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VFA: The Philippines says it will not end the US military access agreement amid tensions in the South China Sea

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Why it matters who owns the seas

President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to maintain the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) “in connection with political and other developments in the region,” Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a social media post Tuesday.

The agreement, signed in 1988, gave US military planes and ships free entry to the Philippines and relaxed visa restrictions for US military personnel.

The Philippine government gave 180 days notice to the US to end the agreement in February, indicating that Manila needs to rely on its own resources for its defense. On Tuesday, the US welcomed a change of heart.

“Our old alliance has benefited the two countries, and we hope to continue close security and defense cooperation with the Philippines,” said a statement from the US Embassy in Manila.

The Philippines was once home to two of America’s largest military bases outside the US: Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Station.

Although it no longer became a US base in the early 1990s, US forces still have access to them under the VFA and Manila maintains strong military relations with Washington.

But over the past few years, Duterte has tilted his historical ties with the US and towards China, which has offered closer economic ties with Manila.

“I need China. More than anyone at this time, I need China,” Duterte said before flying to China in April 2018.

Compared with his predecessors, Duterte saw the ongoing Philippine disputes in the South China Sea as being more negotiable.

Both the Philippines and China are among several countries with overlapping sea claims, or parts of it. China claims almost all 1.3 million miles of the South China Sea as its own even though other complainants have borders that are much closer to disputed waters.

Last year, Duterte said he had been offered a controlling stake in a joint energy deal by Chinese President Xi Jinping in return for ignoring international arbitration in favor of Manila in the South China Sea.
In 2016, a court in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines in a maritime dispute, concluding that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights over much of the South China Sea.

China, however, has increased its military presence on islands also claimed by Manila.

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In the past two months, the People’s Liberation Army has moved an advanced anti-submarine war and reconnaissance aircraft to Fiery Cross Reef, known as Kagitingan in the Philippines, in the Spratly Islands chain.

Beijing also made Fiery Cross a part of the southern Hainan province, creating two new administrative districts including the South China Sea headquartered in the Paracel Islands, another island group with disputed claims.

In addition, China has maintained the presence of maritime militia ships around Thitu Island, the largest Philippine occupation island in the Spratly islands, for more than a year, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.

An average of 18 Chinese ships have traveled the island every day, according to an AMTI satellite analysis published in March, hampering Philippine efforts to build infrastructure there.

On Wednesday, Locsin indicated that the Philippines saw the US playing a role in the region for some time to come.

“We look forward to continuing our strong military partnership with the United States, even as we continue to reach out to our regional allies in building shared defense towards sustainable stability, peace and continued economic progress and prosperity in our part of the world,” he said.

Sophie Jeong from CNN contributed to this report.

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Prize for the Portuguese. Andre Silva is Champions League Player of the Week

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Prize for the Portuguese.  Andre Silva is Champions League Player of the Week

BUTndre Silva won the competition and became the best player of the week in the Champions League, informed UEFAthis Thursday.

The former Porto striker scored in Jota’s 3-1 victory over Celtic Leipzig, scoring a brace in a match that was signed after his Portuguese compatriot equalized.

In addition, Andre Silva also provided the assist for Nkunku, scoring the first goal of this Wednesday’s game in which huge show of foreign fans.

In addition to the Leipzig striker, Di Maria (Juventus), Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund) and Di Lorenzo (Napoli) also fought in the fight for the prize, but it was the Portuguese who managed to smile after voting for the third round of the competition, the famous This Thursday is the fair.

Read also: Diogo Costa and Andre Silva named to Champions League Team of the Week

See also: Andre Silva among the nominees for the title of the best player of the week in the Champions League

See also: double dose. Andre Silva returned to celebrate and sentenced doubts

See also: Andre Silva took advantage of Hart’s colossal mistake and responded to Jota’s goal

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Eternal Portuguese deja vu – Renaissance

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Eternal Portuguese deja vu - Renaissance

At the end of the summer of 1972, exactly half a century ago, SEDES – Associação para o Desenvolvimento Económico e Social (the most famous reformist think tank during Marseilles) issued a document for the country entitled “Portugal: The country we are, the country we want to be “. The Marseille spring had already turned into autumn: Américo Thomas had just been re-elected, the colonial war had dragged on, repression had intensified, and an economic crisis was already brewing. Seeing the general frustration, and at the same time willing to go against it, the signatories of CEDES began by asking “Where will we be and how will we be in 1980?” to criticize the obstacles that overshadowed Portugal in the early 1970s.

Among the “problems that are getting worse without a solution”, emigration stood out, indicating the country’s inability to offer better living and working conditions to those who left; the growing inflationary process, reflected in the cost of living; the inevitability of economic integration in Europe when the country is not ready for international commercial competition; “disaggregation of regional economies” with “continuous depopulation of municipalities and regions” within the country; or “deterioration of public administration” when the government fails to promote a “prestigious, moralized, revitalized and efficient public sector”. “No one will have any difficulty,” continued the text, “to add to a new list of urgent questions that seriously endanger national life, about which much has been said and which, year after year, continue to wait for a sufficient solution.” Therefore, “the prevailing feeling in the country” in contemplation of the recent past and present could not but be “annoyance at urgent battles, the need for which was endlessly discussed, at decisions that were changed or postponed, and at rejected goals” or which were not clearly formulated ” .

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Between “untapped resources” and/or “lack of organizational and decision-making capacity” there was “widespread anxiety” stemming from the inevitable observation that “we are very far from the results that we could achieve thanks to the progress of the Portuguese and Portugal”. This was the macro goal of the reformist, humanist and liberalizing technocrats that SEDES brought together. “Ultimately,” they reminded Marcelo Cayetano, “the real obstacle can only be associated with the low political priority of economic and social development in our country.” So, in short, there was an urgent need to “radically change our economic, social and political way of life”, since “a national balance based on general anemia, repression and weakening of various participants” is unsustainable and pernicious.

SEDES did not know that the Estado Novo would fall in April 1974, that democracy would come in 1976, and Europe from the EEC (after EFTA) in 1986 of repression, finally gained the freedom that was discussed between the lines of the 1972 manifesto ., there would be conditions for solving (almost) all economic and social problems of development and cohesion.

Fifty years have passed since this manifesto, and almost the same number has already been in democracy. However, if we compare the above quotes with the Portuguese present, the feeling of deja vu is indescribable. SEDES wondered what the country would be like in 1980 and is wondering today (in its recent study “Ambition: Doubling GDP in 20 Years”) where we will be in 2040. It may be a replay of a sad fate: knowing (some) where to go, but never getting there!

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Algeria interested in Portuguese companies investing in renewable energy – Observer

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Algeria interested in Portuguese companies investing in renewable energy - Observer

Foreign Minister João Gomes Cravinho met this Wednesday with his Algerian counterpart Ramtan Lamamra, who expressed interest in Portuguese companies investing in Algeria’s solar and wind energy.

Speaking with Lusa, João Cravinho also said that for 2023 it was decided to hold a “high-level meeting chaired by the prime ministers” of the two countries, a meeting to be held in Algiers, in addition to the state visit of the President of Algeria. Algeria to Portugal.

The Portuguese foreign minister said today’s visit to Algeria, where he was with Ramtan Lamamra, whom he has known since 2005 when he was ambassador to Lisbon, is “based on old knowledge”, but also a visit to a country that “does not to be a neighbor”, shares “a lot of fears”. “Not being a neighboring country, it almost shares many concerns about the region, the Mediterranean, the European Union’s relationship with Africa and the Arab world. It was important for us to talk about what we can do together as part of the geopolitical and geo-economic transformation,” he explained.

João Cravinho stressed that the issue of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a factor “which could not but be the subject of dialogue”, and also added that “geo-economic issues related to energy, renewable energy sources and the opportunities that come with the digital transition” also were on the table.

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“While Algeria is a major exporter of fossil fuels, it is also a country with huge potential in terms of solar and wind energy. We have very qualified companies in these areas, and the Algerian side has expressed interest in [ter] Portuguese investors in these areas,” the minister said.

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The official said that it would be a matter of working with the Portuguese Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade (AICEP), with the Secretary of State for Internationalization, as well as with a sectoral ministry, namely the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. A “high-level meeting chaired by the prime ministers” of the two countries is scheduled for 2023, a meeting to be held in Algiers, in addition to the Algerian President’s state visit to Portugal.

“We have a very busy calendar between the two countries. Now we will try to organize a mixed commission, where technical specialists from both countries will gather,” he said, stressing that there are “14 legal documents that are practically finalized and will be signed” in 2023.

João Gomes Cravinho was on a visit to Algiers today to assess bilateral relations in the economic sphere, as well as in terms of cooperation, language and culture, and to discuss international issues.

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