Varoufakis claims Tsipras pressured him to accept creditors’ demands

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Former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis on Friday hit out at Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, claiming that the premier had tried to scare him into yielding to creditors’ demands.

“In the summer of 2015 Alexis Tsipras told me that I should fear a new Goudi,” Varoufakis told VICE magazine, referring to a military coup that took place in Greece in 1909 amid simmering social tensions.

The former minister, who has launched his own party, DiEM25, said the alleged statement struck him as a threat aimed at forcing him to agree with Tsipras’s decision to give in to creditors.

In a Skai TV interview last week, Varoufakis said Greece “will become Kosovo, a protectorate run by an employee of the European Union.”


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Chios authorities vote in favor of pre-departure migrant center

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Municipal authorities on Chios on Friday voted in favor of creating a pre-departure detention facility on the eastern Aegean island with the aim of accelerating the return to Turkey of migrants who are not eligible for asylum.

The island’s municipal council approved the motion to create the center despite opposition by local businesses and residents, many of whom have grown exasperated at the continued presence of thousands of migrants on the island.

According to sources, government officials have committed to closing the island’s Souda reception center, where living conditions are said to be substandard, once the pre-departure facility is ready.

The island’s Vial reception center, on the premises of an abandoned aluminium factory, will continue to operate, hosting refugees, while migrants facing deportation will be moved to the new facility.

A total of 1,496 migrants are currently on Chios out of 13,758 on the eastern Aegean islands, according to government figures released on Friday.


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Turkey’s Ibn Haldun University opens with objective of intellectual independence

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Prof. Dr. Recep Şentürk with Daily Sabah reporter Şeyma Nazlı Gürbüz

Prof. Dr. Recep Şentürk with Daily Sabah reporter Şeyma Nazlı Gürbüz

With Turkey gaining its unique voice in the educational realm, newly opened institutions continue to bring the country to a better level with every passing day. One of those institutions, the Ibn Haldun University opened its doors in Istanbul’s Başakşehir district on Saturday to gain intellectual independence.

Talking ahead of the university’s opening ceremony, Recep Şentürk, the chancellor of the newly opened university, gave an interview to Daily Sabah about the objectives of the institute.

Emphasizing that Turkey is in the process of gaining total independence in terms of its politics, economy and technology, Şentürk, pointed to the fact that the country still suffers from intellectual dependency, which is the main reason behind the establishment of the Ibn Haldun University.

“Our university’s purpose is to lead countries exploited and oppressed by the western world in the process of regaining their intellectual independence. For instance, today, Turkey tries to break its chains and gain its political, economic and technological independence. Turkey is managing this by staying all by itself without any outside support. It produces its own goods and even exports them,” Şentürk said, adding that, when it comes to ideas, however, the country “still imports all the theories from the outside world,” defined as “intellectual dependence.” Calling on Turkey to export ideas to the whole world, Şentürk highlighted that the Ibn Haldun University aims to fill such a gap.

According to Şentürk, theories that the western world produces are not capable of coming up with solutions to the problems of non-Western countries, which have totally different cultural and historical codes compared to Western countries.

That’s why, he claims, Turkey, in particular, “needs to come up with its own theories to help solve its problems.”

‘Istanbul will be a leading cultural and scientific center’Underlining that the university takes the renowned historiographer and historian Ibn Haldun as a guiding light for the school’s objectives, Şentürk drew attention to the fact that Ibn Haldun University will contain Turkey’s cultural and historical codes not only in its academic system but also in its campus structure.

Such a structure will resemble the “külliye,” as Şentürk puts it, which refers to a complex of buildings associated with Ottoman architecture centered on a mosque and managed within a single institution, especially the madrasa, which was the Ottoman name for a university.

“We are the first research-intensive university of Turkey, and university means research. That is why the most successful universities in the world are usually based on their graduate programs rather than undergraduate programs,” Şentürk said. “If a place does not produce ideas, it cannot be a university, but only a distributor of knowledge.”

With such a comprehensive array of ambitions in the Turkish education system, Şentürk ended his remarks by saying, “Our aim is to make Istanbul one of the leading cultural and scientific centers in the world and also to raise global actors and leaders. We believe that we are in an open civilization period in which there are no walls between civilizations. Thus, there is the global competitive system now, which we should raise people as the representatives of our country.”


Source : Daily Sabah

AK Party ready for Erdoğan era with transformation on agenda

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President Erdoğan and PM Yıldırım, shake hands at the meeting held to welcome the president back to the AK Party in early May. PM Yıldırım is expected to be to become second-in-command at the party after President Erdoğan's return.

President Erdoğan and PM Yıldırım, shake hands at the meeting held to welcome the president back to the AK Party in early May. PM Yıldırım is expected to be to become second-in-command at the party after President Erdoğan’s return.

President Erdoğan is expected to be elected as the new chairman of the AK Party at the third extraordinary congress, with reshuffle in the party’s top decision-making bodies also likely after the change

The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is set to welcome the longest-serving chairman, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, back to his post with an emergency congress on Sunday to mark the beginning of a new era for the party and the whole country. President Erdoğan is expected to be elected as the new chairman of the AK Party at the third emergency congress ever held in the history of the 16-year-old party.

The president’s return to the post of chairman will reshape the party organization. The slogan adopted by the ruling party for the congress is “Democracy, Transformation, Reform.” There are already talks about a shake-up within the AK Party’s top decision-making bodies, the Central Executive Board (MYK) and Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK).

Having taken the chairmanship back, Erdoğan will now make decisions regarding local administrations as well. Local administrators and party officials have been criticized in the run-up to the April 16 referendum for their lack of enthusiasm and dynamism. Erol Kaya, deputy AK Party chairman responsible for local administrations, told Daily Sabah that Erdoğan’s takeover is “exciting” for the entire party.

“His taking over will bring a different type of enthusiasm and motivation to the party and local administrations,” Kaya said.

The deputy chairman underlined that municipalities will be in much better form in the wake of Erdoğan’s return. “A total of 879 of the 1,397 municipalities are run by the AK Party. His return will be an overwhelming motivation for local municipalities.”

AK Party group deputy Chairman Bülent Turan voiced his hope for a better and stronger future after the transformation period. Calling Erdoğan’s return the rebirth of the AK Party, Turan said that his natural leadership will become formal on Sunday.

Hinting at the transformation period after May 21, the group deputy chairman said: “The slogan of our congress is ‘Democracy, Transformation and Reform.’ We, as the AK Party, will enter the 2019 [elections] with a strong leader, party administration and government under the leadership of our president.”

New policies in Erdoğan era

Apart from the reshuffling within the party, the new Erdoğan era is very likely to revamp the AK Party in terms of foreign policy, domestic politics and economics. Sources from the AK Party say that Erdoğan will convey significant messages on Sunday that will address all sections of society and the entire world.

Erdoğan’s ties to the AK Party had to be cut off following his election as president. Having garnered nearly 52 percent of the popular vote on August 10, 2014 in the first round presidential elections, Erdoğan took office.

The president bid his party farewell on August 27, 2014 at the party’s first emergency congress, leaving his post to former AK Party chairman and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

Despite saying good-bye to the party in the summer of 2014, President Erdoğan has repeatedly promised that he would return to the party one day. After the constitutional changes were approved in the April 16 referendum that allowed for the president to be a member of a political party, President Erdoğan became an AK Party member earlier this month.

“Separation from the party was only an official technicality. The distance between us was due to legislation. However, our hearts were always together,” Erdoğan said at a ceremony held for him on May 2 at the AK Party headquarters in Ankara.

Deputy AK Party Chairman Kaya said that Erdoğan’s return will further strengthen the party now that he has reunited with his fellow party members. “It needs to be underscored that turbulence and debates within the AK Party will have been ended with Erdoğan’s return,” Kaya asserted.

On the other hand, Turan commented on the reshuffle within the AK Party as well, saying that trying to move on with old-fashioned structures would hold the party back. “Political persistency requires adapting to changing conditions. In fact, the AK Party’s special place in Turkish politics is because of this. The AK Party gets its strength from change and transformation.”

As for popular interest in the congress, tens of thousands of people will flock to the Ankara Sports Arena where the congress will be held, according to several reports in Turkish media. Around 1,500 buses will head to the capital city for the congress. Also, more than 500 journalists, including members of the foreign press, are expected to be covering the event on Sunday.

The increased appearance of female politicians is expected in the AK Party during the new term as well. The AK Party’s Women’s Branch plans to “reach out to various groups” to understand the reason for the “inability to convey the party’s message.”

AK Party Women’s Branch head Selva Çam mentioned the steps to be taken in the upcoming transformation period while noting that changes will be made to the branch administration in order to reach a wider audience. Çam indicated that members from civil society groups will be invited to join organizations overseen by the branch.

Also, young politicians will reportedly be more visible in the party’s local administrations, while rejuvenation within the whole party organization is expected to bring new dynamism to the AK Party.

Yıldırım to be named vice chairman

As Erdoğan retakes the chairmanship status in the AK Party, current AK Party Chairman and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s future has been discussed. AK Party deputy Chairman Hayati Yazıcı stated on Tuesday that the bylaws of the party will be changed and a “vice-chairmanship” position will be formed to allow Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım to become second-in-command after President Erdoğan’s return.

AK Party’s deputy chairman in charge of organizations, Mustafa Ataş previously commented on the issue as well, saying: “There may be an amendment to establish a vice-chairmanship position. The issue, along with other party-related matters, will be amended once they have been discussed with President Erdoğan.”


Source : Daily Sabah

Dutch farmers to use weed drone to detect cannabis in their fields

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MPs have demanded a debate with government ministers to discuss the policing of maize fields in Limburg used by criminals to grow cannabis, the Telegraaf reported on Friday. The request, by CDA MP Jaco Geurts, was made after the paper reported on Thursday that farmers in Limburg had decided to check their crop for cannabis using drones. Farmers started taking action because cutbacks meant police would no longer continue their so-called helicopter ‘weed flights’. But although the fight against cannabis has been a successful one in recent years chairman Léon Faassen of the Limburg agricultural union LLTB  fears the discontinuation of the flights will encourage criminals to try again. ‘We want to keep our fields free of cannabis and together with our members we will do just that,’ he told the Telegraaf’. Faassen is also worried about the safety of farmers. ‘Farmers are being put under pressure to allow cannabis and farmers who discover people on their land also run a risk.’ ‘We can’t leave the farmers to fend for themselves. Farmers are being forced into a corner and have to take action themselves to expose the weed mafia,’ Geurts told the paper. The Christian Democrats’ support is mainly concentrated in the agricultural provinces. Free fields The use of maize fields to grow cannabis ‘for free’ is a popular among criminals, the Telegraaf said. In 2009 police found some 45,000 cannabis plants among maize in Limburg with a street value of €10m. Sweet corn predominates in Limburg which has always been fertile ground for illegal cannabis plantations. The quality of the ‘corn cannabis’ is not as good as conventionally grown weed but is ‘excellent for export purposes’, the paper said. Some farmers’ fields are invaded more than once. One farmer who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, told the paper that this year he found cannabis among the sweet corn for the third time. ‘I was harvesting and suddenly I saw cannabis plants everywhere. There were about a hundred. The criminals had pulled out my crop and put in cannabis seedlings that were grown in greenhouses.’ September The drones will be flying in the first week of September when the corn is harvested and will cover five hundred fields. The Telegraaf’s anonymous farmer welcomes the weed drone but thinks the situation is ‘unhealthy’. ‘A lot of criminality in the country side is linked to cannabis growing. There should be a police clamp down because these are not people with a couple of plants for their own use but tough criminals. It’s the police who should go after them, not the farmers,’ the paper quotes him as saying.

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The sun has got his hat on – have you? Skin cancer on rise in the Netherlands

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The sun has got his hat on, but have you? The number of people with aggressive skin cancer has continued to rise, reports the Netherlands Comprehensive Cancer Organisation IKNL on Friday. On Saturday, it will hold the fifth national skin cancer day to offer free checks and bring together patient associations, doctors and other experts. The organisation reports that in the last 15 years, the numbers of Dutch people with melanoma, an aggressive skin cancer, has risen dramatically from 1554 in 1990 to 5887 in 2015. One in five Dutch people is expected to get some form of skin cancer, making it one of the most common forms of cancer in the Netherlands. Most diagnosed cases are curable, and in 2014 there were 53,000 skin cancer patients recently registered – as many as all new breast, colon, lung and prostate cancer together. But, the organisation warns, specialists fear this is the ‘tip of the iceberg’, due to a change in behaviour. Chronic sun exposure due to outdoor work has decreased, but short, intense doses have increased with modern holidays, sunbathing and the use of tanning beds. Tomorrow, people who have enrolled in advance – registration is now closed due to demand – can have a free skin cancer check and find out about reducing the risks. Last year’s checks discovered 250 visitors with a form of skin cancer, 50 probably a melanoma.

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Sweden shuts down Julian Assange rape investigation

The WikiLeaks founder’s lawyer filed a request at Stockholm District Court earlier in May asking for an end to the arrest warrant against his client, arguing it should be dropped now that the US has expressed a desire to charge the 45-year-old.

Assange had been remanded in custody by Sweden ‘in absentia’ over a 2010 rape allegation, and has been taking refuge inside Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012 in order to escape the warrant, citing fears he may be extradited to the US to be tried over WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of classified documents.

One of Assange’s lawyers, Melinda Taylor, indicated earlier on Friday that the preliminary investigation into him being closed or the lifting of the European arrest warrant would not necessarily mean the Australian would make a hasty exit for Ecuador.

“The first thing one likely needs to do is seek guarantees from the British authorities that he won’t be seized in some other way,” she told news agency TT.

Both British and American authorities have “consistently refused to confirm or deny” if there is a request for extradition to the US, she said. Assange is also accused of breaching his bail conditions in the UK for fleeing to Ecuador’s embassy, she noted.

And in a statement released on Friday afternoon, the Metropolitan Police confirmed it is obliged to arrest Assange should he leave the embassy.

“Westminster Magistrates’ Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on the 29 June 2012. The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy,” the statement reads.

“Whilst Mr Assange was wanted on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for an extremely serious offence, the MPS response reflected the serious nature of that crime. Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Mr Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence. The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence,” it continues.

When the Swedish announcement was made on Friday, WikiLeaks commented through its Twitter account that the “focus now moves to the UK”.

And Assange’s Swedish lawyer hailed the news as a “victory” for his client.

“It is a complete victory for Assange. He is free to leave the embassy when he wants. We have won the Assange case. He is of course happy and relieved. But he is critical over this going on for so long,” Per E Samuelson told Sveriges Radio.

After refusing to travel to Sweden for questioning, Assange was grilled last December by an Ecuadorian prosecutor on questions provided by Swedish officials, with Swedish prosecutor Ingrid Isgren present.

He has always maintained that he is innocent of the rape accusation from 2010, when he was accused of having sex with a woman as she slept without using a condom, despite her repeatedly denying him unprotected sex.

The statute of limitations on the rape allegation was due to expire in August 2020. In August 2015, the five-year statute of limitations expired on a further sexual assault probe into Assange concerning another Swedish woman.


Source : The Local Sweden