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

    Europe: Politics, Trade, NATO - November 2019

  2. #2

    Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic broke EU law on refugees, says court adviser

    Three EU member states violated the law by refusing to comply with the bloc's migrant sharing scheme, the Advocate General said. The opinion is not legally binding, but is often adopted by Europe's top court.

    Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic broke EU law by refusing to accept asylum seekers under the bloc's mandatory migrant quota scheme, an advisory body to the European Court of Justice said on Thursday.

    In December 2017, the European Commission took the three EU member states to Europe's top court after they refused to take in refugees who arrived in Greece and Italy at the height of the 2015 migrant crisis.

    The former communist states had argued that accepting asylum seekers would threaten security and cultural cohesion — and that Brussels had no legal grounds to implement mandatory migration quotas.

    In an opinion advising the European Court of Justice, Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston said Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic had no legitimate security grounds to reject the quota scheme.

    The respect for rule of law requires member states to comply with legal obligations, said Sharpston, whose opinion is not legally binding but is usually followed by the European Court of Justice.

    "Disregarding those obligations because, in a particular instance, they are unwelcome or unpopular is a dangerous first step towards the breakdown of the orderly and structured society governed by the rule of law," the advocate general said.

    "The principle of solidarity necessarily sometimes implies accepting burden-sharing," she added.

    Europe's top court is expected to rule on the case next year. It can fine member states that violate EU law.

    The 2015 quota scheme was meant to relieve migrant pressure on Greece and Italy by dividing 160,000 asylum seekers among the bloc's 28 member states. Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic took in only a handful of the 10,000 asylum seekers they were expected to take under the burden-sharing agreement.

    The European Commission dropped the scheme in September 2017 after only some 30,000 migrants had been distributed.

    The case was at the center of an ongoing dispute within the bloc over how to handle the arrival in southern countries on the Mediterranean of more than a million migrants, most fleeing war in the Middle East or poverty and conflict in Africa.

    While the 2015-16 crisis is over, the issue of European solidarity continues to divide the bloc at a time Germany is warning of a repeat of the migrant crisis due to the conflict in Syria and instability in Africa.

    cw/rc (AP, dpa, Reuters)

  3. #3

    BREXITOCTOBER 31, 2019 / 10:24 AM / UPDATED 11 HOURS AGO
    'We're fed up': never-ending Brexit wears thin in French port city
    Richard Lough
    4 MIN READ

    CALAIS, France (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to take Britain out of the European Union “do or die” on Oct. 31, even if that meant risking chaos at the borders.

    The logo of Calais Ferry Terminal is seen in the harbour of Calais, France, October 29, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
    He failed to deliver on his pledge, however, and on Thursday ferries at the northern French port of Calais disgorged trucks by the dozens without border formalities, a fluid operation that allows just-in-time delivery within Europe’s single market.

    The renewed delay to Brexit, to Jan. 31, spares businesses in Calais, the French port city whose fortunes are deeply intertwined with Britain’s economy — at least for now.

    But with Britain heading for a Dec. 12 election that could return a very different parliament to that which rejected Johnson’s plans, the future remains uncertain.

    “We’re all a bit fed up,” said Calais port chief Jean-Marc Puissesseau. Brexit delays, he said, fouled up budget planning.

    “The longer Brexit is delayed, the less clarity we have over what comes next.”

    Puissesseau’s remarks reflect a wider irritation in northern France’s transport, logistics and fisheries industries, whose businesses have had to move their preparedness plans as the Brexit deadline shifts, sucking up costs as they do so.

    A 6 million euro investment in infrastructure to restore a hard border at Calais port in the event of a no-deal rupture may have been for nothing — an outcome Puissesseau said he would be glad of if it meant friction-free trade continued.

    The maritime route across the 23-mile wide Strait of Dover has been one of Britain’s main arteries for European trade since the Middle Ages. Calais handles some 2 million trucks per year and a 700 million euro expansion to be completed in January 2021 will double capacity.

    “We need traffic,” Puissesseau said.

    Freight traffic via the crossing this year is projected to fall 3%.

    Hauts-de-France is among the French regions hit hardest by decades of deindustrialisation and a hard Brexit would compound its challenges.

    Puissesseau said customs checks would be inevitable if Britain left the EU’s single market and customs union but that Calais was ready, and dismissed talk of nightmarish congestion.

    Not all local businesses are convinced.

    Briton Gavin Teale, whose Calais-based GoTEK7 counts police forces and wealthy individuals among clients for its hidden GPS trackers, took a six-month office lease in southern England as no-deal fears intensified.

    Slideshow (8 Images)
    The UK space allows Teale, whose company has an annual turnover of 1.9 million euros, to stockpile goods in case of a no-deal Brexit.

    “If everything turns out alright, we can close the UK office and everything continues as it was. We lose a bit of money but that is a gamble worth taking,” the former soldier said.

    Meanwhile, sales were down in the past three months.

    “Clients don’t want to spend their money right now and the sooner this is out the way the better,” Teale said.

    The risk of supply chain delays also threatens to disrupt the region’s fisheries industry.

    In Boulogne-sur-Mer, Europe’s biggest fish processing hub, Marc Salmon buys 700 tonnes of fillets per year from Britain.

    About 70 percent of the fish caught in British waters is exported to Europe. Salmon said his main concern was the possibility of phytosanitary checks and the risk of queues.

    His company Whitelink Seafoods France has hired three extra workers to compensate for any eventual customs delays.

    “The worst part is not knowing what and when,” Salmon said.

    Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Catherine Evans

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  4. #4

    Spain gears up for express election amid increasingly divided society
    Nathan Allen, Joan Faus
    3 MIN READ

    SEVILLE/L’HOSPITALET, Spain (Reuters) - Spain’s main political parties kicked off a highly condensed electoral campaign on Thursday night, just 10 days before Spaniards head to the polls for a repeat election that is likely to show an increasingly fragmented society.

    With voting booths set to open on Nov. 10, the election will be Spain’s fourth in four years and opinion polls suggest that no party and neither the left nor right wing bloc will gain enough seats to take control of the 350-member parliament.

    The leaders of the Socialist and Conservative parties blamed each other for the country’s political paralysis in their first campaign rallies.

    Speaking in Seville, acting socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez repeatedly encouraged people to get out and vote and sought to convince undecided voters.

    According to a recent aggregate of polls published by Spain’s state-run Center for Sociological Studies, around 32% of voters still have not decided for whom to vote.

    “The Socialist Party is the only political party that can guarantee a government in our country,” Sanchez said.

    Spain has been stuck in a political limbo since the Socialists emerged as the most popular party in an election in April but failed to win enough seats to form a government.

    Pablo Casado, leader of the conservative People’s Party, cast the election as a referendum on Sanchez, who he said was “holding the country hostage for his own political gain.”

    Presenting himself as the candidate for a united Spain, Casado said he would take a hard line against separatism.

    “Torra can’t stay one more minute in the Generaliat while there is still violence on the streets of Barcelona,” he said, referring to the pro-independence head of the Catalan government Quim Torra.

    The run-up to the campaign has been overshadowed by weeks of violent protests in Catalonia, which erupted after nine separatist leaders were slapped with prison sentences for their role in a failed independence bid.

    Recent polling has shown waning support for the Socialists since the protests began, while parties on the right that have adopted a stronger stance against separatism are gaining.

    Far-right party Vox is on track to nearly double its number of seats in parliament, a poll published on Thursday showed, which would make it the third most-voted party.

    In a rally in Barcelona, Vox’s leader, Santiago Abascal, described the situation in Catalonia as a national emergency. He said that if he is elected prime minister, his first move would be to order Torra’s arrest.

    Reporting by Joan Faus in L'Hospitalet, Mariano Valladolid in Seville, and Nathan Allen and Belen Carreno in Madrid; Editing by Matthew Lewis

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  5. #5
    Wow, talk about stepping in it....

    McDonald's in trouble over 'Sundae Bloody Sundae' campaign

    An ice cream ad prompted criticism against McDonald's after the company used "Sundae Bloody Sundae" as a slogan to sell desserts in Portugal. The slogan invokes a U2 song, which refers to a massacre in Northern Ireland.

    McDonald's was forced to apologize and halt a Halloween-themed campaign which featured the slogan "Sundae bloody sundae," Portuguese and Irish media reported on Thursday.

    The slogan was inspired by a 1982 song by the Irish rock band U2 "Sunday Bloody Sunday." The song focuses on the emotional fallout of a 1972 massacre in Derry/Londonderry by British troops who killed 14 civilians and injured 26 more. The event took place during a Sunday protest rally and was dubbed "Bloody Sunday."

    McDonalds Portugal said the ad campaign was only used by a "small number" of local restaurants.

    Ignorance is the new cool'

    "The campaign was intended as a celebration of Halloween, not as an insensitive reference to any historical event or to upset or insult anyone in any way," a spokesman was quoted as saying by the Belfast Telegraph.

    "We sincerely apologies for any offense or distress this may have caused," he added. "All promotional material has been removed from restaurant."

    Social media users slammed the campaign online with images spreading on Twitter.

    Hate to do this to you McDonalds but Sunday Bloody Sunday is actually about a massacre that happened in Derry in 1972," Irish reporter Fintan Walsh wrote on Twitter.

    "Ignorance is the new cool," another user posted.

    The restaurant chain had removed all advertising material linked with the ad, according to Portuguese daily Correio da Manha.

    Another massacre in Ireland, when British troops opened fire on the crowd at a Gaelic football match in Dublin's Croke Park stadium in 1920, is also referred to as "Bloody Sunday."

  6. #6

    NEWSOCTOBER 31, 2019 / 1:18 PM / UPDATED 18 HOURS AGO
    Court orders Belgium to take back woman and children from Syria
    2 MIN READ

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A Brussels court has ordered Belgium to repatriate from Syria within 75 days a woman whose husband fought for Islamic State and her children.

    The 23-year old woman and her two children are awaiting the chance to return to Belgium from the Al-Roj refugee camp in an area of northeastern Syria that is under Kurdish control.

    The Brussels Court of First Instance said Belgium would start facing a daily fine if the woman was not repatriated in the time it set.

    The European Union created a common counter-terrorism register in September, hoping to facilitate prosecutions and convictions of suspected militants and people returning home from fighting with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

    The move was partly aimed at addressing concerns about the fate of hundreds of EU citizens who fought for Islamic State and are now detained in Iraq and Syria.

    Many of them could return to Europe and not face trial because of a lack of evidence against them, a factor that has contributed to unease in several EU countries over returning fighters.

    The EU security commissioner, Julian King, told Reuters last month that at least 1,300 EU citizens, more than half children, were held in Syria and Iraq.

    President Donald Trump, who announced on Oct. 6 that U.S. forces would withdraw from northeastern Syria, has called for European countries to repatriate nationals who went to fight in Syria for Islamic State and put them on trial.

    Reporting by Marine Strauss, Editing by Timothy Heritage

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  7. #7
    “Sweden is headed for a civil war”

    By Arthur Lyons
    Voice of Europe
    31 October 2019

    The former CEO of Scania, a major trucking company in Sweden, has warned that the country could be headed towards a civil war due to unchecked mass immigration from alien cultures.

    During an interview with Swebbtv, Leif Östling, the former CEO of Scania and acting chairman of the board of Södertälje Science park said that the mass arrival of migrants from alien cultures who failed to integrate into Swedish society has created a potentially violent situation, Fria Tider reports.

    “We have taken in far too many people from outside, we have done that. What to remember is that we have taken in people from the Middle East and Africa and they live in a society that we left about 100 years ago. It is their feeling and perception of what a society is like.”

    Sexual assaults, gang violence, explosions, organized crime, and unemployment are all at levels previously not seen before in Sweden. Unfortunately, these problems have only reared their ugly heads following the mass importation of Middle Eastern and North African immigrants.

    “We’ve taken in far too many people from outside. And we have. Those who come from the Middle East and Africa live in a society that we left almost a hundred years ago,” Östling said.

    In the interview, the former CEO of Scania also suggests that the military, at some point, could be required to quell civil unrest in migrant enclaves.

    Östling mentions his experience with migrant integration in the workplace during his time as CEO of Scania, where close to 90 of the 100 Somali immigrants who were hired either left or were fired because they were unable to fulfill their duties or cooperate with co-workers.

    For Östling, in order for migrants to properly integrate into, and begin to cope with Swedish society, a monumental “knowledge transfer” is needed, and that’s something that could take a generation to achieve.

    Although Östling hopes that Sweden’s deep-seated issues can be resolved in a decade, he believes that if they’re not, civil war could be the end result.

  8. #8

    Norway's Ugland says nine crew abducted by pirates from vessel off Benin
    2 MIN READ

    OSLO (Reuters) - A vessel owned by Norwegian shipping firm J.J. Ugland was boarded by pirates while at anchor off the coast of Benin on Saturday, and nine crew members were kidnapped, the company said on Sunday.

    The remaining crew of the Norwegian-flagged MV Bonita notified local authorities, and the vessel docked at the port city of Cotonou later on Saturday, the company said in a statement. The dry bulker Bonita carried a cargo of gypsum, a mineral commonly used as fertiliser, which was destined for Benin, Ugland said.

    While piracy has decreased worldwide, West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea is a high-risk area for abductions and armed robbery, the International Maritime Bureau, a unit of the International Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement last month.

    Shippers have reported several abductions in the region in recent months, including eight crew members taken from a German-owned vessel off Cameroon in August, and 10 Turkish sailors off the coast of Nigeria in July.

    Citing safety reasons, the Norwegian shipowner did not reveal the crew’s nationalities or how many had avoided capture.

    “The Ugland Emergency Response Team are handling this situation as per contingency plans, and they are in contact with relevant authorities. ... The families of the crew members have been contacted and will be kept informed by Ugland,” the company said in the statement.

    Reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Alison Williams, Peter Cooney and Will Dunham

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  9. #9

    Thousands of Romanians protest against illegal logging, attacks on forest workers
    2 MIN READ

    People march against widespread illegal logging and lack of policy response that has left two foresters dead earlier this year, in Bucharest, Romania, November 3, 2019. Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea via REUTERS
    BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Thousands of Romanians marched in the capital Bucharest and other cities on Sunday in protest against widespread illegal logging, which is believed to be behind the deaths of two forest workers in the past two months.

    In downtown Bucharest, an estimated 4,000 people marched toward the water and forest ministry, according to local TV stations, banging drums and chanting “Our forest is not your commodity,” and “Thieves.”

    The protests, organized by Greenpeace Romania and other environmental groups, demanded thorough criminal investigations into the deaths and attacks against forest workers, as well as immediate upgrades to the country’s automated logging tracking system and tighter legislation.

    The Silva trade union federation says six foresters have been killed in recent years while another 650 forest workers were beaten, attacked with axes or knives or even shot at after catching illegal loggers in the act.

    They include Raducu Gorcioaia, who was found dead in his car with head wounds on Sept. 12 near a forest in Iasi county in eastern Romania, and Liviu Pavel Pop, who was shot dead on Oct. 16 in the northwestern Maramures county. Police are still investigating both deaths.

    Romania, which is home to some of Europe’s last remaining virgin forests and diverse wildlife, is losing an estimated three to nine hectares of forest per hour due to illegal logging, Greenpeace studies have shown.

    Smaller marches took place in other Romanian cities on Sunday, with protesters carrying signs which said “Climate emergency” and “Save the forest.”

    Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Susan Fenton

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  10. #10

    Italian ship with 151 rescued migrants docks in Sicily

    ROME (AP) — An Italian offshore supply vessel has brought 151 migrants to Sicily after rescuing them in waters off Libya a day earlier.

    The Asso Trenta docked Sunday at Pozzallo with the migrants. It wasn’t immediately known if they would stay in Italy or be distributed among other European Union countries.

    Hours earlier, a German charity’s rescue boat, Alan Kurdi, had disembarked 88 migrants at Taranto on the Italian mainland. Under an EU-brokered deal, 67 of them will go to four other countries, while the others will stay in Italy.

    A Taranto official, Gabriella Ficocelli, told the Italian news agency ANSA the migrants included five unaccompanied minors who were “tired and tried by the voyage.” They disembarked eight days after being rescue in the Mediterranean Sea from Libyan-based traffickers’ unseaworthy vessels.

    Meanwhile, the Greek government’s decision to transfer migrants from the overcrowded eastern Aegean islands to the mainland was met with some resistance. Local residents, in two instances, tried unsuccessfully to prevent migrants from being housed in hotels in northern Greece.

    An anti-migrant march in the northern city of Thessaloniki on Sunday was attended by around 100 people, while a counter-demonstration of anarchists drew a slightly larger crowd.

    Migrants who had arrived by military transport from the island of Lesbos to a port near Athens on Saturday had to wait hours in buses in order to be able to finally sleep at designated hotels whose owners agreed to lodge the migrants.

    The migrants were driven in buses for more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) to reach their destinations in northern Greece.

    In an unrelated incident, a van carrying an estimated 15 Pakistani migrants turned over on a main highway east of Thessaloniki Sunday, killing one and slightly injuring five. The police weren’t certain about the exact number of migrants because the others, including the driver, fled the scene before police arrived.

    In North Macedonia, a court ordered a 30-day pre-trial custody for three Pakistani nationals, suspected of human trafficking and cruelty to migrants.

    The Skopje’s prosecutor office announced Sunday they have opened a probe against three Pakistanis and one Macedonian national for organizing the illegal transfer of migrants and abusing them. The Macedonian national, owner of the house, was placed under house arrest.

    Police raided a house in the village of Vaksince, near the northern border with Serbia, on Friday and found 12 migrants from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, including two minors. They acted on a tip from Serbian police who had been alerted by a friend of the migrants that they were being beaten and asked to pay 1,300 euros ($1,450) each to the smugglers for transfer across the border.

  11. #11
    Video at link.

    Europe via the Indian Ocean? New wave of illegal immigration hits France's Mayotte

    Marjorie HACHE
    Valentine PATRY
    Renan HELLEC
    Julien PRATT
    French President Emmanuel Macron is currently visiting Mayotte, France's most impoverished department. Located in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mozambique, the island is faced with daunting challenges: scarce water resources, sky-high birth rates, poverty, crime plus illegal immigration from neighboring Comoros. What's new is that asylum seekers from various war-torn regions now see Mayotte as a viable entry point into Europe, one that is thought to circumvent the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean. Our team reports.

  12. #12

    Russia Partners with Hungary to Aid Syrian Christians

    THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.3 Nov 201929
    Russia and Hungary have agreed to jointly rebuild a monastery in Syria, along with financing a large bakery to provide bread for a whole city, Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto told public radio on Sunday.
    Making reference to a recent visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Budapest, Mr. Szijjarto said that Hungary has sought to build cooperation with Russia to protect Christian communities, which he described as “a very serious, tense, international and political” issue.

    Both Hungary and Russia have invested extensive resources to ensure the protection of Christians, he said, adding that protecting Christian culture is a top priority for the two nations.

    In June 2018, Szijjarto told Breitbart News that the Hungarian government openly reaches out to persecuted Christian communities around the world because “we are a Christian country.”

    “We are a Christian country and we have to emphasize that because currently, under a mainstream liberal media, if you say so you must be very brave,” he said.

    “That’s why, very proudly, I want to say again that we are a Christian country and that’s why we have a special responsibility to protect our Christians brothers and sisters all around the world,” he continued. “If we don’t protect them, who will protect them? If you don’t speak in favor of them, who will speak in favor of them?”

    Hungary has been pressured by the European Union to take in more migrants, but the government of Viktor Orbán has pushed back, insisting that they prefer to provide assistance to people where they are rather than bringing them into Hungary.

    “We give them financial assistance to be able to get stronger where they have been living. We build schools,” Szijjarto told Breitbart. “We take part in covering medical costs of their hospitals. We rebuild their torn down houses. We give them scholarships.”

    “So, we try to strengthen where they are. You know, they usually ask us [to not encourage] members of the Christian communities to leave their homes. They ask us to help them stay where they have been living for centuries, basically, or even more, and to be stronger there. That’s why we [would] rather help them to get stronger in the places where they have been originally living,” he said.

    FaithImmigrationLondon / EuropeChristiansEuropean UnionhungarymigrationPéter SzijjártóRussiaSyriaViktor Orbán

  13. #13

    Spanish king greeted with protests in Catalonia
    Joan Faus
    2 MIN READ

    BARCELONA (Reuters) - Several thousand demonstrators banged on kitchen pots and chanted “Catalonia has no king!” on Monday in protest against a visit by the Spanish royal family to the capital of the region that has been hit by weeks of separatist protests.

    Attended by King Felipe, his wife Queen Letizia and two daughters, the venue of the Princess of Girona young talent awards ceremony in Barcelona was heavily guarded by police who had installed heavy fences and blocked vans one of the city’s main thoroughfares with vans.

    Some protesters burned pictures of the king.

    Waving Catalan independence flags, some of the demonstrators yelled abuse at attendees as they tried to reach a police checkpoint, pushing at least one of them, and forcing a few to turn back and try to find another entrance, a Reuters reporter said.

    Dolors Aguilera, 70, said the king’s presence in Barcelona was a provocation.

    “We have political prisoners in jail. We cannot accept it,” she said referring to nine separatist leaders sentenced on Oct. 14 to long jail terms for their role in Catalonia’s failed independence bid in 2017.

    The sentencing triggered a wave of mass protests in Catalonia, during which demonstrators often clashed with police, blocked roads and burned garbage containers and vehicles.

    Slideshow (10 Images)
    “We have become republican because Madrid treats us like a colony,” said her husband Antoni Gonzalez, a 68-year old pensioner, who had a brought a whistle for the protest.

    Independence was the only way forward for the region, he said.

    The rekindled Catalonia crisis has also further complicated the country’s fragmented political environment as Spain prepares for its fourth election in as many years on Sunday after having been without a proper government for months.

    Reporting by Joan Faus, writing by Andrei Khalip, Editing by Ingrid Melander and Angus MacSwan

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  14. #14

    Germany: Court rules welfare sanctions unconstitutional
    A German court has ruled that government cuts to social security benefits are partially unconstitutional. The decision means unemployed people who do not meet certain requirements can no longer be heavily sanctioned.

    In a verdict Tuesday, the Federal Constitutional Court found that monthslong slashes to welfare benefits known as Hartz IV for "breaches of duty" are unlawful.

    Under current legislation, recipients of the benefit can have their payments reduced by 30% for a period of three months if they don't fulfill certain conditions. The amount can also be cut further — by 60% — or even completely, if a job center adviser deems they have failed to cooperate. The rules are stricter for people under the age of 25.

    The court in the southern city of Karlsruhe ruled that deductions of up to 30% were still allowable, but that cuts of 60% or more breached Germany's Basic Law, or constitution.

    Social welfare organizations such as Caritas have long criticized the sanctions.

    Recipients of the Hartz IV unemployment benefit are required to attend regular meetings with a job-center adviser, and be able to prove they are actively looking for work or enrolled in approved skills-training programs. The adviser can withhold payments if the claimant fails to fulfill these requirements, or if they refuse a job.

    nm/rt (Reuters, KNA, epd, dpa)

  15. #15

    Most Poles living in UK want to return to country after Brexit - report

    November 4, 2019

    Only 38 percent of Poles living in the UK have applied to stay there after Brexit while most of them are considering returning to Poland, according to the daily Rzeczpospolita. Under the 'divorce' deal, EU citizens who do not obtain 'settled status' or have not applied for such status by the end of 2020 will not have the right to live and work in the UK. While 80 percent of Romanians and Bulgarians have requested such a document, the percentage of Poles' applications is significantly lower, the newspaper said. The Polish government's major goal in the Brexit negotiations was preserving the rights of Poles living in Britain, Polish Ambassador to the UK Arkady Rzegocki told the daily, adding that the British had included many Polish suggestions in the divorce deal, including a simplification of the application form for obtaining 'settled status.'


  16. #16

    Moldova Election Run-off Puts Capital Under Spotlight
    Madalin NecsutuChisinauBIRNNovember 3, 2019
    The second round of local elections will determine whether Chisinau remains in the hands of pro-European forces or – for the first time – falls to their pro-Russian rivals.

    In the second run-off round of local elections in the former Soviet country, Moldovan citizens on Sunday will select bosses for another 380 town halls.

    In the first round, on October 20, voters elected 518 mayors in a race in which the pro-Russian Moldovan Socialist Party, PSRM, won the biggest number of votes in the country.

    Most eyes are now on the outcome of the run-off in the capital, Chisinau, where the Socialist candidate, Ion Ceban, is battling the co-president of the pro-European ACUM bloc, Andrei Nastase.

    Earlier, both Ceban and Nastase maintained a low profile and neither appeared on public TV debates.

    In the past few days, however, they have made more appearances and brought out both the heavy rhetorical gunfire and their sharp ideological differences.

    Nastase has accused the Socialists of being accomplices in real estate organised crime in Chisinau, saying he would deal with this issue as a priority.

    “I’ll get to the City Hall and quickly destroy the real estate mafia in there. The truth will be known to all. You will see that I and the people of this city are the ones who are right, not the PSRM, not [Socialist President] Igor Dodon, not Ion Ceban,” Nastase told a debate on TV 8 station.

    In reply, Ceban said he would sue Nastase and seek 41,000 euros in damages. “I will ask [in court] for the cost of the car he purchased this year, that Volvo of 41,000 euros or almost a million lei, and the money will be given to an auxiliary school,” Ceban said.

    President Dodon has warned that the government coalition deal between the Socialists and ACUM could collapse if such attacks continued.

    “I am for continuing the parliamentary majority. But at least three things need to be clarified, and the first is about the inappropriate behaviour of some coalition partners,” Dodon said on October 30, on the public TV station Moldova 1.

    Meanwhile, on November 1, the Prime Minister and co-president of ACUM, Maia Sandu, and the ex-mayor of Chisinau, Dorin Chirtoaca, released a video urging citizens to vote on Sunday for Nastase.

    “If you do not go to the vote to support Nastase, it means that you are helping Ion Ceban,” the Prime Minister warned.

    “In fact, you are helping Dodon in next year’s presidential elections, which is not advisable,” Chirtoaca added in the video.

    On September 15, after ousting the former ruling Democratic Party, the Socialists and ACUM signed an agreement under which both sides promised to drop geopolitical East-West rhetoric and work together in the interest of the country.

    The Socialists have since focused on gaining control over security structures and the judiciary, while ACUM bloc has focused more on reforms.

    Losing control of Chisinau City Hall would be a major blow for ACUM. It has never been run by a Socialist mayor, and the city is seen a bastion of pro-European forces in the country – unlike the more rural areas.

  17. #17

    Wallmark: Nordic, Baltic countries face same threats from Russia, China
    2019-11-04 LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

    STOCKHOLM – The Nordic and Baltic countries have possibilities to expand their cooperation in the area of security and defense but the initiative should come from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, a Swedish lawmaker heading the Nordic Council, says.

    Hans Wallmark, president of the Nordic Council, pays attention to fact that threats arising both from Russia and China need equal responsible assessment.

    In an interview with BNS Lithuania, given during the Nordic Council's session in Stockholm last week, the Swedish politicians also said the Astravyets nuclear power plant is not on the political agenda of Nordic countries.

    - Mr. Wallmark, what is your opinion on the current collaboration between the Nordic and the Baltic states? Where this cooperation could or should be improved, strengthened?

    - I think that Nordefco (Nordic Defense Cooperation – BNS Lithuania) is, for example, a very good way of deepening cooperation between the Nordic countries and the three Baltic states. So, the question is how we can even more deepen cooperation, especially defense, and it can be everything, from common exercises to the procurement and also sharing intelligence, how we perceive the world around us. But I think, generally, both in Sweden and in the Nordic Council most of us are in favor of deepening the cooperation between the Nordic and the Baltic states.

    Is it possible that the Nordic countries, including non NATO members - Sweden and Finland - contribute more to the Baltic states security?

    - It can absolutely be something up for discussion. As I understand, we have not received any kind of proposals yet from the three Baltic republics. I think it is very important that any kind of good ideas of doing things together – it is better if they come from the Baltic states. But I think that Sweden should be very open if we have a proposal of different exercises or be part of different arrangement. (...)

    - In your speech today (on Wednesday – BNS Lithuania) you mentioned two possible threats – Russia from the military and China from the economic standpoint. Are those threats to both the Nordic and the Baltic regions?

    - Absolutely. And to Europe, and to the Western world. We meet them in different areas and in different shapes but they are current. It is so obvious for us here in the Baltic Sea area that we have the military threat. (...) We are strong supporters of the sanctions regime to the Russian Federation.

    And here we speak nearly with the same tongue but I think that we can see differences on the China policy between the Baltic states and the Nordics, especially with Sweden. I think we are more reluctant, we also talk more about the People's Republic of China as a potential problem on security. They are a little different and they are also working on different ways, but spreading their narrative, using disinformation, propaganda.

    - You are speaking now as chairman of the Conservative group inside the Nordic Council, aren't you?

    - And the foreign affairs spokesperson for the Moderate party in Sweden. But I think that we also in the Nordic Council already next year are starting to talk more about the threats from China. Next year, Iceland is going to be the presidency in the Nordic Council. And I know they have a quite vital discussion now in Iceland about China and you can see quite a rapid change also there on the view on China. So, I have high hopes that the Icelandic presidency is going also to focus on the Chinese issue.

    And we have also talked – we have not decided yet – to have some kind of seminar about different China strategies and different China approaches that we can now see in the Nordic countries. And my suggestion is that we also should invite the Baltic states to participate in that kind of seminar – we can see that we have a little different approach towards China between the three Baltics and the five Nordics.

    - Let us talk about the question raised particularly by Lithuania. How could Lithuania make its voice heard concerning the Astravyets power plant? Is this also a Nordic problem, or just confined to Lithuania?

    - Always when I meet colleagues from Lithuania, this is the number one issue, but I wouldn't say this is – at least yet – on the Nordic table. And I think one of the reasons is that we don't really see how the electricity from Belarus is going to end in our grids, in the Nordic countries.

    And I know that also in Lithuania you've had discussions that not allowing any kind of (unsafe – BNS Lithuania) nuclear power in your grid. So, I must say, I totally recognize that the politicians and the government in Lithuania are really making opinion on this, but it is pretty much a non issue – yet – in the Nordic countries.

    During the session, there focus was on the dialogue with the youth in fighting climate change. Do you think that Greta Thunberg's decision to decline the Nordic Council environmental prize will somehow impede this dialogue?

    No. Absolutely not. I mean, it was a clear message from Greta Thunberg, we should respect that, she made her gratitude towards the Nordic Council that she had received the prize, but she said "No, thank you" for her reasons. So, I think this shows that we have lots of engaged youth (...).

    It is very important that we search for different solutions. Maybe Greta Thunberg and I not agreeing on exactly what the solutions are, but it is important that we search for solutions and that we also try to act (...) And this is also a question for the electorate, who's electing the parliaments and in the long way the governments.

    - Is it possible that in the future there will appear a new format of cooperation in Europe? For instance, two years ago in Brussels the NB6 format (Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the three Baltic states) invited for the first time the Irish and Dutch counterparts.

    - This is really one of the areas in which I personally have invested a lot of political time. I think it is important that we now start speaking about new formats, not as competitors to already established formats, like the European Union, the Nordic Council or NATO.

    But I think that we in northern Europe, and also as a result of Brexit, when we are going to see the United Kingdom outside the European Union, we should use this new dimension in security and defense, maybe try to form another format. That could be the NB8+, for example, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

  18. #18

    Anti-police violence surges in the tough suburbs of Paris

    PARIS (AP) — A resurgence of anti-police violence has emerged in the long-troubled towns around Paris, signs that lawlessness still simmers in French urban hotspots that exploded in three weeks of rioting in 2005.

    Violence on Saturday night in Chanteloup-les-Vignes and recent flare-ups in other tough neighborhoods west of Paris have not matched the intensity or destructiveness of the unrest that spread to hundreds of towns in 2005. But French authorities are alarmed because the violence appears pre-planned, with ambushes deliberately set to target police.

    Police union officials suspect that rival gangs from different tough neighborhoods are competing for bragging rights in their attacks and are reveling in the media coverage they’re generating, even egging each other on in social media.

    In Chanteloup-les-Vignes, hooded attackers hid in bushes, waiting to spring their trap. When police arrived, responding to calls about a fire, they pounced. Under cover of darkness, roaming youths showered officers with projectiles and powerful fireworks that filled the night skies with sparks and thundering explosions.

    Unlike the riots of 2005, which were sparked by the deaths of two teenage boys electrocuted in a power substation as officers were chasing them, the latest attacks have no obvious trigger. And while rioters in 2005 seethed with anger over deep-seated perceived social and economic injustices, those attacking police now seem simply to be reveling in their violence.

    The sustained violence in 2005 prompted much soul-searching about France’s failure to integrate its millions of immigrants and their French-born children living in desolate housing projects blighted by high unemployment and limited prospects. Those concerns remain unresolved, nearly 15 years later.

    Maj. William Blanchet, who represents the Unite SGP police union in the Yvelines region that includes Chanteloup and other towns where police patrols have been assaulted, said the youths involved seem to be targeting officers for their own amusement.

    “They draw in the police with a fire, hide themselves around that spot, and then they attack,” he said.

    Police were lured to Chanteloup by calls that a trash bin had been set ablaze. Callers also reported seeing hooded youths filing bags with stones. Police union officials said about 30 youths, some armed with batons, joined the rampage. Police made two arrests.

    A community center that hosted a circus school for kids was torched, leaving it a smoking, charred hulk. A video on Snapchat showed thunderous firework explosions echoing around Chanteloup, the images overlaid with the words, “The city is ours” and “anti-police here.”

    Neighborhoods are one-upping each other with ambushes,” said Charlene Joly, the Yvelines representative for the UNSA police union. “They’re becoming the fashion again.”

    Earlier this fall, youths in Chanteloup smashed all the street lights around the neighborhood of austere apartment blocks hit by the violence Saturday, plunging it into darkness, according to Mayor Catherine Arenou. Police say the sabotaging of lights makes their work even harder.

    “The 5,000 residents are living under the terror of a few,” said Arenou.

    France’s prime minister, on an unscheduled visit Monday to see the damage for himself, suggested that the violence may have been triggered in part by “very intense” police efforts to combat the drug trafficking that underpins the underground economies of many crime-ridden neighborhoods. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the crackdown had created “tensions” in Chanteloup.

    Three other French ministers visited on Tuesday morning, underscoring the attention being given to the violence that has made front-page news.

    Police union officials say the youths may have been emboldened by the yellow vest economic protest movement that shook the French government in the past year, viewing repeated violent clashes between anti-government demonstrators and riot police as a cue for them to similarly wreak havoc and challenge authority.

    “That opened the door,” said Blanchet. “Youths today are telling themselves, ‘OK, we can go for it ... We can have some fun.’”

  19. #19

    On Norway's icy border with Russia, unease over military buildup
    Gwladys Fouche
    5 MIN READ

    SETERMOEN/KIRKENES, Norway (Reuters) - Under a soft winter sun in northern Norway, U.S. Marines train in the ice and snow as they learn how to fight in the freezing cold.

    Which country is to the northeast?” Staff Sergeant Daniel Croak bellows at a group of 20 soldiers in camouflaged combat jackets and white trousers in a pine forest near the town of Setermoen.

    “Russia!” they shout back.

    The troops are part of a contingent of 650 Marines staging a recent joint military exercise with 3,000 soldiers from NATO-member Norway at a time when both NATO and Russia have increased their military presence in the Arctic.

    A few hundred kilometers from Setermoen, Russia is modernizing its forces on the Kola Peninsula, home to its Northern Fleet. Russia has also carried out maneuvers in recent weeks, staging a major submarine exercise in the North Atlantic, according to intelligence sources cited by Norwegian media.

    “Do not use your GPSes. They may be jammed,” Croak barks to the Marines, a warning stemming from NATO accusations - denied by Russia - that Moscow has in the past jammed GPS systems in Norway.

    The rising tension is unsettling many Norwegians, not least in the town of Kirkenes, which for three decades has been trying to foster cooperation with Russia.

    Residents can cross the nearby border quickly with a visa-free permit. Many go to the nearby Russian town of Nikel to buy petrol because it is much cheaper there, and street signs use both the Cyrillic and Latin scripts.

    “I don’t like it that they build up the military on both sides of the border. We don’t want rising tensions,” said Eirik Wikan, co-owner of the Kimek shipyard in Kirkenes, which gets two-thirds of its revenues from repairing Russian vessels.

    “Here in the north, we work together to reduce tensions ... We are trying not to be part of them.”

    About a third of the company’s 180 employees are Russian, 22 of whom work in the Russian port city of Murmansk.

    Nikolai Chagin, a mechanic from the Russian town of Severodvinsk, has worked at the shipyard in Kirkenes since 2006.

    “I don’t have those problems I used to have in Russia before: I have a good job, a normal salary,” he said.

    About 10% of Kirkenes residents are now from the Kola Peninsula.

    Kirkenes’ Samovar theater company performs in both Norway and Russia, and has Russian and Norwegians employees. Russian choreographer Nikolai Shchetnev feels at home and is thinking of applying for dual nationality.

    Slideshow (35 Images)
    “Kirkenes is a Russian town in Norway,” said Rune Rafaelsen, the mayor of Soer-Varanger municipality which includes Kirkenes.

    He said he would not welcome more tanks on the border though he saw Norway’s NATO membership as “a guarantee that I can do my job.”

    Russia denies responsibility for the rise in tensions. It blames the recent basing of U.S. Marines in Norway, which it sees as a security challenge.

    But Norway’s worries grew after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and then staged Arctic military exercises including maritime maneuvers with ballistic missile-capable vessels present.

    “These were clear messages from Moscow,” said Lieutenant-General Rune Jakobsen, Commander of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters — the Norwegian Armed Forces operational command center. “Do not be part of (NATO’s) ballistic-missile defense.”

    Despite the tensions, he says Russian forces are behaving less aggressively on the frontier with Norway than in some other border zones between Russia and NATO, such as the Baltic Sea.

    In efforts to build trust, Jakobsen has in recent weeks had talks with the regional head of Russia’s FSB security service in the Kola Peninsula, and met the new head of the Northern Fleet, Alexander Moiseyev, in Kirkenes.

    “As a small nation neighboring a superpower, you have to strike the right balance between deterrence and reassurance,” Jakobsen said.

    But the military exercises are also important for Norway.

    “Working together is what makes it possible to fight together, if we have to,” said Brigadier Lars Lervik, commander of the Northern Brigade based in Setermoen.

    Editing by Timothy Heritage

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  20. #20
    Serbia set to buy Russian missiles despite US sanctions hint

    By Dusan Stojanovic, Associated Press
    BELGRADE, Serbia — November 6, 2019, 8:04 AM ET

    Russia will deliver a sophisticated anti-aircraft missile system to Serbia even though the U.S. has warned of possible sanctions against the Balkan country in the event of such purchases.

    Russia's state TASS news agency said Wednesday that the Pantsir-S system will be delivered to Serbia "in the next few months in accordance with the signed contract."

    The U.S.'s special envoy for the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer, warned Serbia last week that the purchase of Russian weapons "poses a risk" of U.S. sanctions.

    "We hope that our Serbian partners will be careful about any transactions of this kind," Palmer said in an interview with Macedonian television Alsat M.

    Serbia remains a key ally of Russia even though it wants to join the European Union. Belgrade has pledged to stay out of NATO and refused to join Western sanctions against Russia over the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

    Russia has been helping Serbia beef up its military with fighter jets, attack helicopters and battle tanks, raising concerns in the war-scarred Balkan region.

    During the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Serbia was at war with neighbors Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

    Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in a state TV interview on Tuesday that Serbia is purchasing defensive weapons from the Russians and that he wants to avoid any U.S. sanctions "or confrontation with America."

    "Serbia is arming itself because it is a free country surrounded by NATO-member states with which we want to be friends," Vucic said, adding he won't allow Serbia to "be as weak as it was in the 1990s."

    Serbia was bombed by NATO in 1999 to stop a bloody crackdown against Kosovo Albanians, an experience that left Serbs with a deep mistrust of the Western military alliance. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move Belgrade and Moscow don't recognize.

  21. #21

    US analytical institute advises Baltics to adopt two-year compulsory military service

    November 7, 2019

    To ensure better protection, Baltic States should adopt two-year compulsory military service, among other things, as written in the article by US analytical institute Jamestown Foundation.

    The institute’s Prof. Richard Hooker’s article How to Protect Baltic States mentions that Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia should adopt a compulsory two-year military service with appropriate remuneration for those who want to become professional soldiers and officers.

    According to the author of the article this measure ‘would yield an order of magnitude improvement in size and quality and provide the basis for expanding Baltic ground forces at lower cost than expensive professional soldiers’.

    Hooker says having a larger contingent of NATO troops in Baltic States is not something that is politically possible.

    The remaining option is to rely on host nation solutions. This approach will require significant security assistance to the Baltic States and strong support from key allies, but the Balts themselves must first step up. Although small in population and GDP, they are capable of much more than they are doing now,» the article mentions.

    According to the article, there are approximately six million people living in Baltic States, but only 22 000 citizens are engaged in military service. Most of them are professional soldiers serving in short missions.

    Estonia has compulsory military service, Lithuania has partially compulsory serve, whereas Latvia has none.
    Hooker says it would be a comprehensive goal for Latvia and Estonia to expand from light brigades to small heavy divisions under command by major generals with headquarters, two manoeuvring brigades and units such as field support artillery battalion and anti-air defence, engineering, logistics and communications battalions – approximately 10 000 troops.

    He writes that division headquarters should be staffed by Baltic officers trained in the US with assistance from NATO advisors.

  22. #22
    Holger Zschaepitz
    þ @Schuldensuehner
    2h2 hours ago

    Ouch! #EU Commission trims #Eurozone growth forecasts. Cuts 2019 GDP forecast to 1.1% from July forecast of 1.2% in line w/consensus. Cuts 2020 forecast to 1.2%, down from 1.4% prev expected (still above consensus of 1%), and sticks to 1.2% in 2021.

  23. #23
    Turkey threatens Europe: “We are not a hotel for ISIS”

    By Arthur Lyons
    Voice of Europe
    5 November 2019

    Turkey has warned its NATO allies in Europe that it will repatriate thousands of captured ISIS fighters and their families back to their countries of origin even if their citizenship has been revoked.

    “We are not going to keep them until the end of time. We are not a hotel for anybody’s Islamic State members,” Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters in Ankara on Saturday, the Telegraph reports.

    Following its military incursion into northeastern Syria, the Turkish military now has more than 1,000 foreign ISIS terrorists and their loved ones in its custody.

    Ankara’s warning comes despite various European states refusing to take back foreign fighters, or in the case of the UK, having gone far as to strip known ISIS terrorists of their citizenship

    Minister Soylu then accused EU member states like Britain and the Netherlands of stripping foreign fighters of their citizenship in an attempt to prevent Ankara from sending them home.

    “We will send back those in our hands, but the world has come up with a new method now: revoking their citizenships,” Soylu said on Monday. “They are saying they should be tried where they have been caught. This is a new form of international law, I guess.”

    “It is not possible to accept this. We will send back Daesh members in our hands to their own countries whether they revoke their citizenship or not,” Soylu declared.

    Before Turkey’s invasion of northeastern Syria, Kurdish forces had previously held roughly 12,000 captured IS members and their families in detention facilities. It remains unclear just how many of them managed to escape during Turkey’s military onslaught in the region.

  24. #24
    Just One in Five Britons Say Bible Is Relevant to Them

    Victoria Friedman / Europe
    7 November 2019

    Fewer than one in five people, 18 per cent, in England and Wales say that the Bible is relevant to them, as the number of those professing a Christian faith continues to fall.

    That proportion is less than half those that profess the Christian faith, which is 40 per cent, according to a study of 20,000 people carried out by the Bible Society, according to Premier Christian Rado.

    The findings come as a separate survey published four months ago revealed that Christianity continues to fall in the United Kingdom. The British Attitudes Survey (BAS) of 2,884 people found that a similar figure across the whole country — 38 per cent — considered themselves to be Christian.

    The BAS survey authors described a “dramatic decline” in the number of British Christians in the past 35 years. In 1983, 66 per cent — two thirds — of Britons said they were Christian, with that demographic dropping to half of the population in 2008. By age group, in 2018, only one per cent of young people (aged 18 to 24) say they belong to the Church of England , halving from the year before.

    Meanwhile, more than half (52 per cent) say they have no religion at all. The only faiths that have experienced a growth in 35 years are Islam (from one per cent to six per cent) and Christian Pentecostalism, the latter’s growth likely to due immigration from West Africa.

    The Church of England in recent years has been liberalising in order to remain “relevant” to current-year societal trends, including inviting transgenders to join the clergy, telling its schools to allow young children to experiment with their gender identity, and the archbishop of Canterbury declaring God gender-neutral.

    Some Anglican cathedrals have also engaged in sacrilege by misusing sacred spaces in gimmicks to attract more visitors. In August, Norwich cathedral erected a helter-skelter in its nave, from which the bishop delivered a sermon before sliding down.

    The month before, Rochester cathedral set up a miniature golf course in its nave.

  25. #25
    Babak Taghvaee
    ‏ @BabakTaghvaee
    5m5 minutes ago

    #Greece can't and will never tolerate #Erdogan's neo-Ottomanism. #Greece has been a Christian country since centuries ago. #Erdogan's religious leaders can go to Greek prisons or #Turkey to hold Friday Prayers!

  26. #26
    The future of the EU

    Emmanuel Macron warns Europe: NATO is brain-dead

    America is turning its back on the European project. Time to wake up
    , the French president tells The Economist

    November 7th 2019

    The Economist

    EMMANUEL MACRON, the French president, has warned European countries that they can no longer rely on America to defend NATO allies. “What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” Mr Macron declares in a blunt interview with The Economist. Europe stands on “the edge of a precipice”, he says, and needs to start thinking of itself strategically as a geopolitical power; otherwise we will “no longer be in control of our destiny.”

    During the hour-long interview, conducted in his gilt-decorated office at the Elysée Palace in Paris on October 21st, the president argues that it is high time for Europe to “wake up”. He was asked whether he believed in the effectiveness of Article Five, the idea that if one NATO member is attacked all would come to its aid, which many analysts think underpins the alliance's deterrent effect. “I don't know,” he replies, “but what will Article Five mean tomorrow?”

    NATO, Mr Macron says, “only works if the guarantor of last resort functions as such. I’d argue that we should reassess the reality of what NATO is in the light of the commitment of the United States.” And America, in his view, shows signs of “turning its back on us,” as it demonstrated starkly with its unexpected troop withdrawal from north-eastern Syria last month, forsaking its Kurdish allies.

    In President Donald Trump, Europe is now dealing for the first time with an American president who “doesn’t share our idea of the European project”, Mr Macron says. This is happening when Europe is confronted by the rise of China and the authoritarian turn of regimes in Russia and Turkey. Moreover, Europe is being weakened from within by Brexit and political instability.

    This toxic mix was “unthinkable five years ago,” Mr Macron argues. “If we don’t wake up [...] there’s a considerable risk that in the long run we will disappear geopolitically, or at least that we will no longer be in control of our destiny. I believe that very deeply.”

    Mr Macron’s energetic recent diplomatic activity has drawn a great deal of interest abroad, and almost as much criticism. He has been accused of acting unilaterally (by blocking EU enlargement in the Western Balkans), and over-reaching (by trying to engineer direct talks between America and Iran). During the interview, however, the president is in a defiant but relaxed mood, sitting in shirt sleeves on the black leather sofa he has installed in the ornate salon doré, where Charles de Gaulle used to work.

    The French president pushes back against his critics, for instance arguing that it is “absurd” to open up the EU to new members before reforming accession procedures, although he adds that he is ready to reconsider if such conditions are met.

    Mr Macron’s underlying message is that Europe needs to start thinking and acting not only as an economic grouping, whose chief project is market expansion, but as a strategic power. That should start with regaining “military sovereignty”, and re-opening a dialogue with Russia despite suspicion from Poland and other countries that were once under Soviet domination. Failing to do so, Mr Macron says, would be a “huge mistake”.

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    SE Okieland
    Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic broke EU law by refusing to accept asylum seekers under the bloc's mandatory migrant quota scheme, an advisory body to the European Court of Justice said on Thursday.
    Three brave nations that do not accept the invasion of muslims....

    Turkey has warned its NATO allies in Europe that it will repatriate thousands of captured ISIS fighters and their families back to their countries of origin even if their citizenship has been revoked.
    Turkey supports the take over of Europe by muslims.... The EU is toast unless they fight back....


  28. #28
    Macron Claims NATO Suffering ‘Brain Death’ as Germany Commits to Increasing Defence Spending

    Victoria Friedman / Europe
    7 November 201928

    Emmanuel Macron has claimed that NATO is suffering a “brain death” and that Europe can no longer depend on the United States of America to defend her.

    In an interview with The Economist published on Thursday, the French president said: “What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO.”

    Asked whether he believed in members’ commitment to Article Five — where if one North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member is attacked, the others will defend it — Mr Macron said: “I don’t know, but what will Article Five mean tomorrow?”

    Claiming that America is “turning its back on us”, he said NATO “only works if the guarantor of last resort functions as such. I’d argue that we should reassess the reality of what NATO is in the light of the commitment of the United States.”

    The head of one of the two leading nations of the progressive EU, France and Germany, Macron also lamented that President Donald Trump “doesn’t share our idea of the European project”.

    President Trump has criticised other NATO members during his political campaign and presidency for failing to pay their fair share of defence spending to sustain the organisation, with the USA funding some 70 per cent of the security alliance. Three years ago, just five of the then-27 member union were paying at least the minimum two per cent of GDP on defence.

    Since then, a number of countries have recommitted to the union, with the prime minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, telling his European colleagues to start paying up.

    “Anyone who is a member of a club has to pay the fee. We might not like it, but the days in which Europe could for a minimal fee find shelter under the American safety umbrella are over… Europe can and should do more,” Prime Minister Rutte said.

    President Macron continued to tell The Economist that the EU stands on “the edge of a precipice” and needs to start considering its position as a global political power; otherwise, the bloc will “no longer be in control of our destiny”.

    While claiming that NATO is brain dead, last year the French president said the EU needs its own army “protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” — a call vigorously backed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the EU’s executive arm the European Commission, and senior European Parliament politician Guy Verhofstadt.

    Mr Macron’s comments about NATO comes as the defence union’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that Germany must not forget the U.S.’s commitment to European security and credited Washington’s support in unifying Germany and Europe after the Cold War.

    Mr Stoltenberg said in reference to the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall falling: “The reunification of Germany and Europe would have been impossible without the United States’s security guarantee.”

    “Any attempt to distance Europe from North America will not only weaken the transatlantic Alliance, it also risks dividing Europe itself,” he said on Thursday in comments reported by Reuters.

    President Trump had criticised Germany in the past for failing to commit to increased defence spending. However, Chancellor Merkel rejected Mr Macron’s comments, saying the Frenchman had used “drastic words”.

    “NATO remains a cornerstone of our security,” Dr Merkel told reporters on Thursday.

    Also on Thursday, Germany said that it would commit to NATO spending by 2031. While missing its 2024 target, defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer assured allies: “NATO is and will remain the anchor of European security. But it is also clear that Europe must increase its own complementary ability to act.”

    “This starts with the defence budget. We need [to spend] 1.5 per cent by 2024 and 2 per cent by 2031 at the latest,” Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

  29. #29
    Soon more than one third of Germany’s population will have migrant backgrounds

    By Arthur Lyons
    Voice of Europe
    7 November 2019

    In just twenty years, 35 percent of Germany’s population will be comprised of migrants or individuals with migrant roots, according to projections made by a German migration expert.

    At the same time, those with migrant backgrounds are expected to make up 70 percent of the inhabitants living in large cities by 2040, Deutsche Welle reports.

    Professor Herbert Brücker, the lead migration researcher at the Federal Institute for Employment Research (IAB), declared earlier this week that Germany ‘will become more diverse’.

    “Currently, about a quarter of the people in German have a migrant background,” Brücker said. “In 20 years, it will be at least 35%, but could also be more than 40%.”

    Brücker, an economics professor at the University of Bamberg, also notes that the proportion of migrants inhabiting German cities is likely to be higher.

    “What we see in the big cities today will be normal for the country as a whole in the future. In a city like Frankfurt, we’ll have between 65% to 70%.”

    For Brücker, in order to keep Germany’s robust economy ‘stable, the country will have to attract a broad ‘range of nationalities’. The IAB suggests that 400,000 new migrants will have to be imported each year until 2060 to keep the economy from contracting.

    As for vast swaths of the German population that would like to preserve their cultural heritage and ethnoreligious identity, their opinions are seemingly unimportant and irrelevant. What truly matters for Brücker and neoliberal globalists like him is that the economy remains strong at all costs.

  30. #30
    I think that if Germany and France went into a deep depression, you will get civil war there and the rise of very authoritarian governments.


  31. #31
    Holger Zschaepitz
    þ @Schuldensuehner
    11h11 hours ago

    German Industry slump deepens, defying any hopes for a quick rebound of the German economy. After promising new orders data, Insustrial Output was down an annual 4.3% at the end of Q3, when the country probably sank into a technical recession
    Attached Images

  32. #32
    German Ministers Mutiny As Merkel Struggles To Preserve Ruling Coalition

    by Tyler Durden
    Zero Hedge
    Thursday, 11/07/2019 - 12:35

    Shortly after German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz released his plan to complete the European Banking Union via the Financial Times, several reports surfaced claiming that Scholz had inexplicably neglected to inform Chancellor Merkel about the plan, testing Merkel's political authority as she struggles to finish out the rest of what's set to be her final term.

    As it turns out, snubs like this one are becoming increasingly common as Merkel appears to have lost control over her government. Two weeks ago, Defense Minister Annegret Kamp-Karrenbauer proposed a peace plan for Northern Syria without clearing it with the chancellor. Though at least during that incident, Merkel was given a heads up about the plan. AKK's ideas were pilloried by the Social Democrats and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, and the whole incident ended up embarrassing the government as it seeks to combat speculation that it's asleep at the wheel.

    Both Scholz and AKK are potential contenders to succeed Merkel, but with the resurgent Alternative for Germany party boasting solid gains in recent elections, it's difficult to imagine how things might go in 2021.

    Both Merkel's Christian Democrats and their coalition partners (including the SPD) have suffered in the polls as Merkel's coalition limps on. Fears of an early election have made it impossible for the newcomers to break with Merkel. In fact, even after releasing his plan, Scholz met Merkel in the Chancellory in Berlin in what was described as a show of unity, according to Bloomberg.

    Much of the dysfunction in the German government seems to stem from broken bonds of loyalty. AKK was once Merkel's anointed successor, but a political disagreement has triggered a revolt against her. As a result, her relationship with Merkel has become strained.

    Scholz, on the other hand, is trying to win a contest for the leadership of the SPD. His rivals have warned they could pull out of the governing coalition and trigger snap elections.

    But instead of boasting the air of revolution, Berlin feels adrift, Bloomberg said.

    Merkel's power has waned, but none of the contenders to succeed her have stepped up.

    Though Scholz's plan for finishing the European banking union framework received a chilly reception in the Bundestag finance committee, he stands by the plan, and insisted that Merkel's party will at least stand behind the principles for a deposit insurance scheme (the most controversial component of Scholz's plan) set out by Scholz's predecessor, Wolfgang Schaeuble.

    Because, as we explained yesterday, Deutsche Bank is going to need the support.

  33. #33
    German Finance Minister Publishes New Banking Union Plan To Save The EU (And Deutsche Bank)

    by Tyler Durden
    Zero Hedge
    Wednesday, 11/06/2019 - 11:45

    Less than a year after his finance ministry failed to broker a merger between Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank in a bid to rescue the flailing German lending giant (Deutsche) and create a new national champion (or so he hoped), German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz is embarking on a campaign to convince the European Union to finish work on a comprehensive banking union.

    Many have argued that Europe's lack of a comprehensive banking regulatory framework make the system particularly vulnerable to chaos and infiltration by criminal groups (evidenced by the money laundering scandal that has embroiled several northern European banking giants).

    And with Brexit finally nearing the end game, or so it appears, Scholz argues that Europe's global position would be at risk if it doesn't finish the integration of the eurozone's financial sector, seeing as the EU is losing one of its main financial centers in London.

    The plan to centralize oversight of eurozone banks was conceived years ago in response to the debt crisis that threatened to destabilize the entire continent earlier in the decade. Many have argued that the system would help avoid taxpayer bailouts with a new deposit guarantee scheme designed to help keep liquidity taps open. However, some have criticized the plan (especially within Germany) as a scheme to leave German taxpayers on the hook for mismanagement of foreign banks).

    In a lengthy editorial published in the FT, Scholz argued that it's time to end political divisions that have prevented the banking union from becoming viable. The project is critical to ensure EU banks can be safely wound down without a bailout.

    In the editorial, Scholz tries to link the timing to Brexit.

    Then again, we can think of another reason why Germany would want to start shore up government support for European banks.

    Enter Deutsche Bank, the struggling German lending giant with a derivatives exposure in the tens of trillions of dollars. DB is a bank that, thanks to years of mismanagement and hamfisted corporate crime, has become the largest domino in Europe's extremely shaky financial system. DB has continued to lose a staggering amount of money every quarter while scrambling to cut expenses by drastically reducing staff.

    Meanwhile, the bank's persistent misfortune has sent its share-price consistently lower, on its way toward the big "0".

    As the FT explains, the most controversial component of Scholz's plan is something that hasn't even been embraced by his fellow Germans yet. It's a deposit scheme intended to shield depositors during a banking collapse. At first brush, it sounds like something fastidious Germans would never consider.

    While the policy probably faces an uphill climb, it has won the support of the new European Commission President Ursula von der Layen (though according to Reuters the plan hasn't been formally discussed by the German government, and it's unclear whether Chancellor Angela Merkel will support it).

    According to the FT, Scholz's plan has many safeguards to protect the people of Germany from being saddled with bailing out foreign banks from country's with weaker financial systems. But these same safeguards might lead to diminished support in Italy.

    Aside from the deposit scheme, Scholz's plan also involves amending EU capital rules to remove incentives for banks to buy up large quantities of their home country’s sovereign debt, while also putting forth common EU rules for taxing companies on their profits.

    Scholz also wants the EU to harmonize bank insolvency laws, arguing that the existing patchwork of national rules undermines EU attempts to make sure senior creditors share costs of dealing with bank failures.

    So far, the plan has received a "lukewarm reception," according to another Reuters report. Both the ECB and the Commission, both under new leadership, reportedly said they support finishing the Continent's banking union, but had some disagreements with Scholz's plan, which they praised as a "very good starting basis" for further talks.

  34. #34
    From: German Finance Minister Publishes New Banking Union Plan To Save The EU (And Deutsche Bank)
    Attached Images

  35. #35

    Islamic Council proposes Muslim child welfare institutions


    In order to safeguard the right of minority children to preserve their cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds, the Islamic Council proposes its own Muslim child welfare institutions.

    In the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs’ proposal for a new Child Welfare Act, they propose a new overall provision that clarifies that the child welfare service must take this into account in its work. Islamic Council Norway (IRN) believes the wording “consideration” is too weak, writes Vårt Land.

    Therefore, the umbrella organization for 33 Islamic faiths and organizations in Norway proposes to create their own Muslim child welfare institutions, as one of several possible solutions.

    Leader Abdirahman Diriye of the Islamic Council Norway tells the newspaper that it is a well-known case that the child welfare system has confidence problems in immigrant environments, partly because of lack of knowledge about the environment.

    – “Establishing Muslim child welfare institutions could make parents feel confident that their children are being educated in line with the values they themselves stand for,” he says.

    Diriye emphasizes that the institutions will be just like other child welfare institutions, but with staff who safeguard the children’s cultural, linguistic and religious background.

    © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

  36. #36

    Today in pictures: a bovine protest in Central Helsinki


    YOUTH MEMBERS OF THE CONFEDERATION OF FINNISH AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY surprised commuters in Helsinki today by bringing a group of cows into the city centre. The cows consisted of a Jersey-breed named Orawa and a Holstein named Okadi, and were brought to Helsinki University in protest against Unicafe's recent decision to remove beef products from their menu.

    The goal of the stunt was to demonstrate that cows in Finland are well-treated and to counter the environmental concerns cited by Unicafe in their decision to remove beef. The cows were also flanked by animal rights protestors and environmental activists.

    You can see more of the four-legged creatures by scrolling down.

  37. #37

    Eastern Germans less positive about benefits from reunification 30 years on

    November 8, 2019

    As Germany is to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a poll has found that fewer eastern Germans feel reunification has been beneficial than was the case ten years ago.

    German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports, a survey published Thursday, November 7, revealed significant differences in how Germans today view the legacy of reunification.

    According to the latest Deutschlandtrend report by political research firm Infratest Dimap, a majority of respondents in both western and eastern Germany said that reunification has brought personal advantages, although the results also indicate a negative shift in the east.

    Some 60% of eastern Germans said there has been a positive change — a figure that dropped by 7% compared to responses ten years ago when the country was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall.

    Positive responses from western Germans, on the other hand rose by five points up to 56% compared to answers from 2009.

    In terms of freedom of speech, 69% of survey participants in the east and 83% of respondents in the west said the situation had improved. Career opportunities and the economic situation were also ranked as better when compared to the German Democratic Republic, or Eastern Germany.

    Opinions differed, however, when it came to comparing the education systems and early childhood care, with eastern Germans saying the situation today was worse. Some 76% of respondents in the east said that social cohesion was worse today, while only 46% of western Germans agreed.

  38. #38

    Croatia’s Pushbacks Should ‘Disqualify’ it from Schengen – HRW
    Anja VladisavljevicZagrebBIRNNovember 8, 2019
    Prominent human rights organisation says that Croatia’s unlawful and violent returns of asylum seekers and migrants should disqualify it from joining the EU passport-free Schengen area.

    Human Rights Watch, HRW, on Friday said Croatia should not be allowed to joint the passport-free Schengen area because of its “unlawful” and violent pushbacks of refugees and asylum seekers.

    It said the recent conclusion of the European Commission, that Croatia is ready to join the Schengen area, “wilfully brushes over evidence of violent push-backs of migrants at its borders”, releasing a video documenting the abuses.

    “Croatia’s unlawful and violent summary returns of asylum seekers and migrants should disqualify it from joining the Schengen Area,” said Lydia Gall, senior Eastern Europe and Balkans researcher at HRW.

    The released video features interviews with people shortly after they were summarily returned to Bosnia by the Croatian police in August, as well with witnesses of pushbacks.

    It also shows secretly recorded footage, published in December last year, of Croatian police officers escorting groups of migrants across the border to Bosnia without following due process.

    Rights groups say Croatia frequently returns migrants and refugees that try to cross the border to neighbouring Bosnia. Many have reported use of violence, but the Croatian authorities deny the claims, insisting that such accusations are often made up.

    HRW noted that Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic had acknowledged that the authorities engage in pushbacks In July this year, when she said that police’s actions towards migrants and refugees trying to cross the border had involved “a little bit of force”.

    The number of people trying to cross from Bosnia into EU-member Croatia is growing. Between January and July this year, 14,690 new migrants and refugees were reported to have arrived in Bosnia, according to the International Organisation for Migration, IOM. That was 54 per cent more than for the same period last year. Authorities in the Una-Sana Canton in northwest Bosnia say some 6,000 to 7,000 are currently in the canton.

    HRW says it has documented summary collective expulsions from Croatia to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2016.

    “In some instances, Croatian border officials have used force … [and] violence has been directed against women and children. Unlike with lawful deportations, migrants are not returned at ports of entry, but rather in remote border areas, including, at times, forced to cross freezing streams,” it stated.

    HRW said that summary return of asylum seekers without consideration of their protection needs is contrary to European Union asylum law, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the 1951 Refugee Convention.

    It also quoted EU Schengen Borders Code Article 4, which says that member states should act in compliance with EU law and “obligations related to access to international protection, in particular the principle of non-refoulement and fundamental rights”.

    The European Commission announced that Croatia had “taken the measures needed to ensure that the necessary conditions for the full application of the Schengen rules and standards are met”, as BIRN reported on October 22.

    However, the Commission’s evaluation of Croatian technical preparedness is only the first step, since member states must also unanimously agree on it.

    HRW urged the European Commission to press Croatia to demonstrate concrete progress by putting in place an independent and effective monitoring mechanism on the issue.

    The Commission should also initiate legal enforcement action against Croatia for violating EU laws, Human Rights Watch said,” HRW stated.

  39. #39

    No majority seen in Spanish election, far-right boosted: El Pais poll of polls

    MADRID (Reuters) - Neither the left nor the right will win a majority in Spain’s parliamentary election this Sunday, according to a calculation by El Pais newspaper based on dozens of opinion polls.

    The closely-watched poll of polls confirmed weeks of surveys that suggested the election will do little to break a long-standing stalemate that has forced voters to the polls for the second time this year and for the fourth time in four years.

    Instead, it suggested the emergence of a far more complex political landscape, with a 60% chance of neither the left nor the right reaching the 176 seats needed for a majority in the 350-seat parliament.

    The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), led by Pedro Sanchez, would lead with 117 seats, down from the 123 seats obtained in April’s inconclusive election.

    Its main rival, the conservative People’s Party (PP), could reach 92 seats, a significant gain from the 66 seats it won in the previous election.

    Far-right party Vox, which secured its first parliamentary seats in the previous election, would see its seats nearly double from 24 to 46, overtaking left-wing Podemos and center-right Ciudadanos to become the third-largest parliamentary group, it showed.

    Several recent polls suggest support increased for Vox since the eruption of protests, at times violent, in Catalonia following the sentencing of nine independence leaders to prison terms of up to 13 years last month.

    The unrest has seemingly provided a boost to parties on the right, who have called for the central government to take a tougher line on separatists in the northeastern region.

    In the past four years, elections in Spain have produced minority or short-lived governments as political leaders struggled to adapt to the emergence of new parties that ended years of dominance by PP and Socialists.

    The El Pais poll of polls is based on surveys published until Monday. By law, opinion polls cannot be published any closer to the election date.

    It suggests parties will have to be creative and go beyond traditional alliances to try to form a government.

    The Socialists and PP would together have enough seats to have a majority. Both parties have, however, publicly ruled out a “grand coalition” pact.

    Reporting by Andrei Khalip and Belen Carreno; Editing by Ashifa Kassam and Ingrid Melander

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  40. #40

    Turkey vows to send home foreign IS group jihadists starting Monday

    Issued on: 08/11/2019 - 18:00

    Foreign fighters who fought for Islamic State group and were captured are still being detained in Syria.

    Turkey will start sending foreign jihadists back to their home countries next week, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Friday.


    “Now we are telling you that we are going to send them back to you. We are starting this on Monday,” Soylu said in a speech in Ankara, referring to members of the Islamic State group (IS).

    Earlier this week, Soylu said Turkey had nearly 1,200 foreign members of IS in custody, and had captured 287 during its recent operation in northern Syria.

    “We will send three, five, 10 people back,” Soylu said in the speech, which was shown online by local media.

    There is no need to try to escape from it, we will send them back to you. Deal with them how you want,” he added.

    Turkey has criticised Western countries for refusing to repatriate their citizens who left to join IS in Syria and Iraq, and stripping some of them of their citizenship.

    It remains unclear whether Turkey will be able to repatriate those who have lost their citizenship.

    Although under the New York Convention of 1961, it is illegal to leave someone stateless, several countries, including Britain and France, have not ratified it, and recent cases have triggered prolonged legal battles.

    Britain has stripped more than 100 people of their citizenship for allegedly joining jihadist groups abroad.

    High-profile cases such as teenage IS recruit Shamima Begum, and another alleged recruit Jack Letts, have sparked court proceedings and fierce political debate in Britain.


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