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News digest: 9 April 2013

Albania nationalist rally fails to draw crowds (Balkan Insight): "A protest by the Red and Black Alliance on Sunday in Tirana, which promised to overturn the government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha, failed to muster much popular support"

AUSTRIA: Tank deal in Slovenia: lobbyist Riedl convicted (Austrian Times): " The armour lobbyist Hans-Wolfgang Riedl was sentenced to three years in jail due to corruption last Friday. Mr Riedl was accused of having smuggled bribe money (several hundred thousands Euros) to Slovenia in 2007"

BALKANS: Anti-hate-speech initiative spreading to the Balkans (SETimes.com): "Young people ages 13 to 30 are the target of the Council of Europe's No Hate Speech Movement, a new campaign seeking to raise awareness of online hate speech and its threat to democracy"

BALKANS: Macedonia, Serbia boost military co-operation (SETimes.com): "Macedonia and Serbia are furthering their military co-operation after signing an agreement for joint training at Macedonia's military polygon Krivolak, which is rated as one of the best in Europe, according to experts"

BULGARIA: No charges pressed against Bulgarian journalist (Novinite): "Bulgarian journalist Boris Mitov left Monday the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office without legal charges of leaking State secrets pressed against him." See also: The 'mysterious' ways of Bulgarian prosecution (Novinite)

Bulgarian Roma rights organisations demand new body for minority integration issues (Novinite)

CROATIA: 20,000 Croatians rally in Zagreb against Cyrillic (Balkan Insight): "Protesters took to the streets against the official introduction of the Serbian language and Cyrillic script but Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said he wouldn’t give in to their demands"

CZECH REPUBLIC: Anti-gov't demonstration held in Prague (Prague Daily Monitor): "Some 500 people gathered at a demonstration against the government and the current state of society organised by the Holesov Appeal civic group at Prague's Wenceslas Square yesterday." See also: Civic initiatives plan anti-government protest on Sunday (Prague Daily Monitor)

Czech, Slovak presidents call for closer cooperation (Prague Daily Monitor): "The Czech and Slovak presidents, Milos Zeman and Ivan Gasparovic, would welcome a better transport connection between their countries and a closer cooperation of companies, such as rail cargo operators, they said after their meeting in Bratislava Thursday"

CZECH REPUBLIC: Media stereotype Roma minority, analysis shows (Prague Daily Monitor): "Czech media carry stereotypical information on Romanies and contribute to the worsening of their public image, according to an analysis by the government social integration agency that was released yesterday, International Roma Day." See also: Roma integration partly successful, town officials say (Prague Daily Monitor): "The neighbourhoods primarily inhabited by Czech Romanies and socially weak persons are being gradually integrated into the towns, the mayors of Brno, Vsetin and Most told CTK yesterday"

CZECH REPUBLIC: Poll: President should not grant amnesty on his own (Prague Daily Monitor): "A majority of Czechs (53 percent) believe the president should grant amnesty or pardon only with the consent of another political institution, compared with 41 percent a year ago, according to the latest CVVM agency's poll released Thursday"

DENMARK: Citizenship waiting times soaring (The Copenhagen Post): "Waiting times for people applying for Danish citizenship have surged since the current Socialdemokraterne-led government took over in the autumn of 2011"

DENMARK: Universities fined for having too many foreign students (The Copenhagen Post): "Danish universities have to pay up for not adhering to regulations regarding the balance of exchange students"

EU must be enabled to enforce visa reciprocity, say Civil Liberties MEPs (European Parliament, press release): "Reimposing visa requirements on nationals of third countries that fail to remove them for EU citizens would be made easier by visa reciprocity rule changes voted in the Civil Liberties Committee on Monday. The EU could also temporarily suspend its visa-free travel rules to halt "substantial and sudden increases" in irregular migrant numbers or unfounded asylum applications, but only as a last resort, MEPs added. But these changes have first to be agreed with EU member states"

EU: Hot off the press: how the ECtHR is indeed going to watch the EU (UK Human Rights Blog): "There has been a lot of speculation... about how the roles of the EU Court (the CJEU) and the Strasbourg Court might be fitted together. Now at least we have some of the proposed answers, though there are a number of formal steps to be undergone before it comes into law"

EU: Maritime security: an EU approach (European Commission, speech); see also Importance of building European Union-Wide cooperation in relation to security and surveillance in maritime domain highlighted (Irish EU Presidency)

EU: Privacy a central issue in new Schengen database (Deutsche Welle): " The European Information System called SIS II is launching after substantial delays. The new database is intended to allow security officials faster and easier ways to exchange information, but privacy concerns abound." See: Schengen Information System (SIS II) goes live (Europa, press release)

EU: Wake-up call for a giant: The EU must end discrimination against Roma (Amnesty International): "The European Union (EU) is not doing enough to end discrimination against Roma across its member-states, Amnesty International said on the eve of International Roma Day marked on 8 April." See also: Roma rights: rhetoric and reality (European Voice); EU and US pledge support for Romany culture on International Roma Day (International Business Times)

FRANCE: Cahuzac scandal: French ministers to declare assets (BBC News): "The French government says the value of ministers' assets will be published by 15 April in a new transparency drive, amid a scandal over tax evasion." See also: French ministers must declare assets publicly, PM says (France 24)

France's intelligence agency slammed for censorship (France 24): " The foundation behind Wikipedia has accused France's domestic intelligence agency of forcing a volunteer to remove an article because it was deemed to contain classified military secrets"

Germany arms itself for the drone age (Deutsche Welle): "Unmanned aircraft continue to gain an ever more vital role in conflicts around the globe, as well as in domestic security. Germany is no exception. But as one drone pilot reports, the work can be tremendously taxing"

Germany too lax on human trafficking? (Deutsche Welle): " The EU is pushing for more action against human trafficking and better protection for the victims. But Germany has missed the EU's deadline to implement new rules. Critics say Germany needs to step up its game"

GERMANY: Jobless sick 'to face more official suspicion' (The Local): "Germans living on the most basic state unemployment support who do not have to seek work because they are sick will face increased checks and reduction of payments should they be unconvincing, according to an internal document"

GERMANY: Late push on war crimes: Prosecutors to probe 50 Auschwitz guards (Spiegel Online): "Prosecutors have obtained a list of 50 former Auschwitz guards still alive in Germany and will investigate whether they can stand trial. Guards at other death camps and members of the feared Einsatzgruppen death squads are also being traced in a late push to bring the surviving perpetrators of the Holocaust to justice." See also: Search for Nazi death camp guards widens (The Local)

GERMANY: SPD calls for action on neo-Nazi trial seats row (The Local): "The government must get involved in the current controversy over which newspapers are allowed to attend a neo-Nazi trial in Munich later this month, Social Democratic Party chief Sigmar Gabriel said on Sunday"

GERMANY: Unwanted guests: Far-right NPD to hold convention in parking lot (Spiegel Online): "The right-wing extremist NPD wants to hold a party conference this weekend, but the only venue it could find is a parking lot in Bavaria. The event threatens to be disrupted by road construction and anti-Nazi protestors promising to build a wall of sound with rock music and chainsaws"

GERMANY/NETHERLANDS: President Putin shrugs off German and Dutch protests (BBC News): "Russian President Vladimir Putin has been greeted by protests in Germany and the Netherlands as he met the leaders of both nations for trade talks." See also: Thousands to demonstrate during Putin's visit to Amsterdam (Dutch News)

GREECE: Clashes in Patra as leftists attack Golden Dawn hangout (Ekathimerini): "Police in Patras in Western Greece on Monday night had to use tear gas to disperse a group of leftists who attacked a cafe-bar on central Ypsilon Alonion Square that is frequented by members and supporters of the ultranationalist party Golden Dawn"

GREECE: Rights group says 2,000 migrants on hunger strike at Greek reception centers (Ekathimerini): "Some 2,000 immigrants being held at Greek reception centers have been on hunger strike since Saturday to protest poor conditions and abuse, the United Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat (KEERFA) has said." See also: Detained immigrants on hunger strike (Greek Reporter)

ITALY: Four race-crime convictions for neo-Nazi website (Gazzetta del Sud): "Four men were convicted of inciting race hatred Monday from the Italian website of the neo-Nazi group Stormfront. The four, aged 23 to 42 and from various towns across Italy, were sentenced to terms ranging from 30 months to three years for "promoting and directing a group whose purpose was the instigation to ethnic, religious and racial discrimination and violence"."

ITALY: Roma and Sinti delegation meets with House speaker (Gazzetta del Sud): "A delegation of Roma and Sinti met with Italian House Speaker Laura Boldrini on Monday in Rome on the UN-established international day celebrating the minority group that has been defined as Europe's most discriminated"

Luso-Spanish crime-fighting cooperation “very positive” (The Portugal News): "Cooperation between Portugal and Spain in terms of safety, crime-fighting and coastal protection has been described by the Portuguese Government as very positive"

MALTA: Money spent on refugees is not overseas development aid (Times of Malta): "Malta should not classify money spent on refugees at home as overseas development aid, according to a national report on poverty eradication"

MALTA: Updated - Director of Prisons submits his resignation (Times of Malta): "The Director of Prisons, Abraham Zammit, has submitted his resignation after the Home Affairs Minister yesterday made a surprise visit to the prisons and found that four guards had left for home several hours early"

NETHERLANDS: Man shot dead by police in Rotterdam 'was fired at seven or eight times' (Dutch News): "The man killed by police in the Rotterdam district of Charlois on Sunday was shot at seven or eight times, eyewitnesses have told the AD newspaper." See also: Man shot dead by police in Rotterdam (Dutch News)

NETHERLANDS: Prison staff plan strike over reforms (Dutch News): "Prison service staff say they will go on strike later this month unless junior justice minister Fred Teeven withdraws reform plans, which include closing down a number of prisons"

NORTHERN IRELAND: What's being done for prisoners with mental health issues in NI? (The Detail): "It's been identified time and again as the biggest problem afflicting the prison population here, but mental health issues are still barely registering within the system, an investigation by The Detail has established."

Norway authorities face possible Utøya court case (The Foreigner): " Families of victims of the Utøya shootings are considering legal action against both the police and the Norwegian state for failings which allowed Anders Behring Breivik to commit the worst spree killing by a single gunman ever to occur in peacetime"

Norway spy’s archive found in Britain (The Foreigner): "Secret documents collected by a Norwegian spy during the Second World War have been discovered hidden in a UK garage"

NORWAY: Coalition condemns asylum seeker policy (The Foreigner): " Norwegian Socialist Left Party (SV) politicians slam authorities’ attitude towards asylum seekers amongst several fatalities at Norway’s reception centers"

NORWAY: Secret nuclear cargo shipped around Norway (Barents Observer): "The danger that terrorists could get their hands on nuclear material forced authorities to keep secret about last week’s shipment towards Murmansk." See also: Nuclear watchdog expects more secret voyages (Barents Observer)

ROMANIA: International Roma Organization reveals new identity card: “We want to show who we are in this world” (Romania Insider): "The president of the International Roma Organization (OIR) has revealed details of a new international identity card for members of the organization. The card can be used as a passport and will have details of the holder’s country of origin"

ROMANIA: New Wikileaks documents reveal why Romanian dictator Ceausescu cut short his US visit in the 70s (Romania Insider): "A new round of documents revealed by the already famous Wikileaks recently showed former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu shortened his trip to US in 1973 as he was unhappy with the value of loans obtained with the help of the US administration"

SLOVAKIA: IOM: Many migrants face violence (The Slovak Spectator): "Forty-three percent of migrants to Slovakia have experienced “lighter forms” of violence in public, at home or at work, while 15 percent have experienced “serious expressions” of violence, a study conducted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Slovakia into the immigrant experience of violence, based on 690 individual responses, has found."

SLOVAKIA: UN report focuses on plight of Roma (The Slovak Spectator): "No running water, no electricity and no work: this is what life looks like in a typical Roma settlement in Slovakia. Added to this is the ongoing insecurity posed by the threat that one’s house might be viewed as a pile of garbage and torn down accordingly, as well as the high probability that one’s children will not be able to escape this vicious circle of poverty, since from an early age they are put into segregated classes “for the socially disadvantaged”."

SLOVENIA: International arrest warrant issued for Patria suspect Wolf (The Slovenia Times): "The Ljubljana Local Court issued an international arrest warrant for Walter Wolf, a Canada-based businessman charged with corruption in the Patria defence trial who has failed to appear in court for months. The trial, in which four other defendants, including ex-PM Janez Janša are charged with corruption, is nearing the end"

TURKEY: Turkey 'coup' trial delayed amid angry protests (BBC News): "The high-profile trial of 275 alleged coup plotters in Turkey has been delayed after police clashed with angry crowds outside the court near Istanbul"

UK study dismisses Romanian migrant influx (Balkan Insight): "Romania's Foreign Ministry on Saturday hailed a recent study, which shows Britain is not likely to be among the main destinations for Romanian and Bulgarian migrants when labour controls in these countries are lifted at the end of this year." See also: New study shows UK not among migration targets for Romanians, Bulgarians, but Migration Watch UK’s Green calls it ‘bucket of whitewash’ (Romania Insider)

UK: Human trafficking victims tell of drug factory ordeal (The Observer): "Call to protect those forced into crime after being held prisoner on UK cannabis farms"



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