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ALERT Europe: Politics, Trade, NATO - September 2019
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  1. #41

    Strong showing for opposition in Moscow city election
    36 minutes ago

    MOSCOW (AP) — The party of Russian President Vladimir Putin has suffered big losses in Moscow elections as candidates endorsed by his arch-rival won almost half the seats, authorities said Monday.

    Elections to the Moscow City Duma are usually low-key affairs but Sunday’s vote grew in prominence when election authorities refused to register a dozen independent candidates, including well-known Kremlin critics.

    Their dismissal triggered major opposition protests over the summer and despite a tough police crackdown the demonstrations were the largest in Russia for years.

    With all the votes counted, 20 candidates supported by opposition leader Alexei Navalny got seats in the 45-member legislature. All of the 20 candidates, although often nominally opposing authorities, were endorsed by Navalny’s Smart Voting strategy which called on voters to cast their ballots in order to oust the candidates of Putin’s United Russia party.

    “This is a terrific result, and we fought for it together,” Navalny said in a tweet in the early hours on Monday.

    In a sign that United Russia is losing ground in Moscow, the party did not officially nominate a single candidate for the Moscow City Duma, and all of its members or candidates affiliated with the party ran as independents, playing down their ties to the party.

    United Russia nominees were seen winning governorships in several dozen regions in Sunday’s elections.

    In the Far East, however, they suffered a crushing defeat. The Liberal Democratic Party won all but one seat in the Khabarovsk City Duma and dominated in several other local elections including the mayoral vote.

    Voting in Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg was marred by violations and reported election fraud. Central Election Commission chief Ella Pamfilova told reporters on Monday that she was aware of the reports and will look into them. Alexander Beglov, who was endorsed by Putin, was seen winning the race for governor with 64 percent of the vote.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday that the election results showed that the opposition’s idea of protest voting has largely failed.

    The opposition celebrated Sunday’s election results that would cut the pro-government presence in the Moscow city council from 38 to 25 but many expressed disappointment with what has been perceived as an unfair registration process.

    Daria Besedina, a candidate from the liberal Yabloko party who was allowed on the ballot and won in her district, said on Monday that she would vote for the dissolution of the legislature when it convenes.

    We shouldn’t forget that these were not real elections — a lot of genuine (opposition) candidates who would have won were not allowed to run,” she tweeted. “Moscow would have got an opposition Duma if all the candidates were registered.”

  2. #42

    EU will not recognize results of Russian elections in Crimea

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union will not recognize the results of Sunday’s Russian local and regional elections in Crimea because the region belongs to Ukraine and not Russia, a spokeswoman for the EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday.

    “Anybody elected in the Crimean peninsula claiming to ‘represent’ the populations of Crimea and Sevastopol will not be recognized as representatives of those territories, which are Ukrainian,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.

    The EU has imposed sanctions on Russia and people in Crimea after Moscow’s annexation of the peninsula in 2014.

    Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  3. #43
    Von der Leyen finalizes team for EU's executive arm

    By The Associated Press
    BRUSSELS — September 9, 2019, 7:21 AM ET

    European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who is to take the helm at the European Union's executive branch in November, has finalized her team for the coming five years.

    Her proposed list includes former Italian prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni.

    Von der Leyen, who will replace Jean-Claude Juncker, almost achieved perfect gender equality in her appointments with 14 men and 13 women for her commission, which proposes laws for the 28-country bloc and ensures they are put into practice. Britain, which is scheduled to leave the EU on October 31, has not been assigned a commissioner.

    The commission said Monday von der Leyen will give details on the jobs allocated to the 27 on Tuesday.

    Her team must be approved by the European Parliament.

  4. #44
    Holger Zschaepitz
    þ @Schuldensuehner
    6h6 hours ago

    Good Morning from Germany which posted its biggest trade surplus in four months as exports showed a surprise gain. Exports rose 0.7% in July vs estimate for 0.5% drop. Trade balance widened to €21.4bn, most since Mar, and up from €16.6bn the prev month.
    Attached Images

  5. #45
    Greek PM cautions Turkey’s Erdogan against “threatening Europeans with flood of migrants”

    By Arthur Lyons
    Voice of Europe
    9 September 2019

    Greece’s new conservative Prime Minister has warned Turkey’s Erdogan against threatening Europe with a new wave of migrants after the Turkish Prime Minister threatened last week to “open the gates” and let millions of migrants flood into Europe.

    Erdogan’s words were spoken amid rising tensions between Turkey and the United States over delays in the creation of a safe zone in Syria.

    “Our goal is for at least one million of our Syrian brothers to return to the safe zone we will form along our 450 km border,” Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara last Thursday. The Turkish Prime Minister called on European government to provide ‘logistical support and we can go build housing at 30 km (20 miles) depth in northern Syria’.

    Erdogan then warned, “This either happens or otherwise we will have to open the gates.”

    Turkey alleges that it has spent $35 billion on hosting about four million Syrian refugees under its current deal with the EU.

    In response to the statement, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday, “Turkey should not put pressure on either Greece or Europe while trying to get support for its plan to resettle refugees arriving from northern Syria.”

    “Mr. Erdogan must understand that he cannot threaten Greece and Europe in an attempt to secure more resources to handle the refugee (issue),” Mitsotakis told journalists at news conference in the Greek city of Thessaloniki.

    Erdogan’s threats are not the first time prominent members of the current Turkish administration have threatened to flood Europe with migrants.

    Last month, the Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said, “We are facing the biggest wave of migration in history. If we open the floodgates, no European government will be able to survive for more than six months. We advise them not to try our patience.”

  6. #46
    Report: France spends 2 billion euros each year on underage migrants

    By Arthur Lyons
    Voice of Europe
    9 September 2019

    Newly released statistics from the Assembly of French Departments (ADF) have revealed that French taxpayers are paying two billion euros per year to take care of underage migrants.

    According to a report by Agence France-Press, close to 41,000 migrants under the age of 18 are currently living in France. Of those 41,000 underage migrants, 95 percent of them men who each cost the French state around 50,000 euros.

    Most of these underage migrants are coming from Sub-Saharan Africa. Migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa comprise 15 to 20 percent of all minors in France who receive social assistance benefits, according to the ADF.

    The ADF also mentions that since the peak of the migrant crisis in 2015, the number of minor migrants living in France who are welfare-dependent has increased by 74 percent between 2016 and 2017.

    The French government has only five days to find out details of a newly arrived migrant who claims to be a migrant.

    Since January of 2019, departments can take the biometric data of newly arrived migrants via a court order. Fingerprints can be taken to determine age while other tests can be performed to find out the age of migrants.

    Close to 50 percent of all of the migrants claiming to be migrants who are tested on their age turn out to be adults, the ADF’s report revealed.

    According to the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons, France, in 2018, saw more asylum claims than in any previous year, with a total of 123,625 migrants trying to claim asylum

  7. #47

    Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry reports increase in attempts at illegal crossings from Greece
    By Clive Leviev-Sawyer/ Published on: 10/09/2019

    Additional police and gendarmerie teams have been sent to the Bulgarian-Greek border following an increase in attempts by migrants to cross into the country illegally from Greece, Bulgarian Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said.

    Marinov said that at the moment it would not be necessary to deploy the Bulgarian military to the Greek border.

    According to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, more than 8000 migrants arrived on Greece’s Aegean islands in August, more than double the number in August 2018. Reports on September 10 said that more than 2000 had arrived on the islands from Turkey since September 1.

    On September 5, Turkish president Erdogan was reported to have threatened to reopen a route for Syrian refugees to reach Europe if he did not receive more support for a resettlement plan centred on northern Syria.

    We are following the processes in Turkey. You see what is happening,” Marinov said.

    “Unfortunately, these processes do not depend solely on what we want. They are rather, global, and naturally, when there is movement and some concern, we are obliged to take action.

    “We have adequate facilities in place, but we have a problem with the land border with Greece, which is why we have deployed additional forces so that we can keep the border secure. We are seeing an increase in attempts to cross that border illegally,” he said.

    Bulgaria had good co-operation with Greece’s authorities, Marinov said./ibna

  8. #48

    Belarus might import oil through Poland and Baltic states - Lukashenko
    2019-09-07 LETA/Interfax/TBT Staff

    MINSK - Belarus might start importing oil through Poland and the Baltic states as an alternative to the Russian oil import if an agreement with Russia is not reached, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko told the press yesterday.

    "We are preparing the northern route. I have openly informed the Russian government about it. Via Poland, via the Baltic states. There is a progress," BELTA news agency cited the Belarussian president.

    Lukashenko has resumed discussion on alternatives to the Russian oil after Minsk and Moscow have not been able to reach an agreement on the loss caused to Belarus by Russian tax changes and the contamination discovered in the oil pipeline. Minsk is also dissatisfied with the fact that Russia does not sell it natural gas for internal market prices.

    Currently Russia is the only supplier of crude oil to both Belarussian oil refineries that receive about 18 million tons of oil a year.

  9. #49

    More than 19 000 migrants have been registered in BiH this year
    By Mladen Dragojlovic/ Published on: 10/09/2019

    A delegation of members of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (PSBiH), gathered at the Club for European Integration and Security Issues, visited the BiH Foreign Affairs Office today to discuss priorities in managing migration in BiH.

    The director of the Foreign Affairs Office, Slobodan Ujić, pointed out after the meeting that all aspects of the migrant crisis were discussed, especially security issues, the number of migrants and their accommodation, and the situation in the Una-Sana Canton (USK), as well as the institutional response to the current situation.

    Among other things, opinions were exchanged regarding human, material and financial resources, which need to be used to keep the situation under control, including the humanitarian aspect and changes to the legislative framework.

    Referring to current indicators, Ujić reminded that 19,500 illegal migrants were registered since the beginning of the year, which is about 20 per cent more than in the same period last year, estimating that migration is still under control and that the biggest problems are present in the Una-Sana Canton, where a steady presence of 3,500 to 5,500 illegal migrants are recorded.

    At the same time, about a hundred migrants are reported daily in Tuzla, which is a daily influx. When it comes to structure, about 90 per cent still relate to economic migrants between the ages of 18 and 35, mostly from Pakistan.

    Ujić further said that they discussed how to ‘unburden USK’, including the relocation of reception centres. Answering a question regarding relations with the institutions of the Republic of Croatia regarding migration, he said that the return of migrants from Croatia to the “green belt” was discussed, without announcement and readmission, and that the Coordinating Body for Migration Issues in BiH might adopt a different position on the issue.

    He added that, according to some information, Croatia received thousands of migrants from Slovenia through regular readmission, and that it is necessary to see what happened to those migrants.

    Aida Baručija (Independent Bloc) MP for the BiH Parliamentary House of Representatives assessed that the visit of the delegation to the Foreign Affairs Service was one of a series of steps by parliamentarians gathered at the Club for European Integration and Security, recalling that this was preceded by visits to the USK and Border Police of BiH (GPBiH) in Trebinje, and talks with BiH Minister of Security Dragan Mektić.

    She stressed that it is necessary to strengthen the control of the BiH state border to keep the migrant crisis under control./ibna

  10. #50

    Jailed Catalan leader says Spain wants to 'behead' separatism
    Joan Faus

    BARCELONA (Reuters) - Catalonia’s highest-profile jailed separatist leader accused Spain of trying to behead the secessionist movement with a trial on the region’s failed independence bid, adding that another independence referendum was still a possibility.

    Oriol Junqueras, the former Catalan deputy head of government who is jailed outside Barcelona pending a ruling on his role in the 2017’s secessionist bid, answered questions from Reuters ahead of an annual pro-independence march on Wednesday that is expected to reflect the strength and unity of the separatist movement.

    “I am convinced that I am innocent and that we have not committed any crime,” said Junqueras, 50, leader of the left-wing Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya party.

    “What the (Spanish) state pretends with this (upcoming) sentence is to behead a peaceful movement and, as it cannot detain two million citizens, it locks us up,” he said in written responses conveyed by his legal team.

    Junqueras is allowed to use a computer without internet access.

    He is one of the 12 Catalan leaders - nine of them jailed - facing charges of rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of public funds for the independence referendum and the botched independence declaration that followed it.

    Prosecutors are seeking sentences of 7 to 25 years, the latter only for Junqueras.

    A ruling by Spain’s Supreme Court is expected soon, likely in October. Spanish authorities have repeatedly said the trial was fair and respects the rule of law.

    As they have done in massive marches since 2012, tens of thousands of separatists are expected to demonstrate on Wednesday in Barcelona on Catalonia’s annual commemorative day.

    Catalonia’s independence drive is at a defining moment after internal divisions have surfaced. They will likely determine the direction and strength of a movement that has overshadowed Spanish politics for years, triggering the country’s biggest political crisis in decades in 2017.

    Junqueras said he has no regrets and that he had fulfilled a “democratic mandate” when two years ago Catalan leaders defied a judicial ban by carrying out a secessionist vote and the short-lived independence declaration that followed.

    The confrontation saw police wielding batons at crowds seeking to vote and prompted the then-conservative government to impose direct rule from Madrid on the region.

    Junqueras said that Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum, which was authorized by London, was his preferred option for Catalonia’s next steps.

    Asked if he would rule out acting unilaterally again, he said: “We cannot discard any (option) that is democratic and peaceful.” He also repeated that his party had always backed and sought an independence referendum.


    A poll published in July by a public Catalan institute showed support for an independent Catalonia at its lowest level in two years, with 48.3% of people against and 44% in favor.

    Assemblea Nacional Catalana, the grassroots organization behind Wednesday’s march, minimized the decrease but said the lack of a clear separatist road-map could be to blame at a time when pro-independence parties are divided on what to do next.

    Reporting by Joan Faus; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Dan Grebler

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  11. #51

    Elections 2019: How Norway’s Big Cities Voted
    Posted by David Nikel — September 10, 2019 in News from Norway 01

    Norway's smaller parties made big gains across the country in the 2019 local elections. The results leave the Labour Party clinging on to power in many of Norway's biggest cities after their worst electoral night in generations.

    The Greens in Oslo, the road toll protest party in Bergen, the collapse of support for Labour in their heartland of Trondheim. Wherever you look, there is a big story in Norway's 2019 local elections.

    The nationwide results
    Not all the results are in, but the results so far show a stunning trend. Although these are municipal and county elections, it's always expected that the main opposition party in Parliament will receive a boost. Not so.

    All four of Norway's governing parties lost votes compared to the last local elections. But the big surprise was the incredible fall in Labour Party (Ap) support all across the country. The pro-local, pro-rural, pro-farming Centre Party (Sp) were the biggest winners, finishing a clear third place in the popular vote.

    Also polling well were two parties on opposing sides of the environment argument. The Green Party (MDG) took a lot of the urban vote, while the protest party People's Action – No To More Road Tolls (FNB) recorded stunning success in Bergen.

    Here's how things are shaping up in the big cities:

    Oslo gets greener
    The power balance within Oslo's red-green city council has shifted, with the Greens set to have a much more powerful voice in the Norwegian capital.

    Labour is no longer the biggest party on Oslo city council, losing 11.9% of the vote from last time. However, their current coalition partners the Greens gained 7% to record one of their best ever electoral performances in Norway.

    The Socialist Left (SV) and Red (Rødt) parties also made notable gains. The Labour-Green results should be enough to keep the current leadership in place, as the main opposition Conservative Party (Høyre) also lost support. Here are the results from Oslo.

    Bergen: Anger at road tolls poses problem for Labour
    Protest parties often poll well but then fall short when the votes are actually cast. Not so in Norway's second city! The anti-road-toll party FNB picked up 16.9% of the vote, placing them in a strong third place. The biggest losers were Labour, who lost an incredible 18% of the vote to sensationally lose their status as Bergen's biggest party.

    Although Norway's Conservative party also dropped 2%, they won the popular vote. Another notable result was the increase in support for the Greens from 6% to 9.8%.

    If Labour's Roger Valhammer is to remain city council leader, he'll have to cobble together a broad coalition of support including from the Centre Party. Here are the results from Bergen.

    Trondheim: Labour need more support to continue
    If there was anywhere that Labour's support should have held up it was Trondheim. Known throughout the land as a Labour voting city, Trondheim residents turned away from the party in unprecedented numbers. Regularly polling 40% at local elections, Labour took just 25% of the vote this time around.

    However, as with most of the other major cities, it seems that Labour have done just about enough to cling on to power in the city council. They will also have to rely on support from the other parties, but that should be doable as the Socialist Left, Red, Centre Party and Greens all recorded strong performances. Here are the results from Trondheim.

    Stavanger: City council thrown wide open
    Labour's vote largely held up in Stavanger, and it is now the city with the most interesting situation. The Conservatives and right-wing Progress Party (FrP) currently control the council but both parties lost seats. The strong performance of protest party FNB (9.3%) has thrown the race for control wide open.

    On the live election night broadcast, Labour's mayoral candidate Kari Nessa Nordtun said she would be willing to negotiate with FNB in order to take control of the council. Here are the results from Stavanger.

  12. #52

    Massive rally for Catalonia’s secession in Barcelona

    BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards who support the secession of Catalonia gathered in Barcelona on the region’s main holiday Wednesday, just weeks before a highly anticipated verdict in a case against 12 leaders of the separatist movement.

    Supporters of Catalan secession came from all parts of the wealthy northeastern region to its main city. Many carried flags or wore T-shirts supporting Catalan independence as they met for the rally in a large public square.

    The Sept. 11 holiday memorializes the fall of Barcelona in the Spanish War of Succession in 1714. Since 2012, it has become the date of massive rallies for the region’s secessionist movement.

    The Barcelona police said that around 600,000 people turned out for the event.

    Polls and the most recent election results show that the region’s 7.5 million residents are roughly equally split between those in favor and those against breaking with the rest of Spain.

    Spain’s caretaker prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, who has tried to thaw tensions with Catalonia since taking power last year, wrote on Twitter that “Today should be a day for all Catalans. For the path of dialogue within the Constitution, harmonious coexistence, respect and understanding.”

    This year’s rally comes while a dozen leaders of Catalonia’s 2017 failed attempt to secede await a verdict from the Supreme Court on charges that include rebellion. They face spending several years behind bars if found guilty, and a heavy punishment would most likely spark public protests in Catalonia. The verdict is expected this month or next.

    The movement, however, is going through its most difficult period since separatist sentiment was fueled by the previous decade’s economic difficulties, from which Spain has only recovered in recent years.

    The pro-secession political parties have yet to agree on what the response to a guilty verdict by the Supreme Court should be. That has earned the criticism of the leading grassroots groups which have fueled the secessionist drive.

    Regional Catalan president Quim Torra says that a guilty verdict would provide an opportunity to make another push for independence, without specifying how that could be carried out.

    “The objective of independence should be the horizon of this country after the verdict,” he said in a recent interview on Catalan public television.

    Other separatist politicians think the best move is to call regional elections in an attempt to increase their representation in the regional parliament and focus on gaining the backing of more than half of Catalans. Those against independence complain that the separatists have monopolized the holiday for their political ends.

    But some activists have accused all their political leaders of not taking concrete steps to achieve their goal. Radical activists recently expressed their anger by throwing garbage and excrement on the doors of the offices of pro-secession parties.

    Not only have we not advanced, but we have taken some steps backward,” Elisenda Paluzie, the head of the influential pro-secession grassroots group ANC, told the crowd. “We demand that our leaders don’t let us down.”

  13. #53

    France flags welding fault at five or more EDF nuclear reactors
    3 MIN READ

    PARIS (Reuters) - At least five nuclear reactors operated by French utility EDF might have problems with weldings on their steam generators, a fault which has raised fears of closures, France’s nuclear regulator was quoted as saying.

    State-controlled EDF, whose shares were down 0.9% on Thursday, had said on Tuesday it had identified issues with weldings of some existing reactors, sparking a stock price fall of nearly 7%.

    France has the world’s second-largest fleet of nuclear reactors behind the United States, but a spate of technical problems, coupled with hitches at reactors under construction, has tarnished EDF’s image as a leader in nuclear technology.

    EDF has exported to China, Finland, South Africa and South Korea, with Britain also set to use its equipment.

    “At least five nuclear reactors are affected by this problem,” Le Figaro newspaper quoted Bernard Doroszczuk, head of the ASN regulator, as saying.

    EDF has advised that in around a week it will give an exact number of facilities affected,” Doroszczuk added.

    A spokesman for EDF said that there was no plan to shut down the reactors involved for the time being, but the situation could change and it would be for ASN to decide.

    The spokesman added that EDF could also decide to halt the affected reactors.

    “We are carrying out an in-depth investigation of every part in the reactors that could be impacted by the issue. Based on the investigation, we will determine the remedial options.”

    Reactor closures, if they were to happen ahead of winter when power consumption rises, would impact power generation in France, which depends heavily on nuclear power, and, potentially in European countries that import electricity from France.

    French and the wider European forward power prices firmed in wholesale trade on concerns over French nuclear availability, while gains in carbon emissions permit and gas prices provided support, a London-based trader said.

    France’s baseload electricity contract for year-ahead delivery rose 0.4% to 53.75 euros a megawatt hour (MWh). The contract hit an eight-week high of 55.25 euros/MWh on Wednesday.

    French December delivery power contract surged 11 percent or 7 euros to 70 euros/MWh. Germany’s year-ahead delivery price, the European benchmark power contract added 0.4% to 50.40 euros/MWh.

    On Wednesday, the ASN said it had put EDF’s Flamanville 1 and 2 reactors under increased surveillance following a series of shortcomings in maintenance and contractor oversight.

    Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; writing by Christian Lowe; editing by Richard Lough, Jason Neely and Alexander Smith

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  14. #54

    Spain’s king to meet political leaders about forming a govt
    an hour ago

    MADRID (AP) — Spain’s King Felipe VI will meet with leaders of the country’s political parties to determine if there is a viable candidate who could receive the endorsement of parliament to form a government and avoid a second national election this year.

    The royal house announced Thursday that the talks between the monarch and politicians will be on Sept. 16 and 17.

    If the king believes that no candidate can get a majority in the 350-member lower chamber needed to form a government, he will proceed to call voters to the polls in November.

    Caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez appears to be the only possible candidate, but the Socialist leader already failed to earn parliament’s endorsement in July.

    The deadline to form a government is Sept. 23.

  15. #55

    Czech President To Push for Kosovo Recognition Withdrawal
    Maja ZivanovicBelgradeBIRNSeptember 11, 2019

    On his visit to Serbia, Czech President Milos Zeman delighted his hosts when he promised to try to persuade his country to withdraw its diplomatic recognition of Kosovo, granted in 2008.

    Czech President Milos Zeman delighted his Serbian hosts at a joint press conference on Wednesday with his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic, when he promised to push for the Czech Republic to withdraw its 2008 recognition of Kosovo at a counseling on the constitution expected to happen in one month.

    “I’m not a dictator … but what I can do is to raise this issue and see if this [withdrawal of recognition] is possible,” Zeman said without further explanation.

    If Zeman succeeds in his task, it will be a diplomatic triumph for Belgrade, which has been leading a strenuous campaign to stop countries from recognising its former province, or persuade them to withdraw recognition.

    Several diplomatically marginal countries have already done so, but for an EU and NATO member state to follow suit would be serious setback for Kosovo, which is sill struggling to gain diplomatic acceptance and joint the UN. Five EU members have never recognised Kosovo – Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Romania and the Slovak Republic.

    Zeman recalled that the Czech Defence Minister, Lubomir Metnar, had recently said that recognition of the independence of the former Serbian province had been “a diplomatic mistake” and added that this meant Metnara would support the initiative. “Probably he will be on my side and let’s see in about a month who will be on the other side,” Zeman added.

    Echoing Serbian language about Kosovo, he said that a “country led by war criminals should not be in the community of democratic countries”.

    The Czech President already sparked controversy after he landed at Belgrade airport on Tuesday, when the media quoted him as saying that he “Loves Serbia and the Serbian people. And I don’t love Kosovo”.

    During his visit, the Czech President will also attend the joint business forum, together with about 50 Czech businessmen in his delegation. Bilateral agreements will be signed in the field of defence and innovation among others.

    Serbian President Vucic thanked Zeman during the press conference on Wednesday for his Kosovo statement. “Zeman is true friend of Serbia. It is rare for such people to come to Serbia – who genuinely love Serbia,” Vucic said.

    The Czech Republic recognized Kosovo on May 21, 2008.

    Zeman is well known for his populist, anti-Muslim views, telling an interview in 2016 that the integration of Muslim migrants into Europe was impossible. Most Kosovars are Muslim.

  16. #56
    Think-Tank: Half of Italians Could Be Muslims by Year 2100

    Chris Tomlinson / Europe
    12 September 2019

    An Italian think-tank has predicted that due to mass migration and differing birthrates, half of all Italians could be Muslims by the end of the century.

    The FareFuturo foundation released its findings this week as part of their “First report on the Islamisation of Europe,” in cooperation with the national-conservative Brothers of Italy (FdI) party, Italian newspaper Il Giornale reports.

    According to the report, Muslims represent 30.1 per cent of all the foreign nationals residing in Italy as of the start of 2019 and stated that in 2018 the number of Muslims grew by 127,000 while Christians declined by 145,000 in the same period.

    The authors claim that nearly eight out of ten immigrants coming into Italy are Muslims and also noted that Muslims tend to have much higher birthrates than native Italians, with Muslim women having twice as many children on average.

    The Italian public has also become more concerned with “more effective interventions in terms of security, legality and protection of culture and our customs”, according to the report, but also notes that Italians condemn outright xenophobia.

    The stagnant and declining birthrate has been discussed for years in Italy with the Italian Statistics Bureau (ISTAT) releasing a report last year predicting a decline in the population of around ten per cent by 2065.

    In 2018, Italy was ranked 212 out of 223 countries for new live births with 8.6 births per 1,000 citizens.

    Populist politician and former interior minister Matteo Salvini has repeatedly brought up the issue of population decline, advocating for policies and incentives to increase the ailing birth rate.

    In July of last year, Salvini spoke out on the subject saying, “A country which does not create children is destined to die” and warned that the political left would use the issue to garner support for increased mass migration levels.

    Now that Salvini and the League are no longer in government, his pro-family policies are likely in jeopardy as the left-wing Democratic Party (PD), which joined the new governing coalition, has previously pushed for opening the country’s borders and birthright citizenship to increase the population of the country.

  17. #57
    Eurasian Politics On The Cusp Of Change

    by Tyler Durden
    Zero Hedge
    Thursday 09/12/2019 - 05:00

    Authored by M.K. Bhadrakumar via,

    The meeting of the foreign and defense ministers of Russia and France in the 2+2 format in Moscow on September 9 signified not only a warming up of relations between the two countries but a reset in Russia’s ties with the West.

    The last time a Franco-Russian event in the 2+2 format took place was in October 2012 in Paris. A year later, the conflict erupted in Ukraine and the European Union imposed sanctions against Russia. The trajectory since then appears to be reversing its course.

    The first signs appeared during the G7 summit in Biarritz on 24-26 August where the schism between the West and Russia significantly narrowed. The US President Donald Trump announced that he intended to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to next year’s G7 at Miami.

    In the run-up to the Biarritz summit and immediately thereafter, the host, French President Emmanuel Macron underscored that reversing the trend of distrust between the West and Russia is in the common interest. (See my blog Macron’s Carolingian Renaissance of the G7.)

    Antagonism in Europe toward Russia has been steadily giving way to a new thinking that isolating Moscow is not a viable strategy on the global stage. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas declared in July that “without Russia, we will not find answers to the pressing issues in global politics.”

    Italy, of course, pioneered the new thinking and has sought the removal of the EU’s sanctions against Russia. In July, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described EU restrictions as “sad,” and “not good for Russia, nor for the EU, nor for Italy.”

    However, it is France’s role that becomes crucial today. Despite Moscow’s backing for Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate in France’s 2017 presidential election, Macron seemed a model of moderation no sooner than he assumed office to invite Putin to visit him. Putin gleefully accepted the invitation (although Macron was seen in Moscow as the least desirable presidential candidate for Russian interests.)

    In a summit at the highly-symbolic and sumptuous setting of Château de Versailles in May 2017, Macron held a “frank exchange” with Putin where they discussed “disagreements”. At a joint news conference, both leaders said there were opportunities to work together more closely.

    Clearly, within ten days of assuming office as president, Macron was on the ball to bring Putin back in from the cold. Macron kept the lines open with Putin and even invited the Russian leader for talks at his residence on August 19 just days ahead of the G7 summit in Biarritz.

    Macron sees that it is up to him to grab a leadership role for France. He has attempted to play the role of a mediator in Libya’s civil war, the Syrian conflict, Ukraine and the situation around Iran. As Tatiana Kastoueva-Jean at the French Institute of International Relations recently told the AFP:

    “The stars are aligning a bit for Emmanuel Macron. He has the presidency of the G7 and the Council of Europe; Germany is no longer playing an active role in these matters; and London is paralysed by Brexit. He’s the de facto leader of Europe, and can legitimately speak for the West.”

    Macron senses that a breakthrough is possible over Ukraine where the new president Volodymyr Zelensky appears determined to improve relations with Russia, which is also what his massive electoral mandate expects from him.

    On the other hand, Putin is eager to encourage Zelensky to push ahead to unlock the stalemate in Donbas by exploring the potentials of the Minsk agreements regarding some degree of autonomy for the breakaway regions.

    To be sure, the growing rapprochement between Moscow and Kiev resulted in the swap of dozens of prisoners in each other’s custody on Saturday, which is a hugely emotive issue and clears the deck for a summit meeting of the Normandy format (France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine) to accelerate a peace process in Donbas.

    Meanwhile, a trilateral meeting is also expected to take place within the year between Russia, European Union and Ukraine to discuss a new framework for Russian gas supplies to Ukraine.

    Indeed, the ground beneath the feet is shifting. Trump struck the right cord by promptly welcoming Saturday’s prisoner swap: “Russia and Ukraine just swapped large numbers of prisoners. Very good news, perhaps a first giant step to peace. Congratulations to both countries!”

    Unlike his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump doesn’t see any vital US interests at stake in pitting Kiev against Moscow. Trump’s detached attitude is making a difference. He understands that only by easing tensions over Ukraine, a meaningful rapprochement with Russia becomes possible.

    On his part, Putin too knows that in order for Russia to play the optimal role as an independent power centre on the global stage and as a balancer in big-power politics — as well as for sustaining Russia’s resurgence in the medium and long-term — the strengthening of the European vector of its “Eurasianism” becomes imperative.

    Putin hopes to secure an easing of EU sanctions and a possible return to the G7. On the other hand, he is acutely conscious that the divergences among the Europeans and the discords within the transatlantic alliance strengthen Moscow’s hand in negotiations.

    However, there is going to be robust opposition from the western camp to any dismantling of sanctions against Russia. Britain will oppose tooth and nail any moves to give ground against Russia. (See an acerbic piece by the British think tank Chatham House titled On Russia, Macron Is Mistaken.)

    Again, how far Trump succeeds in forcing his will on the Russia policies remains to be seen. Fundamentally, the US establishment is nowhere near willing to accept the growing multipolarity in the world order. The US’ dual containment strategy against Russia and China is cast in stone, as the speech by the US Defence Secretary Mark T. Esper at London’s Royal United Services Institute last week reminds us.

    But then, the Chinese have a saying — ‘Dripping water can pierce a stone.’ The Russian-Ukrainian swap of prisoners and the resumption of the Franco-Russian meeting in the 2+2 format signal a high degree of perseverance on the part of Macron and Putin — with tacit support from Trump. One can hear the sound of dripping water.

    The French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in Moscow after the 2+2 talks, “The time has come, the time is right, to work toward reducing the distrust between Russia and Europe, who ought to be partners on a strategic and economic level. It’s not yet the time to lift sanctions. (But) we are seeing a new state of mind compared to that of the last few years, which we are pleased about.”

    The point is, Russia will never give back Crimea and France’s European allies may have to consider that to be an acceptable price to end the Ukraine conflict. Such a strategic adjustment is entirely conceivable but it takes time to mature.

  18. #58
    Spain has not had a functioning government for about 5 months now. The King of Spain was to meet with all sides today to see if something could be worked out. I haven't seen the results of that meeting but this article indicates that it did not go well.

    Spain's Sanchez rejects latest Podemos proposal for coalition government

    MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s acting Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez rejected on Thursday the latest proposal by far-left Podemos for a coalition government on a one-year trial period, though he remains open to negotiations to avoid a repeat election, a Socialist party source said.

    The two leaders spoke in a brief call on Thursday evening in an effort to revive stalled negotiations, the first time they have talked since power-sharing talks collapsed amid mutual recriminations in July.

    Sanchez’s Socialists have been trying to reach a pact with Podemos since they won an election in April without a majority. If they cannot agree on a government by Sept. 23, a new election - Spain’s fourth in as many years - would be held on Nov. 10.

    During the call, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias suggested a power-sharing coalition based on the final offer made by the Socialists in July before talks collapsed, a Podemos source said. If, after a budget had been approved, the Socialists were unhappy with the pact, Podemos would withdraw and support Sanchez in minority, the source added.

    In a sign of the continued distance between the two forces, Sanchez, according to the Socialist source, rejected the offer saying the lack of mutual trust between the two parties precluded the possibility of any power-sharing agreement.

    Reporting by Belen Carreno; Writing by Sam Edwards; Editing by Lisa Shumaker
    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  19. #59
    Spain has not had a functioning government for about 5 months now. The King of Spain was to meet with all sides today to see if something could be worked out. I haven't seen the results of that meeting but this article indicates that it did not go well.

    Spain's Sanchez rejects latest Podemos proposal for coalition government

    MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s acting Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez rejected on Thursday the latest proposal by far-left Podemos for a coalition government on a one-year trial period, though he remains open to negotiations to avoid a repeat election, a Socialist party source said.

    The two leaders spoke in a brief call on Thursday evening in an effort to revive stalled negotiations, the first time they have talked since power-sharing talks collapsed amid mutual recriminations in July.

    Sanchez’s Socialists have been trying to reach a pact with Podemos since they won an election in April without a majority. If they cannot agree on a government by Sept. 23, a new election - Spain’s fourth in as many years - would be held on Nov. 10.

    During the call, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias suggested a power-sharing coalition based on the final offer made by the Socialists in July before talks collapsed, a Podemos source said. If, after a budget had been approved, the Socialists were unhappy with the pact, Podemos would withdraw and support Sanchez in minority, the source added.

    In a sign of the continued distance between the two forces, Sanchez, according to the Socialist source, rejected the offer saying the lack of mutual trust between the two parties precluded the possibility of any power-sharing agreement.

    Reporting by Belen Carreno; Writing by Sam Edwards; Editing by Lisa Shumaker
    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  20. #60

    Britain's move to join U.S. Gulf mission frustrates European plans
    Robin Emmott, John Irish
    4 MIN READ

    BRUSSELS/PARIS (Reuters) - Britain’s decision to join a U.S.-led naval mission in the Gulf has delayed European efforts to set up a maritime force to ensure safe shipping in the Strait of Hormuz separate from American patrols, EU diplomats say.

    Britain and France proposed a European-led maritime force in July that was to be independent of the United States. They won support from Denmark, Italy and Spain, who were wary of an American mission for fear of making U.S.-Iranian tensions worse.

    The proposal was announced after Iran seized a British-flagged tanker in the Strait, in what was then widely seen as retaliation for the seizure of an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar by British marines. The British-flagged Stena Impero is still being held by Iran, although Tehran has signaled it could release it soon. The Iranian tanker was released from Gibraltar last month.

    France will make a fresh attempt on Sept. 16 to set up a mission to protect merchant shipping in the Strait, through which a fifth of the world’s oil passes, hoping to gather some 15 European countries in Paris to discuss a way forward.

    But diplomats involved in talks between EU capitals said London’s unexpected change of strategy to join a U.S.-led mission, taken by the new government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Aug. 5, has frustrated progress.

    Many of us wanted to do this with Britain, out of European solidarity, and to avoid the U.S. maximum pressure campaign on Iran,” one senior EU diplomat said. “Now it’s all on hold because Britain sided with the Americans.”

    Britain, France and Germany, with support from the rest of the EU, are trying to save the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and major powers, under which Tehran undertook to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

    U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran deal in May last year, dividing America from its European allies, who say the accord was stopping Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. Trump has since reinstated crippling sanctions on Iran.

    Given Britain’s plans to quit the EU, London initially sought a mission that would not involve the European Union, NATO or the United States directly, but a looser coalition of European nations, including non-EU member Norway.

    Iran rejects the proposal and says foreign powers should leave securing shipping lanes to Tehran and others in the region. Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq export most of their crude via the Strait.

    A European mission could be run by a French command. France has a naval base in the United Arab Emirates.

    It will be with European partners, who are interested in a European mission that doesn’t give the impression of being a coalition against Iran,” a French defense official said.

    Italy, Denmark, Spain, Norway, Belgium and Sweden could yet join France in a European-led mission. The Netherlands is assessing both U.S. and French proposals, but diplomats said it was inclined to join a European-led initiative.

    Any mission would still need parliamentary approval in some EU countries, including Denmark and the Netherlands.

    Reporting by Robin Emmott and John Irish; Additional reporting by Sophie Louet; Editing by Peter Graff

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  21. #61

    Italy: Rescue boat with 82 migrants can dock at Italian isle
    7 minutes ago

    ABOARD THE OCEAN VIKING (AP) — A charity rescue ship with 82 migrants aboard received permission Saturday to sail to a tiny southern Italian island, but Italy’s foreign minister cautioned against interpreting the OK as a sign the new government is easing its crackdown on such vessels.

    Ocean Viking’s crew said Italian authorities instructed the ship to sail to Lampedusa. It was expected to arrive at the island later on Saturday.

    The Norwegian-flagged ship, which had appealed for days for a port of safety, is operated by two humanitarian groups, Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee.

    Ocean Viking carried out its first rescue, of 50 migrants who were struggling in an unseaworthy rubber dinghy launched by Libyan-based migrant smugglers, on Sept. 15. The others were rescued the next day. Among the migrants is a 1-year-old boy from Somalia.

    “We just heard that we have been assigned a place of safety, we are now on our way” to Lampedusa, said Erkinalp Kesikli, of Doctors Without Borders.”

    Migrants clapped with joy and excitement.

    We are very happy about the news this morning. It amazes us. This news amazes us,” said Myriam Annie Malang, one of the migrants. “We are arriving at a place where people understand and listen to us. We are very happy to learn that we are disembarking in Lampedusa.”

    Malang said she had been beaten while detained in Libya, a common account of suffering among migrants waiting to depart the northern African country on smugglers’ boats. She said she had fled conflict between English- and French-speaking communities in Cameroon.

    The previous government, under a rigid anti-migrant policy led by right-wing leader Matteo Salvini, banned charity rescue boats from entering Italy’s waters and disembarking migrants on Italy’s shores.

    Premier Giuseppe Conte’s week-old coalition now contains the center-left Democrats, whose leaders have called for a more humane policy on the rescue boats.

    Italy’s current and previous governments have insisted on more solidarity from fellow European Union nations, saying the migrants set out on their journeys seeking asylum or better economic conditions in Europe as a whole, not necessarily Italy.

    Italy’s new foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, leader of the coalition’s senior partner, the populist 5-Star Movement, cautioned against concluding his government was softening its stance on private rescue boats.

    “I believe there’s a big misunderstanding about a safe port given to Ocean Viking,” Di Maio told reporters. “It was assigned a port because the EU adhered to our request to take the great share of the migrants.”

    Germany’s interior minister said in a report published on Saturday his country is prepared to take in a quarter of migrants rescued off the Italian coast as the European Union tries to find a solution to repeated standoffs involving humanitarian groups’ ships.

    Germany and other EU countries have advocated finding at least an interim solution to the impasse over rescues in the Mediterranean Sea, ahead of a meeting of the bloc’s interior ministers Sept. 23 in Malta.

    Interior Minister Horst Seehofer was quoted as telling Saturday’s edition of German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung that talks are still ongoing “but if everything remains as discussed, we can take 25% of the people rescued from distress at sea who turn up off Italy.”

    He said that, in practice, Germany has already taken in around that proportion to date.

    Italian state TV on Friday said France is considering a similar arrangement.

    Di Maio also said he was working on aid deals that would improve economic conditions in the migrants’ homelands and to achieve more bilateral repatriation agreements.

    He stressed the “principle that whoever can’t stay here must go back, and whoever can stay here, is in Europe and not in Italy.”

    Doctors Without Borders had pleaded that the migrants not get caught up in the wait for such agreement among European Union countries, many of which have long resisted Italy’s appeals for solidarity in accepting the migrants.

    “We know that EU governments are trying for an accord, but in the meantime please let us disembark,” Doctors Without Borders tweeted earlier on Saturday.

    It also tweeted “we’re relieved” that they were cleared to sail to Lampedusa.


    Frances D’Emilio reported from Rome. Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.

  22. #62

    Norbert Hofer: new 'friendly face' of Austria's far-right

    Vienna (AFP)

    Norbert Hofer, who was formally elected on Saturday to lead Austria's far-right party into national elections, has gained a reputation as the friendly face of the Freedom Party (FPOe) in contrast to some of its firebrands.

    But sceptics say that behind the grin lurks a steely, dyed-in-the-wool ideologue.

    In the run-up to national elections on September 29, Hofer has declared he wants to "put his stamp" on the party and see it in government again in a renewed coalition with the conservative People's Party (OeVP).

    It remains to be seen whether he can unify party hardliners behind him, as well as overcome a corruption scandal that led to the resignation of his predecessor and the collapse of the previous OeVP-FPOe government.

    - Keen amateur flier -

    Hofer grew up in the city of Pinkafeld in Burgenland state, near the border with Hungary.

    His father was a businessman and involved in the OeVP, which formed the coalition with the FPOe in 2017, and again looks set to win the most votes.

    Even now, the softly-spoken aircraft engineer with a disarming smile maintains his links to Pinkafeld, where he is regularly seen cycling, shopping and visiting the same kebab restaurant.

    A Cessna air plane that the 48-year-old bought with two others last year is kept there, too. Hofer himself walks with a cane after a paragliding accident, but he remains a keen amateur flier.

    Politically, Hofer -- most recently transport minister and long touted as a leadership contender within the far-right party -- was the FPOe candidate in the 2016 presidential election.

    In the end, he lost the race for the largely ceremonial post to a former leader of the Green party, but he turned in a strong performance, surprising many -- including some in his own party.

    - 'Loyal to the homeland' -

    Christian Rainer, editor-in-chief of weekly magazine Profil, once described Hofer as "wolf in sheep's clothing".

    This time again, he is campaigning with slick posters that show him with the slogan "loyal to the homeland", and has returned to the party's tradition of anti-immigration and anti-Islam rhetoric.

    Islam is not part of our culture, not part of our history and will never be so," he said during Saturday's party convention.

    Hofer, who wrote the FPOe's party programme, also hailed his "long-term friendship" with Hungary's nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a visit to Budapest this week.

    A father-of-four on his second marriage, he first took on an official role in the FPOe in 1994 in his home state, before starting to work at a national level two years later. He became FPOe deputy head in 2005.

    © 2019 AFP

  23. #63

    Police face protesters in Nantes as 'yellow vest' marches resume

    NANTES, France (Reuters) - Hundreds of demonstrators faced police in a tense stand-off in the French city of Nantes on Saturday as revived “yellow vest” protests against the government of President Emmanuel Macron took place across the country.

    Police responded with tear gas after some protesters threw projectiles. A spokesman with the local prefecture said 21 people had been arrested.

    Television footage showed groups of black-clad protesters trying to break into shops, while police trucks carrying water cannon were seen arriving on scene.

    The Gilets Jaunes (yellow vest) protests, named after motorists’ high-visibility jackets, began over fuel tax increases but morphed into a sometimes violent revolt against Macron and a government they see as out of touch.

    The president has sought to ease tensions with 17 billion euros ($18.82 billion) of countermeasures to boost the monthly minimum wage, remove some taxes, and offer relief to poor retirees. But he faces a new round of anger with a long-awaited reform that seeks to merge France’s 42 different pension systems into a single points-based system.

    Parisian commuters faced travel misery on Friday as metro workers went on strike over plans to reduce their retirement privileges.

    Reporting by Reuters Television ; Writing by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Catherine Evans

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  24. #64
    As a follow up to post 3 on this thread.

    Swedish Municipality to Investigate True Costs of Asylum Migration
    SwedenDavid Ramos/Getty
    CHRIS TOMLINSON13 Sep 2019120
    The Swedish municipality of Härjedalen will be investigating the true costs of asylum and migration as other local governments face financial crises.
    The investigation was announced by the local Centre Party politician Anders Häggkvist who said it was important to investigate the matter “so that we can discuss it in an open way”, Nyheter Idag reports.

    The proposal, which was originally tabled by Olle Larsson of the Eurosceptic Independent Rural Party, comes after a local report that showed the municipality had spent 900,000 SEK ($92,987/£75,442) on minor migrants in the last financial statement.

    The costs are high for the municipality which has just 10,000 residents but is just part of the costs for asylum seekers which includes six HVB asylum homes, one of which remains empty, and around 50 apartments leased by the municipal housing company.

    Social Democrat Lars-Gunnar Nordlander, who serves as deputy municipal councillor and chairman of the social committee, said migrants were a resource for the area.

    Breitbart London
    "It will in principle be impossible to get them to work... the fear of discussing the issue has been devastating. It is unfortunate that we have not been able to discuss soberly without the racist card coming out," said the council chairman.

    Another Swedish Municipality That Took In Migrants Faces Economic Crisis
    Hässleholm, which took in nearly 3,000 asylum seekers in three years, faces an economic crisis as up to 80 per cent remain on welfare.
    4:20 AM - Aug 31, 2019
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    The investigation comes after several other local governments in Sweden that took large numbers of asylum seekers since 2015 have raised alarm over looming financial crises as migrants with low education and language skills remain on welfare benefits and are unable to join the labour force.

    Since August, three municipalities have voiced concerns over their financial futures including Bengtsfors which petitioned the national Swedish government for money in order to avoid potential bankruptcy.

    Filipstad complained not only of the low educational backgrounds of the asylum seekers now residing in the municipality but also of an added problem of native Swedes leaving the area and greatly weakening the already strained tax base.

    Claes Hultgren, the local municipal manager, spoke of the issues with new migrants saying: “In this group, unemployment and dependency are very high, while education levels are very low. This group runs the risk of ending in an eternal alienation that is already heavily burdening the municipal economy.”

    Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)
    ImmigrationLondon / EuropeEurope Migrant Crisisfinancial crisisMass MigrationSweden

  25. #65
    A Salvini comeback? That coalition in Italy began on shaky ground.

    League leader Salvini promises referendums to counter new Italy government
    Carmelo Camilli
    3 MIN READ

    PONTIDA, Italy (Reuters) - Italy’s far-right League will unleash a battery of referendums to try to sink reforms planned by the new government, party leader Matteo Salvini said on Sunday, denouncing his former coalition allies as traitors.

    The League governed with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement for 14 months before Salvini pulled down the coalition last month in an attempt to trigger early elections and cash in on his surging popularity.

    However, in a shock move, 5-Star hooked up with its former arch enemy, the pro-European Democratic Party (PD), to create a new administration and leave Salvini languishing in opposition.

    “We will challenge those traitors who are closed away in their offices,” Salvini told thousands of flag-waving supporters in Pontida, a small town in the northern region of Lombardy which is considered the spiritual home of the League.

    In the coming months, there will be a government of the people,” he said, promising to force referendums to undo planned legislation, including a likely change in the electoral law that might make it harder for the League to take power in future.

    “We have had enough of stitch-ups and betrayals,” Salvini said, also promising a referendum if the coalition sought to overturn a law he introduced last month that blocked Italy’s ports to migrant rescue ships.

    We have had enough of stitch-ups and betrayals,” Salvini said, also promising a referendum if the coalition sought to overturn a law he introduced last month that blocked Italy’s ports to migrant rescue ships.

    Referendum have to be held in Italy if at least 500,000 voters petition for one.

    “If they touch our security decree, then we won’t raise 500,000 signatures, but rather five million to defend the sacred borders of our nation,” said Salvini.

    In a sign the new government would adopt a softer stance on immigration, a French charity ship was allowed to enter the port of Lampedusa on Saturday to disembark some 82 Africans it had saved off the coast of Libya.

    I think immigration is going to be grim in the months ahead. It is going to get bad,” said Salvini, whose anti-migrant drive has helped the League more than double its support since national elections in 2018, making it Italy’s biggest party.

    At last year’s rally in Pontida, an ebullient Salvini predicted the League would rule for the next 30 years. In the end it barely survived a year, but rather than accept that he had made a political miscalculation, the League leader suggested he had fallen foul of an EU plot.

    “The Italian people won’t be slaves to anyone,” he said.

    The League said some 250 coaches had brought more than 80,000 supporters to Pontida and there was no word of criticism over Salvini’s decision to walk out of government and let the PD back into power.

    “Whatever Salvini does is right,” said Alex Sirani, a League supporter from nearby Brescia.

    Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Toby Chopra

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  26. #66
    Macron’s France: Over 90,000 Migrants Lodge Asylum Claims in 2019,

    New statistics have revealed that France is now tied with Germany for new asylum applications this year, with over 90,000 migrants attempting to claim asylum in France.
    A document from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) claims that France has seen a total of 91,372 asylum applications so far in 2019, just 767 less than Germany over the same period, French newspaper Le Bien Publique reports.

    Skip to content

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    Macron’s France: Over 90,000 Migrants Lodge Asylum Claims in 2019, Tying with Germany
    AfricaPIERO CRUCIATTI/AFP/Getty Images
    CHRIS TOMLINSON15 Sep 2019170
    New statistics have revealed that France is now tied with Germany for new asylum applications this year, with over 90,000 migrants attempting to claim asylum in France.
    A document from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) claims that France has seen a total of 91,372 asylum applications so far in 2019, just 767 less than Germany over the same period, French newspaper Le Bien Publique reports.

    France and Germany combined have taken in roughly 40 per cent of all asylum seekers in the European Union, Norway and Switzerland in 2019.

    In 2018, Germany saw 184,000 asylum applications, while France saw a record 123,000, a number which beat the previous record set just one year before in 2017.

    Didier Leschi, Director-General of the French Office for Immigration and Integration, explained the increase of asylum applications in France, saying: “France is not less protective than other countries, it is the opposite: this partly explains the attractiveness of our country and the fact that the asylum application continues to increase.”

    Breitbart London
    Underage Migrants Cost France Two Billion Euros Per Year

    Underage Migrants Cost France Two Billion Euros Per Year
    Figures released by the Assembly of French Departments have revealed that underage migrants cost French taxpayers two billion euros per year.
    12:00 PM - Sep 8, 2019
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    “We are seeing a very large influx of people from safe countries of origin in Eastern Europe who prefer to come to France because they are less protected in Germany,” Leschi added.

    “We are also seeing the arrival in France of those who have been rejected in other European countries, such as in Northern Europe and Germany, particularly the Afghans because the assessment of the situation in Afghanistan is different according to the asylum systems of European countries. France is a rebound country, ” he said.

    New asylum seekers have cost French taxpayers billions of euros, with underage migrants alone estimated to cost two billion euros per year according to figures released by the Assembly of French Departments (ADF) earlier this month.

    A report released last July claimed that as many as 400,000 illegal immigrants currently live in the troubled northern suburbs of Paris, with illegals making up as much as 20 perc ent of the population of the seine-Saint-Denis area.

    Breitbart London
    Even as More Migrant Boats Land, 40,000 Un-Deported Failed Asylum Seekers Remain in UK

    40,000 Un-Deported Failed Asylum Seekers Remain in UK As More Arrive
    The number of failed asylum seekers who should be deported from the United Kingdom has near doubled in five years, and new refugees are arriving into the country every week with 28 individuals known...
    10:00 AM - Aug 27, 2019
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    Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)
    ImmigrationLondon / Europeasylum applicationsasylum seekersFranceGermanyMass MigrationMigrant CrisisMigrants

  27. #67
    Don't look for the coalition that Conte put together to hold up a lot more.

    There were anti-immigrant marches in Spain and Ireland this past weekend. And the whole coalition in Italy is predicated on an agreement that the rest of the EU will take immigrants. As far as I can tell, only France and Germany have agreed to this scheme.
    Last edited by Plain Jane; 09-15-2019 at 07:47 PM.

  28. #68

    Muslim, Jewish leaders team up in 'exemplary' European initiative
    Imams and rabbis from across Europe are attending a summit in Italy organized by the Muslim Jewish Leadership Council. Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and right-wing populism are all topics they'd like to address better.

    Although the site is remote, it has plenty of symbolism: Beginning this Sunday, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders from some 15 countries will meet in the southern Italian city of Matera, one of Europe's 2019 cultural capitals, to take part in the Jewish European Islamic Summit. The leaders are laying the groundwork that will allow them to speak out together more strongly on the issues affecting them.

    "I think the project, in this particular arrangement, is rather unique. It is a tender blossom that must be nurtured and that deserves further support," Tarafa Baghajati tells DW. Baghajati, a civil engineer from Vienna, is one of Austria's more prominent imams. Together with others, the 58-year-old founded the Initiative of Austrian Muslims (IMÖ) in 1999. He was also involved in the creation of Platform Christians and Muslims, founded in 2006. He will be taking part in the summit in Matera.

    Into the future, side by side

    The project is indeed unique. In Europe, generally, Jewish and Muslim leaders often only appear together at public events hosted by politicians, at three-way dialogues between Christians, Jews and Muslims, or at interfaith conferences.

    But three years ago, another group was founded: the Muslim Jewish Leadership Council (MJLC). It was established when a total of 14 European Jewish and Muslim leaders met in Vienna at the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, known as KAICIID.

    At first, the MJLC was a small group. Notably, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), was a member from the start. Over the course of several meetings, mutual trust grew and a true exchange began. The MJLC organized the conference in Matera.

    Hurdles in Vienna

    While the KAICIID is financed by Saudi Arabia, it is respected among experts. Yet it is currently under threat. In June, the lower house of Austria's parliament voted to withdraw from the international organization and moved to cancel the agreement establishing Vienna as the KAICIID's headquarters, leaving KAICIID's future uncertain. Austria was one of the group's initial founders, along with Saudi Arabia and Spain.

    Yet, the Matera meeting of Jewish and Muslim religious leaders represents a new dimension in a dialogue that is often overshadowed by the Middle East conflict. Imams and rabbis from Ireland to Greece and Romania, from Lithuania to Portugal, will be in attendance. CER Secretary General Gady Gronich told DW that in choosing Matera, the group wanted to underline the fact, "that we are all part of Europe's culture."

    Moreover, Gronich added, Italy, like many other European countries currently governed by right-wing populists, recently sought to limit religious practices related to the slaughtering of animals and the circumcision of young men, both of which are common in Judaism and Islam. For now, those initiatives have been put aside, he said.

    Concern about right-wing populists

    Gronich says Europe's Jewish and Muslim communities are both very concerned about such political attempts aimed at limiting religious practices. He explained that in Matera, both sides hope to create a new committee. Comprised of two Jewish and two Muslim leaders, the committee would be able to publicly address controversial topics and discuss them with political leaders in Brussels or other European capitals.

    Baghajati also talked about these concrete attempts to limit religious practice and immediately referred to the "rise of right-wing populists" across the continent. He pointed to the Alternative for Germany (AfD), far-right parties in Austria, Matteo Salvini and his League party in Italy, and Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands.

    Baghajati said such groups push Islamophobia, "mainly against refugees, but also against Muslims in general, as a political platform with populist overtones." He pointed out that although such sentiments were being peddled 20 years ago, some of the groups using them have now assumed governing power.

    "That is why we are saying, 'nip it in the bud.' And who better to sound the alarm than Jews or Muslims," Baghajati said. "Together, we want to show that a liberal Europe, one of openness and with respect for human rights, is the right way forward."

    Read more: Germany's Muslims demand better protection amid increased threats

    Standing up against anti-Semitism

    Another topic that leaders from the MJLC and others gathered in Matera will discuss is the problem of anti-Semitism among refugees and migrants.

    "Instances of anti-Semitism among migrants is troubling," Granich said. "Unforunately, we're hearing of such cases more frequently, on a weekly basis. Nevertheless, the Jewish community has many Muslim partners and friends across Europe who stand with us in opposition to it."

    Gronich said a number of "formal and informal" discussions aimed at tackling the problem have already taken place. He added that, "We cannot forget that there are a number of groups on the Muslim side that do not want to talk to us. It's not all rosy, and not everyone is willing to engage in dialogue. But we want to exchange ideas with those who are willing to talk, so that we can build a future together."

    Read more: German Jews call for anti-Semitism classes for Muslim immigrants

    A role model for Europe

    Of course, much dialogue happens beyond public view, such as last year, when a group of 30 rabbis visited Tunisia.

    In Berlin, rabbis and imams have worked together in a more public fashion over the years. And recently, religious leaders have taken to accompanying young Jews and Muslims on visits to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Musuem, a former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp located in what is today Poland, in order to foster understanding of the Holocaust.

    Baghajati spoke of the "very positive experience" both sides have enjoyed in Austria. He said rabbis and imams have taken members of their communities along on trips together, and that the groups have stood in solidarity with one another when confronted with anti-Semitic or Islamophobic attacks. In his opinion, the relationship is "exemplary for Europe."

    Another thing Baghajati finds remarkable is the fact that, "Imams and rabbis are coming together on their own, without third-party mediation — here in Europe, outside the Middle East. And that they're saying, we don't want anyone to tell us how relations between Jews and Muslims have to be."

    "If intellectuals or religious dignitaries — imams and rabbis — on both sides don't do this, who will?" he added.

  29. #69

    Hungary sees no solitary veto of new Brexit delay: PM aide
    Krisztina Than, Gergely Szakacs
    5 MIN READ

    BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary on its own will not veto a new delay to Britain’s departure from the European Union, a top minister said on Monday, adding that a disorderly Brexit would dent Hungary’s strong economic growth.

    With less than seven weeks until Britain is due to leave the EU, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has yet to agree with Brussels on how to manage the separation between the world’s fifth-largest economy and its biggest trading partner.

    Johnson has pledged to leave the 27-member bloc with or without a deal on Oct. 31, even though British lawmakers have passed a law which would force him to request a delay beyond that date if he is unable to reach a deal.

    Gergely Gulyas, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, told Reuters there was no Hungarian government decision that would veto a Brexit delay: “No decision has been made in this respect."

    The Prime Minister, similarly to the prime ministers of the 26 other countries, is free to decide on what he will do in case there is a fresh (Brexit) delay but it can be excluded that Hungary would make a move alone,” Gulyas said in an interview.

    Gulyas said a no-deal Brexit would be harmful to Hungary’s economy, although the impact would be less severe than in some other member states. He said he was hopeful that a no-deal Brexit would reduce Hungary’s growth by less than 0.5%.

    However, Gulyas, who is one of Orban’s closest aides, said that in its present form Hungary would veto the EU’s next budget as it was unacceptable that political aspects would count when it came to the distribution of funds.

    count when it came to the distribution of funds.

    Orban, a nationalist with a strongly anti-immigrant platform, has frequently clashed with Brussels over migration and democratic rights.

    Brussels is considering making access to EU budget funds from 2021 conditional on respecting democratic principles. Hungary and most other ex-communist EU members receive large sums from the budget for infrastructure and other projects.

    “What we reject is that it is not the standard of living and the (fiscal) performance that would matter,” Gulyas said. “In this (present) form Hungary would definitely veto it.”

    He added that Hungary was ready to accept a potential additional payment into the EU’s budget after Britain leaves, or if Brussels decides not to make up for the loss caused by Brexit Hungary could also accept a proportionate cutback in funds.

    Orban’s economic policy has focused on maintaining an economic growth rate exceeding the EU’s average by 2 percentage points.

    Hungary’s economy expanded by an annual 4.9% in the second quarter, but it is expected to decelerate as growth in its main trading partner, Germany, slows.

    Gulyas said if the external environment in the EU turns unfavorable in the longer run, stronger economic incentives were needed to boost the Hungarian economy.

    He said while Hungary would stick to its deficit target of 1% of economic output next year, the budget still had ample buffers worth about 500 billion forints ($1.66 billion) that could be used for boosting the economy.

    He said the government also postponed some big state construction projects to 2021 from 2020 to upkeep a strong output in the sector.

    The current weaker forint exchange rate could help exports too, Gulyas added.

    The forint eased to an all-time low of 333.46 to the euro earlier this month and traded at 332.1 on Monday, weakening about 3.3% this year and underperforming other Central European currencies.

    Gulyas said the government had no exchange rate target but the current exchange rate “posed no threat to the success of Hungarian economic policy."

    He said that with households’ foreign currency mortgages converted into forints and Hungary’s foreign currency debt reduced sharply, the exchange rate had no decisive impact on the budget and economy.

    “For the time being, the exchange rate move is not causing inflation pressure that would pose a threat to the success of Hungarian economic policy or would erode the significant wage rises,” he said.

    Reporting by Krisztina Than and Gergely Szakacs, Editing by William Maclean

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  30. #70

    Italy: Salvini Forms Alliance with Berlusconi Against New Leftist Coalition

    Leader of far-right party the League Matteo Salvini (R) embraces Head of the centre-right Forza Italia (Go Italy) Silvio Berlusconi during a joint press conference with leader of far-right party Brothers of Italy (unseen) at the Tempio di Adriano in Rome on March 1, 2018. Silvio Berlusconi's rightwing coalition, which …ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

    CHRIS TOMLINSON15 Sep 201977
    Populist League (Lega) leader Matteo Salvini met with former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi this week to forge a new alliance against the new leftist coalition government.
    Salvini and the Forza Italia leader joined forces to reform the centre-right coalition they went into the last election with following what was dubbed as a “cordial meeting” by sources within Forza Italia, Italian newspaper Il Giornale reports.

    “They agreed to make a common front for an effective opposition to the government of the Five Star Movement and the Democratic Party,” the source added.

    Berlusconi also commented on the meeting, saying: “Everything went well, very well. We are in complete harmony. We talked a little about everything and about the opposition.”

    The meeting comes soon after Salvini joined forces with the national-conservative Brothers of Italy (FdI), participating in outdoor demonstrations alongside their leader Giorgia Meloni who has slammed the new coalition and demanded fresh elections.

    Breitbart London
    Fewer than One in Three Italians Happy with New Coalition

    Fewer than One in Three Italians Happy With New Coalition
    Only 32 per cent of Italians are positive about the new coalition deal between the populist Five Star Movement and the Democratic Party (PD).
    6:30 AM - Sep 5, 2019
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    Earlier this week Meloni told a crowd in Rome: “Parliamentary Republic does not mean that the parliament can be organised against the people. They know they are doing something the Italians don’t want and because they know they can’t win a free competition in the elections, they steal it. They are thieves of democracy, thieves of sovereignty, thieves.”

    Salvini also announced a large event to be held in Rome on October 19th and now sources within the League have claimed that the event will also be attended by members of Forza Italia as well as the FdI.

    Combined, the three centre-right parties poll at nearly 50 per cent of the vote in some recent polls, with the League continuing to poll at 30 per cent or more.

    Polls have also shown that the new leftist coalition, which looks set to open Italy’s borders once more to mass migration, is incredibly unpopular, with only around one in three Italians supporting it.

    Breitbart London
    Salvini: Italy Once Again ‘Europe’s Refugee Camp’ as Leftist Government Reopens Ports

    Salvini: Italy Is Once Again ‘Europe’s Refugee Camp’
    Matteo Salvini has sharply criticized the new government’s shift in policy, saying that Italy is once again “Europe’s refugee camp.”
    12:11 PM - Sep 15, 2019
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    Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)
    ImmigrationLondon / EuropePoliticsForza ItaliaItalyMatteo SalviniSilvio BerlusconiThe League

  31. #71

    Spain king seeks candidate to form gov’t, avert new election
    Associated Press
    29 minutes ago

    MADRID (AP) — Spain’s King Felipe VI is wrapping up two days of talks with political party leaders, hoping he can find a candidate that can win parliament’s backing to form a government and avert a second national election this year.

    The meetings finish Tuesday when the king meets caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party.

    Sanchez’s party holds 123 seats in the 350-member lower chamber and is the top candidate, but he has been unable to garner sufficient backing.

    Sanchez was to call the leaders of the three main opposition parties before meeting the king to see if they might finally support him, or at least abstain.

    The deadline to form a government is Sept. 23. If no candidate can do so, an election will be held Nov. 10.

  32. #72

    French professionals join forces to protest pension changes

    PARIS (AP) — Thousands of French professionals, including lawyers and doctors, took to the streets of Paris Monday in a new protest against the government’s planned pension changes.

    The protest saw lawyers, doctors, nurses and others in regulated professions vent their displeasure at the proposed changes that President Emmanuel Macron’s government says will simplify France’s convoluted pensions system. The government has promised the legal retirement age of 62 won’t change, but new conditions may encourage people to work longer.

    A large majority of those protesting Monday were lawyers, since the National Bar Council, which initiated the demonstration, claims the proposed changes will double the taxes its members pay.

    Wearing their black barristers’ robes, they marched in Paris’ central streets singing “no, no, no to the Macron reform,” some waving posters reading “No to the pension tax.”

    Most lawyers across France were on strike and decided not to plead any cases and asked for trials to be postponed.

    Some demonstrators warned that provinces outside of Paris would suffer most from the reforms, that would see some smaller law firms to shutter because of higher taxes.

    Anne-Laure-Hélène des Ylouses, a lawyer in the Paris area, raised concerns that the new retirement system would deter young people from entering the profession.

    “This puts in danger the economic model of lawyers, and for the youth, it worries them because in effect it will be very hard to establish themselves in a firm.”

    Nurses, podiatrists and other health workers dressed in white coats marched alongside the lawyers, expressing the same fears.

    Céline Ciriani, a podiatrist in the Paris suburb of Cormeilles-en-Parisis, said the new pension system “will make us lose a lot and could eventually cause offices to close because we don’t have enough money to pay our expenses.”

    Macron’s government argues that the indebted pension system is long overdue for streamlining.

    But there is growing opposition to the government’s proposals, which will replace the 42 different retirement systems currently linked to certain jobs with a new, unified pension scheme. On Friday, Paris endured the biggest disruption to its public transport since 2007 as unions went on strike.

    Pilots and air crew, who are not regulated by the state but have special pension arrangements which allow them to retire early, joined the protest Monday. Air France has not warned of any flight disruptions.

    The demonstration took place as the government is starting a three-month consultation with unions, employers’ groups and professional organizations. The pension changes will be formally presented and debated in parliament next year.

    Several unions are planning demonstrations on Sept. 21 and 24 in Paris.

  33. #73
    Just as I thought, the government in Spain can't be formed.

    Spain's King says no candidate for PM, paves way for new election

    MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez will not seek a new parliamentary vote to stay on as premier after rival parties refused to back him, the royal palace said on Tuesday, paving the way for a new election - the country’s fourth in four years.

    The head of state, King Felipe VI, who had earlier consulted all key political leaders to verify if a workable government was still possible, will not propose any other candidate for premiership, the palace said.

    Reporting by Elena Rodriguez and Sam Edwards; Writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Ingrid Melander
    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  34. #74

    Brussels plots 'swift' enlargement to lock in Western Balkans 'Like the Roman empire!'
    THE European Union has unveiled ambitious plans to incorporate western Balkan nations as Brussels seeks to continue to enlarge the bloc despite Britain's imminent departure - prompting comparisons with the Roman empire.

    Leading Eurosceptics have warned the EU is storing up trouble for itself in the future in the shape of a backlash from EU citizens concerned by the bloc's apparently relentless expansion. Austrian Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein reaffirmed the "objective of a rapid enlargement of the European Union to include the countries of the Western Balkans Austria" during her meeting with Finland's President Sauli Niinisto.

    She advocated "the beginning of accession negotiations" in terms of Albania and northern Macedonia, according to a statement issued after the meeting in Helsinki yesterday.

    Ms Bierlein said the current European policy - along with the EU enlargement policy, Brexit, the EU budget and joint climate protection - was the focus of a "very constructive discussion" with her counterpart Antti Rinne.

    Sheila Lawlor, director of the Politeia think tank, suggested the EU's approach was "reminiscent of the Roman empire".

    She told "This is about an integrated Franco-Germany project which came about for a very good reason - the French had been invaded by Germany three times in living memory.

    The point of the EU project was to create a Franco-German axis to prevent this happening again.

    "The two countries have different aims - France seeks to lead Europe, as demonstrated by Emmanuel Macron, while Germany wanted to be rehabilitated and to benefit economically.

    "But what is in their interests is not necessarily good for other countries.

    "The EU needs to change, to cut down and trim, to do less centrally under big Government.

    It is centralised not only politically and in terms of law-making but economically as well.

    "The larger an empire gets, the more difficult it becomes like a gambler building up debts.

    "By putting everything into this bigger project, it risks exacerbating the cracks now showing from east to west and ultimately its break up.

    The EU needs to reform from the inside economically and politically - we should not forget that there are large numbers of eurosceptics living in EU founder countries, including France and Germany.

    "These eurosceptic attitudes will only become more pronounced if countries with different levels of development - for example Albania and North Macedonia - join before existing and other new members are economically prosperous.

    Tory MP and Eurosceptic Daniel Kawczynski told "Countries like Poland and Hungary have a shock coming when the UK leaves because that will cut the EU's budget by 20 percent.

    They could find themselves paying for Kosovo, Moldova and even Ukraine and the boot will be on the other foot."

    Mr Kawczynski also emphasised that would trigger further euroscepticism within the bloc.

    Turning his attention to the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt, who this week characterised the EU as an "empire", Mr Kawczynski said: "The reality of the situation is that people are striving for sovereignty throughout the world.

    "The EU is expanding but it is also digging down further and taking away from each of its component parts, removing more and more sovereignty as it goes."

    Speaking at Liberal Democrats' annual conference last week, Mr Verhofstadt said: “In the world order of tomorrow, the world order of tomorrow is not a world order based on nation states or countries, it’s a world order that is based on Empires, China is not a nation, it’s a civilisation.

    “India, you know it better than I do, is not a nation, there are two thousands nations in India, there are twenty different languages that are used there, there are four big religions at the same time.”

    Mr Verhofstadt continued: “It is the biggest democracy worldwide.

    “The US is also an Empire, more than a nation, maybe tomorrow they will speak more Spanish than English, I don’t know what will happen.”

    “And then finally, the Russian Federation, the world of tomorrow is a world of Empires, in which we Europeans and you British can only defend your interests, your way of life by doing it together in a European framework and a European Union.”

  35. #75

    Estonia worried West’s loosening grip on Russia could end in third intervention

    Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu

    Amid concessions to Russia in the OSCE and calls to invite it to the G7, Estonian Foreign Minister has spoken against the possibility of lower European Union’s principles against Russia, which could encourage Moscow to carry out third interventionist adventure.

    Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports, that Urmas Reinsalu (Pro Patria) in an interview with daily Eesti Päevaleht, Reinsalu expressed hope that the EU wouldn’t back down in its sanctions policy against Russia.

    Estonia’s top diplomat noted that these sanctions were introduced to economically pressure Russia to fulfil all commitments under the Minsk agreements in order to halt its aggression in Luhansk and Donetsk, and once these commitments were met, it would be possible for the EU’s sanctions policy to be reviewed.

    «If we consider the West’s logic, there is a risk that a mistake will be made for the third time,» Reinsalu warned, according to ERR. «Too weak a stance — in Georgia — encouraged [Russia] to use its teeth first in Crimea, then in Luhansk, then Donetsk, and if these don’t come with too serious of a price tag, just a frozen conflict in which the West unilaterally displays powerlessness, then this paves the way for a third interventionist adventure somewhere in the world.»

  36. #76

    "Sick and tired": Spaniards fed up with yet another election
    Paola Luelmo, Jose Elías Rodríguez
    4 MIN READ

    MADRID (Reuters) - Spaniards were frustrated and angry on Wednesday after being called to the polls for a fourth time in four years and some said they would stay away from the ballot box, making it harder to predict how the political deadlock could be broken.

    Spain has been in political limbo since the Socialists emerged as the biggest party in a parliamentary election in April but without enough seats to govern on their own.

    Rival parties in the fragmented parliament have failed to support efforts by acting Socialist premier Pedro Sanchez to form a government and on Tuesday night he called a new election for Nov. 10.

    Political analysts have said voters are so weary of being called to the ballot box that turnout might be lower than usual.

    “For the first time, I think I won’t vote and it pains me a lot,” said 47-year-old Ruben, an events manager.

    They do not represent me, these politicians...they should be listening and seeking solutions, not imposing them.”

    Seeking to mobilize supporters, political leaders have quickly blamed each other for the new vote. GAD3 pollsters last week published a survey estimating a 70% turnout, nearly six percentage points lower than in the April ballot.

    Opinion polls show the Socialists may win more seats in the new election but will still be unable to secure a majority.

    Some politicians have called for a constitutional reform to break the stalemate in parliament. Acting deputy prime minister Carmen Calvo told Cadena Ser late on Tuesday that it would be “reasonable” to adapt electoral rules to the new political landscape.

    Even those who plan to vote are frustrated.

    “I will vote, but I’m sick and tired of the situation, caused by inflexibility of all the politicians,” said Luis Delgado, a 40-year-old lawyer on his way to work in central Madrid. “Let them try standing up for Spain’s interests instead of their own.”

    The left-leaning El Pais newspaper highlighted the risk of high abstention in an editorial entitled “Ultimate Irresponsibility” on Wednesday.

    “Our leaders have seriously failed this society,” it said in a separate opinion piece.

    Spain is the fourth largest economy in the European Union’s euro currency zone. Although the economic impact of the political impasse has been limited, growth is slowing and financial analysts say further delays in implementing reforms in areas such as labor and pensions could start to bite.

    “The fact that there will be a new election is a general failure that impacts jobs and investment,” Antonio Garamendi, chairman of company lobby group CEOE told Onda Cero radio.

    The bluechip IBEX stock index was little changed on Wednesday at around two-week lows, but still higher than where it started this month and the year. The benchmark 10-year bond yield slipped from Tuesday’s levels of just over 0.3% to trade at 0.26%.

    Party leaders have blamed one another for the impasse and a flurry of last-minute calls and initiatives on Monday and Tuesday failed to achieve a breakthrough in putting together a government.

    “I don’t like what’s happening...because what is going to be spent on another election should be for hospitals, for schools,” said 60-year old housewife Mariana Ruyo.

    “They’re clearly only concerned about their seats and their salaries.”

    Some politicians acknowledged on Wednesday that voters had run out of patience.

    “I think people are up to here with all of us. They are fed up,” Catalan lawmaker Gabriel Rufian told parliament.

    Spain has been struggling to put governments together since several new parties, including Podemos, Ciudadanos and the far-right Vox, appeared on the political scene five years ago. For decades, politics had been dominated by the conservative People’s Party and the center-left Socialists.

    Additional reporting by Marco Trujillo and Elena Rodriguez; Writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Anna Willard

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  37. #77
    Interesting. Suppose Norway is right?

    Bank of England holds interest rates amid intensifying Brexit uncertainty

    UPDATE 2-Lonely Norway raises interest rates, but less chance for another hike
    Terje Solsvik and Nerijus Adomaitis

    * Hikes key policy rate to 1.5% from 1.25% previously

    * Norway is only G10 country to still hike rates

    * Cites Middle East events, Brexit among outlook risks

    * Crown currency initially strengthens before fading (Adds quotes, background, updates currency)

    OSLO, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Norway’s central bank raised its main interest rate by a quarter percentage point on Thursday, moving rates in the opposite direction to other developed economies, but said further policy tightening had become less likely amid a global slowdown.

    Norges Bank increased its key policy rate to 1.5% from 1.25%, in line with the forecasts of 15 out of 29 economists in a Reuters poll. The remaining participants had expected an unchanged rate.

    Thursday’s policy tightening was Norway’s fourth in 12 months amid a domestic boom driven by rapid growth in oil industry investments, a weak currency and rising government spending.

    As a result, Norges Bank has pressed on with rate hikes even as all G10 central banks shifted to dovish positions or stayed on hold.

    “The Executive Board’s current assessment of the outlook and balance of risks suggests that the policy rate will most likely remain at this level in the coming period,” central bank Governor Oeystein Olsen said in a statement.

    Norway’s crown currency initially strengthened to 9.8124 against the euro from 9.8820 just ahead of the 0800 GMT announcement, but faded to 9.8537 at 0832 GMT.

    “The rate path is marginally lower from June and signals that Norges Bank is basically done hiking rates. However, they maintain a small hiking bias indicating that a hike is more likely than a cut next year,” Nordea Markets economist Joachim Bernhardsen wrote in a note to clients.

    The central bank’s revised 2019-2022 projections showed the policy rate would most likely peak at 1.5%, albeit still with a chance of a further hike in 2020.

    “Within 2020, there is maybe a 40% probability of another rate hike,” Danske Bank economist Frank Jullum said.

    The Norwegian economy is set to grow by 2.7% this year, Norges Bank predicted, the most rapid expansion since 2012, while 2019 core inflation will reach 2.3%, exceeding the central bank’s target of 2.0%.

    Norway’s rate hike came after the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday cut rates for a second time since July and the European Central Bank last week brought its policy rate deeper into negative territory while pledging infinite stimulus.

    Norges Bank had acknowledged in August that its longer-term rate outlook was becoming less certain as a result of the impact from global trade wars and the risk of a no-deal Brexit. (Additional reporting by Victoria Klesty, editing by Gwladys Fouche, Angus MacSwan &

    Simon Cameron-Moore)

    © 2019 CNBC LLC. All Rights Reserved. A Division of NBCUniversal

  38. #78

    Marine Le Pen Proposes National Referendum on Immigration

    French populist leader Marine Le Pen has proposed settling France’s immigration issues by recommending referendums on a number of immigration topics.
    The National Rally (RN) leader said that she and her party had been excluded from a debate on immigration set for the end of the month where she wanted to propose several referendums to allow the French public to vote on immigration policies, Le Figaro reports.

    Me Le Pen claims that French President Emmanuel Macron has not made any substantial immigration policies in his two and a half years in power.

    “Nicolas Sarkozy did the same thing. He had taken this debate on immigration when he was a candidate and then we saw what happened when he came to power. I think that Emmanuel Macron will do nothing,” she said.

    The proposed referendums would be simplistic yes or no questions, Le Pen added, saying they would be “yes or no to [birthright citizenship], yes or no to family reunification, yes or no to control of our borders again”.

    These are questions to which the French have the right to answer, have the right to be questioned, because it’s been for the past 30 years that an immigration policy which is contrary to their will has been carried out,” she said.

    Citizen Initiated Referendums (RIC) have been a major pillar of the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vest) protest movement which Le Pen has expressed sympathy and support for in the past.

    Earlier this month, she claimed that the many injuries and mutilations of Yellow Vest protesters would end up being the real legacy of the five years of Macron’s presidency.

    “The power and brutality of his programme has struck and worried many. By his methods, he has humiliated, brutalised,,” Le Pen said and added: “We saw tanks in Paris, police armed with machine guns, to face the French. These undemocratic drifts constitute an ethical fault, an unforgivable fault that we do not want to see again.”

    Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)

  39. #79
    Salvini calls for “immigration referendum to stop open borders”

    By Arthur Lyons
    Voice of Europe
    18 September 2019

    Over the weekend, while addressing a crowd of 80,000 of his loyal supporters, Matteo Salvini promised to initiate a referendum that would block the new leftist coalition from keeping Italy’s ports open to migrant ferries shuttling in thousands of third world migrants.

    Salvini’s plan was revealed to a massive crowd of around 80,000 people in Pontida on Sunday, while the former interior minister accused his former coalition partners the Five Star Movement (M5S) of committing treason, RTS reports.

    “We will challenge these traitors who are entrenched in their offices,” the League senator said as the enormous crowd cheered.

    “In a few months, there will be a government of the people,” Salvini added, saying that he and his League party were prepared to initiate a referendum of Italy’s electoral laws.

    A referendum looking to reform Italy’s electoral laws could become a massive headache for the new globalist coalition. Per Italian law, a referendum must be held if at least 500,000 signatures are acquired from Italy’s citizenry.

    Salvini also mentioned that he, along with his party, would look into additional referendums if the M5S-PD coalition scraps his migration and security decrees and re-opens Italy’s borders to NGO migrant human traffickers.

    Just last week, the new globalist coalition government invited the ‘Ocean Viking’, a migrant ferry operated by NGOs SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders, to offload an additional 82 migrants at Lampedusa island.

    The Ocean Viking, among other NGO human traffickers operating in the Mediterranean Sea, has been taxiing illegal migrants off the North African coast into Europe all summer.

    Previously, under Salvini’s rule, migrant taxi services – like the one operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders – were denied entry into Italian waters.

    According to recent polls, support for the new globalist coalition among the Italian people is extraordinarily low.

    An IPSOS poll released last week revealed that only about a third of Italians support the new coalition, while more Italians preferred the previous Salvini-led populist coalition.

  40. #80
    Study Nearly half of migrants claiming to be underage in Germany are adults

    By Arthur Lyons
    Voice of Europe
    18 September 2019

    A study carried out by the Institute of Legal Medicine in Münster has revealed that nearly half of the migrants who claim to be under the age of eighteen are adults.

    On behalf of courts and youth welfare offices, legal physicians from Münster investigated the age of close to 600 so-called ‘unaccompanied minor refugees’ whose age had been in doubt.

    What the researchers found was shocking.

    Of the 600 ‘unaccompanied minor’ who were forensically examined by physicians, 40 percent of the young men were adults, Focus Online reports. Most of these men were from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Algeria, and Guinea.

    The 40 percent figure is more than likely a lowball estimate. If there was any doubt of a migrant’s age after the forensic analysis, the researchers classified them as a minor.

    Forensic Science Professor and Deputy Director Andreas Schmeling told members of the press: “Since we cannot pinpoint the date of birth for the day, there is a gray area. With this variability, we always judged in favor of the person concerned. Thus in cases of doubt, he would be classified as a minor.”

    The ages of migrants were determined via data obtained from several different methods. Migrants underwent physical examinations, while their dentures, wrist bones, and clavicles were examined by x-rays.

    It should be known that so-called ‘unaccompanied minor refugees’ receive special treatment in Germany. They receive more financial and social support, while they generally don’t have to live in collective accommodations.

    The German Association of Towns and Municipalities has estimated that the cost to take care of ‘unaccompanied minors’ is approximately 5,000 euros per month.

    Physicians in Germany aren’t the first in Europe to uncover the disturbing truth that large percentages of so-called underage migrants lie about their age to receive special treatment.

    In June, Voice of Europe covered a report which revealed that 90 percent of Moroccan migrants who’ve come to Sweden in recent years under the guise of being ‘minors’ are adults.

    Last year in Sweden, a dentist has his career ruined after he revealed to the public that 80 percent of the migrant ‘children’ patients that he was seeing in his practice were adults.

    And, just weeks ago, newly released statistics in France revealed that French taxpayers are spending no less than two billion euros per year on so-called ‘underage migrants’.


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