Bratislava, Prague prepare for influx of Ukrainian refugees

The Slovak government has already prepared three strategic documents. One of these is the so-called migration plan. Although it is currently not public, Naď said that all people who arrive would receive refugee status.  [EPA-EFE/ANATOLII STEPANOV]

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In today’s news from the Capitals:

BRATISLAVA | PRAGUE

Even a limited conflict in Ukraine will bring tens of thousands of refugees to Slovakia, Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO) said after the meeting of the Security Council on Tuesday. If the situation in Ukraine escalates and the worst scenario becomes a reality, Prague has offered to send police officers to the Slovak-Ukrainian border. Read more.

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PARIS I BERLIN

Macron and Scholz pledge to not give up dialogue with Russia. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, who met in Berlin Tuesday, were eager to project unity in the face of the Ukraine crisis and vowed to “keep open all channels of dialogue” with Russia. Read more.

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PARIS

French agriculture minister manoeuvres review of pesticide residues onto EU agenda. The French agriculture minister’s ambitions to link the upcoming pesticides directive review with completely separate legislation on maximum residue limits has confused stakeholders, some of who see it as a covert way to overhaul the current framework on pesticide tolerances. Read the full story.

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VIENNA

Austria to pilot ‘green jobs’ for long-term unemployed. As the Austrian job market recovers from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of long-term jobseekers has inspired a new pilot project to offer them “green jobs”. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

LONDON

Johnson faces judgement over Partygate. After weeks of revelations about parties held by Boris Johnson and his staff, senior civil servant Sue Gray is set to publish her investigative report on the matter on Wednesday morning. Gray’s report is likely to increase pressure on Johnson to resign. Read more.

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DUBLIN

Irish government proposes bill on future of remote working. A new bill published by the Irish government will set a legal framework for employees and employers to negotiate remote working conditions as a phased post-lockdown return to work is underway this week. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

STOCKHOLM

Sweden doing everything to keep ‘out of war’, says foreign minister. Cooperation with NATO remains close and deep, and Sweden is doing everything to stay out of war, said foreign minister Ann Linde after meeting NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Read more.

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HELSINKI

Finnish Greens face identity crisis after poor election result. The Greens are facing an identity crisis as their poor result in the recent county council elections sparked a debate about the party’s future direction. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

LISBON

COVID-19 measures worsened Portugal’s budget deficit. The measures adopted to respond to the impact of the pandemic have worsened Portugal’s budget deficit by about 2.6% of GDP, according to the Technical Unit for Budgetary Support (UTAO) in Parliament, released on Tuesday. Read more.

Portugal slightly less corrupt than last year – anti-corruption index. Portugal improved one position in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2021, pointing the finger at an anti-corruption strategy that leaves out political power and the Bank of Portugal. Read more.

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ATHENS

Meteorologists expose Greek government over snowstorm disaster. Meteorologists have said they had warned with “great accuracy” about a snowstorm that has paralysed the country for three days. Previously, to justify its unpreparedness, the government said the snowstorm came earlier than projected. Read more.

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ROME 

Swiss group MSC wants to buy Ita Airways together with Lufthansa. Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), announced on Tuesday that it had presented an expression of interest in the purchase of Ita airways, controlled by the Italian state. Read more.

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MADRID

IMF forecasts robust growth for Spain in 2022. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday maintained its growth forecast for the Spanish economy at 5.8% for 2022, a figure significantly above other EU countries such as Germany, France and Italy. Read more.


VISEGRAD 

BUDAPEST

Hungarian government wants teachers to work for free while striking. Since negotiations between the government and teachers’ unions on improving work conditions have been unsuccessful, Telex reported that teachers are now preparing to strike following the executive’s “absurd” proposals. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

SOFIA

Defence minister says no decision to deploy NATO troops in Bulgaria. The government has not decided on gathering or deploying forces of NATO or any other country in Bulgaria, Defence Minister Stefan Yanev said during his hearing in parliament’s defence committee on Tuesday. Let’s reduce the tensions, stop reading the foreign press, and end speculation, he added. Read more.

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ZAGREB

President: Croatia will not be involved in Ukraine crisis. Croatia would in no way get involved in the Ukraine crisis if it escalated, nor send its soldiers if that were the case, said President Zoran Milanović after visiting the Kraš chocolate factory on Tuesday. Read more.

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BUCHAREST

Romania starts negotiations to join OECD. The government welcomed the OECD Council’s decision to open accession discussions with Romania, 18 years after the country presented its candidacy. Read more.

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LJUBLJANA 

Slovenia’s corruption ranking worst since 2013. Slovenia placed 41st out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perception Index. Down six spots compared to last year, this is the country’s poorest showing since 2013 – a performance the justice ministry dismissed as “not necessarily reflecting the objective situation”. Read more.

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BELGRADE 

Serbia scores lowest in corruption perception index for second year in a row. Serbia scored 38 points in the corruption perception index for 2021, retaining its lowest ever ranking for the second year in a row, Transparency International said on Tuesday. Read more. 

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Borrell: No place in EU for genocide deniers, supporters of war criminals. Senior EU officials Josep Borrell and Oliver Varhelyi hailed on Tuesday Serbia’s progress toward gaining EU membership by opening Cluster 4 of the membership negotiations. The EU’s chief diplomat also warned that there was no place in the EU for those who publicly supported genocide, war crimes, and war criminals. Read more.

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SARAJEVO | ZAGREB

Croatian president calls Croats in favour of sanctions against Dodik traitors. President Zoran Milanović has once again defended the Serb member of the tripartite BiH presidency, Milorad Dodik, calling any Croat voting for EU sanctions against him a traitor. Read more.

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SKOPJE | SOFIA

Petkov and Kovacevski brand recent Skopje-Sofia meeting a success. The prime ministers of Bulgaria and North Macedonia, Kiril Petkov and Dimitar Kovačevski met on Tuesday in Sofia in a new attempt to defuse tensions between the two neighbours. Read more.

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PODGORICA 

Pro-Serbian DF wants to join new Montenegrin government. The pro-Serbian and pro-Russian Democratic Front (DF) would like to be part of the new government Dritan Abazović, the civic movement URA leader, is trying to form, Andrija Mandić, one of the party’s leaders told Serbian agency Tanjug. Read more.

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TIRANA

Bomb explodes outside home of football chief involved in political spat. A suspected bomb exploded on Monday (24 January) night at the home of the head of the Albanian Football Federation (KSHF), Armand Duka, following threats against his life and a public spat with the Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj over upcoming elections. Read more.

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Albania falls six places in corruption perception index. Albania has fallen down the list of the world’s most corrupt countries, coming in at 110 out of 180. This marks a decline of 27 places since 2016, and six places since 2020, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2021. Read more.


AGENDA:

  • Germany: Defence minister Christine Lambrecht hosts her British counterpart Ben Wallace for a work meeting, after a reception with military honours.
  • France: Covid restrictions on event capacity limits, mandatory homeworking and outdoor masks ended.
  • Luxembourg: ECJ rules on Polish company’s complaint about Gazprom’s activities in Central and Eastern Europe.
  • Italy: Third day of voting for the election of the new president of the Republic.
  • Bulgaria: Parliament will hold an extraordinary session on Ukraine. The MPs will listen to Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, the Minister of Defense Stefan Yanev and the heads of the State Agency for National Security, the State Agency for Intelligence and Military Intelligence.
  • Croatia: A conference on ensuring energy security in the era of rapid decarbonisation is organised by EURACTIV’s partner Jutarnji List. European Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić will take part in the event.
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: Electoral law negotiations with EU and US representatives start; A delegation from the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee visits.

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[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Pol Afonso]

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