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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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Air France to cut 7,580 jobs at French flagship carrier and regional unit Hop!

Issued on: 03/07/2020 – 20:16Modified: 03/07/2020 – 20:16

Air France confirmed plans to cut some 7..

Issued on: 03/07/2020 – 20:16Modified: 03/07/2020 – 20:16

Air France confirmed plans to cut some 7,500 jobs including 1,000 at sister airline Hop! on Friday, as staff protested over its response to the collapse in travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The French flag carrier, part of Franco-Dutch group Air France-KLM, said it had lost €15 million a day during the worst part of the crisis, which also saw its revenues plunge by 95 percent. It did not see traffic returning to 2019 levels before 2024.

As a result, Air France plans to cut 6,560 or 16 percent of jobs at the main airline by the end of 2022, more than 3,500 of which will come through natural departures, it said after union talks.

Another 1,020 jobs will go over the next three years at Hop!, representing 42 percent of staff at the regional carrier based in the coastal city of Nantes, which has also been hit by job cuts at plane manufacturer Airbus.

The French government – which granted Air France €7 billion ($7.9 billion) in aid, including state-backed loans, to help it to survive – has urged the airline to avoid compulsory layoffs, though it has conceded Air France is "on the edge”.

"A successful labour reorganisation is one where there are no forced departures," junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Sud Radio on Friday.

In its statement, Air France said it would give priority to voluntary departures, early retirement and staff mobility. It did not rule out compulsory redundancies, however.

The reconstruction plan will be presented at the end of July, together with a plan for the wider Air France-KLM Group.

This is not how I wanted to leave

Some 100 union members and employees, from cleaning staff to check-in assistants, demonstrated earlier outside the airline's base at Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris against plans to cut staff after receiving state aid to absorb the pandemic fallout.

Air France employees gather to protest a restructuring plan that includes thousands of job cuts in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis outside the French airline's headquarters in Roissy-en-France near Paris on July 3, 2020. The sign at right reads, "Not born to end up in the dumpster.” © Gonzalo Fuentes, Reuters

"It's scandalous. The government is putting in €7 billion and the compRead More – Source

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French court opens inquiry into former PM Philippe in handling of Covid crisis

Issued on: 03/07/2020 – 18:55Modified: 03/07/2020 – 18:55

A French court is opening an inquiry int..

Issued on: Modified:

A French court is opening an inquiry into former prime minister Édouard Philippe and two other ministers over their handling of the coronavirus crisis, a prosecutor said Friday.

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The inquiry, which is being opened after nine complaints filed against the ministers were deemed admissable, will be led by the Law Court of the Republic (CJR), which deals with claims of ministerial misconduct, said senior public prosecutor François Molins.

Along with Philippe, who was reRead More – Source

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Europe

Who is Jean Castex, Frances new prime minister?

Issued on: 03/07/2020 – 15:28Modified: 03/07/2020 – 15:36

French President Emmanuel Macron has nam..

Issued on: 03/07/2020 – 15:28Modified: 03/07/2020 – 15:36

French President Emmanuel Macron has named Jean Castex the country's new prime minister after the resignation of former PM Édouard Philippe's cabinet. Rather unknown to the public, Castex “comes from the mainstream right-wing party Les Républicains and is best known as "Monsieur Déconfinement" (Mr Post-lockdown) since April, when he was put in charge of organising Frances gradual exit from lockdown, something that has sRead More – Source

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