Tag Archives: Italy

COVI19: Italian military to control migrants

The Italian government will send soldiers to Sicily to stop recently arrived migrants leaving holding centers after a raft of breakouts in recent days, including some by people who had been quarantined to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The government ensured citizens and toursists none of the escapees had tested positive for the virus and that most had been caught soon after breaking out of the facilities.

But the breakouts are adding to unease over rising numbers of migrants who have made their way across the Mediterranean in recent weeks. Italy largely tamed the virus after one of the longest and strictest lockdowns among Western countries. Everyday life is returning to something approaching normalcy. A requirement to wear masks in enclosed places is one of the few hints the virus is still circulating.

So far in July, 5,583 migrants have arrived in Italy, almost five times as in the same month last year, though fewer than in the crush who came during the height of the European migrant crisis. So far this year, around 12,500 have arrived, compared with about 180,000 who came in 2016 alone.

The government now plans to make it all but impossible for new migrants to break free from their initial quarantine by confining them for two weeks on a large ship that will lie off the southern coast of Sicily before transferring them to migrant centers on land. It isn’t yet clear when the ship will be in place and, meanwhile, migrants centers have filled beyond their capacity in recent days. Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese has promised to transfer 500 migrants from Sicily to other parts of Italy by July 28.

The government has assigned soldiers to prevent migrants leaving the holding centers. The first soldiers were due to arrive in the area on Tuesday and their numbers will eventually reach about 400, according to an Interior Ministry official.

Italy eventually slowed the initial flow of migrants by striking an agreement with authorities in Libya, the main point of departure, to fund and train the Libyan coast guard along with the European Union.

From January to July this year, 4,537 Tunisians reached Italy, more than five times the number by the same timline last year.

Dutch Rutte is «not opitimistic»

«Hard work» lies ahead said the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the doorstep of the European Summit (#EUCO) on recovery and long-term budget. However he underlined that due to prepararty period the positions of everyone became clear, and it also became more visible where the «bridges can be built», but of paramount importance is the conducting reforms in the countries which are at utmost in need of the European subsides, to make sure that this kind of situation is the last one.

«If the [member-states in need] are willing to receve subsides above the borrowing, it is very important to be sure that the reforms are conducted there» Rutte has underlined.
Dutch head of government said that he is not «optimistic», but from the other hand «you never know», because nobody is interested to «come together again», but still there are very difficult issues to be agreed upon.

«Nobody is willing to bring to standstill Brussels traffic once again in two week time, however it is not about the speed but about the content», Rutte joked whiling continuing. “Yes” to solidarity, but everything should be done that the countries, which are suffering from the crisis the most, would be able to cope with it the next time. The answer lies in the reforms of the labour market, the pensions reforms, etc. Being against subsidies, the Dutch government sill finds they are possible step, in case there are reforms guarantees, which are crucial. Because the funds should go from the North to the South “in principle last time”.

The Prime Minister has also explained the significance of the consistency of his position on reforms as a condition for two major reasons: the profound need of the stability of Europe in the “unstable world”, with such authoritarian players as China, the U.S., the situation in the Middle East, and role Russia is playing, and the second reason is the EU internal market, which should recover. He also put the Netherlands as an example of a strong internal market, which allows the country the speedy recovery in crisis.

However, Rutte has underlined, that he does not consider the veto perspective, but the power of reasoning as his major advantage, making the point that he does not have any aces in the sleeves.

“We don’t believe in grants set system. It is crucial to maintain the rebates on the sufficient level, and we still need to negotiate what is the sufficient level, and we need the reforms. If the South is in need of help, in terms of coping with crisis we understand that, because they have limited scope of dealing with it financially themselves, it is reasonable for us to ask for the clear commitments to reforms. If the part of loans are converted to grants, then the reforms are absolutely crucial, and we need guarantees that they would take place” Rutte said at doorstep of the Summit. “The EU economies should come of the crisis more résiliant, we need a strong Europe in an unstable world” he said. “The countries who are lagging behind in terms of reforms should steep up” he added.

Rutte also rebuffed the rumours and insinuations, underlining that he works for “strong’ Europe, which is also in the interest of the Dutch citizens – the guarantees instead of “insurances”. Among issues significant for his country he named the rebates.

“A weak compromise will not take Europe further” Rutte said.

The first round of negotiation has started between Dutch Rutte and French President Macron.

Mark Rutte added that he had dinner with the Italian Prime Minister Conte in The Hague, and he is sure that under Conte leadership Italy will pursue further the way for reforms. He also underlined that the personal relationship between both politicians have been always marked by mutual respect.

COVID19: Europe gradually lifts restrictions

A number of European countries are further lifting their restrictions on May 25, Monday:

Gyms and swimming pools reopen in Italy, except in the hardest-hit region of Lombardy. The country has the third-highest recorded death toll from the virus worldwide.

Spain’s two biggest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, both move into phase one of the country’s 3-phase lockdown lifting plan. People can now gather in small groups, while bars and restaurants can serve customers outside. Other parts of the country move to phase two – meaning beaches, businesses and public areas can open more extensively.

Ferry services in Greece resume to all islands and ports, as the government hopes to boost domestic tourism. Cafes and restaurants are also reopening in the country from Monday.

Bars repent in the Czech Republic – the country with the highest per capita beer consumption in the world – as the country enters its final lockdown easing stage.

As well as restaurants, cafes and pubs, the doors are also reopening at primary schools, zoos and castles.

Vatican Museums reopen from June 1

The Vatican Museums reopening coincides with Italy’s gradual easing of the nearly 3-month lockdown, which allows many businesses and activities to restart.

The reopening of the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo and a new open-bus tour have also been announced.

Health and art:

Due to the current health emergency situation, the Vatican Museums are ensuring a very careful balance between safety and health needs and the dynamics of a museum visit, without compromising the essence of such a visit.
Hence, in keeping with the norms of hygiene and physical distance, visitors to the Museums will be subject to a body temperature check and will be allowed in only with a facemask.
A medical and health team from Italy’s Misericordie volunteer group and the Vatican’s Health and Hygiene Department will ensure every need during the opening hours.
Other important requirements for the reopening of the museums will be revised from time to time as the current emergency situation evolves.

Online booking:

In order to restrict the number of entries, the Vatican Museums have limited ticket sales to only online booking from the official website http://www.museivaticani.va.

For this emergency period, the online booking fee of €4 will not apply.

There are also variations to the opening hours:
– Monday to Thursday: the Pontifical Collections will remain open from 10.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m., with the last entry at 6.00 p.m. (exit from the museum sectors starts at 7.30 p.m.)
– Friday and Saturday: from 10.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m., with the last entry at 8.00 p.m. (exit from the museum sectors at 9.30 p.m.).

Museums visits on Friday and Saturday are accompanied by the possibility to take part in an aperitif in the Pine Cone Courtyard to enjoy the sunset.
The usual free entry to the museums on the last Sunday of the month has been suspended.

COVID19: Viticulture counts on EU aid

Sales at British liquor stores leapt a third in March, while those for alcohol at U.S. retailers shot up more than 50% in the week after the country entered a state of national emergency.

But the drinks industry isn’t celebrating.

The surge in demand came as sales through bars, clubs and restaurants fell to zero as they were closed to contain the COVID-19 virus. And even as countries start to ease restrictions, these venues are likely to be re-opened in the very end of lock down.

There are various estimates that in Europe, the closure of this important distribution channel could lead to a 35% reduction in sales volume, which could reach more than 50% loss in sales value”, said Pau Roca, managing director of the International Wine Organization (OIV) during an audio conference.

Pau Roca estimated that the impact of these containment measures would not be the same in all regions and, for example, that the Mediterranean countries would be “probably more affected than the others”. He puts forward two reasons to support this forecast:

First, the highest incidence of bars, restaurants and sidewalk cafes, and second, the radical suppression of the highly developed tourism industry, which will be severely limited, even a once containment has ended ”.

The top three global wine producers in 2019, Italy, France and Spain, alone accounted for 25% of global wine consumption last year, according to data released at the press conference.

If the OIV mentions an increase in sales in grocery stores and supermarkets, “this good news does not compensate for all the losses caused” by the reduction in sales in hotels, cafes and restaurants, underlines Pau Roca. The characteristics of the retail commercial distribution channel “limit purchasing capacity”, he says, referring to an offer more geared “towards low and homogeneous prices”.

Finally, it plans to develop distance selling or electronic commerce offered by various virtual stores. “Via this third distribution channel, orders could not always be guaranteed” due to a saturation of logistics and delivery services, said the OIV manager.

Once this problem is resolved and the sector adapts to this new demand, direct home sales will certainly continue to increase in the future,” he adds. Nevertheless, “even if we are witnessing a spectacular transfer between the distribution channels, the overall balance expected is a reduction in consumption, a reduction in average prices and therefore an overall decrease in the total value of sales of turnover, margins and ultimately the profitability of producers, vineyards and in particular SMEs which are linked to traditional distribution channels and which are located outside supermarket networks, ”says Pau Roca.

After the taxes of Trump, who planted part of the wine companies, today with the closing of restaurants, the closing of lounges, the closing of cellars, the closing of sales on farms, French wine growers are in the process of to be completely suffocated, “said French Minister of Agriculture Didier Guillaume on LCI TV Channel.

While Europe proposed new measures for other agricultural sectors in crisis, such as milk and meat, Pau Guillaume now hopes for a gesture for viticulture from the European Commission.

French, Italian and Spanish wine cooperatives, which claim a total of half of European production, asked the Commission “to open without delay a European crisis distillation of 10 million hectoliters with a budget exceptional European investment of 350 million euros ”.

A crucial measure to relieve producers, even if last year, world production fell by 12% compared to 2018, a record vintage, to 260 million hectoliters, according to the latest figures from the OIV.

While more than four out of ten bottles usually cross borders, “trade flows are and will continue to be seriously affected,” said Pau Roca. He believes that the two largest markets in the world, Europe and the United States, could reduce their imports, but hopes on the other hand that “other regions less affected by the pandemic or which could recover more quickly, such as the countries Asian ”, will provide“ short-term partial relief”.

Italy: 150 migrants landed at night

There were four migrant landings overnight at Lampedusa bringing a total to more than 150 migrants onto the island between Sicily and Libya, ANSA news agency reports. Migrant hotspot of the island has been already so full that the coronavirus checks were carried out on the harbour side.

In spite coronavirus pandemic the flows of migrant have not decreased, but started to grow following season opportunities in the calm sea. Monday May 4 arrivals were preceeded by the others in Italy and Spain, alltogether 300 migrant left Libyan coast last weekend to reach European coasts.

Matteo Salvini, the leader of Lega party has claimed the operataions are conducted by Soros-backed NGO lawyers, who are helping migrants from North Africa to reach Europe, and claim asylum there.

Concerns are also growing among aid agencies and service providers about the potential impact of COVID-19 pandemic on displaced people in Africa. Africa hosts more than 25.2 million refugees and internally displaced people. Most African refugee appeals are chronically underfunded and most displaced people are hosted in poor countries with already under-resourced health systems.

Africa houses four of the world’s six largest refugee camps (in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia). These camps are vulnerable accommodations for transmission of the coronavirus. They are overcrowded and lack of basic sanitary facilities as water, hygiene facilities, and products.

СOVID19: Conte security agent dies

A policeman who was part of Italian Prime Minister GiuseppeConte’s security team has died after contracting #COVID19. He was 52, and left behind a wife and two sons.

Giorgio Guastamacchia, 52, tested positive for the novel coronavirus late March. He had then been hospitalized in one of hospitals in Rome and taken to an intensive care unit, due to his serious condition.

The Italian government said at the time that he had not been in contact with Conte for at least two weeks. The premier, however, was tested negative in a precautionary test.

Head of the Italian police Franco Gabrielli expressed his condolences to Guastamacchia’s family.

The news broke out the moment Italian society expressed hope, that the peak of the epidemic is behind; the statistics started to improve, offering grounds for cautions optimism.

EUCO: anti-COVID19 plan

The 27 EU leaders decided to offer the eurozone finance ministers two weeks to find a common economic response to the coronavirus crisis, European diplomats said. After more than six hours of discussion by video-conference, the heads of state and government of the 27 EU countries have reached agreement on a draft joint declaration to tackle the crisis caused by the coronavirus.

“We take note of the progress made by the Eurogroup. At this stage, we invite the Eurogroup to present proposals to us within two weeks. These proposals should take into account the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 shock affecting all our countries and our response will be stepped up, as necessary, with further action in an inclusive way, in light of developments, in order to deliver a comprehensive response” the declaration reads.

“The COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an unprecedented challenge for Europe and the whole world. It requires urgent, decisive, and comprehensive action at the EU, national, regional and local levels. We will do everything that is necessary to protect our citizens and overcome the crisis, while preserving our European values and way of life.

“We recognise the burden these measures put on all our citizens and praise their sense of responsibility. We express our deepest sympathy with the victims of the pandemic and their families. We commend the dedication and tireless efforts of the healthcare professionals at the forefront of the outbreak and the contribution of those who provide essential services to the population.

“We will cooperate with the international community and our external partners in combating the global pandemic.

“We will continue to work along the five strands defined at our videoconferences on 10 and 17 March 2020 and do what is necessary to overcome the crisis.”

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte did not accept the draft conclusion at a video conference Summit of EU27 to find a common economic response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Italian government sources. Italy wants the European Union to acquire “innovative financial instruments that are truly adapted to war”, according to the Italian agency Agi, which quotes the entourage of the Prime Minister. In this response to the economic catastrophe that threatens the EU, the proponents of greater financial solidarity, the countries of the south, less virtuous in budgetary matters, and those of the north, confront each other.

#COVID19: Russian military medics support Italy

The Russian Aerospace Forces are ready to fly teams of virologists and medical equipment to coronavirus – plagued Italy starting Sunday March 22, the Defense Ministry said.

Following President Putin’s instruction, Defense Minister Shoigu (pictured) gave orders to set up an air group “for urgent aid deliveries to the Italian Republic for anti-coronavirus efforts, starting on March 22,” the Defense Ministry said.
As soon as Italy is ready, the Russian Aerospace Forces’ military transport aircraft will fly eight mobile teams of Russian military virologists and doctors, vehicles for aerosol disinfection of transport and territories, as well as medical equipment to the Republic,” the defense ministry said.
Italy has confirmed its readiness to accept Russian Aerospace Forces’ planes.

On March 21, Russian Defense Minister discussed aid delivery in a phone call with his Italian counterpart Lorenzo Guerini. “During the call, the Italian defense chief confirmed readiness to accept Russian planes with specialists, vehicles and equipment, starting March 22,” the Ministry said.
Guerini also expressed gratitude to Russia for promptly providing aid to fight the pandemic in accordance with an agreement between Vladimir Putin and Giuseppe Conte.

Upon his initiative President Putin phoned the Italian premier. The Kremlin’s press office said that the Russian president reassured him of Moscow’s readiness to promptly provide all necessary help and furnished information on its practical parameters. In particular, the supplies of protective means and mobile vehicles mounted on Kamaz trucks for spraying disinfectants over transport and in the areas as well as medical and other equipment are to be delivered. In addition, Russian specialists are going to be dispatched to the country’s worst-hit regions for practical assistance.

According to the latest reports, the death toll from the novel coronavirus has jumped to 793 in Italy in last 24 hours. The country has reported that 42,681 people have been infected with the novel virus, leading 4,871 victims, however over 6,000 people have recovered from the deadly disease.

Ukraine tourists vandalised Vatican fresco

A video was published in the “Italy for Me” community of the Facebook social network in which the user showed the names of tourists from Ukraine scratched on a Raphael fresco in the Vatican, the RIA Novosti news agency reports. The incident caused an outrage in social media, demanding the investigation into the this appalling act of vandalism.

Two Ukrainian tourists became notorious due to vandalism. Visitors of the Vatican’s Papal Palace discovered the clumsy scratched names of two residents of Vinnytisa on the fresco of the greatest genius of the Renaissance, Rafael Santi.

A video with traces of vandalism was published on Facebook by a user Alexander Voznesensky.

The graffiti were left on one of the frescoes in famous stanza of Rafael (from the Italian Stanze di Raffaello – the rooms of Rafael) – the precious masterpieces of the Papal Palace. The Italian genius painted the rooms in 1508-1517 with his apprentices. Each stanza has four fresco compositions of wall size.

For a minute I was even speechless from what I saw. It’s not even shame, it … I don’t have enough words. Some Lena and Tamara from Vinnitsa scribbled their names on Raphael’s mural,Alexander wrote on his page.

So far Ukrainian prosecution has not reacted yet upon the case of deplorable vandalism of World Heritage by two inhabitants of Vinnytsia, an industrial city of 370 000 inhabitants. There city also hosts the headquarters of the Ukrainian Air Force.

The recent case of vandalism involved 17-year-old Bulgarian studen, who has been accused of aggravated damage to a building of historical and cultural interest after carving her initial into a wall of the Colosseum in Rome.

The student was visiting the monument on a school trip on 28 April 2019 when she engraved the letter “M”, the intital of her first name, on an interior wall of of the ancient amphitheatre.

The Bulgarian tourist actions were noticed by security staff who immediately called police.

Following a sequence of barbaric incidents in 2016 Italian legislators approved a bill, introducing the specific offence of defacing or damaging cultural heritage or landscapes, and increased the penalty to a maximum of five years imprisonment. Previously the vandals were changed with €20 000 fine, which was not effective, preventing vandals from their barbaric actions.

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