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style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Tokayev urges Kazakh to show responsibility during COVID-19

By Kulpash Konyrova
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However, this year, due to the epidemiological situation, Ait namaz will not be held in the country’s mosques. I am talking about this, because the essence of Kurban Ait is to strengthen mutual understanding and unity of the people,” Tokayev said. In such a difficult period, it is very important to support each other, to show high responsibility for the well-being of the people. Muslims of Kazakhstan celebrate the holiday of the sacrifice of Kurban Ait (Kurban Bayram), which marks the end of the Hajj, an annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Over the past day, July 30, another 1,414 new cases of coronavirus infection were detected in the country. “In the fight against the dangerous epidemic, from which all humanity is suffering today, we need unbreakable solidarity more than ever. NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan – Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on July 31 congratulated Kazakhs on the holiday of Kurban Ait and asked them to show responsibility in the fight against COVID-19. This year, residents of Kazakhstan will have a rest from July 31 to August 2. Traditionally, the celebration begins with the recitation of the collective prayer Ait Namaz, for which the faithful gather in mosques. The number of cases of coronavirus in Kazakhstan has reached 89,078 people, the interdepartmental commission on the non-proliferation of COVID-19 reports. One of the main Muslim holidays, Kurban Ait, lasts three days, the first of which is a hiloday in Kazakhstan.
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What is the best way for Venezuela to restore democracy? style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>The path to democracy in Venezuela

By New Europe
The European political newspaper

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó joins demonstrators, in Caracas. 

EPA-EFE//RAYNER PENA R.
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Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said on July 3. will lift sanctions on individuals tied to the Maduro regime. This is only a suggested plan. “Democracy will not be intimidated,” U.S. Once this happens, the U.S. Venezuela is at a crossroads. These representatives would be from both sides of the current divide and would be agreed upon by both parties to oversee a free and fair democratic election process. “We remain committed to supporting Venezuela’s peaceful, democratic transition and free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections.” Most of Venezuela’s neighbors support Guaidó as he begins to forge this new path. The country has been on a path to authoritarianism since Nicolás Maduro took power in 2013. In March, Guaidó called for a temporary government to help move Venezuela past the current political crisis. This would allow them to be legitimate candidates for president during the next election cycle. The true path forward must be agreed upon by all Venezuelans through free, fair and credible elections, not just those who cling to power. The framework culminates when Venezuelans can participate in free and fair elections. Since then, he has led Venezuela down a road of economic and democratic destitution. As the framework details, both Maduro and Guaidó would step aside during this transition period while a new electoral system is established. Soon after, the United States government proposed a plan — the Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela — that calls for both Maduro and Guaidó to cede authority to an emergency governing council, called the Council of State. This five-person governing council would be a temporary executive branch that oversees the democratic transition and ensures that the framework’s steps are followed by all levels of the Venezuelan government. Interim President Juan Guaidó is offering Venezuela a new path, one that leads the country back to democracy and prosperity.

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The Hong Kong government has announced that September’s parliamentary elections will be postponed by one year, citing a rise in COVID-19 infections. This decision is therefore essential.”
The opposition has accused the government of using the pandemic as a pretext to impede people’s choice and the right to vote in the Legislative Council elections, initially scheduled for September 6, in a moment when Hong Kong is reporting more than 100 new infections daily, for almost two weeks. “This postponement is entirely made based on public safety reasons, there were no political considerations,” Lam added. She added that “we want to ensure fairness and public safety and health, and need to make sure the election is held in an open, fair and impartial manner. The postponement of the elections came a day after the government banned 12 pro-democracy candidates, including the activist, Joshua Wong, and incumbent lawmakers Dennis Kwok and Alvin Yeung, from running in the upcoming elections. “The announcement I have to make today is the most difficult decision I’ve had to make in the past seven months,” the city’s leader Carrie Lam said during a news conference, according to the Associated Press.

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EPA-EFE/JEROME FAVRE style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Pro-Beijing govt in Hong Kong officially delays elections by 1 year

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08576522 Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (C) speaks during a press conference in Hong Kong, China, 31 July 2020. Lam announced the postponement of the Legislative Council elections due on September 6, citing the worsening coronavirus Covid-19 situation in the city as the primary reason. EPA-EFE/JEROME FAVRE

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (C) speaks during a press conference in Hong Kong, China, 31 July 2020.

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But Ash said there are no much for Russian nuclear ice breakers. “You can still count them in one hand the ones that we have and the ones that coming. That’s nothing new to us,” the professor at the University of Alaska said. US President Donald J. “In Alaska there has been a peaked interest in terms of how the Arctic is changing with climate change or the melting of the ice as far as a new trade route over Russia,” Art Nash, associate professor of energy at University of Alaska Fairbanks told New Europe by phone on July 30. It added that the US works across the federal government and with state and local government and Arctic indigenous communities to maintain US leadership in the region to ensure a safe, secure, and prosperous future for all Arctic peoples. He noted that China also has a great interest in the Arctic and in the northern passage coming through the Bering Straits and going across Russia and having unfettered access because it can get container ships and trade ships from east coast to China and over to Rotterdam and get goods to Europe. “There’s obviously creative ways that China has been figuring out to go ahead and extend its reach into ocean waters and along the north passage and north of the Bering Straits there is a good amount of subsurface earth metals. They are possibly wanting to position themselves on the surface drilling to get some of the metals and mine these metals,” Ash said. “Lisa Murkowski, our senior senator from Alaska, and Dan Sullivan have really tried to raise awareness in Washington DC within the Beltway about the importance of the Arctic and the importance of Alaska’s position and there has been a big push to get more coast guard ice cutters. “Now with the shipping lanes open during the summer it just cuts an immense amount of time, fuel, manpower and such before from what I understand they were having to go and around Africa and the Suez so that’s certainly one of their big interests,” Ash said. follow on twitter @energyinsider The EU also wants to be on forefront with a clear and coherent Arctic policy to tackle the challenges in the years ahead. The Mackinaw is in the Midwest US Great Lakes but was built during World War II and is large enough to not be able to leave the lakes through it’s channels, Ash said. On July 20, the European Commission and the European External Action Service jointly launched a public consultation on the way forward for the EU’s Arctic policy. Russia, on the other hand, at least as of a few years ago I think certainly had more than three dozen. Trump has ordered a new fleet of icebreakers. Now, some of their fleet is aging, there is no question about it, but there is a lot of muscle flexing and I think maybe entrancement and there is a new military base I think in Siberia that is related to Arctic strategy,” Ash told New Europe. “There has been concern in Alaska because of our location, certainly with national security and our own security with the Arctic,” he added. The US Department of State said in a statement on July 29, “The US plays a critical leadership role on Arctic issues within the international community and remains committed to ensuring a peaceful region where US interests are safeguarded, the US homeland is protected, and Arctic States work cooperatively to address shared challenges”. The move comes just a week after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed enhanced US engagement in the Arctic on a visit to Denmark. Facing increasing Russian and Chinese influence in the Arctic, the US State Department has appointed Jim DeHart as the US Coordinator for the region. The Healy, which was built in 2000, is fully functional, and the Polar Star and Polar Sea are each over 40 years old and are partially functional; all are research vessels and cover from the North to the South Pole. In May, the US opened a consulate in Nuuk, the capital of the semi-autonomous Danish territory of Greenland, as part of its new Arctic strategy. Ash reminded that a US major coast guard base is on Kodiak Island in Alaska but the US urgently needs icebreaker ships in the Arctic. Filling a post that had been vacant for more than three years shows US interest in the Arctic. He noted that the US Coast Guard has “three, but really one and a half cutters” if you count for functionality.
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Petersburg, Russia, 14 December 2019. Arctica and two more universal nuclear icebreakers Siberia and Ural of project 22220 should be put into operation until 2022. Arctica and two more universal nuclear icebreakers Siberia and Ural of project 22220 should be put into operation until 2022. Petersburg, Russia, December 14, 2019. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Moving to check Russia, China influence, US names Arctic advisor

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

epa08070430 The Russian icebreaker project 22220, Arctica, the world’s largest universal nuclear vessel, returns after undergoing sea trials to the Baltic shipyard in St. EPA-EFE/ANATOLY MALTSEV

Alaska wants an edge too, Trump orders icebreakers EPA-EFE/ANATOLY MALTSEV

The Russian icebreaker project 22220, Arctica, the world's largest universal nuclear vessel, returns after undergoing sea trials to the Baltic shipyard in St.

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According to reports from 08 October 2018, Google will shut down large parts of its social media platform Google Plus after a major security breach. Google opened up its would-be Facebook rival Google Plus in 2011. EPA-EFE/JULIAN STRATENSCHULTE GERMANY OUT

An image showing the profile of a person in front of a monitor, with logos of the social networks facebook and Google+ in Hanover, Germany, 21 September 2011 (reissued 08 October 2018). style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Australia to make Google, Facebook pay for news content

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa07079588 (FILE) – An image showing the profile of a person in front of a monitor, with logos of the social networks facebook and Google+ in Hanover, Germany, 21 September 2011 (reissued 08 October 2018). EPA-EFE/JULIAN STRATENSCHULTE GERMANY OUT

The draft code of conduct, which will be open to consultation until August 28, requires that the two companies negotiate the price of the content which appears in their news feeds and search results, and notify news companies of changes to algorithms. In case they fail to agree on pricing, arbitrators will be appointed to make a binding decision, while in case they breach the code, they could face “substantial penalties” of up to 10% of the platform’s annual turnover or $7.2 million fine. The Australian government announced on Friday it would give three months to US tech giants Facebook Inc., and Alphabet’s Inc’s Google, to negotiate a fair pay to get news content, in a bid to support independent journalism worldwide. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable media landscape,” the country’s Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg told reporters.  
  The move followed the release of a mandatory code of conduct, with Frydenberg adding that the two tech giants will be the first digital platforms targeted by the new legislation, and that more companies will follow. The two companies strongly oppose to the idea, with Google stating that the draft code could impede the digital economy.
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“In many ways the voluntary measures we put in place in Sweden have been just as effective as complete lockdowns in other countries”, Anders Tegnell, the chief epidemiologist at Sweden’s public health agency said, and added:
“We are now seeing rapidly falling cases, we have continuously had healthcare that has been working, there have been free beds at any given time, never any crowding in the hospitals. It outranks the United States and Brazil, which are the world’s first and second worst-hit nations in terms of total cases. The failure has of course been the death toll that has been very much related to the long-term care facilities in Sweden. Sweden, however, ranks eighth among countries with the highest number of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people. The number of new coronavirus infections in Sweden has dropped by 54% since late June, the World Health Organisation said Wednesday. The country has never implemented full lockdown measures and has defended its approach to the virus, which drew international criticism. Last month, Sweden was the second most-infected country per capita in the world, but its daily new cases have been decreasing since June 24, when it reported 1,803 new infections. According to the WHO report, over the last month, Spain, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have seen increases between 40% and 200%. Now that has improved, we see a lot less cases in those facilities”. The daily number of deaths in Sweden has been decreasing since mid-April, when it reported a record death count of 115.

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style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Sweden’s new COVID cases plummet amid major spike in other parts of Europe

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08558553 State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Public Health Agency of Sweden speaks during a news conference updating on the coronavirus Covid-19 situation, in Stockholm, Sweden, 21 July 2020. EPA-EFE/Erik Simander EPA-EFE/Erik Simander SWEDEN OUT

State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Public Health Agency of Sweden speaks during a news conference updating on the coronavirus Covid-19 situation, in Stockholm, Sweden, 21 July 2020.

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Face coverings or masks have become mandatory for shoppers in England as well as members of the public using supermarkets, transport hubs and banks. Face coverings or masks have become mandatory for shoppers in England as well as members of the public using supermarkets, transport hubs and banks. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>UK tightens lockdown in northern England

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08564269 Shoppers in Oxford Street, Central London, Britain, 24 July 2020. EPA-EFE/WILL OLIVER

Shoppers in Oxford Street, Central London, Britain, 24 July 2020. EPA-EFE/WILL OLIVER

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They are still allowed to go to work, attend a pub, church or mosque with members of their own household. I totally understand the human impact of this but unfortunately that is how the virus passes on. “The problem with this virus is that it thrives on the social contact which makes life worth living. Those breaking the rules will face a fine of 100 pounds. On Thursday, the country reported 846 new infections, the highest number in more than a month, prompting prime minister Boris Johnson to warn people about a possible second wave in Europe. The United Kingdom tightened the lockdown across parts of northern England after a rise in the rate of coronavirus infections. More than 4 million citizens were ordered not to mix with other households in Greater Manchester, parts of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire. We can see that second wave in Europe”, health secretary Matt Hancock said.
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The government’s stimulus packages to help keep workers on payrolls have cushioned the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. Exports and imports, as well as consumer spending and business investment had “massively collapsed” in Q2, Destasis said. On Friday, France’s national statistics office said the country’s economy shrank by 13.8% in the second quarter. The office said “it was the steepest decline since quarterly GDP calculations for Germany began in 1970 and was even more pronounced than during the financial market and economic crisis [in 2009]”. The German economy shrank by 10.1% during the April-June period from the previous quarter, the state statistics agency Destatis said Thursday. Still, the Federal Employment Agency said Thursday that the number of unemployed was 57,000 higher than in the previous month. Even though the country’s economy has started bouncing back, experts say it is far from the pre-pandemic level and will not reach break-even until 2022 at the earliest.

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EPA-EFE/MAURITZ ANTIN style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>German economy plunged 10% during 2nd quarter amid pandemic

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa07209486 Figures of a statue ensemble at the roof of the Old Opera building in Frankfurt, with the Deutsche Bank building and signage on background, Frankfurt, Germany, 05 December 2018. It is only the second time Deutsche Bank’s shares have fallen below 8 euros. The bank offices were raided by police 29-30 November, causing the bank shares to slip below 8 euros lever for the first time. EPA-EFE/MAURITZ ANTIN

Figures of a statue ensemble at the roof of the Old Opera building in Frankfurt, with the Deutsche Bank building and signage on background, Frankfurt, Germany, 05 December 2018. It is only the second time Deutsche Bank's shares have fallen below 8 euros. Reports on 05 December state Deutsche Bank shares fell below 8 euros, a drop of 2.4 per cent, amid investigations into possible money laundering. The bank offices were raided by police 29-30 November, causing the bank shares to slip below 8 euros lever for the first time. Reports on 05 December state Deutsche Bank shares fell below 8 euros, a drop of 2.4 per cent, amid investigations into possible money laundering.

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style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Italy Senate opens way for trial of ex minister Salvini over migrant ship

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08571310 Lega leader, Matteo Salvini, at the Senate during a debate on further measures to combat the spread of Covid-19, Rome, Italy, 28 July 2020. EPA-EFE/FABIO FRUSTACI

Lega leader, Matteo Salvini, at the Senate during a debate on further measures to combat the spread of Covid-19, Rome, Italy, 28 July 2020. EPA-EFE/FABIO FRUSTACI

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Salvini’s decision kept the migrants aboard the Spanish rescue ship Open Arms for 20 days, after which it was finally allowed to enter a port on the Italian island of Lampedusa. In February, the Senate lifted Salvini’s immunity in a similar case involving another blocked ship. This is a political trial and if anyone thinks they have weakened me, they are mistaken”, Salvini said ahead of the vote. A preliminary hearing on that case is scheduled for October 3. “I will go to court with my head held high and my back straight. The Italian Senate voted Thursday to lift the immunity of former interior minister Matteo Salvini of the far-right League, paving the way for him to be tried for refusing to allow 164 migrants to get off a ship in Sicily last August. Public prosecutors have accused him of kidnapping and negligence, but he was protected from facing trial as he has immunity.
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I did absolutely nothing to influence that recommendation”, Trudeau said Thursday. He added he only learned that the charity had been recommended by the public service for the programme in early May. “WE Charity received no preferential treatment, not from me, not from anyone else. Testimony by a Canadian prime minister before a parliamentary committee is very unusual. Trudeau is being investigated by Canada’s ethics watchdog for possible conflict-of-interest violations. The charity backed out shortly after the program was announced. Trudeau has already apologised publicly for participating in the Cabinet decision to pick WE Charity to administer the grant program. The public service recommended WE Charity. Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday denied playing any role in picking a charity with ties to his family to manage a major government programme.

African leaders are gathering in Ethiopian capital for an annual meeting to discuss violence and conflicts in the continent, under the theme ‘Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development’. EPA-EFE/STR African leaders are gathering in Ethiopian capital for an annual meeting to discuss violence and conflicts in the continent, under the theme 'Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa's Development'. EPA-EFE/STR

Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau attends the 33rd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 10 February 2020. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Trudeau denies ‘preferential treatment’ in ethics scandal

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08209417 Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau attends the 33rd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 10 February 2020.
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On Thursday, Russia’s ambassador to Belarus Dmitry Mezentsev was summoned to the foreign ministry, where he rejected the accusations. Belarus has opened a criminal probe into planned “terrorist acts” by Russian mercenaries arrested ahead of the August 9 presidential election. Belarus relies on subsidies and political support from Moscow. On Wednesday, the country’s special forces arrested 33 Russian mercenaries that Belarus’ KGB security service said worked for the Russian military contractor Wagner. The group is reportedly linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, an ally of Russia’s president Vladimir, who was indicted in the United States for meddling in the 2016 presidential election. “Thirty-three have been detained; there are up to 200 or thereabouts on the territory”, Ravkov said, adding that the ongoing search to find the others was “like looking for needles in a haystack”. The Wagner Group is a private military firm which promotes Moscow’s interests in Ukraine, Syria and Libya. He is expected to win the election despite growing protests from the opposition. President Alexander Lukashenko is running for the sixth consecutive term in the presidential election. Lukashenko has repeatedly accused Russia of trying to force Belarus to abandon its post-Soviet independence. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow wanted an exhaustive explanation from Belarus about the detention. Belarus’ security council chief Andrei Ravkov on Thursday said that the men face charges of preparing “terrorist acts”.

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Belarusian authorities has opened a criminal case against 33 Russian private military company members for on charges of plotting terrorist acts. EPA-EFE/TATYANA ZENKOVICH

State Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus Andrei Ravkov speaks to the media in Minsk, Belarus, 30 July 2020. Belarus is scheduled to hold presidential election on 09 August 2020. Belarusian authorities has opened a criminal case against 33 Russian private military company members for on charges of plotting terrorist acts. The people were detained near Minsk on 28 July 2020. Belarus is scheduled to hold presidential election on 09 August 2020. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Belarus probes Russian mercenaries for ‘terror’ plot

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08573903 State Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus Andrei Ravkov speaks to the media in Minsk, Belarus, 30 July 2020. EPA-EFE/TATYANA ZENKOVICH The people were detained near Minsk on 28 July 2020.
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style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>France sinks deeper into recession, with 14% GDP hit in 2Q

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08400411 A man cycles down Rue de Rivoli in Paris, France, 04 May 2020. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON France is currently under lockdown in an attempt to stop the widespread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causing the COVID-19 disease, but the French government plans to loosen containment measures and traffic restrictions from 11 May. The purpose would be to incentivise commuters returning to work to use bicycles, in order to aleviate the number and density of passengers in the city's over-saturated public transport metro system, and keep safe social-distancing practices in place. France is currently under lockdown in an attempt to stop the widespread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causing the COVID-19 disease, but the French government plans to loosen containment measures and traffic restrictions from 11 May. One of the proposed measures to loosen the lockdown, referred to as ‘deconfinement’, is to turn one of Paris’ busiest and most high-traffic streets, Rue de Rivoli, into a pedestrian and bicycle-only street. One of the proposed measures to loosen the lockdown, referred to as 'deconfinement', is to turn one of Paris' busiest and most high-traffic streets, Rue de Rivoli, into a pedestrian and bicycle-only street. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON

A man cycles down Rue de Rivoli in Paris, France, 04 May 2020. The purpose would be to incentivise commuters returning to work to use bicycles, in order to aleviate the number and density of passengers in the city’s over-saturated public transport metro system, and keep safe social-distancing practices in place.

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France’s economy shrank by nearly 14% in the second quarter when the country was in coronavirus lockdown, the national statistics office INSEE said Friday. According to the INSEE, the plunge of 13.8% from April-June comes after the country’s GDP shrank 5.9% in the first quarter of 2020, and 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019. It added that “the gradual lifting of restrictions leads to a gradual recovery of economic activity in May and then June, after a low point reached in April”. It was the third consecutive quarter of economic contraction. Household consumption dropped by 11%, and company investment dropped by 17.8%. “The negative trend in GDP in the first half of 2020 is linked to the cessation of ‘non-essential’ activities in the context of the containment implemented between mid-March and early May”, the office said. Imports in Q2 dropped 17.3%, after dropping 5.5% in Q1, while exports crashed 25.5%, after retreating by 6.1% in the first quarter. The figures come a day after Germany reported a record quarterly GDP contraction of 10.1%.

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The sanctions are the first ever imposed by the EU under its new cyber-sanctions regime, that was adopted in 2019, and target Russia’s military intelligence unit (GRU), China’s Tianjin Huaying Haitai Science & technology development Co., and North Korea’s Chosun Expo. The bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell announced on Thursday the Council had decided to impose its first-ever sanctions on targeted individuals and entities from Russia, China and North Korea, over massive cyberattacks in the previous years. The measures include a travel ban and an asset freeze, while EU individuals, companies and other entities are forbidden from making funds available to those believed to be behind the WannaCry, NotPetya and Cloud Hopper cyberattacks. “The EU remains committed to a global, open, stable, peaceful and secure cyberspace. The proposal was sent to member states, which needed to give their nod, for the decision to be adopted, with media reports claiming than an agreement was reached by EU ambassadors last week. Earlier in July, the German government had proposed that the EU impose sanctions on Russian hackers responsible for a large-scale cyberattack on the Bundestag in 2015. The Union’s move was applauded by the US, which supported that the EU and the US “share a vision for an open, interoperable, reliable and secure cyberspace, and for responsible behavior on the international stage.”
“The United States supports efforts to promote accountability for bad actors’ malicious cyber activities, and the EU’s actions today are an important milestone,” US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said in a statement. With the imposition of the first targeted measures under the cyber sanctions regime, the EU is determined to prevent, deter and respond to continuing and increasing malicious behaviour in cyberspace,” reads a statement by EU’s External Action Service.

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style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU imposes first-ever sanctions on Russian, Chinese, N.Korean hackers for cyber attacks

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa07988383 A view of a digital screen during a press conference on cybercrime at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in Wiesbaden, Germany, 11 November 2019. EPA-EFE/RONALD WITTEK EPA-EFE/RONALD WITTEK

A view of a digital screen during a press conference on cybercrime at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in Wiesbaden, Germany, 11 November 2019. The BKA presented the federal picture of the Cybercrime 2018 in Germany.
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Since it came to power in 2015, the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) had pledged to defend traditional family values. “The Union must respect the equality of all its citizens, who have the right to freely shape their opinions and beliefs,” Ziobro wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday, also accusing the Commission of withholding the EU funds with the purpose of achieving its “ideological” objectives. “Under the pretext of the rule of law, the Commission wanted to collect billions from Poland’s funds that we deserve if we do not pursue an agenda important for ideologically involved commissioners trying to impose their views on others! The move has been heavily criticised by EU lawmakers, who called on the Commission to monitor the way EU funding is used, accusing Polish municipalities of withholding financial assistance for human rights NGOs. Although discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal in Poland and the resolutions are not legally binding, they have called on local authorities to “abstain from any action encouraging tolerance of LGBTI persons and not to provide any financial assistance to NGOs working for equal rights”. The country’s incumbent President, Andrej Duda has faced acute criticism over its anti-LGBT rhetoric, as during his pre-election campaign he had pledged to ensure gay couples would not be able to adopt children and to prevent education about LGBT rights in public schools. Earlier in July, the EU Executive had warned it could slash aid to areas which are discriminating against LGBT people, following the announcement by the local council of the village of Konskowola, in eastern Poland, that it is “free of LGBT ideology.”
Ahead of parliamentary elections in autumn, Polish local governments had issued resolutions creating zones forbidding tolerance of sexual minorities. The European Commission has rejected funding under a twinning programme to six Polish cities that have declared themselves “free of LGBTI ideology.” 
The decision to reject the cities’ applications on the basis that they do not comply with the program’s objective of “equal access and non-discrimination” was also confirmed on Twitter, by Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli, who wrote that “EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by member states and state authorities.”

EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by Member States and state authorities. This is why 6 town twinning applications invilving Polish authorities that adopted 'LGBTI free zones' or 'family rights' resolutions were rejected.#LGBTI #UnionOfEquality
— Helena Dalli (@helenadalli) July 28, 2020

EU’s move was slammed by the country’s Justice Minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, who condemned the decision, labelling it as a discrimination towards Polish citizens and local governments.  
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According to reports, counter demonstrations of nationalists and far right supporters tried to block the first ever LGBTQ equality march in Bialystok throwing rocks, eggs and flash bombs into participants of equality march. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Commission rejects 6 funding requests for twinning with Polish cities due to anti-LGBT policies

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa07731835 Riot Police protect participants of the First Equality March under the motto ‘Bialystok is home for everybody’ organized by the LGBT Association ‘Teczowy Bialystok’ in Bialystok, Poland, 20 July 2019 (issued 21 July 2019). Police have detained 25 people EPA-EFE/ARTUR RESZKO POLAND OUT

Riot Police protect participants of the First Equality March under the motto 'Bialystok is home for everybody' organized by the LGBT Association 'Teczowy Bialystok' in Bialystok, Poland, 20 July 2019 (issued 21 July 2019). EPA-EFE/ARTUR RESZKO POLAND OUT