French Film Awards Held Amid Calls for More Diversity

France’s annual Cesar Award film ceremony Friday is already clouded in controversy, with a shake-up of its board, sexual assault accusations against top director Roman Polanski, and now, fresh calls for more diversity on screen.After Hollywood, French cinema is having its own introspective moment. The latest hashtag trending this week is #BlackCesars, after some 30 leading members of France’s film industry denounced its lack of diversity.  In an open letter published in a French newspaper this week, they claimed actors, directors and producers of ethnic African and Asian origin, and those from France’s overseas territories, are essentially invisible. They mostly get insignificant roles, the group claimed, that would never allow them to be nominated for Cesars or other awards. Many of the signatories are from minority backgrounds.  Hermann Ebongue, secretary general of anti-discrimination group SOS Racisme, notes calls for more diversity in the industry are not new. Although this year’s Academy Awards faced similar criticism, he believes minority artists in the United States still have more opportunities to become stars than in France.  The #BlackCesars petition also points to what it calls a paradox of American film director Spike Lee becoming the first black head of the Cannes Film Festival’s jury in May.  The diversity criticism here comes amid a shake-up of the Cesar’s management. Its board resigned en masse earlier this month, after film industry members accused it of being undemocratic and dysfunctional.Women’s rights activists protest against multiple nominations for Roman Polanski at the Cesar Awards ceremony, in Paris, France, Feb. 28, 2020.Meanwhile, another crisis is part of the backdrop of the awards ceremony. Franco-Polish film director Roman Polanski, whose movie An Officer and a Spy tops the list of nominations, faces accusations of rape and sexual harassment. He denies the accusations and said he would not attend following a storm of protest.  Some minority actors and directors have broken the glass ceiling here. Among them: film star Omar Sy, and director Ladj Ly, whose movie Les Miserables — set in France’s rough, multi-ethnic banlieues, or suburbs, — is another leading Cesar contender. Ly was also France’s first black film director to be nominated for an Oscar this year.  But activists say these stars remain the exceptions. Their box-office success, they say, proves French audiences also want more diversity onscreen.  Ebongue, of SOS Racisme, says real change will come when the industry as a whole signs on to petitions like #BlackCesars — and not just a minority of members. 

Coronavirus Threatening Europe’s Open-Border Goals

In another one of its many fallouts, the coronavirus is creating new strains for Europe’s 26-nation Schengen zone that allows for the free movement of people among member states. European officials say, for now, there is no reason to close borders, but the spread of the virus seems to bolster nationalist arguments for the zone to be scrapped altogether.  Like in most places these days, the coronavirus outbreak is topping the French news. Several dozen cases have been reported so far. The government is advising precautionary measures like not shaking hands and forgoing the traditional kiss on both cheeks. The post office has suspended link with China.  The bigger worry, for now, lies in neighboring Italy. For the moment, the borders between France and Italy remain open. However, a recent decision to allow 3,000 Italian fans to travel to the French city of Lyon for a football match sparked controversy.  That’s just one example testing Europe’s decades-old Schengen zone. The concept of open internal borders is a cornerstone of European Union goals for closer integration—although Schengen includes several non-EU members, such as Switzerland.  As yet, the EU has not called for closing Schengen borders. However, its top official for communicable diseases, Andrea Ammon, said Europe must prepare for more serious outbreaks, like Italy’s.  “Our assessment is that we will likely see similar situations in other countries in Europe, and that the picture may, in the coming weeks, vary from country to country,” Ammon said.Experts say closing borders won’t prevent the virus from crossing them but that hasn’t stopped nationalist parties from pushing this move. Here’sAmong them is Marine Le Pen, head of France’s main opposition National Rally party. But speaking on French radio this week, she wrongly claimed the EU has not said a word about the coronavirus outbreak. She said the bloc has only condemned those who want more border control — proving an open-border ideology that is almost a religion.  Nationalist politicians in Austria, Italy and Switzerland have made similar remarks. They have long lobbied for closed borders to stop migration. The coronavirus has reinforced these arguments.  At the same time, Schengen has also been weakened by member states. A few years ago some, such as Hungary, closed their borders to counter the migration crisis. France closed its borders after the 2015 terrorist attacks on its soil.While the Schengen system allows for temporary closures, experts say in practice some countries are turning “temporary” into a more permanent state of affairs. 

Ukraine Opens Case Involving Former Prosecutor General

Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation, responsible for investigating high-level crime in that country, Thursday opened a criminal case concerning alleged pressure by then-U.S. vice president Joe Biden to get rid of Viktor Shokin, then Ukraine’s prosecutor general.Biden, who served under former U.S. President Barack Obama, is running for the Democratic Party nomination to unseat U.S. President Donald Trump in November elections. Trump has claimed that Biden tried to have Shokin fired in 2015 in order to protect his son from prosecution.Shokins lawyer, Oleksandr Teleshetsky, told reporters Thursday the move to open the case was made under a court order, based on a criminal complaint filed by Shokin.He said that although the name “Biden” is present in the criminal complaint, the criminal case refers to an unnamed “U.S. citizen.” The lawyer said that based on public statements made by Biden, his client had good reason to believe that the former vice president ordered and instigated Shokins removal as prosecutor general.Teleshetsky referred to a Biden statement at a 2018 Council on Foreign Relations event, when he talked about threatening to rescind a $1 billion U.S. government loan to Ukraine if Shokin were not fired.Biden’s campaign, Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, and former Obama administration officials have long maintained that Bidens demand was a part of an international campaign to remove the Ukrainian law enforcement official because he wasnt actively pursuing corruption cases.’Means nothing’Speaking of the new investigation, Kostiantyn Likarchuk, a managing partner in the Kyiv office of the Kinstellar law firm, told VOA, “Legally, that means nothing. If anybody reports a criminal offense, then goes to a court, and a court makes a decision that the State Bureau of Investigations has to register the probe, it would register it. It doesn`t mean that there are grounds for an investigation.””Ukrainian authorities have neither the capacity nor the skills required for the investigation of this kind. But in any event, to assume that Biden interfered with Shokin’s activity is absurd,” said Likarchuk.Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and a witness in the Trump impeachment inquiry William Taylor told VOA that he hopes the probe against Biden will be seen as “a normal law enforcement operation” and would not jeopardize the bipartisan support of Ukraine in Washington.”What I have told my Ukrainian friends, over and over again, is that the most valuable strategic asset Ukraine has in the U.S. is this bipartisan support. It’s golden. Most issues in this city are in conflict; they are controversial; they don’t have bipartisan support. Ukraine has bipartisan support. And actions that are taken over there should not jeopardize that. Ukrainians don’t want to be involved in our politics, and we don’t want to be involved in Ukrainian politics. That should guide the Ukrainian government to be sure they’re not interfering in our politics,” Taylor said.Ostap Yarysh of VOA’s Ukrainian Service contributed to this report. 

Russia, Turkey Are on the Edge in Syria

Tensions between Russia and Turkey over their sometimes allied and often dueling military campaigns in Syria broke into the open Friday, with Moscow blaming Ankara for the deaths of 33 Turkish troops in Syria’s Idlib region during airstrikes. While Russia denied any role in the deaths of the Turkish soldiers, the Kremlin accused Turkish forces of operating unannounced in the region — and of providing support to terrorist groups subsequently targeted by Moscow’s ally, the Syrian government. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said President Vladimir Putin had met with his Security Council in the wake of the attacks, with Russian generals informing Putin that raids by terrorist groups against Syrian forces in Idlib had prompted airstrikes. FILE – Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov is pictured in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, March 28, 2019.Turkish troops, said Peskov, had been caught in the fighting while aiding terrorist groups in opposition to Damascus. Turkey disputed that account, insisting the attack occurred despite Ankara’s having informed Moscow that its troops were operating in the area. It also denied the presence of Syrian rebels near the scene of the attack, suggesting the air assault was intentionally targeting Turkey. Meeting possible soonPutin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Ergodan later discussed the situation by phone and agreed on the possibility of a meeting “in the near future” aimed at “normalizing conditions” in northwest Syria, said Kremlin officials. A spokesman for the Turkish leader, however, said Ergodan also was insisting on Turkey’s right to respond in kind to the Syrian airstrikes. The Turkish deaths came as Russia continues to help the Syrian government establish control over Idlib, one of the last remaining bastions of opposition to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s rule.   FILE – Smoke billows over the town of Saraqeb in the eastern part of the Idlib province in northwestern Syria, following bombardment by Syrian government forces, Feb. 27, 2020.The Syrian government’s bombing campaign, carried out with Russian support, has caused a humanitarian crisis, with an estimated 900,000 residents fleeing the fighting for the Syrian-Turkish border. It also has prompted a standoff with Turkey, which has insisted that Syria respect a Russian-negotiated buffer zone agreed to in 2018. Though Turkey has stopped short of blaming Russia for direct involvement in the latest attack, Ankara has often been critical of Moscow’s inability — or, perhaps unwillingness — to control its ally in Damascus. Cease-fire demandedAmid a visit by a Russian delegation to Ankara to discuss the crisis in Idlib on Friday, Turkish officials demanded that Russia force the Syrian government to immediately agree to a sustainable cease-fire. Turkey’s allies in NATO joined those calls, with the alliance’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, expressing condolences to families of Turks killed in the attack and placing blame squarely on Moscow and Damascus:FILE – The Russian flag-covered coffin of Russian pilot Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov is shown inside a Russian air force transport plane at Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 30, 2015. He was killed when Turkish F-16s shot his plane down.Early clashRussia and Turkey clashed early after Moscow’s entry into the war, with Turkey shooting down and killing a Russian pilot along the Turkish border in 2015. At the time, Putin called the death of the pilot “a stab in the back” and ordered Russian sanctions on Turkish products and a ban on Russian tourism to the country.  Yet the two sides bridged differences as Russia switched the brunt of its air power from what the West called Syria’s “moderate opposition” to widely recognized terrorist groups, such as Islamic State, that were waging attacks in Turkey proper. And for all the sparring over the events in Idlib, there seemed consensus in Moscow that Russia was interested in maintaining a working relationship with Turkey that has since expanded beyond the Syrian front into agreements involving trade, tourism and energy.   “A wider war between Turkey and Russia? Never!” said Alexei Malashenko, a longtime regional observer currently with the Institute for the Dialogue of Civilizations.  “It’s very dangerous, of course. But we are dealing with a new kind of Middle East.”  “I don’t think that either Russia or Turkey is willing to sacrifice bilateral ties just for Idlib,” concurred the Russian International Affairs Council’s Alexei Khlebnikov. Be that as it may, it was clear all sides were hedging their bets as they took stock of growing tensions in Idlib. The Interfax news agency reported that Russian and U.S. officials discussed the situation in Syria by phone Friday. Meanwhile, the Kremlin dispatched two warships armed with Kalibr cruise missiles to the Middle East on Friday. Their destination? The coast of Syria. 

Turkish, Russian Leaders Talk as Fighting Continues in Syria

Fears of an escalating conflict in Syria grew Friday as Turkish forces pounded Syria’s military in retaliation for the killing of 33 Turkish soldiers. Meanwhile, Russia’s and Turkey’s presidents spoke, as Ankara threatens to launch even more assaults on Russian-backed Syrian forces.”Turkish forces destroyed five Syrian regime choppers, 23 tanks, 10 armored vehicles, 23 howitzers, five ammunition trucks — as well as three ammunition depots, two equipment depots, a headquarters, and 309 regime troops,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters close to the Syrian-Turkish border.Ankara’s assault came in retaliation for an airstrike Turkey blamed on Syrian forces that killed 33 Turkish soldiers in Syria’s Idlib province on Thursday.The deadly airstrike followed Turkish forces backing Syrian rebels in an attack to recapture the strategically important town of Saraqeb. Idlib is the last rebel enclave, which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is vowing to retake.  Ankara says it struck all known Syrian military targets and that it is now assessing operations in preparation for further attacks.  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued an ultimatum for Damascus forces, by Saturday, to give up recent gains and retreat back behind a de-escalation zone agreed between Ankara and Moscow in 2018 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, while backing rival sides in the Syrian civil war, have been working closely to resolve the conflict.But Thursday’s deadly airstrike is seen posing the biggest threat to the recent Turkish-Russian rapprochement. In a bid to defuse tensions, Erdogan spoke with Putin by phone Friday.”The two leaders will meet in-person as soon as possible,” said Fahrettin Altun, presidential communication directorate.  Western support?Ankara is looking to its western allies to support its forces in Syria. “The international community must act to protect civilians and impose a no-fly-zone,” tweeted Altun.Turkey called for an emergency meeting of NATO Friday, but while receiving words of solidarity, no concrete measures of support were agreed on.Erdogan has recently called for the deployment of American Patriot missile system to offer protection for Syrian civilians and Turkish forces on the ground in Idlib.But experts warn that there appears little support for any action that brings the risk of a military confrontation with Russian forces. Underlining Moscow’s commitment to Damascus, Friday saw two of Russia’s warships pass through Istanbul en route to Syria to reinforce its Syrian military presence.VOA’s Steve Herman contributed to this report.

Syria’s Idlib Remains Explosive After Deadly Attack on Turkish Troops

The situation in Syria’s rebel-controlled Idlib region remains explosive, following the killing there of more than 30 Turkish soldiers in an airstrike by Russia-backed Syrian government forces. Bracing against possible Turkish countermeasures, Russia is moving two warships toward the eastern Mediterranean.Meanwhile, NATO is urging Damascus to “respect international law,” and cease airstrikes over civilian areas in Idlib. Turkey also has sent scores of Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees to its border with Greece in an apparent effort to pressure the EU to support its position in the northern Syrian province.NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg offered the group’s “condolences” to member state Turkey in a press conference Friday, after an urgent meeting requested by Ankara following the deaths of 33 Turkish soldiers in Idlib. Stoltenberg stopped short, however, of offering any NATO military support to Ankara.”We stated very clearly that we call on Russia and the [Syrian leader Bashar al-] Assad regime to stop the … indiscriminate air attacks and also to engage and support U.N.-led efforts to find a lasting political, peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria,” Stoltenberg said.Arab media showed video of two Russian naval frigates equipped with Caliper missiles as they were crossing the Dardanelles, on their way to waters off Syria. At the same time, a Russian military delegation met with their Turkish counterparts in Ankara Friday to try to defuse tensions.Russia claims that Turkish forces were working alongside “terrorist groups” in Idlib province when they were hit by a Syrian government airstrike. Turkey denies the claim. The Russian Foreign Ministry repeated Friday that “terrorist groups will not be tolerated” in Idlib. 

Turkey Threatens Europe with Refugees After 33 Troops Killed

REYHANLI, Turkey  – The presidents of Turkey and Russia spoke over the phone on Friday, a day after Syrian government airstrikes killed 33 Turkish troops, significantly ratcheting up tensions between Ankara and Moscow. It was the highest number of Turkish soldiers killed in a single day since Ankara first intervened in the Syrian conflict in 2016.
The development was the most serious escalation in the conflict between Turkish and Russia-backed Syrian forces and raised the prospect of all-out war with millions of Syrian civilians trapped in the middle.
NATO envoys held emergency talks at the request of Turkey, a NATO member, and scores of migrants began converging on Turkey’s border with Greece seeking entry into Europe after Turkey said it was no longer able to hold refugees.'' Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country already hosts more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, has long threatened to "open the gates'' for millions of refugees eager to flee to Europe unless more international support was provided.
Refugees, meanwhile, headed to the land border with Greece, taking minibuses and taxis from Istanbul. Dozens waited at the Turkish side of the border gate at Pazarkule and dozens of others were in no-man's land between the two countries.
Others headed to Turkey's west coast to attempt to reach the Greek islands, a short distance away. Several rubber dinghy boats with groups of people clambering aboard were seen on Friday, heading for the island of Lesbos after apparently setting off from Ayvacik, northwest Turkey in broad daylight.
A Greek police official said dozens of people had gathered on the Turkish side of the land border in Greece's northeastern Evros region, shouting "open the borders." Greek police and military border patrols were deployed on the Greek side to prevent anyone trying to cross without authorization.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the press on the record.
At one point, Greek police said they used tear gas and flash grenades to move migrants back, after an estimated 450 people gathered at the Turkish side of the Kastanies border crossing. The crossing was closed temporarily.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy warned the movement of migrants to the West could continue if the situation in Idlib deteriorated.
"Some asylum seekers and migrants in our country, worried about developments, have begun to move towards our western borders," he said. "If the situation worsens this risk will continue to increase.'' However, he added that there was "no change'' in Turkey's migration policy.
Bulgaria said it was also beefing up security on its border with Turkey to counter a possible migrant influx, deploying "army units, national guard and border police staff," Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said after a Cabinet meeting.
There is a real threat” of a new migrant wave from Turkey, he said.
The latest crisis stems from a Russian-backed Syrian government military campaign to retake Syria’s Idlib province, which is the last opposition-held stronghold in Syria. The offensive, which began Dec. 1, has triggered the largest single wave of displacement in Syria’s nine-year war, sending nearly 950,000 people fleeing to areas near the Turkish border for safety. Ankara, the Syrian rebels’ last supporter, sealed its borders in 2015 and under a 2016 deal with the European Union agreed to step up efforts to halt the flow of refugees.
Turkey has had 54 soldiers killed in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province since the beginning of February, including the latest fatalities, and now feels the need to respond strongly.
Omer Celik, spokesman for Erdogan’s ruling party, said Turkey was “no longer able to hold refugees” following the Syrian attack – reiterating a standing threat by Ankara.
The Thursday night attack in Idlib sharply raises the risk of direct military confrontation between Turkey and Russia, although Turkish officials blamed Syria, not Russia, for the attack. The Turkish stock market fell 10% in the wake of the airstrike, while the Turkish lira slid against the dollar.
Turkey is a main backer of the Syrian opposition while Russia has been giving military support to the weeks-long Syrian government offensive in Idlib.
The Kremlin said Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed implementing agreements in Idlib.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking in Moscow, said Russia remains committed to the agreements reached by Putin and his Turkish counterpart. Commenting on the deaths of the Turkish troops in Idlib, Lavrov said that if the agreements between the two countries’ armies – “including sharing of accurate coordinates of the Turkish troops’ location” – had been implemented in full, “such tragedies could have been avoided.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry said the Turkish troops that came under fire in Idlib were deployed among “terrorist battle formations.” They were in the area of Behun, and according to coordinates given to Russia’s Reconciliation Center in Syria, “there were no Turkish military units in the area … and there weren’t supposed to be,” the ministry said.
Russian air forces did not carry out airstrikes in the area, the statement added, and after receiving information about Turkish casualties, the Russian side took all the necessary measures in order for the Syrian forces to stop the fire.''
Meanwhile, two Russian frigates carrying cruise missiles have been deployed to Syria, Russian navy officials said Friday. Admiral Makarov and Admiral Grigorovich of the Black Sea Fleet are en route to the Syrian coast with Kalibr cruise missiles on board. Both warships previously took part in Russia's offensive in Syria.
Syrian state news agency, SANA, carried a brief report saying Turkey has acknowledged its forces were killed
in operations of the Syrian Arab Army against a terrorist organization,” adding that Syrian troops at the time were repelling attacks by “terrorist groups backed by Turkey.”
Erdogan held a six-hour emergency security meeting in Ankara late on Thursday, the Anadolu news agency reported. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevult Cavusoglu spoke to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg by telephone while Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, who plays a senior role in foreign affairs, spoke to U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group, said after the attack on Turkish troops, Turkey’s armed forces shelled Syrian army positions in different parts of Idlib, killing at least 16 soldiers. It gave no further details and there was no comment from Syria’s state media.
In recent weeks, Turkey has sent thousands of troops as well as tanks and other equipment to Idlib. As recently as Wednesday, Erdogan gave the Syrian government until the end of February to pull back from its recent advances or face Turkish “intervention”.
Turkey provides some of the militants with direct support and has accused Syria of breaking a 2018 agreement to reduce the conflict in Idlib. Russia and Syrian President Bashar Assad have said Turkey has failed to honor a deal to separate extremist groups from other fighters in the region.
On Thursday, the Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters retook a strategic northwestern town from government forces, cutting a key highway just days after the government reopened it for the first time since 2012.
Despite losing the town of Saraqeb, Assad’s forces made major gains to the south. Assad now controls almost the entire southern part of Idlib province after capturing more than 20 villages Thursday, state media and opposition activists said. It’s part of a weekslong campaign backed by Russian air power into Syria’s last rebel stronghold. 

Switzerland Bans Large Events to Stem Coronavirus

The Swiss government is taking the unprecedented step of banning all public events that have more than 1,000 people in response to a growing number of cases of coronavirus in the country.The latest number of reported cases of coronavirus infections in Switzerland is 19. An estimated 100 people are in quarantine.The ban, expected to extend until at least mid-March, has interrupted a number of events, but Swiss authorities say the government’s top priority is to protect the population.The ban comes in the middle of carnival season, which draws thousands of merrymakers to Swiss towns and villages. One of the biggest casualties is the Geneva International Motor Show, which was scheduled to run March 5 to 15, and attracts about 500,000 visitors every year.Cars and workers are pictured at the Palexpo exhibition center as the 90th edition of the International Motor Show is canceled to curb the spread of the coronavirus, in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 28, 2020.The United Nations is unsure how the Swiss Federal Council’s decision will affect large-scale events scheduled to take place on its premises. For now, the Human Rights Council is the only mass gathering at the U.N. in Geneva.  U.N. Spokesman Rolando Gomez says the news is fresh and he does not know how it will play out. The council session, which examines human rights violations around the world, is due to last until March 20.”Obviously, you well know there are well over 1,000 participants at the council,” he said.Switzerland’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed Tuesday in the Ticino region, which has cross-border traffic with Italy, Europe’s worst-hit country. The World Health Organization says Italy now has 400 cases of coronavirus, and numbers are continuing to rise.  As of Friday morning, the WHO reported more than 83,000 cases of COVID-19 in China, including 2,058 deaths. It reported 4,351 cases in 49 countries outside China, and 67 deaths.  Nigeria, the most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa, just reported its first case of coronavirus, as did Mexico.

Туреччина рішуче відповідає на агресію путіна та до чого тут Україна?

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Цієї ночі в Сирії російські війська спільно з урядовими військами Башара Асада вбили понад 30 турецьких військових. Туреччина почала реагувати миттєво: скликає екстренне засідання НАТО, відкриває кордони для біженців у ЄС і не тільки. Здавалося б, до чого тут Україна?

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Кремлю придется дорого заплатить за кураж: за ЮКОС – 50 миллиардов, а сколько же за Кpым?..

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Кровавый карлик пукин скопировал своё большое интервью с американского с Бараком Обамой

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Estonia, Lithuania Report First Cases of Coronavirus

Two Baltic countries have reported their first case of coronavirus, each with mild symptoms.Lithuania confirmed its first case Friday, detected in a woman who returned home after attending a conference with colleagues in Italy’s northern city of Verona.The 39-year-old woman has mild symptoms and has been isolated in hospital in the northern town of Siauliai following her return Monday, Lithuanian Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said at a late night press conference, adding that passengers seated beside the woman on the plane and in adjacent rows are going to undergo tests for the virus.On Thursday, Estonia reported its first coronavirus case, a day after a man returned to the county from a business trip in his homeland, Iran.Estonian Social Affairs Minister Tanel Kiik told public broadcaster ERR that the man is currently hospitalized.“The person, a permanent resident of Estonia who is not a citizen, arrived in Estonia on Wednesday evening,” Kiik said.According to local media, the man contacted Estonian health authorities himself upon his arrival in Tallinn by bus from the Latvian capital Riga, where he flew in from Istanbul.Italy and Iran are among the countries with the largest numbers of COVID-19 cases outside Asia.

Turkey Opens Its EU Borders to Migrants   

Refugees can now gain access to Europe through Turkey.Turkey shares borders with two European Union countries, Greece and Bulgaria.Turkey’s security forces have been ordered not to stop the exodus, at least temporarily reversing an arrangement made with the EU in 2016.The decision comes after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed by Syrian government forces in northern Syria’s Idlib region Thursday.About 1 million Syrian refugees have been displaced and have gathered near the border with Turkey since December.Turkey already houses nearly 4 million Syrian refugees.Early Friday, close to 300 migrants began the trek to Turkey’s Edirne province on the Greek border.Media reports said that in addition to the Syrians making the trip, Iranians, Iraqis, Pakistanis and Moroccans were also part of the group.Refugees are also heading toward Ayvacik, where they hope to travel by boat to the Greek island of Lesbos.