Turkey warns EU against using sanctions

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, right, with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Brussels on Thursday. (AP)
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, right, with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Brussels on Thursday. (AP)
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Updated 22 January 2021

Turkey warns EU against using sanctions

Turkey warns EU against using sanctions
  • Turkey faces threat of EU economic sanctions over a hydrocarbons dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean

BRUSSELS: Turkey’s foreign minister on Friday warned the EU against using sanctions as Brussels demanded “tangible outcomes” from a push to mend ties battered by tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
Ankara’s top diplomat Mevlut Cavusoglu wrapped up two days of talks with EU chiefs aimed at soothing relations after conciliatory moves from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Tensions between Brussels and Ankara reached new levels last year after Turkey repeatedly sent a ship to search for gas in disputed waters, infuriating the bloc and member states Greece and Cyprus.
EU leaders in December agreed to add more names to a sanctions blacklist over Turkish drilling in Cypriot waters and draw up options for tougher punishments if Ankara did not change course.
But since then the rhetoric on all sides has mellowed dramatically as Erdogan insisted he wanted to “turn a new page” with Brussels.

FASTFACT

Tensions between Brussels and Ankara reached new levels last year after Turkey repeatedly sent a ship to search for gas in disputed waters, infuriating the bloc and member states Greece and Cyprus.

In an important move, Greece and Turkey agreed to restart long-stalled exploratory talks on their maritime dispute next week. Cavusoglu repeated an invitation for EU leaders to visit Ankara in a meeting with European Council president Charles Michel and said he was working on a roadmap for a “positive agenda in our relations.”
But he also insisted that the EU should hold off trying to punish Turkey. “No results can be achieved (with the) language of sanctions,” he wrote on Twitter.
European diplomats insisted on Friday that work is still going on to finalize the sanctions ordered by the member states in December.
The EU remains wary of Erdogan’s overtures and insists Ankara must turn its warmer words into actions.
“Dialogue needs to produce tangible outcomes in the interest of both EU and Turkey,” Michel wrote on Twitter after the meeting.
An EU official said Michel told Cavusoglu that Ankara needed to continue to refrain “from activities that might fuel tensions.”
Brussels is hoping to see progress in the talks with Turkey and has dangled the carrot of talks on updating a customs union and visa-free travel to help convince Erdogan, the official said.


UN advance team arrives in Libya to monitor cease-fire

UN advance team arrives in Libya to monitor cease-fire
Updated 23 min 23 sec ago

UN advance team arrives in Libya to monitor cease-fire

UN advance team arrives in Libya to monitor cease-fire
  • The group of about 10 United Nations staff flew into the capital Tripoli on Tuesday
  • The unarmed observer team is also tasked with verifying the departure of thousands of mercenaries and foreign fighters

TRIPOLI: The advance team of a UN observer mission has arrived in Libya, which after a decade of conflict and chaos plans to hold elections in December, informed sources said Wednesday.
The group of about 10 United Nations staff flew into the capital Tripoli on Tuesday, they said, to monitor a cease-fire between the country’s two rival armed factions.
The unarmed observer team is also tasked with verifying the departure of thousands of mercenaries and foreign fighters who have been deployed in the oil-rich North African country and have so far shown no sign of leaving.
Libya was thrown into years of violent turmoil after a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled and led to the killing of long-time dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
The country has been split between the UN-recognized Government of National Accord, based in the capital and backed by Turkey, and an administration in the east supported by strongman Kalifa Haftar, with the backing of the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia.
The two sides reached a cease-fire in October, and UN-led talks since resulted in a new temporary administration elected in February, led by interim prime minister-designate Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.
A diplomatic source in Tunis said the advance team, made up from the UN mission in Libya and experts from UN headquarters in New York, arrived Tuesday via the neighboring country’s capital Tunis.
On its five-week mission it is to travel to Sirte, a city on the Mediterranean coast halfway between the eastern and western power centers, as well as to Misrata in the west and Benghazi in the east.
A diplomatic source in New York said the team is due to submit a report to the UN Security Council on March 19 on the cease-fire and the departure of foreign troops.
According to the UN, some 20,000 mercenaries and foreign fighters were still in Libya in early December. A January 23 deadline for their withdrawal passed without any signs of them pulling out.
The Security Council in early February ordered UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to deploy the vanguard of observers in Libya, following the October 23 cease-fire deal.
In a report late last year, Guterres himself had advocated an unarmed observer group be made up of civilians and retired military personnel from African Union, European Union and Arab League member states.


Turkey says it may negotiate maritime demarcation with Egypt if conditions allow

Turkey says it may negotiate maritime demarcation with Egypt if conditions allow
Updated 38 min ago

Turkey says it may negotiate maritime demarcation with Egypt if conditions allow

Turkey says it may negotiate maritime demarcation with Egypt if conditions allow

ANKARA: Turkey and Egypt could negotiate a maritime demarcation agreement in the eastern Mediterranean if their ties, which have been strained, allow for such a move, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday.
Last month, Egypt announced the start of a bid round for oil and natural gas exploration and exploitation in 24 blocks including some in the Mediterranean.
Speaking at a news conference with his Georgian counterpart in Ankara, Cavusoglu said Egypt’s exploration bids had respected Turkey’s continental shelf and that Ankara viewed this positively. 


UAE confirms 2,692 new COVID-19 cases, 16 deaths in last 24 hours

UAE confirms 2,692 new COVID-19 cases, 16 deaths in last 24 hours
Updated 56 min 4 sec ago

UAE confirms 2,692 new COVID-19 cases, 16 deaths in last 24 hours

UAE confirms 2,692 new COVID-19 cases, 16 deaths in last 24 hours
  • The country’s COVID-19 caseload is now at 399,463

DUBAI: The UAE confirmed 2,692 new coronavirus cases and 16 deaths on Wednesday as the Emirates continues to expand its testing of citizens and residents for the early detection of the highly contagious disease.

The country’s COVID-19 caseload is now at 399,463, with a total of 1,269 fatalities related to coronavirus.

Health officials have conducted 218,351 additional COVID-19 tests overnight, state news agency WAM said, with the total number of tests now over 31 million.

The UAE leads the world in terms of conducting coronavirus tests relative to the size of population, with infection rates compared to the total tests being among the lowest in the region and the entire world, WAM earlier said.

It is also tops the global tally on COVID-19 vaccinations after implementing a vaccination campaign to for residents and citizens to achieve mass immunity. More than six million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been provided and 3,614,070 people have been vaccinated to date, which accounts for 46.61 percent of the target population.


Egyptian FM: Arabs need to unite in face of challenges

Egyptian FM: Arabs need to unite in face of challenges
Updated 10 min 22 sec ago

Egyptian FM: Arabs need to unite in face of challenges

Egyptian FM: Arabs need to unite in face of challenges

DUBAI: Egypt’s foreign minister called for the unified Arab front to face current issues and challenges during a ministerial meeting of the Arab League.
Sameh Shoukry called for the halt of foreign interference in Libya and expressed support for a political solution.
He also said “we fully support Saudi Arabia’s efforts in defending themselves from the Houthi militia.”
As for Syria, the Egyptian top envoy called for unity in the face of Turkish “occupation.”
Shoukry also said Arab ministers support Sudan’s and Egypt’s stances on the Grand Renaissance Dam issue.
“We seek an agreement that will preserve our rights without violating those of Ethiopia,” he said.


Pope says will make Iraq trip despite rocket attack

Pope says will make Iraq trip despite rocket attack
Updated 03 March 2021

Pope says will make Iraq trip despite rocket attack

Pope says will make Iraq trip despite rocket attack

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis said Wednesday he still expected to make his historic visit to Iraq in two days time, after a rocket attack on a military base hosting US-led coalition troops.
"The day after tomorrow, God willing, I will go to Iraq for a three-day pilgrimage. For a long time I have wanted to meet these people who have suffered so much," the 84-year-old Francis said in his weekly Wednesday address.
The Argentine pontiff asked for prayers for the trip, the first ever by a pope to Iraq, through which he hopes to encourage the dwindling Christian community to remain in their ancient homeland while broadening his outreach to Islam.
"I ask you to accompany this apostolic journey with your prayers so that it may take place in the best possible way and bear the hoped-for fruits," the pope said.
He added: "The Iraqi people are waiting for us, they were waiting for Saint John Paul II, who was forbidden to go. One cannot disappoint a people for the second time. Let us pray that this journey will be successful."
At least 10 rockets slammed into a military base in western Iraq hosting US-led coalition troops earlier on Wednesday, security sources said, leaving one civilian contractor dead.
The attack on the sprawling Ain al-Assad base in Iraq's western desert comes after several weeks of escalating US-Iran tensions on Iraqi soil.
On Tuesday, a spokesman for Francis said the pope would be travelling by armoured vehicle and that he would not be meeting crowds.
"This is a particular situation, that's why the transports will all be in a closed vehicle, meaning it will be complicated to see the pope on the streets," spokesman Matteo Brunei said.
"There will be a number of meetings but none will be more than a few hundred people," he said.