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Can’t allow refugee crisis to plunge Greece into chaos, says Merkel

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that European countries cannot afford to  plunge Greece into “chaos” by shutting European borders to refugees.

With up to 70,000 refugees expected to become stranded on Greece’s northern borders in the coming days, Merkel warned that the recently bailed-out Athens government could become paralysed by the huge numbers of arrivals from war-torn areas of the Middle East and Africa.

“Do you seriously believe that all the euro states that last year fought all the way to keep Greece in the eurozone — and we were the strictest — can one year later allow Greece to, in a way, plunge into chaos?” Merkel said in a TV interview yesterday.
“But many don’t believe in this way and are saying ‘well, who knows whether that will work?’ said the chancellor.

Merkel said of eastern European countries that have tightened their border controls: “The problem is that they acted independently and unilaterally, but it’s not good if a country is not involved.”

She added: “Greece was simply left on the outside. The border was secured from the Macedonian side, without anyone speaking with Greece about whether Greece wanted to secure its borders too.”

Merkel also defended her open-door policy for migrants, rejecting any limit on the number of refugees allowed into her country despite divisions within her government.

Merkel criticised the move by Austria and several Balkan countries to introduce border controls or cap daily migrant arrivals, creating a bottleneck in Greece as refugee boats continue to arrive from Turkey.

“What has happened is exactly what we feared, that a country is now left alone with its problems, and we can’t allow that,” the German leader said in a lengthy interview on the migrant crisis with public broadcaster ARD.

Merkel who had long sparred with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, demanding strict austerity in return for billions in EU-IMF bailouts  said she was now in close contact with the leftist leader on the refugee influx.

Anger has been building in Greece, the European gateway for hundreds of thousands of migrants, after Vienna introduced a daily cap on asylum applications and four Balkan countries, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia, tightened entry conditions.

Germany last year took in over one million asylum seekers, more than half from war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving Merkel exposed to rising criticism at home as well as from many EU partners.

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Prachanda faction expels Prime Minister Oli from party

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Discord and division continue inside the Nepal Communist Party, which has not split formally but has virtually fallen apart after Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli unilaterally decided to dissolve the House of Representatives on December 20 without the party’s consent.

Since then, the Nepal Communist Party is acting like two parties — one headed by Oli himself and the other led by former Prime Ministers Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal. Both sides are running separate programmes across the country under the same banner as they await official recognition from the Election Commission.

Amid this row, the Prachanda-Nepal faction has taken disciplinary action against Oli.

A Standing Committee meeting of the faction held on Sunday decided to expel Oli from the party, its spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha told the media.

The dissident faction has alleged Oli breached the party discipline and is liable to expulsion from the party. It had earlier relieved him from the post of party Chairman.

According to Pampha Bhusal, leader of the dissident faction, Sunday’s meeting decided to expel Oli even from the general membership, accusing him of violating the party statutes.

“He (Oli) is not even an ordinary member of the party now,” Bhusal said.

The faction had earlier asked Oli to furnish, within three days, an explanation why not action should be not taken against him for anti-party activities.

The faction had handed over this notice to the Prime Minister’s residence. However, Oli did not respond to the letter. Sunday’s meeting also reviewed the protest programme and discussed a new protest plan.

The faction had taken to the streets against the dissolution of the House of Representatives, terming the move unconstitutional and undemocratic.

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Pak okays Russian vaccine for ’emergency use’

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The Sputnik V has become the third vaccine to be approved for emergency use in the country — the first one being the Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and the second one by Chinese state-owned firm Sinopharm. 

“In a meeting conducted by the registration board of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap), another vaccine has also been given EUA which was developed with the backing of Russian Develop­ment Investment Fund,” Dawn news reported on Sunday citing the official as saying. 
“Russia’s state-owned Sputnik-V has developed a double-dose vaccine, which is administered by syringes,” said the official. 

A local pharmaceutical AGP, he said, had been authorised as the sole importer and distributor of the Russian vaccine. 
The development comes as Pakistan’s overall coronavirus caseload has increased to 532,412 as of Sunday, while the death toll stood at 11,295.

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Twitter locks account of Chinese Embassy in US over Uyghur tweet

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Twitter has locked the official account of China’s Embassy in the US over a controversial post that referred to Muslim Uyghur women as “baby-making machines” prior to government intervention.

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