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    Support for culture and social projects in Transylvania from Salzburg

    The International Salzburg Association (ISA), a platform for friends and supporters of Salzburg from all over the world, who feel particularly connected to the province of Salzburg, visited Transylvania in Romania from 28th of September until 1st of October 2017. The delegation was headed by Salzburg’s governor Dr. Wilfried Haslauer and met the mayor of Hermannstadt (Sibiu), Astrid Fodor. The ISA members were extremely impressed by the historical heritage and the great upturn of the city, especially since it was European Capital of Culture in 2007. Governor Haslauer guaranteed the mayor a support for young, talented artists as well as for a handicapped girl. Subsequently, the delegation visited several old fortified churches and finally came to Kronstadt/ Braşov.

    The young pianist Paul Cristian Ionescu and the Kronstadt student Sabin Păduroiu received support from the International Salzburg Association (ISA). Under the leadership of the Kronstadt City Councilor Cristian Macedonschi, the ISA delegation visited Kronstadt. Sabin Păduroiu studies medicine in Kronstadt and wants to provide a mobile blood donation facility with other young people from the Red Cross branch from the city. Currently there are no such facilities in Kronstadt / Braşov. The award of the symbolic check was carried out by Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger, ISA Honorary President, Chairman of the Institute of Regions of Europe and former Governor of Salzburg as well as Dr. Ing. Dieter Soltmann, ISA Vice President.

    Source: Allgemeine Deutsche Zeitung für Rumänien, 25th year’s issue Nr. 6216, 3rd of October 2017, Photo: Ralf Sudrigian

    Catalonia and the situation of the EU

    Plenary session of the Committee of the Regions in Brussels

    A debate with the President of the Council, Donald Tusk, on the situation of the European Union from the point of view of the regions and cities as well as a debate on the current situation in Catalonia were in the focus at the plenary meeting of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) in Brussels on 11th of October 2017.  Discussions of various opinions were at the center of the debates. Salzburg was represented in the EU Regional Council by Franz Schausberger and Landtag President Brigitta Pallauf.

    Franz Schausberger demanded a disarmament of the words from the conflict parties in Spain, a return to the negotiating table and the beginning of a dialogue which could only be a peaceful political solution in the end. In a situation such as it currently exists in Catalonia, there is never a single fault.

    The two representatives of Salzburg, Brigitta Pallauf and Franz Schausberger

    It cannot be satisfactorily solved either by constitutional violations or by force, nor by threats of the takeover of power by the central authority. The negotiations should ultimately lead to a strengthening of the autonomy of Catalonia, as it had already been decided by the Spanish Parliament in 2006 and eliminated again in 2010. Only this could lead to that all Catalans seeing their future in Spain and not in their independence. President of the Landtag Brigitta Pallauf emphasized at the plenary session in Brussels how important the regions and their involvement in Europe were.

    The Committee of the Regions dealt, inter alia, with an opinion on the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which introduced a new infrastructure financing instrument for transport, telecommunications and energy. After reductions, 24.5 billion euro are available for investments in the transport sector, with more than eleven billion of which are reserved for cohesion countries, i.e. Member States, where per capita gross national income is below 90 percent of the EU Community average. Money is available for transport projects to eliminate bottlenecks, establishing missing links and expanding cross-border sections, ensuring long term viable and efficient transport systems and optimizing the interconnection of the various modes of transport, improving the interrelationship of transport services and safeguarding the transport sector access to transport infrastructure.
    The CoR calls for a better integration of the regions. So far, EU grants totaling more than 700 million Euros have been awarded for Austrian transport projects, which account for about 94 percent of the rail infrastructure area, in particular the Brenner basin tunnel and the Koralm railway. In addition, comments on traffic issues, the monitoring of environmental requirements, the financing of climate protection, the development of a European data management system, the protection of minor migrants and the European Semester 2017 were discussed.

    Source: Salzburger Landeskorrespondenz and Liaison Office of the Region of Salzburg to the EU in Brussels

    Landslide victory for Socialist Party in Portugal

    Prime Minister’s party reported the best result in local elections
     
    On 1st of October 2017 elections were held in 308 municipal associations and in 3,091 municipalities in the Algarve as well as in the whole of Portugal. The voters’ turnout amounted to 54.96 percent with more than five million citizens. The Socialist Party was able to win mainly the southern regions and the economically disadvantaged border districts to Spain.

    The Socialist Party (Partido Socialista, PS) from Prime Minister António Costa emerged as clear winner. Nationwide, the party achieved 38.7 percent of the vote, thus achieving its best ever result so far. The Socialist Party won ten more mayors in the elections and hence appoint 160 mayors. In the capital Lisbon, 42 percent voted for the party and subsequently Fernando Medina will continue to hold the mayor’s office. The socialists are the strongest party in ten of the 16 Algarve communities.

    The second place took the conservative-liberal Social Democratic Party (Partido Social Democrata, PSD) which recorded 30.3 percent of the vote and represents 98 mayors, among others in Monchique, Albufeira, Castro Marim, Faro, Monchique and Vila Real de Santo António. Due to this defeat, former Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho will no longer run for the office of the party chairman in 2018.

    In the third place landed the Unitary Democratic Coalition (Coligação Democrática Unitária, CDU) with 9.5 percent. The party lost 10 of its 34 mayors.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Municipalities won by:

     

    Source: www.algarve-entdecker.com, www.bloomberg.com, www.wikipedia.org and www. kontrast.at

     

     

     

    CEI Committee met during the IRE-Conference in September 2017 in Salzburg

    In connection with the 13th Conference of European Regions and Cities (24-26 September 2017), the Central European Initiative (CEI) under the Belarusian CEI Presidency held a meeting on the 25th of September 2017 in Salzburg. The Institute of the Regions of Europe has a long-standing-cooperation with the CEI. During the 5th meeting of the Committee of National Coordinators (CNC) the revision of the CEI guidelines, the rules of procedure and the content of the new CEI action plan were discussed.

    In addition, efforts have been made to strengthen relations with Member States and with international institutions. Forthcoming events of the CEI presidency, the UN General Assembly session in September 2017 in New York and the Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology on the 26th of October 2017 in Minsk were discussed.

    For more information please visit: www.cei.int
     
    Source: http://www.cei.int/content/cei-committee-national-coordinators-gather-salzburg

    Victory for Putin’s party “United Russia”

    Local and regional elections in Russia 2017:

    On Sunday, 10th of September 2017, the citizens of Russia elected local councilors and governors. 40 million inhabitants have voted in 82 of the 85 regions of the Russian Federation. No election took place in Saint Petersburg, in the Republic of Ingushetia as well as in the Magadan region.

    A total of 16 new governors were appointed and in some of them (in Moscow, for example) also the office for the city council or district council. 36,000 seats were awarded and 88,000 people ran for the election. Almost everywhere, the candidates of Putin’s Kremlin party “United Russia” were ahead.

    In Moscow, where the voter-turnout  was 14 percent, deputies were elected in 124 district parliaments. 7,500 candidates applied for a total of 1,502 seats. The party “United Russia” won with 76 percent of the votes and reached 1,151 seats. The social-liberal party “Jabloko” was second-placed with 11.9 percent of the votes and subsequently reached 177 seats. The Liberal Party has thus increased its seats by seven times (25 seats so far). Third place went to the numerous independent candidates with a total of 7.2 percent of the votes.

    In the governor’s elections in 16 Russian regions, the participation rate between 30 and 80 percent was comparatively much higher. The candidates of the Kremlin-based party “United Russia” were victorious in all governor elections. The governors received between 60.5 (in Tomsk) and 89 percent of the votes (in Mordowa). In the 17th region, Adygea, the governor was elected by the regional parliament.

    In the elections to six regional parliaments (in Northern Ossetia, Udmurtia, Krasnodarsk, Pensa, Saratov and Sakhalin) Putin’s party reached between 44 and 70 percent. The second and third place went to the Communist Party of Gennady Zyuganov (between eleven and 14 percent) and the Liberal Democrats of Vladimir Zhirinovsky (between seven and thirteen percent).

    The election was considered to be a mood barometer for the Russian presidential election on March 18th, 2018. It is expected that Putin will run for a fourth term of office.
     
    Source: www.wikipedia.org, www.jungewelt.de, www.deutsch.rt.com and www.spiegel.de

    Western Balkans: Juncker’s speech triggers “positive excitement”

    24th – 26th of September 2017: 13th CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN REGIONS AND CITIES in the Salzburg Congress
    Ministers from the Western Balkan countries are responding at this year’s 13th Conference of European Regions and Cities to the statement by the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, according to which the EU will have more than 27 members by 2025. Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn urges reforms.
     
    What is the EU’s position on enlargement? “We want to complete what is obvious”, said EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn during the 13th Conference of European Regions and Cities organized by the Institute of European Regions (IRE) in Salzburg on Sunday, 24th of September 2017. The six countries of the Western Balkans Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania should, according to Hahn, become members as soon as possible. The speech by President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, on the State of the Union in September has provided “positive excitement” in this regard. Juncker has stated in his speech, that in 2025 the EU would have more members than today. It is of great importance to use the dynamics in the momentum, says Hahn towards the accession aspirants of the countries to make the states ready for the EU. 2025 is a “moving target”, but there are no speed restrictions.
     
    Commissioner Hahn, who held the keynote speech on the first panel discussion on the topic “The Next Generation of EU Member States”, considers important challenges in the lack of economic cooperation among the countries of the region and the high unemployment rate. The latter leads to the fact that the well-qualified are going abroad and the less qualified are left frustrated. However, increased trade between countries and the reduction of regulatory hurdles could be used not only with a view to economic prosperity but also as a test run for the later extended EU single market: “The daily work would be, in fact, a real preparation”, says Hahn, who also strengthens the rule of law. Foreign investors, as well as domestic companies must be able to rely on an “independent judiciary that works correctly and without corruption”. Corresponding positive developments regarding the rule of law should now be “consolidated”. Justice Minister Wolfgang Brandstetterpointed out, that in the fight against the corruption of aws alone are not enough, and however, this can only be implemented by independent courts as well as well-trained judges and prosecutors. Herewith the Western Balkan countries can pick-up support from the EU.
     
    It sometimes fails at political will, Igor Crnadak, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina comments. On the one hand, when it comes to combating corruption, on the other hand, if EU enlargement is to be defined as a national and cross-party objective which is not sold for short-term political small pocket money. Jadranka Joksimović, Serbian Minister for European Integration, sees the pillars of European integration in economic development and the strengthening of the rule of law. However, “Euro-realism” has replaced “Eurofanaticism” in the Serbian population. Nevertheless, she considers an accession in 2025 realistic for her country.

    Despite the fact, one should not forget the mood in the old EU, declared Montenegro’s Minister of European Affairs Aleksandar Andrija Pejović. The majority of Austrians, for example, do not want any new EU members, although Austria has benefited economically from the EU enlargement. The Brexit has also shaken the EU into its foundations, namely the idea of bringing the entire continent together. The EU is no longer the only option on the Western Balkans. “There are dangerous alternatives”, says Pejović, referring to the growing influence of Turkey and Russia in the region. The Western Balkans became a “geopolitical chess game” due to these increasingly popular foreign forces, including Islamic fundamentalist associations, the Vicepremierminister of Kosovo, Enver Hoxhaj, agreed. The refugee crisis – in 2015 most refugees came across the so-called Balkan route – had changed the situation.
     
    The panelists agree that Juncker’s speech sent an important message to the Western Balkans, especially that the expansion process continues. In Albania, which has been politically transformed into a reform of the judiciary, this momentum has been “triggered by the EU perspective”, says Odeta Barbullushi, Albanian Deputy Minister for European and Foreign Affairs.
      
    For Albania as well as the rest of the Western Balkans, it would have to be the goal and the motivation, added Hahn, “to be perceived by the other EU members as an asset and not a burden at the time of accession”.

     

    Burgenland-Election: SPÖ and ÖVP are equal

    In the Austrian state of Burgenland, the first round of the municipal and mayor elections took place on Sunday, 1st of October 2017. 81.05 percent of Burgenlanders from 171 municipalities have voted. Of the 3.143 municipal councils to be awarded, the SPÖ registered 1.461 (previously 1.411), the ÖVP 1.364 (so far 1.363) and the FPÖ 144 (previously 79) seats. The Greens remain the same with 27 seats, the Alliance List reached 45 (so far 39) seats, the NEOS one seat and other lists 101 city council mandates.

    After the end of the first elections, the Social Democratic Party and the Austrian People’s Party are now equal among the mayors and municipal councilors. In ten municipalities mayors changes took place: the SPÖ represent four and the ÖVP six of the local leaders. Both parties present 74 mayors after the election. Since no absolute majority has been reached in 19 municipalities, run-off elections will be held on the 29th of October 2017.

    In Jennersdorf, there will be a run-off between two ÖVP-close lists candidates. In Neusiedl am See and Bad Tatzmannsdorf there will be a run-off between the ÖVP candidate and the SPÖ candidate. In Eisenstadt the ÖVP, with 60.3 percent, built its absolute majority with 17 municipal seats, the SPÖ lost two seats and received seven seats. Member of the Landtag Mag. Thomas Steiner (see picture) remains the mayor of the state capital.

    State result of the municipal council (second table) and mayor elections (first table) 2017, 1st round:
       

    Source: www.diepresse.com, www.kurier.at, http://wahl.bgld.gv.at/wahlen/gr20171001.nsf, APA, http://www.eisenstadt.gv.at

    Copyright © 2017 Institute of the Regions of Europe