Wednesday, 7 April 2021: EMA official sees link between AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots in brain, Ukraine urges NATO to set up membership path, Top diplomats meet in Vienna to discuss Iran nuclear deal

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

EMA official sees link between AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots in brain: There is a link between AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine and very rare blood clots in the brain but the possible causes are still unknown, a senior official for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in an interview published on Tuesday. “We can now say, it is clear that there is a link with the vaccine,” Cavaleri told Italian newspaper „il Messaggero“. He said it was unclear what caused this reaction. Cavaleri provided no evidence to support his comment. The EMA later said in a statement that its review of the vaccine was ongoing and it expected to announce its findings this Wednesday or Thursday. An AstraZeneca spokesman declined to comment on the matter.
reuters.com, politico.eu

Ukraine urges NATO to set up membership path: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called on NATO and key member states to hasten his country’s membership of the western military alliance in response to a growing buildup of Russian forces on his country’s borders. “NATO is the only way to end the war in Donbas. Ukraine’s MAP [membership action plan] will be a real signal for Russia,” Zelenskiy told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg during a phone call. He said Kyiv was committed to defence reforms that had been a prerequisite to join, but he added: „Reforms alone will not stop Russia.“ Stoltenberg tweeted that he had spoken to Ukraine’s leader to express serious concern about Russia’s military activities in and around Ukraine. He added that the alliance firmly supported Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Two Ukrainian servicemen were killed by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine over the past 24 hours, Ukraine’s military said on Tuesday, adding to already escalating tensions.
theguardian.com, dw.com, reuters.com

Russian police arrest Navalny’s doctor: Russian police said Tuesday they made a number of arrests outside the prison where opposition leader Alexei Navalny is being held. Navalny began a hunger strike last week, protesting the lack of medical care for pain in his back and a loss of sensation in both legs. Police said they made nine arrests, including that of Dr. Anastasia Vasilyeva, the head of the independent doctors union Alliance of Doctors, and one of Navalny’s physicians. The union later tweeted that Vasilyeva was released, though three of her colleagues were still in police custody. In February, a Moscow judge sent Navalny to prison for 2 1/2 years over violating the terms of a 2014 conviction that the European Court of Human Rights later ruled was unfair. Navalny was arrested the moment he returned to Moscow from Germany, where he had been recovering from a poison attack with a rare nerve agent that he blames on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
npr.org

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Russia rejects sanctions against the military junta in Myanmar: Russia said on Tuesday that sanctions against authorities in Myanmar were futile, extremely dangerous and could ultimately pushed the country towards civil war, the Interfax news agency reported. Myanmar has been rocked by protests since the army overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on the 1st of February, making unsubstantiated claims of fraud in a November election. The coup and subsequent crackdown has led to Western sanctions on the military and its lucrative businesses.
reuters.com

EU explores opportunities for expanding relations with Turkey: Top EU officials said Tuesday that they used a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to insist that any moves to improve EU-Turkey relations would be conditional on Ankara improving its record on human rights and the rule of law. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel said they also made clear that a stable and secure environment for EU members Cyprus and Greece is another prerequisite for closer ties with Turkey. Von der Leyen, who spoke to the media after the meeting, said respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law were crucial for the European Union. Erdogan ordered the withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, a European Council accord to combat domestic violence against women, in March. Von der Leyen said the move was clearly the wrong signal. The encounter was not without its awkward moments. When the three leaders gathered for the ceremonial photo-op upon arrival, there were only two chairs placed in front of the Turkey and EU flags. The setup left von der Leyen looking slightly perplexed once Michel took the seat designated for the EU side. She ended up relegated to a nearby couch.
france24.com, dw.com, politico.eu

Top diplomats meet in Vienna to discuss Iran nuclear deal: The remaining signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal – Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany – met on Tuesday in Vienna for the first round of talks since US President Joe Biden took office. A US delegation took part indirectly. Tehran said before the meeting that there would be no direct contact between Iranian and US diplomats as the latter was no longer a signatory of the deal — but would be kept up-to-date as the talks progress. The 2015 agreement to keep Iran’s uranium enrichment in check was undermined in 2018 when former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal and imposed sanctions on Iran.
dw.com

EU privacy watchdogs: Vaccine passports must be proportionate, legal reuters.com
Statistics office Eurostat: Euro zone unemployment unchanged in February reuters.com
Israel: President picks Netanyahu to try to form government politico.com
Jordan bans media coverage of royal rift, Saudi reaffirms support reuters.com

⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃

Today, we reached an important milestone.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has announced that some lockdown restrictions will be lifted this Wednesday after more than a quarter of the population has been inoculated with at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
apnews.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Dutch cargo ship adrift off Norway: Emergency response teams scrambled on Tuesday to prevent a Dutch cargo ship adrift in the North Sea from sinking and causing an oil spill off Norway’s coast after the crew had to be evacuated in stormy weather. Crew members onboard the Eemslift Hendrika had raised an alert in the North Sea on Monday prompting the Norwegian Coast Guard to launch an operation to evacuate the 12-person staff off the vessel. All were brought to safety, but the ship has continued to drift towards land. Maritime authorities said their focus now was to figure out how to stabilise the vessel so it wouldn’t sink while trying make sure the ship doesn’t crash into the shore.
reuters.com, euronews.com, apnews.com

Air France gets EU approval for French recapitalisation plan: The EU approved a plan Tuesday by the French government to inject up to four billion euros into Air France, hit by a collapse in passenger traffic during the pandemic. The French government will convert a 3 billion euro loan extended to the group last year into a hybrid instrument and commit up to an additional 1 billion euros to a planned share issue, raising its stake in Air France-KLM to almost 30%. In return for the EU’s green light, Air France will relinquish about 18 slots per day at Orly, Paris‘ second-largest airport after Charles de Gaulle. „This gives competing carriers the chance to expand their activities at this airport, ensuring fair prices and increased choice for European consumers,“ EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.
france24.com, cnbc.com

Undercover video sparks outrage over secret dinner parties for Paris elite: An undercover report showing members of the Paris elite enjoying secret dinner parties in luxury restaurants and flouting Covid-19 restrictions has sparked fury in France, and prompted the city’s prosecutor to launch an investigation. The probe comes after a TV report by channel M6 that aired Friday, showing hidden camera footage of two upmarket restaurants filled with mask-free guests. Restaurants in France have been closed since late last year, as the country battles a third wave of coronavirus infections.
cnn.com

Italian business owners protests over virus measures: Protesters scuffled with police outside the Italian parliament in Rome on Tuesday as restaurant workers and other businesses affected by lockdown lashed out at Covid-19 restrictions. Italy endured a three-day nationwide coronavirus lockdown from Saturday to deter Easter travel and get-togethers. Travel between regions and visits to relatives were being limited through Monday. Nonessential shops were closed and restaurants and bars were only open for take-out. German police have launched an investigation against organisers of the „Querdenker“ (lateral thinkers) march in Stuttgart for violating anti-pandemic measures during a rally on Saturday. While some 2,500 people were expected to join the rally, police estimated that over 10,000 ended up taking part.
euronews.com (Italy), dw.com (Germany)

Lockdown in eastern Austria extended: Austrian officials decided on Tuesday in Vienna to extend the coronavirus lockdown in the country’s east by a week. The lockdown in the eastern states of Vienna, Burgenland and Lower Austria will be extended from the 11th until the 18th of April. Denmark on Tuesday began requiring people to use a new Covid certificate to enter certain businesses or face fines, one of the first European countries to do so.
thelocal.at (Austria), euractiv.de (Denmark)

Italy: Prime Minister Draghi urges Libya to strictly maintain ceasefire reuters.com
Bulgaria after the election: The fight against corruption intensifies de.euronews.com
Covid vaccine rollout: Which country in Europe is leading the race? euronews.com
Eastern Europe: Local players are a key part of the European integration of Western Balkan and Eastern European countries euractiv.com

⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃

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⊂ LAST BUT NOT LEAST ⊃

Stade de France opens as France’s largest Covid-19 vaccine centre: The country’s largest stadium, the Stade de France, opened on Tuesday as its largest Covid-19 vaccination centre. Some 1,500 people made appointments for a jab at the venue to start a drive that health authorities hope will reach 10,000 injections per week.
rfi.fr

 

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