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EU leaders meet to tackle disputes over Turkey, Belarus and budget

Issued on: 01/10/2020 – 04:50

European leaders meet on Thursday to tackle rifts that threaten thei..

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Issued on: 01/10/2020 – 04:50

European leaders meet on Thursday to tackle rifts that threaten their huge coronavirus recovery package and weaken their ability to respond to crises on their borders with Turkey and Belarus.

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The first night of the extraordinary two-day European Union summit will be dominated by the bloc's tricky ties with Ankara, which is embroiled in a dangerous maritime stand-off with Greece and Cyprus.

But the leaders will reluctantly be forced to address an internal argument about tying access to EU funds to a member state's support for the rule of law — an idea fiercely opposed by Hungary.

At a turbulent four-day marathon summit in July the leaders agreed to borrow to build a 750-billion-euro corona stimulus fund, to be backed by a trillion-euro long-term EU budget.

But the speaker of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, will warn the national heads at the start of their meeting that MEPs oppose cuts to key EU programmes in the budget plan and want 100 billion euros more.

The parliament could yet withhold approval for the package, and Hungary and Poland could also block the deal if their access to funds is linked to their respect for EU legal and democratic values.

The so-called "frugal countries" — the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Denmark and Finland — oppose restoring the budget cuts and insist on the importance of the rule of law.

A German compromise proposal, which would see states only fined for rule of law breaches involving the spending of EU funds, narrowly won the support of EU ambassadors ahead of the summit on Wednesday.

But the frugals' envoys voted against it, as for them it does not go far enough, and so did Hungary, whose Prime Minister Viktor Orban has accused the block of "blackmail" and demanded the resignation of the European Commission vice-president Vera Jourova.

In a report published by Jourova on Wednesday on the state of the rule of law in Europe, the commission said connections between Hungarian politicians and businesses are conducive to corruption.

– Maritime crisis –

But the European leaders will not want to get bogged down in more of the fighting about budgets and values that almost derailed July's prolonged summit.

Instead, diplomats say foreign affairs and Europe's strategic posture will dominate.

Over dinner on Thursday they will look at ties with Turkey, which is notionally still a candidate to join the EU but is in a stand-off with member states Greece and Cyprus over maritime borders and energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean.

Ankara has infuriated the EU by sending research ships with naval escorts to work in contested waters, and Athens has responded with war games backed by France, raising fears of full-blown conflict.

Tensions have eased slightly, with Turkey and Greece agreeing to resume long-stalled talks, but Ankara still has assets in Cypriot waters.

In his summit invitation the president of the European Council Charles Michel warned that "all options remain on the table" if Ankara does not engage constructively in talks.

This could include tough economic sanctions against Turkey, but officials stress that while the EU stands squarely with Greece and Cyprus, the focus for now is on trying to find a diplomatic solution.

"We've seen positive developments on Ankara's behalf towards Greece but not Cyprus," an EU official said, citing the start of a German-led mediation effort.

Meanwhile, Cyprus has been blocking long-trailed sanctions over the political crisis in Belarus, insisting more people must be listed over Turkish drilling in its waters at the same time.Read More – Source

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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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