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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Turkey slams EU;Armenia slams Turkey;Cyprus-Israel,Russia-Japan gas;Greece-Serbia-EU;Pirates;March for Life,Jan 24

Turkey’s prime minister has branded the European Union “near geriatric” and “comatose” in a tirade that underlines Ankara’s impatience with the slow pace of accession talks.Reçep Tayyip Erdogan warned – in an article for Newsweek magazine, published on Monday – that Turkey’s ties with the EU were “fast approaching a turning point”, as it was no longer a country that would wait at the door as a “docile supplicant”... Sometimes I wonder if Turkey’s power is an impediment to its accession to the union. If so, one has to question Europe’s strategic calculations,” he continued. The strong language reflects rising frustration in Ankara at what most Turks perceive as their rejection by Europe. Although membership talks began in 2005, many topics are blocked by France, which opposes Turkish accession, or Cyprus, because Turkey has not yet fulfilled a pledge to open ports to Greek Cypriot traffic... Turkish politicians and commentators reacted with outrage last week when Angela Merkel, German chancellor, said during a visit to Cyprus that Turkey should show more willingness to resolve the dispute on the divided island and that it had not matched the Greek Cypriot government’s readiness to compromise. Mr Erdogan urged her to apologise, saying the Turkish side “has shown all kinds of sacrifice”. Her intervention reinforced the suspicion of many Turks that French and German politicians opposing Turkish accession are happy to hide behind the Cyprus issue. Some analysts say it could also reduce the chance of a breakthrough when Greek and Turkish Cypriot negotiators meet later this month in New York under UN auspices.

Armenian President Serge Sarksyan criticized regional rival Turkey on Monday for using strong-arm tactics to normalize relations and said reconciliation efforts between the countries were deadlocked. Sarksyan, who was visiting ethnically-divided Cyprus, said Turkey could not aspire to be a regional leader if it continued what he described as a policy of dictating and imposing its policies on its neighbors.

Cyprus will consider a proposal by Delek Group Ltd. to supply natural gas to the east Mediterranean island, said minister of Commerce Industry and Tourism Antonis Paschalides. “There was a letter of expression of interest Delek addressed to the President of the Republic,” Paschalides said, according to a statement on the government’s website. President Demetris Christofias has yet to reply to the letter in which the Israeli company requests a meeting to present a cooperation proposal, according to the minister. The island’s government is mulling a 7 billion euro ($9.4 billion) natural gas supply contract with Royal Dutch Shell Plc and selecting a strategic partner for a liquefied natural gas terminal for its state-owned power producer Electricity Authority of Cyprus. The government may also opt to exploit its own natural gas reserves, estimated at 10 trillion cubic meters, in its offshore territory, said Solon Kassinis, director of the Energy Service at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism last week. “A decision will be taken only when all facts related to recent developments in the region, possible proposals from any companies for cooperation on the issue of our reserves are submitted to the government,” Paschalides said.

With Japan expecting to consume more natural gas, Russian energy company Gazprom said it was looking for closer ties to the Japanese economy. Gazprom Chairman Alexei Miller met in Moscow with Tetsuhiro Hosono, the director general of Japan's energy agency, to sign an agreement of cooperation. Both sides agreed to move ahead with engineering work on a liquefied natural gas plant near Vladivostok, not far from Japan's west coast. The bilateral agreement of cooperation outlines options for natural gas and gas sales from the Vladivostok region to Asia-Pacific customers, Gazprom said in a statement. Japan is the fourth-largest consumer of energy resources in the world and the leader in consumption of LNG, relying on the liquefied resource for 100 percent of its imported gas. Miller said during a holiday message that his "company is gradually moving eastward." Both sides, Gazprom added, are studying a pilot project for offshore transportation of gas chemicals from Vladivostok.

Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas has stated that Greece, which, along with Bulgaria, has assumed the responsibility of ushering neighboring countries into the EU. Greece is doing everything in its power to promote the idea of the EU enlargement in the Western Balkan region, he said. "We believe that Serbia has the central role in the EU enlargement process," Droutsas stated for the Belgrade-based daily Večernje Novosti. He said that the first important step on Serbia's EU path was made when the Council of Ministers requested from the European Commission to draft an opinion on the country's EU candidacy application. "We will continue to work intensively to promote Serbia's EU aspirations," Droutsas said. Droutsas reiterated that Greece's stand on the Kosovo issue is well-known, and that it has not changed. Greece is one of five EU member-states that have not recognized the Kosovo Albanian unilateral declaration of independence made three years ago. The conclusions of the December meeting of the EU foreign ministers best reflect the positions taken by each of the EU countries in respect of the Kosovo and Metohija issue, Droutsas said.

Somali pirates have stepped up their attacks and ignored monsoon storms to range the entire width of the Indian Ocean using hijacked gas and chemical tankers as "mother ships." The dramatic expansion of their operations comes in the face of a campaign against them by European Union and NATO navies and is now costing the world's economy $12 billion a year. Late last year the MV York, which was heading to the Seychelles, was hijacked, and now it is being used as a base for pirates who can use it to stay at sea for months and carry their lightweight attack craft. Experts warn that this is just one of five similar vessels - some of which, like the MV York, are carrying cargos of gas or oil which make them almost impossible for foreign forces to attack them. So far this year at least 20 ships have been attacked and about six captured - their crews being held in appalling conditions off the coastal towns of Hobyo and Haradheere.

VII. ORTHODOXCHURCHINAMERICA - March for Life plans finalized, January 24

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, will once again lead Orthodox Christian faithful at the annual March for Life here on Monday, January 24, 2011. Joining Metropolitan Jonah will be His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania; His Grace, Bishop Michael of New York and New Jersey; His Grace, Bishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania; Archimandrite Matthias, Bishop-Elect of Chicago and the Midwest; students from Saint Tikhon's Seminary, South Canaan, PA and Saint Vladimir's Seminary, Crestwood, NY; and hundreds of Orthodox Christian clergy and faithful from through the region and beyond. On the morning of the March, Metropolitan Jonah will preside at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the cathedral at 8:00 a.m. Thereafter, marchers are asked to gather by 12:30 p.m. under the "Orthodox Christians for Life" banner to the left of the stage at the Ellipse, between the Washington Monument and the national Mall. Metropolitan Jonah will be one of several speakers to address the public at the pre-March program. Archpriest John Kowalczyk, a pro-life activist involved in the March for Life for over 25 years, will deliver the final benediction at the formal program prior to the March. At the conclusion of the March, Metropolitan Jonah and the hierarchs will offer prayers for the victims of abortion. On Sunday, January 23, the eve of the March, the faithful are invited to join Metropolitan Jonah for Vespers at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, 3500 Massachusetts Ave. NW, at 6:00 p.m. A reception will follow. Following the March, Metropolitan Jonah will attend the annual Rose Dinner at DC's Hyatt Regency Hotel. Additional details and general information on the March may be found at March for Life.