When Pope Francis gets off the plane in Baghdad this Friday, the first ever visit by a Pope to Iraq and Francis's first trip after a year on a Covid break will begin. The pope, who chose the words "You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers" as the official slogan for his four-day visit, aims to highlight the common ground among religions. Commentators commend the pope for this gesture of solidarity and dialogue under difficult circumstances.
Of the 2.5 million coronavirus deaths worldwide, 2.2 million were in countries with a comparatively high obesity rate, according to a study put out by the World Obesity Federation this week. Previous studies also establish a link between severe Covid cases and obesity. Should efforts to combat obesity be ramped up? And if so, how? Opinions are divided.
Italy has blocked the shipment of 250,000 doses of the Anglo-Swedish Astrazeneca vaccine to Australia in the first intervention since the EU introduced rules on exports of vaccines outside the bloc in January according to which vaccines can only be shipped with official approval. Is the EU in a better position to deal with manufacturers and global competition than some are making it out to be?
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan presented the key points of Turkey's Human Rights Action Plan on Tuesday, which is to comprise just under 400 individual measures - including strengthening freedom of expression, women's rights and the judiciary. Yet at the same time numerous opposition politicians and journalists remain behind bars in the country. Commentators wonder how the US and the EU will respond to this charm offensive.
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, was in office for just six years. But in that time he initiated radical changes with his glasnost and perestroika reform policies, which led to detente and rapprochement between the East and West. Commentators take stock on Gorbachev's 90th birthday.
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has presented his budget for 2021 and explained the plan for economic recovery and reducing the debt incurred due to the pandemic. In the short term, aid measures amounting to 65 billion pounds (just over 75 billion euros) will continue. From April 2023, taxes on companies' profits will increase from 19 to 25 percent. Commentators take notice, especially since for many the planned measures mark a U-turn.
Even before the European People's Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament cast its vote on its new statute, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's ruling party Fidesz has made good on its threat and withdrawn from the group, thus ending years of controversy. For Europe's press it's clear that the two former partners were never a good fit.
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany's domestic intelligence agency, now views the AfD, currently the largest opposition party in the Bundestag, as a potentially far-right organisation. This means that the entire party can be put under surveillance. So far this has only applied to certain AfD state branches. Most European media outlets welcome the move.
Italy decided on Tuesday to partially tighten its anti-pandemic restrictions. Among other things, all schools in the hard-hit red zones will be closed again. On the same day a Unicef report appeared which documents a huge educational crisis: 168 million children worldwide are currently excluded from classes. Is keeping school closed the right approach?
The Bucharest Tribunal decided on Tuesday that the investigation into police violence against protesters on 10 August 2018 will not be reopened. Tens of thousands of demonstrators had gathered to demand the resignation of the social-liberal government but the police dispersed the peaceful protest using water cannons and tear gas. The national press is disappointed by this legally binding decision.
After Hungary, Slovakia has now also approved Sputnik V, and the governments of Poland and the Czech Republic are openly discussing following suit. Meanwhile Austria and Denmark have set their sights on a vaccination alliance with Israel. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen want to meet with Netanyahu on Thursday. Some observers see such unilateral efforts as reckless; others see no viable alternative for some states.
Just over two months after the transition period ended Brexit is clearly making itself felt in Europe's financial geography: Amsterdam's average daily trading volume has surged from 2.6 to 9.2 billion euros, while that of London has dropped from 17.5 billion to 8.6 billion - among other things because under the current rules EU shares traded in euros must be traded on EU exchanges. Commentators on both sides of the English Channel take a critical view of the trend.