KW 4: Tentative start to Turkey-Greece talks, German soldier in court for weapons collection, Biden plans to limit private prisons and transfer of military equipment to police

NEWS

Tentative start to Turkey-Greece talks: The first talks aimed at reducing tensions between Turkey and Greece in five years took place behind closed doors on Monday. The exploratory talks in Istanbul were the 61st round of meetings between the frequent rivals since discussions were launched in 2002. Confrontation in the seas around Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete last summer saw warships shadowing one another, leading to a collision between Turkish and Greek vessels on one occasion. As well as addressing tensions, Turkey hopes the talks will smooth relations with the EU and convince the new Biden administration of its reliability as an international partner.
apnews.com

German soldier in court for weapons collection: In the spring of 2020, weapons, including an AK-47 assault rifle, several thousand pieces of ammunition and explosives were found in the garden of a 45-year-old sergeant major. He is accused of violating the Weapons Act, the Explosives Act and the War Weapons Control Act. In addition, countless publications with right-wing extremist content, including an SS songbook, were found at his home. The accused had collected the material from remnants of the Bundeswehr and used it during training. He assumed that the material in question was unusable and that the objects were „harmless“ from his point of view. He claimed he had wanted to train his soldiers as properly as possible and that there had been bottlenecks in the troops again and again. The public prosecutor is still unclear on the exact motive of the crime. A verdict is expected in late March.
spiegel.de, deutschlandfunkkultur.de

Biden plans to limit private prisons and transfer of military equipment to police: US President Joe Biden is poised to issue executive actions scaling back the use of private prisons and placing new limits on the transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement, according to a person familiar with the matter and a planning document. The executive actions are part of a broader push by the new administration to roll back controversial policies by Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, promote criminal justice reform and address racial inequity across the United States. Some of the Biden administration’s actions will reinstate policies at the Justice Department that were in effect during the administration of former President Barack Obama, according to the planning document circulated to congressional Democrats by the White House.
reuters.com

Germany bets on better US ties under Biden: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Joe Biden agreed on Monday that the Covid-19 pandemic and other global challenges could only be tackled through closer cooperation. In their first phone call since Biden took office, Merkel congratulated him on his inauguration. At the same time, she declared Germany’s willingness to take on responsibility in dealing with international tasks together with its European and transatlantic partners, the government spokesman said. Merkel also invited Biden to Germany as soon as the pandemic allowed him to travel.
reuters.com, dw.com

Resume: Inspector of the Army, Lieutenant General Alfons Mais, on the expectations and goals in 2021 bundeswehr.de
Lufthansa: Lufthansa trains drone pilots at Rostock-Laage airport welt.de
Nuclear deal with Iran: Restrictions are difficult to achieve nzz.ch
Italy: Prime Minister Conte has submitted his resignation politico.eu
Libya: New political course derstandard.de

NUMBER OF THE WEEK

So far, 160 Bundeswehr soldiers have been infected with the coronavirus on missions abroad.
tagesschau.de

BACKGROUND

EU to hold off on new Russia sanctions for now: The European Union will hold off from imposing fresh sanctions on Russian individuals if the Kremlin releases pro-democracy campaigner Alexei Navalny, EU foreign ministers said on Monday. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters that the EU will wait for the court’s decision to see whether Navalny is set free after 30 days. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he would go to Moscow next week to press the Kremlin to free demonstrators and Navalny. The opposition leader was arrested on 18 January as he returned to Russia following a five-month convalescence in Germany after a nerve agent attack. Thousands of protesters across the country were detained after rallying in numerous cities to demand his release at the weekend. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected a claim by Navalny that a luxury Black Sea property belongs to him. „Nothing that is listed there as my property belongs to me or my close relatives, and never did,“ Putin said during a video call, in reference to a video that Navalny’s team published last week.
reuters.com, euronews.com, dw.com

Lloyd Austin confirmed as US defense secretary: Lloyd Austin, a retired four-star Army general, has been confirmed by the Senate, making him the first Black defense secretary in US history. The Senate approved President Joe Biden’s nomination for Pentagon chief in a near-unanimous 93-2 vote. Austin’s nomination was approved despite concerns raised on both sides of the aisle that he hadn’t been out of uniform for the legally mandated seven-year period. The National Security Act of 1947 created the rule to ensure civilian control over the military is maintained, but it also permits a waiver if lawmakers in both the House and the Senate approve. Those votes also passed in bipartisan fashion, clearing the way for Austin’s confirmation.
npr.org

US reaffirms Taiwan support after China sends warplanes: Chinese bombers and fighter jets entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on Saturday, prompting the US administration to reaffirm its support for Taiwan. The country’s defense ministry said China had sent eight bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons and four fighter jets into its air defense identification zone just southwest of the island. The ministry said China on Sunday sent another 16 military aircraft of various types into the same area. The ministry said Taiwan responded by scrambling fighters, broadcasting warnings by radio and deploying air defense missile systems to monitor the activity. There was no immediate Chinese comment on Sunday.
politico.com, theguardian.com

QUOTE

„If we really have a problem, then a study makes sense.“
Berlin police spokesman Thilo Cablitz on the racial profiling study.
deutschlandfunkkultur.de

SECURE?

Giuliani sued over „Big Lie“ about election fraud: Dominion Voting Systems, an election technology company that has been the focus of consistent conspiracy theories by former US President Donald Trump and his allies has sued the former President’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani for defamation after he pushed the „Big Lie“ about election fraud on his podcast and TV appearances. The lawsuit notes that while Giuliani spread falsehoods about Dominion being owned by Venezuelan communists and corrupting the election, he did not make those claims in lawsuits he pushed on behalf of Trump. Dominion Voting Systems is seeking more than $1.3 billion in damages.
cnn.com

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