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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Turkey,NATO's obstacle;Serbia-EU candidate;Cyprus pop;Iran condemns Russia;Israeli-British talks;Latinos,black vote;St.Vladimir's remains

Turkey is emerging as the main obstacle to NATO plans to set up an alliance-wide anti-missile system because it does not want to worsen tensions with its neighbor Iran, diplomats in Brussels said Wednesday. NATO nations are currently discussing whether the alliance should set up a system to shoot down incoming ballistic missiles targeted on any point of alliance territory. NATO leaders are set to decide the question at a summit in Lisbon on November 19-20. The main challenge to the idea is "in South-Eastern Europe: it's Turkey," a diplomat from one NATO nation told the German Press Agency dpa. The United States is the main backer for the plan to make missile defense NATO-wide, arguing that that is the best way to stave off the threat of a possible nuclear strike from Iran. According to diplomats, the U.S. wants the summit to name Iran as the main current missile threat - partly in a bid to reassure other powers, especially Russia, that the system is not aimed at them. But Turkey wants the decision on missile defense to be taken without naming any individual country as a threat, a diplomat from a second NATO state said. Both diplomats said that Ankara instead wants a NATO pledge to defend the whole of alliance territory against missile threats - something which would implicitly cover any threat from Iran. NATO diplomats said that Turkey was also reluctant to approve too great a warming of NATO-EU ties while its dispute with Cyprus remains unsolved. The two states have so far blocked any rapprochement between the two organizations, despite the fact that NATO and the EU have 21 members in common.

Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb and Italian Ambassador to Serbia Armando Varricchio have stated that they are satisfied with the decision of the Council of the EU, adding that it was about time for Serbia's application for EU candidate status to be forwarded to the European Commission and that there are no new conditions for Serbia's EU membership. Varricchio said that the recognition of Kosovo and NATO membership are not conditions for EU accession. The best guarantee that these will never be imposed as conditions is the fact that five EU member states do not recognize Kosovo and that there are countries which are not and will never be a part of NATO, Varricchio stated in an interview for the Belgrade-based daily Vecernje Novosti. When Serbia joins the EU, it will remain a sovereign state. Decisions which affect the life of the Serbian citizens will still be made by Belgrade. Stubb said that his proposals affected the decision of the EU Council of Ministers, stressing that this decision has confirmed and strengthened Serbia's EU pathway. We have worked very hard on the textual part of the decision, which needed some additional encouragement to be made more positive. That is why I made some suggestions in the text, which were accepted by other countries and which may have slightly affected the decision. It was a small and modest contribution, Stubb said. Varricchio stressed that Italy believes that Serbia fully cooperates with the ICTY, adding that his country is satisfied with the activities of the Serbian government and other institutions aimed at arresting the remaining Hague fugitives. He pointed out that the elections in Kosovo will not postpone the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, adding that the EU did not set the deadline for the arrest of Ratko Mladic. Varricchio announced that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will soon visit Belgrade and pointed out that the activities of the Fiat factory in Kragujevac are going according to plans and that the aim is for the factory to start producing 200,000 cars per year by 2012.

III. FINANCIALMIRROR - Cyprus population breaches 800,000

The population of Cyprus in the southern government controlled area was estimated at 803,200 at the end of 2009, recording an increase of 0.8% from the previous year. The population in the district of Lefkosia (Nicosia) was 315,400 at the end of 2009, it was 44,800 in in Ammochostos (Famagusta), 134,400 in Larnaka, 230,800 in Lemesos (Limasso) and 77,800 in Pafos. Of the total, 70.2% resided in the urban areas 28.9% resided in rural areas. The population aged over 65 was 13% of the total in 2009, compared with 11% in 1992. The number of households was 263,300, compared with 189,200 in 1992. The government’s estimate for the population of Turkish Cypriots (excluding any immigration) is 88,200. This figure is thought to overestimate emigration and underestimate natural increase. Deriving from the census carried out by Turkish Cypriots in 2006, there were 120,007 people born of two Cypriot parents and a further 12,628 born of one Cypriot parent.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad condemned Russia's decision not to supply Iran with S-300 missiles in accordance with a previous agreement on Wednesday. Speaking at a rally that was broadcast live on Iranian television, Ahmadinejad told his gathered audience that "some people who are under the influence of Satan [the US] thought that if they can unilaterally and illegally cancel some defense agreements that they have with us, it will hurt the Iranian nation" He went on to accuse Russia of "selling out" to Iran's enemies and said that in his eyes, the original deal is still valid and therefore should be executed. In September, Russia canceled plans to supply Iran with the anti-aircraft missiles due to UN sanctions imposed against the country. "A decision has been taken not to supply the S-300 to Iran, they undoubtedly fall under sanctions," the ITAR-TASS news agency quoted Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov as saying at the time. The system, the S-300, is one of the most advanced multi-target anti-aircraft-missile systems in the world, with a reported ability to track up to 100 targets simultaneously while engaging up to 12 at the same time. It has a range of about 200 kilometers and can hit targets at altitudes of 90,000 feet. Iran signed a deal with Russia to buy the system in 2007.

A Foreign Ministry official confirmed Wednesday that Israeli officials would not travel to London this month for an annual British-Israeli strategic dialogue because of the fear of arrest. Britain adheres to the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows its judges to issue arrest warrants against anyone suspected of war crimes anywhere in the world. Pro-Palestinian activists have threatened Israeli officials with arrest on allegations of war crimes against Palestinians, causing several officials to cancel plans to visit Britain. In Jerusalem on Wednesday, the British foreign secretary, William Hague, reiterated his government’s commitment to resolving what he called the “unacceptable situation” with regard to universal jurisdiction. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, said that the issue was the “top item” on Israel’s agenda for Mr. Hague’s visit.

Republican Hispanic lawmakers had a groundbreaking year in the 2010 congressional elections, picking up two governor posts — the first ever for a Hispanic woman — while holding onto a U.S. Senate seat and adding several congressional seats. Latino advocacy groups lauded the addition of a growing and more diverse crop of Hispanic officials. But they also said they were waiting to see whether the new lawmakers would address the most pressing issues facing their communities. Opposition to President Barack Obama's agenda fueled Tuesday's Republican surge, but many also connected Obama's election to the rise of minority Republican candidates. In South Carolina, the first black Republican was elected to Congress from the Deep South since the 1800s, and the nation's first Indian-American woman was elected governor. Overall, with Democratic losses, there was likely to be only a small net gain of Latinos in Congress. Florida's Marco Rubio will join the Senate's lone Hispanic member, New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez. In New Mexico, Susana Martinez was elected as the nation's first female Hispanic governor. Nevada voters elected Brian Sandoval as that state's first Hispanic governor. On the congressional side, Jamie Herrera will become the first Latino congressman from Washington state, while Raul Labrador will be the first from Idaho. House Democrats were defeated by Latino Republicans such as Francisco Canseco, who beat Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, an 11-year House veteran. Also in Florida, state representative David Rivera beat Democrat Joe Garcia, a former Obama administration energy official, to capture an open House seat — one of the few nationwide that Democrats had hoped to pick up. In Alabama, Democrat Terri Sewell became the first black woman elected to Congress from that state. And in Louisiana, Democrat Cedric Richardson unseated first-term Republican congressman Joseph Cao, the only Vietamese-American in Congress, in a Democratic-leaning district. In South Carolina, Nikki Haley was elected governor, becoming the second Indian-American to win a gubernatorial race. She is also that state's first female governor. African-American Republicans also made significant gains. Fourteen black Republicans were on House ballots nationwide, almost double the number in 2008. Insurance company owner Tim Scott will be the first black Republican to represent South Carolina in the U.S. House since Reconstruction, and in Florida, veteran Allen West ousted a two-term Democrat to a House seat. He will become Florida's first black Republican in Congress since the 1870s. "It is very heartening for our country to see this kind of diversity moving forward," said Hilary Shelton, director to the NAACP's Washington bureau. He noted that a black Republican has not served in Congress since J.C. Watts of Oklahoma left office in 2003. Shelton also said it was noteworthy that both West and Scott were elected in primarily white districts. The same was true for several of the Latino congressional candidates. In some cases they won despite, not because of, the Hispanic vote. Even Marco Rubio, who speaks frequently with pride of his Cuban immigrant parents but also supports the tough Arizona immigration law and a repeal of the new federal health care law, won only a third of Florida's growing, non-Cuban Hispanics. Like most Americans, Latinos tend to rate the economy, health care and education among their top priorities, but most voted against candidates who supported harsh enforcement-only immigration laws.

His bones survived 1,000 years of wars, regime changes and most recently, Communist assault. But Saint Vladimir the Great barely made it out of west Edmonton. "When they were stolen, we were facing an international crisis," said arch priest Phillip Eriksson of St. Herman's Sobor. A sliver of skull brought to Edmonton is one of two remaining pieces of St. Vlad, who converted pagan Slavic tribes to Christ about 1,000 years ago. Kept in a golden box emblazoned with classic religious art, the remains are only put on display one day per year in the Ukraine, the heart of the Ukrainian Orthodox church. On Friday morning, in the middle of a Western Canada tour, the remains took a joy ride with a car thief. Someone swiped a truck, with the box inside, from outside the home of a church official, said Patrycia Thenu, an Edmonton Police Service spokeswoman. "For a little wee while there on Friday, we were pretty distressed," said Eriksson. A little while indeed -- police were able to recover the truck and remains within about three hours. The truck was equipped with OnStar, a General Motors service that allows an operator to interface with the vehicle remotely. The operator turned on a tracking device in the truck, which led police to its location, said Thenu. "Wow, fantastic," said Eriksson, when he learned of the tech trick. The remains have since moved on to Moose Jaw and Winnipeg, where the Canadian tour will end. But the remains leave behind a mark in Edmonton. Police asked that St. Vlad be made the patron saint of West Division's squad 8. About a dozen officers gathered at the church Saturday and were presented with an icon of the saint after a brief service of thanks. "The friendship between the police squad and us is pretty close," Eriksson said.