Friday, 2 October 2020: EU leaders talk Turkey and agree to Belarus sanctions, EU launches legal action against UK over controversial Brexit bill, US, Russia and France condemn fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

EU leaders talk Turkey and agree to Belarus sanctions: European Union leaders debated the diplomatic crisis with Turkey during a two-day summit in Brussels. Greece and Cyprus demanded the EU take a tougher line on Turkish gas exploration activities in contested waters they claim. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Turkish provocation could no longer be tolerated. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Thursday the EU needed to scrap accession talks with Turkey and impose sanctions on it over its maritime dispute with Greece and a crackdown on journalists and opposition politicians. German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a sober assessment, insisting that diplomacy was still the best way forward. Meanwhile, Turkey and Greece have set up a military hotline to try to reduce the risk of clashes in the Mediterranean. Early on Friday, EU leaders agreed to levy sanctions against officials in Belarus, ending a diplomatic standoff with Cyprus by agreeing to send a tough message to Turkey.
dw.com, reuters.com, france24.com, bbc.com (Turkey); dw.com (Belarus)

EU launches legal action against UK over controversial Brexit bill: The EU Commission has launched legal action against the UK over its plans to override sections of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. The Commission had given the British government until the end of September to withdraw the controversial provisions from its Internal Market Bill, which it unveiled earlier this month. With London not budging, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the Commission started a so-called infringement, an EU legal procedure against countries that violate the bloc’s laws, while continuing to work towards implementing the divorce deal, or Withdrawal Agreement.
euronews.com, reuters.com

US, Russia and France condemn fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh: The most violent fighting so far took place in Nagorno-Karabakh on Thursday. Foreign journalists also came under fire, two French journalists were wounded. Around 350 Azerbaijani soldiers have been killed in the war so far, according to the Armenian defence ministry. It also said 15 armored vehicles and three helicopters from the opposite side were shot down, one of which crashed in Iran. The Azerbaijani defence ministry rejected Armenia’s claims. The presidents of the United States, Russia and France jointly called for a ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said it was unacceptable that the US, Russia and France were involved in a search for a ceasefire in the disputed region. French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday demanded that Turkey explain what he said was the arrival of jihadist fighters in Azerbaijan.
tagesspiegel.de, reuters.com, dw.com, reuters.com, france24.com

Navalny blames Putin for poisoning him: Leading Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny said in magazine interview he believes President Vladimir Putin was responsible for his poisoning. “I assert that Putin is behind this act, I don’t see any other explanation,” he told German news magazine “Der Spiegel”. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said these accusations against the Russian president were absolutely groundless and unacceptable. Peskov accused Navalny of working with the CIA, without elaborating further.
bbc.com, politico.com

Europe lays ground for fast-tracking Covid vaccine reviews: The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has started reviewing data on AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s potential Covid-19 vaccine in real time, the first of such moves aimed at speeding up any approval process in the EU for a vaccine.
uk.reuters.com

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Covid-19: Unemployment in Europe is increasing spiegel.de
EU Parliament strikes deal on rail passenger rights reform politico.eu
Shiite militia: German government wants to put Hezbollah on EU terrorist list spiegel.de
5G and Huawei: US praises German moves to sideline Huawei from 5G networks euractiv.com

⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃

Either the tensions are rising, which is not what we want, or there is a de-escalation and we are moving towards a constructive relationship – this is what we want.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen sees two options for the EU in its relations with Turkey.
de.reuters.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Madrid accepts lockdown: The regional government of Madrid, the area of Spain hardest hit by the second wave of the coronavirus, has said it will obey new lockdown restrictions imposed by the central government but plans to appeal against them in court. 13 of Spain’s 19 self-governing regions backed a plan to impose partial lockdowns on town and cities, allowing people to enter and exit affected areas only on work, school or medical grounds, or for other pressing reasons. Public and private gatherings will be limited to six people, while bars and restaurants will operate at 50% of their interior capacity, and will close at 11pm.
theguardian.com

Sweden’s daily Covid cases hit highest level since June: Sweden registered 752 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, the highest daily rise since June, health agency statistics showed. Sweden has been a European outlier in its avoidance of lockdowns. Meanwhile, Poland reported a record number of new daily coronavirus infections on Thursday with 1,967 new cases. Italy registered 2,548 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the first time the country has exceeded 2,000 cases in a single day since the end of April. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he would ask parliament to extend the country’s Covid-19 state of emergency to the end of January.
reuters.com (Sweden); reuters.com (Poland); reuters.com, nypost.com (Italy)

Greek students protest against full classrooms: Students protesting in downtown Athens clashed briefly on Thursday with police, who fire tear gas to disperse the crowd gathered in front of parliament. Hundreds of students, parents and educators demanded more teaching and cleaning staff to be hired in the public school system to allow smaller classes and more regular sanitation in the midst of the pandemic.
ekathimerini.com

Belgium forms a government nytimes.com
Poland: German far-right terror suspect arrested with explosives dw.com
Sweden, Finland and Estonia to look at new evidence on 1994 ferry sinking uk.reuters.com

⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃

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⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃

Belgian king’s daughter wins legal fight to become princess: Belgian artist Delphine Boel was granted the title “Princess of Belgium” on Thursday after proving she was related to the former monarch King Albert II. Boel finally won a seven-year legal battle when Belgium’s appeals court granted her the designation of “princess.” Her lawyers said a DNA test proved that Albert II was her father.
dw.com

 

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