Macron wins presidential election in France

Emmanuel Macron, a 39 year-old former investment banker, won France’s presidential election on Sunday, defeating Marine Le Pen after voters repudiated her far-right message. Macron achieved the 66% of the total votes, compared with 34% for Le Pen, according to the Interior Ministry’s official count.

Macron will be the youngest president in the 59-year history of France’s Fifth Republic after leading a difficult campaign aimed at promoting the loosening of labour rules, the creation of a global and competitive market for France globally and the intensification of ties with the European Union.

However, the results show that a great part of the French population was skeptic about both projects, since nearly 34% of voters did not cast a ballot or cast a blank one. Indeed, the abstention rate was the highest since the year 1969.

This lack of support forecasts a laborious path for the following five years and Macron now tries to build a legislative majority. He has no party in the Parliament and French parliamentary elections will be held next month.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will work for a new ceasefire in Syria

The president of the United States and the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, have restarted direct communications with the aim of agreeing a new ceasefire in the civil way of Syria. Tuesday’s call was intended to advance in a more collaborative relationship after the rupture of interactions over the past weeks.

Donald Trump has consented to assign a representative to the ceasefire talks which start on Wednesday in Kazakhstan, in the first conversation between the US and Russia since the first launched a missile strike on Syria as a retaliation for a chemical attack on civilians.

At Kazakhstan, Putin intends to suggest that Russia, Iran and Turkey act as buffer forces in order to separate the government and rebel forces in diverse areas of Syria. However, US and Russian officials show opposite approaches regarding the establishment of safe zones over the country to protect civilians.

Hamas shows a more moderate face towards Israel

Last Monday, Hamas, the Palestinian Sunni-Islamic armed group, presented a moderate public face towards the state of Israel with the aim of gaining international recognition and getting closer to Palestinian leadership.

The statement, presented some days before the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is meeting Donald Trump, urges to develop closer relations with Egypt, avoids any possible anti-Semitic language and accepts a provisional Palestinian state — according to the borders established in 1967. This, however, does not mean that Hamas formally recognizes the state of Israel.

The group is still considered a terrorist group by almost every western country and this status has led to the exclusion of Hamas from international negotiations over the future of Palestine. Therefore, the armed group is trying to project a more friendly approach toward the Palestinian cause.

This step could definitely be considered as a point of inflexion in order to gain more credibility both in Palestine and in the international community. Nevertheless, Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel has denounced the move and affirmed the statement “is a smoke screen”.

Theresa May aims to start Brexit on March 29

The British government has made public its intention to formally notify the European Union of its purpose to leave the community on March 29. Next Wednesday the United Kingdom and the European Union will start a two-year negotiation exit, under the authority of Article 50 of the European Union’s Treaty.

According to the Article 50, any member state may conclude to leave the European Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. The United Kingdom is expected to withdraw from the European Union by early 2019.

Theresa May’s government hopes that the other 27 EU members will then meet to acknowledge their guidelines for the negotiations and the European Commission’s negotiating rules. The Brexit secretary, David Davis, considers Brexit process as “the most important negotiation for this country in a generation”.

Banning headscarves at work is legal in the European Union

The European Union’s highest court ruled last Tuesday that private companies are authorized to prohibit female employees from wearing headscarves at job. It stated that banning “the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign” cannot be found as direct discrimination.

The ruling of the European Court of Justice dictated that enterprises were legitimized to forbid these symbols so as to project a neutral image to the public. However, customers will not be authorized to request female workers to remove headscarves if the company has no regulations disallowing religious symbols.

Countries such as France, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands have already passed laws to ban full face-covering veils in public and government spaces or are considering doing so. Precisely, the ruling on this politically explosive issue appears when the European Union faces a critical election season, with races in the Netherlands, France and Germany.

With anti-immigrant and anti-Islam populism increasing in many European countries, the ruling of the European Court of Justice will be binding for the 28 member states of the Union.

Relations between Turkey and Europe deteriorate after disputes with the Netherlands

Turkey’s relationship with Europe has weakened during the weekend after Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish president, blamed the Dutch government of being Nazi and Turkish politicians were banned from a political event in the Netherlands.

While this month German officials have been criticized for forbidding Turkish campaigns to vote yes to the referendum which would expand Erdogan’s powers, the Dutch government impeded the landing of the Turkish foreign minister and escorted the Turkish family minister out of the country.

The government of Netherlands, which has generally considered an open approach to face different attitudes, is in the middle of an assertive election campaign that has immigration as the primary issue.

Elsewhere in Europe, countries such as Denmark, Sweden, France, Switzerland or Austria have backed the decision taken by the Dutch government and made it clear that Erdogan’s campaign is unwelcome there.

Global strikes on the International Women’s Day

The International Women’s Day 2017 placed women’s work in the first line by arranging strikes in more than 50 countries throughout the world. This first International Women’s Strike from both paid and unpaid labor aimed to put more pressure on governments, institutions and corporations by giving women a voice that has been ignored until now.

On one of the most political International Women’s Day, millions of people took part in worldwide actions to show solidarity with a revived and powerful global women’s movement.

Organizers arranged the International Women’s Strike by joining the coordinators of the Women’s March and other hundreds of human and women’s rights’ activists around the globe. The theme for the year 2017, which was #BeBoldForChange, praised the economic, political, social and cultural achievements of women throughout history.

Moreover, organizers from diverse countries proposed supporters to wear diverse colors such as red in solidarity with the women’s labor movement, black to focus on issues like femicide or abortion, and other colors depending on the topics that were claimed.

One in four deaths among children is due to pollution

According to new reports published by the World Health Organization, pollution is accountable for a quarter of deaths among all children under five, being lack of sanitation, unsafe water and toxic air the main causes.

The WHO insisted that contaminated environments generate up to 1.7 million deaths among children every year. Nevertheless, a great number of them could be successfully prevented by global interventions already well-known.

Latest reports warn that pollution dramatically increases the risk of suffering from pneumonia and other chronic lung conditions such as asthma. Moreover it may raise the risk of heart diseases and cancer.

Air pollution is uprising at an alarming rate around the world, with most of large cities covered by unhealthy air. In fact, almost two billion children actually live in places where air pollution exceeds limits implemented by the World Health Organization.

Only Malta and Finland have met refugee relocation obligations in the European Union

European countries have accepted up to 10% of the total 160,000 refugees that were estimated to be moved from unhygienic and overcrowded camps in Italy and Greece, being Malta and Finland the only ones meeting refugee relocation obligations.

This means that countries have only accomplished 8% of pledged refugee resettlements. More precisely, 13,546 relocations have been carried out so far, 3,936 coming from Italy and 9,610 from Greece. The European Commission warns that it will admit “no more excuses”.

While countries such as Hungary, Austria and Poland refused to participate in the European resettlement plan, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia and many other are carrying it out on a “very limited basis”.

Meanwhile, the European Commission insisted that the treaty between the European Union and Turkey is working fine a year after its ratification. Crossings from Turkey to Greece have decreased from 10,000 people in a single day to 43 per day currently, with overall entrances going down by 98%.

United Nations Security Council paralysed with Russia’s and China’s vetoes

The delegations of Russia and China have vetoed a United Nations resolution to apply sanctions on Syrian government over the use of chemical weapons during the almost six-year war in the country.

The resolution, which was supported by dozens of states, makes clear the wide divisions that are still latent between Russia and the Trump administration, even when both countries promised to improve ties.

Britain and France proposed it some months ago and it has been the seventh Security Council resolution that the Russian delegation has vetoed in support of President Bashar al-Assad since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.

The American ambassador, Nikki R. Haley, accused Russia and China of putting “their friends in the Assad regime ahead of our global security”. On the other hand, Vladimir Putin has reinforced his opposition, adding that penalties enforced by the Security Council will only obstruct Geneva’s diplomatic attempts to end hostilities in Syria.