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What happened in Europe this week?

by Staff
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This week saw former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi double down on his long-time friendship with Russian president Vladimir Putin and boasted that he sent him 20 bottles of vodka for his recent 86th birthday.

Berlusconi returned the proof of love by sending the Russian premier, who had just turned 70, a case of red wine. Both men also shared “sweet letters”, Berlusconi said, according to a leaked report.

His statements caused a strong rebuke by Berlusconi’s right-wing coalition partners and consternation among his fellow Christian Democrats in the European Parliament.

“I would rather advise Mr. Berlusconi to send the vodka back,” Andrzej Halicki, Polish MEP told Euronews.

“First of all, this is not the time for any contact with Putin. Mr. Putin is not a friend, but he’s a war criminal. His place is in The Hague. He should be punished by the International Criminal Court,” he added.

“This is the legal way for Putin, not celebrating birthdays.”

Iran supplying drones to Russia

More vicious Russian attacks against Ukrainian cities were partly carried out by low-flying Iranian-made drones – something that Russia and Iran vigorously deny.

But the EU and the US both said they had evidence that Tehran supplied the low-cost drones that explode on impact and are blamed for the death of many civilians as well as the destruction of energy infrastructure, according to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

“Every indication points to Iran supplying Russia with these drones. And we call on all nations, including Iran, to not support Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine,” he said.

“The horrific attacks that were seen by these drones just highlights the urgency of stepping up support for Ukraine.”

The drones were just one issue the EU has with Iran, the other is the brutal crackdown on civil protests that have been shaking the country for more than a month now, as Brussels slapped fresh sanctions on Iran related to the issue.

Summit overshadowed by Truss resignation

Liz Truss resigned as UK prime minister on Thursday. Speaking outside of 10 Downing Street, she announced there will be another leadership election within the ruling Conservative Party, which will decide who succeeds her.

This makes Truss the shortest-serving PM in UK history, paving the way for the country’s fourth leader in little over three years. Her replacement will be appointed in the coming week.

Announcing her resignation, Truss said she arrived in office during a “time of great economic and international instability.”

The EU leaders’ summit in Brussels became more of a sideshow, as Britain deposed a third leader this year. 

EU Council focuses on energy

In the end, EU countries agreed to continue work on several emergency measures to curb high energy prices but kicked further discussions down the road to energy ministers next week.

“There is the strong determination, shared unanimously, as the written conclusions attest, to act together, as Europeans, to achieve three goals: bring prices down, guarantee the safety of supply and continue to work to reduce demand,” said European Council President Charles Michel.

Countries agreed to move forward on making joint gas purchases and creating a new gas price benchmark by early 2023 that better reflects the market.

They also endorsed progress on a temporary price ceiling on natural gas transactions and called on the European Commission to “urgently submit concrete decisions” on the measures.

“We do now have a very good and solid roadmap to keep on working on the topic of energy prices,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

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