Category: Euro News

Turkey blocks EU inspection of cargo vessel travelling to Libya – Euronews

Turkey has blocked a German military vessel from inspecting a cargo ship suspected of carrying weapons on its way to Libya.

On Sunday evening, the German frigate Hamburg stopped the Turkish-flagged cargo ship, Roseline A, as part of a European Union mission called Operation Irini.

But the search had to be abandoned after Ankara protested and denied permission for the vessel to be probed.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry denounced the inspection as “unauthorised and forceful” and says all crewmembers of the freighter were forcibly searched.

Deputy Minister Sedat Onel later summoned the Italian ambassador, the German Embassy’s Charge d’ Affaires as well as the EU’s envoy to Turkey to formally protest the incident.

Germany has rejected Turkey’s complaints and states that all protocols were followed in the mission, adding that no weapons or illicit materials were found on the ship.

On Tuesday, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer rejected Turkey’s accusations and said their protest to the boarding of the vessel was unjustified.

“The soldiers behaved correctly and acted absolutely in line with the mandate of the European mission Irini,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said at a press conference.

Operation Irini was launched by the EU on 31 March to monitor and enforce compliance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution which bans arms shipments to Libya.

The mission uses aerial, satellite, and maritime assets in order to help “bring stability in Libya and peace to its population”.

Libya has been torn between two warring factions since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011: the UN-recognised Tripoli unity government (GNA), which is supported by Turkey, and eastern forces led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

The rival sides signed a permanent cease-fire on Friday, but scepticism remains over whether the agreement will be enforced.

Why did Turkey block the search?

German personnel from the Irini mission boarded the Roseline A cargo vessel to search for suspected arms at 17:54 (15:54 CET) on Sunday.

The team met the vessel in international waters, approximately 200 kilometres north of the port of Benghazi, according to a press release.

The vessel had departed Yarimca in Turkey on 20 November and was sailing on course for Misrata in Libya.

The captain of the freighter had cooperated and shared detailed information about the ship’s load and voyage, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Ankara says that armed German forces boarded the vessel by helicopter and conducted a search which lasted for several hours.

“All personnel, including the captain, were searched forcibly, all personnel were gathered and detained in one place, and containers were searched by force, with an armed soldier standing at the captain’s head,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Footage released by Demiroren News Agency claims to show German soldiers searching the vessel’s crew, who are made to stand with their hands on their head in the control room.

Turkey says the inspection was carried out without their consent, nor that of the ship’s captain, and violated international law.

“This intervention, which was initiated upon an ambiguous suspicion and continued until midnight, was terminated only upon the persistent objections of our country.”

“We regret the detention of our ship, which seems to have not violated the arms embargo, from its route for hours under severe weather conditions, and the fact that the personnel were treated as criminals during the inspection.”

“We protest this act of unauthorized and forceful use,” the Ministry stated, adding that they reserve the right to seek compensation for potential damage and losses.

On Tuesday, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar renewed criticism of the German frigate’s actions, saying the incident went “against international laws and practices”.

No arms materials found onboard

Germany has rejected the allegations by Turkey and says that the mission followed all protocols.

According to a spokesperson in Berlin, the military had warned the Turkish authorities of their intention to inspect the ship, and in the absence of any objection, proceeded to board after four hours in line with international maritime practice.

“If there is no objection within a period of four hours, this is considered as tacit consent,” a Defence Ministry spokesperson told Euronews.

“The frigate Hamburg acted in accordance with the instructions of the operation command and along the regulations laid down in the mandate for the operation.”

The decision to search was taken not by the German military but by the Operation Irini headquarters in Rome, the spokesperson added.

“The situation on board [Roseline A] was cooperative,” the Command of the Bundeswehr also stated on Twitter.

Berlin confirmed that the inspection was subsequently cancelled by mission leadership once Ankara vetoed the search, and says the team remained onboard until they could safely return to the frigate.

“After consultation with the ship’s command, the boarding team stayed on board until sunrise in order to be able to return safely to Hamburg,” the Ministry said.

In a further statement, Operation Irini said the inspection was carried out “in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions” and that the mission permitted searches in international waters.

“We made good faith efforts to seek the consent of the flag State,” the EU said.

“Having received no answer from the flag State, the Master of the ship and its crew assumed a cooperative attitude towards the boarding team.”

“When the flag State made it clear that it denied the permission to inspect the vessel, Operation IRINI suspended activities”.

All sides have agreed that no illicit material or arms were found onboard the Roseline A during the brief inspection.

Turkey had said that the vessel was transporting food, paints, and humanitarian aid materials from Ambarli Port to Misrata.

The 148-metre long cargo ship was cleared to continue on its voyage to Libya and was expected to make port at 21:00 CET on Monday.

Operation Irini also says that all recommended COVID-19 precautions were observed during the inspection.

Turkish claims of a “double-standard”

According to Operation Irini’s guidance, military teams can board a ship for inspection “against the will of the crew” where consent has not been given.

Where boarding is opposed, a team of special forces can “force access” and carry out a search operation that focuses on safety and efficiency.

Sunday’s incident was the second example of tensions between Turkey and naval forces from a NATO ally country.

In June, NATO launched an investigation after France said one of its frigates was “lit up” three times by Turkish naval targeting radar when it tried to approach a Turkish civilian ship suspected of involvement in arms trafficking.

Turkey considers that the EU mission is biased and has accused the EU of blocking arms to the Tripoli government while ignoring those supplied to Khalifa Haftar by his allies.

“The neutrality of Operation Irini … is currently under discussion,” said the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

“It is an operation that does not control the arms support to the putschist Haftar and is used arbitrarily to punish the legitimate Libyan government.”

“This double-standard and illegal treatment applied to ships transporting from our country to Libya is never acceptable”.

The member countries of Operation Irini – including Germany and France – for their part issued a joint statement on Monday threatening sanctions against “all Libyan or international parties” that could jeopardize the fragile peace process underway in the country.

According to the EU, Irini has helped to document embargo violations by Turkey and Russia, two countries also involved in the conflict.

The inspection of the Roseline A was the fifth boarding activity since the mission was launched.

The bloc also sanctioned a Turkish shipowner guilty of embargo violations in September by freezing his assets.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer stressed that “Turkey is still an important partner for us in NATO,” but conceded that the country poses a “big challenge” to European efforts due to its domestic policies and agenda.


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International travellers could soon require COVID-19 vaccination, Qantas chief says – Euronews

Travellers could be required to be vaccinated before flying internationally once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available.

That’s according to the chief executive of Australia’s national carrier Qantas who said in an interview that he has spoken to other international colleagues about the possibility.

Alan Joyce told Australia’s A Current Affair that the company was looking at changing its terms and conditions to require a vaccine, once approved, for international travellers.

He said he wasn’t sure if vaccines would be required for domestic travel.

“Certainly, for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country we think that’s a necessity,” Joyce said.

Joyce’s remarks come as promising results have been released from several candidate vaccines, with three showing high efficacy.

It means that the vaccines could be approved by medicines agencies as early as the end of this year, experts have said. Many hope that at some point next year, a vaccine could become widely available.

Ryanair, meanwhile, has said that for travel within the European Union, the company is not considering proof of vaccination.

“No vaccine cert [certification] will be required for EU short-haul flights (nor will Qantas require it for their Australian domestic flights),” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement.

“Under the EU system of free movement, we believe quarantine restrictions will be removed in Spring ‘21 once effective vaccines become available to protect high-risk groups from COVID-19.”

Air France said in a statement to Euronews that it was monitoring the situation and participating in discussions with governments and health authorities.

But, a spokesperson said, it was not “possible to determine the precise conditions that will govern the transport of customers once the vaccine is available”.

Currently, the airline has pre-departure testing the Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports.

A spokesperson for South Korea’s largest airline, Korean Air, meanwhile told the Associated Press, that such a decision was for governments to make, not airlines.

Jill Chung told AP that airlines would likely require vaccinations if governments require them in order to lift quarantine requirements.

Air France said it would “follow the recommendations or obligations that will be issued for the transport of passengers”.

Most major airlines are relying on testing as a way of opening up international travel.

Three airline alliances representing 58 airlines said in a statement that they welcomed the use of testing to ease travel and border restrictions which have had an adverse effect on the global travel industry.

Global air traffic fell significantly during the COVID-19 crisis, falling 96.7% in Europe in June 2020 compared to June 2019, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Euronews has reached out to the European Commission, aviation safety agency and other airlines for comment.


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Coronavirus: England facing tighter restrictions in December when national lockdown ends – Euronews

England will face tougher local restrictions when its second national lockdown ends on December 2, Downing Street officials have said.

Parts of the country will move into the highest level of a reformed three-tier system in which some restrictions will be tightened up to prevent the further spread of coronavirus in the country.

The news comes in advance of an expected announcement to MPs on Monday by prime minister Boris Johnson who will outline the government’s plans to tackle the virus during the winter – including arrangements for how families can celebrate Christmas.

Johnson’s “Covid winter plan” is expected to strengthen some existing restrictions in order to maintain progress in getting the virus under control, according to Downing Street. It has also been suggested that the 10 pm curfew currently in place could be amended to 11 pm to allow customers to finish their meals and drinks at pubs and restaurants.

The plan will also set out how households can spend time together at Christmas, including households being allowed to mix for a week over the festive break with some restrictions expected to be kept in place.

The plan is set to be signed off by the Cabinet on Sunday with MPs being given a vote on the new proposed changes to the existing tiered system before the end of the current four-week lockdown which began on November 5.

The rate of infection has dropped across the UK in recent weeks, with the number of positive COVID-19 cases over the last seven-day period falling nearly 14 per cent from the week before. The infection rate remains high, however, at 244 cases per 100,000 people.

The UK government will be braced for opposition from its own MPs over implementing further restrictions after a rebellion saw 32 Tory MPs vote against the government’s tiered system in October. In the wake of the revolt, some 50 MPs formed the COVID Recovery Group (CRG), a backbench grouping of Conservative MPs who oppose the use of blanket restrictions.

In a letter to Johnson on Saturday released by the CRG on Sunday, 70 MPs expressed their concerns about plans for further restrictions.

“We welcome your assurances that the national lockdown will end on 2nd December. As everyone will know, like the disease, lockdowns and restrictions cause immense harm,” the group said.

“We cannot support this approach further unless the Government demonstrates the restrictions proposed for after 2nd December will have an impact on slowing the transmission of Covid, and will save more lives than they cost”.

In a series of posts, Tory MP Steve Baker, a member and deputy chair of the CRG, also tweeted on Sunday: “Today, the lockdown cure prescribed runs the very real risk of being worse than the disease.

“We are especially concerned about outside sport, the 10pm curfew, closure of non-essential retail, gyms and personal care businesses, restrictions on worship, care home visits, hospitality and the inclusion of children under 12 in the ‘Rule of 6′”.

He added: “The burden is on the Government to demonstrate the necessity and proportionality of each restriction”.

An Opinium poll for The Observer newspaper published on Saturday found that the majority of the public would prefer a lockdown at Christmas over new restrictions imposed in January.

According to the poll, 54 per cent of those polls said they favoured a Christmas lockdown rather than in January compared to 33 per cent who disagreed.

The UK as a whole remains the worst-hit country in Europe with over 54,700 deaths from coronavirus recorded.


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AstraZeneca awaiting ‘relatively fast’ vaccine approval from the EU, executive says – Euronews

There could be a “relatively fast approval” of the AstraZeneca and Oxford University coronavirus vaccine candidate, an executive from the company told Euronews, following the release of promising trial results regarding the vaccine’s safety and efficacy.

The company, working with Oxford University, announced on Monday that the candidate vaccine is 70.4% effective and prevents severe disease due to coronavirus. The company said it is now waiting on EU regulators to approve the shot.

“I am absolutely convinced and confident that after the hoped approval of the European Medicines Agency that we’ll be able to distribute the vaccine very quickly across all EU member states in more or less the same time,” said Iskra Reic, the Executive Vice President of AstraZeneca’s Europe and Canada region.

“[The agency] started a rolling review at the beginning of October which gives everyone hope that there could be relatively fast approval,” she added.

The phase three trials showed that the vaccine is 70.4% effective and can be up to 90% effective depending on the dosing regimen.

“We still have yet to better understand the reasoning and the biology behind the results we saw showing the difference between the standard dose and the half dose. We’re expecting to have much more data coming our way in the next few weeks,” Reic explained on the difference between the doses.

The results are promising also since the AstraZeneca vaccine is seen as cheaper and easier to store.

But many have pointed out that vaccine candidates developed by competitors Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna were found to be more than 90% effective.

Reic warned it is difficult to compare data from the various ongoing trials.

“Data cannot be compared because the clinical trials are designed in different ways and also the patients’ characteristics are different. So I think it would definitely be wrong to draw a conclusion by comparing the results of the studies,” said Reic.

“This is not a competition at all, the world will need more than one, more than two, and more than three vaccines if we really want to vaccinate people globally in a short period of time.”


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Johnson unveils ‘tougher’ COVID-19 multi-tier system ahead of lockdown easing – Euronews

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday that England will exit its lockdown on December 2 and return to a multi-tier system to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a virtual address to MPs on Monday afternoon, Johnson, who is in self-isolation, said from the end of lockdown people will be able to leave their home for any purpose and meet others provided it’s outdoors and they respect the rule of six.

He also said all shops, including gyms, will be able to reopen.

He also confirmed that England would return to a multi-tiered approach with restrictions imposed based on the area’s epidemiological situation.

Johnson said that “the scientific advice is, I’m afraid… our tiers need to be made tougher.”

“Unlike the previous arrangements, tiers will now be a uniform set of rules,” he added, with no negotiations between local authorities and the government as under the previous system.

Here’s how the tiers will look:

Tier 1

Tier 2

  • There is to be no mixing of households inside and a maximum of six people can meet outdoors.
  • Bars and restaurants to close at 11 pm, but alcohol only to be served with a “substantial meal”.
  • Audience members to be allowed at concerts and spectators to be permitted at sports events with a restriction on numbers.
  • Facilities that provide “personal care” like hairdressers can reopen.

Tier 3

  • Households are not to mix inside or outside, or at hospitality locales.
  • Six people maximum are to meet in outside spaces, such as parks.
  • All indoor entertainment businesses and hospitality companies — unless they provide take-away services — will have to close.
  • Inside entertainment locales to be shut.
  • Guidance will be issued on people travelling in and out of the area.
  • Facilities that provide “personal care” like hairdressers can reopen.

England already operated under a multi-tier system in October. This time, the allocations will be reviewed every two weeks, with the regional approach set to last until March.

He also added that local authorities will have stronger enforcement abilities. The areas to be placed under Tier 2 and Tier 3 restrictions from December 3 are to be announced later this week.

‘Christmas won’t be normal’

The Prime Minister said it was important to maintain “pressure on the virus” in the run-up to Christmas and warned: “I can’t say that Christmas will be normal.”

He also said that authorities of the four devolved demonstrations are working together to come up with rules for families to follow over the festive season, stressing: “What we don’t want is to throw caution to the wind and allow the virus to flare up again.”

The Cabinet Office announced on Sunday that ministers from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland had “endorsed a shared objective of facilitating some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days” over Christmas.

Their statement urged, however, for the public “to remain cautious, and that wherever possible people should avoid travelling and minimise social contact.”

He also struck a more optimistic note, saying that “we can see a route out of the pandemic” and that the “scientific cavalry is now in sight” with treatments, including vaccines, in the work.

“By the spring these advances should reduce the need for the restrictions we’ve endured,” he assured.

“When that moment comes it will have been made possible by the sacrifice of millions of people across the UK,” he went on.

‘Risky’ three-tier system

The return to a three-tier system will have to be approved by parliament.

Keir Starmer, the leader of the main opposition Labour party said after Johnsons’s announcement that returning to a three-tier system is “risky because the previous three-tier system did not work”.

Imposing a new one “runs the risk of not getting buy-in from local leaders and local communities, which is incredibly important,” he added.

Prior to Johnson’s address, 70 lawmakers from the Conservative majority had already indicated they might oppose it.

“We cannot support this approach further unless the Government demonstrates the restrictions proposed for after the 2nd December will have an impact on slowing the transmission of COVID, and will save more lives than they cost,” they wrote in a letter to Johnson.

The UK is Europe’s most heavily impacted country with more than 55,000 deaths.


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Coronavirus: Hungarian foreign minister says country will test Russian vaccine – Euronews

Hungary will test a Russian coronavirus vaccine, the country’s foreign minister has said.

Peter Szijjarto said that 10 initial doses of Russia’s Sputnik V would undergo testing in Hungary.

The announcement comes after Hungary became the first country in Europe to receive samples of the drug last week.

Szijjarto said last week that a Hungarian drug manufacturer was in negotiations with Russian partners on possible domestic production of the drug.

The announcement comes after Hungary became the first country in Europe to receive samples of the drug last week.

The Sputnik V vaccine was hailed in August by Russian President Vladimir Putin as the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine to be registered.

Sputnik V has not completed late-stage clinical trials and the European Medicines Agency has yet to assess the vaccine.

A review of the Russian vaccine trial in the Lancet found that the results of the Russian vaccine were “encouraging” but needed more work.

In September, the vaccine had mostly been trialled on healthy young soldiers. The editor-in-chief of the Lancet told CNN that the results of the study in September were encouraging but that it was premature for the vaccine to be in public use.

Hungary’s Szijjarto says the country is also in negotiations with three Chinese vaccine makers, and purchased 2.8 million doses of a Chinese antiviral medication.

The central European country has also reserved 12 million doses of vaccine from manufacturers in Europe and the United States, including British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, Belgium-based Janssen and the joint US-German vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech.


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Coronavirus: Oxford University candidate vaccine is 70% effective – Euronews

Oxford University’s candidate coronavirus vaccine is 70.4% effective, according to interim data from Phase Three trials.

The efficacy depended on the dosing regimen, the university said in a statement, with the vaccine, which was developed with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, becoming 90% effective if administered at a half dose and then at a full dose and 62% effective if administered in two full doses.

There were no hospitalised or severe cases of the virus among those who received the vaccine, the university said in a statement.

A total of 131 participants came down with COVID-19 in the trial. The phase three trials include more than 23,000 participants in the UK and Brazil.

“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly, we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90% effective and if this dosing regimen is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply,” said Professor Andrew Pollard, the chief investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Group.

It comes after the team announced last week that Phase 2 trials in healthy older adults showed the candidate vaccine is safe and provokes an immune response.

The phase 2 trial, which involved 560 adults including 240 over the age of 70, found that the vaccine causes few side effects and induces immune responses in both parts of the immune system in all age groups.

“The vaccine’s simple supply chain and our no-profit pledge and commitment to broad, equitable and timely access means it will be affordable and globally available, supplying hundreds of millions of doses on approval,” said Pascal Soriot, the Chief Executive Officer of pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

The news from Oxford comes after results showed that vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna were 95% effective.

The vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was 94% effective in adults over the age of 65, who are more at risk for severe illness.

This was viewed as an outcome that was much better than anticipated by experts who now say that a vaccine could be made available by the end of 2020 for healthcare workers and those who are more vulnerable to the virus.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that vaccines could be approved in the EU before the end of the year.

The Oxford vaccine is made from a weakened cold virus that was genetically changed. It can be stored in a regular refrigerator instead of at ultra-cold temperatures like the Pfizer vaccine, making it easier to store.

The vaccine is currently being manufactured in 10 countries to support global access.

Experts say that distributing an effective and safe vaccine is one of the best tools available to help end the COVID-19 pandemic.


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France considers introducing new ‘ecocide’ offence in pollution crackdown – Euronews

The French government is planning to crack down on behaviours against the environment by creating an “ecocide” offence.

The plan was originally brought forward by the Citizens’ Convention for Climate, an assembly consisting of 150 randomly selected citizens established in 2019 by President Emmanuel Macron with the aim to reduce France’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The new proposal underlines sanctions from a minimum of three to 10 years in prison, as well as fines starting from €375,000 to €4.5 million.

“In the past you polluted, you won, tomorrow you will pollute, you will pay up to ten times the profit you make if you throw your waste into the river”, warned the Minister of Justice Dupont-Moretti in an interview to Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper published on Sunday.

The government is also thinking about a second type of offence to sanction “the endangerment of the environment by deliberate violations of an obligation”, even if no actual damage has occurred, said the Justice Minister. That would be sanctioned with a €100,000 fine as well with one year in prison.

Some activists, however, argue that the government’s proposals don’t go far enough.

“The proposal which will be presented to the deputies is infinitely less ambitious than that carried by the Citizens’ Convention and does not correspond to the international definitions of ecocide”, lamented environmental activist Cyril Dion on Twitter.


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Euro News: Arsen Goulamirian Injured, Poland Results, Yoka, More –

WBA super cruiserweight champion Arsen Goulamirian (26-0) is sidelined with a rib injury and his defense against Russian Yuri Kashinsky (19-1) is off, reports l’Equipe.

Goulamirain vs Kashinsky would have been the headliner on a Univent show on December 13 in Cannet-Cote d’Azur (France). If all goes well the fight might be rescheduled for a date in February and promoter Sebastien Acaries is hopeful he can have a live crowd in attendance by then.


Asloum Event’s farewell show on December 5 at the Palais des Sports Marcel Cerdan in Levallois Perret (France) billed as No Limit Episode XIV features super middleweight Kevin Lele Sadjo (14-0) against Span’s Ronny Landaeta (17-2) in a WBA Intercontinental title fight. In another matchup light heavy Mathieu Bauderlique (19-1) takes on Colombian Beibi Berrocal (17-6) in a scheduled eight-rounder.

Estelle Yoka-Mossely (7-0) is in against Bosnian Pasa Malagic (15-6) on November 27 in Nantes. In the headliner Estelle’s husband Tony (8-0) faces Christian Hammer (25-6) in what looks like an interesting matchup even though Mr Yoka is a big favourite to win

The Polish leg of Queensberry Promotions staged their inaugural show in Poland last night (Nov 21). In the headliner UK-based Polish light heavy Pawel August (12-0) won a hardfought decision over Dariusz Sek (28-7-3) and won the vacant WBC International Silver belt. Sek was in serious trouble in the eighth but lasted the distance and lost on scores of 97-92 twice and 100-89. On the undercard veterans Bartlomiej Grafka (23-38-4) and Rafal Jackiewicz (51-28-3) clashed again and this time Grafka won.

Tymex Promotions also staged a show in Poland November 21 this time in Szydlowiec with lightweight Damien Wrzesinski (21-1-2) on top and he clearly outscored Mexican Luis Angel Viedas (26-10-1). On the undercard Lukasz Maciec (26-3-1) returned after two years out and won a split decision over Marek Andrysek (5-1) in an eight rounder.

Adriano Sperandio (12-1) won the vacant Italian light heavy title by beating Luca Spadaccini (6-1-3) in a ten rounder last night (Nov 21) in Rome. It was scored 98-92, 98-93 and 97-93.

Irish super welterweight Dylan Moran (15-1) outscored Nicaraguan David Bency (14-18-1) over eight in the headliner of a show in Guardamar, Spain. It was a unanimous decision scored 79-73 on all cards. There was a similar result in the co-feature where lightweight Juan Felix Gomez (9-0) beat Izan Dura (3-7).


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G20: Calls for worldwide coordinated response to COVID-19 pandemic – Euronews

G20 leaders reaffirmed their commitment to providing “equitable” access to COVID-19 “therapeutics and vaccines” for all, as the annual meeting came to a close on Sunday.

The coronavirus pandemic took centre stage in the talks. Leaders attended virtually for safety measures, though the event was officially hosted by Saudi Arabia.

The COVID-19 pandemic had an “unprecedented impact in terms of lives lost, livelihoods, and economies affected”, said a joint statement released at the end of the two-day event.

“We will continue to spare no effort to protect lives, provide support with a special focus on the most vulnerable, and put our economies back on a path to restoring growth, and protecting and creating jobs for all”.

EU calls for more funding and cooperation

EU Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen said she was “glad” that “G20 leaders agreed to make COVID-19 vaccines available and affordable for all, but stressed that “more funding was needed”, as she called on G20 Leaders to pledge $4.5 billion for the ACT-Accelerator “by the end of the year”.

EU Commission president Charles Michel warned that this pandemic may not be the last, as he called for an “international Treaty on Pandemics” to help improve the global community’s response, adding however that the WHO remains the “cornerstone of global coordination against health emergencies.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, however, said on Sunday she was “worried” about the slow pace of the discussions aiming to provide a COVID-19 vaccine to the poorest nations.

Speaking during the G20 conference, Russian president Vladimir Putin said his country “supports the key decision of this summit, the project directed at ensuring access to effective and safe (COVID) vaccines to all.

“Without a doubt”, he added, “immunisation drugs should be the property of all of humanity. Our country of Russia is ready to provide countries in need with vaccines developed by our scientists”.

Putin’s thoughts were echoed by the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, but he widened the subject, calling for a broader coordinated response to manage the pandemic.

“We need targeted investments aimed at the struggling healthcare systems worldwide while supporting environmental and social resilience and avoiding further economic disruption,” he explained, adding “It’s a daunting task, but Italy is ready to play its part”.

Talks also focused on climate change

The G20 leaders pledged to “strengthen” their actions to protect the marine and terrestrial environment ahead of the Conference of the Parties (COP15).

They also announced the launch of a “Global Coral Reef R&D Accelerator Platform to conserve coral reefs”, as well as a “Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation and Enhancing Conservation of Terrestrial Habitats to prevent, halt, and reverse land degradation”.

In a press release that followed the event, the EU “urged all G20 members to work towards the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement”.

US President Donald Trump however defended his withdrawal from the treaty, saying “it was not designed to save the environment”, but to “kill the American economy”.

“I refuse to surrender millions of American jobs and send trillions of American dollars to the world’s worst polluters and environmental offenders, and that’s what would have happened,” he said during the summit on Sunday.

Virus still sweeping across the world

Meanwhile, coronavirus shows no signs of abating as major cities in the US and Europe bring back lockdowns and curfews. The World Health Organization (WHO) says more cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the past four weeks than in the first six months of the pandemic.

A day before the summit, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that while $10 billion (€8.43 billion) has been invested in efforts to develop vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, another $28 billion (€23.62 billion) is needed for mass manufacturing, procurement and delivery of new COVID-19 vaccines around the world.

He called on more G20 nations to join COVAX, an international initiative to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to countries worldwide.

The United States has declined to join under Donald Trump, who said COVAX was “influenced by the “corrupt WHO and China”.

There have been raised voices over Saudi Arabia hosting the conference given accusations over its human rights record, but leaders’ comments so far have shown the COVID-19 pandemic remains the overriding priority.



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