Turkey to Banish 10 Western Ambassadors, Erdogan Says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday he had ordered the foreign ministry to declare 10 ambassadors from Western countries “persona non grata” for calling for the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala.

Kavala has been in prison for four years, charged with financing nationwide protests in 2013 and with involvement in a failed coup in 2016. He denies the charges.

In a joint statement on October 18, the ambassadors of Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand and the United States called for a just and speedy resolution to Kavala’s case, and for his “urgent release.” They were summoned by the foreign ministry, which called the statement irresponsible.

“I gave the necessary order to our foreign minister and said what must be done: These 10 ambassadors must be declared persona non grata at once. You will sort it out immediately,” Erdogan said in a speech in the city of Eskisehir in northwest Turkey. 

“They will know and understand Turkey. The day they do not know and understand Turkey, they will leave,” he said to cheers from the crowd.

The U.S., German and French embassies and the White House and U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Kavala was acquitted last year of charges related to the 2013 protests, but the ruling was overturned this year and combined with charges in another case related to the coup attempt.

Rights groups say his case is emblematic of a crackdown on dissent under Erdogan.

Kavala said Friday it would be “meaningless” for him to attend his trial as a fair hearing was impossible given recent comments by Erdogan.

Erdogan was cited Thursday as saying the ambassadors in question would not release “bandits, murderers and terrorists” in their own countries.

“Since there is no possibility of a fair trial under these circumstances, I believe participating in hearings and delivering my defense will be meaningless from now on,” Kavala said in a written statement.

The European Court of Human Rights called for Kavala’s immediate release in late 2019, saying there was no reasonable suspicion that he had committed an offense, and finding that his detention had been intended to silence him.

It issued a similar ruling this year in the case of Selahattin Demirtas, former head of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who has been held in jail for nearly five years.

The Council of Europe, which oversees the implementation of ECHR decisions, has said it will begin infringement proceedings against Turkey if Kavala is not released.

The next hearing in the case against Kavala and others is due on November 26.

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UN Adopts Legal Mechanism to Protect Environmental Defenders

Forty-six countries and the European Union have adopted a legally binding mechanism under the so-called Aarhus Convention to protect environmental defenders who risk abuse and harm because of their activism.

The Aarhus Convention was adopted in 1998 in the Danish city of Aarhus under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. It is the only global legally binding treaty linking environmental and human rights concerns.  

However, U.N. officials say many of the rights guaranteed under the treaty are being violated.  In recent years, UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova says there have been many reports of these rights not being honored.

“We have seen an increasing trend of environmental defenders living under the threat of retaliation and in the fear for their lives, especially in cases where they speak out against spatial planning and large-scale infrastructural projects.… No one should live in fear for standing up for their environment and where they live,” Algayerova said.   

The UNECE says environmental defenders have been threatened, harassed, intimidated, and even killed because of protest actions against the construction of a dangerous dam, harmful agricultural practices and other environmentally destructive projects.

The new agreement establishes a post for a special rapporteur on environmental defenders. The official will be able to provide a rapid response to alleged violations as stipulated under the Aarhus Convention.

Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor says the creation of this rapid response mechanism could be of enormous benefit to environmental defenders.

“As I outlined in my report to the Human Rights Council earlier this year, 50% of the human rights defenders killed, as recorded by OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) in 2019, had been working with communities around issues of land, environment, in business activity, poverty and lives of indigenous people, Afro-descendants and other minorities,” Lawlor said.

A report by Global Witness last year found of the more than 300 human rights defenders who were killed, 70% were environmental defenders.

The new agreement outlines the various tools available to the special rapporteur for resolving complaints and protecting environmental defenders quickly and effectively.  They include issuing immediate protection measures, using diplomatic channels, releasing public statements, and bringing urgent cases to relevant human rights bodies for action.  

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«Відповідайте: не їздив. Навіть, якщо їздили» – російська поетеса, яку не впустили в Україну через відвідини Криму

Раніше в суботу в Держприкордонслужбі України повідомили, що 25-річній громадянці Росії, яка прибула з Іспанії до Києва, заборонили в’їзд в Україну через незаконне відвідування анексованого Криму

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Russian, Chinese Warships Hold First Joint Patrols in the Pacific

Russian and Chinese warships held their first joint patrols in the Western part of the Pacific Ocean on October 17-23, Russia’s defense ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Moscow and Beijing, which staged naval cooperation drills in the Sea of Japan earlier in October, have cultivated closer military and diplomatic ties in recent years at a time when their relations with the West have soured.

The naval maneuvers have been closely watched by Japan which said earlier this week that a group of 10 vessels from China and Russia sailed through the Tsugaru Strait separating Japan’s main island and its northern island of Hokkaido.

“The group of ships passed through the Tsugaru Strait for the first time as part of the patrol,” Russia’s defense ministry said in the statement. The strait is regarded as international waters.

“The tasks of the patrols were the demonstration of the Russian and Chinese state flags, maintaining of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, and guardianship of the subjects of maritime economic activities of the two countries,” the ministry added.

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Рада суддів обрала кандидатів до етичної ради

Рада суддів ухвалила направити дані про обраних кандидатів до Вищої ради правосуддя

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У Зеленського знову заявили, що не втручаються в роботу ЗМІ

Радник Єрмака Михайло Подоляк стверджує, що Офіс президента може лише визначати своїх представників

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US Defense Secretary Talks China, Russia and Afghanistan at NATO

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin wrapped his trip to Europe Friday at the conclusion of the NATO defense ministerial in Brussels, with a focus on China and Afghanistan. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.

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Депутат ОПЗЖ Німченко про невістку-помічницю за держкошт: «Охороняє конфіденційні питання»

Василь Німченко не вважає конфліктом інтересів роботу своєї невістки Марини Німченко його помічницею

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NATO’s New Focus Reflects China’s Rise

China wasn’t on the agenda at this week’s NATO defense ministers meeting, but by the time the gathering concluded, the secretary-general had said the military alliance needs to respond to the challenges presented by China’s rise.

“We see the whole global balance of power is shifting because of the rise of China,” Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Thursday at a press conference in Brussels. 

China is “heavily modernizing its military capabilities, including advanced nuclear systems and long-range missile systems,” and “we see China coming much closer to us, not least in cyberspace,” he said. And in response, the allies agreed “to do more together.” 

Without giving details, Stoltenberg said NATO would cooperate on a strategy involving areas such as artificial intelligence and technologically advanced weapon systems, “relevant to the challenges posed by the rise of China.”

He said that applies not only to Europe, NATO’s traditional focus, but also to challenges in the Asia Pacific, where “the rise of China just makes it even more important that Europe and North America stand together in NATO.”

At their June meeting, the allies had agreed to strengthen their relationships with partners in the Asia Pacific, which include New Zealand, Australia, South Korea and Japan. 

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to VOA Mandarin’s request for a response to Stoltenberg’s remarks.    

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Stoltenberg said that countering the security threat from the rise of China will be an important part of NATO’s future rationale.

“NATO is an alliance of North America and Europe. But this region faces global challenges: terrorism, cyber, but also the rise of China. So when it comes to strengthening our collective defense, that’s also about how to address the rise of China,” Stoltenberg told the Financial Times. “What we can predict is that the rise of China will impact our security. It already has.”  

He pointed out that China has had an impact on European security through its cyber capabilities, new technologies and long-range missiles.

Bruce Jones, director and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, said Stoltenberg’s remarks revealed an important shift of the military alliance.

“It’s an important shift of NATO inside NATO,” he told VOA Mandarin in a phone interview.  “There’s been a debate about whether NATO should concentrate on Russia, Europe, or whether it should be part of a wider American reorientation towards China.”

He added that the statement from the secretary-general is “a signal about the direction that he is going to go and that he has some support for changing the orientation.”

Stoltenberg said NATO will adopt a new strategic concept next summer, which will outline the group’s strategies for the next 10 years. The current 2010 version does not mention China.    

In an interview with Politico earlier this month, Stoltenberg also stressed that NATO needs to strengthen its engagement with China.  

“We don’t regard China as an adversary or an enemy,” he said. “We need to engage with China on important issues such as climate change — there’s no way to reduce emissions enough in the world without also including China.”  

New threat  

The 30-member coalition was established after World War II, and its previous focus was on Russia and terrorism. NATO first mentioned the threat from China in its 2019 summit communiqué. 

As China expands its influence globally in a more aggressive manner, NATO’s concern about China’s rise has grown. In a joint communiqué in June, NATO leaders accused China of rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal and being opaque in implementing its military modernization. 

“China’s stated ambitions and assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security,” the communiqué said. 

Dan Hamilton, a senior fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s SAIS Foreign Policy Institute and director of the postdoctoral program on “The United States, Europe, and World Order,” told VOA Mandarin that the 27 countries in the European Union are feeling China’s presence in the region. 

China is the EU’s No. 1 trading partner and the source of billions of dollars per year in direct investment, particularly in energy, according to a recent VOA Mandarin report. Beijing’s relations vary from one EU nation to the next, with east-central European nations such as Hungary and Serbia eager to engage while Western European countries are more skeptical.

“China is coming to us. It’s about China being present in Europe as sort of a power that includes investments in defense-related supply chain, investments in ports,” Hamilton said in a phone interview.  

In their June joint communique, NATO leaders expressed concern over China’s military cooperation with Russia in the Euro-Atlantic region.  

“China and Russia are collaborating more closely together, and that might affect the risk calculation each of them might take with regards to Western interests,” Hamilton said. 

“Russia might feel a bit more emboldened when it comes to issues like Ukraine or Belarus or military exercises if it feels China is supporting it,” he added. “Similarly, China might feel it has Russian support, then it might be able to be a bit more adventurous than otherwise it would ordinarily be.”   

US-EU cooperation  

The change in NATO’s view of China echoes that of Washington. The Biden administration believes that the competition between the West and China is a confrontation between democratic values and authoritarianism.  

But cooperation between the EU and the U.S. has encountered obstacles in the past few years.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump publicly questioned the value of NATO. Some European countries have proposed the concept of “strategic autonomy” and demanded a reduction in their dependence on U.S. military support. 

After Biden took office in January 2021, NATO and the White House resumed closer contact. Stoltenberg visited Washington this month, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin participated in NATO’s in-person meetings Thursday and Friday.  

Jones, of Brookings, said that between the U.S. and EU, there’s now a strong willingness to cooperate and counter the rise of China. “People are willing to put a lot of energy and effort into making that alignment work, so although Europe has a question mark about this administration, and potentially about future administrations, these shared interests are greater than the uncertainty.”

Lin Yang contributed to this report.

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John McCain Freedom Award Honors Lithuania, and Democracy Leaders in Myanmar, Belarus, Cuba

The Lithuanian people along with democracy leaders from Belarus, Cuba and Myanmar have been awarded this year’s John McCain Freedom Award. The award ceremony was held in Washington, D.C., on October 19, as Alexey Gorbachev reports in this story narrated by Anna Rice. 

Camera: Sergii Dogotar, Elena Matusovsky

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РНБО доручила уряду у триденний термін забезпечити «безперебійне» постачання газу споживачам – Данілов

Уряд має створити механізм постачання газу, зокрема, побутовим споживачам, бюджетним та релігійним організаціям, підприємствам теплопостачання

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Знижка на транзит запропонована всім, хто хоче постачати газ через Україну – Зеркаль

«Україна готова надати додаткових обсягів у тих межах, в яких здатна прокачати українська газотранспортна система»

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Україна «може дозволити собі» позичити Молдові газ – Данілов

«Газ буде постачатися не за гроші, цей газ буде переданий на певний період, щоб Молдова потім цей газ нам повернула»

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Queen Elizabeth Returns to Work After Hospital Stay

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth returned to work Friday following her first overnight stay at a hospital in years for what Buckingham Palace called “preliminary investigations.”

According to the palace, the 95-year-old monarch spent Wednesday night in the private King Edward VII’s Hospital, undergoing tests after canceling an official trip to Northern Ireland to mark the 100th anniversary of its creation.

The palace has said Queen Elizabeth accepted medical advice to rest for a few days. She returned to Windsor Castle by lunchtime Thursday. The matter was unrelated to COVID-19, and she remains in “good spirits,” stated the palace late Thursday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, sending his best wishes, spoke about the queen’s return to her duties Friday. “I am given to understand that actually Her Majesty is, characteristically, back at her desk at Windsor as we speak,” Johnson told reporters.

Prior to her hospital stay, the monarch hosted a reception for top business leaders Tuesday night after Prime Minister Johnson held a green investment conference preceding the COP26 climate summit. Guests included Bill Gates and U.S. climate envoy John Kerry. The queen’s son, Prince Charles, 72, and grandson Prince William, 39, greeted guests along with her.

Queen Elizabeth’s stay in the hospital was notable considering that the last time she is thought to have done so was in 2013, when she was experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis. She underwent surgery in 2018 for eye cataracts and a knee operation in 2003.

Next year marks the monarch’s platinum jubilee, 70 years on the throne. The queen has taken on fewer duties in recent years but is said to maintain a full schedule. In less than two weeks, she will host world leaders at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press and Reuters

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Україна готова «на спеціальних умовах» транспортувати до ЄС додаткові 55 млрд кубометрів газу – Данілов

«Ми сьогодні можемо без жодних проблем запропонувати нашим європейським друзям додаткові обсяги 55 мільярдів кубів газу», – заявив секретар РНБО

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Czech Republic Trapped in Surreal Game of Thrones

Presidential ill health, police raids and corruption allegations, some involving caretaker Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, have thrown the Czech Republic into a surreal political crisis. 

The jarring turn of events could not have come at a worse time — the unnerved country is already in the grip of an acute energy crunch, like its European neighbors, and it is facing an alarming uptick in coronavirus infections.

The Czech Republic has been in post-election limbo since Tuesday, when a Senate committee stripped President Miloš Zeman of his powers. The decision came after doctors at a military hospital in Prague, the Czech capital, who are treating the president for liver failure, said Zeman was “incapable of fulfilling any of his working responsibilities.”  

The 77-year-old Zeman was due to name a new prime minister to head a coalition government following elections earlier this month in which the populist billionaire Babiš’ Action for Dissatisfied Citizens party won the most votes, but lost overall control to two opposition blocs, led by Petr Fiala. Babiš’ defeat was put down to the willingness of opposition parties to put aside their ideological differences and join to drive the populist leader out of power.

On Wednesday the state prosecutor added to the swirling political mix by requesting the Chamber of Deputies, the lower chamber of Parliament, remove Babiš’ immunity as a lawmaker so he can be prosecuted for fraud and misuse of $2 million of European Union funds involving a spa resort owned by members of his own family.  

Shortly before the elections Babiš featured in the so-called Pandora Papers, a huge trove of documents detailing the secret offshore financial dealings of hundreds of politicians, public officials and celebrities. The papers published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists showed how Babiš had used shell companies to buy property, including a chateau on the French Riviera in 2009, prompting money-laundering and tax-evasion accusations from opposition politicians. He has denied the Pandora allegations, saying he has done nothing wrong and that the charges against him are just smears.

“I think that the request by the Prague prosecutor to lift Babiš’ immunity is an interesting development, simply because if the prosecutor had decided that Babiš should not be sent to court, should not be prosecuted, he would probably not ask for this,” political scientist Jiří Pehe told Prague Radio midweek. “His move seems to suggest that he is seriously thinking about sending Mr. Babiš to court,” he added.

In the meantime, if the Senate and House of Deputies confirm the committee’s vote to strip Zeman of his authority, some of his powers will be transferred to Babiš and one of his political allies, Parliament Speaker Radek Vondráček. In theory they would then decide who should be the next prime minister.

Babiš has promised to name Fiala, and he may have his eyes set more on running for the presidency to replace Zeman than in trying to hang on as prime minster, some Czech commentators say.  

Zeman was a onetime Babiš ally, but there are signs their alliance is breaking up. The Czech Republic’s second-largest newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes, which is owned by Babiš, headlined a story this week saying the prime minister is aiming to “clean Zeman’s men out” of power.  

Babiš has publicly demanded the resignation of Zeman’s chief aide, Vratislav Mynář, following allegations he and others in the presidential entourage had been trying to conceal the true state of the president’s health. Police have said they are investigating the allegations, which they have described as “criminal offenses against the republic.”

“The police of the Czech Republic will initiate an investigation into a possible illegal act, in which signs of criminal offenses against the republic can be seen,” Czech police tweeted. It is unclear what offenses may be involved but local media say the crimes could include treason and subversion. Mynář told reporters in Prague midweek that no laws had been broken and he criticized the Senate committee for its vote to strip his boss of his presidential powers.

The president’s wife, Ivana Zemanová, said Thursday that people should stop speculating about her husband’s illness as “treatment will take time.” Mynář remains defiant, telling reporters in Prague Thursday, “The President of the Republic is Miloš Zeman, who appointed me to the position and is the only one who has the right to dismiss me.”

But Babiš told iDNES.cz, a Czech news site, midweek that Mynář should resign, and that if doesn’t he would remove him after presidential powers are transferred. Parliament will vote on the issue in the first week of November.  

Czechs have been left reeling at the twists and turns of the bizarre chain of political events.

Like other Europeans they are struggling to recover from a pandemic that seems far from over. Coronavirus infections have started to surge again in the country with over 3,000 new cases recorded on both Tuesday and Wednesday, doubling the tallies seen on the corresponding days last week.

Health Minister Adam Vojtěch, announced new pandemic restrictions Wednesday, which will come into force next week. They include mandatory mask-wearing at work and checks for digital vaccination certificates to enter bars and restaurants.

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French Lawmakers Reach Out to Taiwan Despite Risk of Angering Beijing

A visit by a group of French senators to Taiwan earlier this month is just the latest sign that European countries are willing to engage with the East Asian democracy even at the risk of angering China, according to regional experts.

The lawmakers from the Taiwan Friendship Group, led by Senator Alain Richard, arrived in Taiwan on October 6 for a five-day trip. They met the following day with President Tsai Ing-wen, who awarded Richard with a national medal during a brief reception. Richard is a former French defense minister.

Richard, who previously visited in 2015 and 2018, praised the friendship between France and Taiwan. He notably referred to Taiwan as a “country,” in an unusual move for a sitting parliamentarian as France does not maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taipei. China maintains that Taiwan is a wayward province that will one day be united with the mainland. 

News of the French senators’ trip to Taiwan, originally planned for March, was met by anger from the Chinese embassy in Paris, which said the group would give support to “pro-independence forces in Taiwan,” according to Taiwan media.  

Marc Cheng, executive director of the EU Center in Taiwan, said the trip was a sign that some European countries like France may be less wary of Beijing despite its often angry rhetoric about Taiwan. “This means that even under more pressure from China, European countries are still willing to maintain contact or exchange with Taiwan,” he said. 

The trip was also notable for its visibility, as Taiwan’s engagement with non-official allies often occurs with less media fanfare. An estimated 45 French parliamentarians visited Taiwan between 2017 and 2020, according to Mathieu Duchâtel, director of the Asia Program at Institut Montaigne in France, including study groups and a delegation from the French National Assembly.

“If the Chinese embassy had not politicized the visit, it would have gone completely unnoticed,” Duchâtel said of the recent trip. “It’s symbolic but overall what really made it important and unusual this time was the harsh reaction of the Chinese embassy.” 

Duchâtel said China’s representatives may have been particularly sensitive because in May, the French Senate passed a resolution calling for Taiwan to participate in U.N. agencies like the World Health Organization, the World Health Assembly, the International Civil Aviation Organization, and Interpol.

Due to Taiwan’s disputed political status, it lacks representation at the U.N. and affiliates at the behest of China. In years past, Taiwan has participated in organizations like the World Health Assembly as an observer but it has been blocked since 2016 by China.  

Taiwan’s successful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, and experience with SARS, brought fresh attention to its lockout and led to a first-ever statement of support from the “G-7” countries – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

European countries have also begun to pay more attention to Taiwan as part of a greater pivot toward Asia. Earlier this year, the European Union passed its first strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, which makes plain concerns about the rise of China in the region and the future security of the Taiwan Strait.

The EU policy follows in the footsteps of France, Germany and the Netherlands, which all have drafted individual Indo-Pacific strategies in recent years. French President Emmanuel Macron considers France an Asia-Pacific player due to its territories in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, according to the EU Center in Taiwan’s Cheng, and has worked to raise its visibility in Asia. 

Beyond western Europe, Lithuania, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic – all former Soviet bloc countries with limited investment from China – have also warmed to Taiwan and even become outspoken advocates for the democracy. They are also three of Taiwan’s major COVID-19 vaccine donors alongside the U.S. and Japan.  

 

On Wednesday, a Taiwan trade delegation of more than 60 representatives departed for Europe to boost its trade with the three countries as well as Central and Eastern Europe.  

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Київський крематорій заперечив заяву Радуцького про двогодинні черги

За даними підприємства, за весь 2020 рік було кремовано 1470 померлих від COVID-19, за період з 1 січня по 20 жовтня 2021 року – 3144, за період з 1 по 20 жовтня 2021 року – 335 людей

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Дружина і падчерка члена «ОПЗЖ» працюють помічницями депутатів за бюджетний кошт – «Схеми»

Одразу двоє близьких родичок члена фракції ОПЗЖ та соратника Віктора Медведчука Віктора Чорного працюють помічницями народних депутатів

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Високопосадовцям США передали лист заарештованого в Криму журналіста Владислава Єсипенка

Російський суд у Криму 6 липня продовжив арешт Владислава Єсипенка до 18 грудня

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