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CrisisWatch Database

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1566 results found
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Turkey

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Violence continued in south-east provinces with 50 members of security forces, at least 80 verifiable PKK/PKK-linked militants and some 23 civilians killed in April. Turkish media 4 April reported senior PKK figure Duran Kalkan elected leader of People’s Revolutionary Movement (HBDH), PKK-led umbrella organisation established 12 March comprising nine illegal leftist and pro-Kurdish extremist groups; security officials warned organisation will engage in acts of terror, including targeting foreign nationals. President Erdoğan 4 April said PKK has no option other than laying down arms or surrendering to security forces, dismissed any prospects for negotiation; 5 April vowed to strip PKK supporters of their citizenship. Suicide bomb attack 27 April hit western province of Bursa, thirteen injured; PKK offshoot Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) 1 May claimed responsibility, security officials 28 April detained fifteen suspects. Clampdown against Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat al-Nusra networks intensified: authorities 1 April detained fifteen suspects in İzmir province; long-sought IS-linked suspect Hüseyin Tunç detained 6 April on charges of involvement in 10 Oct Ankara bombings; security forces 14 April detained eleven suspected al-Nusra militants after operations in Adana province. IS-attributed strikes from Syria intensified hitting Kilis province eleven times in April, thirteen reported killed and 59 injured. Defence Minister İsmet Yılmaz 13 April reported 146 IS targets shelled by Turkish artillery, 362 IS militants killed in Turkish military operations in retaliation to rockets landing in Kilis. Erdoğan 7 April warned EU that Ankara would not implement March migrant deal if Brussels failed to fulfil its side of bargain, including visa-free travel to Europe for Turkish citizens by summer and rejuvenated EU accession process.

Cyprus

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı 16 April approved new coalition govt between National Unity Party (UBP) and Republican Turkish Party-United Forces (CTP-BG), and named UBP Chairmain Hüseyin Özgürgün PM; followed collapse of previous coalition govt after UBP 3 April withdrew, blaming govt inability to address economic problems. Akıncı 7 April warned that fall of govt and Greek Cypriot parliamentary election scheduled for May could have negative impact on peace talks.

Ukraine

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged

Evidence emerged that conflict in east more intense than widely reported, with sustained exchanges of fire – including infantry weapons plus heavier cannon and artillery – taking place daily, and both separatist and Ukrainian military sources reporting heavy casualties, including three Ukrainian soldiers killed in mortar attack in Mayorsk near Donetsk 20 April. OSCE 9 April reported its monitors came under fire south of Donetsk; EU foreign policy chief Mogherini criticised increase in ceasefire violations. Parliament 14 April confirmed Vladimir Groysman, speaker and protégé of President Poroshenko, as PM by small margin; followed weeks of confusion and contentious debates; PM Yatsenyuk resigned 10 April. Groysman widely considered to be close to Ukraine’s oligarchs, appointed several unpopular figures in new cabinet. Fragility of PM’s parliamentary base demonstrated 14 April when he was unable to gather enough votes to put on parliament agenda controversial bill which would have reduced qualifications required of prosecutor general. EU late April announced Ukraine summit scheduled for May to be postponed until Sept to allow govt time to deliver on reform commitments; earlier announced it would offer visa-free travel to EU bloc for Ukrainians despite negative Dutch referendum result on EU Association Agreement with Ukraine. U.S. Asst Sec State Victoria Nuland visited Kyiv 25 April, seen as indicator of U.S. impatience with Poroshenko’s unwillingness to implement Minsk agreement; declared it is time to start “locking up” corrupt high officials. UN operations facing operational and reputational problems after 8 April arrest of UN Department of Security and Safety (DSS) officer in Donetsk, after DNR’s ministry of state security (MGB) identified him as former senior Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) paramilitary officer who was active in operations to suppress separatist movement early 2014.

Moldova

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Parliament announced presidential election to be held 30 Oct, first time public will vote for president following March court ruling and in response to popular protests. Thousands protested 24 April calling for early elections.

Georgia

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
After meeting with Russian President Putin 4 April, de facto leader of South Ossetia Leonid Tibilov declared his intention to hold proposed “referendum” on joining Russia; vote reportedly scheduled for July. Putin 14 April said Russia “cannot oppose” desire of South Ossetian people to hold referendum.

Azerbaijan

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Rights activists Leyla and Arif Yunus, jailed on fraud charges widely believed to be politically motivated and released late 2015 due to poor health, sought asylum in Netherlands after being permitted to leave Azerbaijan. U.S. State Dept’s human rights report criticised govt crackdown on civil society. Leak of data on offshore holdings by global elites included high-level Azerbaijani officials, implying high level corruption.

Macedonia

  |  2 May 2016

Deteriorated
Political crisis worsened, prompting widespread domestic and international criticism and days of protests, as opposition Social Democrats 6 April announced party would boycott 5 June early elections due to failure to implement reforms to media and cleaning up of electoral roll; and after President Ivanov 12 April pardoned all politicians facing criminal investigations, undermining work of Special Prosecution tasked with investigating allegations of illegal wiretapping. Protesters 13 April stormed president’s office. Speaker of parliament 14 April confirmed date of 5 June election, fuelling protests, which also took place in cities outside capital. EU cancelled crisis talks planned for 22 April after opposition conditioned participation on postponing elections and annulling presidential pardon. Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva 14 April said her team’s investigations would continue, launched fresh investigation. Special Prosecution witness found shot dead at home 27 April. U.S. NGO Freedom House annual report described Macedonia’s media as “not free”.

Kosovo

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Former PM Thaci sworn in as president 7 April; opposition boycotted session, protesters threw stones at parliament; activists disrupted inauguration next day with tear gas. Ad hoc international commission approved border demarcation agreement between Kosovo and Montenegro 30 March, prompting further opposition anger. Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Kosovo and EU entered into force 1 April, welcomed as milestone in EU-Kosovo relationship.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Chief prosecutor 11 April said Milorad Dodik, president of country’s Serb-controlled Republika Srpska (RS) entity, is being investigated in connection with failed Pavlovic bank. European Parliament 14 April adopted resolution condemning RS plans to hold referendum on authority of Bosnian state court.

Turkey

  |  1 Apr 2016

Deteriorated

Car bomb 13 March in Ankara killed 36, two attackers also killed; Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) – ultra-radical Kurdish nationalist offshoot of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – claimed responsibility for attack, said it was act of revenge for ongoing security operations against PKK in southeastern urban centres. Ankara 14 March conducted heavy airstrikes on PKK camps in northern Iraq, as military operations continued in SE Şırnak, Diyarbakır, Mardin and Hakkâri provinces, with 52 Turkish security forces, at least 40 civilians and at least 25 PKK militants killed 1-29 March; seven police killed in explosion in Diyarbakır 31 March. Justice Ministry 4 March submitted request that parliament lift immunities of pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairs and three other MPs, following visit of condolence by one HDP MP to family of TAK suicide bomber allegedly responsible for 17 Feb Ankara attack; request likely to stoke further tension in ongoing row between ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and HDP. President Erdoğan 14 March vowed to expand definition of terror to apply to lawmakers, journalists and activists as space for open debate continued to narrow. Istanbul court 16 March arrested three Turkish academics and deported UK academic on charges of terrorist propaganda, following their public declaration entitled “We won’t be part of this crime” during 10 March gathering. Islamic State (IS)-linked suicide bomber 17 March attack on Istanbul’s Istiklal Street killed three Israeli and one Iranian national and injured 39. IS 8 and 12 March launched strikes from across Syrian border, two killed including one toddler in border province Kilis. EU and Turkey 18 March reached landmark agreement on Syrian refugees, part of deal that includes visa liberalisation and acceleration of accession negotiations for Turkey. EU agreed to grant additional €3bn to Turkey for refugee-related costs until end of 2018.

Cyprus

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Greek Cypriot spokesperson 8 March said Ankara should recognise Republic of Cyprus and open trade, ports and airports before govt could lift veto on six of Turkey’s EU negotiation chapters; statement threatened to complicate Turkey’s deal on refugees and accelerated accession talks with EU. Turkey’s EU Minister Volkan Bozkır 16 March said “capriciousness” of Greek Cypriot administration should not be allowed to block EU-Turkey deal. Republic of Cyprus President  Anastasiades 17 March backed down following meetings with European Council President Tusk and European Commission President Juncker, said he hoped compromise could be reached at European Council meeting but maintained criticism of Turkey for failing to recognise his govt. Turkish and U.S. FMs meeting in Washington 29 March agreed Cyprus deal could be reached in 2016. Historic Denya Mosque attacked 22 Feb by unknown arsonists; Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders condemned attack.  Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı alleged attack was attempt to disrupt peace talks and vowed to punish assailants.

Ukraine

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged

Crisis of confidence in political leadership intensified, with increasing discussion on who will replace unpopular PM Yatsenyuk, facing ongoing calls to resign despite surviving Feb no-confidence vote. Leading candidate is current speaker and close associate of President Poroshenko Vladimir Groysman. Fending off calls for snap elections, Poroshenko 23 March urged parliament to approve new PM and cabinet by 29 March, no agreement reached by month’s end. Crisis prompting growing concern among Ukraine’s international partners over commitment to reforms needed to secure $1.7bn IMF assistance. European Commission President Juncker 17 March said EU would formally propose visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens, two days after Ukrainian parliament passed anti-corruption bill requiring officials to declare their assets online. Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, apparently dismissed by president in Feb, resumed his duties 16 March; parliament voted to fire him 29 March. Ukrainian military volunteer Nadia Savchenko, held in Russia since June 2014 on charges of calling in artillery strike that killed two Russian journalists, sentenced 22 March to 22 years’ jail; Ukraine extended sanctions on Russian individuals and institutions, called for new EU sanctions. In east, exchanges of gunfire and artillery continued along the line of separation, with Ukrainian army reporting several casualties. Throughout month both sides accused the other of using large-calibre weapons in defiance of Minsk agreement. OSCE special monitoring mission officers continue to report regular obstruction of their work by both sides, and patchy implementation of agreement to withdraw heavy weapons from front line. Minsk and Normandy group consultations on the conflict continued without substantive progress or result, including talks in Paris 3 March, at which sides failed to agree on elections in separatist entities. U.S. and EU extended sanctions on individuals and entities benefitting from Russian annexation of Crimea.

Moldova

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Constitutional Court 4 March ruled that president should be elected by popular vote, not by parliament. Current President Timofti, whose term expired 23 March, to stay on as acting president until direct presidential elections.

Georgia

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Russian Deputy FM mid-month said Moscow disliked increasing anti-Russian rhetoric in Tbilisi, Kremlin’s patience “has limits”. Commander of NATO Supreme Allied Command Europe Gen Philip Breedlove during late-March visit warned of Russia’s “aggressive game in world politics” and called for Georgia to further enhance partnership with NATO and U.S.. Thousands joined protests 6 March against govt plan to purchase natural gas from Russian-owned Gazprom.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Baku court 15 March sentenced opposition adviser Mammad Ibrahim to three years’ prison on hooliganism charges; Ibrahim said charges politically motivated. Thirteen human rights/opposition activists among 148 prisoners released as part of presidential amnesty 17 March; EU and OSCE called for release of remaining political prisoners. Journalist Rauf Mirkadirov, jailed in Dec 2015 for spying, in case he said was politically motivated, also released early. Supreme Court 28 March commuted sentence of human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev, convicted in 2015 on charges including tax evasion. Azerbaijan held joint air force exercises with Turkey during month.

Macedonia

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Senior U.S. official visited Skopje early March to check implementation of June 2015 agreement to end political crisis. EU mediator reported talks on media reform ahead of June elections had halted. Constitutional Court closed session mid-month, approved cancellation of law which would have prohibited president from pardoning individuals accused of vote-rigging in 2013 election despite protests and EU calls to fight impunity in election-related offences. Special Prosecution into crimes by senior officials late March announced investigations into five people suspected of destroying surveillance equipment, and into former secret police chief and several others suspected of acts of torture. Electoral commission report leaked 17 March said half a million names (out of 1.8mn on electoral role) need further verification. Court 25 March sentenced six people for fighting alongside Islamist groups in Syria or recruiting others.

Kosovo

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Opposition MPs continued to disrupt parliament sessions with tear gas early month, including 4 March voting in of Hashim Thaçi as president 4 March; protests continued outside parliament. Masked assailants threw Molotov cocktail at president’s office 12 March. Parliament held first undisrupted session of 2016 on 15 March, as opposition boycotted. Opposition repeated calls for early elections. Opposition 25 March announced it would postpone protest planned for next day against election of Thaci as president.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
President of Republika Srpska (RS) entity Milorad Dodik sparked outrage by expressing admiration for former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić, who was found guilty by International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague 24 March of genocide over 1995 Srebrenica massacre and sentenced to 40 years’ jail. ICTY 31 March acquitted former Serbian deputy PM and ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity during Balkans wars in early 1990s.

Turkey

  |  1 Mar 2016

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Car bomb attack 17 Feb in Ankara killed some 29 high ranking military officials and civil servants; govt 18 Feb blamed attack on armed wing of Syrian affiliate of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), however radical Kurdish nationalist group Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a PKK offshoot, 18 Feb claimed responsibility for attack. Incident further weakened prospects for talks to resume between Ankara and PKK. Violence continued in SE despite Ankara’s declaration of successful conclusion of operations in Silopi and Cizre towns 28 Jan and 11 Feb; observers fear fighting will worsen in March. Some 84 security forces and at least 27 PKK militants killed in clashes during month including Ankara bombing. PM Davutoğlu 5 Feb unveiled anti-terror plan calling for aid to those displaced by fighting, reconstruction of devastated communities and economic assistance to SE, but rejecting engagement with pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) or PKK; plan instead calls for consultations with local Islamist Kurdish parties and NGOs, small Kurdish nationalist parties unaligned with HDP or PKK, and constitutional reform to deliver Kurdish rights demands. Erdoğan 17 Feb signalled he could push for referendum on strengthening his office’s powers following 16 Feb decision of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to leave committee tasked with drafting new constitution. Turkey started shelling YPG targets in N Syria after group began gaining ground against Turkey-backed rebels late-Jan. Responding to new wave of Syrian refugees fleeing Aleppo fighting, Turkish authorities began building makeshift camps on Syrian side of border. EU 3 Feb finalised €3bn fund to assist Turkey with some 2.7mn Syrian refugees it is hosting in exchange for strengthened Turkish efforts to prevent them travelling on to Europe.

Cyprus

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Talks between Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders continued; referendum on reunification expected to take place after Greek Cypriot elections, scheduled for 22 May. Meeting between Turkish Cypriot leaders and Turkish govt 8 Feb failed to resolve ongoing dispute over water distribution, threatening to weaken ruling Turkish Cypriot coalition govt chaired by lead negotiator Mustafa Akıncı. Turkish FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu 21 Feb reiterated Ankara’s support for settlement in Cyprus, predicted agreement would be reached by June 2016.

Ukraine

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Upsurge of artillery exchanges, growing questions from all sides about Minsk’s viability, and further undermining of President Poroshenko’s standing all cast doubt on progress of reform agenda in Kyiv and implementation of Minsk agreements. Military reported escalated fighting in east, including three Ukrainian soldiers killed mid-month, international monitors voicing concern over increased shelling in recent weeks. Separatist leader Denis Pushilin 14 Feb said separatists would push ahead with integration of their republics into Russia as a “counterweight” to Ukraine’s implementation of Minsk; other separatist sources report that unification of the two separatist enclaves is again under preliminary discussion. French and German FMs travelled to Ukraine 22-23 Feb to call for faster reforms and implementation of Minsk agreements. Political chaos in Kyiv intensified; 16 Feb no-confidence vote in govt and PM Yatsenyuk failed, however episode widely seen as undermining President Poroshenko’s credibility, who hours before vote had publicly urged Yatsenyuk to resign. After vote, two fractions, Yuliya Timoshenko’s Batkivshchyna and Samopomich, both announced plans to leave governing coalition. Poroshenko requested resignation of controversial Prosecutor-General Viktor Shokin. Economy and Trade Minister Aivaras Abromavicius resigned 3 Feb, claiming that close adviser of Poroshenko had tried to impose upon him deputy ministers who were not qualified; ten leading Western ambassadors issued joint statement expressing dismay at resignation. IMF voiced concern at “slow progress in improving governance and fighting corruption”, casting doubt on prospects of IMF-supported program. Power struggles continued in separatist areas, with senior Donetsk leader Alexander Khodakovsky coming out in open opposition to Alexander Zakharchenko and another separatist leader.

Moldova

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Jan anti-govt protests dwindled, however protests 9 Feb disrupted re-election of new Supreme Court Justice head, accusing him of corruption; protest leaders continue to call for fresh elections. Romania demanded reforms to justice and banking systems and anti-corruption measures as condition of $65mn loan to Moldova. Parliament 25 Feb voted to keep country on pro-European path, streamline prosecution service including with anti-corruption office; MPs from opposition pro-Russia Socialist Party walked out of session. Grenade thrown at Central Bank governor’s home 1 Feb, no casualties, assailant unknown.

Georgia

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Georgian official reported latest round of talks between Russia and Georgia, initially planned for Feb, postponed to mid-March. NATO Sec Gen Stoltenberg 11 Feb reported Georgia making progress in moving toward NATO membership thanks to reforms. Georgian opposition party leader Aleksi Petriashvili 26 Feb injured after being attacked and shot while visiting Tbilisi cemetery.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

FM Elmar Mammadyarov 3 Feb said Azerbaijan holding talks with Russian and Turkish officials in bid to mend their deteriorated bilateral relations.

Armenia

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Continued increase in military cooperation between Russia and Armenia: Russia reportedly provided $200mn loan for purchase of Russian arms; Russia and Armenia 23 Feb signed cooperation plan and agreement on unification of anti-aircraft warfare systems. Russian military 20 Feb said it had reinforced its base at Erebuni airport with jets and helicopter. Rights groups said arrest of dissident Vardges Gaspari on charges including insulting police politically motivated.

Macedonia

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Parliament 23 Feb voted to postpone elections planned for 24 April until 5 June, following EU and U.S. assessment 21 Feb saying conditions not yet in place for credible elections citing need to clean up electoral roll, agree on media reforms, take measures to separate state and political party activities. Opposition had threatened to withdraw ministers from govt and boycott elections if they were not postponed. Special Prosecution office set up to investigate high-level corruption 12 Feb announced several former ministers and senior officials suspected of organising election fraud in 2013. Constitutional Court 24 Feb voted to discuss annulling provision in law that bars president from granting pardons, seen by opposition as ploy to pardon those announced as suspects by Special Prosecution; decision prompted protests outside court.

Kosovo

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Continued efforts to end political crisis unsuccessful, including 8 Feb meeting between ruling coalition and opposition with EU and U.S. envoys; opposition refused to attend apart from Alliance for the Future of Kosovo leader Ramush Haradinaj, who called for snap elections. Tens of thousands of opposition supporters protested peacefully 17 Feb calling for Aug 2015 agreements with Serbia on association of Serb-majority municipalities, and with Montenegro on border demarcation, to be scrapped, and for govt to step down. Opposition again disrupted parliament 19 Feb, with opposition MPs setting off tear gas in chamber, nine arrested; also set off tear gas during sessions 24 and 26 Feb, when FM and former PM Hashim Thaci was elected president. Opposition supporters protesting outside parliament clashed with police 26 Feb.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Following concerted international pressure, Republika Srpska President Dodik 8 Feb announced controversial planned referendum challenging authority of state judiciary to be postponed. Bosnia submitted formal EU membership application 15 Feb.

Turkey

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged
Govt declared progress in crackdown against PKK’s youth arm YDG-H in SE; PM Davutoğlu 19 Jan said Kurdish town Silopi in Şirnak province officially “free of PKK fighters”. Some 35 civilians, 33 security forces and twelve PKK militants killed in clashes between security forces and PKK, including PKK car bomb attack 14 Jan targeting police compound in Cinar, Diyarbakır province, six killed including five civilians. Officials 27 Jan widened curfew in Diyarbakır’s Sur district from six to eleven neighbourhoods. Two Kurdish lawyers 6 Jan petitioned European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) demanding temporary injunction to end curfews, claiming they violate basic human rights; court rejected petition. Petition followed late-Dec request to ECHR by pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Meral Danış Beştaş to rule that govt crackdowns are causing mass rights abuses in SE. Kurdish rights situation worsened with Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office launching series of investigations late-Dec into HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas, and into several politicians of Kurdish umbrella Democratic People’s Congress (DTK) following their declaration supporting Kurdish self-rule. Country-wide debate intensified early-Jan over ruling Justice and Development Party’s proposal for new constitution which would dramatically increase powers of presidency. Islamic State (IS) suicide attack 12 Jan killed eleven foreigners in Istanbul’s tourist district Sultanahmet; some 31 IS suspects subsequently arrested and 112 detained, govt reportedly carried out several operations against IS positions in Syria and Iraq. Border tensions grew following 18 Jan rocket attack reportedly from IS-held territory in Syria on border town Kilis, one Turkish civilian killed. Govt accused Russia of violating its airspace again 29 Jan; Russia denied. Late-Nov refugee deal with EU remains stalled amid member states’ resistance over $3bn in aid; officials 15 Jan announced govt would begin issuing work permits for Syrian refugees without requiring residence permits, meeting longstanding demand of refugees and EU.

Cyprus

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged
Turkish Cypriot official 17 Jan said ongoing dispute with Turkish govt over water distribution could destabilise Turkish Cypriot ruling coalition and force early elections in Feb; destabilisation threatens positive progress in reunification talks. Turkish PM Davutoğlu 18 Jan called for summit on Cyprus with UK, Turkey, Greece, and Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot administrations.

Ukraine

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Amid ongoing accusations of ceasefire violations between Ukrainian army and separatists, three Ukrainian soldiers and two rebels reported killed in separate incidents in east early Jan; fourth Ukrainian soldier reported killed 23 Jan. Kyiv and separatist negotiators meeting in Minsk 13 Jan agreed to abide by ceasefire. U.S. Asst Sec State Victoria Nuland and Putin aide Vladislav Surkov 15 Jan held “brain-storming” session in Russian enclave Kaliningrad; other U.S.-Russia consultations took place during month. OSCE monitors reported they came under fire SW of Donetsk 16 Jan. Poroshenko 14 Jan said Ukraine prepared to restore electricity supply to Crimea if it rejoins Ukraine; Ukraine cut off trade with Crimea 18 Jan. EU-Ukraine free trade agreement came into force 1 Jan. Russia same day banned import of Ukrainian food products; Ukraine reciprocated. Poroshenko failed to obtain support needed for vital Minsk-related constitutional amendments, postponed vote. PM Yatsenyuk 24 Jan called for referendum on new constitution; Poroshenko said no special status for east until lasting ceasefire in place. EU 18 Jan urged Kyiv to implement promised reforms. Central Bank 28 Jan issued revised growth forecast for 2016, 1.1%, down from 2.4% predicted Nov 2015. UN announced extension of humanitarian food aid to east.

Moldova

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged Risk Alert

Capital Chisinau rocked by protests, outpouring of public anger over political corruption, demands for early elections. Amid ongoing efforts to form new govt after Oct 2015 ousting of previous govt over banking scandal, President Timofti 13 Jan rejected controversial businessman Vlad Plahotniuc as candidate for PM, nominated by pro-EU ruling coalition MPs. Thousands of protesters took to streets in Chisinau 13-14 Jan opposing Plahotniuc’s candidacy. Pro-Russian parties and pro-EU anti-corruption group staged further protests 16 Jan after Timofti named new PM nominee Pavel Filip, whose critics say is a proxy for Plahotniuc. Parliament 22 Jan voted in new pro-European govt headed by Filip; mostly pro-Russian protesters demanding early elections broke into parliament building, clashed with police. Protests continued over following days calling for snap elections, constitutional referendum on direct presidential elections and end to parliamentary immunity. EU and U.S. called for restraint and dialogue. Ruling coalition 30 Jan said it will call for referendum on direct presidential elections.

Georgia

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged
International Criminal Court authorised investigation into alleged war crimes during 2008 Georgia-Russia war by Georgian, Russian and South Ossetian forces.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Following Dec currency depreciation caused by falling energy prices, protests broke out in several districts 13 Jan over mounting economic difficulties including unemployment, price increases; scores of people including opposition activists reportedly arrested, mostly in Siyazan, where military units were deployed. Security forces dispersed protest in Quba district in NE 15 Jan. Currency continued to depreciate; govt 14 Jan closed down private currency exchange businesses. Parliament 19 Jan approved measures aimed at curbing crisis; IMF and World Bank discussing possible assistance package.

Armenia

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

1 February 2016: The trial of Russian soldier accused of murdering a family of seven in Gyumri in January 2015 began at Russian military base, under Armenian judge; the defendant pleaded guilty.

Macedonia

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

PM Gruevski offered resignation 15 Jan, 100 days before planned early elections 24 April, part of deal agreed with opposition to end political crisis. EU Enlargement Commissioner Hahn visited same day to participate in talks on implementation of deal, but sides unable to agree on whether to stick to agreed election date or postpone polls; opposition leader Zoran Zaev said preconditions for fair elections still not in place: electoral roll still needs to be checked for fake voters and media freedom assured. Head of electoral commission (DIK) said credible elections not possible by 24 April, more time needed to prepare; other DIK members voiced disagreement. MPs from ruling party in parliament voted to dissolve parliament 24 Feb, and elected new govt to pave way for 24 April elections, despite boycott by opposition MPs. Clean-up of electoral roll began late month; EU and U.S. ambassadors 29 Jan said urgent work remains to be done before parliament is dissolved 24 Feb.

Kosovo

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Opponents of Aug EU-brokered agreement with Serbia returned to streets of Pristina 9 Jan, with estimated 60,000 joining protests; some protesters clashed with police. Opposition announced further protests for 17 Feb, anniversary of declaration of independence. Latest round of Pristina-Belgrade dialogue in Brussels 27 Jan saw parties discuss implementation of former agreements. Prominent Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanović, considered a moderate, sentenced to nine years’ jail for war crimes by EULEX judges. European parliament 21 Jan ratified Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo. Dutch govt announced it would host new court to try Kosovo Liberation Army fighters for war crimes.

Turkey

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Violence between security forces and PKK continued at high intensity in south east with some 44 civilians, 25 security forces killed in clashes throughout month; PKK’s armed wing People’s Defence Force (HPG) reported at least eleven insurgents killed. Security forces 2 Dec declared curfew in Diyarbakır’s Sur district following late-Nov killing of prominent pro-Kurdish lawyer and rights activist Tahir Elçi. Insecurity remains high in urban areas: security forces 11 Dec declared curfew in seven cities throughout SE, as govt promised to continue operations; police intelligence reported over 100,000 displaced and 1.3 million affected by curfews since Aug. Govt 12 Dec launched airstrikes on PKK positions in SE, at least two civilians killed. PKK leader Murat Karayilan 15 Dec said PKK not planning unilateral ceasefire unless govt ends military operations. Media crackdown continued following 1 Nov elections: prominent opposition journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül arrested late-Nov on charges of being members of a terror organisation, espionage and revealing confidential documents. Tensions with Russia persisted: Russia intensified airstrikes against Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups and imposed sweeping embargoes on Turkish imports. Crackdown on Islamic State (IS) militants continued: 67 IS-linked suspects charged 18 Dec in investigation into IS activities; govt 10 Dec reportedly pledged to build 82km wall along IS-held border with Syria. EU 14 Dec opened negotiations with Ankara on Chapter 17, aimed at bringing Turkey in line with EU’s economic and monetary policy. Turkey and Israel 17 Dec reached preliminary deal to normalise relations.

Cyprus

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Reunification talks continued between Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci. Anastasiades 6 Dec suggested elections planned for May 2016 could be delayed by two or three months. UN SRSG Espen Bath Eide 8 Dec met with Turkish PM Davutoğlu to discuss talks.

Ukraine

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

UN reported death toll from conflict in east now over 9,000 since April 2014, also reported “significant reduction of hostilities” in some areas with limited pullback of heavy weaponry, but reported “continuing inflow of ammunition, weaponry and fighters from Russian Federation”. Despite holiday ceasefire agreed 22 Dec, Ukrainian authorities 27 Dec reported one soldier, one civilian killed in fighting north of Donetsk; separatists claimed two civilians died. OSCE said an observer came under fire near Mariupol 27 Dec. Security officials reported one officer killed during special operation against alleged saboteurs, including three Russian and four Ukrainian citizens, in Kharkiv 9 Dec. Russian President Putin visited Crimea 2 Dec, promised new supplies of electricity following Nov damage of Crimean power lines. PM Yatsenyuk 16 Dec said Ukraine will suspend trade with Crimea. Prominent Luhansk separatist commander Pavel Dryomov killed in car bomb 12 Dec. EU ambassadors 18 Dec agreed to six month sanction extension on Russia; U.S. 22 Dec expanded list of individuals and companies on sanctions list. Visiting Kyiv early month, U.S. VP Biden announced $190mn new financial aid, called for continued reforms. U.S. and Russian FMs mid-Dec discussed implementation of Minsk agreements. PM Yatsenyuk 18 Dec said Ukraine would not repay $3bn debt owed to Russia despite Russia’s threat to sue; followed failure to agree on restructuring of Russian debt. Moscow announced it would suspend free trade zone with Kyiv in response to EU-Ukraine free trade agreement, President Poroshenko said Kyiv “ready to pay the price”; parliament 24 Dec approved trade embargo against Russia. EU 18 Dec backed visa-free travel for Ukraine; but will need sign-off of EU parliament and EU member parliaments.

Georgia

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Defence ministry 10 Dec said Russian helicopter violated Georgian airspace near breakaway republic South Ossetia previous day; Moscow denied claim. EU 18 Dec decided to award Georgian citizens visa-free travel status by mid-2016.

Azerbaijan

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Rights activist Leyla Yunus released early from jail on medical grounds after serving a year of sentence on charges including fraud, tax evasion. Journalist Rauf Mirkadirov sentenced to six years’ jail 28 Dec on charges of spying for Armenia; lawyer said charges politically motivated. Council of Europe launched official inquiry into Azerbaijan’s compliance with European Convention on Human Rights. Authorities conducted further raid on Shiite settlement Nardaran outside Baku 1 Dec, several reportedly detained. Prominent opposition figure Fuad Qahramanli arrested in Baku 8 Dec, charges include publicly calling for overthrow of govt; lawyer said arrest linked to social media comments about Nardaran raid. Manat fell 48% against dollar 21 Dec after central bank abandoned currency peg.

Armenia

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Ahead of 6 Dec referendum on President Sargsyan’s proposal to change constitution to make country a parliamentary democracy, opposition organised protests, claiming proposed changes aim to allow Sargsyan to continue to hold power after end of his second term in 2018; govt says changes aimed at greater democratisation. Election Commission reported 63.5% voted in favour of changes 6 Dec. Opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) rejected result, amid reports of widespread irregularities; other opposition parties also challenged official report of 50.51% turnout. Election commission 13 Dec said constitutional amendments adopted. Protests continued late month demanding govt resign over alleged corruption. Russia deployed military hardware to reinforce its air base in Armenia.

Macedonia

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Implementation of July agreement to end political crisis continued. Electoral commission appointed after PM Gruevski and opposition leader Zoran Zaev 15 Dec agreed on names of independent experts. Parliamentary commission investigating mass illegal wiretapping scandal began calling witnesses. Ruling party 2 Dec walked out of EU-backed talks with opposition on media reform, after opposition leader said mainstream media biased. Gruevski mid-Dec said govt willing to “open dialogue” with Greece to find solution to name dispute; FMs met 18 Dec.

Kosovo

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Opposition parties continued to disrupt parliament in protest over Aug EU-brokered agreement to set up Association of Serbian Municipalities. Opposition MPs set off further tear gas attacks in parliament 14 Dec, disrupting two sessions; opposition supporters clashed with police outside parliament. Police arrested more opposition MPs over attacks. Several govt-owned cars set on fire 12 Dec. U.S. Sec State Kerry 2 Dec said U.S. backs Aug agreement, urged opposition to use democratic methods to express its opposition. Constitutional Court 23 Dec endorsed Aug agreement, but said some parts of deal violate constitution. Two Serb homes and memorial in Gorazdevac village damaged by gunshots 7 Dec. EU decided against awarding Kosovo citizens visa-free travel status in 2016; govt called decision “insult”.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Crisis over Bosnian Serb leaders’ demands for reform of Constitutional Court (CC) to remove foreign judges continued; Republika Srpska (RS) leader Milorad Dodik 1 Dec threatened to withdraw entity’s representatives from state institutions if reforms not adopted in 120 days. RS 10 Dec announced it was suspending cooperation with state-level police and court in response to arrest of five Serbs for war crimes; signed agreement renewing cooperation 16 Dec following intense international criticism.

Turkey

  |  1 Dec 2015

Deteriorated

Violence between PKK and Turkish security forces increased following 1 Nov snap elections as PKK 5 Nov declared end to 10 Oct unilateral ceasefire and PM Davutoglu 6 Nov promised to continue military operations against PKK. Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) regained parliamentary majority with 49.5% of vote in 1 Nov poll; pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) 13 Nov called on High Election Council to annul results, citing pre-election crackdown on media, detention of pro-Kurdish parties’ local operatives and attacks on HDP offices. Some 24 civilians, seventeen security forces members and nineteen PKK insurgents reported killed in clashes during month. Security forces 3 Nov began ten-day operation in Kurdish town Silvan, Diyarbakır district, engaged in fierce fighting with pro-PKK urban militia; some seven civilians and three security officials killed, thousands reportedly fled. President Erdogan 4 Nov renamed peace process “national brotherhood and unity process”, underscoring govt’s decision to shun negotiations with jailed PKK leader Öcalan and opt for continued military operations against PKK. Prominent pro-Kurdish lawyer and rights activist Tahir Elçi killed 28 Nov in gunfight between police and unidentified gunmen during press conference calling for end to violence with PKK; shooting sparked protests in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Diyarbakır. Police continued intensified operations against Islamic State (IS); FM 18 Nov pledged intensified Turkish and U.S. airstrikes against IS along Turkish border. Russian warplane shot down 24 Nov by Turkish fighter jet after alleged violation of Turkish airspace; Moscow 29 Nov announced series of sanctions against Turkey amid ongoing standoff with Ankara. PM Davutoglu 10 Nov repeated calls for “safe haven” along border with Syria. EU leaders and PM Davutoglu reached agreement during 29 Nov migration summit: Turkey promised to help stem flow of migrants to Europe in exchange for $3.2bn aid to help deal with 2.2mn registered Syrian refugees, visas and renewed talks on joining EU.

Cyprus

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Turkish PM Davutoglu 18 Nov said Greece and Turkey share “common approach” to forge Cyprus solution following meeting with Greek PM Tsipras. Turkey 20 Nov halted flow of fresh water pipeline servicing northern Cyprus following rejection by Republic of Cyprus authorities of Ankara’s proposal to transfer management to private company. Turkish Cypriot authorities stated preference for local management of pipeline amid some concerns Ankara is trying to deepen Turkish-Cypriots’ economic dependency on Turkey.

Ukraine

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Month saw flare-up of skirmishing and explosions along line of separation, however few casualties reported; OSCE attributed some apparent signs of military action to live-fire exercises and demining by both sides. Sides 11 Nov blamed each other for violating ceasefire. OSCE reported patchy implementation of arms pullback from front line, with both sides failing to provide information on numbers of weapons or lists of storage sites. Crimea experienced power outage following attack on electricity pylon 20 Nov; de facto authorities declared state of emergency 25 Nov. Russia cut gas supplies to Ukraine 25 Nov over payment dispute; Ukraine same day said it had decided to stop purchasing Russian gas; also announced Russian airlines banned from flying over Ukraine. Following Normandy group meeting 6 Nov, Russian FM Lavrov noted that full implementation of Minsk agreement, scheduled for end of 2015, would extend well into 2016. Western leaders meeting on margins of G20 in Turkey 21 Nov agreed to extend sanctions on Russia by six months until July 2016, despite calls to cooperate more closely in fight against Islamic State. Amid ongoing discussions over restructuring of Ukraine’s foreign debt, President Putin mid-Nov announced Russia will extend payback period for $3bn loan; PM Yatsenyuk rejected proposal. Kyiv faced further pressure from allies, most notably Odessa governor and former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, to push through reforms.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) awarded 85% of votes in 1 Nov parliamentary elections, winning 69 out of 125 seats in parliament. Voter turnout 56%; main opposition parties boycotted vote. OSCE refused to send observers. Govt released rights activist Arif Yunus from jail 12 Nov for medical reasons; Yunus not allowed to leave Baku. Four Shiite Muslims and two police killed in clash in Nardaran settlement NE of Baku 26 Nov; fourteen arrested, interior ministry statement said to neutralise armed group seeking to organise mass unrest.

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