Category Archives: featured

Pompeii new discovery

Brussels 27.12.2020 The archaeologists said they had discovered a frescoed thermopolium or street-food counter in an exceptional state of preservation in Pompeii.

The ornate snack bar, decorated with polychrome patterns and frozen by volcanic ash, was partially exhumed last year but researches extended work on the site to reveal it in its full glory.

Pompeii was buried in ash and pumice when the nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, killing between 2,000 and 15,000 people. However, nowadays archaeologists continue to make discoveries there.

The Thermopolium of Regio V at what was a busy intersection of Silver Wedding Street and Alley of Balconies was the Roman-era equivalent of a fast-food snack stall.

A fresco bearing an image of a Nereid nymph riding a seahorse and gladiators in combat had been unearthed previously (pictured).

EU new regime of sanctions

The Council today adopted a decision and a regulation establishing a global human rights sanctions regime. For the first time, the EU is equipping itself with a framework that will allow it to target individuals, entities and bodies – including state and non-state actors – responsible for, involved in or associated with serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide, no matter where they occurred.

Such restrictive measures will provide for a travel ban applying to individuals, and the freezing of funds applying to both individuals and entities. In addition, persons and entities in the EU will be forbidden from making funds available to those listed, either directly or indirectly.

The framework for targeted restrictive measures applies to acts such as genocide, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations or abuses (e.g. torture, slavery, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests or detentions). Other human rights violations or abuses can also fall under the scope of the sanctions regime where those violations or abuses are widespread, systematic or are otherwise of serious concern as regards the objectives of the common foreign and security policy set out in the Treaty (Article 21 TEU).

It will be for the Council, acting upon a proposal from a member state or from the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to establish, review and amend the sanctions list.

Today’s decision emphasises that the promotion and protection of human rights remain a cornerstone and priority of EU external action and reflects the EU’s determination to address serious human rights violations and abuses.

The relevant legal acts have been published in the Official Journal.

On 9 December 2019, the Council welcomed the launch by the High Representative of preparatory work to establish an EU regime of general scope for restrictive measures against serious human rights violations and abuses.

On 17 November 2020, the Council approved conclusions on the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024 which set out the EU’s level of ambition and priorities in this field in its relations with all third countries. In the EU Action Plan, the EU committed to developing a new horizontal EU global human rights sanctions regime to tackle serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide.

Bardot defends N.Karabakh animals

Brussels,1.12.2020 Legendary French animal welfare defendant Brigitte Bardot, President of the Foundation bearing her name, addressed an open letter to the attention of the Presidents of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, regarding the dramatic situation of the abandoned animals of Nagorno-Karabakh. The thousands of abandoned animals of Nagorno-Karabakh were left behind after the military operations in disputed territory led to the massive exodus of Armenians.
In her letter Mme Bardot has drawn the attention of Presidents to the situation in the region, where the animal welfare activists were eager to come to rescue thousands of animals, mainly dogs and cats, but they are kept away from dangerous areas by the military, who conduct necessary works to remove munition, and explosives. The abandoned cats, dogs, and other domestic animals who suffer without care, deprived of water and of food, doomed to die painful death.

The animal welfare activists report about tens of thousands of abandoned animals, dying in absence of food and water. There are mutes of dogs, who are looking for food in vain in deserted villages in the regions around Nagorno-Karabakh. The only solution for the problem, is the inclusion of care for the abandoned animals into humanitarian missions, conducted by the Russian peacekeepers, and Azerbaijan regular army.

“Open letter to the attention of the Presidents
of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev

Dear Presidents,

I appeal to you not to forget about the abandoned animals of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The activists are eager to rescue them, but they are being kept away from the dangerous areas where military experts are working, and where there are thousands of dogs, cats and other abandoned domestic animals who are suffering without care, deprived of water and food.

Confronted with such a situation which could go on for some time and leave no chance of survival for the animals, I call you to include the caretaking of the abandoned animals in the humanitarian missions.

This dramatic situation of suffering of animals abandoned by people, mainly dogs and cats who have been our most faithful companions since the dawn of time, is a matter of great concern but trust in your good will to provide an exceptional aid during this transitional period after the entry into force of the ceasefire agreement inspires the hope that I place in you.
Caring for animals suffering along with humans from the consequences of conflicts and wars can only help to heal recent and old traumas that haunt humanity and, in this particular situation, would contribute significantly to the appeasement of the Nagorno-Karabakh region by encouraging people to build a better future for all.

The humanitarian and charitable missions towards the animals of Nagorno-Karabakh carried out under your orders, dear Presidents, are among the keys to this much desired peaceful future, which animal welfare groups are ready to support.

I look forward to receiving your positive response to my urgent appeal.

Please accept, dear Presidents, the assurance of my highest consideration”.

Turkey: new tensions in Mediterranean

“The latest Navtex announcements and the continued conduct of seismic survey activities by Turkey, which is affecting Greek and Cypriot maritime zones, are deeply regrettable – especially in view of ongoing constructive attempts at all levels to create space for dialogue” the statement of the European External Action Service reads. The reaction of the European diplomacy followed issued by Turkey a new navigational telex (Navtex) late on November 3, reserving an area off the southwestern coast of Cyprus.

“This is yet another course of action that, unfortunately, continues to create more tensions and distrust in the region instead of contributing to lasting solutions”.

“Dialogue in good faith and abstention from unilateral actions are crucial elements for reaching a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and developing a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship between the EU and Turkey. Differences need to be discussed and sorted at the negotiations table”.

Turkey issued a new navigational telex (Navtex) late on Tuesday reserving an area off the southwestern coast of Cyprus, with the Republic of Cyprus on Wednesday demanding Turkey that immediately halts seismic research within the Cyprus EEZ.

NAVTEX allows ships to inform other vessels about their presence in an area, as well as other information.

NAVTEX can also serve as a warning to other vessels to steer clear of an area due to the sensitivity of the work being carried out and a signal of a country’s sovereign exploration rights. (ILKHA)

https://ilkha.com/english/latest/turkey-announces-a-new-navtex-in-eastern-mediterranean-10564

Leyen condemns Vienna attack

The president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen offered her condolences to the Austrian people, following the Vienna attack by the terrorist group Islamic State. The EU top executive has spoken to Austria Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to express the determination to “relentlessly fight terrorism”, and stand by Austrian people in this tragic circumstances. At least one assailant killed four people and seriously injured more than a dozen of others before being shot dead by police in an attack in Vienna, that officials assessed as radical Islam terrorism.

“I offered my deepest condolences to the Austrian people following the Vienna attack by “Islamic State” terrorists. I condemn this despicable attack in the strongest terms possible”, von der Leyen wrote on her Twitter micro blog.

The president of the European Parliament David Sassoli reacted with “sadness and horror” on Vienna attack, adding that Across our continent, the Europeans “stand united against violence and hate”.

At least four people were killed and 15 others injured in a series of shootings that started near the Stadttempel synagogue in central Vienna on Monday night, on November 2, the attackers, according to the Interior Minister Karl Nehammer were connected to the ISIS terrorist group.

The shooting began at about 20H00 local time at six different locations by multiple gunmen armed with rifles, according to local authorities. Police shot and killed one of the suspects, whom authorities later described as an Islamic terrorist, who was wearing a fake explosive belt.

Borrell “shocked” by France Consulate attack

Brussels, 29.10.2020 The head of the EU diplomacy Josep Borrell is “deeply shocked” by the barbaric attacks perpetrated in Nice, Avignon, and at the Consulate of France in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in Djeddah.
“My thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. We are alongside the French and France.
Together, in Europe and in the world, we will fight hatred and terror”

Today three people have been killed in a knife attack at a church Notre Dame in the heart of Nice, police say.
Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said there had been a “terrorist attack at the heart of the Notre-Dame basilica”.
One elderly victim who had come to pray was “virtually beheaded”. A suspect was shot and detained shortly afterwards, and three victims identified: a 30-year-old woman, mother of young children; the sacristan of the basilica, about 45 years old, slain; 70-year-old woman, a regular church-goer, beheaded.

Mayor Estrosi spoke of “Islamo-fascism” and said the suspect had “repeated endlessly ‘Allahu Akbar’, while stabbing with knife the congregation. Reportedly there are also “many wounded”, however there are not further details available at the moment. President Macron has arrived to Nice without delay, and was greeted by the Mayor Estrosi.

The attack in Avignon has failed, and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the building of Consulate of France a security agent was injured. According to the Saudi press agency, the perpetrator, a forty year old man, was immediately arrested, while the security agent of the French consulate was transferred to hospital for treatment required, he does not suffer life-threatening injuries.

However “maximum vigilance” is recommended to French nationals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

MEPs refuse “golden” passports scheme

Brussels 22.10.2020 EU citizenship cannot be traded as a commodity, according to a majority of speakers, who want to end the “golden passports” schemes currently in place in some member states.

In a plenary debate with Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, MEPs stressed the inherent risks that these programmes give rise to, namely money laundering, tax evasion and corruption. They insisted that Europe must not have “a fast-track entrance for criminals”.

MEPs underlined that granting EU citizenship to third-country nationals without proper checks and transparency has negative consequences in other member states, eroding mutual trust and undermining common values.

Several speakers referred to the recent scandal in Cyprus, where high-ranking officials – including the Speaker of the national parliament – were secretly recorded offering to assist a fictional Chinese executive with a criminal record in getting a Cypriot passport through the national “citizenship by investment” scheme. They also acknowledge the Commission’s decision to open infringement procedures against Cyprus and Malta, though some complained that it has taken too long to act.

Some MEPs noted that the share of revenues from these programmes is significant for countries such as Cyprus, whilst many argued that EU values and rights should not be for sale.

Cyprus, Malta, and Bulgaria are the three EU countries where it is possible to get citizenship in exchange for an investment, the so-called “golden passports”. As many as 19 EU countries operate “residence by investment” programmes, known as “golden visas”.

In January 2019, the European Commission established a group of experts with representatives from all EU member states to develop common standards and guidelines in this area. After four meetings last year, the group has so far not met in 2020.

#NK: Borrell warns against xenophobic rhetoric

Brussels 22.10.2020 The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, met today with the President of the Republic of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian, in Brussels. The leaders were no available for journalists of Brussels press-corps, however the press-release has been issued by the European External Actions Service:

“They discussed the situation in and around the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone. The High Representative/Vice-President referred to the 10 October and 17 October ceasefire agreements, mediated by Russia and France respectively in coordination with the other OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, which were agreed to by both Armenia and Azerbaijan but not respected. The European Union continues to call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and strict respect for the agreed ceasefire by all. Any actions that target civilians or bring about further suffering to the civilian population must stop immediately. The High Representative/Vice-President also stressed that the sides have an obligation to comply fully with international humanitarian law”.

“The High Representative/Vice-President urged the sides to return to the negotiations on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, without preconditions and without delay. All actors, including external parties, should refrain from any actions that may result in the continuation of hostilities and further casualties. This includes bringing an end to the dangerous, inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric. High Representative/Vice-President Borrell reiterated the EU’s supports for the on-going efforts of the Co-Chairs through active high level contacts, as well as via the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus”.

EU-UK: ready for “all outcomes”

Brussels 15.10.2020 The EU leaders agreed to continue the “difficult” talks with the UK, shaping new trade agreement with the former member of the bloc, however they also have underlined that it is necessary to be ready to “all outcomes”, including no-deal scenario. Image above (archive).

“We will have the opportunity, also this afternoon, to tackle the future relationship with the UK. We want an agreement, but we also want to protect the level playing field. It’s a question of fairness, it’s a question of jobs, it’s also the question of the integrity of the single market. We are ready to continue to negotiate with the UK. This is a difficult negotiation, we all know that. And we will have the opportunity to have an exchange of views with all the European leaders” Charles Michel (pictured), the EU Council president said, while entering the meeting.

#EUCO: EU-UK future relations at stake

Brussels 13.10.2020 Today the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has informed the EU Ministers on the state of play of talks between the block and the UK, and the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement. He also confirmed the “strong EU unity” ahead of European Council on October 15-16. Barnier added that the EU will continue to work for a fair deal in the coming days and weeks.

Ahead of the Council European Council President Charles Michel has called the British government to put “all cards on the table” respecting to Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. “To get to a deal, we need significant steps by our British friends in the coming days”, he added.

“We have given a very strong signal to the British government: If the Finance Bill is introduced with that provision in it, many in the EU will see that as an indication that the British government simply doesn’t want a deal. It would be a second piece of legislation designed to deliberately break the Withdrawal Agreement text”.

With the 15 October European Council date approaching, the negotiations between the EU and the UK are becoming more intense to meet the deadline.

Michel Barnier next travelled to London to meet with UK Chief Negotiator David Frost, while informal talks continued this past week. European Council President Charles Michel and Prime Minister Johnson spoke by phone on 7 October to discuss the progress of the intensified negotiations ahead of the 15 October Summit.

Since UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s joint statement over the weekend, EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier travelled to Berlin on Monday to meet with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

The latter stressed the pandemic has made the negotiations with the UK even more difficult. Regardless of this hurdle, Maas added a no-deal Brexit would be “irresponsible”, saying the EU remains open to establishing a “close and ambitious partnership” with the UK. He warned, however, that progress is needed at this stage of the talks on state aid, the Irish border and dispute resolution.

Meanwhile, the UK Government announced its intention to push through a Finance Bill (not yet published) for approval by the end of the year could prove problematic for achieving a deal with the EU. The Bill is expected to include clauses which would allow the UK Government to make unilateral decisions about which goods were “at risk” of being traded on from Northern Ireland into the EU, and should therefore be subject to tariffs. The EU argues that this would be a further breach the Withdrawal Agreement and may therefore risk a no-deal exit scenario.

On October 7 in a separate procedure the Scottish Parliament voted to withhold consent on the UK’s Internal Market Bill. Both the Scottish and Welsh governments have stated the Bill overrides their powers of administration.

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