• Kosovo PM fires official from ethnic Serb minority after NATO ‘genocide’ remark

    Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has fired a deputy justice minister, who is a member of the ethnic Serb minority, after she described NATO’s intervention 20 years ago as an act of “genocide” on Serbia. Haradinaj said on Monday he'd fired Vesna Mikic because of her “unacceptable” comment in a Facebook post, AP reports. On Sunday, Serbia commemorated the 20th anniversary of the NATO intervention in Kosovo as an aggression. Kosovo hailed it as the beginning of its “national liberation.” Belgrade does not recognize Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence.

  • Israeli candidate Gantz tells US lobby he won’t hesitate to use force on Iran

    Benny Gantz, who is posing a stiff challenge to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in upcoming elections, has said he will not hesitate to use force on Iran to contain the regional rival. In a speech to the US’ pro-Israel lobby AIPAC in Washington on Monday, Gantz also spelled out further his views on peace prospects with the Palestinians. Gantz insisted that Israel’s military will always control security in the West Bank, AFP reported. He said that Jerusalem – also claimed by the Palestinians – would always remain Israel’s “united and eternal capital.” The politician also said, without ruling out a Palestinian state in the West Bank, that the Jordan Valley will always be Israel’s eastern security border.

  • Top Polish court says govt legislation of choice of judges in line with constitution

    A top court in Poland ruled on Monday that controversial rules introduced by the government that allow lawmakers to choose members of a judicial body are in line with the constitution. The verdict by the Constitutional Tribunal backs the government in its dispute with critics in Poland and in the EU. They say that only judges should have the right to choose members of the Supreme Judicial Council. Judge Justyn Piskorski said that there is nothing in the constitution that would deny judges the right to choose the council’s members, but that right is not limited to judges only, AP reports. Despite criticism and street protests, the ruling conservative Law and Justice party in 2017 pushed through legislation allowing the parliament to choose 15 out of the council’s 25 members.

  • Turkish fighter jets ‘violate Greek airspace, welcome’ PM Tsipras’ helicopter

    Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Monday Turkish fighter jets harassed the helicopter he was traveling on during a visit to a remote Greek island to celebrate independence day. Tsipras said he was “welcomed” by Turkish fighter jets violating Greek airspace during his arrival on the small eastern Aegean island of Agathonissi, AP reports. The move forced the helicopter pilot to carry out low maneuvers until Greek fighter jets arrived to deflect the Turkish aircraft, according to Tsipras. Athens often complains Turkish fighter jets violate its airspace, sometimes flying directly over Greek islands.

  • French minister Loiseau to lead Macron’s campaign in European Parliament elections

    France’s European affairs minister, Nathalie Loiseau, will lead President Emmanuel Macron’s campaign in European Parliament elections in May. Loiseau is expected to resign as a minister, leading to a probable government reshuffle in the coming days. The career diplomat joined Macron’s government in June 2017 and was notably involved in the country’s Brexit preparations. She will head the centrist, pro-European campaign of Macron’s party for the May 23-26 election in an effort to counter “a populist and nationalist wave” across the continent, AP said.

  • Yemen’s warring parties exchange heavy weapons fire in Hodeidah

    Warring parties in Yemen exchanged heavy weapons fire overnight in Hodeidah, according to residents and military sources. The clashes came as the United Nations scrambled to salvage a ceasefire deal in the Yemeni port city that is a lifeline for millions at risk of starvation. Witnesses say the clashes were the heaviest since the ceasefire went into effect on December  18. Houthi forces and troops backed by a Saudi-led coalition traded artillery, mortar and rocket salvoes late on Sunday and early on Monday, with explosions heard across the Red Sea city, Reuters reports. The Houthis “tried a surprise assault on our troops but we stopped them,” a source from the internationally-recognized government said. However, the Houthis’ Al Masirah TV accused government forces of shelling their positions without provocation.