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UK-EU reaches milestone in Brexit deal after week of drama

After a dramatic night of shuttle diplomacy that capped months of tortuous negotiations, European Co..

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After a dramatic night of shuttle diplomacy that capped months of tortuous negotiations, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the breakthrough at an early morning press conference in Brussels.Crucially, the two sides reached a deal on the historically sensitive issue of the Irish border, which had threatened to derail the talks as they reached a critical moment earlier this week. Discussions can now move on to the potentially tougher issue of a future trading relationship between the UK and the EU.The breakthrough represents a significant coup for May, whose beleaguered premiership had appeared under threat as talks faltered. It was also a relief for EU negotiators, who feared a complete breakdown in talks if a deal was not done."Getting to this point required give and take on both sides," May said. "And I believe the joint report that is being published is in the best interest of the whole of the UK."

What has been agreed?

Agreement has now been reached on three key issues: Britain's Brexit "divorce" bill, the rights of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit, and the Irish border. When Brexit negotiations began just under six months ago, the EU was clear on its position: It would not countenance any discussion about a future trading relationship with Britain until "sufficient progress" had been made on those three issues.Irish border: The Irish question proved the toughest to resolve. The demilitarization of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was a key element of the Good Friday Agreement, the 1998 deal that ended years of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. Now, the border posts are gone and people can move freely around the island of Ireland.But Brexit raised the prospect of a return to a "hard" border, as Northern Ireland would leave the EU while the Republic of Ireland remained in the bloc.Traffic crosses the border into Northern Ireland from the Irish Republic near Dundalk.Complicating the issue, May's minority government depends on the support of on a small group of 10 MPs from Northern Ireland, members of the hardline Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). They were adamantly opposed to any suggestion that, to avoid a hard border, Northern Ireland could retain laws and regulations that were more aligned to the EU than the rest of the UK.Deal or no deal: How a day changed BrexitThe DUP vetoed the text of an earlier deal on Monday, just as May was having lunch with Juncker in Brussels to finalize it. She was forced to return to London as negotiators spent the rest of the week hammering out a solution acceptable to the DUP, the Irish government and the EU.The language of the deal announced on Friday remains ambiguous. It says: "In the absence of agreed solutions, the UK will maintain full alignment with those rules of the internal market and the customs union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 agreement."That's a backstop. It means that, in the next stage of talks, the UK must come up with solutions that avoid a hard border, otherwise the UK will have to remain tied to EU rules even after Brexit. That scenario would enrage the ardent Brexiteers in May's Conservative Party.Divorce bill: Friday's agreement says the UK would be required to continue making contributions to the EU budget up to the end of 2020 "as if it had remained in the union". The report adds that the UK will remain liable for its outstanding financial commitments and liabilities up to December 3, 2020.A spokesman for the UK government put the estimated net cost of the divorce bill at between £35 billion and £39 billion ($47 billion and $52 billion) adding that this estimation "represents a fair settlement of our obligations."Rights of EU citizens after Brexit: EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa will have their rights to live, work and study protected. British courts will enforce the rights but, in a concession to Europe, the UK has agreed that difficult cases can be referred to the European Court of Justice for eight years after Brexit.

Late-night drama

Discussions stretched into the early hours of Monday morning. When it was clear that a deal was done, May and her chief Brexit negotiator David Davis dashed to Brussels for a breakfast meeting with Juncker and other officials.Speaking alongside Juncker in the Belgian capital, May said the agreement was "fair to the British taxpayer" and resolved the outstanding issues of the Irish border. In Northern Ireland we will guarantee there will be no hard border, and we will uphold the (Good Friday Agreement)." "No barrier north-south or east-west," she said. Juncker said: "Sufficient progress has now been made on the three terms of the divorce." Negotiations for the UK to leave the EU can now proceed to the next stage, he added. If agreement had not been reached on Friday it would have been impossible to prepare for its ratification at a summit of EU leaders on December 14 and 15, he said. "We had to make the deal today."The leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, claimed she had secured "substantial changes" to the text she rejected on Monday, adding she was "pleased" to see changes which mean there is "no red line down the Irish Sea".In a statement, the DUP said it had won clear that commitments from the Conservatives that "Northern Ireland will leave the single market and the customs union along with the rest of the United Kingdom." Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said that the UK had guaranteed there would be no hard border and that the 1998 Good Friday Agreement had been fully protected. "It's a very significant day for the island of Ireland," he said.Varadkar added that the common travel area, the arrangement that allows citizens to travel freely between Britain and Ireland, would remain in place and that Irish and British citizens would continue to enjoy the same rights after Brexit as they do now.In London, the reaction from May's colleagues was mostly positive. UK environment secretary Michael Gove, one of the leading figures in the Leave camp during the Brexit referendum, said: "I think it's important to recognize this is a significant personal political achievement for the Prime Minister."Theresa May is scrambling to secure the bad Brexit deal she didn't want"She got a deal in the interests of the whole of the UK, so the integrity of the UK is absolute and paramount," he told BBC Radio 4's Today program.But former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who has long championed Brexit, criticized May over the deal, claiming the country could now "move on to the next stage of humiliation."Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, warned that the next stage of negotiations would be even tougher. ''Breaking up is hard, but breaking up and building new relations is much harder," he said.

James Masters wrote from London. James Griffiths wrote from Hong Kong. CNN's Marilia Brocchetto contributed reporting.

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Corriere della Sera: Belgian judges exerted illegal & undue pressure on Eva Kaili

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Madrid Journal – Italian and Greek media seem to lose patience with how the Belgian authorities are dealing with corruption case in the European Parliamentary. The ill treatment of the Belgian judiciary became very obvious where the prosecution is practically employing blackmail as a tactic to get Eva Kaili to confess despite her pleading innocence from day one. According to the report of the Italian newspaper, the Belgian judges investigating the Qatargate scandal allegedly exerted illegal undue pressure on Eva Kaili, suggesting that she confess her guilt, with the promise that she will be released from prison.

It should be noted that after the conclusion of the last hearing, the lawyers of Eva Kaili complained that their client was kept in solitary confinement for six hours, speaking of torture reminiscent of the Middle Ages and a violation of human rights.

Today the Italian newspaper brings to light the aforementioned claim of the well-known criminologist Michalis Dimitrakopoulos.

“She has not agreed to confess to something she has not done” 
“From the first moment they suggested that Eva Kaili plead guilty and be released from prison so that she can finally hug her daughter again,” says Dimitrakopoulos, clarifying however that his client , who has been claiming innocence since day one, has always denied it.

“Despite the fact that being away from her little girl is the greatest psychological torture, she has not agreed to confess to something she has not done,” adds the Greek lawyer.

As also stated in the publication “she does not want her daughter to inherit the stigma that her mother was a corrupt female politician, because it is not true”.

The same publication also states that: “The former Greek TV journalist was immediately acquitted by her partner Giorgi, but the investigators did not believe the couple’s version, convinced that the woman belonged to Pantzeri’s network and tried to help him disappear the money from the funds. In fact, they accused her of bribery and of trying to hide the fruits of a crime.”

What will be her next move
The next moves Dimitrakopoulos plans for Eva Kaili are to build a profile of a woman deeply scarred by the month and a half she spent behind bars in Haren prison, the newspaper says.

“She was shaking as she told the judge, who was also a woman, about the torture she suffered, not in prison, but in a police cell. What he experienced – says the lawyer – is reminiscent of the movie ‘Midnight Express’, but unfortunately this is happening in the center of Europe”.

The indictment against the allegedly aggressive methods of the Belgian justice system ends with the announcement of the next legal move by Eva Kaili’s defense team: “Next week we will appeal to the Supreme Court, announces Dimitrakopoulos. When someone is arrested they are immediately protected by the law. I wonder if it was the same in Brussels.”

 

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The 5 best resorts and boutique hotels in Italy 2023

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Seehof Nature Retreat /Naz-Sciaves (Bressanone)

Adults-only resort overlooking the shores of a private lake, the Seehof Nature Retreat has 40 rooms, including suites and doubles, with lake view or garden view. The wellness rite to clarify ideas about what to do in the future is carried out in the spa, it is the Aufguss, the infusion of vapors with essential oils which is carried out by a sauna master. The swimming pool is heated and can therefore also be used in winter, while the lake is frozen, so only the bravest will go and get their feet wet after a session in the sauna. Those who can’t sit still can go skiing in the Gitschberg/Jochtal and Plose/Bressanone areas, on the way back, massage with alpine herb pads or with arnica and St. John’s wort to soothe the muscles. The stay is all-inclusive (with a four-course gourmet dinner); the half board is on request.

Langhe House / Cerretto Langhe (Cuneo)

The Alta Langa is a land of great reds and also of sparkling wines, hazelnuts, cheeses and castles. Heritage of biodiversity, it is a land that tries to defend its relationship with nature, limiting highways and new constructions.

The result is Casa di Langa, a five-star resort amidst hazelnut groves and vineyards, which renounces single-use plastic, focuses on energy independence and recycles water for the irrigation of its vineyards and biodynamic vegetable gardens which Luigi Merlo, the gardener, takes care of Daniel Zeilinga, the executive chef, with two years of experience alongside Enrico Crippa at the Piazza Duomo restaurant in Alba. Aromatic herbs, edible flowers, ancient varieties all that grows is needed at the Sorì Cocktail Bar, which favors infusions for drinks, the Fàula restaurant, which has just entered the Michelin guide, and the Spa.

Villa Gelsomino / Santa Margherita Ligure

An 18th-century villa, Art Nouveau details and 5 sea-view suites, with original frescoes and Genoese grit floors. Villa Gelsomino is the project of three friends, who transformed the house into a boutique hotel reserved for adults only. The structure uses green energy, is plastic-free, and compensates for C02 emissions by planting trees around the world. You stay among a few guests and in the quiet, on request, there are private yoga and pilates lessons and you get around with electric scooters and e-cycles.

Gallicantu / Luogosanto (Sassari)

They are the new refuges for travelers who have already experienced everything; the pens, the rural settlements where the animals are rounded up, in the Sardinian Gallura are small treasure properties, created among the blocks of granite, sheltered from the confusion of the coast (but the beaches are always short range). Gallicantu, a micro-resort revisited by architect Jean Claude Lesuisse, with just five rooms and two suites, is close to Luogosanto (its name comes from the 22 country churches in the area), Tempio, where Fabrizio De André had chosen to live, and the beautiful Aggius, which is part of the authentic villages of Italy. If you wish, instead of reaching the Costa Smeralda, you can stop by the pool, among the olive trees. There is also a wellness area with sauna, Turkish bath, emotional showers. The pre-nuragic cave of the property is instead intended for the tasting of wines, cold cuts and cheeses.

Cape of Senses / Torri del Benaco (Verona)

55 lake view suites, three swimming pools, one of which is sports and two infinity, adults-only Spa, with fitness and yoga platforms, two restaurants, a 15,000-metre property among the retreats in Italy that will make headlines in 2023 is the Cape of Senses, which will open in July in Albisano, above Torri del Benaco, on Lake Garda. Designed by Hugo and Alessia Demetz, the hotel will be an oasis where you can stay for three days or more: upon request, you can sleep in a mobile structure, in direct contact with the stars. Two restaurants, At sunset, with gourmet à la carte cuisine, and La Pergola, with traditional cuisine served on the panoramic terrace.

This article was originally published on GQ (Italiana Edition)

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NGOs: Belgian authorities treatment of Kaili is inhumane

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Greek and European Human Rights organisations have organisations have criticised harshly the Belgian authorities treatment of Eva Kaili and described it as inhumane. The NGOs including Amnesty added that Kaili’s daughter was deprived of her mum for very long time due to the ongoing investigation.
Reports have suggested earlier that Haren prison where Kaili is jailed is one of the worst and most populated prisons in Belgium with very low staff maintaining it. In fact, Belgians have agreed under pressure to allow Kaili to see her daughter after a month of separation between the mum and her little daughter. Such treatment of the Belgian authorities can only be seen under oppressive regimes not in Europe.
After almost a month, Eva Kaili, the former Vice-President of the European Parliament who was jailed as part of the investigation into the Qatargate corruption case, was able to see her two-year-old daughter again.

Accompanied by her grandfather Alexandros Cailis by taxi, the little girl arrived at the Haren prison, according to the Italian newspaper Repubblica.  This is the new Belgian prison located a few kilometers from the center of Brussels and where the MEP is being held.

According to the same sources, Eva Kaili’s lawyer, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos said that the Greek politician was “happy to see her child again after a month”. Mother and daughter “played together for about two hours and twenty minutes. The room was very nice and I didn’t feel like I was in a prison,” he added. 

Then the well-known criminologist revealed that in the coming days the child will again return to Haren prison to see his mother.

It is noted that in the previous period the Eva Kaili had complained that they did not allow her to see her daughter, a claim denied by the Belgian authorities, stating that detained mothers can see their children at predetermined times, while they have the possibility – if they wish – to keep them in specially designed cells.

It is recalled that Kaili was arrested on December 9, for calling her father and asking him to come and pick up a suitcase from the house where she lived with her husband Francesco Giorgi, after learning that her partner had been arrested. A suitcase in which there were 750,000 euros. Kaili told authorities she knew her husband was holding something on behalf of Italian former MEP Antonio Pancheri, but claims she didn’t know the contents of the suitcase until that morning. 

However, the MEP’s entourage speaks of a plot of big interests on her back, while the documents that linked the Greek politician to bank deposits in Panama are still under the microscope.

It is recalled that Kaili was arrested on December 9, for calling her father and asking him to come and pick up a suitcase from the house where she lived with her husband Francesco Giorgi, after learning that her partner had been arrested. A suitcase in which there were 750,000 euros. Kaili told authorities she knew her husband was holding something on behalf of Italian former MEP Antonio Pancheri, but claims she didn’t know the contents of the suitcase until that morning. 

However, the MEP’s entourage speaks of a plot of big interests on her back, while the documents that linked the Greek politician to bank deposits in Panama are still under the microscope.

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