News update to 1 July 2013
Today the European Union welcomes Croatia as its 28th member state. The accession process has had a mixed reception in Croatia, and some in the EU are sceptical about whether the Croatian state has succeeded in its fight against corruption.
Last weekend’s parliamentary elections in Albania were won by the Alliance for a European Albania coalition. The triumph of the coalition means that Socialist Party leader, Edi Rama, is the new Prime Minister. Initially both Rama and the incumbent Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, had claimed victory; Berisha’s concession on Wednesday has been interpreted as an indicator of maturing democracy in Albania.
Source: Deutsche Welle
Bulgarian protests continue into their third week. The demonstrators in Sofia demand the resignation of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski and his cabinet in response to claims of corruption among the political elite, sparked by the appointment of Deelyan Peevski as new head of Bulgaria’s security service. Protesters allege that Peevski has links to Bulgaria’s mafia.
On Monday, the Council of the European Union suspended its travel ban on Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makei. An asset freeze on Makei remains in place. Whilst the EU states that the move does not reflect a change in policy towards Belarus, it is certainly a significant development in EU-Belarus relations.
Midweek President Vladimir Putin confirmed that US whistle-blower Edward Snowden was in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo airport. So far as observers are aware, Snowden has been unable to leave the airport – though Putin publicly declared him ‘a free man.’
Elvira Nabiullina started her role as Governor of Russia’s Central Bank; the first female to head a central bank of a G8 economy. The Financial Times reports that she assumes her role at a time of growing uncertainty among Russian elites about monetary policy.
Source: Financial Times
Finally, British Prime Minister David Cameron is on an official visit to Kazakhstan. He is the first British leader to visit the central Asian state in an official capacity, and the visit aims to tighten links between Kazakh and British oil and gas companies. There has been speculation as to whether Cameron will raise the issue of Kazakhstan’s human rights record with Nursultan Nasarbayev.