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CrisisWatch Database

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1451 results found
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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.

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.

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).

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”.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Parliament 23 Feb adopted declaration pledging support for EU integration, paving way for EU to active country’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement. Ruling coalition parties agreed on new govt 22 Feb, day before visit of EU foreign policy chief Mogherini. House of Peoples 16 Feb elected new speaker Barisa Colak from Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and Serb and Bosniak deputy speakers. Talks continued on formation of Federation entity govt, with party leaders 25 Feb again failing to agree on distribution of ministerial positions.

Kosovo

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Following Jan mass protests, PM Mustafa 3 Feb said Serb Minister for Communities and Returns Aleksandar Jablanovic no longer part of cabinet; Jablanovic’s removal prompted other Serb ministers in govt to threaten to resign. Kosovo and Serbian PMs met in Brussels 9 Feb for resumed dialogue on normalising relations, first such meeting since March 2014; next day signed agreement on integrating courts in Serb-run north into Kosovo judicial system. EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn during visit 18 Feb said Kosovo to sign Stabilization and Association Agreement with EU in 2015. Largest numbers of people reportedly leaving Kosovo since 1990s conflict; police reported 25,000 have crossed illegally from Kosovo into Hungary since Sept 2014, other estimates run to 100,000. On day of seventh anniversary of independence 17 Feb, PM Mustafa urged citizens not to leave.

Turkey

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Volatile security situation in south east continues. Security forces clashed with pro-PKK groups in Sirnak province bringing death toll to seven since late Dec. One civilian died 26 Jan in clash between soldiers and villagers in SE Hakkari province. Govt 29 Jan demanded PKK disarm, relaunch peace talks 21 March. Turkey in international spotlight for jihadi transits to Syria: police report early Jan said 3,000 people linked to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) in country; FM Mevlut Cavusoglu 18 Jan said passage of foreign fighters constitutes “greatest threat” to Turkey. Suicide bombing 6 Jan at Istanbul police station killed police officer, Russian female perpetrator from North Caucasus linked to IS. Parliamentary votes on 5, 20 Jan decided against sending four former ministers from ruling AKP to Supreme Court on corruption charges. 26 police detained 27 Jan, suspected of illegally wiretapping politicians, civil servants, businessmen. European Parliament 15 Jan adopted resolution criticising Turkey for “backsliding in democratic reforms”, showing “diminishing tolerance” to public protest, critical media; condemned Dec police raids, journalist arrests.

Cyprus

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Reunification talks remain stalled. Ankara 6 Jan said Turkish vessel would continue seismic research off Cypriot coast 6 Jan-15 April on behalf of Turkish Cypriots in areas close to international rig hired by Republic of Cyprus. UNSG’s Special Adviser on Cyprus negotiations Espen Barth Eide 14 Jan voiced concern about impasse in talks, said things “moving in the wrong direction”. UNSC 29 Jan extended UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) until 31 July.

Ukraine

  |  2 Feb 2015

Deteriorated

Most intense fighting for months in eastern Ukraine resulted in heavy civilian and military casualties, further undermined peace talks. Fighting escalated mid-month; separatists and Moscow blamed Kyiv for attacking separatist positions at Donetsk airport, however separatists say offensive planned several weeks earlier. Ten civilians killed in missile attack on bus at military checkpoint SW of Donetsk city 13 Jan; Kyiv blamed separatists, separatists denied. Despite flurry of diplomatic activity early Jan, planned summit for leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France in Kazakhstan 15 Jan cancelled. Govt forces pulled back from key positions at Donetsk airport 21 Jan in response to rebel gains. Thirteen people killed in attack on Donetsk bus stop 22 Jan, sides blamed each other. Separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko 23 Jan announced plans to take control of entire Donetsk province. 30 civilians killed, dozens injured in rocket attack on govt-held city Mariupol 24 Jan. UN 26 Jan said rockets fired from separatist-held areas, intentionally targeted civilians. U.S. President Obama said U.S. considering all options short of military action against Russia. Kyiv said Russia still sending troops into Ukraine (denied by Russia), also weapons systems, military training for separatists in Russia. At emergency meeting 29 Jan EU FMs agreed to extend and expand sanctions; stressed Russia’s responsibility for recent events in Mariupol, Donetsk and Luhansk, called for Russia to exert influence to induce separatists to cease hostilities, fulfil Sept commitments. Hundreds of civilians reported fleeing fighting around Debaltseve late month; dozens killed including fifteen Ukrainian soldiers 30-31 Jan. Further talks between Kyiv and separatists in Minsk 31 Jan failed to produce agreement.

Georgia

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

PM Garibashvili 9 Jan met with EU foreign policy chief Mogherini, urged EU oppose planned pact strengthening ties between Russia and breakaway region South Ossetia; FM Beruchashvili 29 Jan warned Russia could annex region. NATO deputy SG Vershbow visited 29-31 Jan to discuss Georgian integration. Former President Saakashvili 13 Jan said “hundreds” of Georgian nationals fighting alongside Islamic State in Syria. Authorities 15 Jan reported Georgian national killed fighting in eastern Ukraine. Govt, opposition mid-month expressed support for new legislation to make joining or encouraging others to join illegal armed groups abroad punishable by prison sentence. Interior Minister Aleksandr Chikaidze 23 Jan resigned following death of man who accused him of involvement in covering up 2006 police killings.

Azerbaijan

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Authorities 7 Jan announced ten arrested on suspicion of fighting in Syria, taking part in other militant activities. President Aliyev 21 Jan met with German Chancellor Merkel, dismissed criticism of human rights record. Court 27 extended pretrial detention of RFE/RL journalist Khadija Ismayilova, detained 5 Dec on charges of inciting attempted suicide, by further two months. Journalist Seymur Hezi sentenced 29 Jan to five years’ prison for hooliganism. Man self-immolated 8 Jan in Baku, authorities denied rumours death linked to demolition of homes.

Armenia

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Thousands protested outside Russian embassy and in country’s second city Gyumri mid-Jan after Russian deserter, Valery Permyakov, allegedly killed family near Russian military base in Gyumri. Soldier captured by Russian troops, Moscow announced he would be tried in close coordination with Armenian authorities, but protesters demanded he be tried in an Armenian court. At least fifteen reportedly injured as protesters clashed with police, over twenty detained. Some demonstrators reportedly called for Russian base to be closed. Six days after Permyakov’s arrest President Putin phoned Armenian counterpart to express condolences.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Tripartite state presidency 29 Jan signed revised joint declaration confirming commitment to reforms, part of new initiative to revive Bosnia’s EU accession bid. Initial declaration of 31 Dec revised after president of Republika Srpska entity Milorad Dodik refused to back it, calling it attempt to further centralise country; said new statement, which refers to constitution, 1995 peace accord and entities, acceptable.

Kosovo

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Dozens injured, over 100 arrested as police clashed with thousands of anti-govt protesters in Pristina late Jan calling for removal of Minister for Communities and Returns Aleksandar Jablanovic, accused of insulting ethnic Albanians early Jan, and for adoption of bill nationalising Trepca mine. Police used tear gas and water canon to disperse protests, largest since 2008 independence.

Turkey

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Deputy PM Akdoğan 19 Dec said peace process with PKK could finalise before summer 2015 elections, underlined strong will for solution. PKK’s jailed head Öcalan late Nov presented plan for negotiations, underlined need for negotiated ceasefire and monitoring board. Three people killed, three injured in 27 Dec clashes between PKK and Islamist Kurds from Hüda-Par in south-eastern Turkish Şırnak province, new spillover from Kurdish-Islamic State clashes in Syria. FM Çavuşoğlu 19 Dec said Turkey could begin training, equipping moderate Syrian opposition fighters in collaboration with U.S. before March. Second group of 150 peshmerga fighters from Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government crossed into Kobani, Syria from Turkey 2 Dec. EU foreign policy chief Mogherini 8 Dec pledged €70m aid to Syrian refugees in Turkey. Turkey 14 Dec arrested around 30 journalists linked with U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, leading to EU criticism; chilling EU accession process yet further, President Erdoğan told EU to “keep their views to themselves … we don’t care whether the EU allows [us into the union] or not”.

Cyprus

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Reunification talks remain suspended; no visible improvement in tensions over Turkey’s Oct deployment of warship to shadow offshore rig off Republic of Cyprus’ SE coast citing concerns about Turkish Cypriots’ right to hydrocarbons. Turkish PM Davutoğlu 25 Nov suggested joint committee between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots to deal with use of natural resources, brushing aside Greek Cypriot objections to this before reunification deal. Turkey’s EU Minister Bozkır 3 Dec said Turkey would not budge from its position on issue.

Ukraine

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Fighting abated during month, though violence started to pick up toward end Dec. Leaders from Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany 22 Dec announced another round of peace talks to be held in Minsk. Moscow and Kyiv said leaders had agreed on need to respect ceasefire, separate armies, pull out troops and heavy weapons and release prisoners. Talks on 24 Dec however produced little progress. 26 Dec talks cancelled, though planned prisoner swap did take place. Germany 28 Dec called on Russia to use influence on separatists to implement ceasefire. Govt late Dec announced police and military anti-terror operation in Odessa, scene of several small bombings, at least one fatal. Other suspected terrorist incidents, so far relatively small, reportedly recently in Kharkiv and elsewhere; seen as pro-separatist efforts to undermine Kyiv govt. Parliament 22 Dec voted 303-8 to drop country’s non-aligned status and seek NATO membership, prompting anger in Moscow. EU, U.S. and Canada 18-19 Dec introduced further sanctions on investment and trade with Crimea and further individuals and companies; Russia said it would not give up Crimea. Russian rouble continued to lose value. Ukrainian parliament early Dec approved new govt to be headed by PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk. French and German leaders called on Kyiv to move on economic reforms. Russian President Putin 26 Dec signed new Russian military doctrine saying that country faces threats from foreign nations installing hostile govts in neighbouring countries. Russia resumed supplies of gas to Ukraine, suspended in June.

Georgia

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Govt issued note protesting Russian military exercises conducted in breakaway republic South Ossetia (SO) early Dec. SO leader Leonid Tibilov 10 Dec said would probably sign treaty increasing integration with Russia early 2015. European Parliament 18 Dec endorsed EU association agreement with Georgia. Latvian FM said EU may grant visa-free access for Georgians in 2015. Currency continued to depreciate with Russia rouble. Ethnic Chechen became eighth Georgian reported killed fighting in Syria.

Azerbaijan

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

U.S. 1 Dec said “increasingly concerned” over Baku’s record on human rights, restrictions on civil society, later in month said Baku’s crackdown threaten relations between countries. Court 5 Dec ordered investigative journalist with RFE/RL Khadija Ismayilova to be held in pre-trial detention two months on charges of pressing man to commit suicide. Authorities late month ransacked and shut down Baku office of RFE/RL, detained twelve journalists. Opposition held protest 14 Dec calling for release of political prisoners, amid reports of worsening health of jailed activist Leyla Yunus. President Aliyev 29 Dec pardoned 87 prisoners, including some considered political prisoners by rights groups.

Armenia

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Parliament 4 Dec voted 103-7 to join Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), despite protests. EEU came into force 1 Jan; agreement stipulates disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory not part of EEU. EU announced €10mn in new initiatives to assist Armenia. Weakening Russian rouble creating increasing hardship with exports and remittances falling, currency depreciating.

Kosovo

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) 8 Dec signed power-sharing agreement, allowing formation of new govt. Parliament 9 Dec appointed former Pristina mayor and LDK leader Isa Mustafa new PM; former PM and PDK leader Hashim Thaci appointed deputy PM and FM. EU foreign policy chief Mogherini said looking forward to resumption of high-level Pristina-Belgrade dialogue. Pristina police seized explosives in car belonging to Serbian national in suspected bombing attempt. Transparency International Global Corruption index ranked Kosovo and Albania most corrupt countries in region.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Lower house of new parliament 9 Dec elected as speaker Sefik Dzaferovic from mainly Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA), and deputy speakers from Croatian Democratic Union and Serbian Democratic Party. SDA 18 Dec named Denis Zvizdic president of Council of Ministers (in effect PM). EU foreign policy chief Mogherini and enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn visiting early month urged progress on reform agenda. EU Foreign Affairs Council 15 Dec backed UK-German initiative to revive Bosnia’s EU accession bid. Republika Srpska formed new govt. UNSC extended deployment of EUFOR troops for another year.

Moldova

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

Country went to polls for parliamentary election 30 Nov; preliminary results showed pro-EU parties gained almost half of votes.

Cyprus

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

New tensions followed Turkey’s deployment in Oct of warship to shadow offshore rig chartered to consortium drilling for hydrocarbons off Republic of Cyprus’ SE coast. Republic of Cyprus President Anastasiades 8 Nov accused Turkey of “provocative actions”, said it was hindering Cyprus peace talks and compromising security in east Mediterranean. Turkish navy continues to provide support and protection to research vessel, also keeping ship hired by Cyprus under surveillance. Reunification talks between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots remain suspended. UNSG’s special adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide, after meeting leaders from both sides, 6 Nov said he remained “realistically optimistic” that sides could set aside hydrocarbons row, continue negotiations. But Republic of Cyprus govt said no conclusion reached on how talks could resume, stated cessation of Turkish “provocations” precondition for returning to table; Turkish Cypriot leader Eroğlu said withdrawal of Turkish research vessel from Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone “out of question”. UN, UK and some others trying to split hydrocarbon issue off from main issue of talks.

Ukraine

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

NATO commander Gen Breedlove said alliance saw Russian military equipment entering Ukraine early Nov; Moscow denied claims. NATO chief Stoltenberg urged Russia to pull back forces. U.S. called meeting of UNSC 12 Nov, UN Asst SG warned of possible return to full-scale fighting. Ukrainian defence minister said govt forces redeploying in preparation for possible offensive by separatists. Separatists in eastern Ukraine held elections for head of state and legislature 2 Nov in self-proclaimed people’s republics in Donetsk and Luhansk, reported high turnout, victories for current leaders; Kyiv and West said polls illegitimate. Russia said it respected outcome. Western leaders rebuked Russian intervention in Ukraine at G20 summit in Australia mid-Nov. Ukrainian PM Yatsenyuk 20 Nov accused Russia of “deliberately seeking to provoke a large-scale war”. Fighting continues at Donetsk airport and near Luhansk city; heavy artillery fire reported on outskirts of Donetsk city early Nov. Large areas of the city temporarily without water after damage to infrastructure. President Poroshenko signed decree mid-Nov withdrawing all govt service funding to rebel-held territory. UN 18 Nov reported almost 1,000 people killed in Ukraine conflict since 5 Sept ceasefire, with both sides violating truce; real figure probably higher. UN describe breakdown of law and order in rebel-held areas, allegations of abuses by rebel and govt forces. Russia late Nov admitted international sanctions hurting its economy, exacerbating downturn.

Georgia

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

PM Garibashvili 4 Nov said Western-leaning defence minister Irakli Alasania dismissed following Alasania’s accusation that recent arrest of defence ministry and general staff as part of govt inquiry into corruption politically motivated; FM and European minister resigned in protest, Alasania’s party quit ruling Georgian Dream coalition leaving coalition without parliamentary majority. President Margvelashvili 14 Nov urged lawmakers to “unite on the path toward Europe”. Some 30,000 opposition supporters rallied 15 Nov against govt’s Russia policy, creeping annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia separatist regions; Tbilisi criticised 24 Nov “strategic partnership” deal signed between Russia and Abkhazia as attempt at annexation by Moscow, asked UNSC to review legality of treaty.Former President Saakashvili charged with abuse of office 27 Nov in connection with 2006 murder of banker Sandro Girgvliani.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

Rights crackdown continued: second lawyer barred from defending jailed activist Leyla Yunis early Nov; blogger Mehman Huseynov detained at Baku airport 10 Nov, prevented from leaving country; rights activist Elcin Namazov sentenced to fifteen days’ jail 25 Nov for disobeying police. OSCE 10 Nov called on authorities to cease repression of independent media and rights activists. Thousands of opposition supporters 9 Nov protested against govt, demanded release of political prisoners, called for end to President Aliyev’s rule. Former deputy defence minister Mehman Salimov arrested late Nov on corruption charges. Iranian President Rouhani mid-Nov visited Baku, met with President Aliyev to discuss bilateral relations.

Armenia

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

Opposition supporters 5 Nov rallied in Yerevan to mark anniversary of arrest of nationalist Tsegakron party leader Shand Harutiunian and supporters, demanded their release; eight protesters reportedly detained. PM Abrahamian 7 Nov said several ministries to be merged into new Interior Ministry. EU 4 Nov pledged €140-170mn over next three years for justice reforms, public administration and private sector investment.

Turkey

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

Month saw some positive momentum from both sides in Turkey-PKK peace process, welcome shift from Oct upsurge in violence and clashes between army and Kurdish PKK fighters. Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) 13 Nov said roadmap was being discussed and new mechanisms could be established for process; gave no details. Pro-Kurdish national movement Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP’s) deputy co-chair 15 Nov said jailed PKK leader Öcalan could call on PKK to abandon their weapons in May or April 2015 if the sides can take “simultaneous mutual steps in the peace process”. Early Nov survey found 58% of Turkey’s population said dialogue between govt and PKK should continue. In volatile mainly Kurdish SE, off-duty soldier shot dead by two PKK members in Diyarbakır 29 Oct; alleged “spy” within PKK’s youth arm, YDG-H, executed in Şırnak’s Cizre province 7 Nov. Security Forces 12 Nov said PKK elements had fired on military outpost in Uludere, Şırnak. Masked group from YDG-H 16 Nov attacked two public buses in Diyarbakır; another group clashed with police in Cizre province, Şırnak. Govt continues to push for no-fly zone and security zone inside Syria; President Erdoğan 19 Nov reiterated that Turkey would not join an international anti-jihadi coalition unless it also targets Assad regime alongside jihadis and establishes safe zone; U.S. still reluctant on committing to these goals.

Kosovo

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

President Jahjaga 19 Nov reported two biggest parties, PM Thaci’s Democratic Party (PDK) and opposition Democratic League (LDK), agreed in principle to form coalition govt, bringing end to five-month deadlock since June elections. Deal came after opposition agreed to relinquish claim to post of parliament speaker. Jahjaga announced parliament session to install new govt scheduled 8 Dec. EU foreign policy chief Mogherini appointed independent expert to investigate allegations of corruption in EULEX mission. Joint report by Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Kosovo and Belgrade-based Center for Transparency, Research and Accountability highlighted failure to fully implement most accords reached in Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, called for action to revive momentum; Mogherini also called for action, resumption of dialogue.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

Following Oct elections, Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and Democratic Front (DF) 19 Nov signed agreement to govern federation entity; seeking deal with party from Republika Srpska entity to form state-level govt. Lower house of state parliament expected to be inaugurated 4 Dec. New tri-partite presidency took office 17 Nov. Germany and UK FMs 5 Nov sent open letter to people of Bosnia outlining initiative to push for progress on EU membership if govt signs up to reforms. EU foreign policy chief Mogherini 17 Nov reported new EU effort to promote reforms.

Serbia

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

EU late Oct ended sanctions on former Yugoslav President Milosovic, his family, other former Serbian officials. Albanian PM visited Belgrade 22 Oct for talks on situation of ethnic Albanians in Serbia areas bordering Kosovo, Macedonia.

Turkey

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

Month saw govt-PKK peace process threatened by most violent street protests in decades, worst army-PKK clashes since March 2013 ceasefire: tensions followed advances by Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIL) militants toward Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani (see Syria)(see ; Turkish troops prohibited PKK fighters from crossing border to aid fellow Kurds, fuelling violent clashes between protesters, police and Islamic groups in south-eastern Kurdish majority areas and major cities; at least 35 killed, military intervened to quell violence. PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan 2 October warned govt-PKK peace process would be derailed if IS took Kobani; parliament same day voted to expand authority to intervene militarily in Syria and Iraq, allow foreign troops to operate on Turkish soil; later ruled out any unilateral military involvement. Turkey 29 Oct allowed ten Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters to cross Turkish border into Syria; further contingent of 150 peshmerga troops to reinforce Kurds in Kobani; Syrian regime denounced move as violation of sovereignty.  Several deadly clashes between PKK, army including: two police killed 9 Oct in Kurdish town of Bingöl; army airstrikes 13 Oct hit PKK positions near Hakkari following three days of PKK rocket fire; three PKK militants killed in clash with army near Kars after setting fire to power plant; three soldiers killed 25 Oct in Yüksekova by masked gunmen; body of executed pro-govt Kurdish militiaman found in Bitlis next day. President Erdogan 31 Oct said Kurdish peace talks to continue despite unrest. Turkey 16 Oct failed to win non-permanent UNSC seat, seen by observers as sign of growing international isolation.

Cyprus

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

After Italian-South Korean SAIPEM consortium began drilling for hydrocarbons off Cyprus coast, Turkey deployed warship to shadow activities; Cypriot FM Ionannis Kasoulides 6 Oct warned Turkish action would halt peace talks. Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades 7 Oct announced unity talks suspended indefinitely in response to Turkey sending seismic survey ships to search for gas in disputed waters; Cypriot National Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides 20 Oct said Turkish ship Barbaros entered Cypriot EEZ; EU 24 Oct urged Turkey to show restraint; tripartite meeting between Cyprus, Greece and Egypt 29 Oct called for end to Turkish gas survey in Cypriot waters. Turkish National Security Council 31 Oct decided to keep Barbaros in disputed waters.

Ukraine

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

Parliamentary elections held 26 Oct: pro-EU parties won significant majority. President Poroshenko’s bloc ended slightly behind PM Yatsenyuk’s bloc, third reformist group also did well. Poroshenko’s relatively poor showing seen as rebuke for failure to push ahead with reforms, connect with country. Govt mid-Oct passed initial package of anti-corruption laws, Lustration Law. Constant ceasefire violations in east since Sept ceasefire agreement: continued shelling, skirmishes around Donetsk airport, artillery strikes on outskirts of Donetsk city; armed clashes reported in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk. Ukraine, Russia and EU 30 Oct signed deal on resumption of Russian natural gas shipments to Ukraine, EU acted as guarantor for Kiev.

Georgia

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

PM Garibashbili 16 Oct said govt attempts to improve bilateral relations with Moscow only achieved progress in economic sector, political relations not yet normalised. Draft law on integration between Abkhazia and Russia published 13 Oct; would give Russia complete control over key govt functions including military, security, borders, foreign policy. Greeted with rare criticism by Abkhaz politicians. Prosecutor’s office 28 Oct said five current and former senior military officials arrested for misuse of state funds. Former Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaia sentenced to 7.5 years imprisonment for torture; U.S. 23 Oct reiterated concern over prosecution of ex-Georgian officials.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

Rights crackdown continued: libel charges filed against journalist Khadija Ismayilova, prevented from leaving country 11 Oct; pretrial detention of rights activist Leyla Yunus extended 24 Oct to 28 Feb, lawyer 29 Oct reportedly barred from representing her, U.S. State Dept 16 Oct expressed concern over her health; journalist Khalid Garayev 30 Oct sentenced to 25 day detention on vulgarity charge. Rasul Jafarov, rights activist detained since 2 Aug, reportedly requested presidential pardon 16 Oct. U.S. State Dept 11 Oct said closure of NGO IREX in Azerbaijan would hurt democracy promotion efforts. CoE Thorbjørn Jagland 14 Oct called on authorities to release Ilgar Mammadov, detained since March 2013 for organising unrest. CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks 24 Oct urged govt to stop targeting human rights defenders. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) 15 Oct expressed deep concern over rights record, demanded early review of membership status by Jan 2015. Four opposition activists pardoned and released by President Aliyev; welcomed by EU as “positive first step”. Thousands of National Council of Democratic Forces opposition supporters rallied in Baku 12 Oct demanded govt resignation, end to repression of human rights defenders, closer integration with EU. Cooperation plan signed 13 Oct between Russian and Azerbaijani defence ministries.

Armenia

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

President Sarkisian 10 Oct signed agreement to join Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) on 1 Jan 2015. Thousands same day rallied in Yerevan in anti-govt protests. Tens of thousands 24 Oct continued protests in Yerevan, called for early elections; early vote dismissed 27 Oct by PM Abrahamian. President Sarkisian 17 Oct delayed decision on constitutional reform citing need for additional discussion with political groups. CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks 9 Oct said efforts needed on gender equality, independence of judiciary. Large Russian military drills held 13-19 Oct at Kamkhud, Alagyaz training grounds; head of Russian air force 15 Oct said Russia will expand capacity of Erebuni airbase.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

General and presidential elections held 12 Oct in Republika Srpska and Federal entity. Electoral Commission 13 Oct announced preliminary presidential vote results: Bakir Izetbegović from Party of Democratic Action (SDA) elected Bosniak member of tripartite presidency; Dragan Čović of Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) elected Croat member; Mladen Ivanić of Party for Democratic Progress (PDP) elected Serb member. Initial results showed SDA with 28% majority in Federation entity. In Republika Srpska the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) won 33%, main rival Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) won approx 27% of vote; parties considering possible coalition partners.

Kosovo

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

Political crisis over nomination of Assembly speaker continued: Assembly postponed early Oct following failure of ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo and opposition coalition to reach agreement. Court of Appeal 1 Oct rejected detention of 11 terrorism suspects including Imam of Pristina Grand Mosque; supporters say cleric arrested for political reasons. Calls for investigation following allegations of corruption in EU rule of law mission.

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