⊂ EUROPE ⊃
Ukraine walks out of Europe human rights body as Russia returns: The Ukrainian delegation at the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has walked out in protest after Russian MPs were allowed to return to the human rights body. The assembly agreed Tuesday to allow Russian representatives to return to the body, five years after Russia was stripped of its voting rights over the annexation of Crimea. Russia threatened to quit PACE if it was barred from voting in Wednesday’s election of a new secretary-general to replace Norway’s Thorbjorn Jagland. Exiting the Council of Europe would have meant Russians losing access to the European Court of Human Rights. But delegates from Ukraine said allowing Russia to return to the body would be seen as a concession and show weakness in Europe’s resolve to contain Russia.
Eurofighter crash leads to calls to end military exercises: The German governing party CDU has defended military exercises after two Eurofighter Typhoon jets collided near a popular holiday region. The mayor of Waren an der Müritz, a small town near the site where the two Eurofighters crashed on Monday, called for a ban on military exercise flights over holiday regions. Another local mayor, Christian Democrat Almuth Köhler of Silz und Nossentin, requested for a reappraisal of where low-altitude flights are practiced. She pointed out that the campsites in the area were all booked out at the time of the crash. The socialist Left party in the state of Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania demanded all air force exercises in the region be stopped, on the grounds they were unnecessary. But Henning Otte, defence spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), defended the exercises, saying the military must be able to practice where it would have to defend in an emergency.
Trump threatens obliteration of Iran: US President Donald Trump warned on Tuesday that any attack Iran might carry out on anything American would result in the obliteration of parts of Iran. Trump’s threat came hours after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ridiculed the White House as stricken by a mental disability following the US announcement of new sanctions against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and several military commanders. Rouhani argued that the new sanctions made it impossible to enter into any talks. He added that the US had wrongly expected to create chaos in Iran in two to three months. Trump responded on Twitter that Iran’s statement demonstrated that officials in Tehran did not understand reality. Russia has backed Iran in its recent claims regarding the shooting down of a US spy drone.
nytimes.com, politico.com (Trump); cnn.com (Rouhani); newsweek.com (Russia)
Middle East conference in Bahrain: Eyeing a future Middle East in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a thing of the past, business executives, billionaire investors and Middle East diplomats gathered in Bahrain on Tuesday for a White House-led conference meant to promote a long-delayed peace plan. The Bahrain meeting coincided with a pledging conference at the United Nations for funding the agency that helps support the roughly 5 million Palestinians registered as refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Last year, the US halted funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency or UNRWA. The agency has supported Palestinian refugees for seven decades, as well as other projects.
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“In Paris, change is expected, while in Germany, continuity is wanted.”
Claire Demesmay, head of the Franco-German relations programme at the German Council for Foreign Relations (DGAP), is certain that the French government aims to advance its European project.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
German firms sent weapons-grade chemicals to Syria: Despite EU sanctions, German companies were involved in exporting weapons-grade chemicals to Syria in the midst of the war. According to German media reports, chemical wholesaler Brenntag AG sold the chemicals isopropanol and diethylamine to Syria in 2014 using a subsidiary in Switzerland. The recipient was a Syrian pharmaceutical company that had ties to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Although the chemicals can be used to make pharmaceutical drugs, they can also be used in the production of chemical weapons and nerve agents such as VX and sarin gas. Following numerous reports of the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons, the EU placed restrictions on exporting raw materials used to make chemical weapons.
Rescue ship loses court appeal: The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against the migrant rescue ship “Sea-Watch 3” after it appealed for an emergency decree to allow migrants stranded on the ship to disembark in Italy. The charity had appealed to the court to allow the ship to disembark in Italy as an interim measure to prevent serious and irremediable violations of human rights. But the court found that these interim measures should apply only where there was an imminent risk of irreparable harm. The court did indicate that Italian authorities must continue to provide all necessary assistance to vulnerable people on board the ship. The captain of the ship threatened to enter Italian waters illegally to bring 42 migrants to shore. Carola Rackete told the newspaper “La Repubblica” that the lives of the rescued people were more important than any political games.
Nissan rejects merger with Renault: Nissan on Tuesday threw cold water on hopes for a quick fix to strained relations with France’s Renault, saying inequality between the partners could unravel their two-decade-old automaking alliance. Nissan’s chief executive Hiroto Saikawa faces the task of repairing trust with Renault, which has deteriorated in past weeks as the French automaker has sought more control within Nissan. Saikawa said Nissan would postpone discussions on the future direction of the alliance as the automaker prioritised recovery of its dismal financial performance.
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Austria can extradite Ukrainian tycoon to US: Austria’s Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a decision granting a US request to extradite Ukrainian tycoon Dmytro Firtash. A US grand jury indicted Firtash and five others on suspicion of bribing Indian government officials in deals involving supplies of titanium that could have affected the aircraft manufacturer Boeing. Firtash, who denies wrongdoing, is a former business partner of veteran US Republican political operative and convicted felon Paul Manafort. He is also a former supporter of Ukraine’s ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich. Firtash wielded significant political influence in Ukraine, where he made a fortune from deals to import gas from Russia and central Asia.
German police raid AfD offices: German police raided the local offices of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Düsseldorf on Tuesday. The raid was part of an investigation into funding for campaign ads that the local AfD branch received from a Swiss-based PR company during a regional election in 2017. Prosecutors say they believe the local branch did not properly disclose this funding in its annual accounting report that year. The PR firm reportedly paid a sum of €44,500 to print advertising posters used to promote current MEP Guido Reil. He won a seat in last month’s European Parliament election, listed as number 2 on the AfD’s national party list.
Germany: Right-wing group charged with terrorism dw.com
⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃
politjobs.eu: Bitkom sucht Referent europäische Digitalpolitik (w/m) *** Int. Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory seeks Innovation Project Manager *** Int. Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory seeks Project Assistant for EU Funded Projects *** PwC seeks Public Affairs Senior Manager Belgium *** Johnson & Johnson seeks Policy Assistant, Government Affairs & Policy EMEA *** Public Policy Manager, Connectivity *** Ryanair offers Public Affairs internship
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)
⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
Corruption report by the Council of Europe: 2018 was a sluggish year for anti-corruption action, according to the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). The group – which includes 48 European countries and the United States – focused its latest round of country evaluations on transparency among parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors. GRECO warned in its report that no country was immune to corruption. Of the group’s recommendations, only a third were implemented by member states last year.