At that, she said: “You must now really watch yourself for the next three weeks. In the light of the two rapporteurs foray into unkindness, this author firmly believes that this region has its fair share of people economical with common sense, decency and intelligence. This is a good signal that the region can progress only if it sticks together.”
“I am convinced that people everywhere (in the Westen Balkans) will feel that together we can develop much faster.”
Vucic and Cadez have been driving for years now the idea of a mini-Schengen which would comprise all the non-EU countries in the region in order to enable a free flow of people, goods, capital and services. The Serbian opposition, gathered in a group of doctors calling itself United Against Covid, initially rallied against the vaccination drive for foreigners: “there is no acceptable, rational, expert and even human explanation for this kind of act.” This unkind but minority reasoning which did not help their cause surprised many observers. The EU and US fully support the idea, which would stabilize the former powder-keg of Europe and show political and economic maturity and responsibility in the light of the now seriously delayed EU accession process.  
However, they were not alone in the condemnation. Only days later, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin the possibility of registering Sputnik V in Europe and launching joint production in EU countries to alleviate the shortage. EPA-EFE//KOEN VAN WEEL
Despite Kurti’s attitude towards Belgrade, some 4,500 businesspeople from Kosovo got their vaccine shots and more have announced their arrival to Serbia this weekend. Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said: “there was no politics in this at all, only pure solidarity”. Klix.ba wrote that Vucic, ”whether he wants to admit that or not, has imposed himself as the leader of the entire region during the pandemic, and Serbia as the protector of our health. Serbia has managed to inoculate more than 450,000 of its seven million population in almost two weeks, a rate that exceeds all countries in Europe apart from the United Kingdom. Vucic downplayed that: “I am just happy that we could save someone’s life. This campaign followed recent Serbian donations of thousands of vaccines directly to governments in the region. “We do not live in a bubble, we cannot be safe and happy if our neighbors are unhappy and in jeopardy,” Cadez told New Europe. Two rapporteurs on Kosovo from the European Parliament, Viola von Kramon-Taubadel from Germany, who openly says she feels like a Kosovo lobbyist, and her sidekick, Lucas Mandel from Austria, said that contrary to the popular impression held by the European public, the Serbian vaccination campaign is not a positive story. Obviously, they were not adequately briefed. She said they will all be invited for revaccination in due course. Montenegro is currently adamantly against it, for now, Bosnia and Herzegovina is still thinking about it, while Kosovo refuses to even contemplate the idea. Serbia, with a population of some 7 million, has been highly praised in the world for its vaccination drive which ranks among the top five in the world. No need to add more from abroad, thank you very much. The women officer from the Serbian border patrol asked me what we are doing in Serbia and we said we just got vaccinated. The foreigners praised the organization. It was a wise geopolitical and economic gesture.,” it wrote. “I am really happy you asked me this. Diplomats, politicians, media and portals in the region and wider claimed the vaccination drive was the best possible PR victory for Vucic and a massive show of Serbia’s soft power. Have a safe trip back home.” That’s the end of my story, what else is there to say.”
Some travelers from Sarajevo ran into trouble because they did not make it within the local curfew imposed after COVIDovid-19 deaths peaked at close to a hundred a day, but the fines were worth it, they said. “A wonderful picture was sent from Serbia into the region, a picture of genuine solidarity. EPA-EFE//ANDREJ CUKIC

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Thousands of people from neighboring countries flocked to Serbia over the past couple of weekends to get their vaccine shots as Belgrade dispensed free jabs and goodwill in a show of solidarity that was lauded across the world. EU Brahmins chastised him for this, but it remains to be seen with what effect. I am happy that we are not differentiating people by their religion and country of origin. Chamber President Marko Cadez said that he is “very proud to be a citizen of Serbia, to belong to this region and for being a European in every sense of the world”. She openly stated that Serbia would have had to destroy some 25,000 AstraZeneca shots so chose to help people in the region instead. There were many other similar testimonies in the Serbian press: Zinka Bardic from Croatia wrote how her journey back home after the jab looked. He also told CNN how proud he is of the software Serbian IT experts designed which is flawlessly monitoring the inoculation campaign and the scheduling process. This Thursday, the World Health Organization chided the EU for being slow in vaccinating its citizens, a message that will not be welcomed given the organization’s low rating across the Western world. “It took just 15 minutes to get registered and get my shot, incredible”, one said. “All those who came from abroad believed in Serbia and I am very grateful for that,” she said. Most of the Albanians came in chartered planes. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Serbia becomes regional vaccination hub

By Jovan Kovacic
Political Affairs Editor, New Europe

epa09002255 Workers unload containers transporting half a million doses of Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group vaccines for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade, Serbia, 10 February 2021. It secured early supplies of AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sputnik V and Sinopharm. Mass immunization started in Serbia as early as mid-January and by now some 2.35 million doses have been administered once and close to one million people have been revaccinated. The new Prime Minister in Pristina Aljbin Kurti says that negotiations with Serbia on any front are low on the list of his priorities. “We are bent on saving lives and not on geopolitics,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said. The initiative was launched by the Serbian Government and Chamber of Commerce, which sent an invitation to fellow businessmen in the Western Balkans and initially secured 10,.000 vaccines for the employees of some 1,500 companies. The situation has highlighted the need for closer cooperation among the West Balkan countries as the European Union struggled with its own problems and vaccine shortages. The best picture of all was when cabin crews from Albanian Airlines came in their flight uniforms for their shot,” she said.  
Viola Von Kramon said that the EU is “neglecting the geopolitical implications of the vaccination process in Serbia, primarily regarding the Russian vaccine.” 
Mandel said he was convinced that the vaccination policy in Serbia is not only unsuccessful, but is even dangerous because it fits into the attempts from abroad to provoke conflicts within the European Union, according to DW’s reporting from a briefing in the German office of the General Directorate for Communication of the European Parliament on March 18. There were Germans, Dutch, Austrians and Slovaks among them. EPA-EFE/ANDREJ CUKIC

orkers unload containers transporting half a million doses of Sinopharm's China National Biotec Group vaccines for COVID-19 at the Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade, Serbia. Albania and North Macedonia have backed the idea. More than 22,000 people from North Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and even Croatia jammed the border crossings for hours over the weekend, after Serbia invited them to get their shots for free.

It is happening perhaps in the US, it is happening in the UK, and Russia and some other parts of the world but Europe and some Latin American countries, it is clearly not happening and it’s going to take a lot longer to bring coronavirus under control and therefore for the economies to get back to normal,” Weafer said, noting that the oil price went up to the high 60s earlier in the year reflecting that optimism but now has dropped as it has become clear that it will take a lot longer for a big part the global economy to recover. EPA/WU HONG

COVID-19 vaccines give OPEC+ shot in the arm, worry about market effects lingers

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The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, convened for talks chaired by Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak via videoconference on April 1, approving the adjustment of the production levels for May, June and July, while agreeing to continue to hold monthly meetings to assess market conditions and decide on production level adjustments for the following month, with every adjustment being no more than 0.5 million barrels per day, OPEC said in a statement. “Minister Novak has made that clear. The basket of crude oil used as a benchmark indicator by OPEC has dropped to 33.33 US dollars, the OPEC said on 05 April 2016. The Macro-Advisory expert predicted that the oil price is much more likely to go below $60 per barrel before it rallies up to the high 60s again. Chris Weafer, co-founder of Macro-Advisory in Moscow, told New Europe by phone on April 1 that Russia fully supports OPEC+. It has to do it on a gradual basis whereas Saudi Arabia can do it that quickly and most of the other Arab countries – certainly those based in the Middle East and the Gulf region – can do it that quickly. He noted that Saudi Arabia has to keep the voluntary cut in place for longer than they hoped because they want the oil price to stay in the 60s otherwise it will come down more likely in the mid-50s where Russia is more comfortable with this and the US is even more comfortable as well. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>OPEC+ meets as Saudis keep finger on the pumps, Russia wants gradual output increase

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

epa05244381 (FILE) A file picture dated 09 November 2007 showing an oil worker under an oil well as he checks the oil pumping equipment at Gudong oil field which is a part of China’s Shengli oil field, Dongying, China. EPA/WU HONG

OPEC+ ministers have approved the adjustment of the oil production levels for May, June and July. Saudi Arabia will maintain its additional voluntary adjustments of 1 million barrels per day in April for the third month in a row. “Its (Moscow) argument is that it needs to be allowed to add back oil in a steady incremental basis so that at the end of the deal it has fully recovered the oil cut as its part of the production because it can’t do it that quickly. “The Biden administration simply does not have any reason to support the US oil sector,” he said, adding, “In fact very much the opposite, it wants investment to go into renewables and, secondly, the lower oil price or more modest price increases is a net positive for global economic recovery while a spike in the oil price could be damaging, it can slow economic recovery”. Russia has sought for OPEC+ to push ahead with a supply increase but Ministers on April 1 said an increase in oil production would not exceed 0.5 million barrels. But it’s also good politics,” Weafer said, explaining that Russia wants to continue to cooperate with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf Arab states, which reinforces Moscow’s position in the Middle East. “We also discussed closer collaboration to solve common challenges and develop renewable energy sources, increase efficiency, reduce methane in oil and gas production, and develop clean forms of hydrogen to combat climate change.”
Weafer noted the Americans support a modest oil price. “At the beginning of the year, there was optimism that all major economies would start to recover in the spring and that the coronavirus would be under control by the spring and we would be back to business as usual by the summer and now the evidence is that this is not the case. So, the delay is being shoved further out and that’s why the actions OPEC+ takes will reflect that,” Weafer said. “Suez was a temporary blip, provided an opportunity for traders to make money but now they are reflecting the fact that it’s going to take longer and there is a more sober view of recovery that 2021 is going to be a tough year for most of the year for many parts of the economy. In that sense, if Russia was to adapt this position those countries then it would lose market share for quite some time at the end of the deal and it says that OPEC should be prepared to live with a more modest oil price i.e. US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm called bin Salman ahead of the OPEC+ meeting. We reaffirmed the importance of international cooperation to ensure affordable and reliable sources of energy for consumers,” she wrote in a tweet. “I had a productive call with Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman al-Saud today. They recognized the improvements in the market supported by global vaccination programmes and stimulus packages in key economies but noted that the volatility observed in recent weeks warrants a continued cautious and vigilant approach in monitoring market developments, OPEC said. The basket includes 13 varieties of crude oil. The oil price obviously is better with OPEC+ managing the process even though there is a disagreement what should the strategy between Russia and Saudi (Arabia), but the oil price and oil market is more predictable with OPEC+. “Russia is absolutely clear in its support for OPEC+, and it will not do anything that would undermine the OPEC+ cooperation and specifically will look to avoid repeating what happened in March 2020 and partly that’s because it’s simply good economics. He noted that Moscow has a different view how the price should be managed than Riyadh but that disagreement does not undermine the OPEC+ structure. The Ministers noted that since the April 2020 meeting, OPEC and non-OPEC Participating Countries had contributed to adjusting downward global oil supply by 2.6 billion barrels of oil by the end of February, which has accelerated the rebalancing of the oil market. He said that Russia does not want to keep the oil production at the low level until the end of the term which the Saudi more or less advocate because when you get to the end and you say, ‘Okay the agreement is now over,’ the Saudis can fill the gap immediately, whereas Russia would take at least have a year, if not a bit longer, to recover all that lost oil in one go,” Weafer said. in the 50s and add oil incrementally, which is exactly what suits the Russian position whereas Saudi says they want the higher oil price and partly the reason is that they have much greater flexibility of turning oil on and off in big volumes very quickly and Russia does not have that flexibility,” Weafer explained.

This system had the goal of reducing costs and centralizing purchases and distribution. What, do you think, is the best approach in all these cases? Regarding the possibility of giving only one dose of the vaccine, there is data by Jama and Lancet showing that after 3-6 months, a single dose of the vaccine gives a person who had already had the virus, very high growth of the neutralizing antibodies. Italy is also taking part in these discussions. What do you think about such initiatives? Heath is still a national competence, but in this type of emergency, we have all to be in synch. GP: India is also producing vaccines, they do it for AstraZeneca as well, but in this case, the EMA or AIFA (the Italian Medicines Agency) or the FDA (the US’ Food and Drug Administration) will have to inspect the production sites. If Austria and Denmark decided to buy vaccines outside the EU, they were able to do it because there is an EU law that in emergency conditions, allows for such exceptional measures. Remember,  not all of the countries are going to have a quick supply of vaccines, so it is important to safeguard the rest of the world for economic, social and industrial reasons. GIORGIO PALU (GP): Yes, there is a big discussion about Sputnik V because of a study by Lancet, which came out in February. When you go to inspect a factory, you have to be sure that the product is also the same. GP: I personally fought for their use, and I found support from Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, in order to adopt an EU directive incorporated by a national draft law in 2006. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>INTERVIEW: Professor Giorgio Palu, President of Italy’s medicines agency

By Federico Grandesso
Italian Editor, Journalist

epaselect epa08783894 Italian Army performs swab tests for the detection of the Covid-19 coronavirus for residents in Caserta, Italy, 29 October 2020. Therefore, I think that the approval process will still take a few months before a final green light is given. In this case, the minister issued an emergency decree to approve the use of monoclonal antibodies because the law allows for emergency use if an experimental drug has already been approved by another international oversight body, like the FDA. Another natural step will be an inspection of the production sites. In any case, I think that Europe is still in wishful thinking mode. NE: There are also discussions on other vaccines, including India’s Covaxin. What do you think about that? We are in the middle of an emergency that includes the circulation of goods and people. That study was well done, and the result was an efficacy of 91-92%…I know that the dossier of Sputnik was sent to the EMA (European Medicines Agency) for evaluation. EPA-EFE/CESARE ABBATE

A member of the Italian Army performs swab tests for COVID-19 in the southern region of Caserta. The individual countries of the EU should have a common action plan. It then has to always have the same concentration in case of viral vector or micro-gramms of MRNA (messenger RNA, the single-stranded molecule of RNA that corresponds to the genetic sequence of a gene, and is read by a ribosome in the process of synthesizing a protein). NE: One of the parameters for the EU vaccine passport will be to include people who already had the virus and have developed antibodies. The mass test for residents are performed in the barracks where the Garibaldi Brigade is based, managed by the mobile laboratories of the Italian Army, with the ‘drive-through’ mode. Some EU of the 27 nations of the European Union has decided to take an independent path to obtain vaccine supplies. GP: We are bound by a European treaty. Do you think that this is a good strategy? We have to visit the production site and check all of the standard operations for the production of the vaccine. NEW EUROPE (NE): There is a big debate in Italy about using Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Finally, it is important to have the same processes validated by the pharma house. As a result, we need to go in this direction. EPA-EFE//CESARE ABBATE

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New Europe spoke with Professor Giorgio Palu, President of AIFA (the Italian Medicines Agency) and a newly appointed member of the Scientific Technical Committee, about the unexpected challenges the EU is facing regarding the supply of vaccines. We don’t know how long the immunity could last, but it is important to know and identify it. NE: There is a big discussion in Europe about individual countries within the EU buying vaccines out of the European Union’s circuit. NE: What do you think about the European idea to create a vaccine passport to allow people to travel? It was used for the Ebola emergency. We still need to build up a single procurement plan, and this is the time to do it. Even Italy’s Prime Minister, (Mario) Draghi, wants to keep the vaccines in Europe and not to export them outside the bloc. This was a very reasonable idea, and when I was in Brussels, we discussed the possibility of putting in place a single procurement for influenza vaccines. GP: This idea is also supported by the ECDC, we have to be pro-active about it. GP: Yes, the infection gives a natural immunity as with other viral diseases. The EMA could then delegate someone from AIFA or from Germany or France’s pharma agencies to carry out an onsite evaluation in order to see if the lots are produced at the same pace. NE: What is the situation regarding monoclonal antibodies? Now we have to recognize that this system hasn’t work well and everybody is complaining.

Cyprus is keen to see ship-owners use cleaner fuels, energy-efficient technologies and even consider the electrification of their vessels. But we are developing and implementing eco-friendly policies to lead the way – turning the climate and environmental challenges into opportunities. Greening of tourism 
Tourism has long helped to sustain the Cypriot economy yet we are acutely conscious of our responsibility to properly husband our natural resources. According to the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC), at the end of the second quarter of 2020, the value of total assets under management was 7.97 billion euros, a 5.3 per cent increase on the first quarter. FLICKR

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Across the West, the mantra voiced by policymakers is ‘build back better’. A key milestone along the path towards a more sustainable future was achieved in December when, as part of our efforts on cleaner energy generation, the European Investment Bank (EIB) agreed to provide substantial backing for the construction of the €152 million gas-fired Vasilikos power plant on the south coast, which will contribute to the production of enough electricity to allow us to begin shutting down plants reliant on oil. Only last month, the government announced €90 million worth of support for businesses to facilitate the transition to the circular economy. An image of solar energy panels, a major source of energy in Cyprus. Marshalling local and international actors, the NGO Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative  has been performing an important role in progressing such initiatives as well as environmental conservation policies to protect our beaches and coastal waters. Covid has taken its toll on all our industries, services and markets, and efforts to stimulate recovery are now underway. A view of a wind farm in Cyprus. But they need to be incentivised. In addition to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels for power generation, we must improve the efficiency of waste and water management and get more environmentally-friendly vehicles on our roads. The EU’s recovery funds will support innovative new environmental policies, some of which are already being applied to established sectors, such as shipping and tourism, and help to shape an emerging new area, investment funds. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Cyprus fast-tracks green economy transition

By George Campanellas
Chief Executive of Invest Cyprus, the national investment promotion agency. Sustainability is at the heart of our economic plans, with many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 strongly informing strategy. We also encourage tourists to pay visits to out-of-the-way parts of the island to help bolster their economies. As we emerge from the shadow of the pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to rebuild our economies in a more sustainable way. Regulation of this emerging sector will be key to maintaining investor confidence. Eco-friendly initiatives are seen as central to a revival of fortunes. Under the project, Cyprus is bidding for €978 million in direct grants conditional on a number of reforms – some long overdue – and progress on our National Recovery Plan. There is much that we need to change. Of course, we are committed to renewables but the transition from fossil fuel will not be achieved overnight – the focus will be on their gradual replacement. Cyprus was last year named the most improved country in the IMD World Competitiveness Centre Report, while Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) reached record levels on the eve of the pandemic. We are confident of introducing the measures required to access EU recovery funds, in so doing strengthening an already attractive business environment. EU ‘Green Deal’ key to progress 
A significant catalyst for progress on these and other environmental and sustainability initiatives is the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility. EPA-EFE//KATIA CHRISTODOULOU
Like many developed nations, we took a big FDI hit last year, but we anticipate renewed investor interest in the months to come, as we advance our green agenda. And Cyprus is fast-tracking a transition to a green economy – not only to restore the country to financial health in the wake of the pandemic but also to embrace important new investment opportunities to diversify our economy. In keeping with our ambition to be a beacon of sustainable economic development in the region, Cyprus wants to be in the vanguard of this new investment trend, and is giving priority to ESG funds as well as developing sustainable finance standards for all of Cyprus’s banks and financial services organisations. Cyprus has been described as Europe’s new investment fund hotspot. And critically, reflecting our overarching ambition, it will accelerate the transition to a green economy, with an emphasis on energy efficiency, sustainable transport, cleaner energy and waste and water management. Self-drive village routes, countryside walking trails, agrotourism and schemes to support female entrepreneurs in rural tourism typify our approach. Moreover, with our growing expertise in this area, we are also able to contribute at global level to the debate on sustainable finance. Foreign investment directed at key sectors will expedite the process. The good work being done will hopefully lay the foundations for a stronger, more resilient tourism sector when visitors begin returning in numbers in the summer. Therefore, we reward hotel compliance with environmental standards and require them to demonstrate sustainable business practices. We aim to do this through a series of inducements. Sustainable financing 
Meanwhile, demand for, and interest in, a lesser-known feature of the Cypriot business landscape has gathered pace during the pandemic. From this year, Cyprus-flagged ships, of which there are over a thousand, will receive up to a 30 per cent discount on tonnage tax, predicated on measures they take to reduce their impact on the environment by, for instance, cutting overall fuel consumption and using lower carbon-emitting fuels. Also in 2020, we began work on a €289 million floating LNG storage and regasification unit in Vasilikos Bay, again significantly financed by the EIB, which is expected to reduce our carbon footprint by around 30 per cent. Indeed, Cyprus is reported to show the largest annual increase in the value of assets under management in recent years. Indeed, CySEC is committed to fostering both firms’ compliance with the new standards and their ESG responsibilities in general – taking action where it sees a risk of mislabeling, misrepresentation or miss-selling, in order to protect consumers. As a leading maritime nation, with the third-largest merchant fleet in Europe, we believe that we should play a strategic role in trying to reduce the shipping industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. The diversification of Cyprus’s touristic offering away from its traditional ‘sun and sand’ holidays has also led to the launch of TourInvest, a one-stop shop for private equity and family offices to support the landing of high-value investments into projects that align with the government’s green strategy, with a mountain spa and a winery among current projects available to environmentally conscious investors. Yet ‘Green’ funds not only appeal to ethically-minded investors, they are seen as safe havens in these uncertain times. We recognise that Covid has given impetus to ESG investing, as investors’ sustainability concerns grow, particularly among millennials. The plan seeks to advance reforms in areas ranging from public health, the labour market to education; promote economic diversification; as well as enhance the investment and digital environments. Cyprus is determined to accelerate the process because we understand that the adoption of a green agenda is critical to advancing financial and development goals.

“If Turkey does not move forward constructively, if it returns to unilateral actions or provocations, in particular in the Eastern Mediterranean, of course, we would suspend the cooperation”, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. epaselect epa07909583 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses provincial chairmans of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara, Turkey 10 October 2019. After the near-escalation and drama of last year, the present tranquillity may be termed a success story of European, and foremost German diplomatic interventions. “The EU now sees us almost like Russia”, says retired Turkish Ambassador Oguz Demiralp: “Let Turkey do what it wants to do unless it hurts me.” This option would come into effect should Ankara move away from the EU’s overreaching expectations concerning peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. The European Union has fully taken sides with them in their conflicts with Turkey. But for Brussels, these aren’t the decisive points. EPA-EFE//STR

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Once again, relations with Turkey took center stage at the European Union’s summit meeting. Brussels is willing to channel new funds to Turkey in an effort to ward off a new migration flow from Anatolia to Europe. The EU is acting on the maxim of Realpolitik only. Both sides agree to the need to talk in these three areas. Ankara’s conduct in the Eastern Mediterranean is the key determinant of EU-policies vis-à-vis Erdogan. EPA-EFE/STR

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed members of the ruling Justice and Development Party in Ankara. The future will show whether, or for how long, Erdogan is prepared to sacrifice his well-communicated maritime aspirations in a trade-off for better relations with the European Union. The Europeans have created a political connection by linking progress in their relations with Turkey to Turkish behavior – or good behavior, to be more concrete – in the maritime issues of the Eastern Mediterranean. The times when the EU discussed scenarios leading to Turkey’s membership are history. Speculation is rife that a Mitsotakis-Erdogan summit could be the next step on the bumpy path towards trans-Aegean rapprochement. By so doing, Brussels has become a party in the dispute. “It means that we hope Turkey will maintain a moderate behavior, positive behavior”. Of course, he is aware of the human rights violations, the draconian clampdown against the opposition, and to top the series of illiberal provocations, Ankara’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on Preventing Violence against Women. In this enumeration, the term “reversible” is decisive. When the President of the European Council says “positive behavior”, he is not referring to Erdogan’s domestic politics. Mentions of human rights and democracy have degenerated to lip service. Turkey has deployed troops in the north of the island ever since the forceful partition dating back to 1974. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Conditional cooperation: The EU’s ‘positive agenda’ and Turkey’s policies in the Eastern Mediterranean

By Ronald Meinardus
Political commentator and analyst, he heads the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom’s office in Istanbul. EPA-EFE//STEFANOS RAPANIS
Meanwhile, sticking to the carrot and stick approach the summit has resolved to kick-start talks with Ankara on three main topics: the modernization of the Customs Union, the expansion of high-level political talks and migration. In today’s dealings with Turkey, normative values have no place.  
A Greek Air Force F-16 fighter during an air-refueling while taking part in training exercises off the island of Crete. Cyprus also has stakes in the regional dispute. In line with this, the official Council agenda did not mention “Turkey”, instead referring to the “Eastern Mediterranean”, 
For the European Union, the conflicts in and around the Eastern Mediterranean have become a political top-priority. The offer to Turkey is “a positive agenda, but conditional” says Charles Michel. The government in Ankara has not overheard the admonitions and reacted with what observers have termed a “charm offensive”. In dealing with Turkey, the EU has decided to keep a backdoor open, an option to move away from the talks or to terminate them. Importantly, also the talks on migration are ruled by a general caveat. The summit conclusions state that all engagement with Ankara would happen “in a phased, proportionate and reversible manner”. A meeting of foreign ministers is scheduled for mid-April. Compared with last year, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean has calmed down. This conditionality runs like a common thread through official EU statements. While Ankara’s gradual sliding to an authoritarian order used to be the focus, foreign and security issues related to Turkey have become the main issue. A moratorium of sorts governs Greek-Turkish relations. Or put differently: Should Erdogan resume the explorations in disputed waters, Brussels would pull the plug. has become a regular agenda item when EU leaders convene. From an EU- perspective, no less than the integrity of the external borders of the Union is at stake in the conflict with Ankara. How to deal with Erdogan’s Turkey? Of a more recent date are differences over maritime claims between Ankara and Nicosia. By a hair’s breath, Athens and Ankara came close to engaging in a military confrontation last year. Erdogan’s decision not to dispatch Turkish research vessels into disputed waters is the main reason for the détente. Also: If it weren’t for the Turkish-Greek strife, cooperation on the refugee issue would top the list of EU-Turkey diplomacy. Turkey has launched an offensive targeting Kurdish forces in north-eastern Syria, days after the US withdrew troops from the area. ”We are ready to put more concrete proposals on the table to have a more stable, more predictable relationship with Turkey”, said Charles Michel after the meeting. Cyprus and Greece are both EU member states. Irrespective of the European criticism thrown at Erdogan’s Turkey, EU leaders hardly miss an opportunity to applaud Ankara’s hospitality towards the nearly four million Syrian refugees who have settled in the country. It is here that Europe’s offer of a “positive agenda” is most obvious. Following years of standstill, Athens and Ankara have resumed their bilateral talks. Both sides also agree that these talks are in their mutual interest. If there is any one area in EU-Turkey relations that deserves the win-win-tag, it is the modernization of the Customs Union. An important takeaway from the summit has been that for the EU, what Erdogan does within Turkey’s own borders is of secondary importance only.     
Today, the quality of Turkey’s EU relations depends on the state of affairs of Turkish-Greek relations.

“History tells us that, when we (support one another), more countries will opt for the open and secure spaces that we build together.”
The Biden administration is deepening ties with partners around the world. A view of an analytical chemist at AstraZeneca?s Sydney, Australia headquarters. To face these challenges, Blinken called for expanded partnerships that include additional countries and the private sector. To counter surveillance risks from the PRC’s fifth-generation telecommunications vendors, Blinken suggested convening tech companies from Finland, South Korea, Sweden and the United States to create a secure and trustworthy alternative. State Department//Ron Przysucha

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken wants to revitalize the US’ alliances to counter modern threats, including economic coercion, disinformation and climate change. He urged nations to cooperate in the face of increasingly complex challenges. Building on an initial contribution of $2 billion to the global vaccine alliance Gavi in support of COVAX, the United States will contribute an additional $2 billion to Gavi through 2022, for a total of $4 billion. In a speech on March 24 in Brussels, Blinken affirmed America’s commitment to NATO and allies around the world. Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers a speech on American foreign policy at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. “This is why we invested so much in these partnerships — so we can come together in innovative ways to solve new challenges like these.” “But that’s the great strength of our alliances: they were built to adapt — to keep evolving as new challenges emerge.”
Those challenges include the Russian government’s disinformation campaigns that seek to undermine elections and the People’s Republic of China’s use of economic coercion and cyberattacks to bully countries and steal intellectual property, Blinken said. A source code on a computer in Taipei, Taiwan after being hit by a major cyber attack from China. EPA-EFE//DAN HIMBRECHTS
Collaboration is already underway, Blinken said, noting that the partnership between American and German pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech delivered a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19. “The world looks very different than it did decades ago, when we forged many of our alliances,” Blinken said after meeting with NATO allies. Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met in March with senior officials in Japan and the Republic of Korea. In his NATO speech, Blinken said allies must maintain a strong and credible military deterrent, and counter economic and technological threats, including disinformation. Subsequently, Blinken met with counterparts at NATO’s meeting of foreign ministers. On March 12, President Biden held the first leaders summit of the Quad, the United States’ partnership with Australia, India and Japan. The United States and other nations are also partnering with the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. EPA-EFE/RITCHIE B. TONGO
Meanwhile, climate change is causing rising sea levels and more intense storms that threaten military readiness, alter global migration and endanger food security. “We’ve spent decades developing relationships with countries that share our values in every part of the globe,” Blinken said. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>US and its allies adapt to face new challenges

By Leigh Hartman
Foreign Policy Writer/Editor ShareAmerica.

The countertops of the stalls are red with blood as fish are gutted and filleted right in front of the customers’ eyes. A wet market in Chinatown, Yangon, Myanmar. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement attachés around the world.” Additionally, the bill obliges the United States to work with other members of the United Nations toward instituting a global ban on commercial wildlife markets and enforcement of wildlife trafficking laws. The bill “prohibits importing, exporting, purchasing, or selling live wild animals in the United States for human consumption as food or medicine.”
It also directs the Department of the Interior to “hire, train, and deploy at least 50 new U.S. 37, was introduced into the Senate by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Cornyn (R-TX). “Wild animals sold in commercial wildlife markets endure extreme stress and unsanitary conditions before being slaughtered,” according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit based in Cotati, California, that works to pass state and federal legislation supporting animal rights. Melting ice adds to the slush on the floor. WIKIPEDIA
Wet markets are “unique epicenters for transmission of potential viral pathogens, [where] new genes may be acquired or existing genes modified through various mechanisms such as genetic reassortment, recombination and mutation,” according to a paper written by a team of microbiologists from the University of Hong Kong and published in the journal Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases in 2006. Christian Walzer, chief global veterinarian of the Wildlife Conservation Society, in a press statement. Shutting down commercial wildlife markets—and the international wildlife trade—is critical both to reducing the risk of novel zoonotic disease and animal suffering.”
“We must acknowledge the basic tenet that the more we destroy and intrude on nature, the more likely zoonotic spillovers will occur,” said Dr. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Fred Upton (R-MI) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to address the public health risks posed by wildlife markets, called the Preventing Future Pandemics Act (H.R. SARS-CoV-2 is a strain of SARS. “As the world continues to grapple with COVID-19, our continued exploitation of animals and our environment is fueling the next pandemic. So things are wet.”
In January, Rep. Quigley. … Several samples from patients with exposure to the Huanan market had identical virus genomes, suggesting that they may have been part of a cluster.”
Virologists believe that these sites, which bring together a variety of live animals into close contact with humans, are ideal places for this sort of interspecies viral transmission. Of the more than 30 new human pathogens detected in the last three decades, 75 percent have originated in animals. They add that these markets, “at closer proximity to humans, with high viral burden or strains of higher transmission efficiency, facilitate transmission of the viruses to humans.”
“Once you walk into one of these places, it’s quite obvious why they’re called wet markets,” said Jason Beaubien, NPR’s global health and development correspondent, on the radio station’s “Morning Edition” show last year. “For the sake of our health, our economy, and our livelihoods, preventing the next pandemic before it starts is perhaps the most important thing we must do,” said Rep. 151). “While there remains a need for more investigation, we are not surprised about the wildlife origin referenced in the report and we know enough to act now to reduce risks of future zoonotic pandemics,” said Dr. Walzer. WIKIPEDIA

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The exact origin of the coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, which started the COVID-19 pandemic, is still unclear. “Some 60 percent of emerging infectious diseases reported globally are zoonoses, causing about 1 billion cases of human illness and millions of deaths every year. “We were thrilled with the robust, bipartisan support the bill received last year and we’re committed to building on that momentum to see this bill become law.”
In addition to their threat to public health, wet markets are sites of extreme pain and suffering for so many animals. “Zoonotic spillover events and subsequent outbreaks are inevitable, as the interfaces between wildlife and humans increase, primarily due to deforestation and agricultural expansion.”
SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA//National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
The cruelty to animals witnessed at wet markets points to a deeper, ethical concern about how we view and treat other species. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Live animal markets should be closed to prevent the next pandemic

By Reynard Loki
Reynard Loki is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute, where he serves as the editor and chief correspondent for Earth | Food | Life. We hunt them, eat them, traffic them, sell them as exotic pets around the world, we put them in factory farms in terrible close conditions and all these situations can lead to an environment where a pathogen, like a virus, can jump from an animal to a person, where it may cause a new disease like COVID-19.”
*This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute. There are live turtles and crustaceans climbing over each other in boxes. Importantly, research has shown zoonotic-origin pathogens increase along the supply chain from source to market.”
A wet market in Hong Kong. Today, the international team of scientists assembled by the World Health Organization published their report of their recent visit to Wuhan to investigate the source of the virus and confirmed the “zoonotic source of SARS-CoV-2.”
“Evidence from surveys and targeted studies so far have shown that the coronaviruses most highly related to SARS-CoV-2 are found in bats and pangolins, suggesting that these mammals may be the reservoir of the virus that causes COVID-19,” the WHO report states. In November 2020, during an interview with Euronews, Jane Goodall, the renowned British primatologist and ethologist, said that “we, in part, brought (COVID-19) on ourselves by our disrespect of nature and our disrespect of animals.”
She added, “We push animals into closer contact with humans. A companion bill, S. “Live fish in open tubs are splashing water all over the place. Early reports suggested that the virus jumped from an animal to a human at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, a “wet market” that sells live animals. In 2002, for example, scientists identified the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus in Himalayan palm civets, a small mammal, in wet markets in Shenzhen in southern China. “In addition to these findings, the high susceptibility of mink and cats to SARS-CoV- 2 suggests that additional species of animals may act as a potential reservoir.