EUROPE ““ (BBC) The European Union has officially welcomed the formation of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) as a “positive step forward.” The statement, as agreed on by EU foreign ministers, called on other countries to do the same. The decision comes one day after Syria warned that it would take “tough measures” against any country that recognized the SNC. The formation of the SNC, a coalition of seven Syrian opposition factions, was announced just over one week ago in Istanbul. Multiple correspondents say that although short of outright recognition, the EU’s statement ramps up pressure on Damascus. The statement said the EU “welcomes the effort of the political opposition to establish a united platform” and calls on the international community to welcome these efforts.
FRANCE, GERMANY ““ (BBC) German and French leaders will propose important changes to the way the eurozone operates after talks progressed on controlling the bloc’s debt crisis. Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Nicolas Sarkozy said the aim was closer and more binding economic and financial cooperation between eurozone countries. The leaders have said they will give further details by the end of this month. The nations, Chancellor Merkel added, were “determined to do the necessary to ensure”¦recapitalization of Europe’s banks.” President Sarkozy told reporters that France and Germany “have a particular responsibility to stabilize the euro. We need to deliver a response that is sustainable and comprehensive.”
ITALY ““ (BBC) The northern Italian city of Milan banned traffic from its streets for 10 hours on Sunday in an attempt to reduce smog. The measure, first imposed on strictly a trial basis in 2007, is put into effect whenever pollution exceeds the statutory limit for 12 consecutive days. The move is not popular with environmentalists, who argue that the city’s public transport system should be improved to discourage people from using their cars. Enrico Fedrighini, local Green Party councilor, said cars with three or four people inside should be offered free parking, just as an example. “One or two car-free Sundays each month won’t do anything to tackle the smog crisis,” he told Corriere della Sera. Public transport was to be bolstered during the day, with extra metro, trains, and buses operating.
NORWAY ““ (CNN) Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, activist Leymah Gbowee (Liberia), and rights activist Tawakkul Karman (Yemen) share this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced on Friday. The three women were chosen “for their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work,” the committee said in Oslo, Norway. Rights group Amnesty International said the award would encourage women everywhere to continue fighting for their rights. “This Nobel Peace Prize recognizes what human rights activists have known for decades: that the promotion of equality is essential to building just and peaceful societies worldwide,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty. “The tireless work of these and countless other activists brings us closer to a world where women will see their rights protected and enjoy growing influence at all levels of government.” The award, which includes a cash prize of 10 million Swedish kronor (approximately $1.4 million) will be shared equally among the three winners.
POLAND ““ (BBC) Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has claimed victory in parliamentary polls after exit polls indicated a clear lead for his Civic Platform party. Results suggest that Tusk’s center-right party won almost 10% more than the conservative challenger, the Law and Justice Party. Opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has admitted defeat in light of these poll results. The Civic Platform Party is the first Polish party to win two consecutive terms since the fall of communism in 1989. Mr. Tusk said he would work on forming a governing coalition immediately and is expected to renew his alliance with his current partner, the Peasants’ Party. “It is the highest honor for me and for Civic Platform that we will be working for the next four years for all of you, regardless of who you voted for today,” said Mr. Tusk. “In the next four years, we will work twice as hard.” The voting turnout was 47.7%, as reported by TNS OÅ›rodek Badania Opinii Publicznej.