International News

Macedonia PM to go as part of EU-brokered deal

Macedonia’s four largest political parties have reached a deal that will see prime minister Nikola Gruevski resign and is hoped to ease tensions in the former Yugoslav republic. The agreement was brokered by EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn, three MEPs, and the EU and US ambassadors to Skopje.

The EU commission announced the deal on Wednesday morning (15 July).

The political crisis began in February when opposition party SDSM released wiretaps that showed corruption in Gruevski’s ruling party. In May, the political crisis turned violent when 14 ethnic Albanians and eight policemen died during a police raid. (EUobserver)

World powers reach nuclear deal with Iran, Israel cries foul

Iran and six major world powers including the EU reached a nuclear deal, capping more than a decade of on-off negotiations with an agreement that could potentially transform the Middle East.

Under the deal, sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations would be lifted in return for Iran agreeing long-term curbs on a nuclearprogram that the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the agreement reached as a historic mistake and said he would do what he could to block Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“Iran is going to receive a sure path to nuclear weapons. Many of the restrictions that were supposed to prevent it from getting there will be lifted,” Netanyahu said at the start of a meeting with Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders in Jerusalem.


Britain resists contributing to new Greek bailout

British Finance Minister George Osborne will seek to block any move by the European Union to include British money in a new bailout programme for Greece, according to press reports on Tuesday.

“Our eurozone colleagues have received the message loud and clear that it would not be acceptable for this issue of British support for eurozone bailouts to be revisited,” a source in Britain’s Treasury said.

“The idea that British taxpayers’ money is going to be on the line in this latest Greek deal is a non-starter.” (euractiv)

Greece capitulates at EU summit

A Greek exit from the eurozone has been avoided after a weekend of tough talks, but the political cost of arriving at a deal is likely to be felt for years to come.

After 18 hours of negotiations, culimnating six months of wider talks, euro leaders emerged bleary-eyed on Monday morning (13 July) to announce a deal that will, eventually, see Greece get a new bailout if it takes painful reforms and if it agrees to intense scrutiny at every step of the way. (euobserver)

G7 countries agree on the limitation of global warming to below 2 degrees

Yesterday afternoon (June, 8), the G7 agreed to limit the increase of global temperatures to 2 degrees, a commitment which follows German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s line. She wanted G7 countries, the world’s leading economies,  to present a united position ahead of the COP 21 Paris Climate Summit in December, in order to send a strong message to other polluters on their determination to tackle the issue of climate change. Using of “diplomatic pressure”, they convinced Canada and Japan to find solutions to reduce their gas emissions. Both countries, which were opposed to the idea that the era of fossil fuels has to end, softened their positions. (Politico)

US travellers set for EU biometric dragnet

US citizens and other non-EU nationals who enter Europe will be asked to have their faces image-captured and fingerprints scanned upon arrival at a half-dozen major airports. The biometric dragnet is part of a pilot test of the EU’s so-called ‘smart borders’ package. Passengers can refuse to give the data for now but there are plans to eventually make it obligatory. (EU Observer)

A legal way to seek refuge in Europe

Over 50 million people are currently displaced in the world, many of them caught in a cold and harsh winter. One fifth of these are Syrians in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Approximately 2 million of the Syrian refugees are living in refugee camps in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Egypt, where access to medical care and medication is scarce.

Only about two percent of the refugees make their way to Europe. Most of them come through a dangerous boat ride across the Mediterranean Sea. I’m proud of the fact that Sweden last year granted asylum to 26,000 Syrians, just as many as Germany. (EUobserver)

EU views Ukraine deal cautiously

Realism tinged with relief was the dominant mood among leaders of the European Union today as they began to absorb the details of an agreement wrung out of the Russian and Ukrainian presidents overnight by the leaders of France and Germany. The mood was set by Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, as she headed into the EU summit in Brussels after marathon all-night negotiations in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. The talks gave a “glimmer of hope” that the conflict in eastern Ukraine could be ended, but she had “no illusions”, she said. Asked if Merkel and France’s President François Hollande were “relieved”, Mark Rutte, the leader of the Netherlands, said: “No, they were realistic.” (European Voice)

Ukraine conflict: Crucial summit goes through the night

The Russian and Ukrainian presidents have been meeting all night in Belarus to try to secure a peace deal. Few details have emerged about their four-way meeting with the leaders of France and Germany. But a Ukrainian presidential aide posted on Facebook that there was a battle of nerves. Before the talks began, the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said achieving a ceasefire was essential.  Thousands of people have been killed in the fighting in the east of Ukraine. (BBC News)

UK reserves right to arm Ukraine military

The UK has followed the US in saying that if diplomacy doesn’t stop Russian aggression in Ukraine then it might start arming the Ukrainian military. Foreign minister Philip Hammond made the statement in the British parliament on Tuesday (10 February). “It is a national decision for each country in the Nato alliance to decide whether to supply lethal aid to Ukraine. The UK is not planning to do so, but we reserve the right to keep this position under review,” he said. (EUobserver)

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