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.
Afgelopen November tekende Moldavië een associatieverdrag met de Europese Unie. Het kleine overwegend Roemeenstalige land dat tot 1991 tot de Sovjet-Unie behoorde wordt momenteel geregeerd door een coalitie van drie partijen, liberaal-conservatieven, sociaaldemocraten en liberalen, die gemeen hebben dat ze Moldavië zo snel mogelijk bij de Europese Unie willen laten aansluiten. Aan het einde van dit jaar zal Moldavië parlementsverkiezingen houden. Deze zullen dankzij de snelle opkomst van de communisten – die een sterkere samenwerking met de Russen voorstaan – zeer spannend worden. Hoog tijd dus om een lid van onze Moldaafse zusterpartij, de Democratische Partij van Moldavië, te vragen naar de laatste ontwikkelingen in het land.
Prime Minister Ali Larayedh, of the ruling Islamist Ennahda party, announced on January 9 that he had handed his resignation to President Moncef Marzouki. His resignation came as part of a blueprint to put the democratic transition in Tunisia back on track after months of political deadlock.
In Europe, the past two weeks have been a time of respite from politics as people celebrated Christmas and new year. At the same time in Kyiv, thousands of Ukrainians kept spending day and night on “Euromaidan”, protesting against the blocking of their road to Europe.
Former Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been freed on December 20th, bringing an end to more than a decade behind bars after the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, signed a decree pardoning him.