Spanish leftists oppose Black Sea mission, NATO membership

Unidas Podemos, Izquierda Unida, En Comú Podem, Alianza Verde, Bildu, BNG, CUP, Más País-Equo and Compromis – all in the left political camp- asked the executive on Friday not to take part in the NATO deterrence mission in the region, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported.  [Shutterstock/Tsuguliev]

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In today’s news from the Capitals:

MADRID

Coalition partner Left-wing Unidas Podemos (United We Can) and eight other left-wing parties signed a joint manifesto making clear their “total rejection” of a Spanish mission in the Black Sea and Bulgaria to support NATO if tensions in Ukraine continue to rise. The nine parties also urged Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of PSOE to end Spain’s NATO membership. Read more.

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BERLIN

Pandemic tears ‘striking hole’ in German economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has so far cost the national economy €350 billion, new data published on Sunday by the German Economic Institute shows. Meanwhile, the government lowered its growth forecast for 2022. Read more.

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PARIS

Le Pen loses another heavyweight to Zemmour. MEP Gilbert Collard announced on Saturday that he would join the ranks of far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour just three days after another Rassemblement National (RN) member left Marine Le Pen’s party. Read more.

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VIENNA

Austrian state Carinthia reports massive drug issues. Drug smuggling in the southern state of Carinthia has increased significantly with hard drugs like cocaine and heroin being smuggled via the Balkan route, the courts have warned. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

DUBLIN 

Ireland lifts almost all COVID-19 restrictions. Ireland has removed almost all pandemic restrictions following advice from public health officials on Friday (21 January). Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

HELSINKI

‘Hate speech’ trial against Finnish MP begins. Päivi Räsänen, a Christian Democratic MP ex-party chair and interior minister from 2011 to 2015, will be in court Monday following her comments on homosexuality, which she called “a developmental disorder”. Read more.

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STOCKHOLM

Swedish government to decide construction of spent nuclear fuel repository. The government this week will announce its decision regarding the construction in the northern Uppland region of a repository for nuclear fuel that has been removed after being used in a nuclear reactor. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

ATHENS

Increasing number of children getting COVID in Greece. More and more children have been contracting COVID after the opening of schools, news website News247 has reported, despite the overall drop of cases in the total population. Read more.

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ROME

Berlusconi withdraws presidency candidacy. Silvio Berlusconi, former prime minister and president of Forza Italia, announced on 22 January he would withdraw his presidential candidacy. Read more.


VISEGRAD 

PRAGUE

Prague seeks less dependency on Russian gas, plans stake in LNG terminal. The Czech government wants to buy a stake in an LNG terminal in a neighbouring country to diversify its energy supplies. With Germany and Poland being the only two neighbouring countries currently building LNG terminals, Czechia will likely favour cooperation with Berlin. Read more.

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WARSAW

Pegasus case in Poland: Anti-corruption bureau head’s daughter harassed via phone. New facts emerged this weekend on the reported abuse of Pegasus software by Polish special services. Former CBA head Paweł Wojtunik tweeted that his daughter was harassed via phone by someone suggesting he was dead. Read more.

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BUDAPEST

Opposition misses opportunity to hold referendum same day as elections and Fidesz’s anti-LGBTQI poll. The united opposition’s drive to collect enough signatures for a referendum to be held on the same day as the 3 April national elections and the government’s concurrent referendum on LGBTQI issues is almost certain to have failed, despite claims to the contrary from the opposition’s political representatives, Telex reported. Read more.

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BRATISLAVA

Slovak environment ministry to remove barriers for geothermal energy. Preparations are underway for a new environmental impact assessment (EIA) law, State secretary of the environment ministry, Michal Kiča, said. While having a lot of potential for heating, rules for developing geothermal energy currently face legislative barriers in Slovakia. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

SOFIA

Bulgaria will host fighter jets from Spain and the Netherlands. Bulgaria will host up to seven Eurofighter jets from Spain and two stealth F-35 fighter jets from the Netherlands to protect the country’s airspace in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis, Defence Minister Stefan Yanev confirmed on 22 January. The fighter jets will perform Air Policing tasks. Read more.

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ZAGREB | ATHENS

Dendias and Grlić Radman: NATO should be main security guarantor. Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman and his Greek counterpart, Nicos Dendias, agreed NATO should be the main security guarantor in Europe after the two met in Pula, Istria, after participating in a Conference on the Future of Europe event on Friday (21 January). Read more.

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BELGRADE 

Serbia informed of assassination plot against President Vucic. Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin was informed by Europol that a criminal group was planning the assassination of President Aleksandar Vučić, Vulin said on 21 January, adding that police would do everything to protect the president. Read more.

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SARAJEVO 

US helps launch campaign for BiH tourism on TripAdvisor. A promotional campaign of Bosnia and Herzegovina on TripAdvisor has been launched by Samantha Power, administrator of the US agency for international development USAID, together with tourism ministers of two BiH’s entities, Edita Djapo in the Federation BiH (Croatian-Bosniak) and Suzana Gašić in Republika Srpska (RS, Serb). Read more.

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SKOPJE

National energy company takes over Skopje heating company. The state-owned ELEM/ESM energy company has formally taken over BEG – the main heating company in Skopje. BEG faces bankruptcy in the face of soaring gas prices and the regulated price they can charge from the 60,000 households they are supplying in Skopje. Read more.

Concessions needed for Bulgaria to ‘yes’ North Macedonia EU accession – analysis. “To get Bulgaria to “yes,” North Macedonia would probably need to make some further symbolic concessions, including resuming joint celebrations of historic events such as the 1903 Ilinden Uprising or restarting a stalled commission on resolving some of the most intractable historical disputes” stated an Atlantic Council analysis published on Sunday about the dispute between Skopje and Sofia. 

(Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)

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PODGORICA 

Protests against formation of Montenegrin minority government continue. Protests against the formation of the minority government continued on Saturday and Sunday in Podgorica and several other cities. Members of the Democratic party participated in the protests, and the party leader and parliament Speaker, Aleksa Bečić, as well as most of the ministers from the government, said they fully supported them. Read more.

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TIRANA

Hydro plants suspended by Albanian high court sell power to state energy company. Two hydropower plants operated by Gener2 that were ordered by the High Court to stop operating pending the outcome of another court case have reportedly continued operating and are selling electricity to the state energy company. Read more.


AGENDA:

  • EU: EU foreign minister meet in Brussels on Ukraine, joined by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken via videolink / NATO chief Stoltenberg meets Swedish, Finish foreign ministers in Brussels / EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Sefcovic meets UK Foreign Minister Truss in Brussels / European Parliament committees elects their chairs and vice-chairs for the rest of the legislative term.
  • France: EU ministers of higher education, research and innovation meet in Paris.
  • Germany: Chancellor Olaf Scholz meets with regional prime ministers to discuss potential additional measures in the face of rapidly rising Omicron cases.
  • Finland: Finnish MP goes on trial accused of hate speech for tweeting Bible verse on homosexuality.
  • Italy: Voting begins for a new Italian president.
  • Spain: Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares to provide before parliament on Tuesday details about Spanish contribution to NATO’s military deterrence operation in the Black Sea and Romania.
  • Czechia: European Commission Vice-president Margrethe Vestager visits Prague to meet with the new Czech Minister for Digitalisation Ivan Bartoš and Minister of EU affairs Mikuláš Bek. 
  • Bulgaria: The governments of Bulgaria and North Macedonia will hold a joint session in Sofia.
  • Croatia: Power company HEP starts charging for its service at electric car charging stations along motorways.

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

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