Austria banks on Central Asia to limit refugee flow from Afghanistan

Austria's interior minister Nehammer criticised Johansson, who did not attend the conference due to time constraints, for not focusing enough on stabilising the region surrounding Afghanistan. [European Union/European Council]

The Capitals brings you the latest news from across Europe, through on-the-ground reporting by EURACTIV’s media network. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

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Read also the article ‘EU removes US, Western Balkan countries from Covid safe list for non-essential travel.


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In today’s news from the Capitals:

VIENNA

Austria’s interior and foreign ministry hosted a security conference with the Central Asian states Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan together with the migration ministers of Greece and Denmark, as well as the German interior secretary on Monday to discuss the further strategy in Afghanistan, effectively asking its neighbouring countries to manage migrations flows and prevent a potential migration crisis. Read more.

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PARIS

End of ‘whatever it takes’ for the French economy. France will abolish support measures for businesses on 30 September and introduce a new compensation scheme from October for the sectors still affected by the health restrictions, covering 70-90% of the fixed costs not covered by revenue, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire announced on Monday. Read more. 

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BERLIN

Conservative candidate Laschet drops in polls, presents future cabinet. Faced with a nosedive in the polls, German chancellor hopeful Armin Laschet (CDU) has decided to lift the veil on his future cabinet. Read more.

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BRUSSELS

Brussels tourism sector in peril after ‘disastrous’ summer. The Brussels tourism industry has suffered one of its worst summers on record as the ongoing health crisis, coupled with the terrible weather, has led to foreign tourists shunning the capital. As a result, representatives of the sector have called on the federal government to extend temporary unemployment measures. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

HELSINKI

Finland set to ban therapies aimed at converting gay and transgender people. A citizens’ initiative to ban sexual orientation and gender identification conversion therapy is moving forward to being considered by parliament after it gathered the needed 50,000 signatures within only a month. Read more.

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In other news, Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, has left the country, apparently fleeing to Finland, according to Russian news agency Interfax, which quoted two unnamed sources. 

In mid-August, a Moscow court ruling banned her from taking part in mass events and from leaving the capital region. Earlier in August, Navalny’s attorney, Lyubov Sobol, also left Russia. No statements from Finnish authorities had been made by Monday evening. (Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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VILNIUS

Poll shows a third of Lithuanians support border fence to stop irregular migration. A third of Lithuanians consider building a wall along the Belarusian border as the most effective way of dealing with irregular migration, a survey by Nordstat suggests. EURACTIV’s media partner LRT.lt has more.

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TALLINN

Estonia needs a second ballot to elect a president. Alar Karis, the only candidate nominated in Estonia’s presidential election has failed to get the votes in the parliament needed to become the republic’s ceremonial president. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

ROME

COVID-19 further aggravated Italy’s plummeting birth rate. The pandemic aggravated the declining birth rates in rich countries, with Italy seeing the sharpest decline in 2020. There were 16,000 fewer births and the country saw its birth rate reduce by 9.1%, according to a study of the Bocconi University of Milan published in PNAS magazine. Read more.

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MADRID

Environmental disaster: Tons of dead fish wash up on Spain’s Mar Menor shores. Thousands of dead fish have washed up on the shores of Spain’s Mar Menor in an environmental disaster that has shocked residents and tourists visiting the area. Read the full story.

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LISBON

Portugal’s highest court declares access to emails without judge order unconstitutional. Portugal’s Constitutional Court on Monday unanimously declared rules of the Cybercrime Law that provided for access to emails without a judge’s order unconstitutional, following a request for review from President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. Read more.


VISEGRAD

WARSAW

Poland blocks EU statement on Poland-Belarus border. A coalition of member states, led by Poland, has blocked a statement regarding the situation at the Poland-Belarus border in Usnarz Dolny. Read more.

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PRAGUE

EU subsidies may stop flowing to Czechia. The European Commission has warned that it may put a halt on sending subsidies to the Czech Republic if the country does not improve its check of conflict of interest and provision of subsidies for the firms from trust funds, Czech radio station iROZHLAS reported on Monday. Read more.

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BUDAPEST 

Complaints to Hungarian media authority skyrocket in wake of LGBTQI law. Since the adoption of the controversial law banning the portrayal of LGBTQI content to minors, the number of citizen complaints received by the national media regulator has increased nearly sevenfold, Telex reported via Magyar Hang. Read more.

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BRATISLAVA

Slovakia welcomes second evacuation flight from Afghanistan despite opposition. The Slovak government evacuated 28 people with direct links to the country despite warnings from the Chairman of the National Council and leader of the second-largest governing party, Boris Kollár, insisting his party would not allow for more Afghans to arrive in Slovakia. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

SOFIA

Bulgarian authorities come into conflict over COVID-19 restrictions. Bulgarian health authorities are proposing a serious tightening of restrictions at the start of the fourth wave of the pandemic, but are facing opposition from the caretaker government and the party with the largest parliamentary group – ‘There is such a people (ITN)’. Read more.

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ZAGREB | BELGRADE | PRISTINA

Croatia will not stop search for missing persons. Croatia will not stop the search for the disappeared, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said at an event marking the International Day of the Disappeared and Remembrance Day for people who went missing in the Homeland War, adding that it would insist on cooperation with Serbia. Read more.

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LJUBLJANA 

Slovenia continues efforts to evacuate last two Afghan helpers. The defence ministry is continuing efforts to evacuate an Afghan who worked for the Slovenian armed forces, together with his family. The man is one of two Afghan nationals whom Slovenia decided to evacuate and offer asylum to – the other, an interpreter, together with his family, has already been evacuated and is now in Slovenia. ´

Army spokesman Marjan Sirk said the eight-member family of the man was already in Kabul. “There have been several attempts to get them to the airport but we failed,” he said. “We are in contact with almost all neighbouring countries and almost all partner countries we have cooperated with,” said Sirk. The family has been offered several options, the final decision will be theirs. (Sebastijan R. Maček | STA)

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SARAJEVO 

Turkey will only be present in BiH if Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats agree. Turkey will be present in Bosnia and Herzegovina but only if Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats unite and say they want Turkey as a mediator, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told local reporters upon his return from last week’s visit to BiH and Montenegro. Read more.

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PRISTINA

Kosovo leaders welcome first Afghan refugees. A total of 111 people arrived from Kabul Sunday evening, the first of some 2,000 in total, who will be temporarily housed in the country for up to a year, Kosovo Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla has announced. 

“When it comes to humanitarian issues, and when it comes to partners and allies such as the US and NATO, the question is not why, but how. So, all the issues we are discussing are of a technical and logistical nature,” Prime Minister Albin Kurti said. On Monday the United States delivered 55 five armoured security vehicles as part of an American donation to the Kosovo Army. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)


AGENDA:

  • EU: EU interior ministers hold emergency meeting on Afghanistan
  • Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel meets Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz, hosts European Council President Charles Michel
  • France: Prime Minister Jean Castex meets Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte
  • Italy: The National Statistical Institute (Istat) to present the quarterly economic data for the second quarter of 2021.
  • Spain: The government seeks solutions after a new record high in the price of electricity, pushing up the inflation rate to 3.3% in August. 
  • Portugal: The National Statistics Institute (INE) publishes the Quarterly National Accounts for the second quarter where it may confirm or revise the 15.5% growth in GDP reported at the end of July.
  • Poland: Polish Constitutional Court rules on validity and primacy of EU law in Poland
  • Bulgaria: Consultations continue on forming a government with the third mandate given to the Bulgarian Socialist Party. 
  • Croatia: Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić to present the results of the public call “Strengthening the competitiveness of companies by investing in the digital and green transition” at a press conference.
  • Serbia: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlet Cavusoglu to meet with his Serbian counterpart Nebojša Stefanović, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and President Aleksandar Vučić in Belgrade. Meanwhile, Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod is set to visit Serbia to meet with Serbian leaders.
  • North Macedonia: Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias to visit North Macedonia to inspect the implementation of the Prespa Treaty. 

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[Edited by Alexanda Brzozowski, Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Zoran Radosavljevic, Josie LeBlond]

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