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March, 2016


Latin American Environment Ministers Meet To Fast-Track Action On Environmental Issues

World Affairs – Environment

Open Eyes Opinion

Latin America

Latin American Environment Ministers Meet to Fast-Track Action on Climate Change, Deforestation, Air Pollution





Gearing up for the 2nd UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-2), ministers to define regional approaches to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Cartagena de Indias, 30 March 2016 – Ministers of Environment and representatives of 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean will agree this week a set of common actions to achieve the global Sustainable Development Goals, including tackling climate change, deforestation and air pollution.

The 20th Meeting of the Forum of Ministers of the Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean comes at a crucial moment as the region determines its climate change and sustainable development priorities ahead of the second UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) – the highest-level international decision making body on the environment.

Opening the Forum, Gabriel Vallejo López, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia, said: “This meeting comes at a perfect moment. It coincides with processes of international relevance that give us the opportunity to identify common interests and actions and strategic decisions for the Latin American and Caribbean region.

“The 2030 Agenda is a clear roadmap towards achieving prosperity, peace and inclusion, without disregarding the planet’s ecological boundaries – nearly 86 of the 169 targets for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are related to environmental sustainability.”

Rafael Pacchiano, Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico, and Chair of the previous meeting of the Forum of Ministers, said: “Environment and sustainable development are among the most important concepts of public policy at present, because of its cross-cutting nature and because it is related to the very survival of the planet. In this sense our region will continue to promote the balanced integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions.”

Delivering on the promise of Paris to limit global warming to 2°C this century will top the ministers’ agenda as they address deforestation and the emissions of Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) to fast-track the achievement of their climate pledges.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said: “When it comes to tackling greenhouse emissions, Latin America and the Caribbean are responsible for less than 10 per cent of the global total, but the region is at the forefront of efforts to tackle them. For example, all of Costa Rica’s electricity last year came from renewable sources and all of Brazil and Uruguay’s new electricity generation tenders since 2013 have been won by solar and wind technologies.

“When it comes to deforestation, every year the region loses a forest cover equal to 70 per cent of the surface of Costa Rica. Yet Brazil and Costa Rica’s re-forestation show that the kind of strategies we see with REDD+ can preserve options for carbon sequestration, healthy livelihoods and sustainable development.”

The ministers are also expected to follow up on their ambitious Action Plan to tackle air pollution, adopted at the 19th Forum two years ago. The plan details the climate benefits of improving air quality by reducing the emissions of SLCPs, such as methane and hydrofluorocarbons.

A recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year deaths from non-communicable diseases, mostly attributable to air pollution, amount to up to 8.2 million. Nearly a million premature deaths in the Americas can be linked to environmental factors, most of them to indoor and outdoor air pollution.

The ministers will also discuss South-South cooperation on achieving the 2030 Agenda, protection of biodiversity, and the linkages between health and environment. They are expected to adopt an updated Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative for Sustainable Development, which underscores the need to foster fast, ambitious and integrated action.

The outcomes of the meeting will contribute to UNEA-2, which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 23rd to 27th May 2016 and which will be chaired by a representative of Latin America and the Caribbean region.

For many, the creation of UNEA is the coming of age of the environment as a world issue, as it places environmental concerns on the same footing with those of peace, security, finance, health and trade for the first time. The first UNEA meeting took place in Nairobi in June 2014.

The 20th Meeting of the Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean will conclude on March 31.

For more information please contact María Amparo Lasso, UNEP Regional Communications Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean,, (+507) 68523459.

About UNEA-2

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) is the world’s most powerful decision-making body on the environment?the de-facto “Parliament for the Environment”?and responsible for tackling some of the most critical issues of our time. The assembly holds the power to dramatically change the fate of the planet and improve the lives of everyone, impacting everything from health to national security, from the plastic in our oceans to the trafficking of wildlife. Thanks to UNEA, the environment is now considered one of the world’s most pressing concerns alongside other major global issues such as peace, security, finance and health.

This year, hundreds of key decision makers, businesses and representatives of intergovernmental organizations and civil society will in May gather at UNEA-2, taking place at the United Nations Environment Programme headquarters in Nairobi, for one of the first major meetings since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement. The resolutions passed at UNEA-2 will set the stage for early action on implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and drive the world towards a better future, more-just future. UNEA-2 is also inclusive, with allowing citizens to feed their concerns into the meeting and take personal ownership of the collective challenges we face.

{Source: United Nations Environment Program]

[Photo credits-featured image:  View of the Santa Cruz de Manga Islands, Boca Grande and Castillo Grande and Tierra Bomba seen from Cerro de la Popa. Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. – By Norma Gòmez – originally posted to Flickr as Pie de Popa e islas de Santa Cruz de Manga, Boca y Castillo Grande y Tierra Bomba vistas desde el, CC BY 2.0,]

[Intext photo: courtesy of UNEP – credits embedded]


Air Canada Cargo Receives Top Industry Award

World Trade

Open Eyes Opinion

International Air Cargo

Air Cargo Diamond Award recognizes best in customer service and timeliness of delivery among world’s cargo carriers





MONTREAL, March 31, 2016 – Air Canada Cargo received the Air Cargo Excellence Diamond Award at the 10th annual World Cargo Symposium recently held in Berlin. The Diamond award is the industry’s top award and Air Canada Cargo won it in the “up to 399,999 tonnes” air carrier category. The awards are based on the Air Cargo Excellence Survey presented annually by Air Cargo World Magazine to the airlines and airports achieving the highest scores in the survey based on several performance factors including customer service, value and performance.

“The Air Cargo Excellence Awards celebrate the best in the air cargo industry and I am thrilled to share this prestigious recognition with the entire Air Canada Cargo team,” saidLise-Marie Turpin, Air Canada Vice President, Cargo. “With a focus on innovation and customer service, we develop applications and utilize technology to consistently improve operational and business processes to deliver quality service. We are active in many industry initiatives and are proud to assume a position of leadership in moving the air cargo industry forward.”

Air Canada Cargo provides direct cargo services to over 150 Canadian, U.S. transborder and international destinations and has sales representation in over 50 countries. With hubs in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, London and Frankfurt, the Air Canada Cargo network is extended through interline agreements with other air carriers and through ground trucking services offered in selected markets, serving more than 450 destinations in all.

Air Canada Cargo is Canada’s largest provider of air cargo services as measured by cargo capacity. Main customers are large freight forwarding companies and businesses whose products require the use of air services to expedite their time sensitive cargo shipments. Shipping solutions are tailored to best meet specific commodities and time requirements of our customers cost-efficiently.

About the Air Cargo Excellence Awards

The annual Air Cargo Excellence Awards celebrates stellar performance in the airfreight industry. The awards are based on the Air Cargo Excellence Survey, which was established in 2005 and is published annually in Air Cargo World.

The survey is based upon a rating system that measures airlines and airports on specific criteria and subsequently ranks them to identify above or below average performance. There are two surveys in fall 2015 – one for airlines, and one for airports – based on their performance during the previous 12 months. The survey was enhanced and expanded for 2016 to allow for more granular data on each market participant, as well as to facilitate deeper segmentation of the data. For more information, please visit:

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline serving more than 200 airports on six continents.  Canada’s flag carrier is among the 20 largest airlines in the world and in 2015 served more than 41 million customers.  Air Canada provides scheduled passenger service directly to 63 airports in Canada, 56 in the United States and 86 in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and South America. Air Canada is a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network serving 1,330 airports in 192 countries.  Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. 

Please visit Air Canada Cargo

{Source: Air Canada – Media Relations}

[Photo credits-featured image: Departing Toronto Pearson – By Brian – originally posted to Flickr as Departure Path, CC BY-SA 2.0,]

[Intext photos: inserted by (credits embedded)] ]



Hungary Determined To Proceed With The Lawsuit Against Compulsory Migration Quotas

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion









At a press conference, state secretary at the Hungarian Justice Ministry Pál Völner has said that “Hungary is committed to proceeding with the lawsuit it has launched against compulsory migration quotas, and in light of the terror threat its resolve is absolute”.

Mr. Völner declared that implementation of the permanent resettlement quota, which in any case seems practically unworkable, could be prevented through the action brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The compulsory resettlement quota was passed by the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council last year, and the lawsuit against it was filed by Hungary at the European Court of Justice on 3 December. The state secretary’s announcement came as a deadline expired at midnight on Thursday, after which EU Member States and the European Commission will be unable to become involved in Hungary’s submission to the Court.

Mr. Völner said that no legislation should be adopted which is impossible to comply with or monitor, and the decision by the JHA Council also contravened international conventions, since those resettling would not be consulted.

He recalled that Slovakia has also brought an action against the quota, and he mentioned that Romania and the Czech Republic also voted against the decision when it was taken, while Finland abstained. He also added that Poland later changed its former position and then – following the terror attacks in Brussels – suspended its commitment to take in migrants under the compulsory quota.

He also mentioned that, in addition to the Commission, Greece and Italy have indicated their participation in the lawsuit, as “beneficiaries” of the decision, as well as France, Germany, Sweden and Luxemburg.

The state secretary said he believes that it is clear that all pro-immigration forces in the EU have mobilised themselves, while at the same time he found it encouraging that the majority of Member States do not wish to participate in the lawsuit – i.e. they are not pro-immigration.

Mr. Völner added that the number of parties involved means that this will be a precedent-setting case. He thought the lawsuit has clearly contributed to blocking the implementation of resettlement quotas, as since then no decision prescribing the compulsory and continuous resettlement of migrants has been adopted.

He expressed the hope that the ten legal arguments formulated in the action filed by Hungary will provide a suitable basis for changing the decision on compulsory quotas.

He also noted that sadly the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels have also confirmed the link between immigration and terrorism. He recalled that last year more than two million people entered Europe, most of them not subjected to any security checks.

Answering questions, the state secretary said that the action brought against compulsory quotas and the Hungarian referendum on the same issue will remain relevant until Hungary is given guarantees that in the future there will be no renewed efforts to make the quotas compulsory.

The state secretary indicated that in this case Hungary’s attitude is not based on suspicion or distrust, but on experience. He recalled that last summer the European Council of heads of state or government decided on taking in migrants on a voluntary basis; then, however, on 22 September the JHA Council of justice and home affairs ministers took a diametrically opposed decision, making resettlement compulsory.

Mr. Völner said that “Until the European Union provides a guarantee that it will not enter into this kind of legislation in the future or act in such a brazen manner, the referendum will be justified and necessary”.

He is convinced that the EU should take a decision supported by guarantees: “a final regulation” stipulating that the resettlement of migrants may only be voluntary.

{Source: Government of Hungary – Ministry of Justice}

[Photo credits-featured image: Migrants in Hungary near the Serbian border –  By Photo: Gémes Sándor/SzomSzed –, CC BY-SA 3.0,]

[Intext photos: By Endre Véssey/ Hungary Ministry of Justice – credits embedded]


The European Investment Bank To Provide GBP 500 Million To Support Power Link In Northern Scotland

World Trade – Banking

Open Eyes Opinion


GBP 500m EIB backing for Caithness Moray transmission link






The European Investment Bank has agreed to provide GBP 500 million to support a major reinforcement of the electricity transmission network in the north of Scotland to improve connections between wind, wave and tidal renewable energy schemes and the national power network.

The new power link will help secure the supply of electricity in the Highlands and beyond for generations to come and once operational the new transmission link will supply equivalent electricity to meet the needs of around 2 million Scottish residents.

The new investment represents the largest investment in the electricity network in the north of Scotland for 60 years and includes a new 1200 megawatt subsea cable between Spittal in Caithness and Blackhillock in Moray. The laying of the subsea cable and associated onshore infrastructure works are expected to support 600 jobs during the construction phase and boost SSE plc’s in-house apprentice, trainee engineer and graduate programmes.

The GBP 500 million long-term European Investment Bank loan will support nearly GBP 1.2 billion of overall investment in the electricity transmission network in the north of Scotland by Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SSE plc. The first part of the loan totalling GBP 300 million was signed this week and the remainder is expected to be signed next year as the project progresses.

“This project represents the largest investment in electricity network in the north of Scotland since the hydro development era of the 1950s and we are proud to be an integral part of it; delivering value for money while reinforcing the network, allowing for the connection of new generation and providing a more resilient power supply to those who live and work in the area.” said David Gardner, Director of Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc.

“Investment in energy infrastructure across the UK is essential to harness the full potential of new and future renewable energy schemes. The European Investment Bank is pleased to provide GBP 500 million to support essential investment by Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc that will ensure more efficient transmission of green energy, enable increased use of renewable power in Scotland and secure energy supply to the Highlands and Scotland’s cities. Our strong partnership with SSE over many years demonstrates our firm commitment to support ambitious energy investment that creates jobs and benefits local companies.” said Jonathan Taylor, European Investment Bank Vice President.

SSE is working closely with local businesses to create a sustainable local supply chain, advertise opportunities for local suppliers and provide opportunities for local firms to benefit from investment in Scotland’s power infrastructure. In December 2014, SSE awarded its largest-ever Living Wage contract – worth £460m – as part of the Caithness-Moray transmission link.

The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest international public bank and is 16% owned by the UK government.  

Over the last decade the European Investment Bank has provided more than GBP 10 billion for investment in energy infrastructure across the UK including renewable energy schemes, national transmission networks and regional power distribution as well as inter-connectors to Ireland, France and the Netherlands.

Lending by the EIB in the UK last year totalled GBP 5.6 billion and supported long-term investment in 40 projects across the country.  This represented the largest annual engagement since the start of EIB lending in the UK in 1973 which has supported nearly GBP 16 billion of overall investment.

In the last 10 years the European Investment Bank has provided more than GBP 3 billion for direct investment in Scotland, with additional investment from UK wide programmes.

{Source: European Investment Bank}

[Photo credits-featured image:  Tràigh Allt Chàilgeag, Highland, Scotland-  By Florian Fuchs, CC BY 3.0,]

[Intext photo: inserted by (credits embedded)]


UAE Minister Of Economy Discusses Economic Cooperation With Egypt And The Czech Republic

World Trade

Open Eyes Opinion

UAE-Egypt-Czech Republic trade agreements








ABU DHABI, 29th March, 2016  — Sultan bin Saeed Al-Mansouri, Minister of Economy has discussed economic and trade cooperation with Egypt and Czech Republic, and ways to strengthen the bilateral relationship for greater mutual benefit.

This came during Al-Mansouri’s separate meetings with Wael Jad, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt and Alexander Sporish, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the UAE.

During his meeting with the Egyptian Ambassador, the two sides discussed hosting a UAE-Egypt business meeting to identify opportunities for growth as well as pin-point challenges that need to be overcome for ensuring the development of these synergies. The UAE and Egypt also explored potential partnerships in sectors including aviation, tourism and logistics.

Highlighting the keenness of the two countries in developing bilateral economic and trade relations, Al-Mansouri said: “Egypt offers many promising investment opportunities that could fast-track its economic development process in the short to mid-term phase. Massive development projects like the New Suez Canal and its logistics zone, the recent discoveries of huge gas fields in the country and a significant skilled labor market qualifies Egypt to become a major investment destination in the region.”

The Minister pointed out that in light of steps taken by the Egyptian government to tackle challenges facing investors, new and enabling procedures are likely to further shore up Egypt’s prospects globally and make it a more attractive destination with well-defined investment sectors.

Pointing out that the future offers unique prospects to further enhance bilateral relations, Wael Jad reaffirmed Egypt’s commitment to strengthening economic and trade ties with the UAE and in driving partnerships among organizations and entities in the two countries.

The Minister of Economy also met Alexander Sporish, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the UAE. The meeting highlighted the outcomes of recent official visits between the two countries and explored enhanced cooperation across sectors.

The two sides gained updates on the status of the economic and technical cooperation agreement that is set for ratification by the UAE and the Czech Republic. The agreement includes frameworks for partnerships in a number of mutually beneficial economic sectors.

Al Mansouri pointed out that the UAE’s keenness to further develop economic and trade cooperation with the Czech Republic resonates with that articulated by the European nation. He noted that the Czech Republic is today a promising destination for investments due to its supporting and enabling environment.

For his part, Alexander Sporish said the UAE has established itself as a major destination for investment and tourism in the region. He noted that 50,000 Czechs visit the UAE annually while some 2,000 live and work in the country. Increasing the number of direct flights between the UAE and the Czech Republic has had the desired positive impact of accelerating cooperation in trade and tourism, he added.

In addition to existing cooperation in agriculture and industry, the Czech ambassador pointed out that his country has vast expertise in several sectors that can build cooperation with the UAE, such as education, scientific research, healthcare, tourism and emergency services.

{Source: Emirates News Agency – WAM/AAMIR}

[Photo credits-featured image:  Nightscape of the high-rise section of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. – By .EVO. from UAE – Flickr, CC BY 2.0,]

[Intext photos: inserted by (credits embedded)]


Israel And China Open Talks On A Bilateral Free Trade Agreement

World Trade

Open Eyes Opinion

Israel – China

Israel PM Netanyahu meets with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong







29 Mar 2016 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong declared the opening of talks on a bilateral free trade agreement, a significant step in relations between Israel and China.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: “I was delighted to hear today from Vice Premier Liu that China is prepared to begin free trade agreement negotiations with Israel. This is a momentous development and we are ready to do so right away. We have so much that we can do together. We discussed the various fields in which this can happen – in health care, in remote education, in agriculture, in marine agriculture, in IT. In every field of human endeavor the cooperation between Israel and China can yield enormous results. And we believe that Israel can be a perfect partner.”

Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong said that China was pleased to begin talks on a free trade zone and added that her country is ready to cooperate for the benefit of both peoples. She said that Israel and China are heading toward major joint projects and noted that Israel is known throughout the world for its innovation.

The significance of the opening of the talks:

  • When the trade agreement takes effect, it could double bilateral trade (currently around $8 billion);
  • This agreement will include trade in goods and services, as well as economic and technological cooperation;
  • The free trade agreement could increase GDP in both countries;
  • The agreement will cause an increase in investments and lead to significant economic benefits for both countries;
  • This agreement constitutes a very significant step in bilateral economic relations.

The future trade agreement between China and Israel will deal with many issues, including:

1) The removal of impediments to trade – Israeli exports to China will benefit from easier entry to China and vice-versa; and
2) The agreement will enable the lifting of impediments in the fields of standardization and regulation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong met (Tuesday, 29 March 2016) at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, and opened the second meeting of the 2016 Israel-China innovation conference. This is the most important Israel-China inter-governmental platform, the establishment of which was signed by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chinese Vice Premier Liu during her visit to Israel in 2014. The first meeting was held in January 2015 in Beijing.
The work of the conference was led and coordinated by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Science and Technology Ministry. Dozens of government ministries and agencies (including the Foreign Ministry; Science, Technology and Space Ministry; the Economy and Industry Ministry Chief Scientist the Economy and Industry Ministry; the Health Ministry; the Education Ministry; the Culture and Sports Ministry; the Energy Ministry; the Agriculture Ministry; and the Patents Authority), as well as the Higher Education Council, the National Science Foundation and leading universities in both countries, all participated in the work of the conference.
Thirteen bilateral cooperation agreements were signed during the event.
At the start of the event, there was a meeting between the two delegations, led by the Prime Minister and the Chinese Vice Premier. Also participating were Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, Foreign Ministry Director General Dr. Dore Gold and Israeli Ambassador to China Matan Vilnai.
The Chinese Vice Premier arrived with the Chinese Science and Technology Minister, the Chinese Ambassador to Israel, the deputy Foreign and Health ministers and other senior officials. 

{Source:  Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs – (Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)}

[photo credits-featured image:  Israel Foreign affairs office building, taken from the Crown Plaza hotel. In the background: Bank of Israel building, Jerusaelm, Israel. – By Almog – Originally from he.wikipedia; description page is/was here., Public Domain,]

Video posted to Youtube by Israel PM Office


The ICRC Is Concerned Over The Number Of Persons Still Missing In Kosovo

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion










Western Balkans: Deep concern over numbers of people still missing in Kosovo

Belgrade/Pristina – The working group on persons unaccounted for in connection with events in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999 held its 42nd session in Belgrade today. Officials from Belgrade and Pristina discussed further steps to be taken to clarify what happened to 1666 people who are still missing from that time. The session was chaired by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and attended by representatives of the families of missing people and the international community.

Western Balkans: Deep concern over numbers of people still missing in Kosovo

The ICRC is concerned by the lack of progress in this area. Only four cases were resolved in 2015, the lowest annual figure recorded since the end of the fighting. The working group’s chairman, Laurent Burkhalter of the ICRC, said: “The families are right to express their terrible disappointment about the lack of progress. They feel their right to know and have closure is being ignored. It is high time that the political will of the authorities were translated into action, and hence results.”

Some small progress was made in 2014 when the remains of 53 people that had been found in a quarry in Rudnica, Raska, southern Serbia, were exhumed and identified. However, the process virtually stalled in 2015. It is crucial that the authorities now actively engage in investigating the cases of missing people and searching for potential gravesites. For its part, the ICRC has continued to collect and process information on missing people and alleged gravesite locations from national and international archives.

Under international humanitarian law, the families have the right to know what happened to their missing relatives. They have been waiting for 17 long years. The ICRC will continue to support them in their efforts for this right to be upheld, their demands to be heeded and their voice to be heard.

For further information, please contact:

Gordana Milenkovic, ICRC Belgrade, tel: + 381 11 228 55 51 or+381 63 287 415
Albiona Musliu, ICRC Pristina, tel: + 381 38 220 384 114 or +377 44 195 664
Jennifer Tobias, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 02 or +41 79 536 92 48

{Source: International Committee of the Red Cross}

[Photo credits-featured image: U.S. Marines provide security as members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Forensics Team investigate a grave site in a village in Kosovo on July 1, 1999. Elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit were deployed from ships of the USS Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group as an enabling force for KFOR. KFOR is the NATO-led, international military force which  deployed into Kosovo on a peacekeeping mission known as Operation Joint Guardian. –  By DoD photo by Sgt. Craig J. Shell, U.S. Marine Corps – (direct link), Public Domain, ]

[Intext photo: credits embedded]


South Korea And France Celebrate 130 Years Of Friendship

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion

South Korea – France 









South Korea, France celebrate 130-year friendship

The “Year of France in Korea” kicked off on March 23 in Seoul, aimed at being a retrospect over the past 130 years of friendship between Seoul and Paris.

Held as part of the “Year of Korea-France Bilateral Exchanges” and in commemoration of the 130th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the festival continues until the end of year.

The “Year of Korea in France,” meanwhile, has already been underway in Paris since September last year, running until August this year.


Representatives from the Korean and French governments pose for a commemorative photo during the opening ceremony of the ‘Year of France in Korea’ on March 23.


Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism Kim Jongdeok (right) gives his speech before the opening performance of ‘The Age of Time’ at the National Theater. Standing next to the culture minister is French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault.

The opening ceremony took place at the Shilla Hotel in central Seoul and welcomed about 200 representatives from the Korean and French governments. Among those in attendance were Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Kim Jongdeok, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se and his French counterpart, Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

“This festival features a wide set of events that aim to demonstrate innovation and creativity from each of us, all made with collaboration between both countries,” said Henri Loyrette, French chairman from the organizing committee for the Year of Korea-France Bilateral Exchanges. “The aim is to show how close both countries are, and it will be shown with creativity and the historical value embedded in these events that we’ve prepared,” he added.


French Chairman Henri Loyrette of the organizing committee for the Year of Korea-France Bilateral Exchanges speaks during the opening ceremony of the Year of France in Korea on March 23 in Seoul.


Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se (left) toasts his French counterpart Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault as they celebrate the opening of the Year of France in Korea.

The Korea-France joint production of a performance called “The Age of Time” was staged to mark the opening of the festival. It was directed by Jose Montalvo, a French choreographer working at the Chaillot National Theater. A team of 24 dancers from the National Dance Company of Korea brought Montalvo’s choreography to life on the stage.

Prior to the premiere, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Kim Jongdeok delivered his congratulatory speech, saying that, “This is a chance to bring together the arts of the East and West.” The minister continued to say that, “The real goal for the Year of Korea-France Bilateral Exchanges is to share our different traditions, arts and performances with each other, and to learn things admirable from these different values. This close friendship will hopefully be taken to a new level over the next 100 years, after these 130 years.”

In response, French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault said, “One aspect that the peoples of both countries have in common is that they know how to enjoy music, dancing and other forms of art. Through this festival, I hope they will feel closer to each other, sharing their traditions and art.” The French minister went on to say that, “My hope is to see this sound friendship, a friendship that started with the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation 130 years ago, in 1886, continue into the future.”


Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Kim Jongdeok (third from right, front), French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (forth from right, front) and French choreographer Jose Montalvo (second from left, front) and other dancers pose for a group photo.

Meanwhile, at Gwanghwamun Square people will be able to sample some French cuisine at an open-air tasting on March 25 and 26. The So French Delices Street Food Festival will be held as part of the Year of France in Korea. It will showcase a variety of French foods, such as croquet-monsieur, omelets and Alsatian salad. These dishes will be made by Guillaume Gomez, head chef at France’s Elysee Palace, as well as other renowned French chefs. These cooks will make fusion cuisine for fair-goers, too, for example, by putting grilled bulgogi, marinated beef, in a loaf of French brioche pastry.


Korean and French chefs welcome visitors to the opening ceremony of the Year of France in Korea with a variety of French food on which they worked together.


Lionel Choukroun (second from right), head of the So French Delices, a French civic organization promoting French cuisine overseas, explains the So French Delices Street Food Festival scheduled to take place at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul. On his right is Guillaume Gomez (right), head chef at France’s Elysee Palace.

“Some French traditional dishes will be served on traditional Korean porcelain, which is so meaningful. You can also taste French cuisine mixed with Korean cuisine,” said Guillaume Gomez. “This is how food creates harmony and unity between two nations,” the chef added.

There is even more to enjoy. The Seoul Museum of History will host the Seoul, Post-Modernity exhibition which spotlights works of art captured by French photographer Francoise Huguier. The show runs until May 29. The Dangdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) will bring to light an oeuvre of fashion works by French designer Jean Paul Gaultier. About 350 more events are on the way, too, focusing on French art and traditions.

“This will be the largest and longest festival that touches upon more things than ever before about French culture,” said Director Park Younggoog of the Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS). “This means that the two countries look at each other in a whole new way and are bringing to a whole new level their efforts to reinterpret their different cultures, and to work together to mingle some of the elements with each other,” he added.



French chefs make finger food out of traditional French cuisine, to be served at the opening ceremony of the Year of France in Korea.


{Source: The Government of the Republic of Korea – By Sohn JiAe – Staff Writer}

[Photo credits-featured image: Sungnyemun or Namdaemun is a historic gate located in the heart of Seoul. The landmark is officially called Sungnyemun (Hangul: 숭례문; Hanja: 崇禮門; literally “Gate of Respecting Propriety”). – By by lwy –, CC BY 2.0,]

[Intext photos: By Jeon Han]


Monday’s Quote – 28 March 2016

Monday’s Quote

Start the week thinking









Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.

– Winston Churchill







[Photo credits-featured image:  Winston Churchill As Prime Minister 1940-1945 Winston Churchill at his seat in the Cabinet Room at No 10 Downing Street, London. – By Cecil Beaton – is photograph MH 26392 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums., Public Domain, ]


U.S. Citizen Travel To Overseas Destination Markets Is Increasing

World travel – Tourism

Open Eyes opinion

U.S. Citizen International Outbound Travel up Eight Percent in 2015








Annual Departures totaled a Record 73.5 million travelers   

U.S. Travel in December up Nine Percent 


Annual 2015/2014 Comparisons

U.S. travel to overseas markets (1) totaled 32.8 million, up seven percent for the year. Regional results were:

  • Europe, 12.6 million travelers, up six percent
  • Caribbean, 7.6 million travelers, up seven percent
  • Asia, 4.8 million travelers, up seven percent
  • Central America, 2.8 million travelers, up four percent
  • Middle East, 2.0 million travelers, up 15 percent
  • South America, 1.9 million travelers, up six percent
  • Oceania, 643,000 travelers, up seven percent
  • Africa, 351,000 travelers, down two percent


U.S. travel to North American markets totaled 40.7 million, up nine percent compared to 2014.

  • Mexico, a record 28.2 million U.S. travelers, up nine percent. Tourist (longer haul of 14.6 million) travel was the strong suit in 2015, up 15 percent. Border 1+ night travel (13.6 million) increased three percent. U.S. air travel to Mexico (8.0 million) was up 15 percent.
  • Canada, 12.5 million travelers, up eight percent year-over-year. Air travel (3.6 million) was up seven percent.


Annual 2015 Market Shares


U.S. travel to overseas locations accounted for 45 percent of total U.S. outbound travel, about the same as in 2014.

  • Europe, a 17 percent share;
  • Caribbean, a 10 percent share;
  • Asia, a seven percent share;
  • Central America, a four percent share;
  • Middle East, a three percent share;
  • South America, a three percent share;
  • Oceania, a one percent share, and
  • Africa, almost a one percent share


North American markets received 55 percent of all U.S. international outbound travel.

  • U.S. travel to Mexico a 38 percent share; and
  • Canada, a 17 percent share.


For detailed information and data tables please visit:


In 2011 NTTO (then OTTI) began to report U.S. outbound travel monthly by all modes, expanding beyond air-only traffic. Total travel, inclusive of all modes, to Canada and Mexico is reported in addition to the air-only subtotals. The timing of this report is dependent data from Stats Canada and Banco de Mexico, respectively.

{Source: U.S. International Trade Administration – National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO)}

[Photo credits-featured image:  Vintage travel gear seller at the marche Dauphine, Paris – By © Jorge Royan /, CC BY-SA 3.0,]

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Iranian Tourists Swarm Antalya Turkey

World Travel – Tourism

Open Eyes Opinion


Iranian tourists replace the Russians in Antalya






March 27, 2016

ANTALYA, Turkey – Iranian tourists, who are spending their 13-day Nowruz holiday in Antalya, are pleasing tradesmen and tourism businesses that have been suffering from the economic stagnation after Russian military jet downing crisis in November 2015 that has led to the decrease in Russian tourists.

Iranian tourists swarmed the market where local tradesmen had erected stands to display their products to tourists. While Iranian tourists filled their bags with affordable goods, the tradesmen were pleased to sell their stocks.

In Kundu, one of the most important tourism regions of Antalya – the tourism capital of Turkey -tradesmen benefitted from the Nowruz holiday in Iran as tourists rushed to the city. In Kundu, which has a small shopping mall with 500 shops mostly serving guests of five-star hotels, the local tradesmen were anxious about the upcoming season due to the lack of Russian tourists.

However, with this rush of the Iranian tourists, the businesses in Kundu welcomed the season. The Iranian tourists visit shops as well as stands erected in front of the shopping mall.

The tourists mostly purchase clothes, shoes, bags and other accessories

The street market established in front of the stores resembled weekly local street markets: Lively and crowded. The tradesmen promoted their goods with announcements in both Turkish and Farsi. The local market’s goods retail for around TL 5 ($1.74) to TL 10. The tradesmen all agreed that the Iranian tourists have revived the otherwise stable shopping sector.

Ali Çiğdem, one of the area tradesmen, said they created the market especially for Iranians. “We offered them affordable shopping options. The whole district resembled a local street market. We offered our products at very affordable prices.

We are extremely glad they are so interested in our goods, especially our clothing. Due to affordable prices, Iranians shopped a lot,” Çiğdem said.

Another local tradesman, Nihat Subaşı, said they applied a special discount on last season’s products in order to sell their remaining stock. He added that since the prices were very affordable, local tourists would also visit the market if they were aware of it. “For example, you can buy jeans for TL 5. The stands we established outside also attract tourists who realize there are ongoing sales.

The owners of these stands all have shops inside too,” Subaşı said. He added that each year, they have to clear their stock in order to clear out space for new products, and that they were very pleased with the outcome so far. Subaşı also confirmed that the main items sold were clothing items, and while Iranians were hesitant at first, in the end, they bought many things. “Our country is beautiful and there is nothing to worry about in terms of visiting Turkey,” Subaşı added.

One of the female tradesmen in Kundu, Dilan Yaman, said the Iranians stayed for around two weeks and special discounts were offered to them. “The reason for the street market is to attract the Iranians

{Source: ETN Global Travel Industry News}

[Photo credits-featured image: Antalya Hafen – CC BY-SA 2.0 de,]

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Four Nations Team Up In (ICEX) To Gain Arctic Operational Experience

World Affairs – Defense

Open Eyes Opinion

U.S. Navy

ICEX 2016 Camp Operations Conclude Successfully; Submarine Ops Continue






NORFOLK — The U.S. Navy announced March 25 that all primary objectives for Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016 have been met and the breakdown of Ice Camp Sargo is underway.

“The objectives of demonstrating presence, gaining additional Arctic operational experience, furthering partnerships and expanding scientific research were all achieved over the four weeks in which the ice camp was operational. The hard work and dedication displayed by the Arctic Submarine Laboratory, the ICEX participants, and the shore support team made this event an overall success,” said Vice Adm. Joseph E. Tofalo, commander, Submarine Forces.

Ice Camp Sargo, located in the Arctic Circle, serves as the main stage for Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2016 and will house more than 200 participants from four nations over the course of the exercise.

With the primary objectives met and indications of adverse environmental conditions, specifically a crack on the ice floe, that could impact the future safety of the Camp, the decision was made to conclude Ice Camp operations seven days early; submarine operations however continue as planned.

“Completing an exercise with over 200 participants, representing 30 different organizations and four nations, while operating in an unforgiving and dynamic environment like the Arctic is no small feat,” said Tofalo.

“All the participants in ICEX accomplished a great deal work,” said Larry Estrada, Director of Arctic Submarine Laboratory.

“Significant testing and research took place during this ICEX. What we have learned and the data collected by everyone will only further our understanding of this region and improve our operating capabilities in such an unpredictable environment.”

Ice Camp Sargo was comprised of a series of portable lodging huts, dining and storage facilities, and a command post, and was serviced by two primary frozen runways and two backup runways. The Camp was built on a large floating sheet of ice called an ice floe, nearly 200 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

In the demobilization process, the camp will be fully disassembled and all the fuel, tools, equipment, lodging facilities, and waste will be removed from the ice floe. All personnel have safely returned to the mission logistics hub in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

The Los Angeles-class attack submarines USS Hampton (SSN 767) and USS Hartford (SSN 768) will remain in Arctic waters and continue under-ice operations through early April.

Submarines have conducted under-ice operations in the Arctic in support of inter-fleet transits, training, cooperative allied engagements and combat training operations for over six decades. USS Nautilus (SSN 571) made the first submerged transit to the North Pole in 1958. USS Skate (SSN 578) was the first U.S. submarine to surface through Arctic ice at the North Pole in March 1959. Since those events, the U.S. Submarine Force has completed more than 120 Arctic exercises, with the last completed in 2014.

{Source: U.S. Navy News Service}

[Photo credits-featured image: Los Angeles class Attack Submarine USS Hampton (SSN 767) – JOC KEVIN ELLIOTT, USN – Cropped from high-res version at [1], Public Domain,]

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