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Iberian gas pipeline: Costa and Sanchez put pressure on Macron in Berlin, but Paris has other interests



Antonio Costa and Pedro Sanchez see the German chancellor as a strong ally in the difficult mission of persuading France to allow the construction of a new Iberian gas pipeline across the Pyrenees to supply gas (and later green hydrogen) to Germany and the rest of Europe.

“The three of us (Portugal, Spain and Germany) worked to ensure that France could once again show itself open to this solution,” the prime minister told reporters in Berlin after a meeting with the leaders of Germany and Spain. Governments The prime minister says this is “not a form of pressure” on the French president, but in practice it puts forward arguments and allies to force him to change his position.

“(France) definitely doesn’t want to be isolated in this overall position,” says Costa, referring to the European support for building additional links between the Iberian Peninsula and the remaining 27, especially at a time when there is consensus on the need to diversify gas and energy suppliers.

Lisbon and Madrid have been fighting for years to stop being an energy island. And if there were times when Emmanuel Macron, and before him François Hollande, showed openness to a new gas pipeline, then recently the French president has been very critical of the construction of the so-called MidCat across the Pyrenees. He last blew up the project last week at an informal summit in Prague.

France cites environmental concerns and questions the need for a new gas pipeline when the one currently in place with Spain is not being used at full capacity (which the Spanish government has already opposed). But there are also “economic interests” behind this strong position, including Paris’ desire to export more electricity (and gas) to the rest of Europe without competing with Iberia.

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Costa “understands” these interests, but he hopes that, in turn, Macron will also understand that the current context has shown the need for “diversification” and that “the Iberian Peninsula is capable of producing renewable energy” and, in the future, it will also be able to produce and export green hydrogen. True, the construction of a new gas pipeline will take 5-8 years, and in the short term it does not solve the urgent problem of replacing Russian gas. But in the medium to long term, it could be a solution for Europe and a profitable investment for the two southern countries.

In the pressure game, he also reminds the French that “if it is not possible to connect France”, there is still the possibility of connecting through Italy. However, he also suggests that it “makes sense” to have a “connection through the Pyrenees”, which is also cheaper.

But without Paris’s blessing, there will be no MidCat, which means that Costa and Sanchez are left to insist on their arguments. Another socialist, the Chancellor of Germany, is counting on this. Olaf Scholz became a potential ally when Russia turned off the gas valve, showing that Germany’s bet on a major supplier was disastrous. However, the decision is not made in Berlin.

“Here in Berlin, nothing has been unlocked to deal with Paris,” said Costa, who already had a verbal meeting with Sanchez and Macron ahead of next week’s summit. “I don’t know if it’s in Brussels or Paris,” he says, but everything points to a meeting in the Belgian capital, on Wednesday or Thursday, before the start of the European Council, marked by another attempt to lower gas prices.

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Costa hopes for joint gas purchases

Costa hopes this will lead to “effective solutions” at the leaders’ meeting and a joint decision to lower energy prices. The meeting in Prague a week ago served to exchange ideas and bring positions closer, but divisions remain among the 27 participants.

Portugal is one of 15 countries in favor of setting a maximum price for gas imports, along with Spain, France, Italy or Belgium. But Germany remains opposed, arguing that “fixing a price cap poses a supply risk” and could alienate suppliers.

The Prime Minister believes that joint purchases of gas can become a “point of consensus”. “If there is a joint purchase, in practice we can all contribute to getting the best price when buying gas from different suppliers.”

The heads of state and government of 27 countries meet on Thursday and Friday. But to make progress, the European Commission also needs to put concrete legislative proposals on the table, something it has been putting off in recent weeks. On Tuesday it will be known whether to propose a joint purchase of gas or the introduction of a maximum price for imports.

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Villarrica already has a large lava lake and high seismic activity.



The Villarrica volcano in La Araucanía, Chile, one of the largest in the world, showed signs of an impending eruption last Thursday, and experts recorded a “greater intensity and height of incandescence” that ranged from 80 to 220 meters above sea level. its crater – a few days ago we managed to fly over the volcano and a large lava lake was recorded, the temperature of which reached 1043 degrees. High seismic activity has also been noted. Chile’s National Geological and Mining Service (Sernageomin) has already issued a yellow alert.

In any case, the experts of the Chilean government spoke in detail about the possibility of an eruption. According to Sernageomina, “small explosions are expected inside the crater, the impact of which is limited to an area close to the crater of the volcano.”

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Germany: Rise of respiratory infections in infants baffles hospitals – News



The Association for Intensive Care Medicine (DIVI in German acronym) has indicated that the seasonal rise in cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the shortage of nurses are causing a “catastrophic situation” in hospitals.

RSV is a common and highly contagious virus that affects almost all babies and children under two years of age, and some of them can become seriously ill.

Experts say easing restrictions put in place to fight the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to more babies and children with RSV, whose immune systems are not ready to fight the virus.

According to the same source, hospital doctors are currently facing very difficult decisions about which sick children to hospitalize due to a lack of available beds.

In some cases, patients with RSV and other serious illnesses are being transferred to hospitals in regions of Germany where there are even fewer resources for intensive care.

The association warned that a recent study identified fewer than a hundred pediatric beds across the country and the situation could get worse.

Sebastian Brenner, head of pediatric intensive care at Dresden University Hospital, told German TV channel N-Tv that the situation could worsen in the coming weeks: “We are seeing this in Switzerland and France,” he added. about the risks of available treatments become even more scarce.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach announced today that the government will loosen some rules to ease the transfer of nurses and will allocate another 600 million euros to pediatric hospitals over the next two years.

In November, the European Commission approved the world’s first single-dose drug for the treatment of RSV.

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Lavrov accused the US and NATO of direct participation in the conflict



Lavrov stressed that the increase in Russian missile strikes is aimed at “destroying power plants,” infrastructures that “allow them to continue to send deadly weapons to Ukraine to destroy the Russians.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this Thursday accused the West, especially the United States and NATO, of being directly involved in conflict in Ukraine by providing weapons and training Ukrainian soldiers.

Lavrov stressed that Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian power plants and other key infrastructure, which left millions of people without electricity, heat and water, were aimed at “weakening the military potential” of Ukraine and “making it impossible to send Western weapons.”

“It cannot be said that the US and NATO [Organização do Tratado do Atlântico Norte] do not participate in this war. They are directly involved in this,” Lavrov told reporters at a video press conference.

“And they not only supply weapons, but also train soldiers. They do it in the UK, Germany, Italy and other countries,” he added.

Lavrov stressed that the increase in Russian missile strikes is aimed at “destroying power plants,” infrastructures that “allow them to continue to send deadly weapons to Ukraine to destroy the Russians.”

“The infrastructure targeted by the attacks is used to ensure the combat potential of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and nationalist battalions,” Lavrov said.

Ukraine and the West have accused Moscow of attacking vital civilian infrastructure in order to “humiliate morale and force Ukraine to negotiate peace on Russia’s terms.”

Lavrov insisted that Moscow remain open to negotiations to end the conflict.

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“We have never asked for negotiations, but we have always said that we are ready to listen to those who are interested in concluding an agreement,” Lavrov said.

The Kremlin has called on Ukraine to recognize Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014, as part of Russia, as well as other gains made since the entry of troops into eastern Ukraine on February 24 this year to combat the “militarization” and “Nazization” of the region.

When asked about the possibility of a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the United States Joe Biden, the head of Russian diplomacy replied that Moscow “has always been available” for such a meeting, adding, however, that “no serious thought has yet been voiced.

Lavrov said that US counterpart Anthony Blinken raised the issue of US citizens trapped in Russia in a telephone conversation, but noted that Putin and Biden agreed to set up a separate communication channel to discuss the issue during their meeting in Geneva. in June 2021.

“It works, and I hope that some results will be achieved,” he said.

For months, the Biden administration tried to negotiate the release of North American basketball star Britney Greener and Paul Whelan, a corporate security chief from Michigan, for which it proposed a prisoner exchange format with Moscow.

Commenting on Russia’s decision to postpone a round of talks with the United States on nuclear arms control, scheduled for this week, Lavrov said that “it is impossible to discuss strategic stability today if everything that happens in Ukraine is ignored.”

“The goal has been declared and it is to defeat Russia on the battlefield or even destroy Russia. How can the goal of defeating Russia be irrelevant to strategic stability if they want to destroy a key actor of strategic stability?” Lavrov replied.

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During a press video conference that lasted about two and a half hours, Lavrov also criticized the United States and its NATO allies, accusing them of “trampling international law by trying to isolate and destroy Russia.”

Lavrov concluded by also accusing Washington of encouraging other countries, including India, to cut off relations with Russia.

“These attempts failed,” he concluded.

Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine has already caused the flight of more than 13 million people – more than six million internally displaced people and more than 7.8 million to European countries – according to the latest figures from the UN, which classifies the refugee crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II ( 1939-1945).

The Russian invasion, justified by President Vladimir Putin as the need to “denazify” and “demilitarize” Ukraine for Russia’s security, was condemned by the international community at large, which responded by sending weapons to Kyiv and imposing sanctions. Moscow authorities.

Until Wednesday, the UN had presented 6,655 civilian deaths and 10,368 injured civilians as confirmed since the start of the war, emphasizing that these numbers are much lower than the real ones.

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