Friday, 14 August 2020: Israel and United Arab Emirates agree to full normalisation of relations, Germany wants to ramp up pressure on Belarus, EU wants to discuss sanctions against Turkey


Israel and United Arab Emirates agree to full normalisation of relations: Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced Thursday they are establishing full diplomatic relations. Under the accord, which US President Donald Trump helped broker, Israel agreed to suspend its planned annexation of areas of the occupied West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, said the annexation plan was only on temporary hold, appearing to contradict statements from Emirati officials who said it was off the table. If Israel and the United Arab Emirates go ahead and sign bilateral agreements, it would be the first time Israel has normalised relations with a Gulf state. Delegations from Israel and the United Arab Emirates will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, direct flights, security and the establishment of reciprocal embassies, among other things, a joint statement said.,,

Germany wants to ramp up pressure on Belarus: The EU will have to increase the pressure it is placing on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday. He added that EU members were in intensive talks about measures, including sanctions, ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers this Friday. “The brutality and the detention of peaceful protesters and journalists in Belarus isn’t acceptable in the Europe of the 21st century,” Maas told a news conference. “This is why we have to increase the pressure on those in power there.” The German Foreign Office has asked the Ambassador of Belarus, Denis Sidorenko, for an interview about the events surrounding the country’s presidential election. Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide also condemned the violence in Belarus as excessive and called for a joint response from EU states, of which Norway is not a member. Hundreds of people were back on the streets of Minsk on Thursday to protest Lukashenko’s disputed re-election. Thousands of Belarusian factory workers abandoned their posts.,,,,

EU wants to discuss sanctions against Turkey: This Friday, the EU will address the issue of sanctions against Turkey over the country’s energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean. French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Wednesday that France will boost its military presence in the region to monitor the situation and mark its determination to uphold international law. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis thanked Macron on Thursday for France’s pledge to increase its military presence. Mitsotakis tweeted that Macron was a “true friend of Greece.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by telephone to Mitsotakis and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan about their dispute.,,

US holds off on threatened tariff hike in EU Airbus fight: On Wednesday, the US said it would maintain 15% tariffs on Airbus aircraft and 25% tariffs on more than 100 European products, despite EU efforts to resolve a 16-year-old dispute over aircraft subsidies. However, the Trump administration did not add any new tariffs despite threats to the contrary. “The EU and member states have not taken the actions necessary to come into compliance with WTO decisions,” America’s top trade official, Robert Lighthizer, said on Wednesday. “The United States, however, is committed to obtaining a long-term resolution to this dispute. The EU cautiously welcomed the US decision not to increase the amount of goods subject to tariffs.,

EU wraps up talks with Johnson & Johnson: The EU Commission said on Thursday it had concluded preliminary talks with US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson for an advance purchase deal of a potential Covid-19 vaccine the company is developing. The Commission said this could pave the way for the signing of a contract that would allow EU countries to buy the vaccines or donate to developing countries.

Lebanon’s parliament confirms state of emergency in Beirut: The Lebanese parliament has approved a state of emergency that grants extended powers to the military. It can now impose curfews, ban assemblies and impose censorship on media organisations and publications if it deems them threatening to national security. Human rights groups have warned that the state of emergency law will give the military extensive powers to quell protests. Many Lebanese have been protesting because they are infuriated by the country’s ruling political class, who they blame for the catastrophic explosion in the port of Beirut, accusing them of mismanagement and negligence.,

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Bavarian leader Söder under fire over coronavirus test delays: Bavarian state premier Markus Söder apologised Thursday for authorities’ failure to deliver the results of tens of thousands of coronavirus tests for travellers returning to Germany, 900 of which were positive. Critics noted that the lack of timely test results meant that people with the coronavirus may have passed it onto many others without realising it. Söder said the problem was very vexing and regrettable, and he felt personally sorry as many people were now unsettled as it was unclear what happened to their test results. On Thursday, Söder faced the media together with Bavarian Health Minister Melanie Huml, who said that when she was made aware of the scale of the problem on Wednesday, she asked for the relevant data and worked until long past midnight to help deal with the backlog.

Slovenia and US unite against Huawei: The United States and Slovenia signed a deal Thursday to keep out non-trusted suppliers of 5G technology, the latest in a slew of agreements between Washington and some European capitals to elbow out Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that by signing the declaration, Slovenia has secured protection against “authoritarian threats” including China’s effort “to control people and information.” The agreement is non-binding, but it highlights that Ljubljana is in lockstep with Washington, which believes Chinese 5G gear poses a threat to other countries that renders their infrastructure vulnerable to hacking and misuse.,

Italy’s government receives 200 complaints over pandemic response: More than 200 people have filed complaints against Italian government figures including Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and other cabinet members over their handling of the coronavirus crisis. The complaints include charges of abuse of office, homicide and restriction of civil rights. However, the public prosecutor’s office in Rome wrote that it considered the allegations to be unsubstantiated and would dismiss them.

Italy to test travellers from Greece and Croatia: Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza has signed an order requiring anyone arriving from Croatia, Greece, Spain and Malta to be tested for Covid-19 in an attempt to avoid a spike of new coronavirus cases. As the summer holidays reach their peak, concerns have been raised about the return of tourists that travelled to countries where social distancing and the use of face masks are not as widely enforced. Meanwhile, the Italian government will spend 500 million euros to help the country’s tourism industry during the pandemic. (Tests), (Tourism)

Finland recommends face masks: Finland recommended the use of face masks in public for the first time on Thursday as the number of coronavirus cases rises. Prime Minister Sanna Marin said masks should be worn in situations where social distancing is not possible, such as on public transport.

Croatia reports record of new infections
Greece reports first coronavirus case in island migrant camp
Spain: Regions ban smoking over corona risk
Lithuania bans Hezbollah members from entry


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German language association wants gender asterisk to be scrapped: In recent years, Germans have used the asterisk to make gender-specific nouns seem gender-neutral. But the nation’s most prominent language association now says the asterisk is not the best solution. The Association for German Language said the asterisk did not conform either to German grammar or to the rules of spelling. It therefore recommended that the asterisk, and other forms of gender neutralisation such as a colon or an underscore, no longer be used.


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