Migrants Crisis: EU To Begin Seizing Smugglers’ Boats

EU to seize smugglers' boatThe European Union (EU), has begun a new operation in the southern Mediterranean to intercept boats smuggling migrants.

Under Operation Sophia, naval vessels will be able to board, search, seize and divert vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling.

Until now, the EU had focused on surveillance and rescue operations.

Operation Sophia has been named after a baby born on an EU ship that rescued her mother off the coast of Libya in August.

However, many more migrants and refugees which are mainly Syrians fleeing the country’s civil war, are taking a different route, crossing overland into Turkey, before a short journey by sea to EU member Greece and Onward to central and northern European countries, with Germany the preferred destination.

The migrant crisis is expected to be one of the issues raised when German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and French President, Francois Hollande, make a rare joint address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

Such address was given in 1989 with then French President, Francois Mitterrand and the German leader, Helmut Kohl.

So far this year, more than 130,000 migrants and refugees have crossed to Europe from the north African coast. More than 2,700 have drowned.

EU Leaders To Ratify Migrants Quotas

migrants _1European Union Leaders meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, is set to relocate 120,000 migrants across the continent, despite fierce opposition from some members.

Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary voted against the mandatory quota scheme.

Wednesday’s emergency summit will also focus on tightening EU borders and boosting aid to neighbours of Syria, where many migrants come from.

The British Prime Minster, David Cameron and French President, Francois Hollande, said that finding a solution to the Syrian conflict would be key to resolving the migrant crisis.

They also said that more should be done to return migrants who do not have a genuine claim for asylum, a Downing Street spokesman said.

The UK had opted against taking part in the relocation scheme and has its own plan to resettle migrants directly from Syrian refugee camps.

US President, Barack Obama, said all European States should accept their “fair share” of asylum seekers, after talks with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

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.

Migrants Crisis: Hundreds Break in Past Hungarian police

migrants5Hundreds of migrants have broken through police lines on Hungary’s border with Serbia and are walking towards the capital, Budapest.

The Greek Government and the UN Refugee Agency have brought in extra staff and ships to deal with some 25,000 stranded migrants on the island of Lesbos.

A processing centre has also been set up on an abandoned football ground to help them get to Athens.

Violence erupted at a cornfield in Roszke where a poorly equipped migrant holding centre has been set up. Stones were thrown at officers, who responded with pepper spray.

About 300 migrants were later seen walking the wrong way along a motorway, escorted by police officers, though they later agreed to be taken by bus to another holding area.

Earlier, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel warned that the “breathtaking” flow of migrants into Germany would change the country in the coming years.

Hungary has become a flashpoint as thousands of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa move North to claim asylum in Germany and other countries.

The country’s Defence Minister, Csaba Hende, resigned on Monday, reportedly over problems with the construction of a border fence meant to keep migrants out.

Local authorities have been overwhelmed by the migrants who have been forced to live in squalid conditions while Athens had already requested emergency EU assistance to deal with migrants arriving.

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.

President Buhari Leaves for G7 Summit

Muhammed-BuhariPresident Muhammadu Buhari will be leaving Nigeria on Sunday morning, to attend the G7 Summit that is scheduled to take place in Bavaria, Germany, from June 7 to 8, 2015.

In a statement released in Abuja on Saturday, June 6, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said that the invitation was extended to President Buhari by German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, even before he was sworn in on May 29 as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

”The invitation is a clear indication of the international community’s willingness to cooperate with the new government of Nigeria,” he said.

He added that President Buhari would not be participating in the main meetings, since Nigeria is not a member of the G7 group.

”He is in a group of seven other Heads of State who were called in as guests. He will equally be holding key side meetings with some of the seven Heads of State who will be convened at the summit.

”The international community is obviously acknowledging Nigeria’s significant role in global affairs,” Mallam Garba said, ”especially with the recent change in government”.

The attendees at the  41st G7 summit will include the leaders of the seven G7 member states, as well as representatives of the European Union.

The G7 member states are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States.

The President of the European Commission is a permanently welcome participant in all meetings and decision-making since 1981.

Russia Stages Massive WW2 Parade Despite Western Boycott

RussiaAs the whole of Europe continues to mark 70 years since the end of World War Two, Russia is staging its biggest military parade to celebrate the anniversary.

Thousands of troops are marching on Red Square in Moscow, and new armour being displayed for the first time.

Many world leaders are boycotting the event because of Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis but more than 20 Heads of States are in Moscow.

Chinese President, Xi Jinping, is attending the event in a sign of closer ties as a column of Chinese troops also took part in the parade.

Dignitaries from India, former Soviet republics and communist-era allies such as Cuba, also attended.

United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, was also among those watching.

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, U.S. President, Barack Obama and the French and British leaders, all skipped the parade, but will attend a wreath-laying ceremony in Moscow on Sunday.

As the event began, President Vladimir Putin said international co-operation had been put at risk in recent years.

Russia denies claims by the West that it is arming rebels in eastern Ukraine.

More than 6,000 people have been killed since fighting began in April 2014 in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Putin Announces Ceasefire Deal With Ukraine

Ukraine Presidentukraine, Vladimir Putin, has announced ceasefire after meeting all night in Belarus with leaders of Russia, France and Germany, to secure a peace deal. The leaders of Russia and Ukraine have announced that ceasefire will begin in Eastern Ukraine on 15 February.

After marathon talks with leaders of Ukraine, France and Germany, Russia President, Vladimir Putin said “We have managed to agree on the main issues.”

French President, Francois Hollande also said it was a “serious deal” but not everything had been agreed.

The meeting in Belarus – which began on Wednesday – was focused on securing a ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons and creating a demilitarized zone in Eastern Ukraine.

Before the meeting started, the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had said that achieving a ceasefire was significant. Thousands of people have been killed and indisposed in the fighting.

Russia has been accused of arming and reinforcing pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine, a claim That was denied.  The talks are set to focus on securing a ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons and creating a demilitarized zone.

The Ukrainian and Russian presidents barely looked at each other when they were forced to shake hands. At a family photo of the leaders, not a single person was smiling. There was even an image of Vladimir Putin inside the negotiations snapping a pencil in two.

Heavy shelling was reported in the rebel-held city of Luhansk; by a freelance reporter, Pierre Sautreuil, (in French) that a rebel military base seemed to be the target of one bombardment in the south-east of the city.

Mr Poroshenko had earlier said that the situation threatened to spin “out of control” if the parties did not agree to ceasefire.

The Ukrainian warned that his government was prepared to impose martial law, adding that the Minsk summit was one of the final chances to bring about an unconditional ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons.

US President Barack Obama has refused to rule out supplying “lethal defensive weapons” to Kiev if diplomacy fails, but Russia says that would worsen the crisis.

Dangote, Okonjo-Iweala Named In Time Magazine 100 Most Influential

100 TimeTime Magazine’s 2014 list of the 100 most influential people in the world is out and two eminent Nigerians made the roll.

Included on the list is the Coordinating Minister of Finance Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and foremost Nigerian industrialist, Aliko Dangote.

The list released by the international news magazine features a diverse lineup of business leaders, politicians, athletes and celebrities.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was ranked in the world leaders’ category alongside American President, Barack Obama, Chinese Leader Xi Jiping, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and a host of others.

She makes the list in consideration of her role in stabilizing the economy of Nigeria, the world’s most populous black nation and Africa’s largest economy.

Africa’s richest man and Nigeria’s industrialist, Aliko Dangote is listed in the league of former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton; Founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos and famous American singer, Beyoncé Knowles in the titans category.

Aliko has been commended for his business activities which drive economic growth across the continent, but more as a leader constantly in search of ways to bridge the gap between private business and public health; his role in eradicating Polio in Nigeria and for being an advocate for agricultural research and malaria control.

Jonathan vows to eradicate Boko Haram

President Goodluck Jonathan said on Thursday that insecurity in Nigeria is not as gloomy as it is painted and has called on the international community to assist the country with the latest technology to fight the insurgency by the Islamic fundamentalist, Boko Haram.

The president made this known while speaking at a joint press conference after holding bilateral talks with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel at the Chancery in Berlin.

He noted that what is needed now is a stable political environment for investment and added that Nigeria can boast of having embraced democracy with a smooth conduct of the general elections.

The president, on a visit to Germany centered on strengthening economic ties, offered assurances that his government “is working very hard and that we’ll bring this under control.”

Mr Jonathan said that Nigeria could envision foreign help with “training our manpower” and providing technology to monitor terrorists.

Asked what kind of assistance Germany could provide, he said “In areas of training manpower and modern equipment… You need superior technology to fight terrorists and we think Germany and others can help us in such areas.”

He arrived office of the German chancellor at about 11.45AM to a full official reception by a detachment of the German military at the Chancery.

The president had earlier in the morning had a breakfast meeting with the German businessmen, where some of them have been doing business in Nigeria in the past fifty years.

“I can assure the global community, especially investors from Germany, that the government is working very hard to bring this problem under control,” Jonathan said.

“Nigeria is still safe for investment. Nigeria is one country where… investment returns are quite high and where we believe in the rule of law.” With 70 percent of the population below the age of 35, Nigeria offers a vibrant market for investors, he added.

At one of the meetings the president signed a memorandum of understanding with German company, Siemens on how to bring a lasting solution to the nation’s power problems.