Far-right Salvini and Orbán agree to create a new EU ‘centre-right’

The lack of a meeting with the leader of the other Italian right party Fratelli d'Italia, Giorgia Meloni, who has taken a tough line on Putin like Poland's ruling PiS party, was noted by the media. [EPA-EFE/Szilard Koszticsak]

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In today’s news from the Capitals:

ROME

Apparently ignoring the existence of the EU centre-right (European People’s Party-EPP), Italy’s former Deputy Prime Minister and Lega leader Matteo Salvini found himself in “full agreement” with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at a meeting in Rome on Thursday, where they discussed creating a new “centre-right” to fight rising socialists across Europe. Read more.

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BERLIN | LJUBLJANA

Germany makes swap deal with Slovenia to get heavy weapons to Ukraine. As Germany’s government remains gridlocked over direct heavy weapon deliveries, Berlin has turned to a swap deal with Slovenia to support Ukraine with tanks indirectly. Read more.

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PARIS

Ahead of second election round, French more divided than before. Incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron is within reach of re-election in the second voting round on Sunday, but his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen, cannot be dismissed as the French seem more divided than before. Read more.

Le Pen’s U-turn on EU policy is proving difficult to sell. France’s far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen insists she wants to remain in the EU and “deeply” reform it despite accusations that her programme is just a veiled “Frexit”. EURACTIV France reports.

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VIENNA

Austrian oil giant OMV stops Russian oil imports. Austria, one of the EU countries most reliant on Russian gas, has stopped importing and refining Russian crude oil as of March, a  spokesperson for OMV confirmed. Read more. 

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THE HAGUE

Dutch search for Russian assets continues, MPs want answers. The National Coordinator for Sanctions Compliance and Enforcement, Stef Blok, continues to seize Russian assets but cannot tell lawmakers exactly how much has been collected, Dutch News reports. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

HELSINKI  | STOCKHOLM

Finish, Swedish opposition leaders get what they want in Washington. The leaders of the liberal-conservative parties in Finland and Sweden made a joint trip to Washington and were given the blessing from US senators on NATO membership. Read more.

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STOCKHOLM

Swedish government, opposition to speed up security analysis ahead of NATO membership. The Swedish government, together with the main opposition Moderate party, wants to speed up the security policy analysis ahead of a possible application to NATO. Read more. 

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COPENHAGEN

Danish Prime minister visits Zelenskyy in Kyiv. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Thursday, where she promised the delivery of more weapons and mines clearance. Read more.

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VILNIUS

Lithuanian parliament extends state of emergency, again. Parliament on Thursday prolonged the state of emergency, which was first introduced on 24 February, for a second time until July. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

MADRID 

Spain, Portugal, Germany urge French voters to choose Macron. The leaders of the Spanish, Portuguese, and German governments penned a rare open letter on Thursday, urging French voters to re-elect Emmanuel Macron over his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen. Read more.

Spanish PM pledges 200 tons of military aid during Ukraine visit. Spain will deliver an additional 200 tons of military equipment to Ukraine, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced during a visit to Kyiv on Thursday, where he met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Read more.

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LISBON

Zelenskyy asks Portuguese parliament for heavy weapons, tighter sanctions. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for heavy arms and the strengthening of sanctions on Russia in a speech by videoconference to the Portuguese parliament on Thursday. Read more.

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Portugal values Ukraine’s European aspirations says parliament speaker. Portugal values Ukraine’s European aspirations and will not hinder processes to support this country in any way, parliament Speaker Augusto Santos Silva said on Thursday. Read more.


VISEGRAD

PRAGUE

More EU money needed to tackle Czech refugee crisis. The Czech Republic and eight other countries most affected by the refugee crisis will apply for EU financial assistance to ensure the effective use of existing and additional EU resources. Read more.

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BUDAPEST 

Orbán to change the constitution, again. Fidesz is set to start its fourth term in power with a constitutional change that would expand the state of emergency to be declared by the executive in case of war in a neighbouring country. Read more.

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BRATISLAVA

Private companies lead renewables development in Slovakia. High energy prices and poor perspective for the future have caused a boom in photovoltaic energy led mainly by private companies, which are trying to lower their dependence on Russian gas, Denník N reports. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

SOFIA

Dialogue between Sofia and Skopje crashes, again. The grand opening of a Bulgarian cultural centre in North Macedonia’s city of Bitola,  named after a controversial figure, has caused yet another rupture in Bulgarian and Macedonian relations. Read more.

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ZAGREB

Croatian FM: ‘serious potential’ for instability in Western Balkans. There is “serious potential to create instability” in the Western Balkans because it is “a testing ground for geostrategic rivalries,” Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman has said. Read more.

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BELGRADE | PRISTINA

Serbia, Kosovo Foreign ministers clash at UN Security Council session. The foreign ministers of Serbia and Kosovo clashed during a debate on Secretary-General Antonio Guterrres’ biannual briefing on the work of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) in the UN Security Council. Read more.

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SARAJEVO 

BiH general elections to be held in October. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Central Election Commission (SIP) will announce the official date of the general elections on 4 May at 10 am, and since it is obligated to announce the date 150 days ahead of the election, it said the general elections would take place on 2 October. Read more.

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SKOPJE

North Macedonia convicts former PM who fled country. A North Macedonia court convicted former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who fled the country in 2018 and was granted political asylum in Hungary, sentencing him in absentia to seven years in prison. The Criminal Court ruled that Gruevski unlawfully acquired donations worth nearly €1.4 million that were made to his former now biggest opposition party VMRO-DPMNE when he was in office from 2006 to 2012.

Formerly the president of VMRO-DPMNE, Gruevski is now a close ally of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has a strong influence in VMRO-DPMNE.

(Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)

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North Macedonia lifts COVID-19 entry restrictions. Visitors entering North Macedonia will no longer be required to present a vaccination certificate or a negative COVID-19 test. Read more.

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PODGORICA 

Montenegrin assembly to take first step in forming new government. Forty-six deputies decided they would hold a session on 28 April to elect the assembly’s president, the president and members of the country’s 43rd government – a first step in forming the new government that may even have a majority in parliament. Read more.

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TIRANA

Albania increased Russian wheat imports since Ukraine war. Albania imported 10,000 tonnes of wheat from Russia in March, following the latter’s invasion of Ukraine – an increase of 100% compared to last year’s figures. Read more.

Albanian taxpayers lose money in economic mismanagement. At least €159 million of Albanian taxpayers’ money was lost in 2021 due to economic mismanagement, according to the head of the Supreme State Audit (KLSH). Read more.


AGENDA:

  • Croatia: Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman meets with his Andorran counterpart Maria Ubach Font.

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[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson]

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