Daily Update

Thursday, June 30 2022

PM Mitsotakis: Sanctions against Russia must be adhered to by all NATO members

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has made it clear that NATO’s mission to protect territorial integrity, human rights and international law is not merely empty rhetoric, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis underlined while addressing the NATO Summit in Madrid on Wednesday, noting also that the sanctions decided on must be implemented by all NATO member states.

https://www.amna.gr/en/article/658066/PM-Mitsotakis-Sanctions-against-Russia-must-be-adhered-to-by-all-NATO-members

Biden and Erdogan discuss ‘importance of maintaining stability in Aegean’

US President Joe Biden discussed “the importance of maintaining stability in the Aegean” with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to a White House statement issued after the meeting of the two leaders on the margins of the NATO summit in Madrid.

https://www.ekathimerini.com/news/1187914/biden-and-erdogan-discuss-importance-of-maintaining-stability-in-aegean/

 

Greece and Russia expected to normalize diplomatic relations over time, Russian FM spox

Common sense should prevail over time and diplomatic activity between Russia and Greece in Moscow and Athens become normalized, Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted at a press briefing of Russian and international journalists on Wednesday.

https://www.amna.gr/en/article/658109/Greece-and-Russia-expected-to-normalize-diplomatic-relations-over-time–Russian-FM-spox

 

Greece: 16,115 new coronavirus infections on Wed., 9 deaths; 95 on ventilators

Greece confirmed 16,115 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, the National Public Health Organization (EODY) said on Wednesday, bringing all confirmed infections since the pandemic began to 3,661,004 (daily change: +0.4 pct).

https://www.amna.gr/en/article/658122/Greece-16-115-new-coronavirus-infections-on-Wed–9-deaths-95-on-ventilatorsrn

 

PPC prepared in case Russian gas flow stops

Public Power Corporation has worked out a plan to secure power supplies under an “extreme” scenario of Russia halting gas flows to Europe, its top manager said on Wednesday.

https://www.ekathimerini.com/economy/1187894/ppc-prepared-in-case-russian-gas-flow-stops/

 

ATHEX: Turnover rises but stocks drop

The improvement of daily turnover on the Athens Exchange on Wednesday did not come with any growth in stock prices, as once again the closing auctions denied the benchmark a positive finish. However, Athinon Avenue generally outperformed most of its eurozone peers on a difficult day for stocks across the bloc.

https://www.ekathimerini.com/economy/1187916/athex-turnover-rises-but-stocks-drop/

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KATHIMERINI: Biden asked Erdogan for calmness in the Aegean

TA NEA: Biden to Erdogan: “Stability in the Aegean”

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: F-16: Biden thanks Erdogan

AVGI: The government supports the cartels

RIZOSPASTIS: Everybody join the rallies today!

KONTRA NEWS: Europe and the US are giving arms to Turkey

TO PONTIKI: Erdogan blackmailed then and got everything he wanted

DIMOKRATIA: PM Mitsotakis was an extra in the NATO Summit while Erdogan got everything he wanted  

NAFTEMPORIKI: New energy bomb leads to inflation spike

RUSSIA FOR LUNCH: Foreign journalists were surprised to find Ensaladilla Rusa — “Russian salad” — on their lunch menu at the NATO summit in Madrid. The hearty dish, which is found across Spain, is basically a cold potato salad with hard boiled eggs and mayonnaise, which goes back to a Belgian cook who created it in 1860 for l’Ermitage Restaurant in Moscow. Spaniards add tuna and beetroot to make it their own — talk about cultural appropriation.

NATO

NEW NEMESIS: NATO leaders have designated China as a source of “systemic challenges” to Euro-Atlantic security, in their new strategic concept adopted Wednesday. “The People Republic of China’s stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values,” the document proclaims, slamming Beijing’s efforts to team up with Moscow and their “mutually reinforcing attempts” to undercut the international order.

It’s an acknowledgement of reality. Under Xi Jinping, China has taken a decidedly authoritarian turn, building an Orwellian surveillance state and turning its back on humanist values, freedom and democracy not just at home but increasingly also abroad.

No fighting: But the new guiding document also makes clear that the West does not seek a confrontation with Beijing, but rather a peaceful coexistence based on building trust: “We remain open to constructive engagement with the PRC, including to build reciprocal transparency, with a view to safeguarding the Alliance’s security interests.” More on the NATO strategic concept here by POLITICO’s David Herszenhorn.

JAPAN MEETS NATO: POLITICO’s Stuart Lau reports that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is sharing his concerns on China and Taiwan with NATO leaders — the first time Japan has attended an Alliance summit.

NORTH AFRICA FOCUS: Spain claims it has obtained guarantees from NATO to protect Ceuta and Melilla, its enclaves in North Africa. Chief of Defense Staff Teodoro López Calderón argued that NATO’s new strategic concept’s vow to defend the “territorial integrity” of member countries also covers Spain’s territories on the African continent.

Watch today: Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez is likely to face questions about this at his press conference today. You can follow along with our live blog.

TURKEY THE KEY TO UNLOCKING BLACK SEA: Ukraine is looking to Turkey for security guarantees to unlock a deal with Russia to allow grain to be shipped through the Black Sea, report POLITICO’s Sarah Anne Aarup and Gabriela Galindo. A government official in Kyiv told them a plan is under discussion that would open up blocked Ukrainian ports, without the need to de-mine the waters in the area. A security guarantee provided by Turkey or another state — likely one within NATO — is now the crucial missing piece of a deal and a plan could be finalized within days, the official said.

NEW NATO COMMANDER STARTS FRIDAY: Army General Christopher Cavoli, U.S. President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead American forces in Europe (dual-hatted as NATO’s top commander), starts July 1. Cavoli, who now commands U.S. Army forces on the Continent, will succeed Air Force General Tod Wolters as head of U.S. European Command and NATO supreme allied commander. The four-star general is fluent in Russian and received a master’s degree from Yale University in Russian studies — read more about Cavoli’s interesting background here.

ROME MULLS SENDING HOWITZERS TO UKRAINE: Italy “will be supplying” Ukraine with heavy weapons “similar” to the howitzers that Germany and the Netherlands are sending to the country, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told POLITICO. An Italian spokesperson declined to comment. Sending modern artillery equipment would mark a significant increase in Italy’s military support, reports our colleague Hans von der Burchard.

Can’t make this up: But Italian news agency ANSA has this intriguing report about three Italian howitzers “bound for Ukraine” that were stopped by traffic police … because the vehicles transporting them lacked registration papers and maintenance.

UKRAINIAN POWs: Most of the relatives of the 3,500 Ukrainian troops who surrendered in Azovstal and other pockets near Mariupol remain in the dark about the soldiers’ fates, and there’s growing anger that Kyiv isn’t doing enough to get them back, reports POLITICO’s Sergei Kuznetsov.

PISSING OFF CHINA

WHO’LL SHOW UP TO THIS PARTY? Playbook was intrigued to see that Commissioner Dubravka Šuica was scheduled to participate in an event today marking the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to mainland China — not exactly a great fit for the EU’s democracy chief.

U-Turn: But after making enquires, the Commission told our colleague Stuart Lau that, in fact, Šuica would not be attending the event, though the EU will be represented by an official.

Bad look: “The EU attaches great importance to the preservation of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy as well as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including media freedom, democratic principles and the rule of law,” a spokeswoman for the EEAS said. Too right, given 10,000 Hongkongers have been arrested on political grounds by the authorities since 2019.

WILL MANNEKEN PIS PISS OFF CHINA? Meanwhile, Brussels officials are weighing up whether to allow the city’s iconic Manneken Pis statuette to be decked out in a “Hong Kong costume” on Friday to celebrate the 25th anniversary, write Stuart and Camille Gijs.

Big week: Just days after Brussels suspended (but did not kill) its relationship with its sister city of Moscow, the city’s college of aldermen is now having to make a ruling on whether to stop the event over human rights objections. We’ve reached out to authorities — and will keep you posted.

DELETE-GATE

NOTHING TO SEE HERE: The European Commission has doubled down on its decision not to disclose the text messages between its President Ursula von der Leyen and Pfizer boss Albert Bourla about contracts for a COVID vaccine. In a response submitted to the European Ombudsman, and published Wednesday, Commission Vice President Věra Jourová held the Berlaymont’s line in an ongoing standoff with the EU watchdog, MEPs and journalists.

DELETE-GATE: As our colleague Sarah Wheaton reports, the message from the Berlaymont in its reply to Emily O’Reilly, is this: if it’s short and sweet, it’s OK to delete. But that’s not how many people see it, in a world where text messages are now a standard method of communications.

Early reaction: Kathleen Van Brempt, a Belgian S&D MEP who chairs the European Parliament’s special COVID-19 committee, called the Commission’s stance “unacceptable,” while a spokesperson for Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly said it was “problematic on several points,” ahead of a more comprehensive analysis due later.

Next steps: The Commission said it would develop more concrete guidelines, potentially with the other institutions, that make clear to staff that texts shouldn’t be used for sensitive, important matters. But, as Sarah points out, if no one is keeping the texts, how will anyone know if staff are following the guidelines?

NOW READ THIS: Alexander Fanta, the netzpolitik.org journalist who sought von der Leyen’s texts through a freedom of information request, has written an opinion piece for POLITICO arguing the Commission’s stance spells trouble for EU transparency.

IN OTHER NEWS

KIWI DEAL: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is in Brussels today, where she’ll meet with Ursula von der Leyen this afternoon, among others, and finalize the EU-NZ trade deal. European Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis and New Zealand Trade Minister Damien O’Connor have a press conference on the agreement scheduled at 3:45 p.m.

METSOLA QUESTIONED ON ABORTION: A group of MEPs has written to European Parliament President Roberta Metsola calling for anti-abortion lobbyists to be banned from the Parliament. Noting last week’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse Roe v Wade, which enshrined the right to abortion at a federal level, the MEPs say “we are deeply committed to ensuring these fundamental rights in Europe.” Dutch MEP Samira Rafaela tweeted: “There is no room in the European Parliament for their toxic anti-women agenda.”

Background: Metsola, who hails from Malta, has come under criticism for her stance on abortion rights. Malta is the only EU country where abortion is banned. Its restrictive policy came into focus this month after an American woman was forced to travel to Spain for a termination after suffering a miscarriage. But despite outcry in Europe about the removal of a federal right to abortion in the U.S., Metsola is unlikely to cede to the MEPs’ demands to ban anti-abortion lobbyists from the Parliament, Playbook is told.

WHO OWNS THE EUROPEAN POLITICAL COMMUNITY? The French have been hailing it as President Emmanuel Macron’s big idea. But now British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is taking credit for the European Political Community — a proposed club for non-EU Europeans.

Paternity test: “Emmanuel has an idea which I actually claim paternity of,” Johnson told reporters en route to the NATO summit. But he had some other ideas that are not exactly in the French plan: extending the club to Turkey and the Maghreb. “I think that you should basically be recreating the Mare Nostrum of the Roman Empire,” the PM said, with typical showy aplomb.

TALKING OF TURKEY: With its economy in crisis and elections looming in 2023, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rhetoric is becoming increasingly uncompromising, with the Turkish president rejecting calls to change monetary policy and looking abroad to help solve his country’s problems. Gabriel Gavin reports for POLITICO from Istanbul.

ABDESLAM CONVICTED: Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member of the group that carried out the November 2015 Paris terror attacks, was found guilty of murder Wednesday and sentenced to life in prison without parole. POLITICO’s Luanna Muniz and Julie Tomiche have the details.

BAD GDPR DAY FOR GOOGLE: Google is yet again facing consumer groups’ ire for making it complicated for users to have more privacy, even as the Irish data protection authority is promising to wrap up a three-year probe into the search giant’s location-tracking. Consumer associations from several EU countries are asking their national privacy regulators to investigate Google for potential breaches of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), over what they say are deceptive and misleading settings.

The organizations say the tech giant pushes people to sign up to a Google account as they access other services like YouTube, Google Maps and the app store. A spokesperson for the company said that options when creating a Google account were clearly labeled and based on guidance from privacy authorities.

Wake up, Ireland: The new complaints echo allegations made in 2018 that are still being investigated by Dublin, which is often criticized for its lack of enforcement of the privacy rules. Read more from our colleague Tristan Fiedler here for POLITICO Cybersecurity and Data Protection and Technology Pros.

BUCCANEERING BRITAIN: After the dust settled on the World Trade Organization’s latest global summit, some are arguing that the U.K. has dropped down a tier in relevance at the organization after Brexit, POLITICO’s Seb Whale reports.

BREXIT REALITY BITES: The proportion of Brits who believe Brexit has made their life worse has risen from three in 10 to 45 percent. That’s according to new polling, out today by Ipsos U.K. in partnership with the EU:UK Forum. Unsurprisingly, seven in 10 of those who voted to remain in the EU share this view — but the proportion of Leave voters who say the same has doubled since last year from 10 to 22 percent. European Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič will be among those participating in the forum today.

COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS LATEST

PLAYBOOK CULPA: As some eagle-eyed readers spotted, we had a bit of a moment and switched the names of the incoming and outgoing presidents of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) in Wednesday’s Playbook. Portugal’s Vasco Cordeiro is, of course, the newly elected president, replacing Greece’s Apostolos Tzitzikostas. Nostra maxima culpa. Here’s a sneak preview of an interview fresh off the shelf that our colleague Aitor Hernández-Morales conducted with Cordeiro …

Power to local leaders: Cordeiro told Aitor that local leaders should have a greater say in how Europe is run. The CoR, a “political assembly” made up of EU mayors and regional leaders, currently has a mandate to give its opinion on — and even challenge — the roughly 70 percent of new EU laws that impact regions and cities. But in his interview, Cordeiro argued that the CoR should also be consulted on the other issues the EU handles: “Shouldn’t our regions and cities also be able to say what they think about what Europe should be more broadly?”

On the money: Cordeiro wants to use his mandate, which runs until 2025, to start a conversation on revamping the EU’s cohesion policy, which is used to finance urban and regional development projects throughout the bloc. He also wants local administrations to have a real say in how cohesion cash is used. Sign up to the Living Cities newsletter to read the full interview later today.