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Italy's foreign affairs undersecretary sees 'political solution' to Yemen crisis

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During his two-days visit in Riyadh and Jeddah, the italian undersecretary of state met with the UN special envoy for Yemen Cheikh Ahmed and the Secretary General fo the GCC Al-Zayani. Concerning this meeting the undersecretary said in an exclusive interview with Arab News, that “the meeting was to confirm our common work on creating a political order in the Middle East that is now shaken by conflict”. He also added that Italy thinks that the base is in the Kuwait dialogue when the UN proposed a solution that the Houthis did not accept and that Italy stands for political negotiation because other means cost much more and cost human lives. During the interview the undersecretary also talked about the refugees crisis, in particular Syrian ones, and the necessity not only to host them in Europe or in Italy but also to stop the conflict and rebuild the country. Moreover he expressed Italy’s position about Lybia and its efforts to find an internal Lybian political agreement based on the UNSC resolution 259 and to invest in the countries in Africa from which the migrants are running away. In fine the undersecretary discussed launching the Saudi-Italian joint commission to boost the collaboration at an economic and business level with Saudi Arabia, which is Italy’s first economic partner in the MENA region.

Lebanon and EU hold highlevel meeting on counterterrorism

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants and the European Union held today a high-level meeting on counter-terrorism. This meeting aimed at assisting Lebanon in adopting a national counter-terrorism strategy which will lead to enhanced security in Lebanon and in Europe. Following the launching of the Lebanon-EU counter-terrorism dialogue in January 2016, both parties have agreed to join efforts in combating terrorism. Presentations highlighted two key elements in particular: first, the need to develop a strategy which reflects concerns of all key actors involved in prevention of violent extremism; and second, the EU side underlined the need for a single Lebanese coordinating body that can oversee the implementation of the strategy. Following the high-level meeting, Lebanon will exert efforts to accelerate the development of a national counter-terrorism strategy through the establishment of a joint working group (involving all relevant State bodies and civil society) to draft a strategy document. The EU reaffirms its strong commitment to extending support to the Lebanese authorities, including through all relevant EU agencies, and instruments including the RAN (Radicalisation Awareness Network) to enable Lebanon to benefit from all relevant EU expertise in the development of the national counter-terrorism strategy.

Egyptian President El-Sisi and Merkel stress joining efforts in facing terrorism and migrant crisis

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Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed cooperation between both countries in combating terrorism and irregular migration at their meeting in Cairo on Thursday. Merkel arrived in Cairo earlier in the day on a two-day visit to meet with President El-Sisi and other Egyptian top officials, her first visit to the country since 2007. During the meeting, Sisi and Merkel inaugurated via video conference the first phase of a project managed by the German power giant Siemens to build three new power plants in Egypt. El-Sisi said that the current turbulent situation in the region is not only a threat to the Middle East but also to Europe and the whole world.Merkel promised to provide Egypt with $250 million in support for its economic reform program.The German Chancellor described the reform program as courageous and praised Cairo’s commitment to honour the terms of the $12 billion loan extended by the International Monetary Fund to the country.Merkel also criticised countries which she said are involved in supporting terrorism in the region, expressing hope that Egyptian efforts to solve disputes in the region, especially in Libya, would see success.The German Chancellor also described the Egyptian-Tunisian-Algerian initiative – which aims at finding a solution to the Libyan conflict – as important and successful.

European complaints against DPRK missile launches

In the early morning of yesterday, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has launched a ballistic missile, another violation of multiple UN Security Council Resolutions, including Resolution 2321 adopted in November 2016.

The DPRK’s repeated disregard of its international obligations is provocative and unacceptable. The DPRK must halt all launches using ballistic missile technology and abandon once and for all its ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, as required by the UN Security Council. We call on the DPRK not to raise tensions further and to re-engage in a credible and meaningful dialogue with the international community, in particular the Six-Party Talks“. That’s what the European Union External Action Service (EEAS) Spokeperson said, from Brussels.
The High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini will speak in the coming days to the Foreign Ministers of international partners to further discuss the international response.

DKPR’s behaviour continues to worry all the international community. Of course, Brussels seems to be so far from Pyongyang, but is a common opinion thet the nuclear tests and, generally speaking, the nuclear proliferation in the northern part of the Korean peninsula constitues a real danger for all countries.

Of course, the game hides some differents and complicated balances: first of all, the role of China, which missiles paradein facts is the only trade partner for the DKPR. Also Putin’s Russia aims to keep the remote control of the region and – despite of the Trump’s russia – fliendly policy – does not like very much the american “temporary” presence in South Korea… and also american missiles and army in the area. Anyway, the Kim’s last launch makes some doubts rise. It is not a secret that one of the Trump’s ideas for the region was to reduce the american military contingent in the peninsula. So, this launch could seriously put in danger all the plans and political efforts to reduce Uncle Sam’s troops.

According to some geopolitical studies, North Korea and South Korea will never fight – directly – one each other. This, because the goals for each contendant in a new war, beetween the two enemies, could cancel each other. The common opinion – extremely summing – is that the DKPR has a strong defensive asset and a very well-motivated army, that could easily face attacks from south also using old planes, cold-war subarines and very obsolete boats. The South Korean Army is well trained and equipped, with new systems, boats and submarines, but her weakness is in the leadership (some units are entirely directed by american officers in charge), in the ideological motivation and, of course, in the potential feeling of loneliness without a clear american guidance and support. And we all know the political scandal that recently hit the Southkorean political leadership. That’s why this missile launch, in an moment while academics started to speculate about a progressive and slow american withdrawal, change the scene of play. Of course, the launch is a muscles demonstrations, but its meaning seems to be changed.

From an european point of view, we can only wait the next days. For sure, since now, the EU has been supporting international efforts to promote peace, stability, denuclearisation and an improvement in the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Since 1998, the EU has been conducting regular political dialogue with the DPRK. The European Community established diplomatic relations in May 2001 and some EU countries have diplomatic relations with the DPRK.  As far as we can read on the official EU institutions’ websites and portals, the EU has been involved in providing assistance to some of the most vulnerable communities in the DPRK since 1195. Current activities are mainly oriented towards support for the agricultural sector and are financed under the Food Security Thematic Programme of the Development Cooperation Instrument.

Changing Turkey’s anti-terrorism law is out of question

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Changing Turkey’s anti-terrorism laws is out of the question as it would endanger both Turkey and Europe’s security, EU Minister Ömer Çelik said on Jan. 4. The EU had preconditioned Turkey to amend its anti-terror laws if it wanted its citizens to access visa-free travel to the bloc. “We have reiterated that we cannot meet EU’s demands to amend our anti-terror laws. However, we have no problems in meeting the other criteria,” he said at a joint press conference with U.K. Minister for EU Affairs Alan Duncan in Ankara.“To ask a country, which has been hit by many terrorist attacks, to change its anti-terror law, is to put the security of Turkey and Europe in jeopardy,” Çelik said, recalling the Jan. 1 attack on Istanbul’s Reina nightclub that claimed 39 lives. Duncan, for his part, said the U.K. wanted to extend its support to Turkey in its fight against terrorism.

Azerbaijan will request an action plan for a visa-free regime with Europe

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After the agreement on simplification of visa regime with the EU is successfully implemented, Azerbaijan will request an action plan for a visa-free regime with Europe, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammad-Guliyev told Trend. He said that Azerbaijan and the EU are successfully implementing the agreement on simplification of the visa regime. Agreement on simplification of the visa regime between EU and Azerbaijan entered into force Sept. 1, 2014. Mammad-Guliyev went on to add that the Brexit won’t affect future negotiations between the EU and Azerbaijan on a new strategic agreement.

Tunisia could be a potential educational platform for Africa

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Tunisia has great potential to be an educational platform for Africa, but the public and private sectors must work hand in hand, in full complementarity and harmony to develop this sector which in turn will develop the country and help the African continent to improve the skill of its human resources. This is what emerged from the thematic session on “Education, the knowledge economy “, held on Tuesday, as part of the International Investment Conference “Tunisia 2020”. Panelist Hichem Omezzine, investment director at Actis, leading investor in growth markets across Africa, Asia and Latin America, said several issues in the field of education are common to emerging countries, including Tunisia, such as the inadequacy between training and employment requirements. “Professionals in the Tunisian educational sector must make efforts to create this complementary dynamic and to solve this problem of inadequacy,” he suggested. However, Omezzine noted that Tunisia is one of the most advanced countries in Africa, where the enrollment rate in higher education is above 30%, while the average in Africa is around 10%, which proves that Tunisia is well ahead of the rest of the African countries. In this context, he considered that Tunisia should open up more internationally, through the launch of co-operation projects in the field of education, notably with Europe, but also China, The United States and Africa.

US is creating security threat with its armaments in Europe

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On Tuesday, Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Major-General Igor Kanashenkov, affirmed that the United States are creating a security threat by saturating Europe with their armaments. The Defense Ministry spokesman thus commented on a statement by the US State Department that Russia was deploying S-400 antiaircraft missile systems and Iskander tactical missile complexes in its Kaliningrad Region. The general mentioned the construction and deployment of US missile shield facilities in Poland and Romania and the upcoming deployment of NATO’s combat units mostly composed of US servicemen in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland, as well as the dispatch of US marines to Russia’s neighbor Norway in the imminent future. On Monday, Russian Senator Viktor Ozerov, chair of the upper house Defense and Security Committee, said Russia will be forced to deploy ballistic missiles in Kaliningrad, responding to the threat posed by US cruise missiles recently sent to Poland and Romania.

The “Cyprus solution” might be adapted to Israel

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Sources close to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked indicated that the Ministry is working on adapting the Cyprus model to Israel in order to resolve the issues of Palestinian land ownership claims throughout Judea and Samaria, including Amona. The invitation of a renowned international jurist to participate in the formulation of the plan is expected to help deal with the expected response from Europe to the plan. According to the plan, an arbitration committee will be appointed to decide on issues of land belonging to private owners and whether and how much compensation to give in these cases.

Over 4,600 migrants died trying to cross the Mediterranean sea in 2016

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The death toll of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, mostly from the Libyan coast, hit a new record for the month of November, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says in its latest report. The report says that 546 migrants are reported to be dead so far in the month of November, compared to 141 in 2015 and 22 in 2014 for the whole of November. Approximately 365 people were reported to have lost their lives in the Mediterranean this week alone in three separate shipwrecks that had set off from the Libyan coast. The figure has been rising steadily over the last few days as rescued migrants disembark in Italy and report how many had set off on their craft. This reported number is compared to the number rescued to arrive at those considered missing at sea. These latest mortality reports make 2016 the deadliest year on record for migrants or refugees attempting the perilous crossing. The latest IOM figures say that over 4,600 migrants died in 2016 with 343,589 arriving by sea to Europe.

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