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Greece Protests Turkish Drilling Plans in Mediterranean

ATHENS – Greece has lodged strong protest with Turkey over Turkish plans to expand oil and gas explo..

ATHENS – Greece has lodged strong protest with Turkey over Turkish plans to expand oil and gas exploration in in areas of the Mediterranean Sea that Greece considers its own. The Greek government has warned that any drilling in Greeces continental shelf areas will spark a heated response. Analysts warn that could  spell a war between the two NATO allies.

FILE – GreeK Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, during a news conference, Skopje, North Macedonia.

In a short but strongly worded statement, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Greece was ready to take on what he called, “the Turkish provocation,” warning Athens would respond if Ankara moved to start drilling in what it considers Greek waters.

Dendias later met with Turkey’s top envoy to Greece to express his dismay, but also to demand explanations on the controversial designs.

The diplomatic protests come amid revelations in Greek and Turkish media that Turkey’s state petroleum company has received license from the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to proceed with oil and gas explorations in a total of 24 locations in the East Mediterranean.

No time frame was given for the drilling projects. But at least seven of them have been marked to take place just off the coast of some of Greece’s major islands, including Rhodes and Crete.

Despite the diplomatic protest, leading Greek government officials, like investment and development minister Adonis Georgiadis, appear to downplay Erdogan’s designs.

“We should remain calm,” he says. “Greece should not rise to the bait of everything Turkey throws its way. There is no doubt that any showdown will be bad for both sides.”

But the diplomatic tensions could not come at a worse time for Greece.

After two months of lockdown and a deluge of booking cancellations due to the coronavirus threat, Greece is scrambling to give its battered tourism on track and any semblance of tension between the two NATO neighbors is certain to  spook tourists considering Greece and its Aegean isles as a summer vacation break.

People visit the Pnyx Hill in Athens overlooking the ancient Acropolis on May 29, 2020 as Greece eases lockdown measures taken…

People visit the Pnyx Hill in Athens overlooking the ancient Acropolis on May 29, 2020 as Greece eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Even so, analysts like law professor at Angelos Syrigos at Panteion University in Athens say that Turkey’s drilling designs should come as no surprise.

Syrigos says there is no doubt that Turkey will proceed with its stated plan in the coming weeks. He says these media leaks about the 24 drilling locations in the Eastern Mediterranean amount to just a step in that direction and a war of nerves that Ankara is playing to test Greece’s reaction.

While both are NATO allies, Greece and Turkey have long challenged each others sea and air rights in the oil and mineral rich Aegean Sea.

Map of Greece and Turkey featuring the Greek isles of Rhodes and Crete

But relations in recent months have suffered after Turkey clinched a controversial deal with Libya.

The agreement effectively allows Turkey to explore and exploit the Mediterranean seabed for hundreds of miles, from its southwest coast to the northern tip of Libya.

The problem for Greece is that several Greek islands, including Crete, lie in between and experts like Syrigos sea an armed conflict erupting if the government in Athens sees its territorial sovereignty violated.

“A violent showdown is possible,” he said.  Erdogan, he added, is determined to assert himself and Turkey’s interests on this important region.

In recent years, the Eastern Mediterranean has yielded significant gas discoveries.

Since then Egypt, Greece, Israel and Cyprus have been jockeying for greater control of the minerals-rich region, leaving Turkey alone to search on its own, even if it may now spell a showdown with Greece.

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Migrants leave Ocean Viking rescue ship in Sicily after tense wait

Issued on: 07/07/2020 – 01:46

Almost 200 migrants rescued by a humanitarian aid boat in the Medite..

Issued on:

Almost 200 migrants rescued by a humanitarian aid boat in the Mediterranean Sea began to leave the vessel in Sicily late on Monday after nine days stuck on the ship.

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An AFP journalist aboard the Ocean Viking watched as the migrants, in single file and carrying backpacks, regained dry land at Porto Empedocle on the Italian island's western coast.

Police escorted them a short distance to another vessel, where they will be quarantined to prevent the possible spread of coronavirus.

The arrival of the boat chartered by charity group SOS Mediterranee capped a tense few days onboard marked by migrants jumping overboard, a suicide attempt and bouts of violence.

After being rescued in four separate operations on June 25 and 30, the migrants waiting on the ship became increasingly agitated, according to SOS Mediterranee, as the charity awaited the go-ahead from either Italy or Malta to dock at a safe port.

However, approval did not arrive until Sunday, after the group declared a state of emergency on board, adding it could no longer guarantee the safety of the migrants or the crew.

Soon after 8:00 pm (18:00 GMT), the Ocean Viking docked at the port directly in front of Italian ferry Moby Zaza, where the migrants will wait out a two-week quarantine period.

Tensions mount

Earlier on Monday, a separate group of 169 migrants disembarked from the Moby Zaza after a two-week quarantine.

Thirty of the group — all of whom were rescued last month by Sea-Watch, another humanitarian group — tested positive for coronavirus and will remain on the ferry in an isolated "red zone" area.

SOS Mediterranee spent most of Monday waiting roughly four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the coast before being allowed to dock, as it warned that tensions were rising and the long wait was "amplifying risks on board".

From the deck of the Ocean Viking, migrants who have waited for more than a week to disembark could make out both the Sicilian coast and the immense ferry, the Moby Zaza, according to an AFP reporter on board.

The mayor of Porto Empedocle, Ida Carmina, told reporters that the migrants' arrival was too much for the economically suffering community to support.

"Now that we&#Read More – Source

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Reaching the bottom of the barrel: Coronavirus pandemic batters European wine production

Issued on: 06/07/2020 – 09:46

It's an ancient beverage turned cultural icon, so cherished in ..

Issued on: 06/07/2020 – 09:46

It's an ancient beverage turned cultural icon, so cherished in France that the legendary Victor Hugo once provocatively wrote: “God made only water – but man made wine”. Aside from being a staple at many family dinner tables, wine is also a massive European industry – and one thats going through its own coronavirus-induced crisis. This in a sector that was already battling against 25% tariffs imposed by Donald Trump in 2019 that have seen exports slump.

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Up to one third of French vineyards are believed to be in potential danger – in a sector that employs around 700,000 people in France alone.

FRANCE 24 has been investigating how winemakers have been coping – as some say they might end up forced to give up altogether.

Vincent Bouzereau, winemaker: "I think were going to have to pick up the pieces. We are all going to pay. I always say to my children, 'we can always tear up a vine, and put sheep out to graze, and then we can eat the sheep'.”

"We are farmers – thats where we began, as farmers."

Aubert Lefas, winemaker and secretary-general of the Bourgogne winemakers confederation warns that small family vineyards will go under as they do not have the resources to pay for wages and outgoings.

"If their land is valuable, theyll be sold to big international groRead More – Source

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Child sex abuse warning as coronavirus school closures continue

Issued on: 06/07/2020 – 09:33

Child sex abuse offenders are “taking advantage” of the coronavirus ..

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Child sex abuse offenders are "taking advantage" of the coronavirus pandemic to make and share more abusive material online. That warning from Catherine De Bolle, head of European law enforcement agency Europol. In an interview with FRANCE 24, she explains that with millions of children at home, many are going unsupervised, using outdated and poorly secured software which leaves them at greater risk from exploitation.

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"You have to be aware, when your child goes on the internet, the child has access to the world – but also the world has access to your child. You have to be aware of this, and you have to protect your child in this situation."

Catherine De Bolle says that organised criminals have exploited the pandemic in other areas too, with a "huge impact" on cyber crime; with counterfeit and sub-standard goods, and property crime also singled out.

The Europol Executive Director also cautions for the coming months of economic crisis in Europe, saying that the end of the pandemic will not be the end of pandemic-related crime.

"We are convinced that criminal organisations will try to make profit out of the pandemic, long after the pandemic. They will make use of the economic downturn, they will make use of economic sectors in difficulty, like tourism,Read More – Source

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