Daily Briefs

Photo : AP Photo/Darko Bandic

17 November 2022, Thursday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #360

Slovenia Presidential Election: Four Issues | War in Ukraine: Day 266

Norway signs a Defence deal with the US; Bosnia and Herzegovina elects three President to represent major ethnic group; The EU pledges EUR 35 million to Egypt for its Energy Wealth Initiative

By Sai Pranav

Slovenia Presidential Election: Four Issues
Election results
On 13 November, Natasa Pirc Musar was elected as the first female President in Slovenia following her victory in the runoff election. She won the election with 53.86 per cent against the former Foreign Minister, Anze Logar’s 46.14 per cent. On 23 October, Solvenia held the first round of the presidential election in which there was no clear victor crossing 50 per cent of votes from the people. Logar led the first round with 34 per cent, and Pirc Musar trailed second with 27 per cent of the votes. Former speaker of Slovenia’s National Assembly and MEP Milan Brglez secured third place with 15 per cent. However, he did not advance to the runoff. The first round saw a voter turnout of 35 per cent, higher than the 2017 election. The voter turnout for the runoff was estimated to be 49.9 per cent.

Four campaign issues
First, prioritizing human rights. Musar as a human rights lawyer before becoming an independent candidate for Presidency, campaigned for equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community in Slovenia. She also pledged to be the voice for women at the national and international stage. She promised to work with NGOs and civic activists in the field of human rights.

Second, upholding the rule of law and democracy. Musar, like Prime Minister Robert Golob from the Freedom Movement party, aims to fix the damages done to the democracy by the ousted former Prime Minister Jansa. She intends to undo the oppression of media, corruption in the judicial system, and the breach of the rule of law by Jansa for two years along with Golob. She also wants Slovenia to uphold the rule of law and strive for democratic values.

Third, addressing the social and ecological welfare issues. Musar determined four crucial areas that Slovenia needs for development and social cohesion. She campaigned on improving policies for health, pension reforms, climate change and climate neutrality. She also addressed the security issues concerning the ongoing Ukraine war and regional problems with Albania.

Fourth, pro-Slovenian policy. Musar assured to support Golob’s foreign policies to maintain a moderate level of aid to Ukraine, backing the European Integration of the Western Balkans via talks with Serbia. Unlike the opposition, Musar does not favour collaborating with Hungary and V4 countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia) and Ukraine. Musar wants to focus on EU-wide issues, especially the green transition program while keeping Slovenia’s internal issues first.

Katja Lihtenvalner, “Slovenia elects first female president,” Reuters, 14 November 2022
Slovenia: Natasa Pirc Musar elected first female president,” Deutsche Welle, 13 November 2022
Jones Hayden, “Slovenia heads for runoff in presidential election,” POLITICO, 23 October 2022
Gasper Andrinek Ljubljana, “Who will succeed Slovenia's 'Instagram president?',” Deutsche Welle, 11 November 2022
Lukasz Kobeszko, “The left-liberal march forward: Pirc Musar is president of Slovenia,” osw.waw.pl, 14 November 2022
Pirc Musar too joins presidential race,” The Slovenia Times, 22 September 2022

War in Ukraine: Day 266
By Sai Pranav

War on the Ground
On 16 November, Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, participated in the panel on digital transformation at the G20 summit in Bali. In the speech, Zelenskyy accused Russia for attacking Poland with its missiles. He spoke on Ukraine’s capacity in, “digital transformation,” appreciating the efforts of the IT team to defend cyberattacks. Zelenskyy said that Ukraine was ready to assist countries in digital defence and cybersecurity.

On 16 November, Kyiv Post reported that Ukraine requested access to the missile attack site in Poland following NATO’s discovery that Ukrainian air defences caused the blast. Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council Secretary, Oleksiy Danilov, said that Ukraine was ready to provide evidence to prove their allegation of Russia being the perpetrator. Danilov pointed out that the Western countries' allegation of the Ukrainian air defence system striking Poland was without substantial proof. NATO and the US had concluded that the attack was caused by Ukrainian air defence against Russian missiles.

On 16 November, Ukraine’s Deputy Head of the President’s Office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, announced that energy supplies and electricity were restored in eight Western and Central Ukraine regions. The restoration followed the shelling on 15 November. 

On 16 November, Ukraine’s Energy Minister, Herman Galushchenko, convened a meeting which was attended by European Ministers, Galushchenko urged the council to help with the restoration of Ukraine’s energy systems after being stricken by 100 missiles and large number of drones. He added that the damage Ukraine suffered was critical. However, energy companies domestically have been supporting Ukraine to restore electricity supply.

The Moscow View
Claims by Russia

On 16 November, Russia’s presidential spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov said that Russia played no part in the Poland attack and should not be blamed for it. After an initial investigation, it was discovered to be Ukraine’s S-300 interceptor missile. He pointed out the Russophobic nature in Europe for Poland and Ukraine blaming Russia for the attack.

On 16 November, Russia’s Foreign Ministry imposed sanctions on 52 Irish individuals due to Ireland’s aggressive anti-Russian propaganda campaign in line with the EU’s policy against Russia. It included the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Speaker and those present in the lower house.

The West View
Responses from the US and Europe 

On 16 November, post the North-Atlantic Council meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in his address said: "...we have no indication that this was the result of a deliberate attack. And we have no indication that Russia is preparing offensive military actions against NATO. Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks." 

On 15 November, The Czech Republic’s Parliament’s Chamber of Deputies passed a resolution following Russia’s attack on Ukraine’s key energy infrastructures and on the civilian population with missiles and drones.

On 16 November, Russia’s crude oil supply to Hungary and Slovakia resumed through the Druzhba pipeline, after a temporary shutdown on 15 November for technical reasons. Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that the flow of the oil was still at lower pressure in the pipeline, while Slovakia’s Economy Ministry provided no details except for the resumption. Ukraine had elaborated that a Russian missile struck the power station that provided electricity for the pump station which resulted in the stoppage. The pipeline was repaired to an extent of resuming oil flow at low pressure to Hungary and Slovakia.

On 16 November, the UK’s Defence Ministry’s in its intelligence update reported that the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant on the Dnipro River was damaged due to the Ukrainian missile attacks that disrupted the Russian military restocking supply. The dam and the site were damaged by the withdrawing Russians to hinder Ukrainian advances. The road and rail bridges were destroyed and the current damage may lead to major flooding downstream.

The Global Fallouts
Implications of the Ukraine war

On 16 November, in the G20 summit, the leaders talked about the negative impact on the global economy due to the Ukraine war.  According to the G20 group the war had increased food and energy insecurity, rise in inflation, supply chain disruption, cost of living crisis and security issues in neighbouring countries. Especially, Moldova and Bulgaria were observed to be severely affected by the high inflation rates.

On 15 November, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, called for peace talks to end the Russia-Ukraine war at the Bali G20 summit. The path finds a way for diplomacy and a ceasefire in Ukraine is important to end the war. He said, “The need of the hour is to show concrete and collective resolve to ensure peace, harmony and security in the world,” and urged for restoration of stability in energy, food and fertilizer supply at the global level.

Take the Ukrainian defense experience to guarantee the security of your people - the President's speech during the participation in the panel "Digital transformation" within the framework of the G20 summit,” president.gov.ua, 16 November 2022
Ukraine Requests “Immediate Access” to Poland Blast Site,” Kyiv Post, 16 November 2022
Ukraine Says Power Being Restored After Russian Strikes,” Kyiv Post, 16 November 2022
The high-level International Energy Advisory Council discussed the provision of additional assistance to the Ukrainian energy sector,” mev.gov.ua, 16 November 2022
Kremlin sees no reason for escalation in S-300 missile incident in Poland,” TASS, 16 November 2022
Russia sanctions 52 key Irish politicians,” TASS, 16 November 2022
Moscow mocks Zelensky's allegations,” RT, 16 November 2022
The Chamber of Deputies called the current Russian regime terrorist by resolution,” psp.cz, 15 November 2022
"Press conference," nato.int, 16 November 2022
The UK’s Ministry of Defence, “Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 16 November 2022,” Twitter, 16 November 2022
Russian oil flows via Druzhba pipeline resume to Hungary, Slovakia,” Reuters, 16 November 2022
G20 Bali Leaders’ Declaration,” whitehouse.gov, 16 November 2022
India's Modi calls for diplomacy to end Russia-Ukraine conflict,” Reuters, 15 November 2022

By Madhura S Mahesh and Sandeep Ganesh

Appointed members for the new tripartite Presidency
On 16 November, Bosnia and Herzegovina got their first women elected along with two other non-ethnonationalist leaders for the tripartite Presidency. The three Presidents, elected as representatives of Bosnia’s three main ethnic groups- Bosniaks Serbs and Croats. The three presidents namely Bosniak Denis Bećirović and Bosnian Croat Željko Komšić, from the multi-ethnic centre-left SDP and DF political parties, and Željka Cvijanović from the ethnonationalist Bosnian Serb party SNSD. Cvijanović said that would work at the interest of entities. Bećirović said he would focus on poverty and brain drain. Komšić said NATO membership would be his first priority.  This presidency is a complex administration established by the Dayton Peace Accords that ended Bosnia’s war 1992-1995. The term period of the Presidency is a four-year term. This presidency will be a complex administration established under the Dayton Peace Accords that ended Bosnia’s war 1992-1995. The term period of the Presidency will be four-year term. (“Bosnia's new presidency takes office and vows to resolve mounting crises,” Euronews, 16 November 2022) 
MI5 names Russia, China, and Iran as major challengers to UK’s security
On 16 November, MI5 General Ken McCallum presented MI5’s annual threat update for 2022. McCallum in his speech highlighted how continued terror threats and actions of Russia, China, and Iran are the major challenges to the UK’s security. On Russia, McCallum highlighted how the continued Ukraine conflict projected a grim future for international security and how UK and other countries have responded through expulsion of over 400 covert spies.  Second, China seen as the most “games-changing” challenge to the UK according to MI5. He reported how its influence in local politics, economy and debt financing is helping manipulate the natives internationally, indicating the recent violence in Manchester. On Iran, He referred it as the “state actor which most frequently crosses into terrorism.” For the UK Iran’s “aggressive” intelligence service poses a direct threat with its cyber-attacks and threats to UK-based individuals who are considered enemies of the state. (“Director General Ken McCallum gives annual threat update,” mi5.gov.uk, 16 November 2022)
Environment Ministry pledges GBP 50 million towards protection of biodiversity 
On 16 November, UK’s Environment Secretary Therese Coffey asked for “renewed global action” on nature and set forth an “ambitious” path for the same at COP’s Biodiversity Day. Coffey announced GBP 54 million in funds towards the protection of biodiversity. She reiterated that consistent action is required from the public and private sectors, and mentioned that there is a financing gap of USD 700 billion. Coffey emphasised that half of the world’s GDP is dependent on nature and that the COP27 Presidency wants to protect 30 per cent of land and ocean by 2030. She said: “Security, livelihoods and productivity depend on the global web of life,” and that natural habitats need robust protection. (“Environment Secretary calls for action to protect and restore nature at COP27, “ gov.uk, 16 November 2022)
European Defence Agency urges EU members to increase cooperation on joint arms projects
On 15 November, The European Defence Agency (EDA) released its report called Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD). The report details how despite plans to increase the military budget of EU members to EUR 70 billion by 2050, the majority are sceptical of European defence cooperation projects and prefer to plan in isolation. The report highlighted that only 18 per cent of total investment in defence projects was towards EU defence cooperation. It criticised the outward nature of defence procurement by EU members which has increased due to the Ukraine conflict. Outlining how EU members purchase defence equipment from suppliers outside the EU like South Korea, the US, and Israel rather than from EU nations, EDA fears that this purchasing pattern will have a negative effect on European defence. It not only increases the dependency on other countries but adds to the disintegrating European defence. (“EU must spend, cooperate more on joint arms projects, bloc’s defence agency says,” EURACTIV, 16 November 2022)

Sweden amends its anti-terror laws to comply Turkey’s demand
On 16 November, Sweden passed a constitutional amendment to make anti-terror laws stricter, complying with Turkey’s demand to Sweden for its NATO membership bid approval. The new amendment introduces the law to “limit freedom of association when it comes to associations that engage in or support terrorism” and “wider criminalization of participation in a terrorist organization or a ban against the terrorist organization.” The law meets the demand that Turkey should not support the PKK terrorists and the group responsible for the failed 2016 coup in Turkey, the Gulenist Terror Group (FETO). It also demands the extradition of terror suspects in the Nordic countries. The new law will be implemented from 01 January. (“Sweden passes tougher anti-terror laws amid demands from Türkiye,” Daily Sabah, 16 November 2022) 

First spaceport licence issued by the UK as it moves closer to launching the indigenous satellite
On 16 November, the UK presented its first spaceport license and created a path for the country’s first satellite launch later this year. The license was issued to Spaceport Cornwall, where the UK regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that it was in “very advanced stages”. The license puts the country at an advantage and pushes its bid to be the first country in Europe from which satellites can be launched into orbit. (“Britain issues first spaceport licence ahead of maiden satellite launch,” Reuters, 16 November 2022)
EU and Egypt sign agreement regarding clean energy transition
On 16 November, the European Union (EU) and Egypt furthered their relations on clean energy transition through the establishment of a strategic partnership based on renewable hydrogen and equitable energy transition in Egypt. The European Commission and Egypt’s Minister for Petroleum signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the same, along with a joint statement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The Commission announced a contribution of nearly EUR 35 million in support of Egypt’s Energy Wealth Initiative. The MoU was signed in the previous week at COP27 and will “serve as a central block” in building a strategic partnership between the EU and Egypt. (“COP27: EU and Egypt step up cooperation on the clean energy transition,” ec.europa.eu, 16 November 2022) 
Norway-US sign F-35 missiles agreement
On 16 November, the Director General of the Norwegian Defence Material Agency (NDMA) and the US government signed a defence deal worth NOK five billion. This deal will equip the Norwegian Air Force’s F-35s with AMRAAM-D air-to-air missiles. The AMRAAM-D purchase is the largest procurement of weapons by the Air Force. Norway’s Minister of Defence Bjørn Arild Gram said: “This is a very important agreement both for Norway’s defensive capabilities and US-Norwegian defence cooperation.” The deal is funded by the Norwegian F-35 programme which has provisions for such missile procurement and the delivery of the missiles is said to continue till 2028. (“Norway signs record agreement for F-35-missiles,” regjeringen.no, 16 November 2022) 

Other Daily Briefs