Councillor Giulio Gandolfi thanked Say No to Drugs volunteers in Milano
Councillor Giulio Gandolfi thanked Say No to Drugs volunteers in Milano
Councillor Giulio Gandolfi thanked Say No to Drugs volunteers in Milano

The Drug-Free World volunteers from the Church of Scientology Milano reach out to youth with the Truth About Drugs campaign.

Volunteers from the Church of Scientology Milano teamed up with Milan Transportation Association (ATM) to promote the value of an active, drug-free lifestyle. 

Volunteers from the Church of Scientology Milano bring the truth about drugs to their city.
Volunteers from the Church of Scientology Milano bring the truth about drugs to their city.

ATM’s BikeMi, the city’s bike-sharing program, offered these Drug-Free World volunteers the use of bicycles free of charge to promote their Truth About Drugs initiative.

The day’s activities launched from the Church courtyard at Viale Fulvio Testi, 327. Councillor Giulio Gandolfi thanked the volunteers for bringing this important message to the community and signed their “Say No to Drugs” Honor Roll in support of the initiative.

Councilor signs pledge
In the courtyard of the Church of Scientology Milano, Councillor Giulio Gandolfi signed the “Say No to Drugs” Honor Roll.

Twenty volunteers took off from the Church by bicycle, wearing their signature teal Truth About Drugs T-shirts and caps. They rode through the city, handing out Truth About Drugs booklets in high-traffic areas in support of this year’s UN Office on Drugs and Crime theme for International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking: “Share Facts on Drugs: Save Lives.” 

Foundation for a Drug-Free World is a nonprofit public benefit corporation that empowers youth and adults with factual information about drugs so they can make informed decisions and live drug-free. The Foundation’s Truth About Drugs campaign consists of drug education materials and activities that popularize drug-free living.

at castle
The drug prevention bike tour ended at Castello Sforzesco, a popular destination for tourists and residents, where volunteers handed out Truth About Drugs booklets.

Scientology Churches provide drug education specialist training, sponsor chapters of Foundation for a Drug-Free World, and work with local educators, police, churches and nonprofits to reach youth on this vital subject. 

To make these materials available to anyone wishing to tackle the drug crisis, the Church of Scientology International Dissemination and Distribution Center in Los Angeles, California, produces and ships out Truth About Drugs booklets, DVDs and education packages free of charge to parents, educators, law enforcement, community groups and nonprofits for their drug prevention activities.

The Church of Scientology Milano is an Ideal Scientology Church, dedicated in 2015 by Mr. David Miscavige, ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion. In addition to providing ideal facilities to service Scientologists on their ascent to higher states of spiritual awareness and freedom, the Church sponsors humanitarian programs and serves as a home for the community and a meeting place of cooperative effort to uplift people of all denominations.

The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in Los Angeles in 1954 and the religion has expanded to more than 11,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 countries.


Dozens of Macedonians once again lined up for Bulgarian passports
Dozens of Macedonians once again lined up for Bulgarian passports
Dozens of Macedonians once again lined up for Bulgarian passports

Mineral water and books by authors such as Simeon Radev and the Miladinovi brothers were distributed by Viktor Stoyanov from the Macedonia Foundation to those waiting in front of the Bulgarian Citizenship Directorate in Sofia, Trud newspaper reported.

The queue of applicants to submit documents curled up again in front of the service of the Ministry of Justice on Aksakov Street, as due to covid restrictions the institution did not accept documents of applicants for a long time.

Most of the people in the queue are citizens of the Republic of Northern Macedonia, who with authentic documents certify that they are of Bulgarian origin and wish to obtain our passport and citizenship.

Vasil Garvanliev who represented Northern Macedonia received over 400 threats because of the Bulgarian flag in his song for “Eurovision”.

Vasil Garvanliev stirred the spirits in his homeland after the Bulgarian flag appeared in his video for Eurovision, Nova TV reports.

The situation became even more heated when he admitted his Bulgarian roots and dual citizenship. And yet he proudly calls Northern Macedonia his homeland and never hides where he came from.

“For me, the most important thing is the music. I sing for the people. I didn’t expect it to be a problem that the Bulgarian flag is present in my video,” Garvanliev said.

He shared that he has been involved in music since he was a child.

The singer revealed that he has received over 400 threats due to the appearance of the Bulgarian flag in his song.

Serbia is accumulating Russian tanks near its border with Bulgaria
Serbia is accumulating Russian tanks near its border with Bulgaria
Serbia is accumulating Russian tanks near its border with Bulgaria

At an official ceremony 170km from Sofia, in the Serbian city of Nis, Russia handed over to Serbia a batch of T-72MS tanks and BRDM-2MS armored reconnaissance and patrol vehicles as part of military-technical assistance. The Interfax news agency reported this with reference to the Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Alexander Fomin.

The handover ceremony took place in the city of Nis on the territory of the 3rd Mechanized Brigade of the Serbian Land Forces.

“The combat force of the Serbian Armed Forces was replenished with modernized T-72MS tanks and BRDM-2M armored reconnaissance and patrol vehicles made in Russia,” Fomin said during the event.

He added that the delivered equipment will strengthen the combat potential of the Serbian army, will contribute to the fulfillment of the tasks for the protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. The Deputy Minister noted that the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation plans to further develop and strengthen bilateral relations by providing assistance in the modernization of the Serbian Armed Forces.

Earlier, it was reported that Russian-Serbian anti-terrorist exercises had begun in Serbia.

Joint Russian-Serbian anti-terrorist tactical exercises in Serbia lasted until May 25th. This was announced by the Russian Ministry of Defense, quoted by TASS. “Special forces of both countries will take part in the exercise, which will last until May 25, 2021. In the course of the event it is planned to practice landing of parachute systems Arbalet, moving to the site of illegal armed formation, its blocking and destruction,” the message says. The ministry noted that demonstration performances and small arms shooting classes would also be held.

About 200 servicemen and 11 pieces of equipment from the special units of the Western Military District took part in the exercises on the Russian side. “During the opening ceremony of the exercise, the parties noted the importance of joint combat training activities for the development of co-operation between the special forces of the Serbian and Russian armed forces in the field of counter-terrorism,” the Russian military stressed.

New deadline of 7 February 21 for regions initiative
New deadline of 7 February 21 for regions initiative
New deadline of 7 February 21 for regions initiative

The rule of law stands strong, despite global challenges society has to face due to the pandemic. A European Citizens’ Initiative: Sign It Europe, proposed in defence of minority rights, got off to a challenging start, coinciding with the advent of COVID-19. However, it may actually prove to be just as successful as its recent ideological predecessor: The Minority Safepack Initiative. Thanks to the extension granted by the European Union, a new deadline of 7 February 2021 was agreed on. The coming year and the new legislative period hold great promise of further advancements in the field of minority rights.

In this year, which we are slowly leaving behind, the peoples of Europe need success more than ever before. The pandemic has certainly put the peoples of the continent to the test – divisions and chaos can be seen in almost every country in Europe – but at the same time the values ​​on which our continent’s policies are based, which have guaranteed peace for eight decades, have been pushed into the background. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that, after the coronavirus pandemic, we will face new and unprecedented challenges that will require these values ​​much more than ever before. Without tolerance, unity in diversity, responsibility for each other, and solidarity with the poor and disadvantaged, even the most ingenious economic programs are doomed to fail.

What is the citizens’ initiative for the creation of national regions about?

We all know the name of Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi well. What we know now, as the European Union began with his dream, Count Kalergi began to plan a project based on lasting peace, development, and respect for each other. In many ways this is very similar to the situation we find ourselves in today. After the tragedy of the First World War, Kalergi wondered how to create public policies and operate them validly throughout Europe to guarantee that its peoples would not start another war. Kalergi’s plan was welcomed throughout Europe, but the decision-makers of the nation-states failed to recognize its potential, which led, of course, to another cataclysmic conflict. The European Union that followed was built on Kalergi’s ideas, although many of his plans were left unimplemented. Such is the dilemma outlined by Kalergi: no matter how progressive, forward-looking and peaceful the EU legal system is, nation-states can always block changes.

The initiators of the creation of national regions recognized this: one of the big problems in Europe today is that development and growth are not even. Some regions are developing at a dizzying pace, while others are in almost the same situation as before they joined the EU. For an example of this, it is enough to think only of the most populous, stateless European minority: the Roma.

However, the situation applies to more or less all nation-states with a significant number of minorities. The distribution of EU funds does not always take into account the perspectives of the regions in which these minorities form a majority or live in significant numbers, which would enable the people living in these areas to settle the issues of their region using their own public policies. The problem also poses a danger because these regions will sooner or later become poor ghettos, which will only increase social tensions. And in times of crisis, these regions will also suffer the most from the unequal distribution of resources. Again, I must cite the Roma as an example: the devastation caused by the coronavirus was higher than average among Roma people, while nation-state health policies – keeping the big picture in mind – did not notice the deep danger, and governments did not allocate (or only sparingly allocated) resources to these regions.

Sign it Europe – The solution to prosperity

The Sign It Europe petition, which focuses on the citizens’ initiative to create national regions, seeks to introduce a new approach to European public discourse based on the ideas above. This could help move decision-makers towards the pursuit of public policies that guarantee social peace and prosperity. The goal is an EU regulation that would give a possibility to the areas inhabited by a minority in majority or in larger numbers access to EU funding independently of their nation-state governments, provided, of course, that their application meets EU standards, which could make a major contribution to Europe’s development, prosperity, and peace.

The success of a citizens’ initiative rests on two conditions. One is the geographical quantity: The required quantity must be collected in at least seven EU Member States. The other condition is the quantitative criterion: at least one million signatures are required.

The Sign It Europe team has so far managed to reach the quota in five countries: Romania, Lithuania, Croatia, Slovakia and Hungary. And the number of signatures has exceeded one million altogether. As you can see, we have reached the gates of a success together, which helps give a new view to a Europe plagued by a pandemic. However, it is not enough just to reach the gate. We know that success means meeting the required quota in at least two more countries, but also wanting to maximize the number of signatures. The deadline is 7 February 2021.

We trust that the content of this likable European Citizens’ Initiative has also made you think and encouraged you to support it, please spread the information of our initiative in your own country as much as possible.

Let’s work together to keep the good going in post-pandemic Europe and to make it even better than it was before. Thank you and we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year full of luck and health!

Deal on financing a just energy transition in EU regions
Deal on financing a just energy transition in EU regions
Deal on financing a just energy transition in EU regions
News – European Parliament
  • 17.5 billion EUR to support people, the economy and the environment for 2021-2027
  • Investments in fossil fuels will not receive funding
  • Focus on least developed regions, outermost regions, islands

On Wednesday, EP and Council reached a provisional agreement on setting up the Just Transition Fund to mitigate the social impact of greening the economy.

The Just Transition Fund (JTF), worth 17.5 billion EUR, is one of the EU’s key tools to support regions in the transition towards climate neutrality by 2050.

During their talks, EU institutions agreed to broaden its scope to also fund micro-enterprises, universities and public research institutions, digital innovation and activities in the areas of education and social inclusion. Investments in renewable energy and energy storage technologies, investments in energy efficiency and heat production for renewables-based district heating, smart and sustainable local mobility will also be financed.

The decommissioning or construction of nuclear power stations, activities linked to tobacco products and investment related to the production, processing, transport, distribution, storage or combustion of fossil fuels cannot be funded through the JTF.

At the initiative of the Parliament, a “Green Rewarding Mechanism” will be introduced, if JTF resources are increased after 31 December 2024. The additional resources will be distributed among member states, with those that succeed in reducing greenhouse gas emitted by their industrial facilities receiving more funding.

Other key measures agreed

  • In their territorial just transition plans, member states have to focus on supporting outermost regions and islands and earmark specific amounts from their national allocations;
  • Businesses in difficulty may receive support in compliance with temporary EU state aid rules established to address exceptional circumstances;
  • Resources may be transferred from other cohesion funds on a voluntary basis;
  • The proportion of the investments to be provided by EU funding (co-financing) is set at maximum of 85% for less developed regions, 70% for transition regions and 50% for more developed regions.


Rapporteur Manolis Kefalogiannis (EPP, GR) said: “The European Parliament gave a strong political signal: the social, economic and environmental impact of the energy transition in the most affected regions must be addressed. We took a pragmatic approach that will allow us to move into a new green era without leaving anyone behind.”

Next steps

Parliament and Council are now expected to endorse the content of the agreement.


The Commission published in January 2020 a legislative proposal on the Just Transition Fund (JTF), the first legislative proposal implementing the priorities set out in the European Green Deal, followed in May by an amended proposal containing an increase of the Fund’s resources. In July, the European Council set the financial envelope of the JTF at EUR 7.5 billion from the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, supplemented by EUR 10 billion from the EU Recovery Instrument.

Agreement on EU funding for cross-border projects | News | European Parliament
Agreement on EU funding for cross-border projects | News | European Parliament
Agreement on EU funding for cross-border projects | News | European Parliament


  • 8 billion EUR earmarked for European territorial cooperation
  • More resources to climate and social issues
  • Increased support for small projects

On Wednesday, EU institutions reached a provisional agreement on European territorial cooperation and the financing of cross-border projects for 2021-2027.

The total resources available for cross-border cooperation for the period 2021-2027, through the EU Interreg instrument, are set at 8 billion EUR (8 050 000 000 in 2018 prices).

Interreg will support the following types of actions (referred to as “strands”):

  • cross-border cooperation between adjacent regions to promote integrated and harmonious regional development between neighbouring land and maritime border regions (Interreg A; 72,2% of total resources);
  • transnational cooperation over larger transnational territories or around sea-basins (Interreg B; 18,2%);
  • interregional cooperation to reinforce the effectiveness of cohesion policy (Interreg C; 6,1%);
  • outermost regions’ cooperation to facilitate their integration and harmonious development in their region (Interreg D; 3,5%).

The co-financing rate at each Interreg programme level is set at a maximum of 80% of the funds to be provided by the EU, with up to 85% for outermost regions.

Other key measures agreed

  • More resources are expected to be spent on climate action and social programmes, including public health;
  • Increased support for small projects and people-to-people projects: up to 20% within an Interreg programme may be allocated to small project funds;
  • Pre-financing levels (funds made available to member states following the approval of the Interreg programmes) are set at 1% for the years 2021 and 2022, and at 3% for the years 2023 to 2026, resulting in more liquidity for programmes.


Rapporteur Pascal Arimont (EPP, BE) said: “Interreg is an important symbol for cooperation between neighbours. It significantly helps remove border obstacles – above all, those in people’s minds.”

“As a result of these negotiations, we enable regions to cooperate more easily – i.e. through simplified rules and procedures. In particular, small and people-to-people projects will be supported more strongly than ever.”

“We are also addressing the challenges of our time: regions have to invest in projects that tackle climate change or strengthen our health systems. As a consequence, together with the increased opportunities offered by REACT-EU, there will be many new possibilities for our regions to invest in sustainable and socially valuable cross-border projects in the future.”

Next steps

Parliament and Council are now expected to endorse the content of the agreement.


The regulation lays down the specific provisions for the European territorial cooperation goal (Interreg) supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF+) and the Cohesion Fund for the 2021-2027 programming period.

Under the future Common Provisions Regulation, five policy objectives are identified: (1) a more competitive and smarter Europe; (2) a greener, low-carbon transitioning towards a net zero carbon economy and resilient Europe; (3) a more connected Europe; (4) a more social and inclusive Europe; (5) a Europe closer to its citizens.

United for nature on World Cities Day
United for nature on World Cities Day
United for nature on World Cities Day

As World Cities Day is celebrated around the globe on 31 October, ICLEI, through its Cities Biodiversity Center and the CitiesWithNature initiative, pledge support for the Global Coalition for Biodiversity, launched by the European Commission to raise awareness about the need to protect biodiversity and promote stronger collaborative action.

Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, a flagship report published recently by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), underlines that humanity stands at a crossroads with regard to the legacy we wish to leave to future generations. This confirmed the most updated scientific analyses about the state of nature, in particular the 2019 IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services. While there have been countless positive actions and achievements across the world to protect and integrate nature, the current rate of biodiversity loss is unprecedented and pressures are intensifying. 

The Global Coalition for Biodiversity, launched by EU Commissioner for Environment Virginijus Sinkevicius, on World Wildlife Day, offers the opportunity for all national parks, aquariums, research centers, botanic gardens, zoos, and science and natural history museums to join forces and boost public awareness about the nature crisis, ahead of the crucial COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity next year, when nations will adopt a new global framework to protect and restore nature.

The coalition’s pledge also urges all governments to agree on ambitious policies to restore and protect the ecosystems on which we all depend, and to take urgent measures on the ground. 

Biodiversity is being lost at a faster rate than ever, significantly reducing nature’s ability to ensure the well-being of people. It is time to rethink the relationship between humans and nature,” said Valerie Plante, Mayor of Montreal and ICLEI’s Global Ambassador for Local Biodiversity. “It is within our cities and towns where multiple opportunities exist to raise awareness about the need to protect and respect nature, harness innovation, implement nature-based solutions and embrace a green recovery. Together, let’s take strong action to create vibrant cities, where people and biodiversity can thrive.” 

Given the urgency for joint efforts to solve the current biodiversity crisis, on the occasion of the World Cities Day, we encourage local and regional governments from Europe and beyond to support the Global Coalition for Biodiversity launched by the European Commission. Only by working together with other organisations and institutions and by raising awareness about the need to protect biodiversity, can we reverse the current unprecedented biodiversity losses,” said Cheryl Jones Fur, Deputy Lord Mayor of Växjö (Sweden) and member of ICLEI’s European Regional Executive Committee.

short animated video launched by ICLEI’s Cities Biodiversity Center today raises awareness around why cities and regions are critical to addressing biodiversity loss and reconnecting people with nature. It also clearly outlines what cities can do to contribute to the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and set a new nature-positive development path, in order to ensure transformative change to secure a sustainable and healthy future for all.

One of the ways mobilisation of local and subnational governments is being facilitated is through CitiesWithNature, a local and subnational engagement platform co-founded by ICLEI, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and The Nature Conservancy (TNC). CitiesWithNature is a shared online platform for all cities, regions and other subnational governments to connect and engage in mainstreaming biodiversity in ways that benefit both people and nature. It serves as the ‘one stop shop’ for all levels of subnational governments to share and report on their actions in contributing to achieving the global biodiversity agenda. CitiesWithNature is recognised by the Secretariat of the CBD as the mechanism through which local and subnational governments will share their ambitions, commitments and actions, and will in turn connect, share, learn and inspire each other.

With our announcement today, we add our voice to numerous organisations and associations already supporting the coalition, such as TRAFFIC, The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and Botanic Gardens Conservation International. More than 150 institutions are also confirmed, including the iconic Oceanographic Institute of Monaco, Bronx Zoo and Porto Natural History Museum. The coalition aims at gathering 500 by the end of 2020. We need to join forces for nature and stand united for biodiversity, and the time is now!

The animated video was made possible through support from the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU Support project.  

Regions request  support from the EU and demand to have a voice in Brussels, with “Sign it Europe”
Regions request support from the EU and demand to have a voice in Brussels, with “Sign it Europe”
Regions request  support from the EU and demand to have a voice in Brussels, with “Sign it Europe”

“The initiative was started by the Seklers of Transylvania, though it concerns not only them but many other national regions of the EU”, says their website.

The minority regions of the European Union feel forgotten by the executive authorities. Aid from European funds overlooks these territories, whose linguistic, cultural, ethnic, and religious differences contribute to the diversity of the community. The Sign It Europe initiative aims to get the support needed for Brussels to support these regions financially.

The success and strength of the European Union is based on the union of its territories, including their different national, ethnic, cultural, religious or linguistic characteristics. While in the case of the major countries these differences are taken into account, the surrounding regions, which do not have administrative powers, are forgotten by the institutions on a daily basis.

The EU must ensure the proper economic development of these regions, preventing their economic backwardness, maintaining their development, and preserving the conditions for economic, social, and territorial cohesion. To this end, it must provide all territories with the same opportunities to access its funds, as well as caring for and preserving the specific characteristics of each people, maintaining the development of the EU and its cultural diversity.


The Sign It Europe initiative was created with the aim of helping European minority regions to access EU funds, preserving Europe’s ethnic diversity, and to establish a specific funding system for territorial development policy that is direct, exclusive and accessible to regional territories. A campaign of signatures with which to demonstrate in Brussels, the EU’s headquarters, the importance of this issue.

“The initiative is not about protecting minorities. We Europeans are a group of communities of people and nations living in different countries. We represent the majorities that make up each country, which has been able to maintain themselves over time. Now is the time to join the regional territories to have influence in Europe, it is the time to act. Our voices have to be heard in Brussels,” said the organization’s sources.

This campaign, which has a deadline of 7 November 2020, will enable the EU to actively contribute to supporting cultural and linguistic diversity, providing the necessary financial support to the different territories, for the full development of their own language, culture, folklore, and identity within their own country.

“By signing our Citizens’ Initiative you will help European nations to build and preserve the different cultures that make them up. If we succeed in reaching the required signature from EU countries, the European Commission will take the appropriate steps to implement this support. Together, with everyone’s support, we will achieve the conservation and preservation of the essence of Europe and all its territories,” they have said.

Visit to sign the petition.

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