The Capitals brings you the latest news from across Europe, thanks to on-the-ground reporting by EURACTIV’s media network. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.
Before you start reading today’s edition of Capitals, be sure to take a look at the article First batch of EU sanctions against Russia targeting 351 lawmakers, officials, banks, by Alexandra Brzozowski .
European news you deserve to read. welcome to Capitals by EURACTIV.
In today’s news from the capitals:
BELGRADE | PRISTINE
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said he would condemn Russia’s recognition of the independence of breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy condemned NATO’s bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999 on television. Read more.
Vaccines, security and climate discussed at Indo-Pacific ministerial forum. The Indo-Pacific Ministerial Cooperation Forum was held in Paris on Tuesday during the French Presidency of the EU Council. According to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was an opportunity for EU countries to “demonstrate the strength of the ties that exist between the EU and the countries of the Indo-Pacific and our desire to deepen them”. , according to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Read more.
The destruction of forests in Germany more drastic than expected. Almost 5% of Germany’s total forest area has been destroyed since 2018, according to new data based on satellite images, making deforestation a much bigger problem than previously thought. Read more.
The French Minister of Health defines the criteria for lifting the vaccination pass. The French Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, set out the criteria he considers necessary for the abolition of the vaccine pass, during a hearing in the Senate committee on Tuesday. Read more.
Austria opens its doors to unvaccinated travellers. Unvaccinated people will be able to travel to Austria from March 1 provided they present a negative COVID-19 test, as the ski season is slowly coming to an end. Read more.
UNITED KINGDOM AND IRELAND
Britannia destabilized a year after Brexit. Brexit may have been a reality for over a year, with most opposition politicians hesitant to talk about it, but that doesn’t mean it’s widely accepted by the British public.
That was the conclusion based on data presented on Tuesday at a conference organized by the British academic think tank in a changing Europe. In many different political debates, what has endured is the polarization created by the Brexit debate. Read more.
The Prime Minister warns of the “chilling effect” of Russian measures for small European states. Russia’s announcement that it will send troops across the border with Ukraine creates a “chilling effect for many small states across the European continent”, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said on Tuesday. Read more.
NORDIC AND BALTIC
HELSINKI | STOCKHOLM
Finland and Sweden contest the arms embargo against Ukraine. The debate over whether the escalating situation in Ukraine justifies an exception and allows arms deliveries is gaining ground in Finland and Sweden, countries that are traditionally restrictive on arms exports. Read more.
Finnish football captain: the Champions League should not be in St. Petersburg. Tim Sparv, captain of the Finnish national football team, tweeted on Tuesday that the Champions League final to be played in Saint Petersburg in May is expected to be moved to another location.
“The Champions League final should not be played in Russia. It’s time for the football community to do their part,” Sparv tweeted. (Pekka Vantinen | EURACTIV.com)
Swedish politicians unite in condemning Russia’s actions. Senior Swedish politicians, including the prime minister Magdalena Andersson, condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine. Read more.
Estonia calls on Europe to wean itself off Russian gas. Europe should develop green energy and import more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to reduce its dependence on Russia, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said on Tuesday (February 22nd) as the West is preparing for the possibility of a massive Russian assault on Ukraine. Read more.
Italian ambassador killed for $50,000 in the Congo. The investigation into the murder of Ambassador Luca Attanasio and policeman Vittorio Iacovacci in the Democratic Republic of Congo on February 22, 2021 was closed on Monday as it was found that his captors had demanded $50,000. Read more.
The Catholic Church wants to shed light on cases of child sexual abuse. Spanish Catholic officials on Tuesday appointed a law firm to carry out a wide-ranging investigation into cases of child sexual abuse allegedly committed by clergy and workers in other church-linked institutions such as religious schools. Read more.
Portugal condemns Russia’s “illegitimate and illegal” recognition of separatist territories. Portugal stands in solidarity with Ukraine, Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said on Tuesday, calling Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of independent pro-Russian separatist regions “illegitimate and illegal”. Read more.
Head of the Czech army: the world will not be safe. EThe vents in Ukraine indicate that the world will not be a safe place for years to come, Czech army chief Aleš Opata said on Tuesday, adding that the The Czech Republic cannot behave as if it were not affected by the crisis in Ukraine. Read more.
The Polish government approves a bill on national defense in the context of the Ukrainian crisis. The government on Tuesday approved the “homeland defense bill”, which allows for the rapid reinforcement of Polish forces in the face of Russian aggression against neighboring Ukraine, Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said. Read more.
Hungary is deploying troops to the Ukrainian border. The Hungarian Defense Ministry will send troops to its eastern region, Defense Minister Tibor Benkő announced after receiving instructions from Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Read more.
The Slovak government strongly condemns the Russian “occupation”. Slovak government politicians did not hold back when commenting on the recognition of breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine. Even members of the opposition, generally more understanding of Russian foreign policy, spoke of aggression and violations of international law. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Bulgarian socialists refuse to condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The Bulgarian Socialist Party distanced itself from its ruling coalition partners and refused to unequivocally condemn the Russian invasion of Donbass and the recognition of the independence of the territories controlled by the separatists. Read more.
Romania will reduce excise duties on fuels in a bid to calm prices. The government coalition agreed on Tuesday on new measures to deal with the sharp increase in energy prices. One of the measures taken into account is the halving of the fuel excise tax.
ZAGREB | SARAJEVO
Croatia wants the next EU summit to discuss BiH. Croatia has called for talks on Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to take place at the next EU summit scheduled for March at a meeting of EU general affairs ministers. Read more.
BiH’s tripartite presidency deeply divided over the Ukraine-Russia crisis. The tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), which needs unanimity to decide international situations, is currently unable to take decisions on the Ukrainian-Russian crisis as it remains deeply divided on the issue. Read more.
Afghan nationals temporarily transferred to North Macedonia go to Canada. Twenty-two Afghan civilians, employees and associates of the international organization Open Government Partnership and their family members, temporarily transferred to North Macedonia, left for Canada. Read more.
Attempts at Kosovo-Serbia dialogue continue in Brussels. Negotiating teams from Kosovo and Serbia tried to resume dialogue in Brussels on Tuesday, following pressure from the EU and the United States earlier this month. Read more.
Albanian media suffered in 2021, International Press Institute. Media freedom continued to suffer in Albania in 2021 as the government increased its grip on the flow of information while “brutal action” by the police also raised concerns, according to the International Institute’s 2021 report of the press. Read more.
- EU: EU ambassadors to approve the sanctions package against Russia in the afternoon / European Commission to unveil data law and sustainable economy package / European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen meets Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store / European Parliament delegation holds press conference in Warsaw after rule of law visit / Extraordinary summit of the European People’s Party (EPP) on the situation in Ukraine.
- Germany: German Foreign Minister Baerbock meets his French counterpart Le Drian in Berlin.
- Netherlands: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg meets Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague.
- Serbia: President Aleksandar Vučić will travel to Spain on a one-day working visit where he will hold separate talks with King Felipe and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, and witness the signing of an agreement on the purchase of two Airbus C-295 Casa carrier aircraft.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]