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Global Updates: Europe and Central Asia

Written By David D'Angelo on Wednesday, June 18, 2008 | 6/18/2008

Afghanistan

Afghanistan is optimistic it will receive strong pledges from donors for its five-year national development strategy, to be unveiled at an international conference on June 12 in Paris. The National Development Strategy, the result of more than two years of extensive consultations with Afghan and international institutions on developing the war-torn country, seeks USD 43 billion from donors. To reduce poverty, improve governance, halve the maternal and infant mortality rate, and improve human and physical security, the strategy requires USD 50 billion, of which more than USD 6 billion will come from Afghanistan's own resources. (IRIN)

Kosovo

The European Commission is organizing a donors conference in Brussels on July 11 to gather funds to help Kosovo on its way to statehood, a spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday. Preparations for the conference have been going on for several months. It will take place some five months after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. The EU's executive arm has already earmarked EUR 395.1 million (USD 614 million) for Kosovo for 2007-2011, and could allocate a further EUR 200 million for ‘specific socio-economic needs' linked to its new status. (AFP)

Germany

Continental Europe should take the lead in devising new rules for financial markets because the Anglo-Saxon model of regulation has failed, German chancellor Angela Merkel told the FT. She said ahead of next month's G8 summit, which is expected to discuss new regulation, that the largely Anglo-Saxon organization of financial markets undervalued the growing weight and importance of the euro zone. (Financial Times, UK)

Norway

Norway will provide at least 750 million crowns (USD 145.2 million) in civilian aid annually to Afghanistan over the next five years, its foreign minister said in a newspaper column on June 11. Afghanistan is expected to ask around 65 donor nations to fund a USD 50 billion, five-year development plan at a conference in Paris on June 12. Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said in the daily Aftenposten that the international community should support the development plan and that Afghanistan must follow through with carrying it out. (Reuters)

Russia

In a speech to the Russian press, President Dmitry Medvedev has called for an open society with freedom of expression and a free press. He said that he would respect human rights and that building a free and responsible society was one of his priorities. Under his predecessor, Vladimir Putin, the press in Russia was subject to wide-ranging limitations. Medvedev, a 42-year-old lawyer, was Putin's favored candidate to succeed him as Russian president. (Radio Netherlands)

Spain

An investigation by the Spanish Ombudsman has revealed serious shortcomings in two Canary Islands emergency care centers housing up to 200 unaccompanied migrant children, Human Rights Watch said June 9. The Spanish Ombudsman's office launched an independent investigation in September 2007, triggered by the HRW "Unwelcome Responsibilities: Spain's Failure to Protect the Rights of Unaccompanied Migrant Children in the Canary Islands". This report documents serious human rights violations against several hundred unaccompanied migrant children housed in emergency care centers on the islands. The conclusions of the Ombudsman's investigation have now been made public. (HRW)

United Kingdom

An independent UN human rights expert has asked the United Kingdom to withdraw or postpone action on a bill that would lower key standards regarding detention in the context of fighting terrorism. Martin Scheinin, the Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, has expressed his concern that the bill, scheduled to be voted on tomorrow in the House of Commons, could set a negative precedent for upholding human rights as it contains a key provision to extend pre-charge detention of terrorist suspects to 42 days. (UN News Service)

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