Romania’s PM in corruption and money laundering charges

Romania’s prime minister Victor Ponta is facing charges of corruption, forgery, money laundering, tax evasion, and conflict of interest.

Prosecutors from the DNA, Romania’s anti-corruption agency, on Monday (13 July) “temporarily seized assets” belonging to the leftist leader following a five week investigation.

Romania’s latest crackdown is part of a larger effort to shake off its widespread reputation for corruption since it joined the European Union in 2007. Hundreds of others have been targeted over the years.

The alleged criminal acts stem from Ponta’s time as a lawyer before he became prime minister in 2012. He is also accused of accepting some €55,000 from a member of parliament who is also a close ally. He allegedly used some of the money to buy two luxury apartments in Bucharest. (EUobserver)

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)

Tsipras pleads for a ‘European solution’

STRASBOURG — With only days to spare before his country faces financial catastrophe, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras turned to the European Parliament Wednesday morning to make an impassioned plea for a “sustainable” solution to the crisis. In a speech long on rhetoric but lacking in any concrete proposals, Tsipras said the Greek people had delivered a “resounding verdict” in Sunday’s referendum that they would not cave in to pressure from international creditors to accept harsh bailout terms.

Tsipras said his government had given eurozone leaders a new reform proposal on Tuesday night, but he did not provide details. In their remarks the night before, leaders had been adamant that there was no concrete proposal from the Greek side. The Greek prime minister promised that in the coming few days the Greeks would “redouble our efforts in order to get a socially just and economically sustainable solution to the Greek problem without repeating the mistakes of the past.”

 “The final deadline ends this week, all of us are responsible for the crisis and all of us have are responsibility to resolve it,” said Tusk. The Parliament has long pushed for Greek officials and their creditors to be more transparent in their negotiations. The Tsipras speech is the first time since the start of the Greek crisis five years ago that a Greek leader has addressed the institution.
“How do you want to be remembered in history Mr. Tsipras?” said Guy Verhofstadt, the president of the centrist ALDE party. ” An electoral accident who made his people poorer or a real revolutionary reformer?” (politico)
Final deadline for Greece, as EU prepares for Grexit

The Greek government has been given a “final deadline” until the end of the week to present a proposal of reforms, ahead of a meeting of all 28 EU leaders in Brussels on Sunday (12 July). But in a sign of the general pessimism following Tuesday’s meeting of euro leaders, the European Commission said it already has plans for how to deal with a Greek exit from the eurozone.

Meanwhile, German chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out any debt haircut for Greece. “Tonight many around the table, also myself, said a haircut will not happen. That is a bailout essentially within the eurozone and that is banned”, she said.

“The stark reality is that we have only five days left to find the ultimate agreement. Until now, I have avoided talking about deadlines. But tonight I have to say loud and clear that the final deadline ends this week”, said Tusk. (euobserver)

Euro leaders expect Tsipras to make concessions

According to an EU source quoted by Greece’s Kathimerini, 16 out of 18 of Tsipras’ colleagues around the table are in favour of letting Greece leave the eurozone. Only France and Italy appear ready to accept Tsipras’ demands on debt relief and investments.

The summit will also show “the reaction of the 18 other countries” to the referendum, Merkel warned. “This is also democracy, we have a shared sovereignty. We are 18 with the same money [as Greece], so everybody must be responsible and show solidarity”, she said.

Speaking at the European Parliament Tuesday, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker noted that “the ball is clearly in the Greek camp” and added that no one should expect a final agreement on Tuesday evening. ( euobserver)

Eurozone leaders to hold emergency summit on Greece

Eurozone leaders will hold an emergency summit in Brussels Tuesday to discuss the fallout from Greek voters’ defiant “No” to further austerity measures, with the country’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras set to unveil new proposals for talks.

As the country’s economy gasps for air, with banks closed until at least Thursday on fears cash machines are running dry, Germany and France presented a united front, calling on Tsipras to make “precise” proposals in a bid to revive bailout talks. “The door is open to discussions,” said French President Francois Hollande Monday after crisis talks in Paris with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Eubusiness)

Germany, France demand ‘serious’ proposals from Greece after ‘No’ vote

Germany and France on Monday called on Greece to make detailed proposals to revive bailout talks, a day after Greek voters defiantly rejected creditors’ demands for further austerity, plunging Europe into crisis.

The European Central Bank, which has been keeping Greek lenders afloat, meanwhile announced it would maintain its liquidity lifeline to Greek banks, but made it harder for them to access the funds by tightening collateral terms.

Merkel, speaking alongside Hollande, said the conditions for a new Greek rescue package “have not yet been met.” (eubusiness)

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