Keeping Turkey-EU ties alive ‘hugely important for all sides,’ says ambassador

Keeping Turkey-EU ties alive ‘hugely important for all sides,’ says ambassador
Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 October 2021

Keeping Turkey-EU ties alive ‘hugely important for all sides,’ says ambassador

Keeping Turkey-EU ties alive ‘hugely important for all sides,’ says ambassador
  • The latest demining operation is considered the largest ever undertaken by the UN
  • Turkey currently hosts about 4 million refugees

ANKARA: Despite several disputes in Turkey-EU relations last year, including tensions in the East Mediterranean and the migrant crisis, both sides are continuing their cooperation in various spheres.
This work ranges from the demining of vast territories along the Iranian border, opening hundreds of schools for Syrian refugees, and developing cooperation to combat climate change together.
On Sept. 28, the EU and the UN Development Programme launched a 18.6 million euros ($21.5 million) project to clear 83,000 landmines along the country’s eastern border with Iran by Jan. 2023 in partnership with Turkish authorities.
The latest demining operation, which began on Tuesday, is considered the largest ever undertaken by the UN.
Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, who heads the EU delegation to Turkey, said the project was helping the country fulfill its commitments to the Ottawa Convention, which it has been a party to since 2004 and bans the use of anti-personnel landmines.
“The EU funding helps to improve the working conditions of Turkey’s border management authorities,” he told Arab News. “Anti-personnel mines are very dangerous, indiscriminately killing animals, civilians including many children, and it does not constitute anymore and anyway a modern border management system.”
Turkey currently hosts about 4 million refugees. Afghans, the second-largest refugee community in Turkey after Syrians, are mostly arriving through the Iranian border.
In terms of EU-Turkey relations, accession negotiations are almost frozen although EU leaders earlier this year said the bloc was ready to support a concrete and positive agenda with Turkey, especially in the areas of economic cooperation and migration.
On the other hand, the European Parliament is also discussing a report recommending an end to the Customs Union and replacing it with a free trade agreement. For many, giving up the Customs Union would also mean giving up the accession process and that would create political problems, especially under conditions where Ankara supports the modernization of the Customs Union to cover sectors such as services, tourism, business and e-commerce.
“The EU and Turkey, since the beginning of this year, are working toward the implementation of a positive agenda. In several of its decisions, the European Council has mentioned different points that it wishes to make progress on, such as sustained cooperation on migration issues and cooperation in Afghanistan as well as the resumption of high-level dialogue,” the ambassador said.
As a first step, on Sept. 16, the European Commission’s executive vice president for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, and the Turkish minister of environment and urbanization, Murat Kurum, met in Brussels for a high-level dialogue on climate.
Brussels also welcomed Turkey’s recent decision to ratify the Paris Agreement before the climate change summit in Glasgow next month.
As another avenue for high-level dialogue, the EU commissioner for home affairs, Ylva Johansson, will visit Turkey mid-October to launch the Turkey-EU High-Level Dialogue Mechanism on migration management including visa liberalization issues.
The third high-level dialogue before the end of the year will be about cooperation on health issues, including the alignment of digital vaccination certificates.
Turkey’s efforts to integrate the Syrian refugee population have been welcomed by Brussels, which has contributed to several projects.
Young Turkish and Syrian students, sitting next to each other, playing together and learning the same curriculum, as well as young Syrian university students studying law at Turkish universities, were all very positive experiences and these people would be always grateful to Turkey for all they had learned as part of the national education system, the EU ambassador said.
“Whatever you are able to teach to the young generation now will be the basis of their future lives. They will be able to contribute to society, they will be able to earn their own lives, pay taxes in whatever country they will be. To give these people a perspective, they should be educated. It is for their personal benefit and the benefit of society. It is the best prevention strategy for not being a lost generation,” Meyer-Landrut said.
EU ambassadors approved on Wednesday 149.6 million euros ($173.5 million) as additional funding for Syrian refugees in Turkey. The support will extend the EU’s monthly cash assistance to the refugees.
However, no progress has been made so far on the update of the migration deal signed with Turkey in 2016.
And, despite an on-off peace process over recent years, Cyprus still remains a sticking point for Turkey-EU relations, especially after the divided island became an EU member in 2004.
Despite several diplomatic efforts by the UN, no comprehensive settlement has been reached so far in the decades-long dispute.
“The UN is the roof organization under which Cyprus talks need to take place. The UN resolutions set the framework and the UN is the actor. The EU will support the efforts of the UN and every effort of the parties to negotiate a solution,” Meyer-Landrut said.
The EU supports a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in Cyprus, while Turkey claims the time has come for talks between two states, not two communities.
Turkey expects the incoming German government — which still remains a driving force in the EU — to support and contribute to the betterment of Ankara’s ties with Brussels, similar to outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s rule.
Turkey’s EU ties predate an association agreement that it signed with the EU’s predecessor, the European Economic Community, in 1964. The country was granted the status of a candidate country in 1999 and started accession negotiations in 2005.


Israel urges hard line against Iran at nuclear talks

Israel urges hard line against Iran at nuclear talks
Updated 6 sec ago

Israel urges hard line against Iran at nuclear talks

Israel urges hard line against Iran at nuclear talks
TEL AVIV: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday urged world powers to take a hard line against Iran in negotiations to curb the country’s nuclear program, as his top defense and intelligence officials headed to Washington amid the flailing talks.
Israel has been watching with concern as world powers sit down with Iran to jump-start talks on the tattered nuclear deal. Iran last week struck its own hard line as talks resumed in Vienna, suggesting everything discussed in previous rounds of diplomacy could be renegotiated. Iran also isn’t slowing down the advances in its atomic program, further raising the stakes in the talks, which are crucial to cooling years of tensions boiling in the wider Mideast.
Talks in Vienna aimed at re-imposing curbs on Iran’s nuclear program restarted last week after a more than five-month hiatus.
Israel has long opposed the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, saying it didn’t go far enough to halt the country’s nuclear program and doesn’t address Iran’s military involvement in countries bordering Israel.
“I call on every country negotiating with Iran in Vienna to take a strong line and make it clear to Iran that they cannot enrich uranium and negotiate at the same time,” Bennett told a meeting of his Cabinet. “Iran must begin to pay a price for its violations.”
Israel is not a party to the negotiations but it has made a point of keeping up lines of communication with its European and American allies during the talks, which are set to resume this week.
Israeli spy chief David Barnea headed to Washington late Saturday on a previously unannounced trip and Defense Minister Benny Gantz leaves Wednesday for meetings with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was in London and Paris last week to discuss the talks with Israel’s European allies.

Jordan jails hospital chief over Covid deaths

Jordan jails hospital chief over Covid deaths
Updated 29 sec ago

Jordan jails hospital chief over Covid deaths

Jordan jails hospital chief over Covid deaths

AMMAN: A Jordanian court on Sunday sentenced to three years in jail the director of a state hospital over the deaths of 10 patients at the facility which treated coronavirus patients.

Abdel Razak al-Khashman and four aides were convicted of "causing the deaths" at the Salt state hospital where the patients died after it ran out of oxygen.

The verdict can be appealed within 10 days. 

The deaths in March sparked public anger in Jordan and led to the resignation of health minister Nazir Obeidat.

Hundreds of angry people gathered outside Al-Hussein Salt New Hospital, northwest of Amman, when news of the deaths spread.

King Abdullah visited the hospital and protesters surrounded his car as it neared the building.  


Israeli police questioned on Palestinian attacker’s shooting

Israeli police questioned on Palestinian attacker’s shooting
Updated 05 December 2021

Israeli police questioned on Palestinian attacker’s shooting

Israeli police questioned on Palestinian attacker’s shooting
  • A widely circulated video shot by a bystander appeared to show an officer from Israel’s paramilitary Border Police shooting the attacker
  • Israel says its security forces make every effort to avoid harming civilians and that it investigates alleged abuses

TEL AVIV, Israel: Israel’s Justice Ministry said Sunday that two police officers were brought in for questioning following the shooting death of a Palestinian who had stabbed an Israeli man in east Jerusalem.
Israeli police released surveillance video in which the attacker can be seen Saturday stabbing the ultra-Orthodox Jewish man and then trying to stab a Border Police officer before being shot and falling to the ground. Police identified the attacker as a 25-year-old from Salfit, in the occupied West Bank. Police could later be seen carrying the body away on a stretcher.
A widely circulated video shot by a bystander appeared to show an officer from Israel’s paramilitary Border Police shooting the attacker when he was already lying on the ground, and another appeared to show police with guns drawn preventing medics from reaching him, prompting calls for an investigation into possible excessive use of force.
The shooting drew comparisons to a 2016 incident in which an Israeli soldier was caught on camera shooting a wounded Palestinian attacker who was lying on the ground.
The Justice Ministry’s police investigations unit said the police officers were questioned shortly after the incident and released without conditions.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett released a statement in support of the officers. Other leaders also defended their actions.
“It’s not clear if the terrorist maybe has an explosive belt. All sorts of things could happen,” Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, who oversees the police, told Israeli Army Radio Sunday. “They acted correctly.”
The incident happened near Damascus Gate just outside Jerusalem’s Old City, a tense and crowded area that is often the scene of demonstrations and clashes.
The Old City is in east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 war along with the West Bank and Gaza. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally and considers the entire city its capital. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state, to include the West Bank and Gaza.
There have been dozens of attacks in recent years in and around the Old City, nearly all carried out by individual Palestinians with no known links to armed groups.
Palestinians and Israeli rights groups say security forces sometimes use excessive force in response to attacks, killing suspected assailants who could have been arrested or who posed no immediate threat to security forces.
Rights groups also say Israel rarely holds members of its security forces accountable for the deadly shootings of Palestinians. Investigations often end with no charges or lenient sentences, and in many cases witnesses are not summoned for questioning.
Israel says its security forces make every effort to avoid harming civilians and that it investigates alleged abuses.
In the widely publicized 2016 case, Israeli soldier Elor Azaria was caught on camera shooting a wounded Palestinian attacker who was lying on the ground. Azaria later served two-thirds of a 14-month sentence after being convicted of reckless manslaughter.
His case sharply divided Israelis. The military pushed for his prosecution, saying he violated its code of ethics, while many Israelis, particularly on the nationalist right, defended his actions.
In a more recent case, a Border Police officer was charged with reckless manslaughter in the deadly shooting of an autistic Palestinian man in Jerusalem’s Old City last year.
The indictment came just over a year after the shooting of Eyad Hallaq, whose family has criticized Israel’s investigation into the killing and called for much tougher charges. The shooting has drawn comparisons to the police killing of George Floyd in the United States.


Houthi militia launch 3 missiles towards Yemen’s Marib

Houthi militia launch 3 missiles towards Yemen’s Marib
Updated 05 December 2021

Houthi militia launch 3 missiles towards Yemen’s Marib

Houthi militia launch 3 missiles towards Yemen’s Marib
  • The attack comes after Yemen’s military and resistance forces made progress in Marib

RIYADH: The Houthi militia in Yemen reportedly fired three missiles in one hour in the country’s Marib governorate, Al Arabiya TV reported on Sunday. 

One missile landed in the airport, a correspondent for the channel said. 

The attack comes after Yemen’s military and resistance forces made progress in Marib, resulting in heavy losses for the Houthi militia. 

Major General Mansour Thawaba, the official in charge of operations carried out in Marib, confirmed the Yemeni army’s ‘remarkable progress’ in the area on Saturday.


Egyptian woman crowned world’s tallest dies from kidney failure

Egyptian woman crowned world’s tallest dies from kidney failure
Updated 55 min 47 sec ago

Egyptian woman crowned world’s tallest dies from kidney failure

Egyptian woman crowned world’s tallest dies from kidney failure
  • Abdel-Gawad was the holder of three titles in the Guinness World Records
  • Huda, as well as her brother Mohammed Abdel-Gawad, have been bullied for their physical appearance due to a defect in their pituitary glands

DUBAI: The world’s tallest woman Huda Abdel-Gawad died in Egypt’s Sharqiyah province at the age of 27 after suffering from kidney failure, according to local reports.

Abdel-Gawad was the holder of three titles in the Guinness World Records: the largest hand of a living woman with a length of 24.3 cm, the largest foot at 33.1 cm and the widest arms of a surviving woman at 236.3 cm.

Huda, as well as her brother Mohammed Abdel-Gawad, have been bullied for their physical appearance due to a defect in their pituitary glands, which affected their weight and height.

Mohammed Abdel-Gawad, 33, got two Guinness World Records: the widest arms of a living man at 250.3 cm, and the widest hand of a surviving man at a length of 31.3 cm.