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Swiss photographer not responsible for Hong Kong protest assault: lawyers

Swiss photographer not responsible for Hong Kong protest assault: lawyers Swiss photographer not responsible for Hong Kong protest assault: lawyers
A Swiss photographer who closed a door on a Chinese mainlander moments before he was assaulted during last year's Hong Kong democracy protests...
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Turkey debates dropping landmark women's treaty

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Doors slamming shut in Hungary for asylum seekers

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"It's difficult in a new way for us. There is hardly anyone left to talk to," Karzan Mohamed Sharif Amin, an Iraqi Kurd, told AFP at a government-run...
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Mutating terror threat still looms over Europe

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The terrorist threat against Europe has mutated in the last half-decade as jihadist groups have seen their Middle East sanctuaries eroded,...
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US, Slovenia to 'exclude untrusted vendors' from 5G

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Beleaguered Belarus opposition finds Baltic refuge

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Waves of repression in Belarus have turned its EU neighbours into places of refuge for pro-democracy Belarusians, with presidential challenger...
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EU, UK denounce Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai's arrest

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Biden rules out in-person appearance at Democratic convention

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Joe Biden will not attend the Democratic convention to accept the party's nomination to be its presidential election candidate after the event...
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EU sanctions on Russian, Chinese 'cyber attackers'

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The European Union imposed its first ever sanctions against alleged cyber attackers on Thursday, targeting Russian and Chinese individuals...
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'Alarm' at Poland's plan to leave treaty protecting women

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The EU and the Council of Europe on Sunday voiced regret and alarm over the Polish right-wing government's move to withdraw from a landmark...
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Latest News

Swiss photographer not responsible for Hong Kong protest assault: lawyers

Swiss photographer not responsible for Hong Kong protest assault: lawyers Swiss photographer not responsible for Hong Kong protest assault: lawyers
A Swiss photographer who closed a door on a Chinese mainlander moments before he was assaulted during last year's Hong Kong democracy protests...
Read More...

Turkey debates dropping landmark women's treaty

Turkey debates dropping landmark women's treaty Turkey debates dropping landmark women's treaty
Just as Turkey began debating leaving the world's first treaty prosecuting femicide and domestic abuse, a jealous killer set a woman's body...
Read More...

Doors slamming shut in Hungary for asylum seekers

Doors slamming shut in Hungary for asylum seekers Doors slamming shut in Hungary for asylum seekers
"It's difficult in a new way for us. There is hardly anyone left to talk to," Karzan Mohamed Sharif Amin, an Iraqi Kurd, told AFP at a government-run...
Read More...

Mutating terror threat still looms over Europe

Mutating terror threat still looms over Europe Mutating terror threat still looms over Europe
The terrorist threat against Europe has mutated in the last half-decade as jihadist groups have seen their Middle East sanctuaries eroded,...
Read More...

US, Slovenia to 'exclude untrusted vendors' from 5G

US, Slovenia to 'exclude untrusted vendors' from 5G US, Slovenia to 'exclude untrusted vendors' from 5G
The US and Slovenia signed a declaration Thursday to "exclude untrusted vendors" from 5G networks as the Trump administration continues its...
Read More...

Beleaguered Belarus opposition finds Baltic refuge

Beleaguered Belarus opposition finds Baltic refuge Beleaguered Belarus opposition finds Baltic refuge
Waves of repression in Belarus have turned its EU neighbours into places of refuge for pro-democracy Belarusians, with presidential challenger...
Read More...

EU, UK denounce Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai's arrest

EU, UK denounce Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai's arrest EU, UK denounce Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai's arrest
The European Union on Monday (Aug 10) accused China of using Hong Kong's new security law to crack down on media freedom, after the arrest...
Read More...

Biden rules out in-person appearance at Democratic convention

Biden rules out in-person appearance at Democratic convention Biden rules out in-person appearance at Democratic convention
Joe Biden will not attend the Democratic convention to accept the party's nomination to be its presidential election candidate after the event...
Read More...

EU sanctions on Russian, Chinese 'cyber attackers'

EU sanctions on Russian, Chinese 'cyber attackers' EU sanctions on Russian, Chinese 'cyber attackers'
The European Union imposed its first ever sanctions against alleged cyber attackers on Thursday, targeting Russian and Chinese individuals...
Read More...

'Alarm' at Poland's plan to leave treaty protecting women

'Alarm' at Poland's plan to leave treaty protecting women 'Alarm' at Poland's plan to leave treaty protecting women
The EU and the Council of Europe on Sunday voiced regret and alarm over the Polish right-wing government's move to withdraw from a landmark...
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Albania will not "stay at Europe's door and cry" for it to open, Prime Minister Edi Rama told AFP, stressing that the Balkan state must focus on its own future

The country of 2.8 million hoped to get the greenlight to start EU entry talks in October, but France, Denmark and the Netherlands vetoed the move. 

Neighbouring North Macedonia's bid was also put on hold due to resistance chiefly from Paris.

The French-led "non" outraged many in the Balkans and in the EU, where most member states had wanted to reward the two countries for pushing through significant reforms. 

Brussels is now redoubling efforts to get all member states on board to approve the start of Albania and North Macedonia's talks at a summit in May. 

Prime Minister Rama, however, is not holding his breath. 

"I do not expect anything," Rama, a painter and former basketball player, told AFP in an interview conducted in French.

"We should do the things that should be done" regardless of decisions in Brussels, he said, adding that the country cannot "continue to live with this anxiety of waiting for something that is out of our hands".

"We will not stay at Europe's door and cry," said the 55-year-old, who was wearing a long black coat and sneakers.

"We are not on this path because the French or the Germans are asking us, but because it is the only reasonable path for the future of our children and for the future of this country," he said. 

Rama added that the EU's own reforms are far from Tirana's control, though "it is important for us too that Europe changes".

Europe "is suffering, it doesn’t work as it should, that's clear." 

- Earthquake wake-up call -

In order to placate French demands to rework the EU's entry requirements before opening the gate to new members, the European Commission proposed a tougher and more political admissions process this week. 

For Tirana, the main areas under scrutiny are its efforts to root out corruption and organised crime, as well as to strengthen rule of law. 

The country has carried out intensive justice reforms since 2016, with hundreds of judges and prosecutors vetted for any links to crime or other unethical conduct.

While Brussels has applauded this process, a progress report in 2019 still noted that "corruption is prevalent in many areas" in the Balkan state. The next report is due at the end of the month. 

"Albania did more than any other country for the opening of negotiations," insisted Rama, who has been in power since 2013.

But the country will "continue to do its homework (because) we are not doing it for them, we are doing it for ourselves", he added. 

On that front, the government recently adopted a decree to bolster the fight against organised crime.

It has also asked parliament to crack down on corruption and crime in the construction sector -- an issue that came to light after a deadly earthquake in November damaged more than 80,000 buildings, killing 51 people.

Authorities say they will put an end to decades of unchecked urbanisation, especially in coastal tourist areas where many developers have built without proper permits or respect for safety codes. 

The cost of the earthquake reconstruction effort is estimated at a billion euros (dollars), with which Albania is set to receive help at a donor conference later this month in Brussels. 

"We greatly appreciate the will to organise this conference and we hope it will be successful," Rama said.

Asked if the earthquake was a wake-up call for Albania generally, Rama said he was a "realist".

"This is a huge opportunity for the country to demonstrate it is doing things differently," he said.

"But to say that Albanians will become Swedes, I don't think it will happen."AFP

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