Poland’s President Andrzej Duda is poised to win
a highly-charged election after a bitter battle that pitted the
conservative incumbent against a pro-European challenger.
Five years into a nationalist makeover, Duda and
his allied Law & Justice party have transformed Poland from a nation
hailed as a model of post-communist change to one battling against the
European Union’s values. With another term, the government could erode the
rule of law so much that Poland’s remains out of the EU mainstream for
“This is heading for the courts due to the scale
of irregularities and the small margin between the candidates,” said Anna
Materska-Sosnowska, a political scientist at Warsaw University.
“Regardless of the final result, we have a completely split country and
both candidates realize this.”
The victory sends a difficult message to Brussels
and Berlin. Germany pays the biggest chunk of the bills and Poland is
the biggest net beneficiary of EU funds. While the financial
relationship is clear, the ideological drift has been just as apparent.
For a leader who
has championed the steady reassertion of his nation’s Islamic heritage,
restoring Turkey’s most famous site of worship to the Muslim faithful
would be a powerful legacy.
A 1934 decree by
Turkey’s secularist modern founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, made Hagia
Sophia into a museum that commemorated the depth of its history, which
predates the advent of Islam. It became a monument to a universal legacy
that transcends religion and underscored Istanbul’s place at the heart of
different cultures and faiths
lamented what they saw as a blow to Turkish secularism. “To convert it
back to a mosque is to say to the rest of the world unfortunately we are
not secular anymore,” Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk told the
BBC on Friday.
opposition parties haven’t made too much of a fuss. “Turkey is a country
where religion and nationalism intersect, so that many of the staunchly
anti-Erdogan camp would back the principle of Turkish sovereignty over the
monument,” observed Louis Fishman, a professor at Brooklyn College.
Sergei Furgal, a former MP who won against a Kremlin-backed candidate in 2018 to become governor of the Khabarovsk region, is the latest target of a recent wave of searches and detentions.
Analysts say the arrests indicate that Mr Putin’s show of force in the highly stage-managed constitutional vote rests on shaky ground. The Kremlin has hailed the vote outcome, with over 70 per cent in favour of the changes. But it came as the Russian president’s approval ratings have sunk to record lows and living standards have stagnated.
On Saturday, about 35,000 people, the largest show of discontent in the region’s history according to local media, forced through barriers set up by police under the pretext of disinfecting Khabarovsk’s main square. They chanted “Putin must resign!” and “Down with Moscow!”
The investigation appears to have begun after Mr Furgal refused to drop out in favour of Khabarovsk’s Kremlin-appointed governor and rode his candidacy to victory in 2018. Investigators said four people were arrested last November in relation with the case and had given evidence implicating Mr Furgal in the murders.
For more than a
decade, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other center-right EU leaders
have never wanted to peer too deeply into how their faithful Bulgarian
ally Boyko Borissov runs his country. They will
now finally have to lift the lid on his premiership.
night, the Balkan nation has erupted in the biggest wave of
anti-government protests in seven years. The immediate focus of the current protests is on two powerbrokers
who shun the daily limelight: Ahmed Dogan, former head of the country’s
ethnic Turkish party, and his ally Delyan Peevski, a media baron.
The trigger point came on July 7 when Hristo
Ivanov, a former justice minister and leader of the anti-corruption Yes
Bulgaria party, pulled off a successful video stunt by filming his landing
in a rubber dingy on a Black Sea beach. While the beach is theoretically
public land, Ivanov was set upon by security guards because the stretch of
coast is the basecamp of Dogan.
For Borissov, the
overarching threat is indeed that patience is wearing thin with his
party. Tsvetan Tsvetanov, GERB’s former No. 2 who has split off and wants
to form his own political group after being caught up in a housing
scandal, has warned that half of the party’s voter base could peel away
amid the current showdown.
Paschal Donohoe’s prize for
clinching the Eurogroup presidency: the daunting task of leading an
economic recovery from the coronavirus while bridging a north-south divide
on fiscal policy.
His start comes during a
potentially tense series of talks among EU leaders over the European Commission’s
proposed €1.85 trillion budget-and-recovery package.
Donohoe’s victory strengthens
the EPP’s role in the EU after the party lost their near-total grip on
institutional power last year. The conservative group went from holding
the presidencies of the Commission, Council and Parliament to just the
“I will be working very hard
with all of my colleagues to ensure that the Eurogroup plays a very
constructive and positive role in reaching an agreement on the recovery
fund,” he said by videoconference from the ministry in Dublin.
The mayor of
Seoul, the country’s second-most powerful official and a potential
presidential candidate, was found dead just days after a secretary in his
office told the police that he had sexually harassed her since 2017, the
authorities said on Friday.
A Seoul police
officer confirmed early Friday that the body of the mayor, Park Won-soon,
had been discovered on a hill in northern Seoul, several hours after his
daughter had reported him missing.
Word of the
mayor’s death and its possible links to sexual misconduct sent shock waves
across the country, not only because Mr. Park was a political star but
also because he had long been seen as a champion of women’s rights.
Mr. Park, 64, had
canceled his official schedule and called in sick to City Hall on
Thursday, the day after the secretary had filed her complaint. His
daughter told the police that he had left home after leaving a cryptic,
The World Health
Organization named leaders of an independent panel to review its response
to the Covid-19 pandemic that has been criticized by the U.S. The
panel will present an interim report in November.
Helen Clark, former
prime minister of New Zealand, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former president
of Liberia, were selected as co-chairs, WHO Director-General Tedros
Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a meeting with member-states.
WHO has come under fire for its
response to the coronavirus outbreak from President Donald Trump who is
pulling the U.S. out of the global group, saying that it’s too close to
“It’s time for a
very honest reflection,” Tedros said in the meeting. “All of us must look
in the mirror. The WHO, every member state, all involved in the response,
everyone. Are we ready to learn the big
long-term strategies and “like-minded partners” to compete with Beijing in
a “marathon” race to lead the international order, according to a senior
US defence official.
“Together, we must
be resilient as we face this long-term challenge by continuing to uphold
and represent core principles such as respect of sovereignty,
transparency, peaceful resolution of disputes, and freedom of navigation
Helvey said Hong Kong’s sweeping national
security law was the latest example of a pattern of behaviour by Beijing
which “bends, disregards or rewrites rules in its favour in the pursuit of
domestic and geopolitical ends”.
Liu Weidong, an
expert on international relations with the Chinese Academy of Social
Sciences, said the Trump administration was now strengthening its efforts
to rally allies and partners in containing China.
must consider more than Hong Kong when formulating their response. A tepid
U.S. reaction could leave Beijing with the impression that it can proceed
with relative impunity on other contentious issues in Asia.
shadow of Taiwan looms large in this context. Unless the US demonstrates
the resolve and ability to resist Chinese coercion and aggression, China’s
leaders may eventually conclude that the risks and the costs of future
military action against Taiwan are low.
There isn’t a
straight line from Hong Kong to Taiwan. A Chinese assault on the island is
neither imminent nor inevitable. But Beijing’s recent actions in Hong
Kong—and elsewhere in Asia—raise worrying questions about its increasing
willingness to use coercive tactics.
Hong Kong and Taiwan
have more in common than many analysts appreciate, both in the view of
Beijing and in the sentiments of their citizens. The democracy movement
that has so united the citizens of Hong Kong and Taiwan has allies in
other parts of Asia too.
of Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia spoke of the threat of regional conflicts
and the need to reestablish the power-balance in Europe in the wake of
Brexit and COVID-19 crisis during an online conference on Wednesday (8
The debate — described as being
“without useless political correctness, without taboos, completely
uncensored” by the organiser — was moderated by François-Xavier Bellamy, a
philosophy teacher from Versailles who became an EPP MEP.
Vučić expressed his support for
further European defence integration, saying that “in the future, Serbia,
will be very ready to be supportive and to be a part of a bigger united
European military strength than it used to be, than it is.”
Brexit was high on the agenda for
Slovenia’s anti-immigration prime minister, Janez Janša, who said that
“Brexit is a strategic catastrophe.” Hungary’s Prime Minister
Viktor Orbán also pointed to a shift in the power balance in Europe with
the UK’s departure.
That Mr Trump’s successors will
retain the substance of his views, even harden them, is plain enough. A
base that is still mesmerised by his nativism will punish much deviation
If anything new does emerge,
however, it will be an emphasis on governmental competence. Its absence
has been the salvation of liberals in recent years.
Those who are expected to
jostle for the Republican candidacy in 2024 are of Mr Trump’s persuasion,
but not of his background. Most are more culturally conservative than the
president and all are better-equipped to turn their instincts into law.
This, far more than Mr Trump,
is the liberal nightmare: a populist agenda in the hands of insiders. The
trouble starts when those with institutional knowledge embrace the same
programme. And that trouble is coming.
As the EU aims to become
climate-neutral by 2050, the bloc is looking for ways to reduce emissions,
or even remove them from the atmosphere through carbon sequestration, and
therefore some see healthy soil as key.
A solution for reaching
Europe’s Green Deal goals could be right under Brussels’ nose — or rather,
its feet. One concept literally gaining ground worldwide is carbon
farming, where farmers use certain techniques to capture and store more
carbon in their soil.
Schemes to financially reward
farmers for doing so are already being tested in some European countries,
some through nongovernmental initiatives.
Around 51 billion tons of
CO2-equivalent is stored in the topsoil of the EU’s farms and fields. By
comparison, the bloc’s total annual emissions of CO2-equivalent amount to
4 billion tons.
Bolsonaro of Brazil, who has railed against social distancing measures and
repeatedly downplayed the threat of the coronavirus as the epidemic in his
country became the second-worst in the world, said Tuesday that he, too,
had been infected.
Critics at home
and abroad have called Mr. Bolsonaro’s handling of the
pandemic cavalier and reckless, allowing the virus to surge across Brazil,
Latin America’s largest nation. At one point he dismissed it as “a measly
When asked in late
April about the rising death toll, he replied: “So what?
Sorry, but what do you want me to do?” Brazil now has more than 1.6
million confirmed cases and more than 65,000 deaths — more than any
country except the United States.
As the caseload
has skyrocketed, Mr. Bolsonaro has shunned masks, attended mass rallies of
his supporters, insisted that the virus poses no threat to healthy people,
championed unproven remedies and shuffled through
health ministers who disagreed with him.
The Trump administration has begun
the process of withdrawing the United States from the World Health
Organization, a move that could hurt the U.N. agency’s response to the coronavirus pandemic
and reshape public health diplomacy.
The notice of withdrawal, effective
July 6, 2021, was sent Monday to United Nations Secretary General. Under
the terms of a joint
resolution passed by Congress in 1948,
the United States must give a year’s notice and pay its debts to the
agency to leave.
Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for
Guterres, said the secretary general was “verifying with the World Health
Organization whether all the conditions for such withdrawal are met.”
It is not clear whether the
president can pull the United States out of the organization and withdraw
funding without Congress. When Trump first threatened to withdraw,
Democratic lawmakers argued that doing so would be illegal and vowed to
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
is Africa’s largest, with a reservoir able to hold 74bn cubic metres of
water, more than the volume of the entire Blue Nile. Once filled it should
produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity, double Ethiopia’s current power
Millions of people could be
connected to the grid for the first time. It is a source of national pride.
For Egypt, however, it seems a source of national danger. Over 90% of the
country’s 100m people live along the Nile or in its vast delta.
The river, long seen as an Egyptian
birthright, supplies most of their water. They fear the dam will choke it
off. Pro-regime pundits, not known for their subtlety, have urged the army
to blow it up.
Both sides have tried diplomacy,
but years of talks failed to produce a deal on how Ethiopia would fill and
operate the dam. Diplomats say most of the issues are resolved. But
the outstanding one is big: how to handle a drought.
Christine Lagarde, president of
the European Central Bank, has opened the door to using its €2.8tn asset
purchase scheme to pursue green objectives, promising to examine changes
to all of its operations in the fight against climate change.
It is the first time that the
ECB president has committed to examine “greener” changes to all of
the central bank’s operations. “I want to explore every avenue available
in order to combat climate change,” she told the Financial Times in a
The ECB “has to look at all the
business lines and the operations in which we are engaged in order to
tackle climate change, because at the end of the day, money talks”, Ms
The move would make the ECB the
first main central bank to use a flagship bond-buying programme to pursue
green objectives. Critics say it is up to politicians, not central banks,
to decide which companies to favour and which to penalise.
Foreign students at US
universities and schools will no longer be eligible to stay in the country
if their courses move fully online due to coronavirus, US immigration
authorities said on Monday.
Students holding visas for
either academic or vocational courses that have moved fully online should
either depart the country or transfer to a school with in-person teaching
to “remain in lawful status”.
Failure to do this could result
in deportation proceedings. The tightening of visa restrictions for
foreign national students comes after the Trump administration suspended a
range of different guest worker visas.
According to the Institute of
International Education, there were nearly 1.1m international students in
the US in the 2018-19 academic year, making up 5.5 per cent of the higher
A scathing new report published on
Monday by Philip Alston in his parting shot as the United Nations special
rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights paints a world where
poverty is rampant—yet undercounted.
The report comes at a critical
juncture, as the coronavirus pandemic is set to push half a
billion people into poverty and is expected to double the number of people facing acute hunger to 265
The number of people living below the
$1.90 threshold is down from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 734 million in 2015,
but even those who eke their way past the extreme poverty line may still
struggle to secure basic necessities, such as food and housing.
Alston described the threshold of $1.90
per day as “scandalously unambitious”. In 2018, almost half of the
world’s population lived on less than $5.50 per day, the World Bank’s
poverty line for upper-middle-income countries.
European Commission President
Ursula von der Leyen’s soundbite for a Croatian political campaign video
lasted all of two seconds. But the repercussions have already lasted much
longer and won’t be over anytime soon.
Questions about code-of-conduct
violations took up nearly half an hour during the midday news conference
on Monday and are certain to persist, after an ethics complaint and demand
for an investigation over her use of official resources for political
The Commission’s spokesperson said
mistakes had been made. It was not quite clear who made the mistakes, or
even how many mistakes there had been, or whether those mistakes indeed reflected
a “breach” of the conduct code.
Nor was it clear precisely what
the Commission had done, or would do in response — though it was certain
that von der Leyen does not want whatever happened to ever happen again.
Across Addis Ababa, cars and petrol
stations were burnt; shops and businesses were looted and vandalised;
homes and banks were robbed. At least ten people were killed in clashes
between rioters and the police in the city. Many more were injured.
Similar confrontations took place
in towns throughout Oromia. In the country as a whole at least 166
people were killed, making this one of the deadliest episodes in
Ethiopia’s already bloody transition from authoritarian rule.
The spark was the murder on June
29th of Hachalu Hundessa, a popular Oromo musician and activist. Oromos,
who make up roughly a third of the population, are the largest and
recently the most rebellious of Ethiopia’s many ethnic groups.
The violence escalated after a dispute
with officials over where the singer’s body should be buried, as
demonstrators tried to prevent its being removed from the capital and
taken to Ambo, his home town.
Emmanuel Macron appointed
low-profile conservative Jean Castex as his prime minister on Friday, in a
move that means the French president is effectively betting the house on
In choosing such a little-known
figure to replace Edouard Philippe as head of his government, Macron
indicated he will be taking even greater charge of policymaking for the
remaining two years of his term.
Castex, who is the mayor of the
small town of Prades in Southern France, had previously been given the
delicate task of handling the government’s plan for exiting the
“I’m not here seeking the
spotlight, I’m here seeking results,” Castex said in his first
interview after taking office on French TV. “Until today I wasn’t a
national politician,” he added, highlighting his local roots.
ruling conservative HDZ (EPP) became the unexpected winner of
parliamentary elections held in the newest EU member on Sunday (5 July)
despite the renewed rise of coronavirus infections.
According to the first preliminary
results, HDZ won 63+3 seats (3 from the diaspora) in the 151-seat
parliament, while Opposition Restart coalition led by SDP (S&D) won 41
seats, its lowest result since 1995.
Rightwing Homeland Movement, led by
former folk singer Miroslav Škoro, won 16 seats, while the Bridge party
won eight and the green-left platform, We Can, obtained seven seats. The
pro-business liberal platform STRIP will have three seats and HNS one.
Due to the sudden spike in COVID-19
cases, turnout was only 45.7%, one of the lowest since Croatia’s first
democratic elections in 1990. Polls had predicted Sunday’s
elections to be a neck-and-neck race between the HDZ and Restart.
catastrophic economic collapse is gathering pace, with its currency
shedding value daily, prices of essential foods out of the reach of many
and talks that could unlock a desperately needed bailout crippled.
collapse has led to meat and chicken prices tripling over the past
fortnight, and scarcities of fuel and flour – amplified by the sale of
state-subsidised supplies to neighbouring Syria where they get a better
price for it, and sharply increasing hunger.
patronage systems that entrenched warlords at the end of a 15-year conflict
and have turned all state institutions into fiefs, has been a central
demand of the IMF and international community.
collapse in the local currency, the lira, continued unabated on Friday,
reaching as low as 10,000 to one US dollar, compared with the pegged rate
of 1,500 to the dollar, which had been fixed since 1991.
In recent days, as
China took a victory lap over the law it imposed on the city Tuesday, the
defiant masses who once filled Hong Kong’s streets in protest have largely
overnight, Hong Kong was visibly and viscerally different, its more than
seven million people left to navigate what the law would mean to their
That the lines of criminality
had been redrawn became clear on Friday, when the authorities charged a
24-year-old man with terrorism and inciting separatism — the first person
to be indicted under the new law.
With a “Liberate
Hong Kong” flag mounted on the back of his motorcycle, the man careened
into a group of police officers on Wednesday, the anniversary of Hong
Kong’s return to China from British rule.
America’s youngest senator then is
now its oldest ever presumptive nominee as a presidential candidate,
running in a campaign as far removed from his debut in 1972 as 1972 was
from Calvin Coolidge’s campaign of 1924.
His age, at times, has been
painfully apparent on the campaign trail: his loquacity is less bounded,
his stories meander without necessarily reaching their conclusion. His primary campaign was, for the most part, poor.
Yet as things stand he has a good
chance of winning November’s election. If so he may, more through
circumstance than design, bring real change to a country long gridlocked
Mr Biden believes the world’s
democracies want America to reassert itself in the role, abandoned by Mr
Trump, of their leader and protector. He is unlikely to prove it so
through force of arms. But simply playing the part should prove a first
The European Union on Thursday
criticized a vote in Russia that could allow Vladimir Putin to stay in
power until 2036. According to official preliminary results, 78 percent
voted in favor of the amendments, versus 21 percent against. Turnout was
about 65 percent.
“We expect all reports and
allegations of irregularities, including voter coercion, multiple voting,
violation of secrecy of the vote and allegations of police violence
against a journalist who was present to observe, to be duly
investigated,” an EU spokesperson said.
The EU “regrets that, in
the run-up to this vote, campaigning both for and against was not allowed,
thereby denying voters access to balanced information,” the
Peter Stano, EEAS spokesperson,
said “we are committed to the territorial integrity and sovereignty
of Ukraine” and thereby “we don’t recognize the vote in Crimea
and in the eastern part of Ukraine — it was not even supposed to be
On July 1, Taiwan formally
launched a new humanitarian assistance and
resettlement program for Hong Kong residents. The move comes as Beijing
tightens its grip on the city.
Shortly after beginning her second
term in late May, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen offered assistance to
people seeking to leave Hong Kong, calling on Taiwan’s legislature to
develop a “humanitarian assistance action plan.”
Taiwan’s recent move might look like
a straightforward humanitarian response to the intensifying crisis in
neighboring Hong Kong, but there’s more to the emerging policy framework
than meets the eye.
In fact, what Taiwan is doing
solidifies a particular nationalist path that differs from others in Asia
and has the potential to fundamentally alter the region’s power dynamics.
shown how a long-recognized but underappreciated global risk can suddenly
materialize and wreak social and economic devastation in a matter of
While the world
is rightly focused on battling the current pandemic, firms and governments
must also recognize and plan for other risks, particularly climate change, which, like a pandemic, could upend the global
economy if not managed properly.
To mitigate the
risk that ongoing climate change will jeopardize more communities and
economies, businesses and governments must adapt now to the inevitable
global warming that will occur over the next decade as a consequence of
And they must
decarbonize to reduce longer-term risks. The pace and scale of
climate adaptation will likely need to increase significantly. Priorities
should include protecting people and assets, strengthening resilience,
reducing exposure to climate risks, and ensuring that appropriate
financing and insurance are in place.