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EU warns Turkey of sanctions over ‘provocations’ in Mediterranean

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The EU says it could impose sanctions on Turkey over “provocations and p..

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The EU says it could impose sanctions on Turkey over "provocations and pressures" in a row with Greece over energy resources and maritime borders.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on Ankara to "abstain from unilateral actions" in the eastern Mediterranean.

She spoke early on Friday during a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.

Earlier, Turkey and Greece set up a military hotline to try to reduce the risk of clashes in the region.

Tensions rose earlier this year when Turkey sent a ship into a disputed area to search for potentially rich oil and gas deposits.

What has the EU said?

Mrs von der Leyen told reporters that the EU wanted "a positive and constructive relationship with Turkey and this would be also be very much in Ankara's interest".

"But it will only work if the provocations and pressures stop," she said. "We therefore expect that Turkey from now on abstains from unilateral actions. In case of such renewed actions by Ankara the EU will use all its instruments and options available. We have a toolbox that we can apply immediately."

European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (R)image copyrightEPA

After their late-night meeting, EU members agreed to review Turkey's behaviour in December and impose sanctions if "provocations" had not stopped.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, posting on Twitter after the meeting, said: "The EU issues a clear threat of sanctions against Turkey should it continue to violate international law."

European Council President Charles Michel said the EU was offering Turkey closer relations on trade and other areas but holding out the threat of sanctions if tensions in the Mediterranean did not de-escalate.

What's the background?

The European Union and Turkey have long held a fragile relationship.

Turkey has been a long-term candidate for membership of the EU but efforts have stalled. EU leaders have criticised Turkey's record on human rights and the rule of law, in particular in the wake of the 2016 failed military coup.

Despite the strains, Turkey remains an important partner for the EU. Turkey hosts millions of migrants and struck a deal with the EU that limited the numbers arriving in Greece.

Greece and Turkey are both Nato members, but have a history of border disputes and competing claims over maritime rights.

Tensions flared in August when Ankara sent the research ship into an area south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo which is claimed by Greece, Turkey and Cyprus.

Overlapping claims in the Eastern Mediterranean graphic
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Greece called the move a "new serious escalation" and the EU has backed its members Cyprus and Greece against Turkey.

Tensions eased somewhat when the research ship returned to Turkish waters last month and both sides said they were prepared to resume talks.

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Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh receive Covid-19 vaccine

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Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh have received their Covid-19 vaccinations, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Saturday.

The inoculations were administered by a household doctor at Windsor Castle, a royal source said.
To prevent inaccuracies and further speculation, Her Majesty, who 94, decided that she would let it be known that she has had the vaccination, the source added. Her husband is 99 years old.
The couple’s son, Prince Charles, tested positive for coronavirus and went into isolation in March. The 72-year-old later said he was lucky to only experience mild symptoms, adding he’d “got away with it quite lightly.”
Meanwhile, their grandson Prince William, second-in-line to the British throne, also tested positive for coronavirus earlier this year, UK media reported, though exactly when he contracted the virus is unclear.
The UK has recorded more than 3 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 80,000 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University on Saturday.
The UK reported 1,325 coronavirus-related fatalities on Friday — its highest ever daily increase in deaths.
Health officials face a deadly start to 2021 as a new coronavirus variant, first detected in the UK, sweeps the nation.
In the capital, London’s mayor declared a “major incident” on Friday, warning that hospitals in the city were close to being overrun.
“The situation in London is now critical with the spread of the virus out of control,” Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement.
“The number of cases in London has increased rapidly with more than a third more patients being treated in our hospitals now compared to the peak of the pandemic last April.
“We are declaring a major incident because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point,” Khan added. “If we do not take immediate action now, our [National Health Service] could be overwhelmed and more people will die.”

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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger

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Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.

The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.

“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”

It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.

Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.

The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.

Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.

On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.

Read from source: https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/03/dozens-killed-in-suspected-jihadist-attack-in-niger

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Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections

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People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.

Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.

The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.

He’s focussing on security and education.

Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.

“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.

Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.

Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.

Read from source: https://www.euronews.com/2020/12/27/niger-votes-in-presidential-and-legislative-elections

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