The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and leading non-OPEC producers led by Russia, a group known as OPEC+ is leaning towards delaying next year’s planned increase in output despite a rise in prices. Shaybah oilfield started production in 1998 and began operations by Saudi Aramco. So, that risk will remain but for later,” the UralSib expert said. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iraq want to pump more oil. In 2021, OPEC expects growth to bounce back to 6.2 million b/d, to just over 96 million b/d, compared to our pre-coronavirus expectations for demand reaching almost 102 million b/d next year, he said, adding that the recent revisions are due to the easing pace of the economic recovery and recent COVID-19 containment measures, which are assumed to impact transportation and industrial fuel demand well into next year. We will hear a lot of statements all over the place without any clear indication of direction for a couple of days but it will probably end the same way. Brent crude rose 75 cents, or 1.6%, to settle at $48.61 a barrel, its highest since early March, Reuters reported, adding that US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude also closed at its highest since early March, rising 80 cents, or 1.8%, to $45.71. “Before we get there, before we get to the point where there is a clear path forward towards a demand recovery, we will probably have to wait a couple of quarters because I don’t think these vaccines will be in action or will be making a difference to public health before mid 2021 so what the market is saying now is that we don’t really care – traders and oil companies and whoever – they don’t care that much what happens between now and then, they are just pricing in the future recovery,” Kokin added. I just don’t think Iraq or the Emirates will go as far as to derail the whole thing because it’s not in their interest,” Kokin said. “The US is actually growing and January is usually a bad month for the balance in the market so it’s probably the right thing to do. EPA-EFE/VALDRIN XHEMAJ

A view of Shaybah oilfield in Rub Al-Khali, Saudi Arabia. OPEC+ ministers are due to meet from November 30. EPA-EFE/VALDRIN XHEMAJ/FILE PICTURE

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Oil prices climbed to their highest in more than eight months on November 25 fuelled by continuing hopes that energy demand will recover once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. According to media reports Saudi Arabia said it has approved plans for the state-owned oil producer Saudi Aramco to go public on the Saudi stock exchange Tadawul on 11 December 2019. “This represents a sharp decline of nearly 10 million b/d from where we started the year, and almost an 11 million b/d contraction compared to what we forecast for the year back in January,” Barkindo said. Nonetheless, the oil market today is overshadowed by the resurgence of COVID-19 and a slower pace of economic recovery than we had envisioned in the second half of the year, the OPEC Secretary General said. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak and Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman, requested an informal video conference with their counterparts from the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, which includes Algeria, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Nigeria and the UAE, Bloomberg reported. As the OPEC+ meeting is approaching, several OPEC members have voiced disagreements with cartel policy. I think the big risk for OPEC and the threat to the existence of OPEC+ will come when the market starts recovering, when demand starts recovering big time, then I guess we will incentives for every major producer with spare capacity to start pumping,” Kokin said. “I think what’s going to happen is we will hear a lot of noise. We will just hear a lot of noise in the meantime. Rising Libyan oil production is adding to the concerns about oversupply in the market. “We are talking about keeping the old schedule, the schedule that was originally agreed or switching to a slightly modified version of the same schedule so in both cases OPEC is still keeping the cuts,” Kokin told New Europe, adding, “I think that’s what (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and everyone else is saying the cuts will be there, they will remain but how much exactly is going to be produced in January is a slightly different issue”. “But that’s not happening overnight so for the time being they are all in the same boat and I think they are going to extend the quotas for a quarter and then later, maybe next summer there might be a kind of a race whoever wins market share is kind of ahead of anybody else. “I think the oil prices now are reflecting future recovery – recovery that’s going to happen two quarters from now there hopefully,” Alexei Kokin, a senior oil and gas analyst at UralSib Financial Corp in Moscow, told New Europe by phone on November 27. Kokin also reminded that oil production in the United States is also increasing. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>OPEC+ likely to extend oil cuts seeing slow fuel demand recovery from vaccines

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

epa07968925 (FILE) – A view of Shaybah oilfield in Rub Al-Khali, Saudi Arabia, 17 December 2018 (reissued 03 November 2019). In this respect, OPEC outlook for 2020 oil demand is now slightly above 90 million barrels per day. Saudi Arabia and Russia reportedly summoned OPEC+ for last-minute talks on November 28. Both benchmarks, which gained 4% on November 24, rose for a fourth straight session. Kokin said OPEC+ will probably extend their production cuts in January at their meeting next week. OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, during the Crescent Ideas Forum on November 23 via videoconference, highlighted the devastating impact of the coronavirus, the deadly toll it has taken across the world and the blow it has dealt to many economic sectors, especially crude oil. It will end in agreement. “We are heartened by the promising vaccine developments, and the hope that they can quickly be brought to market to save lives, first and foremost, but also to help reboot the global economy,” he said in comment’s posted on the OPC website. “They probably will because it’s the right thing to do when you have production growing,” he said, reminding that production from OPEC-member Libya is not bound by the quotas and is growing following a ceasefire between rival groups.

The plenary session is taking place from 14 to 17 September. “Confrontation or collaboration, it’s up to them.”
The latest resolution is expected to help boost support for France’s earlier push for EU sanctions against Turkey, which were first discussed in October over natural gas rights in the Eastern Mediterranean. In its resolution, the parliament urged the EU to impose sanctions on Turkey as a result of Erdogan’s visit to the internationally unrecognized Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus. A member of NATO, Turkey has slid ever-increasingly towards authoritarianism under Erdogan’s rule. Members of the European Parliament pointed out that Ankara’s’s direct military support for its Turkic-speaking ally Azerbaijan against Turkey’s historical enemy, Armenia, in the recent Nagorno-Karabakh war, as well as its support for radical Islamist militias in Libya and Syria – which are often deployed against regional Western-backed groups – has ushered in a far more aggressive and belligerent approach on the part of Erdogan when dealing with his European and Near East neighbors. Driven by his Islamist roots and neo-Ottoman irredentism, Erdogan has also embraced Turkey’s ultranationalist cause which has helped crater Turkey’s once-close relationship with the EU, US, and Israel. “Turkey knows what it needs to do,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a French parliamentary hearing this week. 15 September’s main debate will hear statements on the preparation of the Special European Council which focuses on the escalation and the role of Turkey in the Eastern-Mediterranean. The European Parliament also called Turkey’s gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean “illegal”, a charge that Ankara has angrily rejected. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>European Parliament pushes for sanctions on Turkey over Cyprus provocations

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08669645 European High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell during a plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, 15 September 2020.   EPA-EFE//FRANCISCO SECO

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The European Parliament, by a margin of 631 votes in favor, 3 against and 59 abstentions, has agreed on a non-binding resolution in support of EU member Cyprus which urges EU leaders to “take action and impose tough sanctions in response to Turkey’s illegal actions”. Erdogan has backed the partial re-opening of Varosha, a move that has been condemned by the United States, Greece and Greek Cypriots. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Ergodan infuriated the European Union and most of his NATO allies when, on November 15, he visited Varosha, an abandoned southern quarter of the Cypriot city of Famagusta, itself a former major resort city on the island, which has been fenced-off and abandoned no-mans-land since the 1974 Turkish invasion, and subsequent occupation, of the northern third of Cyprus. EPA-EFE/Francisco Seco / POOL

Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell during a plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels. The parliament noted that EU-Turkey relations are at a historic low, saying that Erdogan’s illegal and unilateral military actions in the Eastern Mediterranean are violating the sovereignty of EU members Greece and Cyprus.

AstraZeneca CEO, Pascal Soriot, on Thursday said that the company was likely to run additional trials of its vaccine candidate to validate its efficacy. MHRA’s CEO June Raine said that the regulatory body will “rigorously” assess the latest data and evidence to determine the vaccine’s safety, quality and effectiveness, before giving its approval for its roll-out. EPA-EFE/DAN HIMBRECHTS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

A general view of an analytical chemist at AstraZeneca?s headquarters in Sydney, Australia, 19 August 2020. AstraZeneca and its partner, the University of Oxford, have been facing criticism about their Covid-19 vaccine trial results after acknowledging a manufacturing error. Surprisingly, the group of volunteers that got a lower dose seemed to be much better protected than the volunteers who got two full doses of the vaccine. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>UK govt requests review of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08612064 A general view of an analytical chemist at AstraZeneca?s headquarters in Sydney, Australia, 19 August 2020. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the government and UK-based drug company AstraZeneca. Our role is to work to the highest standards and safety is our watch word”, Raine said, adding that the MHRA will also seek advice from the Commission on Human Medicines. “The safety of the public will always come first. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the government and UK-based drug company AstraZeneca. EPA-EFE/DAN HIMBRECHTS

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The United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Friday confirmed it has received a request from the government’s Department of Health and Social Care to assess AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Almost a year after a GRECO that slammed Greece over the role of Greek prosecutors in corruption cases, money-laundering schemes and creating legal loopholes for milder punishment for bribery cases, the Council of Europe body found that none of the four recommendations contained in the report have been implemented to date. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>GRECO comes down hard on Greece over anti-corruption measures

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08150043 Members of the Parliament vote of a new President of the Hellenic Republic at the Greek Parliament during the fist round for the election, in Athens, Greece, 22 January 2020. Under GRECO’s urgent call for action, the Greek government has been told that it must fully criminalize bribery, particularly when it concerns foreign public servants, judges and other members of the judiciary, in line with the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption. An expert committee has been created in a bid to deal with the recommendations. Following an outcry from the international community and the Council of Europe, the Greek government in Athens, under the current government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, restored the original felony status in November 2019, however in a manner that did not satisfy GRECO’s prerequisites, as it foresaw softer punishments for bribery. GRECO’s four recommendations came after the former Greek government under firebrand leftist Alexis Tsipras moved in June 2019 to amend the country’s Criminal Code to downgrade the criminal classifications for bribery cases that involve public officials. As a result of the reclassification, bribery was no long a felony, and was downgraded to a misdemeanor, which severely softened the punishment for public officials who are involved in graft schemes. GRECO has already expressed its concerns, saying that under the current circumstances, bribery cases are not fully covered by the law and prosecutors may recuse themselves in bribery cases. EPA-EFE/ALEXANDROS VLACHOS

Members of the Greek Parliament vote for a new President of the Hellenic Republic in Athens. EPA-EFE//ALEXANDROS VLACHOS

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Greece has come under fire for failing to implement the recommendations of the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), despite mounting pressure by the body to strengthen its criminal legislation. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis proposed senior justice Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou, the first female president of the Council of State. Greece is set to submit its report to GRECO by late October 2021. GRECO has further stressed that punishment for bribery should be applied to all cases, even those that are minor.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic the Irish government has announced all bar and pubs will close and the cancellation of the traditional St. On Wednesday, deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar said that retailers currently constrained to click-and-collect services would be the first to reopen when the restrictions are lifted on December 1. Sources said that it is expected that shops, gyms and hairdressers will be allowed to reopen from next week onwards. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic the Irish government has announced all bar and pubs will close and the cancellation of the traditional St. The country reimposed tough coronavirus measures on October 21, with the government shutting all non-essential retailers and limiting pubs and restaurants to takeaway service. EPA-EFE/Aidan Crawley

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Ireland is set to approve the reopening of restaurants and pubs that serve food from December 7, a week after non-essential retailers will be allowed to reopen, local media reported. Patricks Day Parade. Patricks Day Parade. EPA-EFE/Aidan Crawley

A man looks in the window of a closed pub on Saint Patrick's Day in Dublin, Ireland, 17 March 2020.. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Ireland to reopen restaurants on December 7

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08300630 A man looks in the window of a closed pub on Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland, 17 March 2020.. On Thursday, senior ministers met to finalise the proposals to be put to the rest of cabinet ahead of an announcement by prime minister Micheal Martin on Friday.

Meanwhile, some 2,000 Russian peacekeepers have been deployed along frontline areas and to protect a land link connecting Karabakh with Armenia. The resolution states that “the security and freedom of the Armenian populations in Nagorno-Karabakh are not guaranteed by the Republic of Azerbaijan”. Nagorno-Karabakh’s declaration of independence from Azerbaijan has not been recognized by any country. More than 2,000 people have died since the fighting broke out on September 27, including many civilians. Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but is historically an ethnic Armenian region, has been the focal point of the conflict between the two nations. Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics, have been involved in a territorial conflict since they gained independence in the 1990s. Earlier this month, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia signed a deal to end the conflict. On Wednesday, the French upper house adopted a nonbinding resolution calling on the French government to recognise the separatist region as an independent state. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Azerbaijan’s parliament calls for French removal from Nagorno-Karabakh mediation

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08723394 A handout photo made available by the Armenian Defense Ministry on 06 October 2020 shows Armenian soldiers allegedly during military clashes with Azeri army along the contact line of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (also known as Artsakh). Armed clashes erupted on 27 September 2020 in the simmering territorial conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory along the contact line of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Armed clashes erupted on 27 September 2020 in the simmering territorial conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory along the contact line of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. France, the United States and Russia are co-chairs of the Minsk Group that has mediated over Nagorno-Karabakh, but has failed to achieve a lasting agreement. EPA-EFE/ARMENIA DEFENCE MINISTRY

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Azerbaijani lawmakers on Thursday called for France to be expelled from the Minsk Group mediating in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict after the French Senate backed the region’s independence claim. EPA-EFE/ARMENIA DEFENCE MINISTRY PRESS SERVICE / HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

A handout photo made available by the Armenian Defense Ministry on 06 October 2020 shows Armenian soldiers allegedly during military clashes with Azeri army along the contact line of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (also known as Artsakh). On Thursday, Azerbaijani lawmakers adopted a resolution urging the government to appeal to the OSCE which oversees the Minsk Group, to expel France from its presidency.

The Muslims were forced to swallow a bitter pill in letting the Serbs profit from their violence. And yet we see the same things happening again and again and nothing is done to stop it even though the ink on those promises is not yet dry. We would engage with groups who are regarded as beyond the Pale without worrying about giving them legitimacy in order to stop more deaths. Really? They closed the agreement before anyone could have second thoughts. They were packing their bags. The unspeakable massacre of Muslim men and boys, the rape of the women and the shipping of the rest to Tuzla finally jolted the world awake. When the anniversary of Srebrenica was marked in July we heard the pious invocations of ‘never again’ yet again from politicians and diplomats. There are no Richard Holbrooke streets or statues in Sarajevo. The agreement nearly didn’t happen. If we actually mean what we say about ‘never again’ the memory of the victims of Srebrenica and all the other massacres needs to be seared on our souls so we do not permit its repetition and the creation of new victims and new hatred. Dayton was an imperfect peace because the international community waited so long to intervene. The anniversary of Dayton and the memory of Srebrenica should make us return to it. Would we look on as fighting starts again in Tigray in Ethiopia? There was much celebration, but it was a very imperfect peace. But it shouldn’t have taken genocide to force the international community to act. The debate in the UN about the Right to Protect, an international duty to intervene to prevent humanitarian disasters, in the aftermath of Kosovo war at the beginning of this century fizzled out in the face of Russian and Chinese vetoes. Instead of just marking bitter anniversaries, let’s do something to stop there being any more bitter anniversaries like Srebrenica. But the process was saved by the unlikely person of Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian leader, who was desperate for an agreement and made a dramatic last-minute concession which the Bosnian Muslims could not refuse. If we meant what we said would we have stood by while genocide took place in Rwanda? Would we watch with pity the suffering of the children of Yemen but do nothing? It was too late to reverse what had happened in the civil war. During the same period, Powell served as Downing Street Chief of Staff during the premiership of Tony Blair and was later assigned by former Prime Minister David Cameron to serve as Britain's special envoy to Libya. Each generation needs to keep the memories alive. I have heard leaders say ‘never again’ too often after appalling acts of genocide, ethnic cleansing and state violence. We don’t have to wait till they are in our living rooms on CNN. We would put pressure on governments to talk rather than fight. epa05020461 Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic (R), Democratic Action party leader Bakir Izetbegovic (C), and Bosnian Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic (L) attend an investment conference at a site of the 1995 massacre in which 8,000 Muslim boys and men were killed by Bosnian Serb forces backed by Belgrade, in Srebrenica, Serbia, 11 November 2015. The separation between Serbs, Croats and Muslims is set in stone. The conference imed to attract investors to Srebrenica takes place on 11 and 12 November 2015. According to George Packer’s excellent biography of the American diplomat Richard Holbrooke, the day before everyone had given up and agreed to a press release announcing the failure of the negotiations. It was only the genocide in Srebrenica, and the publicity that accompanied it, that forced their hands. In that sense, Srebrenica led to Dayton. If we mean ‘never again’ we would be much more willing to intervene to prevent armed conflicts before they take off and stop them before they start. Resolutions have been passed and speeches made, promises given. I have spent the greater part of my life working on armed conflicts and the negotiations to end them. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>The lessons of Dayton

By Jonathan Powell
CEO of Inter Mediate an NGO which works on armed conflicts around the world and was the UK's chief government negotiator in Northern Ireland from 1997-2007. EPA/FEHIM DEMIR

A 2015 file photo showing Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic (R), Democratic Action party leader Bakir Izetbegovic (C), and former Bosnian Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic (L) attending conference in Srebrenica, the site of the July 1995 massacre in which at least 8,000 Bosniak (Muslim) men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces. But at least Dayton stopped the killing. That led to a serious diplomatic effort backed up by bombing which forced the Serbs to the table. EPA-EFE//FEHIM DEMIR

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Twenty-five years ago this month, the Dayton Agreement was signed in an airforce base in Ohio ending years of bloody fighting in Bosnia. brokered peace accord, agreed on November 21, 1995 in Dayton, Ohio. And, most of all, an ungainly system of government was put in place in Bosnia that prevents the country from recovering properly. Would we have shrugged our shoulders while the people of Syria went through hell at the hands of  Assad? More than 100,000 people were killed during 1992-95 civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now they had to do something. This is not a plea to give in to the demands of the men with violence. Forced ethnic power-sharing makes it impossible for the people to ‘throw the rascals out’ in elections and they are condemned to corrupt and ineffective regimes. Some 100,000 people were killed during 1992-95 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina which ended 20 years ago by a U.S. The international community has moved on and turned its back on the problem. The conflict moved on to Kosovo. On the contrary, we should back up our negotiations with the threat of force to get them to take us seriously. The Mayor of Srebrenica is a Serb, who even today denies that the genocide took place. The Europeans and the Americans had sat on their hands while the different ethnic groups in the Balkans slaughtered each other.

In cities across the EU, our mobility and travel systems are still causing pollution from nitrogen dioxide. “This is why, in the European Green Deal, we have set ourselves a Zero Pollution Ambition. For nitrogen dioxide, the reduction is even greater as premature deaths have declined by about 54 % over the last decade. The report also notes that long-term exposure to air pollutants causes cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, which both have been identified as risk factors for death in COVID-19 patients. EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx said the EEA’s data prove that investing in better air quality is an investment for better health and productivity for all Europeans. The EEA’s ‘Air quality in Europe — 2020 report’ shows that six Member States exceeded the European Union’s limit value for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in 2018: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Italy, Poland, and Romania. We fully understand the need for a zero pollution ambition for toxic-free environment, this is an important part of our efforts for climate neutrality and supporting competiveness and innovation. “Air quality is improving across the EU thanks to the policies we have been implementing for the past decades. About 379,000 of those deaths occurred in EU-28 where 54,000 and 19,000 premature deaths were attributed to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ground-level ozone (O3), respectively, the Commission said. Work has started on the Zero Pollution Action Plan for air, water and soil, and we launched a public consultation a few days ago. “Policies and actions that are consistent with Europe’s zero pollution ambition, lead to longer and healthier lives and more resilient societies,” he said. Pollutant emissions from energy supply have also seen major reductions while progress in reducing emissions from buildings and agriculture has been slow. “In many regions, the way we source our energy and heat our homes still leads to pollution from particulate matters. However, the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) latest official data show that almost all Europeans still suffer from air pollution, leading to about 400,000 premature deaths across the continent. There is plenty to do in the meantime. He acknowledged that solving the air quality challenge is not easy. The new EEA analysis is based on the latest official air quality data from more than 4 000 monitoring stations across Europe in 2018. Air pollution affects all of us, but especially the most vulnerable ones – older people, children and those with pre-existing health conditions. And, with everyone’s engagement, we will”. It also affects our everyday lives, our economies and our biodiversity”. We’re hoping for contributions from all interested sectors. Asking – what does it mean for the air? The Commissioner said the report is a useful reminder of the causes. That will help us identify the most effective solutions, put them forward and dramatically increase our efforts to cut pollution,” Sinkevicius said. The EEA does not yet have estimates on the potential positive health impacts of the cleaner air during 2020. So we will continue our resolute action to ensure full implementation of the existing legislation, with the full range of legal tools,” the Commissioner said. And it means developing a new reflex – learning to ask a new question in transport, energy, industry, agriculture, and urban development. The European Green Deal is our compass for delivering this, together with our recovery plans that provide Member States the opportunities to start to build back better, with the ‘do no harm’ principle embedded in that work,” Sinkevicius said, adding, “Recent months have reminded us how important clean air is: Air pollution makes us more vulnerable to diseases. “Here at the European Commission, we have that question in mind in our policy-making. Better air quality has led to a significant reduction of premature deaths over the past decade in Europe. EU, national and local policies and emission cuts in key sectors have improved air quality across Europe, the EEA report shows. And the way we grow our food, especially in large scale farming activities, is leading to pollution from ammonia and fine particulate matter in the atmosphere, which ends up deep in our lungs,” Sinkevicius said. “The Action Plan will include a drive to modernise the Ambient Air Quality Directive, and I hope to table the proposal in the second half of 2022. The EEA report notes that there remains a gap between EU’s legal air quality limits and WHO guidelines, an issue that the European Commission seeks to address with a revision of the EU standards under the Zero Pollution Action Plan. It takes concerted action across sectors and across policies. Air quality and COVID-19
The EEA report also contains an overview of the links between the COVID-19 pandemic and air quality. The continuing implementation of environmental and climate policies across Europe is a key factor behind the improvements. It means getting everyone on board – citizens, entrepreneurs, researchers and policy-makers. EPA-EFE/KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / POOL

In many regions, energy and home heating still leads to pollution from particulate matters

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The number of premature deaths in Europe due to air pollution is decreasing, but it is still far too high, EU Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius has said. Only four countries in Europe — Estonia, Finland, Iceland and Ireland — had fine particulate matter concentrations that were below the World Health Organization’s (WHO) stricter guideline values. We came to a similar conclusion with the Fitness check of the Ambient Air Quality Directives last year, and in the next Clean Air Outlook report, that we’ll publish shortly. However, Sinkevicius stressed, “With close to 400,000 premature deaths each year in the EU linked to air pollution, we know that the cost to society is extremely high. It makes so much sense to tackle this challenge decisively. It’s clear that these policies deliver when they are fully implemented,” he told at the Press Conference on the occasion of the launch of the EEA’s ‘Air Quality in Europe – 2020 Report. Since 2000, emissions of key air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides (NOx), from transport have declined significantly, despite growing mobility demand and associated increase in the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU sees less premature deaths due to air pollution but figure still high

By New Europe Online/KG

epa08837268 EU Commissioner for Environment and Oceans Virginijus Sinkevicius adjusts his mask during a videopress conference on air quality in Europe at European headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 23 November 2020. Exposure to fine particulate matter caused about 417,000 premature deaths in 41 European countries in 2018, according to the EEA assessment. EPA-EFE/KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / POOL

EU Commissioner for Environment and Oceans Virginijus Sinkevicius adjusts his mask during a videopress conference on air quality in Europe at European headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, November 23, 2020. The current EU air quality standards are still exceeded far too often. According to the Commission, around 60,000 fewer people died prematurely due to fine particulate matter pollution in 2018, compared with 2009 due to an improvement in air quality. However, the causality between air pollution and severity of the COVID-19 infections is not clear and further epidemiological research is needed. A more detailed assessment of provisional EEA data for 2020 and supporting modelling by the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS), confirms earlier assessments showing up to 60 % reductions of certain air pollutants in many European countries where lockdown measures were implemented in the spring of 2020.

The agency said the current rate of new infections was lower than that predicted by its model, but that it might be so due to inability of testing in some regions. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Sweden’s second COVID wave could peak in mid-December, Health Agency says

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08392310 General view of a billboard informing about the importance to keep social distance during the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on a facade in Stockholm, Sweden, 29 April 2020. EPA-EFE/FREDRIK SANDBERG

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The second wave of COVID-19 infections that has hit Sweden could peak in mid-December, its Public Health Agency said on Thursday. On Thursday, the country registered 5,841 new cases and 67 deaths. The government has given the body the task of modelling how the pandemic will develop. Countries worldwide increased their measures to prevent the widespread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus which causes the COVID-19 disease. EPA-EFE/FREDRIK SANDBERG SWEDEN OUT

General view of a billboard informing about the importance to keep social distance during the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on a facade in Stockholm, Sweden, 29 April 2020. New cases have hit record levels in recent weeks, and the agency said infections could peak in the coming weeks. “If we don’t get that as we expect, we won’t have this development, we will have a worse development”, he said. A total of 6,622 people with COVID-19 have died in Sweden. Health Agency head Johan Carlson said that tougher restrictions in place since mid-October may have helped slow the spread of the disease, but relied on the public following recommendations. Countries worldwide increased their measures to prevent the widespread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus which causes the COVID-19 disease.

Last week, Australia’s defence force announced allegations that its elite forces carried out 39 unlawful killings in Afghanistan. The report further specified that some patrol commanders, who were treated as “demigods”, required junior soldiers to shoot prisoners to achieve their first kill. “We are all committed to learning from the inquiry and emerging from this a stronger, more capable and effective army. Burr addressed allegations of war crimes commited by 13 Australian soldiers while on duty in Afghanistan. EPA-EFE/LUKAS COCH AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

Chief of Army Rick Burr speaks to the media during a press conference in Canberra, Australia, 27 November 2020. Australia’s military apologised to Afghanistan last week after the release of the report. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Australian special forces troops face consequences for unlawful killings

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08845251 Chief of Army Rick Burr speaks to the media during a press conference in Canberra, Australia, 27 November 2020. It recommended 19 individuals be referred to Australian Federal Police, compensation be paid to the families of victims, and that the military carry out a slew of reforms. Lieutenant General Rick Burr, the head of the Australian army, said that the soldiers have been issued with “administrative action notices,” which would terminate their service in two weeks. The report found there had been a “warrior culture” among some members of Australia’s special forces in Afghanistan. Each matter and individual circumstance will be considered on a case-by-case basis”, Burr said. EPA-EFE/LUKAS COCH AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

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Australia on Friday told 13 special forces soldiers that they face dismissal following a report on alleged unlawful killings in Afghanistan. Burr addressed allegations of war crimes commited by 13 Australian soldiers while on duty in Afghanistan. It cited the findings of a 2016 inquiry into the conduct of its special forces personnel between 2005 and 2016 amid allegations by local media about the killing of unarmed men and children.

A member of the parliamentary intelligence committee said the agency did not specify which drugmakers were targeted but said there was no damage from the hacking attempts. EPA-EFE/MARTIN JOPPEN / SANOFI / HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

A handout photo made available by Sanofi shows ampoules of a possible Covid-19 vaccine during the production in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 15 September 2020 (issued 22 September 2020). If all clinical testings are successful, Sanofi expects application for approval oft he vaccine in the first half of 2021. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>North Korea attempts to hack South Korean coronavirus vaccine firms

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08688476 A handout photo made available by Sanofi shows ampoules of a possible Covid-19 vaccine during the production in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 15 September 2020 (issued 22 September 2020). According to Sanofi, clinical testing of this vaccine candidate began in early September. Last week, Microsoft found that hackers working for Russia and North Korea targeted pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States. According to Sanofi, clinical testing of this vaccine candidate began in early September. The pharmaceutical company Sanofi officially started the production of its potential vaccine against COVID-19 in Frankfurt on 22 September 2020 to ensure that protection against corona infection is immediately available at the time of approval. North Korea has not confirmed any coronavirus infection, but the NIS had said an outbreak there cannot be ruled out as the country had active trade exchanges with China before closing the border in January. EPA-EFE/MARTIN JOPPEN / SANOFI /

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South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) foiled North Korean attempts to hack into South Korean companies developing coronavirus vaccines, lawmakers said on Friday. If all clinical testings are successful, Sanofi expects application for approval oft he vaccine in the first half of 2021. The pharmaceutical company Sanofi officially started the production of its potential vaccine against COVID-19 in Frankfurt on 22 September 2020 to ensure that protection against corona infection is immediately available at the time of approval. The hacking attempt was part of a series of “unreasonable” actions taken by North Korea due to COVID-19 “paranoia”, the lawmakers said. In July, Chinese-backed hackers were also accused of targeting Moderna in a bid to steal vaccine research data.

Previously, the ferry service was only with Azerbaijan, where they exported oil, grain, metal, imported consumer goods, and building materials. These are the first tugs of our port.   The advantage of the ferry service is that the cargo can be sent to the consumer directly without additional ships. Also, this year, agreements were reached on the construction of two-grain terminals. KURYT.KZ

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NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan – Kazakhstan has opened a new sea ferry route that connects the Kazakh port of Kuryk with the Iranian Amirabad and the port of Anzali, the Kazakh TV channel Khabar 24 reported on November 26. “This year we bought 2 tugs. The occupancy of one ferry is 32-euro trucks with perishable goods. The automotive infrastructure of Kuryk today receives and promptly serves transit and export-import cargo. Port representatives believe that the Kuryk-Amirabad / Anzali ferry line will be interesting for both Iranian and Kazakh businessmen. The first ship to enter the sea harbor was the Composer Rachmaninov. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Kazakhstan opens new sea ferry route with Iran

By Kulpash Konyrova

Kuryt Port Development in Kazakhstan. We see that there is a certain logic in purchasing our own fleet and operating it from our port. One in the territory of Kuryk, and the other on the territory adjacent to us, but all these cargoes will be handled through us,” Kuryk Port General Director Serik Akhmetov said.

Also discussed were the projects for pipeline gas supplies from Russia to China via the Power of Siberia 2 gas pipeline across Mongolia, via the western route, and from Russia’s Far East, Gazprom said. Miller and Houliang reviewed a wide range of issues related to their current and future cooperation during a video call recently. In August 2020, a Memorandum of Intent was signed to set up a special-purpose company. In 2020, Gazprom started to assess the possibility of gas supplies across Mongolia in the amount of up to 50 billion cubic meters of gas per year. GAZPROM

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Russian gas monopoly Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) Chairman Dai Houliang have considered the possibility of increasing gas deliveries via the Power of Siberia pipeline by an additional 6 billion cubic meters after the supplies under the existing Agreement level off. In particular, exports of Russian pipeline gas from the Chayandinskoye field to China via the Power of Siberia gas trunkline were discussed. The trunkline supplies gas to consumers in Russia’s Far East and China. The meeting also touched upon joint efforts in the areas of underground gas storage, gas-fired power generation, sci-tech cooperation, use of gas as a vehicle fuel, staff development, standardisation, and equipment certification. On May 21, 2014, Gazprom and CNPC signed the 30-year Sales and Purchase Agreement for Russian gas to be supplied via the eastern route. Stable and flexible gas supplies are essential to achieving China’s environmental goals that call for reduced use of coal by industrial and residential consumers. The document provides for a joint assessment of the feasibility of the project for pipeline gas supplies from Russia to China across Mongolia. It has an export capacity of 38 billion cubic metres of gas per year. Gazprom and CNPC in 2016 signed the Memorandum of Understanding on underground gas storage and gas-fired power generation in China. Gazprom and the Mongolian government signed in December 2019 a Memorandum of Understanding. In 2015, Gazprom and CNPC inked the Heads of Agreement for pipeline deliveries of natural gas from Western Siberian fields to China via the western route. It was noted that gas is being supplied consistently and in excess of the planned amounts. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Gazprom may boost gas supplies to China via Power of Siberia

By New Europe Online/KG

Gas metering station of Power of Siberia in Amur Region. Gazprom’s main partner in China is CNPC, a state-owned oil and gas company. The company will be established in Mongolia with the purpose of conducting a feasibility study for a gas trunkline construction and operation project. On November 12, the surplus in daily volumes hit a record high of 25%. In line with the Sales and Purchase Agreement, Gazprom is preparing to further ramp up the gas supplies in 2021. In October and the first twenty days of November, the daily average volumes exceeded the contractual amounts upon requests from the Chinese party, Gazprom said. Power of Siberia is the largest gas transmission system in Russia’s East. In December 2017, Gazprom and CNPC entered into the Heads of Agreement for natural gas to be supplied from Russia’s Far East to China.

style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU-Southern Mediterranean: Working towards prosperity and stability for all

By Oliver Varhelyi
European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement

epa08843824 (L-R) High Representative for the European Union Josep Borrell, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya and Jordan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Ayman Safa, host the 5th Union for the Mediterranean Regional Forum in Barcelona, Catalonia, north eastern Spain, 26 November 2020. As we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Barcelona Process, launched in 1995 to reinforce cooperation on both sides of the Mediterranean, we are also reflecting together on how we want to take forward our partnership priorities in the next years, in light of today’s challenges and opportunities. The forum marks the 25th anniversary of the Barcelona Process launched in 1995 with the aim of strengthening such relations between Europe and the Southern Mediterranean countries. We will work together to mobilise private sector on both sides of the Mediterranean to help us respond to the market needs and to promote new business models all across the Southern Mediterranean region. A principle this Commission takes seriously. We need a Southern Neighbourhood that emerges from the crisis as a prime location for investments, offering growth and jobs in a sustainable way and providing for stronger societies that give hope and opportunity to the young generations to find their future in the region. EPA-EFE/Quique Garcia

The High Representative for the European Union Josep Borrell, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya and Jordan's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Ayman Safa, host the 5th Union for the Mediterranean Regional Forum in Barcelona, Spain, November 26, 2020. A future where sustainable and balanced development and equal opportunities can be provided for all will mitigate the necessity of undertaking perilous journeys in search of a better future, only to fall in the hands of traffickers and organised crime. Digitalisation also offers previously unseen opportunities, for companies – especially small and medium-sized enterprises – and public service delivery. These challenges have been coupled by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is severely impacting the economies, particularly when it comes to external trade, tourism and youth. EPA-EFE//QUIQUE GARCIA

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The Mediterranean region’s strategic importance for the European Union is beyond any doubt. This will underpin our economic goals. Any crisis management can be successful only if shared with the neighbours. We will liaise with our partners and continue to work closely with the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), an enhanced Euro-Mediterranean intergovernmental framework that has since 2008 provided a privileged platform to promote dialogue and cooperation between Europe and its Southern neighbours, the creation of an area of peace and stability, shared economic progress, democratic principles and human rights. We want to help to increase education and vocational training opportunities in the Euro-Med region to guarantee skills match the labour market needs. That is why we are preparing a dedicated economic development strategy for our Southern neighbours, which will draw on the new next long-term EU budget. Creating more resilient economies and societies all around is a common interest for Europe and for our neighbours. Only by working together can we ensure prosperity and stability for all of us, fully respecting our mutual interests and responsibilities. We must strengthen our bilateral and regional cooperation with the Southern Neighbourhood to better manage systemic challenges and to boost economic development and recovery. A review of EU trade policy priorities in the region would further support this process. At the same time, our renewed partnership will also put emphasis on areas such as justice and rule of law more broadly, the fight against corruption and organised crime, the role of independent media and civil society and the prevention of radicalisation leading to violent extremism. The past decade was a turbulent one: democratic changes after the 2011 uprisings, political and socio-economic crises, conflicts in Syria, Libya and the lack of solution in the Middle East Peace Process, stark inequalities, and a looming environmental crisis as a result of climate change. For example, the disruption of global value chains by the pandemic opened an opportunity for a regionalisation of production and shorter value chains for strategic products, which can benefit the Southern Neighbourhood and provide employment for the young. We are partners faced with shared challenges, working for the same goals. We will help build economies that work for people, in particular the youth. Our ties and cooperation with our Southern partners have grown stronger over the years, underpinned by Association Agreements and other instruments which still have the potential to deliver more. The EU has already put on the table a first package of more than €2.3 billion to help our Southern Mediterranean partners address the immediate needs in the health sector and to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic. While digitalisation offers SMEs opportunities to innovate and grow, it also has consequences for skill requirements for workers. Our plan will be built together with our partners, reflecting the needs and specificities of each of our partners.

Do not politicise courts. EPA-EFE//RADEK PIETRUSZKA

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On November 20, the ruling Law and Justice party adopted a resolution supporting the government’s announcement to veto to link EU funds to the respect of the rule of law. EU funds, if spent wisely, matter and Poland is still a net beneficiary of its membership. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>The Polish government versus the rule of law

By Marek Tatala
Vice President, Civil Development Forum (FOR)

epa08780605 Leader of the Polish Law and Justice (PiS) ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczynski speaks during a parliamentary debate in Sejm (lower house) in Warsaw, Poland, 28 October 2020. Do not abuse the prosecutorial office to fight with political opponents. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
The resolution serves domestic purposes. In 2019, Poland received €11 billion of net transfers from the Union’s budget. The EU should be aware that the situation is urgent and the rule of law in Poland, Hungary and other member states matters not only for the citizens of these countries but also for the future of the European project as a club of countries with high-quality democratic institutions safeguarding human rights and individual liberties. This approach – not the veto – is the interest of Poland and the European Union. According to Poland’s prime minister, the rule of law is only a propaganda mechanism for the EU that resembles Communist times. EPA-EFE/Radek Pietruszka POLAND OUT

Leader of the Polish Law and Justice (PiS) ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczynski speaks during a parliamentary debate in Sejm (lower house) in Warsaw. The vast majority of the opposition voted against this resolution. In sum, do not violate the rule of law and the EU funds will keep coming, Poland position in the EU and the Single Market will be stronger, and economic growth – essential for the post-Covid recovery, will be higher. All in all, if Poland’s government is worried that the rule of law conditionality will be triggered to reduce the inflow of some EU funds, there are some simple remedies. The Law and Justice party likes to present itself as a defender of “sovereignty” and “traditional values” endangered by the European integration. But Poland’s membership in the Single Market is even more important than the cohesion funds. Moreover, a solid level of the rule of law is important for entrepreneurs as it enables to build a stable environment for doing business and economic growth. The Law and Justice positions itself as a defender of Polish national interest. Do not attack the independence of the judiciary. The European Commission responded by recommendations under the Rule of Law Framework, by triggering Article 7(1) and by infringement procedures before the Court of Justice. But at the same time, thanks to full access to other European economies, Poland’s GDP was €56 billion euros higher. This is no surprise, since both governments have been frequently and rightly accused of violating the rule of law and abusing political powers. Reverse the policies that weakened Poland’s institutional system. Jaroslaw Kaczynski accused the opposition of inciting the mass protests that have spread across Polish cities after a top court abortion ruling. But Poland’s actual interest is to maintain a strong position within the EU and the prevalence of the rule of law – irrespectively whether it is linked to EU funding. The rule of law mechanism is far from perfect but it is better than nothing. The opening words of this political manifesto reads that “the Parliament of the Republic of Poland notices and reminds that the Republic of Poland is a democratic and sovereign state ruled by law.” The governing party’s desire to tell the world that the rule of law is present in Poland recalls the words of Margaret Thatcher that “being powerful is like being a lady. In order to strengthen the Single Market and challenge the intra-EU protectionism, Polish authorities should have a stronger position in the EU. That is not possible while the rule of law, expressed in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, is under constant attack. While the rule of law conditionality requires a qualified majority in the Council, both the Polish and Hungarian government decided to use their veto powers in the final stage of EU budget talks that set the parameters for the new rule of law mechanism. Apart from showing the muscles on Polish soil, the ruling party, in tandem with Viktor Orban’s government in Hungary, threatens to block the 2021-27 EU financial framework and coronavirus recovery fund. Since 2015, there have been many attacks on the independence of the judiciary and individual judges in Poland which led to the deterioration of Poland’s position in various indices measuring the rule of law, individual liberties, and the quality of democratic institutions.