World 2016 is an overview of important world events of the last twelve months – both the positive and the negative ones, but all having a strong impact on today’s reality – this close and this far. This year we also asked reporters and experts to write special summaries as an addition to this report.
Piotr Andrusieczko, writes about Ukraine – between war and reforms . Małgorzata Nocuń from New Eastern Europe about Belarus and the dangerous distance . Arzu Geybullayeva, Azeri journalist, about mental paralysis in Turkey . And Wojciech Wilk from the Polish Centre for International Aid about future of Syria . They bring even deeper understanding of other countries.
Check out the World 2016.
USA and EU lifted the economic and financial sanctions imposed on Iran due to their nuclear program. Now Iran can export oil to EU countries and reach international financial markets. The conflict related to the Iranian nuclear program had been going for more than 12 years while sanctions were in effect for 10 years. By these means the West wanted to force Iran to stop developing the nuclear program which was aimed at building nuclear weapons.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the epidemic of the Zika virus along with the global alert. This meant that the virus present in Middle America could pose a global risk. The virus was discovered in Brazilian newborns’ organisms. The children were born with considerably smaller neurocranium which prevented the development of the brain. The virus was transmitted through tropical Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. There is no cure or vaccine.
Historic meeting of pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow
A series of three bomb attacks conducted in Brussels early morning on 22 March. Two of them took place at the Zaventem airport and one by the Maelbeek/Maalbeeki subway station. A third explosive was found at the airport and detonated by the sappers. As a result of the attacks, 32 people died (including 3 terrorists) while more than 316 were wounded. The “Islamic State” claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Approximately 70 people have died and more than 340 were wounded in the bomb explosion near a parking lot in front of an amusement park in Lahaur. The Taliban from the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (Assembly of the Free) claimed responsibility for The attacks. The spokesperson for The group said: ‘We targeted Christians. Our suicide-bombers will continue this types of attacks’. On Easter Sunday, the place was populated mainly with families with children. The victims were mainly women and children.
Early morning on 2 April, rapid Azeri-Armenian clashes began in Nagorno-Karabakh. Both sides accused each other of starting the attack and pursuing military actions. However, supposedly the Azeri side started and quickly gained advantage on the front line. 30 people died altogether, including Azeri and Armenian soldiers and civilians. The clashes finished on 5 April with a ceasefire declaration and will to resume the peace negotiations.
11.5 million classified documents of Panamanian Mossack Fonseca accounting office leaked to the media. The documents prove how the company helped its clients avoid paying taxes. Internal documents of the office covered the period from 1970 to 2016.
The documents ended up in the hands of journalists from the German newspaper „Süddeutsche Zeitung” and were analysed together with opinion-forming media from all over the world. The investigation was lead by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. As a result information regarding political elites, officials and their collaborators was made public. On 9 May a list of more than 200 thousand companies registered in tax havens was published.
Volodymyr Groysman replaced the former prime minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who held the office since 2014. Even though he became the prime minister after a revolution, his support rapidly declined over the last months and amounted to just a few percent in the end.
Groysman declared he will continue to fight corruption and expressed pro-EU direction. He is considered a loyal member of president’s Petro Poroshenko team.
Read the extra commentary by Piotr Andrusieczko.
Earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 – the strongest one since 1979 – struck north-eastern part of Ecuador. More than 670 people have died and more than 27 thousand were wounded. The epicentre was located approx. 170 km from Quito (the capital of the country) and 27 km from Muisne. The earthquake was felt in the whole Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.
EgyptAir 804 plane crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. 56 passengers and 10 crew members have died. The plane took off in Paris and was supposed to land in Cairo. It completely disappeared from radar at about 3048 m altitude. Its remains were found in the Mediterranean Sea, 290 km from Alexandria. The cause of the catastrophe remains unknown.
UEFA Cup 2016 started in France. For the first time in history, as many as 24 teams competed and Portugal became the European Champion for the first time. We got the opportunity to watch our team and admire their playing for a while because Poles made it to the quarterfinals where they lost to Portugal in penalty shootout.
A shooting in a night club in Olrando, Florida in USA. 50 people have died while 53 were wounded. The perpetrator was Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, a 29-year-old American with Afghan roots. The event is considered an act of terror. According to media reports, the perpetrator called the police before the attack and declared loyalty to “Islamic State”. It was the bloodiest act of terror in the USA since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
British prime minister, David Cameron, promised to renegotiate the conditions of his country’s membership in the EU. If successful, a referendum regarding the future membership were to be conducted.
Even though the referendum was not binding, 72.2% of the eligible voters took part and 51.89% voted to leave the EU. Prime minister David Cameron resigned and was replaced by Theresa May.
She stated that she does not need parliament’s consent to recognise the results of the vote and launch the so called Article 50 of the European Treaty which initiates the exit procedure. Despite the protests of the members of the parliament, Supreme Court ruled in favour of Mrs prime minister on 3 November 2016.
A terrorist attack at the international Istanbul Atatürk Airport in Istanbul. The attack was carried out by three perpetrators, two of which detonated explosives in front of the security gate at the terminal. 48 people have died and 239 were wounded in three suicide bombings. Turkish authorities accused the “Islamic State” and Kurdish guerrillas of the attack.
In 2011 NASA send the Juno spacecraft towards Jupiter. On 5 July 2016 it reached its target – the orbit of the biggest planet in our Solar System. Juno is supposed to examine the gas core of the planet and its stormy atmosphere.
— NASA (@NASA) July 5, 2016
A truck driven by a Tunisian driver broke through the barricades on Bastille Day. Driving through the Promenade des Anglais, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel intentionally run into people which resulted in 87 deaths and more than 200 wounded. After an almost 2 km drive, a shooting broke out in which the perpetrator was shot by the police.
A group of mid-level members of Turkish military wanted to conduct a military coup. They planned to begin at 3 am on Friday night. However, their plans were discovered by the security forces and the actions started at 3 pm on Friday. A moment later, the highest military leaders received information about a coup attempt along with orders not to support it. Martial law was introduced along with a curfew. Putschists arrested the Turkish Chief of Staff who was rescued by the forces who supported the government. Shortly after midnight, the coup attempt ended. 312 people have died and 1440 were wounded.
During the 2016 National Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton was appointed the presidential candidate in 45th US presidential election. She became the first woman in history to apply for this position. During the primaries, she beat senator Bernie Sanders among others.
Games of the 31st Olympiad began in Rio de Janeiro – for the first time in the history in South America, and for the second time in Middle America. The schedule included 31 sport disciplines with rugby and golf making a comeback. 306 finals took place altogether. USA won the medal classification, UK and China followed.
At 3:36 am, central Italy was struck by an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.2. Accumoli, Amatrice, Posta and Arquata del Tronto were the cities that suffered the most.
As much as 17 aftershocks were registered in the first 3 hours, one with a magnitude of 5.5. At least 296 people have died and more than 400 were wounded.
A constitutional referendum was organised to approve 29 amendments to the constitution. These were focused on strengthening the power of the president by broadening his rights and on the possibility to abridge some civil rights. The Azeri approved all the amendments, including the extension of the presidential term. The support for the amendments varied from 83.2% – 93.01%.
On 17 July 2014, Malaysian Airlines plane no. MH17 was shot over the territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
International investigators finished their work and justified the findings of the Dutch government’s report which stated that the Buk rocket used to shoot down the plane, was from Russia.
Tesla and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk announced Mars colonisation plans during International Astronautic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The reusable rockets will have 100 seats and journey will be taking place every two years. Initially, the trip will take 3 months, but in the end it should be reduced to 1 month. The passengers who decide to leave, will build a colony on Mars. With time, a return trip will be possible as well. The first element – the Red Dragon probe – will leave Earth in 2018. First manned flights are planned for 2022-2024.
After almost 2.5 years without a leader, the Lebanese parliament appointed a president of the country. Michel Aoun, a former army leader supported by Shia Hezbollah took the office. In accordance with the political contract, Sunni leader, Sad al-Hariri became the prime minister. Lebanese president must be a Christian (a Maronite), the prime minister should be a Sunni, while the parliament leader should be a Shia. Ministers and officials are Muslims and Christians.
On 24 August, after 50 years of war, the president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos and the leader of a left-wing FARC underground army, Rodrigo Londono declared a ceasefire. The event took place in Havana in the presence of Cuban and Norwegian authorities who mediated in the process. The results of the referendum held in October proved that the citizens want peace and compromise. According to the referendum, FARC is supposed to disarm in 6 months. This long-lasting war cost 220 thousand lives.
Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej died in October after a long lasting rule. He was replaced by his only son, Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Bhumibol ruled for 70 years and was the longest ruling monarch in the world. The official coronation of the new king can take place a year after the death of the former because of the mourning period. Maha Vajiralongkorn is not happy about becoming the king. He doesn’t have public trust due to his light-hearted way of life. Bhumibol was able to appease many conflicts in Thailand and was deeply respected.
The president of South Korea, Park Guen-Hye was accused of granting access to classified information and documents to her friend, counsellor and fortune-teller Choi Soon-sil .
This lead to a constitutional crisis and a drastic decline of support – expressed also in mass protests on the streets on 9 December.
South Korean parliament spoke in favour of removing her from power. Now, the Constitutional Tribunal has 180 days to sustain or overrule the parliament’s decision. If the decision is sustained – impeachment will take place. Until then, Park Guen-Hye is suspended from her office. The prime minister acts as the president.
Five days before Christmas, a terrorist attack took place on Breitscheidplatz square in Berlin where a very popular Christmas market was located. A Scania truck with Polish registration plates clashed into a crowd of people. 12 people have died and approx. 56 were wounded. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack and stated that it was performed by a ‘soldier of ISIS’.
The car, along with its Polish driver, was hijacked by Anis Amri, a Tunisian aged 24, who was suspected to take part in the organisation of the attack. A body of a shot Polish driver was found in the truck. On 23 December 2016, Amri was shot dead by Italian Police in Milan.
Syria and the ongoing war were one of the most popular matters of the year 2016. Cruel clashes that began in Aleppo in November became a symbol. The horrors civilians had to face moved many people. On 22 December, the Syrian army retook the control of the city. After that the fights in Aleppo ended. This was the biggest victory of the Syrian army during 6 years of the ongoing war.
Russia, Iran and Turkey met to extend the fragile ceasefire from Aleppo to other parts of Syria. They met – and it’s important to note it – without the USA officials.
Read the extra commentary by wojciech Wilk.