Under the new measures, city and intercity public transportation will be halted, and shopping malls, as well as restaurants and cafes, will also be closed, except for delivery service. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Georgia begins second lockdown

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08691577 A health worker takes a swab sample for a COVID-19 detection test in Tbilisi, Georgia, 23 September 2020. Schools and universities are also required to go fully remote, with the exception of medical universities. Countries around the world implemented measures to stem the widespread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. During the New Year celebrations, from December 24 to January 15 they will be in effect only on weekends. Georgia confirmed 3,801 new cases on Thursday, taking the total number of infections to 118,690. EPA-EFE/ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE

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Georgia’s government announced a multi-phased plan for putting the largest cities into 2-months lockdown starting from Saturday. The new restrictions will be in force from November 28 till December 23. EPA-EFE/ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE

A health worker takes a swab sample for a COVID-19 detection test in Tbilisi, Georgia, 23 September 2020. Countries around the world implemented measures to stem the widespread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. The government also strongly recommended that all people 70 years or older should stay at home. The announcement comes as the country struggles to slow a second wave in COVID-19 infections.

style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Manufacturing error raises doubts about AstraZeneca vaccine

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08612068 A general view of AstraZeneca?s headquarters in Sydney, Australia, 19 August 2020. Surprisingly, the group of volunteers that got a lower dose seemed to be much better protected than the volunteers who got two full doses of the vaccine. They added that a difference in manufacturing processes led to later phases of the trials having a half-dose given instead of a full one. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the government and UK-based drug company AstraZeneca. EPA-EFE/DAN HIMBRECHTS

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British drugmaker AstraZeneca and its partner, the University of Oxford, faced criticism about their Covid-19 vaccine trial results after acknowledging a manufacturing error. Oxford researchers said they are not certain why a smaller dose would be more effective and that they are working to uncover the reason. EPA-EFE/DAN HIMBRECHTS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

A general view of AstraZeneca?s headquarters in Sydney, Australia, 19 August 2020. When it was apparent that a lower dose was used, it was discussed with regulators, and an agreement was reached to push ahead with the two regimens, Oxford said. Earlier this week, Astra and Oxford said their shot was 70% effective on average in a late-stage study. Experts questioned the way in which the results were reported by the companies. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the government and UK-based drug company AstraZeneca. Either way, approval based on current data means people will be inoculated with a vaccine the true efficacy of which is unknown”, an analyst explained. The decision to pool results from two groups of participants who received different dosing levels to reach an average 70% effectiveness added to the confusion. “The most likely explanation for the divergent efficacy in its interim analysis is either chance or patient demographics. Astra said the vaccine was 90% effective when a half-dose was given before a full-dose booster, while in the group that got two full doses, the vaccine appeared to be 62% effective.

Due to coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak it is relatively quiet in the streets of Norway's capital. Solberg said that, even though there are some positive signs, it is still early to lift nationwide restrictions, which include masks, limiting public gatherings to 20 people and quarantining people arriving from abroad. There are, however, regional disparities in the country. Due to coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak it is relatively quiet in the streets of Norway’s capital. EPA-EFE/HAKON MOSVOLD LARSEN NORWAY OUT

A man protecting himself with a mask carries shopping bags on a street of Oslo, Norway, 13 March 2020. On November 6, the capital Oslo shut theatres, cinemas, training centres and swimming pools, with bars and restaurants no longer able to serve alcohol, causing many to close altogether. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Norway to keep virus restrictions until mid-December

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08291576 A man protecting himself with a mask carries shopping bags on a street of Oslo, Norway, 13 March 2020. She added that the government could offer vaccines to vulnerable groups early next year. The number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Norway was 150.9 as of Tuesday, the fourth-lowest in Europe. “There is light at the end of the tunnel. Norway, which is not a member of the European Union, plans to acquire vaccines obtained by the EU, thanks to Sweden, which is an EU member and will sell some of its own to Norway. EPA-EFE/HAKON MOSVOLD LARSEN

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Norway’s prime minister Erna Solberg said on Wednesday that the country needs at least another three weeks to assess whether its current coronavirus restrictions can be lifted. We must hold on”, Solberg said.

Government forces also said they have surrounded Mekelle. But the last comment we heard from the TPLF leadership refuted that claim. Abiy said the army has been ordered to move on the embattled Tigrayan capital, Mekelle, and warned its residents to “stay indoors”. Again, Tigray military leadership have refuted that claim”, a statement said. Thursday’s announcement comes hours after an ultimatum for the Tigrayan forces to surrender expired. EPA-EFE/ALESSANDRO DI MEO

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The Ethiopian military will begin the “final phase” of an offensive in the northern Tigray region, prime minister Abiy Ahmed said on Thursday. “Prime Minister Abiy said thousands of Tigrayan fighters have surrendered in the last three days. Abiy ordered air strikes and sent soldiers into Tigray on November 4 after accusing the TPLF of revolt and an attack on a government base. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Ethiopia to begin ‘final phase’ of offensive in Tigray region, says PM

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa07306599 Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during a press conference at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy, 21 January 2019. Abiy Ahmed is for an official visit in Rome. “The 72-hour period granted to the criminal TPLF clique to surrender peacefully is now over and our law enforcement campaign has reached its final stage”, Abiy tweeted, referring to the local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Nearly 43,000 Ethiopian refugees have fled into neighbouring Sudan, and large numbers are on the move within Tigray to avoid the fighting. Abiy Ahmed is for an official visit in Rome. EPA-EFE/ALESSANDRO DI MEO

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during a press conference at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy, 21 January 2019. The United Nations has said it was preparing for as many as 200,000 refugees to flee into Sudan in the coming months.

style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>US looking to lift travel ban on Schengen passport holders soon

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08839478 Travelers walk through a terminal at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, USA, 24 November 2020. The first restrictions targeted China and were imposed on December 31, while Iran followed in February. It was in mid-March when the entry ban also included 26 Schengen countries and in May when Brazil was added to the list. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

Travelers walk through a terminal at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, USA, 24 November 2020. The ban, imposed by the Trump administration to contain the spread of the pandemic, does not consider lifting separate entry bans on most non-US citizens who have recently been in China or Iran, according to the officials. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

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The White House is considering ending its entry ban on non-US travellers entering the country from certain countries, including Brazil, the UK, Ireland and 26 European countries, several officials told Reuters. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended against travel during the Thanksgiving Day period, which is typically the busiest travel time of the year. The restrictions currently bar entry of most non-US residents who have been in those countries in the previous 14 days, but the State Department has been granting some “national interest exceptions” to allow travellers from Europe related to “humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security,” while it has also approved exceptions for some European business travellers, investors, academics, students and journalists. The US has seen a surge of coronavirus COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.   While Trump has yet to make a final decision, the plan has won the backing of of White House coronavirus task-force members, public health and other federal agencies. Lifting the ban could boost US airlines, which have seen international travel fall by 70%, according to airline industry data, with administration officials citing that the measure is of no point anymore, as most countries around the world are not subject to the entry ban.

Through the agreement, the renewable energy provided to Novartis will avoid the annual emission of around 96,400 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Enel Green Power is a global leader in the green energy sector with a managed capacity of around 46.4 GW across a generation mix that includes wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower, and is at the forefront of integrating innovative technologies into renewable power plants. Enel Green Power, within the Enel Group, is dedicated to the development and operation of renewables across the world, with a presence in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania. “With this deal, Novartis is showcasing the possibilities that Pan-European VPPAs can offer to companies committed to fighting climate change in the continent.”
Novartis Chief Sustainability Officer at Novartis Montse Montaner said at his company environmental sustainability is aligned with Novartis’ purpose to reimagine medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. As Enel Green Power, we are very proud to be a strategic partner and the Green Enabler of part of a major milestone of their journey to be carbon neutral across operations and the company’s supply chain,” said Javier Vaquerizo, head of Global Commercial Office for Enel Green Power. This Pan-European VPPA will start in January 2022 and will help Novartis achieve its goals for 100% renewable electricity and carbon-neutrality across its European operations by 2025, Enel said in a press release on November 19. The energy through this VPPA will be generated by the 179.9 MW TICO Wind Farm, located in the Spanish province of Zaragoza, which will be operational in early 2022. “Novartis is a leading company in environmental and sustainability matters. “Energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions are the cornerstones of our strategy for reducing emissions. The company aims to drive sustainability through its operations, as well as those of its suppliers, and has set ambitious targets to minimise its impacts on climate, waste, and water, the press release read. ENEL

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Italy’s Enel Green Power, the renewable energy subsidiary of Enel Group, and Swiss-based Novartis, the global medicines company, have signed a 10-year, 100% renewable Virtual Power Purchase Agreement (VPPA) for 78 MW of renewable power, Enel said. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Enel Green Power, Novartis ink 10-year 100% renewable energy deal

By New Europe Online/KG

Enel solar energy production in North America. We are proud to be joined by Enel Green Power and other like-minded partners on our environmental sustainability journey,” he said. This agreement is part of the Novartis commitment to environmental sustainability by helping make the company both energy and climate-resilient. Novartis is committed to using resources efficiently and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which affect the climate.

More than 2,000 people have died since the fighting broke out on September 27, including many civilians. Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics, have been involved in a territorial conflict since they gained independence in the 1990s. Azerbaijan’s prosecutor-general Kamran Aliyev said that his office has “initiated an investigation into inhumane treatment of Armenian servicemen that were taken prisoner”. During the latest fighting, videos circulated on social media that allegedly showed executions of Armenian prisoners of war by Azerbaijani troops. EPA-EFE/AREG BALAYAN / ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY /

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Azerbaijan’s prosecutor general said on Wednesday that the country is investigating alleged war crimes committed by Armenian and Azerbaijani forces during six weeks of fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but is historically an ethnic Armenian region, has been the focal point of the conflict between the two nations. Armed clashes erupted on 27 September 2020 in the simmering territorial conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory along the contact line of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (also known as Artsakh). Azerbaijan is a law-based state and we are reacting to such facts”, he said, adding that Azerbaijan had also initiated 73 criminal cases of Armenian forces shelling civilian targets in Azerbaijan. “There are many fake videos. Armed clashes erupted on 27 September 2020 in the simmering territorial conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory along the contact line of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (also known as Artsakh). style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Baku to probe alleged war crimes by both Azerbaijan, Armenia

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08724841 A handout photo made available by the Armenian Foreign Ministry shows a part of a rocket shell stucked in a street in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh, 06 October 2020. EPA-EFE/AREG BALAYAN / ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY / HANDOUT MANDATORY CREDIT / HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

A handout photo made available by the Armenian Foreign Ministry shows a part of a rocket shell stucked in a street in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh, 06 October 2020. Fighting has surged to its worst level since the 1990s, when about 30,000 people were killed. But we must say frankly that there also are videos which could be authentic.

“We hope the two sides will uphold the spirit of non-conflict and non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, will focus on cooperation, control differences and promote healthy and stable development of Chinese-U.S. EPA-EFE/ZHANG LING / XINHUA

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China’s president Xi Jinping on Wednesday congratulated Joe Biden on winning the November 3 US presidential election, Chinese media reported. Biden’s campaign has also referred to the crackdown on the Muslim Uyghur minority in China’s Xinjiang as “genocide”. EPA-EFE/ZHANG LING / XINHUA MANDATORY CREDIT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

A picture released by Xinhua News Agency shows Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivering an important speech at a grand gathering held to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, 14 October 2020. China’s foreign ministry congratulated Biden on November 13, nearly a week after many US allies had, holding out as outgoing president Donald Trump refused to concede defeat. In 2016, Xi sent congratulations to Trump a day after the election. During the election campaign, Biden vowed a tough line on China’s expanding influence worldwide and referred to Xi as a “thug” for his human rights practices. Relations between China and the US have deteriorated to their worst, amid disputes over issues from trade and technology to Hong Kong and the coronavirus. relations”, Xi said in his congratulatory message to Biden. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Xi Jinping congratulates Biden, hopes for ‘win-win’ China-US ties

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08743755 A picture released by Xinhua News Agency shows Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivering an important speech at a grand gathering held to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in Shenzhen, south China’s Guangdong Province, 14 October 2020.

Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, suggested however, that restrictions might be needed for longer: “We have difficult winter months ahead of us. On November 2, Germany imposed a month-long lockdown, under which bars and restaurants are closed but schools and shops remain open. This will continue until March. EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN

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Germany’s measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak will probably last into January, chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday. EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wearing a face mask sits on her place after delivering a speech to the German Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, 26 November 2020. After March, I am very optimistic because we will probably be able to vaccinate more and more people and it will be easier to keep infection rates low with the spring”, Braun said. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>German COVID-19 restrictions set to last into 2021

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08842937 German Chancellor Angela Merkel wearing a face mask sits on her place after delivering a speech to the German Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, 26 November 2020. “Given the high number of infections, we assume that the restrictions which are in place before Christmas will continue to be valid until the start of January, certainly for most parts of Germany”, Merkel said, adding that the number of COVID-19 deaths is a reason for concern. On Thursday, the number of infections in the country increased by 22,268 to 983,588, while the death toll rose by 389 to 15,160. On Wednesday, Merkel agreed with leaders of Germany’s federal states late to extend the lockdown until December 20, but to ease rules over the Christmas holidays. Merkel delivered a government declaration to the members of the German parliament Bundestag on how to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic situation. Merkel delivered a government declaration to the members of the German parliament Bundestag on how to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic situation. From December 1, private gatherings will be limited to five people, but over Christmas, that number will rise to 10.

The 44-year-old Kremlin critic on August 20 fell ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Omsk, where he spent two days in hospital before being evacuated to Germany, where he received treatment for 32 days, including 24 days in intensive care. EPA-EFE/YURI KOCHETKOV

Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny (C) takes part in a memorial march for Boris Nemtsov marking the fifth anniversary of his assassination in Moscow, Russia, 29 February 2020 (reissued 02 September 2020). The flight was interrupted and after landing in Omsk Navalny was delivered to hospital with a suspicion on a toxic poisoning. Navalny was discharged in late September from Berlin Charite Hospital, after more than a month of treatment for poisoning with a nerve agent from the Novichok group. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Kremlin critic Navalny to address MEPs on Friday

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08641530 (FILE) – Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny (C) takes part in a memorial march for Boris Nemtsov marking the fifth anniversary of his assassination in Moscow, Russia, 29 February 2020 (reissued 02 September 2020). While German authorities support there is “unequivocal” evidence he was poisoned, citing tests carried out in labs in Germany, France and Sweden, Moscow said it has yet to see evidence of a crime and refused to open a criminal investigation. In October, the bloc’s foreign affairs ministers agreed on targeted sanctions on individuals and entities deemed responsible for the poisoning of Navalny and for breach of international norms, “based on their official function, as well as an entity involved in the Novichok programme.” 
EU’s restrictive measures include asset freezes and travel bans that could target members of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, and which are set to be implemented before December’s summit. Navalny is treated at the Charite hospital in Berlin since 22 August 2020. The German government spokesperson on 02 September 2020 said it ‘the unequivocal proof’ that Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent from the Novichok group was established. He was first placed in an hospital in Omsk, Russia, after he felt bad on board of a plane on his way from Tomsk to Moscow. Along with Navalny, MEPs will also hold talks with other prominent opposition figures, including Vladimir Kara-Murza, Chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation and Vice President of the Free Russia Foundation, Vladimir Milov, Former Deputy Minister of Energy of Russia and Ilya Yashin, Head of the Krasnoselsky Municipality. EPA-EFE/YURI KOCHETKOV

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Russia’s opposition leader Alexei Navalny is set to discuss EU-Russia relations with Europe’s lawmakers on Friday, during a meeting of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET / POOL EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET / POOL

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen speaks during a debate on the next EU council and last Brexit development during a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, 25 November 2020. Even in Poland and Hungary,” von der Leyen said. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Von der Leyen tells Hungary, Poland to ask EU’s top court on rule of law

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08840362 epa08840361 European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen speaks during a debate on the next EU council and last Brexit devlopement during a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, 25 November 2020. “They can go to the European Court of Justice and allow the new rules to be tested there,” the head of the Commission told MEPs during the parliament’s plenary session in Brussels. To the people who fear for their jobs. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET / POOL EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET / POOL

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Hungary and Poland should ask the European Court of Justice (CJEU) to assess the rules linking budget funds to respect of rule of law, instead of blocking the bloc’s budget, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday. Their move is expected to further delay the disbursement of EU money to member-states at a rather crucial moment for the bloc, which is struggling to cope with the economic aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic. Last week, during the bloc’s 27 ambassadors’ meeting (COREPER), the two countries used their political veto to adopt the so-called Own Resources Decision, blocking the adoption of the EU’s €1.8 trillion Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027, including the €750 billion recovery plan, citing that the link between access to EU funds and rule of law was a tool by Brussels to blackmail them over migration. To those whose existence is threatened. “To those who have had to temporarily close their restaurants and shops for the good of us all. “That is the place where difference of opinions about legislative texts are usually settled, and that is not done at the expense of millions and millions of European citizens who are urgently waiting for our help,” she added. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban with his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki are set to meet on Thursday in Budapest for talks over their negotiating position.