Mpampis Papadimitriou, a former journalist and newly elected MP with conservative New Democracy in Greece (EPP), has provoked criticism after he hit out at foreign correspondents in Athens, and particularly the French daily, Libération.
In an article published after the Greek elections last Sunday, Libération said with new PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, dynasties have returned to the country’s government. Commenting on the article, Papadimitriou said Libération was not a significant newspaper and lashed out against foreign correspondents in Athens.
“The correspondents of many European newspapers wrote about a Greece that does not exist […] Unfortunately, some reporters were licking leftist Syriza’s shoes in the party’s offices which were full of marijuana smoke. And then they were writing with their mind blurred with marijuana.”
Libération replied saying the attack and the allegations were ridiculous and even accused Papadimitriou of spreading fake news as he said that the newspaper belongs to Rothschild, which it left in 2014.
Stelios Kouloglou, a Syriza MEP, said: “Sadly, this attack against foreign correspondents is not an isolated incident. With a decree, Mr. Mitsotakis placed under his personal control the public TV broadcaster as well as the National News Agency.”
“Censorship, personal control of the media and attacks on journalists are practices contrary to the EU democratic values. Greece is heading toward an Orban-style regime,” Kouloglou told EURACTIV.com.
Kouloglou also said that New Democracy government censored even UK PM Theresa May regarding the North Macedonia name change deal.
May called Mitsotakis to congratulate him for his election. Following the telephone conversation, the Greek PM’s office said the two leaders discussed the developments in eastern Mediterranean with Turkey. However, the British government issued a statement highlighting that May “welcomed Prime Minister Mitsotakis’s commitment to honour its implementation”.
When in opposition, New Democracy fiercely opposed the Prespes Agreement and even tried to block it. The implementation of the deal now will likely put the conservative party in a difficult position toward its voters.
Meanwhile, storms raged over Halkidiki (northern Greece) last night leaving 6 people dead and over 20 injured, Greek media reported. Tourists and children were among the victims.
(Sarantis Michalopoulos, EURACTIV.com)
von der Leyen’s Brexit plea. Commission President nominee Ursula von der Leyen has told MEPs that she hopes the UK’s plans to withdraw from the European Union never come to fruition.
Ahead of a vote on her nomination for the Commission’s top job next week, von der Leyen said on Wednesday that she still hopes the UK remains within the EU, and that the British authorities still need to “sort its side of things on Brexit.” (Samuel Stolton, EURACTIV.com).
Small steps. The Parti Socialiste together with Green Ecolo has invited the French-speaking Liberals (MR) to Wallonia for regional government formation talks, which could have a knock-on effect on the rest of the country and possibly break the deadlock in the formation of the federal government. (Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com).
France wants to cap the CAP. The post-2020 Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) should help farmers who have revenues of under €100,000 a year, according to a proposal tabled by the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Amélie de Montchalin.
“We want to put a ceiling to agriculture subsidies. Above €100,000 per year, we consider that a farmer has a sufficient income for himself, and no longer needs the CAP solidarity”, she told Europe 1.
This ceiling could redirect the CAP funds to farmers who are in transition of their agricultural practices. “On the other hand, farmers must be supported (…) if they are asked to change their farming practices, to use fewer pesticides or diversify their production to be resilient to climatic variations”, she added.
As the first recipient of CAP money, France is fighting to maintain the budget of the common policy as well as its green orientation. “We would like 40% of the CAP budget to be a transformation budget, in relation to the environment,” she said. (EURACTIV.fr)
Political impasse. Two weeks before the Spanish parliament appoints the new PM Pedro Sánchez, socialists (PSOE) and leftist Podemos have not been able to reach a government agreement yet, increasing the possibilities of fresh elections, according to El Pais.
Podemos push for a leftist coalition with the socialists and accuse socialist of trying to impose a one-party government. On the other hand, the socialists say Podemos only care about ministerial posts. Read more
Coalition break ahead? “All 16 SPD members have made it very clear that for basic reasons they cannot agree to this personnel proposal,” German Socialist MEP Katarina Barley told a German radio station after the European Socialists met with Commission President nominee von der Leyen in Brussels. “I also assume that it will stay that way.” Many MEPs, regardless of faction, were disappointed that the Commission president nominee was often too vague in the hearings. Read more
Putin’s money. The website BuzzFeed published a leaked recording in which three Italians affiliated to right-wing Lega and three Russians allegedly close to the Kremlin were negotiating on moving roughly $65 million from a Russian oil company to Salvini’s party. The meeting dates back to Salvini’s trip to Moscow last October when he had said to “feel at home” in Russia. “I’ve never taken a ruble, euro, dollar or liter of vodka from a Russian,” Italy’s vice-premier replied. (Gerardo Fortuna, EURACTIV.com)
Szydlo rejected. Beata Szydlo, a former Polish PM and currently MEP with the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), was rejected in a secret ballot to chair the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. For Ryszard Legutko, another ECR MEP, EU socialists basically took revenge for what happened in the EU Council, where Poland opposed the candidacy of Frans Timmermans. (Łukasz Gadzała, EURACTIV.pl)
President concerned about human rights situation in China. Newly elected president Zuzana Čaputová is starting her foreign policy involvement with a strong stance towards China. She met with the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi in Bratislava on Wednesday and expressed her distress with the state of human rights in the country.
“In line with the EU’s common position, I expressed my concerns and fears about the deteriorating human rights situation in China and the detention of lawyers and human rights activists, as well as ethnic and religious minorities,” Čaputová wrote on social media about her meeting. (Lucia Yar, EURACTIV.sk)
Unprecedented support for the “debt relief” bill. All present lawmakers in the Czech lower house on Wednesday unanimously endorsed a proposal, which will make it easier for people over eighteen years old, who got in debt as children because of their parents, to be discharged of this debt.
A similar preferential regime of debt relief is already in place for seniors and the disabled. (EURACTIV’s partner Aktuálně.cz)
Not yet Commissioner candidates. Slovenian PM Marjan Šarec (LMŠ-RE) said his government would decide this month about the country’s candidate Commissioner, however nothing has been decided yet. Rumours suggest that socialist MEP (S&D) Tanja Fajon is a possible strong candidate. (Željko Trkanjec, EURACTIV.hr)
Economic forecast. The real GDP growth is projected to recover to 3.3% in 2019 and 3.4% in 2020 according to the Summer 2019 Economic Forecast of the European Commission. Due to the weakening external environment, Bulgaria’s economy is expected to expand at a slower pace in the second half of this year and then maintain a similar growth rate throughout 2020.
F-16 fighter jets. The Bulgarian government has given a mandate to the Ministry of Defence to sign a deal with the US to buy eight new F-16 fighter jets for the air force at a price of $1.256 billion. Bulgaria wants to replace its ageing Soviet-made MiG-29s and improve compliance with NATO standards. The deal for Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Block 70 is Bulgaria’s biggest military procurement since the fall of Communist rule some 30 years ago. (Dnevnik.bg)
New government before 5 August. Croatia’s parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said a government reshuffle is expected before 5 August. EURACTIV’s partner Jutarnji list commented that it is possible that all ministers with pending issues could leave the government: Gabrijela Žalac (EU funds), Goran Marić (State Assets), Tomislav Tolušić (Agriculture). The opposition called for snap elections instead of a government reshuffle. (Željko Trkanjec, EURACTIV.hr)
Foreign currency reserves highest since 2000. The National Bank of Serbia (NBS) has announced that at the end of June its gross and net foreign currency reserves were at the highest level since 2000 when monitoring of this data began. The NBS’s gross foreign currency reserves amounted to €12.14 billion, which is €490.5 more than in May. (beta.rs, EURACTIV.rs)
BiH will not extradite Turks. The Presidency of BiH said it has no authority to influence justice regarding the extradition of eight Turkish citizens. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked for their extradition because according to Ankara, they belong to the Gülen movement. Erdogan has also hinted said that bilateral relations could be affected by the issue. (Željko Trkanjec,EURACTIV.hr)
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Samuel Stolton]