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In today’s news from the Capitals:
A court in Breda has ordered the early release of two Ukrainians, so they can fight the Russian invasion in Ukraine. Read more.
Germany drops most COVID-19 restrictions despite infection spike. Germany scrapped most COVID-19 restrictions over the weekend despite higher infection numbers than ever before. Read more.
Mélenchon supporters march for Sixth Republic. A total of 100,000 people joined a march for a Sixth Republic and the sharing of wealth organised by far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon in Paris on Sunday – three weeks before the first round of the presidential election. Read more.
Car drives into Belgian carnival troupe, kills six. A car drove at high speed into a group of Belgian carnival performers who were preparing a parade early on Sunday, killing six people and seriously injuring 10 others, authorities said, saying the incident did not appear to be a militant attack. Read more.
Austria launches €2 billion ‘anti-inflation package’ amid criticism. The second package of measures designed to address the impacts of high energy prices on Austrian citizens has been criticised for its heavy emphasis on the environmentally damaging commuters’ subsidy. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Irish FM discusses refugee aid, sanctions during Poland visit. Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney visited Warsaw over the weekend to discuss the war in Ukraine and the provision of assistance for those fleeing it with his Polish counterpart, Zbigniew Rau. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
NATO plane crash: no ‘zero risk’, says Air Force official. There will always be a risk when it comes to military exercises, Norwegian Air Force Chief Rolf Folland said regarding the four US soldiers killed in the NATO Osprey plane crash during the Alliance’s military exercise in the Saltfjellet area of Norway. Read more.
Shift in Spain’s policy on Western Sahara triggers government tensions. In an attempt to ease tensions with Morocco, Spain has endorsed a plan for the governance of the Western Sahara, including increased autonomy for the indigenous population, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported. Read more.
Spanish farmers, food producers demand urgent measures to tackle soaring energy prices. Tens of thousands of people from across Spain took to the capital’s streets Sunday demanding measures to protect rural economies which have been battered by soaring energy prices forcing sellers to retail below production costs, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported. Read more.
Neo-Nazis vandalise Soviet monument in Athens. Neo-Nazis vandalised a monument dedicated to the lost Soviet fighters in Athens last Friday, triggering the Russian embassy’s strong reaction. Read more.
Draghi to Club Med Leaders: energy challenge most urgent. The prime ministers of Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece who met in Rome Friday, have agreed on a common front at this week’s European Council where they will urge the EU to adopt a strong and common response to the energy crisis. Read more.
Patriots arrived in Slovakia, talks about S-300 delivery to Ukraine continue. Patriot air defence systems have arrived in Slovakia, and talks continue about a permanent deal that would open the way for a shipment of the old Soviet S-300 system to Ukraine. Read more.
Polish right calls for easier access to guns. The Polish right has proposed simplifying gun ownership regulations and shortening the procedure for applying for a gun permit as Russia’s attack on Ukraine has renewed discussions in Poland about the country’s stringent gun ownership laws. Read more.
Czech Finance Minister: Total ban on trade with Russia not realistic. A total ban on trade with Russia proposed by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is not realistic as the EU’s four sanction packages are working well, said Czech finance minister Zbyněk Stanjura. Read more.
Polish-Hungarian friendship day celebration postponed. The Polish-Hungarian Friendship Day celebrations in Poland have been postponed by mutual agreement due to the war in Ukraine, national news agency MTI reported, according to Telex. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Ex-PM Borissov released following arrest. Former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov was released after spending 24 hours in prison after the Prosecutors Office refused to bring charges against him, despite police insistence. Read more.
Croatian prime minister said S&P sent message of trust. Standard and Poor’s affirmation of Croatia’s credit rating at ‘BBB-/A-3’ is a message of trust and encouragement for the government to preserve economic stability despite inflation and the impact of the war in Ukraine, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Saturday. Read more.
US economist says Croatia should wait for euro adoption. Croatia should take some more time before the changeover to the euro since the disadvantages could be higher than benefits due to ongoing geopolitical risks, US economist Joseph Stiglitz, who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2001, has said. This is an open issue, Stiglitz told Croatian reporters in Brussels where he attended the 8th Cohesion Forum.
Commenting on Croatia’s plans to adopt the euro as sole legal tender, Stiglitz said on Friday that potential benefits are more restricted than potential costs. There are arguments in favour of taking some more time before the country enters into the eurozone, but he said it is a political decision. Croatia is preparing for the changeover to the euro in 2023, and the country’s top officials, including Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, highlight Croatia’s readiness to adopt the euro. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
BELGRADE | BUDAPEST
Orban in Serbia: The best war is an avoidable war. The best war is the one that could be avoided, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Saturday, adding that Serbia and Hungary, which have “many nice plans together,” face a serious challenge concerning the war in Ukraine. Read more.
BiH’s new round of Election law negotiations fail. Negotiations on amendments to the Election Law of Bosnia and Herzegovina failed after four days of talks in the EU Delegation in Sarajevo and with the mediation of international negotiators Angelina Eichhorst and Michael Murphy. Read more.
Russia suspected of plan against Croatia and Hungary. Russia’s Ambassador in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor Kalabukhov, tried to clarify his earlier statements on BiH’s potential NATO membership in an interview he gave Face TV on Friday, explaining that what he said should not be taken as a threat, but rather as a “warning”.
Asked why Russia is “not bothered” by neighbouring countries that are already part of NATO, he said: “How do you know we have no plans against Croatia, Hungary, Poland?” Kalabukhov recently told the public broadcaster in Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity, FTV, that BiH’s decisions on becoming a member of any alliance are internal. However, he said that Russia’s response to this is “a different matter.”
“Ukraine’s example shows what we expect. Should there be any threat, we will respond,” Kalabukhov told FTV. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
PRISTINA | BELGRADE
Vucic claims Kosovo is ethnically cleansing Serbs. The arrests of two Kosovo Serb officials over corruption charges prompted Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to claim the government of Kosovo is ethnically cleansing Serbs from the country. Read more.
Protests continue while government tries to conserve energy. The Albanian government has announced new measures to deal with the ongoing energy crisis, including scheduled power cuts throughout the country and “off days” for the public sector as citizen protests continue. Read more.
- EU: Foreign and defence ministers meet in Brussels on Ukraine, Strategic Compass, will be joined by Ukraine’s defence minister Oleksii Reznikov and Moldova’s Nicu Popescu / Agriculture ministers meet / Commissioner Janez Lenarčič and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola meets with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi / European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee meets with North Macedonia’s Bujar Osmani.
- Switzerland: IPCC meeting to approve its report on solutions to combat global warming.
- Lithuania: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visits Vilnius.
- Estonia: Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson meets with Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas in Tallinn.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson]