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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

From Today's Papers - 25 Nov 2015

Angry Russia calls off talks with Turkey
Moscow warns of serious consequences I UN calls for de-escalating tension
Moscow, November 24
President Vladimir Putin called Turkey's downing of a Russian fighter jet a stab in the back administered by "the accomplices of terrorists," saying the incident would have serious consequences for Moscow's relations with Ankara.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm at the incident and hoped that all countries involved in air campaigns in Syria would take steps to avoid such incidents in the future.

The fallout of the downing of the jet came immediately as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cancelled a visit to Turkey for talks with his counterpart.  "The decision has been taken to cancel the meeting that was planned for tomorrow in Istanbul between the foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey,” Lavrov said in televised comments.

Besides, Russia's state tourism agency Rostourism recommended  suspending sales of tour packages to Turkey, RIA news agency reported.

Speaking in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday before a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah, Putin said the downed plane had been attacked inside Syria when it was 1 km (0.62 miles) from the Turkish border and had come down 4 km (2.49 miles) inside Syria.

That contradicted Turkey's assertion that the aircraft had been warned multiple times that it was straying into Turkish airspace before it was shot down. "Today's loss is linked to a stab in the back delivered to us by accomplices of terrorists. I cannot qualify what happened today as anything else," said a visibly furious Putin.

"Our plane was shot down on Syrian territory by an air-to-air missile from an F-16. It fell on Syrian territory 4 km from the Turkish border. It was flying at 6,000 metres 1 kilometre from Turkish territory when it was attacked." Putin said Russian pilots and planes had in no way threatened Turkey, but had merely been carrying out their duty to fight Islamic State militants inside Syria.

"We established a long time ago that large quantities of oil and oil products from territory captured by Islamic State have been arriving on Turkish territory," he said, saying that was how militants had been funding themselves.

"And now we get stabbed in our back and our planes, which are fighting terrorism, are struck. This despite the fact that we signed an agreement with our American partners to warn each other about air-to-air incidents and Turkey ... announced it was allegedly fighting against terrorism as part of the US coalition." If Islamic State militants earned hundreds of millions of dollars from trading oil and enjoyed the protection of the armed forces "of entire governments" no wonder, said Putin, they behaved so boldly. "We will of course analyse everything that happened and today's tragic events will have serious consequences for Russo-Turkish relations," he said.

Turkey is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Russians, and the two countries enjoy active diplomatic relations.

Putin expressed anger at Turkey's decision to convene a meeting of NATO to discuss the incident, suggesting Ankara should instead have swiftly tried to contact Moscow. — Agencies
Defence panel suggests 75 changes for better service conditions
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Several suggestions have been made by the Committee of Experts convened by the Defence Minister to recommend ways and means to reduce litigation in the Ministry of Defence and strengthen the mechanisms for redressal of grievances of defence personnel.

The five-member committee submitted its report to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today. The 509-page report contains 75 recommendations that touch upon various aspects of pension and service matters, discipline, vigilance and promotion issues, military justice reform, issues concerning civil employees and areas of potential disputes. Scores of senior functionaries in the services and MoD were examined and relevant documents and orders scrutinsed.

The committee has recommended greater personal interaction and opportunity of hearing in the system of formal complaints and petitions so as to give a better role to human interaction rather than the one-way noting sheet method and to assist in providing outlet and catharsis to individuals related to their grievances.

Greater constructive usage of social media, including initiation of blogs by senior commanders, to promote an interactive process with the rank and file, has been propagated. A face-to-face “collegiate” system of decision-making in various aspects rather than the file circulation method has been suggested along with more transparency in matters related to promotions and confidential reports.

Recommendations on military justice reform include steps that can be taken without any legislative change such as introduction of permanent infrastructure for Court Martial at specified stations to reduce ad hocism and reduction of command influence. A high level study group to ensure that reforms in these very important areas are not ignored and are configured with the times and the best national and global practices, has been recommended.

The committee has also recognised other areas of potential disputes, including those of disabled cadets, women officers and Short Service Commissioned Officers and several recommendations for more amiable service conditions have been put forth. Service and pension-related policies, including those affecting disabled soldiers and widows, form an important part of the report.
India accuses UNSC of creating refugee crisis
United Nations, November 24
India has accused the UN Security Council of creating a refugee crisis by failing in its responsibility as it (India) asked the international community not to close the borders for refugees and cautioned them against propagating racism and xenophobia.

“Saving lives, providing protection and upholding human dignity cannot but be the first priority. The need is to maintain open borders and not close them,” India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Bhagwant Bishnoi told the UN General Assembly here yesterday.

Asserting that nations need to refrain from the temptation of reducing benefits available to asylum-seekers, he said erecting “razor wire fences” to keep out refugees undermines the notion of common humanity and “strikes a blow at the very concept of the United Nations”.

“It is also important that we do not speak the language of racism and xenophobia,” he added.

Blaming the powerful Security Council for creating the refugee crisis, he said the failure of the UN organ to deal with the situation highlights the crucial need for its reform. “It is ironical that the crisis is actually created by the council, through its acts of omission. By failing to fulfil a responsibility reposed on it by the larger membership, to find a political solution to the conflict. The need for reform speaks for itself,” Bishnoi said.

Criticising the UNSC, he said some resolutions by the council lead nations to believe that boats used by refugees to escape persecution “constitute a threat to international peace and security and that they need to be seized and destroyed”. “To us, it would seem that the council has decreed that people cannot flee for their lives unless they use vessels whose sea worthiness comes up to the standards set by the International Maritime Organisation. Is this what is meant by the R2P or Right to Protection? By securitising refugee movement, the council has legitimised a response that is morally challenging in extraordinary proportions,” he said.

The High Commissioner for Refugees has noted that about 60 million people have been displaced as a result of war and persecution, unprecedented since the Second World II.

Over 4,000 lives were lost crossing the Mediterranean last year and more than 3,511 this year alone.

“The Mediterranean is truly the most dangerous border-crossing in the world. It is also a fact that refugee crisis may be here to stay with us for a while. It is truly a humanitarian crisis of exceptional proportions. The moral implications of the manner in which we handle it will be equally significant,” he said.

Bishnoi said the tragic deaths at sea are only because of the lack of safe passage and if land routes were available, asylum seekers would not have to take to the sea. — PTI
Indian Army looks to indigenise production of cold-weather gear
The Indian Army plans to replace specialised imported winter clothing with indigenous gear for its personnel deployed at altitudes over 5,000 m in the Himalayas, where temperatures vary between -10°C and -60°C.

It aims to locally source items like boots, jackets, gloves, thermal innerwear, and rucksacks, which have been acquired mainly from Finland, Norway, and Switzerland for more than three decades.

Alongside equipment such as tents, ice picks, shovels, and crampons, all of which have also been imported, production of winter clothing will eventually be indigenised, army officials said.

Under the government's 'Make in India' initiative, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has identified local vendors to develop a range of 'extremely cold-climate-weather suits' (ECCWS) and related apparatus, prototypes of which will soon undergo trials.

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