“Very sour for the Turks, but they have no legal chance”

It has long been a source of frustration for the Turks to have limited entitlement to parts of the Mediterranean under current international law. Much less than the smaller Greek arch-rival, which in fact owns almost all the islands in the Aegean Sea over these waters. Turkish discontent has only intensified as more oil and gas can be extracted from the seabed than before, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean, with modern technology.

The Erdogan government tried to change this by unilaterally claiming a large exclusive economic zone around Cyprus that surrounds almost the entire island. It did something similar at the end of last year through an agreement with Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj’s Libyan government, also recognized by the UN. The treaty divided the strip of sea between the two countries in two, bypassing the rights that Greece can assert over parts of the zone due to the location of the neighboring island of Crete.

Two prominent Dutch international lawyers understand the Turkish frustrations, but consider the claims to be hopeless from a legal point of view. Alex Oude Elferink, professor of international law of the sea in Utrecht, explains that when defining territorial sea (up to 12 nautical miles from the coast) and exclusive economic zones (up to 200 nautical miles from the coast), there is usually a so-called equidistance line is drawn. An equal distance from the coast of both states is maintained. “Then we look at whether there are circumstances that should also be taken into account, for example whether some smaller islands should not be included in the equidistance line. Then it is examined whether the proposed distribution is fair for both states. Attention is paid to the length of the coastline of states, not to the land mass behind that coastline. ”

Continental plate

Turkey argues that it must take control of a larger part of the Aegean Sea on the basis of a factor that can also legally weigh in: its continental shelf. That term refers to the area that slopes gently from the mainland under the seabed. On the basis of this, states can claim a piece of the sea and engage in economic activities there. Sometimes states feel deprived and try to get a bigger zone after all. Germany set a precedent for this, which objected to a disproportionately small share in the distribution of the continental shelf in the North Sea in the Netherlands and Denmark. The case was brought before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which in 1969 Germany allocated a larger share on fairness grounds than could be expected under the equal distance line.

But such claims in the Aegean Sea get in the way of the numerous Greek islands – each in principle entitled to a territorial sea 12 nautical miles wide – for the Turks. “It is very unfortunate for the Turks,” says Nico Schrijver, professor of international law in Leiden, “but these rules now count as customary international law. If Turkey were to challenge the current division before international courts such as the International Court of Justice or the Maritime Tribunal in Hamburg, I don’t think they would stand a chance. ” The fact that Turkey is not a party to the UN convention on the law of the sea does not prevent this, according to Schrijver.

Oude Elferink: “If you so completely disregard the claims of other states, you are not acting in accordance with international law.” The same goes for his agreement with Libya, he says.

Regarding Cyprus, Turkey stands alone, as the only UN member state that does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus. The Republic of Northern Cyprus, established by the Turks after the 1974 invasion, is not recognized by anyone else in the world. The EU has threatened Turkey with sanctions if it carries out economic activities in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus.


MEP Azmani (VVD) wants to get rid of the ‘false contradictions’ in the EU

He remained silent for the past few months, when the Netherlands painted itself internationally in the discussion about European solidarity and CDA minister Wopke Hoekstra (Finance) became the face of ‘Dutch stinginess’ in many EU countries.

But MEP Malik Azmani finds that there is indeed some of it. It was, according to the VVD member, all very clumsy: the high tone in which coalition colleague Hoekstra lectured the southern European countries about their budgets, just when bushes killed people in Italy and Spain. “It wouldn’t be my style,” said Azmani.

Also read: how the Netherlands is international made enemies in de coronacrisis

On Monday, Azmani (44) will briefly return to the House of Representatives, his old habitat where he spoke for years about immigration, asylum and Europe. For the annual debate on the ‘state of the European Union’, in which, in addition to MPs, members of the European Parliament may also participate. He says he comes with a message. A plea for a ‘more constructive approach’. More understanding for each other. Away from the ‘polarization’ and ‘false contradictions’ that are too often created around the EU: north-south, miserly solidarity, economical, pivotal.

Looking for a party

That is remarkable: because does his own VVD not participate very hard? Prime Minister Mark Rutte recently called the EU a “party committee looking for a party”. Member of Parliament Anne Mulder recently expressed deep mistrust of the EU in a debate. Member States are only concerned with themselves. And the Commission is only trying to steal money and power from Member States, based on questionable calculation models.

Azmani is in a tricky political context. After his switch to European politics a year ago, he quickly became the second man of Renew, the group of liberals in the European Parliament. A club dominated by En Marche, the party of French President Emmanuel Macron and Rutte’s main protagonist in the negotiations for the EU’s € 750 billion recovery fund to help the EU fight the economic aftermath of the corona crisis. The Netherlands is on the brakes, but France is demanding a clear signal that EU countries will not drop each other in the heat of the recession.

Also read: about it French diplomatic offensive towards the Netherlands in the discussion about European solidarity

Emotions have been running high in recent months. Where have you been?

“I said what I thought of Hoekstra behind the scenes. If you do that before, you will only give Southern European countries an extra stick to hit the Netherlands with. What Hoekstra did – asking for an investigation to see how it is possible that we have built up reserves, and others have not – made no sense. Because you already know the answer. But also because there was enormous uncertainty about health and economy at the time. To immediately say: research report – that is not pleasant. You should not always create those contradictions. You sharpen things, and only help smiling third countries such as Russia and China, and also the United States. ”

In the Netherlands there is still a deep suspicion towards the European Commission. Do you agree with that?

“Well, the Commission has not got off the starting blocks in the Covid crisis very quickly in recent months. And it is also late and hesitant in foreign policy. I would like the EU to act much more firmly as a bloc, including economically. ”

There is now a very ambitious package to strengthen that economy. The cabinet does not want to provide aid in the form of subsidies, but through loans, which therefore also have to be repaid. What did you say?

“The recovery fund is necessary. At the same time, I agree that there is discussion. Some things are also difficult to explain. When holiday vouchers are simply issued to the Italians in Italy. We don’t do that in the Netherlands, do we? In Spain they have a whole discussion about basic income. Well, aside from that: what do you think it costs? ”

You argue for less contradictions. Now you start talking about spindly countries in Southern Europe.

“No, I don’t. I just say: if you look from a Dutch perspective, it is difficult to explain. ”

In Brussels, the Netherlands is sometimes seen as the new UK. The country that always says ‘no’.

“That means we have to invest even more in cultivating mutual understanding. You don’t blame each other for anything. Take, for example, the statements by Jeroen Dijsselbloem from the past – that in southern countries it is all about drink and women. ”

The people you mention are not part of your party. Surely that kind of language can also be heard at the VVD?

“If there are any concrete statements, I would like to hear them. But I won’t say things like this. I have also been strong in the national debate in the past, but in the end you have to come up with 27 countries and then polarization is not very sensible. This also happened back and forth: in Portugal they suggested continuing with 26 countries, without the Netherlands. Others said: we no longer buy tulips. ”

But the Netherlands in particular is entrenched in the counter block? Rutte likes to talk about his ‘frugals’ [vrekkigen, red.].

“It is always the case in European politics that like-minded countries come together. In this case I think it went wrong because the word ‘frugal’ has been placed on this coalition. I don’t like the term ‘miser’, I rather see it as: responsible. ”

Does Rutte explain well what the Dutch interest is in Europe?

“We can really be pleased with a prime minister who has been on the European stage for many years and has a lot of prestige. He invests a lot in relationships. Macron was still in the Netherlands last week. It’s just what you want to see. I see a prime minister manifesting himself much more on the European stage. I hope it will stay that way in the coming years, because that is also in the interest of the Netherlands. ”

The VVD is very critical of the EU in parliamentary debates.

“I just see a shift taking place. Eight years ago, the EU was mainly seen as something economic. But now it appears in all kinds of files – migration, climate, defense – that we cannot do this alone. I do not follow everything that is said in The Hague, but when I speak with fellow party members I see the sense of reality coming back. Some are more angular, especially if they are less familiar with the European terrain. But what you sometimes had in the past – that everything from Europe was not okay – I do not feel and see it at all. At the same time, we remain critical. It is not: you ask, we turn. ”


‘Aid to Dutch stranded people falls short’

The minimum consular assistance that Dutch nationals can expect in emergency situations abroad must be clarified and embedded in a law. D66 and GroenLinks want to call on Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs (VVD) to do this on Monday, in a motion for which a majority seems to be in the House of Representatives.

At the time of the corona outbreak, some 200,000 Dutch people were abroad for holidays or work. According to the two parties, there was too much uncertainty about what they can and cannot expect from the Dutch state in such a situation. That would also have led to family dramas and unnecessarily rapidly increasing costs. “I have received a lot of worried phone calls and emails,” said MP Bram van Ojik (GroenLinks).

Also read: How do you get home when the world is locked?

Unlike in Germany and Belgium, the Dutch consular services are not described in a law, but in more vague ‘policy frameworks’. This is consciously so: according to the cabinet, consular work requires room for flexibility and customization. According to Member of Parliament Sjoerd Sjoerdsma (D66), the officials have ‘fantastically improvised’ during the corona crisis. But he thinks there should be a “lower limit”. “Many people in trouble were now also told: sorry, it is crisis, force majeure,” he says. “And then they have nothing to appeal to.”

Especially Dutch people with a foreign partner from a non-EU country ran into problems when Dutch embassies and consulates closed because of corona and travel documents were no longer issued. Sjoerdsma and Van Ojik emphasize that the foreign affairs pandemic posed an ‘unprecedented consular assignment’. But they both believe that in such situations, the government should be legally obliged to “come up with an alternative,” whatever that is. “That is up to policymakers,” says Sjoerdsma. “But it must in any case be clear what Dutch people can expect from our government abroad.”

Fragmentation of services

The two also want to raise another issue on Monday: the fragmentation of consular services. The administrative part of this is increasingly done by commercial parties. And the substantive handling can no longer be done by any embassy as before, but goes via a regional ‘key embassy’ or via The Hague. This saves costs, but it has also meant that citizens no longer know where to get redress. According to Van Ojik there is a lot of frustration about this at Dutch embassies. “They do get the complaints, but no longer have the tools to do anything about it.”

The proposed law also relates to travel advice issued by the Ministry. In 2019, the Netherlands Court of Audit concluded that adjustment was only possible within 24 hours in 11 percent of cases, the term that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs strives for. On average it takes longer than two days. This can lead to people traveling to a country where an attack took place the day before. Sjoerdsma and Van Ojik believe that the adjustment period for advice should be stricter and laid down by law. “Travel advice can be politically sensitive, so care is very important,” says Sjoerdsma. “But 11 percent is sadly low.”


Amazon says the Pentagon’s JEDI revision keeps Microsoft in the driver’s seat

WASHINGTON – Amazon.com Inc. accused the Pentagon of trying to manipulate its review of a huge cloud computing deal to drive the award to rival Microsoft Corp.

In a court made public on Tuesday, Amazon urged a federal judge to request the Department of Defense to conduct a larger review than it proposed.

Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith …


Woman released from US military incursions held in Honduras

A U.S. military operation saved an American woman from an unspecified danger in Honduras and was reunited with her family, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Monday.

The head of defense, speaking at a Pentagon press conference, declined to offer details of the operation or the circumstances that led to it, as well as saying that the woman was the victim of a violent crime.



Pompeo leaves Afghanistan unable to resolve the controversies that hinder the exit of the United States

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Kabul on an urgent and unannounced diplomatic rescue mission Monday, but left eight hours later without a breakthrough in his attempt to bridge a political divide that undermined U.S. efforts to get out all American troops from Afghanistan.

Pompeo sought to instill fresh momentum in negotiations with the Taliban who got stuck after the Trump administration signed an agreement with the militant group, establishing a timetable for the United States to withdraw all military forces and end its long term. ..


Coronavirus cases are increasing worldwide while Trump is increasing aid to states

The number of confirmed new coronavirus cases worldwide has more than doubled in a week to nearly 330,000 on Sunday, when President Trump increased federal assistance in New York, California and Washington, the three states most affected by the outbreak in the United States.

Trump announced assistance during a press conference in the White House as U.S. lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on a $ 1.3 trillion federal stimulus package to deal with the coronavirus emergency and economic fallout. Radical legislation collapsed on Sunday evening during …


The Fed will earn up to $ 4 trillion in business loans to save the economy, says Mnuchin

Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that the Federal Reserve will play a key role in lending funds to companies affected by the coronavirus.

“By working with the Federal Reserve – we will have up to $ 4 trillion of liquidity that we can use to support the economy,” Mnuchin said on Fox News Sunday.

“These are large-scale loan programs … we can leverage our equity capital by working with the Federal Reserve,” he said.

The treasury secretary said the plan is broad to help small and large businesses “get through the next 90-120 days,” he said.

Mnuchin said he thought the bill would end on Sunday and will be ready for a Senate vote on Monday.

The account would also include:

• small business maintenance loans designed to help businesses retain workers. This will cover about half of the workforce, said Mnuchin. Payments will include two weeks of cash flow and some overheads. Loans will be forgiven if workers are not laid off.

• Checks for Americans. The average allowance for a family of 4 will be $ 3,000, the Treasury Secretary said.

• Improved unemployment insurance for people fired from coronavirus.

Mnuchin said that if the closure of the American economy were to last longer than expected, Congress would approve another bailout package.


India is testing a one-day national coronavirus arrest

NEW DELHI – India attempted a one-day national arrest on Sunday, hoping to slow the spread of the coronavirus and give citizens and policymakers a taste of how massive and turbulent democracy would behave under unprecedented restrictions.

From 7:00 to 21:00 blockade – nicknamed the “people’s curfew” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he unveiled it – people were invited to stay in their homes and most of the businesses were closed. The restrictions were voluntary, but each state was asked to do everything possible to help citizens …


Americans stranded after Peru closes the border with the coronavirus

Hundreds of Americans were trapped in Peru on Saturday as the United States decided not to send a military plane to the country, which sealed off its borders in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

On Friday, a United States defense official said the military planes would be shipped to Morocco, Honduras and Peru to bring back the stranded Americans. While the planes were being sent to Morocco and Honduras, officials reconsidered sending an American military plane to Peru. An American official said some were concerned about the optics of a U.S. military plane landing in Peru.

At a White House press conference on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence said that while “military transportation is available”, there is also “an ongoing effort to [the issue of Americans stranded abroad] with commercial flights chartered by the government. “

On Thursday President Trump promised military aid to the Americans in Peru, saying: “We have a group of young people in Peru and are working to deal with the military.”

The State Department said on Saturday that the American embassy in Lima helped a group of Americans return home on Friday. The Americans included a group of medically vulnerable US citizens, a number of Peace Corps volunteers, and some staff and family members of the United States Embassy, ​​to return to the United States.

The government of Peru quickly closed its borders on Monday, providing little warning for foreign tourists visiting the country’s Inca ruins and Amazon rainforest.

The government of President Martin Vizcarra later issued a waiver that allowed charter flights to fly home to Peruvians stuck abroad and allow foreign governments to repatriate their citizens. Argentina, Chile, Israel and Mexico have helped all their citizens to leave Peru. The UK government said it was talking to Peru to organize flights to take British citizens out.

Peru’s defense ministry said Saturday that it will completely close airports and border crossings, prohibiting any future charter flights from repatriating foreigners as the country tries to slow the spread of coronavirus. Health officials on Saturday confirmed more than 300 cases and five deaths in the Andean nation.

“It’s a little scary,” said Alison Clay-Duboff, an American stranded in the Peruvian Amazon near the city of Iquitos. “We are here only waiting and anticipating. We are trying to find ways to keep everyone busy.”

Rich Levering, a Philadelphia native, said he is trying to find his way home. He organized other guests in his hotel in Lima, sharing information on WhatsApp and


groups to discuss how to return to the United States. A Facebook group, called Americans stranded in Peru, has over 3,300 members.

“Everyone has their own little nugget of information and we’re using it to figure out how to get home,” he said.

Saturday morning, his hotel warned him that the Colombian airline


may have a flight to Miami for Americans trapped later in the day, with tickets costing $ 1,000 per seat. He later received a message saying that the airline was not authorized to fly.

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