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ALERT Europe: Politics, Trade, NATO - June 2019
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  1. #41
    Tajik Military Increasingly Part of Russian Army in All But Name

    Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 16 Issue: 84
    By: Paul Goble
    June 6, 2019 09:10 PM Age: 23 hours

    Tajikistan’s military, according to Moscow-based defense analyst Vladimir Mukhin, “today represents a small outpost of the Russian Army. It is completely equipped with Russian arms, has the same organizational structure,” its soldiers and officers are being trained by Russians and in Russian military schools, and its forces are fully integrated into exercises organized by Moscow. Moreover, he points out, the strongest and most reliable military force in this Central Asian country is not Tajikistani at all but rather a Russian military base that Moscow owns the lease to until 2042 (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, May 28).

    No other military of a former Soviet republic is as fully integrated into the Russian Armed Forces as Tajikistan’s, a situation highlighted last week (May 28) by the visit to Dushanbe of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (TASS, May 28). The particularly close military-military relationship reflects three interrelated calculations by Moscow: First, Tajikistan has the longest land border with Afghanistan (1,300 kilometers) of any Central Asian state and, thus, is more at risk than any other country regarding the spread of radicalism from there that could, ultimately, make its way toward the Russian Federation. Second, Tajikistan itself is unstable and at risk of collapse—its government is corrupt and heavily in debt, its population is increasingly disaffected, and the center’s control over the regions is increasingly in doubt, according to some observers (see EDM, October 18, 2018). And third, Russia views Tajikistan as a potential model for the restoration of Russian dominion over the entire Central Asian region, convinced that by controlling the force structures there, it can politically control the countries as well.

    Shoigu’s trip to Tajikistan was preceded a week earlier by a visit from Aleksandr Bortnikov, the director of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). Bortnikov told his hosts Moscow has “indisputable information” that forces of the Islamic State have concentrated in northern Afghanistan, just across the border from Tajikistan. If “decisive measures are not taken,” he warned, “the terrorists will be able to penetrate the territory of Tajikistan and, from there (under the guise of migrants) move into Russia.” In essence, he said in Dushanbe, “this is already happening,” and Russia and Tajikistan must work closely together to stop it (Svobodnaya Pressa, May 30).

    In the wake of Shoigu’s visit, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that an additional group of Tajikistani officers will begin studying in Russian military academies, while Russian officers will increase their role as trainers of Tajikistani troops. The Ministry added that Tajikistan will be included in a series of Russian-organized military exercises this summer. In these exercises, “the Russian-Tajik unified military group” will act as one unit rather than as two forces cooperating with each other, an indication, defense expert Mukhin says, of “the high degree of integration of the armies of the two countries” (Svobodnaya Pressa, May 30). According to the Russian government, the Russian military base in Tajikistan, its largest abroad, will receive new weapons—and likely more Russian personnel as well (, May 28).

    Russian military officials claim that “more than 1,500 junior specialists” from Tajikistan are now studying in Russian military schools, where they are learning to operate the new weapons systems going to the Russian base there (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, May 28). This comes as Moscow ramps up its general military assistance program to Dushanbe, which (officially) has been running at more than $20 million a year (see EDM, August 14, 2013)—a large sum given that the Tajik army has fewer than 85,000 active personnel. The actual military aid figure is almost certainly many times higher than reported, but that information remains classified.

    The Russian government is taking these steps out of fear that the situation in Tajikistan may be near collapse but also because it hopes to use expanded military-military ties in order to boost expand Moscow’s regional power. On the one hand, as Russian analysts have pointed out, Tajikistan is incapable of defending itself on its own and desperately needs Moscow’s assistance, making it ever more willing to make concessions ( as cited in, June 11, 2015; Nezavisimaya Gazeta, October 12, 2018). Dushanbe lacks the money to pay for a serious defense force and its army is beset by corruption, disloyalty and even openly Islamist elements ( as cited in Euromaidan Press, August 30, 2017). Its population is so influenced by Islamist groups that the regime has even begun to maintain a census of those supporting the radicals, including the more than a thousand who have fought for the Islamic State in the Middle East (, January 23, 2017). It has called home all Muslims studying in madrassahs abroad and closed more than 700 inside the country; it has even shut down Friday prayers in some mosques lest they become places for Islamist recruitment (, January 24, 2017; Svobodnaya Pressa, May 30, 2019). Moreover, it already faces revolts in its mountainous south, near the Afghan border, and in its prisons (EurasiaNet, November 7, 2018;, November 9, 2018;,, November 8, 2018).

    And on the other, because Dushanbe feels compelled to make concessions regarding Russian control over its armed forces, Moscow sees this as a chance to expand its domination there in ways that recall its control over the Soviet bloc states. What makes this especially interesting is that the history of the development of Tajikistan’s military after 1991 differs considerably from other former Soviet countries. Elsewhere, the newly independent states absorbed what had been Soviet bases and built their armies around them. In Tajikistan, however, because of the civil war, the Russian base remained in Dushanbe, and the Tajikistani government began to build its own Armed Forces from scratch, but only in 1993. That gave some hope that its military would not conform as much to Soviet standards as the others or be influenced or controlled by Moscow (I. Usmon, Sulkhnoma, 2001). But now Moscow is moving to reverse the consequences of that history, something that may give Moscow hope but could set off alarm bells elsewhere.

  2. #42
    With China's Belt and Road initiative, I have wondered how the 'stans would align militarily.

    Meanwhile, at the other end of the silk road we have some traditional wounds that have not healed.

    Romanian crowd break into Austro-Hungarian World War I graveyard

    A group of Romanian nationalists broke into a World War One-era Austro-Hungarian military cemetery, pushing past police and praying ethnic Hungarians in a bid to lay wreaths at illegally erected monuments for Romanian war servicemen.

    Some 1,000 ethnic Hungarians formed a human chain to prevent the Romanian crowd from entering the Uz-valley graveyard, established by Austrians and Hungarians in 1917.

    The graveyard is situated in Transylvania, which used to be part of Austria-Hungary before becoming part of Romania after World War I. The region remains home to ethnic Hungarians, who are the biggest ethnic minority in the country.

    Attila Korodi, a Romanian MP of Hungarian origin, was at the scene and told Euronews' Budapest bureau there should “not be any commemoration” until disputes have been sorted with regards to who from the Romanian side is buried in the cemetery.

    “Setting up the orthodox crosses are illegal; this was declared by several Romanian authorities," he said. "The human chain on Thursday was to enforce this and not let anyone (misuse) arbitrarily the situation."

    Korodi said that it was a very controversial situation, that is used for provocation by some extremist groups and Romanian nationalist politicians.

    Romanian people arrived equipped with Romanian flags, mainly radical football ultras. They were spitting, throwing stones, fighting with the police. And they broke the gate after getting into the cemetery by the back door”, he added.

    According to the Romanian Memories of Heroes Office, there are 149 Romanian soldiers buried in the Uz-valley cemetery and 749 Hungarian soldiers. Most were buried immediately after World War I, with the Romanian graves buried after World War II.

    The incident has heightened diplomatic tension between Hungary and Romania.

    Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szíjjártó called his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Meleșcanu, asking him again to stem any provocations and resolve the issue peacefully.

    Bucharest, in turn, accused Budapest of fanning tensions by giving a "distorted presentation of the situation" in its public statements and on social media, with the foreign ministry calling for an end to "provocations and the escalation of tensions".

    The cemetery commemorates fallen soldiers and was relatively untouched until the council of Dormanfalva, a small town of 8,600 inhabitants, erected concrete-made crosses and a memorial to Romanian war heroes.

    The cemetery belongs to the small Transylvanian village of Csíkszentmárton/Sanmartin Ciuc, with a small population of 1,200, in Hargita/Harghita County. The cemetery is at the borders of Harghita and Bákó (Bacău) counties.

    [This article was updated to correct the date of the cemetery’s creation to 1917]

  3. #43
    Perhaps we have some fallout from increased likelihood of a hard Brexit. France will have more power in the EU.

    Germany Deals Blow to Albania, North Macedonia EU Hopes

    In a setback to the EU membership aspirations of North Macedonia and Albania, the German Bundestag on Thursday failed to take any decision on supporting a start date for accession talks with either country.

    The German parliament on Thursday approved the NATO accession protocol with North Macedonia – but did not discuss supporting the launch of EU accession talks either with North Macedonia or Albania.

    Without such a decision from the Bundestag, the German government cannot approve the opening of accession talks with the two aspiring member countries at the European Council later this month, in June 18.

    This means that the earliest possible date for this to happen would be in September, after the Bundestag returns from its summer recess.

    The stalling in Berlin will add to the concerns of the governments in Skopje and Tirana, who also have to deal with the enlargement skepticism of France, The Netherlands and some other EU countries.

    Both countries had been hoping for a firm date to start membership talks.

    North Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev earlier this week in Brussels warned that if no decision was made to start accession talks this year, it could jeopardize his pro-European option, or those who have been blocking these processes and who have been tagged as radical, nationalist or pro-Russian. The disappointment among our citizens if the EC fails to grant a positive opinion will give hope to the latter forces,” Zaev said.

    The European Commission in May recommended the EU to open membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania – but the left a decision on the actual date to the European Council in June.

    Its report praised Zaev’s government for striking a historic deal with Greece last summer on ending the long dispute over Macedonia’s name, as well as engaging in other reforms designed to unlock the country’s stalled Euro-Atlantic bid.

    “No matter what will happen, we did everything we could. I would like our [EU] partners to know that we have been waiting for 15 years [for a date] and that now, everything is possible,” Zaev said.

  4. #44
    IndiRef 2? Irish reunification?

    Britain: A "United" Kingdom How Much Longer?

    Authored by Johanna Ross via,

    The EU elections raise questions about the territorial integrity of the UK...

    Britain: A "United" Kingdom How Much

    They were the elections that weren’t supposed to take place, but wound up proving highly significant for British politics. By now the U.K. should have divorced itself from the EU under Prime Minister Theresa May’s promise of “Brexit means Brexit.” But with her leadership turning out to be not so “strong and stable,” Britain finds itself still part of Europe. As a result, on May 23, voters in the European Parliament election seized the chance to send a resounding message to traditional centrist parties that the duopoly that has dominated U.K. politics since World War II — Conservative and Labour — is no more. Change is afoot.

    Despite two years of disastrous Brexit negotiations with deal after deal blocked by Westminster politicians and considerable attempts by Remain (in EU) supporters, including former Prime Minister Tony Blair, to lobby for a second referendum on Brexit, the indefatigable Nigel Farage led his Brexit Party to decisive victory, claiming 32 percent of the vote.

    Nigel Farage: Led Brexit Party to decisive victory. (Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

    Taken at face value this result has reinforced the 2016 EU referendum result with a clear message: the U.K. wants out of Europe.

    Scotland Always More Pro-Europe
    But a map of the voting ratio tells a different story in Scotland. As predicted, it was a historic result for the governing Scottish National Party, which stood on a Remain platform, advocating a second referendum. Their 38 percent vote rose from 29 percent in the last EU election five years ago. The Brexit Party by contrast secured just under 15 percent. As Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon concluded, Scotland has reinforced its pro-EU stance.

    From the days of the Auld Alliance with France, long before the 1707 unification with England, Scotland has had its own relationship with the Continent. Links with universities such as Leiden in the Netherlands and trade links with Bruges, Belgium, and Gdansk, Poland, were in place long before similar connections were made with England.

    Scotland has always been more pro-Europe and this election result emphasized that. It’s already being hailed as the necessary catalyst for a second referendum on Scottish independence or “IndyRef2” as it’s known closer to home. Nationalists have been calling for this since they were defeated 45 percent to 55 percent in the 2014 vote. But Sturgeon stuck to her guns, saying that the time was not right; as polls confirmed. However, less than a week after the EU election, the SNP has already published a new independence bill, declaring the EU election result a “fresh start” for Indyref2. A deadline has been set for May 2021.

    Westminster can of course try to block any second referendum. At least three of the candidates to replace May have said they would. But that could court a serious backlash. More and more Scots believe that London is no longer interested in their views on anything, with the Brexit negotiations amply demonstrating this. As Scottish historian Tom Devine has commented, the Brexit talks demonstrated that any idea of a union based on “partnership and mutual respect” is “fraud and myth.” Under the circumstances, it is not far-fetched to envisage a Catalonia-style situation in which Scotland forges ahead with a second referendum in spite of Westminster.

    In such an instance Scotland may get more support from EU allies than Catalonia did. Britain’s reputation in Europe, after all, has been severely damaged over Brexit, and the EU is, arguably, more likely to back a country interested in joining Europe, than one that has rejected it. In any case, it wouldn’t be the first time Scotland made such a move. In 1320 the Declaration of Arbroath was sent to the Pope, signed by 50 Scottish nobles and proclaimed Scotland’s independence.

    The “Tyninghame” copy of Arbroath Declaration from 1320. (Scotland barons via Wikimedia Commons)

    Then there is the question of leadership. Sturgeon, in contrast to her Westminster counterpart, is widely trusted and respected in Scotland. Unlike May, she has provided the one thing that citizens value in a leader: consistency. Despite criticism for not calling another referendum to date, she stuck to her strategy – and it has paid off. The next campaign for independence is sure to be more effective this time around. It was widely agreed that the economic arguments for independence were the weakest link in the Yes campaign back in 2014. Aware of this, the Nationalists are publishing a guide on the subject, to be delivered to 2.4 million Scottish households this summer.

    All indicators now are pointing to a no-deal Brexit, which will only boost the nationalists’ case. It could also potentially create chaos in another part of the United Kingdom—the island of Ireland.

    Ireland’s Borders
    Leaving without a deal would be the worst-case scenario for anyone who has any memory of the Northern Ireland Troubles. It’s feared that a hard border between north and south — which would occur if Northern Ireland, as part of the U.K., left the EU — with all the strict control and customs checks that the EU requires on its borders — could trigger a return to the days of bombings and shootings and jeopardise everything achieved under the Good Friday Agreement. It would be the ultimate provocation to Irish nationalist paramilitary groups who believe in a United Ireland.

    A hard border, therefore, would be deemed a step back into the dark days of conflict, which no-one wants given all the lives that were lost to it throughout the 20th century. Indeed, times have changed and so has the political landscape on the Emerald Isle. The Irish Republic has benefited from EU and Eurozone membership and for many in the north has seemed like a beacon of economic prosperity. By contrast, Northern Ireland doesn’t even have a government — as the power-sharing agreement between the nationalists and unionists broke down two years ago — and the economic outlook is clouded by Brexit.

    U.K.–Republic of Ireland border crosses this road at Killeen, marked only by a speed limit in km/h. Northern Ireland uses mph. (Oliver Dixon, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

    These factors — together with a majority of Northern Irish voting to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum — have therefore raised an idea that would have seemed unthinkable just a few years ago: that of Irish reunification. Earlier this year several U.K. cabinet ministers cited a “very real” prospect that a no-deal Brexit would lead to a vote on Irish reunification. Polls both north and south of the border have indicated increasing desire on both sides for this to happen. Granted, a united Ireland naturally brings its own set of obstacles and it’s not something to count on happening tomorrow. It is remarkable, nonetheless, that it is even being discussed.

    All this raises the real possibility of the dissolution of the United Kingdom. Poor, inconsistent leadership from May, and a Westminster parliament that has put party politics and self-interest before the delivery of Brexit, has created the current crisis, which in turn has been a gift to Scottish and Irish nationalists.

    What previously may have been considered a risky, unstable option for some voters — independence — no doubt now looks like a safer bet given the quagmire of Brexit. Voters now have to weigh up if it is in their interest to remain inside a union that no longer serves the Scottish people (some would argue never did).

    As Robert Burns, Scotland’s 18thcentury bard, put it: “I have long said to myself, what are the advantages Scotland reaps from this so called Union, that can counterbalance the annihilation of her independence and her very name?” More than 200 years later, Scots are still pondering the same question.

  5. #45
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Central PA

    Turkey considers Russian Su-57, Chinese J-31 jets to replace F-35s - Yeni Şafak (fair use)
    Jun 09 2019

    Turkey’s security bureaucracy already has alternative plans in case the United States halts the delivery of the F-35 jets over Ankara’s decision to buy S-400 missile systems and has been considering Russian Su-57 or Chinese J-31 stealth fighters as possible options, pro-government Yeni Şafak daily said on Sunday.

    As a last move of Washington’s increased pressure on Ankara to cancel the S-400 deal with Moscow, the Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan sent a letter to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Thursday detailing how Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program will be all but suspended as of July 31, unless Turkey withdraws from its planned purchase of Russian defense systems.

    In April, the United States froze a joint F-35 manufacturing program with Turkey, which produces 6-7 percent of the parts for the fighter jets, while there is a bipartisan support in U.S. Congress to halt the delivery of 100 F-35 jets Turkey plans to buy from the United States, in case Ankara goes ahead with S-400 acquisition plans.

    CNBC reported last month that Washington had told Ankara to decide by early June to either cancel its acquisition of Russia’s S-400 missile systems and buy U.S.-made Patriots or risk expulsion from an advanced U.S. fighter jet program, U.S. sanctions and possible blowback from NATO.

    According to Yeni Şafak, the Pentagon made its last move by sending the letter on Thursday, a day before the end of the deadline set for June 7.

    Ankara prioritizes S-400s over F-35 fighter jets as the missile systems are seen as an urgent need due to regional tensions, the daily said.

    “The B, C, D plans are ready in case the F-35 project goes to the dump after S-400 purchase,” Yeni Şafak said. Turkey will sustain its air force by increasing the maintenance of existing aircraft, while it will escalate efforts to produce its own jets, according to the pro-government newspaper.

    “To sit at the table with Russia for the accusation of military aircraft is among the options. The security bureaucracy is also exploring Chinese J-31s, along with Russian Su-57s,” it said, adding that those options were also more cost-effective compared to F35s.

    “Ankara already thinks that even if F-35s are delivered, they will create serious security risks for Turkey as they are directly commanded by the United States. Therefore, nobody regrets ‘losing’ F-35s,” the daily said.

    Mehmet Barlas, a columnist of the pro-government daily Sabah, on Sunday also suggested immediately ordering Russian jets, without waiting for U.S. sanctions that can be imposed under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

    Tyler Rogoway and Joseph Trevithick said in an article they penned for The Drive automotive website last month that Moscow had stated it had been ready to work with Turkey on the export and production of their Su-57 advanced fighter jet to fill the void of the U.S.-produced F-35s.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in April that Turkey could buy aircraft elsewhere, when asked about Ankara’s possible expulsion from the F-35 programme.

    “There are (Russian) Su-34, Su-57 and others. I will absolutely meet my needs from somewhere until I can produce it myself,” Çavuşoğlu said.



  6. #46
    How Italy's migrant model town Riace veered far-right

    Riace (Italy) (AFP) - The sign reading "Riace, land of welcome" still hangs in the small town, but its dream of migrant integration is over after the far-right's "Italians first" election victory.

    The new mayor of the one-time "global village" in southern Italy's rural Calabria elected on May 26 with the support of Matteo Salvini's anti-migrant Lega party, Antonio Trifoli, has so far left the sign up.

    "We will welcome refugees again," he told AFP.

  7. #47
    OK, a tech turd landed here because I still have problems with my tablet. In other words, post 46 has very worthwhile text at the link that kept going poof no matter how hard I tried. Sorry.

  8. #48
    How Italy's migrant model town Riace veered far-right

    June 7, 2019

    Riace (Italy) (AFP) - The sign reading "Riace, land of welcome" still hangs in the small town, but its dream of migrant integration is over after the far-right's "Italians first" election victory.

    The new mayor of the one-time "global village" in southern Italy's rural Calabria elected on May 26 with the support of Matteo Salvini's anti-migrant Lega party, Antonio Trifoli, has so far left the sign up.

    "We will welcome refugees again," he told AFP.

    "But we can't have 500 to 600 asylum seekers in a town with 1,500 residents," said the former town policeman.

    Trifoli was first on the independent "Riace reborn" list, backed by the Lega, whose supporters provided many of the 41.8 percent of the 1,103 votes he won.

    Until just a few years ago, the Lega was a separatist party at the other end of the country which sneeringly referred to southerners as "bumpkins" or worse.

    "The problem is that we had too many migrants and we lost the spirit of openness there was initially," said Trifoli.

    "A whole economic system developed with the migrants, but without making the village dynamic again... The model destroyed itself," he said.

    Former mayor Domenico "Mimmo" Lucano encouraged migrants and refugees to come to the village to counter a gradual decline of inhabitants and workers and show how migrant integration could be done.

    But now he is no longer even a member of the town council after his left-backed list lost in the elections, and he has been barred from the town.

    Lucano is due in court next week to face charges including that he failed to put to tender a garbage collection contract that went to a migrant-linked cooperative.

    German director Wim Wenders made a documentary in 2010 featuring the leftist mayor and Riace's refugees, but Lucano was last year placed under house arrest for allegedly setting up fake marriages to help foreign women stay in the country after their asylum applications were rejected.

    The debacle came after a populist coalition formed by Salvini, the country's hardline anti-immigrant deputy prime minister who also holds the interior ministry portfolio, and Luigi Di Maio's anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) formed a government in June last year.

    The shops and workshops previously occupied by migrants are now shuttered.
    The village's historic streets are largely deserted, with funereal music occasionally punctuating the silence.

    Colourful, multi-ethnic murals can still be seen on walls, testimony to the experiment that took place here and the hopes for migrant integration it spawned in Italy and beyond, before it failed amid alienated locals and allegations of fraud.
    - 'Order and discipline' -

    "Here, we need order and discipline," said agricultural engineer Claudio Falchi, a Milan native who moved here 25 years ago.

    Three years ago he became Lega leader in Riace.

    "They were fighting among themselves, they didn't want the crucifix, or the creche," Falchi said of the migrants.

    "It's not racism, it's just that this is our home. We welcome them and then they make problems."

    Locals are reluctant to talk about the past or discuss the predicament of the village, which, like so many in Calabria is seeing its youth leave in search of work as the elderly slowly die off.

    "People wanted things to change. After 15 years of talking only about welcoming and refugees, they got tired," said mayor Trifoli.

    "Taking in refugees gave Riace prestige around the world but its inhabitants lost interest."

    Over the years the town took in around 6,000 migrants, opened shops and workshops and even launched its own currency stamped with the heads of Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King.

    But that model of tolerance and inclusion has disappeared.

    "Almost everyone has gone. There aren't even any more children," said Daniel, a 37-year-old Ghanaian, in perfect Italian.

    The Lega was the big winner in last month's European parliamentary elections, taking more than 34 percent of national votes.

    On the southern island of Lampedusa, where many migrants arrived after making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, the Lega won more than 45 percent of votes.

  9. #49
    Northern watch, you are a saint! THANKS for saving my post.

  10. #50
    Holger Zschaepitz
    ţ @Schuldensuehner
    6h6 hours ago

    UK not paying 39bn pound #Brexit bill when Britain leaves the EU would be a debt default, French source says. Markets more sanguine and price default probability at 2.5% within the next 5yrs.
    Attached Images

  11. #51
    ECB policymakers open to cut rates if growth weakens - sources

    Francesco Canepa, Balazs Koranyi
    June 9, 2019 / 1:11 AM / Updated 15 hours ago

    FUKUOKA, Japan / FRANKFURT (Reuters) - European Central Bank policymakers are open to cutting the ECB’s policy rate again if economic growth weakens in the rest of the year and a strong euro hurts a bloc already bearing the brunt of a global trade war, two sources said.

    The ECB said on Thursday that its interest rates would stay “at their present levels” until mid-2020 but President Mario Draghi added rate setters had started a discussion about a possible cut or fresh bond purchases to stimulate inflation.

    The apparently mixed message failed to convince some investors, who saw it as too tenuous a commitment to more stimulus. This sent the euro rallying to a 2-1/2 month high of $1.1347 against the U.S. dollar.

    But two sources familiar with the ECB’s policy discussions said a rate cut was firmly in play if the bloc’s economy was to stagnate again after expanding by 0.4% in the first quarter of the year.

    “If inflation and growth slow, then a rate cut is warranted,” said one of the sources, who requested anonymity because the ECB’s deliberations are confidential.

    An ECB spokesman declined to comment.

    The ECB’s deposit rate is already 40 basis points below zero and the bloc’s top-rated governments, such as Germany’s, can borrow at negative rates for up to a decade.

    In this context, countering the euro’s strength, rather than lowering already rock-bottom borrowing costs, would be the main reason for a further cut to that deposit rate, one of the sources said.

    “I’ll give you five reasons for a rate cut,” the source said before repeating “exchange rate” five times.

    The ECB doesn’t formally target an exchange rate but Draghi noted the euro’s appreciation in his news conference on Thursday and has long highlighted the currency as a crucial determinant of financing conditions.
    The source said a euro at $1.15 would still be tolerable for some but $1.20 would be a critical level to watch.

    The single currency has risen by 2% against the dollar in just over a week as the Federal Reserve signalled its willingness to cut its interest rates if needed.

    This was seen by some analysts as a sign the U.S. central bank was bowing to pressure from the White House to keep the dollar weak and strengthen the administration’s hand in its trade negotiations.

    Italian central bank governor Ignazio Visco also blamed the euro’s surge after the ECB’s latest decision on “interactions with U.S. interest rates”.

    The argument for more quantitative easing (QE) from the ECB was less clear to some policymakers, however, the sources said.

    One of the sources said more QE could help soothe stock markets if these were spooked by an escalation in the trade war, although there would be a risk for the ECB in appearing to kowtow to equity investors.

    The other said the main benefit of QE was compressing the difference between short- and long-term borrowing costs, making access to finance easier for companies and households, but this so-called term premium was already low.

    Reporting by Francesco Canepa in Fukuoka and Balazs Koranyi in Frankfurt; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Dale Hudson

  12. #52
    ECB Floats Rate Cut Trial Balloon, Is "Open" To Cutting Rates

    by Tyler Durden
    Zero Hedge
    Sunday 06/09/2019 - 21:00

    Last week's non-committal ECB announcement caught markets by surprise, with the Euro jumping despite Mario Draghi's best attempts to signal further easing even as he hinted at growing "downside risks", prompting speculation that the ECB may have lost the last shreds of its credibility and leading Rabobank to publish a piece titled "Whatever It Takes" > "Whatever"."

    Not used to being spurred by markets, Mario Draghi refused to take such aggression against his legacy quietly - especially as the former Goldman partner is set to retire shortly - and on Sunday, the European Central Bank used its traditional trial balloon conduit, Reuters, which reported that ECB policymakers "are open to cutting the ECB’s policy rate again" if economic growth weakens in the rest of the year and a strong euro hurts a bloc already bearing the brunt of a global trade war, clearly hoping that this jawboning would be sufficient to slam the euro (it wasn't with the EURUSD basically unchanged from its Friday close).

    As a reminder, last Thursday the ECB said that its interest rates would stay “at their present levels” until mid-2020 but President Mario Draghi added rate setters had started a discussion about a possible cut or fresh bond purchases to stimulate inflation.

    This conflicting message failed to convince some investors, who saw it as too tenuous a commitment to more stimulus, sending the euro rallying to a nearly 3 month high of $1.1347 against the U.S. dollar.

    So in an attempt to convince the skeptics, Reuters cited its traditionally anonymous "two sources" familiar with the ECB’s policy discussions, who said a rate cut was firmly in play if the bloc’s economy was to stagnate again after expanding by 0.4% in the first quarter of the year.

    “If inflation and growth slow, then a rate cut is warranted,” said one of the sources, who requested anonymity because the ECB’s deliberations are confidential.

    The problem is that no matter what Draghi says, or "floats", the market is concerned that the ECB is approaching the end of its credible ammo: with the ECB’s deposit rate already negative 40 bps and Germany's yield hitting all time low. In this context, countering the euro’s strength, rather than lowering already rock-bottom borrowing costs, would be the main reason for a further cut to that deposit rate, one of the sources said.

    But how can the ECB pursue a "surgical" devaluation of the euro (amusingly nobody ever accused the central bank of manipulating its currency when in reality that is all it does) without also slamming government bond yields which have made Europe's entire banking system into a NIRP zombie trading near record low levels?

    “I’ll give you five reasons for a rate cut,” the source said before repeating “exchange rate” five times.

    While the ECB doesn’t formally admit it targets an exchange rate - just like every other central bank - Draghi noted the euro’s appreciation in his news conference on Thursday and has long highlighted the currency as a crucial determinant of financing conditions.

    So what FX level could trigger the ECB to move?

    The Reuters source said a euro at $1.15 would still be tolerable for some but $1.20 would be a critical level to watch. And now that the bogey has been set, the market will certainly test the ECB's resolve.

    The bigger problem facing Europe is... the US. The comnmon currency has risen by 2% against the dollar in just over a week as the Federal Reserve itself signaled its willingness to cut its interest rates if needed. This, in turn, was seen by some analysts such as those from Goldman, as a sign the U.S. central bank was bowing to pressure from the White House to keep the dollar weak and strengthen the administration’s hand in its trade negotiations. Furthermore, Italy's central bank governor Ignazio Visco also blamed the euro’s surge after the ECB’s latest decision on “interactions with U.S. interest rates”.

    That said, even Reuters conceded that the argument for more quantitative easing from the ECB was less clear to some policymakers, according to the "sources."

    One of them said more QE could help soothe stock markets if these were spooked by an escalation in the trade war, although there would be a risk for the ECB in appearing to kowtow to equity investors (not like that has ever stopped central banks, which in recent years have largely admitted their only mandate is preserving a levitating stock market).

    Ironically, the other said the main benefit of QE was compressing the difference between short- and long-term borrowing costs, making access to finance easier for companies and households, but this so-called term premium was already low. What he meant is that should the ECB cut rates even more, European banks - already on the edge - will start toppling over like dominoes as the bank business model no longer works under a NIRP regime.

    As such it will be poetic irony that the same central banks that launched unprecedented "unorthodox" policies to preserve the world's banking giants a decade ago, will be the culprits behind the wholesale devastation of these same banks. Luckily for Mario Draghi, he will be far away, merrily enjoying his retirement on the shores of one of central Europe's scenic (if not too secluded) lakes. His successor however, will not be so lucky.

  13. #53
    Wildfire blazes through forest in southern Greece

    By The Associated Press
    ATHENS, Greece — June 10, 2019, 10:18 AM ET

    Authorities in Greece say dozens of firefighters are trying to contain a large wildfire that is blazing through a forested region in the south but not directly threatening inhabited areas.

    The fire service said the wildfire broke out early Monday afternoon in the Kato Ahagia area of the Peloponnese, some 250 kilometers (150 miles) west of Athens. The cause isn't yet known

    It is Greece's first major forest fire of the summer.

    The fire service says 40 firefighters, two water-dropping aircraft and 15 fire engines were deployed.

    Greece is ravaged by wildfires every year during hot, arid summers. Last July, 101 people died after a major blaze swept unchecked through the seaside resort of Mati near Athens.

  14. #54
    Holger Zschaepitz
    ţ @Schuldensuehner
    12h12 hours ago

    Good morning from #Germany, where pol landscape is changing fundamentally. Green Party extends its lead over Merkel’s CDU to 3ppts. SPD, whose head Andrea Nahles resigned last weekend after poor performance in EU elections now tied w/far-right AFD at 12%
    Attached Images

  15. #55

    Anti-trafficking experts call on Finland to do more for child victims

    A group of experts at the Council of Europe is calling for Finland to do more to help victims of human trafficking, especially children, as the number of victims of trafficking triples in recent years.

    In 2015 just 52 victims were detected, but that number had risen to 163 people by 2018. The most common reason for being trafficked to Finland is labour exploitation, according to the Council of Europe.

    In their new report released on Wednesday, the CoE’s Group of Experts on Action in Trafficking Human Beings GRETA commended Finnish authorities for strengthening legislation to combat trafficking and raise awareness among health care staff and social workers.

    However, GRETA wants Finnish authorities to be more proactive to

    identify victims of human trafficking and to improve the way they share information among different agencies.

    The experts also want Finland to make sure that unaccompanies and separated migrant children who come here to get effective care arrangements, including “safe and appropriate accommodation”.

    One important recommendation is for Finnish police to investigate fully if migrant children go missing, and to improve their follow-up procedures when they hear reports of children who disappear.

  16. #56

    Lithuania must 'close the chapter' on CIA prison, justice minister says

    VILNIUS - Justice Minister Elvinas Jankevicius said the country must "close the chapter" and prevent similar legal precedents in the future as he presented Lithuania's actions in the suspected secret CIA prison case on Friday.

    The minister informed the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers in Strasbourg about Lithuania's progress in executing the European Court of Human Rights' ruling that the CIA operated a secret detention site for terror suspects in the country in 2005-2006.

    "I appreciate the constructive dialogue with the committee in the execution of the ECHR judgments. Lithuania must close the chapter and give an assessment to this bitter experience so as to prevent similar legal precedents in the future," he said in a press release on Friday.

    According to the minister, such cases do no credit to Lithuania.

    "We must adhere to the principle of zero tolerance toward any violation of human rights," he said. "In the execution of the the ECHR judgements, we will continue to cooperate closely with the committee to reinforce the legal background for protecting and fostering one of the fundamental values ??of a democratic society".

    The Strasbourg-based court ordered Lithuania to pay 130,000 euros in

    damages a Saudi Arabian national over his alleged unlawful imprisonment in the suspected CIA detention site.

    The government said earlier this year it had placed the money into a depository account.

    Lithuania's law-enforcement officials conducting a pre-trial investigation into the alleged CIA detention site have re-qualified the alleged crime to ensure that it is not subject to a statute of limitations and have asked the United States for diplomatic assurances.

    Lithuanian government officials told the Strasbourg court that the suspected building in Antaviliai, on the outskirts of Vilnius, had been "an intelligence support center" and that the suspected planes had transported communication equipment rather than people to Lithuania.

    This year, the ECHR accepted a petition filed by another individual claiming that he was unlawfully detained in Lithuania.

  17. #57

    Ireland's deputy leader has called for calm over fisheries dispute with Scotland

    Ireland's deputy leader has called for calm amid a fisheries dispute between Scotland and Ireland.

    The row erupted after Scotland threatened action if Irish vessels continue to operate in the zone around Rockall, an outcrop in the North Atlantic.

    The Scottish government said it is defending the interests of its fisheries against "illegal activity" around the uninhabited islet, over which the UK claims sovereignty.

    Ministers said they received a letter from Fiona Hyslop, Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs, stating that vessels will be deployed to take "enforcement action" against Irish vessels found fishing within 12 miles of Rockall from last weekend onwards.

    However, the Irish government does not recognise its claim over the long-disputed territory located around 240 miles from the Scottish mainland, and Irish fishermen have said they have no intention of leaving the disputed waters.

    Speaking on Monday in Co Cork, Simon Coveney contended that EU fishery grounds and the Common Fishery Policy applies to the area.
    "What we don't accept is that a very small rock constitutes a sovereign territory that can have a 12 mile fishing limit set around it, that is what the Scottish government are claiming and saying," Mr Coveney said.

    "We know how fisheries enforcement works, we do it well here through the Irish Naval Service and the SFPA.

    "We understand how Scotland enforces the fisheries rules, so I think the less we talk about boardings and potential clashes the better.

    "We need to take the heat out of this decision and look for solutions, that's what diplomacy is about.

    "Scotland and Ireland are very close friends and we will work with them to try and bring an end to this, but what we won't do is change a policy which we have had in place for decades on the back of a threat."

    Speaking to Newstalk on Monday morning, Mr Coveney added: "I'm interested in resolving this.

    "Don't confuse diplomatic language with weakness. We will support Ireland's fishing boats."

    John O'Kane from Foyle Fishermans Co-Operative Society said three vessels are fishing in the disputed area and have no plans to cut short their trip, and when they return, will head back to Rockall despite the warnings from the Scottish government.

    The boats are small family fishing businesses with six to eight staff aboard fishing mainly for haddock, monkfish and squid.

    "This announcement came totally out of the blue and we were unaware about any notification to the Irish government prior to that," Mr O'Kane said.

    "There's a bit of diplomacy going on at the minute, and we're hoping that resolves it, but at this minute in time, we've not had any word from anyone in the Irish government.

    "Our boats have been fishing there since January, its a very sustainable fishery, it's rich fishing ground, and our boats have fished there for over 20 years.

    "The last thing we want is a Scottish patrol vessel making arrests, taking people ashore. You lose time, you have the expense, a court case, a fine and the repercussions of whether to go back to fish from that area.

    "This is our business, we need as much fish coming in as possible, we have markets to supply, and everyone on the boats, the crew to the skipper, to the locals who work on the pier, we're all reliant on these boats continuing to fish.

    "There's many families in the local Donegal area dependent on whitefish vessels fishing at Rockall.

    "Everything from the local shop, to the welder, to the boatbuilder, they're all reliant on this industry."

    A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "Irish vessels or any non-UK vessels for that matter have never been allowed to fish in this way in the UK's territorial sea around Rockall and, despite undertaking extensive discussions with the Irish authorities on the matter, it is disappointing that this activity continues.

    "There has actually been an increase in that illegal activity and, with the Rockall fishery season nearly upon us, it is our duty and obligation to defend the interests of Scottish fisheries and ensure compliance with well-established international law."

    The Scottish government first raised the issue of access to the area around Rockall in 2017, according to the Irish government.

  18. #58
    Andreas Turunen‏ @AndreasTurunen · 12h12 hours ago

    #Russia will establish a new tank regiment for the 20th Combined Arms Army located close to Ukrainian borders.

    Petri Mäkelä‏ @pmakela1 · 12h12 hours ago

    Petri Mäkelä Retweeted Andreas Turunen

    One more regiment for the Russian forces in the Ukrainian border area.

    These units make it very hard for the Ukrainian forces to get any kind of an early warning for a Russian buildup or invasion

  19. #59

    Austria set for early elections on September 29

    The date for early elections triggered by the so-called "Ibiza-gate" scandal which brought down Austria's government has been fixed for September 29, following a decision by a parliamentary commission Tuesday.

    The snap poll was prompted by the decision of centre-right Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to end his coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) after a video emerged last month of FPOe leader Heinz-Christian Strache appearing to offer public contracts in return for campaign help from a fake Russian backer.

    While Kurz and President Alexander Van der Bellen favoured a date in early September for the elections, the FPOe and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPOe) pushed for the September 29 date.

    Together the FPOe and SPOe have a majority in parliament, which will now have to formally confirm the date.

    - Kurz comeback? -

    Both parties lost vote share at May's European elections and have made no secret of their wish for more time to prepare themselves for national elections.

    Kurz and his People's Party (OeVP), by contrast, won a thumping victory at the European elections and have a commanding lead in the polls, with one survey last week putting them at 38 percent, compared to just 23 percent for the SPOe and 17 for the FPOe.

    If 32-year-old Kurz remains in such a commanding position at the end of the campaign he may be able to form a new coalition with either the liberal NEOS party or the Greens, both on nine percent in the same poll.

    Two weeks ago the FPOe and SPOe both voted for a no-confidence motion which saw Kurz's government removed from office.

    A interim technocratic government under senior judge Brigitte Bierlein then took over.

    In a poster campaign launched on Tuesday the OeVP accused the FPOe and SPOe of colluding to bring down the government unnecessarily.
    The FPOe for its part has said it is open to the possibility of a new coalition with the OeVP.

    Following the explosive revelations in the video published by German media last month, Strache stepped down from his position as vice-chancellor and as head of the FPOe.

    However, he received enough so-called "preference votes" in the European elections to take up a place as a member of the European Parliament, though he has so far not announced whether he will do so.

  20. #60
    Swiss government wants further talks on accord with EU

    By The Associated Press
    BERLIN — June 7, 2019, 12:47 PM ET

    The Swiss government says it wants further talks with the European Union about an accord that's intended to regulate bilateral ties between the Alpine country and the 28-nation bloc.

    The Swiss Cabinet said Friday that it has "decided to demand clarifications" on a current draft deal, amid concerns domestically over wages and workers protection, state subsidies and EU rules on citizens' rights.

    The government said it remains ready to "reach a mutually satisfactory solution to these three outstanding matters which would allow it to sign the agreement and present it to parliament."

    Switzerland, which is surrounded by — but not a member of — the European Union, has long struggled to reconcile domestic demands on issues such as immigration with those of the EU, its biggest trading partner.

  21. #61
    EU says Switzerland must endorse treaty before June 18 - letter

    June 11, 2019 / 9:27 AM / a day ago

    BRUSSELS, June 11 (Reuters) - The European Union’s chief executive warned Switzerland on Tuesday that it needs to formally endorse a new partnership treaty before June 18 to be able to keep the Swiss stock exchange’s access to the bloc’s financial markets.

    In a letter to the Swiss president, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was ready to clarify any doubts but that the November 2018 draft treaty “will not be renegotiated.”

    The so-called equivalence treatment of the Swiss exchange under EU law expires at the end of June, but procedural reasons require the EU Commission to make a formal proposal for an extension by June 18, an EU diplomat told Reuters last week.

    (Reporting by Robin Emmott)

  22. #62
    Poll: Brexit Party Could Win up to 252 Seats if Tories Back Remainer Candidate

    12 June 2019

    The Brexit Party could gain 252 seats in the House of Commons if remain-voting Rory Stewart becomes prime minister, while Boris Johnson is the only Conservative Party candidate capable of winning in a General Election with a majority, according to analysis of polling data.

    A ComRes survey of 2,000 voters commissioned by The Telegraph revealed that 27 per cent of respondents believe that former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has what it takes to be the next prime minister, putting him in the lead — far ahead of his next rival current foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, who voted Remain but now backs a limited Brexit, at 14 per cent.

    In a separate question, where voters were asked how they would vote in the next General Election if each of six candidates — Johnson, Hunt, Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid, Rory Stewart, and Michael Gove — were to become Conservative Party leader, Leave campaigner Mr Johnson again came out on top with 37 per cent, followed by former Brexit secretary Mr Raab and Mr Hunt jointly on 25 per cent.

    Electoral Calculus analysed the ComRes data to predict voting intention dependent on who of the six aforementioned candidates was Conservative Party leader and prime minister, which revealed that Mr Johnson would be the only Tory Party candidate to not only deliver a majority Tory government at the next General Election — slated for 2022 — but do so with a 140-seat margin.

    The next closest candidate would be fellow Brexit campaigner Raab, with 269 seats — leaving the Tory Party 57 seats short of a majority.

    The Brexit Party’s support varied widely, however, depending on the Tory candidate, with a complete wipe-out of the party’s projected seat numbers under a Johnson prime ministership.

    But the Nigel Farage-led party would see its highest predicted seat share with an astounding 252 seats if Mr Stewart were prime minister — the highest out of all the political parties — pointing to voters abandoning the Conservative Party and embracing the Brexit Party if the next Tory leader fails to be prepared to deliver on the 2016 referendum.

    Mr Stewart, who voted for Theresa May’s EU-approved soft-Brexit treaty three times, launched his leadership campaign on Tuesday and said that he would stop a clean, no deal Brexit from getting through parliament.

    The Brexit Party is already in a strong position in the polls, with the ComRes poll pointing to Labour in the lead with 27 per cent, while the Brexit Party is just one point behind the Conservatives on 22 per cent.

    Martin Baxter of Electoral Calculus told The Telegraph that “other leadership candidates would not have the same effect” in unifying voters nor gaining support from Brexiteers as Johnson, adding: “The poll indicates that Boris Johnson could win back large numbers of voters from the Brexit Party and could win a substantial majority over a divided opposition.”

    “Paradoxically, choosing Rory Stewart could push even more disaffected Conservatives to vote for the Brexit Party and might propel Nigel Farage toward Number 10,” Mr Baxter added.

    Mr Johnson launched his leadership campaign on Wednesday morning, saying that a Brexit “delay means defeat, delay means Corbyn” and that the delay would see the natural support of the Conservative Party shift to “insurgent parties” like the Brexit Party.

    Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage warned on Tuesday night that to delay Brexit beyond October 31st would leave the Tory Party “in very real trouble”, adding: “If they don’t take us out on October 31st, what is the point of the Conservative Party?”

  23. #63
    Conflict News
    ‏ @Conflicts
    Jun 11

    BREAKING: Russia to deliver S-400 missile defense system to Turkey in July, Kremlin says

  24. #64

    Worst invasion of locusts in 60 years hits Sardinia

    Millions of locusts have invaded the Italian island of Sardinia, seriously affecting farmers' livestock and crop production.

    Italian agricultural organization Coldiretti has pleaded for government assistance in fighting the plague.

    Read more: Welcome to the latest edition of Eco Africa

    "We are walking on locust carpets," Coldiretti said in a statement.

    The locusts have destroyed 2,500 hectares (6,200 acres) of agricultural land in the province of Nuoro, between the towns of Ottana and Orani.

    Coldiretti fears it may be too late for this year's crop, but preventative measures should be put in place for next year.

    "We had droughts in 2017 and a lot of rain in 2018, the ideal climate for locusts to emerge from fallow land and then move to cultivated fields to eat," Michele Arbau from the lobby group said. "There is nothing we can do about it this year."

    The invasion of the tropical grasshoppers has been described by experts as the worst in the region in 60 years.

    jsi/msh (Reuters, AP)

  25. #65

    Italy to fine NGOs who rescue migrants at sea

    A decree adopted by the Italian government on Tuesday would force non-governmental organizations to pay between €10,000 and €50,000 ($11,327 – $56,638) for transporting rescued migrants to Italian ports.

    Rescuers who repeatedly dock without authorization risk having their vessel permanently impounded. The fines would be payable by the captain, the operator and the owner of the rescue ship.

    The Italian government is composed of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and right-wing populist League Party. The League leader Matteo Salvini, who also serves as the interior minister, has been spearheading an effort to clamp down on illegal immigration.

    Delayed decree

    The adoption of the decree has been delayed due to criticism from the United Nations and the office of the Italian president. Following the cabinet session on Tuesday, however, Salvini praised it as a "step forward the security of this country." The populist leader also said he was "absolutely sure about the fact that it is compliant" with all national and international laws.

    The decree allows police to investigate possible migrant trafficking operations by going undercover. It also makes it easier to eavesdrop electronically on suspected people smugglers. Other sections of the decree impose stricter punishments on rioters and violent football fans.

    Read more: Italian court rules Salvini can be charged with kidnapping

    Additionally, the decree gives Salvini's ministry the power to order the NGOs to pay the fines, this was previously the area of the transport and infrastructure ministries.

    Salvini has pushed through several anti-migrant decrees since becoming interior minister a year ago, including one in December which ended humanitarian protection for migrants who do not qualify for refugee status. Earlier this week, Salvini blasted three judges who opposed his hardline policies.

    Risking life at sea

    Since 2014, more than 600,000 people have made the dangerous journey across the central Mediterranean to reach Italy, fleeing war and poverty in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. More than 14,000 have been recorded killed or missing when attempting the trip.

    Without a legal way to reach Europe, they pay people smugglers for passage in unseaworthy boats. The UNHCR and IOM recently said that 1,940 people have reached Italy from north Africa since the beginning of 2019, and almost 350 have died en route — putting the death rate for those crossing at more than 15%. The number of new arrivals has dropped off in recent years, but Rome is still faced with hundreds of thousands of people who migrated illegally. Pending asylum claims as of May 31 this year were 135,337.

    With official search-and-rescue missions canceled, the burden of assisting the shipwrecked migrants falls on rescue NGOs. The Italian coastguard estimates NGOs have brought in some 30,000 people per year since 2014.

    dj/se (AP, dpa, AFP)

  26. #66

    NEWS European Rights Court Censures Moldova for Deporting Turks

    Madalin NecsutuChisinauBIRNJune 11, 2019
    The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Moldova violated the rights of several Turkish professors by deporting them to Turkey, which was seeking their arrest for alleged links to cleric Fethullah Gulen’s movement.

    The European Court of Human Rights, ECHR ruled against Moldova on Monday, saying that Chisinau violated the rights of the seven professors by deporting them to Turkey in September 2018.

    The seven Turkish citizens, who worked at a chain of private high schools called Horizont, were illegally detained and handed over to the Turkish authorities without being charged with committing any crimes in Moldova.

    The schools are reported to be connected to the movement headed by exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, which Ankara considers to be a terrorist group and holds responsible for the failed coup in Turkey in 2016.

    Officers from Moldova’s Security and Intelligence Service arrived at several of the Horizont schools on the morning of September 6, 2018 and detained the seven Turks along with a teenager who was released soon afterwards.
    The detention of the seven Turkish citizens by the Moldovan authorities prompted protests in the US and Canada, in front of Moldova’s consulates in New York, Washington DC, Toronto and Chicago.

    During the ECHR case, the Moldovan government acknowledged that Turkish citizens were detained but insisted that this would have been justified and that the professors “would not have opposed expulsion to their country of origin”.

    Chisinau’s arguments were dismissed by the ECHR ruling, with the court noting that in the applications for asylum that the Turkish citizens filed in Moldova before their arrests, they clearly expressed their fear of being politically persecuted in their country of origin.

    “The removal of a person from a country where close members of his or her family are living may amount to an infringement of the right to respect for family life,” noted the judges in their ruling.

    For violating of articles 5.1 and 8 of the Human Rights Convention the Moldovan Government of Chisinau will have to pay 25,000 euros each to five of the Turkish citizens who took their cases to the ECHR.

    The complaints to the ECHR from the other two Turkish citizens expelled in September 2018 were filed afterwards, and the court will rule on them later.

    Bucharest-based Turkish journalist Necdet Celik told BIRN that the ruling could be a precedent in other cases in which Turkish citizens abroad have been deported.

    “There was a similar action taken by the United Nations at the end of May condemning such renditions to Turkey from Malaysia,” Celik told BIRN.

    The UN Human Rights Council said in May that the deportation from Malaysia of three Turkish nationals accused by Ankara of being Gulenists was unlawful.

    Celik said that the ECHR ruling was a good sign suggesting that such deportations could be halted.

  27. #67
    Elite German state police accused of funneling ammunition to 'Prepper' scene

    One active and three former state-level police commando members have been arrested in northeastern Germany and 14 premises searched. Three are accused of diverting ammunition to the doomsday 'Prepper' scene for years.

    Charges of breaching Germany's War Weapons Control Act, its civil arms law and fraud had been laid against the four accused, said public prosecutors in Schwerin, the regional capital of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (MV) state on Wednesday. All the officers worked for the state's arm of the SEK.

    Lorenz Caffier (pictured above), Christian Democrat (CDU) interior minister in the state's grand coalition cabinet headed by Social Democrat Manuela Schwesig, said he was "profoundly shocked and bewildered" by the turn of events and promised an "airtight" investigation.

    Prompted by 2017 federal probe

    Regional prosecutors, acting on findings of a 2017 probe by federal prosecutors, effected the arrests on Wednesday as well as searches of 14 premises [homes and offices] at five locations across MV — Chancellor Angela Merkel's home state, where the far-right is active.

    Read more: Germany surveys far-right 'Prepper' scene

    The four accused would probably appear before a custodial magistrate on Thursday, said a spokeswoman for Schwerin's prosecutions office.

    Wednesday's arrests, also carried out by federal BKA police investigators, coincided with a meeting of Germany's various state interior ministers 140 kilometers away (87 miles) in Kiel, also on Germany's northern Baltic coast.

    Elite image

    Spezial Einsatz Kommandos (SEK, special operations commandos) are maintained by each of Germany's 16 regional states (Länder), with similar bodies at the national level using different names. They have a reputation for precise interventions using tactical weapons and sophisticated vehicles such as helicopters, not entirely dissimilar to SWAT teams in the US.

    The 2017 federal prosecution's probe was focused on "Nordkreuz" (Northern Cross), a far-right survivalist "Prepper" group which reportedly aimed to stash supplies for a post-apocalyptic scenario.

    Allegations date back to 2012

    Nordkurier, a newspaper in the region, said three of those arrested Wednesday were accused of starting to remove munitions from their workplace, the state's LKA criminal investigations offices in Schwerin, as long ago as 2012.

    The munitions were then handed to the fourth accused, who, according to prosecutors, then forwarded these to persons in the "Prepper" scene.

    Reacting on Wednesday, Interior Minister Caffier said the four arrested did not epitomize the Landespolizei (regional police), adding that he was ready to brief the interior committee of state assembly in Schwerin on Thursday.

    Answers withheld, says opposition

    The opposition Left's interior affairs spokesman Peter Ritter, quoted by the Nordkurier, said over the past two years his party had sought clarification on Nordkreuz in Schwerin's parliament only to be fobbed off with excuses, delays and references to investigations by prosecutors.

    "A swamp moves toward the mountains (Ein Sumpf zieht am Gebirge hin)," said Ritter, quoting a 1832 dystopian poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, composed in Goethe's final year.

    Given the accumulation of incidents, questions should be asked on whether Interior Minister Caffier was in control of his department, said Ritter.

    May 2019, Caffier plays down far-right

    Presenting the annual report by Mecklenburg-West Pomerania's intelligence service in Schwerin last month, Caffier had said the far-right scene was no longer so active as in past years across the Baltic coast state, which to the east borders with Poland.

    Of 872 extreme right-wing motivated crimes in 2018, 43 were classified as acts of violence. A total of 89 crimes were attributed in the report to the left, said report's authors, while also warning that Islamist-style attacks could not be excluded.

    ipj/msh (AFP,

  28. #68
    Greek unemployment, highest in EU, dips in early 2019

    By The Associated Press
    ATHENS, Greece — June 13, 2019, 8:44 AM ET

    Greek national statistics show that unemployment, long the highest in the European Union, fell in the first quarter when compared to last year, but still afflicts around one in five Greeks.

    The country's statistical authority said Thursday that the unemployment rate was 19.2% in the January-March period, compared to 21.2% a year earlier.

    On a quarterly basis it was higher, but the tourism-reliant Greek job market fluctuates depending on the time of the year and quarterly data are not seasonally adjusted.

    Greek unemployment has been falling over the past few years as the economy started to recover following a harsh recession. At its peak, it hit a whopping 28%.

    For much of the time since 2010, Greece has relied on international bailout loans. Last summer, its bailout era formally ended.

  29. #69
    6 people drown, hundreds seek medical help in Lithuania heat

    By The Associated Press
    VILNIUS, Lithuania — June 13, 2019, 6:58 AM ET

    Six people seeking relief from record heat in Lithuania have drowned, and hundreds have sought medical help as temperatures soared.

    The nation of 2.8 million hasn't seen rain for many weeks and a new June all-time heat record of 35.7 degrees Celsius (96 F) was reached in the central Lithuanian city of Kaisiadorys on Wednesday, when six people drowned in rivers and lakes. Average daily temperature has remained above 31 Celsius for more than a week.

    Meteorologists said Thursday that temperatures were expected to hit 36 C in several regions on Thursday.

    Extreme heat has led rivers and creeks to reach their lowest levers ever recorded for June and water supply to many households in major cities has been limited. Schools were closed in many cities this week.

  30. #70
    Turkey won't bow to US 'ultimatums' on Russia missile system

    By The Associated Press
    ANKARA, Turkey — June 13, 2019, 8:15 AM ET

    Turkey's foreign minister says his country won't bow to "ultimatums" after the United States warned Turkey it was excluding it from the F-35 fighter jet program overs its deal with Russia to purchase its S-400 missile defense system.

    U.S. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a letter to his Turkish counterpart last week that the training of Turkish pilots will end July 31 and that Turkey would not be allowed to take final possession of the four F-35 aircraft it bought.

    Washington says the S-400 pose a threat to the F-35 jets.

    The issue has strained already tense ties between the NATO allies.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated on Thursday that the S-400 deal had been concluded.

    He said: "Turkey won't reverse its decision with such letters."

  31. #71
    The prime ministers of the Visegrad group states did not agree on a joint candidate for European Commission president at their talks in Budapest on Thursday.

    Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said it was necessary to choose a candidate who would be best for all, adding that the Visegrad Group, comprising the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia had no ambitions to try to push through a candidate of their own choice.

    Hungary indicated last week that the group of four might present a joint position as regards the filling of crucial posts and support candidates who take the V4 region seriously and support its interests.

  32. #72
    Aki Heikkinen‏ @akihheikkinen · 2h2 hours ago

    Aki Heikkinen Retweeted Russian Exercises

    Large aerial exercise in Russian Southern Military District. Begins today, 3 days. Also anti-aircraft missile units participating.

  33. #73
    UAWire‏ @uawire · 10h10 hours ago

    #Serbia begins joint military exercises with #Russia and #Belarus

  34. #74
    France, Germany sign European jet fighter deal

    By The Associated Press
    LE BOURGET, France — June 17, 2019, 7:50 AM ET

    France, Germany and Spain agreed Monday to develop a European fighter jet and air combat system, as they bolster efforts to reduce their dependency on the United States.

    Defense ministers from the three countries signed an agreement at the Paris Air Show that lays out how the countries will cooperate on the project, which would include a new-generation combat aircraft.

    French President Emmanuel Macron presided over the signing. The project fits in with his ambition to increase European cooperation at a time when the United States under President Donald Trump is showing an increasing reluctance to support the continent militarily.

    It's going to take time though. The Future Combat Air System (FCAS) is not expected to be operational until 2040. Requirements for the air combat system that will also include drones will be decided by 2027 and the development phase should start by 2030.

    French Defense minister Florence Parly said the deal is "concrete proof that Europe is capable of anticipating tomorrow's great strategic challenges."

    "The FCAS is a major asset to tackle the power struggles of the second half of the 21st century. What is happening today is historic," she said.

    Dassault Aviation and Airbus are set to build the jets which will eventually replace Rafale and Eurofighters.

    The program was launched by Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2017. Airbus says it will be connected and operable with a wide variety of aircraft, satellites, NATO systems as well as land and naval combat systems.

    Authorities have not said how much it would cost but the dpa news agency estimates it could be 100 billion euros ($112 billion).

  35. #75
    Political motive seen in killing of Merkel party official

    By The Associated Press
    BERLIN — June 17, 2019, 8:48 AM ET

    German federal prosecutors said Monday they're taking charge of the investigation into the killing of a regional official from Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, amid reports that the slaying may have been politically motivated.

    Walter Luebcke, 65, was fatally shot in the head at his home near the central German city of Kassel earlier this month.

    Regional prosecutors announced the arrest Saturday of a 45-year-old suspect after his DNA matched evidence found at the scene. They have revealed no further details about the man, but German media reported that he was linked to far-right extremists.

    News site Zeit Online reported Monday that the suspect, whom it identified only as Stephan E., had a history of involvement in hate crimes dating back decades, including in a 1993 pipe bomb attack on a refugee shelter in Hesse state.

    Public broadcaster SWR reported Monday that investigators suspect a political motive behind the killing and federal prosecutors are taking over the probe due to its potential significance.

    Luebcke, a member of the Christian Democratic Union party, ran the Kassel area regional administration in central Germany. He had publicly supported Merkel's welcoming stance toward refugees in recent years.

    Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said the government hopes that investigators can determine as quickly as possible who killed Luebcke, and why.

    Several hundred people attended Luebcke's funeral on Thursday.


    This story has been corrected to give the day of the funeral as Thursday, not Saturday.

  36. #76
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Central PA

    Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat (fair use)

    Turkey could face EU sanctions over gas drilling in Cyprus, Greece and others have warned, prompting mockery by Turkey's president.

    "We've agreed ... to prepare the ground in the coming week for the [EU] summit to take relevant decisions, even sanctions against Turkey, if it's verified that there's been drilling in the Cypriot EEZ [exclusive economic zone]," Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras said on Sunday (16 June).

    He spoke after a snap meeting of the Greek national defence council amid escalating tension in the eastern Mediterranean.

    EU leaders are holding a summit on Thursday that was meant to focus on the institutions' top jobs in the wake of last month's European Parliament elections.

    But leaders are also likely to put pressure on Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop drilling gas wells in disputed waters near Cyprus.

    "We ask the European Union to remain seized on the matter and, in case Turkey does not cease its illegal activities, to consider appropriate measures in full solidarity with Cyprus," the leaders of Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Malta said after a mini-summit in Valetta last Friday.

    "Turkey must stop its illegal activities in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone ... The European Union will not show weakness on this matter," French president Emmanuel Macron said at the event.

    The Cypriot president, Nicos Anastasiades, added that Turkey's actions were "a threat against peace" and that Erdogan was trying to "violate the sovereign rights of another country".

    The US has also taken Cyprus' side.

    Turkey's drilling operation was "highly provocative and risks raising tensions in the region", the State Department said on Sunday.

    The US estimates that there is up to 3.5 trillion cubic metres of gas in the eastern Mediterranean - a vast reserve.

    But the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which split from Cyprus in 1974 and which is recognised only by Turkey, says it has equal rights to gas in waters near the island.

    Tsipras and Macron spoke out after two Turkish vessels, backed by a military escort, arrived in the area to start drilling exploratory wells in order to enforce the TRNC's claims.

    Turkey also mocked the EU sanctions threats, with Erdogan taking aim at Macron in his riposte.

    "Those who have the right to speak about the eastern Mediterranean can speak. When did France have the right to speak on the eastern Mediterranean? Do they have a coast in the eastern Mediterranean?" Erdogan told press on Saturday.

    "We are one of the guarantor countries in Cyprus. Greece and the United Kingdom are also the guarantor countries. What is France doing there?," he said.

    "Are you [Macron] making such statements for Total? ... it means you have left the presidency and have now begun work as a [Total] lawyer," he added, referring to a French energy firm that is also involved in gas operations in Cypriot waters.

    "We continue and will continue to search [for gas] in those areas", Erdogan also said on TV on Sunday.

    He issued his own threats, saying Cyprus would "come off badly" if it tried to arrest the crews of the two Turkish drill ships.

    The EU mini-summit last week also called for UN-led talks on Cypriot reunification to resume and for Turkey to pull its military forces out of Cyprus.

    But "Turkey is not reducing its troops in Northern Cyprus" and "does not need permission from anyone" to keep them there, Erdogan said.

    "The EU countries have shown once again with the decision they took that they cannot be fair and impartial on the Cyprus issue, and Turkish Cypriots should trust them neither with their security nor the protection of their rights," the TRNC's prime minister Ersin Tatar added, referring to the EU mini-summit statement.

    The gas dispute comes amid a historic low in Turkey's relations with the West.

    The EU de facto halted accession talks with Ankara in 2016 after Erdogan jailed tens of thousands of people in response to a failed coup.

    The US has already imposed sanctions on Turkey, a fellow Nato ally, by halting a joint fighter jet programme because Erdogan decided to buy anti-aircraft systems from Russia.



  37. #77

    Europe’s Italian Stranglehold
    The EU could punish Rome for pushing pro-growth policy.

    Italian Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini is favored to become the country’s next Prime Minister, and European Union mandarins are improving the euroskeptic’s chances. See how Brussels is handling its latest fiscal dispute with Rome.

    The European Commission is on course to impose a fine of up to €3.5 billion on Rome to punish it for breaking EU budget rules. Governments are supposed to keep their fiscal deficit below 3% of gross domestic product and total debt under 60% of GDP. Many EU members violate these strictures, but Rome is unusually bad. Italian debt is expected to reach more than 135% in 2020, and the Commission frets about Rome’s deficit, which ran 2.1% in 2018.

    This triggered a fiscal showdown last year, which ended when Rome agreed to make minor changes to its budget and Brussels pretended the numbers would add up. But now the EU complains that Italy’s motley left-right coalition government isn’t abiding by that deal and is teeing up another fiscal battle. A June 5 Commission report recommends opening up an “excess deficit procedure,” though it would take weeks and several bureaucratic hurdles before a fine is imposed.

    The EU seems alarmed by Mr. Salvini’s tax-reform plan, which goes to show that Brussels doesn’t understand incentives for growth. Mr. Salvini wants to capitalize on the political boost from a recent European Parliament election win to push for a flat tax on personal and small-business incomes up to €50,000. He hasn’t divulged many details, but this is the best idea anyone in Rome has had in years to simplify Italy’s tax code and maybe cut down on evasion.

    EU mandarins see only what they view as “lost revenue” from this proposal, but Italy’s fiscal crisis is building despite high taxes. Some 42% of GDP goes to the government. Rome wastes too much of that on misdirected social spending. What’s missing is economic growth to expand the tax base.

    Mr. Salvini understands this. “The flat tax and big cuts in taxes for companies and families will have to be a fundamental part of the next budget, so we hope that Europe will allow Italy to return to growth,” Mr. Salvini said recently. “A big, substantial cut in taxes is the only way to reduce debt.”

    Europe should give Mr. Salvini and his government partners the room to design a pro-growth 2020 budget—and Brussels shouldn’t be surprised if an ill-considered budget battle with Mr. Salvini bolsters the Italian’s euroskeptic arguments. Greece’s horrible decade should have taught Brussels that the austerity hell of tax increases and scattershot spending reductions can’t be the only acceptable policy mix. The least it could do is get out of the way while Rome tries something else.

  38. #78

    Salvini wants Italy to be 'first' US ally in Europe

    Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini was keen to stress his country's closeness to the administration of President Donald Trump on Monday as he met with several top US officials, including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

    "At a time when European Union institutions are fragile and changing significantly, Italy wants to be the first, most solid, valid, credible and coherent partner for the United States," Salvini wrote of the trip to Washington on his Facebook page.

    Pence wrote on Twitter that "the transatlantic alliance is stronger than ever!"

    'Shared vision'

    During a press conference, Salvini downplayed his massive crackdown on refugees and immigrants and instead touted his "shared vision" with the Trump administration on "Iran, Venezuela, Libya, the situation in the Middle East, Israel's right to exist," and "concerns about Chinese arrogance towards Europe and the African continent."

    The deputy prime minister criticized his government's refusal to follow the US in recognizing Juan Guaido as interim leader of Venezuela. The Five Star Movement (M5S), another populist party in a coalition with Salvini's League party, had refused to endorse the move.

    "If it was up to me, we would have already recognized him," Salvini said.

    If it was up to me, we would have already recognized him," Salvini said.

    Salvini's visit was unusual because such a major international trip would usually be undertaken by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte or Foreign Minister Enzo Milanesi.

    However, both Conte and Milanesi, independents who were chosen as compromises between the League and M5S, usually cede the stage to either Salvini or co-Deputy Prime Minister Luigi DiMaio of M5S.

    Yet DiMaio too has been taking a back stage to Salvini ever since the League emerged triumphant in May's EU elections and support for M5S tumbled.

    es/amp (AFP, Reuters)

    Date 18.06.2019

  39. #79
    ţ @IntelCrab
    12m12 minutes ago

    Recent estimates from #Ukraine conclude that #Russia has amassed along its borders over 82 thousand troops; stretching from #Crimea to #Luhansk and beyond.

  40. #80
    Numbers Stations
    ‏ @Spy_Stations
    4m4 minutes ago

    There is something called Международная миротворческая группа Рижского комитета (International Peacekeeping Group of Riga Committee) warning of imminent civil war in Latvia and asking peacekeepers from Russia to save them.

    Numbers Stations
    ‏ @Spy_Stations
    11m11 minutes ago

    Provocateurs one side is campaign again to remove big Soviet victory monument Riga, Latvia. Provocateurs on the other side is calling for "Russian peacekeepers" to protect the monument and Russians in Latvia


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