British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will “get Brexit done” by Jan. 31 and then agree a new trade deal with the European Union by the end of 2020, cabinet office minister Michael Gove said on Sunday, vowing to deliver on the government’s top priority.
Johnson and his team were triumphant last week when he won a commanding majority of 80 at an early election he said he was forced to call to break the Brexit deadlock. Winning over many traditionally Labour voters in northern and central England, Johnson has proclaimed he will lead a “people’s government”.
First, the Conservative leader must make good on his often-repeated promise to “get Brexit done” and then turn to realising another priority – to increase funding into Britain’s much loved but struggling public health service, a pledge he plans to enshrine in law.
“I can absolutely confirm that we will have an opportunity to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in relatively short order and then we will make sure that it passes before January 31st,” Gove told Sky News.
Asked about a new trade accord with the EU, Gove said: “It will be concluded next year. We will be in a position to leave the European Union before the 31st of January next year and then we will have concluded our conversations with the EU about the new framework of free trade and friendly cooperation that we will have with them by the end of next year.”
The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has cast doubt over whether the trade talks will be so swiftly concluded, saying last month that the negotiations would be “difficult and demanding” and warning Britain the bloc “will not tolerate unfair competitive advantage”.
Johnson, who celebrated his victory by visiting Sedgefield, a former Labour bastion that was the parliamentary seat of ex-prime minister Tony Blair but voted Conservative this time, will set out his programme on Thursday in a Queen’s Speech.
Rishi Sunak, a deputy finance minister, said the government aimed to re-submit the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to parliament for ratification before Christmas to allow ministers to start work on other priorities such as “levelling up” the country.
After more than three years of debate over Brexit, Johnson faces a struggle to unite a country where disagreements over how, when or whether Britain should leave the EU have torn towns, villages and even families apart.
For the opposition Labour Party, Thursday’s election was its worst result since 1935 and underlined how its equivocal Brexit policy and its socialist leader, Jeremy Corbyn, had proven an electoral disaster for many traditional supporters.
“Let me make it clear that it’s on me. Let’s take it on the chin,” Labour’s finance chief John McDonnell told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. “I own this disaster.”
He said there would be a new leader in place by early next year, and already some said they were considering running.
Lisa Nandy, a lawmaker for the northern town of Wigan, said she could enter the race, while justice policy chief Richard Burgon said he would back Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s business policy chief, if she decided to run for the leadership.
Corbyn, who apologised to Labour supporters in two newspapers on Sunday, has said he will step down as soon as a new leader has been elected by the party membership.
“I will make no bones about it. The result was a body blow for everyone who so desperately needs real change in our country…I’m sorry that we came up short and I take my responsibility for it,” he wrote.
But Corbyn added: “I remain proud of the campaign we fought … And I’m proud that our message was one of hope, rather than fear.”
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A 51-year-old British tourist was in serious condition at Limassol hospital on Sunday after being hit by a motorcycle driven by two minors in the early hours.
The accident happened at around 1.30am when the woman was crossing the road to her hotel in a tourist area.
The moped was being driven by a 17-year-old who was carrying a passengers aged 16.
Both the woman and the teens were taken by ambulance to Limassol hospital.
The woman suffered multiple fractures and was admitted to the hospital. She is said to be serious condition but out of danger.
The two minors, after receiving first aid, were discharged.
Police are investigating.
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Cyprus runs the risk of being exposed to the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe because of the auditor-general’s behaviour towards the ombudswoman, according to two senior officials of the international and regional ombudsman network who participated in a conference in Nicosia this week.
The aim of the conference, organised by the Cypriot ombudswoman, Maria Stylianou-Lottidou, and the Mediterranean Association of Ombudsmen, was to strengthen the Ombudsman Institutions. The delegates analysed the so-called Venice Principles for the first time since their 25 points were adopted by the Venice Commission at its 118th plenum in March 2019.
Both the chairman of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI), Peter Tyndall, and Andreas Pottakis, the Greek ombudsman and chairman of the Mediterranean association, censured the stance of auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides towards the ombudswoman, describing it as an infringement of the Venice principles that Cyprus has signed.Delegates from 13 countries at this week’s conference
The two officials, who have been loggerhead for the past two years, this week accused each other of breaking the law and have each asked the attorney-general to prosecute the other: Michaelides for not cooperating in providing data, Lottidou for interference in her work.
Michaelides wants data on the number of complaints filed to Lottidou’s office over the period 2015-2018.
The ombudswoman has refused, arguing the auditor-general is seeking to carry out an administrative audit of her office when he only has the authority to perform financial audits.
She accused Michaelides of seeking to interfere with the work of an independent official.
Speaking at the conference, the Greek ombudsman said the Mediterranean and the international ombudsman organisations were aware of the auditor’s demand to audit the ombudswoman’s office and have commented repeatedly on the matter.
“The audit into the financial administration of an ombudsman is limited and cannot extend beyond what is lawful. It cannot go into matters of the office’s operation,” Pottakis said.Andreas Potakis, president of the Mediterranean Institute of Commissioners
The Greek ombudsman stressed that Cyprus is obliged to adhere to the Venice principles, adding that they have repeatedly highlighted the manner and boundaries of an audit into the office of an ombdusman.
“I think there is an infringement that must be corrected immediately and I imagine the authorities here in Cyprus, considering what they have signed – since the Venice principles have been approved by the council of ministers of member-states – should comply and protect the institution of the ombudswoman so that she can independently carry out her important work,” he said.
“An audit of the financial administration of an ombudsman can be carried out only as to the legality of the expenditure and not the expediency and the manner in which an office will decide to handle its cases; not the way it will decide to administer its budget.”
In his speech, the chairman of the International Ombudsman Institute stressed the need to safeguard the independence of ombudsmen from external interventions.
Tyndall said Lottidou was known and respected by her colleagues.
The conference heard that the Venice principles will be the guidelines that define the way ombudsmen operate and are protected in all European countries.
“It is very important for us ombudsmen, as well as for national jurisdictions, to highlight the way in which ombudsmen can contribute in securing the democratic principles, transparency, and protection of human rights, matters that are crucial for all of us,” Pottakis said.
Welcoming the delegates, Lottidou said it was a unique opportunity to deal with the challenges faced by the institution of the ombudsman.Peter Tyndal, president of the World Institute of Commissioners
In her speech, she said it was especially important to hold the conference in Nicosia, the last divided European capital.
Lottidou discussed the challenges faced by ombudsmen and the interventions in the institution, whose basic responsibility is to safeguard and protect human rights. The Venice principles, she said, clearly state that ombudsmen do not take instructions from any other independent authority.
Protection of the ombudsman’s independence is an international obligation.
The IOI chairman expressed his deep concern over the situation in Cyprus, saying the auditor-general must only audit financial procedures.
“The Venice principles that guide the operation of ombudsmen, and the Council of Europe, both state that meddling in their work undermines the independence of the institution.”
Tyndall said IOI had contacted the Cypriot parliament and informed them of their view on the way the matter had been handled.
“We have seen an improvement, but it remains to see an end put to interventions of this kind,” he said.
Tyndall said Cyprus is a member of the Council of Europe and it is bound by its decisions.
“Protecting the independence of the office of the ombudswoman is an international obligation and fundamental for democracy. Cyprus must follow the Venice principles, which are very clear. The audit of the ombudswoman’s office must only concern financial issues and not its operation.”
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A U.N. climate summit ground towards a delayed close on Sunday with major economies reluctant to issue a bold new call for action to combat global warming, prompting sharp criticism from smaller states and environmental activists.
The Madrid talks were viewed as an indicator of governments’ collective will to crystallise the decisive action scientists say is needed to slash greenhouse gas emissions in time to prevent rising global temperatures from hitting irreversible tipping points.
But with the conference on track to endorse only a modest declaration lacking a clear, unambiguous call for countries to next year raise their targets to cut emissions, the mood was subdued.
“These talks reflect how disconnected country leaders are from the urgency of the science and the demands of their citizens in the streets,” said Helen Mountford, Vice President for Climate and Economics, at the World Resources Institute think-tank. “They need to wake up in 2020.”
Bleary-eyed delegates were expected to conclude the meeting on Sunday.
It had been due to finish at the two-week mark on Friday but has run on for two extra days – a long delay even by the standards of often torturous climate summits.
Earlier, talks president Chile triggered outrage at the summit – known as COP25 – after it drafted a version of the text that campaigners complained was so weak it betrayed the spirit of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The process set out in that deal hinges on countries ratcheting up emissions cuts next year.
A later draft published by Chile did contain language acknowledging the need for greater ambition, observers said.
However, it was still seen as a weak response to the sense of urgency felt by communities around the world afflicted by floods, droughts, wildfires and cyclones that scientists say have become more intense as global temperatures have risen.
“COP25 demonstrated the collective ambition fatigue of the world’s largest (greenhouse gas) emitters,” said Greenpeace East Asia policy advisor Li Shuo.
Scientists say the world will only have a chance of avoiding catastrophic warming if countries move fast to slash emissions under the Paris agreement, which enters its crucial implementation phase next year ahead of another summit in Glasgow.
But the talks become mired in disputes over potential loopholes in rules governing international carbon trading, favoured by wealthier countries to reduce the cost of cutting emissions. Brazil and Australia were among the main holdouts, delegates said.
Carlos Fuller, chief negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, said the 44 low-lying nations in the bloc wanted strict rules but were being sidelined as larger countries dominated the talks.
“Are we a party to this process or not?,” Fuller asked reporters outside a meeting hall, before delegates began drawn-out formal procedures to bring the summit to a close.
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Around 54,000 people were evacuated from the southern Italian city of Brindisi on Sunday as experts worked to defuse a World War Two bomb, authorities said.
Corriere della Sera daily said the operation was the biggest peacetime evacuation in Italy, with more than 60% of the city’s residents forced to vacate a “red zone” in a radius of 1,617 metres from where the bomb was found.
The British bomb, believed to have been dropped on the city in 1941, is 1 metre long and contains 40 kgs of dynamite, authorities said. It was found by chance last month during refurbishment works at a cinema theatre.
The city’s airport, train station, two hospitals and a prison were shut down and evacuated as part of the operation, which authorities expect to be completed around lunchtime.
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There’s a very good reason why the EU response has been so lukewarm
By George Koumoullis
I SUSPECT the broader public has not realised how extremely worrying a development the delimitation agreement between Turkey and Libya is for Cyprus. It is not my intention to scaremonger but to underline the need for a Cyprus settlement before it is too late.
According to their memorandum of understanding, islands have no exclusive economic zone and therefore the existence of Crete, Rhodes and other islands in the eastern Mediterranean is completely ignored. The danger of Turkey announcing drilling in the Aegean Sea or southeast of Crete, which Greece considers its territorial waters, is now visible, even if the agreement with Libya is legally in limbo and, as such, invalid.
Last week Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on CNN Turk “we do not want a war with anyone but if I have to protect my ships, I will take all necessary measures whatever they are.” In response, Greece’s Foreign Minister Nicos Dendias said he did not believe in gunboat diplomacy, “but this does not mean that Greece does not have the capabilities and will to protect its national territory and national space.” If these were not the drums of war, what else could they have been?
So as not to be accused of shrieking desperately like another Cassandra about the prospect of war, here is an excerpt from an article written in the Greece paper To Vima, by professor of modern history Antonis Liakos. “The opportunism of the division of the eastern Mediterranean is a very serious issue. These are the small signs of a coming typhoon on the horizon.”
If for Greece there are small signs of a coming typhoon, for Cyprus the signs are of a coming tsunami because in a Greece-Turkey clash, while the Cyprus problem remains unsolved, Turkey would take over all of Cyprus to use as a bargaining card when hostilities are over. Perhaps the scenario of such a nightmarish development is improbable but it is not impossible.
As a result, a couple of serious issues are raised. First, for Cyprus to be saved, a settlement must be secured as soon as possible, but unfortunately the omens are not favourable. Mustafa Akinci must be re-elected as ‘president’. Second, the negotiations at the five-party meeting that will supposedly be convened after the elections of April 2020 must be successful. But even if we assume a settlement were agreed, it would have to be approved by a referendum. This appears an insurmountable obstacle considering the majority of Greek Cypriots are in favour of a two-state solution.
No ingenuity is needed to understand how low we have sunk. School education is so full of liberation references, while our Turkish Cypriot compatriots are described as the “eternal enemies”. Unfortunately, the constitution of 1960 sowed the seeds of hatred and partition by assigning the responsibility for education to each community instead of creating a secular ministry of education that would have schooled all citizens regardless of their religion. In this way, instead of education promoting a culture of brotherly and peaceful coexistence it promoted a culture of division, prejudice and hatred.
The baton from the schools is taken over by the nationalistic football clubs, which, inadvertently, act as the attorneys of Turkey that believes the Cyprus Republic is defunct. And what can one say about the archbishop, who has made it very clear he prefers the continuation of the status quo (partition) to influence religious Greek Cyprus that account for 30 per cent of the population? Or should I mention the landowners in Paphos and Limassol who have seen the value of their properties soar thanks to the occupation? There are also the big law and auditing offices which, together with the developers, are in seventh heaven thanks to the golden passports. We should be honest: the backbone of Cypriot society is in favour of partition which is why in a referendum a bizonal, bicommunal federation will again be rejected. I hope I am completely wrong.
The other issue raised is why our EU partners have been reacting in such a lukewarm way to the illegalities by Turkey? The answer is that international affairs are dominated by financial interests and not moral principles. Two years ago, in an article in this paper, I tried to explain that economic relations determined all social and political goals and, in addition to this, social classes, the economy, religion, institutions, values and norms and, perhaps most importantly, the course of history.
The population of Turkey is currently 83.8 million and is expected to reach 100 million by 2031, while its economic growth has been among the biggest in the world since 2000. Consequently, Turkey constitutes a huge market for the EU as it is its fifth largest partner in imports as well as in exports, while the EU is the main trading partner of Turkey. A big part in the huge rise in the Turkish GDP was played by foreign direct investment by big companies from the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Italy. Should we really wonder about the EU’s unwillingness to impose sanctions on Turkey, considering that it would be against its interests?
The rhetoric of support for and solidarity with Greece and Cyprus by the EU is a given but this will not in itself stop Turkey. More drastic measures would be needed for this such as for example the suspension of the customs union agreement between Turkey and the EU. Would the EU dare take such a step for the sake of Cyprus and Greece? I doubt it. Economic interests override everything.
George Koumoullis is an economist and social scientist
The top priority of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is to leave the European Union on Jan. 31 and secure a new trade deal with the EU by the end of next year, cabinet office minister Michael Gove said on Sunday.
After the Conservatives were re-elected last week with a majority of 80 seats, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will pursue twin priorities in government – to fulfill his promise to “get Brexit done” and plough money into Britain’s health service.
“What I can absolutely confirm is that we’ll have an opportunity to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in relatively short order and then we will make sure that it passes before Jan. 31,” Gove told Sky News.
“We will have concluded our conversations with the EU about the new framework of free trade and friendly cooperation by the end of next year.”
Gove also said the government’s top domestic priority would be shoring up the public health service, seen by aides as essential to holding onto the support of traditional Labour Party-supporting voters in the north and central England who voted for the Conservatives, often for the first time.
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Archbishop Chrysostomos is to leave for the US in the New Year for medical treatment, it was revealed on Sunday.
The Church Primate, who has received treatment for cancer in the UK, in an interview with Politis said, he was currently completing a new cycle of chemotherapy and would then travel to America.
Until then, he said, in the brief extract published online from the interview carried out over a day shadowing the Archbishop, he was continuing his daily duties except on the days of his chemotherapy, he said.
Asked when he found out that he had cancer, Chrysostomos said he had it for a year and a half without opting for treatment and against the advice of his doctor because he wanted to continue his work until it was time to bow out. He said death does not scare him.
“The most certain from the moment you are born is that you will die,” he said. “Everything else in your life can happen, it may not. But death will happen. So I don’t mind.”
Asked whether his illness brought him closer to God and to humanity, he said it had, and it had made him tougher on the job.
“Before, even if someone didn’t do their job well, I didn’t mind that much. With cancer now I don’t know when I’m leaving. I can leave quickly, I can leave later. But what if I leave quickly? I don’t want to leave an Archbishop with hangovers. That’s why I’m tougher.”
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Following the latest media releases related to the opening of Burger King® in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus, WOW BURGERS LTD, which currently operates Burger King® restaurants in the Republic of Cyprus, would like to inform the public and its thousands of customers that neither the company, nor Lysandros Ioannou, or any other company related to WOW BURGERS LTD, are involved in any way with the operation of the Burger King® brand in the occupied areas.
WOW BURGERS LTD, its managers and the team members are focused on delivering exceptional service, value and great-tasting food to its thousands of customers every day.
By Alper Ali Riza
It is Friday, December 13, 2019 and Boris Johnson has just won the UK general election with a landslide. The weather on election day did not bode well for the Labour party. It was cold and it was raining and a cold wind blew across the country as the British braved the elements to make sure they left the EU at the end of January 2020.
Not to be outdone, Scotland voted for independence after Britain leaves the EU.
Northern Ireland also voted to drift away and in time join the Republic of Ireland and the EU via that route.
Wales bucked the trend, but it was the Labour heartlands of the north of England that voted overwhelmingly for Boris Johnson with eyes wide shut on its effect on the union with Scotland and Northern Ireland.
In the end, Scotland is unlikely to be denied the right to self-determination; Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland already have the right under the Good Friday agreement.
The Scots exercised their right in the independence referendum of 2014. A majority voted to stay part of the UK, but the clamour for another referendum has now re-emerged as official policy after Scotland voted overwhelmingly for the Scottish National Party on a clear manifesto promise to remain in the EU.
Under the UN’s International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights all ‘peoples’ have the right of self-determination. Many problems in the world including ours derive from the interpretation of the word ‘peoples.’
There are two interpretations. One is based on a territorial understanding of the word and the other is based on ethnic and cultural identity.
The territorial meaning is independent of the ethnic and cultural composition of the population within a country’s territory, and the identity meaning covers people who are ethnically and culturally distinct within a territory.
On the territorial understanding of the term, the Scots have the right to self-determination but only as part of the whole of Great Britain – England, Scotland and Wales. A referendum for Scottish independence in line with the territorial meaning would involve the participation of the whole of Great Britain.
On the identity based meaning, however, only the people of Scotland would be entitled to participate, which is what occurred in 2014 with the consent of the British government, though probably not the sovereign.
It seems the UK parliament of the day was persuaded that owing to the ethnic and cultural differences felt by the Scots; self-determination based on identity was in order.
The political question thrown up by the SNP’s landslide last Friday is how many times and how often are a people entitled to exercise the right to self-determination. What should happen if shortly after voting in one referendum there is a material change in the constitutional and political arrangements presumed by the people to continue when they voted?
The right of self-determination in international law means that ‘peoples’ are entitled to be in charge of their constitutional and political arrangements.
In Scotland those arrangements are first that they are part of the rest of the United Kingdom. They owe allegiance to the same sovereign and their parliaments are united, though a lot of executive and legislative power has been devolved to Scotland.
Secondly, as part of the United Kingdom, Scotland is attached to the EU, but unlike England and Wales, Scotland wishes this state of affairs to continue.
At the time of the 2014 referendum there was an important legal debate in Scotland about whether she could remain part of the EU if she became independent.
The legal difficulty was that if she ceased to be part of the UK then she would cease to be part of the EU. And if she became independent and sought to reapply to join she was not guaranteed admission, as countries such as Spain and Cyprus were likely to veto her re-entry because of secessionist problems of their own – Spain with Catalonia and Cyprus with the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’.
It is not possible to say for sure that Scotland voted to remain part of the UK in 2014 because she wished to remain part of the EU; or that but for Britain’s membership of the EU Scotland would have voted for independence.
What is possible is to ask if Britain’s decision to leave the EU constitutes a material change of circumstances that should entitle Scotland to a second bite at the cherry so soon after the once-in-a-generation referendum of 2014.
A material change of circumstances must be based on uncontroversial facts relevant to whether Scotland should be given another opportunity to decide her constitutional and political arrangements in line with the UN Covenant on Civil Political Rights.
Few would argue that Britain’s membership of the EU forms part of Scotland’s constitutional arrangements, or that leaving the EU amounts to a change of circumstances.
That leaves the question of materiality, by which most people understand as something they deem important in any decision-making they undertake.
It is the fact that Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU in 2016.
There is also no doubt that the Scottish National Party was one of the most pro EU parties in the UK in last Thursday’s election and that they won 48 of the 59 seats in Scotland and that Boris Johnson who won by a landslide in England was virtually wiped out in Scotland.
So Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, is right to tell the prime minister that it is not just a question of a demand of the Scottish people but of their democratic right to self-determination enshrined in international law, even if under British constitutional law parliament at Westminster has the final say.
My guess is that if the Scots are given another referendum, they may still choose to remain part of the UK.
Yet it is the right to choose that matters, not the right to remain in the EU since that will be lost by the time Scotland votes on independence again.
And who knows, if Brexit proves the success we have all been promised, I doubt the canny Scots would vote for independence.
Alper Ali Riza is a queen’s counsel in the UK and a part-time judge
Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special envoy for North Korea, arrived in South Korea on Sunday as Pyongyang stepped up pressure on Washington to make concessions to revive stalled denuclearisation talks ahead of a year-end deadline.
Biegun’s arrival came a day after North Korea said it made another “crucial test” at a rocket launch site to develop a strategic weapon to deter U.S. nuclear threats.
Analysts said such tests could help North Korea build more reliable intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the United States.
Biegun did not make any comments upon arrival at an airport near Seoul on Sunday afternoon.
Biegun plans to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday, as part of his three-day stay before leaving for Tokyo to consult with his Japanese counterpart. It is unclear whether he will meet with North Korean officials at the inter-Korean border.
Biegun’s trip led to speculation he might try to salvage negotiations by reaching out to North Korea, or by publicly sending a message.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump met three times since last year to negotiate an end to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes, but there has been scant progress.
North Korea has vowed to take an unspecified “new path” if the United States fails to address its demands before the end of the year.
Tension has been rising in recent weeks as Pyongyang has conducted a series of weapons tests and stepped up criticism of the United States, stoking fears the two countries could return to a collision course that they had been on before launching diplomacy last year.
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A Turkish navy vessel ‘expelled’ an Israeli research vessel working off Cyprus, it emerged on Sunday, though the incident happened two weeks ago, the Jerusalem Post reported .
The newspaper said the incident had been confirmed by Israel’s National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Ministry although the exact location of where the incident occurred was not provided.
Some Israeli news outlets referred to Cyprus’ territorial waters, which is different in distance to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ), while other reports said it happened “close to Cyprus”. Cypriot public broadcaster Cybc said on Sunday it happened in Cyprus’ EEZ. Turkish reports called the area “Turkish Cypriot waters”
The Post said that Bat Galim, a vessel belonging to the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, had researchers from Ben-Gurion University in the Negev aboard, as well as a Cypriot geologist, who were doing research approved by the Cyprus government.
“Turkey does not have jurisdiction over the area of the Mediterranean Sea in which the researchers were working, but its navy demanded that Bat Galim move further south, as first reported on Channel 13,” the Post said.
According to the Times of Israel, unnamed senior Israeli officials said the Turkish vessels radioed the Israeli ship, demanded to know its business in the area — despite not having jurisdiction there — and then ordered it leave. “The Israeli ship had no choice but to comply and depart,” the paper said.
Turkey’s Daily Sabah said the Turkish navy approached the vessel and requested the captain provide information about their activities. “The navy later demanded the vessel cease operations and leave Turkish Cypriot waters,” the paper said.
The Jerusalem Post also reported that the Turkish foreign ministry had summoned Israel’s top diplomat in Ankara earlier in the week to inform him that Israel’s plan to lay down a natural gas pipeline to Europe in that part of the Mediterranean Sea, in cooperation with Greece and Cyprus, would require Turkey’s approval, Channel 13 reported.
“The Turks are trying to establish themselves as the ones running the show [in the region], and that is very worrying,” an official told the TV channel.
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The low-pressure system affecting the region with rain and storms is due to start gradually receding on Sunday, the met office said.
On Sunday the weather will be mostly cloudy. Some rain is expected and isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening. Snow is expected to fall on the highest peaks of the Troodos.
Temperatures will rise to about 17C inland, around 20C on the west coast, 19C on the remaining coastline, and 7C degrees in the mountains.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the weather will be mostly clear. Temperatures will rise Monday to above average for the time of year and further rise slightly on Tuesday, remaining at that level throughout Wednesday.
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Pep Guardiola insists Arsenal’s recent problems will not prevent them providing Manchester City with a big test this weekend.
The Premier League champions travel to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday expected to get back to winning ways after last weekend’s damaging loss to Manchester United.
Arsenal have endured a difficult campaign to date, with manager Unai Emery sacked last month and last Monday’s victory over West Ham being their only success in 11 matches in all competitions.
The Hammers victory, under caretaker boss Freddie Ljungberg, was also unconvincing, coming against another struggling side.
Nevertheless, Guardiola – with his own side having surprisingly lost four times this term – is taking nothing for granted.
The former Barcelona boss said: “I have not watched the previous games with Unai, I watched the games they played with Ljungberg to try to figure out what they’ll try to do.
“But normally Arsenal have a typical style of play. If you let them play, they have the quality to play. Arsenal away is always a big test for any team.”
Ljungberg is a fans’ favourite at Arsenal having been a member of the club’s 2004 ‘Invincibles’ side and has lifted the atmosphere in the past four games. Emery’s reign had ended in dismal fashion after a run of seven games without a win.
Guardiola said: “It was a position after the Unai Emery situation, the club decided on him, of course a person who has had many years at the club.
“He knows the feelings of the club and the fans, the way they like to play. He made a good result the last weekend so we’ll see.”
Guardiola’s highly-rated assistant Mikel Arteta, another former Gunners player, has been linked with the Arsenal vacancy.
Arteta, 37, was also a contender when Arsene Wenger left last year. Guardiola has said he expects Arteta to become a manager one day, and would allow him to leave with his blessing, but only when he feels the time is right.
“You can be 45 years old and believe you are not be ready, or be 35 years old and believe you are ready,” Guardiola said. “Only he knows.”
City’s record goalscorer Sergio Aguero and defender John Stones are still sidelined with thigh and hamstring injuries respectively.
Veteran playmaker David Silva is also a doubt after a blow to the leg in the derby last Saturday.
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Nissan will be dashing through the snow this Christmas with a bright, festive Nissan LEAF powered by its own regenerated energy.
To bring Christmas cheer while celebrating the power of regenerative energy, the special one-off vehicle sees the Nissan LEAF transformed into a Nissan (Christmas) TREE. Decked out in a spectacular light display, the Nissan TREE showcases the way the electric car regenerates power when braking or decelerating.
Two driving functions provide energy regeneration in the Nissan LEAF. The Nissan LEAF e-Pedal allows the driver to start, accelerate, decelerate and stop using only the accelerator pedal. The e-Pedal also helps the car harvest energy via regenerative braking.
This works by recycling the energy from the movement of the car during braking or deceleration, which then goes straight back to the batteries, where it is used to recharge the cells. Meanwhile, B mode is a driving function that regenerates energy under braking, with drivers using the traditional brake pedal as normal.
Let it glow, let it glow, let it glow
Fitted with thousands of LEDs, shimmery baubles and a reindeer, Nissan says “the car is brighter than Rudolph’s nose”. The sparkling display aims to remind sustainably-minded drivers about the energy generation made possible through owning an electric vehicle. In fact, the average Nissan LEAF driver regenerates 744kWh of clean energy if they drive 11,000 miles. This energy saving is equivalent to 20 per cent of the overall domestic electricity consumption of an average household.
“Santa shouldn’t be the only one with a festive mode of transport. We wanted to make the Nissan LEAF more fun at this time of year whilst driving home a very important message,” said Helen Perry, head of electric vehicles for Nissan Europe.
“We hope this custom-made vehicle inspires people about the benefits of regenerative energy. After nearly ten years since LEAF was first introduced in Europe, Nissan continues to be fully focused on providing consumers a more sustainable lifestyle through electric mobility.”
McLaren has announced the 620R, which it claims is “the first car in its class to offer true motorsport credentials in a fully road-legal package”.
The limited-edition coupé – just 350 will be built – evolves the competition specification of the McLaren 570S.
Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer at McLaren Automotive says: “In response to repeated customer requests, we have homologated that class-leading package for the road in the new McLaren 620R, a limited-edition, 620PS superlight coupé that is the perfect choice for an enthusiast wanting an authentic motorsport driving sensation – and performance to match – on both track and road.”
McLaren has enjoyed significant GT race success with Customer Racing teams and in recent seasons the 570S GT4 has been instrumental in adding to that record of success. Since the customer debut in 2017, the car has become the most successful GT race car built by McLaren, achieving more race wins and podiums than any other to date. Now, as the ultimate track-focused, track-ready but roadgoing McLaren Sports Series model, the 620R – a car that’s destined to be both rare and collectable, thanks to its strictly limited production run – celebrates the achievements of the 570S GT4.
The makers explain that “a high level of commonality with a 570S GT4 race car has been integral to the development of the 620R from very outset”.
They have the same, single-piece carbon fibre Monocell II chassis providing the foundations for the strength and light weight of the car, with a targeted lightest dry weight of 1,282kg. This carbon fibre core – a McLaren signature that in different guises features in every car in the company’s range – also underpins the ‘dynamic precision and composure for which McLarens are renowned’. These characteristics have been enhanced in the 620R by the inclusion of the GT4’s adjustable aerodynamic elements, race-derived suspension components and powertrain recalibration to increase power and performance.
The 620R has the same 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine used in the GT4 car, but with a significant difference in power output; freedom from racing regulations has allowed the engine ECU and turbocharger management to be reconfigured to achieve 620PS (610bhp), making this the most powerful Sports Series car yet. The engine also develops torque of 620Nm (457lb ft) and performance figures are 0-100km/h (62mph) in 2.9 seconds and 0-200km/h (124mph) in 8.1 seconds. Maximum speed is 322km/h (200mph).
The 7-speed Seamless Shift Gearbox (SSG) delivers super-fast shift times, further aided in Track mode by McLaren’s Inertia Push technology, which converts built-up flywheel energy into a momentary burst of torque on upshift. For added drama on the road the driver can select Sport mode and hear the upshift ‘crack’ created by a split-second cut of the ignition spark during a gearshift.
The suspension features lightweight aluminium wishbones and uprights and stiffer anti-roll bars and springs than fitted on a regular Sports Series model, and is enhanced by swapping rubber top mounts for solid stainless steel alternatives to provide ‘noticeable improvements’ in steering control and feedback.
Stopping power comes from McLaren’s latest lightweight braking system, which in the track-focused set-up on the 620R comprises carbon ceramic discs (390mm front, 380mm rear) and forged aluminium brake calipers all round.
The braking performance is also impressive on the road, where the 620R runs as standard with Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R semi-slick tyres, but drivers who swap to the optional, full-slick motorsport tyres when they arrive on circuit will apparently experience “a whole new level of braking”.
McLaren says “the performance, feel, feedback and handling characteristics of the 620R will leave a driver in no doubt that it is a race car at heart, but there are other obvious clues that are apparent before the engine is even started. The interior clearly and immediately stands out as track-inspired – any GT4 race driver will feel instantly at home”.
As with any serious circuit car, it is as much about what has been stripped out as what has been included – the 620R does not have a carpet or a glovebox. Air-conditioning, IRIS Navigation and an audio system are also missing from the standard specification, although all can be selected at no additional cost.
Driver and passenger are secured in super-lightweight carbon fibre racing seats by six-point racing harnesses, fitted as standard.
A McLaren Track Telemetry (MTT) system is standard and is displayed on a centre-mounted 7-inch touchscreen.
620R production will be limited to just 350 cars, all hand-built at the McLaren Production Centre in Woking, Surrey.
Production will begin in January, with each car costing from £250,000 including taxes (UK); for buyers in Europe and the USA, the price includes a Pure McLaren Track Day, with expert driving tuition at a race circuit.
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A powerful earthquake struck near the southern Philippines city of Davao on Sunday, the U.S. Geological Survey said, but there was no threat of a tsunami.
The magnitude 6.8 quake was centred 61 km (38 miles) southwest of Davao on the southern island of Mindanao, at a depth of 28.2 km, the USGS said, revising down the magnitude from an earlier 6.9.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat from the quake, based on available data.
There were no immediate reports of damage, but quakes of such magnitude can damage buildings.
The Philippines sits on the geologically active Pacific “Ring of Fire” and experiences frequent tremors.
Online reports posted by residents described “strong shaking” . “We’re on the single story house, I was just sitting but my chair moved like someone pushed me,” said one.
“The shaking was intense like everything was shaken left and right then up and down,” said another. .
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Tottenham head coach will not rest Harry Kane over the Christmas period.
The England captain was left at home for Wednesday’s Champions League dead rubber defeat to Bayern Munich following a hectic run of fixtures.
But with 17-year-old striker Troy Parrott the only like-for-like replacement, Mourinho says he cannot afford to give Kane more time off over a period which could define their Premier League top-four hopes – starting at Wolves on Sunday.
“It’s a sign of matches and matches,” Mourinho said. “Am I going to give him a rest on December 26 as we have a match after two days?
“No, I’m not going to give (Kane) a rest. There are matches and matches.
“The Munich match was one of these ones when the result was secondary, but when the result is fundamental…number nine is Harry and Parrott.
“Parrott is a 17-year-old boy that played five minutes in the Premier League and we’ll give him more time.
“He needs more time to develop and so, yes, Harry is fundamental for us.”
Mourinho will need all of his squad over the coming weeks, including Giovani Lo Celso.
The Argentinian, who was a Mauricio Pochettino deadline signing from Real Betis, got his first start under Mourinho in Munich, but failed to impress.
It has been a frustrating start to life in England as Lo Celso was injured and is now down the pecking order under the new boss.
“It looks obvious the way Dele (Alli) is playing, Sonny (Son Heung-min)… At this moment they are one step ahead.
“I couldn’t hide from you that we have a few players one step ahead because of performance. So you want to be objective and ask if he starts Sunday? No, he doesn’t.
“He’s our player. Our squad is not a big squad in numbers, and he will start for sure because it’s impossible to play all the time with the same players.”
Asked how long it might take the Argentina international to show his potential, Mourinho added: “I don’t know. (It’s) impossible for me to say that.
“Some players they accelerate the process, some players arrive immediately and fit in, others they take (a) long time. It’s difficult to say.”
Spurs have confirmed that left-back Ben Davies has travelled to Qatar for treatment on his ankle injury.
Tanguy Ndombele, Hugo Lloris, Michel Vorm and Erik Lamela remain sidelined but Harry Winks is back in training.
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By Andria Kades
Plans for an overhaul of the bus system have been put on hold as those who lost out in the tender process wait to see whether their objections to the winning bids will be upheld by the court.
Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides has described the current bus system as “appalling” and estimated that by the time the 10-year contracts are set to expire next year, it will have cost the taxpayer some €500m.
As it stands, every district has its own bus company which were awarded contracts in 2010. News of drivers striking or threatening to strike over delays in wage payments are not uncommon and have often resulted in the government stepping in to mediate.
In light of the upcoming end of the current contracts, the government called for new tenders, and on November 29 the transport ministry announced that a consortium between Malta Lines and Kapnos Airport Shuttle Ltd (MLKP) had won the contracts for public transport services for the districts of Nicosia, Larnaca, Famagusta and the intercity routes.
The fate of Limassol and Paphos remains to be decided as no company won the tender.
Nonetheless, it did not take long before four appeals were filed. Nicosia company Osel filed two, one for its current district and one for Larnaca, while another appeal was filed by Famagusta bus company Osea and Intercity.
A hearing is expected to take place on December 23. In the meantime, an interim order has been issued, barring the government from signing the new contracts until a court decision.
Panicos Amirayias, a spokesman for Osea said the tenders were “a blatant illegality and effective destruction for current administrators”.
Although it is inevitably the nature of a contract that it comes to an end, Amirayias said they were led to believe back in 2010 when they first signed, that they may even have a five-year extension. Without getting a new contract, this effectively puts an end to all their work that started, in the case of Osea long before the current company was even born.
“Our fathers had buses 30 years ago, we’ve been doing this now for years too…we will not be able to continue operations.”
Osea is also a majority shareholder in Intercity buses and the spokesman said “we operated the two companies meritocratically, offered good service and yet no one is judging that. They are only judging the numbers.”
Amirayias said the reasons they have to appeal the ministry decision will be heard during court but hinted that the way the tenders were written were made to suit the offer from the Kapnos consortium.
Pambos Kapnos, spokesman for MLKP told the Sunday Mail the tender was Europe-wide and the facts are that the consortium submitted the most financially beneficial offer.
“There is nothing favourable here, the procedure was open to everyone.”
Indeed Amirayia himself conceded that “other companies had lower bids” though he did not wish to disclose the amount, nor did Kapnos. Reports suggest the bids ranged from €800 million to €1.2 billion
Kapnos outlined the appeals came as no surprise but said the case will take its course.The burnt shells of the Kapnos buses (Christos Theodorides)
A few days before the contracts were awarded however, eight buses, part of a new fleet which belonged to Kapnos company were torched. Currently, Kapnos has a fleet of 150 buses and 13 new ones were imported, he said.
A police investigation is ongoing however “the reasons this was done appear to be obvious. If on Sunday the buses are torched and a few days later the decision for the tender is announced, it’s pretty clear what’s going on.
“It is a tremendous shame. These are tenders from the government and it is unacceptable to burn property.”
Kapnos specified the 13 buses are for the use of the company’s current operations and the plan was that should they win the tender, they could be used for the new purpose too.
Should the contracts be signed, Kapnos will have to order a fleet of 300 buses, but if operations begin as planned in July 2020, the deadline for ordering them must be made by May. Delays with the appeal may cause problems to this effect but Kapnos said he was hopeful there would be no major ones.
He also outlined that the staff currently employed in the bus companies of the districts his consortium has won the tender for, will have their jobs secured.
According to newly appointed Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos, as far as the tender process is concerned, he expects court to issue a decision on the appeal in January. On the question of the fate of Limassol and Paphos where no tender was awarded, a decision will be made by the ministry soon, he said.
“Every person has the right to appeal a decision…we believe the ministry was right with its decision (on who to award the tenders to). The court will decide.”
But what really is the root of the problem that has caused drivers to strike and the ministry to state a year ago that they would claim back money they had overpaid the bus companies? More importantly, will these be averted with the new contracts?
Karousos diplomatically said that the focus should be on the future and that the new contracts aim to improve the technology of the bus and “tackle these (existing) problems” though he did not wish to go into detail, citing the ongoing court case.
Strikes were most frequently observed in Nicosia, as well as Limassol, Paphos and Larnaca.
Most forthcoming of all was Osea’s spokesman Amirayias who suggested that the procedure to set up the current bus system from 2010 was way too rushed and one of the consequences of this was differences in how the contracts were interpreted between the companies and ministry.
The bus companies are also administrators of public funds, Amirayias stipulated and therefore need to be “honourable, honest and do their job properly. I believe we (Osea) did this 100 per cent.”
“One reason there were problems is that the government overpaid. After they realised they had done that, they would claim back the money and this would cause other problems.”
The tender for the new contracts, according to Amirayia, puts more pressure on the companies with far more stringent rules as to how much each company could claim in funds.
Alexandros Taliotis, operations manager of Osypa in Paphos said they would decide how to proceed once the ministry announced a decision on the fate of Limassol and Paphos which were not awarded a tender.
Although Taliotis did not wish to enter into a detailed discussion into the problems of the past, he told the Sunday Mail the tenders for the new contracts do have some differences in how they will operate as well as a technological upgrade, which would improve efficiency.
Nicosia bus company Osel informed the newspaper they did not wish to comment in light of the ongoing case filed at court, while Limassol company Emel and Larnaca’s Zenon were not immediately available for comment.
We are collecting declarations of support and condemnations of Turkey’s illegal drilling from the EU, just as in the past we amassed UN resolutions about the Turkish occupation. Although these have some moral import and give our politicians a sense of achievement, their practical value is questionable. For years we had been securing ‘favourable’ resolutions from the UN Security Council and our political leaders celebrated these achievements that, in practical terms, amounted to nothing, as the current situation shows.
Now, we have turned to the European Council for support and on Thursday it issued an announcement in which it “reconfirms its conclusions of 17-18 October, concerning Turkey’s illegal drilling activities in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.” (President Anastasiades’ doing according to press reports). It also took a strong stand against the Turkey-Libya MoU saying “it infringes upon the sovereign rights of third states, does not comply with the Law of the Sea and cannot produce any legal consequences for third states.”
We will probably secure a similar expression of support at the next Council assuming Turkey does not stop the illegal drilling. This is the crux of the matter. President Erdogan will not be deterred let alone stopped by condemnations and declarations by the EU, the US or any other country. As for international law and conventions, Erdogan has shown his disregard for them time and again, because he knows he can get away with anything. Nobody would stop him, for fear of alienating Turkey, which both the US and Russia are eager to keep on side.
Even the EU is treading carefully. At the news conference that followed the European Council meeting, Charles Michel, its new President, was almost apologetic when he said: “We have expressed our full solidarity with Cyprus and Greece and consider it important in the future to develop dialogue with this important country.” He added: “We know that it is important for migration especially to maintain close cooperation, but we know that at the same time it is important to have a strategic vision in the short and medium term of what we want from this important country for the future of Europe.”
It is against this background that the grandstanding of President Anastasiades and his foreign minister Nicos Christodoulides, who talks as if he represents a major power, should be examined. The trilateral alliances through which the government dangerously deluded itself it would dominate the energy game in the eastern Mediterranean, Christodoulides self-importantly declaring that Cyprus did not want to exclude Turkey, have been exposed as nothing more than PR exercises. The Greek government has expressed serious skepticism about Cyprus’ “frivolous moves,” according to a comment piece in the Athens paper Kathimerini, which said these were “dictated by the personal games of its politicians.”
The article also described the trilateral alliance of Cyprus, Greece and Egypt, which Greece was dragged into because of a sense of obligation, as a “dangerous frivolity”, which it said “Turkey turned upside down by signing a bilateral alliance with Libya,” and asked: “Where is the ‘shielding’ of national rights that the Cypriot politicians were boasting about after every monthly meeting of the trilateral?” This was not the only critical article appearing in an Athens newspaper, another urging Cyprus to “seek an honestly realistic settlement instead of dreaming of energy utopias.”
The main message of both articles was how spectacularly wrong the calculation that Erdogan would not react to what Cyprus and Greece were doing had proved. He reacted forcefully – drilling in the Cypriot EEZ and signing the MoU with Libya which put Greece on the spot – with no third party preventing him. And nobody seems interested in stopping him now. It would be very irresponsible if we dismissed his latest threats as bluffs. At least Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is taking them seriously and refuses to go down the path of escalation by antagonising Turkey, his government’s line being that differences regarding the seas should be resolved through dialogue.
It is a positive development that the government in Greece has drawn the line under the Anastasiades-Christodoulides brinkmanship that was never going to end well. Indicative of this change in approach was information from Brussels that Mitsotakis had turned down Anastasiades’ plan of seeking sanctions against Turkey over its agreement with Libya. It is a relief, for us in Cyprus, that the Greek government has introduced prudence and caution in dealings with Turkey, and will no longer allow Anastasiades and Christodoulides play this recklessly dangerous energy game Cyprus can never win.
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