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Posts tagged ‘European Commission’

US, France Warn Russia of ‘New Measures’ Over Ukraine.


President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande warned Saturday of “new measures” against Russia if it fails to work toward defusing the crisis in Ukraine, the French presidency said.

In a phone call on Saturday, Obama and Hollande insisted on the “need for Russia to withdraw forces sent to Crimea since the end of February and to do everything to allow the deployment of international observers,” it said.
Obama’s conversation with Hollande was one of a half dozen telephone conversations he had with world leaders Saturday about Ukraine, the White House says.

He  also spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and held a conference call with the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

The new warnings come in the wake of Russia’s insistence that any U.S. sanctions will have a boomerang effect on the United States and that Crimea has the right to self-determination as armed men tried to seize another Ukrainian military base on the peninsula.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

In a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned against “hasty and reckless steps” that could harm Russian-American relations, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

“Sanctions…would inevitably hit the United States like a boomerang,” it added.

It was the second tense, high-level exchange between the former Cold War foes in 24 hours over the pro-Russian takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said after an hour-long call with U.S. President Barack Obama that their positions on the former Soviet republic were still far apart. Obama announced the first sanctions against Russia on Thursday.

Putin, who later opened the Paralympic Games in Sochi which have been boycotted by a string of Western dignitaries, said Ukraine’s new, pro-Western authorities had acted illegitimately over the eastern, southeastern and Crimea regions.

“Russia cannot ignore calls for help and it acts accordingly, in full compliance with international law,” he said.

Serhiy Astakhov, an aide to the Ukrainian border guards’ commander, said 30,000 Russian soldiers were now in Crimea, compared to the 11,000 permanently based with the Russian Black Sea fleet in the port of Sevastopol before the crisis.

On Friday evening armed men drove a truck into a Ukrainian missile defence post in Sevastopol, according to a Reuters reporter at the scene. But no shots were fired and Crimea’s pro-Russian premier said later the standoff was over.

Putin denies the forces with no national insignia that are surrounding Ukrainian troops in their bases are under Moscow’s command, although their vehicles have Russian military plates. The West has ridiculed his assertion.

The most serious East-West confrontation since the end of the Cold War – resulting from the overthrow last month of President Viktor Yanukovich after protests in Kiev that led to violence – escalated on Thursday when Crimea’s parliament, dominated by ethnic Russians, voted to join Russia.

The region’s government set a referendum for March 16 – in just nine days’ time.

JETS, DESTROYER

Turkey scrambled jets after a Russian surveillance plane flew along its Black Sea coast and a U.S. warship passed through Turkey’s Bosphorus straits on its way to the Black Sea, although the U.S. military said it was a routine deployment.

European Union leaders and Obama said the referendum plan was illegitimate and would violate Ukraine’s constitution.

The head of Russia’s upper house of parliament said after meeting visiting Crimean lawmakers on Friday that Crimea had a right to self-determination, and ruled out any risk of war between “the two brotherly nations”.

Obama ordered visa bans and asset freezes on Thursday against so far unidentified people deemed responsible for threatening European Union leaders Ukraine’s sovereignty. Earlier in the week, a Kremlin aide said Moscow might refuse to pay off any loans to U.S. banks, the top four of which have around $24 billion in exposure to Russia.

Japan endorsed the Western position that the actions of Russia constitute “a threat to international peace and security”, after Obama spoke to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

China, often a Russian ally in blocking Western moves in the U.N. Security Council, was more cautious, saying economic sanctions were not the best way to solve the crisis and avoiding comment on the Crimean referendum.

The EU, Russia’s biggest economic partner and energy customer, adopted a three-stage plan to try to force a negotiated solution but stopped short of immediate sanctions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded angrily on Friday, calling the EU decision to freeze talks on visa-free travel and on a broad new pact governing Russia-EU ties “extremely unconstructive”. It pledged to retaliate.

“GUERRILLA WAR?”

Senior Ukrainian opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko, freed from prison after Yanukovich’s overthrow, met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Dublin and appealed for immediate EU sanctions against Russia, warning that Crimea might otherwise slide into a guerrilla war.

Brussels and Washington rushed to strengthen the new authorities in economically shattered Ukraine, announcing both political and financial assistance. The regional director of the International Monetary Fund said talks with Kiev on a loan agreement were going well and praised the new government’s openness to economic reform and transparency.

The European Commission has said Ukraine could receive up to 11 billion euros ($15 billion) in the next couple of years provided it reaches agreement with the IMF, which requires painful economic reforms like ending gas subsidies.

Promises of billions of dollars in Western aid for the Kiev government, and the perception that Russian troops are not likely to go beyond Crimea into other parts of Ukraine, have helped reverse a rout in the local hryvnia currency.

In the past two days it has traded above 9.0 to the dollar for the first time since the Crimea crisis began last week. Local dealers said emergency currency restrictions imposed last week were also supporting the hryvnia.

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said Ukraine had not paid its $440 million gas bill for February, bringing its arrears to $1.89 billion and hinted it could turn off the taps as it did in 2009, when a halt in Russian deliveries to Ukraine reduced supplies to Europe during a cold snap.

In Moscow, a huge crowd gathered near the Kremlin at a government-sanctioned rally and concert billed as being “in support of the Crimean people”. Pop stars took to the stage and demonstrators held signs with slogans such as “Crimea is Russian land”, and “We believe in Putin”.

IMPORTANT DIFFERENCES

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said no one in the civilised world would recognise the result of the “so-called referendum” in Crimea.

He repeated Kiev’s willingness to negotiate with Russia if Moscow pulls its additional troops out of Crimea and said he had requested a telephone call with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

But Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov ridiculed calls for Russia to join an international “contact group” with Ukraine proposed by the West, saying they “make us smile”.

Demonstrators encamped in Kiev’s central Independence Square to defend the revolution that ousted Yanukovich said they did not believe Crimea would be allowed to secede.

Alexander Zaporozhets, 40, from central Ukraine’s Kirovograd region, put his faith in international pressure.

“I don’t think the Russians will be allowed to take Crimea from us: you can’t behave like that to an independent state. We have the support of the whole world. But I think we are losing time. While the Russians are preparing, we are just talking.”

Unarmed military observers from the pan-European Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe were blocked from entering Crimea for a second day in a row on Friday, the OSCE said on Twitter.

The United Nations said it had sent its assistant secretary-general for human rights, Ivan Simonovic, to Kiev to conduct a preliminary humans rights assessment.

Ukrainian television has been replaced with Russian state channels in Crimea and the streets largely belong to people who support Moscow’s rule, some of whom have harassed journalists and occasional pro-Kiev protesters.

Part of the Crimea’s 2 million population opposes Moscow’s rule, including members of the region’s ethnic Russian majority. The last time Crimeans were asked, in 1991, they voted narrowly for independence along with the rest of Ukraine.

“With all these soldiers here, it is like we are living in a zoo,” Tatyana, 41, an ethnic Russian. “Everyone fully understands this is an occupation.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Newsmax Wires

Obama to Meet with Pope Francis in March.


President Barack Obama will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican as part of a European trip scheduled for March.

The White House says Obama “looks forward to discussing with Pope Francis their shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing inequality” during their March 27 meeting. Obama also plans to meet in Rome with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Enrico Letta.

Francis: Who Is Pope Francis? Book Reveals the Man

Obama’s trip begins March 24-25 in The Hague, Netherlands, where he will participate in a nuclear security summit hosted by the Dutch government and meet with Dutch leaders.

On March 26, Obama will travel to Brussels for an U.S.-European Union summit with the presidents of the European Council and the European Commission, as well as meetings with Belgian leaders and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Britain’s Cameron Pushes EU-China Trade Deal in Beijing.


BEIJING — British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in China Monday saying he wanted to lay the ground for a multi-billion-dollar free trade deal between Beijing and the European Union (EU), despite growing unease about his own country’s membership of the bloc.On a three-day visit with approximately 100 business people — the largest British mission of its kind ever — Cameron said he wanted his country to play an important role in China’s expansion as it talks about opening up its markets.

“China’s transformation is one of the defining facts of our lifetime. . . . I see China’s rise as an opportunity, not just for the people of this country but for Britain and the world,” Cameron told reporters after meeting Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People. “Some in Europe and elsewhere see the world changing and want to shut China off behind a bamboo curtain of trade barriers. Britain wants to tear those trade barriers down.”

Cameron’s push for an EU-China trade deal will irritate the European Commission, which is understood to oppose such a move on the grounds that it risks flooding the 28-nation bloc with cheap Chinese imports and comes as the bloc is embroiled in a dispute with Beijing over solar panel exports.

It is also likely to be seized upon by rivals as he has put a question mark over Britain’s EU membership by promising a referendum on leaving the bloc if re-elected in 2015.

“I’ve said to Premier Li that I will champion an EU-China trade deal with as much determination as I’m championing the EU-U.S. trade deal,” Cameron said.

Li said both sides agreed to fight protectionism and push for trade and investment liberalization. China, he said, welcomed Britain’s open attitude to Chinese investment, especially in the nuclear power sector.

China, he added, wanted its nationals to go to Britain for economic activity and tourism. “This will be good for China and bring even more employment opportunities for Britain.”

Li added that there had been a “breakthrough” between companies on both sides on high speed rail, but gave no details.

Cameron’s office said he was the first European leader to champion such a deal and had discussed the issue with other EU member states. Such a deal would address services liberalization and better intellectual property rights protection.

Cameron told reporters on the plane to Beijing he knew the idea was not popular in all EU member states, but said it could be a chance to tackle Beijing on intellectual property rights and trading standards.

“It’ll be the normal thing in the EU which will be a discussion where there will be some skeptics. There will be some enthusiasts and I think the enthusiasts have the wind in our sails.”

HUMAN RIGHTS

British finance minister George Osborne opened the door to further Chinese investment during a visit to Beijing last month. He announced less stringent rules for Chinese banks operating in London, in a push to make the British capital the main offshore hub for trading in China’s currency and bonds.

He also paved the way for Chinese investors to take majority stakes in future British nuclear plants.

Campaigners have often accused Cameron of putting trade before human rights. On this trip, activists want him to raise what they describe as rights abuses in Tibet.

A senior source in his office said before the trip that Britain had turned the page on a rift with China over Tibet, adding that Cameron had no plans to meet the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader-in-exile, again after their meeting last year angered Beijing.

Cameroon was non-committal on the plane about raising Tibet, but said nothing was “off limits” in relations with China.

As permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Cameron said the two countries would also discuss Iran and North Korea.

Cameron visited a training academy for Jaguar Land Rover sales staff on Monday to mark its opening as the carmaker unveiled a deal worth 4.5 billion pounds ($7.38 billion) to provide 100,000 cars to the National Sales Company in China.

England’s Premier League also announced an agreement with the Chinese Super League to develop football in China.

Xavier Rolet, the chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, is traveling with Cameron.

The delegation also includes Andrew Witty, the chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline. The company was drawn into a bribery case this year which resulted in police detaining four Chinese GSK executives.

Peter Humphrey, a Briton running a risk advisory group, was also detained and is still being held.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Gibraltar dispute: Spanish fishermen prepare to protest.


A Spanish fishing boat in the sea, with the Rock of Gibraltar in the backgroundSpain says Gibraltar‘s artificial reef – which prevents fishing – must be removed

Spanish fishermen are preparing to sail near disputed waters off Gibraltar to protest an artificial reef placed there by the British territory‘s government.

The fishermen say the reef restricts their right to fish but Gibraltar says it will encourage sea-life to flourish.

Local reports suggest fishermen are beginning to gather for the protest and that there is a heavy police presence.

The row over the reef has led to tensions between the UK, Gibraltar and Spain in recent weeks.

‘Not theirs’

Dozens of Spanish fishing boats are shortly expected to sail from the “Campo de Gibraltar” – the area in southern Spain just over the border from the British territory.

They are set to protest near the spot where Gibraltar dropped 70 concrete blocks into the sea to create the artificial reef.

The Royal Gibraltar Police said their operation to deal with the protest was under way, while the Gibraltar Chronicle reported a heavy police presence in the area.

GBC News, Gibraltar’s public service broadcaster, reported that more than 20 Spanish fishing boats had gathered, along with at least 12 law enforcement vessels, including the Royal Navy’s HMS Sabre.

The BBC’s Tom Burridge is drowned out by the sound of car horns as motorists wait to exit Gibraltar

The Spanish government has accused Gibraltar of creating the reef “without the necessary authorisation” in “waters that are not theirs”.

In building the reef it has said Gibraltar is contravening environmental laws and damaging Spain’s fishing industry, because Spanish fishing nets were in danger of catching on the concrete reef blocks.

In response, Spain has imposed tougher checks at the border and announced it was considering a 50 euro (£43) fee to cross its border with Gibraltar.

Madrid has said the checks were necessary to tackle tobacco smuggling.

‘Serious concerns’

But the UK has accused Spain of breaking EU free movement rules. Lengthy delays at the border have been reported on several occasions in recent weeks.

On Friday UK Prime Minister David Cameron called EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to raise “serious concerns” that Spain’s extra border checks were politically motivated and “disproportionate” – and broke EU rules on freedom of movement.

The UK wants to resolve the row through “political dialogue”, a Downing Street spokesman said.

Royal Navy warship HMS Westminster, which left Portsmouth last weekend, is due to arrive in Gibraltar on Monday in a visit described by the Ministry of Defence as “long-planned” as part of “a range of regular and routine deployments”.

Spain disputes UK sovereignty over Gibraltar, a limestone outcrop near the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula, which has been ruled by Britain since 1713.

In recent years the dispute has taken the form of a clash over fishing rights. Both Spain and Gibraltar have claimed jurisdiction over the waters off the Rock, and both sides have complained about incursions into what they claim are their waters.

Gibraltar

Are you in Gibraltar or Spain? What do you think about the protest by Spanish fishermen? You can send us your comments using the form below.

Send your pictures and videos to yourpics@bbc.co.uk or text them to61124 (UK) or +44 7624 800 100 (International). If you have a large file you can upload here.

Source: BBC NEWS UK.

European Union Issues Order To Redraw Israel To 1949 Borders.


The coming of Daniel’s 70th week

“In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:2

Understanding The Prophecy Of Daniel’s 70 Weeks

From Haaretz: The European Union has issued orders forbidding its member states from cooperating, transferring funds, giving scholarships or research grants to bodies in Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem , and even the Golan HeightsHaaretz wrote Tuesday.

israel-pre-1967-borders-1949-armistice-day-six-day-war

The new instruction, promulgated by the European Commission, which is the operative arm of the EU, sets parameters for cooperation between the EU and its members states, on the one hand, and Israeli governmental and private elements on the other. The instructions are for the years 2014 – 2020 and will go into force on Friday, July 18.

The decision also states that any future agreement signed with Israel must include a section that says the “settlements” are not part of sovereign Israel and therefore not included in the agreement.

A senior source in the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the new EU decision is dramatic, and can be called “a true earthquake.”

“This is the first time in which a explicit and formal instruction like this is issued. Until now, there were silent understandings and agreements that the EU does not work beyond the Green Line” – as the 1949 Armistice Line is known – “but this is an official and binding prohibition.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin said that the EU decision is “very worrisome” and will make it difficult for the state of Israel to conduct contacts with the EU regarding cooperation agreements. source – HAARETZ

by NTEB News Desk

With Sex Trafficking Rising in Europe, Missionaries Target Prostitutes.


sex trafficking
OM EAST has started to network with other agencies to stand against human trafficking.

Your prayers are needed for Austria.

Operation Mobilization (OM) says plans to build Europe’s largest brothel are in the works. Called the “FunMotel,” a large-scale brothel on the outskirts of Vienna would service 1000 customers a day in nearly 150 rooms.

The Austrian businessman behind this project reportedly claims the FunMotel will transform the sex industry from “grocer to supermarket.” Along with decreasing the social stigma attached to prostitution and brothels, an increase in market demand will put more women at risk of sex trafficking.

Ask the Lord to intervene in this situation. Pray the brothel won’t be built.

According to an April report from the European Commission, human trafficking is on the rise in Europe. Trafficking went up 18 percent between 2008 and 2010; this could be “the tip of the iceberg,” though, according to some EU officials.

A “clear majority” of victims in the European Commission’s report, some 61 percent, hail from a European Union nation. Most claimed citizenship in Romania or Bulgaria, the two poorest EU states.

OM EAST, an OM team supporting churches throughout Eurasia, brings the hope of Christ to Vienna’s prostitutes. Their claims support this finding, stating on the OM EAST website that every second prostitute in Greece and Austria is from Romania.

To try and turn the tide of this massive injustice, OM EAST is networking with other agencies on preventative measures like outreaches, meetings in Eastern European churches and schools, and good literature projects to strengthen families.

Please pray for those caught in the hopeless web of sex trafficking. Pray that the light of Christ will shine into their lives through OM workers. Pray that more will be done to protect women from this evil.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

MISSION NETWORK NEWS

Europe Probes Major Oil Companies Over Price Manipulation.


European authorities have raided offices of oil majors Shell, BP and Statoil in an investigation of suspected manipulation of oil prices, one of the biggest cross-border actions since the Libor rigging scandal.

Authorities have sharpened scrutiny of financial benchmarks around the world since slapping large fines on some of the world’s biggest banks for rigging interest rate benchmarks.

On Tuesday, the European Commission said it was investigating major oil companies over suspected anti-competitive agreements related to submission of prices to leading oil pricing agency Platts, a unit of McGraw Hill Group.

“Officials carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of several companies active in and providing services to the crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels sectors,” the Commission said. The inspections took place in two EU member states and one non-EU country, it said.

“The Commission has concerns that the companies may have colluded in reporting distorted prices to a price reporting agency to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products,” it said.

The Commission also said companies may have prevented others from participating in the price assessment process, with a view to distorting published prices.

Statoil said the suspected violations were related to the Platts price assessment process and may have been ongoing since 2002.

The probe will shine a light on the methodology designed by Platts for daily assessments on the physical oil markets, used to close deals worth billions of dollars.

The so-called Platts window, or market-on-close (MOC) system, is a daily half-hour period in which it determines cash prices through a series of bids, offers and trades.

Critics say the system is only a snapshot of the market, because it excludes trade outside the window — one reason that it can be vulnerable to manipulation.

PRICE DISTORTIONS

The Commission said that even small distortions of assessed prices may have a huge impact on the prices of crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels purchases and sales, potentially harming final consumers.

It added the fact inspections had been carried out did not mean the companies were guilty of anti-competitive behavior.

The Commission did not make clear whether it was investigating a specific incident. These investigations typically take years to draw final conclusions.

Platts, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Statoil said they were cooperating with the probe.

French major Total said there had been no inspections at its offices. The Commission did not list the companies being investigated, and it was not clear whether other companies were included.

Statoil said authorities had inspected its office in Stavanger on the request of the European Commission on suspicions of anti-competitive behavior.

The Norwegian state, the controlling shareholder of Statoil, said the probe was a matter for the company’s management to handle and declined further comment.

Platts said the European Commission had “undertaken a review at its premises in London this morning in relation to the Platts price assessment process”.

The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) is running a wider review of benchmarks, and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is looking into the setting of old and silver prices in London.

IOSCO said it was not involved in the oil enquiry, and the CFTC had no comment.

Thomson Reuters, parent of Reuters news, competes with Platts in providing news and information to the oil market.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

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