Thursday, 8 October 2020: France and Germany push for EU sanctions against Russia, Half of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population displaced by fighting, Infection numbers rising across Europe


France and Germany push for EU sanctions against Russia: Paris and Berlin have proposed EU sanctions on Russia over its involvement in the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. A joint statement by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Wednesday there was no other plausible explanation than Russian involvement and responsibility, after Russia had repeatedly failed to provide a credible explanation. Maas indicated that the sanctions were not intended to stop construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, but rather would target individuals and facilities involved in the development of the Novichok nerve agent. Poland has fined Russia’s Gazprom for building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline without Warsaw’s approval. Meanwhile, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has rejected Navalny’s accusation that he has received covert payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Schröder said he would take legal action against the “Bild” newspaper for publishing Navalny’s remarks without asking him for a statement., (Sanctions); (Gazprom); (Schröder)

Half of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population displaced by fighting: Half of the population of the Nagorno-Karabakh region have been displaced since fighting erupted last week between Armenia and Azerbaijan, rebel officials said on Wednesday. According to their estimates, some 50% of Karabakh’s population has been displaced. Nearly 290 people have been killed since the most recent clashes erupted, including 47 civilians. Fears are growing the conflict will develop into a full-blown war. EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said the conflict was of utmost concern and urged both sides to re-engage in meaningful negotiations without preconditions. A protest took place Wednesday in front of the European Commission in Brussels criticising the EU’s reluctance to take action against Turkey, which supports Azerbaijan in the conflict.,

10-year plan to support Roma in the EU: The EU has failed to sufficiently support its Roma minority community, EU Commission Vice President Věra Jourová said Wednesday when unveiling the bloc’s new Roma strategic framework for the next decade. The new strategy aims to promote equality, inclusion and participation of Roma in political life. At the same time, the Commission has acknowledged that despite some progress in areas like education and poverty risk over the past ten years, cases of school segregation have increased and access to employment has not improved.,

EU Parliament votes for 60% carbon emissions cut by 2030: The European Parliament has voted to update the EU’s climate target for 2030, backing a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade, up from 40% currently. The goal is more ambitious than the net emissions cut of at least 55% by 2030 proposed by the EU Commission, which wants to finalise the target by the end of the year. German lawmaker Peter Liese from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) said the 60% goal was overambitious and called on EU member states to back the Commission’s initial proposal for a 55% cut instead, saying this target was both ambitious and realistic.,

MEPs approve changes in the EU Commission: EU lawmakers have confirmed Mairead McGuinness and Valdis Dombrovskis to new positions in the Commission. McGuinness won the support of parliament to join the EU executive body as financial services commissioner. Dombrovskis got lawmakers’ nod to take on the trade portfolio, along with his existing responsibilities as executive vice president overseeing economic policy. The reshuffle at the Commission comes after Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan resigned at the end of August.,

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Belarus opposition leader Tikhanovskaya added to Russia’s wanted list: Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has been placed on Russia’s wanted list. The Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported that Tikhanovskaya faces a charge in Belarus over making public calls to harm the country’s security, including calls to seize power. Lithuania has clarified its role in the purchase of surveillance drones for Belarusian authorities.,,

Greek court rules that Golden Dawn party is a criminal group: A Greek court ruled Wednesday that the far-right Golden Dawn party was operating as a criminal organisation, delivering landmark guilty verdicts following a politically charged five-year trial against dozens of defendants. The court ruled that seven of the 18 former party lawmakers, including party leader Nikos Michaloliakos, were guilty of leading a criminal organisation. The rest were found guilty of participating in a criminal organisation. In all, there were 68 defendants in a trial encompassing four cases.

Wirecard scandal drives German coalition to tighter oversight: The German government has agreed a package of reforms to financial and accounting rules aimed at avoiding another Wirecard scandal. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said the reform plan had been agreed with the chancellery and economy ministry. Lawmakers have launched a parliamentary inquiry in an effort to force the government to reveal more about the failure to avert Germany’s biggest post-war corporate fraud.

Infection numbers rising across Europe: Countries across Europe are seeing a resurgence in Covid-19 cases after successfully slowing outbreaks early in the year. Some countries are seeing higher case numbers than earlier in the year. French health authorities reported 18,746 new confirmed Covid cases over 24 hours on Wednesday, a new all-time daily high. French President Emmanuel Macron said there will be new restrictions to contain the pandemic. The Italian government will extend the country’s Covid-19 state of emergency to the end of January, as the government tries to avoid the surge in cases seen in other European countries. Brussels has ordered bars and cafés to close for a month amid a virus surge.,,,,

Spain: Prime Minister Sanchez plans to create 800,000 jobs to boost recovery from pandemic
Cyprus: Reopening occupied Cypriot ghost town complicates island’s reunification, says EU’s Borrell


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EU lawmakers ask Jeff Bezos if Amazon is spying on them: Lawmakers in the European Union have written a letter to Amazon boss Jeff Bezos asking if his company is hiring intelligence agents to spy on politicians, trade unionists, and members of staff. The letter comes after Amazon deleted two job postings for “intelligence analysts,” ideally with French and Spanish language skills. According to the postings, the jobs involved monitoring various threats perceived by Amazon including trade unions and “hostile political leaders.”


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