Today, on 12 September, a new wave of sanctions against Russia that the European Union (EU) agreed upon during a Council meeting on 8 September will enter into force. In light of the decisive role that Russia has played in intensifying the conflict in eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian government and the pro-Russian, Kyiv-wary separatists, Brussels finds it necessary to impose additional sanctions on Moscow.
Afgelopen weekend organiseerden wij een campagnetraining voor jonge sociaaldemocraten uit Belarus. De training vond plaats in Vilnius (Litouwen), omdat het in Belarus zelf niet veilig zou zijn, gezien het feit dat ze van de oppositie zijn.
Afgelopen weekend (29-31 augustus) organiseerden wij in samenwerking met onze lokale partner Ettakatol een campagnetraining in Tunesië. De training vond plaats in Gabès (oostkust) voor het communicatieteam van Ettakatol en regionale campagnemanagers. Parlementsverkiezingen worden op 26 oktober gehouden en Ettakatol zit momenteel midden in de voorbereidingen. In januari organiseerden wij al een campagnetraining en in maart een mediatraining. Deze training diende om in de beginnende, maar inmiddels hete fase van de campagne, met Ettakatol leden te werken aan een aantal belangrijke campagneonderdelen.
Yesterday Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia of sending troops into Ukrainian territory and opening a new southern front in the Ukrainian army’s fight with pro-Russian separatists, capturing the strategic coastal town of Novoazovsk. The reports have been confirmed by NATO and the US, and other Western leaders also seem to have little doubt at this point of Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine.
A ceasefire agreement was eventually reached between Israeli and Palestinians on 26 August. Fifty days after the beginning of Israel’s “Protective Edge” military operation, the Cairo-brokered peace deal was welcomed by Gaza’s inhabitants who demonstrated in Gaza’s streets last night. However, it should not bring much improvement in comparison to the previous ceasefire negotiated in 2012.
One day after the country’s independence day parade on 24 August, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko dissolved the Parliament and announced that early elections would be held on 26 October. The announcement is a strong signal on the eve of Poroshenko’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Minsk, and as Russian soldiers have been arrested on Ukrainian soil today. It raises concerns about a potential escalation of the conflict as the political and economic situation deteriorates in Ukraine.
The breakaway region of Abkhazia has held early presidential elections on Sunday, August 24th. Allegations of corruption and misrule had forced the former President Aleksandr Ankvab to resign in early June, consequently rescheduling the date of presidential elections from 2016 to August 2014. The election of a KGB academy graduate has raised concern from the European Union and Georgia about the Kremlin’s involvement in the area.
Azerbaijan has increasingly been criticized for its massive crackdown on human rights activists by international organisations and NGOs. On 19 August, the United Nations issued a report condemning their prosecution, underlining that the “criminalization of rights activists must stop.” The report came as the list of political prisoners was revealed and an Azerbaijani Court presided over an appeal trial of a young activist on August 20, in a case denounced as “politically motivated” by his followers.
Tunisia has recently taken the lead in favour of gender parity in the Arab world. Equality between men and women in politics became constitutionally guaranteed in January 2014 when the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) approved the state’s new charter. On 20 August Hafedh Caid el-Sebsi, the son of the Nidaa Tounes party’s founder Beji Caid el-Sebsi, announced he would resign as head of list for the Tunis 1 governorate in the upcoming elections in favour of a woman. Nevertheless, the party, which represents the country’s largest opposition bloc, has in total included only two women has head of its electoral lists for the October 26 legislative elections.
Western countries have increasingly pinned high hopes on the Peshmerga, Iraq’s Kurdish militia, to fight against the Islamic State (IS) and prevent it from taking control of more territory. In order to counter their lack of equipment, they have decided to ship Kurds modern weaponry. This decision could have great implications on the military balance of the Middle East, especially for their neighbouring country Turkey, which has been in an armed conflict for thirty years with various Kurdish insurgent groups, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).