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State of the Union: Europe's divisions over the Middle East

The ICC's chief prosecutor said that he’s seeking arrest warrants for both Israeli and Hamas leaders in connection with their actions during the seven-month war.
The ICC's chief prosecutor said that he’s seeking arrest warrants for both Israeli and Hamas leaders in connection with their actions during the seven-month war. Copyright Peter Dejong/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Peter Dejong/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
By Stefan Grobe
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This edition of State of the Union focuses on the divisions within the EU over the Middle East, western hesitations to arm Ukraine, Moldova's growing ties with the EU and the release of a commemorative coin to remember D-Day.

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This week, we witnessed deep divisions between EU member states over the ongoing conflict in the Middle East – once again.

The reason was the decision by the International Criminal Court to seek arrest warrants against Israel’s prime minister and his defence chief as well as against three Hamas leaders.

Reactions ranged from welcoming the Court’s decision — in Belgium, France and Slovenia — to rebuking it in various forms — Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.

The disunity was also on display when Ireland and Spain together with Norway moved to recognise Palestine as an independent state – something that had been discussed for quite a while.

“Quite frankly, because we must keep the hope, the dream and the destination of a two-state solution alive at a time when, sadly, others are working to undermine that," Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris told Euronews.

"Ireland would have much preferred to have done this as part of a peace process. But we can't wait forever. It's an awful long time, many decades, since the Oslo Accords.”

Ukraine air defence

There is more European unity regarding Ukraine – on the surface. But when it comes to arms shipments, action hasn’t always matched words.

Western allies are taking too long to make key decisions, Ukraine complained, at a time when Russia seems to be stepping up its offensive in the north-east.

In the face of relentless Russian attacks, Germany’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock, during a visit to Kyiv, warned that the country needed to boost its air defences – with Western help.

“Some of the rockets and missiles could be brought down by air defence, but obviously not all of them. And this is why I am calling worldwide to increase the air defence support.”

Moldova's EU future

Watching the war very closely is Moldova, a country sandwiched between EU and NATO member Romania, and Ukraine.

The former Soviet republic has long been defying warnings from Moscow that closer Western integration could see it face Ukraine’s fate.

Nonetheless, Moldova signed a defence partnership with Brussels this week, a step designed to tie the country closer to the EU. The country is a candidate to join the bloc and formal talks are expected to begin next month.

For more on this, we spoke to Daniela Vidaicu, executive director of the Moldova Soros Foundation.

Euronews: So, how significant are the EU accession talks for the Moldovan public, how do people see EU membership?

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Vidaicu: Well, the upcoming inter-governmental conference to be held in the nearest future is the most important political event for the pro-European Moldovan population. (...) Moldova is an inclusive society, it managed to achieve very good milestones in implementing national and domestic reforms so that the country and the society is transformed. And the negotiations should really move forward to be irreversible. For Moldovans, as you ask, both for those who are living in the country, but also for those that are living abroad in EU member states (and) holding already European citizenship, the European integration of Moldova is very important as a development plan and the most, probably, important strategic plan since its independence.

Euronews: We hear a lot about Russian disinformation - tell us what's happening?

Vidaicu: Well, unfortunately, Moldova is one of the most affected European countries by Russian propaganda, which is very much coordinated by the Russian parties, the Russian media, the Russian social networks and influencers. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Moldova started to face a very complicated, complex and aggressive hybrid war that undermines its development, its social cohesion, independence and security. And the goal actually is to increase the population polarisation and scepticism towards the European integration of the country and to keep the country under the Russian control, actually. So, the fake news, the disinformation, the Russian manipulation and interference target social or economic or political Moldovan vulnerabilities to keep the country in poverty and to undermine the European development of the country.

Euronews: There is a constitutional referendum coming up, there will be elections in October - how are these campaigns going, and to what extent is the EU part of the debate?

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Vidaicu: Yes, indeed. In October 2024, Moldova is going to host two important electoral events. Both events are considered to be very relevant and very crucial for the Moldovan future and are going to happen on the same day. We have the pro-European government and the president, who announced his intention to run for the second mandate, civil society and media who are supporting the European integration. And we have the pro-Russian parties and Russian media that are trying to convince the population not to go to the referendum, to boycott the referendum or to vote against the referendum.

June 1944 - June 2024

In a few weeks, the Allies will mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, that were the beginning of World War II and the liberation of Europe from the Nazis.

As a tribute to the fallen and to surviving veterans the British Royal Mint unveiled a commemorative coin depicting soldiers disembarking from a landing craft.

More than two million soldiers, sailors, pilots, medics and other people from a dozen countries were involved in Operation Overlord.

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And nearly 160,000 troops hit the codenamed beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword on June 6th, 1944.

A few days ago, to mark the coin’s release, its design was recreated in Normandy – on Gold Beach. Quite appropriate.

At 35 meters across, the sand art served as a reminder of the bravery and sacrifices of allied troops – for a few days.

The coin, on the other hand, is permanent.

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