ForesightNews world briefing: upcoming events 19- 25 December

A weekly round up of world events from Monday, 19 December to Sunday, 25 December fromForesightNews

By Nicole Hunt

EU and Ukrainian officials meet in Kiev on Monday for the annual EU-Ukraine Summit, with rumours abound that President Viktor Yanukovych is planning to skip the meeting in favour of the EurAsEC summit taking place in Moscow on the same day. Yanukovych’s planned visit to Brussels in Octoberwas delayed after opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison on what the EU says are politically motivated charges.

The Gulf Cooperation Council holds its annual summit in Riyadh, the first formal meeting of leaders since the beginning of the Arab Spring last year. The meeting begins on the same day that the UN Security Council is scheduled to discuss sanctions against Iran and receive a briefing from Jamal Benomar, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Yemen.

Leaders from the Commonwealth of Independent States meet in Moscow on Tuesday to celebrate the organisation’s 20th anniversary. The CIS was formed out of the dissolution of the Soviet Union; the initial agreement was signed by Belarus, Russia and Ukraine on 8 December, 1991, while eight more former Soviet republics joined on 21 December.

In Tripoli, Tuesday marks the deadline issued by the government and the Tripoli Council for rogue, non-Tripoli based militias to disarm and leave the city. Despite the announcement of the deadline on 6 December, clashes between militias and security forces have continued unabated.

Pending the confirmation of election results by the Supreme Court of the Democratic Republic of Congo on 17 December, President Joseph Kabila is scheduled to be sworn in for a second term in Kinshasa. International observers have raised concerns about the validity of the country’s 28 November election.

The long-awaited verdict in the ‘Government I’ genocide trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is handed down on Wednesday in Arusha. Former Interior Minister Edouard Karemera and former President of the MRND political party Mathieu Ngirumpatse are accused of recruiting and arming the Interahamwe militia and disseminating Hutu Power propaganda.

The European Central Bank holds the first of two 36-month longer-term refinancing operations announced by ECB President Mario Draghi on 8 December as part of a series of measures to support bank lending and market activities. The LTRO comes on the same day that Italy releases Q3 GDP figures; the preliminary figures had been due in November, but were not released amid political turmoil.

Palestinian leaders meet in Cairo on Thursday, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas expected to chair the first meeting of what would be a unified Palestinian decision-making body in place until elections are held in May 2012. Members of the Palestinian National Council, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s executive boards and the directors-general of various Palestinian factions are scheduled to attend.

Amid weeks of protests against the recent parliamentary elections, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gives his annual state of the nation address in Moscow.

On Friday, the South Korean military is set to turn on the lights on three giant steel Christmas trees placed at points along the country’s border with North Korea. Pyongyang has reportedly called the trees a form of ‘psychological warfare’ and has threatened ‘unexpected consequences’ if the lighting goes ahead.

Activists in Russia have planned another mass protest against the 4 December elections on Saturday, after an estimated 50,000 people turned out for the 10 December demonstration, which was organised on Facebook. The tens of thousands already signed up to attend have clearly not been swayed by President Dmitry Medvedev’s pledge to investigate allegations of electoral fraud.

Sunday is, of course, Christmas Day. While millions worldwide will be focusing on egg nog, Christmas pudding and what Santa’s left under the tree, Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan will be addressing a rally in Karachi, where he is said to be launching a ‘revolutionary manifesto’ ahead of elections in 2013.

Sunday also marks the 20th anniversary of the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev, who had been President of the Soviet Union from October 1988. Gorbachev’s resignation came a day before the USSR was formally dissolved on 26 December, 1991.