Thursday, July 12th 2018: Nato focused on two percent goal, Germany’s interior minister rejects blame for deportee’s suicide, Greece to expel Russian diplomats


Nato focused on two percent goal: Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that member states are focused on delivering on the agreed upon 2 percent spending goal, not the 4 percent that US President Donald Trump had suggested the members each spend. Trump had called on other Nato members to more than double their military spending in talks on Wednesday, the White House said, although he and other leaders signed a statement that largely reiterates existing principles and commitments. Hours after lashing out at Germany, Trump said during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Brussels that the United States has a tremendous relationship with the country. Trump had declared during a breakfast prior to the Nato summit that Germany was „totally controlled by Russia“, referring to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. Addressing reporters within hours of Trump’s comments, Merkel touted German contributions to Nato and in defense of US interests. In less blunt language than the US president’s, the German chancellor made the point that she needed no lessons in dealing with authoritarian regimes, recalling she had been brought up in East Germany when it had been part of the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. Nato leaders have agreed to invite Macedonia to begin accession talks to join the Western alliance.,,,,

Brexit ‚guerrilla war‘ boils over: British Prime Minister Theresa May should expect one resignation every day until Parliament goes into recess in two weeks time, according to an anonymous source. The unknown source claimed there’d be „guerrilla war“ in a bid to try and force the Prime Minister to drop her new softer plan for customs arrangements after 2020. May will publish a White Paper with more detail after a Chequers summit that prompted Cabinet bigwigs Boris Johnson and David Davis to resign. She has vowed to press ahead with the plan, which will mimic EU rules on goods imports, despite Johnson claiming it would run up the white flag to Brussels.,

Germany aims for migration deal with Italy: German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has met with his Italian counterpart, Matteo Salvini, in Berlin to discuss a common proposal on the protection of external borders. Seehofer said Wednesday he hopes to reach an agreement with Italy by the end of the month on the vexed topic of returning migrants there from Germany. Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Seehofer said officials from the two countries would meet very quickly to discuss the issue. If not reached by the end of the month, a solution should be possible by the beginning of August. A deal with Italy to take back migrants is central to the compromise German Chancellor Angela Merkel reached with Seehofer to end a row over immigration within their coalition that has threatened to bring down the government.

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Prominent Chinese dissident jailed: One of China’s highest-profile democracy campaigners has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for „subversion of state power“. Qin Yongmin has already spent a total of 22 years behind bars. Activists described the proceedings as little more than a show trial. Qin a former steelworker who has been a democracy activist since the 1970s, fainted during his trial in May but was dragged back into court by bailiffs and propped up. Qin was not fully conscious when prosecutors read out his indictment, according to his lawyers. The verdict against Qin emerged a day after Liu Xia, the widow of dissident Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, left Beijing for Germany. Liu Xiaobo, a university professor turned human rights campaigner, was jailed in 2009 for inciting subversion. He died of liver cancer last year. After the White House’s latest threat of tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods, officials in Beijing are looking to hit back in other ways, according to reports.,,

EU Commission chief: Juncker is set to meet Trump on July 25
EU Parliament: Austrian Presidency priorities discussed in committees
Android: Google could be fined billions by EU antitrust body
Fiscal policy: EU Commission to closely monitor Greece after bailout


Germany’s interior minister rejects blame for deportee’s suicide: German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer deflected blame on Wednesday for the suicide of an Afghan man among a group deported to Kabul, after opponents called for the immigration hardliner to resign for boasting that the deportations took place on his birthday. The Afghan man was found dead in Kabul shortly after he was flown back. He was one of 69 people flown by Germany to Afghanistan last week on Seehofer’s 69th birthday, an event which Seehofer had promoted at a news conference as evidence that he was increasing the pace of expulsions. Political opponents called for Seehofer to resign, saying he was cynical and unsuitable for the job. Gyde Jensen, head of the parliamentary human rights committee, demanded Seehofer be fired. Another opposition figure, Claudia Roth, called for further deportations to Afghanistan to be halted due to „the continuing disastrous security situation“. Suicide bombers targeted an Education Department building in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Wednesday, striking the commercial hub for the second time in 24 hours and killing at least 12 people. The UK is increasing the number of British troops serving in Afghanistan to more than 1,000.,,, (Jalalabad), (UK)

Greece to expel Russian diplomats: Four Russian diplomats will be banned from Greece after evidence revealed Russia was trying to foment opposition to a historic deal between Greece and Macedonia that is likely to pave the way for Macedonia’s Nato membership and so weaken Russian influence in the western Balkans. Greece said it would expel two Russian diplomats and ban two others due to concerns that they were involved in rallies in Greece against the deal with Macedonia and that they had attempted to offer money to Greek state officials. Athens raised its concerns with Moscow and asked the diplomats on July 6 to leave Greece. Russia said it would respond to the Greek move by taking similar steps against Greek diplomats in Moscow.,

Germany charges Iranian diplomat with spying: German prosecutors on Wednesday charged an Iranian diplomat with working as a foreign spy and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with an alleged bomb plot against a meeting of Iranian exiles in France. Assadollah Assadi was arrested in the German town of Aschaffenburg in early July after Belgian police issued a European Arrest Warrant against him. German prosecutors said he was suspected of hiring a Belgian-Iranian couple in March to carry out a bomb attack at a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Paris. The diplomat allegedly gave the pair a device containing 500 grams of TATP explosive in Luxembourg shortly before the opposition meeting took place. Belgian police detained them after finding the explosives in their car on the day they were allegedly planning to carry out the attack.

Czech PM Babis expected to win backing for cabinet: The Czech parliament is expected to give its backing on Wednesday to a new minority cabinet led by billionaire Andrej Babis, ending his nine-month struggle to secure a parliamentary majority. The new government, combining Babis’s Ano party and the Social Democrats, will rely for support on the Communist Party, giving it a political say for the first time since the fall of Communism in former Czechoslovakia in 1989.

Spain: Supreme Court orders Spain to take in more refugees
Germany: Malta lets rescue ship captain visit elderly mom

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Trump baby blimp ready to take first steps: A controversial blimp that will fly to protest US President Donald Trump’s visit to the UK is ready for launch. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has given permission for the giant helium-filled balloon to fly over London. Trump will arrive in the UK on Thursday for a three-day working visit during which he is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II. His visit is expected to be met with a number of protests in various cities including London – where the 19-foot Trump balloon is expected to fly over Parliament on Friday. The US Embassy put out a travel alert on Tuesday about the demonstrations, warning US travelers to London to keep a low profile.,



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