This Week in European Conflict… June 25th-July 1st, 2011.
EU leaders agreed on Friday to tighten migration safeguards, in a controversial response to an influx of migrants fleeing North Africa’s upheaval. The refugee crisis sparked a debate over the extent that EU governments should share the responsibility for immigrants arriving elsewhere in the bloc.
Polandcelebrates as it takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union for the first time since joining the bloc in 2004. Their priorities for the six month term include building relations with the eastern and southern neighbours, encouraging economic growth and promoting enlargement of the bloc.
EU leaders gave the go-ahead for Croatiato join the EU in July 2013 on Friday, though reform slip-ups could result in delayed ratifying of the accession treaty by several EU governments who insisted that the completion of talks remain open-ended. This opened the possibility of other Balkan governments to join, should they go forward with proper reform efforts.
On Sunday, the deputy PM in Greecewarned that austerity measures may not be passed by parliament though lawmakers approved the package aimed at avoiding a national default amid angry protests outside the parliament on Wednesday. The plan involves 28 billion euros of spending cuts and increased taxes, along with sell-offs of state property. On Tuesday, police fired tear gas to disperse a small group of youths throwing sticks and bottles during an otherwise peaceful protest in Athens. On Wednesday, protesters and police continued to clash , amid allegations of police brutality.
One of the two opposition parties in Armeniaannounced that it will continue to boycott the National Assembly sessions to protest against the President’s tightening grip on power. Five deputies walked out February 28th following an agreement that committed to a new power sharing agreement with the President’s junior coalition partners.
On Saturday, former PM Tymoshenko of Ukraine refused to stand to address the court and asserted that the charges that she is working against the country’s interests are part of a wider political plot. On Sunday, a judge ruled that the case would continue on Wednesday.
Police in Russiaarrested over a dozen gay rights activists taking part in a Gay Pride rally over the weekend. On Wednesday, President Medvedev ordered his cabinet to prepare a schedule to sell its controlling stakes in some key state companies, expecting to yield some $30 billion over the next three years. A court house in Ingushetiawas attacked with a grenade launcher and an explosive device on Friday, though the incident resulted in no causalties.
On Tuesday, Russia announced it would restore power supplies to Belarus by July 1st after receivign a late payment from the government. The Belorussian government is facing a mounting economic crisis and currently owes some $42 million for electricity supplied for the last three months. More than 150 people were detained following demonstrations on Wednesday where some 1,000 people walked slowly through the city and signaled their discontent by clapping their hands. It is the fifth straight week of Wednesday evening demonstrations against the authoritarian government.
On Thursday, Germany‘s lower house of parliament approved the government’s plan to shut down the country’s nuclear power plants by 2022.