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News digest: 21 January 2013

Albania asks Greece to declare war finally over (Balkan Insight): "Albanian Foreign Minister Edmond Panariti on Thursday urged Greece to scrap a World War Two-era law that has left Greece technically in a state of war with Albania"

Austria votes to keep conscription (Austrian Times): "Austrian's have voted by a large margin to retain their conscript system. The country will therefore remain one of the few European Union members with mandatory military service"

AUSTRIA: Ban on begging is unconstitutional (Austrian Times): "The general begging-ban in Styria which came into force in May 2011 is unconstitutional, the Supreme Constitutional Court (Verfassungsgerichtshof) ruled on Thursday"

AUSTRIA: No charge over illegal radar device that was only used in Austria (Austrian Times): "A German man whose car was equipped with a radar detection device to warn him if there was a speed trap in the area has had a fine of 103 euros overturned after he told judges – "I only use it in Austria""dy"U membership"

CZECH REPUBLIC: MfD: Czech state wants to seize property of amnestied suspects (Prague Daily Monitor): "The Czech state wants to confiscate the property of persons and firms suspected in economic criminal cases whose prosecution has been halted within the presidential amnesty, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes Friday"

CZECH REPUBLIC: Prague protest demands direct democracy, new government (Prague Daily Monitor): "Several hundred of people Saturday demanded that the Czech centre-right government of Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) resign and the political system be changed, demanding more direct democracy"

CZECH REPUBLIC: Three prisons to be temporarily closed over amnesty (Prague Daily Monitor): "The Czech prison authority will temporarily close three prison facilities due to the decreased number of prisoners arising from President Vaclav Klaus's New Year amnesty, Deputy Justice Minister Daniel Volak told CTK Friday"

EU: French diplomat: To be respected, EU needs to show military power (Novinite): "EU countries need to show readiness to act swiftly and using force if needed, in order to have more bearing in the world, argued French ambassador to Sofia Philippe Autié"

EU: Romania dismisses British fears of influx (Balkan Insight): "Romania's Foreign Minister, Titus Corlatean, on Thursday said that British talk of a possible mass influx of workers in 2014, after remaining labour restrictions expire, was nothing more than political point-scoring." See also: Romania's Foreign Minister hits back at immigration scare stories in the UK (Romanian Insider) and Fears of Bulgarian migrants going to UK 'exaggerated' (EUobserver)

FRANCE: Mali conflict: France aiming for 'total reconquest' (BBC News): "France's military aim in Mali is its "total reconquest", French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said. "We will not leave any pockets" of resistance, he told French television"

FRANCE-ROMANIA: Some 177 Roma repatriated by French authorities to Romania (Romanian Times)

GERMANY: Bundestag passes bill on involuntary treatment (Deutsche Welle): "The German parliament has voted to permit the involuntary treatment of patients. While psychiatrists have welcomed the move, those affected criticize it as legitimizing torture, and say a living will is the solution"

GERMANY: Time runs out for far-right terrorism inquiry (Deutsche Welle): "Only a few months remain for a parliamentary inquiry into failures by German security agencies over a series of murders carried out by the NSU right-wing terrorists. But important evidence is still missing"

GREECE: Eighteen people arrested in illegal migrant sweep (Ekathimerini): "A total of 295 migrants were temporarily detained by police in downtown Athens on Friday as part of the ongoing Xenios Zeus operation aimed at curbing illegal immigration"

GREECE: Lagarde list committee to be named on Monday (Ekathimerini): "A parliamentary committee that will investigate former Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou over his handling of the Lagarde list of Greek depositors will be formed late Monday or Tuesday"

GREECE: Outgoing migrants intercepted off Crete (Ekathimerini): "Coast Guard officials on Crete detained 78 undocumented immigrants on the small islet of Elafonisi, off the island's southeastern coast, early on Friday"

GREECE: Rally in Athens against Greece's Golden Dawn (BBC News): "Some 3,000 people have taken part in a demonstration in the Greek capital Athens to protest against the rise of the neo-fascist party Golden Dawn." See also: Athens: mass protests oppose fascist Golden Dawn (Counterfire) and Athens protest over murder of Pakistani worker (Greek Reporter)

Greek police bust international migrant smuggling ring (Greek Reporter): ""Greek police have dismantled an international migrant trafficking ring that had been using boats to smuggle hundreds of people, mainly Syrians, from Turkey to Greece and Italy, authorities said Thursday

ITALY: Thirty-five immigrants land near Siracusa in Sicily (AGI)

Italian police attacked 2,290 times in 2012 (Gazzetta del Sud): "Police officers in Italy experienced 2,290 attacks in 2012, traffic police association Asaps said on Friday. The figure was 2.7% more than in 2011 and refers to attacks perpetrated against street police and other law officers"

LITHUANIA-USA: Even superpowers need friends: The US Chargé d’Affaires on the Lithuanian-US strategic partnership (The Lithuania Tribune): "The US Chargé d’ Affaires Anne Hall tells the Lithuania Tribune that US foreign policy is largely constant through administrations, and that Europe and Lithuania should not worry about the US shifting its focus to Asia. Hall tells us the US is in fact calling on the Europeans to get more involved in Asian affairs together with the United States. Mostly, she affirms that Lithuania is not just a critical partner of the US, but what’s more, the country is a member of a family which shares fundamental values and is America’s most important partner in confronting global challenges. Also read about the US-Lithuanian military cooperation and importance of an adequate spending on defence"

MALTA: Two Malta-related cases up for a judgment at the ECHR on Tuesday (Malta Independent): "The European Court of Human Rights is due to give judgement at its next sitting, on Tuesday 22 January, on two cases regarding Maltese citizens"

NETHERLANDS: Inquiry into suicide of Russian dissident in Dutch immigration centre (The Amsterdam Herald): "An investigation has been ordered into the suicide of a Russian opposition activist who fled to the Netherlands seeking political asylum. Aleksandr Dolmatov took his own life on Thursday, the day after he was detained in an immigration detention centre in Rotterdam." See also: Justice ministry to investigate suicide of Russian activist (update) and Russian activist kills himself after Dutch asylum failure (update) (Dutch News)

NORWAY: More child asylum seekers remain longer in Norway (The Norway Post): "At the start of 2013, 619 children whose applications for permanent residency were denied have lived in Norway for more than three years"

POLAND: Court throws out insulting president sentence (The News): "A Polish appeal court has thrown out a sentence of a man previously found guilty of insulting the Polish head of state"

ROMANIA: Romania President Rejects Proposed Anti-Corruption Chiefs (Balkan Insight): "President Traian Basescu has rejected the Justice Minister's nominations for the posts of Chief Prosecutor and head of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, the DNA." See also: Romanian leader refuses to appoint anti-graft prosecutor (EUbusiness)

SLOVAKIA: Controversial prosecution of filmmaker Piussi stopped (The Daily): "The Slovak police have halted the criminal prosecution of film-maker Zuzana Piussi over her documentary film Nemoc tretej moci (Disease of the Third Power, 2011) about problems of the Slovak judiciary." See also: The crooked judges of Slovakia (Respekt)

UK: British troops face fresh charges of Iraq war torture and killings (The Guardian): "Britain will face fresh charges of breaching international law over the alleged torture and killing of prisoners during the war in Iraq, which began almost exactly 10 years ago. The allegations will be unveiled in the high court, when Britain will stand accused of a "systemic" policy of abuse committed over five years, from 2003 to 2008." See also: Is Britain guilty of systemic torture in Iraq? (The Guardian)

UK: Campaign fights to keep EU cross-border crime powers (The Guardian): "David Cameron's opt-out plans under fire as police back European arrest warrant as weapon against international crime"

UK: David Cameron calls for 'global response' after Algerian hostage crisis (The Guardian): "David Cameron has warned that the fight against terrorism in north Africa could go on for decades as he confirmed that six Britons and a British resident are believed to have died in the Algerian hostage crisis." See also: Cameron calls for decades more of the failed 'war on terror' (Counterfire)

UK: Foreign chief constables would be 'smack in the face' (The Independent): "Moves to allow foreign police chiefs to become constables in England and Wales under new reforms to improve the force's leadership were described as a “smack in the face” yesterday by a former chief constable"

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