French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have started a new initiative to find a solution to the Ukraine conflict, presenting a peace proposal in Kiev on Thursday before travelling to Moscow today, Friday. Commentators see the move as the last hope for diplomacy and stress that it could be very much in Vladimir Putin’s interests

German Chancellor Merkel has ruled out sending weapons to the Ukrainian government to fight pro-Russian separatists, after French President Hollande proposed a 50- to 70-kilometer (31- to 44-mile) demilitarized zone and ‘rather strong’ autonomy in the east.
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DONETSK, Ukraine — German Chancellor Angela Merkel says it is still uncertain whether concerted diplomatic efforts by the West this week aimed at resolving the crisis in Ukraine will succeed, but she and her fellow European mediator, French President François Hollande, believe it is “in any case worth making this attempt.”

 

Winter storm causing havoc in southern Europe

Borders temporarily closed, trains cancelled and cars buried as European storm continues to rage.
Focus on criminal prosecution has more to do with securing borders than with saving refugees’ lives, observers say.
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HORLIVKA AND DONETSK, Ukraine – The two sparsely bearded young rebels raised their hands and automatic rifles, as we approached their rickety block post comprised of sand bags and linden tree trunks, stacked like Lincoln Logs and dusted with fresh snow.

 

In southern Europe, popular opposition has been mounting against the fiscal austerity measures demanded by Germany.
Syriza and the new economic narrative

Greece’s Syriza party challenges the media narrative on austerity. And, the close ties between journalists and NGOs.
Europe’s True Divide

For those who want a happy ending or an easy moral to the story, the election of a new Greek government last month poses some interesting quandaries. Progressives of various kinds at first hailed what appeared to be a victory for the radical left-wing party Syriza, but they were caught off guard when Syriza instantly struck a coalition deal with the Independent Greeks, a radical right-wing party that Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a legendary European leftist, bluntly described as “ultranationalist” with a “homophobic, anti-Semitic, racist” leader.

Ukraine ‘can’t stop Russian armour’

Ukrainian troops struggle against new Russian armour
Italy’s shy president?

Matteo Renzi has won the battle to have his first choice candidate elected as Italy’s new President of the Republic. But is Sergio Mattarella really Italy’s “shy President”?

A war crimes pause in Serbia’s EU path

Serbia’s poor record in confronting Milosevic-era war crimes should have always made EU accession an uphill climb for even a willing reformer.

 

Action films restricted in Paris

The filming of action sequences has been restricted by authorities in Paris following last month’s attacks in the French capital.

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