Each week we bring you the ten most important pieces of news from Eastern Europe.
Compiled by: Hristo Voynov and Kristijan Fidanovski
- Trump in Eastern Europe
On his way to the G20 meeting, Trump first stopped in Poland. This was largely due to the support that his policies and ideology has within Poland, which resulted in him being well received in Warsaw. Polish President Duda took it as a moment to boast himself and Poland’s position in the world. Following this, Trump finally met with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 meeting and discussed claims of Russian meddling in US elections. While there is some controversy within the US as to how the meeting went, the Russian state media’s coverage was very positive.
- EU-Western Balkans summit in Trieste
Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel, France’s president Emmanuel Macron, and Italy’s prime minister Paolo Gentiloni have held talks between each other and with Western Balkan leaders at the fourth annual EU-Western Balkans summit since Germany launched the initiative in 2014. This comes at a hectic time in the region, with Macedonia and Serbia having just gotten their new governments, and Albania being in the process of agreeing on a new governing coalition.
- Israel-Hungary relations improve in shared opposition to Soros, but not all agree
This began when the Israeli ambassador decided to write a letter of protest to the Hungarian government decrying its targeting of George Soros, which referred to “sad memories” of hatred and fear. However, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu revoked the letter and criticized Soros for undermining Israeli and Hungarian democracy, much like the Hungarian government’s position. However, Hungarian Jewish have connected the recent campaign with an increase in anti-Semitism and questionable media tactics. Soros’ spokesperson agrees, stating that “the campaign has created an outcry amongst Hungary’s Jews and others” as well as including examples of why the campaign is perceived as anti-Semitic and not simply anti-Soros.
- 22 years since the Srebrenica genocide
On July 11, thousands of Bosniaks and non-Bosniaks within Bosnia and Herzegovina but also elsewhere in the Balkans commemorated the Srebrenica genocide of 1995. With thousands of confirmed and presumed Bosniak victims, the genocide was the single most gruesome point in the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s.
- Alternatives to the Visegrad Group Crisis
The Czech government has offered an alternative to accepting the EU’s migrant quotas. Instead, it is interested in giving large cash payments and manpower in ongoing efforts to help slow down the migrants entering through Italy, which is not receiving the brunt of the refugee wave as the Balkan routes have slowed down. This is not exactly what the EU is looking for, but material support may be better than division and infighting within the union.
- Greece’s population is in decline
According to Eurostat, Greece’s population has declined by 0.25% in the past year. Greece is one of ten EU member countries with declining populations.
- Escalation of conflicts between civil society organizations and governments in Poland
The Polish Interior Minister claimed to be planning amending the law to force organizers of protests pay for part of the security costs associated that come along with protests. While security for large demonstrations is expensive, this reads closer to an attempt to suppress anti-government protests by targeting the organizers. Meanwhile in Hungary, multiple organizations including the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and Amnesty International, have refused to comply with the new laws focusing on foreign funded NGOs and have discussed civil disobedience as a possible method of moving forward.
- Bulgaria’s PM Borisov improves relations with neighbours
After announcing the upcoming signing of an agreement for good neighbourly relations with Macedonia, Bulgaria’s PM Boiko Borisov had an important meeting on energy issues with his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim on July 10 in Istanbul. The meeting was held on the margins of the World Petroleum Congress.
- Czech politician denied entry into Ukraine
The Chamber of Deputies member Milan Sarapatka was not allowed entry into Ukraine after being stopped in a Kiev airport on his way into the country. Sarapatka was one of the outside observers during the Crimean referendum. Ukraine has denied entry to multiple persons who it says were in Crimea illegally, however Sarapatka claims he has been in Ukraine multiple times since this incident. This happened shortly after the Czech Republic closed down an unofficial consulate of the separatist republic that had been established within the country.
- Retrial of a major organ trafficking case in Kosovo
The Kosovar Supreme Court, largely comprised of international judges, started the retrial of three people sentenced to five to eight years in prison for organ trafficking. Only two of the convicts attended the first hearing, as the third person is still on the run.