Daily Archives: February 23, 2017

Local leaders urge concerted international action to stabilise Mediterranean

Local and regional leaders from across the Mediterranean and the European Union have urged national governments and the international community to work more closely with mayors and governors to help stabilise North Africa and the Middle East.

The conflict in Libya and the challenges of migration and climate change were particular concerns for the mayors, governors and regional representatives at the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM), which met in Malta on 23 February.

At their principal meeting of the year, members of ARLEM, who are drawn from the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and from non-EU states in the Mediterranean region, pointed to recent cooperation with Libyan cities as evidence that, even in difficult circumstances, cities can forge partnerships that contribute to stabilisation. In a resolution on Syria, they also said they were “ready to support the Syrian people in their efforts to put an end to civil war and fight extremism and radicalisation”, noting that “this help starts in neighbouring cities welcoming refugees and dealing with the humanitarian emergency”.

The co-chairman of ARLEM, Markku Markkula, President of the CoR, said: “We cannot truly have a secure and prosperous Europe if we have an unstable neighbourhood. The Nicosia Initiative, through which European and Mediterranean partners share their know-how and practical support with Libyan authorities, is just one example of how local and regional authorities can have a real added-value, through tools such as city diplomacy and decentralised cooperation. It is only by working together on the ground that the EU will be able to find sustainable responses to the migration crisis, human trafficking, existing wars and the threat of terrorism.”

His fellow co-chairman, Hani Abdalmasih Al-Hayek, mayor of Beit Sahour in Palestine, said on behalf of non-EU members of ARLEM that: “Local administrators will deliver many of the basic services that will lead to the economic and social rebirth of cities in Libya, but also in Syria. We all have a responsibility to help how we can. We also have a duty to address other threats to stability and security in the Mediterranean region, such as climate change.”

Carmelo Abela , the Minister for Home Affairs and National Security of Malta, which currently holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union, said: “It is only when we have established a migration set-up managed by the authorities rather than by the migrant smugglers that we will be able to say that we are addressing migration efficiently and effectively. ” He added: “The European Union is seriously committed to addressing the root causes of migration together with partner countries of origin and transit. Within an EU context, Malta has consistently argued for this and it remains a priority for our country, be it as an EU member state or as the current Presidency of the Council. Our trans-continental cooperation should be as comprehensive as possible, encompassing and giving equal importance to all five priority domains agreed upon in the Joint Valetta Action Plan.”

Syrian local authorities was not represented at the ARLEM meeting, but a delegation from Libya – led by Abdelrauf Beitelmal, mayor of Tripoli, and Mustafa al-Baroni, mayor of Zintan, and including representatives from Benghazi, Sebha, Sirte, and Tobruk – spoke at the ARLEM plenary session and also at conference focused on migration on 22 February.

Mr Beitelmal said: “Local leaders have managed to maintain a significant degree of stability in many parts of Libya over the past five years, but our ability to provide services has suffered. In January 2016, we asked ARLEM members for help in six areas, from training in financial management to support for water management. Regions such as Flanders and Murcia, and cities such as Antwerp, Mechelen, Nicosia and Vila Real De Santo Antonio responded, and more support has been promised. We hope that the European Union and the international community will see this success and enable long-term cooperation. Everyone needs a functioning and stable Libya.”

Migration from Libya was a central topic in the conference on migration and at the plenary session. The speakers included:Bettina Muscheidt, head of the EU Delegation to Libya; Jose Carreira, executive director of the European Asylum Support Office; Vincenzo Bianco (IT/PES), CoR rapporteur on asylum and mayor of Catania, a port that has in recent years received many thousands of migrants rescued in the Mediterranean; and Peter Bossman (SI/PES), rapporteur for the CoR on the EU’s migration partnerships.

At the meeting, ARLEM adopted recommendations on energy and climate policy – drafted by Mohamed Sadiki, Mayor of Rabat – and on cross-border cooperation in the Mediterranean, drawn up by Francesco Pigliaru, President of the Sardinia Region. Morocco has been pursuing an ambitious energy transition policy for almost a decade. Sardinia hosts the managing authority of a cross-border cooperation programme created under the EU’s European Neighbourhood Instrument.

Among other decisions taken in Malta, ARLEM agreed to send members to Tunisia to monitor local elections this year, as part of a mission organised by the Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.

Note to editors

  • Since 2015, the European Committee of the Regions has developed a close relationship with Libyan cities, with the aim of improving public services in Libya and of helping Libyan cities to enter the international community. In January 2016, at the request of Libyan cities, the CoR agreed to mobilise and facilitate partnerships between Libya and EU cities and regions. Under the Nicosia initiative, named because the idea was agreed in the capital of Cyprus, EU cities and regions have so far provided or pledged support for Libya’s local authorities in the areas of water management, waste management, primary health care, public administration, language training, budgeting, fisheries, policing and counter-radicalisation.

  • In an opinion drafted by the mayor of Rabat, Mohamed Sadiki, on ” Energy and climate change in the Mediterranean region “, ARLEM urges countries across the Mediterranean to move away from fossil fuels, and calls on the EU’s member states to go “above and beyond” the Neighbourhood Policy in helping the region take climate-related action. It calls on policymakers – at all levels – to consider the climate in all their policies, and urges diplomats to engage in more “regional dialogue”, with the aim of establishing a “robust Mediterranean climate cooperation framework”. At the same time, it argues that – in the energy sector – the EU should stop “political negotiations between whole regions” and, instead, adopt a bilateral approach. Among its recommendations for local and regional authorities, it advises them to join the Global Covenant of Mayors, a bottom-up approach to climate action in which communities make ambitious pledges in exchange for technical support and easier access to funds.

  • The European Union’s cross-border cooperation programmes in the Mediterranean have benefited both EU and non-EU regions, ARLEM states in an opinion drafted by Francesco Pigliaru, president of the Sardinia Region. However, it recommends a “prudent and gradual” approach to the development of cross-border cooperation in the Mediterranean region because of political, economic, and administrative diversity and continuing instability. It highlights that, while cross-border programmes are popular with local and regional authorities, differences in administrative capacity have affected take-up by authorities in the southern Mediterranean and help explain why local authorities are leading partners infrequently. It calls for more efforts to build up their institutional capacity and to give them more of a role in developing programmes.

Andrew Gardner
Tel. +32 473 843 981


By 2027, four million tourist arrivals are expected in Ghana, Mr Ben Anane-Nsiah, Marketing Manager, Ghana Tourist Authority (GTA), has disclosed.

According to Mr Anane-Nsiah, online flight services would play a major role in facilitating the air travel of these arrivals.

He said as an organization mandated to facilitate the development of tourism, GTA would support services that helped promote the industry.

He was speaking at the launch .in Accra, yesterday, of flight services that are expected to help ease travel across Africa and the World.

Africa’s leading online hotel booking website, Jumia Travel, is expanding its services to include flights services to ease travel across Africa and the World for its customers.

By the unveiling of the flight services, Jumia Travel is now offering both domestic and international flights by major airlines in the continent including Kenya Airways, Rwandair Express, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways, KLM, Fly Dubai, Turkish Airlines, Air Arabia, and Air Seychelles, among others.

The service, now available on travel.jumia.com/flights, enables customers to find, compare, and book flights, as well as buy air tickets online with ease directly from various airline companies across the world.

The company recently launched its holiday packages to foster domestic tourism in Africa – and by including flights in its packages, Jumia Travel is expected to continue supporting easier access to both African and universal destinations.

The unveiling of the new flights services coincides with the second African Aviation Summit which is taking place in Rwanda.

Ms Claire Staal, Managing Director of Jumia Travel Ghana, in a statement at the launch, said the new flight services aimed to build on Jumia Travel products.

Mrs Staal expressed optimism that the introduction of the new services would impact positively on the Ghanaian economy by bringing efficiency into air travel, the airline industry and tourism development through increased revenue generation.

Mr Shukrani Hemedi, Ghana Country Manager, Rwandan Air, in his remarks, said the new flight services introduced by Jumia would not only help develop the airline industry, but would also tourism and the Ghanaian economy.

Ms Gloria Wilkinson Mensah of South African Airlines, who was also present at the ceremony, noted that an online portal to facilitate air travel was a value-adding venture and that South African Airlines was committed to partnering with Jumia Travel to promote air travel and the tourism industry.

Mr Bennet Otoo, Public Relations and Marketing Manager, Jumia Travel, said the introduction of the new flight services was a response to customer demand and a first step towards the realization of the dream of becoming the one-stop travel agency in Africa.

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)

Minister of Defense receives Ambassador of Turkey

NNA – National Defense Minister, Yacoub Sarraf, welcomed on Thursday Turkish Ambassador to Lebanon, Cagatay Erciyes. Talks between the pair reportedly touched on a number of mutual affairs and the best means bolster civil and military cooperation between both countries.

Sarraf commended the “vital role” that the Turkish force played within UNIFIL in South Lebanon.


Kim Jong nam killing: North Korea condemns Malaysia

NNA – North Korea has said Malaysia is responsible for the death of one of its citizens and is attempting to politicise the return of his body.

It does not name Kim Jong-nam, but the KCNA report appears to be state media’s first reference to the death of the half-brother of North Korea’s leader.

Mr Kim died after being poisoned at Kuala Lumpur airport and his body remains in a hospital mortuary.
Several North Koreans are wanted in connection with his death.

They include a senior official at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur as well as an employee of the state airline, Air Koryo.

Four other North Koreans named earlier in the case are thought to have left Malaysia already, while another North Korean is in detention.

Malaysia’s police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said on Thursday that he had asked international police agency Interpol to issue an alert for the four.

On Wednesday, Malaysian police confirmed that Mr Kim died after two women – also in detention – wiped a toxin on his face while he was waiting for a flight to Macau.

It said the attack was “planned” and that the women had been well trained. They have not directly blamed the North Korean state, but said North Koreans were clearly behind it.

Mr Kim was once seen as a possible successor to his father, Kim Jong-il, but was bypassed in favour of his younger half brother, Kim Jong-un, and spent many years living abroad.
He had been travelling on a passport under the name Kim Chol.

Malaysia says it believes the man was indeed Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong-un, though it is seeking family DNA samples for official confirmation, a request North Korea called “absurd”.

KCNA said only that “a citizen of the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]” who was travelling on a diplomatic passport had died due to “a heart stroke”.

It said reports of a poisoning were false and Malaysia was part of an “anti-DPRK conspiratorial racket launched by the South Korean authorities”.

Conducting a post-mortem on the holder of a diplomatic passport without state permission was “a wanton human rights abuse and an act contrary to human ethics and morality”, it said.

“The biggest responsibility for his death rests with the government of Malaysia,” said the report, and the refusal to hand the body back to North Korean officials “proves that the Malaysian side is going to politicise the transfer of the body in utter disregard of international law and morality and thus attain a sinister purpose”.


Answer – Preserving the Greekness of feta cheese – E-008923/2016

Concerning question 1, the Commission is fully committed to achieving the best possible level of protection of EU geographical indications (GIs), including the protected designation of origin (PDO) Feta, under ongoing or future negotiations of trade agreements, in the light of the market situation in each trading partner and the interests of EU Member States.

With regard to the recent agreements referred to by the Honourable Member, Feta is recognised and protected, while labelling restrictions and requirements are imposed, allowing consumers to easily distinguish the genuine product on the respective markets in Canada and in South Africa. In neither case has the protection of Feta been removed or reduced. On the contrary, both these agreements have granted, and therefore increased, the protection of Feta in the markets concerned. It is worth noting, that there was no specific protection for FETA PDO in Canada or South Africa before. On the EU market, the protection of Feta is unaffected by these agreements and remains exclusively reserved for originating Greek product complying with the corresponding product specification.

Concerning question 2, the Commission will ensure strict implementation of geographical indication (GI) protection, as foreseen in the agreements with South Africa and Canada mentioned by the Honourable Member, and is committed to using the appropriate mechanisms contemplated in these agreements with a view to further increasing the level of protection granted for Feta.