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seattlepi.com: Europe News from the Associated Press





 



Leader of movement to remember Holocaust victims dies at 93

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 02:46:13 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Holocaust survivor Sam Bloch, who dedicated his life to preserving the memory of the victims of Nazi atrocities, has died at age 93. He died of congestive heart failure on Feb. 4 at his home in New York, said his son-in-law, Menachem Rosensaft. Bloch, who grew up in an area that was then Poland but is now part of Belarus, was 16 when his father was killed in a mass execution by Nazi forces in 1941. After taking shelter with a Polish farmer, Bloch joined a guerrilla brigade called the Bielski partisans, who hid in the woods and attacked German soldiers. Bloch spent the years after the war's end in 1945 at a displaced-persons camp at the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. Moving to the U.S.



Latvian ECB official won't resign, rejects bribes report

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 23:01:48 UT

LONDON (AP) — Latvia's official on the European Central Bank's top policymaking council rejected calls to resign Tuesday amid suspicions of bribery and an Associated Press report on allegations of extortion and connections to money laundering. Ilmars Rimsevics, who was detained Saturday and released on bail two days later without charge, was defiant, dismissing the allegations against him as a smear campaign by commercial banks. "I made a decision not to step down because I am not guilty," he said. The prime minister earlier said, however, that Rimsevics would be prevented from performing his duties. The country's anti-corruption agency has started a probe into suspected bribery.



17 Turks reach Greek island, to apply for asylum in Greece

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 18:42:14 UT

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A group of Turks who reached a Greek island by dinghy from Turkey are seeking political asylum in Greece, authorities in Athens said Tuesday. The 17 were reportedly Turkish civil servants and their families who fled a government crackdown in the wake of a failed 2016 coup. The coast guard said the Turks, including six children, were found Monday on the eastern Aegean Sea island of Oinousses, and taken to the nearby island of Chios where a refugee center is located. Turkey has arrested more than 50,000 people since the failed coup and fired at least 110,000 others from government jobs.



UK Labour chief says Communist spy claims 'ridiculous smear'

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 18:23:36 UT

LONDON (AP) — The leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party says a claim that he gave information to a Czechoslovak spy during the Cold War is "a ridiculous smear." Jeremy Corbyn says claims in British newspapers "are increasingly wild and entirely false." The Sun tabloid last week published details of documents from Czechoslovakia's intelligence archives which, it said, showed Corbyn had met an agent three times in the 1980s. Other newspapers have repeated the claims. In a social-media video Tuesday, Corbyn said the stories were being spread by rich media barons worried by the prospect of a left-wing Labour government.



Romanian museum defends screening of AIDS film amid protest

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 18:01:00 UT

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A Romanian museum has defended its screening of French AIDS drama "120 Beats Per Minute" amid protests over gay themes which feature in the film. Lila Passima, director of the Romanian Peasant Museum, told The Associated Press that despite coming under pressure from far-right groups not to show the film, the museum's role was not to "ask people if they are a homosexual, an Orthodox or a Protestant." A dozen far-right protesters gathered outside the museum Tuesday. They said the Cannes award-winning movie "glorified the fight of pro-gay activists," and should not be screened in the museum they called "a temple... of ancient Romanian civilization.



Ukraine's president signs bill on Russia-backed regions

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 17:02:56 UT

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a bill aimed at reintegrating the territory in the country's east controlled by Russia-backed separatists. The bill passed last month designates the areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions as "temporarily occupied" by "aggressor country" Russia. It envisages the use of military force to get them back under Ukraine's control. The conflict in the east erupted after Russia's annexation of Crimea and has killed more than 10,000 since April 2014. A 2015 peace agreement signed in Minsk has helped reduce hostilities, but clashes continue.



Kosovo to vote on revised demarcation deal with Montenegro

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:43:17 UT

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo's government has asked parliament to vote later this week on a revised version of a border demarcation deal with Montenegro. Opposition parties have steadfastly rejected the 2015 agreement, saying that Kosovo would lose territory. But the previous government and international experts deny that would happen. Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said Tuesday that he requested a parliamentary session Thursday to vote on a revised version of the deal after Montenegro's president agreed last week that his country would be willing to compromise. Montenegro, which has already approved the deal, recognizes Kosovo's 2008 independence from Serbia, which Belgrade still rejects.



Oxfam apologizes over handling of Haiti abuse scandal

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:31:12 UT

LONDON (AP) — Oxfam's leadership apologized Tuesday for downplaying the significance of a sexual misconduct scandal in Haiti as they were grilled by British lawmakers and sought to stem the tide of cancelled donations. Appearing before Parliament's International Development Committee, Oxfam Great Britain CEO Mark Goldring repeatedly apologized for a lack of transparency and urgency in handling the original allegations. Goldring said he regretted making comments in the Guardian newspaper suggesting that the response to the scandal had been out of proportion because no one had "murdered babies in their cots." "I should not have said those things. It is not for Oxfam to judge issues of proportionality or motivation," he said.



Malta's only airport reopens after 2-hour closure for fire

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:24:23 UT

VALLETTA, Malta (AP) — Authorities at Malta's only airport say a fire in a fish tank pump room forced the airport to close for two hours while half-a- dozen incoming flights were diverted to Sicily. No one was injured in the fire on Tuesday, which began in a room that holds pumps for a decorative aquarium located in the arrivals area at Malta International Airport. Airport officials say hundreds of passengers were evacuated and 16 flights were affected. They say 10 departing flights were delayed while six incoming flights were rerouted to nearby Catania, Sicily. When the airport reopened, the rerouted flights made their way back to Malta. Malta International Airport is the only airport serving the Mediterranean island nation.



Police reject German nationalists' criticism over march

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:09:01 UT

BERLIN (AP) — Berlin police have dismissed a nationalist party's claim that officers failed to protect participants in a weekend protest march. Several hundred people, including members of the Alternative for Germany party and far-right activists, marched in the German capital on Saturday to protest the government's refugee policies. The demonstration, billed as a "women's march," was meant to end in front of the German Chancellery building, but counter-protesters blocked the route. Dozens of people face possible criminal charges. Alternative for Germany has accused police commanders of refusing to protect the march "for political reasons.



Woman in burqa attacked, abused in Berlin

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 15:46:27 UT

BERLIN (AP) — German police say a Muslim woman wearing a veil covering her entire face and body was attacked and verbally abused inside a Berlin store. Police said Tuesday a 28-year-old woman insulted the victim and ripped the veil of the burqa from her head. The attacker then followed the 54-year-old victim out of the store and continued shouting anti-foreigner abuse at her before being detained by police. Police gave no more details of the incident. Last year the German Parliament approved a government proposal to ban the wearing of all veils that fully cover the face by public employees in schools, courts and other institutions. Anti-Islam groups have called for a total ban on the wearing of all full-face veils in Germany.



The Latest: Greece jails Palestinian over migrant smuggling

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 15:16:45 UT

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on migrant issues in Europe (all times local): 4:15 p.m. A Greek court in the northern city of Thessaloniki has convicted a Palestinian man of running a major migrant-smuggling ring and sentenced him to 13 years in prison. Judges ruled Tuesday that 29-year-old Jamal Owda was active during the height of Europe's immigration crisis, from July 2014 to December 2015 — when he was arrested in Britain following a Greek request. Migrants allegedly paid the ring 1,500 euros ($1,900) each to be taken from Greece to Serbia by road, at a time before Balkan countries closed their borders to check migratory flows. The traffickers' annual revenues exceeded 10 million euros ($12 million).



Greece : 2 ex-ministers sue witnesses in pharma bribe case

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 15:10:56 UT

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Two former Greek government ministers have filed criminal lawsuits against witnesses who allegedly implicated them and other former officials in a pharmaceuticals scandal. Evangelos Venizelos, Greece's deputy prime minister and foreign minister in 2013-2015, and Adonis Georgiadis, the country's health minister in 2013-2014, filed the complaints Tuesday against the secret witnesses who testified they were involved in bribes allegedly paid by Swiss drugmaker Novartis to boost drug sales and prices in Greece. Last week, former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and current European Union Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, who have been implicated as well, filed criminal lawsuits.



3 detained in southern France over 2017 Barcelona attacks

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 14:16:54 UT

PARIS (AP) — The French prosecutor's office says three people have been detained in France in connection with August's deadly attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. The arrests were made in the southern French regions of Tarn and Gard Tuesday after a decision by a French judge last month to launch a full inquiry into the Spanish attacks, which left 16 dead during the peak tourist season. The three individuals are being held over the inquiry into "attempted murder as part of a terrorist enterprise" and "criminal terrorist association." The identities and nationalities of the three have not been disclosed. No charges have been made.



EU border chief warns migrant pressures will stay high

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 13:53:38 UT

BRUSSELS (AP) — The number of migrants trying to reach Europe through the Mediterranean will remain high this year, with more expected to arrive through Spain, the head of European Union border agency Frontex warned Tuesday. Fabrice Leggeri told reporters that "the irregular migration pressure on the southern borders in the Mediterranean will remain at a very high level." He said that "especially the western Mediterranean route is under scrutiny." About 21,000 unauthorized migrants — mostly from Morocco, Algeria and Guinea — entered Spain that way in 2017. Leggeri said overall numbers have decreased since 2015, when 1.



Danish royals attend private funeral for Prince Henrik

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 13:24:52 UT

HELSINKI (AP) — Danish royals and officials on Tuesday attended a private funeral for Denmark's late Prince Henrik, husband of Queen Margrethe, at a Copenhagen chapel. The queen, Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, France's ambassador to Denmark and some 60 other guests were among those at the simple church ceremony at the chapel of the Christiansborg Palace, which houses Parliament, the prime minister's office and is also used for royal ceremonies. Later, hundreds lined the streets of downtown Copenhagen to watch military officers carry away Henrik's coffin, draped in a Danish flag with his personal coat of arms. The royal palace has respected the wish of French-born Henrik to be cremated.



Russia's Foreign Ministry says "several dozens" of Russians hospitalized after being injured in fighting in Syria.

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 12:46:36 UT

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's Foreign Ministry says "several dozens" of Russians hospitalized after being injured in fighting in Syria. .



EU advocate says Poland broke law by logging in forest

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 12:44:03 UT

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The European Union's top advocate said Tuesday that Poland has broken environmental laws with its massive logging of trees in one of Europe's last pristine forests. The opinion by Advocate General Yves Bot could bring a ruling from the EU's Court of Justice against Poland's actions in the Bialowieza Forest a step nearer. According to the opinion, the court "should rule that Poland has failed to fulfil its obligations" under the EU's Natura 2000 directives that protect natural sites of special importance. Observers say the opinions from the advocate general are often adopted in final rulings.



German Social Democrats voting on coalition pact with Merkel

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 12:43:08 UT

BERLIN (AP) — Members of Germany's center-left Social Democratic Party have started voting on whether to accept the coalition agreement negotiated by their leaders with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc on forming a new government. SPD leaders promised to give the party's 463,000 members the chance to approve the agreement after facing strong resistance to entering another so-called "grand coalition" with Merkel, especially among its youth wing. SPD lawmaker Heiko Maas, Germany's current justice minister, urged passing the agreement, telling members it "contains many Social Democratic successes: safe pensions, better training, free day-care or massive relief for low-earners." Voting started Tuesday and concludes March 2.



Report: EU would squeeze US juice, whiskey in trade spat

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 12:34:58 UT

BERLIN (AP) — A German newspaper reports the European Union is drawing up a list of U.S. products to target — including orange juice and Kentucky bourbon — if Washington restricts imports of aluminum and steel. The U.S. Commerce Department last week urged President Donald Trump to impose tariffs or quotas on foreign-made metals, citing national security concerns. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily reported Tuesday the European Commission plans to retaliate with tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, but also whiskey and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas declined to comment on the list but said the EU would take "appropriate measures to defend EU industry.