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This week we wade through recent developments in the war in Ukraine, in particular Zelenskiy’s address at the UN general assembly. In other news, India-Canada row over Sikh killing causes diplomatic shock waves, Azerbaijan reclaims Nagorno-Karabakh from control of Armenian separatists, and Rupert Murdoch steps down as chair of Fox and News Corp. Have a read to start your week well-informed! 

Spotlight: Big Little Powers. 

This week, for the first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed the UN general assembly in person in New York. Zelenskiy called for Russia to be stripped of the permanent chair it holds at the UN Security Council, a symbol of power and authority that only four other countries currently hold (the US, China, France, and Britain), and that has put the body in a deadlock over what it can do about Russia’s invasion. During his visit, Zelenskiy also made a case for continued military support to Ukraine by Western allies, particularly as the relationships with some of its European neighbors undergo a testing time. 

Over the past year the Russo-Ukrainian conflict has taken the world stage, with global superpowers such as the US and China playing their part in maneuvering the conflict’s escalation. It’s in this context that the key influence of the “little powers” at Ukraine’s borders could come to be mistakenly overlooked. Even at the sidelines of the UN general assembly, a row between Poland and Ukraine over the ban on Ukrainian grain imports could be seen spiraling out of control this week. Poland, one of Ukraine’s most faithful allies and major arms supplier, was implicitly accused in Zelenskiy’s address of aiding Moscow by fueling a “political theatre” around the issue of grain imports. This referred to last week’s events, when Poland, Slovakia and Hungary decided to continue enforcing their bans on grain imports from Ukraine. The move has defied the ruling of the European Commission to end the months-long import Ukrainian grain ban which had been previously put in place to safeguard internal economies and national agricultural production. 

In response to Zelenskiy’s statement, Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki declared Poland would not send any new military support to Ukraine. The move, a serious declaration but of which real effects are certainly still evolving, could be seen as a way for Morawiecki to set himself up for the upcoming parliamentary elections next month. Polish polls predict a rise in support for the far-right challenger who has called for reducing support to Ukraine, as some parts of the population experience “Ukraine fatigue”. Similarly, opinion polls see Robert Fico as frontrunner for the general election that will be held at the end of the month in Slovakia. Fico has also vowed to halt Slovak arm deliveries to Ukraine and to denounce sanctions against Russia. Election victories for populist or conservative nationalist parties in Slovakia and Poland could drastically change the support base directly neighboring Ukraine, and perhaps end the isolation of Viktor Orban of Hungary as the only leader in the EU speaking out strongly against helping Ukraine. 

Related:  Monday Briefing 18/09/2023

Around the World 

Azerbaijan reclaims Nagorno-Karabakh from control of Armenian separatists. On Thursday, Azerbaijan said it has restored full control over Nagorno-Karabakh enclave after just two days of fighting. The enclave, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, has been under the control of Armenian separatists for more than three decades.

India-Canada row over Sikh killing causes diplomatic shock waves. This June, Canadian Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar was murdered in the Canadian city of Surrey by a group of unidentified armed men. This week, during a session in Parliament, PM Justin Trudeau claimed there was compelling evidence to believe that the Indian government was behind the killing. This declaration sparked an explosive diplomatic quarrel, with India cancelling all ongoing Canadian visa applications, and warning its citizens not to travel to Canada.

Referendum hopes to enshrine the Indigenous voice in Australia’s constitution. On October 14th, the Australian people are called to vote on enshrining an Indigenous voice to parliament. The referendum requires a majority of votes in the majority of states to succeed, and if it passes it will lead to the creation of the Voice, a governmental body that will advise both the parliament and the government on issues pertaining to Indigenous Australians. The Voice, whose specific composition would go on to be decided by the parliament if the vote passes, would be solely an advisory body, with no direct policy mandates, and it would be comprised based on the wishes of indigenous populations.

In Belgium, several schools set on fire after extremist campaign against sex education. On September 17, over 1500 protesters gathered in central Brussels against introducing a course on “education in relationships, affective and sexual life” in the Belgian school curriculum. The outrage even turned violent, with 8 schools having been set on fire by extremists since the introduction of the bill.

Trial of Chinese #MeToo journalist and labor rights activist begins in secret. The trial of two prominent feminist activists, Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing, has begun in secret in Guangzhou, China. The pair was arrested in 2021, shortly before Huang was due to move in the UK to study at the University of Sussex, on “inciting subversion of state power” charges: they were widely known among China’s progressives for their reporting and activism on feminism, LGBTQ+ rights and labor issues. Their trials are being held in secret because it is a widespread belief that if that were not the case, wide protests 

China increases armed presence in the South China Sea. Although an international tribunal has unequivocally determined that an area of the South China Sea about 900 miles away from the Chinese mainland does not belong to China, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has long now fortified an arcipelago of forward operating bases that have branded these waters even though there is legal bounding. The aim of the Chinese – visible through the coast guard, navy and a fleet of fishing trawlers that continues to harass other vessels – is seemingly to retain control of a trade route through which about a third of the global maritime trade passes. 

Related:  Monday Briefing 2/10/2023

Thousands protest in Spain over possible amnesty for Catalan separatists. More than 40 thousand people gathered in Madrid to protest over a potential amnesty for the people who took part in the failed push for Catalan independence in 2017. The issue arose after July’s general election, which saw the conservative People’s Party finish first, but not by a margin large enough to secure a parliamentary majority. The socialist party of the acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, PSOE, arrived a close second, and would have the numbers to form a new government if it were to form an alliance with the former Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont, who fled Spain six years ago after the failed secession. Sanchez, who already pardoned nine Catalan independence leaders in 2021, has not ruled anything out, and the PP is using this to make the amnesty a salient political issue: PP leader Feijòo said: “The left sees pardons as coexistence, an amnesty as a normalization and losing as winning. Don’t call us Spaniards stupid because we’re not.”

Marine Le Pen could stand trial for embezzling EU funds. French prosecutors have called the leader of the far-right party Front Nationale Marine Le Pen along with 23 members of the party to stand trial on charges that they embezzled EU funds. The Paris prosecutor’s office laid out charges following a seven-year investigation that found that Le Pen and 10 other deputies of the European parliament may have used EU funds to pay their parliamentary assistants for work carried out for the party. The judges need to decide whether to move forward with a trial. Le Pen has long argued that she committed no wrongdoing.

Rupert Murdoch steps down as chair of Fox and News Corp. On Thursday, the right-wing media mogul announced he would quit his job as chair of Fox News Corporation and News Corp, ending a 70-year career that made him one of the most influential figures in media and entertainment in America. His son is expected to soon take over the position. 

Stefanos Kasselakis: the political outsider hoping to revive the Greek left. Since announcing his candidacy in the race to lead Greek leftwing Syiriza party, Stefanos Kasselakis has become somewhat of a star of Greek politics. He is rich, half-American, openly gay, a former Goldman Sachs trader, and a shipowner. While it seems outlandish to think that this kind of profile could gain political capital in a country like Greece, now it suddenly seems very real. 

Italian News 

Migranti, Meloni chiede intervento Onu: Italia non sarĂ  campo profughi d’Europa. Il piano presentato da Ursula von der Leyen in accordo con la presidente del consiglio, riguardo nuove misure da prendere per gli sbarchi a Lampedusa, riscontra opposizione da parte del premier polacco Mateusz Morawiecki. Questo “no” deciso di un importante alleato per l’Italia, sembra non preoccupare Meloni, la quale interviene spiegando che “l’unica strada è quella di fermare le partenze illegali non di scaricare sugli altri il problema”. La premier inoltre chiede un intervento immediato dalle nazioni unite, “non consentirò che l’Italia diventi il campo profughi d’Europa”. 

Related:  Monday Briefing 27/11/2023

Covid, vola la variante Eris.. La variante Eris, ultima mutazione di Omicron, si sta diffondendo rapidamente sia in Italia che in Europa. Le statistiche riportano un notevole incremento di ricoveri e di decessi rispetto ad agosto, il tasso di positivitĂ  è cresciuto dal 6,4% al 14,9% e il Veneto è in cima alle classifiche con 83 casi certificati. “Ogni mutazione da un vantaggio evolutivo e, fissandolo, forma una variante” afferma Massimo Ciccozzi, epidemiologo dell’UniversitĂ  Campus Biomedico di Roma, tuttavia specificando l’importanza della precisione in merito ai dati sul recente aumento dei pazienti, in quanto, se soggetti ad altre patologie oltre che al COVID, il loro stato di salute andrĂ  ad influire diversamente sulle crescenti statistiche.

Morto l’ex presidente della repubblica Giorgio Napolitano. Il 22 settembre alle 19,45, l’ex presidente della Repubblica Giorgio Napolitano si è spento nella clinica Salvator Mundi di Roma. Con 98 anni di vita, l’ex Capo di Stato era stato ricoverato ormai da 4 mesi e si portava dietro una storia di interventi sia all’addome che all’aorta. Alfredo Mantovano, sottosegretario di Stato, annuncia l’esposizione della bandiera italiana e europea sugli edifici pubblici, fino alla data di celebrazione delle esequie di Stato

Job hopping in Italia: chi sono, perchĂŠ lo fanno e dove vanno i lavoratori ÂŤinfedeliÂť. Il termine Job Hopping sta a significare la continua mobilitĂ  dei lavoratori riguardo al settore d’impiego. In Italia, questo fenomeno è molto frequente tra la generazione dei Millennials (1981-1995), in particolare tra gli uomini in possesso di un diploma. In media invece, le donne si muovono con meno flessibilitĂ  da un lavoro all’altro, probabilmente per le difficoltĂ  che vanno a riscontrare nell’accedere al mercato lavorativo

Bocconi news

Monday 25th September at 6:15 PM – Movies & Languages Film Festival, with a free showing of The Banshees of Inisherin. For more info and to sign up click on here.  

Tuesday 26th September at 6:15 PM – BookCrossing Area Inauguration: In collaboration with the student association Bocconi d’Inchiostro, Egea and the Bocconi Library, the BookCrossing area is a place where members of the Bocconi community can donate any books they no longer need, and take any books from the shelves. 

Cartoon of the week: Milan Fashion Week comes to Bocconi.

Author profile

Every week, your TiL Monday Briefing 🗞: you better read it with a cup of coffee! ☕️

Current members of the team are Elisa Latora, Dragos-Ioan Ile, Chiara Todesco, Polina Mednikova, Theo Di Martino Taulois, Zoe Di Lieto, and Bojan Zeric.

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