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In the city of two countries, the Belgian bar is closed. Dutch pubs will soon open across the street

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Border town caught in bizarre uneven lockdown

“It’s never been quiet. Never.”

However, the story is not entirely universal. Although the city is Belgium, it is also the Netherlands – or at least in part. Walk two minutes on the road, and you are in the Netherlands. Walk a little further, and you return to Belgium.

The Belgian city, Baarle-Hertog, is an enclave in the Netherlands, only 10 kilometers from the border, and is divided in two in a confusing manner by the Dutch city of Baarle-Nassau.

This oddity, which originated in the Middle Ages, is usually almost irrelevant to everyday life. But the coronavirus crisis has caused the government to reject the open borders that define the European Union. And Belgium – with about twice the number of Covid-19 deaths per capita compared to the Netherlands – has instituted a much tighter lockdown.

“I’m not allowed to open,” said van der Kogt. “But 50 meters, on the other hand, cafes and restaurants, they open first June. And I’m not allowed to go there, because I live in Belgium.”

Although Dutch restaurants remained closed, retail stores remained open throughout the crisis. And while Belgian shops are allowed to open this week, Belgians have been banned from shopping across the border – even when that means only crossing one of the white stones that meet the center of the city.

“In this crisis situation, the mayor is not the authority,” said Marjon de Hoon-Veelenturf, one of the two mayors of Baarle (he is Dutch). “We just have to listen to the laws and regulations of The Hague and Brussels.

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“A discussion arises where citizens talk to each other about which country is taking the most reasonable steps. That brings a certain polarization.”

People were “shocked” by the coronavirus crisis experienced by the Belgian mayor, Frans de Bont. “Personally, but also countries, Europe. I think they were surprised together.”

Baarle is certainly an extreme example. The question for Europe is whether your own country-by-country approach is an indication of deeper decay in the union.

The twin mayors of Baarle: Frans de Bont, from Baarle-Hertog, Belgium, and Marjon de Hoon-Veelenturf, from Baarle-Nassau, Netherlands.

“The first reaction was clearly a national level reaction, completely uncoordinated and chaotic, and completely out of line with what you expect from a shared border-free travel area that has been around since 1995,” said Marie de Somer, senior policy analyst at European Policy Center.

The European Commission itself said on Wednesday, in a policy paper intended to outline how to reopen the Schengen-free travel area, that internal border controls “endanger our European way of life.”

Europe promises to reopen summer tourism after coronavirus

It warned that if the border remained closed “beyond what was needed for public health reasons,” the closure would “place a heavy burden not only on the function of the Single Market, but also on the lives of millions of deprived EU citizens.” the benefits of freedom of movement, which is a major achievement of the European Union. “

This is not the first time the European Union has had to deal with a government that left Schengen at the first sign of the crisis. For several years now, countries including Germany have carried out several levels of border control, ostensibly to stem the flow of migrants who move illegally within the EU.

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The scale of coronavirus closure, is unprecedented, said Ian Lesser, vice president at the German Marshall Fund in Brussels.

The barricaded road leads from the Netherlands to Belgium.

“The risk, of course, is that such a national-member-state-first approach is somehow the norm, and is embedded in policy and politics,” he said.

More likely, he added, the economic benefits of open borders will at least in the short term mean that border controls will not be maintained, and “only strengthen the value of having open borders within the Schengen area.”

For now, local roads cross the Dutch-Belgian border, a short drive from Baarle remains barricaded with concrete blocks. Local residents mock that the barrier is easily crossed by smaller rural farm roads, but the symbolism is clear.

Julien Leemans, 63, confusedly took it all in stride. The border was not an abstraction for him – it crossed his house.

Though most of Julien Leemans' The house is in the Netherlands, the front door is in Belgium.

“Ninety percent of the house is Dutch,” he laughed. “Ten percent – only toilets – are Belgium.”

Yes, the front door also belongs to the Belgians, and that means he lives in Belgium – cannot shop in Dutch shops, even though he himself was born and raised in the Netherlands.

“You see now the differences from countries about the corona – Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Britain – everything is different.”

“Europe?” he said with a laugh. “What is that?”

Darren Bull and Mark Baron from CNN contributed to this report.

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Thiago Monteiro in 14th and 15th before the arrival of the WTCR in Portugal – Observer

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Thiago Monteiro in 14th and 15th before the arrival of the WTCR in Portugal - Observer

Portuguese driver Thiago Monteiro (Honda) finished 14th and 15th this Sunday in the two World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) races held in Aragon, Spain, which precede the Vila Real race.

The Portuguese rider always rode in the tail, he was hindered by the fact that Honda had more excess weight than his rivals.

“If they told me that I would be in this position, I would not believe it. But the reality is that we have not been able to withstand a number of adversities. From the moment when the pace is much lower than other rivals, we are prepared in advance. It’s heartbreaking,” the Portuguese rider began his explanation after the fourth round of the championship.

The Portuguese rider struggled to find the best balance in his Civic, as did his teammate, Hungarian Attila Tassi.

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“We still had problems, and we could not reach the full potential of the car. It was very difficult, unpleasant and discouraging, especially since we are going to Vila Real and this scenario does not suit me. But we will have to continue to look for our own path and believe that everything will work out, ”Thiago Monteiro concluded.

Belgian Giles Magnus (Audi) and Spaniard Mikel Ascona (Hyundai) won both races on Sunday.

Ascona leads the league with 129 points, while Thiago Monteiro is 16th with 12 points.

The WTCR competition in Portugal will take place next weekend in Vila Real.

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Joao Almeida became the champion of Portugal in cycling

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Joao Almeida became the champion of Portugal in cycling

This Sunday, Portuguese cyclist João Almeida (UAE-Emirates) became the Portuguese champion in cross-country cycling for the first time, winning the elite national championships held in Mogaduro.

In his first online race since Joao Almeida was forced to pull out of the Vuelta Italia after testing positive for the coronavirus, he won his first national title since becoming time trial champion in 2021.

Almeida crossed the finish line in Mogadora, covering the 167.5 km distance in 4:08.42 hours, 52 seconds behind Thiago Antunes (Efapel) second, Fabio Costa (Glassdrive-Q8-Anicolor) third, and Rui Oliveira (UAE). – Emirates), fourth.

In the end, João Almeida stated that he was “very pleased” with the victory, admitting that the race “went very well” and thanking his teammates.

Former national champion José Neves (W52-FC Porto) did not finish the race, as did Rafael Reis (Glassdrive-Q8-Anicolor) who won the time trial title on Friday.

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Portuguese military admits ‘it will take time’ until territory is taken under control

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Portuguese military admits 'it will take time' until territory is taken under control

The “path” chosen for about a year in the fight against rebel groups in the province of Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique is “the right one,” Brigadier General Nuno Lemos Pires said in an interview with Lusa.

“Now, while the situation is not fully under control, we all understand that, as in any other counter-terrorism situation in the world, it will take a lot of time,” added the head of the European military training mission, although he acknowledged that this “ does not mean that sometimes there are no fears and failures.

However, “this is part of what constitutes an action taken against terrorists who operate in a very wide area, who in themselves have the initiative and the ability to hide in a very wide area,” he said.

In fact, he stressed, many of the recent attacks that have taken place in the south of Cabo Delgado in recent weeks are due to the fact that Islamist extremist rebels had to “flight from the north” of the province.

“Because this was a consolidated military operation carried out in close cooperation between the Mozambique Defense and Security Forces (FSS), [e com as forças d]Rwanda and SAMIM (Southern African Development Community Mission (SADC) in Mozambique), who were clearing out the intervention areas that existed in the area, the reaction of many terrorists was to flee the area, go further south, where they were not pursued. , and make new attacks,” he explained.

“In such cases, the initiative almost always belongs to the terrorists. There are few of them, they hide among the population, they move over very large territories, with a lot of dense vegetation, it becomes very difficult to find them, but you can easily move,” he continued.

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On the other hand, the Portuguese general emphasized, “it is now difficult for these groups” “to concentrate power and forces for large-scale operations, as was the case three years ago during the conquests, such as Mocimboa da Praia or Palma.” ,” he said.

“They don’t have that ability. Many of these attacks even demonstrate [estratégias] survival [clássicas das guerrilhas]. They’re looking for food, they’re looking for supplies, they’re searching deep down for a place where they can survive, because the area is already under quite a lot of control. [por parte] Mozambique FSS, Rwandan forces and SAMIM,” he explained.

In this context, Nuno Lemos Pires highlighted the “quick response” of the Mozambican authorities to each of these developments, starting with head of state Filipe Nyusi.

“I think it is exemplary that the moment there is a movement or a series of significant attacks in other areas, we immediately see the President of Mozambique heading north, linking up with his Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces (CEMGFA). , with the Minister of Defense, with the Minister of the Interior, and outline plans on the ground for a quick change of equipment and the ability to respond to such movements,” he said.

During one such trip to northern Mozambique in mid-June, Mozambican Interior Minister Arsenia Massingue said that Mozambican police were informing the “enemy” – the rebel forces in Cabo Delgado – about the positions of the FDS and allied forces on the ground.

However, Lemos Pires downplayed the situation. “We must be aware that there are infiltrations in any political system. It’s happening everywhere. Ignoring this dimension is tantamount to ignoring what is happening everywhere,” he said.

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“I don’t know of a single case of insurgency, counterinsurgency, terrorist or counter-terrorist combat where these leaks didn’t happen frequently. You need to be careful. .

In addition to the vastness of the territory that has been the scene of conflict and the topography favorable to insurgent guerrilla strategies, the porous borders with Tanzania to the north of Cabo Delgado and Malawi to the northwest also pose a danger. challenges the SDF and allied forces of SAMIM and Rwanda.

Lemos Pires also relativized this question. “We are talking about transnational terrorism, and it is good to understand that the situation in the north of Mozambique, in Cabo Delgado, is not limited and is not limited – and has never been limited – exclusively and exclusively to this region. A phenomenon that exists throughout Africa. , namely in Central Africa,” he said.

The UETM commander even took advantage of this circumstance to formulate an “extended response” to “a broad problem, a regional one, and the solution must also be a broad regional one.”

Therefore, “it’s very good what we see here on the ground, in fact, this is the unification of the efforts of regional African forces to try to deal with a problem that really worries everyone,” he concluded.

“What happens in one region can affect another. That is why it is in everyone’s interest that these groups be fought, detained and that the narrative that they are currently spreading can be counteracted – we hope that there are fewer and fewer successes,” the Portuguese general stressed.

NPS // PYAA

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Lusa/The End

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