German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks at a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Athens, Greece, July 21, 2020. REUTERS / Alkis Constantinidis
ATHENS (Reuters) – Turkey must stop drilling for natural resources in eastern Mediterranean waters if there is progress in EU-Turkish relations, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Tuesday.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week that Turkey would begin seismic research and drilling operations in contested waters covered by an agreement between Ankara and the internationally recognized Libyan government.
“Regarding Turkish drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, we have a very clear position – international law must be respected so that progress in EU-Turkish relations is only possible if Ankara stops provocation in the eastern Mediterranean,” Maas said during a visit to Athens.
Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Michelle Martin, editing by Thomas Escritt
LONDON (Reuters) – The British government failed to determine whether Russia intervened in a 2016 referendum on membership in the EU, a parliamentary report released on Tuesday said, demanding the intelligence community to investigate the matter and make its findings open.
FILE PHOTOS: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wears a Tartan mask when he visits New Look at Fort Kinnaird Retail Park, in Edinburgh, Scotland on June 26, 2020. Sturgeon sees some changes in stores ahead of the retailer’s gradual reopening. on Monday. Jeff J Mitchell / Pool via REUTERS
The long-awaited report by the parliamentary intelligence and security committee found that Russia had tried to influence a separate referendum in 2014 when voters in Scotland refused independence.
But it said the committee could not determine whether Russia was trying to influence the EU referendum. When asked for evidence, Britain’s main domestic intelligence agency MI5 only produced six lines of text, he said.
“Nonetheless, the Committee’s view that the British Intelligence Community must produce an analogous assessment of Russia’s potential disruption in the EU referendum and that an unclassified summary was published,” he said in the report, which was produced more than a year ago. and stored until now.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, which came to power as one of the main figures in the victory campaign to leave the European Union, responded by saying it did not see evidence of “successful” Russian intervention in the referendum.
It rejects the call for review.
The report called Russia a hostile force that posed a significant threat to Britain and the West in various fields, from espionage and cyberspace to electoral interference and dirty money laundering.
“It seems that Russia regards Britain as one of the top Western intelligence targets,” the report said.
It said there were open source indications that Russia had tried to influence the Brexit campaign but hard evidence had not yet been produced.
“The key point is … they are not even trying to ask that question and that is the essence of this report,” Stewart Hosie, a member of the Scottish National Party committee, told reporters.
“We don’t see evidence because there is no evidence and no one in the government is trying to find or ask questions that need to be asked,” Labor MP Kevan Jones said.
The Kremlin said Russia had never interfered in the process of selecting other countries. Russia has repeatedly denied interference in the West, leaving the United States and Britain gripped by anti-Russian hysteria.
“Russia has never interfered in the selection process of any country in the world – not the United States, not Britain, or any other country,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova called the report “Russophobia in a false frame”.
RUSSIAN MONITORING AND MONEY
Relations between London and Moscow fell to post-Cold War lows after Britain blamed Russia for poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a nerve agent in the city of Salisbury, England.
Last week, the British government said it believed Russian actors had tried to interfere in last year’s election, after the report was completed.
When discussing the EU referendum, the report was heavily edited and there were secret attachments which were not made public.
The committee also called Russia a corrupt source of money received in London, the world’s main international financial capital.
“Britain welcomes Russian money, and some questions – if any – are asked about the origin of this great wealth,” the report said. “Britain has been seen as a destination that Russian oligarchs and their money are very like.”
“This offers an ideal mechanism by which illicit finance can be recycled through what is called London ‘laundry’,” the report said.
Additional reporting by Alexander Marrow in Moscow; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Sarah Young, Paul Sandle and Peter Graff
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia is researching the popular Chinese TikTok social media platform for any risks it might pose to users from around potential foreign interference and data privacy issues, government sources told Reuters.
PHOTO FILE: The printed 3-D image is seen in front of the Tik Tok logo shown in the illustration of the picture taken November 7, 2019. The picture was taken November 7, 2019. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration / File Photo
Owned by Bytedance, TikTok opened an office in Australia in the last few weeks. Both the Office of Internal Affairs and the Attorney General are discussing TikTok operations, the source said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government “had a good view” in TikTok, which also fell under US supervision for “national security risks”.
“If we think there is a need to take further action than we are taking now, then I can tell you that we will not be ashamed,” Morrison told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Friday.
Separately, Labor Senator Jenny McAllister, chair of parliamentary inquiry into foreign interference through social media, has identified TikTok as needing further supervision, noting 1.6 million young Australians are using the application.
“Some of these approaches to moderate content may not be consistent with Australian values,” he told ABC radio.
“For example, removing material about Tiananmen Square, or prioritizing material about Hong Kong protests,” he added, referring to student protests in Beijing in 1989 and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong for the past year.
Two of the three new TikTok Australia operations directors are senior executives of Chinese parent company ByteDance, company records seen by Reuters show.
TikTok Australia’s general manager Lee Hunter, who was recruited from Google in June, has written letters to Australian politicians saying TikTok is “used as political football”.
“It is very important that you understand that we are independent and not in harmony with any government, political party or ideology,” the letter said, adding that Australian TikTok data is stored safely in Singapore and the United States.
Last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared with a copycat in a video posted on a very popular social media application.
Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore
PARIS, July 18 (Reuters) – French, German and Italian leaders on Saturday threatened for the first time using sanctions against countries that continue to violate the UN arms embargo on Libya.
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte urged “all foreign actors to end their increasing interference and to fully respect the arms embargo formed by the UN Security Council” in a joint statement issued by the French presidency after meet in Brussels.
“We are ready to consider the possibility of using sanctions if violations of embargoes at sea, on land or in the air continue, and look forward to proposals that the EU High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy will make in this regard,” they said
Turkey has intervened decisively in recent weeks in Libya, providing air support, weapons and allied fighters from Syria to help the internationally recognized government based in Tripoli repel a year-long offensive by eastern commander forces Khalifa HList.
The list is supported by the UAE, Egypt and Russia, who are also accused by the United Nations of violating the embargo.
The Tripoli-based government on Saturday moved fighters closer to Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s main oil terminal, which according to the government plans to reclaim HList troops.
France itself faces criticism for its ambiguity with regard to HList, having previously supported it in the war against Islamic militants.
Saturday’s joint statement was the first time the three major powers threatened sanctions amid fears of renewed escalation on the ground.
“We share serious concerns about the increasing military tension in the country and the increased risk of regional escalation,” they said. “We therefore call on all Libyan parties and their foreign supporters to immediately stop fighting and end the ongoing military escalation across the country.”
Diplomats said European Union countries could also consider imposing sanctions on individuals from both Libyan parties. (Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Hugh Lawson)
FILE PHOTO: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a state memorial to honor the victims of Australian forest fires at the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 23 February 2020. REUTERS / Loren Elliott
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia will continue to advocate “very strongly” for freedom of navigation through the South China sea, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.
“Australia will continue to adopt a very consistent position,” Morrison said at a media press conference in Canberra when asked whether the country supported the United States’ position in the South China Sea.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the United States would support countries that believe China violated their maritime claims in the South China Sea, but stressed that in multilateral and legal forums.
Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman