BC-AP--Europe News Digest, AP
TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1100 GMT
MOSCOW — Russia showed off its military muscle Friday in the annual Red Square parade marking victory over Nazi Germany, at a time when the world’s attention is focused on Ukraine where pro-Russian insurgents are preparing a referendum on secession. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin made no reference to the situation in Ukraine in a speech before the parade, focusing on the historic importance of the victory over Nazi Germany. But in a sign of triumph over Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s region of Crimea, parading troops included a marine unit from the Black Sea Fleet that flew the Crimean flag on its armored personnel carriers. By Vladimir Isachenkov. SENT: 860 words, photos. UPCOMING: 750 words by 1300 GMT.
CESANO BOSCONE, Italy — Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi was greeted by dozens of journalists and a lone union protester at his arrival Friday at a facility for Alzheimer’s patients to begin his first four-hour community service stint as part of a tax fraud sentence. By Colleen Barry. SENT: 330 words, photos.
ISTANBUL — Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox Christians, says a meeting with Pope Francis in Jerusalem this month will help move the two churches closer to ending their nearly 1,000-year divide. In an interview with The Associated Press in his Istanbul office, Bartholomew also praised Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for improving rights for Christians but said pointedly, “it is not enough.” By Desmond Butler. SENT: 720 words, photos.
BERLIN — Germany’s trade surplus narrowed in March as a drop in exports from Europe’s largest economy outpaced a drop in imports. The Federal Statistical Office reported Friday that Germany exported goods worth 91.6 billion euros ($127.81 billion) in March 2014, down 1.8 percent from February, according to provisional figures adjusted for seasonal and calendar fluctuations. It was the largest monthly drop since May 2013. Imports dropped 0.9 percent to 76.7 billion euros. SENT: 130 words.
PARIS — The CEO of Publicis Groupe says the planned deal with Omnicom to create the world’s largest advertising firm collapsed over unresolvable differences over how to implement a “merger of equals.” Maurice Levy, the strong-willed head of Paris-based Publicis, said Friday it was not a question of a personality clash with John Wren, his counterpart at Omnicom Group, but rather a fundamental difference on balancing the leadership of the new firm. Levy said he was deeply disappointed that the deal worth more than $35 billion collapsed. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 300 words by 1130 GMT.
BERLIN — French President Francois Hollande arrives in Germany on Friday for two days of talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel during which the crisis in Ukraine will figure prominently. The program for Hollande’s visit includes excursions in Merkel’s scenic home constituency on Germany’s northeast Baltic coast. But away from the cameras the two leaders are expected to discuss when and how to impose further sanctions against Moscow, which has backed pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine and annexed the Crimean Peninsula. SENT: 130 words.
MADRID — Five youths aged between 12 and 15 years have died when a bus taking their football team home after a match collided with another vehicle in southwestern Spain. Interior Ministry official German Lopez Iglesias told Cadena SER radio the accident occurred late Thursday when the bus carrying 15 youths and four adults collided with a farm vehicle and overturned close to the town of Castuera, some 350 kilometers southwest of Madrid. SENT: 130 words.