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In today’s news from the Capitals:
PRAGUE | NICOSIA
The Czech Financial Analytical Office, which has the power to freeze the assets of Russian oligarchs, is complaining about Cyprus’ reluctance to provide information on the owners of companies – meaning Czech efforts to find and punish Russian oligarchs often fails. Read more.
EU’s cyber incident reporting mechanism does not work, agency chief warns. The head of the EU’s flagship cybersecurity agency has warned that its incident reporting system is too bureaucratic and “does not work”, and called for a more resilient system, as well as a better legislative environment and information sharing with member states. More.
Former corruption prosecutor to inform MEPs about ‘Greek Rule of Law’. Eleni Touloupaki, Greece’s former head of the Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, will inform MEPs on Thursday about the rule of law in Greece, EURACTIV.com has learnt. Read more.
France opens investigation into ‘serious’ sabotage of internet network. The Paris public prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation after the internet network was sabotaged in the Paris region and east of the country. Read more.
French Left split over union centred around Mélenchon. Negotiations over uniting the French Left ahead of the legislative elections in June are underway but senior officials of the parties involved are split over calls to rally behind radical-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon. EURACTIV France reports.
Germany approves €39.2 billion extra debt to cope with Ukraine war fallout. The government cabinet has agreed on a supplementary budget by taking on €39.2 billion extra debt this year to help soften the economic blow caused by Russian sanctions and the war in Ukraine. Read more.
Dutch continue to receive Russian gas despite refusing to pay in roubles. Russia is still supplying the Netherlands with gas even as it refuses to pay for it in roubles since the country’s state-owned companies have direct contracts with Russia, NOS reports. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
HELSINKI | STOCKHOLM
Russia adopts ‘stick and carrot’ policy toward Finland, Sweden. Russia’s relations with Finland and Sweden will worsen if they join NATO, the First Deputy Chairman of the International Committee of the State Duma Dmitry Novikov said in an interview with Russian newspaper Izvestiya, adding, this would not rule out cooperation in areas like economics and culture. Read more.
Sweden receives fewer Ukrainian refugees than expected. Fewer Ukrainian refugees than expected have applied for asylum and protection in Sweden, and some of them have already returned to Ukraine, said Integration and Migration Minister Anders Ygeman during a press conference on Wednesday. Read more.
Refugee children to be taught Ukrainian in Danish schools. Ukrainian refugee children will be taught in English and Ukrainian in Danish schools, according to an agreement backed by a large majority in the Danish Folketing on Wednesday. Read more.
Greece ready to cope with Russian gas cut-off on 20-21 May. Athens has not ruled out having its Russian gas flows cut off – like Poland and Bulgaria – on 20-21 May, government spokesperson Giannis Oikonomou said, adding that it would not come as a surprise. Read more.
Italy eager to help find lasting solution to Ukraine crisis. The Italian government is ready “to contribute to finding a lasting solution to the crisis,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy over the phone on Wednesday. Read more.
‘Catalan Gate’ puts Spanish government stability at risk ahead of crucial vote. Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles is “politically unfit” and should resign over her inability to clarify Spain’s “worst espionage scandal of the last decades”, the pro-independence president of the Catalan regional government, Pere Aragonès, said on Wednesday. Read more.
Algeria threatens to cut gas contract with Spain. Gas giant Algeria threatened Wednesday (27 April) to break a contract to supply gas to Spain if Madrid transferred it onwards to “a third destination”, amid tensions with regional rival Morocco. Read the full story.
Portugal offers jobs to Ukrainian refugees. 1,400 Ukrainian refugees in Portugal have been given work contracts, and 29,000 more jobs await refugees across the country, Labour Minister Ana Mendes Godinho announced on Wednesday. Read more.
Poland now totally free of Russian dependence, says PM Morawiecki. Russian energy giant Gazprom’s decision to cut supplies to Poland means Poland is now fully independent from Russia, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced during a press briefing on Wednesday. Read more.
Hungarian opposition avoids press following parliamentary committee. The previously united opposition was unable to agree with the ruling Fidesz party on divvying up committee seats in the Hungarian legislature in an apparent sign of difficulties in continuing collaboration after their crushing defeat at the polls. Read more.
Ending Russian gas dependency must be realistic and feasible, says Slovak president. An immediate halt on gas deliveries from Russia would cause problems for Slovakia, so a timeframe for getting rid of Russian gas must thus be “realistic” and “feasible”, President Zuzana Čaputová has said. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Putin drives wedge between prime minister and president in Bulgaria. The Kremlin’s decision to cut off gas to Bulgaria has wholly exposed the positions of the leading political players in Sofia and caused a complete rupture in relations between Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and President Rumen Radev. Read more.
Croatia backtracks on Finnish and Swedish NATO membership comments. The NATO membership of Sweden and Finland should be separated from electoral reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Wednesday, after President Zoran Milanović saying the opposite had signalled a shift in Croatian foreign policy to NATO members. Read more.
Croatia racing to mitigate impact of Ukraine war on agrifood sector. Croatia has made ensuring food security a key focus in light of the crisis in Ukraine, rolling out a number of measures to help producers cope with the fallout from the war. EURACTIV Croatia reports.
Slovenia’s armoured vehicles purchase could disrupt coalition talks. The outgoing government’s purchase of 45 Boxer armoured utility vehicles for €343 million could make it more difficult for the presumptive new prime minister to forge a broad coalition. Read more.
Serbia not affected by Russia cutting gas to Bulgaria, Poland. Russian energy giant Gazprom’s suspension of gas delivery to Poland and Bulgaria does not affect the Serbian gas supply, Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlović said on Wednesday, adding that Serbia gets gas through the Balkans via Bulgaria, as a transit country. Read more.
International force essential to maintain safe environment in BiH, says Blinken. Maintaining a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) requires “some kind of international force with an adequate mandate,” US State Secretary Antony Blinken told Congrees during a discussion on security in BiH. Read more.
SKOPJE | SOFIA
North Macedonia FM believes Skopje-Sofia dispute could be ‘frozen’. The dispute between Bulgaria and North Macedonia could escalate into a “frozen conflict” if outstanding issues are not resolved in the near future, Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani told Bulgarian television BTV in an interview. Read more.
Montenegro closes schools over bomb threats. Bomb threats forced the evacuation of dozens of elementary schools across Montenegro on Wednesday. Read more.
PRISTINA | BELGRADE
Serbian diplomat says Putin recognises Kosovo. Russian President Vladimir Putin citing an International Court of Justice ruling on Kosovo to justify Moscow recognising the independence of Ukrainian breakaway regions Donetsk and Luhansk means he actually recognises Kosovo as an independent state Srecko Đukić, Serbia’s former Ambassador in Belarus, has said. Read more.
Albanian beekeepers cautious over draft law to align with EU acquis. Albania’s beekeeping sector will be regulated as the government has proposed the final draft of a new law that would impact those with just one hive in an effort to align with the EU acquis. But not all beekeepers are buzzing over the news. Read more.
- EU: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola / EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell on Latin America trip in Chile.
- Germany: Chancellor Olaf Scholz meets Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo.
- Austria: IAEA chief Rafael Grossi holds press conference upon his return from Chernobyl.
- Spain: Parliament to vote on government anti-crisis plan to mitigate the impact of war in Ukraine / Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez meets with Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev.
- Greece: Prime Minster Kyriakos Mitsotakis hosts Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Athens.
- Poland: Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson in Warsaw, meets government officials.
- Bulgaria: Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and his government coalition partners visit Ukraine
- Montenegro: The Montenegrin Assembly on Thursday should elect a new government and the president of the Assembly. Obstructions are expected.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson]