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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Croatian President Zoran Milanović on Tuesday said he would block the admission of Sweden and Finland at the NATO summit in Madrid if he is the one representing Croatia, after previously voicing his opposition to the two countries’ possible NATO accession. Read more.
Germany backs Sweden and Finland’s potential NATO membership bids. Germany will back the NATO membership bids of Sweden and Finland if they apply, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday, following a rare meeting in Berlin with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and her Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin. Read more.
Austria tells Ukraine EU fast-track procedure not possible. Ukraine’s accession to the EU cannot be achieved “in the next five to ten years”, said Austria’s EU and Constitutional Affairs Minister Karoline Edtstadler after recent comments from Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg on the matter caused controversy. Read more.
Mélenchon’s alliance expands with communists, ‘few steps away’ with socialists. The French Communist Party concluded on Tuesday night (3 May) an electoral agreement with Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s radical left La France Insoumise party joining the left alliance with the Greens ahead of legislative elections. Read more.
Dutch press freedom ranking drops significantly. Press freedom in the Netherlands dropped significantly compared to last year due to attacks on the press, according to Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index, which lowered the country’s ranking from sixth to 28th. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Johnson faces local election pain. Boris Johnson’s Conservative party are set to incur heavy losses in local elections across the United Kingdom on Thursday in his party’s first electoral test since the ‘Partygate’ saga. Read more.
Data centres consumed more electricity than Irish rural households. Data centres in Ireland consumed more electricity in 2021 than all the country’s rural households combined, new figures by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Finland’s Russian community campaigns against pro-Putin convoy. An organisation of Russian-speaking people (SVK) and the Belarusian diaspora in Finland have launched a campaign calling for a pro-Putin convoy planned to commemorate the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in 1945 to be banned. Read more.
Indian PM visits Denmark amid Russia tensions. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a historical two-day state visit to Denmark Tuesday, during which Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said she would bring up the importance of India’s potential role in helping the situation in Ukraine. Read more.
VILNIUS | TALLINN
Estonia, Lithuania among best for press freedom. Estonia and Lithuania were among the top ten best states for press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index published Tuesday. Read more.
Commission: Greece’s 2022 Rule of Law report to focus on media freedom. The Commission’s 2022 Rule of Law Report will have a particular focus on media matters, an EU spokesperson told EURACTIV Greece, following a new report showing that Greece has become the worst EU country when it comes to media freedom.
Meanwhile, the state-owned Athens-Macedonian News Agency did not reference Greece in its article about the World Press Freedom index for 2022. Read more.
Sanchez asked to shed light on espionage scandal before parliament. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez must shed full light on the espionage scandal targeting dozens of Catalan politicians, himself, and Defence Minister Margarita Robles, before parliament, Pro-independence Catalan and Basque parties, the centre-right PP, centre-liberal Ciudadanos (Citizens) and the far-right Vox demanded on Tuesday. Read more.
Italian MEPs divided over PM Draghi’s speech in Strasbourg. Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s call for faster EU integration to address current crises received mixed reactions from EU lawmakers, mainly regarding energy. Read more.
Portugal can play ‘decisive role’ on energy security, says president. Portugal can play a “decisive role”, for example, in energy security, with the port of Sines as a Euro-Atlantic hub and benefiting from the location of the Azores, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said. Read more.
Slovak minister says Italy may have paid for gas in roubles. Italy may have already paid in roubles as Slovakia is experiencing higher transit volumes of gas, Slovak Economy Minister Richard Sulík (SaS) said following the meeting of EU energy ministers in Brussels on Monday. Read more.
Over 100,000 Ukrainian refugees found jobs in Poland. About 102,000 Ukrainian refugees who fled to Poland since the start of the war in Ukraine have managed to find employment in the country, the family, labour, and social policy ministry has said. Read more.
PRAGUE | BRATISLAVA
Czechia moves up 20 places in press freedom index. Press freedom has improved in the Czech Republic according to this year’s Press Freedom Index, which now places the country 20th compared to the 40th spot it scored last year. Read more.
Ukraine’s Budapest ambassador wants to know what Orbán told Pope. Ukraine’s Ambassador to Hungary, Lyubov Nepop, has requested an audience with Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó following reports Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told the Pope the Russians have “a plan” to end the war by Monday. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Romanian citizen in the UK suspected of helping Russian hackers. A Romanian citizen in the UK is suspected of assisting the Killnet hacker group in its cyberattack against Romanian websites. Read more.
Russian-style hackers ruin Bulgarian post office. A massive hacking attack, with Russian involvement that took place on 16 April completely disrupted the Bulgarian State Post Office, which still does not function properly, the government’s IT expert Vasil Velichkov has said. Read more.
Slovenia’s Ombudsman experts call for deteriorating press freedom to be addressed. Slovenia’s human rights ombudsman and media experts have urged action to address worsening press freedom as Slovenia now ranks 54th in the latest World Press Freedom Index – dropping 18 spots compared to last year and ranking the lowest since the index was first compiled. Read more.
BELGRADE | ATHENS
Vucic visits Greece, says LNG important for Balkans. Construction of a terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Greece’s Alexandroupoli is important “for the entire region, the entire Balkans,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said at a ceremony marking the start of construction, adding that he, like many others, had been sceptical and believed that it would take years to accomplish this. Read more.
Albanian prime minister claims RSF report is lies, fantasy. Prime Minister Edi Rama has called the Reporters Without Borders’s assessment of press freedom in Albania a “lie” and “fantasy” after the country dropped a staggering 20 places in one year. Read more.
- EU: European Council President Charles Michel visits Moldova / European Parliament session continues in Strasbourg with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announcing the sixth package of sanctions.
- Germany: Chancellor Olaf Scholz will hold separate talks with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić / EU Special Representative for the Western Balkans and the Belgrade-Priština Dialogue Miroslav Lajčak will also visit Berlin and hold a joint informal meeting with Vučić and Kurti.
- Denmark: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses event marking the WWII liberation of Denmark via video link.
- Italy: Prime Minister Draghi’s to meet his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, in Rome.
- Portugal: Spain’s King Felipe VI, Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella, and Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa close the Cotec Europe Summit.
- Bulgaria: Parliament votes on sending military aid to Ukraine amid opposition within the ruling coalition.
- Romania: German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to hold talks with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca in Romania.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson]