Nieuws over politieke trainingen en ontwikkelingen in Oost- en Zuidoost Europa, de Kaukasus, Afrika en het Midden Oosten
Following a referendum on Sunday 16 March, Crimea declared itself an independent state on Monday 17 March. The newly formed Republic of Crimea formally applied to join the Russian Federation the same day. The West claims the referendum to be illegal and says it will impose new sanctions.
In Turkey, tensions soared on 11 and 12 March when tens of thousands of people took to the streets and gathered to mourn the death of Berkin Elvan. He died after being in a coma for nine months. Last June he was hit on the head by a tear-gas canister while going to buy bread during the protests against the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He was a symbol for the police brutality that, among others, caused the Gezi-protests of last year to escalate. These protests started as a relatively small environmentalist movement to save Istanbul's central Gezi Park but evolved into a nationwide wave of protests against Erdoğan, who is seen as increasingly authoritarian.
On Wednesday 12 March, the European Parliament agreed on a framework for sanctions against Russia. The sanctions would impose travel bans and asset freezes on people and firms Brussels believes to have violated the integrity of Ukraine. The EU is prepared to take harsher measures such as arms embargo’s and trade measures, if need be.
Libya’s Prime Minster, Ali Zeidan, was ousted by parliament, the General National Congress, after a vote of no confidence on Tuesday 11 March. Zeidan was blamed for letting an oil tanker, laden with rebel sold oil, escape naval forces. Zeidan will be temporarily replaced by Defence Minister Abdallah al-Thinni.
On 30 January Serbia president Tomislav Nikolic called early parliamentary elections for 16 March. According to the president Serbia “shall certainly get a government with more energy and enthusiasm and released from problems that this government has solved.” The coalition government, in which the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) is the main party, explained its request for early elections by the need to ensure ‘as wide as possible support for accelerated reforms and modernization of Serbia’. However, the fact that SNS is skyrocketing in all polls (above 40%) is considered as crucial factor for SNS to go to the polls and having its leader Aleksandar Vucic as prime minister.
A Fatah meeting in the town of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, was violently disrupted by Hamas police on Saturday 8 March. Fatah members gathered in remembrance of martyrs who fell during the Intifada. About twenty people got arrested, but were released after a short while.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has given a warning that his government will block social media networks YouTube and Facebook, which feature in the growing corruption scandal. “If necessary” he would ban them, suggesting that “he would not sacrifice the Turkish people” to the two websites. Both platforms were used to spread the leaks of alleged phone calls between Erdoğan and his son in which they discuss how to hide vast sums of money. The Prime Minister dismisses those phone calls as being a fake montage by his rivals, which he deems ‘vile’ and ‘immoral’. After the local elections on 30th of March, he warned, new steps will therefore be taken to tighten the government’s grip over the internet.
The parliament of Ukraine’s southern region, Crimea, has voted unanimously in favor of joining Russia. The vote coincided with an announcement that a referendum on Crimea's status was being brought forward to March 16. The question to be put to voters will be whether their region should enjoy autonomy within Ukraine or join Russia.
Israeli Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu said he was prepared to discuss peace with the Palestinians, but offered no concessions. He demanded that the Palestinians would recognize the state of Israel in return. Netanyahu made the statement at the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the US leading Israel-lobby organization.
On March 1 it was announced that Macedonia is set to call early parliamentary elections in order to end a political deadlock sparked by the two main ruling coalition members. They cannot agree on a candidate for the upcoming presidential vote. Yesterday all parties have given their consent, therefore parliament is expected to dissolve tomorrow.