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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Visegrad cooperation is still important but not as crucial as political leaders often claim, a new study based on a survey among Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak foreign and EU policy experts suggests. Read more.
Austria introduces tough restrictions for unvaccinated. Only the vaccinated or those who have recovered from COVID-19 will be allowed to access bars, hotels and cultural events from Monday, the Austrian government announced on Friday. Read more.
Germany’s future coalition feels heat as country braces for fourth wave. The future coalition of the social democrat SPD, the Greens and the business-friendly liberals FDP has been criticised for hurrying to remove the legal basis for COVID-19 restrictions. They aim to end lockdowns and curfew by 25 November, despite the country’s seven-day-incidence-rate rising by 200% in a month. Read more.
Far-right Zemmour says ‘everything in place’ for presidential candidacy. “Everything is in place” for a potential presidential candidacy, far-right TV pundit Éric Zemmour told BFM Politique in an interview on Sunday. Meanwhile, a new poll confirms that he would make it to the second round of the French Presidential elections scheduled for April. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
London working on Horizon alternative. UK ministers are working on a domestic alternative to the EU’s €95 billion Horizon Europe research project if the European Commission continues stalling approval on the UK’s associate membership of the programmes. Read more.
Irish FM: UK set to trigger Article 16 of NI protocol. The British government appears to be on the verge of triggering Article 16, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has said, warning that the EU may shelve its free trade agreement with the UK in response. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Helsinki ditches meat and cow’s milk from the menu. Meat and cow’s milk will no longer be served at public events, seminars, meetings or workshops in Helsinki as of the beginning of next year. This comes after the Finnish capital declared itself a “Fair Trade city” in 2013 and has been using fair-trade-related criteria in procurement tenders. Read more.
Greece’s wildfire heroes attacked by police. Greek police attacked seasonal firefighters at a demonstration on Friday (5 November) outside the climate crisis and civil protection ministry in Athens. Read more.
Mohegan pulls out of Greek mega-casino project. Mohegan Gaming announced on Friday its decision to withdraw from its plan to build a casino in Greece and focus its attention on the construction of a similar project in South Korea. In September, Mohegan announced the transfer of its entire stake in the project to GEK Terna, a Greek construction company previously the minority owner of the consortium. Read more.
Spanish police searching for 12 people after Mallorca emergency landing. The Spanish police have arrested 12 people and are searching for 12 others who fled a plane after it made an emergency landing at Palma airport on the Balearic island of Mallorca. Read more.
Leader of Hungarian party in Slovakia banned from entering Ukraine. Krisztián Forró, leader of the Alliance party, which represents the Hungarian minority in Slovakia, was prevented from entering Ukraine last week. Read more.
Controversial Polish Ambassador to Berlin is leaving his post. Prof. Andrzej Przyłębski, the husband of the president of the Constitutional Tribunal Julia Przyłębska, is leaving his post as Poland’s ambassador to Berlin after five years. Read more.
High schoolers made to watch pro-government film during school. The Thursday screening in the eastern town of Karcag of ‘We f*cked up’ (Elk*rtuk), depicting the leaked 2006 speech of ex-PM Ferenc Gyurcsány that caused a nationwide political crisis, was attended by students from several local and regional secondary schools, some of which made the film compulsory, Telex reported. Some students who did not attend the screening of the movie, widely regarded as pro-government propaganda by its critics, received an unexcused absence.
According to both the entrepreneur who organised the screening and the teachers, the Fidesz-run Karcag municipality and the cultural centre it funds could have been behind covering the screening costs and the bus transport for the children. The mayor, however, denied that the municipality paid for the screening. Some teachers did not consider it ethical that attendance was compulsory. (Vlagyiszlav Makszimov | EURACTIV.com with Telex)
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Slovenia’s president offers earliest possible election date to ease political tensions. Slovenian President Borut Pahor has announced plans to call the general election on 24 April 2022, the earliest possible date, in a bid to ease some of the worst political tensions Slovenia has ever experienced. Read more.
Bulgarian MP candidate caught in fake green pass scheme. According to an investigation conducted by Nova TV, a Bulgarian MP candidate from the nationalist NFSB party has been involved in a scheme issuing vaccination certificates to unvaccinated people. Read more.
Romania’s schools to reopen, some will begin in-person classes. Schools in Romania will reopen Monday after students took a forced two-week vacation due to the pandemic. However, in-person classes will only start for students attending schools where at least 60% of the teachers are vaccinated.
The COVID-19 situation in Romania is still challenging, with almost no free beds in intensive care units and hundreds of deaths reported each day.
The Ministry of Education had suspended courses for two weeks hoping that the reduced circulation would improve the pandemic situation. Schools restart on Monday, but only two-thirds are set to return to the classroom. (Bogdan Neagu | EURACTIV.ro)
APM Terminals, EU company, signs concession for Zagreb Deep Sea terminal. A concession agreement has been signed to develop and commercially use the Zagreb Deep Sea container terminal in the northern Adriatic Port of Rijeka, estimated at 20 billion kuna (€2.7 billion), with the concession fee fixed at €2 million annually for 50 years. Read more.
Vucic shrugs off Serbia’s absence from US democracy summit. Following reports that Serbia was not invited to the Summit for Democracy, a virtual conference that US President Joe Biden will host, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said on Sunday that “everyone has a right to evaluate other democracies as they see fit.” Read more.
SARAJEVO | BUDAPEST
Hungarian PM Orbán sees Serbs as key players for peace. Hungary has a vested interest in the peace, stability and security of the Balkans, and Serbs living in BiH’s Republika Srpska play a key role in that process, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said after meeting with Milorad Dodik, Serb member of BiH’s three-member presidency. Orbán did not meet the other two presidency members. Read more.
Opposition VMRO-DPMNE announces parliamentary majority. North Macedonia’s opposition has announced the creation of a parliamentary majority comprising five parties following the informal resignation of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Exit.al reports. Read more.
Montenegrin Deputy PM: No restrictions from NATO side. There are concerns in the US about geopolitical trends in the region with unresolved doubts, said Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazović in the interview for Croatian daily Večernji list.
“I am trying to promote a thesis: corruption and huge financial interests hide behind every nationalism. Instigators are fuelling instability to guard space for their businesses staying unhindered in the Western Balkans,” Abazović added. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
Montenegro to allocate €100,000 to UN fund to help Afghan people. Montenegro announced it will give €100,000 to a UN fund set up to help people in Afghanistan who are suffering after the Taliban takeover. Read more.
Albania to have zero emissions by 2050, no specifics given. Albania has pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by 20.9% to reach zero by 2050, according to the newly appointed Environment Minister Mirela Kumbaro.
Following discussions at the United Nations Climate Conference COP26, Kumbaro said the government has decided to cut CO2 emissions in line with EU countries. The minister did not give any details on how the government would achieve this. (Alice Taylor | Exit.al)
Vaccination rate drops by 40% after mandates come into force. The vaccination rate in Albania dropped 40% in October compared to September and August, as the country struggles to reach even 50% coverage with anti-COVID-19 vaccines. Read more.
- EU: Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testifies in European Parliament’s IMCO committee / European Commission President von der Leyen delivers keynote on EU budget at annual conference / Eurogroup meets in Brussels for their monthly meeting / Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides holds exchange of views with European Parliament’s budget committee.
- Switzerland: Covid vaccination campaign starts before ski resorts open.
- Poland: The European Court of Human Rights will announce its verdict regarding the Supreme Court’s Extraordinary Control Chamber and the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS). The judgment will be of fundamental importance in the discussion on the legality of the appointment of all judges recommended by the so-called “new KRS”.
- Czech Republic: Parliament meets for first time since general election.
- Croatia: The Economic and Social Council meets to discuss the health system in time of the coronavirus pandemic, the reform of the system, and labour market prospects.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]