Madrid (EFE) – Spain’s Acting Prime Minister and leader of the socialist PSOE Pedro Sánchez announced that he will ask for confidence to form a “progressive majority” in the country. He warned the conservative People’s Party (PP) that “this is not the time to put pressure on the head of state,” King Felipe VI, nor was it the time for “magic tricks” to try to get PP president Alberto Núñez Feijóo invested.

In his first speech to the deputies and senators chosen in the general elections of 23 July, Sánchez also made a nod to the nationalist parties and announced that he will promote the use of co-official languages in EU institutions during the Spanish Presidency of the European Union.

For his part, Feijóo assured that he had “no doubt” that King Felipe VI “will act as he has always done, in accordance with the law” and “only in the service of Spain and the Spanish people” when it came to proposing a candidate to try to form a government. Feijóo was referring to the debate on who the king would propose to form a government: the party with the most MPs or the one with the best chances of forming a government. (16 August)

EU shifts funds for Moscow and Minsk to Ukraine and Moldova

Brussels (Belga) – The European Commission is again shifting 135 million euros in funds for interregional cooperation to Ukraine and Moldova. The money for so-called Interreg programmes was originally intended for projects with Russia and Belarus, but after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, cooperation with both countries was put on hold for those programmes.

The money could serve to help Ukraine export its agricultural products, as well as develop cross-border transport links, health and research services, social inclusion programmes and institutions in Ukraine and Moldova.

“This decision is a consequence of the brutal Russian war against Ukraine. It will allow strengthening cooperation between EU regions and local players with Ukrainian and Moldovan partners,” explained European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira.

Since March 2022, the European Commission has suspended cooperation with Russia and ally Belarus on Interreg programmes. This has already allowed 26 million euro to be channelled into cooperation programmes with Ukraine and Moldova. Regions in Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Poland were also able to participate in programmes other than those with Russia and Belarus. (August 16)

EU Armenia mission says no staff hurt in border gunfire

Yerevan (AFP) – The European Union’s border monitoring mission in Armenia said Tuesday one of its patrols had come under fire on the volatile frontier with Azerbaijan, which denied responsibility for the incident.

“No EUMA member was harmed,” the EU Mission in Armenia said on social media, confirming that its personnel were “present to the shooting incident in our area of responsibility”.

The statement came after Armenia said Azerbaijan’s military had opened fire on the observers monitoring the border between the two countries, where tensions have been spiralling.

Yerevan’s defence ministry said the gunfire took place as the EU observers patrolled the village of Verin Shorzha, about four miles (six kilometres) from the Azeri border. It also reported no casualties.

Azerbaijan said the claims amounted to disinformation and that Baku is warned in advance of the patrols.

The EU, which began its border monitoring mission earlier this year, has taken on a broader mediation role between the two countries as they deal with disputes over the mountainous territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The tensions between Baku and Yerevan have escalated sharply in recent days, as each side accuses the other of cross-border gunfire and violating agreements. 

For months, Yerevan has accused Baku of creating a humanitarian crisis by blocking traffic through the Lachin corridor — the only road linking Armenia to Armenian-populated Karabakh.

A man born in 1983 died “as a result of chronic malnutrition, protein and energy deficiency” in the breakaway region, Karabakh’s rights ombudsman Ghegham Stepanyan said on Tuesday.

“The catastrophic food situation caused by the blockade… creates direct and undeniable threats to 120,000 population of Artsakh,” Stepanyan said, using the Armenian term for Karabakh. 

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for “the unblocking of humanitarian routes, including the Lachin corridor” in a call with his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov.

The US had also echoed those calls.

“We urge the government of Azerbaijan to restore free transit of commercial, humanitarian and private vehicles through this corridor,” US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said.

Speaking with her Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna expressed “France’s deep concern as the population of Nagorno-Karabakh has been suffering the consequences of this situation for over eight months.”

(15 August)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Tuesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.