ForesightNews world briefing: upcoming events 23 – 29 July

EU Foreign Ministers meet in Brussels to discuss a host of issues, from energy policy to South Sudan. But the real focus will be on Syria – French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius confirmed last week that ministers would seek to impose new, stronger sanctions on the Assad regime, a move which gained renewed importance after China and Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on 19 July that would have authorised stronger global sanctions.

Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is in Moscow to hold his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Syria is on the top of their agenda, too. Given Russia’s recent stance, though, it’s unlikely that Monti will be able to persuade Putin to change his mind, so their time might be better spent discussing bilateral issues.

Officials from the IMF, EU and ECB make their quarterly-ish visit to Greece on Tuesday to check on how economic plans are progressing. The mission is the first since Greece’s new government under Prime Minister Antonis Samaras took over after elections last month, and was delayed from June due to Samaras’ health problems. Discussion will reportedly focus on securing a ‘bridging loan’ for Greece while the new government tries to find nearly €12bn in further spending cuts.

Tuesday also sees the latest hearing in Baghdad in the trial of Iraqi Vice President Tareq al Hashemi, who is accused of operating a death squad. The trial was postponed earlier in the month to allow an appeals court to review the case and rule on the conduct of the trial, including a request by Hashemi’s lawyers to call senior government figures as witnesses, which was denied by the trial court.

The Pakistani Supreme Court has given new Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf until Wednesday to issue a letter to Swiss authorities asking them to re-open graft investigations against President Asif Ali Zardari. Ashraf’s predecessor Yousuf Raza Gilani declined to submit the same request to Switzerland; he was subsequently found to be in contempt of court and disqualified from standing as Prime Minister, so it’s a deadline Ashraf will be looking at with some consideration.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is in London on Thursday. In addition to attending the Olympic opening ceremony and reportedly meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Chancellor George Osborne, Labour Leader Ed Miliband, and former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Romney is also playing host to two fundraisers for wealthy American ex-pats. Those whose wallets can only spare $2,500 will attend an evening reception with Romney, while donors who can dig up $75,000 will find themselves sitting down to dinner with the man himself.

Friday…Friday…Well there must be something going on Friday. Oh yes, the small matter of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. The Queen officially opens the Games, and in return she and other attendees can enjoy Danny Boyle’s ‘Isles of Wonder’ spectacle, a concert with Paolo Nutini, Stereophonics, Snow Patrol, Duran Duran and Paul McCartney, and a Red Arrows flypast.

Meanwhile, the mood may be a bit less celebratory in Spain, where the latest quarterly unemployment figures are released. Despite relatively positive figures recently, including a drop in unemployment of 100,000 last month, figures still hover near the 25 per cent mark, and hundreds of people took part in demonstrations in Madrid last week to protest against unemployment and austerity.

Former US President Bill Clinton delivers the closing address at the AIDS 2012 Conference in Washington on Friday. He caps off a week of speakers that have included his wife (otherwise known as Secretary of State) Hillary, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, former First Lady Laura Bush, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Elton John, Whoopi Goldberg, and Sharon Stone.

Romney continues his international jaunt on Saturday with a three-day trip to Israel, where he’s planning to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and US Ambassador Dan Shapiro. In addition to bolstering his international credentials – and probably making much of the fact that his Democratic rival hasn’t made the trip to the holy land during his presidency – Romney is also hosting another of his ex-pat fundraisers on Sunday.

Romanians go to the polls on Sunday to decide whether or not President Traian Basescu should be impeached. Basescu was suspended from his post in a 6 July parliamentary vote, after Prime Minister Victor Ponta accused him of exceeding his authority and acting in a partisan manner. Basescu and his supporters have in turn accused Ponta of trying to oust the president in order to consolidate his own power.