has criticized the EC Rule of Law Report on Hungary, claiming that “the Commission has ignored the detailed summaries, comparative analyses sent by Hungary with noble simplicity” and also criticizing the report for making “recurring references to certain NGOs,” noting that 11 of the 12 NGOs that were consulted with or quoted in the report “recently received financial support from the Open Society Foundation.” Varga also accused the report of being constructed by the Hungarian opposition and spreading fake news about its coronavirus measures. (Hungary Today October 10)
FMA: EC Vice-President’s remarks not to affect Hungarian-Czech relations.
- FM Szijjártó has declared during his visit to the Czech Republic that Hungary considers “Jourova’s remarks as remarks by an EC Vice President,” and that the Government does “not identify Jourova with the Czech Republic or the Czech Government.” The Minister criticized Jourova’s “very rude” statements as “going beyond all limits,” but assured that the two countries’ “excellent bilateral relations are not affected by this issue in any way.”(Hungary Today October 10)
FM Szijjártó to Belarusian Counterpart: Hungary interested in maintaining communication.
- FM Szijjártó held talks with his Belarusian and Nigerian counterparts on Tuesday. Szijjártó was briefed by Belarusian FM Makei on the situation in his country, and “told him that we have an interest in maintaining communication,” noting that Belarus is part of the Eastern Partnership program. His talks with Nigerian FM Onyeama centered on the election of the World Trade Organisation’s new director-general, where Hungary had agreed to support the EU’s decision to back the South Korean and Nigerian candidates in the second round of the election. Szijjártó mentioned that he did not inform the Nigerian FM about “serious concerns about the procedure with which the European Commission achieved this ‘consensus’,” claiming that the EC had threatened to launch infringement procedures against member states that “had a different opinion” and likening the process to “threats and blackmail.” (Hungary Today October 7)
Polish, Ukrainian presidents to sign joint declaration on bilateral relations.
- The Presidents of Poland and Ukraine will sign a joint declaration which outlines the two neighbors’ goals in bilateral relations. The document is to be inked after talks between Presidents Duda, who is on a three-day visit to Ukraine, and Zelensky. Duda’s Chief of Staff Szczerski stated that the document “comprehensively outlines the strategy and goals of our joint Polish-Ukrainian policy and Polish-Ukrainian relations in various areas for the coming years,” and opens the way for Polish Investment in Ukraine’s privatization of its energy sector. (Polskie Radio October 12)
Poles divided over Ambassadors’ letter concerning LGBT rights: survey.
- IBRIS asked respondents about their opinion on the open letter concerning LGBT community rights, signed by 50 Ambassadors and representatives of regions and organizations, and found that respondents were divided. 43% of those surveyed supported the initiative, while 45% were against it. Less than 12% did not have a clear opinion about the letter. Respondents over 60 were the most skeptical (with only 31% in support) and the ones aged 18-29 were the most supportive (56%). The poll also shows that support for the letter is correlated to level of education and wealth. (Poland.IN October 7)
Polish, Lithuanian ambassadors recalled from Belarus.
- Polish Ambassador to Belarus Michalski and his Lithuanian counterpart Pulokas left the country on Monday evening. The Belarusian MFA demanded last week that the Polish and Lithuanian Embassies limit the number of their diplomats in Belarus “due to the clearly destructive activity” of their countries. (Poland.IN October 6)
Support for PM and ruling OĽaNO party plunging amid pandemic and scandals.
- Support for PM Matovič and his party has plunged dramatically. The Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) movement won parliamentary elections in February with 25% of the vote, but a recent September poll has found that support has dropped to 18%, and that Matovič is only the fifth most trusted politician in the country. Analysts claim that the most rapid tail off in popularity and public trust of any party in modern Slovak political history could be caused by a combination of Matovič’s style of communication and by the conditions created by the pandemic. (Slovak Spectator October 9)
Slovak extremist leader Marian Kotleba sentenced to four years in jail.
- Leading Slovak far-right politician Kotleba was sentenced to four years in jail on Monday, as part of a wider crackdown on extremism that has seen several high-level figures charged with racist crimes in recent years. Kotleba’s case revolved around a 2017 event organized by his far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia (LSNS) to commemorate the wartime fascist Slovak State (1939-1945). The Slovak media and human rights organizations widely welcomed the verdict as a breakthrough in the country’s fight against extremism. Kotleba declared that he would appeal the verdict. (Balkan Insight October 13)
UN: Slovakia has joined the joint statement on human rights in China.
- Slovakia has joined the joint statement on the human rights situation in China at the UN General Assembly Third Committee. The signatories express serious concern about the human rights situation in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and call on China to fulfill its national and international obligations, respect human rights, and allow independent observers meaningful access to Xinjiang. The statement follows the June 2020 exceptional letter of concern by 50 independent UN experts, the joint statement of the UN Human Rights Council, and the September EU statement at the UN Human Rights Council. (Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic October 6)
Minister Korčok: We call on Russia and Turkey to use their influence in the Nagorno-Karabakh situation.
- FM Korčok declared that the military operations in Nagorno-Karabakh were in serious conflict with the UN Charter, calling both parties to end the fighting and return to the negotiating table. Adding that both sides have been “clearly hoping for support from their strong neighbors,” the official called on Russia and Turkey “to use their influence and bring the conflicting parties back to the negotiating table,” expressing hope that they will be intensively joined by the U.S. and France. (Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic October 5)
Slovenian-Chinese Business Council concerned for Huawei.
- The Slovenian-Chinese Business Council at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressed concern over alleged Government plans to label Huawei a high-risk supplier. The Council warned that such a label would damage a company’s reputation and “represent illegal discrimination […] based on subjective criteria that cannot be measured,” would strongly undermine foreign investors’ trust in the Slovenian business system, and would endanger Slovenian companies and Slovenia-China bilateral relations if China decided to retaliate. (Slovenia Times October 12)