5 European news stories you missed this week
PUBLISHED: 09:48 07 May 2017 | UPDATED: 11:06 07 May 2017
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Czech government set to resign over finance ministers business dealings
A lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has resubmitted a request for a Stockholm court to drop a detention order relating to a possible sex crime in Sweden seven years ago.Per E Samuelsson claims Assange wants to travel to Ecuador to seek political asylum because he fears otherwise he could be extradited to the United States to face espionage charges. President Donald Trump has said he would support any decision by the Justice Department to charge Assange who has been staying at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012. He fears if he sets foot outside the embassy he will be arrested on the Swedish warrant and could then end up being extradited to the US. Assange denies any wrongdoing.
A man has died while trying to climb on the roof of a Eurostar train bound for London. A police official said the unidentified man was apparently electrocuted by the cables above the train at the Gare du Nord station, Eurostar’s terminal in Paris. The incident briefly disrupted traffic on Eurostar trains under the English Channel. It is believed the man was a migrant. Several migrants have been killed in recent years trying to sneak from France to Britain via the undersea tunnel, notably around the northern city of Calais. Calais has long been a magnet for migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa trying to reach Britain.
Government officials have reached agreement with creditors on the terms to restart bailout loan payouts, following months of tough negotiations. The terms include another round of pension cuts in 2019 and a commitment to maintain a high primary budget surplus after the current rescue programme ends next year. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s left-wing government is set to approve the new cuts in parliament by mid-May, so eurozone finance ministers could unfreeze bailout funds at a scheduled meeting on May 22. Tsipras’s governing coalition has a majority in parliament of just three seats. Greece has been surviving on bailout loans since 2010 in return for harsh spending cuts and tax increases.
Artist AR Penck, whose work featuring primitive depictions of people and animals is recognised as an important example of the new figurative style in Europe, has died. Penck died aged 77 in Zurich after a lengthy illness. Penck was born in Dresden as Ralf Winkler. Despite being refused by several East German art schools, he taught himself painting and sculpting, gaining attention in the West. Eventually Penck was expelled by the Communist government in 1980, and the division of Germany frequently featured as a theme in his work.
The Czech prime minister has unexpectedly announced that his government will resign over unexplained business dealings by his rival Andrej Babis, the country’s finance minister.
Premier Bohuslav Sobotka said he will meet President Milos Zeman this week to formally submit the government’s resignation.
The move reflects tensions in the ruling coalition about six months ahead of parliamentary elections.
Sobotka said there are suspicions that Babis, the country’s second richest businessman, had avoided paying taxes in the past. Doubts have also surfaced about how he gained his wealth.
Babis heads a centrist movement that is favourite to win October’s ballot, paving the way for him to become prime minister.
He has denied any wrongdoing.
Sobotka’s Social Democrats are a distant second, and the Christian Democrats are the third member of the coalition created in 2014.
The premier said it would be an option to fire Babis but that would mean his rival would be given extra time to campaign ahead of the vote.
“That’s the reason I’m opting for the only reasonable solution which is available, and that’s the government’s resignation,” he said during a hastily organised news conference. A trust of the public in politics is at stake.”
He said the move will give the coalition a chance to form a government again, but without Babis. Another option is for parliament to call early elections.
Babis, the most popular government politician, called the move “incomprehensible”, and said the premier had damaged everything the government has done.
“Sobotka destroys everything,” Babis said. “The government was successful, we had results. I reject his nonsense.”
The president plays a key role in a crisis like this because he has the right to select a new prime minister.
Babis’s centrist movement came in a surprise second in 2013 parliamentary elections with an anti-corruption