At least 19 people died, 772 were injured in a major earthquake in the eastern Turkish provinces of Malatya and Elazig, Report says, citing Anadolu Agency.
According to the Emergency Management Agency, 493 rescue teams from 28 Turkish provinces work in the disaster area. 1,689 tents, 1,656 beds, and 9,200 blankets were delivered to the earthquake zone.
Mobile operators announced free communication services in Elazig and Malatya.
France’s hardleft trade unions on Friday threatened industrial action for months to come, as they searched for a way to force President Emmanuel Macron to ditch the biggest overhaul of the country’s pension system since World War II.
After a brief respite from a seven-week strike that extended over the Christmas period, French unions called for major shutdowns and demonstrations on Friday to show their “determination” to halt Macron’s pension reform plan.
The call came as Prime Minister Edouard Philippe presented the new plan instituting a “universal system” of point-based pensions to the cabinet Friday, before it is sent to the National Assembly, France’s lower house, where debates will begin February 17.
The unions on Friday brought thousands of protesters into the streets for a seventh day of nationwide demonstrations, which took place as their large-scale protests have been petering out and they are increasingly resorting to wildcat actions to cause disruption.
“Our determination remains intact,” Yves Veyrier, head of the Force Ouvrière union, told reporters ahead of a street march in Paris. “We have weeks, months, of protest ahead of us.”
On Thursday evening, demonstrators held torch-lit protests in Paris ahead of a “Black Friday” of strikes and shutdowns.
Reforms needed to create flexible job market, says Macron
France’s hardline CGT union’s leader, Philippe Martinez, warned that opposition to the pension reform “has not weakened” in an interview with the Public Sénat TV station, with polls showing that 61 percent of French people are calling for the reform to be withdrawn.
The CFE-CGC confederation of trade unions however declared it wanted to “take (a) break” after Friday’s mobilisation. “Our members are difficult to mobilise on a long-term basis, they have responsibilities and are not asking for economic activity to be too disrupted,” said senior CFE-CGC official Gérard Mardiné.
Macron wants to streamline the existing setup of 42 different pension schemes, each with their own levels of contributions and benefits, into a single system that gives every pensioner the same rights for each euro contributed.
The myriad special benefits deter job mobility, says Macron, for whom the reform is central to a drive to create a more flexible labour market.
‘We Shall Overcome’ say protesters
Trade union opponents say the reform will require people to work longer for a full pension.
“I still believe in our fight,” said one protester in Paris who identified herself as Karine and carried a banner reading ‘We Shall Overcome’.
Walkouts at power plants left electricity generation reduced by 6.4 percent of available capacity, according to grid operator data. Power demand is outstripping supply due to cold weather, leaving France a net importer of electricity from its neighbours.
French Prime Minister Philippe insists the pension reform must result in a balanced pension budget by 2027.
Under pressure from the unions, he has withdrawn a proposal to raise the retirement age for a full pension by two years to 64. But unions must now find another way to balance the pension books or the provision will be added back in before the bill is due to be voted into law this summer.
Friday is the 51st day of France’s longest strike in 40 years and unions hope there will be enough protesters in the streets to force the government to back down.
FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS
Cooperation between Caspian countries is essential, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said at Caspian Week, a platform for global ideas at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Report informs.
The PM spoke about Georgia’s position in the region.
“We consider that our country is a door to the Caspian region. This moment is important for us. We believe that our country can play the role of a platform in the trade spaces of the EU, Turkey, China, and others. Georgia is in a remarkable position. We think about how to benefit from this resource for the interests of our citizens. Georgian government pays attention to this issue.”
Gakharia also touched upon the significance of coordinated operation: “Establishment of relations is of great importance to us. That’s why we are here in Davos. We are here to speak about relations in our region, in Georgia and the Caspian region.”
The PM said cooperation in the Caspian region is essential: “Cooperation among Caspian countries is essential. This event is a result of our joint activity. I am proud to be here today and that our country is also in this region.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and SOCAR President Rovnag Abdullayev have met in Davos, Report says, citing Ukrainian media.
Zelensky and Abdullayev noted the significance of investing in infrastructure projects, enterprises, as well as Ukraine’s transportation capacities.
Zelensky recalled his visit to Azerbaijan in December 2019, saying the trip was very productive.
“I think that visit raised the relations between our countries to a new level,” Zelensky said.
They also discussed the implementation of joint projects with SOCAR based on agreements reached during the Ukrainian President’s visit to Baku.
“Almost 90% of the agreement has already been completed, but we expect the European side to be more involved in energy and trade issues.”
“The European Union and Azerbaijan are closely cooperating in the areas of security, transport, and energy. Azerbaijan and the EU are strategic partners mainly in the field of energy,” Assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Head of Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmat Hajiyev said in his interview with Euroactive.
“This year is particularly important for both of us: in the middle of summer, Azerbaijani gas delivered via TAP and TANAP will physically be on the territory of EU. And we will complete the final portion of the TAP project,” Hajiyev said.
According to him, official Baku is currently negotiating with the European side to develop a new partnership agreement with the EU.
And there are certain fundamental areas, we have a lot of different views, but both sides have a constructive engagement to narrow this gap. Almost 90 percent text of the agreement has been finalized. But there are energy issues and also trade issues, we are looking for more engagement on the side of the European Union, but they should not take a preferential position or in other words offensive trade approach with regard to the agreement and based on that understanding with the belief that we can move forward.”
The Assistant to the President noted that Azerbaijan is strategically important for the EU, as it is at the stage of internal reforms and gives preference to economic initiatives.
“The agreement should be prepared and assessed so that it should meet the requirements of both sides. It should be mutual and beneficial for all,” Hajiyev said.
Relations with the European Union are one of the main directions of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy, Assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Head of Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmat Hajiyev said in an interview with Euroactive.
He touched upon issues of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the EU, including in the energy sector, negotiations on a new agreement, the EU’s position on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, geopolitics, trade, the events of January 20, 1990, and other matters.
“As my president said, unfortunately, last year was a lost year regarding the resolution of the conflict. We can’t see any particular movement in this respect. On the contrary, we have seen counterproductive destructive policy by Armenia. The Armenian side tried to change the format of the negotiation process. Nevertheless, we have already established the format of the negotiation process. Armenia and Azerbaijan as parties to the conflict, and OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs as mediators,” Hajiyev said.
EU-Azerbaijan new partnership agreement should meet requirements of both sides, Assistant of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Head of Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmet Hajiyev told EURACTIV.
“The negotiation process is still going on between EU and Azerbaijan. There are certain fundamental areas, on which we have a little bit different views, but both sides with constructive engagement are working together to narrow this gap. Almost 90 percent of the text of the agreement has been finalized. But there are energy issues, but also trade issues, we are looking for more engagement from the EU side. They shouldn’t take preferential
position, or in other words, offensive trade approach with regard to the agreement. Based on that understanding, we do believe that we can move forward. Because for Azerbaijan, it is also strategically important that we have own internal reform process and own economic priorities and initiatives. The agreement should meet the requirements of both sides and in the meantime, there should be mutually beneficial approach,” he said.
Hajiyev noted that Azerbaijan’s relations with the European Union are one of the important directions of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy.
“Azerbaijan and the EU are cooperating in many different spheres. Azerbaijan is also an important partner of the EU in terms of trade. Biggest investors in Azerbaijan are mainly EU countries. The EU and Azerbaijan are closely cooperating in security, transport and energy fields. Especially, in the energy field the EU and Azerbaijan are strategic partners. This year is particularly important, as we will finalize the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and Azerbaijani gas will physically be on the territory of Europe,” he added.
As for the Eastern Partnership program, he noted it should be tailor-made.
“As regards the Eastern Partnership, my president has once again mentioned that in general, it is a framework that brings together different countries and we are also a part of this process to be engaged. We are participating in the Eastern Partnership program. Currently, there are some talks and discussions about further development of Eastern Partnership. But for us inclusiveness in this process, and also not to rank the partners are extremely important. Eastern Partnership should be designed in a sense that particularly, needs and requirements of the partner countries should be met and it also should be tailor-made. Because from Azerbaijani perspective, we see the Eastern Partnership as a general framework and we are not asking for any kind of donor support or any kind of financial support within the Eastern Partnership. We want to build up further cooperation with the European Union by using the wider framework,” noted Hajiyev.
Moreover, he talked about Azerbaijan’s role in improving the connectivity between the East and West.
“In general, the Silk Road concept resonates with Azerbaijan’s own perception, because Azerbaijan was historically located on the ancient Silk Road. Therefore, along this road, along the Caspian Sea, we are building different connectivity mechanisms with our Central Asian partners. It is not only about transportation, it is also about information and communication technologies. Along the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan with our Central Asian partners, with China and some other partnering countries involved, is building a new fiber-optic line as well. We are working on maritime and air component of the Silk Road. Simply, things are going well. There is a big potential for trade turnover between China and EU and as a mid-corridor, Azerbaijan can play its role. Especially, with Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway system we see that we can do a lot with our EU partners. Azerbaijan’s railway system is well integrated and connected with Russian railway system. Now we are working with our Iranian partners, so that we can bring goods from wider Indian ocean to the northern part of Europe within a short range of time,” added Hajiyev.
Azerbaijan sees further potential to develop political consultation and dialogue with NATO, Assistant of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Head of Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmet Hajiyev told EURACTIV.
“Last year we celebrated 25th anniversary of the Partnership for Peace Program that Azerbaijan joined in 1994. Since then, cooperation with NATO played an important role in security reform and defense reform in Azerbaijan. Education, training and exercises provided by different NATO programs were important instruments in Azerbaijan’s defense building and defense reform process,” he said.
Hajiyev pointed out that currently, Azerbaijan is considered as a reliable and committed partner by NATO.
“And I am proud to say that today Azerbaijani soldiers shoulder-to-shoulder to NATO allies and partner countries are serving in Afghanistan against terrorism and trying to provide and bring peace and security to this country. Azerbaijan also plays an important role as a transit and logistic hub for the transportation of lifesaving goods for NATO allied partner countries. We also see that there is further potential to develop political consultation and dialogue. Within the visit to Brussels, we had 29 + 1 format, that is NATO + Azerbaijan format of discussions on general political and regional issues, including Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that I had a good chance to brief NATO colleagues and friends from the partner and allied countries,” he added.
We’ve have seen counter-productive, destructive policy by Armenia with regard to Nagorno-Karabakh conflict’s settlement, Assistant of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Head of Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmet Hajiyev told EURACTIV.
“As it was said by my president, unfortunately, last year was a lost year with regard to the resolution of the conflict. We can’t see any particular movement with regard to the resolution of the conflict. On the contrary, we have seen counter-productive, destructive policy by Armenia. Armenian side tries to change the format of the negotiation process. Nevertheless, we have already established the format of the negotiation process. Armenia and Azerbaijan are conflicting parties and OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs are mediators. Armenian side has at a very high level said “new territories, new wars”, “no inch of territory back” and finally, Armenian Prime Minister in occupied Khankendi city of Azerbaijan said that “Nagorno-Karabakh is Armenia”. It is a pure annexation of the territory of a sovereign state at the level of leadership of one country against other country. It is completely unacceptable. It was an element of not just undermining, but destroying the entire negotiation process. We have communicated with message to co-chair countries, to the international community that Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijan and exclamation mark,” said Hajiyev.
As for EU’s approach to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict’s settlement, he said Azerbaijan has taken a positive note about the EU’s principled and firm position with regard to territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan.
“Particularly, it has been reaffirmed in the partnership priorities document that has been signed between the EU and Azerbaijan. We also see continuation of this policy, especially, in the implementation of the Common foreign policy and security document of the EU that has been endorsed in the European Parliament. It is a bounding principle that says that EU supports territorial integrity of all Eastern Partnership countries. For us it is critically important and we appreciate that position. We do think that these core fundamental principles that are deriving from the Helsinki Final Act and international law should in non-selective manner be applied to all countries and with respect to all Eastern Partnership countries. We would also like to see further continuation of this policy and see it also reflected in EU positions in some other different foras – in OSCE, UN and some other foras, because territorial integrity is a must for every country,” he added.
Work on the Lapis-Lazuli project (transport corridor Lazurite) continues successfully, Mustafa Mastoor, Minister of Economy of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, told Report in Davos.
“Thanks to the project, which was launched in December 2018, Afghanistan has already transported cargo twice. We thank all countries working on this project, including Azerbaijan. We have almost solved administrative issues such as visas, customs, and others, to complete this project,” the minister said.
He noted that Azerbaijan has great potential and can contribute to many fields in Afghanistan: “Relations between Azerbaijan and Afghanistan have always been on a high level. I think Azerbaijan can play an important role in different issues, including the political and economic life of Afghanistan. Azerbaijan can contribute to the restoration of peace in Afghanistan. Moreover, Azerbaijan achieved successes in oil and gas and transport issues. Azerbaijan is also strong in the tourism sphere and can help attract investors in Afghanistan.”
The five-party agreement on the Lapis-Lazuli route was signed on November 15, 2017, at the 8th Regional Conference on Economic Cooperation on Afghanistan (RECCA) between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. The agreement provides for the modernization of transport infrastructure (motor, railway, and sea transport) of the member-states and facilitation of customs procedures. The corridor is the most profitable route to supply cargo from Afghanistan and Asia to Europe.
“Transport corridors passing through Azerbaijan are major corridors in the region,” Head of Caspian Week’s Organizing committee Murat Seitnepesov told Report during the Caspian Week, a platform for global ideas at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
He noted that the Caspian Week, a platform for global ideas, has been held for the fourth time at the World Economic Forum in Davos: “This year, we’ll mainly discuss transport corridors in the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan and Georgia play a great role in this issue. Two corridors pass through Azerbaijan and Georgia, which have the potential to transport cargo from the Great Caspian region to the world markets and from the world markets to the Great Caspian region. One of the topics we’ll discuss today is the Trans-Caspian pipeline. The platform will be attended by experts from Azerbaijan, the US, Russia, and other countries. They’ll share their opinions, ideas, recommendations, and suggestions.”
Murat Seitnepeov said that the Great Caspian region plays a leading role in the development of the world economy: “The Great Caspian region does not cover only five countries. The region stretches to countries around the Caspian and Black Seas, including the area from China that embraces Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey. It covers 500,000 people and an area of 5 million sq km. This region is of particular economic importance. We believe that it has great potential in both economic and other fields.”
UFC welterweight Jorge Masvidal had the most successful year of his career in 2019 but as he tells RT Sport, he has a whole lot more in the tank ahead of what he describes as a ‘Rated R’ year in 2020.
To adapt a well-worn fight cliche, it took 16 years for Jorge Masvidal to be an overnight success. ‘Gamebred’ began last year by entering enemy territory in London to take on hometown favorite Darren Till, where it was assumed by practically everyone in the arena that Masvidal’s role in the production was very much a supporting one.
That was until the second round.
“Definitely the Till knockout [was important],” Masvidal explained to RT Sport in Las Vegas when describing his phenomenal ascent in 2019. “If you look at the whole fight, we were exchanging a lot of chess pieces there. Till was setting up to murder me, I was setting up to murder him. It was a battle of wits as much as it was physicality. So I’m proud that I was able to outsmart that individual.”
Also on rt.com ‘Put your money where your mouth is’: UFC ‘BMF’ Jorge Masvidal renews Conor McGregor callout
Ever since that fight last year, Masvidal has spoken in respectful tones when referring to Till. However, the same enthusiasm doesn’t quite extend to some of his other foes in the UFC’s 170lbs fold.
“But man, this day and age, when people want to skip lines and chat sh*t to people, you can’t do that man,” he said. “No with me at least, you can go around punking people, but you’re never to punk me motherf*cker, never in your f*cking life.”
Masvida’s rise – including his record-breaking KO of Ben Askren in July and anointment as the UFC’s ‘BMF’ against Nate Diaz in November – could be seen as a victory for the good ol’ days, a traditional, blood and guts fighter succeeding in the age of social media callouts and post-fight blitzes on the mic.
But are characters like him slowly but surely disappearing from the sport?
“Yes and no,” he says. “Let’s go before The Ultimate Fighter [TV show], right, it was a little different, the characters, the landscape, the amount of athletes involved. The Ultimate Fighter comes out, everyone wants to be a fighter, it gets harder to find fighters, there’s plenty of fighters with the heart, the talent, the drive, amazing fighters, there’s plenty of those guys.
“But the sport is switching more and more towards what are you driving, what are you eating, how much are you talking before the fight, how much are you actually fighting in the cage.”
Of course, one half of this weekend’s UFC 246 main event is well known for his verbal barbs – and Masvidal admits that there is room for trash-talk in the mixed martial arts, so long as you know what you are doing.
“Let me say one thing, I’m not an anti-trash-talker, there’s guys that talk trash, I like it. It’s when it’s just like high school shit. ‘Your mom’s fat, your dad’s left you.’ Man, show some originality, you know… I like something funnier or at least something good and technical.
“When guys are just making stupid jokes or talking about people’s wives, I don’t think we need it in this sport man.”
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A post shared by Jorge Masvidal (@gamebredfighter) on Nov 8, 2019 at 12:39pm PST
Masvidal, who was speaking at the launch of his ‘El Recuerdo’ (which means ‘memory’) mezcal brand in Las Vegas, indicated that he sees himself as fighting for three more years, at which point he will retire and enjoy the fruits of his labor.
There is a whole lot more work to be done before that day comes, however.
“I can’t slow down,” he says. “It’s painful to get my body there, it’s hurts, I have to make a lot of sacrifices, but I’m willing to do it every time, because I love it. I want to win more than anything else, and I want to show every other motherfucker in my weight class that they’ve never been a threat, it’s always been me.”
And as for what’s next, Masvidal says he is currently unsure. He has stated on numerous occasions that he doesn’t want to ‘wait around’ for anyone but given the choice of fighting for the world title or taking on the sport’s biggest star in Conor McGregor, he sees that as an easy decision to make.
“The belt’s always going to be there. Conor, we don’t know. And that one happens to make the most money possible. We gotta take that. After that, I’m gonna baptize that hoot guy [Usman], that bald motherf*cker. Your time’s up man.”
Also on rt.com Record breaker! Jorge Masvidal destroys Ben Askren with flying knee in just five seconds at UFC 239
Before the interview concluded, RT Sport took the opportunity to invite Masvidal to Russia for a future UFC card and asked as to whether he would like to sample some of the local vodka in Moscow.
“Vodka f*cks me up the next day, if I drink vodka I can’t go to the gym the next day. Since I been 18, 19, I can’t drink no vodka,” he says.
All of that said, Masvidal concludes that the eyes of the mixed martial arts world should remain fixed to him this year.
“2019 was PG 13 rated movie for my career, 2020 is going to be rated R as it gets. It’s going to be violent, my brother.”
Watch this space.
A passenger of an airplane flying en route Baku-Moscow has recorded the ship commander regularly leaving the cockpit to chat with his acquaintance, who was also aboard the plane.
Report says, citing News.ru, that on January 7, the mentioned passenger was flying from Baku to Moscow’s Vnukovo aboard AZAL’s Airbus A320. The witness recorded the crew commander leaving the cockpit and entering the salon to talk to a man sitting in the business class. To the passenger’s questions, the senior pilot responded, saying he met his wife’s acquaintance, and therefore he comes to the salon to talk to him. The witness said the way the commander behaved bothered those who were flying with him, mainly because the airplane occasionally hit the turbulence zone.
NEWS.ru sent an official inquiry to AZAL with a request to comment on the passenger’s complaint.
“In response to your inquiry, we bring to your attention that the aviation company needs to conduct an internal investigation to assess the commander’s actions and take the respective measures about the crew, in case the norms and rules of the aviation company are violated,” AZAL said.
All the same, the company ignored the request to name the commander of the flight. According to NEWS.ru, the pilot’s name is Tahir Zarbalayev.
News.ru asked the experts whether the actions of the senior pilot of the crew correspond to the flight rules and whether the pilot put the passengers’ lives at risk with his actions.
Yuri Sytnik, Honored Pilot of the Russian Federation:
“Usually, when there are two crew members, they close and sit like two groundhogs in a hole. And it is allowed to leave the cockpit for a short time with the permission of the ship’s commander. It happens that there is a third pilot checking it. Then he can safely walk around the cabin. But he cannot do so without a particular need. Of course, after the publication of this video, they will find the pilot and issue him a warning. It is just like in the case when the ship commander invited his girlfriend and let her take the controls of the An-24. Under Mezhdurechensk, the A310 ship’s commander allowed his son to fly the aircraft. During the reversal, his son added speed, leading to an accident that killed 300 people. After that, they banned entry for unauthorized persons and put a camera in. And if a camera shows someone entering the cockpit, the trouble is there for the ship commander. You can leave the workplace only briefly and in case of an emergency. These are physiological needs. But at the same time, when one of the crew members leaves the workplace, the senior flight attendant must go in and stay in the cockpit. After all, you cannot leave one person in the cabin. It happened that a co-pilot remained at the helm, and the commander went out to chat with passengers. As a result, the plane “stuck” uphill. These developments prompted a recommendation – when a pilot leaves the cockpit, the flight attendant must be in the cockpit. Because if one pilot remaining in the cockpit suddenly feels bad, and the door is closed, it would be impossible to open the cockpit from the outside because the door is armored. The flight attendant will have to open this door and let in the next crew member, and the plane must make a safe landing at the destination airport at the nearest airfield.”
In contrast to the retired pilot, his working colleague and trade union activist defended the flight crew commander of the Azerbaijani airline.
Alfred Malinovsky, vice president of the Russian Flight Union:
I don’t see anything criminal here. The ship commander is not a chained slave in the galleys, who has no right to leave his place. He has a co-pilot. He can go to the toilet, walk around the cabin to see what is happening there, and chat with passengers. Answer their questions and even meet friends. What is not forbidden is allowed. Otherwise, everything may become absurd. It is already a sort of a phobia.”
According to the instruction of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, the leadership of the Ministry of Defense visited military units stationed in the frontline zone on the occasion of the Day of Solidarity of World Azerbaijanis and the New Year.
The Minister of Defense Colonel General Zakir Hasanov has met with military personnel who is on combat duty in the foremost positions released during the April battles in the Talish direction, checked the defense stability, combat and moral-psychological training of servicemen, as well as observed the enemy’s positions from the command-observation post.
The Minister of Defense, expressing his congratulations and best wishes on the occasions of holidays, awarded servicemen who distinguished themselves in the service and handed them valuable gifts and holiday presents.
After talking to the soldiers at the tea table, the minister inquired about the work being carried out in the sphere of the improvement of the social conditions of the military personnel serving on the front line and gave relevant instructions.
Then the Minister of Defense, visiting a mobile hospital met with soldiers undergoing treatment here and personnel of the military-medical institution, congratulated them on the holidays and presented gifts.
Minister of Defense Colonel General Zakir Hasanov and the leadership of the ministry, took part in the opening of another new military unit in the frontline area, Report informs citing the Defense Ministry.
The leadership of the ministry inspected the soldiers’ mess hall, barracks, ammunition store, and ideological room, as well as food and fruit-vegetable warehouses.
As reported, the administrative building, office, and working premises of the newly-built military unit have a central heating system, electricity, water supply, gas and lines communications, refrigerators, and necessary furniture. Landscaping work was carried out on the territory, and various trees were planted.
After familiarizing with the situation created there, the Minister of Defense set relevant instructions regarding the work implemented in the field of improving the service and social conditions of soldiers.