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.
Before you start reading today’s edition of the Capitals, feel free to have a look at the article “EPP chief Tusk: ‘Borissov confessed to me, he made obvious mistakes’“, by Georgi Gotev.
The EURACTIV Network keeps you updated on what’s going on in the capitals of Europe. We are happy to present you with a refreshed layout, both in this newsletter and on our website, and hope you will enjoy this improved experience of our daily roundup across the continent.
The news you deserve to know. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.
In today’s news from the Capitals:
Bulgaria has joined the US-led international coalition against Huawei, while Prime Minister Boyko Borissov signed a framework agreement on Friday (23 October) with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at an impromptu ceremony via video conference on the security of its 5G network. However, the agreements have not been officially approved by the Bulgarian Council of Ministers, though the declarations have been defined by the parties as “key documents” but cannot be binding. EURACTIV Bulgaria’s Krassen Nikolov reports.
In other news, Prime Minister Borissov announced on Sunday (25 October) that he had tested positive for COVID-19. About a week earlier, he toured the country with Deputy Regional Development Minister Nikolay Nankov, who tested positive. Borissov announced that he was feeling unwell, but said he would continue to perform his duties from home.
German FM wants a transatlantic reset. With just over a week until the US presidential elections, Berlin is hoping for a quick “new beginning in the transatlantic partnership” after the polls – no matter who wins, German foreign minister Heiko Maas said over the weekend. Read more.
Massive support for Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. Thousands of people, including several elected officials, marched on Sunday (25 October) in Paris in support of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, as new fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia broke out over the weekend and Iranian troops were deployed along the border with the two countries on Sunday, according to the Iranian state agency IRNA. Read more.
Everything but a full lockdown. The Brussels regional government announced a range of new measures over the weekend aimed at countering the rise in COVID-19 infections. Read more.
Millions stolen at Semmering-tunnel construction site. Eight people who had worked at the construction site of the Semmering Basis tunnel – a 27.3 km long tunnel connecting Styria to Upper Austria – are being investigated for fraud and embezzlement by the Styrian public prosecutor, as they allegedly stole tools and materials at the construction site and sold them on the black market, according to the police. The damage is estimated at €1.9 million, according to the police. (Philipp Grüll | EURACTIV.de)
UK AND IRELAND
Trade talks extended. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will stay in London for an extra three days of trade talks with UK counterpart David Frost in a move that has increased hopes that an agreement may be within reach. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Huge data breach shocks citizens and politicians alike. The hacking of private psychotherapy centre Vastaamo last week has allowed sensitive and secret information of presumably tens of thousands of clients, including children, to land in the hands of cyber criminals, sending shockwaves across the nation and revealing loopholes in data security. The government has already set up helplines to assist those who have been hacked. Read more.
Centre-right opposition wins polls in Lithuania. Lithuania’s centre-right opposition won Sunday’s parliamentary elections, opening the way for an all-female coalition at the head of the Baltic state. With most votes counted from the second round run-off vote, the conservative Homeland Union party won 49 seats in the 141-member parliament and two liberal parties won 12 and 11 seats respectively, while the ruling Lithuanian Peasants and Green Union party took 32 seats. (Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com)
‘Mini-lockdown’ enforced. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte detailed on Sunday (25 October) the new measures to be enforced from Monday (26 October) to 24 November. “The analysis of the current situation shows a worrying increase of positive cases, which brings difficulties to our health system”, said Conte, adding that “we need to do our best to protect our health and economy, hence the new measures will last until 24 November”. Read more.
Spain decrees state of alarm, orders curfew to curb COVID-19 cases. The Spanish government on Sunday decreed a new state of alarm and announced a night-time curfew as authorities continue to grapple with a second COVID-19 wave, EuroEFE reported. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said he would ask parliament to keep the emergency mechanism in place for six months, until 9 May. Read more.
Greek PM backs Macron in row with Erdoğan. Athens expressed its full support to French President Emmanuel Macron in his new clash with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“Personal insults against President Macron and hate speech targeting France by the Turkish leadership is unacceptable, fuels religious hatred and undermines peaceful coexistence. Full support and solidarity to Macron and the French people, still mourning a heinous crime,” Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted. Read more.
Russia backs expansion of Greece’s territorial waters. In an interview with Athens-Macedonian news agency ahead of a visit today in Athens, Russian FM Sergei Lavrov said according to the international sea law, states have the sovereign right to determine the extent of its territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles. More
Fourth day of protests against abortion law. Sunday marked the fourth straight day of protests across Poland against Thursday’s Constitutional Tribunal ruling which imposed a near-total ban on abortion by holding that laws currently permitting abortion due to foetal defects are unconstitutional. Read more.
Meanwhile, Poland’s yearly coal production fell by 12.4% in September 2020 compared to the yearly production recorded at the same time last year but reached a total of 4.42 million tonnes, the central statistics office (GUS) announced on Friday (23 October). Between August and September 2020, however, coal production grew 4.3%. (Mateusz Kucharczyk | EURACTIV.pl)
Health Minister breached his own rules. Czech Health Minister Roman Prymula is ready to resign after he was photographed by popular Czech tabloid Blesk attending a private meeting in a restaurant, breaching his country’s tighter coronavirus measures, which he himself imposed. Prymula denies any wrongdoing but admits that public trust in him has been severely damaged. Read more.
Testing and lockdown. The nationwide testing in Slovakia started this weekend in four districts in the northern part of the country that are currently the hardest hit by the second wave of coronavirus. As of Sunday at 2 pm, 130,000 people have been tested, of whom 3,76% have been found positive, though antigen tests are said to only detect highly infectious people and be less reliable than PCR tests. The rest of the country should undergo testing the following weekends. Meanwhile, the country is under partial lockdown. (Zuzana Gabrižová | EURACTIV.sk)
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Sergey Lavrov cancels visit to Zagreb. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who has started his Balkans tour in Athens on Monday (26 October), has decided to bypass the Croatian capital at the last minute despite having previously confirmed he would visit the country. While there is no official explanation, some Russian sources are blaming a bad epidemiological situation in Zagreb, yet Russian media suggests Prime Minister Andrej Plenković refused to meet with a Russian guest who is expected to look at Lavrov’s last statements about the EU after sanctions connected to the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. Read more.
Biden team member reacts to Janša’s attacks. Michael Carpenter, member of the Atlantic Council and a team of the democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, reacted to Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša’s endorsement of US President Donald Trump in the US elections. “Lol, Trump picks up an endorsement from Slovenia’s prime minister, previously indicted and convicted on corruption charges. But don’t worry, Slovenian friends, in 11 days we’ll be sending demagogic populism packing. Sramota (shame, in Slovenian),” he tweeted.
Brnabic announces new cabinet members. Serbian Prime Minister-Designate Ana Brnabić announced on Sunday (25 October) that the Serbian president’s secretary-general Nikola Selaković would become the country’s new foreign minister. Read more.
Lavrov’s visit opens political rifts, again. Russia’s foreign ministry announced that “on 28 October, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will make a working visit to Bosnia and Herzgovina to meet with the country’s Presidency, as well as the Deputy Chair of the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly Dragan Čović (leader of the biggest Croatian party HDZ BiH) and Deputy Chair of the Council of Ministers and Foreign Minister Bisera Turković.”
Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of the presidency, said that Lavrov is coming to meet him. And, as confirmed, Dodik will host a lunch with Lavrov in the “East Sarajevo”, which is majority Serb. No other member of the presidency is expected to attend. And, Dodik will accompany Lavrov on his trip to Belgrade. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
No place for the pro-Serbian politicians in the new government. Prime minister-designate Zdravko Krivokapić doesn’t want the leaders of the Democratic Front (DF), Andrija Mandić, Milan Knežević and Nebojša Medojević, to become ministers in the new government, according to CdM sources close to Mr Krivokapić. DF is known as the most pro-Serbian political party in Montenegro.
“Having in mind that I appointed Krivokapić as the leader of the bloc ‘For the Future of Montenegro’ and that I managed the coalition’s election campaign, I won’t let Montenegro tycoons steal the will of the people and form the new government,” said Mandić. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox]