France condemns Erdogan’s ‘declarations of violence’

France condemns Erdogan’s  ‘declarations of violence’
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his ruling party members in Ankara on Nov. 5, 2020.(Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool)
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Updated 06 November 2020

France condemns Erdogan’s ‘declarations of violence’

France condemns Erdogan’s  ‘declarations of violence’
  • Erdogan has been feuding bitterly with French President Emmanuel Macron on a number of geopolitical flashpoints

PARIS: France on Thursday condemned “declarations of violence” by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and raised the possibility of new sanctions against Ankara. 

Erdogan has been feuding bitterly with French President Emmanuel Macron on a number of geopolitical flashpoints and recently also France’s fight against radical Islam. 

“There are now declarations of violence, even hatred, which are regularly posted by president Erdogan which are unacceptable,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Europe 1 radio. 

Turkey vowed on Wednesday to “respond in the firmest way possible” to France’s ban of the Turkish ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves group linked to a top ally of Erdogan. 

“It is not only France that is targeted, there is a total European solidarity on the subject — we want Turkey to renounce this logic,” Le Drian said. 

The European Council, he added, has already decided to take measures against the Turkish authorities, and “now it is important for the Turks to take the necessary measures to avoid this. 

“There are means of pressure, there is an agenda of possible sanctions.” 

Turkey and France have been at loggerheads on the conflicts in Syria and Libia as well as a scramble for natural gas in the Mediterranean and more recently on Macron’s vow to uphold secular values, including the right to mock Islam and other religions, as part of a battle against extremism. 

Erdogan has recently called for a boycott of French products, accusing Macron of islamophobia and advising the French leader to get “mental checks.” 

 

EU border 

President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday called for a strengthening of border controls in the EU’s Schengen zone following recent Islamist attacks in France and Austria. 

Macron, speaking during a visit to France’s border with Spain, said that France alone will bolster its border controls by doubling police numbers to 4,800. 

The increased controls would target illegal immigration amid “a growing terrorism threat,” he said. 

“I am in favor of an in-depth re-foundation of Schengen to re-think its organization and beef up our common border security,” Macron added. 

France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim community, has been hit by a string of militant attacks in recent years. 

A knife-wielding Tunisian man beheaded a woman and killed two other people in a church in the French city of Nice on Oct. 30. 

France has deployed thousands of soldiers to protect important sites such as places of worship and schools, and France’s security alert is at its highest level.


Pfizer cuts vaccine deliveries by as much as half to some EU countries

Pfizer cuts vaccine deliveries by as much as half to some EU countries
Updated 21 January 2021

Pfizer cuts vaccine deliveries by as much as half to some EU countries

Pfizer cuts vaccine deliveries by as much as half to some EU countries

BUCHAREST/PRAGUE/SOFIA: Pfizer has slashed in half the volume of COVID-19 vaccines it will deliver to some EU countries this week, government officials said on Thursday, as frustration over the US drugmaker’s unexpected cut in supplies grows.
Romania will get 50% of its planned volume this week and supplies will only improve gradually, with deliveries not returning to normal until the end of March, Deputy Health Minister Andrei Baciu told Reuters.
It was a similar situation in Poland which on Monday received 176,000 doses, a drop of around 50% from what was expected, authorities said.
The Czech government was bracing for the disruption to last weeks, slowing its vaccination campaign just as the second dose of vaccinations get under way.
“We have to expect that there will be a reduction in the number of open vaccination appointments in the following three weeks,” Health Minister Jan Blatny told reporters on Thursday, with Pfizer deliveries falling by about 15% this week and as much as 30% for the following two weeks.
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have declined to comment on the cuts beyond their statement last week, which announced cuts to deliveries as they ramp up manufacturing in Europe.
Some countries reckon they can handle it. Norway has an emergency stockpile and will continue administering doses as planned, the government’s public health body said.
The US drugmaker has told Bulgaria and Poland it will replace missing doses, top officials said.
But Denmark’s Serum Institute said its 50% loss of shots this week would lead to a 10% shortfall for the first quarter.
With governments across the region still reeling from the surprise cuts, officials say the reductions are undermining their efforts to inoculate their citizens and tame the pandemic which has killed more than 2 million people.
On Wednesday, Italy threatened legal action against Pfizer.
In Hungary, where the authorities gave the go ahead for the use of Britain’s AstraZeneca and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines ahead of the EU drug regulator, a senior official called on Brussels to try and ensure deliveries from Pfizer and other vaccine makers would stick to schedule.
“We would be happy if the (European) Commission could take steps as soon as possible to ensure that Pfizer and other manufacturers would change deliveries,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyas said.
The problem has spread to countries outside the trading bloc too — Canada is facing delays as is Switzerland, where the mountain canton of Grisons got only 1,000 shots from Pfizer this week, far short of the 3,000 it had been anticipating.