Monday, 13 September 2021: Parliamentary elections in Norway this Monday, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo to run for French president, Pope warns of lurking anti-Semitism on Hungary trip


Belarus announces arms purchase from Russia: Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko on Sunday said Minsk planned to buy $1 billion worth of Russian arms as he oversaw massive Moscow-led military drills that rattled some EU countries. The consignment included about ten planes, several dozen helicopters and a Tor surface-to-air missile system, Lukashenko said. He praised Russian and Belarusian troops for their readiness to jointly defend their borders and counter what he called „hybrid aggression“ from the West. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, appealed to Belarus to help migrants instead of trying to send them across the border into the EU, branding these attempts „hybrid attacks“. The EU suspects Lukashenko is engineering the flow of migrants across the border in retaliation against increasingly stringent EU sanctions on his regime. Lukashenko has been ostracised by the West for cracking down on opposition protests following a disputed election last year. The head of Belarus’s opposition, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has called for an international conference to overcome the Belarusian crisis.,,

Von der Leyen defends measures against Hungary and Poland: EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has defended the EU’s measures against Poland and Hungary for rule of law violations in the two EU member states. She told German media that the EU must work in a legally clean manner, enforce common law, but at the same time seek dialogue. The Commission had applied to the European Court of Justice for fines against Poland, as it sees the independence of the judiciary in the country at risk. Von der Leyen stressed that her office had consistently initiated infringement proceedings in cases of violations of EU law. She added that many MEPs had been calling for sanctions for some time. According to estimates by EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, Warsaw could have to pay a fine of up to one million euros per day. During a visit to Poland on Saturday, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke out in favour of resolving the dispute through dialogue.,

EU should speed up military efforts, says Weber: The EU should accelerate efforts to build up its own military capacity and rely less on America, according to Manfred Weber, the head of the centre-right group in the EU Parliament. Although EU member countries have hundreds of thousands of troops, they were not in a position to secure Kabul airport, Weber noted. He said that closed European military cooperation would save billions of euros and make the bloc more independent. The EU has already made some strides toward a joint military approach. In 2017, it launched a pact to get EU countries working together on a range of military projects, including maritime surveillance, drone defence and military disaster relief.

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Taliban announce gender-segregated universities: The Taliban’s education minister, Abdul Baqi Haqqani, has announced a series of new restrictions on women and girls‘ education in Afghanistan. Going forward, the Taliban will enforce gender segregation at the country’s universities based on their belief that coeducation is un-Islamic. Haqqani said if it was not possible to segregate campuses by gender, universities should establish alternate class timing or ensure that classrooms are partitioned down the middle and seating is divided based on gender. In the meantime, Afghan police at Kabul airport have returned to work manning checkpoints alongside Taliban security for the first time since the Islamists seized power, officers said Sunday.,

Humanitarian crisis: UN donor conference for Afghanistan this Monday
OECD boss Mathias Cormann: Efforts to price carbon should be elevated to international level
Longer use: EU plans strict environmental rules for smartphones
Eastern Ukraine: Ukrainian soldiers killed in skirmish with rebels


Sometimes you can only prevent terrorism if you stabilise a country, if you create strong and reliable institutions there.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has defended the years-long military mission in Afghanistan.


Parliamentary elections in Norway this Monday: Norway goes to the polls on Monday in parliamentary elections that have put the future of the fossil fuel sector centre stage. The official election day is Monday, but voting booths were opened early in the capital Oslo and several other cities. Opinion polls show the opposition Labour party on course to replace the Conservative-led coalition of Prime Minister Erna Solberg, though the centre-left party would need support from at least two others to secure a majority. Labour leader Jonas Gahr Stoere has pledged to cut the country’s CO2 emissions in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement. But the party has rejected calls to severely curtail oil and gas drilling, a major source of wealth and jobs.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo to run for French president: The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, announced Sunday she’s running for French president. The next presidential election takes place in April and will involve two rounds of voting if no candidate wins an absolute majority in the first round. President Emmanuel Macron has not yet announced he will run for a second term but is widely expected to do so. Hidalgo enters the race as a polarising figure whose campaign to squeeze cars out of Paris and make the city greener has divided residents of the capital. She currently lies fifth place on 8%, behind Xavier Bertrand of the centre right and the far left’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon. She said one of her top priorities would be to transform France into a low-carbon economy.,

Spain deploys military against wildfire: People have fled their homes in six more Andalucían towns and villages as Spain sent in a military unit to help tackle wildfires raging close to a Costa del Sol resort. The blaze in Malaga province has destroyed nearly 7,000 hectares (17,300 acres) of forest. The fire had an unusual power and strength and was advancing in several directions, Alejandro Garcia, of the forest fire agency’s operational centre, told reporters. An emergency brigade travelled from the military base of Morón, in southern Spain, to join more than 300 firefighters and 41 water-dropping aircraft battling the flames. The reinforcement was welcomed. But firefighters like Rafael Fanega, who said the blaze was still “out of control,” called for more boots on the ground to battle the flames.,

Pope warns of lurking anti-Semitism on Hungary trip: During a visit to Hungary, Pope Francis warned that the threat of anti-Semitism is still lurking in Europe and elsewhere, according to the BBC. He said the best way to defuse it was to work together, positively, and to promote fraternity. He met briefly with Hungary’s populist prime minister Viktor Orbán whose hard-line policies on refugees clash with Francis‘. The pope has previously said migrants and refugees seeking better lives in Europe should be welcomed. He has also criticised what he has called „national populism“ advanced by governments like Hungary’s. Francis spent seven hours in Hungary, before travelling on to Slovakia, where he will stay for three days.,

Catalans march for independence ahead of Madrid talks: On Saturday, more than a hundred thousand separatists marched through the streets of Barcelona to call for Catalan independence. The protests came just days before the Spanish central government was due to meet the region’s leaders in a bid to ease tensions between the two sides. The last time the topic topped Spain’s political affairs was when separatists staged an independence referendum in October 2017 — which was declared illegal. In an attempt to improve relations, Madrid recently issued an amnesty for Catalan independence leaders who were jailed after the referendum.

Bulgaria to hold third parliamentary vote on 14 November
Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel travels to Serbia this Monday for talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic
Italy puts together billion-euro package for railways
Greece starts new school year this Monday and tightens Covid measures
Austria: Opponents of Covid measures met again for protest in Vienna


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Wrapping of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe in fabric begins: A first giant sheet of fabric was draped down the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Sunday as work started to wrap the monument in a tribute to late artist Christo. Over the next few days, the entire Arc will be wrapped in 25,000 square metres (270,000 square feet) of fabric – the signature of Bulgarian-born Christo, who died last year. He had dreamed of sheathing the 50-metre-high monument since renting a nearby apartment in the 1960s.


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