Migrants Crisis: EU Ministers Meet To Resolve Dispute

EU migrants_3EU Ministers are due to meet to try to resolve the dispute over how to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers who have recently arrived in Europe.

On Tuesday, a group of Central European state ministers resisted calls for EU members to accept mandatory quotas as the migrant crisis worsens.

The arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants had created deep divisions within the EU.

Home Affairs Ministers’ meeting in Brussels on Tuesday will be hoping to forge a consensus ahead of an emergency meeting of EU leaders on Wednesday.

After talks on Monday between Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, all of whom oppose quotas, Czech Foreign Minister, Lubomir Zaoralek, insisted that the four were still “absolutely dedicated” to finding a solution.

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said two weeks ago, that obligatory quotas were “a first step” towards a more permanent scheme to deal with the influx.

But mandatory quotas had been dropped while a voluntary relocation scheme is now on the table.

Greece Debt Crisis: Voters Made ‘Brave Choice’ – Tsipras

greece tsiprasThe ballots have been counted, the final results are out as Greece voters have rejected the terms of an international bailout, with thousands celebrating in the streets after hearing the result was 61% “no”, against 38% “yes”.

Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, said Greeks made a “brave choice” in voting to reject the terms, but European officials have warned that it could see the country ejected from the eurozone.

Meanwhile, Greece’s Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, who often clashed with creditors has resigned.

He said: ”I was made aware of a certain ‘preference’ by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my ‘absence’ from its meetings; an idea that the Prime Minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement”.

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, will meet French President, Francois Hollande, in Paris later on Monday before a summit of eurozone leaders on Tuesday.

Greece’s governing Syriza party had campaigned for a ‘no’, saying the bailout terms were humiliating.

Mr Tsipras also said that the Greeks had proved that ”democracy won’t be blackmailed.”

Last month, the European leaders gathered for an emergency summit in Brussels where talks on how to break the deadlock were held.

Greek PM Announces Capital Control To Prevent Banks’ Failure

Greek PM Announces Capital Control To Prevent Banks' FailureGreece’s Prime Minister (PM), Alexis Tsipras, has solemnly announced capital controls to prevent Greek banks from collapsing under the weight of mass withdrawals.

The PM made the declaration in a televised address on Sunday night, after a breakdown in talks between Athens and its creditors plunged the country deep into crisis.

In another development, European leaders had gathered for an emergency summit in Brussels that could break the deadlock around the debt crisis facing Greece.

The Greek Prime Minister set out new proposals to try and prevent a default on a 1.6 billion Euros ($1.77 billion) International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.

However, Greeks woke up on Monday to shuttered banks, closed cash machines and a climate of rumours and conspiracy theories, sequel to Tsipras’ pronouncement.

The country has less than 48 hours to pay back IMF loans and a default would set in train events that could lead to the country’s exit from the euro currency alliance.

EU To Back Smuggler’s Boat Destruction In Mediterranean

euThe European Union (EU) Foreign and Defence Ministers are expected to approve a mission to destroy the boats used by people-smugglers operating in Libya.

At a meeting in Brussels, the Ministers will also discuss the mission’s command-and-control structure and headquarters.

This is part of the EU’s response to the vast number of illegal migrants from Africa and the Middle East crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.

Report suggests that more than 1,800 migrants have died in the Mediterranean in 2015. This is a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014.

On arrival for the meeting, EU Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini, said: “Today the main point will be taking the decision to establish the operation, the EU operation at sea to dismantle the criminal networks that are smuggling people in the Mediterranean”.

“We are looking for partnership with the Libyan authorities, with all the relevant Libyan authorities,” she said.


Mediterranean Migrants Crisis: EU Pledge Triple Fund For Rescue

EU-on-Mediterranean MigrantsEuropean Union (EU) leaders have pledged to triple fund for search and rescue operations aimed at migrant boats in the Mediterranean sea, following the crisis that claimed more than 750 lives.

The member states at the emergency summit convened in Brussels on Thursday, agreed to triple funding to $9.7 million a month for the EU’s border operation that patrols the Mediterranean Sea.

Leaders from the 28 nation bloc also said that they were discussing laying the ground for military action against traffickers.

Germany and France pledged two ships while Britain committed three to move into the Mediterranean, and other member states also lined up more vessels and helicopters that could be used to rescue migrants.

French President, Francois Hollande, said that he would seek a United Nations (UN) resolution to support the destruction of traffickers’ boats.

The summit came after more than 750 people died on a boat crossing from Libya on Sunday.

Earlier, funerals for 24 of the victims were held in Malta.

The number of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa has risen sharply in recent months.

More than 35,000 are thought to have crossed from Africa to Europe this year and some 1,750 have died while attempting the journey. The estimated toll from Sunday’s capsizing was the worst on record.

2 Killed In Belgium Anti-terror Raid

150115135242-01-belgium-operation---restricted-exlarge-169Belgian police killed two men who opened fire on them during one of about a dozen raids on Thursday against an Islamist group that federal prosecutors said was about to launch “terrorist attacks on a grand scale”.

The suspects were shot dead in the eastern town of Verviers after they opened fire on police with automatic weapons on Thursday evening.

Officials say they had returned from Syria and planned imminent attacks on police targets. Another suspect was wounded before being arrested.

All three were citizens of Belgium, which has one of the biggest concentrations of European Islamists fighting in Syria.

Speaking after Thursday’s raid in Verviers, near the German border, Prosecutor Eric Van Der Sypt said the terror threat level had been raised to three – the second highest.

Referring to the raid itself, he said: “The suspects immediately and for several minutes opened fire with military weaponry and handguns on the special units of the federal police before they were neutralised.”

After the operation, four Kalashnikovs, bomb-making equipment and police clothing were found, according to local media. Security forces remain in the Verviers area.

Police are expected to provide more details at a briefing on Friday.

“Operations on the ground are now over. We are now exploiting the information [from the overnight anti-terror operations],” Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders told French TV station iTele.

Some Jewish schools in Antwerp and Brussels were closed on Friday, after they were informed that they could be potential targets, Belgian newspaper Joods Actueel reported.

Anti-terror raids also took place late on Thursday in the capital Brussels and surrounding towns, including Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Anderlecht and Schaerbeek.

Earlier that day, two suspected Islamists were arrested in the Brussels suburb of Zaventem, Belgian media reported.

Belgian officials say more than 300 people have left Belgium to fight with Islamic militant groups in Syria and Iraq.

The country is thought to have the highest number of foreign fighters per capita in Europe who have taken part in fighting in Syria.

Coming a week after Islamist gunmen killed 17 people in Paris, the incident fueled fears across Europe of young Muslims returning radicalised from Syria. But the Belgian probe had been under way before the Jan. 7 attack on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and officials saw no obvious link between the two.

In recent weeks, European security services received indications of an ominous possibility: that ISIS may have started directing European extremists in Syria and Iraq to launch terrorist attacks back in their home countries, the Belgian counterterrorism official said.

With half a million Muslims, mostly of French-speaking North African descent, among its 11 million people, Belgium has seen similar discontent to that in France among young, unemployed children of immigrants in blighted, post-industrial towns like Verviers, once a major center for wool and other textile mills.

EU Leaders To Threaten Extra Russia Sanctions, Agree New Team

russiaEuropean Union leaders are likely to threaten Russia with new sanctions over Ukraine on Saturday but, fearful of a new Cold War and self-inflicted harm on their own economies, should give Moscow another chance to make peace.

At a summit in Brussels that may hand one of the Union’s top jobs to Poland’s premier and give hawkish Kremlin critics in ex-communist Eastern Europe new influence in the bloc, EU officials gave Ukraine’s embattled President Petro Poroshenko a warm welcome and assurances of further economic and other support.

But divisions among the 28 EU nations have hampered action against Moscow, and officials expect a decision on Saturday only to ask the bloc’s executive arm to prepare more options for sanctions.

Large Western countries are wary of damaging their own economies. Those include Germany, Britain and France, as well as Italy, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas and expects to secure the post of EU foreign affairs chief.

Poroshenko gave short shrift to Moscow denials by denouncing the past week’s incursion of thousands of troops with hundreds of armored vehicles and said he expected the summit to order the European Commission to prepare a new set of sanctions.

But, like Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, he used their joint news conference to stress a will to find a political solution to a crisis that Russian President Vladimir Putin blames on Kiev’s drive to turn the ex-Soviet state away from Moscow influence, into a Western alliance with the EU and NATO.

With Ukrainian forces battling pro-Russian separatists and, apparently, Russian troops, he said he was not looking for foreign military intervention and that he was expecting progress toward peace as early as Monday – because failure could push the conflict to a point of no return: “Let’s not try to spark the new flame of war in Europe,” Poroshenko said.

Barroso also warned of the risk of a “point of no return” in stressing that EU leaders wanted to defuse the confrontation with their nuclear-armed neighbor.

“It makes no sense to have … a new Cold War,” Barroso said. Further conflict would hurt all of Europe, he said, adding that sanctions were meant only to push Moscow to talk.

He highlighted economic support for Ukraine and also plans for negotiations with Moscow and Kiev aimed at ensuring Russian gas continues to flow through Ukraine to the West this winter.

Network Africa: Resolving Crisis, Seeking Unity, Changing Lifelong Stereotypes

Network Africa MAPOn this edition of Network Africa, it’s all about unity, crisis resolution, presidential ambitions and changing the notion that ‘it’s a man’s world’.

In Nigeria, delegates to the National Conference seem to be making progress as members called for a new mind set and approach to ensure that the task of creating a new Nigeria is accomplished. This was a major position that was put forward by the delegates as they continued discussion of the inauguration speech of President Goodluck Jonathan.

African and EU leaders meet in Brussels to find a solution to the crisis in the Central African Republic. The European Union (EU) has officially launched its military mission to C.A.R., unveiling plans to send 1,000 troops to bolster African and French forces.

Watch out for the interview as we took a moment to find out what the humanitarian situation has been like.

The Ebola virus is seriously threatening the lives of those in Guinea. It is the most dangerous Ebola virus, which causes an extremely severe disease in humans and in nonhuman primates and has led to the death of 83 people.

It is said to spread by close contact and kills between 25% and 90% of its victims, and we bring you an analysis on the contradiction as regards whether or not it is indeed an epidemic.

Focus On Egypt

Killings in Egypt have continued after presidential election dates were announced on March 30. In Cairo, police opened fire with tear gas and buckshot as the protesters threw stones in response. One student was killed in the process, making him the second to die in many weeks.

A police Brigadier-General was also killed when three bombs went off near Cairo University with at least five other people injured in the attacks.

Still in Egypt, we are compelled to ask, “What do electricians, pilots, mechanics and bus drivers have in common?” Well, they are all jobs which are tagged manly, because a very tiny fraction of females get involved. However, one woman in Cairo has chosen to defy the taboo and do what Egyptian men once tagged the unthinkable. She chose to become a bus driver.

After seeing this report, we hope that you would be inspired to damn all your barriers and go for whatever it is that inspires you. It’s not a man’s world after all.

Eurozone Banking Union: Ministers Meet In Brussels To Speed Up Plans

Euro Zone ministers met in Brussels today to discuss plans for a banking union.

At the meeting France, Spain and Portugal called for quick progress on the issue while Germany pointed out that treaty change might be needed before plans could be completed.

Under the plan, the biggest banks will be supervised by the European Central Bank from the middle of next year. There is also to be a single bank resolution mechanism that would wind down insolvent banks and a common deposit guarantee scheme.

But while the ECB bank supervision looks set to take effect as planned, the single authority that would order and finance the closure of a bank is unlikely to materialise soon, because Germany believes it needs a change to the EU treaty.

The issue is divisive because a change to the European Union treaty could take years and entails risks — the revised law could be rejected in one of the 27 national EU parliaments during ratification.

Some policy-makers believe Germany is demanding treaty change to push the discussion on bank resolution back until after its parliamentary elections in September, in which Chancellor Angela Merkel will have to deal with rising popular discontent with bailing out euro zone banks and governments.


Ekweremadu Advocates Visa-Free Regime Between ECOWAS And EU

The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States has made case for a visa-free regime between the ECOWAS member states and the European Union.

Speaker of the ecowas parliament, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, made the call at a meeting with the president of the European Parliament, Honourable Martin Schulz, during a one-day working visit to the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.

Senator Ekweremadu said the new visa regime had become imperative, given the increasing diplomatic and economic cooperation between both economic blocks.

Senator Ekweremadu allayed the fear by EU member-states that such a visa regime would result in influx of people of ECOWAS into Europe.

He also assured the EU parliament that ECOWAS was on top of the Mali crisis, but called for more material and financial support to ensure that terrorist insurgents were stamped out from not only Mali, but the West African sub-region.

Jonathan to leave for Brussels on Wednesday

President Goodluck  Jonathan will on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council meeting, depart for Brussels, the European Union capital, on a one-day official visit to Belgium.

A statement by the Special Adviser to the president on Media, Dr Reuben Abati, announced on Tuesday that President Jonathan is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the Summit of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) in Brussels on Thursday.

Accompanying the president on the one day trip will be the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, Senator Dahiru Kuta and Honourable Chinda Ogundu will also be amongst the pack.

President Jonathan is expected to meet with the Nigerian Community in Belgium before he returns to Abuja on Thursday evening.