The parties supporting Catalonian independence from the rest of Spain dominate that autonomous community. A referendum on self-determination is scheduled for November 9, 2014. However, according to the Constitution, no entity can hold a referendum without the consent of Spanish authorities or without a permit for a national referendum. This provision of the Basic Law was recently confirmed by the Congress of Deputies, the lower house of the Spanish Parliament, and the Spanish Constitutional Court, which prohibited Catalonia from holding this referendum. Nevertheless, the regional authorities continue to try and achieve this goal. The currently acute situation is quite dangerous, particularly with regards to the unpredictability of both sides.
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is being held in police custody for questioning over alleged influence-peddling. He is suspected of seeking inside information into a probe of his 2007 election campaign. The ex-President who is mulling a political comeback, denies any wrong doing.
Former Soviet republic Moldova’s government is happily embracing a new pact with the European Union. But the celebration is overshadowed by the prospect of Russian retaliation for the move, especially in light of the dangerous lesson of Ukraine.
After weeks of discussion and a bruising confrontation with Britain, EU leaders finally gave the thumbs up to Jean-Claude Juncker to lead the European Commission for the next five years.
Minister of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights, Charalampos Athanasiou and Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection, Vassilis Kikilias chaired, on 25 June, in Athens, an EU–US Ministerial meeting on Justice and Home affairs (JHA). A number of issues critical to the European Union and the United States were discussed, such as data protection, migration, terrorism and judicial cooperation.
Despite his good intentions and out-of-the-box approach on defence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will, ironically, be preparing India to fight the last war better. Reason: No one has told him that like other ministries, even defence needs a policy, which he has to formulate, before acquisition of armament begins. Otherwise, it will be putting the cart before the horse. The best thing about making a policy will be that the armed forces will be able to do more with less money as the defence services will be compelled to review their capacities, capabilities and doctrines.
I traveled between Poland and Azerbaijan during a rare period when the forces that shape Europe appear to be in flux, and most of the countries I visited are re-evaluating their positions. The overwhelming sense was anxiety. Observers from countries such as Poland make little effort to hide it. Those from places such as Turkey, which is larger and not directly in the line of fire, look at Ukraine as an undercurrent rather than the dominant theme. But from Poland to Azerbaijan, I heard two questions: Are the Russians on the move? And what can these countries do to protect themselves?
NATO Foreign Ministers and their counterparts from ISAF partner nations met with the Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Ershad Ahmadi on Wednesday (25 June 2014). They reviewed progress in the ISAF mission, took stock of the ongoing election process and finalised operational plans for the launch of a new NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces after 2014. “In six months’ time, our ISAF combat mission will be completed. Afghan troops and police will be fully responsible for security across the country,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after the meeting.
Bulgaria is heading for new parliamentary elections as the troubled governing coalition fell apart one year into its mandate. This development was not caused by the daily anti-government protests that have continued for over a year. Indeed, the ruling elite has paid little attention to the demands of civil society. Rather, the government was brought down by the withdrawal of the junior coalition partner, the ethnic-Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), following the Socialist party’s poor results in the European Parliamentary elections in May. The Socialists gained only four seats—as many as the Turkish party—while the opposition Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) won six seats in the European legislature (EuropeDecides.eu, May 25).
The difficult process of choosing the new president of the European Commission, undertaken at today’s meeting of the European Council, reveals a split emerging throughout Europe. This fissure does not run between left and right or north and south, nor does it divide old and new Europe.