March 2. 2024. 1:35

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France, Czechia say Russia must be defeated, not crushed


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In today’s news from the Capitals:

In statements over the weekend, the leaders of France and Czechia warned against seeking Russia’s total collapse after the war in Ukraine, saying it would be problematic for Europe and instead called for its defeat. Read more.

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BERLIN

Germany urges partners to keep tank promises. Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged countries to deliver battle tanks to Ukraine during his Munich Security Conference speech, referring in particular to the countries that had promised to deliver the German-made Leopard 2 tanks following his green light at the end of January. Read more.

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VIENNA | HELSINKI

Austria, Finland united in opposing new EU joint debt. Austria and Finland locked shoulders in opposing new EU joint debt ahead of the Munich Security Conference amid growing calls to up EU spending to face competitors like the US. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

HELSINKI

Human rights activist causes diplomatic tension between Finland, Nigeria. The actions of a human rights campaigner and separatist leader Simon Ekpa, also a Finnish citizen and local politician, have resulted in a diplomatic wrestling match between Finland and Nigeria. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

LISBON

European Investment Bank may finance Iberian gas pipeline. The European Investment Bank (EIB) is willing to finance the future green hydrogen pipeline connecting Portugal, Spain and France if it meets eligibility criteria, EIB Vice-President Ricardo Mourinho Félix told Lusa in an interview, noting that the bank has launched exploratory talks with Portugal. Read more.

Portuguese PM endorses EU-Africa pact to regulate migration. Prime Minister António Costa endorsed the EU-Africa pact aimed at regulating migration flows, punishing human traffickers and promoting legal channels for migration on the sidelines of the African Union Summit, during which he was the only non-African leader to attend as an observer. Read more.

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ROME

Forza Italia up in arms after EPP chief hits at Berlusconi. European People’s Party (EPP) leader Manfred Weber has distanced himself from Silvio Berlusconi after the latter’s statements against Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but centre-right Forza Italia strongly defended the former Italian prime minister, even questioning Weber’s leadership. Read more.

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ATHENS

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MADRID

EU Parliament delegation starts ‘hot mission’ in Spain, clashes with Madrid. A European Parliament delegation which begins its tour in Madrid to monitor the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Fund will be marked by the mission chief’s criticism against the Spanish Minister of Economy who bears “responsibility” for the good management of EU money. Read more.


VISEGRAD

WARSAW

Polish trucks queue at border crossing as Belarus retaliates. About 1,500 heavy trucks are currently queuing at the Polish-Belarusian border as Minsk decided only to allow Polish trucks to enter from the border crossing in Kukuryki after Poland recently closed a key crossing. Read more.

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BRATISLAVA

Slovak government says parliament must decide on jets delivery to Ukraine. The delivery of grounded Soviet-made MiG29 fighter jets must first be discussed in the National Council, Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď confirmed Sunday after several lawyers and politicians doubted the interim government’s authority to decide on the matter single-handedly. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

SOFIA

Bulgaria hopes for a maximum 6-month Eurozone delay. Bulgaria now aims to enter the Eurozone from 1 July 2024, half a year later than the initially set date, said Finance Minister Rositsa Velkova, noting that her country could reduce its inflation to the level needed to enter the group. Read more.

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BELGRADE

Serbia ready for Kosovo dialogue if Serb municipalities are discussed. Serbia is ready for dialogue on Kosovo as long as the Association of Serb Municipalities is concerned, Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić said at the Munich Security Conference where he had a difficult talk with EU Chief Diplomat Josep Borrell during which the country was strongly criticised for not sanctioning Russia. Read more.

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PRISTINA

Kosovo ready for any threat says president. Kosovo’s President Vjosa Osmani has reassured of the country’s security force’s readiness to face dangers that the country is facing from Serbia but also regionally, as the nation celebrated its 15th independence anniversary over the weekend. Read more.

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TIRANA

Albania to extradite Russian photographer over espionage charges. The Justice Ministry has given the green light for the extradition of Russian citizen and notorious photographer Svetlana Timofeeva who was arrested in Albania on charges of espionage in August 2022, though her lawyer fears she would face human rights violations if she returns to Russia. Read more.


AGENDA

  • EU: Foreign Affairs Council convenes to discuss Russian aggression against Ukraine, Afghanistan, climate and energy diplomacy, and more;
  • European Commission Vice President Vĕra Jourová speaks at the Media Freedom 2023 Conference in Bratislava, Slovakia;
  • Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson hosts Serbian Internal Affairs Minister Bratislav Gašić;
  • European Parliament President Roberta Metsola gives opening address via video at the 10th Ordinary Session of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, in Moldova;
  • Parliament’s Security and Defence Subcommittee (SEDE) delegation visits Bosnia and Herzegovina to assess EU’s military operation;
  • Committee of Inquiry to investigate the use of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware (PEGA) delegation visits Budapest, Hungary;
  • Greece: Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias hosts US Secretary of State Antony Blinken;
  • Russia: Hearing seeking dissolution of Russian branch of Jewish Agency;
  • UN: Security Council meeting on Middle East conflict; New round of negotiations on a treaty to protect the high seas;

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[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Vlad Makszimov, Daniel Eck, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson, Sofia Mandilara]