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Kosovo

Tensions continued between caretaker PM Kurti and President Thaçi following collapse of Kurti’s govt in late March and Thaçi’s April nomination of former Deputy PM Avdullah Hoti to form new govt.

Following request by Kurti’s Vetëvendosje party (which is calling for new elections) to annul presidential decree that gave Hoti governing mandate, Constitutional Court 28 May ruled that president had not exceeded his authority in nominating Hoti as PM, allowing the nomination to go forward. Around 500 supporters of Vetëvendosje party 13 May staged first demonstration in series of protests in support of new elections despite COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings; second protest 28 May involved around 5000 supporters; other parties including Democratic Party of Kosovo criticised protests for endangering public health amid COVID-19 outbreak. Kurti and Alliance for the Future of Kosovo 6 May condemned remarks reportedly made by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to Kosovo newspaper Koha that suggested that EU would not oppose potential land swap deal as resolution of longstanding dispute between Kovoso and Serbia; EU Special Envoy Miroslav Lajcak 11 May clarified land swap “is not on the agenda and should not be on [the EU’s] agenda”; Thaçi 27 May stated he would not participate in EU-led talks with Serbia on normalising relations. Kurti 18 May said January agreement with Serbia on restoring commercial flights between capitals was not yet “fully-fledged agreement” but rather “expression of interest”.

Cyprus

Amid ongoing tensions over hydrocarbon exploration in eastern Mediterranean, Republic of Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece and United Arab Emirates 11 May issued joint declaration denouncing Turkey’s drilling activities, calling on Ankara to “fully respect the sovereignty and the sovereign rights of all states in their maritime zones”; Ankara accused countries of “attempting to create an axis of malice”. EU foreign ministers 15 May condemned Turkey’s unilateral actions in eastern Mediterranean, confirming they stood “in full solidarity with Cyprus”; Ankara dismissed statement. Following April decision by U.S. company Exxon Mobil to postpone planned drilling in eastern Mediterranean due to falling demand for oil and gas, Republic of Cyprus’ energy ministry 5 May announced French company Total and Italian company Eni also postponing planned exploration operations. Republic of Cyprus president and Turkish Cypriot leader 21 May agreed to permit Turkish Cypriot students, workers and those seeking health treatment to cross border from 8 June as part of relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions, which had prevented such movement since late Feb.

Northern Ireland (UK)

Police 8 May warned journalists from Sunday Life and Sunday World newspapers that loyalist paramilitary group Ulster Defence Association had planned attacks against them, reportedly over their coverage of paramilitary activity; local politicians who condemned planned attacks against reporters also received threats. Suspected dissident republicans 17 May murdered man in his home in west Belfast. Police 28 May reported hospitalisation of young man following “paramilitary-style” shooting in west Belfast.

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