British PM denies ‘blackmailing’ EU

Updated 15 January 2013
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British PM denies ‘blackmailing’ EU

LONDON: British Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday denied trying to “blackmail” his European partners by threatening to pull out of the EU if he did not get his way on repatriating powers.
Ahead of a long-awaited speech next week in which he is expected to propose a referendum after the 2015 election on the conditions of Britain’s membership, Cameron added that he was “confident” of getting the changes he wanted.
“I’m not blackmailing anybody,” Cameron said in an interview with BBC radio.
“Britain, just like every other European country, has a perfect right to say we are members of this club, we are prominent members, we pay a large bill for being a member of this club.
“We are perfectly entitled to argue that it needs to change.”
Cameron’s close ally, and Finance Minister George Osborne, told a German newspaper last week that “for us to stay in the European Union, the EU must change,” prompting a German lawmaker to accuse Britain of blackmail. Cameron stressed that he still supported Britain’s membership of the 27-nation bloc.
“I don’t think it’s in our interests to leave the European Union,” he said.
“Would Britain collapse if we left the European Union? No, of course not. We could choose a different path. The question is, what is in our national interest?”
But he said he was “not happy” with the relationship and said the British public were also “increasingly fed up that they’ve been left out of this debate.”
He said he wanted a “fresh settlement, and then fresh consent for that settlement”.
But a straight in-out referendum asking whether Britons wanted to remain in the EU was a “false choice,” Cameron said.
“Right now, there are a lot of people who say, I would like to be in Europe but I’m not happy with every aspect of the relationship so I want it changed. That is my view,” he said.
“So I think an in-out referendum today is a false choice.”
Cameron deflected a question about whether an in-out referendum was possible further down the line.
“I’m confident we will get the changes that we want. We will have a new settlement and then we’ll put that to the British people in a very straightforward way,” he said.
Cameron’s remarks came after one of his cabinet ministers, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, warned Britain should not stay in the EU at any cost.
“If it’s in our clear national interest that we should remain in the European Union — and I sincerely hope that is the case — then we should stay, but we shouldn’t stay at any price,” he told the BBC late Sunday.


Pakistan vows to fight extremism under the banner of Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Updated 30 min 39 sec ago
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Pakistan vows to fight extremism under the banner of Shanghai Cooperation Organization

  • Pakistan hosts meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO-RATS) to discuss enhancing counter-terrorism cooperation among the member states.
  • Pakistan should also enhance bilateral relationship with the SCO members as Euro-Asia is going to be an economic hub.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan vowed to eliminate terrorism and extremism in the region by working with Shanghai Cooperation Organization as the three-day meeting got under way in Islamabad.
“Pakistan fully supports and welcomes the efforts of SCO-RATS in the fight against three evils of terrorism, extremism and separatism,” Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua said at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO-RATS) meeting.
Legal experts from the eight member states — China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan — as well as representatives of the SCO-RATS executive committee, were taking part in the meeting.
It is the first SCO meeting to be held in Pakistan since it joined the organization in June 2017. The main purpose of the meeting is to discuss terrorist threats facing the region and how to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation between the member states.
“We support the SCO consensus that as we engage in the fight against terrorism, we must respect the norms and principles of international law, UN Charter and shun double standards,” the Foreign Secretary said.
She also emphasized that terrorism cannot and should not be identified with any religion, individual countries or nationalities.
She said: “We have lost thousands of our citizens and law enforcement personnel, with many more injured. We have also suffered economic losses of more than $120 billion.”
But human and financial losses have not dented Pakistan’s determination to fight this menace, she said, adding that comprehensive efforts over the past several years, supported by a firm domestic political consensus, have helped Pakistan to turn the tide against terrorism.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a permanent intergovernmental international organization, which was founded on June 15, 2001 in Shanghai, China.
Former ambassadors, political and security analysts view the first-ever SCO meeting in Islamabad as an opportunity for the government to present its case against terrorism and extremism effectively to the international community.
Former ambassador Mohammed Ayaz Wazir said it was good for Pakistan to be hosting the hold the meeting at a time when some hostile countries have been trying to isolate it in the international community.
“Pakistan should also enhance bilateral relationship with the SCO members as Euro-Asia is going to be an economic hub and peace center of the world,” he told Arab News.
Wazir pointed out that immediate benefit of the SCO platform is that Pakistan and India have been talking to each other despite being reluctant to revive the bilateral talks on several important issues.
“For peace and development in the region, all member states of the SCO should shun their petty differences and devise cogent mechanisms of cooperation and collaboration,” he said.
Tahir Malik, professor at a public-sector university and political analyst, said it has become a global challenge to overcome the menaces of terrorism and extremism, that no country could deal with effectively acting alone.
“All SCO member states should cooperate in the fields of research and technology to promote knowledge-based economy and peace in the region,” he told Arab News.