Friday, 20 August 2021: Chaotic situation in Kabul, Brexit: Visa delays hit students planning to study in Spain, Merkel meets Putin on first anniversary of poison attack on Navalny

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

Chaotic situation in Kabul: At Kabul’s airport, crowds are swelling and locals are struggling to get through Taliban checkpoints and into the facility. The crowds surged forward every time Taliban forces opened a gate, prompting the insurgents to fire off warning shots to drive people back. German Army General Jens Arlt spoke of “dramatic scenes.“ Local helpers from German organisations reported that the streets were congested and in some cases impassable. Local staff said US soldiers were not letting them through entrances. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the evacuation operation in Afghanistan was a „highly complicated mission.“ American fighter jets are performing low-level flights over Kabul. The US Central Command said the flights will last until the evacuation mission has ended. US President Joe Biden stood firm in his defence of the United States‘ withdrawal from Afghanistan, but asserted for the first time that he believes the chaos was unavoidable. More demonstrations protesting the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan took place on Thursday. The United Nations has warned that the Taliban are intensifying their hunt for people who worked for and collaborated with Nato and US forces. The G7 countries expressed concern about reports of revenge acts by the Taliban. Taliban fighters hunting a German journalist have shot dead one member of his family and seriously injured another.
cnn.com, independent.co.uk, tagesspiegel.de, popularmechanics.com, abcnews.go.com, dpa-international.com, bbc.com, tagesspiegel.de, dw.com

France, Germany and UK worried about Iran’s uranium enrichment: France, Germany and Britain voiced grave concern on Thursday about a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran had accelerated its enrichment of uranium to near weapons grade, saying this was a serious violation of its commitments. In a joint statement, the three countries said they were worried about IAEA reports confirming that Iran has produced uranium metal enriched up to 20% fissile purity for the first time and lifted production capacity of uranium enriched to 60%. Both are key steps in the development of a nuclear weapon, they said. Meanwhile, Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah said Thursday that a tanker would set off from Iran within hours to bring desperately needed fuel supplies to Lebanon, in defiance of US sanctions.
reuters.com (Uranium enrichment), france24.com (Lebanon)

EU says import of vaccines from South Africa is only temporary: The European Commission said on Thursday it had reached a temporary agreement with South Africa to use a plant there to bottle Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines that are being imported into the EU, after criticism of the arrangement. On Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was stunned to hear that J&J vaccines were being exported from South Africa to the EU, because the bloc has very high vaccination rates while even the most vulnerable people in many African countries have not been vaccinated.
reuters.com

-Advertisement-
Welted men’s footwear: Superior craftsmanship in shoemaking. Buy directly from our manufactures avoiding expensive middlemen. Experience true shoe freedom, handcrafted and custom made from the finest Italian leather. No matter the occasion; be it for the office, leisure or weddings – we have the appropriate pair of shoes
shoepassion.com

Brexit: Visa delays hit students planning to study in Spain: British students have been forced to consider abandoning their places at Spanish universities due to ongoing delays in securing visas, required as a result of Brexit. Spain has overtaken France as the top destination for UK students wanting a year abroad, with 4,500 going annually. But Brexit means they now need visas. And some have waited more than a month for a visa appointment. Spanish authorities said time was needed for universities and students to adapt to the new system.
bbc.com, independent.co.uk

Man arrested over bomb threat near US Capitol: A North Carolina man who claimed to have a bomb in a pickup truck near the US Capitol surrendered to law enforcement after an hours-long standoff Thursday that prompted a massive police response and the evacuations of government buildings in the area. The 49-year-old drove onto the sidewalk outside the Library of Congress and made bomb threats to officers. The standoff was resolved peacefully after roughly five hours of negotiations. The suspect’s motives remain unknown. On his now-removed Facebook page he frequently made pro-Trump posts and posted videos from former President Donald Trump’s „Million MAGA March“ in November. The nation’s capital has been tense since the insurrection at the Capitol by Trump supporter.
apnews.com, bbc.com, cnn.com

Animal experimentation: Hundreds of UK and EU cosmetics products contain ingredients tested on animals theguardian.com
Covid certificate: EU recognises certificates from Turkey and Ukraine euractiv.com
Brexit: Britain’s book market is now under threat due to Brexit independent.co.uk
European Central Bank (ECB): New guidance can boost inflation expectations, Lane says reuters.com

⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃

It is a catastrophe for the Afghan people, for the Western values and credibility, and for the developing of international relations.
EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell has called the fall of Afghanistan’s capital and the resurgence of the Taliban “a catastrophe” and “nightmare” that laid bare a failure of intelligence and trans-Atlantic cooperation.
apnews.com, reuters.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Top German court rejects appeals in neo-Nazi killings case: Germany’s Federal Court of Justice dismissed the appeal Thursday of notorious National Socialist Underground (NSU) member Beate Zschäpe, and two others connected to the neo-Nazi terror cell. A Munich regional court found Zschäpe guilty in 2018 of 10 counts of murder for her role in the killing of nine men — eight of Turkish origin and one of Greek — and a police officer between 2000 and 2007. She was also convicted of membership in a terrorist organisation, participating in two bomb attacks and more than a dozen bank robberies, and of attempted murder for setting fire to the group’s hideout after its existence came to light. Although Zschäpe denied having been present for any of the killings, the court concluded she was involved in planning each one. Zschäpe had handled the terror cell’s logistics and finances and set up safe houses for them. The federal court also upheld the convictions of two men who had helped the group.
dw.com, apnews.com

Poland sends troops to Belarus border: Poland has sent more than 900 troops to help secure its border with Belarus, its defence minister said on Wednesday, after a surge in illegal border crossings. Poland and Lithuania have reported a sharp increase in the number of migrants from countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq trying to enter their countries from Belarus this year. The EU members bordering Belarus are locked in a standoff with that country’s authoritarian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, who’s threatened to send refugees their way in retaliation to sanctions against his government. Poland’s government vowed to protect its territory from Afghan migrants arriving across the border with Belarus by extending a barbed-wire barrier along the frontier and fortifying it with more troops.
euronews.com, bloomberg.com

Forest fires in Italy and France: A fire that has ravaged forests near the French Riviera for four days is slowing down as winds and hot weather subside, but more than 1,100 firefighters were still struggling to get it under control Thursday, local authorities said. The French blaze has left two people dead and 27 injured. Wildfires this summer have left areas in Greece, Turkey, Italy, Algeria and Spain in smoldering ruins. In Greece on Thursday, hundreds of Greek and Polish firefighters were battling a major wildfire decimating a pine forest for a fourth day northwest of the Greek capital. State ERT TV reported that a 14-year-old boy was arrested Wednesday in central Greece on suspicion of setting at least 13 fires in recent days — including one that raged out of control destroying homes and forest land.
france24.com, pbs.org

Bullfighting festival axed because of questionably named bulls: The northern Spanish city of Gijón has cancelled its century-old bullfighting festival, accusing it of crossing various lines after two of the bulls slain this week were named “Feminist” and “Nigerian”. The mayor said her government would stop leasing out the city’s bullring for the events, foregoing the €50,000 in annual revenue the municipality typically makes from them.
theguardian.com, politico.eu

Spain court orders end to Barcelona virus curfew: A Spanish court on Thursday lifted a coronavirus curfew imposed on most of Catalonia, including the capital Barcelona, leaving it in place in just a fraction of the northeastern region. The High Court of Justice of Catalonia said the measure was not justified in 129 municipalities because infection rates there had improved. Catalonia’s government in mid-July imposed a nightly curfew between 1:00 am and 6:00 am in most municipalities to fight a surge in virus cases, and the region’s top court then gave the green light to extend it three times.
euractiv.com

France gets first tranche from EU recovery fund: France on Thursday secured its first tranche of money amounting to 5.1 billion euros from the 800 billion euro EU Recovery Fund aimed at helping the bloc bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic and make its economy greener and more digitalised. France’s total share of the Fund is 39.4 billion euros in grants, with future payouts tied to the implementation of investment projects and reform measures set out in its proposal to the EU Commission.
reuters.com

Merkel meets Putin on first anniversary of poison attack on Navalny: This Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to the Kremlin for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The visit will take place in a tense political atmosphere, according to Berlin. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert pointed out Wednesday that Merkel’s visit comes on the first anniversary of the poison attack on Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny. The opposition leader has written from behind bars to urge western politicians to take meaningful action against global corruption. Meanwhile, gas producer Gazprom said Thursday that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is currently under construction, is expected to deliver 5.6 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas to Europe this year. With the Russian annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, Ukraine lost Sevastopol, the most important port of its fleet, in 2014. Now Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selensky plans to massively upgrade its own Black Sea fleet by 2035.
spiegel.de (Merkel), theguardian.com (Navalny), nasdaq.com (Nord Stream 2), spiegel.de (Ukraine)

Sweden: Teenage suspect arrested after stabbing at Eslöv school euronews.com
Poland: Region sticks with anti-LGBTQ+ resolution despite threat of losing EU cash politico.eu
Serbia: President fumes as Twitter exposes his ‘friendly media’ euractiv.com
Germany: Police arrest suspect in Green Vault jewel heist case dw.com

⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃

Die GIZ sucht für den Standort Bien Hoa/Vietnam, eine:n Digital Ambassador: Entwicklungshelfer:in als Berater:in für eine Berufsschule in Vietnam (m/w/d)+++Die GIZ sucht für den Standort Neu Delhi/Indien, eine:n (Junior-)Berater:in im Bereich internationale Wirtschaftskooperation mit Indien (m/w/d)+++Das Verbindungsbüro Kärnten in Brüssel sucht zum frühestmöglichen Zeitpunkt (spätestens 1. Oktober 2021) eine:n Referent:in für Kommunikation und Organisation (m/w/d)+++Science Europe is looking for a Communications Manager (m/f/d)+++Transparency International EU is looking for an Intern Communications/Editorial Assistant (m/f/d)+++Jobs at politjobs.eu +++ Don’t miss any jobs with the politjobs.eu job alert +++

⊂ LAST BUT NOT LEAST ⊃

Alleged Italian drugs kingpin linked to stolen Van Goghs arrested in Dubai: One of Italy’s most wanted men, an alleged top drug trafficker suspected of having bought two stolen Van Gogh paintings on the black market, has been arrested in Dubai. Raffaele Imperiale was arrested on 4 August, Italy’s state police and financial crimes police corps said in a joint statement on Thursday. He is being held in the United Arab Emirates while Italy’s justice ministry completes extradition procedures.
theguardian.com

 

Newsletter subscription
Subscribe to our free daily newsletter with a compact overview of European topics:
Previous editions

Other political briefings

Our digital news briefings