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Le Pen seeks to rally far-right allies for European elections in Nice

in EUROPE/POLITICS by

In view of the European Parliaments elections scheduled for the 23 to 26 May 2019, far-right leaders gathered in the southern French city of Nice in order to lauch their continent anti-immigration campaign. National Front president, Marine Le Pen, was joined by Geert Wilders of the Dutch Party for Freedom, Harald Vilimsky of Austria’s Freedom Party and Czech nationalist Tomio Okamura. On that occasion, it was claimed that a far-right majority in the European elections was possible and it could change Europe, insisting on the possibility to create a Union of European Nations. Ms Le Pen argued also that Nice which has a diverse population, suffered strongly from migration which changed its face.

Iran, Russia, Turkey hold talks on Syria situation

in MIDLE EAST/POLITICS by

Moscow, Tehran and Ankara denounce attempts to divide Syria into parts as unacceptable, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Saturday following a meeting with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts Mohammad Javad Zarif and Mevlut Cavusoglu. “We agreed that attempts to split Syria on ethnic and religious grounds were totally unacceptable,” Lavrov said after the trio meeting on Syria. The three countries have been attempting to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict at talks that started last year in Astana, Kazakhstan, in competition with the US and UN-backed Geneva initiative. “We have stated that we will counter attempts to undermine our joint efforts and pointed out that the Astana process is stable,” he said. Lavrov said the recent US-led missile strikes on Syria “seriously aggravated the situation” and that statements about supporting the territorial integrity of Syria “are only words that, apparently, cover plans for reformatting the Middle East and plans for dividing Syria into parts.”

According to him, the attack “not only significantly raised tensions on the international stage but also considerably damaged the prospects for a political settlement.” Lavrov said Russia, Turkey and Iran need to help Syria’s government clear its country of terrorists. In a joint statement, the three foreign ministers said they have agreed to increase joint efforts to help achieve “a lasting political settlement in Syria”. The ministers “agreed to increase joint efforts aimed at facilitating the achievement of a lasting political settlement in Syria envisaged by” a UN Security Council resolution and “through full use of multi-level mechanisms of the Astana format.” They also “reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of” the Syrian Arab Republic”.

Xi expects meeting with Modi to open new chapter in China-India ties

in ASIA/POLITICS by

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Central China Friday, saying he expected their two-day informal meeting will open a new chapter in bilateral ties.

Welcoming Modi’s visit to Wuhan, capital of Central China’s Hubei province, Xi said in the past three years, he and Modi have established a good working relationship through mutual visits and meetings at multilateral events.The two leaders have reached many important consensuses via these meetings, which have sent the world a positive signal on China-India friendship and reflected the strong will of the two emerging economies to enhance mutually beneficial cooperation and achieve common development, according to Xi. “The great cooperation between our two great countries can influence the world,” Xi said.

Albanian Prime Minister, “The Vetting process will not be sufficient only with the removal of corrupt judges”

in EUROPE/POLITICS by

“The Vetting process will not be sufficient only with the removal of corrupt judges and prosecutors, as they will answer the law.” He said in a meeting of the SP National Assembly, Prime Minister Edi Rama, adding that there will then be a clean justice system that will act on politicians. “People see that all that true war on and and below and, to advance reform in justice, all that extreme confrontation with the tent in the middle of the boulevard to break Vetting’s path has not merely been worth it but has were just as we have shown,” Rama said.

The Palace of Justice is collapsing, the Prime Minister said, adding that “the corrupt people within the palace have no prosperity, and throughout this escalation of the process, those who have held up the Palace of Justice are leaving.” We have to explain, Rama said, that, these will not escape with that. “The cleansing of a justice system will not leave any of those who are leaving today, without recourse to tell where you found the money,” said the prime minister. To the general question of why Vetting did not start from the government and politicians, Prime Minister Rama replied that “this will make a purely justice system”.

The leader of the New Generation Movement says new politicians will emerge in Iraq

in MIDLE EAST/POLITICS by

The President of the New Generation Movement, Shaswar Abdulwahid said that new people will emerge and become influential in Iraq’s political affairs, as the country approaches the parliamentary election on May 12. New Generation Movement held a rally in Baghdad on Friday, saying Iraqis should try and choose a new group of politicians as the older parties have already been tested. The Movement wants youths to participate in the political arena, Abdulwahid added. The New Generation also wants to harness youth’s energy and ability in all the provinces of Iraq.

“Whatever youths have, they should give it to the Iraqi nation,” he said. The lives of the Iraqis should be changed as the country has “great revenue”, the Movement’s president noted. Iraq must progress in order to have a strong economy. “We must co-exist. There must not be religious and national differences.” The New Generation Movement is fielding 150 candidates across Iraq in the upcoming elections.

Iran says Israel policies cause of regional problems

in MIDLE EAST/POLITICS by

Iran’s permanent representative to the United Nations reaffirmed his country’s longstanding solidarity with the Palestinian people, saying the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is the root cause of all conflicts in the Middle East. In a statement at the UN Security Council open debate on the “Situation in the Middle East,” on Thursday, Gholamali Khoshroo said that no political theater by the US and Israeli regime can cover up the aggressive and expansionist policies of this regime and its behavior towards its neighbors as the main source of threat to the peace and security in this region, IRNA reported. “Indeed, Israel is a rogue regime, by definition – this is an undeniable fact for the international community, except for those who believe illegal occupation, illegal settlements, apartheid, siege, and regular attacks of mass murder are the legitimate actions of a regime that proclaims itself as the only democracy in the Middle East,” Khoshroo said.

He criticized the United States and other members of the council for granting Israel a sense of “exceptionalism” that has allowed Tel Aviv to constantly undermine peace in the region without ever having to worry about the consequences. “The impunity this regime has enjoyed for so long wouldn’t have been possible without the help it receives from the US and certain interest groups,” he added.

Albanian foreign minister, “We are aware of the ‘tiredness of Europeanisation'”

in EUROPE/POLITICS by

Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati informed on Tuesday (April 26th) a small group of Brussels journalists about his country’s ambitions towards the EU, following the Commission’s proposal to start membership talks with Tirana and following Prime Minister Edi Rama’s visit to Berlin last Wednesday. The European Commission proposed on April 17 to open membership negotiations with Albania and Macedonia, in line with its new focus on Western Balkans integration.

The renewed interest in the region, which has made progress over the last year in resolving disagreements with its neighbors and undertaking a reform agenda, matched concerns about the growing interest of non-EU countries to gained a foothold there, in particular Russia and China. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron told the European Parliament that he did not want further EU enlargement before the bloc would make the reforms, allowing it to function more successfully. In Berlin, Rama warned that Russia also aimed to radicalize the Muslims of Albania and urged the EU not to “leave room for filling in from other countries”.

29th Arab League Summit– Leaders united on Palestine and Iran

in MIDLE EAST/POLITICS by

 

 

On 15th April the 29th edition of the Arab League Summit ended. The meeting, held in Dharan (Saudi Arabia), has gathered the 21 active members of the Arab League and some key personalities of the International arena, such as the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, the chairman African Union Commission Moussa Faki and the Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres. The only missing member was Syria, suspended by the League in November 2011, when protests arose in the country and the regime reacted with violence over civilians.

Most of the countries were represented by heads of State or Government; Qatar, instead, sent his representative to the Arab League. The rest of the Arab community did not take the decision so well. As we know, the relationships between the Gulf monarchy and several Arab and Middle Eastern nations have sharply deteriorated in the past few months, thus causing a diplomatic crisis among neighbours. In particular, on 5th June, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt broke their diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing the country of supporting extremist and terrorist groups. Anyways, the Gulf nation received the invitation to the summit, also being ensured that the diplomatic crisis would not have been a topic on the summit’s agenda. Therefore, the absence of the Emir of Qatar has been seen as a sign of arrogance, thus fuelling the already tense relations.

The meeting focused on the topics on the agenda, showing alignment among leaders on major and essential issues related to the balance of power in the region but also to the relations among the Arab community and other external actors.

Three main topics on the table: the Arab-Israeli dispute, the war in Yemen and the dangerous influence of Iran. Not on the list, instead, neither the diplomatic crisis with Qatar nor the war in Syria.  However, in a statement published by the Arab League after the summit, the League called for “independent International investigation to guarantee the application of the International law against anyone proven to have used chemical weapons”. To be noted that the summit started 24 hours after the US, UK and France launched air strikes on Syrian military installations in response to a chemical attack on rebels in Eastern Ghouta. Both Syria and Russia denied the action.

 

PALESTINE AND ISRAEL

Lights on Palestine and Israel. The Arab community showed an interesting position. On one hand, the countries have unanimously condemned president Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus officially recognising the latter as the capital of Israel. The US has traditionally played the role of mediator in the dispute between Palestine and Israel; hence, such a decision was seen by the Arab leaders as a significant shift from a neutral position, to the one of a direct stakeholder. Given the volatile situation in the Middle East, this move is not only relevant but potentially dangerous. King Salman -who named the meeting “Jerusalem Summit” to stress the solidarity of Arab countries towards the Palestinian people- reaffirmed during the day that Arab leaders recognise the right of Palestinians to establish their own independent nation, with Jerusalem as the capital. According to them, East Jerusalem belongs to the Palestinian territory. Moreover, King Salman announced the donation of $ 150 million to the religious administration that runs the Islamic religious sites in Jerusalem, such as the Al-Aqsa mosque and other $50 million to the programmes conducted by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA).

On the other hand, the Arab leaders- all but the Palestinian president Abbas- supported the peace plan presented by Trump. Although the details of this plane have not been notified yet, it is likely that it would be printed on a two-state solution.

 

WAR IN YEMEN

Another hot topic was the war in Yemen. After three years, this civil conflict is still on and involves several nations, both Arab and foreign ones, such as the US and Russia, both on a military level and a political one. The fight sets forces supporting the government of President Hadi, who, however, has lost control of several areas of the country against the Houthi rebels, who fight along with the former president Saleh and are militarily and financially supported by Iran. To complete the picture, we should add the Saudi-led military coalition, which involves also Western powers such as France and the UK, and Middle Eastern allies, as the United Arab Emirates. Once again, the Arab leaders reiterated their commitment to restore the unity, integrity, security, sovereignty and independence of Yemen. According to them, the Houthi bear the full responsibility for the situation and this assumption leads to the third main topic of the summit, that is Iran’s aggressive behaviour in foreign policy.

 

IRAN’S AGGRESSIVE POLICY

The summit was also an opportunity to condemn Iranian foreign policy, too often driven by an aggressive behaviour and persistent violation of the principles of the international law. First and foremost, Teheran’s support to the Houthis in Yemen, but also to President Assad in Syria. It seems clear that King Salman took the summit as a chance to align his Arab friends against his historic rival, Iran. To date, Iran is seen as the main cause of instability in the region, “guilty” as it is of using its military and financial resources to foster proxy wars in countries already devastated by a civil war, such as, indeed, Syria and Yemen. As already mentioned, the Iranian Shiite militias are fighting in Syria along with Assad’s regime, Shiite as well.  Similarly, in Yemen, Iran’s military experience and weapons offer a valuable help to the Houthis, who have managed to take control of several areas of the country, included the capital Sana’a. The replay came almost immediately from Tehran. The spokesperson of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bahram Qasemi clearly stated that the accusation lifted during the summit was just the result of the pressure of Saudi Arabia, his main foe but also the host of the summit.

 

As we can see, the situation in the Middle East is still very tense. Though countries share some objectives and intentions, there are lots of hot topics still on the table but most of all there is no plan or clear “course of action” to achieve these aims. It is desirable that this unity of thoughts will soon turn into practical actions, which would lead –step by step- to improve the security and stability in the region.

 

Paola Fratantoni

North and South Korea have set up a telephone hotline between their two leaders

in ASIA/POLITICS by

Ahead of the first inter-Korean summit in over a decade, officials have announced that North and South Korea have set up a telephone hotline between their two leaders. This is the first time such a direct line of communication has been set up and Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae In, who are due to meet later this month, now have the option of speaking directly before the meeting. According to officials from both sides, a successful test call was conducted through the hotline established between the South’s presidential Blue House and the North’s state affairs commission, which is headed by Kim Jong Un. Last month, both sides agreed to set up the phone link when Moon’s top security adviser travelled to Pyongyang for an unprecedented meeting with Kim, who had then agreed to hold the inter-Korean summit.

“Don’t send Nigerian refugees back to violence”, UN urges Cameroon

in AFRICA/POLITICS by

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has urged the Cameroonian authority not to send Nigerian refugees back to the Boko Haram violence they fled from. Despite warnings, Nigerian refugees and asylum-seekers who fled Boko Haram violence continue to be returned from Cameroon, underscoring the need to accord international protection to those in need. “We appeal once again to the authorities in Cameroon to refrain from further forced returns and to ensure protection to those fleeing insecurity and persecution in Nigeria […] This is in accordance with Cameroon’s national and international obligations,” UNHCR said.

Since the beginning of 2018, 385 Nigerians refugees and asylum-seekers had been forcibly returned from Cameroon, the majority of them in March. In total, the UN agency has registered some 87,600 Nigerian refugees in the country. UNHCR said: “The forced returns are in violation of the principle of no forced returns or non-refoulement.

 

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