French Film Awards Held Amid Calls for More Diversity

France’s annual Cesar Award film ceremony Friday is already clouded in controversy, with a shake-up of its board, sexual assault accusations against top director Roman Polanski, and now, fresh calls for more diversity on screen.After Hollywood, French cinema is having its own introspective moment. The latest hashtag trending this week is #BlackCesars, after some 30 leading members of France’s film industry denounced its lack of diversity.  In an open letter published in a French newspaper this week, they claimed actors, directors and producers of ethnic African and Asian origin, and those from France’s overseas territories, are essentially invisible. They mostly get insignificant roles, the group claimed, that would never allow them to be nominated for Cesars or other awards. Many of the signatories are from minority backgrounds.  Hermann Ebongue, secretary general of anti-discrimination group SOS Racisme, notes calls for more diversity in the industry are not new. Although this year’s Academy Awards faced similar criticism, he believes minority artists in the United States still have more opportunities to become stars than in France.  The #BlackCesars petition also points to what it calls a paradox of American film director Spike Lee becoming the first black head of the Cannes Film Festival’s jury in May.  The diversity criticism here comes amid a shake-up of the Cesar’s management. Its board resigned en masse earlier this month, after film industry members accused it of being undemocratic and dysfunctional.Women’s rights activists protest against multiple nominations for Roman Polanski at the Cesar Awards ceremony, in Paris, France, Feb. 28, 2020.Meanwhile, another crisis is part of the backdrop of the awards ceremony. Franco-Polish film director Roman Polanski, whose movie An Officer and a Spy tops the list of nominations, faces accusations of rape and sexual harassment. He denies the accusations and said he would not attend following a storm of protest.  Some minority actors and directors have broken the glass ceiling here. Among them: film star Omar Sy, and director Ladj Ly, whose movie Les Miserables — set in France’s rough, multi-ethnic banlieues, or suburbs, — is another leading Cesar contender. Ly was also France’s first black film director to be nominated for an Oscar this year.  But activists say these stars remain the exceptions. Their box-office success, they say, proves French audiences also want more diversity onscreen.  Ebongue, of SOS Racisme, says real change will come when the industry as a whole signs on to petitions like #BlackCesars — and not just a minority of members. 

В МВФ оцінили стан переговорів із Україною

У Міжнародному валютному фонді оцінили нинішній стан переговорів із Україною щодо нової програми співпраці після візиту до Києва групи експертів фонду.

«Команда працівників МВФ, яка відвідала Київ, досягла дуже доброго поступу в дискусіях щодо законодавства на підтримку зростання й забезпечення стабільності. Дискусії продовжаться наступними днями», – мовиться в короткій заяві, яку цитує агентство «Ройтерз».

Група експертів МВФ працювала в Києві з 20 лютого. Як повідомляли перед тим у фонді, вона мала на меті «проведення технічних обговорень політики, спрямованої на досягнення потужнішого зростання і забезпечення стабільності».

Ідеться про нову трирічну програму розширеного фінансування для України на загальну суму понад 5,5 мільярда доларів. Вона має замінити попередню програму «стенд-бай» на 3,9 мільярда доларів, якої Київ так і не виконав – Україна змогла отримати лише єдиний її транш в 1,4 мільярда доларів іще у грудні 2018 року.

МВФ попередньо підтримав нову програму кредитування для України, але її надання обумовлено поступом Києва в реформах. Серед передумов – також ухвалення спеціального закону, що гарантував би неповернення націоналізованих банків колишнім власникам і відшкодування ними витрат на порятунок таких банків, здійснених коштом платників податків.

Розмови про цю нову програму точаться з вересня-листопада 2019 року. Відтоді відбулося вже кілька зустрічей і раундів переговорів представників МВФ і України. Щоразу МВФ за підсумками видавав заяви в формально оптимістичному тоні, але щоразу в них ішлося про необхідність подальших дискусій.

Терміни укладення угоди про нову програму наразі лишаються невизначеними. Тим часом Київ сподівався було укласти її і отримати за нею перші 2 мільярди доларів іще 2019 року.

Укладення цієї угоди з МВФ є також передумовою для отримання макрофінансової допомоги від Європейського союзу на суму в 500 мільйонів євро.

Europe Races to Ready Hospitals for Coronavirus Break Out

With public health experts warning a tipping point for coronavirus is getting closer, European authorities are racing to try to ready their health systems to cope with a flood of sick and highly contagious patients.European countries are still in containment mode but they’re also trying simultaneously to prepare their health services and hospitals for a possible pandemic and to delay any patient surge within their borders. They acknowledge that with some evidence emerging, as yet unconfirmed, that the virus can be spread by asymptomatic people, infection control — from containment to delaying a spread — is becoming harder.Ukraine, which has not had any confirmed cases of COVID-19, has stepped up what it calls “sanitary controls” on its borders, now that neighboring countries are reporting cases. Those entering the country are meant to have their temperatures checked and officials are urging Ukrainians to refrain from travel to European Union countries. Anyone who has, especially to countries affected by the virus, is being asked to isolate themselves.In the meantime, Ukrainian authorities are preparing to reorganize the country’s hospital network and have advised medical centers to consider postponing scheduled operations to leave beds free for a possible outbreak. Local authorities have been ordered to pick two hospitals in their area to be designated to handle suspected coronavirus patients. World Health Organization specialists have started to train Ukrainian medical personnel on how to handle patients who test positive.“We are ready to brace for the coronavirus. At the same time, we are doing everything to prevent it from getting into the country,” Deputy Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said Friday.Ukrainian National Guard servicemen patrol by the gate of a military medical facility where evacuees from coronavirus-hit China are quarantined, in the town of Novi Sanzhary, Poltava region, Ukraine, Feb. 21, 2020.EU public health officials say the continent is better prepared to cope with a pandemic than others, thanks to the development over many years of Europe-wide medical networks able to quickly disseminate the latest clinical research and to collate data. Herman Goossens, director of a network known as the Platform for European Preparedness Against Emerging Epidemics, told reporters last week that acting fast and taking proactive action is critical in managing viral outbreaks.In Britain, where 20 have tested positive for the virus out of nearly 8,000 people tested, the rapid spread in some parts of Europe, especially Italy, is dispelling hopes that containment alone can help the country escape the virus unscathed.On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will chair a meeting of the country’s COBRA emergency committee of ministers to discuss preparations. The British strategy so far, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, is “contain, delay, research and mitigate.”Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, said midweek the hope is that Britain can avoid an epidemic until later in the year, when more may be known about the virus and how to combat it. Also, the country’s winter will be over and the demands on the National Health Service reduced. Infection-control and containment measures appear to be working currently. Britons returning from affected countries are being asked to isolate themselves, and those who are sick are being treated in specialist units with anyone they had contact with prior to diagnosis traced and ordered to isolate themselves.Officials say, though, that it is “only a matter of time” before there’s a spread in Britain, and there are worries about whether the hard-pressed National Health Service, which is short of staff and capacity after years of reduced funding, will be able to cope in the face of a full-throttle emergency. The agency’s telephone advice service has been overwhelmed by a high volume of calls and there have been complaints that anxious callers are being given contradictory advice.A general view shows Burbage Primary School in Buxton, Derbyshire, England, Feb. 27, 2020. The school has been closed after a student’s parent tested positive for the coronavirus.Health officials have dusted off a 2009 battle plan drawn up to cope with a possible swine flu pandemic. Under that plan the National Health Service would prioritize access, postpone non-emergency operations and possibly treat only emergency patients. Most controversially of all, lifesaving care during a severe coronavirus outbreak could be denied to those deemed most likely not to survive. Ventilators and beds, if intensive care units are struggling to cope, would be rationed.
British officials say that single-payer health systems such as the National Health Service may have an advantages over countries with privately financed health systems as they have clearer command-and-control structures. In Britain, as elsewhere though, the big question is whether sheer numbers could be overwhelming for a service that many complain has been inadequate since funding cuts were imposed in the wake of the 2008 financial crash.Ministers are drafting emergency legislation ready for a serious upsurge and, under the plans, medical staff and other armed forces and British Red Cross personnel could be drafted to help the health service cope and to replace sick hospital staff.However, some British doctors say government ministers are being dishonest in suggesting the NHS is well prepared. They say the country’s critical-care capacity is already overstretched and would buckle in the face of a pandemic.A critical care consultant from a major London hospital told Britain’s Independent newspaper Saturday, “There isn’t any slack in the system. We are grossly under resourced. I hear them say the NHS is well prepared. We are not well prepared, it is media spin. As an NHS, we would crumble under the weight of those who need critical care.” The British Thoracic Society warned Saturday that respiratory wards are already “understaffed and overstretched” just coping with the winter season of flu and bronchitis cases.A government spokesman, though, said in a statement, “The UK is a world leader in preparing for and managing disease outbreaks, and our approach will always be led by medical experts. We have been clear from the outset that we expect coronavirus to have some impact on the UK and a global pandemic could have a pronounced effect on the NHS, which is why we are planning for every eventuality.”French lab scientists in protective suits work on developing a quick test for detecting the coronavirus, at Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, Feb. 6, 2020.In France, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has been convening emergency meetings in an effort to increase the French medical system’s readiness. An extra 70 hospitals are now being prepared to receive coronavirus patients, bringing to 108 the number of hospitals being readied for an outbreak.  Each mainland departement of France has a designated coronavirus hospital.France had 57 confirmed cases as of Friday, with all but a dozen having been diagnosed since the major outbreak in neighboring Italy a week before. The country is boosting its testing capacity for the virus. Health Minister Olivier Veran said this week, “I have called the head of the University Hospital Institute of Infectious Diseases in Marseille, it is able to perform 1,000 tests per day in the area of Marseille alone. In the hospitals of Paris we are at 400 tests per day. We are going to be able to amplify the screening to be able to answer all the requests at that scale across France.”  Like other European countries, France is scrambling to obtain high-quality protective masks and clothing for health workers. French ministers, like their counterparts in Germany, say they’re ready to follow Italy’s example and to lock down villages or towns that witness a cluster of cases. “We are preparing for an epidemic. We are now moving to stage 2. The virus is circulating in our country and we must stop its spread,” Veran said Friday.However, with cases now in Italy, France and Britain of people contracting the virus with no identifiable link to overseas travel, time may be running out, public health officials admit. 

Coronavirus Threatening Europe’s Open-Border Goals

In another one of its many fallouts, the coronavirus is creating new strains for Europe’s 26-nation Schengen zone that allows for the free movement of people among member states. European officials say, for now, there is no reason to close borders, but the spread of the virus seems to bolster nationalist arguments for the zone to be scrapped altogether.  Like in most places these days, the coronavirus outbreak is topping the French news. Several dozen cases have been reported so far. The government is advising precautionary measures like not shaking hands and forgoing the traditional kiss on both cheeks. The post office has suspended link with China.  The bigger worry, for now, lies in neighboring Italy. For the moment, the borders between France and Italy remain open. However, a recent decision to allow 3,000 Italian fans to travel to the French city of Lyon for a football match sparked controversy.  That’s just one example testing Europe’s decades-old Schengen zone. The concept of open internal borders is a cornerstone of European Union goals for closer integration—although Schengen includes several non-EU members, such as Switzerland.  As yet, the EU has not called for closing Schengen borders. However, its top official for communicable diseases, Andrea Ammon, said Europe must prepare for more serious outbreaks, like Italy’s.  “Our assessment is that we will likely see similar situations in other countries in Europe, and that the picture may, in the coming weeks, vary from country to country,” Ammon said.Experts say closing borders won’t prevent the virus from crossing them but that hasn’t stopped nationalist parties from pushing this move. Here’sAmong them is Marine Le Pen, head of France’s main opposition National Rally party. But speaking on French radio this week, she wrongly claimed the EU has not said a word about the coronavirus outbreak. She said the bloc has only condemned those who want more border control — proving an open-border ideology that is almost a religion.  Nationalist politicians in Austria, Italy and Switzerland have made similar remarks. They have long lobbied for closed borders to stop migration. The coronavirus has reinforced these arguments.  At the same time, Schengen has also been weakened by member states. A few years ago some, such as Hungary, closed their borders to counter the migration crisis. France closed its borders after the 2015 terrorist attacks on its soil.While the Schengen system allows for temporary closures, experts say in practice some countries are turning “temporary” into a more permanent state of affairs. 

Russia, Turkey Are on the Edge in Syria

Tensions between Russia and Turkey over their sometimes allied and often dueling military campaigns in Syria broke into the open Friday, with Moscow blaming Ankara for the deaths of 33 Turkish troops in Syria’s Idlib region during airstrikes. While Russia denied any role in the deaths of the Turkish soldiers, the Kremlin accused Turkish forces of operating unannounced in the region — and of providing support to terrorist groups subsequently targeted by Moscow’s ally, the Syrian government. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said President Vladimir Putin had met with his Security Council in the wake of the attacks, with Russian generals informing Putin that raids by terrorist groups against Syrian forces in Idlib had prompted airstrikes. FILE – Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov is pictured in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, March 28, 2019.Turkish troops, said Peskov, had been caught in the fighting while aiding terrorist groups in opposition to Damascus. Turkey disputed that account, insisting the attack occurred despite Ankara’s having informed Moscow that its troops were operating in the area. It also denied the presence of Syrian rebels near the scene of the attack, suggesting the air assault was intentionally targeting Turkey. Meeting possible soonPutin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Ergodan later discussed the situation by phone and agreed on the possibility of a meeting “in the near future” aimed at “normalizing conditions” in northwest Syria, said Kremlin officials. A spokesman for the Turkish leader, however, said Ergodan also was insisting on Turkey’s right to respond in kind to the Syrian airstrikes. The Turkish deaths came as Russia continues to help the Syrian government establish control over Idlib, one of the last remaining bastions of opposition to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s rule.   FILE – Smoke billows over the town of Saraqeb in the eastern part of the Idlib province in northwestern Syria, following bombardment by Syrian government forces, Feb. 27, 2020.The Syrian government’s bombing campaign, carried out with Russian support, has caused a humanitarian crisis, with an estimated 900,000 residents fleeing the fighting for the Syrian-Turkish border. It also has prompted a standoff with Turkey, which has insisted that Syria respect a Russian-negotiated buffer zone agreed to in 2018. Though Turkey has stopped short of blaming Russia for direct involvement in the latest attack, Ankara has often been critical of Moscow’s inability — or, perhaps unwillingness — to control its ally in Damascus. Cease-fire demandedAmid a visit by a Russian delegation to Ankara to discuss the crisis in Idlib on Friday, Turkish officials demanded that Russia force the Syrian government to immediately agree to a sustainable cease-fire. Turkey’s allies in NATO joined those calls, with the alliance’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, expressing condolences to families of Turks killed in the attack and placing blame squarely on Moscow and Damascus:FILE – The Russian flag-covered coffin of Russian pilot Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov is shown inside a Russian air force transport plane at Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 30, 2015. He was killed when Turkish F-16s shot his plane down.Early clashRussia and Turkey clashed early after Moscow’s entry into the war, with Turkey shooting down and killing a Russian pilot along the Turkish border in 2015. At the time, Putin called the death of the pilot “a stab in the back” and ordered Russian sanctions on Turkish products and a ban on Russian tourism to the country.  Yet the two sides bridged differences as Russia switched the brunt of its air power from what the West called Syria’s “moderate opposition” to widely recognized terrorist groups, such as Islamic State, that were waging attacks in Turkey proper. And for all the sparring over the events in Idlib, there seemed consensus in Moscow that Russia was interested in maintaining a working relationship with Turkey that has since expanded beyond the Syrian front into agreements involving trade, tourism and energy.   “A wider war between Turkey and Russia? Never!” said Alexei Malashenko, a longtime regional observer currently with the Institute for the Dialogue of Civilizations.  “It’s very dangerous, of course. But we are dealing with a new kind of Middle East.”  “I don’t think that either Russia or Turkey is willing to sacrifice bilateral ties just for Idlib,” concurred the Russian International Affairs Council’s Alexei Khlebnikov. Be that as it may, it was clear all sides were hedging their bets as they took stock of growing tensions in Idlib. The Interfax news agency reported that Russian and U.S. officials discussed the situation in Syria by phone Friday. Meanwhile, the Kremlin dispatched two warships armed with Kalibr cruise missiles to the Middle East on Friday. Their destination? The coast of Syria. 

Turkish, Russian Leaders Talk as Fighting Continues in Syria

Fears of an escalating conflict in Syria grew Friday as Turkish forces pounded Syria’s military in retaliation for the killing of 33 Turkish soldiers. Meanwhile, Russia’s and Turkey’s presidents spoke, as Ankara threatens to launch even more assaults on Russian-backed Syrian forces.”Turkish forces destroyed five Syrian regime choppers, 23 tanks, 10 armored vehicles, 23 howitzers, five ammunition trucks — as well as three ammunition depots, two equipment depots, a headquarters, and 309 regime troops,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters close to the Syrian-Turkish border.Ankara’s assault came in retaliation for an airstrike Turkey blamed on Syrian forces that killed 33 Turkish soldiers in Syria’s Idlib province on Thursday.The deadly airstrike followed Turkish forces backing Syrian rebels in an attack to recapture the strategically important town of Saraqeb. Idlib is the last rebel enclave, which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is vowing to retake.  Ankara says it struck all known Syrian military targets and that it is now assessing operations in preparation for further attacks.  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued an ultimatum for Damascus forces, by Saturday, to give up recent gains and retreat back behind a de-escalation zone agreed between Ankara and Moscow in 2018 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, while backing rival sides in the Syrian civil war, have been working closely to resolve the conflict.But Thursday’s deadly airstrike is seen posing the biggest threat to the recent Turkish-Russian rapprochement. In a bid to defuse tensions, Erdogan spoke with Putin by phone Friday.”The two leaders will meet in-person as soon as possible,” said Fahrettin Altun, presidential communication directorate.  Western support?Ankara is looking to its western allies to support its forces in Syria. “The international community must act to protect civilians and impose a no-fly-zone,” tweeted Altun.Turkey called for an emergency meeting of NATO Friday, but while receiving words of solidarity, no concrete measures of support were agreed on.Erdogan has recently called for the deployment of American Patriot missile system to offer protection for Syrian civilians and Turkish forces on the ground in Idlib.But experts warn that there appears little support for any action that brings the risk of a military confrontation with Russian forces. Underlining Moscow’s commitment to Damascus, Friday saw two of Russia’s warships pass through Istanbul en route to Syria to reinforce its Syrian military presence.VOA’s Steve Herman contributed to this report.

Syria’s Idlib Remains Explosive After Deadly Attack on Turkish Troops

The situation in Syria’s rebel-controlled Idlib region remains explosive, following the killing there of more than 30 Turkish soldiers in an airstrike by Russia-backed Syrian government forces. Bracing against possible Turkish countermeasures, Russia is moving two warships toward the eastern Mediterranean.Meanwhile, NATO is urging Damascus to “respect international law,” and cease airstrikes over civilian areas in Idlib. Turkey also has sent scores of Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees to its border with Greece in an apparent effort to pressure the EU to support its position in the northern Syrian province.NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg offered the group’s “condolences” to member state Turkey in a press conference Friday, after an urgent meeting requested by Ankara following the deaths of 33 Turkish soldiers in Idlib. Stoltenberg stopped short, however, of offering any NATO military support to Ankara.”We stated very clearly that we call on Russia and the [Syrian leader Bashar al-] Assad regime to stop the … indiscriminate air attacks and also to engage and support U.N.-led efforts to find a lasting political, peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria,” Stoltenberg said.Arab media showed video of two Russian naval frigates equipped with Caliper missiles as they were crossing the Dardanelles, on their way to waters off Syria. At the same time, a Russian military delegation met with their Turkish counterparts in Ankara Friday to try to defuse tensions.Russia claims that Turkish forces were working alongside “terrorist groups” in Idlib province when they were hit by a Syrian government airstrike. Turkey denies the claim. The Russian Foreign Ministry repeated Friday that “terrorist groups will not be tolerated” in Idlib. 

На фондових біржах триває обвал через коронавірус

Усі провідні фондові ринки світу перебувають у червоній зоні через поширення у світі коронавірусу. В Європі 28 лютого падіння складає від 4 до 5%, такі втрати демонструють німецький індекс DAX, французький CAC40, британський FTSE100 та інші.

Але найбільші втрати за годину до завершення торгів демонструє російський РТС – близько 6,5%. У Росії, крім глобальних побоювань щодо коронавірусу, до негативів додається здешевлення нафти (до рівня менш як 50,5 долара за барель Brent станом на 17:30 за Києвом) і участь Росії в збройному протистоянні з Туреччиною в Сирії.

Американські фондові ринки 28 лютого відкрилися падінням від 3% (індекс NASD100) lj 4% (індекс DOW).

Аналітики називають нинішній тиждень найгіршим для світових фінансових ринків з часів світової кризи 2008 року.

Кількість випадків зараження новим коронавірусом станом на 28 лютого сягнула 83 386, понад 35,5 тисячі одужали. Число летальних випадків зросло до 2858.

Генеральний директор Всесвітньої організації охорони здоров’я Тедрос Адханом Гебреєсус 27 лютого заявив, що ситуація з поширенням коронавірусу в світі зараз перебуває на «вирішальному етапі». Він закликав уряди держав подвоїти зусилля зі стримування вірусу.

2019-nCov (COVID-19) належить до великої групи коронавірусів. У деяких випадках перебіг хвороби – легкий, в деяких – із симптомами застуди і грипу, зокрема з високою температурою і кашлем, у більш складних випадках спостерігається задишка. Це може перерости в пневмонію, яка може бути смертельною. Більшість хворих, однак, видужують.

Євро зріс на 57 копійок за тиждень – НБУ

Євро зріс за тиждень на 57 копійок, свідчать дані на сайті Національного банку України.

На 2 березня курс євро встановлений на рівні 26 гривень 98 копійок.  

Долар за тиждень зріс на 14 копійок – до 24 гривень 59 копійок.

Turkey Threatens Europe with Refugees After 33 Troops Killed

REYHANLI, Turkey  – The presidents of Turkey and Russia spoke over the phone on Friday, a day after Syrian government airstrikes killed 33 Turkish troops, significantly ratcheting up tensions between Ankara and Moscow. It was the highest number of Turkish soldiers killed in a single day since Ankara first intervened in the Syrian conflict in 2016.
The development was the most serious escalation in the conflict between Turkish and Russia-backed Syrian forces and raised the prospect of all-out war with millions of Syrian civilians trapped in the middle.
NATO envoys held emergency talks at the request of Turkey, a NATO member, and scores of migrants began converging on Turkey’s border with Greece seeking entry into Europe after Turkey said it was no longer able to hold refugees.'' Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country already hosts more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, has long threatened to "open the gates'' for millions of refugees eager to flee to Europe unless more international support was provided.
Refugees, meanwhile, headed to the land border with Greece, taking minibuses and taxis from Istanbul. Dozens waited at the Turkish side of the border gate at Pazarkule and dozens of others were in no-man's land between the two countries.
Others headed to Turkey's west coast to attempt to reach the Greek islands, a short distance away. Several rubber dinghy boats with groups of people clambering aboard were seen on Friday, heading for the island of Lesbos after apparently setting off from Ayvacik, northwest Turkey in broad daylight.
A Greek police official said dozens of people had gathered on the Turkish side of the land border in Greece's northeastern Evros region, shouting "open the borders." Greek police and military border patrols were deployed on the Greek side to prevent anyone trying to cross without authorization.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the press on the record.
At one point, Greek police said they used tear gas and flash grenades to move migrants back, after an estimated 450 people gathered at the Turkish side of the Kastanies border crossing. The crossing was closed temporarily.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy warned the movement of migrants to the West could continue if the situation in Idlib deteriorated.
"Some asylum seekers and migrants in our country, worried about developments, have begun to move towards our western borders," he said. "If the situation worsens this risk will continue to increase.'' However, he added that there was "no change'' in Turkey's migration policy.
Bulgaria said it was also beefing up security on its border with Turkey to counter a possible migrant influx, deploying "army units, national guard and border police staff," Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said after a Cabinet meeting.
There is a real threat” of a new migrant wave from Turkey, he said.
The latest crisis stems from a Russian-backed Syrian government military campaign to retake Syria’s Idlib province, which is the last opposition-held stronghold in Syria. The offensive, which began Dec. 1, has triggered the largest single wave of displacement in Syria’s nine-year war, sending nearly 950,000 people fleeing to areas near the Turkish border for safety. Ankara, the Syrian rebels’ last supporter, sealed its borders in 2015 and under a 2016 deal with the European Union agreed to step up efforts to halt the flow of refugees.
Turkey has had 54 soldiers killed in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province since the beginning of February, including the latest fatalities, and now feels the need to respond strongly.
Omer Celik, spokesman for Erdogan’s ruling party, said Turkey was “no longer able to hold refugees” following the Syrian attack – reiterating a standing threat by Ankara.
The Thursday night attack in Idlib sharply raises the risk of direct military confrontation between Turkey and Russia, although Turkish officials blamed Syria, not Russia, for the attack. The Turkish stock market fell 10% in the wake of the airstrike, while the Turkish lira slid against the dollar.
Turkey is a main backer of the Syrian opposition while Russia has been giving military support to the weeks-long Syrian government offensive in Idlib.
The Kremlin said Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed implementing agreements in Idlib.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking in Moscow, said Russia remains committed to the agreements reached by Putin and his Turkish counterpart. Commenting on the deaths of the Turkish troops in Idlib, Lavrov said that if the agreements between the two countries’ armies – “including sharing of accurate coordinates of the Turkish troops’ location” – had been implemented in full, “such tragedies could have been avoided.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry said the Turkish troops that came under fire in Idlib were deployed among “terrorist battle formations.” They were in the area of Behun, and according to coordinates given to Russia’s Reconciliation Center in Syria, “there were no Turkish military units in the area … and there weren’t supposed to be,” the ministry said.
Russian air forces did not carry out airstrikes in the area, the statement added, and after receiving information about Turkish casualties, the Russian side took all the necessary measures in order for the Syrian forces to stop the fire.''
Meanwhile, two Russian frigates carrying cruise missiles have been deployed to Syria, Russian navy officials said Friday. Admiral Makarov and Admiral Grigorovich of the Black Sea Fleet are en route to the Syrian coast with Kalibr cruise missiles on board. Both warships previously took part in Russia's offensive in Syria.
Syrian state news agency, SANA, carried a brief report saying Turkey has acknowledged its forces were killed
in operations of the Syrian Arab Army against a terrorist organization,” adding that Syrian troops at the time were repelling attacks by “terrorist groups backed by Turkey.”
Erdogan held a six-hour emergency security meeting in Ankara late on Thursday, the Anadolu news agency reported. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevult Cavusoglu spoke to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg by telephone while Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, who plays a senior role in foreign affairs, spoke to U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group, said after the attack on Turkish troops, Turkey’s armed forces shelled Syrian army positions in different parts of Idlib, killing at least 16 soldiers. It gave no further details and there was no comment from Syria’s state media.
In recent weeks, Turkey has sent thousands of troops as well as tanks and other equipment to Idlib. As recently as Wednesday, Erdogan gave the Syrian government until the end of February to pull back from its recent advances or face Turkish “intervention”.
Turkey provides some of the militants with direct support and has accused Syria of breaking a 2018 agreement to reduce the conflict in Idlib. Russia and Syrian President Bashar Assad have said Turkey has failed to honor a deal to separate extremist groups from other fighters in the region.
On Thursday, the Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters retook a strategic northwestern town from government forces, cutting a key highway just days after the government reopened it for the first time since 2012.
Despite losing the town of Saraqeb, Assad’s forces made major gains to the south. Assad now controls almost the entire southern part of Idlib province after capturing more than 20 villages Thursday, state media and opposition activists said. It’s part of a weekslong campaign backed by Russian air power into Syria’s last rebel stronghold. 

Switzerland Bans Large Events to Stem Coronavirus

The Swiss government is taking the unprecedented step of banning all public events that have more than 1,000 people in response to a growing number of cases of coronavirus in the country.The latest number of reported cases of coronavirus infections in Switzerland is 19. An estimated 100 people are in quarantine.The ban, expected to extend until at least mid-March, has interrupted a number of events, but Swiss authorities say the government’s top priority is to protect the population.The ban comes in the middle of carnival season, which draws thousands of merrymakers to Swiss towns and villages. One of the biggest casualties is the Geneva International Motor Show, which was scheduled to run March 5 to 15, and attracts about 500,000 visitors every year.Cars and workers are pictured at the Palexpo exhibition center as the 90th edition of the International Motor Show is canceled to curb the spread of the coronavirus, in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 28, 2020.The United Nations is unsure how the Swiss Federal Council’s decision will affect large-scale events scheduled to take place on its premises. For now, the Human Rights Council is the only mass gathering at the U.N. in Geneva.  U.N. Spokesman Rolando Gomez says the news is fresh and he does not know how it will play out. The council session, which examines human rights violations around the world, is due to last until March 20.”Obviously, you well know there are well over 1,000 participants at the council,” he said.Switzerland’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed Tuesday in the Ticino region, which has cross-border traffic with Italy, Europe’s worst-hit country. The World Health Organization says Italy now has 400 cases of coronavirus, and numbers are continuing to rise.  As of Friday morning, the WHO reported more than 83,000 cases of COVID-19 in China, including 2,058 deaths. It reported 4,351 cases in 49 countries outside China, and 67 deaths.  Nigeria, the most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa, just reported its first case of coronavirus, as did Mexico.

Туреччина рішуче відповідає на агресію путіна та до чого тут Україна?

Туреччина рішуче відповідає на агресію путіна та до чого тут Україна?

Цієї ночі в Сирії російські війська спільно з урядовими військами Башара Асада вбили понад 30 турецьких військових. Туреччина почала реагувати миттєво: скликає екстренне засідання НАТО, відкриває кордони для біженців у ЄС і не тільки. Здавалося б, до чого тут Україна?

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Кремлю придется дорого заплатить за кураж: за ЮКОС – 50 миллиардов, а сколько же за Кpым?..

Кремлю придется дорого заплатить за кураж: за ЮКОС – 50 миллиардов, а сколько же за Кpым?..

Что общего у Украины и $50 млрд ЮКОСа или крымский вопрос в Гааге

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“Выборы, выборы, кандидаты п*доры?” Шнуров идет в Госдуму

“Выборы, выборы, кандидаты п*доры?” шнуров идет в госдуму.

За полтора с лишним года до парламентских выборов в россии естественным образом активизируется партстроительство

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Коронавірус: обвалилися ринки і ціна на нафту

Світові ринки 28 лютого продовжують різке падіння на тлі поширення нового типу коронавірусу, зараження яким зафіксовано вже більше ніж в 50 країнах.

На азіатських біржах в п’ятницю котирування впали на 3-4 відсотки. Продовжується падіння котирувань на біржах в Європі.

Напередодні на Нью-йоркській біржі індекс Dow Jones впав більш ніж на 4 відсотки – це найсильніше падіння за кілька років. Всього за тиждень котирування акцій знизилися більш ніж на 10 відсотків.

Падає і ціна на нафту. Вартість бареля нафти Brent наближається до 50 доларів.

Аналітики вже називають нинішній тиждень найгіршим для світових фінансових ринків з часів світової кризи 2008 року.

Кількість випадків зараження новим коронавірусом станом на 28 лютого сягнула 83 386, понад 35,5 тисячі одужали. Число летальних випадків зросло до 2858.

Генеральний директор Всесвітньої організації охорони здоров’я Тедрос Адханом Гебреєсус 27 лютого заявив, що ситуація з поширенням коронавірусу в світі зараз перебуває на «вирішальному етапі». Він закликав уряди держав подвоїти зусилля зі стримування вірусу.

2019-nCov (COVID-19) належить до великої групи коронавірусів. У деяких випадках перебіг хвороби – легкий, в деяких – із симптомами застуди і грипу, зокрема з високою температурою і кашлем, у більш складних випадках спостерігається задишка. Це може перерости в пневмонію, яка може бути смертельною. Більшість хворих, однак, видужують.

З 1 березня почне працювати віртуальний реверс газу на кордоні Україна-Словаччина – «Нафтогаз»

У компанії «Нафтогаз України» повідомили, що з український та словацький оператори газотранспортної системи з 1 березня запускають віртуальний реверс.

«ТОВ «Оператор ГТС України» та словацький оператор ГТС Eustream a.s. запускають віртуальний реверс через точку з’єднання «Вельке Капушани» – «Ужгород» з 1 березня 2020 року. На додаток до потужностей точки з’єднання «Будінце», що використовуються для імпорту природного газу в Україну з 2014 року, Eustream і ОГТСУ, відповідно до підписаної угоди про взаємодію, для точки з’єднання «Вельки Капушани» – «Ужгород» запускають віртуальний реверс (так званий backhaul), тим самим додатково розширюючи словацький коридор для поставок газу в Україну», – йдеться в повідомленні «Нафтогазу».

Повідомляється, що з 1 березня оператори щоденно пропонуватимуть ринку 10 мільйонів кубометрів газу.

«Потужність віртуального реверсу залежить від наявності фізичного потоку в напрямку Україна-Словаччина, а отже вона є переривчастою і може бути перервана у випадку відсутності потоку в напрямку від України до Словаччини. Оператори також підкреслюють, що можуть збільшити рівень віртуальних потужностей у випадку наявності інтересу з боку ринку», – зазначили в українській компанії.

Керівник компанії «Оператор ГТС України» Сергій Макогон пояснив, що через позицію російського «Газпрому», який «намагався обмежити можливості імпорту газу з ЄС», в 2014 році Україна не могла за допомогою віртуального реверсу імпортувати газ в Україну.

«Нам довелося побудувати новий фізичний інтерконнектор – трубопровід Вояни-Ужгород, щоб почати поставки газу зі Словаччини. Це дозволило нам встояти і не потрапити в повну залежність від Газпрому… Поки словацький оператор пропонує тільки потужність 10 мільйонів кубометрів в день, але «Оператор ГТС» працює над тим, щоб потужність була збільшена. Скоро запрацює віртуальний реверс і по Угорщині», – сказав Макогон.

24 січня Україна через газовимірювальну станцію «Дроздовичі» розпочала «віртуальний реверс» природного газу з Польщі. Повідомлялося, що Україна очікує і на відкриття віртуального реверсу Угорщини.

«Віртуальний реверс» передбачає обмін природним газом між операторами газотранспортних систем, коли фізично газ через кордон не переміщається, а сторони здійснюють взаємозалік.

Turkey Opens Its EU Borders to Migrants   

Refugees can now gain access to Europe through Turkey.Turkey shares borders with two European Union countries, Greece and Bulgaria.Turkey’s security forces have been ordered not to stop the exodus, at least temporarily reversing an arrangement made with the EU in 2016.The decision comes after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed by Syrian government forces in northern Syria’s Idlib region Thursday.About 1 million Syrian refugees have been displaced and have gathered near the border with Turkey since December.Turkey already houses nearly 4 million Syrian refugees.Early Friday, close to 300 migrants began the trek to Turkey’s Edirne province on the Greek border.Media reports said that in addition to the Syrians making the trip, Iranians, Iraqis, Pakistanis and Moroccans were also part of the group.Refugees are also heading toward Ayvacik, where they hope to travel by boat to the Greek island of Lesbos.