Posts Tagged ‘netherlands’

Ukraine wants Russia held to account over MH17 downing — “Russia has been getting away with murder.”

July 17, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | International investigators have said the Boeing airliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was blown out of the sky over conflict-wracked east Ukraine on July 17, 2014 by a Buk missile system brought in from Russia

KIEV (AFP) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday insisted Russia must be held to account over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, three years on from the tragedy that killed 298 people.

International investigators have said the Boeing airliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was blown out of the sky over conflict-wracked east Ukraine on July 17, 2014 by a Buk missile system brought in from Russia and fired from territory held by Moscow-backed rebels.

The probe being led by The Netherlands — which suffered the majority of losses — is focusing on some 100 people suspected of having played an “active role” in the incident, but the investigators have not publicly named any suspects.

The West and Kiev are adamant that all the evidence points to the insurgents and Moscow.

Russia and the separatist authorities it supports, however, continue to deny any involvement and have sought repeatedly to deflect the blame onto Ukraine.

“It was a barefaced crime that could have been avoided if not for the Russian aggression, Russian system and Russian missile that came from Russian territory,” Poroshenko wrote on Facebook.

“Our responsibility before the dead and before future generations is to show to the aggressor terrorists that responsibility is unavoidable for all the crimes committed.”

Officials announced this month that the trials of any suspects arrested over the shooting down of MH17 will be held in the Netherlands.

The countries leading the joint investigation — Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, The Netherlands and Ukraine — agreed that any trials will be carried out within the Dutch legal system.

Poroshenko said that he was “convinced that the objectivity and impartiality of Dutch justice will complete this path.”

“It is our shared duty in the face of the memory of those whose beating hearts were stopped exactly three years ago by a Russian missile,” he wrote.

No official events are planned in Kiev to mark the third anniversary but local residents are expected to gather for a small religious ceremony at the crash site in rebel-held territory.

Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a bitter feud since Moscow seized the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014 after the ouster of a Kremlin-backed leader by pro-Western protesters in Kiev.

Moscow was then accused of masterminding and fueling a separatist conflict in two other eastern regions that has cost the lives of some 10,000 people in over three years.

Russia insists it has not sent troops and weapons to fight in Ukraine despite overwhelming evidence that Moscow has essentially been involved in an undeclared war.

Merkel urges ‘respectful dialogue’ after Turkey referendum

April 17, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Merkel said Germany “respected the right of Turks to decide on their constitution”, but added that “the close result shows the extent to which Turkish society is deeply divided”?

BERLIN (AFP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday urged Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to seek “respectful dialogue” within the country after his narrow win in a referendum extending his powers.

“The (German) government expects that the Turkish government will now seek respectful dialogue with all political and social forces in the country, after this tough election campaign,” Merkel said in a statement issued jointly with Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

The ‘Yes’ camp won with 51.41 percent in Sunday’s vote on giving Erdogan sweeping new powers, according to near-complete results, but angry opposition groups have cried foul and demanded a recount.

Merkel said Germany “respected the right of Turks to decide on their constitution”, but added that “the close result shows the extent to which Turkish society is deeply divided”.

During the referendum campaign, Erdogan lashed out at Germany and the Netherlands, accusing them of acting like the Nazis when they barred rallies for the ‘Yes’ camp.

Merkel called for political discussions with Ankara “as quickly as possible”.

International observers from the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are due to give their preliminary findings on the referendum later Monday.

British-Born Khalid Masood Identified as London Attacker — An American Is Among The Dead in London — Deadliest act of terror in the U.K. in more than a decade

March 23, 2017

Utah man is among those killed in attack claimed by Islamic State

 Armed police pushing people back following the attack outside the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday.
Armed police pushing people back following the attack outside the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday. ANDY RAIN/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Police Name London Suspect; American Victim Is Identified
Police identified the suspected Islamist terrorist who carried out the deadly rampage outside Parliament as Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old British-born man who had previous convictions. Image: AFP/Getty Images

LONDON—Police identified the suspected Islamist terrorist who carried out the deadly rampage outside Parliament as Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old British-born man who had previous convictions but who Prime Minister Theresa May said wasn’t seen as “part of the current intelligence picture.”

Masood was born in Kent, east of London, and had most recently been living in the West Midlands, police said. He wasn’t the subject of any current investigations, and U.K. authorities had no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack. He had been known to police, however, and had a range of convictions unrelated to terror offenses, police said, the most recent one for the possession of a knife in 2003.

Khalid Masood, identified by police as the attacker, being treated by emergency services outside the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday.

Khalid Masood, identified by police as the attacker, being treated by emergency services outside the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday. PHOTO: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Police say Masood on Wednesday mowed down pedestrians on a crowded bridge before crashing his car near the gates of Parliament and stabbing a policeman, leaving three dead. He was shot to death, authorities said, and dozens were injured in the most serious act of terror in the U.K. since 2005, when coordinated bombings by Islamist extremists on buses and subway trains claimed 52 lives.

In a speech to Parliament the day after the deadliest act of terror in the U.K. in more than a decade, Mrs. May said the perpetrator had been investigated years earlier over extremist concerns but that authorities had no prior intelligence of his intent and viewed him as a “peripheral figure.”

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement on its affiliated Amaq news agency that it was a response to U.S.-led coalition strikes against the extremist group. The group has often claimed responsibility for such attacks but the nature and scope of its involvement—or whether it was involved at all—remains unclear.

A Utah man visiting Europe was killed and his wife was seriously injured in the attack. Kurt Cochran and his wife, Melissa, were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, a family spokesman said. Melissa remained in the hospital on Thursday.

Police were working to piece together the details of the attack at the heart of Britain’s democracy, searching six properties and arresting eight people. Amid heightened security at a landmark that has endured for centuries, lawmakers were returning to parliamentary business, vowing to remain strong in the face of terrorist violence.

“Today we meet as normal, as generations have done before us and as future generations will continue to do, to deliver a simple message: We are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism,” Mrs. May said. “And we meet here in the oldest of all parliaments because we know that democracy and the values it entails will always prevail.”

After saying late Wednesday that four people had been killed by the attacker—who rammed a vehicle into pedestrians and stabbed a police officer—police gave a lower death toll Thursday, saying three people had died. Twenty-nine people were in the hospital, seven of them in critical condition.

Mrs. May spent 40 minutes speaking with some of the victims and staff at a London hospital, government spokesman James Slack said.

When Vehicles Were Used as Weapons

Glasgow: Two men drove a Jeep carrying gas canisters into the entrance of Glasgow International Airport, where it burst into flames.Flames rise from the Jeep after the incident.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tokyo: Tomohiro Kato drove a truck into a popular pedestrian shopping street, killing three men with the vehicle before stabbing 14 people, fatally wounding four.Rescue workers gather at the site of the incident.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Apeldoorn, Netherlands: In an attempted attack on the Dutch royal family, a man rammed his car through parade route crowds, killing seven bystanders and injuring 10.Police officers are seen near the driver of the car.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tel Aviv: One man was killed and 16 others injured after a truck crashed into several vehicles and pedestrians on a crowded Tel Aviv roadway. The driver denied intentionally causing the collision.Israeli rescue workers attend the scene. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Beijing: Five people were killed and 40 more injured after a Jeep crashed in front of the Forbidden City. Chinese police described it as a terrorist attack.People walk along the sidewalk of Chang’an Avenue as smoke rises in front of the main entrance of the Forbidden City.PHOTO: REUTERS

Dijon and Nantes, France: A driver shouting Islamic phrases ran down 13 pedestrians in a half-hour span in Dijon, seriously injuring two. The next day, another man drove into a crowd of holiday shoppers in Nantes, wounding 11 people.Police officers guard the van that crashed into a French Christmas market in Nantes, western France.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

Nice, France: A truck struck a crowd during Bastille Day celebrations in the southern French city of Nice, killing 86 people. The incident took place on the famous Promenade des Anglais during a firework display.Bodies lie on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice

Berlin: A truck drove onto the sidewalk at a Christmas market in the German capital. At least a dozen people were killed and around 50 were injured.A view of the truck that crashed into the Christmas market.

Mrs. May said that in addition to 12 Britons admitted to the hospital, the victims of the attack included one American, three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one German, one Pole, one Irish, one Chinese, one Italian and two Greeks.

Mark Rowley, the U.K.’s top counterterror policeman, told reporters that authorities believe “the attacker acted alone and was inspired by international terrorism.”

He said hundreds of officers had worked through the night, searching six addresses in London, Birmingham and elsewhere in the U.K., but didn’t offer details on those who had been arrested. Several extremist suspects have in the past been connected with Birmingham, Britain’s second-largest city, and the surrounding Midlands region.

The car used in the attack was rented in the Birmingham area, Enterprise Rent-A-Car said. The company said an employee identified the vehicle it based on a license plate from an image of the attack, and the company alerted authorities after running another check.

“We are cooperating fully with the authorities and will provide any assistance that we can to the investigation,” Enterprise said.

Witnesses to Wednesday’s assault said the attacker drove a sport-utility vehicle into people on Westminster Bridge before hitting a fence surrounding Parliament. The assailant He ran at a police officer guarding the complex and stabbed him, authorities said, before being shot and killed by police.

The nearby DLD College London identified one of the victims as Aysha Frade, a member of its administration team. “She was highly regarded and loved by our students and by her colleagues,” the school said.

The police officer who was stabbed to death was identified as Keith Palmer, a 48-year-old husband and father, who tackled the attacker as he rushed toward Parliament.

“He was every inch a hero,” Mrs. May said. “And his actions will never be forgotten.”

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May recounted how Wednesday’s terror attack in London unfolded. The incident was captured by bystanders who shared what they witnessed across social media. Photo: Reuters

The gravely injured included a 29-year-old Romanian architect visiting London to celebrate her boyfriend’s birthday. She was knocked into the Thames, where a nearby boat rescued her. She was in a critical condition after intensive brain surgery to remove a blood clot, her country’s ambassador to the U.K., Dan Mihalache, told Romanian TV media.

The threat level in the U.K. remained unchanged at “severe,” meaning an attack is highly likely. The highest level, “critical,” means authorities have specific intelligence that an attack is imminent.

At Parliament, the British flag flew at half-staff. Lawmakers returned to work largely as usual, though it was slower than normal, with only one entrance open and the area still closed off to traffic. The surrounding area, typically bustling with tourists taking selfies, was quiet.

Nick Thomas-Symonds, a U.K. lawmaker, said it was an important symbol that Parliament was in session as normal.

“The attack yesterday was not just on individuals but on our whole system of democracy and on our system of values,” Mr. Symonds said, as he walked toward Parliament, taking an alternative route because the primary entries were cordoned off.

Around the capital, there was an increased security presence, as police said they had increased hours and canceled leave for officers.

London Mourns Victims of Terror Attack

London mourned the victims of a terror attack near Parliament while police made eight arrests in a continuing investigation

A police officer laid flowers on Whitehall around a photograph of police officer Keith Palmer, who was killed in the terror attack. The attacker used a vehicle to mow down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before he stabbed the police officer to death.
A police officer laid flowers on Whitehall around a photograph of police officer Keith Palmer, who was killed in the terror attack. The attacker used a vehicle to mow down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before he stabbed the police officer to death. JUSTIN TALLIS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
.
Police in forensic suits searched a grassed area in Parliament Square outside the Houses of Parliament in London on Thursday.
Police in forensic suits searched a grassed area in Parliament Square outside the Houses of Parliament in London on Thursday. JUSTIN TALLIS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Britain’s flag flies at half mast over the Houses of Parliament in London the day after the attack.
Britain’s flag flies at half mast over the Houses of Parliament in London the day after the attack. JONATHAN BRADY/ZUMA PRESS
.
Forensic officers working near the Houses of Parliament in London.
Forensic officers working near the Houses of Parliament in London. JONATHAN BRADY/ZUMA PRESS
.
Flowers lay outside a conference center near the British parliament in the Westminster area of London where three people were killed in the terror attack Wednesday.
Flowers lay outside a conference center near the British parliament in the Westminster area of London where three people were killed in the terror attack Wednesday. GARETH FULLER/PRESS ASSOCIATION/ZUMA PRESS
.
Members of the security services picked through debris, including a car number plate, on Westminster Bridge.
Members of the security services picked through debris, including a car number plate, on Westminster Bridge. JUSTIN TALLIS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
.
Britain’s Union Flag flies at half staff over Whitehall, which remained sealed off Thursday.<br>
Britain’s Union Flag flies at half staff over Whitehall, which remained sealed off Thursday.
PETE MACLAINE/I-IMAGES/ZUMA PRESS
.
A police officer enters a property in Birmingham, England, in a raid connected to the terror attack. Police raided six addresses and arrested eight people as part of the investigation.
A police officer enters a property in Birmingham, England, in a raid connected to the terror attack. Police raided six addresses and arrested eight people as part of the investigation. EDDIE KEOGH/REUTERS
.
Members of Parliament stand in silence to mark the attack. Prime Minister Theresa May said in a speech to Parliament that the attacker was British-born and had previously been investigated in relation to extremism.
Members of Parliament stand in silence to mark the attack. Prime Minister Theresa May said in a speech to Parliament that the attacker was British-born and had previously been investigated in relation to extremism. PRU/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
.
An armed British officer lifts police cordon tape in London’s Westminster district. There was an increased police presence in the city on Thursday.
An armed British officer lifts police cordon tape in London’s Westminster district. There was an increased police presence in the city on Thursday. SIMON DAWSON/BLOOMBERG NEWS
.
A woman lies injured after the attack on Westminster Bridge.
A woman lies injured after the attack on Westminster Bridge. TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS
.
A woman assisting an injured person on Westminster Bridge, which crosses the Thames next to Parliament.
A woman assisting an injured person on Westminster Bridge, which crosses the Thames next to Parliament. TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS
.
People being evacuated from the Houses of Parliament, which went into lockdown following the attack but returned to business on Thursday.
People being evacuated from the Houses of Parliament, which went into lockdown following the attack but returned to business on Thursday. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
.
An injured woman is treated by emergency services near Westminster Bridge.
An injured woman is treated by emergency services near Westminster Bridge. CARL COURT/GETTY IMAGES
.
Newly appointed London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, wearing blue collar, bows her head on Thursday during a minute of silence outside New Scotland Yard in London for fallen officer Police Constable Keith Palmer.
Newly appointed London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, wearing blue collar, bows her head on Thursday during a minute of silence outside New Scotland Yard in London for fallen officer Police Constable Keith Palmer. ANDY RAIN/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

 

.
********************************************

The style of the attack, the third in less than a year in which a vehicle was used as a tool of terrorism, presents a special challenge to security officials.

“We’re not going to be in a position where we can ban knives, ban cars and trucks,” said Jonathan Russell, head of policy at Quilliam, a London-based counterterrorism think tank. “These are the weapons that people are using.”

Senior intelligence officials have warned that the U.K. was a target and authorities have focused on their ability to respond to armed attacks, like the ones in Paris, where gunmen and suicide bombers hit different targets simultaneously.

The U.K. said last year that it was sharply increasing the number of police officers trained to handle firearms. The vast majority of police officers are unarmed, with only specialist firearms teams permitted to carry submachine guns and pistols capable of killing a hostile suspect.

Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said security would be reviewed to see whether arrangements at Parliament were adequate and whether police at the front gates should be armed.

Write to Jenny Gross at jenny.gross@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-police-arrest-seven-in-response-to-attack-near-london-parliament-1490258307?mod=e2tw

Anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats move into second place in polls

March 23, 2017

.

Sweden took in more refugees per capita than any other country in Europe

Reuters

Thu Mar 23, 2017 | 8:45am EDT

The anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats have overtaken the center-right Moderates and are the second most popular party in the Nordic country, polls showed this week.

Growing worries about immigration in Sweden, which received a record 160,000 refugees in 2015, have boosted support for the Sweden Democrats, echoing the rise of populist parties across Europe.

The party got 19.2 percent support in a poll published on Thursday by Novus for Swedish Television, up from 18.5 percent a month ago. That compares with the 13 percent they polled in the general election in 2014.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, crowd and outdoor

Photo: Sweden — Protesers burn the national flag

In a second poll in daily Dagens Nyheter they got 18 percent, up from 17 percent.

Both polls showed that the party was in second place for the first time behind the Social Democrats, who form the minority government with the Green Party.

“If we become the second largest (second most popular) party, or even the biggest party, it will of course be harder for the other parties to leave us out in the cold,” party secretary Richard Jomshof, told Swedish Television.

The Sweden Democrats have re-drawn Sweden’s political map, making it impossible for either the center-left or the center-right to form a majority government without them.

All the mainstream parties had refused to have any contact with them, but faced with the prospect of political deadlock, center-right Moderate party leader Anna Kinberg Batra said recently she was prepared to work with the Sweden Democrats.

Support for the Moderates, the biggest party in the center-right Alliance has slumped since Batra broke ranks.

The Moderate Party – the biggest in the opposition Alliance bloc – saw their support drop to 18.0 percent in the Novus poll and down to 17.0 percent in the Ipsos survey.

As late as January, the Moderates were polling around 22-23 percent.

Batra’s move has widened divisions in the four-party center-right Alliance with the Centre and Liberal parties ruling out cooperation with the Sweden Democrats.

However, the government has little to celebrate. Support for the Social Democrats, the biggest party in the coalition, was around 27 percent, down from 31 percent in 2014’s election.

The Green Party is polling close to the 4 percent threshold for seats in parliament.

(Reporting by Johan Sennero; Editing by Toby Davis)

Related:

© AFP/File / by Fanny CARRIER | Hellish conditions in Libya (and other parts of Africa) drive a surge in the numbers of migrants trying to reach Europe

.
.

 (Contains links to several other related articles)

Image may contain: 2 people, people sleeping and outdoor

Migrant children from Syria sleep outside the Swedish Migration Board, in Marsta, Sweden. Photo by AP

Image may contain: 6 people, crowd, hat and outdoor

Sweden took in more refugees per capita than any other country in Europe last year. Getty

Erdogan warns Europeans’ risk being ‘unsafe’ as feud rages with EU — Unless this stops “no European, no Westerner will be able to take steps on the street safely and peacefully.”

March 22, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a rally in Istanbul on March 11, 2017
ANKARA (AFP) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Wednesday that Europeans risk being unsafe on the world’s streets, as a crisis between Ankara and the EU showed no signs of abating.

“If you continue to behave like this, tomorrow in no part of the world, no European, no Westerner will be able to take steps on the street safely and peacefully,” Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara.

Erdogan did not expand on what he meant by his comments but appeared to imply that Europeans risked receiving the same treatment that, he says, is endured by Turks and Muslims in Europe.

Relations between Turkey and Europe have been severely strained since Turkish ministers were thwarted from campaigning on the continent for a ‘yes’ vote in next month’s referendum on expanding Erdogan’s powers.

Ankara has said such behaviour was reminiscent of Nazi Germany and also raised alarm over what it sees as rising racism and Islamophobia on the continent.

Erdogan warned Europe that Turkey was “not a country to push, to prod, to play with its honour, to shove its ministers out of the door, drag its citizens on the floor.”

He said the world was watching Europe’s actions “very closely”, adding: “We as Turkey urge Europe to respect democracy, human rights, freedoms.”

His repeated comparisons with Nazi Germany have been strongly condemned by the European Union as well as Berlin and the Hague, precipitating a crisis that has raised doubts over the viability of Turkey’s EU bid.

Tensions between Berlin and Ankara threaten EU-Turkey migrant deal

March 21, 2017

AFP

© LOUISA GOULIAMAKI / AFP | Piles of life jackets left by refugees who arrived to the island of Lesbos lie at a dump on March 15, 2017 almost a year after an EU-Turkey deal

Latest update : 2017-03-21

Signed a year ago to halt the influx of migrants into Europe, a EU-Turkey deal now appears on shaky ground as Turkish ministers threaten to scrap it following diplomatic tensions between Germany and Turkey.

Since Ankara and Brussels forged the controversial migrant deal in March 2016, many have hailed it a success for substantially lessening the flow of migrants, drastically reducing the number of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea and bringing European borders back under control.

Turkey took on the role of the EU’s migrant gatekeeper after it agreed to control the mass influx of migrants in exchange for €6 billion and a promise to fast-track European Union membership talks and visa-free travel for its nationals.

But, one year on, there is a very real possibility the deal could unravel, the chief architect of the deal, Gerald Knaus, head of the European Stability Initiative, told
Germany’s daily Deutsche Welle (DW).

Ankara “irrational”

“It would be irrational to shut it down, but we’ve heard a few irrational things from Ankara recently, so it is not impossible that something that would be bad for Turkey in this escalating unacceptable rhetoric might also claim the refugee agreement as a victim”, he said.

The fierce diplomatic row that continues to unfold between Berlin and Ankara over Turkish referendum campaign rallies in Germany has turned the deal into something of a political pawn.

Turkish interior minister Suleyman Soylu said last Friday that his country would “blow the mind” of Europe and renege on the deal by sending 15,000 Syrian refugees a month to Europe.

His threat added to earlier comments by Turkey’s deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus who warned a week ago that, “we will review the migrant deal if necessary”.

Speaking to FRANCE 24, Jorgen Carling, research professor at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, said that Ankara using immigration as a “bargaining chip” in relation with the EU is nothing new.

“We have recently seen Morocco make similar threats as a response to a European statement on the occupation of Western Sahara,” he said. He also added that Turkey would gain little if it dumped the migrant deal.

EU officials want to believe that despite the diplomatic tensions between Turkey and Germany, the immigrant deal will remain operational.

“Everyone in Turkey knows that fundamentally it is in Turkey’s interests to keep it alive,” Knaus told newspaper Deutsche Welle.

No benefit to Turkey

But the Turkish government has complained it has not received most of the €6 billion promised by the EU, and bristles over the delays to visa-free travel for its citizens.
Professor Andrew Geddes, Director of the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute in Italy, told FRANCE 24 that despite the obvious benefits for Turkey, the “chances of visa-free travel for Turkish nationals in the EU have receded”, putting additional pressure on the deal.

Role of toxic rhetoric

In its 2016-2017 annual report “The State of the world’s human rights”, Amnesty International warned against the impact of inflammatory political rhetoric targeting migrants. It forecasts that 2017 will see “a debilitating absence of human rights leadership” and that current conditions will unlikely make it easier to keep the deal on track.

If the ‘Yes’ vote wins in the upcoming referendum on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers within the constitution, Erdogan will have the legitimate backing to increase his power.

What he may do is a worrying prospect for the EU.

Despite what many think, there are real fears he might renege on the immigrant deal.

“One worrying scenario is that if Turkey becomes a less reliable buffer, European leaders will have an incentive to let Greece play that role,” Professor Geddes told FRANCE 24.

Humanitarian groups say that scenario would be catastrophic for the migrants stranded in Greece, where refugee camps like Moira on the island of Lesbos have been described as “open air prisons”.

Since the deal was implemented, 918 people have been sent back to Turkey by the Greek authorities, a very small number when compared to the tens of thousands waiting in the horrendous camps in Greece

A Libya-EU deal?

While the closure of the Balkan route via the Aegean has slowed the number of arrivals, the number of migrants arriving in Italy has continued to increase dramatically. The number of boats that have arrived in Italy so far this month is up by 50% on the same period last year, according to EU data.

Interior ministers from ten European and North African countries met in Rome on Monday to discuss rolling out a second migrant deal, this one between the EU and Libya. The declaration of intent which was released after their meeting limited itself to promising increased coordination and information sharing.

A deal with Libya would present the EU with even more challenges than Turkey given that that power in the country is split between a UN-backed national unity government in Tripoli – the elected parliament of Tobrouk in the eastern part of the country – and the Libyan National Army of General Khalifa Haftar.

Professor Carling believes that whether the Turkey and EU collapses or not, the bloc leaders should be prepared and plan for a less cooperative Turkey.

“European leaders should be taking more responsibility in the political power game of immigration management,” he said.

Date created : 2017-03-21

‘We will shoot down your missiles’: Enraged Taiwan to build its own submarines to protect itself and US bases from China after Beijing pointed 1,500 rockets at the island

March 21, 2017

  • Taiwan says China has aimed 1,500 missiles including advanced rocket at island
  • Defence minister says Taiwan is able to shoot down missiles fired at its territory
  • The island has announced plans to build its own submarines to protect itself

Enraged Taiwan is planning to build new submarines to protect itself and US bases from China – and has vowed to shoot down any missiles fired at the island.

Beijing has included new medium-range ballistic weapons in a terrifying arsenal of 1,500 rockets aimed at the self-ruled island, according to Taiwanese defence bosses.

Amid heightened tensions between the neighbouring territories, Taiwan has now announced plans to build its own submarines bolstered by fresh arms sales by the United States.

The island’s defence minister Feng Shih-kuan says China’s advanced DF-16 (Dongfeng 16) is capable of precise strikes with a range of between 600 and 900 miles – meaning it could reach US military bases in Okinawa.

Enraged Taiwan is set to build new submarines to protect itself and US bases from China and has vowed to shoot down any missiles fired at the island. Taiwan navy submarines SS-794 (front) and SS-792 (back) are docked  at Tsoying Naval Base during the visit of president Tsai Ing-wen today

Enraged Taiwan is set to build new submarines to protect itself and US bases from China and has vowed to shoot down any missiles fired at the island. Taiwan navy submarines SS-794 (front) and SS-792 (back) are docked  at Tsoying Naval Base during the visit of president Tsai Ing-wen today

Taiwan has revealed its intentions to build its own submarines bolstered by fresh arms sales by the United States. Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, left, waves from a Zwaardvis-class submarine during a visit at Zuoying Naval base in Kaohsiung today

Taiwan has revealed its intentions to build its own submarines bolstered by fresh arms sales by the United States. Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, left, waves from a Zwaardvis-class submarine during a visit at Zuoying Naval base in Kaohsiung today

When asked how Taiwan would handle the new threat, Feng said the island’s Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) anti-missile system could intercept the DF-16.

‘We are confident in our surveillance to detect any unfriendly action towards us … We have sufficient weaponry to shoot it down outside our territory,’ he said.

Taiwan pledged to build up its military in the face of the China threat in a four-yearly defence report unveiled last week.

The island’s military, which consists of around 200,000 troops, is a fraction of China’s 2.3 million-strong army.

Taiwan said for the first time last week that it is capable of launching missiles at China as it warned of an increased invasion risk.

Beijing has included new medium-range ballistic weapons in a terrifying arsenal of 1,500 rockets aimed at the self-ruled island, according to Taiwanese defence bosses. File picture shows Taiwan's US-made F-16 fighters during a training exercise

Beijing has included new medium-range ballistic weapons in a terrifying arsenal of 1,500 rockets aimed at the self-ruled island, according to Taiwanese defence bosses. File picture shows Taiwan’s US-made F-16 fighters during a training exercise

China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be brought back into its fold, by force if necessary, even though the island has been self-governing since the two sides split after a civil war in 1949

China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be brought back into its fold, by force if necessary, even though the island has been self-governing since the two sides split after a civil war in 1949

China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be brought back into its fold, by force if necessary, even though the island has been self-governing since the two sides split after a civil war in 1949.

Ties have worsened since Beijing-sceptic President Tsai Ing-wen took power last year, ending an eight-year rapprochement.

Feng said did not say how many missiles had been deployed or where.

Taiwan has said China is targeting the island with around 1,500 missiles, but this is the first time the defence ministry identified the DF-16 as among them.

Beijing has severed all official communications with Taipei since Tsai became leader in May and has been accused of blocking the island’s political representatives from attending international events.

China is highly suspicious of Tsai, whose Democratic Progressive Party is traditionally pro-independence.

Taiwan has never formally split from the mainland and China has warned of military consequences if it did.

President Tsai Ing-wen has visited a submarine at the southern naval port of Zuoying, about 218 miles from the capital, Taipei today

President Tsai Ing-wen has visited a submarine at the southern naval port of Zuoying, about 218 miles from the capital, Taipei today

Feng added that China’s six recent drills in the Western Pacific and sending its sole aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait were designed to ‘pressure Taiwan to follow its plans in the development of cross-strait relations’.

China displayed the DF-16 among a variety of short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles at a military parade in Beijing in 2015 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Japan’s World War II defeat.

Military experts say it is capable of pinpoint precision and can carry two or more warheads to conduct multi-target attacks.

Meanwhile, Taiwan insists it will now start making its own submarines.

‘Strengthening underwater combat capabilities is most needed in Taiwan’s defense,’ President Tsai Ing-wen said during a tour of a submarine at the southern naval port of Zuoying, about 218 miles from the capital, Taipei.

‘This is a problem everyone recognizes,’ she added. ‘We have been unable to solve this in the past. As commander of the armed forces, I am determined to solve this problem.’

But the rare appearance of two of Taiwan’s four submarines at the event also spotlighted the island’s slow, sometimes stalled efforts, to upgrade key defence equipment.

The black-hulled vessel half-submerged in the water that Tsai visited has been in service for nearly half a century

The black-hulled vessel half-submerged in the water that Tsai visited has been in service for nearly half a century

The black-hulled vessel half-submerged in the water that Tsai visited has been in service for nearly half a century.

‘Making a submarine isn’t the problem,’ said Gao Chung-hsing, vice president of the National Chung-shan Institute of Technology, a quasi-defence ministry agency reponsible for military research and development.

‘It is making what kind of submarine that is the problem.’

To build an advanced submarine, for instance, Taiwan, which has never before built such a craft, will have to rely on foreign technology to resolve issues such as integrating the hardware with various electronic systems, defence experts say.

Such foreign support is critical to Taiwan’s effort, which was allocated a four-year budget of T$3 billion ($99 million) for its design contract phase from 2016, Taiwan defence officials and experts say.

Two submarines in Taiwan’s fleet date from the era of World War Two, were bought from the United States, and are used mainly for training, while the other two, bought from the Netherlands in the 1980s, first saw service in the 1970s.

Although the United States agreed to sell Taiwan eight diesel electric submarines in 2001, the purchase never went through, beset by hurdles ranging from budget issues and lack of consensus in Taiwan to changing U.S. policy priorities.

Washington has begun considering a big, new arms package for Taiwan, a move sure to anger China.

This week, officials in Taiwan fretted that a planned summit meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could sacrifice Taiwan’s interests.

Tsai, who leads the independence-leaning ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has never conceded to Beijing’s view that Taiwan is a part of China, although she has soft-pedalled the issue since taking office in May last year.

In December, Taiwan briefly celebrated a diplomatic coup when Trump, then president-elect, took a congratulatory phone call from Tsai and raised questions about whether he would stick with the four-decade-old ‘one China’ policy.

Trump changed tack last month, however, and agreed to honour the ‘one China’ policy during a phone call with Xi, reviving the island’s concerns about its vulnerability.

‘If there was no threat across the Taiwan Strait, then we do not have to purchase arms,’ Defence Minister Feng Shih-kuan told Taiwan’s parliament on Monday.

US envoy says US-EU trade deal still alive

March 21, 2017

AFP

© AFP | A container ship is moored up in Liverpool, north-west England
BRUSSELS (AFP) – Negotiations for a mega US-EU trade deal are still alive after they were suspended over elections and public opposition on both sides of the Atlantic, a senior US diplomat said Tuesday.EU officials had feared US President Donald Trump would abandon the four-year talks for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) after he withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“I would really take issue with the notion that the TTIP is dead,” said Adam Shub, who is running the US mission to the European Union pending Trump’s appointment of a new ambassador.

“We are reviewing it. You know the president’s position on TPP, but TTIP is not in that category,” Shub told the foreign affairs committee in the European parliament.

Most Europeans had assumed that Trump would kill the TTIP deal in the same way he quashed the similar TPP accord with Asia just days after taking office in January.

Tuesday’s surprise twist came after the Trump administration ruffled feathers at G20 talks over the weekend by refusing to condemn protectionism in a final statement.

Talks with the EU were put on the “backburner” or “freezer” because of elections on both sides of the Atlantic, Shub said.

“I think it was our perception that, due to the difficulty with the upcoming German election, the Netherlands election,  the French election, this was not the best climate to continue a trade negotiation that was perceived in many parts of the public as something very, very different,” he added.

“One has to be an optimist,” Shub added.

Shub said a clearer position would emerge once the Trump administration appoints a new trade representative to replace Michael Froman, who served under President Barack Obama.

Brussels and Washington had sought to get the TTIP deal through by the time Obama left office but fell short.

Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen launches project for first home-built submarine as China threat grows

March 21, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen launches a submarine-building project in Kaohsiung, March 21, 2017

KAOHSIUNG (TAIWAN) (AFP) – Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen launched the island’s first ever home-grown submarine project Tuesday in the face of what the government says are growing military threats from China.

The move comes after China sent its only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, through the Taiwan Strait in January, in one of a number of military drills held as relations deteriorate.

 

Taiwan last week warned of an increased invasion risk from China and has pledged to boost its military in response.

Tsai called the launch of the submarine plan a “historic moment” at a naval base in southern city of Kaohsiung.

She was presiding over a formal signing ceremony to initiate the project between the navy, Taiwanese shipbuilder CSBS Corporation and the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, which develops combat system integration.

Delivery of the submarine is expected to take eight years and is part of the island’s “indigenous defence policy”, said Tsai.

“I want to tell you all that the Taiwanese always face challenges bravely and overcome them,” she said.

Taiwan’s navy currently operates a fleet of four submarines, bought from abroad, but only two of them can be deployed in the event of war.

The other two were built by the United States in the 1940s and are only used in training as they are too old for combat.

As part of her visit Tuesday, Tsai boarded Taiwan’s Zwaardis-class submarine the Hai Hu, which was purchased from the Netherlands.

Tsai watched the simulated firing of a torpedo while on board.

Beijing still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be brought back into its fold, by force if necessary, even though the island has been self-governing since the two sides split after a civil war in 1949.

Ties have worsened since Beijing-sceptic Tsai took power last year, ending an eight-year rapprochement.

Tensions heightened further after a protocol-busting call between Tsai and Donald Trump, following his US election victory.

The US is Taiwan’s most powerful ally and main arms supplier, despite having no official relations with Taipei after switching recognition to Beijing in 1979.

But Taiwan has turned to the domestic submarine project after years spent waiting for US models.

A long-stalled offer approved by then US president George W Bush in 2001 to supply eight conventional submarines has never come to fruition.

Defence minister Feng Shih-kuan has said the Liaoning’s sail near Taiwan highlighted the need for the island to press ahead with building its own subs.

Taiwan also announced last month its bid to create a new generation of locally built jet trainers by 2026.

Related:
.
.

*******************

Reuters

By Peter Apps
.

For much of the last week, the U.S. aircraft carrier Carl Vinson has been patrolling the South China Sea. It is just the kind of display of Washington’s power and global reach that the U.S. Navy excels at – both to reassure allies and, in this case, send a message to potential foes.

How much longer Washington will be able to perform such operations unchallenged, however, is an increasingly open question.

Some military experts project that within a little more than a decade, China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy may have more warships than Washington under its command. Beijing’s military buildup is part of its strategy to dominate many disputed territories in the South China Sea – and push America back.

READ MORE FROM REUTERS COMMENTARY:
Commentary: Could Trump actually be good for European defense?
Commentary: Why Trump’s tough talk on Iran will backfire
Commentary: North Korea gives Donald Trump a nuclear crisis from hell

Retaining U.S. global military dominance is at the heart of President Donald Trump’s plan to up Pentagon spending by $54 billion, or roughly 9 percent. That alone, however, will not be enough to maintain Washington’s regional military edge. China’s own defense budget has increased by double digits almost every year for the last two decades – although it slowed slightly last year. More importantly, Beijing is also adopting a range of tactics to which Washington lacks a truly effective response.

While Washington’s approach in Asia has always been focused on its ability to move aircraft carriers through China’s backyard, Beijing has been doing everything it can to tilt the strategic balance against its possible foes. It’s a strategy that includes new weapons systems, considerable conventional naval expansion but also a host of other tactics including building naval bases, floating power stations and artificial islands.

Some current and former U.S. military officials believe it is a question of when, rather than if, a regional conflict takes place. What seems equally plausible is a decades-long – and perhaps largely bloodless – confrontation remaining just below the threshold of anything that might trigger actual war.

That may well be China’s plan.

It’s a game that Beijing has played in increasing earnest since 1995, when the Chinese military fired several missiles and conducted military maneuvers around Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a breakaway province. U.S. President Bill Clinton responded by sending two aircraft carriers to patrol the waters between Taiwan and mainland China, a move that Beijing’s military could do little to stop without sparking a war it knew it would not win.

MORE TOP NEWS:

China’s latest crackdown on pollution

China, Russia step up opposition to South Korea anti-missile system

Since then, China has focused on gaining the ability to keep U.S. forces – particularly aircraft carriers – out of its immediate neighborhood. Many analysts believe it now possesses enough weapons technology – submarines, missiles and strike aircraft in particular – that U.S. planners would be reluctant to risk their carriers that close to China’s coast again.

China is believed to have thousands of ballistic missiles aimed at the island, as well as naval weaponry to destroy nearby warships. Some experts believe Beijing might try to regain control of the island sometime in the next two decades.

Beijing’s next immediate goal appears to be expanding its military capability much further out – to a number of potentially energy-rich atolls and islands claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Beijing’s most grandiose claims in the South China Sea were rejected last year by the U.N.’s top international maritime court.  China has, however, continued to build and expand, particularly around the disputed Scarborough Shoal. The Chinese military landed on the islands – also claimed by the Philippines – in 2012 and have since built up their presence there.

From these disputed bases, Beijing’s military claims a range of air and sea areas under its jurisdiction, demanding foreign aircraft and ships register with them. American, Australian and other military forces make a point of flouting these rules – which have little international legitimacy – with relative impunity.

No one has a strategy to stop the Chinese. At his confirmation hearings, new U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson raised eyebrows by suggesting U.S. forces might somehow deny China access to the disputed islands. That would almost certainly start a war, however, and the idea has not been mentioned since.

In many ways, what has happened in the South China Sea resembles a more gradual version of what Vladimir Putin’s Russia achieved in Crimea during its 2014 takeover – using armed men without uniform to change the reality on the ground before Ukraine or its allies could react.

In Ukraine, Russia later proved itself willing to use more overt – although still officially denied – military force to seize control of some Russian-speaking areas in the east of the country. The question in the South China Sea is whether Beijing might consider something similar – and what might happen if it does.

China has also become increasingly focused on acquiring the kind of high-level, high-value military assets that the United States has used against it in the past. China’s first aircraft carrier – a former Soviet vessel rebuilt – is becoming ever more effective, although it remains primarily used for training. In December, it conducted what appeared to be its first long-range patrol outside China’s coastal waters. China is also constructing its first domestically built carrier and reportedly working on another.

Such ships are important to Beijing’s international image – witness the attention Russia got through sending its only carrier to conduct airstrikes in Syria late last year. So are the ballistic missile submarines that – like Russia – Beijing is increasingly building, a stark reminder to any potential enemies of the cataclysmic consequences of outright war.

According to some estimates, over the next 10 to15 years, China could build its fleet to a total of 500, including up to four aircraft carriers and 100 submarines as well as smaller but sophisticated corvettes, patrol boats and other combat craft. That compares to Trump’s planned expansion of the U.S. Navy to some 350 vessels, including a larger proportion of more powerful vessels, but spread across the entire world.

In sailing through the disputed waters of the South China Sea, the Carl Vinson has once again shown America’s military might. In the event of an actual war, however, it is far from clear how long such a massive vessel would survive before being sunk.

In any case, the Carl Vinson will be gone next week – although other forces will remain – and the Chinese will still be building.

(Peter Apps is Reuters global affairs columnist, writing on international affairs, globalization, conflict and other issues. He is founder and executive director of the Project for Study of the 21st Century; PS21, a non-national, non-partisan, non-ideological think tank in London, New York and Washington. Before that, he spent 12 years as a reporter for Reuters covering defense, political risk and emerging markets. Since 2016, he has been a member of the British Army Reserve and the UK Labour Party.  @pete_apps)

The views expressed in this article are not those of Reuters News.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-military-commentary-idUSKBN1684OW

Germany supports group behind Turkish coup attempt: Erdogan spokesman

March 19, 2017

Video at the link:

By Ece Toksabay | ANKARA

Turkey on Sunday accused Germany of supporting the network of a U.S.-based Muslim cleric it blames for last year’s attempted coup, comments likely to aggravate a diplomatic feud between the two countries.

Germany and Turkey have been locked in a deepening row after Berlin banned some Turkish ministers from speaking to rallies of expatriate Turks ahead of a referendum next month, citing public safety concerns.

On Saturday, German news magazine Der Spiegel published an interview with the head of Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency, who said Ankara had failed to convince it that the cleric Fethullah Gulen was responsible for the coup attempt.

“Turkey has tried to convince us of that at every level but so far it has not succeeded,” Bruno Kahl was quoted as saying.

President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said Kahl’s comments were proof Germany was supporting Gulen’s network, which Ankara refers to as the “Gulenist Terrorist Organisation” or “FETO”.

“It’s an effort to invalidate all the information we have given them on FETO. It’s a sign of their support for FETO,” Ibrahim Kalin told broadcaster CNN Turk.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, March 19, 2017. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

“Why are they protecting them? Because these are useful instruments for Germany to use against Turkey.”

There was no response from Germany to the comments.

Ankara blames Gulen’s network of followers in the military for the abortive putsch in July, when a group of rogue soldiers seized tanks, helicopters and war planes to attack parliament and attempt to overthrow the government. More than 240 people were killed in the coup attempt.

Gulen, a former Erdogan ally who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, has denied the charges and condemned the coup.

JAILED JOURNALIST

Kalin said there was a possibility Erdogan could plan a rally to address Turks in Germany before the April 16 referendum on changing the constitution, a move that would further heighten tensions with Berlin.

The constitutional change would give Erdogan sweeping new powers. Critics say it would give him too much power.

At a speech on Sunday in Istanbul, Erdogan lashed out against a Turkish-German journalist now in jail in Turkey, calling him a terrorist agent.

Erdogan, who was speaking at a meeting of an Islamic foundation, said the reporter, Deniz Yucel of Germany’s Die Welt newspaper, would be tried by Turkey’s independent judiciary.

Authorities arrested Yucel, a dual Turkish and German national, last month on charges of propaganda in support of a terrorist organization and inciting the public to violence.

He was initially detained after he reported on emails that a leftist hacker collective had purportedly obtained from the private account of Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s energy minister and Erdogan’s son-in-law.

(This version of the story corrects to remove reference to Erdogan quote “Thank God” that was not related to arrest in paragraph 13)

(Additional reporting by Michelle Martin in Berlin; writing by David Dolan; editing by Jason Neely and Keith Weir)