Europe Thu, 19 Oct 2017 19:44:17 +0000 en-gb Row over UK tabloid claim that 'Queen backs Brexit' The editor-in-chief of a British tabloid has defended his newspaper’s report that Queen Elizabeth II favored the UK’s exit from the European Union and described how she expressed euro-skeptic views.

Under the headline "Queen Backs Brexit", the Sun quoted anonymous sources as saying the monarch during a lunch in 2011 told the then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg that the EU was heading in the wrong direction.

The story which said that the queen "left no room for doubt about her passionate feelings over Europe," has infuriated the Buckingham Palace.

The palace has now complained to the press watchdog, Independent Press Standards Organization over the tabloid’s reporting. In a letter, the palace said the story had breached a prohibition in the Editors' Code of Practice against "inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images."

According to the Sun’s report, the queen made her opinions to Clegg and it stands by the story which is based on “two impeccable sources”. But the Liberal Democrat leader has denied the claim. Clegg said the notion that the queen expressed a strongly anti-Brussels view is ‘nonsense’.

Under the British norm, the queen is prohibited from taking sides in political debates and rarely makes her personal views public.

The report has caused a row as British politicians remained busy debating Britain's EU membership ahead of a June 23 referendum on whether to remain in the 28-nation bloc.


Europe Sat, 12 Mar 2016 06:02:19 +0000
UN rights chief slams EU-Turkey draft deal on refugees The United Nations high commissioner for human rights has criticized a recent draft deal between the European Union and Turkey on refugees, saying the agreement may lead to “illegal” expulsion of people seeking asylum in Europe.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said on Thursday that the deal between Ankara and the EU leaders may lead to "collective and arbitrary expulsions” of refugees, which the UN official described as illegal.

Zeid, who was delivering his main annual speech to the UN Human Rights Council, also urged the EU to “adopt a much more rights-compliant and humane set of measures” on refugees at the continental body’s imminent summit next week.

“Any returns of people must be in conformity with international human rights standards,” he said.

On Monday, Turkey proposed to take back all refugees who cross into Europe from its soil in return for more money, faster EU membership talks and quicker visa-free travel.

European Union leaders also welcomed the initiative.

The deal has already triggered concerns among rights advocates while governments and international organizations have also blasted it as inhumane.


Europe Thu, 10 Mar 2016 16:10:01 +0000
Germany calls for immediate release of Ukrainian pilot Berlin called on Moscow Wednesday to immediately release a Ukrainian pilot currently on trial in Russia, saying her continued detention is against a peace deal aimed at ending the conflict in Ukraine.

“The trial against Savchenko violates the spirit and letter of the Minsk agreement, we are therefore making a joint call with our partners for the immediate release of Nadiya Savchenko on humanitarian grounds,” said Steffen Seibert, a Spokesman for the German government.

Russia and Ukraine, along with Germany and France, agreed to a truce deal on Ukraine in the Belorussian capital of Minsk in February 2015. The ceasefire agreement has effectively reduced hostilities in eastern regions of Ukraine, where fighting between pro-Russians and Kiev forces has left more than 6,000 people dead since April 2014.

Seibert said Germany was closely following the trial of Savchenko, adding that Berlin is concerned with the way the pilot had been treated behind bars in Russia.

The official said Germany is particularly concerned over the health condition of Savchenko, who has been reportedly on hunger strike and put into solitary confinement, adding that Berlin also regards the methods used to interrogate the Ukrainian pilot as “questionable” and against “international standards.”


Europe Thu, 10 Mar 2016 08:17:40 +0000
EU Parliament's ALDE slams deal with Turkey's 'Sultan Erdogan' The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Group slammed on Wednesday a deal between Turkey and the European Union to ease the refugee crisis, saying such an agreement may give “Sultan Erdogan” the keys to Europe.

According to Press TV, Guy Verhofstadt, who is the ALDE Party Leader, said in an address to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in Strasbourg, France, that the move is “hugely problematic.”

“It is a deal with Turkey in which we outsource our problems; a deal in which we are giving in fact the entrance keys, the keys to the gates of Europe, in the hands of Turkey, of the successors of the Ottoman Empire, to Erdogan, I should even say maybe to Sultan Erdogan,” Verhofstadt said, referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

ALDE is the current liberal–centrist political group of the European Parliament.

The Turkish president is now in a position to decide on Turkey's entry to the EU, added Verhofstadt, a Belgian politician at the European Parliament.

Meanwhile, Manfred Weber, the Leader of the biggest group in the European Parliament, the center-right European People's Party, said the EU should not give a "blank cheque" to Turkey.

Socialist leader Gianni Pittella also noted that discussions on stemming the flow of refugees to Europe “must not be mixed” with talks on Turkey's EU membership process.


Europe Thu, 10 Mar 2016 08:11:56 +0000
French police fire tear gas at protesters in Paris Police in France have fired tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters in Paris during a massive demonstration against President Francois Hollande's austerity plans.

According to Press TV quoting the organizers, more than 300,000 people took part in the protest rally on the streets of Paris on Wednesday. Police and the country’s Interior Ministry, however, cast doubt on the figure.

The demonstrators had gathered to oppose the proposed labor market reforms on maximum working hours, holidays, and pay on rest breaks.

The government claims that the reforms liberalize the country’s strict labor regulations. Opponents say, however, that the main aim of the reforms is to make it easier for employers to lay off workers.

On Wednesday, several unions as well as student organizations organized protests in over 200 cities in an attempt to express nationwide outrage at the reforms.

According to a recent survey by pollster Oxoda, 70 percent of French citizens over the age of 18 oppose the proposed reforms. Furthermore, an online petition against the draft law has gathered more than a million signatures so far.


Europe Thu, 10 Mar 2016 08:05:26 +0000
Child sex abuse on the rise in Britain: Research A new survey shows recorded child sexual abuse in the United Kingdom surged by more than 30 percent in 2015.

According to Press TV, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), using data in every UK police force, said more than 45,450 children were the victims out of child sex abuse last year.

80 percent of the kids were girls. 2,400 of the cases were aged five or under.

Police say the rise is being pushed by predators searching online for victims.

According to the NSPCC, which used Freedom of Information laws, nearly 11,000 victims were under 10-years-old.

Chief constable Simon Bailey, who is in charge of combating child sexual abuse in England and Wales, told the Guardian that the surge was a result of increasing attacks on children.

“We are seeing exponential increases in the reporting of abuse year-on-year … Do I think there are more people with the sexual interest in children in the population? Probably not,” said Baily.

“What there is, is a greater ability for them to fulfill the desires. Technology has opened up new opportunities for people to do that.”


Europe Thu, 10 Mar 2016 07:04:43 +0000
Junior doctors in Britain strike over wages, work conditions Junior doctors in the United Kingdom have begun their first 48-hour strike as part of their ongoing protests over wages and working conditions.

According to Press TV, doctors staged the strike at 8.00 a.m. local time on Wednesday for the longest walkout in NHS history. Only emergency care has been left in place at NHS hospitals.

The protesters’ dispute over pay, working hours, and patient safety has sparked three walkouts since January.

They are also outraged over the government's proposed new contract which foresees pay cuts and longer working hours. The doctors say such conditions will lead to more mistakes in their care for patients.

Under the current proposals, trainees would lose pay boosts they receive for working evenings and Saturdays, which will be treated as regular hours.

A recent poll by Ipsos MORI found that support for the strike was still strong, at 65 per cent, with 17 against the stoppage, down 22 percent from the last time, British media reported.

The National Health Service has already canceled over 5,000 operations and urged people to avoid going to emergency departments whenever possible.

An unknown number of consultations are also expected to be affected by the walkout at outpatient clinics.


Europe Thu, 10 Mar 2016 06:56:40 +0000
Hungary in emergency state over refugee crisis Hungary’s Interior Minister Sandor Pinter says Budapest is declaring a state of emergency in response to a “crisis situation” related to refugees and plans to strengthen the country’s border protection.

On Wednesday, Pinter said the country was deploying police forces and army troops to patrol its borders in the southern area.

"Hungary will strengthen protection of its borders, and we declare a crisis situation due to migration for the entire country," the Hungarian minister said.

He added that the measures were necessary due to uncertainty about the whereabouts of refugees stranded across the Balkans.

Pinter said Budapest is also making preparations along its borders with Romania in order to set up a fence in the area over the next 10 days, adding that Romania has pledged to prevent any refugees from reaching Hungary via its borders.

On Tuesday, police detained 127 refugees who had entered Hungary, mostly through a border fence with Serbia.

Hungary had declared a state of emergency in a number of counties affected directly by the entry of refugees last year.


Europe Wed, 09 Mar 2016 19:21:47 +0000
Russia bans proposed over Ukrainian pilot Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius says five European countries have suggested sanctions against Russian officials involved in the trial of the Ukrainian military pilot, Nadia Savchenko.

"Officials directly involved in this fabricated case must face consequences. We see that protests, letters and statements have failed to bring results," Linkevicius told AFP on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old war veteran, Savchenko, is on trial for alleged involvement in the death of two Russian state television journalists in a mortar attack that occurred two months after the eruption of Ukraine's pro-Moscow eastern revolt in April 2014 and faces up to 23 years in jail if convicted. She denies the charges.

The foreign ministers of Britain, Poland, Romania, Sweden and Lithuania inked the initiative, which will be presented to European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, this week.

Linkevicius said the proposed "Savchenko list" would require the EU to impose visa restrictions and asset freezes on those "responsible for her illegal detention, incarceration and sentencing.”

Savchenko vowed on Wednesday to continue her hunger strike that she began after her hearing was adjourned last Thursday before she was given a chance to make a final statement.

The sentence will be handed down on March 21 or 22, according to the judge.


Europe Wed, 09 Mar 2016 19:17:45 +0000
Turkey’s FM: Ankara can’t force refugees back to war, terror Faced with widespread criticism, Turkey says it has no intention to send asylum seekers back to conflict zones under a potential agreement with the European Union aimed at stemming the flow of refugees into Europe.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu of Turkey declared Ankara’s stance at a news conference in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Wednesday, after a meeting between foreign, interior and justice ministers of Turkey and Belgium.

Cavusoglu said Ankara is willing to cooperate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to ease the refugee crisis.

“We want to do this in compliance with human rights. Of course we cannot forcibly send people back to war and terror,” the Turkish foreign minister stated.

The remarks by the Turkish official comes despite the fact that on March 7, the Turkish government proposed to take back all those refugees who cross into Europe from its soil in return for more money, faster EU membership talks and quicker visa-free travel. European Union leaders also welcomed the initiative.

Elsewhere in his comments, the top Turkish diplomat defended the deal as the best way to discourage irregular refugees and fight smuggling rings taking people on perilous journeys across the Aegean Sea to Greece.

The UN and human rights groups have warned that such a deal may violate the refugees’ right to protection under international law.


Europe Wed, 09 Mar 2016 19:15:29 +0000