WBE Monitor #week48

This Week’s Hotspots

Last week, the EU parliament voted to suspend talks on Turkish membership due to the oppressive measures undertaken by Turkey in the aftermath of the attempted coup.

In response, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed indifference to the non-binding vote. He threatened to unleash the over 3 million refugees his country is currently hosting.

In Bulgaria, riots broke out in the biggest refugee centre, Harmanli, located on the Turkish borders. Bulgarian officials had sealed the camp to contain a disease outbreak and prevent it from spreading into the larger city.

On security, 15 members of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have backed Germany’s initiative to establish a new arms control agreement with Russia. The German Foreign Ministry, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, expressed the need to negotiate with Russia amidst heightening tensions.

Russia, however, placed its Iskander ballistic missiles in Kaliningrad, Russian territory located between Finland and Lithuania. The Finnish and Russian Defence Ministers explained that there is no threat to the nearby countries as this move is part of a regular military routine.

Meanwhile, Finland, along with other NATO member states, is preparing to host a centre for countering cyber-attacks. The centre will carry out research on how to counter ‘hybrid warfare’.

EU lawmakers further approved a data-sharing agreement with the United States to enhance cooperation on counterterrorism and strengthen the Union’s security.

And the EU-Pakistan Joint Commission held its second meeting on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament and a fifth on Counterterrorism. Both parties reemphasised their commitment to collaborate on Terrorism, Security and Defence.

In France, former Prime Minister Francois Fillon won the conservative primaries. He will be facing Marie Le Pen, who has gained credibility after the Brexit and Trump votes.

Turkish and French citizens held a rally in Strasbourg on Sunday to protest PKK and ISIS terror in France. The rally opposed the impunity of PKK members in Europe.

Similar protests took place in Belgium and Germany, where protestors marched the streets raising Turkish flags in response to EU criticism of Ankara’s terrorist crackdown post- attempted coup.

Sad news for the Arctic: The Arctic Council released the “Arctic Resilience Report” which presented evidence of the extent of change affecting the region and the damaging effects to the ecosystem.

Selected Pieces

Limiting migration from Africa

Having succeeded to significantly stem migrant flows from the East, Turkey and Greece, Brussels is now determined to achieve similar goals on African migrants. Last month, the EU launched negotiations with Tunisia to establish an agreement similar to the Turkish one. The deal will include the return of rejected asylum seekers to Tunisia with the aim of discouraging aspiring citizens to undertake the journey. However, the agreement might hit a dead end.

What to expect from Austria?

Austria is set to hold a re-run of the presidential elections next week. The polls show a close result between Alexander Van dar Bellen and the far-right candidate Norbert Hofer. In the last round of voting in May, Van dar Bellen won by a small margin, but the election had to be reorganised due to alleged violations in the voting centres. Meanwhile, Hofer’s campaign has been riding on the growth of Euroskepticism promising to organise an Austrian Brexit. Will Austria soon be led by a far-right figure? Austria votes on the 4th of December.

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