Supporters free former Georgian President from Ukrainian police

Ukrainian supporters of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili freed him from a police van after his detention on suspicion of assisting a criminal organization led to clashes with police in Kiev.


Catalonia Referendum Means More European Division

Catalonia’s leader made clear his government was determined to go ahead with an October 1 vote on independence that Madrid calls illegal and which has thrust Spain into its most dramatic political crisis for decades. 
Catalans speak their own language. They are richer than their fellow citizens in the rest of Spain, and thus contribute more to the national budget than they receive back. They carry unhappy memories of domination by centralizing governments in Madrid. The Franco dictatorship of 1939-1975 harshly suppressed their culture, identity, and political and civil liberties. It’s a pure accident of history that Catalonia ended up inside the Kingdom of Spain at all. Portugal successfully broke away in the 1640s. Had the Thirty Years War, the War of Spanish Succession, or the Napoleonic wars taken a slightly different turn, Catalonia might well have followed. 
 All this may seem long ago and far away to the American reader. But it’s all suddenly very top of mind for modern Europe. The Catalan regional government has invited its population to vote Sunday in a referendum on independence. The referendum has been declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court, because it violates the terms of the 1978 constitution that proclaimed Spanish unity “indissoluble.” The central government has reacted roughly to the referendum project, raiding local government offices, impounding ballots, and arresting local officials. “Stop this escalation of radicalism and disobedience,” the Spanish prime minister commanded in a televised statement on September 17th.  Unsurprisingly, those words failed to calm the situation. The streets of Barcelona have filled with protesters. Only about 40 percent of Catalans favored independence as of midsummer, but feelings are running hotter now.
DAVID FRUM is a senior editor at The Atlantic. In 2001–02, he was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

The rise of right-wing extremism in Europe

Europe is facing a rising tide of right-wing extrem­ism. Extremist parties — whether called right-wing or far-right or ultra-nationalists — are in government in Finland, Austria, Slovakia, Hun­gary and Poland. So far, those groups are in gov­ernment just as coalition partners but indicators are that Europe is experiencing a distinct move to the right amid rising rhetoric against migration and the idea of open bor­ders. This is something that could become a threat to European unity, particularly given Britain’s decision to leave the European Union fol­lowing a referendum in which the main issue was migration. In light of what is the worst ref­ugee crisis since the end of World War II, a number of EU govern­ments have taken stances that seem to go against the stated objec­tives and values of the union, par­ticularly in terms of human rights and freedom of movement. The European Parliament has seen the rise of right-wing extremist parties, with 23% of the members of the body belonging to far-right-wing parties.

Courtesy : The Arab Weekly

Mount Etna Erupts and It’s Beautiful

Mount Etna, Europe’s largest volcano, erupted in Sicily overnight, and with no immediate danger, people are taking a moment to get some remarkable photos of the event. The eruption threw out jets of lava into the sky and was visible from further afield locations, such as the city of Catania, Euronews reports. Catania airport remains open.The eruption is not thought to be dangerous. Mount Etna is considered Europe’s most active volcano, and spectacular photos of the eruption have circulated online.

Deadly cold wave continues to sweep across Europe

An area of high pressure has been centred over Europe for much of the last couple of weeks. On its eastern flank, cold air has been brought down from the Arctic. Even by European winter standards, the extent of the cold air has been exceptional. Moscow has experienced daytime maximum temperatures of minus 23C, some 14C below average for January. Deaths because of the cold weather have been reported in Italy and Poland, and there have been many serious traffic accidents because of ice, snow and, across more western areas, fog. Although it will remain cold over much of the continent in the coming days, there should be a return to ‘average’ January weather conditions. Further snow is expected over central and southern areas.

The burning Jungle of Calais

Migrants in Calais torch tents and shelters in a last act of defiance as French authorities clear the squalid camp that once housed more than 6,000 people. Fires are raging across parts of the “Jungle” migrant camp in Calais, three days into a French operation to demolish it. It was unclear who set the dozens of fires overnight and in the morning. The clearance began on Monday and about 4,000 migrants – out of some 7,000 – have been taken from the squalid camp to shelters around France. The prefect of Pas-de-Calais said authorities now expected to finish the evacuation operation on Wednesday. The camp has become a key symbol of Europe’s migration crisis, with its residents desperate to reach the UK.

Spain seeks to jointly govern Gibraltar

Spain seeks to jointly govern Gibraltar after the British territory voted in favor of remaining in the EU.
 Spain will seek to jointly govern Gibraltar with Britain following the British vote to leave the European Union, acting foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said on Friday. The peninsula on Spain’s south coast, a British territory since 1713 known to its 30,000 residents as “the Rock”, is a major point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations. Spain has long claimed sovereignty over the enclave.
“It’s a complete change of outlook that opens up new possibilities on Gibraltar not seen for a very long time. I hope the formula of co-sovereignty – to be clear, the Spanish flag on the Rock – is much closer than before,” Garcia-Margallo said. Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo told the territory’s parliament there would be no talks on such a deal. Co-sovereignty with Spain was rejected by around 99 percent of Gibraltarians in a referendum in 2002.
“Let others make irrelevant noises about flying flags over our Rock if they want to waste their breath. Such ideas will never prosper,” he said. The majority of people living in Gibraltar – designated as a British Overseas Territory – are British citizens with British passports, although thousands of Spaniards cross from mainland Spain every day for work. Gibraltarians voted overwhelmingly in favor of Britain remaining in the European Union but were outnumbered in Thursday’s referendum and now face the consequences.
Garcia-Margallo said Spain would push to keep Gibraltar out of any general Brexit negotiations between Britain and the European Union and will aim for bilateral talks to seek co-sovereignty and eventually Spanish control of the peninsula. Britain rejects any notion of Spanish sovereignty against the wishes of the people of Gibraltar, one of the most prosperous regions in Europe with a thriving economy based on financial services, tourism and Internet gambling. The mood was subdued in Gibraltar on Friday, with people apprehensive and confused about what the result may mean for the movement of labor and capital over the border with Spain.