Erdogan heads to France seeking EU thaw

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Kayhan Ozer/Pool Photo via AP)
Updated 03 January 2018

Erdogan heads to France seeking EU thaw

Ankara: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday visits Paris for talks with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, seeking to start the New Year by warming relations with the European Union after a torrid 2017.
Macron will host Erdogan at the Elysee Palace with talks expected to range from Syria to trade ties, and the French side is also expected to sound concern over the human rights situation in Turkey.
But high on the agenda will be Turkey’s relations with the EU, which Ankara has sought to join for the last 50 years in an epic membership saga that appeared to hit the buffers amid bitter rows in 2017.
“By getting closer to France, Turkey is seeking to give a new boost to its EU membership bid,” said Jana Jabbour, professor of Political Science at Sciences Po university in Paris and the author of a book on Turkish foreign policy.
She told AFP this need was especially acute at a time of diplomatic tensions with the United States following Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Turkish leader has been a frequent visitor to Russia, the Gulf and Africa over the last year but has been rarely sighted in Europe since the July 15, 2016 coup bid aimed at removing him from power.
The visit to France will be his first since the botched putsch. Over the last year — discounting G20 and NATO summits — Erdogan’s only trips to EU member states have been to Poland and Greece.
Still absent from the presidential itinerary is a visit to Germany. Ankara endured its bitterest crisis in 2017 with Berlin, which was roundly critical of the crackdown that followed the failed coup and has left some 55,000 jailed.
While German Chancellor Angela Merkel has often talked tough on Turkey, Macron has however made clear the need to “avoid ruptures” with a country that is an “essential partner.”
Samim Akgonul, lecturer at Strasbourg University, said Turkey and the EU had “to start somewhere” in finding an improvement in relations and the only two countries who could do this were Germany and France.
But he expressed doubt there could be any radical change for the better in 2018. “I don’t think that relations can advance structurally.”

Erdogan last week appeared to hold out an olive branch to the EU, saying “we must reduce the number of enemies and increase the number of friends.”
He praised Macron — as well as the German leadership — for support over the Jerusalem issue, saying the EU and Ankara were on the same page.
The shared opposition of both Brussels and Ankara to Trump’s move could itself stimulate better relations.
“They (Paris) did not leave us by ourselves on this issue (Jerusalem),” Erdogan said.
Ahead of the visit, Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin described France as a “leading ally” and expressed hope that the visit would further boost their alliance.
The Elysee said that as well as Syria and the Palestinian issue, “the issue of human rights” would be discussed. Trade is also important with both sides looking to lift a current trade volume that stands at $13.38 billion.
Meanwhile hosting Erdogan in Paris gives Macron — who since his election in May last year has sought a new prominence for France on the European and world stages — another high-profile and potentially sensitive guest.
Macron has already hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin at the former royal palace of Versailles near Paris and took Trump for dinner at the Eiffel Tower.
Jabbour said that Ankara welcomed Macron’s accession to power, seeing him as a leader with a pragmatic foreign policy while the French president wanted a new relationship with Turkey based on mutual interests.
“Macron will not totally sacrifice French-Turkish relations on the altar of human rights,” she said.


Yemen government to begin first evacuation flights for stranded citizens 

Updated 28 May 2020

Yemen government to begin first evacuation flights for stranded citizens 

  • Yemenia flights will be sent to Egypt, Jordan and India in the first stage of the evacuation flights
  • After returning to Yemen, citizens will be sent to health centers for check-ups

Yemen’s internationally recognized government will begin the first evacuation flights for citizens who have been stranded abroad since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, state news agency SABA reported. 
The first evacuation flight will be sent to Jordan on Thursday, a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed with Yemen’s Supreme National Emergency Committee for COVID-19 heard. 
This came after the committee approved the protocol for evacuating citizens stranded abroad, which includes procedures and timetables for scheduling the return of citizens to Yemen, and organizing specific health and precautionary controls and procedures, the news agency said. 
The authorities are tasked with the rapid implementation of precautionary measures in preparation for the returning citizens. 

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Yemenia flights will be sent to Egypt, Jordan and India in the first stage of the evacuation flights. Yemeni nationals will be tested prior to travel and will receive a health certificate from an accredited medical center.
After returning to Yemen, citizens will be sent to health centers for check-ups, treatment and to keep track of their data. Returning nationals will also be required to self-quarantine at home.  
Stranded nationals will be informed of flight times immediately after the necessary permits with the countries in which they are in are completed, the committee said. 
The Minister of Public Health and head of the committee, Dr Nasser Baoum, and Deputy Prime Minister Salem Al-Khanbashi presented a report on the development of the situation in Aden. The report discussed the establishment of a medical unit for the treatment and reception of cases of coronavirus infection. 
The committee also reviewed the report submitted by the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, Hussein Mansour, on those stranded in Saudi Arabia and discussed measures for their return. Mansour said discussions were in place with Saudi official to schedule their return.
In Yemen, scores of COVID-19 cases have been recorded across the country, but the UN warns that the virus is spreading largely undetected. Hundreds of people in the interim capital Aden have died in the past week with symptoms of what appears to be the coronavirus, local health officials said.
The officials fear the situation is only going to get worse as Yemen has little capacity to treat those suspected of having the virus.