Tuesday, 19 October 2021: EU to seek sanctions on Belarus airline over migrant arrivals, Former US secretary of state Colin Powell dies of Covid, Russia suspends its mission to NATO


EU to seek sanctions on Belarus airline over migrant arrivals
reuters.com, apnews.com, politico.eu

  • EU foreign ministers debated new economic sanctions on Belarus on Monday, including on airlines, to halt what Brussels says is a deliberate policy by Belarus to fly in thousands of migrants and send them across the border
  • Many EU states now accuse Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of flying in illegal migrants from Iraq, Iran and Africa to send them across the border into the EU to destabilise the bloc
  • German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Lukashenko “is nothing other than the boss of a state-run people-smuggling ring, and we are no longer prepared to watch as companies, such as airlines, also make money from bringing refugees to Germany or other European countries.”
  • Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics: „We need to introduce stricter sanctions … It means to put so-called tourism companies that are organising flights (under sanctions).“

Polish PM warns of ‘dangerous’ EU effort to control members
reuters.com, politico.eu, euractiv.com

  • Poland is a loyal member of the European Union but opposes excessive centralisation of power, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Monday in a letter to other European leaders
  • Morawiecki asked EU leaders to protect the sovereignty of member states and warned that the EU risked becoming a “centrally managed organism run by institutions deprived of democratic control”
  • This Tuesday, Morawiecki will discuss rule of law in his country at the EU Parliament in Strasbourg
  • In a move sure to further raise tensions, Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro urged his government on Monday to take legal action against Germany over what he said was a politicised system of choosing judges in the bloc’s largest nation.

Former US secretary of state Colin Powell dies of Covid
cnn.com, nbcnews.com

  • Colin Powell, the first black US secretary of state, has died from complications from COVID-19
  • US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said in remarks on Monday that in Powell he „lost a tremendous personal friend and mentor“
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said his predecessor was an „extraordinary leader“ and a „great man“
  • Former US President George W. Bush, whom Powell served as secretary of state, said in a statement Monday that Powell was „a great public servant“ who was „such a favourite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice
  • As secretary of state, Powell delivered a notable speech to the UN Security Council in February 2003 laying out the Bush administration’s rationale for invading Iraq, saying intelligence backed up the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. US troops invaded the following month. The evidence was later shown to be incorrect

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Russia suspends its mission to NATO

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that his country is suspending its mission to NATO
  • He said the move was a response to the expulsion of eight Russian staff at the military alliance’s mission last week
  • NATO said the individuals expelled were in fact „undeclared Russian intelligence officers“
  • The EU has openly threatened to end support to Mali in the event of the Russian mercenary company Wagner being deployed there n-tv.de
  • France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has described developments in Russia as „worrying“ and „disturbing“ faz.net

EU re-thinks budget rules for new era

  • The EU starts reviewing its rules for national budgets on Tuesday to fit a post-pandemic reality of higher public debt and the huge costs of transitioning to a zero-emissions economy reuters.com
  • EU says it has exported over one billion COVID-19 vaccines produced in member states since December 2020 dw.com
  • European Medicines Agency (EMA) has started evaluating use of Covid vaccine Comirnaty in children aged 5 to 11 ema.europa.eu
  • Italy’s public prosecutor is investigating former top Covid official Domenico Arcuri for corruption tagesschau.de
  • Italian police clear protest in front of port in Trieste orf.at
  • Romania’s hospitals overwhelmed with unvaccinated patients euronews.com

Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland: Statement following Vice-President Sefcovic’s meeting with Lord Frost last Friday ec.europa.eu
Georgia: Dozens of officials call for release of former Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili politico.eu
EU’s ambassador to UK João Vale de Almeida to meet Queen as status row put to bed politico.eu
Agriculture: EU countries urge Commission to aid crisis-stricken pig meat sector euractiv.com
High energy prices: Poland seeks EU climate policy rethink reuters.com
Facebook plans to hire 10,000 in EU to build ‚metaverse‘ reuters.com


We ought to be anxious about the gradual transformation of the Union into an entity that would cease to be an alliance of free, equal and sovereign states, and instead become a single, centrally managed organism, run by institutions deprived of democratic control by the citizens of European countries.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Monday warned fellow EU leaders that the European Union risked unravelling if there was no „democratic control“ over its institutions.


Bow-and-arrow attack victims in Norway likely stabbed to death

  • Norwegian police say the Danish man suspected of killing five people and injuring three others in an attack last week also used “stabbing weapons” along with a bow and arrow to kill his victims
  • The suspect has confessed to the killings and has initially been charged with five murders. Police inspector Per Thomas Omholt said, however, the list of charges would be extended as the investigation proceeds
  • Omholt reiterated Norwegian police’s assessment that the suspect’s apparent mental illness was the likely cause for the attack

Alleged killers of Dutch crime reporter de Vries in court: Two suspects appeared in court on Monday accused of murdering the Netherlands‘ best-known crime reporter Peter R. de Vries. In the preliminary hearing at an Amsterdam court, Kamil E. proclaimed his innocence. Delano G. told the court he did not wish to speak. The shooting sparked an outpouring of grief — thousands lined up outside an Amsterdam theater to pay their last respects days after De Vries’ death — and condemnation in the Netherlands.
france24.com, apnews.com

Czech President Zeman apparently unable to perform duties: Czech President Milos Zeman is currently unable to carry out his official duties due to his health, the speaker of the Czech Senate said on Monday. Zeman, who is 77 years old, has been in Prague’s military hospital since 10 October, and little about his health status has been revealed by authorities. The Czech leader’s hospitalisation could spark a political crisis, as the European country recently held legislative elections. It’s up to the Czech president to ultimately appoint the next prime minister.

Roberto Gualtieri on course to be next mayor of Rome: Italy’s former finance minister Roberto Gualtieri has claimed victory in Rome’s mayoral election run-off. Partial results on Monday showed that Gualtieri’s Democratic Party had a wide advantage over his right-wing challenger.
euronews.com, politico.eu

Germany’s Free Democrats vote to join formal coalition talks

  • Members of Germany’s Free Democratic Party (FDP) voted on Monday to join the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the environmentalist Greens in formal coalition talks
  • An exploratory paper presented Friday described how the three parties were committed to climate protection to bring Germany toward the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord
  • Preliminary agreements reached during the exploratory talks included not raising taxes or increasing the amount of debt that the government can take on

Germany marks 80th anniversary of first Jewish deportations: German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier marked the 80th anniversary of Germany’s first deportations of Jews to Nazi death camps in occupied Poland on Monday. Steinmeier joined Berlin Mayor Michael Müller at the Track 17 Memorial at Berlin’s Grunewald Train Station to mark the occasion. The first so-called „East Transport“ left Berlin on October 18, 1941 with 1,089 Jewish men, women and children on board. Their final destination was the Lodz ghetto in Poland.

Germany: Editor of Germany’s Bild sacked after report on workplace behaviour politico.eu, nytimes.com
French Prime Minister Jean Castex meets Pope Francis after devastating clerical child sex abuse report france24.com
Austria: Cell phones were changed before chancellery raid derstandard.at
Dutch consider budget loophole to boost green investments bloomberg.com
Spain: New lava flow on La Palma destroys banana plantations rnd.de
How Denmark became a laboratory for climate change sueddeutsche.de


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Protestors disrupt flame lighting for Beijing Winter Games: Three activists protesting human rights abuses in China sneaked into the archaeological site where the flame lighting ceremony for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics was being held Monday and ran toward the newly lit torch holding a Tibetan flag and a banner that read “No genocide games.” The protesters managed to enter the grounds and attempted to reach the Temple of Hera, where the ceremony was being held. They were thrown to the ground by police and detained.


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