Europe International

Kosovar Serbs can vote in Sunday referendum, says REC

Belgrade [Serbia] (ANI/Sputnik): Serbs from Kosovo can vote in a Sunday referendum on constitutional changes in four cities in the central part of Serbia, the Republic Electoral Commission (REC) said.On January 16, Serbian citizens are voting on the amendments to the country’s basic law related to the judiciary. Proposed changes include the elimination of several offices, expansion of the public prosecutor’s office to become a collective body, and changes regarding the election of judges. Voting in the referendum will take place at 8,029 polling stations throughout Serbia, with the exception of breakaway Kosovo and Metohija. The decision on the results of the referendum will be made by a simple majority of votes. According to REC, voters from Kosovo and Metohija will have to travel to polling stations in four cities of central Serbia, namely Kursumlija, Raska, Novi Pazar and Vranje.A delegation from the European…

Europe International

Polish Foreign Minister Rau to visit Moscow in mid-February

Warsaw [Poland] (ANI/Sputnik): Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, who is concurrently the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow in mid-February, Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Lukasz Jasina said on Saturday.“In the middle of the next month – most likely on February 15 – the OSCE chairman will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov,” Jasina said, as quoted by the Polish Press Agency. He noted that a visit to Moscow is a normal procedure for the OSCE chairman, since Russia is one of the most important members of the organization. (Image source: Instagram)

Europe International

Massive cyberattack hits Ukrainian government websites

Kyiv [Ukraine] (ANI): A number of Ukrainian government websites have been hit by “a massive cyberattack” warning Ukrainians to “be afraid and wait for the worst” and claiming that all their personal information had been hacked, CNN reported on Friday.“As a result of a massive cyber attack, the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of other government agencies are temporarily down. Our specialists have already started restoring the work of IT systems, and the cyberpolice has opened an investigation,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Oleg Nikolenko tweeted. Early Friday morning (local time), Ukrainian government websites, including that of the Foreign Ministry, displayed dark screens with a text that said Ukrainians’ personal information had been hacked.“Ukrainian! All your personal data has been uploaded to the public network. All data on the computer is destroyed, it is impossible to restore them,” CNN quoted the…

Europe International

First Russian units from CSTO mission board planes in Almaty to return home: Moscow

Moscow [Russia] (ANI/Sputnik): First Russian military units from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) mission in Kazakhstan have boarded planes in the Almaty airport to return to their permanent deployment bases, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.“The first units of Russian Aerospace Forces from the collective peacekeeping forces of the CSTO in Kazakhstan loaded standard equipment and personnel into the aircraft of the military transport aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces and flew from Almaty airport to the point of permanent deployment,” the ministry said in a statement. (Image source: Instagram)

Europe International

Denmark’s spy chief Lars Findsen imprisoned for allegedly leaking classified information

Copenhagen [Denmark] (ANI): Denmark’s spy chief Lars Findsen on Tuesday (local time) was imprisoned for allegedly leaking classified information.According to Danish Security and Intelligence Service, also known as PET, “a long investigation of leaks” within intelligence services was being probed and Findsen was arrested on December 9, read a statement from the country’s intelligence unit. The trial is currently ongoing, the statement said, reported CNN.Lars Findsen, the head of Denmark’s foreign intelligence service has been in prison for over a month for allegedly leaking classified information, it was revealed on Monday.Findsen was named as one of four people arrested in December over leaks of classified information. His name was made public after a court in Copenhagen lifted an order that prevented his identity from being revealed, reported CNN.At the time of Findsen’s arrest in December, the intelligence service said that the four arrested people…

Europe International

EU parliament president David Sassoli dies at 65

Brussels [Belgium] (ANI): The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, has died in Italy due to a dysfunction of his immune system, according to a tweet from his spokesman early Tuesday (local time), reported CNN.“The @EP_President David Sassoli passed away at 1.15 a.m. on 11 January at the CRO in Aviano (PN), Italy, where he was hospitalized. The date and place of the funeral will be communicated in the next few hours,” spokesman Roberto Cuillo said. Taking to Twitter, Cuillo said that Sassoli, 65, had been in hospital in Italy since December 26 as he was suffering from a serious complication due to a dysfunction of his immune system, reported the news channel.Notably, in 2009, Sassoli joined Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party.The European Parliament is an important forum for political debate and decision-making at the EU level.The Members of the European Parliament are directly…

Europe International

Delegations arrive for Russia-US security talks at UN Office in Geneva

Geneva [Switzerland] (ANI): Delegations have arrived for Russia-US security talks at UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland. The preliminary part of the Russia-US strategic talks in the format of a working dinner took place in Geneva on Sunday evening and lasted for more than two hours, reported Sputnik News.The Russian delegation will be led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, and his US counterpart Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will lead the US representatives. In December, Russia released its draft proposals on security guarantees. Negotiations on security guarantees between Moscow and Washington are scheduled for 10 January, followed by a Russia-NATO Council meeting to discuss the issue on 12 January, and a summit between Russia and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) the following day, reported the news agency.The US and NATO have voiced concerns over Russia’s military buildup in Ukraine.…

Europe International

Washington’s NATO military commitments complicate US strategic priority in Europe

Washington [US] (ANI): North Atlantic Treaty Organizations’ military commitments may prove costly for US strategic interest as Washington may be entangled in conflicts in Europe.Many of America’s so-called allies are major liabilities rather than assets to US foreign policy. Indeed, they are potential snares, ones that can entangle America in unnecessary military confrontations, according to National Interest magazine. In too many cases, the “allies” that Washington touts are small, weak, often militarily useless dependents. Worse, some of them are on bad terms with more powerful neighboring states, writes Ted Galen Carpenter for the National Interest.NATO constitutes a system of collective security, whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party.Earlier, the US along with NATO took part in military operations in Afghanistan and in Libya under the United Nations Security Council-mandated mission.However, NATO’s strategic fixation…

Europe International

A pathbreaking step for LGBTQ+community in Germany

Berlin [Germany], (ANI): Germany appointed Sven Lehmann, a Green Party lawmaker as a Federal Government Commissioner for the Acceptance of Sexual and Gender Diversity, a first of its kind position in the country’s history. The appointment was announced on Wednesday and Lehman will be in charge of a national LGBTQ+ action plan. This is the first time a commissioner for queer affairs has been appointed.“Everyone should be able to live freely, safely, and with equal rights,” Lehmann said after accepting the role, reported DW News. The lawmaker will also be the driving force behind the government’s National Action Plan for Sexual and Gender Diversity. Since 2017, he has served in the Bundestag as a member of the Green Party. From 2018 to 2021, Lehmann served as the Greens’ parliamentary group’s spokesperson for LGBT and social policy, alongside Ulle Schauws. In addition, he will also…

Europe International

US diplomat Sherman to meet with European allies ahead of Russia Talks: US State Department

Washington [US]: US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will meet with European allies in Switzerland and Belgium to jointly prepare for a series of security meetings with Russia next week, US State Department said.“Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman will travel to Switzerland and Belgium from January 8 to January 13,” the State Department said in a press release said on Thursday. “On January 11, she will meet with representatives from the EU institutions and jointly prepare with Allies for the NATO-Russia Council meeting.” Sherman will lead the US delegation during a session of the United States-Russia bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue and will be joined by Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Bonnie Jenkins and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Chris Robinson, the release said.During the bilateral meeting with Russia on January…

Europe International

New coronavirus variant IHU detected in France, found in a traveller returning from Cameroon

Marseille [France]: A new coronavirus variant B.1.640.2 also known as IHU variant has been detected in a traveller returning from Cameroon, announced the hospital IHU Mediterrannee in Marseille, France.The traveller has reportedly infected 12 people in Southern France. According to the hospital, the IHU variant was detected in early December. This new mutant has 46 mutations in an “atypical combination,” according to a preprint study that has not yet been peer-reviewed, reported DW News.Due to the unavailability of data and a small number of cases nothing can be yet confirmed about the nature of the variant and the danger it poses. At the same time, nothing can be yet confirmed about the origin of this new variant.Two already known spike protein mutations N501Y and E484K are also found in the new coronavirus variant. N501Y mutation was detected in the alpha variant and it spreads…

Europe International

Pakistanis occupy Syntagma Square: ‘Greece is besieged by a herd of foreigners’, says Greek MP

Athens [Greece]: Amid ban on gatherings against the spread of COVID-19, hundreds of Pakistanis flooded Syntagma Square in central Athens on New Year’s Eve drawing the ire of Greek citizens and its politicians.Politicians, celebrities and social media all reacted strongly to the Pakistani “occupation” of Syntagma Square, reported Greek City Times. Constantinos Bogdanos, the MP who was recently expelled from the ruling New Democracy Party, could be considered as a typical representative of the trend that “Greece is besieged by a herd of foreigners.”He wrote on Twitter on New Year’s Day, “Yesterday’s picture shows: 1) The size of the invasion 2) That the invaders enjoy more rights than the natives. Whatever is forbidden to you by fine or bat, it is permissible for them without hindrance.”Singer Grigoris Petrakos also made a complaint on social media, demanding, among other things, the resignation of the government,…

Europe International

Thousands protest COVID measures in Netherlands despite ban on gatherings

Amsterdam [Netherlands]: Thousands of demonstrators in the Netherlands on Sunday defied a government ban on large protests to voice their anger over COVID-19 restrictions.There were some clashes between riot police and protesters in the Dutch capital Amsterdam, reported DW News. The local government in Amsterdam had banned Sunday’s protest, saying police had indications some protesters might be planning “violence.”Riot police marched across the grass to clear the area, sending the demonstrators into nearby streets.Protesters congregated in the city centre before marching toward a park in the Dutch capital where a rally of the populist Forum for Democracy party took place, reported DW News.A small group of protesters briefly clashed with riot police as officers made efforts to clear the crowd from Museum Square, reported DW News.The municipality later issued an emergency order for people to leave the square.Most people complied with the call to…

Europe International

Amsterdam police arrest 30 people at anti-lockdown demonstration

Amsterdam [Netherlands]: Over two dozen people were arrested in Amsterdam during a protest against COVID-19 restrictions; four law enforcement officers were injured, the Dutch police informs.Thousands of Dutch protesters, unhappy with the new COVID-19 lockdown, defied a ban on gatherings on Sunday and organized a demonstration in Museum Square despite an order from Mayor Femke Halsema who declared the area off-limits to the public. The Dutch police said in a statement after the protest that, at the mayor’s request, law enforcement officers intervened and “a total of 30 suspects were arrested.”The arrests were made for public order violations, assault and weapon possession, according to the police. Four police officers were injured in clashes with the demonstrators.Earlier on Sunday, a Sputnik correspondent reported that clashes with riot police erupted in Amsterdam as some of the protesters tried to veer off the main street as they…

Europe International

People in France set-ablaze 874 cars on new year’s eve as part of tradition

Paris [France]: People in France torched nearly 874 vehicles across the country to mark the New Year as part of their decades-old tradition, a media report said.A total of 874 vehicles were set ablaze across France on new year’s eve as part of a decades-old tradition with coronavirus-related restrictions in place, figure is lower than in previous years, reported CNN citing Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin. French Interior Ministry on Saturday said that a total of 1,316 cars were set on fire in 2019.Meanwhile, authorities in the country also had taken in more people for questioning than in previous years, with 441 brought in compared to 376 in 2019.The tradition took place despite the massive rise in COVID-19 infections in the country. France is reporting over 2 lakh cases as nowadays. The European country on Saturday reported 2,19,196 cases in the past 24 hours.Officials informed…

Europe International

Russia Foreign Minister denies official recognition of Taliban authorities

Moscow [Russia]: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has emphasized that official recognition of Taliban regime in Afghanistan which took power in August last year is not possible despite maintaining working contacts.Official recognition of the government of the Taliban movement in Kabul will depend on how their promises are fulfilled, including on countering threats emanating from the territory of Afghanistan, stated Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to Frontier Post. Further, Russia maintains working contacts with representatives of the Taliban movement (banned in the Russian Federation) who came to power in Afghanistan, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.“We maintain working contacts with representatives of the new Afghan authorities, including through our embassy in Kabul. In the context of the socio-economic crisis, the humanitarian sphere is becoming a particularly urgent area of practical interaction,” the Russian Foreign Minister noted.Russian Foreign Minister recalled that the Russian…

Europe International

Putin warns Biden of severing relations if West imposes sanctions on Russia over Ukraine situation

Moscow [Russia]: Stressing that the call between Russian and the US President was substantive and specific, a Kremlin aide has said that President Vladimir Putin has warned his American counterpart, Joe Biden, of severing relations if West decides to impose sanctions on Moscow over the situation in Ukraine.Biden warned Putin about new financial, military and economic sanctions against Russia in case of the escalation in tensions along its western borders during the phone call between the two leaders, according to Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov. “Our president clearly responded that this would be a big mistake that of course may result in the full severance of relations,” Sputnik quoted Ushakov as saying. Putin added that such sanctions would have serious consequences and expressed hope this would not happen.Ushakov has also said that the talks between the two leaders were substantive and specific.“In principle, we are…

Europe International

Italy cancels quarantine for those vaccinated with 3 doses after contacts with patients

Rome [Italy]: Italy has revised anti-coronavirus measures in light of the spread of the Omicron strain of COVID-19, among others cancelling the quarantine for people inoculated with three doses of vaccines after contacts with COVID-19 patients.The new regulation was adopted on Wednesday by the Council of Ministers following a meeting of the committee on COVID-19. The quarantine after contact with COVID-19 patients will not be also mandatory for those who got two doses if the inoculation took place less than 120 days before the contact.The new measures also extended the use of the enhanced green pass, a sanitary document for those fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19. Starting from January 10, the enhanced green pass will be mandatory for all types of transport.Italy, like many other countries, is currently facing a new wave of coronavirus linked to the Omicron strain.

Europe International

Omicron risk remains ‘very high’, says WHO

Geneva [Switzerland]: The overall risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron remains “very high”, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday as the world continues to witness the surge in global COVID-19 cases. The weekly epidemiological update by WHO revealed the week of December 20-26 saw the global number of new COVID-19 cases increase by 11 per cent as compared to the previous week.“Consistent evidence shows that the Omicron has a growth advantage over the Delta with a doubling time of 2-3 days and rapid increases in the incidence of cases is seen in a number of countries, including those where the variant has become the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant,” WHO update said while citing examples of the UK and the US. However, a decline in the incidence of cases has now been observed in South Africa, it added. The WHO noted…

Europe International

France tightens COVID-19 measures but no curfew for New Year’s Eve

Paris [France]: France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex and Health Minister Olivier Veran announced a series of new measures on Monday to curb the spread of COVID-19 during the New Year festivities and urged their countrymen to respect the preventive measures during the celebrations.The country registered over 100,000 new COVID-19 cases on Dec 24 alone. On Monday, the Council of Ministers and the Public Health Defense Council both held meetings, with President Emmanuel Macron presiding over the latter one. Veran said that the Delta and Omicron coronavirus variants were both spreading in the country at unprecedented speed.The fight against the Delta strain of the virus is ongoing, but the Omicron variant, which Veran said was “at least three times more contagious, ” is rapidly gaining steam.He warned that hundreds of thousands of new daily cases could be expected in January.Castex said that the COVID-19 vaccines…

Europe International

Belarusian President cannot serve more than two terms: Draft Constitution

Minsk [Belarus]: The amendments to the Belarusian constitution published on Monday suggest that a person cannot be elected president more than for two terms.“The president of the Republic of Belarus is elected for a term of five years directly by the people on the basis of universal, free, equal and direct voting by secret ballot. The same person cannot be the president for more than two terms,” the draft constitution read. Moreover, the draft suggests that the president can introduce the state of emergency in the country in the event of a coup, a massive unrest and attempts to violently change the constitutional order threatening the existence of the state and endangering Belarusian nationals.

Europe International

EU envisages strategy to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Washington [US]: European Union has envisaged better planning to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and become a stronger geopolitical entity.Eight years after the announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)–conceived first as One Belt, One Road, the European Union (EU) has a good plan to counter it and become a stronger geopolitical actor in an era of strategic competition as European policymakers seem to have awakened to Chinese economic and geopolitical designs, according to National Interest. Therefore, European policymakers seem to have understood the Chinese economic and geopolitical designs.In line with this vision, Beijing is expanding Chinese outreach in the global economy, reducing its technological dependence on the West–in line with its “Made in China 2025”–and maintaining a favorable external influence while addressing domestic challenges writes Valbona Zeneli for the National Interest.The BRI is an economic and geopolitical necessity for Beijing…

Europe International

Former Soviet leader Gorbachev stresses dialogue between Russia, US amid tensions over Ukraine

Moscow [Russia]: On the eve of the 30th anniversary of USSR disintegration, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Friday stressed the importance of continued dialogue amid tensions between Russia and the US.Russia’s Interfax news agency carried a written interview with the 90-year-old Gorbachev, one day before the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union, reported NHK World. Many people in Russia blame Gorbachev for the collapse of the USSR. In a survey released by an independent polling firm on Friday, 63 per cent of respondents expressed regret over the dissolution, reported NHK World.Gorbachev said the Soviet Union’s demise should not be blamed on his policy of perestroika, or restructuring, stressing that it allowed people to enjoy many rights and freedoms, such as those of speech and assembly.The world’s first socialist country maintained one-party rule by the Communist Party from its foundation in…

Europe International

Italy tightens anti-virus rules for holiday season as Omicron cases mount

Rome [Italy]: Italy on Thursday tightened anti-pandemic rules for the Christmas and New Year holidays amid concerns over rising Omicron cases across the country.The cabinet unanimously approved a decree to introduce new restrictions which will enter into force in the next few days, including prohibiting public gatherings for Christmas and the New Year’s Eve. The step came after several mayors and regional authorities had cancelled all public events in the festivities.According to the new rule, discos and nightclubs have to stay closed until Jan. 31, 2022. The validity of the health green pass certificate is reduced from nine months to six months in order to stem the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant, Health Minister Roberto Speranza told a press conference.The decree also cuts from five months to four months the required time between the completion of full vaccination (two doses) and the…

Europe International

Ireland to impose COVID-19 restrictions after Christmas to curb surge of Omicron strain

Dublin [Ireland]: Northern Ireland will impose restrictions the day after Christmas to curb spread of the Omicron coronavirus strain, which now accounts for over 40 per cent of COVID-19 infections in the country, Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill said. “The Executive has taken decision to protect people and protect the health service over the coming days and weeks,” O’Neill said in a video posted on her Twitter account on Wednesday.The deputy minister told reporters that nightclubs would be closed and indoor dancing would not be allowed from 6 a.m. on December 26. Moreover, all indoor standing events will be prohibited. In addition, starting December 27, only residents of a maximum of three households will be allowed to gather together. Guests will also be required to be seated with a maximum of six people, or 10 people from a single household at…

Europe International

There will be no ‘state security’ agents in government, says Bulgarian Prime Minister Petkov

Sofia [Bulgaria]: I thank our colleagues from “There Is Such a People” and the Minister of Foreign Affairs for taking swift measures and people with files of a past in ‘State Security’ that have been announced in the media will not be appointed or will be released if they have already been appointed. This was stated today by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov in response to a journalist’s question about the possible appointments of people in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who turn out to be connected with State Security structures.According to the coalition agreement, each minister has the right to propose his team, but then in a coalition format we discuss and decide together whether our requirements for these people coincide with these proposals, Petkov commented and stressed that in this case there are no people to be appointed. According to the Prime Minister,…

Europe International

US, UK send cyberwarfare teams to Ukraine amid concerns over Russia

Washington [US]: The United States and the United Kingdom sent cyberwarfare teams to Ukraine over concerns Russia could potentially launch a cyber attack, the New York Times reported.The report said on Monday that the United States and the United Kingdom think Russian President Vladimir Putin may soon attempt to launch a cyberattack targeting Ukraine’s electrical grid, banking system and other critical infrastructure. US officials declined to describe the type of cyber teams that were sent to Ukraine while the UK government described its support to Ukraine as defensive in nature, the report said.The report added, citing US intelligence, that Putin may be trying to make Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy look inept.Tensions around Ukraine have been aggravated in the pa several weeks by an alleged Russian troop buildup near the Ukrainian border and claims of preparations for an invasion. Russia has repeatedly denied those accusations,…

Europe International

EU Foreign Policy chief warns against ‘excluding’ Brussels from security talks with Russia

Brussels [Belgium]: EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell claims that Moscow could try to exclude the European Union from talks on security guarantees.“Russia’s ultimate intentions are not clear, except that it seeks to threaten and weaken Ukraine. Different scenarios can unfold. …We cannot exclude Russia’s desire to use this crisis as leverage for its declared purpose to reshape the security framework in Europe, also excluding the Europeans from the discussions,” Borrell said on his blog on Sunday. He emphasized that any Russian action against Ukraine and its sovereignty would have serious consequences and expressed hope that the US will not allow Brussels to get excluded from talks on security.“…the EU must of course be at the table of any discussion on the European security architecture. Russia’s Foreign Ministry this Friday released a draft proposal on security guarantees between Russia and the US as well…

Europe International

Germany classifies UK as high risk area, travel to be restricted starting Monday

Berlin [Germany]: Germany has included the United Kingdom in the high risk category amid the spread of Omicron and will introduce a temporary ban on almost all travellers arriving from the UK to Germany, the Robert Koch Institute said in a risk list update. “The classification of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland incl. all British Overseas Territories, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands as an area of variants of concern is effective as of 20 December 2021 at 0:00 a.m. [23:00 GMT on Sunday],” the Robert Koch Institute said on Saturday.The temporary ban will be effective until at least January 3, 2022. Travellers who are allowed to enter Germany despite the ban, such as German citizens, will be required to undergo PCR testing and will be subject to a mandatory quarantine. “Please be aware of the 14-day quarantine requirement,…

Europe International

Magnitude 5.2 earthquake occurs near southern Greece

Athens [Greece]): A 5.2 magnitude earthquake was registered on Saturday some 18 miles southwest from the island of Kythera, Greece, according to the seismological laboratory of the University of Athens. The tremor was recorded at 05:16 a.m. GMT at a depth of 18.6 miles.Local media reported no immediate injuries or damages to property. (ANI/Sputnik)

Europe International

EU leaders unanimously vote for prolonging Russia sanctions

Brussels [Belgium]: Leaders of the EU countries have unanimously voted for the prolongation of sanctions against Russia during the EU summit in Brussels, European Council President Charles Michel said on Friday.“Massive consequences & severe cost will follow if Russia takes further military action against Ukraine. #EUCO leaders unanimously agreed to roll over economic sanctions against Russia. We call on Russia to keep its part of the bargain and proceed with Minsk implementation,” Michel wrote on its Twitter page. According to the EU Summit, the existing restrictions have a significant economic impact on the Russian economy and deprive Moscow of an access to sensitive technologies.“Sanctions limit access to EU primary and secondary capital markets for certain Russian banks and companies and prohibit forms of financial assistance and brokering towards Russian financial institutions. The measures also prohibit the direct or indirect import, export or transfer of…

Europe International

Humanitarian crisis threatens basic human rights in Afghanistan: UN

Geneva [Switzerland]: A senior UN rights official has emphasised that respect for fundamental rights and freedoms by authorities in Afghanistan is critical to ensuring stability in the country. “How the de facto authorities – indeed, and the international community – address the drastic economic and humanitarian crises in the country will determine Afghans’ enjoyment of human rights, now and into the future,” said Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, during a press briefing.“They will mark the difference between potential lives of dignity and well-being – or accelerating deprivation, injustice and tragic loss of life.” This comes amid an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan that is threatening basic rights, with women, girls, and civil society among those most affected. Al-Nashif said that as Afghans struggle to meet basic needs, they are being pushed to take desperate measures, including child labour and…

Europe International

Xi Jinping, Putin to hold talks via video link on Dec 15

Beijing [China]: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a virtual meeting on December 15, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Monday.“President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping on December 15 from Beijing will hold a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin via videoconference,” Sputnik quoted Hua as saying. The diplomat did not provide any further details.Amid escalating tensions with the West, China and Russia are strengthening ties.On foreign policy, Beijing and Moscow share similar approaches to Iran, Syria and Venezuela, and recently revived a push to lift United Nations sanctions on North Korea.

Europe International

German parliament passes resolution on deepening ties with Taiwan amid tensions with China

Berlin [Germany] The German parliament has passed a resolution on deepening ties with Taiwan amid rising tensions between Taipei and Beijing, local media reported on Sunday.The Petitions Committee of Germany’s new parliament, which met for the first time in October following a federal election in September, passed a resolution on December 9, urging the government to deepen exchanges with Taiwan, reported Focus Taiwan. The committee also decided to refer an earlier motion on establishing formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan to the foreign ministry and each parliamentary caucus.The resolution said that since Germany and China established diplomatic relations in 1972, the country has adhered to the so-called “one-China” policy which excludes the possibility of forging diplomatic ties with Taiwan, reported Focus Taiwan.The resolution further said that Germany is supportive of conducting close political, economic and social engagement with Taiwan and expanded cooperation with Taipei is…

Europe International

Lithuanian FM resigns over Belaruskali sanctions debacle

Vilnius [Lithuania]: Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis submitted Friday his resignation amid the controversy of Belaruskali products being transported via Lithuania despite the US sanctions against Belarus’ fertilizer manufacturer.The Belarusian state-owned company is one of the biggest potash producers in the world, and it exports most of its production via Lithuania. The U.S. introduced sanctions on Belaruskali on December 8 and Lithuanian authorities assumed that Belaruskali’s transit across the country would cease on the same day since commercial banks stopped processing the company’s transactions.However, state-owned Lithuanian Railways said the shipments to the port of Klaipeda would continue for another several months, as Belaruskali had paid in advance before the sanctions came into effect.The railway company said the Foreign Ministry and the Transport Ministry had been informed about the situation, although Landsbergis initially denied any knowledge of it.On Thursday, Landsbergis said he was ready to…

Europe International

Russia to launch third Angara-A5 Heavy rocket on December 23

Moscow [Russia]: Russian heavy-lift rocket Angara-A5 will be launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the country’s northwest on December 23, marking the third of 17 such launches scheduled to take place before 2028, a source in the rocket and space industry told Sputnik.“The launch of Angara-A5 will take place on December 23 at 18:00 [Moscow time, 15:00 GMT],” the source said. The reserve date for the launch is December 24, the source added.The first two launches of the Angara heavy rocket took place at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on December 23, 2014 and December 14, 2020 .In October, the Russian Defense Ministry announced plans to carry out 17 launches of the new Angara-A5 heavy-lift rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome before the end of 2027, including one in 2021 and two in 2022.Angara is a family of Russian environmentally friendly carrier rockets ranging from light to…

Europe International

Omicron could have ‘major impact’, but no definitive answers yet: WHO

Geneva [Switzerland], December 9 (ANI): The World Health Organisation (WHO) has shed light on features of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, including the extent to which it will spread, and the number of mutations in the newfound strain. The WHO suggests that a new variant could have a major impact on the course of the pandemic, but it’s still too early to say for sure.This was revealed in Wednesday’s weekly briefing on the virus from WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, speaking to journalists in Geneva. The WHO chief highlighted “a consistent picture of the rapid increase in transmission”. However, he added that the exact rate of increase relative to other variants remains difficult to quantify. Despite some data from South Africa suggesting an increased risk of re-infection with Omicron, more data is needed, according to UN news. The variant might also cause milder disease than…

Europe International

Russian embassy calls US Senator’s words about nuclear weapons irresponsible

Washington [US]: The Russian Embassy in the United States called the statements by US Republican Senator Roger Wicker about the possible use of nuclear weapons against Russia because of reports of an alleged escalation at the Ukrainian border irresponsible and ill-considered.The embassy noted that earlier, in an interview with Fox News, Wicker, commenting on the situation related to the internal Ukrainian crisis, recommended that US President Joe Biden, in the event of an aggravation of the situation, not rule out the possibility of military action, including preventive use of nuclear weapons against Russia. “Such statements are irresponsible. We advise all the unenlightened to read the joint statement of the Presidents of Russia and the United States of June 16, 2021, thoroughly. This document reaffirms the two countries committed to the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” the…

Europe International

Swiss Parliament names top diplomat Cassis Federal President

Zurich [Switzerland]: The Swiss parliament voted on Wednesday to appoint foreign minister Ignazio Cassis as the confederation’s new president for what is a largely symbolic 12-month tenure.The 60-year-old was elected with 156 of 197 valid votes. He will take office on January 1 after his term as vice president under outgoing Guy Parmelin expires. The Swiss parliament picks a new president every December from among seven federal councilors. A president in Switzerland does not head the state but is considered to be first among equals.Cassis has been on the Federal Council, the country’s executive body, since 2017 as the councilor in charge of the nation’s foreign affairs. He has a degree in medicine and a post-graduate diploma in public health.

Europe International

France to consult with EU partners on US boycott of Beijing Olympics

Paris [France]: France has “well noted” the decision of the United States to diplomatically boycott the Winter Olympics in Beijing of 2022 and it will consult with European partners on the next step, a foreign ministry spokesperson on Tuesday.“We have well noted the US choice and we will coordinate on this topic at the European level,” the spokesperson told a news conference. In a symbolic protest against China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” the Biden administration on Monday announced that it has decided not to send an official US delegation to the 2022 Winter Olympics in BeijingUS athletes will still participate in the Olympics, but the administration will not be sending government officials to the games. The same policy applies to the Paralympic Games to be held in Beijing, CNN reported.According to CNN, the move marks an escalation of pressure by…

Europe International

Greek Prime Minister to visit Russia, meet President Putin

Athens [Greece]: Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will visit Russia on Wednesday and meet with President Vladimir Putin, government spokesman Yiannis Oikonomou said on Monday.“The prime minister will be in Sochi on Wednesday, where his first meeting as the prime minister will be with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he met as opposition leader in Athens in 2016,” Oikonomou told a press conference.

Europe International

US, EU expresses concern about Beijing’s ‘problematic’ actions in South China Sea

Washington [US]: The United States and the European Union have expressed concerns over China’s growing military aggression in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, saying that they would work together to manage their rivalry with Beijing.The two sides said China’s actions in the South China Sea, East China Seas and Taiwan Strait “undermine peace and security in the region and have a direct impact on the security and prosperity of both the United States and European Union,” according to AJ Jazeera. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman and European External Action Service Secretary-General Stefano Sannino led the first U.S.-EU high-level consultations on the Indo-Pacific on December 3 in Washington during which they reviewed their respective Indo-Pacific engagement and strategies.Both reaffirmed their intention to work together and with partners in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific that is inclusive, based…

Europe International

France confirms 8 Omicron variant cases

Paris [France] : The number of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has reached eight, the French public health agency said.The first Omicron infection case was detected in the French overseas department of Reunion on Tuesday. The next day, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said that 13 suspected cases have been identified throughout the country. “Eight confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in France as of 12/02 at 16:00 [15:00 GMT],” the Public Health France said in a COVID-19 situation update issued late on Thursday.The institute said numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations and critical care patients were on the rise.As of Friday, France has confirmed over 7.8 million coronavirus cases and more than 120,000 related fatalities.To date, 77.4 per cent of the French population has been administered at least one dose of a vaccine against COVID-19, and 75.8 per cent have…

Europe International

EU launches new USD 340bn global connectivity strategy to counter China’s BRI

Brussels [Belgium]: The European Commission (EC) has announced a new USD 340-billion global strategy to boost sustainable links around the world called Global Gateway, a move being seen as a counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).“We aim to mobilize investees up to 300 billion euros [$340 billion] in the years 2021 to 2027, such funds cannot be found by EU alone, the global gateway will build a team Europe approach,” Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said on Wednesday during EC press conference on Global Getaway. The new strategy aims at boosting the world’s interconnectivity through building and strengthening high standard sustainable digital, economic, transportation, research and health systems across the world, according to a statement.The commission added that for implementing the strategy, the European Union would use the so-called “team Europe” approach, encouraging member states with their financial and development institutions,…

Europe International

Russia confirms 32,837 new COVID-19 cases over past 24 hours

Moscow [Russia] : Russia has confirmed 32,837 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the cumulative total to 9,669,718, the federal response center said on Wednesday.“Over the past 24 hours, 32,837 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in 85 regions in Russia, including 2,350 cases (7.2%) without clinical symptoms,” the center said, adding that the rate of increase stands at 0.34%. Moscow registered 2,757 new COVID-19 cases over the given period, followed by Saint Petersburg with 2,419 new cases, and the Moscow region with 2,008 new cases.The response center also reported 1,226 deaths linked to the coronavirus, bringing the country’s death toll to 276,419.In the same 24 hours, 35,679 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals across the country, bringing the total of recoveries to 8,364,932.

Europe International

Russia to deliver humanitarian aid to Kabul

Moscow [Russia] : Russia will deliver humanitarian aid to Kabul on Wednesday and organize another return flight, Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov told Sputnik.“Yes,” Kabul said when asked if Moscow plans to deliver aid to Kabul on December 1, and confirmed that another return flight will be organized, Sputnik reported. The Taliban entered Kabul on August 15, causing the US-backed government to step down. Later in September, the outfit announced the composition of the new interim government of Afghanistan.The country is currently battered by the deepening economic, humanitarian, and security crisis following the Taliban takeover. The international community, from governments to non-governmental organizations, has been providing various assistance to the Afghan people.As the economic crisis is looming on the Taliban-ruled country, the US has also frozen nearly USD 9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank and stopped shipments of…

Europe International

Germany in regular dialogue with US on Implementation of deal on Nord Stream 2

Berlin [Germany]: Germany is in a “regular and constructive” dialogue with the US on the implementation of the agreement on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and still opposes sanctions against the allies, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Christopher Burger said on Monday.The German government called on the US Congress not to impose sanctions against Nord Stream 2, as it will damage the transatlantic partnership, according to the documents from the German Embassy in Washington, obtained by the Axios portal on Sunday. “In this regard, I can say that the heads of departments of the foreign and energy ministries were recently in Washington and held constructive negotiations with high-ranking representatives of the US administration and Congress. We are in close contact with the US administration on the implementation of the joint statement [on energy security and Nord Stream 2] and we are in regular and…

Europe International

France extends travel curbs from seven southern African countries

Paris [France] : France has extended travel restrictions from seven southern African countries until December 1, amid the spread of the new coronavirus variant called Omicron.The reports about the new variant prompted the EU countries to restrict travel from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique, the Russian news agency reported Sputnik. In France, the restrictions were supposed to last until November 29. “The date ‘November 29, 2021’ is changed to ‘December 1, 2021’,” the government said in a decree, which updates the previous one.On Friday, France suspended flights arriving from the southern African region for 48 hours amid rising concern about a new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa.“France suspended flights arriving from the southern African region for 48 hours. The new variant has not yet been detected in France,” said Health Minister Olivier Veran, as quoted by France 24.A newly…

Europe International

Police protest against security law reform in Madrid

Madrid [Spain]: Thousands of police officers protested in Madrid on Saturday over the controversial security law reform, which is popularly called the “gag law.”The action is attended by representatives of various law enforcement agencies of the country – the National and local police, the Civil Guard, the Basque Ertzaintza. It was supported by the right-wing People’s Party, Citizens Party, and VOX. Before the start of the manifestation, its organizers, the police union Jusapol, promised that it would be “the most massive police protest in the history of Spain.” According to them, 120,000 people were to take part in it. “We say no to this reform. We believe the law must be adapted to current times and must be reformed, but we must never trample the rights of those responsible for security who work with this law every day,” Jusapol President Miguel Gomez told reporters.Speaking…

Europe International

Indo- France military exercise, ‘Ex SHAKTI 2021’ ends in France

New Delhi [India]: After 12 days of intense joint military training, the 6th edition of Indo- France military exercise, ‘Ex SHAKTI 2021’ concludes in France on Thursday.“The military exercise culminated on November 25 after twelve days of intense joint military training, exhibiting their combat power and dominance over the extremist groups in simulated Counter Insurgency / Counter Terrorism environment,” informed the Indian Ministry of Defence in a statement.“The exercise provided an opportunity to both the contingents to train in Counter-Terrorism operations in the joint environment under United Nations charter,” the statement said.The military exercise was conducted in two phases involving combat conditioning and tactical training of Counter-Terrorism operations. It also included validation of training in a semi-urban environment. The respective contingents expressed great satisfaction on the outcome of the military exercise, in terms of the standards achieved during the conduct, the ministry said. “The…

Europe International

Germany logs record 76,414 new COVID-19 cases in past 24 hrs

Berlin [Germany]: Germany has registered 76,414 new COVID-19 cases within the past 24 hours, marking thus the largest daily increase since the start of the outbreak, Robert Koch Institute said on Friday.The total number of COVID-19 cases in Germany currently stands at 5,650,170. The death toll has risen by 357 to 100,476 people within the same period of time. A day earlier, the country recorded 75,961 new COVID-19 cases and 351 fatalities.Like many other countries, Germany is currently facing the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which bring record numbers of new cases.The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020. To date, more than 259.94 million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, with over 5.18 million fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Europe International

Olaf Scholz set to replace Merkel

Berlin [Germany] : Olaf Scholz is set to end the era of the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel.The newly formed coalition of three German political parties, the Social Democrats, the Greens, and the Free Democrats, led by Olaf Scholz is about to form the next German government, reported DW news. The left-leaning Olaf Scholz, about to hold the designation of Germany’s next chancellor, has ruled out the 16-year long term of Merkel-led German government, reported DW News.On Wednesday, the said three German parties showcased their plans titled ‘Risk more progress’ with the agenda to take over Merkel-led government. The coalition about to form the German government tagged their cooperation deal as an ‘alliance for freedom, justice, and sustainability.The cooperation deal appears to be majorly between the two parties, the Greens and neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP). The environmentalists aim to end coal commerce by the…

Europe International

Johnson, Macron agree to step up efforts to prevent migrants’ crossings

London [UK]: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron have agreed to prevent deadly crossings of the English Channel by migrants following the Wednesday fatal shipwreck in the Strait of Dover, the Office of the UK Prime Minister said.A boat with migrants sank in the Strait of Dover near the French shore on Wednesday, leaving at least 31 people dead. “The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron this evening following the distressing loss of life in the Channel. They agreed on the urgency of stepping up joint efforts to prevent these deadly crossings and to do everything possible to stop the gangs responsible for putting people’s lives at risk,” 10 Downing Street said in a statement on Wednesday.The leaders stressed the need to cooperate with Belgium and the Netherlands as well as other EU countries to effectively…

Europe International

Sweden gets its first female prime minister

Stockholm [Sweden] : Swedish parliament elected on Wednesday Magdalena Andersson as the country’s new Prime Minister, the first female PM in Swedish history.Andersson is scheduled to take office after a meeting with King Carl XVI Gustaf on Friday, giving her less than 10 months to prepare for Sweden’s 2022 general elections.

Europe International

Explosion at missile factory near Belgrade injures 15 people

Belgrade [Serbia] : An explosion at a factory for the production of missiles used to combat hail clouds near Belgrade, according to unconfirmed information, injured 15 people, two were killed, the Vecernje Novosti newspaper reported.A strong explosion occurred at about 14:00 (13:00 GMT) in the Buban Potok area. Presumably, the explosion occurred at the Edepro anti-hail missile factory in the village of Lestane. Videos of a cloud of smoke appeared on social networks. The interior ministry told the media that 11 vehicles and 36 firefighters had been sent to the scene. According to other media reports, cars are on fire in the parking lot in front of the factory.

Europe International

Covid-19 Restrictions : Protests rock Netherlands, Belgium, France

Amsterdam [Netherlands]: People continued to protest against COVID-19 curbs in parts of the Netherlands, France and Belgium. People continued to show up in numbers across European cities on Sunday, with the police deploying water cannons and tear gases to disperse crowds. More people have been arrested, reported DW News.Riots broke out in cities across the Netherlands, the third night in a row that police clashed with mobs of angry youths who set fires and threw rocks to protest COVID-19 restrictions. Protests continued in the Netherlands for the third day in a row with police issuing an emergency order in the eastern city of Enschede, near the German border, reported DW News. Protesters set off fireworks and vandalized properties in cities — Groningen and Leeuwarden in the north, Enschede in the east, and Tilburg in the south. 130 people have been arrested since the protests…

Europe International

French PM tested positive for COVID-19

Paris [France] : French Prime Minister Jean Castex has tested positive for COVID-19, French media reported on Monday.Returning from Brussels Monday afternoon after meeting with his Belgian counterpart Alexander De Croo, Castex learnt that one of his daughters tested positive for COVID-19, Le Figaro reported. De Croo will be tested on Wednesday and will remain in quarantine until the result of his test, local media reported.Several senior members of the Belgian government will also go into quarantine to avoid any risks.French ministers in the delegation include minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly, Interior minister Gerald Darmanin, minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti, and Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune.Castex “immediately got a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, which turned out to be positive,” the French newspaper cited the prime minister’s office as saying.The schedule of the French head of government is to…

Europe International

Poland might close borders with Belarus over migrants

Warsaw [Poland]: Poland does not rule out the possibility of closing the borders with Belarus over the migration crisis, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Sunday.Currently, Poland has closed only the Kuznica checkpoint. “We are thinking over the steps associated with increasingly more serious economic sanctions, including closing the Polish-Belarusian border from the Polish side,” Morawiecki said after the meeting with Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas in Tallinn.

Europe International

20 arrested, 7 injured at COVID-19 protests in Netherlands

Rotterdam [Netherlands]: At least 20 protesters were arrested and seven people, including police officers, were injured during the rally against COVID-19 restrictions in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, NL Times reported on Saturday.The Rotterdam rally began on Friday against new restrictions announced last week. In the evening, the police used water cannons and fired warning shots to disperse the crowd. Local media reported several people injured during the clashes. “There are clear images of many suspects. We will continue investigations,” Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said, as quoted in the report. The mayor called the protests “an orgy of violence.”Acting Dutch Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus condemned the unrest and called for punishment of protesters who exercised violence.“Watching the unrest and extreme violence towards police officers, special military units and firefighters that happened last night, was terrifying. Men and women who go on the streets daily…

Europe International

Ukrainian police arrest suspects for plotting Food Minister’s murder

Kiev [Ukraine]: Several Ukrainians and a US national have been arrested on suspicion of giving the order to kill Agrarian Policy and Food Minister Roman Leshchenko, the Ukrainian interior minister said Thursday.“The US embassy has been informed about this… All of them have been arrested,” Internal Affairs Minister Denys Monastyrskiy told a news conference. Ukrainian media said the American is believed to be the main suspect. Together with a Ukrainian woman, he ordered undercover police agents posing as would-be killers to have the 32-year-old minister beaten up and killed.Leshchenko told reporters that he and his family had been routinely threatened since he was appointed to a government position in 2020. But he denied that the threats were related to his cabinet job.Monastyrskiy said at the briefing that the suspects sought to seize Leshchenko’s property allegedly to repay a debt he owed since the time…

Europe International

Merkel, in conversation with Lukashenko, refused to accept migrants from border

Berlin [Germany], November 18 (ANI/Sputnik): Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a conversation with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, refused to accept migrants from the Belarusian-Polish border, since this is a European problem that Germany does not solve alone, a source in the German government told Sputnik. “Germany did not agree with this. This is a European problem, which Germany does not solve alone,” the source said.

Europe International

Belarusian forces do not interfere in skirmishes between Polish guards, migrants on Border

Minsk [Belarus] : Belarusian border guards do not interfere in the confrontation between migrants and Polish security forces at the border, a Sputnik correspondent reported from the scene on Tuesday.The migrants made an attempt to break down the fence on the border with Poland, but the Polish security forces used tear gas, water cannons and stun grenades to stop them, the correspondent said. A large group of refugees, mostly Kurds, headed for the Belarusian-Polish border on November 8. About 2,000 migrants, including a significant number of women and children, have set up camp near the Polish border in the vicinity of the Bruzgi checkpoint in the Grodno region. The Polish guard have been blocking all attempts to illegally cross the border. The situation in the camp has been described as catastrophic by a UN delegation.

Europe International

Stoltenberg says no consensus on having Ukraine become full NATO member

Brussels [Belgium] : North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members have no consensus on inviting Ukraine to become a full member, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says.NATO’s partnership with Ukraine has become closer, Stoltenberg told “Axios on HBO” on Sunday, adding that nonetheless, there is currently no consensus agreement on inviting Ukraine to become a full member of the alliance. Russian Ambassador in the United States Anatoly Antonov said earlier this month that any ambitions to see Ukraine becoming a NATO member state are unacceptable.During a Ukrainian delegation’s working visit to Washington, a new US-Ukrainian strategic charter was signed, which includes a provision reaffirming US support for Kiev’s aspirations to join NATO.Commenting on prospects for Ukraine’s NATO membership, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin confirmed Washington’s support for Kiev’s aspirations, stating last month that third parties have no right to veto the accession.

Europe International

Belarusian Foreign Minister, EU diplomacy chief discuss border crisis

Minsk [Belarus]: Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei on Sunday discussed the Polish-Belarusian border crisis and sanctions in a phone conversation with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said.“On November 14, 2021 Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Vladimir Makei held a telephone conversation with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that “the difficult migration situation at the Belarus-EU border was discussed.” “The Belarusian side reiterated its readiness as a matter of principle for an equal and mutually respectful dialogue with the EU. The futility and counter-productivity of sanctions for the development of Belarus-EU relations was emphasized,” the ministry also said.

Europe International

Russia ready to help resolve crisis on Polish-Belarusian border: Putin

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy [Russia] : Russia is ready to help resolve the crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border, where migrants are trying to cross over into the EU territory, President Vladimir Putin said.“We are ready to do everything possible to help [resolve the crisis], if, of course, there is something that depends on us,” Putin said, as aired on Rossiya 1 broadcaster.

Europe International

Russia starts supplying S-400 Air Defense Systems to India

Moscow [Russia] : Russia has started delivering the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems to India, the deliveries are going as planned, Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) Dmitry Shugaev told Sputnik ahead of the Dubai Airshow.“The supplies of the S-400 air defense system to India have started and are proceeding on schedule,” Shugaev said. The S-400 has already entered service in China and Turkey. Russia and India signed a contract on the delivery of S-400s in October, 2018.In August, the head of Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, Alexander Mikheev, told Sputnik that negotiations on the supply of S-400 air defense systems were underway with seven countries in the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific region and Africa.

Europe International

UNESCO celebrates 75th anniversary

Paris [France]: World leaders, social activists, and artists marked the 75th anniversary of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at a special ceremony in UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, on Friday.Addressing the event, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said over the past 75 years, UNESCO has played a crucial role in connecting different cultures and nations, protecting the world, and promoting ambitious scientific innovations. These achievements are especially valuable when the world is facing a challenging era, he added. Aside from world leaders’ congratulatory speeches, the ceremony featured performances from artists from around the world, including Arab and Balkan countries and India.On Friday night, the Eiffel tower displayed the words “75 years” alongside the UNESCO logo for over three hours in celebration of the agency’s anniversary.

Europe International

New migrants arrive daily at makeshift refugee camp at Belarusian-Polish border

Minsk [Belarus] : A makeshift refugee camp on the Belarusian-Polish border daily receives new groups of migrants, Anton Bychkovsky, a spokesman for the State Border Committee of Belarus, told Sputnik on Saturday.“New groups arrive at the camp daily,” Bychkovsky said, adding that these groups are not numerous. The situation at the border remains more or less the same, according to the official.Meanwhile, nearly 100 migrants are already practically in Poland, near the fences close to the Belarusian-Polish border, according to the Belarusian official.“A group of under 100 people is near the [Belarusian] Bruzgi checkpoint, practically on the Polish territory,” Bychkovsky said.

Europe International

End of election campaign, Bulgarians vote on November 14

Sofia [Bulgaria]: The election campaign for the elections for the 47th National Assembly and the elections for president and vice-president of Bulgaria ends at 24.00 hrs on November 12.The campaign was launched on October 15, 2021 (30 days before election day – November 14). If a new vote is held (second stage), the election campaign in the elections for President and Vice President of the Republic ends on November 19, 2021 at 24.00 hrs. 20 parties and seven coalitions have registered to run in the parliamentary elections. It is expected that the 47th National Assembly will include six parties and coalitions according to the data of the sociological agencies – these are GERB-SDS, “BSP for Bulgaria”, “We Continue the Change”, TISP, DPS and “Democratic Bulgaria”.A total of 24 parties, coalitions and initiative committees are registered in the public register for the presidential and vice-presidential…

Europe International

Lavrov pledges to hold ‘serious conversation’ with France on Ukraine at Friday’s 2+2 talks

Moscow [Russia]: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that he plans to hold a serious conversation about Ukraine with France at the 2+2 negotiations between foreign and defense ministers that Paris hosts on Friday.“France warns that it will raise the issue of Ukraine, and I believe it means our French colleagues understand that they cannot escape responsibility for the behavior of their mentees in Kiev, I mean the regime of [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy, at tomorrow’s negotiations and in general. That is why we will have a very serious conversation on this topic,” Lavrov said on Thursday at a joint press conference with Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop.

Europe International

Bulgaria: From today, a green certificate will be issued to those who had COVID-19

Sofia [Bulgaria] : From today, a green certificate will be issued to people with antibodies after suffering from Covid. Laboratories expect increased interest in the tests, but there are fears that the reagents will not be enough.The green certificate for antibodies will be valid only within the country for a period of 90 days. In order to get it, the test subject must have antibodies after Covid in a certain value – over 150 BAU, explained Nedyalko Kalachev – the owner of laboratories: “We send the information to the NHIS (National Healcertificate, antibodies, covid, bulgariath Information System), where they generate the patient’s certificate, we take it figuratively speaking and send the patient an SMS to which he has a link to download this certificate on his phone or computer. However, if it is less than 150 (balounits) there will simply be no certificate.”The state…

Europe International

EU top diplomats to discuss situation in Belarus next Monday

Brussels [Belgium]: Foreign ministers of the European Union member states will discuss the situation in Belarus amid the influx of migrants to Poland during a meeting next Monday, Peter Stano, the lead spokesman for foreign affairs and security policy, said on Monday.“This is a matter of urgency for the EU and as such it was discussed not only by the leaders on 21st – 22nd October and it will be discussed again by the foreign ministers at the upcoming meeting next Monday,” Stano said during a European Commission briefing.

Europe International

Italian President kicks off visit to Algeria to boost energy partnership

Algiers [Algeria], November 6 : Italian President Sergio Mattarella kicked off on Saturday a two-day visit to Algeria at the invitation of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, aiming to boost bilateral cooperation, notably in the economic field.Upon his arrival at Algiers International Airport, Mattarella was welcomed by Tebboune and a number of high-ranking officials. The visit provides an opportunity for the two countries to discuss political and economic issues of common interest, as part of the strategic relations between Italy and Algeria.In the energy sector, Algeria supplies 40 per cent of Italian natural gas demand via the 1,200-km-long gas pipeline linking the two countries.Bilateral trade in the first half of 2021 hit 5.9 billion US dollars, of which 4.2 billion dollars came from Algerian exports to Italy, according to the official figures.As many as 384 Italian companies are investing in Algeria in different fields, including…

Europe International

Several injured in knife attack on train in Germany

Paris [France] : Several people were injured in a knife attack on a high-speed train in Germany on Saturday, German media reported. Local police told that they received a call about the attack around 9 a.m. local time on Saturday. The train in question, one of Germany’s high-speed ICE trains, was traveling between the Bavarian cities of Regensburg and Nuremberg at the time of the attack. One person has been arrested and multiple people are injured, police said. So far, there is no information about the attacker or possible motives. A spokesperson for the German railway network confirmed that the station in Seubersdorf, where the train is currently stopped, has been closed since approximately 9 a.m. and that train travel between Regensburg and Nuremberg has been suspended.

Europe International

Bosnian capital struggles with flooding after heavy rainfall

Sarajevo [Bosnia and Herzegovina]: Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), has been hit with severe flooding, the government of Sarajevo Canton said Friday.“The situation is very serious but still under control,” the government said, adding that no human casualties have been reported so far. Continuous heavy rainfall over the past 24 hours caused the rivers Bosna, Zeljeznica and Tilava to burst their banks and flood roads, homes and businesses in several western and southwestern parts of the capital.The hardest-hit areas have been the districts of Ilidza, Novi Grad, Ilijas, and Trnovo, where traffic has been interrupted as many streets are underwater. The electricity substation Reljevo has also been flooded, causing blackouts in many parts of the town.Sarajevo authorities ordered the civil defense and all other relevant agencies to respond appropriately and promptly, as the rainfall continues.Besides Sarajevo, streets are also submerged underwater…

Europe International

Remains of all nine victims of Russian An-12 plane crash found near Irkutsk

Moscow [Russia] : The remains of all the nine victims of the Russian An-12 transport plane crash were found at the site of the crash, as well as the second flight recorder, a representative of emergency services told Sputnik on Friday.The transport plane of the Belarusian company Grodno Avia crashed near Irkutsk on Wednesday. Emergency services believe the incident is most likely connected to a technical failure or poor weather conditions. Investigation is going on. “The Irkutsk regional bureau of forensic medicine confirmed the discovery of the bodies and remains of all the nine victims,” the spokesman said.He added that rescuers also found the second flight recorded at the site of the crash.

Europe International

UK-France fishing row talks set to resume ‘early next week’

London [UK]: Amid the ongoing fishing dispute between UK and France, the two countries are set to resume talks “early next week”.France’s Europe Minister, Clement Beaune, said on Twitter his meeting on Thursday with Britain’s Brexit Minister, David Frost, aimed to “re-launch a necessary dialogue and ensure the implementation of our agreements”, reported euronews. A British government spokesperson said at the end of the meeting that “as expected, they discussed the full range of difficulties arising from the application of the agreements between the UK and the EU. Both sides have set out their positions and concerns.”They added that further talks will take place “early next week”, reported euronews.The row between London and Paris over fishing licences escalated last month with France warning of retaliatory measures and detaining a British vessel caught fishing in French waters without a licence.The French government said that several…

Europe International PMO

PM Modi, Macron briefly interact on sidelines of G20 Summit

Rome [Italy] : Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a brief interaction with French President Emmanuel Macron before ‘family photos’ at Roma Convention Center in Rome.Prime Minister Modi and other world leaders attending the G20 Rome Summit gathered for ‘family photo’ on Friday. They were joined by a delegation of frontline health workers at Roma Convention Center in Rome, Italy. The heads of state and government of the world’s major economies, with invited countries and representatives of international and regional organizations, will address several key topics of the global agenda. Finance Ministers traditionally attend the event as well.PM Modi arrived in Italy on Friday to participate in the two-day G20 Summit. This summit is the eighth G20 Summit attended by the Prime Minister.PM Modi is also expected to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20)…

Europe International

France to impose sanctions against UK for fisheries dispute

Paris [France]: France will impose the first sanctions against the UK on November 2 for non-compliance with an agreement on licenses for French fishermen, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday.Under the Brexit trade deal, which came into force on January 1, 2020, EU fishermen continue to have some rights to fish in UK waters as part of a transition period until 2026. “When the parties sign an agreement under Brexit, it must be respected. Our patience is running out. In such circumstances, we plan to announce a number of measures, some of which will come into force next Tuesday [on November 2]. Another package of measures may come into effect the week after because we want the agreement to be respected and our fishermen to be able to operate in accordance with the provisions that were negotiated under this agreement with Britain,”…

Europe International

Around USD 4 trillion required in clean energy investment to limit global warming: IEA

Paris [France]: An almost USD 4 trillion investment into clean energy is required to meet the Paris Agreement pledge to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its World Energy Outlook 2021 report. “Getting the world on track for 1.5 °C requires a surge in annual investment in clean energy projects and infrastructure to nearly USD 4 trillion by 2030,” the report reads.The IEA mentioned some developing economies financing such projects, citing India’s expansion of solar panels, while also noting “persistent challenges, many of which have been exacerbated by the [COVID-19] pandemic. The IEA report was issued ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference, or COP26, which will take place in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12. The UN climate conference, which was cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will seek to…

Europe International TOP NEWS UPDATES

Hundreds of residents evacuated amid volcanic eruption in Spain

Madrid [Spain]: Between 700 to 800 people in Spain have been evacuated as a result of the ongoing volcanic eruption on the island of La Palma, local emergency services have said. The new wave of evacuations came after the approximately 6,000 people who were evacuated in the early days of the 24-day eruption on the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the southwest of the island.A new lava flow, which began after the north face of the crater collapsed at the weekend, has so far covered 595 hectares (5.95 square km) of land on the island, which forms part of the Canary Island archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. Meanwhile, an estimated 1,281 buildings have been destroyed by lava and it has also led to the formation of around 60 hectares (0.6 square km) of new land. One branch of the…

Europe International

Portugal vaccinated 85 per cent of its population against COVID-19, says Official

Lisbon [ Portugal]: Portugal has completed the vaccination of 85 per cent of its population against COVID-19, the country’s Director-General of Health Graca Freitas said on Saturday.Freitas told Lusa news agency that Portugal managed to lead the global vaccination race by having “given an opportunity to everyone to be vaccinated” and thanks to the collaboration of the public and health professionals. According to a press release from Portugal’s Health Ministry, around 15.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the country, making it possible for 8.4 million people to have the complete vaccination.In addition, Portugal is completing the immunisation of the adolescent population between the ages of 12 and 17, with 83 per cent having completed their vaccination.As of Friday, Portugal had recorded over 1.07 million COVID-19 cases and 18,027 deaths, according to the official data.

Europe International

Quarter of Belgians in favour of change in country’s political system

Brussels [Belgium] : Nearly a quarter of Belgians, or approximately 24 per cent, are dissatisfied with parliamentary democracy as the current political system in the country and want it to change, according to the results of a fresh poll conducted by the Kantar institute for Belgium’s RTBF broadcaster, published on Monday.The poll showed that nearly one in four Belgians is discontent with the current system and wants it to be replaced by a more effective one. A the same time, over half of the respondents, or 56.7 per cent, said parliamentary democracy was the best option out of all available, despite considering it generally ineffective. Only 19.3 per cent of those surveyed said they were satisfied with the government in its current form.Approximately 37.4 per cent of the respondents answered that they would prefer power to be concentrated in the hands of a single…

Europe International TOP NEWS UPDATES

David Julius, Ardem Patapoutian win 2021 Nobel Prize for Medicine

Stockholm [Sweden]: David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian jointly won the 2021 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch, announced the award-giving group on Monday. David Julius utilized capsaicin, a pungent compound from chilli peppers that induces a burning sensation, to identify a sensor in the nerve endings of the skin that responds to heat.Ardem Patapoutian used pressure-sensitive cells to discover a novel class of sensors that respond to mechanical stimuli in the skin and internal organs. These breakthrough discoveries launched intense research activities leading to a rapid increase in the understanding of how the nervous system senses heat, cold, and mechanical stimuli. The laureates identified critical missing links in the understanding of the complex interplay between the senses and the environment, reported the Nobel Committee. The identified ion channels are important for many physiological processes and…

Europe International

Germany’s left-leaning SPD narrowly wins German election against Merkel’s CDU, uncertainty remains over next leader

Berlin [Germany], September 27 (ANI): Germany’s left-leaning, Social Democrats Party (SPD) won in the German federal election with over 25 per cent votes, but uncertainty remains over the next leader as results showed that the party won narrowly. According to the Federal Returning Officer, with all 299 of Germany’s electoral districts reporting, the SDP won 25.7 per cent of the vote, beating out the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the centrist-right, Conservative Party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, which took 24.1 per cent, reported CNN.The results show that there is still uncertainty over who will be the next leader of Germany. Merkel, who over 16 years cemented her position as one of the world’s most successful political leaders, will stay in the job until a coalition deal is negotiated. Both the SPD and the CDU with its coalition partner, the Christian Social Union (CSU), have said…

Europe International TOP NEWS UPDATES

Head of Islamic State ‘neutralised’ by French troops in Sahel, says Macron

Paris [France]: French President Emmanuel Macron said on early Thursday that the head of Islamic State, Adnan Abou Walid al Sahraoui has been “neutralised” by French forces in the Sahel.“Adnan Abou Walid al Sahraoui, leader of the Islamic State terrorist group in the Great Sahara, has been neutralised by French forces. This is another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel,” Macron wrote on Twitter, reported France 24. For former colonial power France, Adnan Abou Walid Sahraoui was the most wanted jihadist in the Sahel.He headed a branch of the Islamic State group, which is highly active in the border region linking Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, reported France 24.

Europe International

France refuses to have any ties with Taliban government: Foreign Minister Le Drian

Paris [France], September 12 : France refuses to recognise the government of the Taliban and have any relations with it, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said.“France refuses to recognise or have any relations with this government. We are waiting for their actions. We have put forward a number of conditions,” Sputnik reported citing Drian as saying on France 5 broadcaster on Saturday. “They (Taliban) repeatedly said that they would allow some foreigners and Afghans to leave the country without problems and they also spoke of the inclusive and representative government. However, they lie. There is no result,” the minister said.The Taliban on Tuesday announced its new government. Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, chief of the Taliban’s powerful decision-making body ‘Rehbari Shura’ will head the new “caretaker” government in the country, which it had seized control of on August 15, this year.Meanwhile, Russia, United…

Europe International TOP NEWS UPDATES

Czech Communist Party leader to step down after 16 years at the helm, says his Deputy

Prague [Czech Republic]: The leader of the Czech Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM), Vojtech Filip, will leave the post he has occupied for 16 years after the parliamentary elections of October 8-9, his deputy said on Monday.“Vojtech Filip decided not to run for the Communist Party head at the extraordinary party congress on October 23. The main candidate for the KSCM leader is, by all appearances, member of the European Parliament Katerina Konecna, but, of course, she will not be the only candidate. Regional party conferences are now taking place, and it is highly likely that they will nominate interesting candidates for the KSCM leadership,” Petr Simunek told reporters. Filip’s resignation was considered by the KSCM central committee in April. At the meeting, over half of the party delegates voted for a change of leadership but fell short of two-thirds of the…

Europe International PMO TOP NEWS UPDATES

Modi, Merkel discuss Afghanistan developments, repatriation of stranded people

New Delhi, Aug 23 (UNI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday evening and discussed the recent developments in Afghanistan and the repatriation of stranded people, among other issues.Both sides reiterated their commitment to strengthening the India-Germany Strategic Partnership.This was revealed in a tweet by PM Modi. “Spoke to Chancellor Merkel this evening and discussed bilateral, multilateral and regional issues, including recent developments in Afghanistan. Reiterated our commitment to strengthening the India-Germany Strategic Partnership.”A statement said, the two leaders discussed the unfolding security situation in Afghanistan and its implications on the region and the world.They emphasised the importance of maintaining peace and security, with the most urgent priority being the repatriation of stranded people, it said.The two leaders also discussed issues on the bilateral agenda, including cooperation in Covid-19 vaccines, development cooperation with a focus on climate and energy,…

Europe International

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to resign in November

Stockholm [Sweden] : Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven of the Social Democrats party on Sunday announced that he will step down as party leader in November. A year ahead of Sweden’s next election, Lofven announced his resignation at his annual summer speech, held in Akersberga near Stockholm, reported a Swedish local daily.“The decision has matured over time. I have been party chairman for ten years, prime minister for seven. These years have been amazing. But everything comes to an end. I want to give my successor the best of conditions,” he said. Former trade union chief Lofven took the reins of the Social Democrats in 2012 and led his party to two successful elections in 2014 and 2018. Lofven, 64, came into politics after heading up one of Sweden’s most powerful trade unions, IF Metall, following a career as a welder. He is known…

Europe International TOP NEWS UPDATES

Russia imposes sanctions against Ukrainian foreign minister, NSDC Secretary

Moscow [Russia]: Russia introduced sanctions against Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba as well as National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Secretary Oleksiy Danilov, according to the decree published on the Official Portal of Legal Information.“The list of individuals against whom special economic measures are being introduced are … Danilov Oleksiy, … Kuleba Dmitro,” the decree read. There are currently 922 people on Russia’s sanctions list.Danilov, on his part, responded to the news on Facebook, saying that the sanctions imposed by Moscow against him were the best assessment of his work and a “gift” for the Ukrainian Independence Day.The bilateral relations between Moscow and Kiev deteriorated in 2014 after Crimea reunited with Russia. The West sided with Ukraine in blaming the crisis on Russia, while Moscow rejected all accusations as baseless.

Corona Updates Europe International

Russia’s Sputnik Light COVID-19 vaccine shows 93.5 pc efficacy in Paraguay

Moscow [Russia]: The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) on Wednesday announced the data from Paraguay regarding the one-shot Russian Sputnik Light vaccine demonstrating high safety profile and a 93.5 per cent efficacy.An official release stated that the one-shot Sputnik Light vaccine has proven to be highly effective against COVID among more than 320,000 subjects who had received the vaccine based on the data collected by July 30, 2021. The data also indicates a high safety profile of Sputnik Light with no serious adverse events associated with vaccination; no deaths related to the vaccination; no cerebral vein thrombosis (CVT) cases after vaccination; no Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) cases after vaccination; no capillary leak syndrome cases after vaccination; and no cases of myocarditis or pericarditis reported.The statement said, thanks to its safety and efficacy, the single-component Sputnik Light vaccine is now both used on standalone basis and…

Europe International TOP NEWS UPDATES

Evacuation of Dutch citizens from Kabul fails due to limited US-allotted time: Amsterdam

Amsterdam [Netherlands], August 18 (ANI/Sputnik): The Netherlands has been unable to evacuate its citizens from Afghanistan as the US military has not given its plane enough time in Kabul’s airport for people to board, acting Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag said on Wednesday. The second Dutch evacuation military plane arrived in the Afghan capital on Tuesday but departed with only 40 people on board, none of whom were Dutch or Afghan citizens.“Unfortunately, our plane departed [without Dutch citizens]. We had only half an hour to bring people to the tarmac … Many people and their families were waiting there and also near the airport gates. I think this is horrible,” Kaag told Dutch public broadcaster NOS. The Dutch top diplomat urged the United States to provide more landing time for people to board evacuation flights. On Sunday, the Taliban (terrorist group, banned in Russia)…