Outrage is the most lucrative commodity in the global political market, especially in Eastern Europe. The recent crisis in relations between Russia and Georgia is a good illustration of this truism. It started pretty much out of the blue with an incident involving a member of the Russian Duma, Sergey Gavrilov, who was part of a delegation at this year's meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy hosted by Georgia. During the event held at the Georgian parliament, the Russian MP addressed the delegations from 21 Orthodox countries in attendance from the seat of the parliament speaker, which provoked a sharp reaction from pro-Western Georgian MPs and sparked weeks of protests in Tbilisi. It is easy to see why many in Georgia did not take Gavrilov's actions lightly. The country has been in a state of frozen conflict with Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, with occasional deadly flare-ups. Two of its breakaway territories, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, were … [Read more...] about What is behind the recent spat between Georgia and Russia?
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The EU court in Luxembourg has annulled sanctions on Ukraine's former regime in a symbolic blow to European foreign policy in the former Soviet region. Asset freezes imposed on Ukraine's ex-president Viktor Yanukovych, his son Oleksandr, and five others in the ruling clan that was ousted from power in a revolution five years ago breached their "fundamental rights" on "effective judicial protection", the court said on Thursday (11 July). The EU sanctions were based on "letters" sent to the EU Council in Brussels by the post-revolutionary authorities. But "none of the information contained in the letters ... makes it possible to consider that the Council had sufficient information to verify that those rights had been complied with," the court noted. The verdict annulled not just the original sanctions imposed in 2014, but also their subsequent renewals until 2018. The other five members of the Yanukovych regime cleared by the ruling were his former revenues minister Oleksandr … [Read more...] about EU court blow to ‘Eastern Partnership’ credibility
Air Malta inaugurated its first scheduled service to the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. The once weekly flight every Thursday will run until 18 September with the possibility to extend this service further in line with demand. "This is the first time that the Maltese airline is operating scheduled services to Georgia. The interest in this market started around a year ago when the airline was looking at growth opportunities to expand its network. This service is expected to open up new tourism markets to Malta and generate around 3,300 customers in both directions during the period of operation," said Air Malta's chief executive Capt. Clifford Chetcuti. Together with the InterCo Travel Group, the airline's tour operating partner in Georgia, Air Malta formulated a plan to establish direct air links between the two countries. The plan is expected to facilitate travel for Georgians to visit the Islands or other European destinations through Air Malta's European flight network. At the same time … [Read more...] about Air Malta starts scheduled services to Tbilisi, Georgia
MP Andrius Kubilius and Reinhard Veser At the end of March 2019, when the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe declared that my nomination was not to be submitted for further consideration to the Parliamentary Assembly, I made a clear statement that this act of conniving with Russia, made under pressure, was a mistake set to increase the polarisation between the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly. I also noted that this would not help solve the crisis with Russia, nor would it ease the process of election of the Secretary General. This week, I followed closely the debates at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from Vilnius. Russia and its friends lost again, despite the efforts of the German side. My prediction is coming true. A week ago, one of the main German daily newspapers, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, has published a detailed article on the topics I still consider relevant: the Council of Europe; the election of its Secretary … [Read more...] about On the Council of Europe, Russia, and elections of the Secretary General
THE CATHEDRAL of Notre Dame in Paris, and the vast outpouring of sorrow over its semi-destruction by fire on April 15th, epitomises the power of great houses of prayer to touch and inspire people. More palpably than any other kind of monument, they connect visitors with another world: one in which the finest composers, singers, sculptors, glass-makers, embroiderers and craft-workers of a given era joyfully mixed their energies in a vast, disinterested enterprise. To some degree, that enterprise continues as long as the building stands. That alone makes great historic churches a source of fascination, even for those with little interest in Christian worship. People want them to be there, even if they don’t wish to share the cost or join the prayers. Get our daily newsletter Upgrade your inbox and get our Daily Dispatch and Editor's Picks. In almost every country in Europe, that creates an acute problem. The cost of maintaining the delicate stone fabric of a … [Read more...] about Cathedrals are neglected in much of Europe