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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Michael's Afternoon 7 - 11 June

In order to join the European Union, Turkey has introduced changes to its legal system to comply with EU standards on human rights, but critics say that people are still being tortured in Turkey by the country's police. In order to join the European Union, Turkey has introduced changes to its legal system to comply with EU standards on human rights, but critics say that people are still being tortured in Turkey by the country's police.Earlier he was detained for the same thing and acquitted, after being kept in custody for almost two years without trial, but the next arrest turned out fatal for him. The parents say their son was tortured for twelve days and that they were not allowed to visit him even after he was brought to hospital with brain trauma. When they finally received permission to see him, their son was dead. According to the Turkish Human Rights Organization, last year 38 people were killed by the police. Officers faced prosecution in only two cases. One of them was for the death of Feyzullah Ete. The 26-year-old was sitting in a park when a policeman kicked him in the chest for drinking in a public place. Feyzullah died of a heart attack. For his murder the police officer Ali Mutlu was sentenced to twelve years in prison. Later the sentence was reduced to five years for good behavior, and after just a year inside he was released on appeal. There are also concerns that some recent legal changes in Turkey are simply cosmetic, designed to help its bid for EU membership. For example the country has signed a UN agreement on torture prevention internationally, but four years have passed and it still hasn’t been adopted domestically. In addition, police powers in Turkey were increased in 2006.

Gunmen killed a senior judge outside a kindergarten in Russia's turbulent North Caucasus on Wednesday. The daylight shooting followed a high-profile visit to the region a day earlier by President Dmitry Medvedev, who blamed escalating violence across the area on "freaks" and "terrorist scum" and vowed to defeat them. The killing of Aza Gazgireeva, deputy chief justice of a local supreme court, occurred in the city of Nazran, in Ingushetia, the province west of Chechnya. Assailants firing automatic weapons also wounded at least four other people, including a year-old girl, authorities said. Five days earlier, the highest-ranking law enforcement official in Dagestan, located east of Chechnya, was gunned down at a wedding celebration in the provincial capital, Makhachkala. There have been conflicting reports about whether Interior Minister Adilgerei Magomedtagirov was killed by machine-gun fire from a passing vehicle or shot by a distant sniper. In a surprise visit to Dagestan on Tuesday, Medvedev condemned Magomedtagirov's killing as an act of terrorism and called it "a gauntlet thrown down to the authorities, to the state," the Interfax news agency reported. "The law enforcement structures must do everything possible to find the criminals and bring them to justice," he said. "We must continue our efforts to restore order and eliminate terrorist scum," he said, adding later that the violence in the region was due in part to "extremism brought from abroad, by some freaks who come to our country for the sole purpose of defecating on it." Grigory Shvedov, editor in chief of Caucasian Knot, a Web site that monitors the region, said Medvedev's focus on corruption was undercut by the Kremlin's assumption that both assassinations were organized by Islamist terrorists. He said Magomedtagirov was notorious for requiring police to extort money from residents, and even Dagestan's president has suggested that corrupt security officials were involved in his killing. In Ingushetia, the authorities suggested the judge was killed for her role in investigating a deadly attack on Ingush police forces in 2004 by Chechen militants.

Cyprus’ Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Minas Hadjimichael, in a letter dated 4th June 2009 to the UN Secretary General, protested over a new incident of violation of Cyprus’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as its air and maritime space, by Turkey.
Cyprus’ Permanent Representative notes in his letter that on 27 May 2009, while the Cypriot-flagged vessel EDT ARES was carrying out maintenance on an installation for the collection of meteorological information off the south-west coast of Cyprus, upon request of the competent authorities of the Government of Cyprus, it was approached by the Turkish corvette BEYKOZ F/503 asking to be informed of the work that it was performing. He goes on to note that on 28 May 2009, a Turkish fighter jet (CN-235) flew to the above area, in violation of Cypriot airspace, and issued radio warnings to EDT ARES to withdraw “as it was in Turkish territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone of Turkey”. EDT ARES explained that it had been mandated to carry out maintenance work by the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus and that it would remain in the area until its work was completed but the Turkish jet continued to issue warnings to the said vessel to withdraw. “These actions create unnecessary confrontation and tension, which is in fact the intended purpose on the part of Turkey in order to intimidate the Republic of Cyprus and obstruct it from carrying out any activity in its exclusive economic zone, especially as regards the exploration and exploitation of its sovereign natural resources”, Hadjimichael points out in his letter. EU member state the Republic of Cyprus, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

Serbia will invest 3.8 million euros in clearing unexploded bombs and ammunition dating from the 1999 NATO bombing from rivers in Belgrade. The project to remove unexploded ordnance from the Sava and the Danube will be jointly funded by the European Commission and Serbian government. Under the terms of the project announced in Belgrade, the European Commission will allocate 1.8 million euros, while Serbian government will secure the remainder. "The aim will be to locate unexploded ordnance from the 1999 NATO bombing, but also ammunitions that remained since WWII and WWI." he said. This would make the rivers safer for navigation. NATO conducted a 78-day bombing campaign in 1999. Dozens of aviation bombs and artillery shells are still strewn along the banks and in the river beds of Sava and Danube. Apart from the NATO ordnance, some bombs go as far back as the 1914 fighting between Serbian and the then Austro-Hungarian armies.

With the game-changing F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft in early production stages, rival manufacturers are racing against time. The F-35 may be regarded almost as much as an industrial and coalition-building policy as a warplane made by Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon's No. 1 supplier by sales and the world's largest aerospace company.Unlike Lockheed's premier F-22 fighter, which flies faster, and higher and can range further, the radar-evading F-35 was intended for export from the get-go. It will be the first radar-evading, "stealth" U.S. warplane to be exported. And it is the costliest planned acquisition in Defense Department history. The United States alone plans to spend nearly $300 billion for a total of 2,443 F-35s in three models to be delivered over 28 years. All are derived from a common design and would use the same sustainment infrastructure worldwide. The F-35 is co-financed by the United States, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway. All the U.S. partners appear to be largely sticking to plans to buy a combined 750 F-35s, at least for now. F-35 competitors include the Saab AB Gripen, the Dassault Aviation SA' Rafale, Russia's MiG-35 and Sukhoi Su-35, and the Eurofighter Typhoon made by a consortium of British, German, Italian and Spanish companies.Next month, India is due to start year-long flight evaluations for the purchase of 126 multi-role fighters worth up to $10.4 billion, the biggest such market in decades. Indonesia and Malaysia are weighing Russian-made Sukhois. Switzerland is looking at the Eurofighter, Gripen and Rafale. Greece is evaluating the Eurofighter and the Super Hornet.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday chaired an inner cabinet meeting devoted to illegal immigration and the positions that Greece will adopt at the upcoming European Union summit. Reporting on the results of the meeting, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said that illegal migration was the issue expected to dominate the next meeting of the European Council. The minister pointed out that the issue of migration had also been discussed by EU interior ministers on the Thursday before the elections, adding that Greece, along with other countries, had since 2005 been at the forefront of efforts for a common European policy on migration, efforts that had led to the European pact for immigration and asylum. He again called on the EU to exert pressure on third countries to sign re-entry agreements for illegal migrants, stressing that Turkey must finally observe Community rules. Deputy interior minister for public order issues, Christos Markoyiannakis, said the government intended to introduce harsher penalties for immigrant smugglers, who would henceforth be charged with criminal offences rather than misdemeanours. In addition, the government intends to build organised centres where any illegal immigrants that are apprehended will be able to stay for up to 12 months.

Catholics are urging the Polish government and organizers to cancel U.S. pop star Madonna's concert scheduled for Aug. 15, the Assumption of Mary feast. Marian Brudzynski, member of the Mazowiecki regional assembly, Wednesday said Madonna "cannot sing" on the religious feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary and announced a protest committee is being organized to stop the concert. Brudzynski, a former member of the conservative League of Polish Families party, said Catholics will do all in their power to prevent the concert from taking place. The protest committee plans to ask Interior Minister Grzegorz Schetyna to cancel the concert, he said. Brudzynski said if they fail to stop Madonna's concert they will stage a massive picket outside and added, "We want to stifle Madonna," Poland's Web site reported. Krzysztof Zagozda, of the Catholic Society organization, said the concert would hurt Poles' religious sentiment as Madonna's performances are anti-Christian. Stanislaw Malkowski, former Warsaw Solidarity union's chaplain, said the Catholic church and the Polish nation should protest loudly against the Madonna concert.