Syria and the future of the euro set to dominate world affairs next week

A round up of world news in the week ahead from journalist resource ForesightNews.

By Jasper Wenban-Smith, international editor of ForesightNews.

Eurogroup finance ministers, after finally reaching an agreement on the latest €43.7bn disbursement to Greece last week, reconvene Monday in Brussels. Discussions are likely to include a significant focus on the planned establishment of an EU banking union from the start of next year. Also likely to feature are the proposed restructuring of the Spanish banking sector and creation of a ‘bad bank’ there later in December. A meeting of all 27 finance ministers from the EU follows on Tuesday.

At the International Court of Justice in The Hague, oral arguments open Monday in the long-standing maritime dispute between Chile and Peru. The case was filed with the court back in 2008 by Peru, which is seeking access to the rich fishing waters currently controlled by Chile. Arguments run until December 14.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, is due to arrive in Istanbul on Monday for talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The visit was initially planned for October but was delayed after Turkey grounded a commercial airliner travelling from Moscow to Syria on the suspicion it was being used to ferry arms to Bashar al Assad’s regime. Turkish frustration with Russia’s perceived intransigence at the UN over Syria is likely to come up in talks between the pair.

The ongoing violence in Syria is again likely to feature when NATO foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday. The meeting follows a Turkish request to the grouping, made last month, for Patriot missiles to be placed on its border with Syria. The planned exit from Afghanistan is also expected to feature heavily, and is likely to involve a briefing from General George Allen, who was recently in hot water over his involvement in the surreal FBI investigation into threatening emails that led to David Petraeus’ bombshell resignation as head of the CIA.

Also on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to address her Christian Democratic Union party conference in Hanover, as Germany begins the ramp up for general elections due next September.

On Wednesday, Thais will celebrate the 85th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, Japan and North Korea are due to begin a second round of talks after they met last month for the first time since 2008. Discussions will likely include the abductions of Japanese citizens by Pyongyang in the 70s and 80s as well as the DPRK’s nuclear programme. The meeting comes ahead of elections this month in both South Korea and Japan, with some speculating North Korea may be considering its second missile test under newly-crowned Sexiest Man in the World Kim Jong-un.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi will be addressing the media after the bank’s Governing Council meets Thursday. Further comments on Greece, Spain and the overall health of the euro area are all expected.

Ireland is due to host a meeting of some 50 foreign ministers from the OSCE on Thursday, the largest gathering of its kind in the country has seen.

Meanwhile, having presented his highly-anticipated report into press standards last week, Lord Justice Leveson will on Friday be discussing privacy in the 21st Century at an event organised by the University of Technology Sydney in Australia. This will be his first public appearance since he published his report.

Also Friday, Ghanaians go to the polls to elect a president to the oil-rich West African nation. The strongest challenge to incumbent John Dramani Mahama (NDC) comes from Nana Akufo-Addo (NPP).

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is due to host counterparts from the Mercosur grouping. Venezuela’s recently re-elected President Hugo Chávez had been scheduled to attend, however it remains to be seen whether he returns in time from his latest trip to Cuba to receive cancer treatment.

Finally Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is expected in Turkey where he intends to visit refugees fleeing the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

The weekend sees France host from Saturday the fifth World Policy Congress in Cannes with the futures of the European Union and the Middle East top of the agenda. Speakers include Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and UN/Arab League Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.

Lastly, Sunday sees the second election of the week, this time in Romania. Despite failing to have President Traian Basescu dismissed, opposition party the Social Liberal Union (PSU) is expected to fare strongly, setting the scene for a potential show-down between the President and parliament.