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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Enemy at the Gates

Turkish crash looms for Europe
By Kirsty Hughes, writer on European affairs

Map of CyprusTo the consternation of many - but the ill-concealed glee of some - Turkey's negotiations to join the EU are threatening to grind to a halt this autumn amid a row over the divided island of Cyprus.

European politicians and diplomats have been alert to this much-heralded "train crash" since early this year but as an EU end-of-year deadline looms, no-one seems sure whether or how the crash can be avoided.

After 40 years in the EU's waiting room, Turkey's membership talks finally began last October. But instead of this encouraging a positive new dynamic between the Union and its large neighbour, the mood has been souring ever since.

In Istanbul, Erdal Kabetepe, director of Turkab, an EU-Turkey association, says: "Our job is to encourage people to support the EU but now we are very much discouraged... if the EU continues like this, it may lose Turkey and that won't help anyone given all the events in the region."

The divided island of Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, is the immediate cause of this looming dispute.

And in a worst-case scenario, worrying some officials, the 25 EU leaders may not agree at all.

In that case, individual member states such as the Greek Cypriots or France, could decide simply to block all future negotiations chapter by chapter, leaving the EU in disarray and its relations with Turkey in tatters.

<< Read more on Turkey and the EU | Read about the Cyprus issue >>


Stingrays killed after Irwin death
Source: PA

Up to 10 stingrays have been found dead and mutilated on Australia's eastern coast since "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin was killed by one of the animals last week, a fisheries official said.

The news has prompted concerns of revenge attacks on the normally docile fish.

The popular television star was killed recently when a stingray barb pierced his chest as he filmed a TV show off Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Michael Hornby, executive director of Irwin's conservation group Wildlife Warriors, said he was concerned the rays were being hunted and killed in retaliation for the TV star's death.

"We just want to make it very clear that we will not accept and not stand for anyone who's taken a form of retribution. That's the last thing Steve would want," he said.


US Iran report branded dishonest
BBC News

The UN nuclear watchdog has protested to the US government over a report on Iran's nuclear programme, calling it "erroneous" and "misleading".

In a leaked letter, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said a congressional report contained serious distortions of the agency's own findings on Iran's nuclear activity.

The IAEA also took "strong exception" to claims made over the removal of a senior safeguards inspector.

A Western diplomat called it "deja vu of the pre-Iraq war period".

The IAEA and the US clashed over intelligence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to the war in Iraq in March 2003.

There was no immediate comment from Washington over the letter.

<< Read about the War In Iraq


Doing business at Non-Aligned summit
By Roger Hearing for BBC News, Havana

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez wants to re-organise the movementViewed from Washington or London, it was a "rogues' gallery".

Speakers at the opening ceremony of the 14th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), in the Palace of Conventions in Havana, included Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus.

And they were only the starters.

Later on, delegates heard from Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, as well as senior politicians from North Korea, Sudan and Burma.

In 2006, attention at the NAM summit in Cuba is inevitably focused on member states who buck the international order - those who choose to challenge what they see as US-imposed conventions of how to behave.

Pictures courtesy of BBC News online.

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