Tag Archives: Nordic Country

Croatia has shown interest in F-35 jets, Lockheed executives said | Instant News

WASHINGTON, February 19 (Reuters) – Lockheed Martin Co., the United States’ biggest arms maker, has raised interest from Croatia regarding the purchase of stealth F-35 jets, a Lockheed executive said on Friday.

Greg Ulmer, executive vice president of Lockheed’s Aeronautics unit, told reporters “they have shown interest” in buying the jets, which make up a large share of Lockheed’s revenue.

Croatia is evaluating US, French and Swedish bids for fighter jets as it looks set to modernize its air force, which now flies Russian-made MiG-21 jets dating from the past in former Yugoslavia.

Croatia wanted to buy 12 second-hand F-16 fighter jets from Israel, but failed after Israel said it here in 2019 could not get approval from the United States for the sale.

Other international customers for the fifth-generation F-35 include Canada, Finland and Switzerland, who are running competitions for future jet purchases. Additional customer prospects for the Lockheed F-35 include Greece, Spain, Eastern Europe and Middle Eastern countries, Ulmer said in a media conference call.

Lockheed has also seen international interest for as many as 300 fourth-generation F-16 fighters on top of its current production stockpile of 128 jets, Ulmer said. (Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington, DC; Editing by Dan Grebler)


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Police are investigating a COVID vaccine offer to Italian territory | Instant News

MILAN, Italy, February 19 (Reuters) – Italian police are investigating a bid for a COVID-19 vaccine by an unnamed intermediary to the Veneto regional authorities, suggesting possible attempts to create a black market parallel to national and EU-level procurement processes, two sources. with knowledge of the matter said on Friday.

Veneto governor Luca Zaia and regional health director Luciano Flor said this week they were evaluating two offers they received for a total of 27 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, without specifying who approached them.

Flor said the two bids were selected from a total of about 20 proposals the Veneto region received from various intermediaries in recent days, including some involving Russia’s AstraZeneca and Sputnik vaccines.

The approach is unusual in that drug makers producing vaccines have reached agreements with national governments and, in the case of the European Union, with the European Union Commission, which have negotiated procurement programs on behalf of its members.

The Italian probe is trying to determine whether a parallel market has emerged, said a source with direct knowledge of the investigation. The source said it was unclear whether drug makers could legally sell their vaccines to non-governmental entities in Europe.

“The regulatory framework is completely unclear,” the source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was confidential and ongoing.

Andrew Widger, a spokesman for Pfizer, which has produced its vaccine with German partner BioNTech, said “at this time, we are prioritizing the doses available for supply through established agreements with government and supra-government organizations”.

“In the European Union, doses are given directly to the government under the terms of the supply agreement with the European Commission. Currently there is no Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine available through an intermediary, “he added.

BioNTech did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An AstraZeneca spokesman said the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker would not allow the delivery of its vaccine outside of its existing supply agreement with the European Union. There should be no supplies from the private sector to sell or distribute in Europe, he said.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund that is responsible for marketing the Sputnik V vaccine abroad, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.


The chairman of the European Union Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said this week there was an increase in cases of fraud and fraudulent attempts related to the corona virus vaccine. He said the Commission is taking action to bring those responsible to justice, adding it could be very risky to take vaccines offered by black market traders.

Zaia said on Friday that she had asked her regional health director Flor to write to the Italian NAS police, which specialize in food and drug fraud investigations, to notify them of vaccine offers.

Police visited the Veneto regional headquarters on Friday and retrieved documents regarding the case, one of the sources said.

“I welcome this operation (by the police) because it will ultimately provide clarity and allow us to understand whether we are dealing with a fraud or not,” Zaia told reporters.

Veneto has also contacted the national drug agency AIFA and Italy’s special COVID-19 commissioner, Domenico Arcuri, to ask them to evaluate whether the offer is valid.

“We haven’t had any negotiations on prices or anything because we are waiting to see if we can continue,” said Zaia. “We don’t know whether the vaccine is good or bad, whether it’s just distilled water. We just do what we have to do – we don’t go to the black market. “

An Arcuri spokesman confirmed contact with Veneto authorities, while AIFA did not comment.

In a related case, prosecutors in the central region of Umbria are investigating a man who they say claims to be a legitimate trader and tried to sell a dose of AstraZeneca vaccine to local authorities there. (Additional reporting by Riccardo Bastianello in Padua, Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt and Mike Erman in New York Editing by Frances Kerry)


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FACTBOX-EU is unlikely to face a Facebook news ban after Australia | Instant News

BRUSSELS, February 19 (Reuters) – Facebook has blocked people in Australia from accessing and sharing news content in a dispute with the government requiring it to share news revenue.

Jurisdictions around the world have enacted rules requiring Google, Facebook and others to share revenue with publishers, including a 2019 directive from Brussels which EU countries will enact into law in June.

So, is the EU likely to face a Facebook news ban similar to the one imposed in Australia? Not. Here are a few reasons:


Approved in 2019 to help Europe’s creative industry earn a fair share of revenue, EU copyright rules require Google and other online platforms to sign licensing agreements with musicians, artists, writers, news publishers and journalists to use their work.

The rules do not force online platforms to pay for links posted by publishers to their news sites, Facebook’s main complaint with the Australian government.

In France, which is one of the first EU countries to implement the new rules, news publishers have reached an agreement with Google which, according to the European Commission, the EU executive, is a clear sign that copyright rules are effective in leveling the playing field. .

The so-called Media Bargaining Code is based on Australia’s competition law, which underlines a tougher approach than the EU.


Facebook sought to relieve pressure from news publishers last month by launching Facebook News in the UK and listing new partners Channel 4 News, Daily Mail Group, DC Thomson, Financial Times, Sky News and Telegraph Media Group above other news outlets.

Now they are looking for French and German media companies before launching services in the two countries.


European media groups, part of the driving force behind EU copyright rules, do not have the same influence and geographic scope as News Corp, which struck a global deal with Google on Wednesday.

Large companies such as Germany’s Bertelsmann and French group Vivendi dominate their national markets due to language and cultural differences across the block. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Timothy Heritage)


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Germany plans a task force for vaccine production – the minister of health | Instant News

BERLIN, February 19 (Reuters) – The German government wants to set up a special task force to increase investment in vaccine production and build spare capacity for the next pandemic, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday.

Spahn also confirmed an earlier report from Spiegel magazine that Christoph Krupp, the former head of the Federal Real Estate Agency, will lead the task force. (Reporting by Caroline Copley Editing by Joseph Nasr)


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Germany should relax its lockdown with caution – the minister of health | Instant News

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BERLIN, February 19 (Reuters) – A fall in coronavirus infections and a steady rise in vaccinations mean a lifting of Germany’s lockdown measures is possible, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday, urging caution given that more infectious variants have been identified.

“There are growing demands for an end to the lockdown and this is possible but we need to be careful not to jeopardize our achievements,” Spahn said at a news conference. (Reporting by Joseph Nasr and Caroline Copley Editingy by Michael Nienaber,)


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