In Ukraine, tensions between the people on the street and the current government are increasing every day. Demonstrations have turned deadly and hundreds have been injured as demonstrators clash with the `Berkut` the riot police. Currently, president Yanukovich is put under pressure by the outraged people, by the European Union, and even by the Russian president Putin. Even though the media have been reporting greatly on the unrest, many things remained unclear. Foundation Max van der Stoel figured it was time for a debate.
Algeria’s main Islamist party, the Movement for the Society of Peace (MSP), will boycott the presidential elections due to be held on April 17th. Party chief Abderrazak Mokri made the announcement on January 25 to journalists following two days of debate within the MSP. He said the party will boycott the election because of “the lack of real opportunity for political reform, the monopoly of those currently in power over the election and the fact that political demands for transparency are ignored.” Mokri said the authorities are seeking to “trump the will of the people to freely choose who governs.”
The Tunisian parliament adopted a new constitution on January 26th, the first since the overthrow of the country’s long-time ruler Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011. The new constitution replaces the constitution written in 1956 after Tunisia’s independence from France. The new constitution, which was passed by 200 votes from 216, is seen as a crucial step to getting the democratic transition back on track for establishing full democracy. ‘This constitution was the dream of Tunisians, this constitution is proof of the revival of the revolution, this constitution creates a democratic civil nation,’ National Constituent Assembly chief and leader of the social democratic Ettakatol party, Mustapha Ben Jaafar, said.The document is seen as one of the most progressive constitutions in the Arab world and Tunisia’s compromise and progress contrasts sharply with the democratic transitions in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, which are caught up in turmoil after ousting their own longstanding leaders in 2011 revolts and uprisings. Earlier this month, Tunisia’s Prime Minister Ali Larayedh stepped down and was replaced by Mehdi Jomaa as part of a deal to ease the crisis between Tunisia’s Islamist party and its secular opposition until new elections later this year.
The European Union has made clear that its role as Israel's biggest trade partner and the Palestinians' largest donor should not be taken for granted. The EU Ambassador to Israel said on January 22 that both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks risk paying a high price in losing European Union trade and aid if negotiations collapse.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, making his first visit to Brussels in five years, faced sharp criticism from European Union leaders on January 21 over a crackdown on the judiciary and the police. A draft bill of Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, which would give the government greater control over the appointment of judges and prosecutors, has raised alarm in Brussels. EU leaders urged Erdogan to redraft the law, saying the bill is contrary to the European constitutional norms on the separation of powers.
On January 21st, Georgia’s Foreign Ministry expressed ‘deep concern’ over the expansion of its ‘border zone’ with Russia, where heightened security measures are enforced, 11 kilometers deeper into the breakaway region of Abkhazia. This means a shift of the Russian-Georgian state border 11 kilometers deeper into Georgian territory. This expansion, which the Georgian Foreign Ministry condemned as an ‘illegal action’, came in advance of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi next month, which is less than 40 kilometers away from the Abkhaz section of the Georgian-Russian border. ‘The Georgian Foreign Ministry calls on the Russian Federation to stop provocative policy against Georgia and to live up to its international commitments, envisaged under the provisions of the  cease-fire agreement,’ the Georgian Foreign Ministry’s statement read.
On 16 January Ukraine’s parliament passed a sweeping antiprotest law that criminalizes almost every aspect of the pro-EU protest movement. Pro-government Party of Regions (PoR) politicians defended the new measures, saying they protected the public against protests that endanger public safety or the smooth operation of public institutions. The opposition said this act was illegal, accusing the ruling party of a coup.
Participants in the first Egyptian vote of the post-Morsi era have voted overwhelmingly in favour of approving a new constitution, state media reported on January 16th. Unofficial reports stated that 37 percent of the registered voters took part in the constitutional referendum, slightly more than in the vote under ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. About 90 percent of the voters approved the constitution. It is expected that the Election Commission will announce the official results on January 18th.
Today, on January 14, Egyptians vote for the first time since the military ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in a two-day referendum on a new constitution, which could pave the way for fresh elections and may set the stage for a presidential bid by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The new charter aims to replace the constitution passed under Morsi months before he was overthrown. It is yet uncertain how many Egyptians will vote due to concern over violence and militant attacks that may take place, but the constitution is expected to pass. It is backed by many Egyptians who view the constitution as something that can stabilize the country after years of turmoil.