298 people died on Thursday 17 July in the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH 17 passenger plane flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, in the unstable region of Donetsk in Ukraine. While uncertainties remain as for how the plane was effectively attacked, 272 bodies had already been found this morning and loaded on two refrigerated railroad cars. The tragedy has raised a lot of international reactions and anger as the area was controlled by pro-Russian separatists suspected of launching a missile that hit the plane and later taking evidence away from the crash scene. Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged the warring parties to ensure an international investigation that can take place in the Donetsk region, while the United Nations Security Council is issuing a resolution.
The United States and the European Union have increased the level of their sanctions against Russia on Wednesday 16 July. For the first time, they have targeted Russian enterprises specialised in gas and petrol, which maintain close relations to the central power in Moscow. US President Barack Obama underlined that Russia faces economic weakening and diplomatic isolation as a result of politic decisions in Ukraine. The European Union also decided to target the entities that materially and financially support breaches to the Ukrainian sovereignty.
Turkey’s relations with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) entered a new phase on 15 July when Turkish President Abdullah Gül approved a law aiming at accelerate the peace process with the organisation. The PKK is still labelled as a terrorist one by Ankara, the European Union and the United States. The decision may have large electoral benefits for the incumbent President less than a month before the presidential election.
The Cairo Appeals Court for Urgent Matters overturned on 14 July the ruling that banned the leaders of former President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) to participate in politics. They were then prevented from participating in the upcoming parliamentary elections which procedures will start by 18 July. The party had been dissolved by the Supreme Administrative Court after Hosni Mubarak, chairman of the party since 1981, was toppled in 2011.
On Saturday 12 July, 46 Palestinians were killed in Gaza during raids led by the Israeli army, making it the bloodiest day since the beginning of the Operation Protective Edge on July 8th. Extensive air raids, as well as the deployment of 1,500 Israeli soldiers around Gaza have been answered by the multiplication of rockets launched by Hamas and from Lebanon in the direction of Israel. International reactions have so far failed to consistently condemn any side, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that “no international pressure will prevent [Israel] from using all its power to ensure that Israeli citizens can live in peace”.
Op vrijdag 27 juni is Manuela Monteiro gekozen tot nieuwe voorzitter van de Foundation Max van der Stoel. Zij volgt in deze functie Max van den Berg op, die voorzitter was sinds de oprichting van de FMS en daarvoor van de Evert Vermeer Stichting.
Serbia Prime minister’s two days visit to Russia on Monday and Tuesday was marked by negotiations about the South Stream gas pipeline project, which aims at transporting Russian natural gas to Southern and Central Europe countries through the Black Sea. It should also diversify delivery routes of Russian gas by bypassing the Ukrainian territory. While Belgrade has increasingly turned westwards by declaring its accession to the EU as its foreign policy priority, it has reaffirmed its willingness to preserve good relations with Moscow. This position may be challenged by the finalisation of the South Stream, opposed by Brussels.
Inter-ethnic tensions have recently been on the rise in Macedonia. The convicting to life imprisonment of six Albanians accused of killing five ethnic Macedonians during 2012 Orthodox Easter near Skopje has triggered mass demonstration on behalf of the Albanian community living in the country. Opposition to the police last Friday led to at least twenty injured demonstrators. Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski declared yesterday that “The state won’t let these protests escalate to an extent where they can jeopardise the interests of the people and the [country’s] institutions”.
Eduard Shevardnadze died today, Monday July 7th, at the age of 86. He was the diplomatic face of late USSR policies before being elected President of Georgia in 1995.
Moldova has been increasing its political and economic ties with the European Union since the signature of the Association Agreement on June 27th, alongside Ukraine and Georgia. In comparison to the turmoil created in Ukraine by its rapprochement with the European Union, very little attention has been given to former Soviet nations such as Moldova and Georgia who are involved in a similar move westwards. Nevertheless, European agreements have large implications for these countries.