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Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch – From July 15 to July 22, 2022

The Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch Team: Olga Cherkhurska, Alicia Tintelin , supervised by Clelia Frouté.

07/17/2022: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sacks the Attorney General and the head of the security services for suspicion of collaboration with the Russian state. – Alicia Tintelin –

On July 17, Volodymyr Zelensky sacked the Ukrainian Attorney General, Iryna Venediktova, and the head of the security services, Ivan Bakanov. If the latter was a childhood friend of President Zelensky, Iryna Venediktova had among other things directed the investigation into the alleged war crimes committed at the beginning of the Russian invasion in the city of Boutcha. The Ukrainian president justifies his decision to dismiss these two high officials on suspicion of treason in favour of Russia weighing on many of their subordinates. “Such an array of crimes against the foundations of the national security of the state and the connections detected between the employees of the security forces of Ukraine and the special services of Russia pose very serious questions to the relevant leadership”, he said.

The dismissal orders have been made public and accompanied by explanations from the Head of State addressed to the Ukrainian people in which he assures that “the specific actions and any inaction of each official in the security sector and in law enforcement agencies will be evaluated.

As of today, “651 criminal proceedings have been registered regarding treason and collaboration activities of employees of prosecutor’s offices, pretrial investigation bodies, and other law enforcement agencies.

This decision was taken by the Ukrainian president on the eve of a meeting of the European Union to strengthen sanctions against Moscow.

07/19/2022: The European Union has launched accession negotiations with Albania and Northern Macedonia – Clelia Frouté –

Intergovernmental conferences were held in Brussels on July 19, 2022 to implement the March 2020 European Council decision to open accession negotiations for Northern Macedonia and Albania. On March 25, 2020, conclusions on enlargement and the stabilisation and association process were formally adopted by the written procedure and approved the following day by the members of the European Council.

In this context, compromises were made, including the commitment of Northern Macedonia to amend its constitution, but also to make Macedonian one of the official languages of the European Union. In Northern Macedonia, the question of membership was debated before finally benefiting from a positive vote in the Macedonian national parliament, the Sobranie. Albania, for its part, had worked to guarantee reforms that met the criteria for membership. The accession was initially vetoed by Bulgaria against a backdrop of historical tensions with Northern Macedonia, to which Albania’s candidacy is associated. Northern Macedonia also had to change its name at the end of 2018 in order to end the dispute with Greece, which had paved the way for NATO membership.

07/22/2022: The agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain was signed on July 22 in Istanbul. – Olga Chekhurska –

On July 21, spokesperson and Chief Advisor to the President of Turkey, Ibrahim Kalin, declared that “the agreement on the export of grain, of crucial importance for world food security, will be signed tomorrow in Istanbul under the protection of the President Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary General António Guterres, as well as Ukrainian and Russian delegations“.

Due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, millions of tons of grain have accumulated in the Black Sea ports. The disruption of Ukrainian grain exports and other agricultural products has become one of the factors for the growth of world food prices. The UN has warned of the danger of famine in some countries, especially in Africa, which are heavily dependent on grain imports from Ukraine.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the agreement paves the way for resumption of commercial exports of food products from three key Ukrainian ports, Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny, and that the UN will establish a coordination centre to oversee the implementation of the agreement.

This agreement provides for the inspections of vessels entering and leaving Ukrainian ports and secure shipping lanes through the Black Sea. Similarly, control of the three Ukrainian ports remains entirely on the Ukrainian side. The presence in these ports of other vessels, with the exception of those which are supposed to ensure the export of cereals, is not foreseen.

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