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POLSKA УКРАЇНА - My - Polacy, ale żyjemy w Ukrainie

Germany, France Pass Resolution for New Friendship Treaty

German and French lawmakers approved a joint resolution Monday stressing the need for closer cooperation as the two nations mark the 55th anniversary of the signing of the Elysee friendship treaty.

At a special German parliamentary session in Berlin, French National Assembly President Francois de Rugy told lawmakers that multilateralism “is the secret of success of Europe.”

“Strengthening of the cooperation between our two countries is a precondition for strengthening Europe,” he said.

The 1963 Elysee treaty marked the post-World War II reconciliation between France and Germany. In approving the joint Franco-German resolution acknowledging the treaty’s importance, German lawmakers called for a new accord to “deepen” the partnership. 

Later in the day, German lawmakers led by Bundestag speaker Wolfgang Schaeuble participated in a French parliament session in Paris.

Schaeuble said in a speech to French lawmakers at the National Assembly that “the Franco-German cooperation is a success story.” 

“Neither Germany nor France have a future without Europe,” Schaeuble insisted in a speech delivered entirely in French.

German and French lawmakers decided to pass the resolution asking their governments to “adapt the founding principles of the Elysee Treaty” to meet the new challenges of globalization, he said.

Schaeuble listed world migration, “the dangers of international terrorism,” armed conflicts at Europe’s external borders, pressure from authoritarian regimes and separatist aspirations and the evolution of international financial markets as among those challenges. 

French lawmakers then voted 133-12, with two abstentions, to approve the resolution passed by their German counterparts earlier. 

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Germany, France Pass Resolution for New Friendship Treaty

German and French lawmakers approved a joint resolution Monday stressing the need for closer cooperation as the two nations mark the 55th anniversary of the signing of the Elysee friendship treaty.

At a special German parliamentary session in Berlin, French National Assembly President Francois de Rugy told lawmakers that multilateralism “is the secret of success of Europe.”

“Strengthening of the cooperation between our two countries is a precondition for strengthening Europe,” he said.

The 1963 Elysee treaty marked the post-World War II reconciliation between France and Germany. In approving the joint Franco-German resolution acknowledging the treaty’s importance, German lawmakers called for a new accord to “deepen” the partnership. 

Later in the day, German lawmakers led by Bundestag speaker Wolfgang Schaeuble participated in a French parliament session in Paris.

Schaeuble said in a speech to French lawmakers at the National Assembly that “the Franco-German cooperation is a success story.” 

“Neither Germany nor France have a future without Europe,” Schaeuble insisted in a speech delivered entirely in French.

German and French lawmakers decided to pass the resolution asking their governments to “adapt the founding principles of the Elysee Treaty” to meet the new challenges of globalization, he said.

Schaeuble listed world migration, “the dangers of international terrorism,” armed conflicts at Europe’s external borders, pressure from authoritarian regimes and separatist aspirations and the evolution of international financial markets as among those challenges. 

French lawmakers then voted 133-12, with two abstentions, to approve the resolution passed by their German counterparts earlier. 

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Heavy Snow Humbles Global Elite at Davos Summit

The global economy and geopolitical tensions are taking a back seat to a more immediate problem at this year’s Davos summit of political and business leaders: heavy snow is burying the venue.

High in the Swiss alps on Monday, on the eve of the opening sessions, many of the roughly 3,000 delegates struggled to reach the ski resort. Part of the main train line into Davos had been buried in snow over the weekend, forcing people onto buses, and helicopters were disrupted by poor visibility.

Some pre-summit meetings were cancelled or delayed as the first waves of delegates waded through snow-blanketed streets with luggage, looking for their hotels, or had to wait for road crews to dig their limousines out of drifts.

Businessmen slipped over on icy patches as snow plows roamed the streets, with the snow returning as fast as the machines could clear it.

World Economic Forum communications chief Adrian Monck said it appeared to be the heaviest snowfall for the four-decades-old summit since 1999-2000, though he described it as more of an inconvenience than a real threat to attendance.

“We know the snow causes inconvenience and it puts a lot of pressure on the city of Davos as a host but so far we have not seen any drop-off in registrations,” Monck said.

With the weather forecast to clear on Tuesday, organizers are hoping transport will start to operate more smoothly and will be running without a hitch by the time U.S. President Donald Trump arrives on Friday to give the closing address.

However, so much snow has built up on the slopes surrounding Davos that avalanches remain a danger.

A bulletin from the SLF Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos showed a broad band of the mountainous country under Level 5 avalanche danger, the highest on a 1-5 scale.

“Fresh snow and snow drift accumulations are prone to triggering (avalanches). Until late in the night a large number of natural avalanches are to be expected,” it said.

Local officials said on Monday they had evacuated two dozen residents from vulnerable areas while crews used explosives to reduce dangerous build-ups on some slopes above the town.

“When Trump comes on Friday it is far from obvious whether he will be able to use a fleet of large helicopters to land in Davos,” said a source close to the organising committee. “Large helicopters increase the risk of avalanches.”

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Heavy Snow Humbles Global Elite at Davos Summit

The global economy and geopolitical tensions are taking a back seat to a more immediate problem at this year’s Davos summit of political and business leaders: heavy snow is burying the venue.

High in the Swiss alps on Monday, on the eve of the opening sessions, many of the roughly 3,000 delegates struggled to reach the ski resort. Part of the main train line into Davos had been buried in snow over the weekend, forcing people onto buses, and helicopters were disrupted by poor visibility.

Some pre-summit meetings were cancelled or delayed as the first waves of delegates waded through snow-blanketed streets with luggage, looking for their hotels, or had to wait for road crews to dig their limousines out of drifts.

Businessmen slipped over on icy patches as snow plows roamed the streets, with the snow returning as fast as the machines could clear it.

World Economic Forum communications chief Adrian Monck said it appeared to be the heaviest snowfall for the four-decades-old summit since 1999-2000, though he described it as more of an inconvenience than a real threat to attendance.

“We know the snow causes inconvenience and it puts a lot of pressure on the city of Davos as a host but so far we have not seen any drop-off in registrations,” Monck said.

With the weather forecast to clear on Tuesday, organizers are hoping transport will start to operate more smoothly and will be running without a hitch by the time U.S. President Donald Trump arrives on Friday to give the closing address.

However, so much snow has built up on the slopes surrounding Davos that avalanches remain a danger.

A bulletin from the SLF Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos showed a broad band of the mountainous country under Level 5 avalanche danger, the highest on a 1-5 scale.

“Fresh snow and snow drift accumulations are prone to triggering (avalanches). Until late in the night a large number of natural avalanches are to be expected,” it said.

Local officials said on Monday they had evacuated two dozen residents from vulnerable areas while crews used explosives to reduce dangerous build-ups on some slopes above the town.

“When Trump comes on Friday it is far from obvious whether he will be able to use a fleet of large helicopters to land in Davos,” said a source close to the organising committee. “Large helicopters increase the risk of avalanches.”

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US Asks Turkey to Show Restraint in Syria

The United States is expressing concern about Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria and top officials are appealing for restraint and expressing concern the conflict could spread. 

At Monday’s White House briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the U.S. understands Turkey’s “legitimate security concerns” and is “committed to working with Turkey as a NATO ally.”  

“Increased violence in Afrin disrupts a relatively stable area of Syria,” she said. “It distracts from international efforts to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS, it could be exploited by ISIS and al-Qaida for resupply and safe haven, and it risks exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.”

Sanders also urged Turkey “to exercise restraint in its military actions and rhetoric, ensure that its operations are limited in scope and duration, ensure humanitarian aid continues, and avoid civilian casualties. We want to ensure that Assad’s brutal regime cannot return to Afrin, and we will continue working diplomatically to end the Syrian civil war.”

Tensions between US, Turkey

While Washington wants to preserve its relationship with Turkey. it also has ties to Kurdish and other forces forces targeted by Turkey. 

In a London press conference Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said “The U.S. is in Syria to defeat ISIS (the so-called Islamic State), and we’ve done that with a coalition of partners, and the Syrian Democratic Forces in particular, which are comprised of Kurdish and Arab, but also elements of Christian forces. It is truly a multiethnic group of fighters who are defending their home territory. And so we are concerned about the Turkish incident in northern Syria.”

Later, Tillerson downplayed concerns about rising tensions between Turkey and the United States.

“I don’t think you’re going to find two NATO allies facing off at all,” he said.

Tillerson said Turkey is worried about “terrorists crossing the border into Turkey and carrying out attacks and we appreciate their right to defend themselves, but this is a tough situation where there are a lot of civilians mixed in. So we’ve asked them to just, try to be precise, try to limit your operation, try to show some restraint.”

Advance notification

U.S. Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Earl Brown told VOA the U.S. has no coalition operations in Afrin. He also said the U.S. has a MOU (memorandum of understanding) with Turkey where they let the U.S. know of operations in Syria and they have kept to that memorandum.  

“Turkey’s actions in Afrin are unilateral and not associated with coalition operations in Syria,” he said. “In accordance with an existing memorandum of understanding, Turkey is providing advance notification of its operations to the Coalition to ensure awareness prior to military actions.”

The French ambassador to the United Nations, Francois Delattre, asked for “the opportunity for an emergency meeting on the wider situation in Syria, the humanitarian situation in particular.”

He added, “our priority is about Eastern Ghouta and Idlib where there is a tragedy happening before our eyes that is totally unacceptable.”

​Tillerson to meet with French

On Tuesday, Tillerson will meet with senior French officials to discuss a range of issues, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, the threat from North Korea, and Ukraine. He will also attend the launch of the International Partnership against Impunity for Use of Chemical Weapons. 

State Department officials say Tillerson is set to make remarks in Paris on Syria and chemical weapons.  Tillerson told reporters he would have an exchange of views on stopping the use of chemical weapons.

“Obviously, we know chemical weapons are being used in Syria. We’ve seen it,” he said. 

Asked about new reports that Syria is again using chemical weapons against its own civilians. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, Steve Goldstein, could not confirm the report, but he told reporters in Washington Monday:  

“Civilians are being killed and it is not acceptable,” he said.

U.N. to address use of chemical weapons?

Asked whether the United States would raise the issue at the U.N. Security Council, Goldstein said: “We’ll see tomorrow.” 

Goldstein added that Russia needs to do more to stop the killings. 

“Russia had failed to rid Syria of chemical weapons, and they’ve been blocking chemical weapons organizations. Enough is enough,” he warned.

VOA’s Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb contributed to this report

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US Asks Turkey to Show Restraint in Syria

The United States is expressing concern about Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria and top officials are appealing for restraint and expressing concern the conflict could spread. 

At Monday’s White House briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the U.S. understands Turkey’s “legitimate security concerns” and is “committed to working with Turkey as a NATO ally.”  

“Increased violence in Afrin disrupts a relatively stable area of Syria,” she said. “It distracts from international efforts to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS, it could be exploited by ISIS and al-Qaida for resupply and safe haven, and it risks exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.”

Sanders also urged Turkey “to exercise restraint in its military actions and rhetoric, ensure that its operations are limited in scope and duration, ensure humanitarian aid continues, and avoid civilian casualties. We want to ensure that Assad’s brutal regime cannot return to Afrin, and we will continue working diplomatically to end the Syrian civil war.”

Tensions between US, Turkey

While Washington wants to preserve its relationship with Turkey. it also has ties to Kurdish and other forces forces targeted by Turkey. 

In a London press conference Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said “The U.S. is in Syria to defeat ISIS (the so-called Islamic State), and we’ve done that with a coalition of partners, and the Syrian Democratic Forces in particular, which are comprised of Kurdish and Arab, but also elements of Christian forces. It is truly a multiethnic group of fighters who are defending their home territory. And so we are concerned about the Turkish incident in northern Syria.”

Later, Tillerson downplayed concerns about rising tensions between Turkey and the United States.

“I don’t think you’re going to find two NATO allies facing off at all,” he said.

Tillerson said Turkey is worried about “terrorists crossing the border into Turkey and carrying out attacks and we appreciate their right to defend themselves, but this is a tough situation where there are a lot of civilians mixed in. So we’ve asked them to just, try to be precise, try to limit your operation, try to show some restraint.”

Advance notification

U.S. Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Earl Brown told VOA the U.S. has no coalition operations in Afrin. He also said the U.S. has a MOU (memorandum of understanding) with Turkey where they let the U.S. know of operations in Syria and they have kept to that memorandum.  

“Turkey’s actions in Afrin are unilateral and not associated with coalition operations in Syria,” he said. “In accordance with an existing memorandum of understanding, Turkey is providing advance notification of its operations to the Coalition to ensure awareness prior to military actions.”

The French ambassador to the United Nations, Francois Delattre, asked for “the opportunity for an emergency meeting on the wider situation in Syria, the humanitarian situation in particular.”

He added, “our priority is about Eastern Ghouta and Idlib where there is a tragedy happening before our eyes that is totally unacceptable.”

​Tillerson to meet with French

On Tuesday, Tillerson will meet with senior French officials to discuss a range of issues, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, the threat from North Korea, and Ukraine. He will also attend the launch of the International Partnership against Impunity for Use of Chemical Weapons. 

State Department officials say Tillerson is set to make remarks in Paris on Syria and chemical weapons.  Tillerson told reporters he would have an exchange of views on stopping the use of chemical weapons.

“Obviously, we know chemical weapons are being used in Syria. We’ve seen it,” he said. 

Asked about new reports that Syria is again using chemical weapons against its own civilians. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, Steve Goldstein, could not confirm the report, but he told reporters in Washington Monday:  

“Civilians are being killed and it is not acceptable,” he said.

U.N. to address use of chemical weapons?

Asked whether the United States would raise the issue at the U.N. Security Council, Goldstein said: “We’ll see tomorrow.” 

Goldstein added that Russia needs to do more to stop the killings. 

“Russia had failed to rid Syria of chemical weapons, and they’ve been blocking chemical weapons organizations. Enough is enough,” he warned.

VOA’s Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb contributed to this report

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France Makes a New Push to Tempt Bankers to Paris Post-Brexit

France’s prime minister on Monday renewed a push to tempt bankers to Paris after Britain leaves the European Union by pledging to temporarily exempt expats from paying into state pension schemes and making more places available in bilingual schools.

France has already announced measures to cut labor costs to make Paris more attractive to the banking sector post-Brexit following the election of President Emmanuel Macron, who has made labor rules more flexible and cut wealth tax.

Now EU expatriates in France will be able to opt out of compulsory contributions to the state pension scheme which make up about 2.3 percent of an employee’s gross salary.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told investors that there would be 1,000 places available in the Paris region’s multilingual schools next September, while three new multilingual high schools would be created by 2021.

France would also be ready to handle disputes over financial contracts governed by British law in March with new international sections at the Paris Commercial Court and the Paris Court of Appeal, Paris Europlace financial lobby said in a statement.

“The Paris financial center now has strong momentum to welcome companies and international investors and strengthen its leading position in post-Brexit Europe,” Gerard Mestrallet, the head of the Paris Europlace financial lobby said in a statement.

The announcement came at a highly-publicized summit on Monday of global CEOs — including Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein and JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon — in Versailles, where the prime minister explained French reforms, in English, over lunch.

Macron is expected to join the more than 140 CEOs in the evening, after unveiling a 300-million-euro investment by Japanese carmaker Toyota in northern France.

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US Aid Chief Visits Raqqa Amid Stabilization Push

The U.S. government’s aid chief, Mark Green, made an unannounced visit to Raqqa in Syria on Monday, the most senior U.S. civilian official from the Trump administration to visit the war-struck northern city months after it was retaken from Islamic State.

Green was accompanied by the head of the U.S. Central Command General Joseph Votel, as the United States ramps up efforts to stabilize areas where Islamic State has been driven out by American-backed Kurdish militia.

Lessons from Libya and Iraq showed that stabilizing liberated areas was crucial to preventing them from falling back into the hands of militants.

“We’re at the point where people really do want to go home so this is the moment to seize,” Green, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said in a phone interview with Reuters after his seven-hour visit to Raqqa and the Ain Issa camp for people displaced by fighting.

As he drove through the densely built-up city, Green said he was struck by the devastation to buildings and roads, caused by U.S-led coalition air strikes and militia firing from homes.

“The devastation goes back as far as you can see,” Green said. “It is almost beyond description how deep the damage is.”

Green said he also visited a soccer stadium where the locker rooms had been turned into torture chambers for Islamic State.

“You can see a makeshift metal bed where they laid their torture victims right on the bed. It was just gruesome, gruesome,” he added.

But he said despite the destruction there were also signs of hope with vendors selling fruit on the sidewalks, families walking together, and people trying to clear rubble.

“Despite all of the destruction and all of the damage you still see signs of the human spirit … and it gives you so much hope,” he added.

Green’s visit comes days after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled an open-ended military presence in Syria as part of a broader strategy to prevent Islamic State’s resurgence and pave the way for an eventual departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and to curtail Iran’s influence.

U.S. forces in Syria have already faced direct threats from Syrian and Iranian-backed forces, leading to the shoot-down of Iranian drones and a Syrian jet last year.

In the meantime, Turkey opened a new front in Syria at the weekend launching airstrikes against U.S.-backed Kurdish militia in Afrin province.

Green said the civilian mission was not to rebuild areas but to help civilians return home by clearing roadside bombs, removing rubble, and restoring water and electricity.

“The mission for us is stabilization not reconstruction,” Green emphasized. “Our part of it is restoring essential services and there is a lot of work to do,” he added.

Green said he would be traveling to Europe within days to press allies to help with stabilization efforts.

 

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