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European Union - POLSKA УКРАЇНА

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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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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Tens of Thousands of Greeks March to Demand Sole Right to the Name of Macedonia

Tens of thousands of flag-waving Greeks rallied in Thessaloniki Sunday, demanding Greece never compromise on the name Macedonia for its northern province.

Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic that shares the same name have been feuding over who gets to use it since Macedonia became independent Yugoslavia in 1991.

Police put the turnout for Sunday’s march at 90,000 while organizers say it is much higher.

Some of the protesters wore costumes from the period when Macedonia was ruled by the ancient Greek King Alexander the Great.

They say allowing the neighboring country to use the name Macedonia insults Greek history and implies a claim on Greek territory.

Sunday’s march was largely peaceful. But police quickly intervened when scuffles broke out between far-right extremists and anarchists who held up banners denouncing nationalism.

Greece has blocked Macedonian efforts to join the European Union and NATO because of the name dispute.

But United Nations negotiator Matthew Nimetz said last week he is “very hopeful” a settlement is near.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tells the Ethnos newspaper “If there is an opportunity for a solution, it would be a national stupidity not to make good use of it.”

The country of Macedonia is officially known at the U.N. as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

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Spain to Seek Catalan Politician’s Arrest on Denmark Visit

The office of Spain’s state prosecutor said Sunday it will move to reissue a European arrest warrant for the fugitive former leader of Catalonia if he leaves Belgium and enters Denmark as planned.

The region’s ex-president, Carles Puigdemont, is scheduled to attend a debate Monday at the University of Copenhagen titled “Catalonia and Europe at a Crossroads for Democracy.”

The trip would be Puigdemont’s first outside Belgium since he fled there to avoid a court summons in Spain for his role in an illegal- and unsuccessful- secession bid led by his government in October.

If Puigdemont makes it to Denmark, the prosecutor’s office said it would immediately ask the Spain Supreme Court to approve a European warrant for his arrest by Danish authorities.

Spain issued a European warrant for Puigdemont’s arrest in November, but withdrew it after a month based on concerns that Brussels would send the Catalan politician back while restricting the crimes with which he could be charged.

Spain is investigating Puigdemont for possible rebellion, sedition and embezzlement linked to a unilateral declaration of independence by Catalonia’s parliament on Oct. 27.

His proposed appearance at the debate in the Danish capital comes while Puigdemont is trying to be reinstated as the regional president of Catalonia.

Spain’s prime minister removed Puigdemont and his Cabinet from office and dissolved Catalonia’s parliament as part of a crackdown on the separatist push. But pro-secession political parties won the most seats in the December election for a new parliament, which must form a government by the end of the month.

It remains unclear how Puigdemont could be sworn in again as regional president without returning to Spain and therefore putting himself open to likely arrest.

The Spanish government has vowed to impede Puigdemont’s reinstatement with court challenges, if necessary, and to keep direct control over the region until a new government takes over.

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Mattis: Turkey Alerted US Before Striking Kurds in Syria

Turkey alerted the United States before striking a U.S.-allied Kurdish militia in northern Syria, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

“They warned us before they launched the aircraft that they were going to do it,” Mattis told reporters Sunday on a plane headed for Southeast Asia.

Turkey on Saturday began bombing the Kurdish-controlled city of Afrin along the Turkish border in northern Syria, in an attempt to drive the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, from the area.

Mattis said the communication took the form of a telephone call between high level Turkish and U.S. military officials. But he declined to say whether U.S. officials cautioned Turkey against the strikes.

“We are very alert to it. Our top levels are engaged…and we’re working through it,” Mattis said. “We’ll work this out.”

The YPG is a key U.S. partner in the war against Islamic State, and makes up a large portion of the Syrian Democratic Forces  a coalition that has forced Islamic State from virtually its entire so-called caliphate.

 

But Turkey views the YPG as a terrorist group, and says it is linked with Kurdish separatists within its own borders.

“They have proven their effectiveness,” said Mattis. “It has cost them thousands of casualties, but you have watched them, with coalition support, shred ISIS’ caliphate in Syria, and that’s a matter of arithmetic.”

Mattis acknowledged that the success against Islamic State “does not remove many of Turkey’s concerns,” adding that it is “easy to understand” why Ankara is worried the conflict will spill over the Syrian border.

“Turkey is a NATO ally. It’s the only NATO country with an active insurgency inside its borders. And Turkey has legitimate security concerns,” Mattis said.

The U.S. and Turkey have worked together to fight Islamic State as part of an international coalition. Specifically, U.S. and other planes have used Turkey’s Incirlik military base to carry out strikes on IS.

The U.S. military currently has about 2,000 personnel in Syria. But no US forces are at risk because of the Turkish offensive “at this time,” Mattis said.

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