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CrisisWatch Database

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1487 results found
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Turkey

  |  3 Aug 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Month saw collapse of state-PKK ceasefire in place since 2013 following marked increase in violent incidents particularly in SE Turkey, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) blamed for 20 July suicide bomb attack in Suruc killing 32. Two police killed by PKK-affiliated group 22 July. Border guard killed by IS militant 23 July, one police officer killed by PKK same day. Amid increasing tensions Turkey announced agreement for opening bases to allied forces fighting IS on 23 July and launched airstrikes on IS positions in Syria (killing at least 35 IS members according to Turkish military) on 24 July; and struck PKK positions in N Iraq starting on 25 July, continuing through end of July with seven waves of bombardment. Govt also arrested hundreds of suspected IS and PKK members inside Turkey 24 July onwards. PKK said 2013 truce has lost meaning; President Erdogan 28 July said peace process “with those who threaten our national unity and brotherhood” is impossible. Turkey and U.S. 28 July reportedly agreed in general terms on plan to drive out IS from part of Syrian territory along Turkish border. NATO ambassadors same day expressed solidarity with Turkey at meeting in Brussels to discuss Syria and Iraq, in session requested by Turkey. Kurdish forces claimed Turkish tanks shelled Kurdish-held villages in N Syria 26 July; Ankara denied targeting Syrian Kurds, stating it only targeted IS in Syria and PKK in N Iraq. PKK 24-31 July killed eleven Turkish security officers, bringing total during July to eighteen.

Cyprus

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

UN-led reunification talks continued 10 and 27 July between Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades. Leaders 27 July agreed individual rights to property must be respected, resolved to appoint independent Property Commission to settle claims. Turkish President Erdogan 20 July expressed support for negotiations.

Georgia

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

President Margvelashvili 13 July accused Russia of violating international law following demarcation activities by Russian troops stationed in breakaway republic South Ossetia (SO) early month, which put portion of strategic oil pipeline under SO control. EU foreign policy chief Mogherini 15 July condemned Russian demarcation, warned against “provocative” actions. Army 8 July began joint military exercises with NATO countries. Over 3,000 protested in Tbilisi 18 July, denouncing Russia as “occupier”, calling for its withdrawal from SO and Abkhazia.

Azerbaijan

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Baku court 30 July sentenced high-ranking opposition member Asif Yusifli to 7.5 years’ jail for fraud and forgery; Yusifli denied charges, said verdict politically motivated. Baku court 1 July sentenced nine people to between four and 15 years’ jail for joining Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL).

Armenia

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Police 6 July removed remaining protesters opposing electricity price increase from Yerevan main street; some 40 protesters briefly detained, around a thousand moved to nearby Freedom Square. Protest leaders 21 July said they will continue demonstrations. Govt 3 July launched investigation into alleged police violence and abuses during protests in June. Russian military 7 July conducted combat readiness check of troops stationed in Armenia.

Macedonia

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Agreement between four main political parties reached 15 July, in step to end political crisis around alleged widespread illegal surveillance by govt. EU-mediated deal stipulates resignation of PM Gruevski by Jan 2016, interim govt to be sworn in, parliamentary elections in April 2016. Opposition 21 July said govt cancelled follow-up meeting on implementing reforms, accused it of stalling. Skopje court 1 July ruled trial of opposition leader Zoran Zaev for attempting to blackmail Gruevski should proceed. Member of ethnic Albanian party Democratic Union for Integration shot dead in Kumanovo 24 July; local party head surrendered to police, claimed self-defence.

Kosovo

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Ethnic Serb MPs 20 July blocked law on creation of Kosovo army. Violent incidents in Serb village Goraždevac 8-9 July: two cars shot at, Molotov cocktail thrown at monument to Serb victims of war. Parliament 23 July passed resolution requesting probe into alleged corruption in EULEX mission. Authorities 11 July cut water supply in Pristina citing “security issues” following arrest of five suspects reportedly linked to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL), accused of planning to poison reservoir. Police 7 July arrested man suspected of taking part in May shootout in Kumanovo, Macedonia.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Republika Srpska (RS) legislative assembly 15 July voted to hold referendum on authority of national courts and Office of High Representative (OHR) over ethnic Serbs; OHR, U.S. criticised decision, Bosniak delegates to RS assembly 23 July vetoed referendum. Govt 27 July adopted reform plan required for progress on EU integration; thousands protested 30 July against labour law passed as part of reforms. During 11 July commemoration of 1995 killing of over 7,000 Bosniak men and boys by Serbs in Srebrenica, some mourners attacked Serbian PM Vučić; Bosnian and Serbian leaders meeting 22 July pledged cooperation despite attack. Russia 8 July vetoed UNSC resolution calling 1995 Srebrenica killings “genocide”.

Ukraine

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Fighting, mostly involving heavy artillery, resumed in second half of month: eight Ukrainian soldiers reported killed, sixteen injured in separatist attack 15 July. Increasing tension and violence in western Ukraine: at least one dead, seven injured in standoff between police and ultra-nationalist Right Sector 11-13 July in Zakarpattia; Right Sector 21 July rallied in Kiev against govt policies, said will start campaign to organise referendum on President Poroshenko’s impeachment, recognition of volunteer militia units. Poroshenko 1 July proposed constitutional changes to give some self-determination to separatist-controlled regions; parliament 16 July voted to send proposal to Constitutional Court. Russia and separatists 2 July criticised proposal, said leaders of breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) not consulted. DPR 2 July announced local elections on 18 October, under auspices of expected law on special status of breakaway areas; 18 July said it will withdraw heavy weaponry from line of separation. Some 2,000 Ukrainian troops 20 July began military drills with NATO countries; Russia 21 July said exercises disrupting implementation of Minsk agreement. U.S. 24 July announced it will begin training Ukrainian troops; will supplement ongoing U.S. training of National Guard, which will end in Nov. Responding to western criticism at slow pace of reform, parliament adopted four laws aimed at unblocking $2.7bn due from IMF and World Bank in Aug.

Turkey

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Parliamentary elections 7 June saw ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lose parliamentary majority for first time in over twelve years, gaining 41% of vote and 258 of 550 seats in parliament. Negotiations to form coalition govt ongoing. Pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) exceeded 10% minimum electoral threshold with 13% of vote (80 seats); result strengthens its legitimacy and political space for peace deal. Surge in violence in days prior to and following elections amid increased tensions in run-up to polls: bus driver working for HDP shot dead 3 June in Bingol; bomb attack at HDP rally in Diyarbakır 5 June killed four and injured over 100. HDP blamed Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) affiliates, accused govt of poor intelligence. Govt mid-June accused Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) of ethnic cleansing of Arabs and Turkmens in north of Syria during attempt to unite Kurdish cantons/territories there, including with PYD’s 16 June capture of Syrian town Tal Abyad along border. National Security Council (NSC) convened 29 June to discuss security threat from Syria as military deployed tanks to border near Kobani. Senior PKK figure threatened retaliation if military enters Syria; NSC said tanks are a security measure. Head of Islamic aid organisation close to pro-Islamist Huda Par (Kurdish Islamic party affiliated with Hizbollah) gunned down 9 June in Diyarbakır; subsequent riots left four dead, at least six injured. Clashes between govt and PKK occurred throughout month at military base in Dağlıca on Iraqi border, one villager killed.

Cyprus

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Reunification talks continued between Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and President of Turkish Cypriot north Mustafa Akinci, with meetings 4, 17 and 29 June. Mediator of talks UN SRSG Espen Barth Eide 16 June noted strong international and domestic momentum behind talks. Anastasiades 22 June said no reunification possible until Turkey withdraws troops from north.

Ukraine

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Month saw heaviest fighting since Feb, including clashes between army and separatists near Maryinka and Krasnohorivka towns west of Donetsk 3 June, leaving at least 26 dead and reportedly involving heavy artillery; separatist commanders described fighting as counter-attack in response to constant Ukrainian “provocations”. President Poroshenko 6 June said separatists forced out of Maryinka, however low-grade fighting continued throughout month. FMs of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia met 23 June to discuss crisis in east, urged sides to implement ceasefire, withdraw heavy weapons. Speaking to parliament 4 June Poroshenko said more than 9,000 Russian troops currently in Ukraine, warned of “full-scale invasion”. International pressure on Russia continued: EU 22 June extended economic sanctions until Jan 2016; G7 leaders 8 June said further sanctions possible; U.S. 23 June said it will send tanks and arms to Eastern Europe, Baltic countries in response to Russian actions in Ukraine. NATO 24 June said it will increase number of Response Force troops from 13,000 to 40,000; NATO chief 25 June warned of risk of heavy fighting in Ukraine, urged Moscow to cease support to separatists. Some 500 people protested in Donetsk 15 June calling on separatist leaders to remove rocket launchers from residential neighbourhoods. Kyiv’s chief debt talks envoy 28 June said Ukraine will suspend international debt repayments if agreement on debt restructuring not reached; IMF 19 June welcomed reforms to strengthen country’s central bank, said second tranche of bailout could be disbursed despite stalemate in restructuring talks.

Georgia

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Opposition United National Movement (UNM) 10 June boycotted parliament session in protest over electoral reform plan proposed by ruling Georgian Dream coalition. Russian defence ministry 10 June said 1,500 Russian troops began exercises involving drones in Georgian breakaway republic South Ossetia; Georgian foreign ministry condemned drills, said they violated country’s territorial integrity.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Ahead of European Games’ opening 12 June, govt refused entry to foreign rights groups and journalists: Amnesty International, Guardian among those barred from country until games end. OSCE 5 June reported govt gave it one month to close office in country. Amid ongoing govt repression, Emin Huseynov, rights activist wanted on tax evasion charges, flew to Switzerland 13 June after months of negotiations between govt and Swiss embassy, where Huseynov had been evading prosecution since Aug 2014. UN special rapporteur 2 June criticised govt’s ongoing repression of activists, called for immediate release of jailed rights defenders.

Armenia

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Thousands protested in Yerevan from 22 June against increase in electricity prices. Police dispersed hundreds of protesters 23 June; 25 reported injured, some 240 arrested. President Sargsyan 27 June announced that electricity price increase will be suspended; thousands of protesters remained on main road.

Macedonia

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Amid ongoing political crisis centred on apparent mass illegal surveillance by govt, EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn helped broker 2 June agreement between govt and opposition to advance elections by two years, to April 2016, preceded by transitional period to prepare for polls. Negotiations subsequently deadlocked over details, including whether/when PM Gruevski would resign. Opposition insists he must go and transitional government have six-nine months to level electoral playing field and threatened to “radicalise” protests if no agreement reached by end of month. EU 19 June issued expert report on crisis, urging rule-of-law reforms, backed by EU Council 23 June. Opposition continued to release selective recordings, including some suggesting involvement in corruption of govt’s ethnic-Albanian partner party, as pressure grows on that party to leave coalition if no agreement by end of June. Greek FM visited Skopje 24 June, part of attempt to rekindle relations despite name dispute which has blocked Macedonia’s EU accession progress.

Kosovo

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Parliamentary vote on proposal to establish court to try alleged Kosovo Liberation Army war crimes failed to pass 26 June; U.S., EU expressed disappointment. Latest round of Pristina-Belgrade dialogue late month failed to produce agreement.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Ruling coalition of Federation entity broke up 4 June as Democratic Front quit over change in rules on appointments of new managers for public companies. Federation 9 June adopted reform plan, part of reform agenda required for progress on EU integration and external financing, however Republika Srpska leaders refused to sign plan.

Turkey

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Govt-PKK peace process remains stalled in run-up to 7 June parliamentary elections. Amid increasing antagonism between parties, ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) adopted increasingly hardline rhetoric in attempt to regain votes from Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Polling shows Pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) at 9.5%-10.5%; if it fails to pass 10% threshold to enter parliament, consequences for peace process could be significant. PKK 3 May cancelled General Congress of the KCK (Union of the Communities of Kurdistan), called for in March by jailed leader Öcalan to discuss possible disarmament, citing govt failure to advance peace process. Two bombs exploded 18 May in HDP offices in Adana and Mersin provinces. Govt condemned violence; HDP leader suggested AKP behind attack. Govt jet 16 May shot down Syrian helicopter it alleged violated Turkish airspace. U.S. and Turkey launched long-anticipated joint train-and-equip program for Syrian rebels.

Cyprus

  |  1 Jun 2015

Improved

Reunification talks, mediated by UN Special Rep Espen Barth Eide, resumed 15 May between Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and President of Turkish Cypriot north Mustafa Akinci, who agreed to meet twice a month. Confidence-building measures initiated same day: Anastasiades gave coordinates of 28 minefields in north; Akinci announced Greek Cypriots no longer required to fill in visa forms at border crossings. Leaders 28 May announced agreement on five steps including opening of more crossing points and interconnecting electricity grids.

Ukraine

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

In strategy change viewed as initiated by Moscow, separatist leader Oleg Tsarev 20 May announced “Novorossiya” project to create new state from Russian border to Moldova “frozen”; many separatist supporters denounced move as betrayal by Moscow. Followed high-level diplomatic exchanges between Moscow and West including meetings between President Putin and U.S. Sec State Kerry 12 May, German Chancellor Merkel 10 May. Separatist social media sites claimed Kremlin responsible for death in ambush of separatist commander and Novorossiya supporter Alexei Mozgovoy on 23 May, while top separatist officials blamed Ukrainian special forces. Month saw further violations of Feb Minsk ceasefire with intensified shelling, continued fighting with evidence of Russian involvement, including use of heavy weaponry. U.S., NATO and Ukraine 13 May condemned Russian military build-up in Crimea, called for stop to “deliberate destabilisation” of east. Parliament 19 May adopted law allowing govt to suspend debt repayments as foreign debt restructuring is negotiated; Moscow said it will adopt “tough position” if Ukraine fails to repay $3 billion loan. International observers expressed concern at govt plans to suspend some key human rights, including right of movement in separatist-controlled areas.

Georgia

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Parliament 9 May approved new cabinet following series of resignations and reshuffle. De facto president of breakaway republic Abkhazia 18 May appointed retired Russian General Anatoly Khurylov as army chief of staff, in move seen by some as signalling Moscow’s increasing control following Nov 2014 “alliance and strategic partnership”. EU Eastern Partnership summit in Riga 21-22 May recognised increased trade cooperation between Georgia and EU but did not grant visa liberalisation. U.S. and Georgian militaries 11 May began joint exercises aimed at bolstering cooperation between Georgia and NATO; Russia criticised move.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Clampdown on opposition continued ahead of June European Olympics in Baku. Baku court 14 May extended journalist Khadija Ismayilova’s pretrial detention despite rights organisations’ calls for her release; court 6 May sentenced leading opposition figure Faradj Kerimli to six and a half years’ prison on drugs charges; Kerimli’s lawyer said charges fabricated. European Parliament VP 12 May called on govt to release jailed activists.

Armenia

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Representatives of Armenia and Iran met 24-25 May to discuss defence cooperation. Prosecutor general 4 May released opposition activists detained for “planning mass disorder” ahead of 24 April genocide centennial.

Macedonia

  |  1 Jun 2015

Deteriorated

Against backdrop of deepening political crisis, shootout between police and gunmen prompted increasing concern over stability. Eight police and ten gunmen killed and almost 40 injured 9-10 May in Kumanovo, ethnically mixed town 40km north of Skopje, in region that saw heavy fighting during 2001 insurgency. Authorities said operation responded to information on “armed group” that “infiltrated” from neighbouring state planning “terrorist acts”; said some gunmen were involved in April seizing of police station. Slain included one ethnic Albanian, nine Kosovars. 30 people charged with terrorism-related offences, including eighteen Kosovo, eleven Macedonian, one Albanian nationals. UN, NATO and EU urged calm. Opposition accused govt of using operation to create diversion from wire-tapping scandal and opposition’s ongoing release of recordings allegedly made by govt and revealing its interference in press, judiciary and elections, as well as massive corruption. Opposition (social democratic party) leader Zoran Zaev indicted 1 May for wiretapping and “violence against representatives of the highest state bodies” but not yet arrested. Western ambassadors 11 May criticised govt failure to investigate alleged abuses, questioned its commitment to democratic principles. Interior and transport ministers and intelligence chief resigned 12 May, but tens of thousands joined protests in Skopje 17 May demanding govt resign; PM Gruevski organised pro-govt rally 18 May. Opposition and pro-govt supporters maintaining camps in front of govt and parliament respectively; small numbers of civil society members staging independent anti-govt protests around Skopje daily. EU seeks to mediate compromise in negotiations between four main political parties, as tension rises.

Kosovo

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

President and PM 11 May expressed concern over reported involvement of nine Kosovo citizens in clashes with police in Macedonian town Kumanovo 9-10 May (see Macedonia); said violence intended to destabilise Kosovo. Macedonian authorities arrested 23 Kosovars in connection with incident fighting; Kosovo condemned any involvement by Kosovars; police mid-month raided several houses, including families of those accused of taking part. Relatives of those killed/arrested in Kumanovo incident 20 May rallied in Pristina demanding information. Prosecutor 7 May charged 32 with terrorism and ties with Islamic State and al-Nusra. European Commission 30 April approved Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Following 27 April attack by suspected radical Islamist on police station in Zvornik in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity, RS police 6 May arrested 30 Bosniaks suspected of involvement in Islamist radical activity; also reportedly seized arms and other military equipment. Arrests carried out without coordination with state agencies, raising concerns among Bosniaks and contributing to increased ethnic tensions. State House of Representatives 28 May adopted conclusion condemning Zvornik attack as terrorist act.

Turkey

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Military and PKK clashed in Agri province 11 April, leaving five militants dead, four soldiers wounded. Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) stated pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) continuing to stoke violence and intimidate citizens in east to vote for HDP in 7 June elections; HDP said clash part govt attempt to discredit party, prevent it from passing 10% electoral threshold. Govt responded angrily to statements by Pope Francis, European Parliament and Germany recognising 1915-18 Ottoman mass killings of Armenians as genocide: Ankara 15 April said statements “distortion of history”, part of international campaign against AKP. Security forces apprehended nineteen Syria-bound foreign nationals in Hatay and Gaziantep early month. Istanbul court 29 April acquitted 26, including five leaders of Taksim Solidarity, umbrella group of civil society, union and political groups, charged with involvement in 2013 protest against AKP.

Cyprus

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Independent leftist Mustafa Akinci won presidential elections in Turkish Cypriot north; Akinci seen as moderate, has pledged focus on reunification. Republic of Cyprus President Anastasiades 28 April announced series of confidence-building measures ahead of planned early-May meeting with Akinci. UNSG Special Adviser Eide 7 April expressed optimism suspended talks could resume following late-March withdrawal of Republic of Cyprus and Turkish seismic research vessels off Cypriot coast.

Ukraine

  |  30 Apr 2015

Deteriorated

Despite initial claims by both sides to have pulled back heavy weaponry from front line in compliance with Feb Minsk agreement, shelling along separation line resumed around 12 April, breaking over a month of calm, and intensified during month, particularly near Mariupol and outside Donetsk city. Ukrainian army 13 April launched tank probe on separatist positions north of Donetsk airport, substantial casualties reported on both sides; numerous separatist sources reported Russian intervention to push back attack. Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) leader Zakharchenko 18 April said Ukraine building up troops on line of separation, warned DNR will expand control to all of Donetsk oblast if fighting breaks out again; said DNR moving further away from Ukraine. Zakharchenko late month told Der Spiegel separatists redeploying heavy weaponry on front lines in response to alleged Ukrainian violations of Minsk agreements; later claimed he was misquoted, but separatist commentators note some heavy weaponry already returned to front. Military training continuing on both sides: U.S. 17 April confirmed 300 soldiers arrived in Ukraine to train its military. Russian President Putin 16 April said no Russian troops in Ukraine; U.S. 22 April said Russia building up troops on border. EU 27 April said it will not send armed peacekeepers to Ukraine, will send civilian assessment mission as soon as possible; also said Kyiv needs to speed up crucial reforms to seek closer political association and economic integration with EU. Poroshenko said he planned to have all conditions in place to apply for EU membership in five years. Russian defence ministry 1 April said under new conscription law 500 draftees from Crimea will be recruited to Russian army by July 2015, will stay in region after training. Living conditions continued to deteriorate in separatist-controlled areas. Amid ongoing economic crisis, Ukraine’s biggest mining and steel company, owned by politically influential oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, announced it has defaulted on its debt obligations. Kyiv and Moscow 2 April signed short-term deal allowing Ukraine to buy gas from Russia at lower price.

Georgia

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Elders of Kists, ethnic Chechens from Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge 6 April called on govt to undertake measures to stop Pankisi youth recruitment by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL). During late month visit to Georgia, Belarusian President Lukashenka said Belarus supports Georgia’s territorial integrity.

Azerbaijan

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Amid ongoing condemnation of govt crackdown on opponents, rights activist Rasul Jafarov sentenced 16 April to 6.5 years’ prison for tax evasion and illegal entrepreneurship, human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev sentenced 22 April to 7.5 years’ prison on similar charges; rights groups said verdicts politically motivated. Alliance of human rights and sports NGOs 7 April called on European Olympic Committees to condemn govt crackdown ahead of first European Olympic Games to be held in Baku in June.

Armenia

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Increasing international recognition of 1915 mass killings of Armenians by Ottomans as genocide ahead of event’s centennial 24 April: Pope Francis 12 April, EU parliament 15 April and Germany 23 April said killings were genocide, prompting protest from Turkey. Opposition group 8 April announced plans to organise anti-govt protests 24 April: six group leaders detained for organising mass disorder.

Macedonia

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged
Escalating political crisis as opposition Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev produced further tapes that opposition alleges show PM Gruevski’s govt was illegally wire-tapping thousands of citizens, interfering with judiciary, media, elections. Zaev charged with revealing state secrets; previously charged with corruption, attempted blackmail. EU Council 21 April expressed “grave concern regarding the deteriorating situation”, particularly in rule of law, fundamental rights and freedom of media; called for political dialogue, investigation of all allegations. Members of European Parliament facilitating talks between govt and opposition. Group of 40 armed men 21 April attacked and briefly took over police station in Goshince village on border with Kosovo, reportedly claiming to be members of Albanian National Liberation Army.

Kosovo

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Stabbing of ethnic Serb in Mitrovica 9 April sparked series of minor attacks between ethnic Serbs and Albanians. EU hosted another round of Kosovo-Serbia talks 22 April; Pristina agreed to stop privatisation of companies in north without local Serbs’ consent. Kosovo Serb politicians ended two-month boycott of parliament. Kosovar Centre for Security Studies 14 April released report saying over 200 Kosovans fighting alongside Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Bosnian Serb SNSD adopted resolution during its party congress 25 April calling for referendum in 2018 on secession of Republika Srpska (RS) unless RS is given more autonomy. SNSD 7 April also said it will boycott newly-established Council of Ministers. Tensions increased further following 27 April attack on police station in Zvornik in RS by man suspected of being radical Islamist: gunman killed one policeman and wounded two before being shot dead. Govt increased security across country. RS President Dodik 28 April said federal security forces incompetent, RS will develop its own intelligence service. Prosecutor’s Office 14 April charged four men with financing terrorist activities, recruiting fighters for Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL).

Turkey

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Jailed PKK leader Öcalan’s message read out on 21 March Nowrouz celebrations; called on PKK to hold congress to discuss ending armed struggle. Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Yalçin Akdoğan 18 March said govt agreed to setting up third-party monitoring committee for Turkey-PKK peace process. President Erdoğan 20 March opposed monitoring committee, 22 March said he did not accept agreement between govt and HDP on Öcalan’s ten-point framework for talks announced 28 Feb. AKP spokesman 21 March said govt will go ahead with monitoring committee. Military involved in clashes with PKK in SE: 24 March launched operation against PKK hideouts in Mazı Dağı, 25 March deployed artillery fire following mortar shell attack on military position in Dağlıca district near Iraqi border. Govt 27 March passed security law increasing police powers to fire on protesters, search and detain suspects. Prosecutor investigating March 2014 death of anti-govt protester Berkin Elvan taken hostage 31 March by leftist armed group Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, demanding that police officer who shot Elvan be arrested, publicly confess guilt; prosecutor and hostage-takers killed in shoot-out with police. Turkish soldiers 17 March opened fire on vehicle travelling in forbidden zone in Kilis province on border with Syria, killing driver. Ankara and EU officials 18 March agreed to update Turkey’s Customs Union with EU.

Cyprus

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

With reunification talks stalled, Turkish PM Davutoğlu 5 March called on UNSG Ban to come up with plan to reunify Cyprus before his term ends in 2016. Turkish Cypriot leader Eroğlu 25 March said talks could resume in May, following 19 April elections in Turkish Cypriot north. As Republic of Cyprus pulls back its vessel conducting seismic research off Cypriot coast, Turkish Cypriot FM Nami 30 March said Turkey also pulling back its vessel. UNSG’s Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide said sides would be in a position to accelerate talks in spring 2015.

Ukraine

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Drop in civilian and military casualties following Feb Minsk agreement, though implementation of deal still behind schedule, clashes continue in some areas including near Mariupol. Kyiv and separatists early month said they withdrew heavy weaponry from line of contact, but accuse each other of moving weaponry back to former positions after observers’ inspections, and renewed troop build-ups. Separatist commentators alluding with increasing frequency to new, possibly major offensive; suggest 10-13 March visit by Russian Defence Minister Shoigu to Rostov (Russian oblast adjoining self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, DNR) connected to planning for offensive. MPs in Kyiv approved changes to “special status” law for separatist areas, which will now only come into force after local elections; separatists and Moscow claim changes breach Minsk deal. Reshuffle of senior officials continues in DNR, along with reports of purges and crackdowns on what separatist leaders describe as organised crime and military groups which have not accepted central control;President Putin admitted in 8 March TV interview that Russia’s March 2014 annexation of Crimea was planned weeks in advance. At European Council meeting 19-20 March EU leaders decided to extend sanctions on Russia until year-end; also confirmed EU’s support for OSCE mission, called for third financial support package, action plan on strategic communication. UK announced plan to supply Ukraine with non-lethal military equipment, sent personnel to provide military advice and training. U.S. also plans training, non-lethal military aid, placed sanctions on several separatists. Several officers and junior commanders who took part in Debaltseve campaign published open letter mid-March alleging serious failings by high command during operation, calling for those responsible to be dismissed. President Poroshenko 25 March fired powerful oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky as governor of eastern Dnipropetrovsk, after armed men loyal to him stormed offices of state-owned oil company. Two senior officials arrested for graft during televised cabinet meeting 25 March.

Georgia

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

De facto leader of breakaway region South Ossetia (SO) Leonid Tibilov and Russian President Putin signed “alliance and integration treaty” in Moscow 18 March, giving Russia responsibility for SO defence and security. Treaty condemned by EU, U.S. and Tbilisi; all said it amounted to annexation of occupied region. Russia early March launched large-scale air-defence drills including in breakaway Abkhazia and SO. Tens of thousands protested in Tbilisi 21 March calling for govt to step down.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Baku court 6 March extended pretrial detention of jailed journalist Khadija Ismayilova to 24 May. Ahead of inaugural European Games being hosted by country in June, Amnesty International 4 March issued report denouncing govt crackdown on civil society. Govt freed three activists as part of 18 March pardon ahead of New Year holiday Nowrouz. EU progress report 25 March critical of “regression in the democratic transition process”, situation for civil society organisations, detentions of rights activists. Authorities 4 March reported arrest of six men suspected of planning terrorist acts; also arrested four men suspected of recruiting people to fight in Syria.

Armenia

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Gagik Tsarukian, leader of Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), announced 5 March he was stepping down from position; follows Feb criticism against him by President Sargsyan and detention of several BHK members. Members of U.S. House of Representatives 18 March introduced resolution urging President Obama to recognise mass killing of Armenians during WWI by Ottoman forces as genocide; comes as Armenia prepares for events to mark centenary of killings.

Kosovo

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Minister for Dialogue Edita Tahiri issued report 23 March blaming Belgrade for delay in implementing April 2013 Brussels Agreement on normalisation of Kosovo-Serbia relations, by maintaining parallel structures. Kosovo, Serbia and EU late month reached agreement to dissolve parallel Civil Protection force in Serb-majority north, incorporate members into police (in line with Brussels Agreement).

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Three main parties of Bosnia’s Federation entity, Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and Democratic Front 12 March agreed on formation of new govt, following Oct 2014 elections; SDA to hold PM post. State parliament 31 March approved nine-member Council of Ministers. EU FMs 16 March activated Bosnia’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement following Feb declaration by Bosnian parliament in support of EU integration. Main Bosnian Serb party SNSD and Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik same day announced boycott of parliament over disagreement on distribution of positions in committees.

Turkey

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Turkey-PKK peace process entered important phase 28 Feb: govt said it was ready to start negotiations; pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) MP Önder said PKK leader Öcalan called for spring PKK congress with aim to announce laying down weapons if his ten articles accepted as basis for talks. 20 Feb fight between PKK sympathisers and Turkish nationalists at Ege University in western Izmir province left one student dead. AKP-backed domestic security bill triggered fist fights in parliament 17, 19 Feb; thousands protested 21 Feb against draft law that would significantly increase police powers to detain, search suspects. MIT and army 21 Feb conducted operation around 30km inside northern Syria in area besieged by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL), to evacuate 40 soldiers and historic artefacts from tomb of Süleyman Şah. Damascus described incursion as “flagrant aggression”. Explosion 13 Feb at police checkpoint in SE Sanliurfa province on Syria border injured at least three. Govt 19 Feb signed agreement with U.S. to jointly train moderate Syrian opposition in Kırşehir province; expected to begin late-March. Govt 25 Feb detained dozens in illegal wiretapping raid.

Cyprus

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Tensions remain high over Turkish warships, hydrocarbon drilling in east Mediterranean. Republic of Cyprus President Anastasiades 3 Feb said he could not restart suspended reunification negotiations while “war ships were at sea”, referring to Turkey’s Oct warship deployment to shadow offshore rig off Republic of Cyprus’ SE coast. Turkey’s EU Minister 12 Feb said Turkey ready to withdraw vessel if Greek Cypriots agree natural gas belongs to both Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities.

Ukraine

  |  2 Mar 2015

Deteriorated

Month saw one of heaviest defeats yet for Ukraine with fall of major military garrison at Debaltseve to rebels days after signing of peace deal, also increasing Russian pressure on Kyiv, deepening economic crisis. New peace agreement announced 12 Feb in Minsk; key elements include ceasefire to start 15 Feb, withdrawal of heavy weaponry from contact line, exchange of prisoners, amnesty for crimes committed during fighting, withdrawal of “foreign armed formations”; also local elections in east, constitutional reformproviding unspecified form of decentralisation, and adoption of permanent “special status” for certain areas. Hostilities continued unabated, Debaltseve fell 18 Feb. Moscow rejected accusations of extensive Russian involvement in last phase of Debaltseve battle, including advanced weaponry, regular combat forces and command and control. U.S. Sec State Kerry 4 Feb said U.S. weighing option of supplying arms to Kyiv. Limited prisoner exchange took place 21 Feb; reports of limited pull back of heavy weapons 26 Feb with reports ceasefire holding in some areas. Govt under increasing criticism domestically over economy and slowness in reform, major currency depreciation; also anger directed at political and military leadership among troops involved in Debaltseve fighting. UN launched new humanitarian appeal amid reports of increasingly dire conditions in east. Russia late month threatened to cut off gas supply as Ukraine struggled to make payments. IMF 12 Feb announced €15.5bn package for Ukraine over four years. Attacks on civilian targets continued including three killed when shell hit hospital in Donetsk city 4 Feb. Four killed in explosion at march in Kharkiv 22 Feb.

Georgia

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

First Deputy Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri appointed interior minister 2 Feb following Jan resignation of Aleksandr Chikaidze citing accusations he covered up deaths of two men in 2006; three former Interior Ministry officials including former Deputy Minister Irakli Pirtskhalva also arrested in connection with 2006 killings. Police officer arrested 7 Feb, charged with 20 Jan murder of father of one of men killed in 2006. Prosecutor General 17 Feb called for former President Saakashvili, wanted on charges of fraud, assault and abuse of office, to be extradited from Ukraine following appointment to lead Ukrainian reform Advisory Council. Russian media 5 Feb highlighted role of ethnic Chechens living in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge in recruitment to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) militant group. Russian President Putin 4 Feb signed law ratifying “strategic partnership” with breakaway region Abkhazia; Russian FM Lavrov 18 Feb signed “border agreement” with separatist South Ossetia region, agreement condemned by Georgian govt.

Azerbaijan

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

President Aliyev 3 Feb signed law facilitating media shutdowns. New charges brought against journalist Khadija Ismayilova, jailed since 5 Dec, including embezzlement, abuse of power, tax evasion and illegal entrepreneurship: court 23 Feb found Ismayilova guilty of libel, ordered fine. Court 5 Feb sentenced two men accused of spying for Iran to thirteen, fourteen years’ prison. Court 18 Feb extended pretrial detention of rights activist Leyla Yunus by five months to 28 July; 23 Feb extended detention of husband Arif Yunus by additional five months. Rights activist Emin Huseynov 11 Feb reportedly took refuge at Swiss embassy, said victim of political persecution. EU SR for human rights visited Baku 23 Feb. Central Bank 21 Feb devalued currency sparking fears of inflation.

Armenia

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Media 3 Feb reported Russian soldier accused of killing seven 12 Jan to be tried at Russian military base in Gyumri, Armenia; Armenian authorities 3 Feb reportedly called for soldier to be transferred to Armenian custody. Opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) 23 Feb staged parliament walk-out in protest at perceived govt crackdown on leader Gagik Tsarukian, who President Sargsyan early Feb called “evil” and said must be excluded from political process. Police 16 Feb said 200 officers hired to provide security for Tsarukian dismissed; BHK same day said several members imprisoned. Sargsyan 16 Feb said he has recalled parliament protocols on normalisation of ties with Turkey following years of strain, said Turkey’s govt has “no political will, distorts the spirit and letter of the protocols”.

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CrisisWatch N°144

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