Turkey to host four-nation summit on Syria crisis

Russia and Turkey reached an agreement last month — during a summit between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Russian leader Vladimir — to set up a demilitarized zone around Idlib. (AFP)
Updated 19 October 2018
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Turkey to host four-nation summit on Syria crisis

  • Russia and Turkey reached an agreement last month to set up a demilitarized zone around the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib
  • The Kremlin confirmed Vladimir Putin’s participation in the summit

ANKARA, Turkey: A summit between the leaders of Turkey, France, Germany and Russia will be held in Istanbul this month to discuss the conflict in Syria and efforts for a lasting solution to the war in the Arab country, a Turkish official said Friday.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, in a written statement said the summit will take place on October 27.
Russia and Turkey reached an agreement last month to set up a demilitarized zone around the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib preventing a government offensive on the last rebel stronghold in the country.
Idlib has been calm ever since although some militant groups did not meet an Oct. 15 deadline to evacuate the demilitarized zone that surrounds Idlib province. Many feared that a government offensive in Idlib would trigger a new refugee crisis as the region is home to some 3 million people many of them displaced by war from other parts of Syria.
Russia is a main backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government while Turkey has been helping insurgents trying to remove him from power.
Kalin said all aspects of the Syrian conflict are expected to be discussed, including the situation on the ground, the Idlib agreement and efforts for a lasting solution to the conflict.
German government spokeswoman Martina Fietz announced that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be attending the summit.
A statement by France’s Elysee Palace said Paris intends primarily to promote the maintenance of the ceasefire in Idlib to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and a new mass wave of refugees, and the effective launch of an inclusive political process in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.
“These two objectives will be at the center of discussions between Heads of State and Government,” the statement said.
Security Council resolution 2254 from December 2015 called on top UN officials to convene the two sides of the Syrian conflict “to engage in formal negotiations on a political transition process.”
The Kremlin confirmed Vladimir Putin’s participation in the summit and said it would focus on political settlement and conditions for the return of Syrian refugees.
Asked if the Kremlin was expecting a breakthrough at the meeting, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the RIA Novosti news agency that “this meeting is not about breakthroughs.”


Egypt offers residency to foreign investors

Updated 21 November 2018
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Egypt offers residency to foreign investors

  • A three-year residency is on offer for those who invest $200,000, and five years for those who purchase property worth $400,000
  • To begin the process for obtaining Egyptian residency, a preliminary contract must be agreed between the property owner and the foreign investor

CAIRO: In an attempt to further boost its booming real estate sector and attract foreign investment, Egypt will grant residency permits to foreigners who invest at least $100,000 in the country’s property market.
The growth rate of Egypt’s property market stands at 133 percent in 2018. This has been fueled by strong demand for housing, along with the sporadic launch of residential construction projects.
The minimum investment required to obtain a residency permit is $100,000. A three-year residency is on offer for those who invest $200,000, and five years for those who purchase property worth $400,000. The offer also applies to properties that are still under construction.
Khaled Abbas, the deputy minister of housing, said the procedures for the scheme are being set up in consultation with the Passport, Immigration and Nationality Administration.
To begin the process for obtaining Egyptian residency, a preliminary contract must be agreed between the property owner and the foreign investor, and then signed by an authorized body, such the Urban Communities Authority, the Tourism Development Authority or the governorate in which the property is located. Bank statements must also be provided confirming that the money has been transferred from overseas. The passport office will then approve the period of residence.
Members of the House of Representatives welcomed the announcement as a positive move for Egypt and an incentive for foreign investment, which it is hoped will create jobs and economic opportunities.
Whether the public will be so keen remains to be seen.
“This might be a bit problematic,” said Aly Salem, a resident of Cairo. “The housing demand in Egypt is already high, with the surging youth population and more and more people looking to get married each year. Where will they stay, if foreigners start swooping in and acquiring both residency and a huge housing unit with just $100,000?”
Offering further details, Gen. Kamel Amer, the head of the Parliament’s Defense and National Security Committee, said foreigners will not have any political rights for the first five years of residency and they will not be eligible to vote for 10 years. He also said spouses and children of investors will not be granted residency unless they live in Egypt.
Spain and Portugal have implemented similar programs in an attempt to boost their property markets. Previously, a foreigner had to live in Egypt for 10 consecutive years to be eligible for naturalization.
The new residency law is part of the efforts to repair the damage to Egypt’s economy caused by severe austerity measures imposed after the $12 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.
The cost and size of properties in Egypt, which are often large and lavish apartments, compare favorably to those in many other countries. Despite this, few Egyptians can afford to pay for a house upfront, but some private property developers are offering 10-year, interest-free installment plans.