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Turkeyʼs pro-Kurdish party appeals to European Court, France approves new governing authority for Corsica

17 to 23 February

Building of the European Court of Human Rights.
Building of the European Court of Human Rights. Author: Alfredovic
Turkey's pro-Kurdish party HDP has brought the imprisonment of its two co-leaders to the attention of the European Court of Human Rights on the very same week that both politicians have received further judicial and political blows from the Turkish authorities, and a few weeks before a referendum on the adoption of a presidential system in Turkey is held. In a very different vein, Corsica has obtained the approval of the French National Assembly to the establishment of a unique collectivity, a new governing body that has been long-demanded by Corsican parties. Vote counting in the Ecuadoran election and a controversy surrounding Donetsk and Luhansk passports have also ranked high among the week's events.

NEWS HIGHLIGHT

HDP appeals to European Court of Human Rights over arrested co-leaders. The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) has filed an appeal before the Strasbourg Court over the imprisonment of its two co-leaders and MPs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yüksekdag. The pro-Kurdish party says that the fact that the two politicians have remained imprisoned since November 2016 is a violation of their rights to freedom and security, the right of expression and the right to free elections. The first hearing of Demirtas will take place on April 28, but a Turkish court has already sentenced him this week to five months of imprisonment while Yüksekdag has been stripped of her MP status. Demirtas and Yüksekdag Besides, another 8 HDP MPs continue to be arrested, on allegations of terrorism-related crimes. The HDP denies any links of its members with violence, and says the allegations are part of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's authoritarian drift, which intensified since the failed coup of July 2016.

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French National Assembly gives green light to unique collectivity in Corsica. The new governing authority is set to merge, from 1 January 2018, three existing bodies, namely the current Corsican territorial collectivity and the island's two departments. That same model is being used in Martinique and Guiana. The move enjoys the support of the Corsican coalition government, made up of pro-autonomy and pro-independence parties. Assembly of Corsica president Jean-Guy Talamoni has recalled that the Corsican nationalist movement has been waiting the birth of the unique collectivity "for 40 years". Corsican chief of executive Gilles Simeoni has described it as a "big step for the country", as it will allow to concentrate all powers that regions and departments individually have in one single governing body. Elections to the new authority Assembly will be held in December.

Catalonia, Valencia, Balearic Islands agree on linguistic and cultural collaboration... The governments of the three territories have unveiled the Palma Declaration, in which they have pledged "to strengthen historical and cultural ties for the three territories' mutual benefit in the fields of language and culture," the Catalan government has explained. One of the agreement's major goals is to create a three-government "shared and shareable system of certification of linguistic competence."

...Occitania and Catalonia too (or they intend to). Catalan government president Carles Puigdemont Occitania region president Carole Delga have signed a letter of intent "to build cooperation activities" in areas such as transport, tourism, environment, and Catalan and Occitan languages. The letter of intent should give way to a subsequent cooperation agreement in which specific commitments will be listed.

Two new efforts for Aragonese and Catalan languages launched in Aragon. The Aragonese government has launched a new website containing materials and resources to learn and teach the two languages. In the words of the general director of Linguistic Policy of the government, Ignacio López Susín, the site is a "tool for the dissemination" of the two languages. A couple of weeks before, Aragonese language online radio station Chisla Radio had been launched. Meanwhile, the process towards a unified spelling of Aragonese continues to clear steps.

Russia to accept passports issued by Donetsk and Luhansk republics. The Russian Federation has taken the decision even if it does not formally acknowledges the sovereignty of two territories, which self-proclaimed independent from Ukraine in 2014. The Russian government argues the decision —which also includes certificates and other documents issued by the secessionist authorities— does not contradict international law. However, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has said that the recognition of those passports contradicts the Minsk Agreement, and has called on the EU to toughen sanctions against Russia.

Lenín Moreno and Guillermo Lasso to contest Ecuador runoff. Left-wing Alianza País candidate Lenín Moreno won the most votes of the first round of the 19 February Ecuadorian presidential election (39.3%), short of the 40% threshold required to be declared president. Right-wing Guillermo Lasso (CREO alliance) came second (28.1% of the votes), and will face Moreno in the runoff. The only female candidate, Social Christian Cynthia Viteri, placed third at 16.3%. Center-left candidate Paco Moncayo, who had the support of the Indigenous party Pachakutik, came fourth, with 6.7%.

Kosovo calls on Spain to recognize its independence. Marking the Balkan republic’s ninth anniversary, president Hashim Thaçi has reminded the authorities in Madrid that Kosovo "is not Catalonia or the Basque Country," and that “parallels cannot be drawn” between those cases. Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008. Out of 193 UN member states, 113 have recognized the Republic of Kosovo so far —Singapore being the most recent one. Spain is one of five EU members that still regard Kosovo a province of Serbia.

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