Iceland cancels EU membership bid

extra extra newspaperIceland’s foreign minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson has announced the country has withdrawn its bid to join the European Union, in part unsatisfied with a deal on fishing rights within its territorial waters. Three weeks after assuming the post, Sveinsson had indicated that Iceland’s newly elected coalition government was not keen on incorporation into the EU, a process that began in July of 2009 with the country’s official application and formal negotiations the following year. Iceland’s suspension of the bid began in earnest when its coalition government, which saw the defeat of left-wing parties in favor of the centrist Progressive Party and the Independence Party, indicated that it would call a public referendum on the matter. Stefan Fule, the Czech commissioner overseeing EU membership bids, has stated that he expects Iceland’s government to notify him whether it plans to reopen membership talks in the future. Regardless of whether it pursues full membership within the bloc, Iceland is currently a member of the European Free Trade Association, the European Economic Area as well as the Schengen Area agreement on visa policy.

French union strike shuts down Eiffel Tower

France’s CGT union on Tuesday called some 300 workers of the Eiffel Tower on strike in protest of work conditions, low wages and “unacceptable safety level” at the monument. The union and the company that manages the tower held seven-hour-long negotiations this Monday, but could not reach a compromise. As a result, the workers decided to walk out, making roughly 25,000 daily visitors unable to ascend to the tower’s upper floors. The CGT pointed out that renovation of one of the Eiffel Tower elevators, which requires a mounting sum of 40 million euro, has been delayed for more than five years. The absence of the elevator has “serious consequences” for the tower’s maintenance, the union stressed. A new round of talks on the 124-year-old monument management is due to start on Tuesday evening.

Putin: Snowden still in Moscow airport, won’t be extradited, free to go anywhere

Former NSA contractor Snowden remains in the transit zone of a Moscow airport. President Putin said that Snowden never crossed the Russian border and doesn’t fall under any extradition treaty. He called accusations against Russia “nonsense and rubbish.”

“It is true that Snowden has arrived to Moscow, and it really came as a surprise for us. He arrived as a transit passenger, and didn’t need a [Russian] visa, or any other documents. As a transit passenger he is entitled to buy a ticket and fly to wherever he wants,” Vladimir Putin said as he spoke to journalists in Finland.

‘Mad invader, eavesdropper’: China slams US after Snowden accusations

The US has gone from ‘model of human rights’ to manipulator of internet rights, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party wrote. China has struck back at the US over its allegations that Beijing allowed NSA leaker Edward Snowden to leave Hong Kong.

The damning article in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, the party’s official newspaper, came in response to Washington’s accusations of the “deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant.”

Addressing Washington’s allegations, the People’s Daily wrote that China could not accept “this kind of dissatisfaction and opposition.”

“Not only did the US authorities not give us an explanation and apology, it instead expressed dissatisfaction at the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for handling things in accordance with the law,” wrote Wang Xinjun, a researcher at the Academy of Military Science in the People’s Daily commentary.