Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine renew their wishes to the EU
Plus, red-faced Poland is calling some Olympic athletes home, Russia says it has tested a hypersonic cruise missile, and more.
The big story: Trio seeks to put Russia in the rearview mirror
What happened: The presidents of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine highlighted their commitment to a western path at an annual conference conference held in the Georgian city of Batumi on the Black Sea coast, with the participation of President of the European Council Charles Michel, Political reports.
More context: All three countries aspire to EU membership, and Georgia and Ukraine are also seeking NATO membership. Moldovan President Maia Sandu said that the political association and free trade agreements that countries have with the EU are “the backbone of our national reform programs”. Likewise, Michel said that the framework that produced these agreements – the EU’s Eastern Partnership – “is the engine of transformation, prosperity and growth”. The Kremlin sought to keep ex-Soviet countries linked, sometimes with help and sometimes by force. It supports separatist regions or conflicts in the three countries, thus freezing their hopes of entering the EU.
To note: After the meeting, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Facebook that the Trio Association is “about to cut our three countries off from the ‘Russian world’,” according to Ukrinform. “We had a common past with the Russian Federation, but we will have a common future with other countries, not with Russia,” Kuleba said.
News from the regions
Central Europe and Baltic States
- the Polish Swimming Federation faces backlash after sending swimmers home from the Tokyo Olympics, BBC Sport reports. The federation mistakenly chose 23 athletes for the national team, but then had to reduce the number to 17 to comply with the qualification rules of the world governing body FINA. Polish Swimming Federation President Pawel Slominski expressed “great regret, sadness and bitterness over the situation”, adding that the error had occurred due to “the desire to allow as many players and coaches as possible to participate in the Games “.
- A unique piece Cold war bunker near Prague is now open to the public, reports the Czech daily Expats.cz. While other Cold War sites are available for tours in the region and elsewhere, most are fallout shelters. The Atom Muzeum, however, is a bunker that served to store short-range soviet nuclear missiles. Located in a former military zone in a mountainous region about 90 kilometers (56 miles) southwest of Prague, the bunker no longer contains nuclear material but still displays “training bombs” and remains of equipment. techniques.
South Eastern Europe
- Romania is one of 10 EU countries calling for a broad debate on the Union’s proposal forest plan, Euractiv reports. Romania and other countries argue that forestry should not be regulated at European level, as it falls under the competence of EU members. More, Romanian Environment Minister Tanczos Barna said that under the EU’s plan, the burden of enhanced monitoring and protection of old-growth forests would fall largely on his country and heavily forested Bulgaria, Finland and Sweden. Barna said the proposal should “establish the financing terms” to pay for the works and make legally required payments to landowners who can no longer harvest their timber. Illegal logging is a persistent and long-standing problem in Romania.
- A second meeting yesterday between Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic within the dialogue facilitated by the EU has not yielded much, reports BIRN. After the meeting, Vucic said he was worried about the Serbian security living in Kosovo, in light of recent attacks. Kurti said Serbia did not accept the deal he was proposing, which was in essence “a declaration of peace”. “It was rejected before it was read; it shows their reluctance to reach an agreement, ”Kurti told the media.
Eastern Europe and Russia
- the Russian Ministry of Defense announced yesterday that they have successfully tested a Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic – i.e. moving at least five times the speed of sound – cruise missile, reports Reuters. The missile, which President Vladimir Putin introduced as part of a unique new generation of missile systems, was launched from a warship in the white sea and hit a ground target on the shoreline of the sea barent over 350 km (217 miles). The test comes three years after Putin announced a range of new hypersonic weapons that “could strike almost any point in the world and escape a US-built missile shield,” Reuters notes.
- Belarus leader of the opposition Sviatlana Tsikhanoskaya asked Washington for more support for Belarusian civil society, Reuters reports. During a visit to the United States that began yesterday, Tsikhanouskaya met with three senior State Department officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The agenda for the visit, according to a press release from State Department, included the need to “end the repression of the Belarusian government, as well as the unconditional release of all political prisoners in Belarus, and an inclusive political dialogue and new presidential elections under international observation”.
- the Coronavirus pandemic and the related travel restrictions have proven to be a boon to tourism in Kazakhstan, as the locals turned to domestic travel destinations, Eurasianet reports. Asel Alisherova, director of the Huns Ethnographic Park, located in the foothills near Almaty, said: “Kazakhs are more interested in nomadic life and traditions”, such as “our cultural shows and national games”. An unfortunate side effect of the influx of tourists has been environmental damage in previously unspoiled places, like Lake Kobeytuz, whose shores were covered in rubbish and stripped of natural salts.
- A Turkish Coast Guard ship fired warning shots on a Cypriot police boat, amid mounting tensions on the divided island and a spike in irregular migration, reports Euractiv. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit the separatist Turkish Cypriot north of the island next week to mark the anniversary of the 1974 Turkish invasion. As part of the visit, Erdogan will head to the abandoned resort town of Varosha, whose Greek Cypriot residents were expelled in 1974. A significant flow of migrants, often from Syria, via Turkey and Turkish Cyprus to EU member Greek Cyprus, further aggravates the situation. The Greek government of Cyprus declared a “state of emergency” in May after an influx of Syrian migrants filled its reception centers. The Cypriot police boat that encountered the Turkish Coast Guard vessel was patrolling for migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.