“We want Europe to be a strong partner for the US on an equal footing and not a charge in need of protection,” Karrenbauer said on Tuesday. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Germany’s Defence Minister says Europe still depends on the US for security

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08627117 German Defence Minister Annegret-Kramp Karrenbauer speaks to the media following a meeting of European Union member states defence ministers 26 August 2020 in Berlin, Germany.  
  The meeting, as part of Germany’s head of the rotating presidency of the European Council, is the first such meeting taking place with participants in person since begin of the coronavirus pandemic. “The new American president, Joe Biden, must see and feel that we are striving precisely for that,” she added. “Without America’s nuclear and conventional capabilities, Germany and Europe cannot protect themselves. EPA-EFE/Sean Gallup / POOL

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Germany and Europe cannot “protect themselves” and guarantee their “strategic autonomy” without NATO and the US, Germany’s Defence Minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Tuesday. Those are the plain facts,” she added. “The idea of Europe’s strategic autonomy goes too far if it fosters the illusion that we can guarantee security, stability and prosperity in Europe without NATO and without the US,” AKK said in a keynote speech at the University of the German Federal Armed Forces, Deutsche Welle reported. EPA-EFE/Sean Gallup / POOL

German Defence Minister Annegret-Kramp Karrenbauer speaks to the media following a meeting of European Union member states defence ministers 26 August 2020 in Berlin, Germany. For Macron, her viewpoint was “a contradict of history.”
“The United States will only respect us as allies if we are serious with ourselves, and if we are sovereign with our own defence,” Macron said in an interview with Le Grand Continent magazine. Her recent comments came after the French President Emmanuel Macron heavily criticised her op-ed on Politico on November 2, on the eve of the US presidential elections. However, Karrenbauer stressed that the change of leadership in the US could bring new chances along with new challenges, amid a general consensus that Germany and the EU should take on more responsibility.

Jula said that Tedros had “left no stone unturned” to help the TPLF: “This man is a member of that group and he has been doing everything to support them. Abiy’s government earlier this month ordered air strikes and sent soldiers into Tigray after accusing the local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), of revolt and an attack on a government base. In 2018, Abiy took office as prime minister, and has since folded the other three regional parties into his own national party, but the TPLF refused to join. Facebook

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Ethiopia’s army chief, General Berhanu Jula, on Thursday accused the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is a Tigrayan himself, of lobbying for the dissident region and helping them procure weapons. Tedros has dismissed the suggestions, saying: “We are close to every nation, we are colour-blind”. He has worked in neighboring countries to condemn the war. He has worked for them to get weapons”, he said. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Ethiopia’s army chief accuses WHO head of backing rebels

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08244194 WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus holds a press conference about an update on the novel coronavirus COVID-19 disease at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, 24 February 2020. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus holds a press conference about an update on the novel coronavirus COVID-19 disease at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, 24 February 2020. Tedros served as Ethiopia’s health minister and foreign minister from 2005-2016 in a coalition led by the TPLF.

EPA/JIM LO SCALZO

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Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins, a former officer in the United States Army’s elite Green Berets has pleaded guilty to spying for Russia, the Justice Department said on Wednesday. “Debbins betrayed his oath, his country, and his Special Forces team members with the intent to harm the United States and help Russia”, said Assistant Attorney General John Demers. The records were obtained secretly last year during a two-month period and include a list of calls made from numbers at the agency’s New York headquarters as well as offices in Washington and Connecticut and home and mobile phone numbers of reporters, AP chief executive Gary Pruitt wrote in a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder. The records were obtained secretly last year during a two-month period and include a list of calls made from numbers at the agency's New York headquarters as well as offices in Washington and Connecticut and home and mobile phone numbers of reporters, AP chief executive Gary Pruitt wrote in a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder. Debbins faces a maximum penalty of life in prison when he is sentenced in February. US officials improperly seized records for 20 telephone numbers of Associated Press journalists, the news agency alleged in a letter 13 May to the Justice Department. According to news reports citing the indictment, Debbins’s mother was born in the Soviet Union, and he met his wife in Chelyabinsk, where they were married in 1997. EPA/JIM LO SCALZO

The United States Department of Justice building is pictured in downtown Washington, DC, USA, 14 May 2013. “In 1997, Debbins was assigned a code name by Russian intelligence agents and signed a statement attesting that he wanted to serve Russia”, the Justice Department said, citing a handwritten confession. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Former US special forces officer found guilty of spying for Russia

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa03700054 The United States Department of Justice building is pictured in downtown Washington, DC, USA, 14 May 2013. The department added that, before joining the Green Berets, Debbins served as an officer in US Army chemical units and provided the Russian intelligence agents with classified information about the Special Forces units. The agency is under fire for secretly obtaining two months of phone records of Associated Press reporters. US officials improperly seized records for 20 telephone numbers of Associated Press journalists, the news agency alleged in a letter 13 May to the Justice Department. The agency is under fire for secretly obtaining two months of phone records of Associated Press reporters.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Thursday called the claims groundless and said that China is itself a victim of cyber-attacks. In July, Canada, Britain and the United States accused Russian-backed hackers of trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine data. EPA-EFE/RONALD WITTEK

A digital screen displays a live cyber hack attack during a press conference at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in Wiesbaden, Germany, 11 November 2019. Scott Jones, CSE’s head of cyber security, said that “state-sponsored actors are very likely attempting to develop the additional cyber capabilities required to disrupt the supply of electricity”. The BKA presented the federal picture of the Cybercrime 2018 in Germany. “State-sponsored cyber activity is generally the most sophisticated threat”, the country’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE) intelligence agency said in its second national cyber threat assessment. CSE said that the programs posed the greatest strategic threat to Canada, given how many people were relying on digital services amid the coronavirus pandemic. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Canada names China, Russia as main cyber-crime threats; sees risk to power supply

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa07988392 A digital screen displays a live cyber hack attack during a press conference at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in Wiesbaden, Germany, 11 November 2019. EPA-EFE/RONALD WITTEK

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Canada said on Wednesday it has identified state-sponsored programs in China, Russia, Iran and North Korea as major cyber-crime threats for the first time. The BKA presented the federal picture of the Cybercrime 2018 in Germany.

style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Australia alleges military carried out unlawful killings in Afghanistan

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epaselect epa08828542 Chief of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) General Angus Campbell delivers the findings from the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry, in Canberra, Australia, 19 November 2020. Australia’s defence force has recommended that the country’s federal police investigate 19 individuals from the special forces over 36 alleged war crimes, including murder and cruel treatment of non-combatants in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2013. The report further specified that some patrol commanders, who were treated as “demigods”, required junior soldiers to shoot prisoners to achieve their first kill. A landmark report has shed light on alleged war crimes by Australian troops serving in Afghanistan. A landmark report has shed light on alleged war crimes by Australian troops serving in Afghanistan. “[The Inspector General] found there to be credible information to substantiate 23 incidents of alleged unlawful killing of 39 people by 25 Australian Special Forces personnel, predominantly from the Special Air Service Regiment”, Campbell said. EPA-EFE/MICK TASIKAS

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The head of Australia’s defence force General Angus Campbell on Thursday announced allegations that its elite forces carried out 39 unlawful killings in Afghanistan. Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison called Afghan president Ashraf Ghani to express his “deepest sorrow” over the findings. Campbell “sincerely and unreservedly” apologized to Afghanistan for the conduct alleged in the report. Campbell said that the killings are alleged to have occurred while the Afghan victims were detained or under Australian forces’ control, and that none of the alleged victims were soldiers. According to Campbell, the report found that there had been a “warrior culture” among some members of Australia’s special forces in Afghanistan. EPA-EFE/MICK TASIKAS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

Chief of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) General Angus Campbell delivers the findings from the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry, in Canberra, Australia, 19 November 2020. In 2016, Australia launched an inquiry into the conduct of its special forces personnel between 2005 and 2016 amid allegations by local media about the killing of unarmed men and children.

There were no legal grounds to ask the farmers to cull their mink outside the infected zones,” Jensen told the Danish wire agency Ritzau on Monday. She made the decision and she did not intervene and stop it when she became aware that it was illegal. Earlier in November, the government ordered in a national televised press conference led by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, that the country’s entire mink population of 17 million bred for their fur, be culled, after a mutated form of coronavirus that can spread to humans was found on mink farms, raising concerns over jeopardising future vaccines. Denmark will cull about 17 million mink after a mutated form of coronavirus that can spread to humans was found on mink farms. I can state that there is not the necessary support for me among the parliamentary parties,” Jensen wrote in a Twitter post. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Denmark’s agriculture minister resigns over illegal order to cull mink

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08810845 Members of Danish health authorities assisted by members of the Danish Armed Forces dispose dead mink in a military area near Holstebro in Denmark, 09 November 2020 (issued 10 November 2020). EPA-EFE/MORTEN STRICKER MANDATORY CREDIT: Morten Stricker/Dagbladet Holstebro Struer/Jysk Fynske Medier/Ritzau Scanpix DENMARK OUT

Members of Danish health authorities assisted by members of the Danish Armed Forces dispose dead mink in a military area near Holstebro in Denmark, 09 November 2020 (issued 10 November 2020). Danish mink will be buried in mass graves on military land as the country’s incinerators and rendering plants struggle to keep up, the Danish environmental and health authorities announced. Following pressure by the opposition parties, which cited that the socialist minority government did not have the necessary legislation in place to proceed with the muss culling, Frederiksen admitted that the order was illegal, stressing however, that the government “was not informed of the illegality” until the weekend. “The Prime Minister is responsible for the illegal order. The case therefore does not stop with Mogens Jensen’s departure,” Elleman-Jensen tweeted on Wednesday. “We have made a mistake. EPA-EFE/MORTEN STRICKER MANDATORY CREDIT: Morten Stricker/Dagbladet Holstebro Struer/Jysk Fynske Medier/Ritzau Scanpix DENMARK OUT

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Denmark’s Minister of Agriculture Mogens Jensen announced on Wednesday he would step down, amid mounting pressure over an illegal government order to cull the country’s farmed mink. In a Facebook post, Jensen wrote:
“I regretted this earlier, I regret it again and take responsibility for this, especially I regret this to the many mink farmers who have been in a very unhappy situation,” adding that “There has only been one purpose: to stop the Covid-19 infection in and from mink because it poses a threat to public health.”
Opposition leader, Jakob Elleman-Jensen of the Liberal Party accused the PM of executing the order, and asked for a commission of inquiry. “I have today informed the Prime Minister that I wish to resign from the Government.

Your firm and fast position on this matter is very important for #Belarus. pic.twitter.com/adD65OnKAZ
— Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (@Tsihanouskaya) November 18, 2020

The opposition leader’s call came a few days after more than 1,000 people were arrested in Belarus, during demonstrations calling for Lukashenko to step down. EPA-EFE/TOMS KALNINS

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya gives press statement after her meeting with Latvian president in Riga, Latvia, 13 November 2020. Tikhanovskaya will meet with Latvian officials and remotely participate in the annual international security and politics forum Riga Conference 2020. EPA-EFE/TOMS KALNINS

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Belarus’ opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has urged the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell and the EU foreign ministers to take “decisive” sanctions against the regime of long-time ruler, Aleksander Lukashenko, in a bid to tackle injustice and violence in the country. “I call on Josep Borrell and the MFAs of all EU member states to act decisively on economic and individual sanctions against Lukashenka’s regime,” Tikhanovskaya wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday. Do not let injustice and violence remain unpunished. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Belarus’ Tikhanovskaya urges EU for ‘decisive’ sanctions against Lukashenko’s regime

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08818200 Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya gives press statement after her meeting with Latvian president in Riga, Latvia, 13 November 2020. She added that the EU’s “firm and fast” stance on the matter is crucial for Belarus, also urging the bloc to not “let injustice and violence remain unpunished.” 

I call on @JosepBorrellF and the MFAs of all EU member states to act decisively on economic and individual sanctions against Lukashenka's regime. “In total, more than 700 people have been detained for violations of the legislation on mass events and before their offenses were examined in court,” Belarus’ Interior Ministry spokesperson Olga Chemodanova said in a statement on Monday, with the Viasna human rights organisation counting 1,127 arrests, most of which were carried out in the capital, Minsk. Last week, Tikhanovskaya announced the People’s Tribunal and “an amnesty for the capture of Lukashenko and members of his state-sponsored terrorist group.”
“Unless we, the people of Belarus, do not bring the criminals in our country to justice, no one will,” she wrote in another Twitter post.

“In Brussels today, they only view countries which let migrants in as those governed by the rule of law,” Orban said in a statement published by state news agency MTI on Wednesday. “Once this proposal gets adopted, there will be no more obstacles to tying member states’ share of common funds to supporting migration and use of financial means to blackmail countries which oppose migration,” he added. EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

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Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has accused the European Union of using the bloc’s long-term budget to “blackmail” countries that oppose its migration policies. The German EU Council Presidency said it was confident a deal would be reached soon, while prior to an European Affairs Ministers’ meeting, Germany’s Michel Roth urged member states to put divergences aside, as the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic remain a top priority for the country’s six-month rotating presidency. Without this principle of legal certainty, the EU is a mechanism of arbitrary decision-making by Eurocrats and de facto by the European oligarchy,” Morawiecki said, adding that “we will not let ourselves be blackmailed.”
Similarly, the Hungarian Prime Minister, a strong adversary of migration, said that “Those who defend their borders and defend their countries against immigration can no longer be classified as law-abiding in Brussels.” However, on Wednesday, the two countries escalated their attacks towards Brussels, with Poland’s Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki saying that some member states seek to “blackmail” Poland, over the country’s opposition to tax havens. “The EU must be built on a foundation of law and legal certainty …. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Orban says Hungary blocked EU budget over migration ‘blackmail’

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa07451415 Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gives a press conference at the end of the European People’s Party (EPP) Political Assembly at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, 20 March 2019. The Fidesz party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been temporary suspended by EPP. EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gives a press conference at the end of the European People's Party (EPP) Political Assembly at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, 20 March 2019. Hungary and Poland on Monday blocked the adoption of the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2028 and the Next Generation EU package, totalling €1.81 trillion, over a clause which makes access to EU funds conditional to respect for the rule of law. During the bloc’s 27 ambassadors’ meeting (COREPER), the two countries used their political veto to adopt the so-called Own Resources Decision, in a move that is expected to further delay the disbursement of EU money, which was set to start flowing in mid-2021.

Leaders in Sofia would also be aware that Berlin’s span of control at this point in time is extremely limited and that an unsatisfactory (to them) German solution simply cannot be imposed, for once. Bulgaria has voiced repeated concerns that any EU documents that appear to accept the existence of a Macedonian language would create internal problems for Sofia concerning a small minority group there that considers itself “Macedonian,” which most Bulgarians have difficulty accepting since they consider the country recently renamed North Macedonia to be a Bulgarian offshoot artificially transformed into a separate nationality within Tito’s Yugoslavia, primarily for political reasons. The question has been simmering for months now, largely unnoticed outside of Southeastern Europe, and creative solutions have been made vastly more difficult by the tough position taken by right-nationalist Bulgarian political leaders in advance of parliamentary elections expected in the early months of 2021. An overworked Germany may not deliver
Germany’s EU presidency is effectively over in little more than one month and the list of unresolved serious concerns, beyond the EU Enlargement question, is considerable. Do not look to Washington
With ongoing disarray in Washington, few analysts expect Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who recently claimed “to be preparing for a second Trump Administration,” to be able to engage the EU effectively or credibly on this issue. Bulgaria restated its hardline position on the matter during a scheduled teleconference of EU ministers; it has been widely categorized as a veto.  Accordingly, it is unclear whether Berlin can muster the energy or time to resolve something that it considered to be a major objective of its six-month presidency, launching the Enlargement process for North Macedonia and Albania this year. In North Macedonia, the right-nationalist opposition blamed the current government for the diplomatic impasse and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, European Affairs Minister Nikola Dimitrov, and Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani. While that part of the puzzle is holding firmly, it is unrealistic to expect the US, in its current condition, to mediate the latest Balkan horror story. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>The Bulgarian hammer comes down

By Alec Mally
Director for Global Economic Affairs at IPEDIS

epa08536513 Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva addresses a joint press conference following a meeting with her Czech counterpart, Tomas Petricek, at the Czernin Palace in Prague, Czech Republic, 09 July 2020. The tussles with Poland and Hungary over the EU budget, the unresolved issue of aggressive Turkish behavior in the Eastern Mediterranean and potential sanctions, and the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh top the list. Those same American diplomatic staffers, most of whom are departing soon, invested heavily in the failed Greek socialist government of former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, primarily to press for Greek approval of the Prespes Agreement in 2018 which resolved the Name Dispute between Athens and Skopje and was supposed to open the pathway to EU accession for North Macedonia, in theory. Since an overloaded Germany may be unable to resolve the Bulgaria-North Macedonia dispute before the end of its presidency, and incoming rotational EU president Portugal is unlikely to possess the gravitas needed to move the issue forward on its own, the potential for a major delay on Enlargement cannot be discounted. EPA-EFE//MARTIN DIVISEK

Ongoing language dispute freezes EU Enlargement process

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Firmly refusing to approve the negotiating framework for the “Intergovernmental Conference” required to launch North Macedonia’s EU accession process, Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva November 17 restated her country’s firm opposition to moving forward now, citing North Macedonia’s refusal to respect a shared history. What little energy Washington currently retains for foreign political concerns will not be focused on EU Enlargement processes, although middle-level State Department officers and a few Trump-era US Ambassadors may still issue interventionist statements and tweets that will instantly fade into the ether. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva addresses a joint press conference following a meeting with her Czech counterpart, Tomas Petricek, at the Czernin Palace in Prague. After the November 17 EU ministers’ meeting, Michael Roth, Germany’s EU Affairs Minister, expressed the hope that a reasonable “bilateral solution” could still be found, and indeed the text of a proposed solution to the language element of the dispute, still apparently unsatisfactory to Sofia, was leaked to the press last week.

EPA-EFE/GARY HE EDITORIAL USE ONLY EDITORIAL USE ONLY

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US safety regulators have approved Boeing’s 737 Max to fly again, lifting grounding orders nearly two years after the plane was grounded following two fatal crashes caused by design flaws. EPA-EFE/GARY HE EDITORIAL USE ONLY EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft sit parked at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, USA, 21 July 2019. The decision by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was announced on Wednesday and followed a “comprehensive and methodical” 20-month review process. The Boeing 737 Max 8 was grounded by aviation regulators and airlines around the world in March 2019 after 346 people were killed in two crashes. “We’ve done everything humanly possible to make sure” these types of crashes do not happen again,” the head of FAA, Steve Dickson said in a video accompanying the announcement. The crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March 2019 forced the resignation of Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg in December, who was replaced by David Calhoun. They were attributed to design flaws and faulty sensors, in particular in the automated flight software called MCAS, which repeatedly pushed down the nose of the aircraft. The clearance allows for the plane to return to the skies once Boeing updates critical software and computers, and pilots receive training in flight simulators. “These events and the lessons we have learned as a result have reshaped our company and further focused our attention on our core values of safety, quality and integrity,” incumbent CEO Calhoun said in a statement. He added that now he is “100% comfortable with my family flying on it.”
The US grounded the manufacturer’s best-selling plane in March 2019, after two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that together killed 346 people on board. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Boeing 737 Max cleared to fly after being grounded for nearly two years

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa07732636 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft sit parked at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, USA, 21 July 2019.