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#Turkey: European Commission fails to ask for a halt in accession talks

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160829TurksInEU2In its progress report on Turkey the European Commission presents a detailed overview of the serious deterioration of rule of law and democracy in Turkey. However, the Commission failed to draw the appropriate political conclusions: to propose the suspension of negotiations and articulate clear criteria under which these can be resumed again.

MEP Hans van Baalen (VVD, The Netherlands), ALDE AFET co-ordinator, welcomes the critical approach of the European Commission to the enlargement process: “The negotiations with Turkey on EU membership are at a dead end. Turkey is drifting away from democracy, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, including free speech and media freedom. On the other hand, EU-Turkey cooperation is vital to manage the refugee crisis and stabilize the situation in Northern Syria and Iraq. We should maintain close co-operation with our neighbor Turkey and invest in contacts with the forces of reason and democracy in this country.”

ALDE MEP Alexander Lambsdorff (FDP, Germany) Vice-President of the European Parliament for Human Rights and Democracy, and ALDE shadow rapporteur on Turkey, added: “Today's progress report on Turkey should be a wake-up call for European leaders. The report draws devastating conclusions on the state of democracy in Turkey. Therefore, we must end the accession negotiations with Turkey and replace them with a new and positive agenda based on mutual respect and co-operation. This step is not only necessary and reasonable, but in the interest of both sides. An authoritarian governed Turkey cannot continue to be a candidate country for membership of the EU. As Liberals we will support democratic forces and civil society in Turkey.”

Brexit

We’re disappointed by EU but a deal can be done, says Raab

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Britain is disappointed by the European Union’s demand that London give more concessions to secure a trade deal but a deal is close and can be done, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Friday (16 October), write Guy Faulconbridge and Paul Sandle.

“We are disappointed and surprised by the outcome of the European Council,” Raab told Sky News.

“We’ve been told that it must be the UK that makes all of the compromises in the days ahead, that can’t be right in a negotiation, so we’re surprised by that but the prime minister will be saying more on this later today.”

“Having said that, we are close,” Raab said of a deal. “With goodwill on both sides we can get there.”

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coronavirus

France reports more than 25,000 new coronavirus infections in past 24 hours

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A doctor, wearing a protective mask and a protective suit, works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are treated at the Bethune-Beuvry hospital in Beuvry, France. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

The French health ministry reported 25,086 new confirmed coronavirus cases in 24 hours on Friday (16 October), after reporting a record 30,621 on Thursday (15 October), writes Geert De Clercq in Paris.

It also reported that 122 people had died from coronavirus infection in hospitals in the past 24 hours, compared with 88 on Thursday. Including deaths in retirement homes - which are often reported in multi-day batches - the death toll increased by 178 on Friday.

The total number of infections since the start of the year now stands at 834,770, the cumulative number of dead at 33,303.

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 rose by 437 to 10,042, exceeding 10,000 for the first time since mid-June, and the number of people in intensive care rose by 50 to 1,800, a level last seen in mid-May.

In the past seven days, France has registered nearly 14,800 new coronavirus infections, which is more than the 132,430 registered during the entire two-month lockdown from mid-March to mid-May.

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Defence

France will react with the greatest firmness after attack - PM

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French Prime Minister Jean Castex
Denis Charlet/Pool via REUTERS

France will react with the greatest firmness after a school teacher was beheaded on the street of a Paris suburb on Friday after he had shown his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Saturday (17 October), writes Sybille de La Hamaide.

“Through one of its defenders, it is the Republic which has been struck in the heart by Islamist terrorism,” Castex wrote on Twitter.

“In solidarity with its teachers, the state will react with the greatest firmness so that the Republic and its citizens live, free! We will never give up. Never.”

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