ForesightNews world briefing: upcoming events 19 – 25 March

A weekly round up of world events from Monday, 19 to Sunday, 25 March from Foresight News


By Nicole Hunt

European Commissioner for Internal Markets Michel Barnier is launching the Commission’s Shadow Banking Green Paper in Brussels on Monday, opening a consultation period on planned EU reforms for the regulation of non-bank credit activity, among other things. The Green Paper comes as EU regulators grapple with how to deal with institutions that aren’t banks, but undertake bank-like activities such as lending, many of which aren’t covered under existing legislation.

In Geneva, the UN Human Rights Committee considers reports on the occupied Palestinian territories before holding a general debate on the topic. In the wake of a recent flare up of violence, which included Israeli bombings in Gaza and Gazan militants firing hundreds of rockets into southern Israel, some Palestinians have called on the Committee to condemn Israel for ‘provocations’.

Pakistan is expected to convene a long-awaited joint session of parliament to begin its review into the country’s relationship with the US, which was damaged in the wake of an American air strike in November which accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. As part of the review, lawmakers are expected to vote on whether to re-open the NATO overland supply route through the country.

All of the EU debt negotiations over the past three months or so have been leading up to Tuesday, when the Greek government needs to repay some €14.4bn in bonds. Following the successful launch of a private debt swap last week and the imposition of yet more austerity measures, the IMF and the EU have both given their approval for the release of the next tranche of loans in time for Tuesday’s big payment.

Iranians mark Norwuz, the Iranian and Kurdish New Year, with traditional televised speeches from embattled President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. After Ahmadinejad was subjected to questioning about his leadership in Parliament earlier this week, expect a confident and defiant speech as he tries to paper over the cracks.

While the UK is gripped by Budget Day on Wednesday, former Prime Minister Tony Blair will be in Brussels for the annual spring meeting of the catchily-named Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee for Assistance to the Palestinians. The Committee, which is chaired by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, also includes Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton.

On Thursday, Ashton chairs a meeting of EU Defence Ministers to discuss the Common Security and Defence Policy, focusing on missions in Somalia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the implications of a defence review taking place in the US. The meeting continues for Foreign Ministers on Friday, who are expected to discuss the latest developments in Syria and Belarus.

Remember the Eyjafjallajökull volcano? The European Court of Justice is handing down an opinion on Thursday in a case brought against everyone’s favourite airline, Ryanair, by Denise McDonagh, who is suing them for the €1129.41 she spent on meals, accommodation and transport after her flight was cancelled due to the volcano’s ash cloud. While McDongah’s costs would normally have been covered due to the flight cancellation, Ryanair maintains that the closure of European airspace went beyond the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ provided for in EU regulations. The ECJ’s opinion could pave the way for a host of compensation claims if McDonagh is successful.

Pope Benedict XVI begins a three-day visit to Mexico on Friday. The Pontiff last visited Latin America in 2007, when he used a trip to Brazil to criticise Mexico’s legalisation of abortion. After his stay in Mexico, the Pope visits Cuba, where he can reunite with his newest ambassador to the country – a Cuban crocodile.

In Salzburg, the Mozart Wonhaus will play host to a performance of a never-before-heard piano piece composed by the city’s most famous son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The work was discovered in Tyrol by a university lecturer, and is expected to be played by pianist Florian Birsak, who performed two new Mozart pieces discovered in 2009.

The Egyptian Parliament convenes on Saturday to appoint the members of a panel that will be tasked with drafting the country’s new constitution. Parliament will have to consider over 350 proposals regarding the make-up of the constituent assembly, including what percentage of the 100 members should be non-parliamentarians and how the members should reflect Egypt’s cultural and religious diversity.

Saturday’s Louisiana Primary looks a bit insignificant next to the line-up of elections scheduled for Sunday: local elections take place in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the German state of Saarland and the Spanish region of Andalusia, while presidential elections take place in Senegal, and the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia. Hong Kong residents go to the polls to elect a new Chief Executive, while Slovenians hold a referendum on whether to keep a 2011 family code that extended the rights of married couples to people in same-sex partnerships and outlawed corporal punishment.