Posts Tagged ‘EU’

Hungary’s Leader: Border Fences Will Stop Muslim Migration — Despises EU-Soros effort to increase Muslim migration — Hungary will remain a place where “Western European Christians will always be able to find security.”

July 22, 2017

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s anti-migration prime minister says European Union leaders and Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros are seeking a “new, mixed, Muslimized Europe.”

Speaking Saturday at a cultural festival in Romania, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that Hungary’s border fences, supported by other Central European countries, are the barriers to the EU-Soros effort to increase Muslim migration.

Orban also said that while Hungary opposed taking in migrants “who could change the country’s cultural identity,” he said that under his leadership Hungary would remain a place where “Western European Christians will always be able to find security.”

Orban said Hungary’s low birth rate made the country an “endangered species,” and that the government was using taxes on multinational companies in Hungary to fund social policies and spur families to have more children.

Diplomatic crisis escalates between Germany and Turkey — German government signaling to Turkey that its patience is running out — “We want Turkey to remain part of the West”

July 22, 2017

France 24 and The Associated Press

© Kay Nietfeld / dpa / AFP | German Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel addresses a press conference on July 20, 2017 in Berlin, following the arrests of human rights activists in Turkey.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-07-22

Germany’s government is signaling to Turkey that its patience is running out and it can hit back against escalating provocations, but has sought to stop well short of burning its bridges with its NATO ally.

More than a year of strains in the countries’ relationship came to a head this week with Turkey’s jailing of a German human rights activist, Peter Steudtner, who had no previous links to Turkey but was accused of links to terror groups.

A court jailed Steudtner along with five others from Turkey and Sweden days after Turkey blocked a visit by lawmakers to German troops serving in NATO air crews at a base in Turkey.

The accelerating pace of mini-crises with Turkey meant that German politicians felt they had no option but to give Ankara food for thought, after months in which they had held back. With a German election coming on September 24, there was added pressure to get tough.

Yet while Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Cabinet colleagues switched to harsher rhetoric on Thursday, Germany announced little drastic immediate action — giving Turkey a glimpse of what damage could await but also leaving room for an improvement in relations. And as Gabriel noted, Berlin is keen to avoid a situation in which Germany’s own ethnic Turkish minority “falls between stools.”

Gabriel cast doubt on the future of government export guarantees to insure German companies’ investments in Turkey, as they do in many other countries, arguing that “you cannot advise anyone to invest in a country if there is no longer legal security.”

He didn’t immediately announce concrete steps, but Germany’s exporters association noted that many companies had already put investments on hold, and that losing out on Turkish business wouldn’t badly affect the foreign trade of the European Union’s biggest economy.

On Friday, the Economy Ministry said all applications for the export of defense equipment to Turkey are being put under examination. It didn’t elaborate.

Turkey’s ‘little games’

Two other steps are subject to discussion with EU partners, many also running out of patience with Ankara: discussing the future of financial aid allocated to help prepare Turkey to join the bloc, and examining credits from European development banks.

Germany’s new travel advice set out the problems that have arisen in recent months — nine German citizens are currently in custody as a result of the crackdown following last year’s coup attempt in Turkey. It stated that “people traveling for private or business reasons to Turkey are advised to exercise elevated caution.”

But it stopped notably short of a formal travel warning, which would likely prompt tour operators to offer free vacation rebookings or cancelations.

Germany’s finance minister, an influential figure in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party, hinted that it could be worse for Turkey. In comments published Friday in the Bild daily, Wolfgang Schaeuble said Turkey is now arresting people arbitrarily and failing to comply with minimum consular standards — a reminder, he added, of “how things used to be in East Germany.”

“If Turkey doesn’t drop these little games, we must say to people: ‘You travel to Turkey at your own risk, we can’t guarantee anything for you any more,'” he said.

Merkel herself — an instinctively cautious leader who rarely rises to provocations — has kept channels of communication open with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, most recently holding a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Germany two weeks ago.

On Thursday, she left the limelight to her foreign minister, leaving her spokesman to quote her on Twitter as saying that the measures he announced were “necessary and indispensable.”

“We are still interested in good and trusting relations with the Turkish government. We want Turkey to remain part of the West,” Gabriel said. “But it takes two to tango.”

It remains to be seen whether Turkey will accept the invitation.

Related:

UK could accept EU immigration in Brexit transition

July 21, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Dario THUBURN | Around 250,000 EU nationals move to Britain every year — mainly from eastern and southern Europe

LONDON (AFP) – The British government could agree to free movement of people during a Brexit transition period, newspapers reported on Friday in what would be a major reversal of current plans.

The transition period could last between two and four years after Britain leaves the European Union government as expected in 2019, the Times and the Guardian reported, citing anonymous sources.

“If you ask business when they want to see it agreed, they’d say tomorrow,” a senior cabinet source told the Guardian. The Times quoted “a British source close to the negotiations” with Brussels.

Curbing EU immigration was a key argument for the “Leave” campaign in last year’s referendum in which Britain voted to end four decades of EU membership.

Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to end the free movement of people as Britain exits the bloc and bring down net migration to “tens of thousands”.

Around 250,000 EU nationals move to Britain every year — mainly from eastern and southern Europe — and a total of around 3.2 million live in the country.

May’s government has been riven by infighting between supporters of a clean cut with the European Union and those who want a “soft” Brexit that would retain much stronger European trading ties.

Granting free movement of people could allow Britain greater access to the European single market even after it has formally left the EU.

The Confederation of British Industry, Britain’s big business lobby, has called for Britain to retain single market access during any transition period.

CBI leader Carolyn Fairbairn was among business leaders who met with May at her Downing Street office on Thursday following complaints from many firms about a lack of clarity in government plans.

May “reiterated that the government’s overarching goal is for a smooth, orderly exit culminating in a comprehensive free trade deal with the EU, with a period of implementation in order to avoid any cliff-edges,” a Downing Street spokesman said.

Francis Martin, head of the British Chambers of Commerce, who also took part in the talks, said a transition period was a priority for business.

“Our research shows clear support among the business community for the UK to reach a comprehensive agreement with the EU, and for a transition period which will prevent firms facing a cliff-edge.

“The prospect of multiple, costly, adjustments to trading conditions is a concern for many, so starting discussions on transition arrangements as soon as possible would go a long way to boost business confidence,” he said.

The EU’s Brexit negotiator urged Britain on Thursday to provide more clarity on key issues after the second round of talks wrapped up in Brussels with “fundamental” differences remaining.

Michel Barnier said after talks with his counterpart David Davis that the two sides were still at odds over Britain’s divorce bill and over the rights of European citizens living in Britain.

Davis, a long-time eurosceptic picked by British Prime Minister Theresa May to lead the negotiations, said the talks were “robust but constructive” but that there was “a lot left to talk about.”

The next round of talks is expected to start on August 28.

by Dario THUBURN
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Venezuela crisis: Deadly clashes as millions join strike — Run up to mass demonstration on Saturday — “Calamitous deterioration”

July 21, 2017

BBC News

An opposition demonstrator prepares to throw a molotov cocktail during clashes with riot police in an anti-government protest in Caracas
Protesters and police clashed in several cities across Venezuela. AFP photo

Millions of Venezuelans have joined a general strike called by the opposition as pressure mounts on President Nicolás Maduro to cancel elections for a new constituent assembly.

Clashes between police and protesters killed at least three people. More than 300 others were reportedly arrested.

Mr Maduro said the strike was minimal and that its leaders would be arrested.

Since April, when opposition protests intensified, almost 100 people have died across the country.

Protesters barricaded roads in the capital, Caracas, and other cities with rubbish and furniture. The opposition said that 85% of the country joined the strike.

But in pro-government areas of the capital, life went on as usual, with shops open and streets busy. Public employees also appeared to have worked normally.

In several cities, police fired tear gas as they clashed with protesters. One death was reported on the outskirts of Caracas while two others died in the northern city of Valencia.

More than 360 people had been arrested across the country, a local rights group said.

A motorcyclist pass through a barricade during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Maracaibo
Demonstrators set up barricades on streets in several cities. Reuters photo

Colombia, France, Spain, the US and the EU have urged the Venezuelan government to cancel the vote for a new constituent assembly on 30 July.

But Mr Maduro has rejected the calls.

In a speech on TV, he claimed “triumph”, saying that key sectors had not joined the strike.

“Work has triumphed, love, life, and hope; work has triumphed. They [the Venezuelan opposition] who have never worked, let them carry on not working, we are moving forward, comrades.”

“I’ve ordered the capture of all the fascist terrorists.”

A tweet by state-run media channel VTV shows petroleum workers in their offices
State-run media retweeted pictures of oil sector workers in their offices. TWITTER/VTV CANAL 8

The assembly would have the power to rewrite the constitution and to bypass the opposition-controlled legislature.

Opposition politicians say Mr Maduro wants to use the assembly to entrench himself in power, while the president argues a new constitution will promote dialogue in the polarised country.

The opposition have ramped up their schedule of protests in the days leading up to the elections, including Thursday’s general 24-hour strike and a mass demonstration on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Isaias Medina, a senior diplomat representing the country at the UN, resigned, saying he could no longer represent the government because of human rights abuses.

Venezuela’s ambassador to the UN, Rafael Ramirez, said Mr Medina had acted “dishonestly” and been fired.

Earlier, the head of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, warned of a “calamitous deterioration” of the situation, accusing Mr Maduro’s government of having “blood on its hands”.

“Behind every detainee, every political prisoner, every person tortured and every person killed there is someone that is institutionally responsible,” Mr Almagro wrote in a report.

“The fear that is on everyone’s mind, but we are too afraid to speak out loud, is our fear that this will escalate into a bloodbath.”

Mr Almagro has long been one of the fiercest and most outspoken critics of the Venezuelan government.


Why is Venezuela in crisis?

Venezuelan President Nicolas MaduroImage copyrightEPA
  • Almost 100 people have been killed in clashes stemming from the political conflict
  • The deep economic crisis is made worse by the falling price of oil, which accounts for about 95% of Venezuela’s export revenues and was used to finance some of the government’s social programmes. Forced to make cuts, President Nicolás Maduro has seen his support fall among core backers
  • Basic necessities, such as medicine and food, are in short supply
  • The opposition accuses Mr Maduro of mismanaging the economy and eroding democratic institutions
  • In March, the Supreme Court decided it would take over the National Assembly. The decision was reversed, but Mr Maduro was accused by opponents of trying to stage a coup. That sparked almost daily protests calling for his resignation

More on Venezuela’s turmoil

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-40667309

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Britain faces up to Brexit — Michel Barnier, David Davis Negotiations are Theater of the Absurd (Théâtre de l’Absurde)

July 21, 2017

As long as the government stays in denial about Brexit’s drawbacks, the country is on course for disaster

CRISIS? What crisis? So many have been triggered in Britain by the vote a year ago to leave the European Union that it is hard to keep track. Just last month Theresa May was reduced from unassailable iron lady to just-about-managing minority prime minister. Her cabinet is engaged in open warfare as rivals position themselves to replace her. The Labour Party, which has been taken over by a hard-left admirer of Hugo Chávez, is ahead in the polls. Meanwhile a neurotic pro-Brexit press shrieks that anyone who voices doubts about the country’s direction is an unpatriotic traitor. Britain is having a very public nervous breakdown.

The chaos at the heart of government hardly bodes well for the exit negotiations with the EU, which turned to detailed matters this week and need to conclude in autumn 2018. But the day-to-day disorder masks a bigger problem. Despite the frantic political activity in Westminster—the briefing, back-stabbing and plotting—the country has made remarkably little progress since the referendum in deciding what form Brexit should take. All versions, however “hard” or “soft”, have drawbacks (see article). Yet Britain’s leaders have scarcely acknowledged that exit will involve compromises let alone how damaging they are likely to be. The longer they fail to face up to Brexit’s painful trade-offs, the more brutal will be the eventual reckoning with reality.

Winging it

In the 13 months since the referendum, the awesome complexity of ending a 44-year political and economic union has become clear. Britain’s position on everything from mackerel stocks to nuclear waste is being worked out by a civil service whose headcount has fallen by nearly a quarter in the past decade and which has not negotiated a trade deal of its own in a generation. Responsibility for Brexit is shared—or, rather, fought over and sometimes dropped—by several different departments. Initially Britain’s decision not to publish a detailed negotiating position, as the EU had, was put down to its desire to avoid giving away its hand. It now seems that Britain triggered exit talks before working out where it stood. The head of its public-spending watchdog said recently that when he asked ministers for their plan he was given only “vague” assurances; he fears the whole thing could fall apart “at the first tap”.

As the scale of the task has become apparent, so has the difficulty of Britain’s position. Before the referendum Michael Gove, a leading Brexiteer in the cabinet, predicted that, “The day after we vote to leave, we hold all the cards.” It is not turning out like that. So far, where there has been disagreement Britain has given way. The talks will be sequenced along the lines suggested by the EU. Britain has conceded that it will pay an exit bill, contrary to its foreign secretary’s suggestion only a week ago that Eurocrats could “go whistle” for their money.

The hobbled Mrs May has appealed to other parties to come forward with ideas on how to make Brexit work. Labour, which can hardly believe that it is within sight of installing a radical socialist prime minister in 10 Downing Street, is unsurprisingly more interested in provoking an election. But cross-party gangs of Remainer MPs are planning to add amendments to legislation, forcing the government to try to maintain membership of Euratom, for instance, which governs the transit of radioactive material in Europe. Even within the government, the prime minister’s lack of grip means that cabinet ministers have started openly disagreeing about what shape Brexit should take. Philip Hammond, the chancellor, has been sniped at because he supports a long transition period to make Brexit go smoothly—a sensible idea which is viewed with suspicion by some Brexiteers, who fear the transition stage could become permanent.

The reopening of the debate is welcome, since the hard exit proposed in Mrs May’s rejected manifesto would have been needlessly damaging. But there is a lack of realism on all sides about what Britain’s limited options involve. There are many ways to leave the EU, and none is free of problems. The more Britain aims to preserve its economic relationship with the continent, the more it will have to follow rules set by foreign politicians and enforced by foreign judges (including on the sensitive issue of freedom of movement). The more control it demands over its borders and laws, the harder it will find it to do business with its biggest market. It is not unpatriotic to be frank about these trade-offs. Indeed, it is more unpatriotic to kid voters into thinking that Brexit has no drawbacks at all.

The government has not published any estimates of the impact of the various types of Brexit since the referendum, but academic studies suggest that even the “softest” option—Norwegian-style membership of the European Economic Area—would cut trade by at least 20% over ten years, whereas the “hardest” exit, reverting to trade on the World Trade Organisation’s terms, would reduce trade by 40% and cut annual income per person by 2.6%. As the economy weakens, these concerns will weigh more heavily. Britain’s economy is growing more slowly than that of any other member of the EU. The election showed that its voters are sick of austerity. Our own polling finds that, when forced to choose, a majority now favours a soft Brexit, inside the single market (see article).

Back in play

A febrile mood in the country, and the power vacuum in Downing Street, mean that all options are back on the table. This is panicking people on both sides of the debate. Some hardline Brexiteers are agitating again for Britain to walk away from the negotiations with no deal, before voters have a change of heart. Some Remainers are stepping up calls for a second referendum, to give the country a route out of the deepening mess. As the negotiations blunder on and the deadline draws nearer, such talk will become only more fevered.

So it is all the more crucial that all sides face up to the real and painful trade-offs that Brexit entails. The longer Britain keeps its head in the sand, the more likely it is to end up with no deal, and no preparations for the consequences. That would bring a crisis of a new order of magnitude.

This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline “Facing up to Brexit”
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David Davis (left) and Michel Barnier at their news conference in Brussels. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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Michel Barnier blasts David Davis for ‘lack of clarity’ on EU ‘divorce bill’ as four days of Brexit talks end in deadlock
Updated: 20th July 2017, 
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MICHEL Barnier has blasted David Davis for a “lack of clarity” on the so-called EU “divorce bill” as four days of Brexit talks break up with little progress.

But the UK’s Brexit Secretary struck a more positive tone at today’s Brussels press conference, saying he is “encouraged by progress” on a range of key issues.

Mr Davis said he was ‘encouraged by progress’ on key issues

Mr Davis said he was ‘encouraged by progress’ on key issues. EPA photo

The pair will now hold the first meeting on ‘UK soil’, over a lunch of Scottish scallops and British lamb to round off this week’s round of gruelling talks.

However the mood may be frosty after Mr Barnier took a swipe at the British side – telling reporters there are still “fundamental” disagreements between the two sides.

The EU’s chief negotiator said there had been some areas of agreement about how Brits living abroad and EU nationals living in the UK should be treated after Brexit.

But he said Brussels believed citizens’ rights should be backed by the Court of Justice of the European Union.

And there still appears to be a lot of tension surrounding any costs to be paid by the UK when it exits the bloc.

Mr Barnier said: “A clarification of the UK position is indispensable for us to negotiate and for us to make sufficient progress on this financial dossier, which is inseparable from the other withdrawal dossiers.

The pair are now off to have lunch but the mood may be frosty

The pair are now off to have lunch but the mood may be frosty

“What we want – and we are working on this – is an orderly withdrawal for the United Kingdom, that’s decided.

“An orderly withdrawal means accounts must be settled. We know that agreement will not be achieved through incremental steps.”

In a rebuke to the UK’s preparation ahead of the meeting he added: “As soon as the UK is ready to clarify the nature of its commitments, we will be prepared to discuss this with the British negotiators.”

He said the first round of talks had been about organisation, this week had been about presentation – the “third round must be about clarification”.

And the Brussels chief added: “We require this clarification on the financial settlement, on citizens’ rights, on Ireland – with the two key points of the common travel area and the Good Friday Agreement – and the other separation issues where this week’s experience has quite simply shown we make better progress where our respective positions are clear.”

But the UK is understood to think the EU team are being unclear on what they believe the legal obligations are over the divorce bill as well, with frustration on both sides.

But Mr Davis struck a more optimistic tone following the four days of talks

But Mr Davis struck a more optimistic tone following the four days of talks

And Mr Davis struck a more optimistic tone, saying: “Overall I’m encouraged by the progress we have made on understanding each other’s positions.”

He said the talks had demonstrated the UK had made a “fair and serious offer” on citizens’ rights and there were “many concrete areas where we agree, as well as areas where there will be further discussion” which will be a priority in the next round.

On the financial settlement, Mr Davis said: “We both recognise the importance of sorting out the obligations we have to one another, both legally and in a spirit of mutual cooperation.”

In a sign of the difficulties in reaching agreement he added: “We have had robust but constructive talks this week.

“Clearly there’s a lot left to talk about and further work before we can resolve this.

Mr Davis was criticised for appearing unprepared in this photo

Mr Davis was criticised for appearing unprepared in this photo

“Ultimately getting to a solution will require flexibility from both sides.”

But Mr Barnier the EU was not ready to compromise in the negotiations until the UK accepts its financial obligations.

He said: “I know one has to compromise in negotiations but we are not there yet.

“When I say, and I think I was very clear and transparent about that, that there are things that are inseparable from others.

“That’s the financial settlement, let’s be very clear. We want clarity on that because we need to be able work more until we come to areas of compromise.”

The p[air gave a joint press conference but struck very different tones

The pair gave a joint press conference but struck very different tones. Reuters photo

Underlining his position on the “fundamental importance” of citizens’ rights being protected by EU law and the ECJ, Mr Barnier said: “This is not a political point we are making, it’s a legal one.

“Simply, if there is to be continuity of EU law, that has to be framed by case law of the court. Only the court can interpret EU law.

“It’s not a choice, it’s an obligation.”

The pair are now heading to the home of Sir Tim Barrow, the UK’s permanent representative in Brussels.

And given the 19th century terraced house overlooking the Parc Royal in the heart of the Belgian capital comes under British jurisdiction – the meeting will be the first on ‘UK soil’.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4058219/david-davis-and-michel-barnier-will-hold-first-the-brexit-talks-on-uk-soil-over-a-lunch-of-scottish-scallops-and-british-lamb-today/

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Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis. Photo by Jack Taylor — Getty Images

EU Seeks U.N. Alliance Against Torture Trade, Lethal Drugs

July 20, 2017

BRUSSELS — The European Union is rallying dozens of countries to stop the trade of torture equipment and lethal-injection drugs, which could make it harder for the United States to perform executions, a top EU official said on Thursday.

The bloc will call for an alliance against trade in goods such as spiked batons and drug cocktails at the United Nations in September following an EU move last year to strengthen its own export ban, the EU’s trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom told Reuters in an interview.

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Tiger Chair

“We want to ally with countries to try to stop the trade in products used for executing and torturing,” Malmstrom said.

Abolition of the death penalty is a central tenet of the EU’s foreign policy and is also a requirement for countries seeking to join the 28-nation bloc.

“We are talking about poison, chemicals used in executions, thumb screws, (electric-shock) belts,” said Malmstrom, a Swedish liberal who as a former EU home affairs commissioner and EU lawmaker met torture victims and campaigned on rights issues.

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Tiger Bench

“We’ve already seen that the end to some European countries exporting chemicals has made it more difficult to execute people in the U.S.,” she said. “This is of course our aim.”

Tougher EU laws, including a 2011 export ban on lethal-injection drugs, are making U.S. executions harder to perform by cutting off supplies by large-scale manufacturers of sodium thiopental, an anaesthetic in such injections.

Mongolia, which outlawed the death penalty in 2015, and Argentina, which has similar legislation to the EU, will jointly launch the initiative with the EU on Sept. 18 in New York.

Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Norway are among the first countries expected to back the plan, Malmstrom said.

  Chinese made weighted leg cuffs

ELECTRIFIED SPIKES

The alliance would first see governments sign up to a political commitment during the United Nations General Assembly, and then start helping local customs authorities track the transit of torture equipment and lethal-injection drugs.

If successful, the United Nations itself could eventually draw up a convention against the trade in goods used for torture and execution, which would be a legally-binding treaty.

The project marks an effort by the European Union to promote human rights after an economic crisis saw its “soft power” wane, business interests trumping rights issues and allies such as Turkey turn increasingly authoritarian.

Malmstrom said she did not expect the world’s worst human rights offenders to support the cause. Iran, Saudi Arabia and China carried out the most executions last year, according to Amnesty International.

But an alliance at the United Nations could make it harder for countries to obtain, for example, Chinese-made riot shields with electrified spikes, and bring more publicity to the issue.

“China is one of the countries that tortures its own citizens and who executes people, so they are not on the list of invitees (to the alliance) but they are open to attend (the U.N. launch),” Malmstrom said.

(Editing by Crispian Balmer)

Amnesty International Slams China’s Production Of Torture Tools, Urges Ban On Industry

http://www.ibtimes.com/amnesty-international-slams-chinas-production-torture-tools-urges-ban-industry-1693359

Image result for china, tools of torture

Paramilitary policemen take part in anti-riot training at a military base in Suining, Sichuan province, on Mar. 9, 2010. Photo: Reuters

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Poland’s lower house of parliament passes controversial Supreme Court bill

July 20, 2017

Reuters

July 20, 2017

Image result for Poland's lower house of parliament, photos

Poland’s lower house of parliament (Sejm). Photo: PAP/Jacek Turczyk

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s lower house of parliament passed a contested Supreme Court law on Thursday which the opposition says would erode the independence of the judiciary and undermine democracy.

The bill, submitted by the conservative, ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, must now be approved by the upper house. PiS has a majority in both houses of parliament.

Germany takes aim at Turkish tourism as rights dispute escalates

July 20, 2017

By Madeline Chambers
Reuters

July 20, 2017

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany warned its citizens to take care when traveling to Turkey and threatened to end corporate investment guarantees, steps which could hurt the Turkish economy, in a sign of growing impatience with a NATO ally after the detention of rights activists.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel broke off his holiday to return to Berlin and deal with the crisis after Turkey arrested six human rights activists including German national Peter Steudtner, the latest in a series of diplomatic rows.

Image result for news for German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, photos

Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel

“We need our policies towards Turkey to go in a new direction … we can’t continue as we have done until now,” Gabriel told reporters in unusually direct language.

“We need to be clearer than we have been until now so those responsible in Ankara understand that such policies are not without consequences,” Gabriel told reporters.

Gemany’s DIHK chambers of commerce said that in the current environment investing in Turkey was hard to imagine.

The most concrete measure was to step up warnings to Germans intending to visit Turkey. Bookings from Germany account for around 15 percent of Turkey’s tourists.

“Until now there was guidance for certain groups but we’re saying that now applies to all German citizens, not just for those with certain jobs …. Everyone can be affected. The most absurd things are possible,” said Gabriel.

Last year, the number of foreign visitors to Turkey fell to 25.4 million, the lowest in nine years. The travel sector contributes some $30 billion to the economy in a normal year, the country’s tourism minister told Reuters earlier this year.

In its latest guidance, the foreign ministry said: “People who are traveling to Turkey for private or business reasons are urged to exercise increased caution, and should register with German consulates and the embassy, even for shorter visits.”

Crackdown

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel addresses a news conference in Berlin, Germany, July 20, 2017, after he has interrupted his summer vacation and returned to Berlin to discuss a deepening crisis in relations with Turkey over the arrest of human rights activists.Fabrizio Bensch

The six rights activists arrested are among 50,000 jailed pending trial in Turkey in a crackdown that followed an attempted coup a year ago. Turkey accused EU countries of failing to give prompt support to Ankara when the coup, that killed over 240 people, was in progress.

Foreign and domestic critics accuse Erdogan of using a state of emergency declared after the coup to root out all opposition, not least in judiciary and police.

Gabriel also said he could not advise companies to invest in a country without legal certainty “and (where) even completely innocent companies are judged as being close to terrorists”.

“I can’t see how we as the German government can continue to guarantee corporate investments in Turkey if there is the threat of arbitrary expropriation for political reasons,” he said.

“We need to talk about how we can develop our Hermes guarantee framework and how we deal with investment loans and economic aid.”

On Wednesday the newspaper Die Zeit reported that Turkish authorities had several weeks ago handed Berlin a list of 68 German companies they accused of having links to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Turkey accuses Gulen of masterminding the coup attempt, a charge he denies.

The list included chemicals giant BASF BASFn.DE, which confirmed it was on a list that had been passed to it by German police, but declined to comment on the allegations.

Turkish deputy prime minister Mehmet Simsek said on Thursday the reports were completely untrue

Gabriel said the situation also affected how the EU dealt with accession programmes for Turkey and said Germany would speak to European colleagues about that in the coming days and weeks.

He also said he could not envisage talks on expanding the customs union to Turkey.

Speaking about two months before a federal election, the Social Democrat minister said the new stance had been agreed with conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Germany’s Merkel Backs Foreign Minister’s Measures Against Turkey

July 20, 2017

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel views a series of measures targeting Turkey that were announced by Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Thursday as necessary and unavoidable, her spokesman said in a tweet.

“Merkel: The measures announced by the Foreign Minister against Turkey are necessary and unavoidable,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted.

Earlier, Gabriel cast doubt on Turkey’s aspirations to join the EU. He also said Berlin could no longer guarantee German corporate investment in Turkey and issued new travel advice warning of risks to German citizens there.

(Reporting By Thomas Escritt; Editing by Madeline Chambers)

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Polish Lawmakers to Vote on Law to Control Top Court

July 20, 2017

WARSAW, Poland — A Polish parliamentary commission has summarily rejected 1,300 opposition amendments to a bill reorganizing the nation’s top court and has sent it back to lawmakers for a vote.

The Supreme Court bill, which has drawn condemnation from the European Union and has led to street protests, is expected to pass Thursday as the parliament is dominated by the ruling Law and Justice party.

Proposed by the populist party, it gives politicians control over Poland’s Supreme Court, and critics say it kills judicial independence.

The European Commission has warned it could strip Poland of its European Union voting rights over the changes the government is making to the judiciary.

Public protests are planned for Thursday evening.

See also:

In Poland, an Assault on the Courts Provokes Outragehttps://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/19/world/europe/poland-courts-law-and-justice-party.html

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