Kebab chef joins Germany’s President Steinmeier on tricky Turkiye visit

Kebab chef joins Germany’s President Steinmeier on tricky Turkiye visit
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Arif Keles, a third generation barbecue snack bar owner poses at his restaurant at Berlin's Yorckstraße S-Bahn station, on April 19, 2024. (AFP)
Kebab chef joins Germany’s President Steinmeier on tricky Turkiye visit
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Arif Keles, a third generation barbecue snack bar owner poses at his restaurant at Berlin's Yorckstraße S-Bahn station, on April 19, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 22 April 2024
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Kebab chef joins Germany’s President Steinmeier on tricky Turkiye visit

Kebab chef joins Germany’s President Steinmeier on tricky Turkiye visit
  • By bringing Berlin kebab shop owner Arif Keles with him, Steinmeier hopes to highlight the contribution made by generations of Turkish migrants in Germany
  • Around 3 million people with Turkish heritage live in Germany, but their presence has often been the subject of a fraught debate over split loyalties

BERLIN: German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier begins a delicate visit to Turkiye on Monday, taking a Berlin kebab chef with him as a show of close personal ties between the two nations despite differences with his Turkish counterpart.

Steinmeier, who is visiting Turkiye for the first time since becoming president, has had a difficult relationship with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The German head of state has been quick to call out Erdogan’s approach toward Israel and has previously raised concerns about the erosion of democratic norms in Turkiye.
The fact that he is not starting the trip in the capital Ankara “is a signal,” said a source in the German presidency who asked not to be named.
Instead, Steinmeier’s first stop will be Istanbul, where he will meet civil society activists, as well as the city’s mayor, opposition figure Ekrem Imamoglu.
Voters’ decision to return Imamoglu as mayor in recent local elections dealt a blow to Erdogan and his ruling party.
On Tuesday, Steinmeier will meet survivors of the devastating 2023 earthquake in Gaziantep near the Syrian border.
Talks with Erdogan in Ankara will wait until Wednesday.
Instead of flattering the president, Steinmeier is hoping to put the emphasis on the links between people in the two countries.




German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier attends a Bundeswehr training in Munster, Germany, on April 18, 2024. (REUTERS)

In particular, the German president hopes to highlight the contribution made by generations of Turkish migrants, who since the 1960s have come to work in Germany.
Among those to establish themselves in Germany was the grandfather of Arif Keles, a Berlin kebab shop owner invited on the trip by Steinmeier.
The grilled meat artisan will serve doner kebab to guests at a dinner in Istanbul on Monday night.
“The spit is traveling with us in the presidential plane,” Keles told AFP ahead of the journey.
The dish of thinly sliced meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie was introduced to Germany by Turkish migrants.
Packed with chopped vegetables and doused with mayonnaise, the doner kebab has gained iconic status.
The snack has become “a kind of German national food,” one of Steinmeier’s advisers said in a briefing.
Local sales of the kebab total an estimated seven billion euros ($7.5 billion) — an immigrant success story the German presidency wants to celebrate.
Doner dealer Keles is the third generation to manage the family business in southwest Berlin.
His grandfather moved to Germany and worked for years in a factory before opening his own restaurant in 1986.
“Now the president is taking me as a grandson to the home of my ancestors,” Keles said.
“I see it as a great honor that I am allowed to go on this visit.”

Steinmeier’s trip was meant to underline that “the personal stories and achievements of four generations of Turkish immigrants” are part of Germany’s history, the presidential office said.
Around three million people with Turkish heritage live in Germany, but their presence has often been the subject of a fraught debate over split loyalties.
Only last year did Germany agree to significantly ease citizenship rules to allow more dual nationals, a relief to many Turkish people who have lived in Germany for decades.
Perceived backing for Erdogan in the Turkish diaspora has also caused irritation in Germany, while officials in Berlin have had a strained relationship with Ankara.
Erdogan’s support for Hamas has troubled Berlin, which solidly backs Israel in the war against the Palestinian militant group.
Erdogan traded barbs with Steinmeier on a visit to Germany in November last year, shortly after the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel that triggered the war.
The disagreement has added to tensions over sharp German criticism of authoritarian moves that German officials see as threatening democracy in Turkiye.
Berlin has criticized Erdogan’s clampdown on domestic dissent while recognizing that getting regional power Turkiye onside was necessary to tackle thorny issues.
Despite having served seven years as president, this is Steinmeier’s first visit to Turkiye as head of state.
 


Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video

Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video
Updated 28 May 2024
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Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video

Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video
  • Labour, if elected, would recognize Palestinian statehood, says Angela Rayner

LONDON: Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the UK’s Labour Party, has promised that her party will do everything in its power to ease the suffering in Gaza as it bids to regain Muslim voters’ support, a leaked video surfacing on social media has revealed.

The footage was first reported by the political blog Guido Fawkes, which claimed to have obtained the leaked tape from a meeting in Ashton-under-Lyne, Rayner’s constituency.

The MP is seen appealing to voters upset with the party’s stance on Israel’s assault on Gaza, The Telegraph reported.

Rayner — claiming she worked “day and night” to get three British doctors out of Rafah and is now attempting to secure aid for the enclave — said: “I promise you, the Labour Party, including myself, is doing everything we can, because nobody wants to see what’s happening.”

She acknowledged the party’s current inability to halt the fighting, admitting that Labour’s influence would be “limited,” even if it came to power after July’s general election.

Rayner added: “Only last week the Labour Party were supporting the ICC (International Criminal Court). The Conservatives didn’t support the ICC, so with this general election on that issue, we can’t affect anything when we’re not in government.

“And I’ll be honest with you, if Labour gets into government, we are limited. I will be honest. I’m not going to promise you … because (Joe) Biden, who’s the US (president), who has way more influence, has only got limited influence in that.

“And Qatar, Saudi Arabia, all of these people, we are all working to stop what’s happening at the moment; we want to see that. So I promise you, that’s what we want to see.”

Rayner also promised that, if Labour was elected, the party would recognize Palestinian statehood.

She added: “If Labour gets into power, we will recognize Palestine. I will push not only to recognize … there is nothing to recognize at the moment, sadly. It’s decimated.

“We have to rebuild Palestine; we have to rebuild Gaza. That takes more than just recognizing it.”

Gaza has been a divisive issue for Labour since Oct. 7, with reports revealing that Muslim voters have abandoned the party as a result of what they perceive as its politicians enabling the war.

The Telegraph found that Labour’s support had dropped in local elections in areas with large Muslim populations, including Oldham in Greater Manchester, where the party lost control of the council in a surprise defeat.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has expressed his determination to re-establish trust among those who have abandoned his party due to his handling of the Gaza war.

However, when probed on particular commitments, he remained vague.

Rayner said in the video: “I know that people are angry about what’s happening in the Middle East.

“If my resignation as an MP now would bring a ceasefire, I would do it. I would do it if I could effect change.”

However, she said such an eventuality was not “in my gift” due to the “failure of the international community.”

In response to the footage, Nigel Farage, Reform UK’s honorary president, accused Rayner of “begging” for the Muslim vote, The Telegraph reported.


12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains

12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains
Updated 28 May 2024
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12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains

12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains
  • Several highways and key roads were disrupted by landslides, and all schools were shut
  • India’s weather office warned of extremely heavy rains in northeastern states on Tuesday

Guwahati: Torrential rains in the wake of a powerful cyclone caused the collapse of a quarry in India’s Mizoram state killing 12 people, government officials said Tuesday.

“So far 12 bodies have been found, we are looking for more,” deputy commissioner of Aizawl district Nazuk Kumar told AFP.

Rescue efforts in the quarry were being hampered by “heavy rains,” police director general Anil Shukla said, NDTV news network reported.

Mizoram Chief Minister Lalduhoma offered compensation to families of the victims of the “landslide due to Cyclone Remal.”

“I pray for the success of rescue and relief operations and wish a speedy recovery of the injured,” India’s President Droupadi Murmu said on social media.

In Mizoram, several highways and key roads were disrupted by landslides. All schools were shut and government employees asked to work from home.

India’s weather office has issued warnings of extremely heavy rainfall across Mizoram and other northeastern states on Tuesday.

In India’s neighboring Assam state, one person was killed and heavy rains had cut the power supply, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a statement.

The cyclone made landfall in low-lying Bangladesh and neighboring India on Sunday evening with fierce gales and crashing waves.

Overall, at least 38 people died in the cyclone or storms in its wake.

In India, eight people died in West Bengal state, officials said Tuesday, updating an earlier toll of six, taking the total killed in the country to at least 21.

In neighboring Bangladesh, which bore the brunt of the cyclone that made landfall on Sunday, at least 17 people died, according to the disaster management office and police.


Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine

Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine
Updated 28 May 2024
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Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine

Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine
  • Radek Sikorski made the comments in an interview published Tuesday in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily
  • “We should not exclude any option. Let Putin be guessing as to what we will do”

WARSAW: Poland’s foreign minister says the NATO nation should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine and should keep Russian President Vladimir Putin in suspense over whether such a decision would ever be made.
Radek Sikorski made the comments in an interview published Tuesday in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
“We should not exclude any option. Let Putin be guessing as to what we will do,” Sikorski said when asked whether he would send Polish troops to Ukraine.
Sikorski said he has gone to Ukraine with his family to deliver humanitarian aid.
But a spokesperson for Poland’s Defense Ministry, Janusz Sejmej, told Polish media on Tuesday he had “no knowledge of that” when asked about a report in Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine suggesting Poland might send troops to Ukraine.
The idea of sending foreign soldiers to Ukraine, which is battling Russian military aggression, was floated earlier this year in France, but no country, including Poland, has publicly embraced it.
Poland supports neighboring Ukraine politically and by providing military equipment and humanitarian aid.


Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy

Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy
Updated 28 May 2024
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Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy

Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy
  • The infant girl, her mother and 4-year-old sister were in an unseaworthy boat laden with migrants that had set off from Sfax in Tunisia
  • SOS Humanity workers aboard its “Humanity 1” vessel found many of the migrants exhausted

LAMPEDUSA, Italy: The body of a five-month-old baby was found on Tuesday when some 85 migrants heading for Italy from Tunisia were rescued from distress at sea, according to a Reuters witness.
The infant girl, her mother and 4-year-old sister were in an unseaworthy boat laden with migrants that had set off from Sfax in Tunisia two days earlier bound for Italy, according to charity group SOS Humanity.
SOS Humanity workers aboard its “Humanity 1” vessel found many of the migrants exhausted and suffering from seasickness and fuel burns as they were rescued before dawn on Tuesday, the group said in a statement.
Some 185 migrants rescued in separate operations this week, including the stricken boat overnight, were being taken aboard “Humanity 1” to the port of Livorno in northwest Italy. Another 120 migrants were transferred by coast guard boat to the Italian island of Lampedusa in the southern Mediterranean.
Tunisia is grappling with a migrant crisis and has replaced Libya as the main departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict further south in Africa as well as the Middle East in hopes of a better life in Europe.
Italy has sought to curb migrant arrivals from Africa, making it harder charity ships to operate in the Mediterranean, limiting the number of rescues they can carry out and often forcing them to make huge detours to bring migrants ashore.


Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election

Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election
Updated 28 May 2024
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Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election

Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election
  • Zelensky has not faced an election despite the expiry of his term

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Ukraine should hold a presidential election following the expiry of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s five-year term.
Zelensky has not faced an election despite the expiry of his term, something he and Kyiv’s allies deem the right decision in wartime. Putin said the only legitimate authority in Ukraine now was parliament, and that its head should be given power.