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CrisisWatch Database

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1538 results found
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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

Trial of Russian soldier accused of murdering family of seven in Gyumri Jan 2015 began at Russian military base, under Armenian judge; 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.

Armenia

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Some 2,000 joined opposition-organised protest in Yerevan 20 Nov against proposed constitutional changes which would transfer powers from president to PM, ahead of constitutional referendum set for 6 Dec.

Macedonia

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Govt and opposition leaders 6 Nov reached deal on implementation of July agreement to end political crisis, agreeing on appointment of interim ministers from opposition Social Democrats until April elections, including interior minister, labour minister and several others. Leaders also agreed on electoral reforms, laws on protection of whistleblowers and privacy. Deal came day after appointment of twelve special prosecutors to support chief special prosecutor investigating illegal wiretapping scandal. EU progress report highlighted need for key reforms including on corruption, rule of law, consolidation of democratic institutions.

Kosovo

  |  1 Dec 2015

Deteriorated

Mounting political tensions as opposition parties continued to block work of parliament in protest against Aug EU-backed agreement with Serbia on Serb-majority municipalities: 17 Nov again threw tear gas in main chamber during discussion of 2016 budget. One opposition MP arrested next day on suspicion of letting off tear gas in parliament, police tried to arrest another, prompting protests outside govt building in which protesters clashed with police; some twenty arrested. Over 80 reportedly arrested during large-scale protest 28 Nov, including opposition Self-Determination party leader Albin Kurti, remanded in custody for 30 days. Opposition disrupted parliament again 30 Nov. Constitutional Court (CC) suspended implementation of agreement pending review of its compliance with constitution, with decision expected Jan 2016; Serbia expressed anger over suspension of deal. Police found grenade outside CC 18 Nov.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Leaders of Republika Srpska (RS) entity 29 Nov said they would challenge state-level constitutional court’s decision to abolish RS’s annual Republic Day holiday. Gunman killed two soldiers and injured a third in suburbs of Sarajevo 18 Nov, before killing himself during confrontation with police. Bomb thrown at police station in Zavidovici 24 Nov; no injuries. Serbian PM Vucic handed over €2mn in development aid to mayor of Srebrenica during early Nov visit to town.

Turkey

  |  2 Nov 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Bomb attack at Ankara peace rally led by leftist groups and pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) 10 Oct left some 102 killed and 240 injured in deadliest attack in republic’s history. PM Davutoğlu 14 Oct said Islamic State (IS) orchestrated attack. Interior ministry 14 Oct laid off several security officials amid growing anger and political division over bombing. Ankara prosecutor’s office 28 Oct announced IS cell in Gaziantep responsible for attack. Pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) 10 Oct accused ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of covertly aiding Ankara attackers and two other IS-linked bombers who struck pro-Kurdish targets in previous attacks. Over 320 IS suspects detained since 10 Oct. Two police and seven IS militants killed, twelve militants captured 26 Oct in police operation in Diyarbakır. Kurdish insurgency Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Murat Karayılan 10 Oct declared unilateral ceasefire until 1 Nov repeat elections; PM Davutoğlu same day pledged to continue military operations against PKK positions in SE and in Iraq. Deadly violence between security forces and PKK continued, with thirteen security officials reported killed since 10 Oct ceasefire. Governor of Diyarbakir province 9 Oct began four-day curfew in majority-Kurdish city’s historic district following death of police officer in clashes with pro-PKK youth militia; 18 Oct declared curfew in Silvan district. Political and social tensions increased in lead-up to 1 Nov elections. U.S. 1 Oct pledged to deploy additional aircraft and personnel to Incirlik Air Base in SE, expanding scope of U.S.-led coalition anti-IS operations in Turkey. Russian-made drone shot down in Turkish airspace 16 Oct. Govt and EU 16 Oct discussed joint action plan to tackle Syrian refugee crisis. Govt 26 Oct announced army hit Syrian PKK-affiliate, Kurdish Democratic Union Part (PYD) in N Syria twice: in July and again 16 Oct when PYD members attempted to cross Euphrates river.

Cyprus

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades 12 Oct pledged to “significantly intensify” peace talks with Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci as both acknowledged outstanding disagreements on issues of property and guarantees. Turkish President Erdogan 17 Oct inaugurated undersea pipeline to carry water from Turkey to northern Cyprus; move perceived by Greek Cypriot as attempt by Ankara to consolidate hold over north. Anastasiades 18 Oct said holding dual referendum on solution to conflict in March 2016 not possible in light of elections in Republic of Cyprus in May 2016.

Ukraine

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

Building on Sept ceasefire, talks in Paris between Russia and Ukraine 2 Oct saw deal on elections in east, and withdrawal of small-calibre weapons; also greater access for OSCE monitors in separatist-held areas. President Hollande noted Minsk agreement cannot be fully implemented by year-end as planned. Ukrainian govt forces and separatists 5 Oct began withdrawing weaponry of 100mm or less from line of separation. Separatists 6 Oct announced highly contentious local elections would be delayed from Oct/Nov to Feb 2016; Moscow, Kyiv, U.S. and EU welcomed move. Kyiv reiterated demand for withdrawal of all troops and military hardware from east before polls there. Separatists 6 Oct demanded amnesty for participants in conflict, local powers and constitutional changes. Standoff between separatist Ministry of State Security and other senior local leaders in Luhansk suggested power struggle in entity. Local elections across Ukraine 25 Oct saw Poroshenko’s governing coalition retain support in west and centre, drop in support for PM Yatsenyuk’s allies, and advances for Opposition Bloc, composed of Yanukovych-era politicians, in south and east; elections did not take place in Mariupol and Krasnoarmiisk; complete results expected 4 Nov. Dutch Air Safety board inquiry 13 Oct found Malaysian airlines flight MH17 destroyed 17 July 2014 by“9N314M-model warhead carried on the 9M38-series of missiles, as installed on the Buk surface-to-air missile system”; said missile fired from separatist-controlled territory. Russia and Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) rejected report as “deeply biased”. DPR expelled Médecins Sans Frontières late month.

Georgia

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda 13 Oct announced she will investigate alleged war crimes by both sides in 2008 Georgia-Russia war, including killing of peacekeepers, attacks on civilians. De facto leader of breakaway republic South Ossetia announced plan to initiate referendum on incorporating into Russian Federation.

Azerbaijan

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

President Aliyev dismissed long-serving National Security Minister Eldar Mahudov; days later, authorities arrested seven National Security Ministry officials, accused them of abuse of power. OSCE refused to send observers to monitor 1 Nov elections, saying Baku sought to impose too many restrictions.

Armenia

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

Parliament 5 Oct voted to hold referendum to change constitution to parliamentary republic, with presidential powers transferred to parliament, president to be elected by parliament rather than by direct vote, presidential term to be extended from five to seven years. Hundreds protested in opposition to move, which they describe as intended to allow President Sargsyan to maintain power in PM role. Referendum scheduled for 6 Dec.

Macedonia

  |  2 Nov 2015

Deteriorated

Increasing concern over fate of July EU-brokered agreement between opposition and govt, after talks on electoral reforms failed to produce agreement. Opposition suspended its participation in talks 14 Oct after National Prosecutors Council approved only half of fourteen-strong team of deputy special prosecutors proposed by newly-appointed special prosecutor in charge of probing claims that govt engaged in illegal surveillance of citizens. Despite continued talks and pressure from EU, sides remained unable to agree, endangering timetable for early elections in April 2016. Govt 7 Oct withdrew draft law it proposed previous day to ban publishing of materials related to wiretap claims, following protests outside parliament.

Kosovo

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

Opposition lawmakers disrupted parliament in protest against 25 Aug EU-backed agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on establishment of association of Serb-majority municipalities; MPs reportedly from Self-Determination (Vetevendosje) party set off tear gas canisters in parliament 8, 15 and 23 Oct. Vetevendosje activists clashed with police 13 Oct after party leader was arrested for setting off tear gas in parliament; protests outside parliament clashed with police again 23 Oct. EU and Kosovo 27 Oct signed Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

EU foreign Affairs Council 12 Oct expressed “serious concern” over Republika Srpska plans for referendum on authority of national courts in entity. State- and entity-level justice ministers agreed reforms of state-level court to be finished by year-end.

Turkey

  |  1 Oct 2015

Deteriorated
Clashes between security forces and Kurdish insurgency PKK worsened in east and south east, while govt also launched seven airstrikes against PKK positions in Turkey and Northern Iraq. Seventeen soldiers killed in PKK attack in Daglica, Hakkari 6 Sept; fourteen soldiers killed in Igdir 8 Sept; 23 civilians reported killed in Cizre district of Sirnak province during nine-day curfew that ended 12 Sept. Interior ministry 11 Sept suspended mayor of Cizre district for allegedly inciting armed uprising and terror propaganda. Since Suruç attack on 20 July, Ankara has reported 135 security officials killed and 278 injured, and 75 civilians killed in PKK attacks as of 28 Sept; PKK’s armed wing People’s Defense Force (HPG) reported 112 insurgents killed in same period, while govt has declared some 131 “temporary military secure zones” in over fifteen eastern provinces, and imposed curfews in Muş, Van, Şırnak and Diyarbakır provinces. Umbrella group Unions of the Communities of Kurdistan (KCK) 15 Sept said willing to participate in negotiations with govt under supervision of mediators as part of strengthened ceasefire and democratic resolution of crisis. Nationwide demonstrations against terrorism 6-9 Sept; over 300 violent incidents against pro-Kurdish HDP party buildings reported. Ahead of snap polls scheduled for 1 Nov HDP co-chair Demirtas 2 Sept said security conditions in east and south east unsuitable for election campaign. Parliament 3 Sept renewed mandate allowing military to conduct cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq, and allowing govt to authorise foreign troops based on Turkish soil. Two soldiers killed, two injured 1 and 9 Sept following cross-border fire from Islamic State in provinces of Kilis and Hatay along Syrian border. Amid escalating European refugee crisis PM Davutoğlu called for more action by international community to address problem.

Cyprus

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged
Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Akinci 10 Sept met with heads of Cyprus’ Orthodox Christian, Armenian, Maronite and Latin Catholic churches, and Turkish Grand Mufti for first time amid ongoing reunification talks. Turkish FM Feridun Sinirlioglu 7 Sept visited Turkish Cypriot North on first official trip as FM, called for sincerity in talks; President of European Council Donald Tusk 11 Sept visited Cyprus, said next three months critical.

Ukraine

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged

Both sides largely upheld renewed ceasefire starting 1 Sept, with some small-scale violations and reports of civilian casualties in separatist regions. During visit to Crimea, Russian President Putin 12 Sept welcomed cessation of fighting; statement came as observers point to Moscow’s apparent diminishing enthusiasm for separatist cause. Following meeting to discuss implementation of Feb 2015 Minsk peace agreement and withdrawal of heavy weapons from contact line, FMs of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany 12 Sept reported “significant progress”; however little movement of weapons observed on the ground. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg 24 Sept said Russian troops still present in east. Amid tensions within separatist leadership, president of self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) parliament Andrei Purgin dismissed and detained by DPR security forces 4 Sept, released 8 Sept. Separatist leaders 16 Sept announced local elections in DPR and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) to take place 18 Oct and 1 Nov; President Poroshenko said decision contravenes Feb Minsk deal, which stipulates elections in separatist regions take place under Ukrainian law, and extended sanctions against individuals and entities with suspected links to separatist regions. Ultra-nationalist Radical Party 1 Sept left coalition govt following 31 Aug initial approval of law giving more autonomy to separatist regions. U.S. and EU 2 Sept extended sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian individuals with connections to March 2014 Crimea annexation by Russia and violence in east. Parliament 17 Sept approved debt restructuring deal reached with creditors late Aug. Govt 8 Sept accepted International Criminal Court jurisdiction over crimes committed in Ukraine since Feb 2014. Crimean Tatar movements 21 Sept announced indefinite blockade of food deliveries from Ukraine. President Obama and President Putin 28 Sept met on fringes of UNGA, but little movement from either side on Ukraine.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged

Amid international condemnation of ongoing govt crackdown on civil society, Baku court 1 Sept sentenced investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova to 7.5 years’ jail on embezzlement and tax evasion charges, in trial widely believed to be politically motivated. UN human rights chief 8 Sept condemned verdict, EU lawmakers 10 Sept passed resolution calling for Ismayilova’s release. Govt 11 Sept cancelled European Commission delegation visit to Baku, said will review its relations with EU.

Armenia

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged

Hundreds of protesters returned to streets in Yerevan 1 Sept in renewed protest against electricity price hike, accusing govt of failing to fulfil its promise to subsidise prices following June protests; police clashed with protesters, arrested five, including one of leaders of June demonstrations. Police 12 Sept forcibly removed protesters blocking main road through city, briefly detained some 48.

“Armenian police end latest protest against price rise”, Reuters, 12 Sept. 2015.

Macedonia

  |  1 Oct 2015

Improved

Month saw progress in implementation of July EU-brokered agreement between opposition and govt: opposition 1 Sept returned to parliament, ending fifteen-month boycott; political parties 15 Sept agreed on appointment of Katica Janeva as special prosecutor to investigate claims that PM Gruevski’s govt was illegally wiretapping citizens, meeting deadline set in July deal. EU-brokered talks on media reform began late month, opposition said reform essential before elections scheduled for April. Skopje court 2 Sept said tapes possessed by opposition which allegedly prove illegal wiretapping not admissible as evidence in court since they were “illegally obtained”; Gruevski maintains tapes not authentic. Opposition called the ruling provocative, but said will not abandon talks on implementation of July agreement.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged

Constitutional Court 9 Sept ruled July decision by Republika Srpska (RS) legislative assembly to hold referendum on authority of national courts and Office of High Representative (OHR) in RS legal, despite veto from Bosniak delegates. State and RS ministers 10 Sept attended “structured dialogue” mediated by EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn, agreed on package of justice reforms. RS ruling Bosnian Serb party SNSD 13 Sept said it will go ahead with planned referendum despite 10 Sept agreement.

Turkey

  |  1 Sep 2015

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Clashes between security forces and PKK intensified in southeast: Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) reported 67 members killed in clashes with PKK 20 July- 30 Aug; PKK reported 53 of its members killed in same period; 28 civilians reported killed. Govt reported over 800 alleged PKK members detained. Govt 17-18 Aug designated over 100 “special security zones” in east and southeast, imposed curfews in parts of Mus and Diyarbakır. Govt continued air bombardments of PKK positions in Turkey and N Iraq, launching thirteen waves of airstrikes 24 July - 28 Aug. Senior PKK members blamed govt for breaking three-year ceasefire; said PKK would stop fighting if Turkey ends military operations, called for monitoring committee to oversee conditions of reinforced ceasefire, demanded direct contact with jailed leader Öcalan and new format for peace process. Govt late July initiated criminal investigations against Demirtas and fellow co-chair Yüksekdağ on criminal charges and engaging in terrorism propaganda respectively. Unable to agree on terms of coalition with opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) or Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), PM Davutoglu 18 Aug returned mandate to form govt to president; Erdogan 21 Aug announced snap elections for 1 Nov. U.S. 12 Aug conducted first airstrikes on Islamic State in Syria from Turkey’s İncirlik airbase. Army 14 Aug began constructing wall in Hatay to stem illegal border crossings following govt’s July pledge to tighten security at Syrian and Iraqi borders.

Cyprus

  |  1 Sep 2015

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UN SRSG Espen Bath Eide 14 Aug expressed further optimism over ongoing reunification talks following 13 Aug meeting with Turkish foreign ministry officials, emphasised progress on contentious issues including sharing of island’s natural resources.

Georgia

  |  1 Sep 2015

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Following Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli’s 20 Aug call for tangible steps toward NATO accession, NATO 27 Aug opened new training base in Georgia; Russia said move provocative. Govt 11 Aug called on Moscow to avoid escalation in breakaway republic South Ossetia (SO), after Russia’s moving of SO border sign posts in July reportedly cut off residents from their farmland.

Azerbaijan

  |  1 Sep 2015

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Death of young man in police custody 21 Aug sparked protests in Mingachevir. Rights activists Arif and Leyla Yunus sentenced 13 Aug to seven-eight years’ jail for fraud and tax evasion; international rights groups condemned verdicts as political.

Armenia

  |  1 Sep 2015

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Russian military court 12 Aug sentenced Russian soldier Valery Permyakov, accused of killing seven people in Armenian town Gyumri in Jan, to ten years’ jail for desertion, illegal weapons possession; Permyakov still to stand trial in Armenia for murder.

Macedonia

  |  1 Sep 2015

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Govt and opposition met at EU-mediated talks 26 Aug to discuss appointment of new special prosecutor to investigate illegal surveillance claims, in accordance with June EU-brokered agreement; no consensus reached. Opposition leader Zoran Zaev 29 Aug said if special prosecutor not appointed by 15 Sept deadline he will release more tapes allegedly showing that govt was illegally wiretapping citizens. Govt 20 August declared state of emergency on borders with Serbia and Greece due to influx of refugees and migrants, deployed troops to border with Greece.

Kosovo

  |  1 Sep 2015

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Following another round of EU-brokered talks, Kosovo and Serbia PMs 25 Aug signed landmark agreements including on energy, establishment of Association of Serbian Municipalities and freedom of movement/Mitrovica bridge. Parliament 3 Aug adopted necessary constitutional changes to establish War Crimes Court to try former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters, in move welcomed by EU and U.S.. Opposition said new court unconstitutional, 11 Aug asked constitutional court to annul law. Some 1,000 Kosovo Serbs protested in Mitrovica 14 Aug demanding release of hunger-striking politician Oliver Ivanovic, arrested in Jan 2014 for war crimes and awaiting his verdict, after EULEX judges 6 Aug extended his detention.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  |  1 Sep 2015

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At EU Balkan summit in Vienna 27 Aug EU representatives underlined commitment to region, called for further reforms. Republika Srpska (RS) entity opposition leader 27 Aug said he has tapes proving vote-buying in Oct 2014 local elections by RS PM Željka Cvijanović; ruling SNSD party denied accusations.

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CrisisWatch N°150

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