Tag Archives: Europe

El Rey recibe al presidente egipcio en la Zarzuela

Abdelfatah al Sisi, junto al rey Felipe VI. / Andrea Comas

  • Felipe VI ha abordado con Abdelfatah al Sisi, que visita por primera vez España, las perspectivas de cooperación bilateral, fundamentalmente en materia económica

  • El mandatario se reunirá también con Rajoy y está previsto que ambos firmen varios acuerdos de cooperación en las áreas de seguridad y lucha contra el crimen, turismo e infraestructuras y transportes

El Rey ha recibido en el Palacio de la Zarzuela al presidente de Egipto, Abdelfatah al Sisi, que visita por primera vez España y con quien ha tenido ocasión de tratar las perspectivas de la cooperación bilateral, fundamentalmente económica, y cuestiones de actualidad en la región mediterránea.

Don Felipe ha dado la bienvenida a Al Sisi ante la entrada del palacio y, tras posar junto a él para los medios gráficos en los jardines, le ha invitado a pasar a su despacho para mantener allí la entrevista, a la que han asistido los ministros de Asuntos Exteriores de España, José Manuel García-Margallo, y Egipto, Sameh Shoukry, así como los respectivos embajadores.

En la primera visita oficial a España de un presidente egipcio desde la que realizó Hosni Mubarak en 2004, Al Sisi busca profundizar la ya positiva cooperación política y ampliar unas relaciones económicas que aún disponen de un amplio margen de mejora, actualmente muy inferiores a las que España mantiene con países como Marruecos, Argelia o Arabia Saudí.

Acuerdos de cooperación

Tras su entrevista con el Rey, el jefe de Estado egipcio se reunirá con el presidente del Gobierno, Mariano Rajoy, en el Palacio de la Moncloa, donde está previsto que se firmen varios acuerdos de cooperación en las áreas de seguridad y lucha contra el crimen, turismo e infraestructuras y transportes.

La cooperación bilateral contra el terrorismo yihadista y ante los flujos migratorios en el Mediterráneo son dos de los asuntos centrales de la agenda de Al Sisi en Madrid, junto al interés de Egipto por atraer inversiones españolas, especialmente en construcción, infraestructuras y energía, objetivo que ha marcado una reunión con empresas de ambos países, celebrada esta mañana.

El líder egipcio volverá a encontrarse hoy con don Felipe, acompañado por doña Letizia, en el almuerzo que los Reyes ofrecerán en su honor en el Palacio Real, tras el que visitará el Congreso de los Diputados, donde será recibido por el presidente de la Cámara, Jesús Posada.

Felipe VI coincidió con Al Sisi el pasado 30 de enero -el día que el Monarca cumplió 47 años- en Adis Abeba, donde ambos participaron en la cumbre de la UA y mantuvieron una reunión bilateral en la que el Rey expresó la voluntad de España de aumentar la presencia económica en Egipto y de proseguir su apoyo al proceso de paz en Oriente Próximo.

Asimismo, don Felipe coincidió con Al Sisi en la necesidad de proseguir la lucha internacional contra el terrorismo y garantizó la implicación de España en este objetivo con un papel importante desde su puesto de miembro no permanente del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU.

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German govt accused of lying to parliament about NSA spying

A general view shows an entrance gate in the north part of the compound of the German Federal Intelligence Agency

A general view shows an entrance gate in the north part of the compound of the German Federal Intelligence Agency

Angela Merkel’s government has been accused of lying to the country’s parliament after it was alleged that it knew German spies were conducting economic espionage for the NSA. Revelations show that some spooks were even spying on German companies.

Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, who is a close ally of Chancellor Merkel denied on Wednesday that he had lied to parliament about the German Intelligence Agency (BND) cooperating with the National Security Agency (NSA). He said that the allegations are untrue and he could disprove the claims through documents, which need to remain secret.

Bild newspaper ran a report Wednesday saying that he had been “lying in black and white” with regards to the case; a picture of the minister with Pinnochio’s long nose was used to convey the message.

“I do follow the rules,” Maiziere said in a statement Wednesday. “That’s my understanding about the treatment of top secret information. It is in my own interest to clear these accusations up. They are not true and the documents would show that.”

On April 14, the Interior Ministry had released a statement saying: “We have no knowledge of alleged economic espionage by the NSA or other US agencies in other countries,” in response to a question from the opposition Linke (Left Party).

However, last week it emerged that the NSA had asked Germany’s intelligence agency, the BND, to obtain sensitive records, such as email and IP addresses as well as telephone numbers to help the American agency spy on certain European companies.

Eurocopter, the French government and the defense firm EADS allegedly were among the company’s targets, although German Chancellor Angela Merkel was said to have been left in the dark about the BND’s activities.

The equivalent would have been if Germany had asked the NSA to spy on NASA or Boeing, requesting that no information about the matter be passed Barack Obama, to ensure no damage would be done to the relationship between the two countries.

Several times a day, the BND reportedly downloaded the NSA selectors into their monitoring system and used them to spy on targets. The results were sent to the German agency’s headquarters in Pullach for evaluation, and then, to some extent, to the NSA, Spiegel Online revealed, adding that the NSA sent about 800,000 ‘selectors’ to the BND in total.

Since at least 2008, BND employees felt they were being asked to perform tasks they did not have the authorization to carry out, as they were not covered by the 2002 Memorandum of Agreement between Germany and the US, aimed at combating global terrorism, the magazine said.

It wasn’t until 2013, in the midst of the Edward Snowden revelations, that an investigation into the spying activities took place. The probe revealed that 2,000 of the selectors actually violated German and Western European interests, with many used to spy on politicians.

However, the revelations were not reported to the Chancellor’s Office, according to Zeit Online. Instead, one of the BND’s department chiefs simply asked the NSA to stop making such requests.

Konstantin von Notz, deputy parliamentary leaders of the Greens, told Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper that he found it “hard to imagine” that the Chancellor’s Office was unaware of the collaboration between the two spy agencies.

“The limit has now been exceeded. The chancellor must explain the situation,” he added.

Left Party leader Gregor Gysi has called the collaboration a “scandal” and demanded an end to “conformism with the US administration,” Deutsche Welle reported

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Haftar does not object to military operation in Libya

Haftar claimed that armed groups supported by Turkey and Qatar were entering Libya while his forces do not have enough weapons to face these groups

Haftar claimed that armed groups supported by Turkey and Qatar were entering Libya while his forces do not have enough weapons to face these groups

Commander of the Libyan government in Tabruk General Khalifa Haftar said on Friday that he does not object to a military operation in Libya, similar to the one carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, Sky News Arabic reported.

In an interview with the network Haftar said that his forces do not want to cause damage and destruction in Tripoli but those who are currently deployed there will move at the appropriate time.

The controversial general said that the movement of his units would take place after more pressure is put on the western parts of the country, stressing that his forces are moving slowly, but with “very-well calculated steps.” He emphasised however that the military capture of Tripoli must be carried out by forces under his command only.

General Haftar criticised the current UNSC sanctions on the supply of weapons to the Libyan army. He also criticised the EU’s efforts to secure a resolution to target illegal migrants in the Mediterranean. He said if Libya was supplied with weapons it would be able to end the flow of migrants to Europe.

Haftar claimed that armed groups supported by Turkey and Qatar were entering Libya while his forces do not have enough weapons to face these groups.

He also claimed that ISIS members had infiltrated into Libya from several neighbouring countries, as well as through the seaports along the Libyan coasts.

Deeply Bound to Ukraine, Putin Watches and Waits for Next Move

RUSSIA-POLITICS-PUTIN

MOSCOW — The sudden collapse of the Kremlin-backed government in Ukraine has for now delivered a profound setback to President Vladimir V. Putin’s strategy to deepen political and economic ties with the country and thus keep it from embracing Europe.

Even as Russia celebrates the closing of Olympic Games that defied some dire expectations, Mr. Putin now faces the task of reasserting Russia’s influence in a country that it considers a fraternal ally, one with deep cultural, social and political connections that bind it to Moscow’s orbit regardless of its new government.

Russia still has enormous leverage and close allies in Ukraine, particularly in the east and on the Crimea Peninsula, home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and a sizable ethnic Russian population that views the leaders of the political uprising that toppled President Viktor F. Yanukovych with disdain.

That has raised fears that Russia would use the disenchanted populations there as a pretext to intervene to reverse Ukraine’s new trajectory — even militarily, as the Kremlin did in two ethnic enclaves in 2008 in another former Soviet republic, Georgia.

The fears have been so palpable — and the subject of endless speculation in Ukraine and here in Russia — that President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, warned in a television interview on Sunday that it “would be a grave mistake” for Russia to use force. “It’s in nobody’s interest to see violence return and the situation escalate,” Ms. Rice said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

How exactly Russia responds remains to be seen, but the turmoil is certain to further strain relations with Europe and the United States, which officials here have denounced for meddling in Ukraine at the expense of Russia’s vital interests. At the same time, the United States and Europe have accused Russia of trying to impose its will there.

Mr. Putin’s envoy refused to sign the agreement mediated on Friday by three European foreign ministers to end two days of carnage in the capital, Kiev, only to have the agreement overtaken by a political upheaval that threatens to undercut Russia’s influence over any new government.

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, complained on Sunday that while Mr. Yanukovych had honored the terms of the agreement — which called for new elections and a return of constitutional powers to the Parliament — his political opponents had not. Instead, the Parliament has effectively seized power and is now rushing through an emboldened series of votes that have provoked rage among Russian lawmakers and commentators.

“It’s a confusing situation,” Mr. Peskov said in a telephone interview from Sochi, where Mr. Putin attended the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games. “We have to figure out what we are facing there. Is it a coup or what?”

Mr. Putin has not yet made any public statements about the latest events, as is often the case when he is confronted by unexpected challenges or crises. “Let’s wait and see,” Mr. Peskov said.

Mr. Putin and Mr. Yanukovych have spoken several times in recent weeks to discuss the situation there, but Mr. Peskov said he did not know whether they had spoken since Saturday, when Mr. Yanukovych’s legitimacy evaporated and he fled Kiev, leaving protesters swarming through his opulent presidential compound.

It is clear that Mr. Putin has followed the crisis intently, even as he attended to the Olympic festivities that he clearly has relished as a symbol of a new Russia. On Friday he met with his national security advisers on Friday and a day later dispatched two Russian lawmakers to a regional party congress in Eastern Ukraine that had been called to rally opposition to the new political authorities in Kiev.

Vladimir Lukin, the envoy Mr. Putin sent to Kiev at Mr. Yanukovych’s request during the negotiations with the Europeans, returned to Moscow and criticized the European foreign ministers for siding with “the nationalist-revolutionary terrorist Maidan,” referring to the square that has been the nucleus of the protests, and not the “legitimate government that they recognized.”

Only hours before the closing ceremony in Sochi, Mr. Putin spoke by telephone with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. The Kremlin said in a statement only that they discussed the situation in Ukraine, Germany’s foreign office went further, saying that the two leaders agreed that “the territorial integrity of Ukraine must be preserved.”

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, spoke with Secretary of State John Kerry for a second time in two days, and Russia later announced that it had recalled its ambassador in Kiev because of “the deteriorating situation” in the country. The State Department released a statement saying that Mr. Kerry expressed support for the votes in Ukraine’s Parliament and called on Russia to support the transition now underway.

As in Ukraine itself, there were already some signs that Russia had given up on Mr. Yanukovych, but that hardly meant that officials in Moscow would welcome the new government that emerges. Russia’s Foreign Ministry posted a photograph on Twitter of a World War II memorial being toppled in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, joining the many Lenin statues that have been pulled down. “Nazis comeback,” it said in muddled English.

A vote by Ukraine’s Parliament to curtail the Russian language’s role in its school curriculum, one of a flurry of new laws adopted, also prompted a similarly ominous warning from one of Russia’s deputy prime ministers, Dmitri O. Rogozin. “The main enemy — the Russian language,” he wrote on Twitter. “Then — all Russians in Ukraine. Then — all who are for a union with Russia.”

Others sounded more tempered. Russia has suspended the $15 billion in financial assistance it pledged to Ukraine in December, but its finance minister, Anton Siluanov, said Sunday that it was still possible to continue with the loans once a new government was formed. He also said Russia would abide by its current contracts to provide natural gas, something it has previously used as a lever when relations soured.

In the end, of all the problems that threatened to overshadow the Olympic Games in Sochi — terrorism, construction delays, even the weather — the one that materialized in Ukraine was one few expected.

Sergei A. Markov, a political strategist who advises the Kremlin, criticized what he called the “cynical geopolitical games” that European leaders have played in Ukraine, but also suggested that Russia, too, needed a new approach now. “It’s simply necessary for Moscow to reformat the Ukraine element of its foreign policy,” he told Interfax.

Deeply Bound to Ukraine, Putin Watches and Waits for Next Move – NYTimes.com.