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Historic deal ends Macedonia name dispute

by admin   |   Posted on Monday, June 18th, 2018

River, bridge of Macedonia. Image grabbed from Reuters video

Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) sealed a historic agreement on Sunday, putting an end to years of disputes over the use of the name Macedonia.

According to the preliminary accord signed by the two countries’ foreign ministers, they agreed to rename the Balkan nation the Republic of North Macedonia, despite strong protests over the deal from both sides.

The signing ceremony took place at the Prespes lake region on the border at the presence of the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, European Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn and the representative of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo.

The move by the two neighboring states has paved the way for Skopje’s admission to the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Both countries have been working towards settling the decades-old dispute. The issue began in 1991 when FYROM declared independence from Yugoslavia, choosing the name Macedonia, which is also the name of a northern Greek province.

Greece is worried that the use of the same name by the neighboring state could lead to territorial claims.

Sunday’s ceremony was held under draconian security measures as hardliners in both countries object to the deal because they regard it as a national sellout.

The ratification of the agreement needs to go through a series of procedures, including getting approval from parliaments of both countries and a Macedonian referendum in which voters will have a say. — Reuters

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Fire, torrential rain batter Greece, leave 7 dead

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019

Aircraft putting out fire, ruined stuff, damaged cars & scattered belongings | Courtesy : Reuters

At least five fires have southern Greece alight on Wednesday afternoon due to high temperatures and gale force winds, while at the same time a strong storm hit northern Greece leaving seven people dead, dozens injured and a fisherman missing, as well as losses or damages to properties.

On Wednesday afternoon, at least five fires triggered either by high temperatures or gale force winds swept across the Peloponnese Peninsula, Attica Peninsula, Lamia Bay, and Evia Peninsula.

The disasters were finally controlled before night fell due to the joint efforts of firefighters on the ground and planes in the air.

However, in northern Greece, another extreme weather phenomenon took the baton and threatened people in the north.

The extreme weather caused seven people, six of whom confirmed as tourists from Russia, Czech and Romania on vacation in the country, dead and the unidentified victim is said likely to be a local fisherman. The storm darkened the doorstep of the Chalkidiki Peninsula in northern Greece, and the country’s second largest city Thessaloniki.

“The grill and the iron plate for the barbecue were blown off there. The pavilion there also fell down. The cars were crushed,” said Despoina, a resident in Chalkidiki.

The damages brought by the first freak storm in 30 years was huge, though it only lasted half an hour.

“We have been living here for 25 years, but we have never seen this,” said Despoina.

The power supply in the northern coastal areas and trains running between Thesalloniki and Alexandroupoli, another coastal city in the north, were cut off.

The 22 injured people have been sent to a local hospital, with nine of them suffering fractures to varying degrees. (REUTERS)

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Malaysia to send back plastic waste from Europe, US sent for ‘recycling’

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Containers of plastic trash from shipped to Malaysia from 14 countries including United States, Japan, France, Canada, Australia and Britain | Courtesy: Reuters

Malaysia will send as much as 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste back to the countries it came from, the environment minister said on Tuesday (May 28), the latest Asian country to reject rich countries’ rubbish.

Malaysian officials have identified at least 14 origin countries, including the United States, Japan, France, Canada, Australia and Britain, for its unwanted waste sent “under the pretext of recycling”.

“So, what the citizen of the UK believe that they sent for recycling is actually dumped in our country. And this is something that is very serious, and we did not only find this one company, we have found a few companies from different countries,” said Yeo Been Yin, Malaysia’s Minister of energy, technology, science, climate change and environment.

Malaysia last year became the world’s main destination for plastic waste after China banned its import, disrupting the flow of more than 7 million tonnes of the trash a year.

Dozens of recycling factories have cropped up in Malaysia, many without operating licenses, and communities have complained of environmental problems.

“Now we know that garbage, like what you see just now, is traded under the pretext of recycling,” the Malaysian minister said.

He added that 60 containers of trash that had been imported illegally would be sent back.

“We are compiling the list of the so called ‘recycling companies’ from these developed countries and we will send back, send the list of these names of these companies to the respective governments, to take further actions against, and investigation for these companies in their respective countries,” he said.

“Malaysians like any other developing countries have a right to clean air, clean water, sustainable resources and clean environment to live in, just like citizens of developed nations a right to clean environment to live in, just like citizens of developed nations,” he added. (REUTERS)

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WHO says migrants risk illness in host countries, lack access to health care

by admin   |   Posted on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

Female migrants standing in line to get their temperatures checked by a Red Cross worker in Malaga, Spain on January 15, 2018 | Reuters

Migrants and refugees arriving in Europe are likely to be healthy but risk falling sick due to poor living conditions in their host countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a first-ever report on migrants’ health.

WHO regional director for Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab, said on Monday (January 21) that refugees and migrants in Europe do not bring “exotic” diseases but are in higher risk to of getting sick because they lack access to health care.

Poor living conditions also increase their risk for cardiovascular diseases, stroke and cancer, though they are less affected than their host populations on arrival, WHO said.

The report said that a significant proportion of migrants and refugees who are HIV positive acquired the infection after they arrived in Europe. Despite a widespread assumption to the contrary, there is only a very low risk of refugees and migrants transmitting communicable diseases to their host population.

Jakab said that in some European countries “citizens estimate that there are three or four times more migrants than they are in reality”. — Reuters

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