Regional Press Review (19-25 Mai)
U.S. waives sanctions on Nord Stream 2 as Biden seeks to mend ties.
- The Biden Administration waived sanctions on the company behind the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and its chief executive on May 19. The move, which Secretary of State Blinken called “in the U.S. national interest,” was decried by critics of the project in Congress. (Euractiv May 20)
Top Myanmar military delegation to visit Moscow.
- A military delegation from Myanmar visited Russia’s largest helicopter exhibition. The Russian Defense Ministry did not announce any meetings with the delegation. The two countries have recently deepened their military cooperation, with Russia becoming the second largest military exporter to Myanmar, behind China. (The Moscow Times May 19)
EU says Russian “foreign agent” law is stifling independent media, calls for repeal.
- The EU has called on Russia to repeal its controversial “foreign agent” law. Last week, court bailiffs began seizing property from Radio Free Europe’s Moscow bureau and froze its bank accounts. Radio Free Europe has challenged the law and the millions of dollars in fines levied on its Russian operations at the European Court of Human Rights on May 19. (Radio Free Europe May 17; Radio Free Europe May 19)
Russia calls for “Quartet” talks after Israeli–Palestinian truce.
- Russia’s mission in the U.N. has called for urgent talks among the four international mediators known as the Middle East Quartet “to de-escalate the situation and create an atmosphere of trust” after Israel and Palestinian militants announced a truce on Thursday, 11 days after their worst conflict in years claimed the lives of 232 Palestinians and 12 Israelis. (The Moscow Times May 21)
Putin claims Russia would “knock out the teeth” of any foreign aggressor.
- President Putin has warned that Moscow would “knock the teeth out” of any country that tried to take pieces of his country’s territory on May 20 during a National Security Council meeting, stating that foreign efforts to contain Russia date back centuries. Putin also claimed that Russia now has the most modern strategic nuclear forces compared to other nuclear powers, noting that Moscow this year is set to spend $42 billion on defense. (Radio Free Europe May 21)
U.S., Russian diplomats stress cooperative approach despite “serious differences”.
- FM Lavrov called his May 19 meeting in Iceland with Secretary of State Blinken “constructive,” but also stressed “serious differences” in the way the two countries view the world. U.S. officials described the meeting as businesslike and productive, but with no breakthroughs. (Radio Free Europe May 20)
U.S. and Russia take “important step” toward Biden–Putin summit.
- The White House and Kremlin are inching closer to a summit between Presidents Biden and Putin next month. U.S. national-security adviser Sullivan and his Russian counterpart described consultations that “were held in a constructive manner and, despite outstanding differences, allowed for a better understanding of each other’s positions” in Geneva as an “important step” in the preparation of a summit between the two leaders. The date and location of the summit is to be announced at a later date, but is expected to be held in June in Geneva. (Radio Free Europe May 24)
Kremlin critic Navalny says three more criminal cases launched against him.
- Jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny stated that three new criminal cases have been initiated against him: one case accusing him of “stealing” donations to his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), a second case of “encouraging citizens to refuse to perform their civic duties,” and a third case of insulting a judge. (Radio Free Europe May 25)
Russia gives Google one day to delete banned content.
- Russia’s communications watchdog Roskomnadzor has given Google 24 hours to delete what it said was prohibited content, warning that a punitive slowdown measure and a fine of up to $54,300 may be imposed otherwise. Roskomnadzor claims that YouTube did not remove about 5,000 “prohibited” videos, out of which some 3,500 incite “extremism.” (Radio Free Europe May 24)
Pashinyan confirms draft border deal with Azerbaijan.
- The border crisis between Armenia and Azerbaijan continued over the past week, triggered by an incursion of Azeri troops into Armenian territory. After Armenia formally appealed to the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to hold consultations on its border dispute, Russian and U.S. officials intervened to mediate the crisis. On Thursday, PM Pashinyan stated that a Russian-brokered agreement on the demarcation of their border is close to being signed. Former Armenian Ambassador to the Vatican Minasian publicized on Wednesday a copy of the draft deal, claiming that, if implemented, the agreement and a “secret” protocol attached to it will have “disastrous consequences” for Armenia, possibly leading to a handover of major chunks of Armenian territory to Azerbaijan—Pashinyan has denied the claims. (Azatutyun May 20; OC Media May 19; Radio Free Europe May 19)
Redrawing of Armenia’s borders “unacceptable” to Iran.
- Iranian officials have voiced strong support for Armenia’s territorial integrity when they commented on the continuing military standoff on its border with Azerbaijan. Iran called it “unacceptable for us if they took away a part of Armenian territory and changed our borders… if we had a new neighbor. The existing borders must be fully protected and Iran’s border with Armenia must be preserved.” (Azatutyun May 18)
OSCE starts election observation mission in Armenia.
- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe officially launched on Wednesday its observation mission for Armenia’s parliamentary elections slated for June 20. The mission will assess to what extent the elections are held in line with international obligations and standards for democratic elections. ODIHR plans to deploy 11 election experts and 24 long-term observers in Armenia and is asking OSCE member states to send 250 short-term observers to monitor voting and ballot counting. (Azatutyun May 19)
European Parliament calls for “immediate” and “unconditional” release of Armenian prisoners.
- The European Parliament has adopted a resolution calling on the Azerbaijani government to release all Armenian prisoners of war and civilian captives. The resolution also stressed the need for new efforts “to build confidence between both countries and make progress towards sustainable peace.” (OC Media May 20)
European Court of Human Rights finds Baku authorities guilty of trying to kill blogger.
- The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has found Azerbaijani authorities guilty of torturing blogger Aleksandr Lapshin and trying to kill him in a Baku prison. Baku was ordered to pay compensation of €30,000 to Lapshin, who was detained in Belarus in 2016 and extradited to Azerbaijan, where he was charged with illegally visiting Nagorno-Karabakh and sentenced to three years in prison. In September 2017, Lapshin was attacked in solitary confinement and almost killed in what officials claimed was a suicide attempt; three days later, Lapshin was granted a pardon and was deported to Israel after his recovery. (Radio Free Europe May 21)
President: Karabakh solution to create new atmosphere for cooperation with U.S, Russia.
- On May 20, President Aliyev declared that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution will create an absolutely new atmosphere for Azerbaijan’s cooperation with the U.S. and Russia. Aliyev stated that the U.S. and Russian policy on Azerbaijan will continue to remain very stable and assured that recent communication with the countries’ high-ranking officials “demonstrate that we really want to expand our cooperation and both sides consider these relations as strategically important.” (Today.az May 23)
Joint media platform to deepen ties with Turkey.
- Azerbaijan and Turkey have launched the TURKIC.World digital project as part of a joint media platform developed by Azerbaijan’s Trend News Agency and Turkish Albayrak Media Group that was set up in February. Ambassador Bagci stated that the Azerbaijani–Turkish media platform will serve to deepen the ties and “convey the truths about the two countries” to the world and develop their “brotherhood” and “emphasis on “one nation, two states.” (Today.az May 24)
Bulgaria: Sweeping changes in the state mechanism.
- The caretaker Government is making sweeping changes to the state mechanism to ensure fairer elections: it has dismissed all district governors in order to ensure fair early elections and curb vote buying and already appointed new governors in most Bulgarian districts. President Radev described the reshuffles of key administrative posts as “logical steps,” adding that “consolidating statehood and the rule of law is what we need right now.” (IBNA May 19)
North Macedonia gets EU backing from Austria, Czech Republic, Slovenia.
- North Macedonia received support in its bid to begin EU membership talks from Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia a day after Bulgaria announced that it will continue its veto. The foreign ministers of the three countries on May 22 voiced support for North Macedonia and Albania, stating that separate bilateral issues should not block enlargement into the region. (Radio Free Europe May 22)
Bulgaria investigates claims opposition figures were wiretapped.
- Bulgaria is investigating opposition politician and former chief of the counterintelligence services Atanas Atanasov’s claims that 32 opposition politicians were wiretapped under the Borisov Government ahead of last month’s elections. Sofia prosecutors stated on May 21 that they were looking to establish if there had been “any irregularities in the use of special surveillance devices.” Caretaker Interior Minister Rashkov claims he was alerted that “the state agency for national security is currently destroying documents” allegedly related to the wiretapping. (Radio Free Europe May 21)
Fifteen Georgian parties sign joint agreement on queer rights.
- Fifteen political parties in Georgia have signed a statement outlining their commitment to protecting the rights of queer people. The agreement, which was drawn up by Tbilisi Pride, was signed by most major opposition parties including the United National Movement (UNM), European Georgia, Lelo, Republican Party, Strategy Aghmashnabeli, and both Girchi parties. Aleko Elisashvili’s Citizens party, the Labour Party,the European Socialists party, and the ruling Georgian Dream party did not sign the statement. The signatories agreed to use “all mechanisms at their disposal [to] fight to eliminate discrimination and violence against queer people,” and vowed to “protect the freedom of assembly and expression of every citizen, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity” and “not allow the stirring up of social strife and the use of hate speech in the political process on the grounds of homophobia.” Tbilisi Pride called the signing of the document a turning point in Georgian politics. (OC Media May 17)
Georgia and USAID sign new $67 million grant.
- Georgia and the USAID signed on May 21 an agreement on a new $67 million grant to support accountable governance and high-quality employment growth in Georgia. The amount can be gradually increased up to USD 330 million within five years. Key strategic directions of the grant include supporting conflict resolution, agriculture and private sector development, rule of law, human rights, education, environment protection, and civil society. U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Degnan dubbed the grant an important “step forward” in the U.S.–Georgia Strategic Partnership. Georgia has received over $1.8 billion in funding through USAID since it began operating in 1992. (civil.ge May 21)
Georgia received $1.9 billion from international partners during pandemic.
- Georgia received $1.9 billion from international partners during the pandemic, mostly in the form of loans, as well as €100 million in grants. Some of the programs, such as the World Bank’s program, were for health expenditures, including a vaccine component. (Georgia Today May 19)
Government dismisses Namakhvani protesters’ demands as “ultimatum”.
- During a massive rally in Tbilisi on May 23, protesters reiterated earlier demands of terminating the government contract with the Namakhvani HPP investor and for Enka Renewables to leave the Rioni valley, calling for the criminal investigations against officials involved in drafting and signing the document, including Economy Minister Turnava, and imposing a moratorium on similar projects until a coordinated energy policy is developed. PM Garibashvili and other officials dismissed the demands of Namakhvani HPP protesters as “an ultimatum,” and maintainedthat dialogue is necessary to better inform the activists on their concerns about the controversial project. (civil.ge May 24)
Putin: We will continue to promote special status for Transnistria.
- Russia will continue to encourage the identification of a just solution to the Transnistrian conflict and the reaching of an agreement concerning a special, safe, and guaranteed status for Transnistria by observing the sovereignty and ensuring Moldova’s territorial integrity of the Republic, President Putin stated in a ceremony to accredit 23 ambassadors, including Moldova’s Ambassador in Moscow Vladimir Golovatiuc. Putin lauded the “traditions of friendship and the common spiritual values that connect the two nations” as he noted that this year marks the 20th anniversary of the bilateral Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between them. (IPN May 18)
Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine formalize their higher EU ambition.
- Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova are now officially the Associated Trio, joining forces on their European Integration path in a new format established in Kyiv on May 17, following a meeting between their foreign ministers. The idea of an enhanced cooperation format with other associated countries has been pushed chiefly by Ukraine since 2019, but initially received a cold shoulder from Brussels diplomats, who were wary that more perks for the associated countries may irritate the three Eastern Partnership countries who do not follow the same course–Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. (Euractiv May 18)
USAF to turn Romania’s Câmpia Turzii air base into regional NATO hub.
- A project worth $152 million is set to transform an air base at Câmpia Turzii into a new NATO hub for the Black Sea region. Contracts for development the project, led by the U.S. Air Force (USAF), will be awarded starting the end of this month. Once the base is upgraded, it will be able to serve heavy cargo aircraft and host fighter jets. Additionally, a $2,000,000 squadron operation facility will be built alongside a $1.7 million munitions storage facility. (Emerging Europe May 20)
President Putin sees “good cooperation potential” with Romania regarding Black Sea region.
- “We rely on the development of mutually beneficial relations with Romania,” President Putin declared as he welcomed the 23 newly appointed ambassadors to Moscow, including Romania’s new ambassador Cristian Istrate, adding that “Russia is ready to work together on intensifying political, economic and humanitarian links…There is good cooperation potential with respect to the Black Sea region.” (Romania Insider May 20)
Romanian opposition warns Government of “total war” and boycott.
- The Social Democratic Party (PSD) wants to be consulted by the Government as part of broader public debates about the €30 billion Relaunch and Resilience Plan (PNRR), threatening to withdraw its support for the mandatory EURATOM bill which would increase of the national contribution to the Union’s budget from 1.2% to 1.4% of GDP in view of financing the Relaunch and Resilience Facility. So far, Minister of Investments and European Projects Ghinea (USR PLUS) has refused to make the details of the projects proposed for financing under PNRR public. (Romania Insider May 20)
European Parliament approves setting up of European Center for Cybersecurity in Bucharest.
- The European Parliament approved on May 21 to set up of the European Center for Cybersecurity in Bucharest. The first DG Connect mission about making the Cyber Center operational will be held in June. By managing funds in the field of cybersecurity within the Digital Europe and Europe Horizon programs, the Center will consolidate expertise in this field and develop technological solutions and digital services to increase competitiveness of the specialized European industry. (Actmedia May 21)
Turkey’s participation request in EU military project apprehended as “Trojan horse”.
- Turkey has submitted an application to participate in the EU’s Dutch-led military project on military mobility. Last year, the EU agreed on a stringent set of conditions to allow countries outside the bloc to participate in joint defense projects, including sharing “the values on which the EU is founded”—a condition that is believed to effectively exclude Russia, China, and Turkey. EU officials stated that they have received the application and are assessing it, but did not comment on whether Turkey’s application would fulfil the political conditions. (Euractiv May 17)
Turkey’s top diplomat to address U.N. on “Israel’s attacks on Palestine.”
- FM Çavuşoğlu addressed the U.N. General Assembly on May 20 where the current tensions between Israel and Palestinians were discussed. Turkey has recently intensified its diplomatic initiatives to stop “the Israeli offensive against the Palestinians,” criticizing the failure of the U.N. Security Council to end the turbulence. (Hurriyet Daily News May 19)
European Parliament again slams Turkey’s role in Karabakh war.
- The European Parliament has again condemned Turkey for supporting Azerbaijan during last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh and renewed its calls for Turkey to recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire. The extensive resolution is highly critical of the Turkish government’s human rights record and foreign policy, stating that they have brought the EU’s relations with Turkey to a “historical low point” and calling on the EU to formally suspend accession talks with Ankara unless the latter reverses a “continuous and growing distancing from EU values and standards.” Turkey denounced the latest resolution as “biased.” (Azatutyun May 20)
Polish president in Turkey for official visit.
- Polish President Duda arrived in Ankara on May 23 to discuss bilateral relations and regional developments with Turkish officials. The leaders reviewed all aspects of bilateral relations and exchange views on the current regional and international developments and signed bilateral agreements. Poland announced on May 22 that it will buy 24 armed drones from Turkey, becoming the first NATO member to buy Turkish-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). (Hurriyet Daily News May 24)
Zelensky claims Russia’s distribution of passports in Ukraine’s volatile east is step toward annexation.
- President Zelensky has called Moscow’s recent move to distribute Russian passports to residents in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions “a big problem” and the first step toward the annexation of the area, mirroring the situation in Crimea. Zelensky marked his second year in office by declaring his priorities as resolving the ongoing conflict in Donbas, the “de-occupation” of Crimea, and the continuation of the fight against oligarchs. (Radio Free Europe May 20)
Naftogaz, Ukrainian MPs urge U.S. to maintain sanctions against Nord Stream 2.
- Naftogaz and dozens of Ukrainian parliamentarians and civil society leaders have addressed an open letter to the U.S. and European countries in which they urge to maintain sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 project, following the announcement that the U.S. Department of State proposed waiving sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG. The letter also appealed to Germany to stop construction. (Interfax Ukraine May 20)
Zelensky signs decree on enactment of NSDC decision on sanctions.
- President Zelensky approved the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) decision updating the list of individuals and legal entities against whom sanctions are imposed, which was expanded to include “kingpins” and foreigners who are “crime bosses.” The decision extends the sanctions imposed by President Poroshenko in decree No. 126 dated May 14, 2018 for three years. At the same time, the total number of individuals against whom sanctions were imposed dropped from 1,748 to 674, and legal entities from 756 to 138. (Interfax Ukraine May 21)
Ukraine fears U.S. making deal with Russia.
- President Zelensky voiced fear that the U.S. could strike a deal with Russia behind his country’s back, and rebuked France and Germany for a perceived softening of their stance in talks with Moscow. Zelensky specifically warned Washington that its failure to block the construction of the Nord Stream 2 would be “a grave political error,” “a loss for the United States, and I believe it would be President Biden’s personal loss.” Zelensky’s comments, which have been called “undiplomatic,” reflect Ukrainian concern that the completion of the pipeline would deprive it of transit fees for pumping Russian gas to Europe, erode its strategic importance, and weaken it politically. (Ukrainian Journal May 21)
Zeman: “I apologize for the bombing of the FR Yugoslavia”.
- President Zeman met with his Serbian counterpart in the Czech Republic. Zeman called Serbia a traditional friend of the Czech Republic that had been betrayed throughout history, adding that “Serbia expressed its support for us, and we bombed it. Let me immediately say that I apologize for the bombing of the FRY. It was a mistake.” Zeman explained that the Czech Republic was a young NATO member at a time and was looking for a way to prevent the NATO bombing, but lacked support. (IBNA May 18)
European Commission will guard its funds more closely after Agrofert audit.
- The European Commission wants to introduce new practices with which to protect the EU budget from conflicts of interest, European Commissioner for Budget and Administration Hahn stated during a debate in the European Parliament on the results of the EU audit into PM Babiš’s conflict of interest with Agrofert. Access to EU funds could be associated with conditions for adherence to the rule of law and other conditions that are being prepared. (Radio Prague International May 19)
EU slams Russia’s inclusion of Czech Republic on “unfriendly” states list.
- EU Foreign Policy Chief Borrell criticized Russia’s decision to deem the U.S. and the Czech Republic as “unfriendly” states, calling it unjustified and urging Russia “to review its decision, to avoid a further deterioration of our relationship that is already under strain” and to fully respect the Vienna Convention. The EU expressed full solidarity with the Czech Republic as an EU member state as well as the U.S. The move restricts the Czech Republic to employ a maximum of 19 Russian citizens at its Moscow embassy, while the U.S. may not employ any Russians. (Expats.cz May 17)
Polish activists to block Czech border over coal-mining debate.
- On Tuesday, protesters in Poland planned a blockade of the Czech–Poland border crossing in Hrádek nad Nisou. Poland has not yet stopped mining the Turów lignite mine despite the EU Court of Justice ordering its immediate cessation last Friday. The Czech Republic argues that continued mining could impact the level of groundwater in the Czech territory leading to serious damage to the environment and human health; Poland opposed the measure, stating that mining creates thousands of jobs. The European Commission has called on Poland to comply with the mining ban or face heavy fines. Local mining unions held their first protests against the cessation of mining on Monday. (Expats.cz May 24)
Czech President bars unfriendly media from receiving information.
- President Zeman will stop providing information to several investigative media outlets, including public broadcaster Czech Television, Respekt, server Seznam Zprávy and daily Deník N. The president’s office announced this controversial decision in an official statement titled “statement about the fight against disinformation, calling the media outlets “distorted, false and biased.“ The International Press Institute (IPI) condemned the decision, believing it “purposefully withhold information on a discriminatory basis” in violation of the Czech Republic’s Constitution and of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. (Euractiv May 24)
Hungary blocks EU declaration on Israel–Palestine ceasefire.
- U foreign ministers called on May 18 for a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and boosted humanitarian aid for Gaza, but failed to reach the unanimity that might give the EU leverage in peacemaking after Hungary declined to join the call. At least eight smaller EU states, led by Luxembourg and including Belgium, Ireland, Malta and Finland, are vocal defenders of the Palestinians, with several Belgian lawmakers calling this week for EU travel bans and asset freezes on Israeli politicians over the recent violence in the region. Germany is unwilling to discuss coercive measures against Israel, but pledged €40 million on Tuesday in humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza. Other countries, including Hungary, the Czech Republic, Austria, Greece, Cyprus and Poland were more ready to speak out in Israel’s favor. (Euractiv May 19)
Fidesz MEP: EU has no need for labour migration rules.
- MEP Hidvéghi on Wednesday addressed a European Parliamentary debate on an EU report on legal labor migration, criticizing the document for its “flawed basic premise and assumptions” regarding “the myth that mass migration is the answer to demographic challenges and labor market problems.” Hidvéghi accused the left-wing and liberal EP groups of “forcing multiculturalism onto Europe” before concluding that the EU has no need for labor migration rules as drafting such regulations should remain a national competence. (Hungary Today May 20)
Hungary to block EU’s Africa-Pacific trade and development deal.
- Hungary refused to approve a new EU trade and development accord with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries on Thursday because “it would bring more migrants into the bloc.” Budapest’s refusal to ratify the accord with 79 countries, which was agreed by EU negotiators in December, would imperil years of talks to update the two-decade-old Cotonou development treaty with new provisions on areas including climate protection, human rights, and migration. The new Post-Cotonou treaty must be ratified by all 27 EU states to take effect and, along with trade and aid, includes ways for African, Caribbean and Pacific nations to take back migrants whose asylum applications have failed in the EU. PM Orbán has objected to some of the terms that aim to help the mostly former colonies of EU nations, such as allowing for some legal migration for African, Caribbean and Pacific citizens to the EU through visas and family reunification. (Euractiv 20 May)
Diplomats from 40 countries call on Poland to protect LGBTQ rights.
- Diplomats from 40 countries called for the protection of LGBTQ rights in Poland on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. The diplomats expressed their support “for the efforts to raise public awareness of issues affecting the LGBTI community and other communities in Poland facing similar challenges,” adding that “to shield communities in need of protection from verbal and physical abuse and hate speech, we need to jointly work on an environment of non-discrimination, tolerance and mutual acceptance.” (Euronews May 17)
“Polish Deal” may require actions beyond current government term.
- Law and Justice (PiS) Party leader Kaczyński has declared that implementation of the recently presented government program, the Polish Deal, may require actions going beyond the current term of government. The PiS leader emphasized that the aim of the new socio-economic program is to introduce Poland to the path of rapid development and to improve the “fate of Poles” by making changes to the tax system to make it fairer, as “the current unfair tax solutions [do not] defend the free market, but the privileges of certain groups.” (Poland.IN May 24)
PM states Poland will not comply with EU top court ruling on Turow.
- Despite the European Court of Justice ruling that Poland had to immediately stop mining at the Turów complex operated by state-run PGE last Friday, on May 24 PM Morawiecki announced that Poland will not comply with the “wrong and so unjust” ruling of the EU’s top court. Morawiecki explained that Poland “will try to show good will, but only to the extent that we can continue to operate the power plant and the lignite mine Turów.” (Euractiv May 25)
First cracks appear in Slovenia’s EU Presidency over art exhibition.
- The European Parliament confirmed that Slovenia had cancelled an exhibition of works of art by Slovenian artists that had been scheduled to be held in Brussels during Slovenia’s EU presidency in the second half of 2021. Media reports claim that one of the pieces showcased had been displeasing to the Slovenian government. Culture Minister Simoniti stated that there were recurrent complications and that he had been drip-fed information regarding the exhibition, adding that he is “uninformed” and “not interested” in it. Such exhibitions that mark EU member states’ six-month stints at the helm of the Council of the EU have been a regular feature since 2011. (Euractiv May 20)
Brdo-Brijuni Process summit reaffirms commitment to EU enlargement.
- President Pahor hosted a summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process featuring his counterparts from Croatia, Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia and the presiding trio of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Marking the 10th anniversary of the initiative, the summit adopted the Brdo Declaration, in which the leaders reaffirm their commitment to EU enlargement and urge the EU to speed up the process to include the whole region in the bloc. (STA May 17)
EU justice commissioner urges Počivalšek to appoint delegated prosecutors.
- European Justice Commissioner Reynders urged Economy Minister and Deputy PM Počivalšek to appoint Slovenia’s European delegated prosecutors (EPDs). Počivalšek suggested that Slovenia should consider first appointing just one prosecutor, a suggestion that was later supported by Justice Minister Kozlovič. (STA May 22; STA May 24)
European journalism organizations on virtual mission to Slovenia.
- The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), an initiative funded by the European Commission that monitors violations of press and media freedom, will be on a virtual mission to Slovenia over the next two weeks to examine alleged deterioration in media freedom in the country. The findings are to be released in July. (STA May 25)
Slovenia: Leftist protesters call government to resign.
- Friday’s anti-government protesters gave the government a week to resign or face a massive “uprising” to push for an early election next Friday. The ultimatum was issued as the latest weekly cycling protest merged with an event staged by a movement for Slovenian Palestinian community with many of the protesters waving Palestinian flags. There was some pushing between the protesters and the police, and some protesters, mainly Palestinians, were apprehended. (IBNA May 24)
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