French MP summoned by police for questioning over support for Palestine

ANKARA: Mathilde Panot, a member of parliament representing the La France Insoumise in France, has been summoned by authorities for questioning on charges of "terrorism propaganda." Panot, known for her vocal support for Palestine, finds herself at the center of a legal storm following a statement she made on her social media platform. The summons, issued by the Paris Police Headquarters, has sparked widespread debate and condemnation among political circles. As the deputy group leader of LFI in the parliament, Panot took to social media to announce the development, expressing her unwavering commitment to advocating for the rights of the Palestinian people. "I will not be deterred by any summons or intimidation tactics," she asserted. "Our stance against the genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people remains steadfast." She further called upon the public to recognize the "disturbing attacks" being made on freedom of expression and democracy. The news of Panot's summons reverberated beyond natio nal borders, drawing reactions from fellow politicians, including member of the European Parliament, Manon Aubry. In a statement posted on her social media account, Aubry characterized the summons as "unprecedented and extremely serious," urging individuals to stand in solidarity with Panot. Similarly, MP Farida Amrani joined the chorus of voices condemning the move, highlighting the broader implications of attempting to silence voices speaking out against the alleged genocide in Palestine. Source: Anadolu Agency

Centres of Excellence to pursue commercialisation and self-financing, President says

Centres of Excellence should pursue commercialisation aiming at self-financing, the President of the Republic, Nikos Christodoulides said at the inauguration of the project "Business Innovation Center-Creative Industries Quarter-Restoration and Expansion of the Old Municipal Market", which took place on Tuesday afternoon at the old building of the Old Municipal Market, in the centre of Nicosia. The building houses the CYENS Centre of Excellence and its premises will be offered for research workshops, conferences, exhibitions and businesses in the field of innovation and research. The President said that CYENS Centre of Excellence, along with the rest Centres of Excellence in Cyprus, are substantially supported by the government through institutional funding and they play an important role in the effort to broaden the productive base of the economy. "The contribution of the Centres of Excellence to our country is essential and adds greatly to our targeted policy for the strengthening and development of rese arch and innovation, objectives that correspond and are in line with the objectives of the European Union", he noted. He noted that the government has consciously set high targets for development in the areas of technology and the linking of research with the productive economy, the labour market and business innovation. "What is important at the same time is the commercialisation of research and innovation", he noted, stressing that at some point the Centres of Excellence should be able to be self-financed. "This is the goal of the EU and that is why it is important to use the first years to reach the goal of commercialisation and, by extension, self-financing", he highlighted. Source: Cyprus News Agency

China dismisses espionage claims in Germany, Britain as ‘malicious’

ANKARA: China on Tuesday said that the arrests in Germany and Britain of people accused of spying for Beijing were designed to 'smear and suppress' the country. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, during a news briefing in Beijing, was commenting on a series of questions regarding the arrest of three people in Germany and charges against two men in Britain accused of spying for China on Monday. German prosecutors on Tuesday said that another individual, an aide to a German far-right politician standing in June's European Union elections, has been arrested on suspicion of spying for Beijing. "We noted relevant reports and the media hype. But the truth is there for all to see. The so-called 'threat of Chinese spies' is not a new thing in Europe. Every time before or after China-Europe high-level interactions in recent years, there would be such a hype, with a clear intention of smearing and hitting China and souring the atmosphere of China-EU cooperation," Wang said. He stressed that China carries ou t cooperation with Europe and all other countries on the basis of "mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs, and advances mutually beneficial cooperation with relevant parties in accordance with laws and regulations." "We hope that relevant people in Germany will ditch the Cold War mentality and stop the political manipulation aimed at China with so-called 'spy risks',' he maintained. Not just in Germany, Wang went on to say, Beijing "firmly" opposes such hype and urges relevant parties to stop spreading disinformation about the so-called 'China spy threat and stop political manipulation and malicious smears against China." "We would like to reiterate that the claim that China could be stealing UK intelligence is a groundless accusation and malicious smear, and we firmly oppose that accusation. Such malicious manipulation aimed at China should stop," he maintained. Source: Anadolu Agency

Government to institutionalize business dialogue says President

Cyprus' President Nikos Christodoulides announced Tuesday the government's decision to institutionalize direct dialogue with the business community. The announcement was made during the 63rd General Assembly of the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEB) in Nicosia. The President announced an upcoming meeting, scheduled for late May at the Presidential Palace, with participation of key stakeholders including the Cabinet, OEB, the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KEBE), and the Association of Banks. Furthermore, President Christodoulides said that next Monday he will convene the Cabinet to examine the implementation plan of 88 actions announced by the government earlier this year. "My presence here today, along with almost the entire Cabinet, beyond the recognition by the State of the significant role you play, demonstrates, in the most tangible way, the importance we attach to continuous dialogue with the business community, so that our policies and actions are aligned, in order to effe ctively address the challenges facing the business community in our country and to promote our common goals," stated the President. Subsequently, President Christodoulides said that he was seeking genuine and substantive cooperation between the public and private sectors, noting that "through this cooperation, we can create a more favourable environment for businesses, promote innovation and entrepreneurship, and achieve sustainable economic development that will benefit the entire society." President Christodoulides highlighted the challenges posed by regional instability and global geopolitics on Cyprus' economic landscape. Speaking on the matter, he underscored the harmful effects of such uncertainties on markets and trade. Furthermore, he pointed out the country's vulnerability to external influences due to its island status, leading to escalated costs in goods and energy. In response to these dynamics, he stressed the importance of implementing measures and policies aimed at bolstering the economy's re silience and competitiveness, while ensuring the welfare of its citizens. The President stressed the importance of thorough planning and continuous vigilance to prevent the reoccurrence of past adversities. In this context, President Christodoulides stressed the need for fiscal responsibility, a stable financial sector, and bold and continuous reforms. These, as he said, "are the three pillars on which we base our economic policy." President Christodoulides also emphasized the importance of enhancing Cyprus's credibility as a fundamental step towards fostering a stable environment. Addressing concerns about practices that could negatively impact the country's international reputation, he reiterated the government's unwavering commitment to maintaining zero tolerance for such behaviours. Stressing the imperative of rebuilding the nation's reputation, the President asserted the need of leaving behind past practices that have tarnished Cyprus' image. He pointed out that restoring credibility was essential to a ttracting quality investments and generating new employment opportunities. In alignment with this goal, President Christodoulides announced initiatives aimed at fortifying Cyprus' reputation on the global stage. These include the establishment of the National Sanctions Implementation Unit and the Single Supervisory Authority for administrative service providers. Additionally, he revealed plans for a coordinated effort to rebrand the country abroad, marking a significant departure from previous strategies and inviting stakeholders to join in this collective endeavour. Source: Cyprus News Agency

Baku says Azerbaijan evaluates results of president visit to Russia ‘very positively’

ISTANBUL: Baku said Tuesday that Azerbaijan evaluated the results of President Ilham Aliyev's visit to Russia a day earlier 'very positively.' 'The Azerbaijani side views the outcomes of this visit very positively. The visit was conducted in the spirit of strategic partnership and alliance between Azerbaijan and Russia,' presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev told state news agency, APA. Expressing that Aliyev and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, discussed issues regarding ties, notably underlining an increase in trade turnover, Hajiyev said it is gratifying to note the 'positive dynamics' in almost all aspects of Baku-Moscow ties. Hajiyev said the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) was discussed by the presidents and instructed government officials to take necessary steps toward the project's implementation. The INSTC is a 7,200-kilometer (4,500-mile) multi-mode network of ship, rail and road routes between India, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe. 'Additionally, the leaders discussed the ongoing negotiations for a peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia. President Ilham Aliyev expressed high appreciation for Russia's role and efforts in this regard,' said Hajiyev. He went on to say that the highlight of the visit was his and Putin's meeting with former and current railway workers to mark the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Baikal-Amur Mainline's (BAM) construction, during which they noted the significant role of former Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev, who is the incumbent president's father, in the project. The BAM is a 4,324-kilometer (2,686-mile) railway stretching from Tayshet in the Irkutsk region to the Russian Far East. 'Overall, President Ilham Aliyev's visit to Russia further solidified the strategic partnership and alliance between the two nations,' he added. Source: Anadolu Agency

House President asks EU counterparts to support measures to manage migration flows

House President Annita Demetriou briefed her EU counterparts on the situation in the Middle East and migration, in the context of the Conference of Speakers of the European Union Parliaments (EUSC) that wrapped up its works on Tuesday in Palma de Mallorca. Demetriou asked for their support regarding the aid to Lebanon to manage flow of Syrian migrants and the reassessing of the situation in Syria. According to a House's press release, in her intervention, the House President briefed her counterparts about the first meeting of the Speakers of the parliaments of the southern EU member countries (Cyprus, Greece, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Malta) with the participation of the European Parliament, which took place on the same day. The subject of discussion was the alarming increase in Syrian flows from Lebanon to Cyprus, which, as she noted, is exacerbated by the crisis in the Middle East and Lebanon's difficulty in keeping Syrians from leaving the country and managing these flows effectively. Annita Dem etriou also referred to the situation in the Middle East, which is dangerously escalating with the involvement of other countries, pointing out that the growing tensions, which show no signs of abating in the near future, trigger the possibility of a new migration crisis across the EU. Demetriou requested assistance,so that EU member states provide aid to Lebanon with a view to stop the flow of Syrians leaving the shores of the country and to contribute to the efforts to reassess the situation in Syria, so that some areas which are currently considered unsafe for the repatriation of asylum seekers are designated as safe zones, in order to achieve the removal of the automatic legal protection status. In this regard, the House President emphasized the need to fully implement the recently adopted EU Action Plan for the Eastern Mediterranean route, which foresees an enhanced presence of Frontex and Europol in the region. She pointed out that it is crucial for the EU to act decisively to stop the incessant flows to Cyprus and, by extension, to the EU. At the same time, Demetriou underlined the need to strengthen partnerships with the main countries of origin and transit at the member states' level and the EU level and referred in particular to the case of Lebanon and the need to conclude agreements, as was done in the case of Egypt, for the control and the containment of migration flows. In this context, the supervision of the coasts of Lebanon by Frontex, with the participation of Europol, to deal with smuggling networks becomes imperative, she said. Finally, she pointed out that the new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, although it is an important and positive step, is not enough, as it does not address, among other things, the request of Cyprus for mandatory relocations. On this, she emphasized that the management of immigration, with a demonstration of unity and solidarity, is a necessity for the unity and credibility of the Union. Source: Cyprus News Agency

Staying abroad does not relieve Ukrainians of their duties to homeland: Foreign minister

ISTANBUL: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Tuesday that staying abroad does not relieve Ukrainians of their duties to the homeland, amid reports of restrictions on consular services abroad for draft-eligible men. 'That is why yesterday I ordered measures to restore fair attitudes toward men of conscription age in Ukraine and abroad. This will be fair,' Kuleba wrote on X. Expressing the protection of the rights and interests of Ukrainians abroad has been and remains a priority for the Foreign Ministry, Kuleba said that at the same time the main priority is to protect the country as the conflict in Ukraine continues. 'How it looks like now: a man of conscription age went abroad, showed his state that he does not care about its survival, and then comes and wants to receive services from this state. It does not work this way. Our country is at war,' said Kuleba. He said the obligation to update one's documents with conscription centers existed before the adoption of the new law on mobilization. 'If anyone believes that while someone is fighting far away at the frontline and risking his or her life for this state, someone else is staying abroad but receiving services from this state, then this is not how it works,' he said. He added that the Foreign Ministry will provide clarification on the procedure for obtaining consular services. Ukrainian newspaper Dzerkalo Tyzhnia reported Monday that the Foreign Ministry instructed diplomats abroad to temporarily suspend consular services for draft-eligible men living abroad, citing a letter by First Deputy Foreign Minister Andrii Sybiha. The restrictions, which concern men aged 18-60, exclude consular services related to processing documents for returning to Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed into law a bill last week on mobilization previously retracted in December after public discontent. The law, which requires men to update their draft information, as well as increases incentives for volunteers and introduces additional penalties for those evading the draft, will take effect one month after its signing. Earlier this month, Zelenskyy signed into law three other bills amending mobilization, one of which notably lowered the conscription age to 25, while the other two introduced the creation of an online register for conscripts and implemented a requirement for those given waivers from specific kinds of military service to undergo reexamination.??????? Source: Anadolu Agency

Government working on electronic document issuance by Civil Registry, Minister says

The government has set the people and their servicing without undue inconvenience at the core of its policies, Minister of the Interior Constantinos Ioannou said on Tuesday, adding the Ministry is working on issuing of public documents the Civil Registry Department. Ioannou presented the work by his Ministry during the first year of the administration under President Nikos Christodoulides. On Housing policy, Ioannou said for the first time the government has drafted a comprehensive housing policy providing 'realistic solutions through a set of measures and plans.' 'Our approach is focusing on short-term and long-term measures, which on the one hand will increase the output of housing stock and additionally contribute to the provision of housing units in the market with an affordable price,' he said. Ioannu said that since the introduction of the new housing policy, two actions have been implemented since December, that is, the 'Build to Rent' scheme and the revised town planning incentives. Additionally, he said the Ministry at the suggestion of ETEK, has introduced the subsidy scheme 'Renovate- Rent' which provides financial incentives, encouraging the renovation of the current inactive housing stock and its provision to the market with affordable rent. With regard to town planning, the Minister said that additionally to the hiring of increased number of staff to support the licensing department ahead of the reform of the Local Administration, the Ministry has announced a set of 22 measures last October, which amend the current processes while introducing a more flexible licensing framework for development projects. On the basis of a specific timeframe, Ioannou added, 11 of the 22 measures have been implemented, while an additional 10 have progressed to a significant extent and are expected to be implemented in the remaining two months until the reform will be put in force. Replying to a question on the town planning amnesty, examined by the Ministry, Ioannou said there has been a concern whether this mea sure might be exploited. 'Our aim is for the amnesty to happen but under the correct criteria, he said. Stating that the task at hand is not easy, the Minister noted that 'the aim is to free buyers trapped in violations carried out either by themselves or by land development professionals.' Furthermore, Ioannou said that an additional reform taking place under the principle of transparency and equality, concerns the management of Turkish Cypriot properties. He acknowledged that 'the decades-long wrong management of Turkish Cypriot properties has opened the door to phenomena of exploitation and abuse, a fact which caused feelings of injustice and inequality among the refugees.' Replying to a question on the provision included in the legal reform package concerning the inheritance of Turkish Cypriot houses, Ioannou said this provision is appropriate because there is a form of heredity to all those who have received title deeds or obtain the right of usage in refugee apartment blocks, while others who have obtained a Turkish Cypriot house 30 of 40 years before cannot pass it over to its children. 'This is an unequal treatment among refugees' he said. On the imminent reform of the Local Administration, the Minister noted that is acceptable by all that the promoted reform is clearly better that the current operation model without being the perfect or equally beneficial for all citizens of the new Local Authorities. 'The citizens should expect that during the first stage of the reform there will be difficulties and an adaptation period will be required, as various services with different approaches and operating mode will merge,' he said. With regard to the Ministry's plans for 2024, Ioannou said the aim is to offer more services to the citizens such as electronic issuance of documents of the Civil Registry Department. He said the Ministry is committed to 'implementing the government's strategy to transform the state in a living organisation with a human-centred approach, fair and transparent procedures where every citizen equally will enjoy the same service and will recover their confidence to the institutions of the state.' Source: Cyprus News Agency

Trkiye, Iraq ink 26 agreements, MoUs during President Erdogan’s visit to Baghdad

ISTANBUL: Trkiye and Iraq signed a total of 26 agreements and memoranda of understanding during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's recent visit to the neighboring country's capital Baghdad, according to the Communications Directorate in Ankara. Erdogan on Monday visited Baghdad and Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, on Monday on his first visit to Iraq in 13 years. He held talks on bilateral relations, counter-terrorism, and regional issues with Iraqi officials, including Israel's ongoing offensive in the Gaza Strip. In total, 26 deals were signed between the two countries after a meeting between Erdogan and Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani during the visit. These included a framework agreement on cooperation in the field of water policy and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the strategic framework, inked by Erdogan and al-Sudani, the Communications Directorate said in a statement Monday. An MoU on cooperation between Trkiye's Centre for St rategic Research of the Foreign Ministry and the Foreign Services Institute of the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs were also among the documents initialed. Another MoU was signed between Trkiye's Foreign Economic Relations Board and the Federation of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce. Trkiye's Directorate of State Archives signed a separate MoU with the National Library and Archive of the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities. An MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Islamic Affairs between the top Turkish religious body, known as Diyanet, and the Sunni Endowment Diwan of Iraq was also signed. Further, the countries signed an MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Media and Communications, as well as another on Strategic Cooperation in the Field of Defense Industries and a separate one in the fields of employment and social security. Officials from the countries also signed an MoU on cooperation between Trkiye's Family and Social Services Ministry and Iraq's Labor and Social Affairs Ministry. Separate MoUs on cooperation in the fields of education, tourism, and energy were also signed, along with an MoU on Security Cooperation and an MoU on Military Training Cooperation. Also, officials signed an MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Health and Medical Sciences. Turkish National Defense Minister Yasar Guler and his Iraqi counterpart Thabet Muhammad Saeed Al Abbasi also signed a Protocol on Training and Cooperation in the Field of Military Health. Trkiye's Industry and Technology Minister Mehmet Fatih Kacir and Haider Mohammad Makiya, chairman of Iraq's National Investment Commission, signed an agreement on mutual promotion and protection of investments between the two countries. Kacir also inked an MoU for cooperation in the fields of youth and sports with Iraqi Youth and Sports Minister Ahmed Mohammed Al-Mubarqa. An MoU between the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Development Organization of Trkiye's Industry and Technology Ministry and the General Directorate of Industrial Development of the Iraqi Mi nistry of Industry and Minerals was likewise initialed. Furthermore, an MoU on Cooperation in the Fields of Science, Technology and Innovation was signed between the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Trkiye and the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. Trkiye-Iraq Agriculture Working Group 2024-2025 action plan Turkish Agriculture and Forestry Minister Ibrahim Yumakli and Iraq's Minister of Agriculture Abbas Jabr Al-Ali Al-Maliki signed a 2024-2025 action plan for a working group on agriculture between the two countries. The two nations signed an MoU on the establishment of a Joint Economic and Trade Committee between their trade ministries. Also, Turkish Trade Minister Omer Bolat and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning Muhammad Ali Tamim signed a protocol establishing a consultation and cooperation mechanism in the fields of product safety and technical trade barriers. Another MoU on cooperation for the judicial training of students and deputy judge s and prosecutors was additionally inked between the Justice Academy of Trkiye and the Institute of Justice of the Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq. Finally, the countries signed an MoU was signed on the Development Road Project between the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure of Trkiye and the Ministry of Transport Source: Anadolu Agency