Owing to the new variant of the virus responsible for Covid-19 and which is 70% more contagious detected in England, France on Sunday joined the growing number of countries that have since decided to suspend travel with the UK.
Via the social media platform Twitter, Pope Francis expressed his “pain and dismay” over the Vienna terrorist attack, in which five lives were lost. He demanded an end to violence to build peace “together” in society, and to live without hatred. One of the suspects of the attack, a young man aged 20, was shot dead by police.
The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, joined world leaders in offering his condolences to Austria, following a terrorist attack in the capital, Vienna. Four people were killed in the attacks. France, on its part, has been rocked by a series of terrorist attacks in recent days.
Four people— two men, and two women— were killed on Monday night after Islamist terrorists, armed with automatic rifles, opened fire in various places in the Austrian capital, Vienna. Aside from those killed, 15 others were seriously injured. One of them was a police officer. Many of those wounded remain in critical condition.
The Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, and the European Union’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, have strongly condemned the insults of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, aimed his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron. On his part, the Chancellor made his thoughts known on Twitter.
Austria issued a removal order for a Russian diplomat. The order gives the Russian diplomat one week to leave the country. The Russian Embassy in Austria did not make an official statement pertaining to the current situation. An official did say the situation is just a misunderstanding.
Protective masks will become mandatory in Austria again, starting Friday, the government announced on Tuesday. “There are areas of daily life where one cannot choose whether one goes or not – the supermarket, the bank, the post office,” Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian Chancellor told a news conference.
An Iranian diplomat, said to be a high-ranking official in the Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic, will stand trial in Belgium on Wednesday on charges of planning a terrorist operation in Europe. The diplomat, Assadollah Assadi, was arrested in Germany two years ago.
On June 26, the head of the Russian delegation in Vienna stated that there are no prerequisites for the modernization of the Vienna Document, which was initiated by 34 states. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) held its annual conference in Vienna from June 23-25. The statement came post-OSCE Conference.
The Coronavirus has closed down air travel since March. The world is beginning to return to normalcy. Seven nations have agreed together to open up air travel and tourism. These nations are Greece, the Czech Republic, Austria, Australia, Denmark, Israel, and New Zealand.
The Austrian government announced Friday that schools in the country would re-open in May, and that students would return to schools in three stages. Classes would be split in two groups with each attending classes for half the week. The re-opening is scheduled to begin on May 4.
Spain implemented national lockdown measures from March 15, and is expected to continue until April 26, but some measures have been lifted recently. An estimated 300,000 non-essential staff members returned to Madrid this week to work. Authorities have allowed some industries, including the construction industry, to resume work.
Currently, a majority of nations around the globe are battling the coronavirus pandemic. However, there is another battle that needs rapid attention and response. It is the cyber battle around fake news and misinformation. Russia and China have been busy spreading misinformation such as the false statements from Chinese government representatives that the US brought coronavirus to Wuhan, China.
Earlier this week, European Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni asked international leaders not to panic over the coronavirus development in Italy. Speaking after a conference with E.U. financial leaders in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, he expressed confidence that the issue would be resolved in due time.
Austria is part of a small group of EU countries that are standing up against an increase in contributions to the community budget. As net contributors, Austria— like Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany— takes the position that contributions must not increase exponentially.
There has been a tug of war for geopolitical influence and attempts to disrupt the already established balance throughout 2019. We also saw the formation of interesting and very invasive social media polices around the globe. Hence, there were ramifications and changes to the social media landscape:
- France implementing new measures to track and monitor the social media of its citizens.
- Russia is working to complete their digital iron curtain.
- China implementing draconian verification process impacting social credit and privacy.
- UK to ruthlessly start collecting DNA.
- We’ve also seen the rise of deep fake technology that could have a great impact on the US 2020 Presidential elections as well as on the global scale.
Let’s look at the world’s main players and regions:
The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), led by former Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, has emerged the winner in snap parliamentary elections in Austria Sunday. The conservatives won 38.4% of the vote, up from 31% at the last election in 2017, thoroughly beating the Social Democrats, which only managed 21.5%.
This week, the government of Austria announced an arrest warrant has been issued for Igor Egorovich Zaytsev. Zaytsev was a GRU officer and an alleged handler of an Austrian Colonel. The recruitment allegedly had taken place 30 years ago. Zaytsev is currently 65 years old and the yet unnamed Austrian Colonel is in his 70s. The allegations against Zaytsev and his source are pertaining to payments being provided in exchange for sensitive information about Austrian military and weapons systems. Zaytsev’s military rank has yet to be disclosed, but given his 30 years of service, it could be opined that he would at least be a Colonel, and possibly a General.
The country’s youngest-ever Chancellor officially became it’s shortest-serving, and the first since the war to be brought down by a vote of no-confidence on Monday. Already headed for snap elections in the fall, the move was largely seen as necessary by the newly-enlarged opposition to avoid giving Sebastian Kurz an advantage. If Austrians were cross with Kurz, they sure didn’t show it on Sunday. His People’s Party (ÖVP) gained two seats, at the expense of his now-former coalition partners, the Freedom Party (FPÖ), and Greens.
“Enough is enough!” Those were all the words necessary Saturday for Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to explain why he was taking the country to early elections. His center-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) would be pulling out of a governing coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ). “I am not in politics to hold this office,” the Chancellor said in his announcement, “but to work for our beautiful country.” The President, Alexander Van der Bellen, has not yet set a date for the election, but condemned the “bold disrespect to the citizens of our country” which precipitated it.