News from Central and Eastern Europe, Tuesday 4th June 2013

BALKANS

B92: Serbia determined to protect Kosovo Serbs’ rights. ‘The Serbian president made the statement during Monday’s meeting with Philippe Douste-Blazy, under-secretary general of the United Nations and France’s former minister of foreign affairs.

In what was described as “a cordial and friendly conversation,” Nikolić informed his guest about progress Serbia has made in this respect.

The Serbian president said that his country will never recognize Kosovo, but added “it is willing to make agreements on all other issues with interim institutions in Priština.”

The president’s press service quoted Douste-Blazy as saying that he was “amazed at the courage and determination of the Serbian authorities” to reach a compromise solution to the issue of the southern province in a constructive way, in order for all the citizens in Kosovo and Metohija to be able to expect a better and safer future.’

GREECE

Ekathimerini: Minister sees compromise over bill on racist crimes‘Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis, who last month introduced a draft law foreseeing stiffer penalties for racially motivated crimes that has strained the unity of Greece’s coalition government, suggested on Monday that a compromise solution is likely.

“I believe that there is an undoubtable possibility for convergence between the proposals that have been made so far,” he said.

New Democracy, the main party in the three-member coalition government, has conceded that the existing anti-racism law needs revision to “fill in the gaps” but stopped short of supporting the draft bill, while junior coalition partners socialist PASOK and Democratic Left have said they will be drafting a joint proposal for Parliament.’

Police search for clues after triple bomb attack in Athens. ‘Police have gathered several intact cooking gas canisters from the three rudimentary explosive devices that went off in Athens early Monday and are hoping they may be able to recover clues that will help them identify the assailants.

One person suffered minor burns in the attacks at the offices of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), a branch of the Environment Ministry and the political office of the government’s general secretary for transparency, Giorgos Sourlas. The attacks occurred between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m.’

Global Post: Greek leftists march in support of Turkish protesters. ‘Around a thousand Greek leftists on Monday marched in support of Turkish protesters who clashed with police in Ankara for a fourth day in the greatest unrest to face Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

“Authoritarianism is broken on the street, solidarity with the Turkish people,” chanted the demonstrators from various leftist groups including the main opposition radical left Syriza party.

“From Taksim Square to Athens, we fight poverty and hunger,” they sang, referring to Istanbul’s main square where demonstrators rallied.’

RUVR: Bomb goes off outside Athens human rights office. ‘A non-lethal bomb made of gas cylinders exploded near the entrance to Secretary General George Surlas’s office in Michalakopoulou Street in downtown Athens at about 8 a.m. local time.

The blast wave injured a doctor living in the same house and caused minor burns to a woman who rushed to put out the blaze. The explosion damaged the door. Police are now looking into this bomb attack.

Two other blasts rocked the Greek capital at about 3 o’clock in the morning. One gas-cylinder IED was triggered outside the entrance to the private-run Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE). The second explosive device targeted the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change. Both blasts caused minor damage to the surrounding area.

HUNGARY

JC: Budapest mayor ‘backtracks’ on honour for antisemite. ‘The Mayor of Budapest, Istvan Tarlos, is reportedly rethinking his decision to name a street in the Hungarian capital after an antisemite.

The city council had planned to name the street after Cecile Tormay, a writer who died in 1937. She is regarded as having inspired Milkos Horthy, the pro-Nazi Hungarian wartime leader.

According to Haaretz, Ronald Lauder, the WJC president, said that the decision to honour Tormay “puts into question the pledge given to the Jewish community that antisemitism will be fought vigorously by the Hungarian authorities”.’

Politics.hu: Hungary updates strategy for Roma inclusion, state secy says. ‘Hungary started drafting an updated version of its strategy for the social inclusion of the Roma community, state secretary at the Human Resources Ministry Zoltan Kovacs said in Berlin on Saturday evening.

During its term of EU presidency in 2011, the Hungarian government raised the cause of Roma inclusion at the European political level, Kovacs said at the opening of the audio-visual CHB Cineromani festival of Roma films organised by the German Historical Museum and Collegium Hungaricum Berlin, the Hungarian cultural institute.

The Roma inclusion programmes launched in all EU member states under Hungary’s initiative demonstrated that each country, region or even village should apply different approaches and solutions, Kovacs said.’

The Slovak Spectator: Extremists in Hungary protested against Trianon outside Slovak embassy. ‘Several hundred extremists attended the traditional protest held in front of the Slovak Embassy to Hungary, as well as other foreign embassies in the country, to protest against the Treaty of Trianon, signed on June 4, 1920. The police blocked the embassy with metal barricades, the TASR newswire reported on June 2.

The protest was organised by the Youth Movement of 64 Counties (HVIM), as well as the sympathisers of the Jobbik party and other ultra-right organisations. Several tens of protesters were wearing uniforms similar to those belonging to the outlawed Hungarian Guard.

According to Jobbik MP Tamás Gaudi-Nagy, a revision to the peace dictate passed 93 years ago is necessary. He added that the Treaty of Trianon can be perceived as an attempt to kill the nation, which was accompanied by the trampling of the rights of the Hungarian nation to self-determination, TASR wrote.’

RUSSIA

EurActiv: EU leaders to warn Putin against ‘repressive tendencies’‘The 31st EU-Russia summit will be held today (3 June) in the Ural city of Yekaterinburg. No breakthroughs or surprises are anticipated, but EU representatives are expected to warn President Vladimir Putin about “repressive tendencies” in Russia.

EU sources said that for bilateral relations to develop successfully, it was important that commitments already made are respected, including fundamental freedoms of assembly and expression.

“We have to be very frank, strong  concerns about certain domestic Russian developments will be raised at the summit, especially the recent series of restrictive legislation, which makes the exercise of democratic rights and freedoms more difficult for Russia’s civil society,” an EU diplomat told journalists.

He said that the implementation of those laws had now begun, and “unfortunately” proved that all the EU’s initial concerns were “fully justified”. Also, the diplomat said the EU side had no illusions that Russia would reject the criticism.’

RFE/RL: Libyan Jailed For Insurgency In Ingushetia. ‘The Supreme Court in Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia has sentenced a Libyan national to four years in jail.

Suleiman Osman Uheida, also known as Abu Khalid, was found guilty on June 2 of organizing an Islamic armed group and of illegal possessing a weapon.

When sentencing Uheida, the court said it took into account his cooperation with the investigators.

According to the investigators, Uheida had been takeng part in Islamic insurgency activities in the North Caucasus since 1995.’

Ria Novosti: 3 Held Over ‘Anti-Gay’ Murder in Russia’s Far East. ‘Investigators in Russia’s Far East have launched a criminal case against three men suspected of the homophobic killing of an airport manager, officials said on Monday.

Three unnamed residents of the Kamchatka Region were arrested for allegedly murdering the local deputy director of Ozyornaya airport, whose body was found in his burned-out car on Thursday.

According to investigators, the three suspects attacked a local man from their village on the night of May 29 for his “non-traditional sexual orientation” and inflicted fatal injuries on him by stabbing him and kicking him. The 39-year-old victim died of his wounds at the scene.’

Vestnik Kavkaza: Law enforcer injured by militants in Dagestan.

Islamic radicalism in the Russian society. ‘According to the president of the religious union “International Islamic Mission” Shafig Pshikhachev, religious organizations try to force down radicalism in the context of the problems which exist in the Russian society. “One of the main steps which should be done is education. Steps are taking by religious organizations. Of course the economic field, the social field should be revitalized for the young generation could fulfill their potential.”

According to Pshikhachev, the migration process is important. “They say that the situation is being improved. Steps are being taken. But I believe these steps are insignificant for Russia. We shouldn’t speak about radical Islam or radicalization of Islamic young people only, because today radicalizations is taking place not only in Russia, in the Islamic world or among Muslim young people living in Russia,” the religious activists noted.

The member of the expert council under the Council of Muftis of Russia, Rinat Mukhametov, stated that today Islamism is presented by a wide spectrum of various organizations from the Turkish Justice and Development Party to Bosnia and Malaysian Islamists. At the same time, the mass media, many political activists and experts focus their attention only at radical Islamism. “For example, the Muslim Brotherhood is actively fighting against jihadists in Egypt and Tunis,” Mukhametov said.

However, he believes that it is a very dangerous phenomenon for Russia. “It not only leads for a conflict and contradicts our national interests in the Middle East, but also leads to a conflict inside our country. It will cause numerous clashes in our 20-million Islamic world. They constantly impose on us ideas that the problem of migration is connected with the Islamic issue in Russia; they politicize the problem of construction of mosques and activities of religious organizations. They Islamize the problem of federalism and ethnic republics, international relations,” the expert emphasized.’

TURKEY

Reuters: Kurdish rebels clash with Turkish army during withdrawal. ‘Kurdish militants opened fire on Turkish troops in southeast Turkey near the border with Iraq on Monday, slightly wounding one soldier, the military said, the first such clash since the rebels began withdrawing from Turkey under a peace process.’

UPI: Turkish border fire blamed on PKK. ‘Fighters from the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party fired on a Turkish military base near the Iraq border, the armed forces said in a statement.

Turkish forces conducted aerial surveillance Monday near the Iraqi border to discover potential targets belonging to the separatist group known by its Kurdish initials, PKK. Turkish newspaper Hurriyet cited a military statement that said one soldier suffered minor injuries from gunfire believed to be from the PKK in Sirnak province.’

Press TV: Erdogan calls protesters extremists‘Since Friday, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have held demonstrations in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Mugla, Antalya, and many other cities and towns.

On Sunday, about 10,000 demonstrators, many waving flags, chanting “victory, victory, victory,” again gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, demanded that Erdogan resign.

On the same day, some 7,000 people held a demonstration in the capital Ankara that turned violent, with protesters throwing fire bombs and police firing teargas. Several protesters have denounced Erdogan as a dictator and fascist.

“If they call someone who has served the people a ‘dictator,’ I have nothing to say,” Erdogan said in an address on Sunday evening to a group representing migrants from the Balkans. “My only concern has been to serve my country.”

“I am not the master of the people. Dictatorship does not run in my blood or in my character. I am the servant of the people,”‘

RUVR: Turkish gov’t websites hacked by Anonymous. ‘A group of computer hackers known as Anonymous carried out early on Monday a series of cyberattacks on Turkish government websites in retaliation for violent police response to anti-government protests.

Several Anonymous messages in its Twitter blog provide links to the sites, including those of President Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, that have been denied public access.

Hackers normally use distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to knock their targets offline.

Turkey’s Hürriyet Daily News reported on Monday that some Turkish media websites have also been targeted by Anonymous for “for failing to adequately cover the events.”’

The Sofia Globe: Turkey protests reach fifth day. ‘Anti-government protests in Turkey have stretched into a fifth day, with police and demonstrators clashing in both Istanbul and Ankara.

As in previous days, police used tear gas to try to break up groups of protesters in Istanbul, while the demonstrators used bricks and other materials to build barricades on some city streets.

A trade union confederation representing nearly 250,000 people is holding a two-day strike beginning Tuesday to protest what it calls a police crackdown on the demonstrators.

Thousands have marched in Ankara and other cities since Friday, accusing the prime minister of imposing Islamic views on a secular nation.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed the protests as bitterness over lost elections, and said Monday that calm was returning to the country. He says the protesters are walking arm-in-arm with terrorists and that they have no support among most Turks.’

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