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The European Union’s highest court has rejected a case against the European border agency Frontex, which was brought by a Syrian refugee family forcibly sent from Greece to Turkey in 2016. The family’s lawyers argued that Frontex should be held responsible for the deportation of refugees without the opportunity to apply for asylum, which is considered illegal under international law.

However, the European Court of Justice dismissed their challenge, stating that Frontex lacks the authority to assess the merits of return decisions or asylum applications, and therefore cannot be held liable for any harm caused.

The Syrian family, consisting of a husband, wife, and four young children, arrived in Greece in 2016 as part of the European migrant crisis. They registered their intention to seek international protection on the Greek island of Leros but were subsequently transported to the island of Kos. After just eleven days in Greece, the family alleges that they were flown to Turkey by Frontex and Greek authorities without being given the opportunity to apply for asylum or receiving an expulsion decision. The family claimed that they were misled into believing they were being taken to Athens when they boarded the plane. During the flight, the parents were reportedly separated from their children, who were between one and six years old at the time, and they were not allowed to communicate with anyone during the journey.

The family was released in Turkey but lacked access to housing, water, or sanitation. They later fled to northern Iraq. In 2021, they brought their case to the European Court of Justice, supported by human rights lawyers and the Dutch Council for Refugees.

Following the court’s ruling, the family expressed their disappointment, emphasizing that Frontex should be held accountable for their unjust treatment. Their lawyers indicated that they intended to appeal the decision.

Legal experts argued that individuals should not be deported to another country without a proper assessment of their need for asylum, which they claim did not occur in this case.

The Dutch Council for Refugees and the law firm representing the family stated that the ruling raised questions about how Frontex should ensure respect for fundamental rights in its activities, as mandated by its role.

Frontex responded by requiring EU member states to confirm that individuals were given the opportunity to seek international protection and that their applications were processed in accordance with EU laws.

The European Parliament had previously noted that human rights organizations, media, and civil society groups regularly reported cases of pushbacks or collective expulsions at the EU’s borders, often involving excessive force by EU member state authorities. Frontex had faced accusations of failing to protect individuals in these situations.

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Wildfires in Greece have tragically led to the loss of 20 lives and are still raging out of control near Athens and the Evros region close to the Turkish border. Among those killed, 18 are believed to be refugees and migrants who had recently crossed the border and sought refuge in forests north of Alexandroupolis. Greece has expressed deep condolences for the deaths occurring in the Dadia forest near the Turkish border. The fires have been ongoing for five days and have extended along the coast and near the city. Efforts to contain the fires are being hampered by strong winds and scorching temperatures of up to 40°C (104°F).

The victims’ bodies were discovered near a shack close to the village of Avantas, north of Alexandroupolis, by the fire service. The fire service and local authorities had issued evacuation warnings through emergency services. The victims are believed to have recently crossed the border from Turkey along the River Evros, which is a common route for migrants and refugees attempting to enter the European Union. The risk of wildfires adds to the many dangers migrants and refugees face in their journey, including violence, arrest, and drowning in the Mediterranean.

The victims are predominantly male, with two of them being minors. The bodies were found within a relatively small radius, and their identification is expected to be challenging, necessitating the involvement of their relatives. Some individuals had been attempting to follow a well-established path through the forest to avoid detection.

Tensions have arisen in the local communities as some residents blame migrants for causing the fires. However, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that migrants were responsible for starting the Dadia forest fire. A video showing a man “arresting” migrants and refugees and accusing them of arson provoked outrage in Greece, leading to the arrest of the man behind the video and others involved.

In response to the tragic events, the Supreme Court Prosecutor initiated inquiries into both the causes of the fires in the Evros region and incidents of alleged racist violence against migrants following the deaths in the Dadia forest.

As the fires continue to spread, evacuations have been conducted in various areas, including villages near Alexandroupolis and parts of the capital city, Athens. The situation remains challenging for firefighters, compounded by the evacuation of nursing homes and the destruction of homes in some areas.

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The owner of the Domino’s Pizza franchise in Russia has announced plans to close its branches and file for bankruptcy, signaling an end to its operations due to the challenging business environment in the country.

DP Eurasia, which operates 171 Domino’s Pizza outlets in Russia, has decided not to proceed with the sale of its pizza chain’s shops in the face of increasing difficulties. This move comes in the wake of Western companies disengaging from Russia following the Ukraine invasion and economic sanctions.

While some businesses have chosen to exit, others, including Domino’s, have faced criticism for remaining. DP Eurasia owns 68 of the Domino’s Pizza shops in Russia and franchises 103 to local operators. The company’s presence in Russia will be terminated as a result of this decision.

DP Eurasia, which also holds master franchise rights for Domino’s in Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, had been evaluating its options after sanctions were imposed. The Russian economy has been impacted by sanctions since the conflict in Ukraine in February 2022, leading to several well-known companies shuttering their operations.

Pressure was applied to other major brands like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola to follow suit. Some companies, such as Unilever, have defended their continued operations in Russia, citing complexities and potential takeovers by the Russian state.

Despite this, Domino’s Pizza Inc., the American multinational and master franchisor, clarified that it had ceased supporting the Russian market through its subsidiaries since early 2022.

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Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to renew the grain export deal with Ukraine during a summit hosted by Russia.

Al-Sisi emphasized the importance of reviving the deal and finding a swift solution to supply the poorest African countries with grain. Russia had withdrawn from the agreement and subsequently bombed Ukrainian Black Sea ports. In response, Putin blamed the West for failing to fulfill its obligations under the deal and offered to provide Russian grain for free to six African countries.

These countries include Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, and Eritrea, except Somalia, which is experiencing a severe humanitarian crisis. The summit also saw African leaders urging Putin to consider a peace plan proposed by them to end the war caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The plan calls for recognizing the sovereignty of both Russia and Ukraine, conducting urgent peace talks, and ensuring uninterrupted grain exports. The blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports following the invasion caused a significant amount of grain to be trapped, leading to a surge in world food prices and potential shortages in Middle Eastern and African nations that heavily relied on food imports from Ukraine.

The grain export deal was initially brokered by Turkey and the UN in July 2022, allowing cargo ships to access a designated corridor in the Black Sea for transportation. Ukraine is a major global supplier of crops such as sunflower oil, barley, maize, and wheat.

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Russia has informed the United Nations, Turkey, and Ukraine that it will not extend a crucial grain deal that allowed Ukraine to export grain through the Black Sea. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated that the agreements had effectively ended on Monday. The deal permitted cargo ships to pass through the Black Sea from the Ukrainian ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi. However, Russia stated that it would reconsider the agreement if certain conditions were met.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously expressed dissatisfaction with parts of the deal, claiming that the export of Russian food and fertilizers had not been fulfilled. He specifically mentioned that grain had not been supplied to poorer nations, which was a condition of the agreement. Russia also complained about Western sanctions limiting its agricultural exports and repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the deal.

On Monday, the Russian foreign ministry reiterated these concerns, accusing the West of “open sabotage” and prioritizing commercial interests over humanitarian goals. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his belief that Putin still wanted to continue the agreement and stated that they would discuss its renewal during their upcoming meeting.

The grain deal is significant because Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of sunflower, maize, wheat, and barley. Following Russia’s invasion in February 2022, Ukrainian ports were blockaded, trapping 20 million tonnes of grain and causing a sharp increase in global food prices. The blockade also posed a threat to food supplies in Middle Eastern and African countries heavily reliant on Ukrainian grain.

Nikolay Gorbachev, the president of the Ukrainian Grain Association, mentioned that alternative methods of exporting grain had been identified, including through Danube River ports. However, he acknowledged that these ports would be less efficient, leading to reduced grain exports and increased transportation costs.

Western leaders swiftly criticized Russia’s decision, with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen condemning it as a “cynical move” and emphasizing the EU’s efforts to ensure food security for vulnerable populations.

Russia’s announcement coincided with Ukraine claiming responsibility for an attack on a bridge in Crimea that resulted in the deaths of two civilians. Peskov stated that Russia’s decision to let the deal expire was unrelated to the attack, as President Putin had already declared the position before the incident.

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A scorching heatwave continues to affect several European countries, with temperatures expected to break records in the coming days. Parts of Spain, France, Greece, Croatia, Turkey, and Italy may experience temperatures exceeding 40°C (104°F), with Italy potentially reaching up to 48°C (118.4°F), which could be the highest ever recorded in Europe, according to the European Space Agency. A red alert warning has been issued for 10 cities, including Florence and Rome. Last month was reported as the hottest June on record by the EU’s climate monitoring service Copernicus.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has warned that extreme weather events resulting from climate change are becoming the new norm. While periods of intense heat are part of natural weather patterns, they are increasingly becoming more frequent, intense, and prolonged globally due to global warming.

The heatwave has impacted tourists in Europe, with visitors experiencing symptoms such as nausea and dizziness in Athens. Efforts have been made to provide information on air-conditioned places for people to seek relief from the heat. Tragically, a man in Italy died from heat-related causes, and several visitors, including a British man in Rome, have suffered from heatstroke.

Authorities are advising people to stay hydrated by drinking at least two liters of water per day and to avoid dehydrating beverages like coffee and alcohol. Tourists in Rome expressed surprise at the extreme heat and stated they were trying to avoid going out during the hottest hours of the day. Some individuals emphasized the need for collective action to address climate change, urging governments and individuals to take responsibility and make changes such as reducing plastic usage, limiting air conditioning, and using electric cars.

The current heatwave, named Cerberus after the mythical three-headed dog from Dante’s Inferno, is expected to continue intensifying in the coming days. Spain has already experienced temperatures reaching 45°C (113°F), and the European Space Agency has predicted potential temperatures of 48°C (118.4°F) in Sicily and Sardinia, which could be the hottest ever recorded in Europe.

Additionally, other regions outside Europe, including parts of Canada, the United States, India, and China, have also witnessed record-breaking temperatures this summer. Sea temperatures in the Atlantic have reached record highs, while Antarctic sea ice is at its lowest extent on record. Furthermore, the development of El Niño, a weather pattern in the tropical Pacific, is expected to contribute to rising temperatures by an average of 0.2°C, exacerbating the effects of climate change, which has already increased average temperatures worldwide by approximately 1.1°C.

To put the current heatwave in historical context, scientists can analyze air bubbles trapped in ancient Antarctic ice, which suggests that the first week of July was the hottest week in around 125,000 years. During the Eemian period, which occurred over a million years ago, temperatures were estimated to be significantly higher, resulting in hippos inhabiting the Thames and sea levels being approximately 5 meters (16.4 feet) higher.

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A powerful heatwave is currently sweeping across southern Europe, leading to widespread discomfort and raising concerns about the wellbeing of residents and the resilience of infrastructure. Known as “Cerberus,” this extreme weather event is characterized by a relentless onslaught of high temperatures that are significantly surpassing the seasonal norms. Several countries in the region, including Spain, Italy, Greece, and Turkey, are experiencing the effects of this scorching heatwave.

The heatwave has prompted authorities to issue heat alerts and take precautionary measures to safeguard vulnerable individuals from the potentially dangerous consequences of extreme heat. Both residents and tourists are struggling to cope with the oppressive weather, seeking refuge and searching for ways to stay cool amid the soaring temperatures.

The persistent and intense nature of the heatwave has sparked concerns regarding its potential impacts on various aspects of life in the affected areas. Agriculture, in particular, is at risk due to the extreme heat’s detrimental effects on crops and livestock. Water resources, already strained by the prolonged dry spell, are further under pressure as demand for water increases during the heatwave. Additionally, the heightened risk of wildfires is a significant concern, as the combination of scorching temperatures and dry conditions provides ideal conditions for fire outbreaks.

In response to these challenges, authorities are closely monitoring the situation and implementing measures to mitigate the effects of the heatwave. Efforts are focused on providing adequate support to vulnerable populations, ensuring the availability of cooling centers, and implementing fire prevention strategies.

Overall, the Cerberus heatwave is posing significant challenges to southern European countries, requiring coordinated efforts to minimize its impact on public health, infrastructure, and the environment.

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During the NATO summit, the G7 nations are expected to approve a long-term security agreement with Ukraine. The agreement will encompass provisions for defense equipment, training, and intelligence sharing.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak emphasized that this agreement would send a strong message to Russian President Putin. The move comes after Ukrainian President Zelensky criticized NATO for not providing a timeline for Ukraine’s accession to the alliance. Sunak stated that the allies of Kyiv are reinforcing their formal arrangements to ensure long-term protection for Ukraine and prevent a repetition of the brutality it has faced from Russia.

The United Kingdom has played a leading role in this agreement, which involves G7 partners such as Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States. The details of the agreement are expected to be revealed during the summit.

US President Joe Biden has previously suggested a model similar to the US-Israel agreement, which entails providing Ukraine with $3.8 billion in military aid annually for ten years, but without an obligation to come to Ukraine’s aid during an attack. While NATO stated that Ukraine could join the alliance when conditions are met, Zelensky expressed frustration over the lack of a specific timeframe. Despite the absence of a timeline, diplomats pointed out that a clear path to membership has been established, with the application process shortened significantly.

The focus now shifts to the long-term security guarantees that NATO members will offer Ukraine as an alternative to immediate membership. The summit also saw the announcement of military packages for Ukraine, including the training of Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets, and the UK’s commitment to deliver combat and logistics vehicles to Ukraine.

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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has given his support to Sweden’s bid to join NATO, according to the alliance’s chief, Jens Stoltenberg. Erdogan has agreed to forward Sweden’s application to the Turkish parliament for ratification, ending months of Turkish opposition.

The decision comes after Sweden addressed Turkey’s security concerns by amending its constitution, changing laws, intensifying counter-terrorism efforts against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), and resuming arms exports to Turkey. The announcement was made following discussions between Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The NATO chief hailed the agreement as a “historic step” but couldn’t provide a specific timeline for Sweden’s accession as it depended on the Turkish parliament. The United States and other NATO members have welcomed Turkey’s support and expressed readiness to work with both Turkey and Sweden to enhance defense and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic area.

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In Sweden, a Kurdish man has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for various crimes, including an attempt to finance terrorism. This is the first instance where Sweden’s updated anti-terrorism laws have been utilized in a case involving the Kurdish militant group PKK. Turkey has long urged Sweden to take action against Kurdish separatists. Sweden’s aspirations to join NATO have been delayed, primarily due to Turkey’s demand for the extradition of individuals it considers terrorists.

Ahead of a NATO summit, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson is set to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Lithuania. Sweden is hopeful for NATO membership and has received support from President Joe Biden. The timing of the court case was emphasized by commentators, who noted that it conveyed a message to Ankara that Sweden was cracking down on the PKK.

The convicted Kurdish man, who has Turkish origins, will be deported after serving his sentence. The judge highlighted that Sweden’s NATO bid did not influence the court’s decision. Last month, Sweden strengthened its anti-terrorism laws to criminalize arranging meetings to provide financial or other assistance to banned groups. Critics raised concerns about potential impacts on freedom of speech.

The sentencing coincided with a significant meeting in Brussels involving the foreign ministers of Sweden, Turkey, and Finland, ahead of the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius. Finland’s Foreign Minister expressed hopes for a swift announcement regarding Sweden’s NATO membership. Turkey’s President has voiced reservations about Sweden’s bid, emphasizing the need for further action.

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