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06 Jan 23. Montenegro: Instability will remain elevated as early elections become increasingly likely; EU accession bid under threat. On 4 January, talks on forming a new government led by prime minister-designate Miodrag Lekic collapsed, moving the country closer to an early election. The country has been without an effective government since the cabinet led by caretaker prime minister Dritan Abazovic collapsed in August 2022. Since then, members of the ruling three-way coalition have tried to form a new government without calling an election but have been prevented by President Milo Djukanovic from the opposition DPS party. In response, the government passed legislation attempting to curb presidential powers in November which prompted warnings from Brussels that the crisis could harm Montenegro’s EU accession bid. An early election in 2023 is now increasingly likely which is also likely to elevate the risk of protests and policy uncertainty. (Source: Sibylline)
05 Jan 23. UK and Germany agree closer cooperation in first ever UK-Germany annual Dialogue.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly hosted German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in London for the first annual UK-Germany Strategic Dialogue.
• Foreign Secretary hosts German counterpart for high level talks on joint priorities.
• Support for Ukraine, energy security and combatting climate change on top of the agenda.
• Boost for cultural cooperation with the UK-Germany Cultural Commission set to meet for the first time since 1993.
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly hosted German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in London today (Thursday 5 January) for the first annual UK-Germany Strategic Dialogue, in a sign of the deep partnership between the two countries. This is a major new forum for the two countries to agree cooperation on a range of priority issues.
The two ministers committed to increase cooperation on a range of joint priorities from further support for Ukraine to action on climate change.
UK Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly said:
The UK and Germany are the closest of partners and we are using the strength of our relationship to tackle the shared challenges we face today.
As Europe’s leading economies we’ve agreed to work closer on our unwavering support for Ukraine and combatting climate change.
There was a significant focus on global security in today’s talks. Both foreign ministers made clear their steadfast support for Ukraine in their fight against Russia’s illegal invasion and made a commitment to holding Russia accountable for atrocities, including conflict-related sexual violence.
The UK and Germany have already worked in tandem to respond to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, working with the G7 and NATO to isolate Russia and support Ukraine. Today’s talks have deepened the UK-Germany partnership to enable even closer cooperation.
In a further sign of the current strength of the relationship, the UK-Germany Cultural Commission is set to be reinstated. It was originally set up in 1958 and will meet for the first time since 1993. It will agree priorities for how the UK and Germany can support people-to-people links over the coming year. The UK-Germany Strategic Dialogue was set up in 2021, with the aim of agreeing areas for cooperation across foreign and security policy for the year ahead. Today is the inaugural meeting of the annual event. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
04 Jan 23. Czech government submits law raising defence spend to NATO’s 2% target. The Czech government approved a draft law on Wednesday fixing defence spending at the NATO alliance pledge of at least 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) from 2024, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on Wednesday. The legislation, which needs the approval of law-makers, is in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February.
It also allows the defence ministry to shift funding for large acquisition projects from year to year, making it easier to run complex tenders for weaponry.
The country, like most other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), has long missed a target of spending 2% of GDP on defence.
It has had a non-binding plan to meet that goal by 2025, following a series of missed targets by previous governments to raise defence budgets.
Spending on defence is forecast at 1.52% of GDP in the 2023 budget.
“We want this (2%) obligation… to be anchored in legislation,” Fiala said.
“Strengthening security and defence abilities are long-term government priorities, which are important especially at this time when Russia started the war in Ukraine,” he said.
According to government documents preparing the law, the change could take effect in mid-2023 and raise the 2024 budget plan by 21.5bn crowns ($951.54m) to reach the 2% target.
The Czech Republic, part of NATO for nearly a quarter of a century, has lifted spending on defence since the Ukraine war started, and has been one of the biggest supporters of Kyiv relative to the country’s size in weapons deliveries and other aid. The country last month signed a non-binding memorandum with Sweden for the delivery of more than 200 CV90 infantry fighting vehicles as part of efforts to modernise its military. It has also been in negotiations with the United States to buy 24 F-35 jets. ($1 = 22.5950 Czech crowns) (Source: Reuters)
29 Dec 22. North Macedonia approves 2023 defence budget for army modernisation. The Macedonian parliament approved a 2023 national budget on 23 December that includes EUR274.6m (over USD292m) for defence. EUR88.79m of this amount will be invested in modernising the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia (ARSM). The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a press conference in Skopje on 21 December that the 2023 defence budget is 24.45% higher than the 2022 one and represents 1.85% of GDP. Defence Minister Slavjanka Petrovska expressed the goal of reaching 2% of GDP in 2024. (Source: Janes)
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