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The opposition says that Lukashenko’s main challenger, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, was the rightful winner and wants new elections. Belarus has been rocked by five weeks of protests after president Alexander Lukashenko, who has led the country since 1994, won a landslide victory in the August 9 election. It will remain the main instrument for dialogue between the Belarusian people and the so-called government”, Tikhanovskaya said. The committee said that Kolesnikova was charged with calling for “actions aimed at undermining Belarusian national security” using the media and the internet. However, it will not be lost. Tikhanovskaya, who fled to Lithuania after the vote, won only about 10% to Lukashenko’s 80%, according to the election committee. Kolesnikova, a presidium member of the opposition Coordination Council, was arrested last week after Belarusian authorities failed to forcibly expel her to neighboring Ukraine. Belarus investigators have officially charged protest leader Maria Kolesnikova with incitement to undermine national security, the Investigative Committee said on Wednesday. Another leader of the council, Maksim Znak, was arrested in the body’s Minsk headquarters. The government has denied the claims. The vote was denounced by EU officials, and forced Lukashenko to look to Moscow for support. Human rights activists have repeatedly accused Belarusian riot police of brutally suppressing peaceful marches in the country. She is currently in jail in Minsk after ripping up her own passport last week to thwart an attempt to expel her to Ukraine. “Yes, the Coordination Council has been beheaded.

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According to media reports citing eyewitnesses and fellow campaign members, Kolesnikova has been detained by unidentified persons in Minsk on 07 September. EPA-EFE/TATYANA ZENKOVICH

Belarusian opposition presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (L) raises her fist next to Maria Kolesnikova (R), a representative of non-registered presidential candidate Victor Babariko, during a campaign rally in Minsk, Belarus, 19 July 2020 (reissued 07 September 2020). EPA-EFE/TATYANA ZENKOVICH style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Belarus charges protest leader for undermining national security

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08652182 (FILE) – Belarusian opposition presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (L) raises her fist next to Maria Kolesnikova (R), a representative of non-registered presidential candidate Victor Babariko, during a campaign rally in Minsk, Belarus, 19 July 2020 (reissued 07 September 2020). According to media reports citing eyewitnesses and fellow campaign members, Kolesnikova has been detained by unidentified persons in Minsk on 07 September.

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The daily figure is the highest since May 8, when the country was only beginning to emerge from lockdown, and there were 4,649 new cases reported. Prime minister Boris Johnson announced that he plans to boost testing to 500,000 a day by the end of October to avoid a second national lockdown. There were also 20 new deaths from COVID-19, according to the latest figures. The United Kingdom recorded 3,991 new daily coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of daily cases to 378,219, government data showed on Wednesday. Authorities attributed the rise in infections to the fact that Britain’s testing capacity has also grown since the peak of the first wave. The UK has struggled to measure the spread of Covid-19 through the population because of shortages of tests and delays at the labs that check the samples.
EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

Pedestrians walk past a sign displaying a Covid helpline in London, Britain, 15 September 2020. The 'rule of six' have been implemented in the latest push to curb the recent surge in coronavirus infections in the United Kingdom. The ‘rule of six’ have been implemented in the latest push to curb the recent surge in coronavirus infections in the United Kingdom. In order to curb the rise in coronavirus cases in the UK, it is now illegal for groups of more than six to meet up. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>UK virus cases jump to highest since May

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08670845 Pedestrians walk past a sign displaying a Covid helpline in London, Britain, 15 September 2020. EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA In order to curb the rise in coronavirus cases in the UK, it is now illegal for groups of more than six to meet up.
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style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU Council President pledges to defend Cyprus rights

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08672271 Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (R) and European Council President Charles Michel (L) speak during a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, 16 September 2020. EPA-EFE/YIANNIS KOURTOGLOU / POOL

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (R) and European Council President Charles Michel (L) speak during a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, 16 September 2020. EPA-EFE/YIANNIS KOURTOGLOU / POOL Michel is in Cyprus on a one-day official visit.
EU Council President Charles Michel on Wednesday pledged that the EU will defend the interests of Cyprus amid “worrying developments” in the Eastern Mediterranean. “Yesterday, unfortunately a Turkish NAVTEX to expand illegal drilling by the Yavuz vessel was extended when at the same time, a series of initiatives are ongoing that seek an end to Ankara’s unlawful actions and de-escalation,” Anastasiades said after the meeting with Michel. “I think we must indeed be very firm when it comes to defending the interests of all Member States, including the interests of Cyprus of course,” Michel said during a visit to Nicosia, where he met with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades. Michel’s visit came ahead of an extraordinary summit on the Eastern Mediterranean, scheduled for September 24-25, where EU leaders are urged to deliver “clear messages” to Ankara over its illegal drillings in the region. “As long as there are illegal actions against member states, the EU’s response should be immediate,” Anastasiades said. With the Cypriot President saying the country is ready to enter dialogue with Ankara, “but not under threats,” Michel said the bloc should work towards a common objective; “to ensure respect for the principles of international law and also to ensure respect for more stability and more security, which must be a priority shared by each of us.”
  It also came a day after Turkey extended the operations of its Yavuz energy drill ship in the area off Cyprus until October 12, in a move that could stir tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. “I would like to say very clearly, very clearly, the European Union’s solidarity with Cyprus, which is facing very serious, very serious concerns,” he added, citing that it is a matter extending beyond Cyprus and Greece, “directly concerning” the interests of the European Union.

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Looking forward to helping him implement his reform agenda,”  the former head of the EBRD wrote. “Full of joy as I have just heard that President Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan is appointing me as his Adviser on economic development, effective governance and international cooperation. “I am glad that I was appointed advisor to the President of Kazakhstan Tokayev on economic development and effective management. NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan – Former head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Suma Chakrabarti, who was recently appointed adviser to Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, also became adviser to Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Chakrabarti wrote in a tweet on September 14. He focuses on modernising the transfer of investment and policy expertise to countries for developing their private sector and free market economies. Tokayev appointed Chakrabarti as his freelance advisor on September 14. Chakrabarti has been President of the EBRD since 2012. I look forward to the work ahead,” Chakrabarti wrote. He also became deputy chairman of the Supreme Council for Reforms under the President of Kazakhstan. The post of chairman is held by the President of Kazakhstan. Earlier, he said Tokayev had appointed him to a similar position.

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EPA-EFE/SIMELA PANTZARTZI EPA-EFE/SIMELA PANTZARTZI

ormer head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Suma Chakrabarti. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Former EBRD head becomes advisor to Uzbek and Kazakh presidents

By Kulpash Konyrova

epa06631986 Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (not pictured) talks with the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Suma Chakrabarti, during a meeting at the Maximos Mansion in Athens, Greece, 27 March 2018.
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EPA/SERGEI ILNITSKY EPA/SERGEI ILNITSKY

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (L) enters a court room to hear his verdict at the Tverskoy district court in Moscow, Russia, 27 March 2017. A court found Navalny guilty of organizing an unauthorized protest and sentenced him to 15 days of administrative arrest for resisting police during detention. Navalny was arrested on 26 March, during an non-authorized opposition rally in central Moscow. He was also ordered to pay a fine for organizing the banned protest. Thousands of Russians throughout Russia took part in so-called anti-corruption rallies organized by the opposition despite of authorities ban, hundreds of participants were arrested. Navalny was arrested on 26 March, during an non-authorized opposition rally in central Moscow. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Navalny allies say traces of Novichok have been found on water bottle in hotel room

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa05873584 Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (L) enters a court room to hear his verdict at the Tverskoy district court in Moscow, Russia, 27 March 2017. He was also ordered to pay a fine for organizing the banned protest. Thousands of Russians throughout Russia took part in so-called anti-corruption rallies organized by the opposition despite of authorities ban, hundreds of participants were arrested. A court found Navalny guilty of organizing an unauthorized protest and sentenced him to 15 days of administrative arrest for resisting police during detention.

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Они вызвали адвоката, поднялись в номер, из которого только что выехал Навальный, и начали фиксировать, описывать и упаковывать все, что там нашли. В этот момент была сделана единственно возможная вещь. Так и вышло: прошел почти месяц, Россия так и не признала отравление Алексея. Сегодня в 20.00 в передаче «Россия Будущего» на ютюб-канале Навальный LIVE Георгий Албуров @alburov расскажет подробности. A post shared by Алексей Навальный (@navalny) on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:59pm PDT

Despite calls from Western governments for an investigation, Moscow has said there is not enough evidence to open a criminal case into Navalny’s poisoning. Это бутылка из номера в томской гостинице, где останавливался сам Навальный и вся наша съемочная группа. Но поскольку нам было абсолютно ясно, что Навальный не “слегка заболел”, не “перегрелся” и Рафаэлкой здесь не поможешь, было решено забрать все, что может хоть как-то гипотетически пригодиться, и передать это врачам в Германии. Давайте объясним, откуда взялось то, про что нам непрерывно задают вопросы. Перенесемся обратно в 20 августа. Germany said Monday that two independent laboratories – one in Sweden and one in France – confirmed that Navalny was poisoned with Novichok. А потом еще три лаборатории, которые брали анализы у Алексея, подтвердили, что Навальный был отравлен именно им. В полете Алексей потерял сознание и начал задыхаться, самолёт экстренно сел. “Now we understand: it was done before he left his room to go to the airport”, it said. Germany later said he was poisoned with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent in an attempt to murder him. Как это происходило, вы можете посмотреть на этом видео. Traces of the poison that put Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny into a coma were detected on a water bottle recovered from his Siberian hotel room, his team said alongside a video posted on Navalny’s Instagram account on Thursday. On Thursday, Navalny’s aides posted a video of his hotel room, showing staffers gathering possible evidence, including several water bottles. Russia has rejected the claims. В том числе, и бутылки из-под гостиничной воды. Так называемая “бутылка с «Новичком»”, ну, а точнее, обычная пластиковая бутылка из-под воды, на которой потом в немецкой лаборатории обнаружили следы боевого отравляющего вещества. Никакой особой надежды что-то такое обнаружить не было. Почти сразу сотрудники ФБК, которые остались в Томске, узнали о случившемся. В этот день часть нашей команды улетела в Москву, часть осталась в Томске доделывать видео. То, что дело расследовать в России не будут, тоже было достаточно очевидно. On August 20, he fell ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Omsk, where he spent two days in hospital before being evacuated to Germany. Спустя две недели именно на бутылке из томского номера немецкая лаборатория обнаружила следы «Новичка». View this post on Instagram

Откуда взялась злосчастная бутылка? Navalny’s spokeswoman initially said she suspected he had drunk a cup of tea laced with poison at a Tomsk airport cafe before boarding his flight to Moscow. On Monday, Berlin’s Charite hospital that has been treating Navalny said that he has been successfully removed from mechanical ventilation and is now able to briefly leave his bed. One of them taken to Germany contained traces of Novichok that allowed Germany to identify it, the post said. Navalny is a fierce critic of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. Теперь мы понимаем: это было сделано до того, как он покинул свой номер, чтобы поехать в аэропорт.

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Since signing the agreement, the Taliban have kept a promise not to attack US and NATO troops, but they have carried out regular attacks on Afghan security forces. Afghanistan and Taliban peace talk negotiators held their first session on Tuesday in Doha, their spokesmen said. Under the US-Taliban deal signed in February, a prisoner swap of about 5,000 Taliban prisoners and 1,000 detained Afghan security personnel was agreed as a confidence-building measure ahead of formal peace talks aimed at ending the 19-year war. An Afghan presidential palace official said a top priority was getting the Taliban to agree on a ceasefire or significant reduction in violence. Heads of delegations reiterated the need for patience and tolerance as we move forward in this path”, senior Afghan government negotiator Nader Nadery and Taliban spokesman Muhammad Naeem both said in identical statements on Twitter. “The meeting of both negotiating teams with full members took place today at 4:30 p.m.
The United States, Taliban and Afghanistan government delegations officially began the intra-Afghan negotiations on 12 September 2020. EPA-EFE/STRINGER EPA-EFE/STRINGER

Members of the Taliban delegation attend the opening session of the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, 12 September 2020. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Afghan peace talk negotiators hold first direct session in Doha

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08663247 Members of the Taliban delegation attend the opening session of the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, 12 September 2020. The United States, Taliban and Afghanistan government delegations officially began the intra-Afghan negotiations on 12 September 2020.

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style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Russia’s Gazprom boosts Chayandinskoye field capacities to fuel Power of Siberia pipe

By New Europe Online/KG

Comprehensive Gas Treatment Unit No. 3 at Chayandinskoye field

GAZPROM/FILE PICTURE

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The future construction site is currently being cleared. Overall, the project’s readiness is at 66%. Gas transmission facilities are being built at the section from Gryazovets to the under-construction Slavyanskaya CS. According to the company, said the issue of the status of Gazprom’s major investment projects will be submitted for consideration by the Gazprom Board of Directors. As part of these activities, the following facilities will be put into operation: the Urengoy – Pur-Pe oil and condensate pipeline, a connecting condensate pipeline, the Urengoyskaya oil pumping station, and a condensate stabilisation unit. Work continues on the construction of the LNG production, storage and shipment complex near the Portovaya CS. Near the settlement of Ust-Luga, the project for the creation of an integrated complex for natural gas processing and liquefaction (the gas processing complex that forms part of the Complex for processing ethane-containing gas near the settlement of Ust-Luga) is in progress. More than half of its linear part – 206 kilometres – has been welded to date. At the fifth and sixth trains, the pouring of foundations is being completed and the assembly of piperacks has started. Moreover, capacity increase will be finished at the operating comprehensive gas treatment unit (CGTU-3), which feeds gas into the Power of Siberia gas pipeline. Gazprom said the company is making further efforts to expand the Sakhalin – Khabarovsk – Vladivostok gas pipeline at the section between Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Khabarovsk. In the current year, for instance, 52 gas wells will be hooked up at the Bovanenkovskoye field. Gas separation equipment is being installed at the third and fourth production trains. The facilities will transport condensate extracted from the Achimov deposits of the Urengoyskoye field. Gazprom is developing the Yamal gas production center. Pre-development of the Kovyktinskoye field in the Irkutsk Region is underway, with production drilling and site clearing for the construction of the first CGTU taking place at the moment, Gazprom said. Preparatory activities are ongoing at the section of the pipeline route from the Kovyktinskoye field to the Chayandinskoye field. Within the Amur Gas Processing Plant construction project, start-up and commissioning continues at the first two production trains. In the Nadym-Pur-Taz region, Gazprom is bringing to a close the integrated project for liquid hydrocarbon transportation. The second workshops at the Chikshinskaya CS (Bovanenkovo – Ukhta 2 gas pipeline) and Novoprivodinskaya and Novoyubileynaya CSs (Ukhta – Torzhok 2 gas pipeline) are being prepared to come onstream. In the east of Russia, the systematic expansion of production capacities continues at the Chayandinskoye field in Yakutia, which is the resource base for the Power of Siberia Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said. At the Kharasaveyskoye field, production wells are being drilled, and a connecting gas pipeline stretching to Bovanenkovskoye is being welded and laid. In 2020, it is planned to bring onstream 103 gas wells, a gas pre-treatment unit (GPTU-2), and a membrane unit for helium concentrate extraction, Gazprom said on September 11. The capacities of the northern gas transmission corridor are undergoing an expansion. Construction and installation works are nearing completion at the Ivan Moskvitin compressor station (CS) on the Power of Siberia gas pipeline, and the facilities of the project’s next stage are already being built.

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Greece’s Energean announced on September 16 that Energean Israel has signed two new Gas Sales and Purchase Agreements (GSPAs), which, combined, represent quantities of gas of up to 1.4 billion cubic metres per year and increase total firm contracted gas sales from its flagship Karish project to approximately 7 billion cubic metres per year on plateau. According to Energean, which owns 70% of Energean Israel, the new agreements represent contracted revenues of more than $2.5 billion over the life of the contracts, but require no further capital investment beyond Karish North, upon which Energean Israel expects to take Final Investment Decision later this year. “We remain committed to continue bringing competition and security of supply to the Israeli gas market even after we fill the Karish FPSO to its maximum 8 bcm per year capacity. The remainder of the quantities are represented by a second new GSPA that has been signed with an affiliate of the RH Partnership for the supply of gas for other existing power stations, Energean said, adding that gas supply will commence following first gas from Karish, achieving the plateau rate from January 2024. The contract term is for up to 15 years and the GSPA contains provisions regarding floor pricing for the main plateau period and take-or-pay. The GSPA is for a term of up to 20 years and contains provisions regarding floor pricing for the main plateau period and exclusivity. The new contracts we signed today further strengthen our secured revenues stream, which is well-insulated against future commodity price fluctuations, and provide cash flows that will support our strategic goal of paying a sustainable dividend to our shareholders,” he added. Having secured sufficient resources to fill the Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO) for a number of years, Energean’s near-term strategy is to secure the necessary offtake to fill the remaining 1 billion cubic metres per year of spare capacity in the 8 billion cubic metres per year Energean Power FPSO, Energean said, adding that the company is assessing several opportunities in both the Israeli domestic market and key export markets in order to meet this target, alongside reviewing further growth opportunities across the nine exploration blocks that it holds in Israel to further expand its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean. The annual contract quantity (ACQ) reduces after the first seven years following first gas from Karish. The GSPAs have been signed at levels that are aligned with the other large, long-term contracts within Energean’s portfolio and are only subject to buyers’ lenders’ consent
The majority of the quantities are represented by a GSPA to supply gas to the Ramat Hovav Power Plant Partnership, a partnership between the Edeltech Group and Shikun & Binui. “We are delighted to have signed these additional gas sales agreements, which increase firm gas sales to 7 bcm per year on plateau from our flagship Karish gas project, which is on track to deliver first gas in the second half of 2021 and I want to thank Edeltech and Shikun & Binui for their continued trust,” Energean CEO Mathios Rigas said. RH Partnership was the winning bidder in the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) Ramat Hovav tender process, the second IEC power plant in a series of five to be privatised.
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ENERGEAN style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Greece’s Energean inks additional gas sale contracts from Israel’s Karish field

By New Europe Online/KG

The Energean Power FPSO hull arrival in Singapore in April 2020.

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which includes the Nordic country’s capital, Helsinki, and is Finland’s most prosperous and populated region? has been isolated and cut off from the rest of the country following a unanimous parliamentary vote on 27 March, in a bid to slow down the spread of the pandemic COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. EPA-EFE/KIMMO BRANDT The southwestern Finnish region of Uusimaa? has been isolated and cut off from the rest of the country following a unanimous parliamentary vote on 27 March, in a bid to slow down the spread of the pandemic COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. EPA-EFE/KIMMO BRANDT

A police officer checks a passenger's documents on the long-distance train between Helsinki and Lahti, near Helsinki, Finland, 31 March 2020. The southwestern Finnish region of Uusimaa? style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Finland to end entry restrictions for 7 EU countries from Sept 19

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08333596 A police officer checks a passenger’s documents on the long-distance train between Helsinki and Lahti, near Helsinki, Finland, 31 March 2020. which includes the Nordic country's capital, Helsinki, and is Finland's most prosperous and populated region?

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Due to the increased number of COVID infections in Italy and Hungary, arrivals from both countries will have to go into quarantine upon arrival in Finland. “From September 19, entry restrictions can be lifted in traffic between Finland and EU and Schengen countries where the incidence of new cases does not exceed 25 new cases per 100,000 persons during the previous 14 days. Until now, the limit value has been 8-10”, the Finnish interior ministry said, adding that the new rules also apply to the United Kingdom. Under the new rules, starting from Saturday, all entry restrictions will be lifted for arrivals to Finland from Iceland, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Germany, Liechtenstein and Cyprus. Finland on Friday started rating countries with low COVID-19 risk with an average of 25 new infections per day in the last 2 weeks, instead of the previous rating of 8 to 10 infections per day.

Navalny is treated at the Charite hospital in Berlin since 22 August 2020 for being poisoned with a nerve agent from the Novichok group. In accompanying text Navalny said he was able to breathe on his own all day. In accompanying text Navalny said he was able to breathe on his own all day. EPA-EFE/ALEXEI NAVALNY HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES According to the announcement of the Charite hospital, Navalny has been successfully removed from mechanical ventilation and is able to leave his bed for short periods of time. Navalny is treated at the Charite hospital in Berlin since 22 August 2020 for being poisoned with a nerve agent from the Novichok group. According to the announcement of the Charite hospital, Navalny has been successfully removed from mechanical ventilation and is able to leave his bed for short periods of time. EPA-EFE/ALEXEI NAVALNY HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

A undated, recent handout photo made available by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny via his Instagram site shows Navalny (2-R) at his Charite hospital bed where he is hospitalized in Berlin, Germany, 15 September 2020. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Navalny posts picture from Berlin hospital bed, says he ‘generally feels like himself’

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08670086 A undated, recent handout photo made available by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny via his Instagram site shows Navalny (2-R) at his Charite hospital bed where he is hospitalized in Berlin, Germany, 15 September 2020.

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I miss you all. On Tuesday, Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Twitter that the politician plans to return to Russia: “I’ll confirm again to everyone: no other options were ever considered”, she said. Russia has rejected the claims. On August 20, he fell ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Omsk, where he spent two days in hospital before being evacuated to Germany. “Hi, this is Navalny. Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny shared a photograph from a Berlin hospital, sitting up in bed and surrounded by his family, and said he could now breathe independently after being poisoned last month. Navalny is a fierce critic of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. I did not use any outside help, not even the simplest valve in my throat”, Navalny wrote in a post on Instagram on Tuesday. Germany says he was poisoned with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent in an attempt to murder him. On Monday, Germany said that two independent laboratories – one in Sweden and one in France – confirmed that Navalny was poisoned with Novichok. I can still hardly do anything, but yesterday I could breathe all day by myself. On Monday, Berlin’s Charite hospital that has been treating Navalny said that he has been successfully removed from mechanical ventilation and is now able to briefly leave his bed.

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Last month, his predecessor Shinzo Abe announced that he would step down due to health problems. Japan’s Yoshihide Suga was voted prime minister by parliament on Wednesday to become the country’s first new leader in nearly eight years. He served under Abe as chief cabinet secretary, acting as top government spokesman and coordinating policies. Suga, 71, is Abe’s longtime right-hand man. Abe’s younger brother, Nobuo Kishi, was named defense minister. His priority will be tackling the coronavirus pandemic, as well as reviving the Japanese economy, which has been ravaged by the coronavirus crisis. Among those retaining their jobs in the new cabinet are key players such as finance minister Taro Aso and foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi. He has pledged to pursue many of Abe’s programmes and to forge ahead with structural reforms.

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Suga succeeded to former prime minister Shinzo Abe. EPA-EFE/JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT EPA-EFE/JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/ NO ARCHIVES

Yoshihide Suga (C) is applauded by lawmakers and former prime minister Shinzo Abe (far L) after being elected as new Japanese Prime Minister at an extraordinary parliametary session of the parliament in Tokyo, Japan, 16 September 2020. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Suga elected Japan’s new prime minister

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08672162 Yoshihide Suga (C) is applauded by lawmakers and former prime minister Shinzo Abe (far L) after being elected as new Japanese Prime Minister at an extraordinary parliametary session of the parliament in Tokyo, Japan, 16 September 2020. Suga succeeded to former prime minister Shinzo Abe.
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“The main objectives of the initiative are to create the first platform for environmental protection and joint research of international oil companies operating in the region. In addition, CEPI collaboration involves researching and supporting best practices, standards and technologies in the field of environmental protection. NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan – A Memorandum of Understanding for the creation of the Caspian Environmental Protection Initiative (CEPI) between Kazakh national petroleum company KazMunayGas (KMG), Azeri state oil company SOCAR, BP Exploration for the Caspian Sea, Equinor Apsheron and Total E&P Absheron was signed in Baku last Monday, the press service of KazMunayGas said on September 15. “I am sure this initiative will become an excellent platform for dialogue and consultations, as well as an important step in joint actions to achieve environmental objectives in the Caspian region,” KMG Chairman Alik Aidarbayev said, adding that other companies may also join to CEPI. The activities of the participating companies will be aimed at active joint efforts to resolve the problem of climate change, which poses a threat to the environmental sustainability of the Caspian region,” KazMunayGaz said.
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Oil companies of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and subsidiaries BP and Total sign MoU style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Oil companies sign Caspian Environmental Protection Initiative

By Kulpash Konyrova

KazMunayGas, SOCAR, BP Exploration, Equinor Apsheron and Total E&P Absheron sign an MoU for the launch of the Caspian Environmental Initiative in Baku, Azerbaijan, September 14, 2020.

EPA-EFE//OLIVER CONTRERAS

An exclusive interview with US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Common ground and the forging of new ties in the US and EU agricultural sectors

By Ariti-Marina Alamanou
New Europe Vice-President, Editor of Legal Affairs, and Attorney at Law

epa08370011 US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue speaks speaks during a press briefing with members of the coronavirus task force in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 17 April 2020. EPA-EFE/Oliver Contreras / POOL

US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue speaks during a press briefing with members of the coronavirus task force in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House.

NE: Jon Entine said that the low-tech, low-yield agriculture being adopted in the EU is effectively exporting Europe’s environmental footprint to developing nations that will have to make up for the EU’s productivity shortfall by expanding agricultural land in their own countries. SP: We commend the EU’s commitment to sustainability. farmers divide, and how can we elevate the farmers’ voice so that their real-world experience and practical knowledge is taken into account in the formulation of an agricultural policy so that the farmers are not seen as the problem but the solution? Are there greater efficiencies of scale? High yields are all about profit. Locally produced food is better than a global supply system, and it supports family farms. Secretary Perdue during a visit to a ‘Blancs Bleus Belges’ cattle farm in Awans, Belgium. It is also false to assume that more traditional, small-scale farming systems cannot, simultaneously, increase yields and reduce their environmental footprint by adopting innovative practices and approaches. Yet, to my knowledge, the EU hasn’t released any analysis to show the tradeoffs of their proposition. Is it at odds with the EU’s sustainability goals? I am confident that, as it begins to make its own regulatory decisions going forward, we will find common ground. SP: Certainly, because the EU can’t have it both ways. epa06267047 (L-R) United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Germany’s former Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture Christian Schmidt and Canada’s ex-Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay talk during the G7 Agriculture Ministerial Meeting in Bergamo, Italy. Can we meet the enormous challenge of feeding a world population of 10 billion people in 2050 by farming the same way our grandparents and great-grandparents did? Much of the migration that happens around the world are displaced populations looking for food. The economic cost of Farm to Fork to the European consumer on a limited budget is significant. This would be like if we took a serious disease, like smallpox, and stopped vaccinating people even though we know that would prevent people from getting smallpox. We’ve increased the production of food and fiber by over 400% while using nearly 10% less land. EPA-EFE//MICHAEL REYNOLDS
NE: One thing the US and EU have in common is that agricultural policy is increasingly dominated by “urban elites” that have no direct tie to the land and have little appreciation of farming’s enormous challenges and complexities. Should we be worried about the effects of the EU’s actions on the safety of the global food supply, especially if these bans are adopted by other countries? For example, planting GE corn that is insect resistant and herbicide tolerant can increases yields by almost 10%. One example of this is how US agricultural output has grown significantly over the past 90 years. NE: Finally, Mr. These family farmers are the world’s best environmentalists. Unfortunately, the great miracle of modern agriculture is a story that is not always told. Does the US believe bigger is better? We’ve increased the production of food and fiber by over 400% while using nearly 10% less land. But I can say, with certainty, that the US approach to prioritizing conservation and improvements to total factor productivity is one of the best solutions we have for meeting growing global demand while limiting agriculture’s environmental footprint. NE: In the EU, “intensive agriculture” is almost universally considered bad for the environment. SONNY PERDUE (SP): By 2050, it is estimated the world population will reach 10 billion people. While I agree it’s the people in the US and the EU that can most afford the higher cost that tend to influence the development of laws affecting agricultural policy, US producer organizations and State and Federal Government officials are well aligned in seeking ways to improve the sustainability and profitability of US agriculture and meet consumer demands while making responsible use of public funds. Are higher yields—producing more food on each hectare of farmland—be better for the environment? The US has pioneered innovations like no-till farming, disease-resistant GMO crops, and now gene-editing. If farmers in the developing world are allowed to access to these inputs, it can help alleviate (or at least minimize) food insecurity. The widespread use of these crops has the potential to increase the resilience of the US production system. Thanks to policies that spurred investment in new technologies, we are able to produce more food and trade it globally, which directly benefits consumers all over the world. We have a social responsibility to ensure that food is affordable and available to everyone. We absolutely support local and regional food systems, but we also emphasize that resilient food systems depend on well-functioning markets and rules-based international trade. Could you talk a bit about these, and how you feel our two respective systems stack up on environmental issues? This undermines a rules-based global trading system. US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue sat down with New Europe in an exclusive interview to discuss how the US’ encouragement of innovation and new technology can help farm operations of all sizes and how, as close allies and trade partners, Europeans and Americans can forge an even stronger relationship that will help guarantee a sustainable food supply for the world’s billions of people. Ultimately, the choice needs to be up to the consumers. Where do you stand on this? They want the latest technology and science for their medical care but, when it comes to food, they think “natural” is healthier and safer. Currently, Americans spend about six percent of disposable income on food compared to France where consumers spend thirteen percent of their disposable income on food. If we deny these farmers the tools we in the developed world count on, do we risk exporting a humanitarian disaster? Food quality suffers, food safety suffers, and food security, as a whole, suffers. While the US embraces new technology and innovation, the EU’s Farm to Fork strategy promotes more traditional, low-tech farming methods instead. NE: What about broader humanitarian and even national security concerns? SP: The UK has always been a champion of scientific, evidence-based decision making. Yet, the greatest dangers in our food supply are all-natural. We know for a fact that embracing innovation to accomplish these goals is the best way to go. SP: This is not as universal in the United States. Secretary, is there anything we haven’t covered, some particularly important message you would like to send to your counterparts in the Commission and the people of the EU? Additionally, genetically engineered crops with pest management traits often yield better than their conventional counterparts, particularly when drought is present. If pesticides, fertilizers and genetically enhanced plants can prevent this, we should embrace it. How can these two diametrically opposed positions be reconciled? Farm to Fork doubles down on these policies, promising to withhold access to EU markets unless other nations adopt similar regulations. Those techniques improve yield, but what about the environment? Today, less than 100 years later, less than 10% of the world’s population lives below the poverty line. The EU’s sustainability goals laid out in the Farm to Fork agenda are commendable but will be extremely trade prohibitive and jeopardize agricultural output. We know the challenges before us, and we appreciate the call to action on enhancing the sustainability of our food systems across the three dimensions: environmental, social, and economic sustainability. The majority of undernourished in the world are, ironically, farmers in the developing world who can’t grow enough to feed themselves. In fact, almost 90% of farms in America are small farms. Reducing farmers’ access to the tools that protect against pests is reckless. SP: Dumbing down agriculture production is not the answer to this complex problem. NE: There are a lot of people who are very pro-technology who, in general, treat agriculture as an exception. The EU’s carrying out  Farm to Fork would be like stopping all transatlantic flights and going back to sentimental ocean liners of the past – it just doesn’t make sense. It is important that as we create policies to protect the environment and enhance food security and nutrition, they are not mutually exclusive. EPA-EFE//PAOLO MAGNI
NE: Are you concerned about the effect this will have on the already contentious disputes over agricultural trade? The loss of crop protection tools leads to lower productivity and more rot and waste, which causes problems up and down the food supply. In 1950, 72% of the world’s population lived below the poverty line. Turning the clock back on agricultural advances in the EU will lead to less productivity and more food insecurity around the world. The global goal should be to produce more food with less land; not less food with less land as proposed in the Farm to Fork strategy. Much of what the EU is proposing in the Farm to Fork strategy may lead to a less sustainable EU, and the impositions on trading partners could increase risks to small-scale farmers in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. US agricultural output has grown significantly over the past 90 years. SP: It’s difficult to evaluate tradeoffs and assess the indirect impacts of even the most well-intentioned policies. So yes, we should be very concerned about the effects of the EU’s actions. NE: There’s a widely held view that when it comes to farming, smaller is better. A great example of this are the locust plagues in Africa, where not using these tools can create a humanitarian disaster. The US appears to see these things differently. That’s what the EU is trying to do with agriculture. For some time, we have had concerns about the EU imposing trade barriers on imported goods based on how those goods are produced rather than on whether they are safe. NE: Almost all of the EU’s major trading partners—some 36 nations altogether—have officially complained to the World Trade Organization that the EU’s precautionary import restrictions are damaging their farmers and constitute illegal barriers to trade because they are not based on science. What are the social and political ramifications of this urban elites vs. How important is innovation to securing our food supply? NEW EUROPE (NE): COVID-19 has brought home the fact that we can no longer afford to take food security for granted. SP: Modern agricultural production tools – including pesticides, fertilizers, and genetically enhanced plants – afford farmers the advantage of managing their production for higher yields. SP: There are some common misconceptions about US agriculture. We want to work with the EU toward sustainably feeding nearly 10 billion people by the year 2050 while allowing their farmers to compete equitably with those in the US. We believe the US model of science-based, technology-harnessed agriculture is the only way we will as a world be able to keep the pace and feed all the hungry mouths in the future. We are achieving this dramatic increase in productivity with fewer resources by harnessing innovation and technology. We need to promote policies that are transparent, data-driven, and science-based and do not restrict trade nor food availability. This dramatic transformation happened in great part due to increases in agricultural productivity. SP: The United States is proof that sustainable agricultural intensification is possible. One misconception is that all of our farms are colossal and corporate. Secretary Perdue testifies before the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee hearing entitled ‘The State of Rural America’, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Consumers are not going to provide food for their families that they believe to be unsafe. This divide will only become greater if the EU’s Farm to Fork policies go into effect. We believe we have the social responsibility to feed the growing world population, especially in the developing world. We all want a more sustainable future, but we need to better understand the downstream effects or tradeoffs of the decisions we make. We have the safest and most affordable food supply in the history of the world, thanks to technological advances. SP: We understand and fully share the European Commission’s desire to ensure safe and sustainable food supply but there are several paths to attaining this. Earlier this year, I launched USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda, which aims to increase production by 40 percent while cutting the environmental footprint of US agriculture in half by the year 2050. Implementing so-called “higher standards” that are not internationally recognized or scientifically supported will create unfair trade barriers. How serious do you believe the global environmental implications of these policies are? Since we are working from a fixed resource base, to be successful we must embrace the technological advances and innovations of modern agriculture that increase productivity. EPA-EFE//JULIEN WARNAND
NE: How will the US-UK trade negotiations be affected if the UK maintains an EU-style precautionary system and import barriers? It seems clear that the Farm to Fork strategy will negatively affect the livelihoods of EU farmers and, most likely, have detrimental impacts on the food security and environmental footprint of small-scale farmers in the developing world if they are required to adopt the requirements in order to trade with the EU. European farms aren’t able to compete with one hand tied behind their back; these types of practices lead only to protectionism. With the coronavirus still raging across much of the world, the economic hardship brought on by the global pandemic has taken a heavy toll on every key industry in both the United States and the EU, including agriculture.
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EPA-EFE/MIGUEL A. EPA-EFE/MIGUEL A. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Hungary only EU country to send minister to UAE-Israel accord signing

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08562946 Hungary’s Foreign and Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto during a press conference with his Portuguese counterpart in Lisbon, Portugal, 23 July 2020. LOPES

Hungary's Foreign and Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto during a press conference with his Portuguese counterpart in Lisbon, Portugal, 23 July 2020. LOPES The two ministers review the bilateral relations between the two countries and various topics on the European agenda, such as the Recovery Fund and the Next Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union or the relationship with the United Kingdom.

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Last week, Bahrain also followed UAE’s move, making the Gulf Kingdom the fourth Arab country to proceed with the recognition. On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the signing will be more than a formal recognition of ties with UAE, labelling the deal as a peace treaty. Historical agreement on the normalisation of diplomatic relations will be signed in Washington on Tuesday in the White House garden,” Szijjarto wrote on Facebook over the weekend. “This is a tremendous turning point in the history of Israel and the Middle East. Europe’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell has welcomed the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, citing that it represents “a positive contribution to peace and stability in the Middle East.”
He stressed, however that “a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict requires a regional inclusive approach and engagement with both parties,” as the agreement was another step in isolating Palestinians. The country is expected to sign a declaration of intent to make peace with Israel, as there was not enough time to prepare a full agreement since its intention was announced. It will have a great and positive influence on all citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “Hungary continues to support efforts for peace in the Middle East, and we continue to stand up in international organizations for a fair judgement of the countries of the region. “At the invitation of US President Donald Trump, as the only European Union minister, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto will also attend … the signing ceremony in the White House on Tuesday,” his spokesperson, Mate Paczolay told Hungarian news agency MTI on Sunday, Reuters reported. “It is an honor that according to the invitation received last night, they expect the representation of Hungary at foreign minister level,” he added. Szijjarto will also hold talks with Trump’s son-in-law and chief adviser, Jared Kushner, the spokesperson added. Hungarian Foreign and Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto will be the only EU diplomatic leader to attend the signing ceremony for the Israel-United Arab Emirates (UAE) formalisation of relations, set to be held on Tuesday in Washington.

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Media report, according to the athlete’s own statements, as well as statements by his family and human rights organizations, Afkari’s confession was obtained through torture. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Iran summons German ambassador over wrestler execution tweets

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08663861 A supporter of the National Council of Resistance Iran (NWRI) and the Iranian Exile Society in Berlin holds a placard with the picture of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari, while protesting against his execution at the Iranian embassy in Berlin, Germany, 12 September 2020. The local judicial authority confirmed the execution, it is said. EPA-EFE/ALEXANDER BECHER In Iran, the death sentence against Navid Afkari has apparently been carried out. According to the Iranian judicial authorities, Afkari was accused of killing a security officer in a demonstration in Shiraz in 2018. According to the state news agency IRNA, the 27-year-old Afkari was executed in Adel-Abad prison in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz. EPA-EFE/ALEXANDER BECHER

A supporter of the National Council of Resistance Iran (NWRI) and the Iranian Exile Society in Berlin holds a placard with the picture of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari, while protesting against his execution at the Iranian embassy in Berlin, Germany, 12 September 2020.
Hans: 🇩🇪🇪🇺German Government Human Rights Commissioner Baerbel Kofler issued the following statement on the shocking fate of Iran's🇮🇷world class athlete Navid Afkari. We share the grief of his family, friends and the international athletic community: https://t.co/AP80ins3rb
— GermanyinIran (@GermanyinIran) September 13, 2020

  “Meddling in Iran’s laws, regulations and independent judicial procedures is by no means acceptable or tolerable,” the Iranian diplomat said, adding that “the German Embassy is expected to know the limits of its diplomatic mission and not to go beyond them.”
Iranian authorities accused Afkari of murdering a security guard during a wave of anti-government protests in 2018 and despite global outcry, Afkari was executed by hanging in the southern city of Shiraz, state news agency IRNA reported. “We were deeply shocked by the execution of Navid Afkari,” the German Embassy said in a twitter post on Sunday. Iran on Monday summoned Germany’s ambassador in Tehran, Hans-Udo Muzel, over a series of tweets “protesting against the execution of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari. Amb. In a leaked recording released by Amnesty International, the 27-year-old wrestler said he had been tortured into making a confession, although the Iranian authorities have denied accusations. US President Donald Trump also defended Afkari, saying that his “sole act was an anti-government demonstration on the streets”. “If I am executed, I want you to know that an innocent person, even though he tried and fought with all his strength to be heard, was executed,” Afkari said in the recording. “It is not acceptable that basic legal rights be ignored in order to silence opposing voices,” the statement reads, adding that Navid’s two brothers are still in prison and “now they need our solidarity!”
According to a statement released by the Iranian Foreign Ministry, the Foreign Ministry Director-General for Europe has strongly condemned the tweets of the German embassy as “undiplomatic” and interference in Iran’s domestic judicial affairs.
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