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Macron says keeping Assad in power would be a ‘disastrous mistake’

by admin   |   Posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2018


French President Emmanuel Macron. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Macron said on Monday (August 27) keeping Bashar al-Assad in power in Syria would be a “disastrous mistake,” although it was not France’s duty to assign the country’s future leader.

“Who provoked the flow of these millions of refugees?” Macron said during a speech at a Paris conference of ambassadors. “Who massacred his own people? It is not for France to designate Syria’s future leader, no more than any other country. But it is our task and in our interest to make sure that the Syrian people are well in a position to do it.”

The Syrian conflict, which has killed 300,000 people and pushed 5.6 million Syrian refugees towards neighboring countries and Europe, has turned into a war of attrition as the regime tries to contain rebels and extremists.

Assad’s regime has taken back control of most of the territory except for the province of Idlib, the remaining refuge of rebels and the Islamic State.

On Libya, Macron said it was France’s role to move forward a Paris accord to secure reunification in the country, which he said was an “essential factor for the stability of the region.”

In May, the four principal actors in Libya’s political crisis convened in Paris to put in place a constitutional foundation for elections and to adopt electoral laws for the December 10 polls.  — Reuters

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Ph Coast Guard launches ‘most modern’ ship for West Philippine Sea patrol

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Courtesy: Philippine Coast Guard

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard on Wednesday said its “most modern” patrol ship has been launched by shipbuilder OCEA in France.

The PCG said the 83.6-meter long offshore patrol vessel, which will be commissioned as Barko Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Gabriela Silang, will join the service in December.

The ship will be used to patrol the West Philippine Sea, Benham Rise and other anti-piracy and terrorism campaigns in Southern Philippines.

The vessel is equipped with a mission management system (MMS) to conduct maritime surveillance, law enforcement, situation awareness and exchange of information with other units and general coastal patrol of territorial waters.

It is also capable of responding to marine environmental pollution such as oil spills and has a room that can treat persons rescued from the sea.

The new vessel can accommodate 64 crew onboard and has a maximum speed of 20 knots, and an endurance that will take up to 22 days long. It also has two onboard 9-meter Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats with speed of 40 knots.

Its main engine is a hybrid engine of diesel-electric type, which is the first vessel under PCG to utilize diesel-electric engine.

The PCG said 18 personnel, who will serve as the sailing crew, are set to travel to France in September to start training in manning the vessel. The vessel and the sailing crew are expected to arrive in Manila in the first week of December.

The offshore patrol vessel was made under a financing agreement with the BNP Paribas (France). The contract, signed in 2017, costs P5.6 billion (€97,032,507).

Included in this project are the four 24-meter Fast Patrol Boats that were already delivered last year.

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Oil tanker bound for Syria seized in Gibraltar for sanctions-busting

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 5th, 2019

British Royal Marines seized an oil tanker in Gibraltar on Thursday (July 4) accused of bringing oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions, a dramatic step that could escalate confrontation between the West and Iran.

The Grace 1 tanker was impounded in the British territory at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea, after sailing around Africa from the Gulf.

Shipping data reviewed by Reuters suggests it had been loaded with Iranian oil off the coast of Iran, although its documents say the oil is from neighboring Iraq.

The Gibraltar authorities who seized it did so under the authority of European sanctions against Syria that have been in place for years, with no reference to the source of the oil.

But the likelihood that the cargo was Iranian draws a link between this incident and a new U.S. effort to halt all global sales of Iranian crude, in what Tehran has described as an illegal “economic war” against it.

European countries have tried to stay neutral in that confrontation, which saw the United States calling off airstrikes against Iran just minutes before impact last month, and Tehran amassing stocks of enriched uranium banned under a nuclear deal.

In a statement, the Gibraltar government said it had reasonable grounds to believe that the Grace 1 was carrying its shipment of crude oil to the Banyas refinery in Syria. (REUTERS)

(Production: Lisa Giles-Keddie)

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French parliament adopts law that bans smacking children

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 5th, 2019

Extract of a public service announcement video urging parents not to smack children | Courtesy: Image grabbed from a Reuters video

French senators on Tuesday (July 3) passed into law an anti-smacking bill that prohibits the use of violence in the education of children, although there will be no punishment for parents who break the law.

The law adds to the Civil Code that mayors must mention in town hall weddings a text saying, “parental authority is exercised without physical or psychological violence.”

The text will also appear on the front page of children’s health notebooks.

It reverses parental rights to discipline children using corporal punishment granted under Napoleon in the early 1800s.

According to charity Fondation Pour l’Enfance, 85 percent of French parents have resorted to the use of violence in education, and 75 percent of child abuse is the result of such punishments. The study showed that 50 percent of parents hit their child before age 2.

“Parenthood is supremely difficult. Violence is often a synonym of weakness and failure, because we did not have patience, because we did not find the words. But it is easy, while comfortably seated in this beautiful assembly room, to give moral lessons, to advocate teaching by explaining, understanding and affection,” said Senator Olivier Paccaud from Right-wing party Les Republicains (The Republicans).

“The heart of this bill, its reason for being, what it can and must bring forth is a realisation: violence is never the answer,” he added.

Following the bill’s passage, the government will prepare a report about parental violence and propose measures to educate parents by September 2019.

France becomes the 56th country to adopt a law totally prohibiting educational violence, which is already effective in 22 of the EU’s 28 member states.

Sweden, a pioneer in the field, adopted the measure in 1979. (REUTERS)

(Production: Michaela Cabrera)

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