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Від загострення відносин між Києвом та Будапештом виграє Москва – Климпуш-Цинцадзе

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Віце-прем’єр з питань європейської та євроатлантичної інтеграції Іванна Климпуш-Цинцадзе застерігає Угорщину від продовження «геополітичних ігор». Про це чиновниця написала на своїй сторінці у Facebook у відповідь на заяву міністра закордонних справ Угорщини Петера Сійярто, що Угорщина може і далі сповільнювати інтеграцію України до євроструктур.

«Економічний, соціальний розвиток Закарпаття – області, яка межує з чотирма країнами-членами ЄС, – безпосередньо залежить від успішності європейської інтеграції України. Це єдина українська область, де понад 90% експорту припадає на ЄС. Закарпатці будуть першими, хто найбільше постраждає від зупинки євроінтеграційного поступу України», – зазначила вона.

На думку Климпуш-Цинцадзе, подальше загострення ситуації «дорого коштуватиме українцям угорського походження».

«Мова ультиматумів – це хибний шлях, якого ми всіляко прагнемо уникнути. Від загострення відносин між Угорщиною та Україною виграє лише Росія. На жаль, у Будапешті відмовляються чути наші заклики до конструктивного діалогу щодо всіх чутливих питань. Хочу підкреслити, суверенітет України – не може бути предметом компромісу чи якихось підкилимних домовленостей. Український народ щодня змушений платити за нього занадто високу ціну», – заявила віце-прем’єр.

Цього тижня засоби інформації оприлюднили відео, на якому українцям роздають паспорти Угорщини у консульстві Угорщини в Береговому з проханням не повідомляти про це владі. Голова МЗС України Павло Клімкін зазначив, що відомство перевіряє автентичність відео і назвав можливим видворення угорського консула у Берегові.

Читайте також: Угорський паспорт як загроза. Реакція України

У відповідь міністр закордонних справ Угорщини Петер Сійярто попередив, що його країна витлумачила б можливу висилку угорського консула з Берегова як недружній і ризикований крок, який перемістив би стан двосторонніх відносин у «новий вимір» і не залишився би без відповіді Будапешта.

Політик додав, що Угорщина стежить за розвитком подій і не виключив можливості застосування заходів для уповільнення процесу євроінтеграції України.

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Порошенко Німеччині: не потрапте в Путінову газову пастку

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Президент України Петро Порошенко застеріг Німеччину від газової залежності від Росії.

В інтерв’ю німецькій газеті «Райніше пост» він знову нагадав, що підтримуваний владою Німеччини газогінний проект російського газового монополіста «Газпрому» «Північний потік-2», що має пролягти дном Балтійського моря в обхід України, «не має ніякого економічного сенсу», а є натомість намаганням Росії послабити Україну, позбавивши її транзитних зборів.

Крім того, додав Порошенко, президент Росії Володимир Путін хоче влаштувати геополітичний тиск на Європу.

«Можу попередити наших європейських друзів із власного гіркого досвіду: якщо бути настільки залежним від постачання газу з Росії, як була Україна кілька років тому, можна стати об’єктом шантажу. Можу сказати вам, що то був зовсім не приємний момент, коли Путін зателефонував мені, щоб сказати, що «Газпром» наступного дня перекриє кран. Не потрапте в ту саму пастку!» – сказав Порошенко кореспондентові газети.

Він нагадав, що газотранспортна система України має потужність транспортувати 146 мільярдів кубометрів російського газу до Західної Європи, а нині використовує тільки трохи більш як 90 мільярдів із цієї потужності. «Тож навіщо витрачати 20 мільярдів доларів на зайвий трубопровід? Дайте самі відповідь на це питання», – додав президент.

Україна і деякі європейські країни називають проект «Північний потік-2» суто політичним, без економічного обґрунтування, і закликають заблокувати його. З різкою критикою проекту виступають і США. Тим часом низка країн-членів Європейського союзу, в першу чергу Німеччина, компанії з яких беруть участь у будівництві газопроводу, підтримують «Північний потік-2» і говорять про нього як про «суто економічний проект». При цьому канцлер Німеччини Анґела Меркель заявляла, що робота газопроводу можлива лише в разі, якщо Росія не припинить транзит газу через Україну.

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Предстоятелі Александрійської та Польської церков звернулися із закликом вирішити «церковні непорозуміння» в Україні

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17 вересня президент України під час зустрічі з екзархами Вселенського патріархату заявив, що Україна вийшла на фінішну пряму в питанні отримання томосу

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На фінансування парламентських партій у проект бюджету-2019 заклали 565,6 мільйона гривень – #Точно

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Національне агентство з питань запобігання корупції наступного року планує виплатити 565,6 мільйона гривень парламентським партіям на статутну діяльність. Така інформація міститься в проекті державного бюджету на наступний рік, передає #Точно, проект Радіо Свобода.

Зокрема, у різних пропорціях гроші отримають «Народний фронт», «Блок Петра Порошенка», «Самопоміч», Радикальна партія Олега Ляшка, «Опозиційний блок» та «Батьківщина».

У 2015 році Верховна Рада ухвалила закон, який передбачає фінансування партій з держбюджету і вимагає від партій звітувати про надходження і використання коштів. Наразі державне фінансування отримують лише парламентські партії, а з наступних виборів до Верховної Ради – всі політичні сили, які пройдуть бар’єр у 2% від всіх голосів виборців. Тобто партія може не потрапити до парламенту, але матиме можливість отримувати на розвиток кошти з держбюджету.

Цього року стало відомо, що 900 мільйонів гривень виплатили партіям від початку державного фінансування.

За останніми дослідженнями Комітету виборців України, партії витрачають мільйони гривень платників податків на свою рекламу.

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Pope Begins Baltics Pilgrimage With Plea for Tolerance

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Pope Francis on Saturday urged Lithuanians to use their experience enduring decades of Soviet and Nazi occupation to be a model of tolerance in an intolerant world as he began a three-nation tour of the Baltic region amid renewed alarm over Russia’s intentions there.

Francis was greeted by Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite at the airport and immediately launched into a hectic schedule of political meetings, encounters with Lutheran and Russian Orthodox leaders, and the ordinary Catholic faithful who are a majority in Lithuania but minorities in Latvia and Estonia.

Speaking outside the presidential palace in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, Francis recalled that until the arrival of “totalitarian ideologies” in the 20th century, Lithuania had been a peaceful home to a variety of ethnic and religious groups, including Christians, Jews and Muslims.

He said the world today is marked by political forces that exploit fear and conflict to justify violence and expulsions of others.

“More and more voices are sowing division and confrontation – often by exploiting insecurity or situations of conflict – and proclaiming that the only way possible to guarantee security and the continued existence of a culture is to try to eliminate, cancel or expel others,” Francis said.

He said Lithuania could be a model of openness, understanding, tolerance and solidarity.

“You have suffered `in the flesh’ those efforts to impose a single model that would annul differences under the pretense of believing that the privileges of a few are more important than the dignity of others or the common good,” he said.

Francis was traveling to the region to mark the 100th anniversaries of their independence and to encourage the faith in the Baltics, which saw five decades of Soviet-imposed religious repression and state-sponsored atheism. During the 1940s Nazi occupation, Lithuania’s centuries-old Jewish community was nearly exterminated.

Scars of occupation

“Fifty years of occupation left their mark both on the church and on the people,” said Monsignor Gintaras Grusas, archbishop of Vilnius. “People have deep wounds from that period that take time to heal.”

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which each have ethnic Russian minorities, are also in lockstep in sounding alarms about Moscow’s military maneuvers in the Baltic Sea area following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and its support of separatists fighting the Ukrainian government in eastern Ukraine.

The Vatican, however, has been loath to openly criticize Moscow or its powerful Orthodox Church.

The Baltic countries declared their independence in 1918 but were incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1940 and remained part of it until the early 1990s, except for the 1941-1944 Nazi occupation during World War II. All three joined the European Union and NATO in 2004 and are strong backers of the military alliance, which sees them as a bulwark against Russian incursions in Eastern Europe.

The trip, featuring Francis’ fondness for countries on the periphery, will be a welcome break for the Argentine pope. His credibility has taken a blow recently following missteps on the church’s priestly sex abuse scandal and recent allegations that he covered up for an American cardinal.

His visit to Vilnius coincides with the 75th anniversary of the final destruction of the Vilnius Ghetto, on Sept. 23, 1943, when its remaining residents were executed or sent off to concentration camps by the Nazis.

Until Francis’ schedule was changed three weeks ago, there were no specific events for him to acknowledge the slaughter of some 90 percent of Lithuania’s 250,000 Jews at the hands of Nazi occupiers and complicit Lithuanian partisans — a significant oversight for the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

At the last minute, the Vatican added in a visit to the Ghetto, where Francis will pray quietly on the day when the names of Holocaust victims are read out at commemorations across the country.

Francis will also visit the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, located in a former gymnasium that served as the headquarters of the Gestapo during the 1941-1944 Nazi occupation and later as the headquarters of the feared KGB spy agency when the Soviets recaptured the country.

The issue of Lithuanian complicity in Nazi war crimes is sensitive here, with the Jewish community campaigning to have street signs named for heroes who fought the Soviets removed because of their roles in the executions of Jews.

“I think the presence of the pope is showing attention to the Holocaust and to the Holocaust victims,” said Simonas Gurevichius, chairman of the Vilnius Jewish Community. “However, it is not the pope who has to do the work, it is Lithuania as a country and as a society who needs to do the work.”

 

 

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Призначена Росією влада Армянська планує скасувати режим надзвичайної ситуації 23 вересня

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Режим надзвичайної ситуації в Армянську, запроваджений 14 вересня через погіршення екологічної ситуації внаслідок викидів хімічних речовин на заводі «Кримський титан», планують скасувати 23 вересня. Про це, як інформує сайт проекту Радіо Свобода Крим.Реалії, повідомив призначений Росією голова адміністрації міста Василь Теліженко.

«Якщо ситуація не зміниться і всі показники залишаться в нормі, плануємо завтра (23 вересня – ред.) скасувати режим надзвичайної ситуації», – цитує Теліженка російське агентство «РИА Новости».

За його словами, в понеділок-вівторок з санаторіїв повертатимуться діти, і, швидше за все, в середу вже відновиться навчальний процес.

Теліженко також зазначив, що ситуація в місті залишається стабільною, показники хімічних речовин в повітрі перебувають в межах норми.

Напередодні підконтрольний Росії оперативний штаб із ситуації з викидами шкідливих речовин в Армянську рекомендував призначеній Росією владі міста скасувати режим надзвичайної ситуації.

В ніч із 23 на 24 серпня в Армянську стався викид невідомої речовини.

Російська влада окупованого Криму заявляє, що причиною викидів шкідливої речовини на півночі півострова є випаровування вмісту кислотонакопичувача, використовуваного підприємством «Кримський титан».

Водночас у Міноборони України наполягають, що викид хімічних речовин на території анексованого Криму стався через військових Збройних сил Росії, які на тренуваннях обстріляли відстійники відходів титанового й содового заводів.

13 вересня в Армянську стався повторний викид шкідливих речовин, і їхня концентрація у повітрі перевищила допустиму норму в п’ять разів.

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Верховна Рада розгляне мовні законопроекти у перший тиждень жовтня – Парубій

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«Буду пропонувати, щоб ми розглянути усі законопроекти, вибрали один – і на його основі ухвалили базовий, фундаментальний закон про мову в Україні»

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Path Partially Clears for Russia’s Return to International Sports

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Russia cautiously celebrated a move by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to reinstate its own laboratory for testing athletes for performance enhancing drugs, a decision that has divided the sports world by clearing a path for Russian athletes to return to international competition following a three-year suspension over allegations of state-sponsored doping.

The decision by WADA marks the latest chapter in the long-running saga that has divided Russia and the West in recent years, including the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, meddling in the 2016 elections in the U.S., and intervention in Syria’s civil war.

In Russia, the move was heralded as largely overdue recognition of its progress on an issue Russian sports officials say goes beyond Russia.

“The most important thing is that during this time we managed to make big strides forward in the anti-doping culture in the country,” said Pavel Kolobkov, Russia’s Minister of Sport, in reaction to the decision.

Yet, from President Vladimir Putin on down, Russian officials have vehemently denied WADA’s charges of direct state involvement, saying the suspension is a politically-driven campaign to outlaw Russian athletes collectively for the sins of a few.

Roadmap to return

The vote by WADA’s board — in a split 9-2 to ruling with one abstention — amounts to a partial walk back of key demands of Russia’s so-called “roadmap to return” to competition.

The roadmap’s key provision: Russia formally acknowledge two WADA-triggered investigations that found widespread cheating by hundreds of Russian athletes in what the reports alleges was a massive state-sponsored doping program between 2011 and 2015. A related demand requires that RUSADA, the Russian anti-doping agency, offer complete access to its store of past urine samples of Russia’s athletes.

Critics argue Russia has done neither.

Yet a majority of WADA officials said they were satisfied by Russian progress and promises by Kolobkov for future compliance, with the caveat of possible future suspensions, should policies not be implemented.

“Today, the great majority of the WADA Executive Committee (EXCO) decided to reinstate RUSADA as compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code, subject to strict conditions,” said WADA’s President Craig Reedie said in a statement released to the media.

​Fair play?

The decision was widely condemned by sporting federations in the U.S. and Europe, who suggested the decision cast WADA’s role as an arbiter for fair competition in doubt.

Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of RUSADA-turned-whistleblower whose testimony provided key details about the doping effort, argued reinstatement amounted to a “catastrophe for Olympic sport ideals, the fight against doping and the protection of clean athletes.”

Richard McClaren, the Canadian lawyer whose initial report prompted the WADA ban, also condemned the move.

“Politics is dictating this decision,” McClaren said. “The Russians didn’t accept the conditions, so why will they accept the new ones?”

Yet independent Russian sports commentators noted that despite suggestions of a Russian diplomatic victory, not much had in fact changed for Russian athletes themselves.

Russia could now certify its own athletes for competition and host international events once again. They could also certify so-called “therapeutic use exemptions” granted — too often, Russian officials argue — to Western athletes.

Yet some observers noted that Russia’s banned track and field association must still be cleared independently by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which signaled it would set its own criteria for reinstatement.

The return of Russia’s Paralympic squad, banned from the last two Olympic Games, faces similar hurdles.

“Unfortunately, the return of RUSADA automatically doesn’t give them the flag to compete,” wrote Natalya Maryanchik in the daily Sport-Express newspaper. 

“For top sportsman from Russia almost nothing has changed,” agreed Alexei Advokhin in sports.ru, a popular Russian sports fan website. “Yes, their doping samples will again be tested in Russia.”

“If that’s a case for joy,” he added, “it means for three years we’ve understood nothing.”

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Macedonian PM Seeks US Support in Quest to Join NATO, EU

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Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev says he expects his countrymen will vote for a deal that will rename the country to “North Macedonia” in exchange for Greece’s ending its objections to Macedonia’s eventual membership in NATO and the European Union.

In a VOA interview, he said, “There is no other alternative. I am an optimist primarily because I know my people. They have a history of making smart decisions and this one will be no different.”

Zaev said he wants Macedonia to soon become the 30th member of NATO in order to secure peace, economic prosperity and security for his country, and that Washington strongly supports Macedonia’s NATO aspirations.

“The message was sent yet again that America stands firmly beside Macedonia as an unwavering strategic partner,” Zaev told VOA Macedonian in an exclusive interview following his meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday.

Zaev was invited to the White House after working to secure the Prespa Agreement with Greece on the long-standing name issue between the two countries, according to a statement issued by the vice president’s office. 

“I am convinced that the United States will stay focused on a Southeast Europe benefiting all the citizens in the region, including the citizens of Macedonia,” said Zaev.

Renaming Macedonia is a key element of a deal with neighboring Greece to end a decades-old dispute. Greece says Macedonia’s current name implies claims on its own northern province of Macedonia, and on its ancient heritage.

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Rising Oil Prices Haven’t Hurt US Economy

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America’s rediscovered prowess in oil production is shaking up old notions about the impact of higher crude prices on the U.S. economy.

It has long been conventional wisdom that rising oil prices hurt the economy by forcing consumers to spend more on gasoline and heating their homes, leaving less for other things.

Presumably that kind of run-up would slow the U.S. economy. Instead, the economy grew at its fastest rate in nearly four years during the April-through-June quarter.

President Donald Trump appears plainly worried about rising oil prices just a few weeks before mid-term elections that will decide which party controls the House and Senate.

“We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices!” Trump tweeted Thursday. “We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!”

Members of The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, who account for about one-third of global oil supplies, are scheduled to meet this weekend with non-members including Russia.

The gathering isn’t expected to yield any big decisions — those typically come at major OPEC meetings like the one set for December. Oil markets, however, were roiled Friday by a report that attendees were considering a significant increase in production to offset declining output from Iran, where exports have fallen ahead of Trump’s re-imposition of sanctions.

OPEC and Russia have capped production since January 2017 to bolster prices. Output fell even below those targets this year, and in June the same countries agreed to boost the oil supply, although they didn’t give numbers.

Rising oil prices

Oil prices are up roughly 40 percent in the past year. On Friday, benchmark U.S. crude was trading around $71 a barrel, and the international standard, Brent, was closing in on $80.

The national average price for gasoline stood at $2.85 per gallon, up 10 percent from a year ago, according to auto club AAA. That increase likely would be greater were it not for a slump in gasoline demand that is typical for this time of year, when summer vacations are over.

The United States still imports about 6 million barrels of oil a day on average, but that is down from more than 10 million a decade ago. In the same period, U.S. production has doubled to more than 10 million barrels a day, according to government figures.

“Because the U.S. now is producing so much more than it used to, [the rise in oil prices] is not as big an impact as it would have been 20 years ago or 10 years ago,” said Michael Maher, an energy researcher at Rice University and a former Exxon Mobil economist.

The weakening link between oil and the overall economy was seen — in reverse — three years ago. Then, plunging oil prices were expected to boost the economy by leaving more money in consumers’ pocket, yet GDP growth slowed at the same time that lower oil prices took hold during 2015.

Other economists caution against minimizing the disruption caused by energy prices.

“Higher oil prices are unambiguously bad for the U.S. economy,” said Philip Verleger, an economist who has studied energy markets. “They force consumers to divert their income from spending on other items to spending on fuels.”

Since energy amounts to only about 3 percent of consumer spending, a cutback in that other 97 percent “causes losses for those who sell autos, restaurants, airlines, resorts and all parts of the economy,” Verleger said.

Pack leader

The federal Energy Information Administration said this month that the U.S. likely reclaimed the title of world’s biggest oil producer earlier this year by surpassing the output of Saudi Arabia in February and Russia over the summer. If the agency’s estimates are correct, it would mark the first time since 1973 that the U.S. has led the oil-pumping pack.

And that has made the impact of oil prices on the economy a more complicated calculation.

When oil prices tumbled starting in mid-2014, U.S. energy producers cut back on drilling. They cut thousands of jobs and they spent less on rigs, steel pipes and railcars to ship crude to refineries. That softened the bounce that economists expected to see from cheaper oil.

Now, with oil prices rising, energy companies are boosting production, creating an economic stimulus that offsets some of the blow from higher prices on consumers. Oil- and gas-related investment accounted for about 40 percent of the growth in business investment in the April-June quarter this year.

Moody’s Analytics estimates that every penny increase at the pump reduces consumer spending by $1 billion over a year, and gasoline has jumped 24 cents in the past year, according to AAA. That is “a clear-cut negative,” but not deeply damaging, said Ryan Sweet, director of real-time economics at Moody’s.

“Usually with gasoline prices, speed kills — a gradual increase [like the current one], consumers can absorb that,” Sweet said. Consumers have other factors in their favor, he added, including a tight job market, wage growth, better household balance sheets, and the recent tax cut.

Sweet said the boon that higher prices represent to the growing energy sector, which can invest in more wells, equipment and hiring, means that the run-up in crude has probably been “a small but net positive” for the economy.

“That could change if we get up to $3.50, $4,” he said.

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Romanian Ruling Party Leader Defeats Dissenters Who Want Him Out

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The leader of Romania’s ruling Social Democrats Liviu Dragnea retained control of the party Friday, defeating dissenters who said his criminal record had made him a liability, but his victory seems likely to heighten political infighting.

A past conviction in a vote-rigging case earned him a suspended jail term, which prevented him from being prime minister. And he is due next month to launch an appeal against a three-and-a-half year prison sentence passed in a separate abuse of office case.

He is also under investigation in a third case on suspicion of forming a criminal group to siphon off cash from state projects, some of them EU-funded.

But he emerged unscathed from an eight-hour meeting of the party’s executive committee on Friday at which he won a comfortable majority of support, beating off critics who wanted him out.

Analysts said his latest confrontation with internal party critics might also complicate Dragnea’s and his allies’ efforts to stall the fight against corruption in one of the European Union’s most graft-prone states.

Dragnea led the party to a sweeping victory in a December 2016 parliamentary election, but since then its attempts to weaken the judiciary have dominated the public agenda.

An attempt to decriminalize several corruption offences last year via emergency decrees triggered massive protests and was ultimately withdrawn. Changes to criminal codes this year invited comparisons with Poland and Hungary, which are embroiled in a standoff with Brussels over the rule of law.

Deputy Prime Minister Paul Stanescu, Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea and lawmaker Adrian Tutuianu — all vice-presidents of the party — called for his resignation, saying his management has hurt the party’s popularity.

Dragnea has previously argued in favor of an emergency decree that would grant amnesty for some corruption offenses — potentially affording him protection against prosecution — or retroactively scrap wiretap evidence collected by Romania’s intelligence service SRI on behalf of prosecutors.

After Friday’s executive meeting, Dragnea said Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, a close ally, had not supported the idea of an emergency decree on amnesty at this time.

But Dragnea vowed to continue fighting against what he calls a “parallel state” of prosecutors and secret services who want to bring the party down via corruption trials.

“I personally no longer care [about] an emergency decree regarding amnesty,” Dragnea said. “If the government wants to pass it, it’s up to them, whenever they want.”

“As long as I remain party president I will do all I can to bring down this heinous system that is ruining lives.”

Unlike bills passed through parliament, which can be challenged and take a long time, emergency decrees take effect immediately.

“He [Dragnea] might have broken them [his critics] today,” said Sergiu Miscoiu, political science professor at Babes-Bolyai University. “But he is gradually losing control, his enemies are consolidating, and the next round might be fatal.”

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China Cancels Trade Talks with US After New Tariffs

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China has canceled trade talks with the United States following Washington’s imposition of new tariffs on Chinese goods.

The Wall Street Journal reports that China had planned to send Vice Premier Liu He to Washington next week for the talks, but has now canceled his trip along with that of a midlevel delegation that was to precede him.

US was optimistic

Earlier Friday, a senior White House official said the U.S. was optimistic about finding a way forward in trade talks with China.

The official told reporters at the White House that China “must come to the table in a meaningful way” for there to be progress on the trade dispute.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said while there was no confirmed meeting between the United States and China, the two countries “remain in touch.”

“The president’s team is all on the same page as to what’s required from China,” according to the official.

Trade imbalance

The Trump administration has argued that tariffs on Chinese goods would force China to trade on more favorable terms with the United States.

It has demanded that China better protect American intellectual property, including ending the practice of cybertheft. The Trump administration has also called on China to allow U.S. companies greater access to Chinese markets and to cut its U.S. trade surplus.

Earlier this week, the United States ordered duties on another $200 billion of Chinese goods to go into effect Sept. 24. China responded by adding $60 billion of U.S. products to its import tariff list.

The United States has imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated on an equal amount of U.S. goods.

Tariffs on all China imports?

Earlier this month, President Trump threatened even more tariffs on Chinese goods — another $267 billion worth of duties that would cover virtually all the goods China imports to the United States.

“That changes the equation,” he told reporters.

China has threatened to retaliate against any potential new tariffs. However, China’s imports from the United States are $200 billion a year less than American imports from China, so it would run out of room to match U.S. sanctions.

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Dangers, Opportunities for Turkey in Idlib Deal, Analysts Say

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Ankara is signaling its readiness to use force against radical groups in the Syrian Idlib enclave as part of a deal struck with Moscow, which has been pressuring the Turkish government to comply with terms of an accord made between the Russian and Turkish presidents.

Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, agreed to create a demilitarized zone (DMZ) in the rebel-controlled Idlib enclave.

The deal, heralded as a diplomatic triumph by Ankara, averted a Syrian regime offensive backed by Russian forces against the last rebel bastion. With 3 million people trapped in the region, aid groups have been warning of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Ankara now faces the formidable task of removing radical Islamist groups, along with the heavy weapons of rebel forces, from a 15- to 20-kilometer zone by October 15.

“It is one thing to speak in the chambers of the palaces to hold press conferences and so forth. It’s another thing to fight on the ground,” former senior Turkish diplomat Aydin Selcen said. “Especially because of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham elements, which are a 30,000-strong jihadi force in west Idlib, and especially near the Turkish border and within Idlib town itself, what will they decide? Will they agree on this solution? This is the question.”  

While addressing reporters Friday, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin indicated a readiness to use force against radical groups if they don’t agree to leave the DMZ.

“Persuasion, pacification, other measures, whatever is necessary,” Kalin said. Last month, Ankara designated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, (formally called al-Nusra), as a terrorist organization.

Tall order

Analysts say Ankara will be careful to avoid a military confrontation and will look to its influence on the rebel opposition.

“The leverage Turkey has is that Turkey is still supporting the Free Syrian Army and many other groups. From the very beginning, they have looked to Turkey for support in fighting [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad,” according to international relations professor Huseyin Bagci of Ankara’s Middle East Technical University.

“But the radical groups linked to Daesh [Islamic State], al-Qaida, al-Nusra,” Bagci continued, “whether Turkey will be effective with those groups, I have some doubts. But Russia is expecting Turkey to get full success to convince all of them to leave, which is very, very difficult, I would say.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stepped up the pressure on Ankara. “Nusra Front terrorists should leave this demilitarized zone by mid-October; all heavy weaponry should be withdrawn from there,” Lavrov told a press conference Friday.

Critics of the Idlib deal insist Moscow has trapped Ankara into committing itself to remove or eradicate radical groups from the DMZ, which carries the risk of Turkey being sucked into a conflict with the jihadis.

However, the Idlib deal gives Ankara an opportunity to strengthen its hand in Syria.

“Turkey will definitely increase the number of military personnel in [Idlib] and its influence [in Syria],” said Bagci. “It [Turkey’s military presence] will become a part of the negotiations process in the future with Russia. Definitely, Turkey is using the opportunity, since it’s available, to get more military personnel there and keep them there longer.”

Under a previous agreement between Moscow and Tehran, Ankara established 12 military observation posts across Idlib. The outposts were part of a deal to create a de-escalation zone for Syrian rebel forces and their families. The threat of a Syrian regime offensive against the region prompted the Turkish military to bolster its presence around the outposts.

‘Twin objectives’

Analysts suggest a further consolidation of Turkey’s military presence in Idlib, along with Turkish forces’ current control of a large swath of northern Syria, will strengthen Ankara’s efforts to secure its Syrian goals.

“Turkey wants to create a situation in Syria so that these neighboring regions to Turkey that are controlled by pro-Turkish elements continue [to be controlled by them] so that there is no security threat to Turkey,” said Sinan Ulgen head of the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies, or Edam.

“Secondly, as a result of a political settlement,” he continued, “enough of [a] security guarantee would be provided so that some of the Syrian refugees [in Turkey] can go back to their homes. They are the twin objectives of the Turkish government regarding Syria.”

Turkey claims it is hosting more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees. The Idlib deal between Ankara and Moscow at least for now has removed the threat of another significant exodus of refugees into Turkey.

With Lavrov warning the deal is only an “intermediate step,” critics caution the Idlib deal may offer only a reprieve from a Syrian regime offensive against the rebel enclave. As Ankara seems prepared to use the coming weeks to step up its military presence in Idlib, that will bring a heightened risk of confrontation with jihadi groups.

Analysts say such a marked armed presence, however, also likely will enhance Erdogan’s bargaining position the next time he sits down with Putin to discuss the future of Idlib.