EU to offer Turkey more cash for Syrian refugees before Erdogan meeting

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, attends the inauguration of his ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party's Politics Academy, in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, March 9, 2018. (AP)
Updated 13 March 2018
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EU to offer Turkey more cash for Syrian refugees before Erdogan meeting

BRUSSELS: The European Union’s executive is due to approve a further 3 billion euros ($3.7 billion) in funding for Syrian refugees living in Turkey, EU officials said, before a meeting with President Tayyip Erdogan later this month.
Europe’s relations with Erdogan have been fraught in recent years but the EU depends on Turkey to keep a tight lid on immigration from the Middle East, where the war in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands and pushed millions from homes.
Top EU officials will meet Erdogan on March 26 in the Bulgarian city of Varna despite misgivings among many on the European side.
The bloc’s top migration official Dimitris Avramopoulos will announce on Wednesday that the European Commission proposes the extra funding on projects benefiting Syrian refugees in Turkey, the sources told Reuters.
Turkey has accepted 3.5 million refugees from Syria, and the EU is already spending a first 3 billion euro instalment to help them.
Over a million more refugees and migrants reached the EU in 2015, most of them flowing through Turkey. Brussels agreed to pay to help host migrants on the Turkish soil in exchange for Ankara preventing more from trying to cross the Aegean to Greece.
This reduced the numbers to a trickle and this cooperation with a key NATO ally has muted EU action against Turkey over a crackdown on critics, dissenters and civil society following a failed coup in 2016. Erdogan has also attacked EU members Germany and the Netherlands in his speeches.
The bloc has mainly responded by freezing some funding that Turkey had been eligible for as a candidate for EU entry and suspending accession talks that have long been stalled anyway.
The EU will also release in April what the sources said would be a “critical” report on Turkey’s accession bid.


Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

Updated 20 May 2019
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Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

  • Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut
  • Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt

BEIRUT: Security forces opened water cannons on Lebanese anti-austerity protesters in the country’s capital on Monday, as the government continued to hold marathon meetings to discuss severe budget cuts.
Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt, rising unemployment and slow growth. The government’s tightened budget and key reforms aim to unlock billions of dollars in pledged foreign assistance. But planned cuts have unleashed a wave of public discontent, amid leaks that austerity could target public wages, services and social benefits.

A retired Lebanese soldier chants slogans while holding an army flag, during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday. (AP)

Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut shouting “Thieves, thieves!” as the Cabinet met for its 16th session and struggles to reach agreement.
Protesters pushed back against police lines and set fire to tires outside the building. At least two policemen and one civilian were wounded in the scuffles.
Among those demonstrating Monday were public and private school teachers and retired officers.
The government, headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, has sought to calm nerves while also describing the upcoming budget as the most austere in Lebanon’s history.
Hariri said he hopes the government will be able to send the budget to parliament later this week.
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said the cabinet made “important progress” in discussions Sunday.