Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Declaring 'new beginning', EU and Turkey seal migrant deal <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Turkey promised to help stem the flow of migrants to Europe in return for cash, visas and renewed talks on joining the EU in a deal struck on Sunday that the Turkish prime minister called a &quot;new beginning&quot; for the uneasy neighbours.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Leaders of the European Union met Turkish premier Ahmet Davutoglu in Brussels on Sunday to finalise an agreement hammered out by diplomats over the past month, as Europeans struggle to limit the strain on their 28-nation bloc from taking in hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A key element is 3 billion euros (&pound;2.1 billion) in EU aid for the 2.2 million Syrians now in Turkey. The money is intended to raise their living standards and so persuade more of them to stay put rather than attempt perilous crossings to the EU via the Greek islands.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The final offer of &quot;an initial&quot; 3 billion euros represents a compromise between the EU, which offered that sum over two years, and Turkey, which wanted it every year. Now the money, as French President Francois Hollande said, will be paid out bit by bit as conditions are met, leaving the total payout unclear.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;As Turkey is making an effort to take in refugees -- who will not come to Europe -- it&#39;s reasonable that Turkey receive help from Europe to accommodate those refugees,&quot; Hollande told reporters. He added that the deal should also make it easier to check migrants arriving and keep out those who pose a threat, like Islamic State militants who struck Paris two weeks ago.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Also on offer to Ankara, which wants to revive relations with its European neighbours after years of coolness as it faces trouble in the Middle East and from Russia, is a &quot;re-energised&quot; negotiating process on Turkish membership of the EU, even if few expect it to join soon.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Many Turks could also benefit from visa-free travel to Europe&#39;s Schengen zone within a year if Turkey meets conditions on tightening its borders in the east to Asian migrants and moves other benchmarks on reducing departures to Europe.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Today is a historic day in our accession process to the EU,&quot; Davutoglu told reporters on arrival. &quot;I am grateful to all European leaders for this new beginning.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>DESPERATION</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Aware of a sense of desperation in Europe for a solution to a crisis that has called into question its own cohesion and the future of its Schengen passport-free travel zone, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has driven a hard bargain.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The deal involves Turkish help, including through naval patrols and border checks, in handling the flow of migrants to the EU, expected to reach 1.5 million people this year alone.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Results must be achieved in particular in stemming the influx of irregular migrants,&quot; a joint statement read.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Both sides will, as agreed and with immediate effect, step up their active cooperation on migrants who are not in need of international protection, preventing travel to Turkey and the EU ... and swiftly returning migrants who are not in need of international protection to their countries of origin.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Summit chairman Donald Tusk stressed that the meeting was primarily about migration rather than improving Turkish ties, which have been strained in recent years as Erdogan has used a powerful electoral mandate to consolidate his power. Critics say he has abused the rights of opponents, media and minority Kurds.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Our main goal is to stem the flow of migrants,&quot; Tusk said, while insisting &quot;this is not a simple, trivial trade-off&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Europeans, none more so than German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are under pressure to manage the biggest influx of people since World War Two, the bulk of them to Germany. The crisis has helped populist opponents and set nations against each other, straining the open internal borders of the EU.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Before the summit itself, Merkel met leaders of some other EU states which have taken in many refugees -- Sweden, Finland, Austria and the Benelux countries -- and said afterwards they had discussed how they might resettle more of them directly from Syria rather than wait for families to reach the EU via dangerous smuggling routes across the Mediterranean.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>She said they had discussed no figures. German media reports had spoken earlier of up to 400,000 Syrians being resettled.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Measures the EU has taken have done little to control migrant movements. While winter weather may lower the numbers for a few months, it is also worsening the plight of tens of thousands stuck by closing borders in the Balkans.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sunday&#39;s summit, called just days ago as Brussels tried to clinch a deal offered over a month ago, has been complicated by Turkey&#39;s downing of a Russian warplane on the Syrian border.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That has complicated European efforts to re-engage with Moscow, despite a continued frost over Ukraine, in order to try to advance a peace in Syria that could end the flight of refugees and contain Islamic State. Davutoglu will remain in Brussels for a meeting with fellow ministers from NATO.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said tensions between Ankara and Moscow over the downing of the warplane were of &quot;enormous concern&quot;. The EU&#39;s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the incident should not affect the prospect of finding a political deal on Syria.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Islamic State&#39;s attack on Paris on Nov. 13 has heightened calls in the EU for more controls on people arriving from Syria.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Merkel has forced the pace in securing a deal with Turkey that has left critics of Erdogan&#39;s human rights policies uneasy.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The German leader defended her stance: &quot;If we are strategic partners, we must of course discuss openly with each other those issues on which we have questions, concerns or criticism.&quot;</div> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 07:02:00 +0000 Reuters 2462417 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/11/16/501010/refugee.jpg Burkina Faso votes to choose first new leader in decades <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Burkina Faso voted on Sunday in an election to choose the country&#39;s first new president in decades, a year after longtime leader Blaise Compaore was toppled in a popular uprising in which demonstrators faced down the security forces.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A successful election would establish the country as a beacon for democratic aspirations in Africa, where veteran rulers from Burundi to Congo Republic have changed constitutions to pave the way for fresh terms in office.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It also represents a turning point for a West African nation ruled by leaders who came to power in coups for most of its history since independence from France in 1960.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Compaore took power in a coup and ruled for 27 years, winning four elections, all of which were criticized as unfair. He was ousted in October last year, when demonstrators protested against his attempt to change the constitution to extend his tenure.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I am proud to have accomplished my duty as a citizen ... It&#39;s the first time that I can be really sure that we won&#39;t end up with Blaise Compaore,&quot; said Ousmane Ouedraogo, as he cast his ballot in the capital Ouagadougou.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>People formed long lines at voting stations in the capital and other major centers. Turnout is expected to be heavy among the 5.5 million registered voters who will also choose deputies for the National Assembly.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Leading candidates</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Analysts say only two of the 14 presidential candidates stand a real chance of winning.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>One is Roch Marc Kabore, prime minister and president of the National Assembly under Compaore. The other is Zephirin Diabre, who was minister of finance in the 1990s before stepping down to start an opposition party.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kabore heads the Movement of People for Progress (MPP), made up of disaffected allies of Compaore who left the party months before he stood down. Diabre fronts the Union for Progress and Change (UPC), which was the formal opposition.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kabore draws support from the business elite and, as a member of the largest ethnic group, traditional chiefs. Diabre has international ties from his years at the United Nations Development Program and at Areva, a French nuclear company.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We must do everything to show that civilians can ensure the correct government of the country and restore it to democratic normality,&quot; Kabore said as he cast his ballot.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Many people say they will vote for the candidate who has the best chance of promoting economic growth in a landlocked country that exports gold and cotton but remains impoverished.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The election was pushed back from October 11 because of an abortive coup in September by members of the elite presidential guard, in which transitional President Michel Kafando and his prime minister were taken hostage.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That coup cost more than US$50 million in lost revenue, trimming growth by 0.3 percentage points. The guard has since been disbanded. Kafando will step down once a new leader is sworn in.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Corruption and justice are also issues for voters, prompting a resurgence in the popularity of former leader Thomas Sankara, a Marxist revolutionary dubbed &quot;Africa&#39;s Che Guevara&quot; who was assassinated in a 1987 coup led by Compaore.</div> Sun, 29 Nov 2015 14:44:00 +0000 Reuters 2462413 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/11/29/501010/burkina.jpg Under tight security, pope urges peace in central Africa <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Protected by the heaviest security ever seen on his trips, Pope Francis on Sunday preached reconciliation in the divided Central African Republic, a nation racked by bloodshed between Muslims and Christians.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As the pope&#39;s Alitalia plane touched down from Uganda to start his first visit to a war zone, attack helicopters patrolled the skies and armored personnel carriers from French and UN peacekeeping forces waited outside the airport.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Special security forces wearing patches of the yellow and white colors of the Vatican flag were on hand to help his normal Vatican security retinue.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In an unprecedented precaution for papal trips, a UN soldier armed with a rifle rode in each of the mini-buses carrying reporters accompanying the pope.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Bangui, the capital of the former French colony, has seen a surge in clashes that have left at least 100 people dead since late September, according to Human Rights Watch.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>France, which has around 900 soldiers deployed in the country, warned the Vatican this month that the visit could be risky but the pope was determined to go to the majority Christian nation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Francis was driven in to the presidential palace, for much of the way in an open popemobile, and then to a camp housing nearly 4,000 people displaced by the violence.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Work, pray, do everything for peace,&quot; he said at the camp. &quot;But remember, peace without love, friendship and tolerance is nothing. I hope that all Central Africans can see peace,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Before being mobbed by the crowd, he asked them all to shout out repeatedly in their native Songo language: &quot;We are all brothers&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Hardened hearts</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Tens of thousands of cheering people lined the route of his motorcade into the city and the presidential palace for a meeting with interim head of state Catherine Samba-Panza.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We absolutely need forgiveness because our hearts have been hardened by the forces of evil. We have lost the sincere love for others and we are henceforth anchored in intolerance, the loss of our values and the disorder that is the result,&quot; she told the pope.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We await your messages to free us from our fear of each other, to help us end our conflicts, to change our hearts and put us on the path to serenity, wisdom, brotherhood and peace,&quot; she said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Speaking slowly in French, he appealed for a &quot;unity in diversity&quot; that shuns divisions along political or religious lines.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Later on Sunday, he was due to celebrate Mass at the city&#39;s cathedral, scene of an attack last year by Islamist militants that left 15 people dead among those who had sought refuge inside from violence in the city.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>France sent in soldiers in 2013 in an attempt to stem the bloodshed. Muslims and Christians have since split into segregated communities. Tens of thousands of Muslims have fled to the far north, creating a de facto partition.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>About 80 percent of the impoverished country&#39;s population is Christian, 15 percent is Muslim and 5 percent animist.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Central African Republic&#39;s government is deploying around 500 police and gendarmes to secure the visit. More than 3,000 peacekeepers from the MINUSCA UN mission will also be deployed and French troops will be on alert as well.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Bangui is the final leg of his first African trip that has already taken him to Kenya and Uganda.</div> Sun, 29 Nov 2015 13:45:00 +0000 Reuters 2462405 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/11/29/501010/pope1.jpg Belgian security crackdown 'should not target Muslims' <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>In the wake of the Paris attacks on November13, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called for constitutional changes to support a crackdown on homegrown extremists.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Michel&rsquo;s calls for introducing laws to force suspected extremists to wear bracelets, close unregistered places of worship and to allow police search homes at any time of the day and night have raised concerns among the Muslim population in Belgium, a Belgian politician of Turkish origin has said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The new measures and steps taken against terror should not be shown as an attitude against Muslims,&quot; said Veli Yuksel, member of the Belgian Federal Parliament.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We are all on the same page against terrorism; we will all stand up against terrorism, which has no religion, race or nationality,&quot; Yuksel said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Police raids in the Molenbeek district of Brussels against key suspects over their alleged connection to the Paris attacks has put the neighborhood under spotlight in terms of radicalism and terror recruitment.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But locals living in the mainly foreign-populated district say they did not want to be stigmatized because of the Paris attacks.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Belgium has the highest number of foreign fighters per capita in Europe, according to a UN report issued a year ago. According to Belgium&rsquo;s Interior Ministry, there are about 270 Belgian citizens in Syria.</div> Sun, 29 Nov 2015 11:46:00 +0000 Anadolu Agency 2462383 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/11/21/501010/brussel.jpg