EU weighs response to Turkey-Libya maritime border deal

EU weighs response to Turkey-Libya maritime border deal
The maritime border deal was endorsed by the Turkish parliament last week. (File/AFP)
Updated 09 December 2019

EU weighs response to Turkey-Libya maritime border deal

EU weighs response to Turkey-Libya maritime border deal
  • The maritime border deal has fueled tensions in Turkey’s long-running dispute with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt over oil and gas drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean
  • Greece, Cyprus, and Egypt, which lie between Turkey and Libya geographically, have blasted the accord as being contrary to international law

Brussels: European Union foreign ministers debated Monday how to respond to a controversial agreement between Turkey and Libya that could give Turkey access to a contested economic zone across the Mediterranean Sea.
The maritime border deal, endorsed by the Turkish parliament last week, has fueled tensions in Turkey’s long-running dispute with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt over oil and gas drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean. Greece has already expelled the Libyan ambassador over it.
Before chairing the meeting, new EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that “it’s not a matter of sanctions today.” He said the ministers would study a “memorandum of understanding” agreed upon between Turkey and Libya, which was only made public in recent days.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said “it’s a little bit astounding how they split up the Mediterranean among themselves. We’ll have to see how we deal with it.”
Greece, Cyprus, and Egypt, which lie between Turkey and Libya geographically, have blasted the accord as being contrary to international law. Some EU partners of Greece and Cyprus seem to agree.
“The Netherlands is always a staunch supporter of the rule of international law, and we side with Greece,” said Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok. “International law should be upheld.”
Although they are NATO allies, neighbors Greece and Turkey are divided by a series of decades-old issues, including territorial disputes in the Aegean Sea, and have come to the brink of war three times since the 1970s, including once over drilling rights in the Aegean.


UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
Updated 23 January 2021

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
  • PM Boris Johnson had previously said evidence showed higher mortality rate 
  • Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant carries with it a higher mortality rate

LONDON: The discovery of a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant in the UK should not alter the response to the pandemic, scientists say, despite fears that it could prove more deadly.
Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant, thought to be up to 70 percent more transmissible, carries with it a higher mortality rate.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed there was “some evidence” the variant had “a higher degree of mortality” at a press conference on Friday, Jan. 22, with the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, adding it could be up to 30 percent more deadly. 
That came after a briefing by the UK government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) said there was a “realistic possibility” of an increased risk of death.
Prof. Peter Horby, Nervtag’s chairman, said: “Scientists are looking at the possibility that there is increased severity ... and after a week of looking at the data we came to the conclusion that it was a realistic possibility.
“We need to be transparent about that. If we were not telling people about this we would be accused of covering it up.”
But infectious disease modeller Prof. Graham Medley, one of the authors of the Nervtag briefing, told the BBC: “The question about whether it is more dangerous in terms of mortality I think is still open.
He added: “In terms of making the situation worse it is not a game changer. It is a very bad thing that is slightly worse.”
Dr. Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling for the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said he was “quite surprised” Johnson had made the claim.
“I just worry that where we report things pre-emptively where the data are not really particularly strong,” he added.