⊂ EUROPE ⊃
EU worried over Russian military activity near Ukraine’s border: The European Union has expressed concern over the movement of Russian military forces near the border with Ukraine. EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell also expressed unwavering support for Kyiv after a phone conversation with Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and announced that he would hold talks with Kuleba and the EU’s 27 foreign ministers at an upcoming meeting in April. Other western leaders, including incoming US President Joe Biden, have said they stand by Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has accused Russia of massing troops on its northern and eastern borders and in the Crimean peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014. Russia did not deny the recent military movements but insisted it was not threatening anyone. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that could keep him in office in the Kremlin until 2036. Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been moved to a sick ward suffering from symptoms of a respiratory illness and has been tested for the coronavirus, the Izvestia newspaper reported on Monday.
euronews.com (Ukraine), reuters.com (Putin), theguardian.com (Navalny)
Reopening of cafes and shops in many countries: On Monday, cafe and restaurant terraces, museums, non-food markets and fairs, small shops, middle schools and gyms in Portugal were allowed to open their doors. The Serbian government allowed bars and restaurants to serve guests outside at reduced capacity and with respect of social distancing rules. Across most of Greece, retail stores – except for department stores and malls – were allowed to reopen despite an ongoing surge in infections, as the country battled to emerge from a deep recession.
EU’s Charles Michel pledges support to interim Libyan government: European Council President Charles Michel pledged support to Libya’s new interim government Sunday during a visit to Tripoli as the country seeks to end a decade of conflict. The interim government was sworn in last month, with Abdul Hamid Dbeibah serving as prime minister until elections to be held later this year. Michel stressed that the departure of all foreign fighters and troops from the country would be a precondition to rebuilding. He added that the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the respect of the UN arms embargo would be crucial in this process.
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US calls for global minimum tax: US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Monday that she is working with G20 countries to agree on a global corporate minimum tax rate. A global minimum tax proposed by the Biden administration could help to end a thirty-year race to the bottom on corporate tax rates, Yellen told an online event hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The International Monetary Fund has approved a third tranche of grants for debt service relief for 28 member countries under the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust.
Witnesses testify in Netanyahu corruption trial: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared in court Monday at the start of his long-awaited corruption trial, while on the other side of the city rival parties started negotiations to try once again to form a government after yet another election stalemate. The lead prosecutor in the corruption trial said Netanyahu abused his power to give illegal benefits in coordination with central media outlets to further his personal interests. Netanyahu is charged with accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust in three cases. Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing. A few miles away, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin began meetings with representatives of the political parties that won seats in last month’s election.
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
„Vaccines don‘t prevent a third wave, the third wave is growing.“
German Health Minister Jens Spahn on the Covid-19 pandemic in Germany.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Bulgarian prime minister’s party wins election but falls short of majority: Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party was leading results of the country’s parliamentary election on Monday with an estimated 26% of the vote, the central electoral commission said. Full official results are expected on Thursday. Borissov lost ground to protest parties amid accusations of corruption. With 93% of ballots counted, populist party There is Such a People (ITN) led by TV entertainer Slavi Trifonov came in second with 17.9%. The Socialist Party that had so far been the largest opposition party was in third place with 15%. The fragmented results suggested that Borissov would face complex coalition talks to secure his fourth term – and possibly even another election in the fall in case of prolonged political deadlock.
French ministers accused of dining at secret restaurants despite lockdown: French authorities have opened an investigation after a TV documentary accused unnamed government ministers of dining in secret restaurants in violation of coronavirus restrictions. The documentary that aired on French network M6 over the weekend featured an unidentified man saying that he had eaten in two or three clandestine restaurants „with a certain number of ministers.“ The accusations captured the attention of social media, with the hashtag #OnVeutLesNoms (We Want Names) trending on Twitter. Interior minister Gérald Darmanin tweeted: “I asked Paris police to verify the accuracy of the reported facts in order to — if they are verified — charge the organisers and the participants of these clandestine dinners.” Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on LCI television Sunday night that authorities have been investigating reports of clandestine parties and restaurants for months.
Greece makes fresh WWII reparation claims from Germany: The government in Athens has revived its demand for talks with Germany on wartime reparations just ahead of the 80th anniversary of the invasion of Greece by German troops in World War II. Greece last made an official call for negotiations in 2019, under leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. But the government of current conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in January 2020 that Athens still considered the issue an open one, although it had so far refrained from pressuring Berlin on the matter. The cost of the damage caused by Nazi Germany in Greece during the war has been estimated at 289 billion euros by a Greek parliamentary commission.
Germany considers more freedoms for vaccinated people: Germans who are vaccinated could effectively see hard lockdown measures lifted for themselves two weeks after receiving their second jab, German health minister Jens Spahn told a Sunday newspaper. He said that fully vaccinated people could soon be able to travel, visit shops or go to hairdressers without restrictive measures such as having to present a negative rapid test. US health officials are helping AstraZeneca find a new manufacturing partner for millions of its coronavirus shots after the contractor Emergent BioSolutions mixed up ingredients for two Covid-19 vaccines it’s simultaneously producing, a senior health official told „Politico“.
Five women arrested in southern France over suspected attack plan: French anti-terrorism prosecutors have arrested five women in the southern city of Beziers and launched a preliminary investigation in connection with a possible Islamist attack plot, a judicial source said on Sunday. Asked about the investigation and arrests, which took place overnight, government spokesman Gabriel Attal told LCI TV that he had no further information at this stage about what the possible plot was targeting. „Le Point“ magazine earlier reported that the arrests were connected to a suspected plot to carry out an attack in the southern city of Montpellier.
Kosovo: Parliament picks reformist Vjosa Osmani as president politico.eu
Hungary restricts reporting on ongoing Covid vaccination campaign n-tv.de
Netherlands: Anyone entering Germany from the Netherlands must show negative test upon entry dw.com
Czech Republic: Covid emergency ends 11 April rtl.de
⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃
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⊂ LAST BUT NOT LEAST ⊃
Palestinian President Abbas to undergo medical tests in Germany: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas left for Germany on Monday for „routine medical tests“, a source in his office told AFP, weeks before the first Palestinian polls in 15 years. The 85-year-old leader has received treatment in Germany in the past, the „Times of Israel“ reported, most recently during an official visit in August of 2019. During his trip, Abbas will also meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.