Death Toll From Eastern Turkey Earthquake Climbs to 29

The death toll from a strong earthquake that rocked eastern Turkey climbed to 29 on Saturday night as rescue crews searched for people who remained trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings, officials said. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said at a news conference earlier in the day that 18 people had been killed in Elazig province, where Friday night’s quake was centered, and four in neighboring Malatya. The national disaster agency later updated the total with seven more casualties. Rescue workers search on a collapsed building after an earthquake in Elazig, Turkey, January 25, 2020. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 1,243 people had been injured, with 34 of them in intensive care but not in critical condition. On Saturday afternoon, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the hardest-hit areas and attended the funeral of a mother and son killed in the quake. He warned people against repeating negative'' hearsay about the country being unprepared for earthquakes. Turkish officials and police try to keep warm at the scene of a collapsed building following a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Elazig, eastern Turkey, Jan. 24, 2020.Emergency workers and security forces distributed tents, beds and blankets as overnight temperatures dropped below freezing in the affected areas. Mosques, schools, sports halls and student dormitories were opened for hundreds who left their homes after the quake. The earthquake was very severe. We desperately ran out [of our home],” Emre Gocer told the state-run Anadolu news agency as he sheltered with his family at a sports hall in Sivrice. We don't have a safe place to stay right now.'' While visiting Sivrice and the city of Elazig, the provincial capital 565 kilometers (350 miles) east of Ankara, Erdogan promised state support for those affected by the disaster. We will not leave anyone in the open,” the Turkish leader said. Earlier, a prosecutor in Ankara announced an investigation into provocative'' social media posts. Anadolu reported that Turkey's broadcasting authority was also reviewing media coverage of the quake. At least five buildings in Sivrice and 25 in Malatya province were destroyed in the disaster, Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum said. Hundreds of other structures were damaged and made unsafe. Ramazan Emek surveys the damage in Cevrimtas, near Sivrice, where the quake struck just before 9 p.m. Friday local time. (Mahmut Bozarslan/VOA Turkish)AFAD reported that 42 people had been rescued as search teams combed wrecked apartment buildings. Television footage showed emergency workers removing a woman from the wreckage of a collapsed building 19 hours after the main earthquake struck. A prison in Adiyaman, 110 kilometers (70 miles) southwest of the epicenter, was evacuated because of damage, and its more than 800 prisoners were transferred to nearby jails. AFAD said 28 rescue teams had been working around the clock. More than 2,600 personnel from 39 of Turkey's 81 provinces were sent to the disaster site. Unmanned drones were used to survey damaged neighborhoods and coordinate rescue efforts. Our biggest hope is that the death toll does not rise,” Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop said. A calf stands next to its mother, which has a broken leg, in the village of Cevrimtas, near Sivrice, Elazig, Turkey, Jan. 25, 2020. (Mahmut Bozarslan/VOA Turkish)Communication companies announced free telephone and internet services for residents in the quake-hit region. Neighboring Greece, which is at odds with Turkey over maritime boundaries and gas exploration rights, offered to send rescue crews to assist the Turkish teams. Erdogan appeared to reject the offer of outside assistance during his visit to the city of Elazig, telling reporters, “Our state does not need anything.” Turkey sits on top of two major fault lines, and earthquakes are frequent. Two strong earthquakes struck northwest Turkey in 1999, killing around 18,000 people. A magnitude 6.0 earthquake killed 51 people in Elazig in 2010. 

Back to Gates of Hell: Survivor Prepares for Return to Auschwitz

Hundreds of former prisoners will return Monday to the Nazi concentration and extermination camp at Auschwitz, Poland, alongside several world leaders, to mark the 75th anniversary of its liberation by Soviet troops.  At least 1.1 million people – mostly Jews – were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi death camps, between 1940 and 1945. Stanislaw Zalewski, 94, is among the former prisoners who will return for the anniversary. He says he keeps his memories locked away – “occasionally letting them out to share the horrors of the past.” Zalewski was 18 when he was arrested for painting Polish resistance symbols on walls in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. After a brutal interrogation, he was imprisoned in Waraw’s Pawiak prison. “About 37,000 of these prisoners were killed and about 60,000 were taken from Pawiak prison to concentration camps,” Zalewski told VOA in a recent interview. “I was among these 60,000. I was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau on October 6, 1943.” Sorry, but your player cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
FILE – Stanislaw Zalewski, pictured at Auschwitz-Birkenau a year ago, is president of the Polish Union of Former Political Prisoners of Nazi Prisons and Concentration Camps. Seventy-five years on, he still struggles to reconcile what happened.As Soviet soldiers began to approach from the east, the Nazis transferred hundreds of thousands of prisoners to other camps on so-called “death marches” or in railroad cattle trucks. Tens of thousands died on the journey. Zalewski was taken to the Mauthausen-Guzen camp in Austria. In May 1945, rumors spread of the Allied advance — and German guards fled. “On May 5, American military vehicles arrived,” Zalewski says, tears welling in his eyes. “Two American soldiers got off. One of them knew some Polish and shouted, ‘You are free!’ It took me 78 days to get from Nuremberg to Warsaw. I arrived in Warsaw on July 22, 1945, wearing USA Army fatigues.” Zalewski is now president of the Polish Union of Former Political Prisoners of Nazi Prisons and Concentration Camps. Seventy-five years on, he still struggles to reconcile what happened. Sorry, but your player cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline. Embed” />Copy“When I say the Lord’s Prayer, there is a phrase: ‘Give us our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.’ I face a dilemma at this point. Can I forgive those who had an inscription that read, ‘God is with us,’ on their belt buckles, who killed people with cold premeditation?” “I put my memories of Auschwitz into a box, I tied it with a string, and threw it into the water,” Zalewski says. “I worked, I started a family, I have a son and grandchildren. When I visit the camp or when we are talking like we are today, I pull out this box, I present its contents to you, and afterwards, I throw it back into the water. There are moments, however, when these memories break into my psyche, causing reflections and questions with no answers. ‘World has not learned’“I am sad because of what is happening in other parts of the world, where people for their own purposes commit armed, violent acts that take the lives of thousands of innocent people. The world has not learned the lesson of what had happened. The world has come full circle, so to speak. This history, this circularity, is powered by people who do not respect the dignity of another human being.”     Zalewski and about 200 fellow survivors will return to the so-called “gates of hell” for the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation, still determined to teach the world the lessons of Auschwitz. 

Death Toll From Eastern Turkey Earthquake Climbs to 22

The death toll from a strong earthquake that rocked eastern Turkey climbed to 22 on Saturday as rescue crews searched for people who remained trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings, officials said.Speaking at a televised news conference near the epicenter of the quake in Elazig province, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 18 people were killed in Elazig and four in neighboring Malatya.Rescue workers search on a collapsed building after an earthquake in Elazig, Turkey, January 25, 2020. Some 1,103 people were injured, with 34 of them in intensive care but not in critical condition, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the funeral of a mother and son killed in the quake while visiting the hardest-hit areas. He warned people against repeating “negative” hearsay about the country being unprepared for earthquakes.“Do not listen to rumors, do not listen to anyone’s negative, contrary propaganda, and know that we are your servants,” Erdogan said.Turkish officials and police try to keep warm at the scene of a collapsed building following a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Elazig, eastern Turkey, Jan. 24, 2020.Earlier, a prosecutor in the capital Ankara announced an investigation into “provocative” social media posts. The Anadolu news agency reported that Turkey’s broadcasting authority was also reviewing media coverage of the quake.At least five buildings in Sivrice and 25 in Malatya province were destroyed in the disaster, Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum said. Hundreds of other structures were damaged and made unsafe.AFAD reported that 42 people had been rescued as search teams combed wrecked apartment buildings.Television footage showed emergency workers removing a woman from the wreckage of a collapsed building 19 hours after the main earthquake struck.A prison in Adiyaman, 110 kilometers (70 miles) southwest of the epicenter, was evacuated due to damage its more than 800 prisoners transferred to nearby jails.AFAD said 28 rescue teams had been working around the clock. More than 2,600 personnel from 39 of Turkey’s 81 provinces were sent to the disaster site. Unmanned drones were used to survey damaged neighborhoods and coordinate rescue efforts.“Our biggest hope is that the death toll does not rise,” Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop said.Ramazan Emek surveys the damage in Cevrimtas, near Sivrice, where the quake struck just before 9 p.m. Friday local time. (Mahmut Bozarslan/VOA Turkish)“Everybody is in the street, it was very powerful, very scary,” said Zekeriya Gunes, 68, from Elazig city, after the quakes caused a building to collapse on her street.“It lasted quite long, maybe 30 seconds,” added Ferda, 39. “I panicked and was undecided whether to go out in this cold or remain inside.”Greece offers aidThe U.S. Geological Survey assessed the magnitude as 6.7, slightly lower than AFAD, adding that it struck near the East Anatolian Fault in an area that has suffered no documented large ruptures since an earthquake in 1875.“My wholehearted sympathy to President @RTErdogan and the Turkish people following the devastating earthquake that has hit Turkey. Our search and rescue teams stand ready to assist,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote on Twitter.In Athens, the Greek premier’s office said later that Mitsotakis had spoken by phone to Erdogan.“The Turkish president … said Turkish teams had the situation under control for now and that it would be re-evaluated in the morning,” his office added.A calf stands next to its mother, which has a broken leg, in the village of Cevrimtas, near Sivrice, Elazig, Turkey, Jan. 25, 2020. (Mahmut Bozarslan/VOA Turkish)Quake-prone TurkeyCommunication companies announced free telephone and internet services for residents in the quake-hit region.Neighboring Greece, which is at odds with Turkey over maritime boundaries and gas exploration rights, offered to send rescue crews to assist the Turkish teams.Erdogan appeared to reject the offer of outside assistance during his visit to the city of Elazig, telling reporters, “Our state does not need anything.”Turkey sits on top of two major fault lines and earthquakes are frequent. Two strong earthquakes struck northwest Turkey in 1999, killing around 18,000 people.A magnitude 6 earthquake killed 51 people in Elazig in 2010.

Powerful Quake Kills at Least 20, Injures More Than 1,000 in Eastern Turkey

ELAZIG, TURKEY — A powerful earthquake has killed at least 20 people and injured more than 1,000 in eastern Turkey, as rescue teams searched through the rubble of collapsed buildings for survivors Saturday.At least 30 people were missing following the magnitude 6.8 quake Friday night, which had its epicenter in the small lakeside town of Sivrice in the eastern province of Elazig.“It was very scary, furniture fell on top of us. We rushed outside,” 47-year-old Melahat Can, who lives in the provincial capital of Elazig, told AFP.President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said all steps were being taken to aid people affected by the quake, which caused widespread fear.“We stand by our people,” Erdogan said on Twitter.Turkish officials and police try to keep warm at the scene of a collapsed building following a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Elazig, eastern Turkey, Jan. 24, 2020.Emergency staff and people waiting at the scene lit fires in the streets to stay warm in freezing temperatures.Sports centers, schools and guest houses had been opened to accommodate quake victims in Malatya.Sivrice, a town with a population of about 4,000 people, is situated south of Elazig city on the shores of Hazar lake, one of the most popular tourist spots in the region and the source of the Tigris River.The lake is home to a sunken city with archaeological traces dating back 4,000 years in its waters.The tremor was felt in several parts of eastern Turkey near the Iraqi and Syrian borders, the Turkish broadcaster NTV reported, adding that neighboring cities had mobilized rescue teams for the quake area.Ramazan Emek surveys the damage in Cevrimtas, near Sivrice, where the quake struck just before 9 p.m. Friday local time. (Mahmut Bozarslan/VOA Turkish)“Everybody is in the street, it was very powerful, very scary,” said Zekeriya Gunes, 68, from Elazig city, after the quakes caused a building to collapse on her street.“It lasted quite long, maybe 30 seconds,” added Ferda, 39. “I panicked and was undecided whether to go out in this cold or remain inside.”Greece offers aidThe U.S. Geological Survey assessed the magnitude as 6.7, slightly lower than AFAD, adding that it struck near the East Anatolian Fault in an area that has suffered no documented large ruptures since an earthquake in 1875.“My wholehearted sympathy to President @RTErdogan and the Turkish people following the devastating earthquake that has hit Turkey. Our search and rescue teams stand ready to assist,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote on Twitter.In Athens, the Greek premier’s office said later that Mitsotakis had spoken by phone to Erdogan.“The Turkish president … said Turkish teams had the situation under control for now and that it would be re-evaluated in the morning,” his office added.A calf stands next to its mother, which has a broken leg, in the village of Cevrimtas, near Sivrice, Elazig, Turkey, Jan. 25, 2020. (Mahmut Bozarslan/VOA Turkish)Quake-prone TurkeyIn 1999, a devastating 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Izmit in western Turkey, leaving more than 17,000 people dead including about 1,000 in the country’s largest city Istanbul.Last September, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook Istanbul, causing residents to flee buildings.Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate the city of 15 million people, which has allowed widespread building without safety precautions.

NPR Reporter: Pompeo Lashed Out at Her After Testy Interview

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cursed at a National Public Radio reporter and repeatedly “used the F-word” in a shouted diatribe after she questioned him about Ukraine and the ousted American ambassador to Kiev in an interview on Friday, the reporter said.Mary Louise Kelly conducted a testy interview lasting about nine minutes with Pompeo for NPR’s “All Things Considered” program, asking him about Iran and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was ousted by President Donald Trump last May. Yovanovitch’s removal was a key event in the actions that prompted Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives last month.“Afterwards, Pompeo proceeded to shout his displeasure at being questioned about Ukraine. He used repeated expletives, according to Kelly,” NPR said in a statement.“He asked, ‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?’ He used the F-word in that sentence and many others,” Kelly said in an interview of her own with NPR later Friday.The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Kelly said Pompeo shouted at her “for about the same amount of time as the interview itself.” Pompeo then had aides bring a blank map of the world and asked Kelly to show Ukraine.“People will hear about this,” Pompeo said after Kelly pointed at Ukraine on the map, she said.Questions on UkraineWhen Kelly turned her questioning to Ukraine in the latter part of the interview with Pompeo, he said he had agreed to discuss only Iran.Kelly said she had informed Pompeo’s aides that she would ask also about Ukraine, and posed several questions, including whether Pompeo owed an apology to Yovanovitch, who testified last year in the House impeachment inquiry about her ouster. The incident also has figured in Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.“I have defended every State Department official. … I’ve defended every single person on this team,” Pompeo replied.In November, Pompeo declined to defend Yovanovitch after Trump attacked her on Twitter.Yovanovitch was removed by Trump following a negative campaign against her by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others. Giuliani at the time was pushing to have Ukraine investigate Trump’s political rival Joe Biden.

Erdogan Looks to Diplomacy Amid Concerns About Military Deployment in Libya

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is accusing Libyan militia leader General Khalifa Haftar of violating a cease-fire agreement. Despite deploying Turkish forces to back the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), though, Erdogan seems to be increasingly looking to diplomacy rather than force. “He [Haftar] says he agreed to a cease-fire, but two days subsequent, he bombed the [Tripoli] airport. So how can we trust him?” Erdogan said Friday in Istanbul with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Haftar’s forces control most of Libya in their war against the U.N.-recognized GNA. Merkel on Sunday hosted an international summit in Berlin aimed at resolving the Libyan civil war. A 55-article road map to end the conflict was drawn up at the meeting, which Erdogan attended. Erdogan challenged Merkel at the news conference, however, to confirm whether Haftar had signed the Berlin agreement. A visibly uncomfortable Merkel confirmed he only orally agreed to it, noting that officials were still waiting for his signature. FILE – Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj leaves after an international conference on Libya at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 29, 2018.Support for SarrajDespite the Berlin agreement’s reaffirmation of the Libyan international arms embargo, the Turkish president said he would continue supporting the GNA’s prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj. “We sent them a [military] delegation and continue to do so. We won’t abandon Sarraj. We will give the support we can,” Erdogan said. “Our soldiers are there to assist in the training [of GNA forces]. We have a history of 500 years, and we have an invitation [from the GNA] that gives us our right,” he added. But Erdogan, several times during the news conference, said the forces were purely for training. Earlier this week, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Aktar also stressed the training purpose of the Libyan deployment. The Turkish force reportedly still only numbers in the dozens. The downplaying of the military deployment contrasts with Erdogan’s recent sharp rhetoric. Last week, the Turkish president, while announcing to Parliament soldiers’ deployment, said Ankara would not hesitate about “teaching a lesson” to Haftar if his forces continued attacking. Fears of wider warSuch language reportedly has set off alarm bells in the region over fears that Turkish forces in Libya could end up triggering a wider regional conflict with Haftar’s military backers, including Egypt. Given that Libya is 2,000 kilometers from Turkey, though, a military expert questioned whether Ankara was capable of sustaining a hot conflict. “The logistic challenge is enormous, and these challenges, as they look now, are insurmountable. It’s far away. It’s not like Syria is just across the border,” said former Turkish General Haldun Solmazturk, a veteran of cross-border military operations. “If fighting gets tough, casualties would be inevitable. Returning dead persons and wounded would also be a major challenge. Apart from the fuel, the ammunition, spare parts, there are thousands of items needed to be provided in such an environment,” added Solmazturk, who heads the 21st Century Turkey Institute, an Ankara-based research organization. FILE – Khalifa Haftar, the military commander who dominates eastern Libya, arrives at an international conference on Libya at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 29, 2018.Turkish forces are already stretched, being deployed in Iraq and Syria, while analysts point out Haftar is in a strong military position. “At the moment the situation seems to be working on the side of Haftar. He has better weapons. He has jet fighters. He has superiority of the air and in the field,” said international relations professor Huseyin Bagci of Ankara’s Middle East Technical University. Further complicating Ankara’s situation is its international isolation over Libya’s military deployment. Erdogan’s shuttle diplomacy this month drew a blank, failing to win backing from Libya’s neighbors, Algeria and Tunisia. Erdogan also reportedly failed at the Berlin summit to secure backing for an international peacekeeping force, including the Turkish military, to be deployed to enforce a cease-fire in Libya. Military challenges for TurkeyAnalysts suggest Ankara’s isolation only compounds the military challenges it faces in Libya. “The Mediterranean, in terms of naval transportation, is controlled by not too friendly forces. And neighboring countries Tunisia, Algeria and Italy are less than willing to help or to provide any logistic bases or any other logistic support. They seem determined to stay out of this,” said Solmazturk. FILE – Turkish lawmakers vote on a bill that allows troop deployment to Libya, at the Parliament in Ankara, Jan. 2, 2020.”Libya threatens to be another Syria, where countless lives and many treasures will be wasted to defend a very ill-defined ‘national objective,’ ” warned analyst Atilla Yesilada of GlobalSource Partners, an economic and security research group based in New York. Erdogan appears increasingly to be looking to diplomacy in a bid to isolate Haftar. In a speech Thursday in the presence of Merkel, the Turkish president called for “pressure” to put on Haftar. Erdogan challenged the international community over its courting of Haftar, despite the general’s failure so far to sign on to a cease-fire. “It doesn’t make sense such support is continued,” he said at Friday’s news conference with Merkel, “if such a person is constantly so spoiled.” Migrant issueThe Turkish president also is seeking to play the migrant card against Europe, warning of “chaos” if Haftar remains unchecked. Some analysts are warning, however, that Ankara needs to face the reality that the region has little appetite for a Turkish role in Libya. “The region wants neither Turkey nor Russia seeking to extend its hegemony to Libya and the wider region. This is the reality,” said Bagci. But for now, Ankara is likely figuring on having a limited military presence in Libya while continuing to push for international deliberations on a resolution to Libya’s civil war and its future. 

Amid Impeachment Drama, Balkan Dispute Gets High-Level US Attention

While Washington obsesses about tensions with Iran and the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, a pair of high-ranking administration officials has been crisscrossing Europe and the Western Balkans in pursuit of a solution to a dispute that most Americans have barely noticed. The high-level focus on the quarrel between Serbia and its former province of Kosovo has left some analysts struggling to explain how the issue fits into a Trump administration foreign policy driven by crises in North Korea and Iran and defined by the slogan “America First.”Trump himself has demonstrated a personal interest in the issue, tweeting approvingly on the eve of the impeachment trial’s opening about the establishment of direct flights between the two countries:Everyone said it couldn’t be done. But for the first time in a generation, there will be direct flights between Serbia and Kosovo. Another win. Thanks to FILE – U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell is pictured in Berlin, Germany, May 8, 2018.“The tariffs must be dropped. That is unacceptable, and I also bring the same request here, which is the de-recognition campaign must stop,” he said in Belgrade, after a meeting Friday with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. “What we’ll do is continue moving in this direction of concentrating on the economy, concentrating on growing jobs.” Neither the White House nor State Department responded to requests for comment on the thinking behind the high-level engagement. Ripe for resolutionAnalysts contacted by VOA see little strategic value for the United States in throwing so much diplomatic muscle at the issue. But they suggest the problem is ripe for a resolution and could provide the administration with an easy foreign policy success. “So far as I can tell, the administration is beating the bushes for a success somewhere in the world. There is no real strategic interest,” said Daniel Serwer of Johns Hopkins University in an email exchange with VOA’s Albanian service. Damon Wilson, a vice president at the Atlantic Council, a global affairs research group in Washington, offered VOA’s Serbian service a similar analysis, noting the frustrating lack of progress on some of the administration’s biggest foreign policy concerns, including Iran and North Korea. “You don’t get easy wins in the Western Balkans, either, and yet in the Western Balkans we are dealing with democratic states that want to be part of the strategic West, that have a shared vision of the future of the region as a prosperous part of Europe,” he said. “This gives us something to work with, and while it might look hard, it actually looks relatively easy when you compare it to Iran, North Korea, Venezuela.” FILE – People protest after Kosovo’s decision to raise tariffs on Serbian and Bosnian goods, in the village of Rudare near Mitrovica, Kosovo, Nov. 23, 2018.Wilson added that the issue gives the United States a chance to show that “we are going to be engaged, we are not leaving a vacuum in the Western Balkans, we’ve got a role to play, we want to play that role and we are going to do it.” James Hooper, a former U.S. diplomat and executive director of the Washington-based Balkan Action Council, said a breakthrough on the issue would allow Trump to show he is not distracted by the impeachment drama and give him an achievement to highlight as he seeks re-election in November. But Wilson warned against attaching too much significance to the initiative as an election boon, saying, “It’s not exactly a vote-getter out there in Iowa,” where Republicans and Democrats will cast the first votes to select their presidential candidates early next month. Chance for progressRegardless of the motive, Hooper sees an opportunity to make real progress on a dispute that has held back progress in both countries. “This is a real opportunity because Washington is paying attention and Grenell is a serious person and he has a lot of influence in the White House,” he said. Alon Ben-Meir, a professor at New York University, said both Kosovo and Serbia would be wise to take advantage of that opportunity. “They are neighbors. They have to deal with one another. There is interdispersement of population. Many Serbs live in Kosovo. It is time for them to recognize certain facts on the ground that they cannot change,” he said. So far, however, there is little indication they will do so. Serbia immediately rejected Grenell’s proposals while Pristina has yet to deliver a clear response. “I don’t accept to draw an equality mark between the tariffs and the revoking of the campaign against recognition,” said Vucic, the Serbian president.  “America and Pristina … want Kosovo’s independence recognized. We do not. So it is logical that we have differing positions.” Ivana Konstantinovic from VOA’s Serbian service contributed to this report. 

Magnitude 6.8 Earthquake Hits Turkey

Turkey’s emergency management agency says an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 has shaken the country’s east.The earthquake struck Friday at 1755 GMT, 8:55 p.m. local time, near the town of Sivrice in eastern Elazig province, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency said. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said there were no reports deaths in Sivrice or other affected areas. However, 4-5 buildings collapsed in Sivrice, where two people were hurt, he said. Soylu was at a meeting on earthquake preparedness when the quake struck.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters that there were no reports of any casualties in Sivrice but said the quake may have caused casualties in rural areas outside the town. He said troops were on standby to help is they are needed.
The Kandilli seismology center in Istanbul said the quake measured 6.5.
The U.S. Geological Survey gave the preliminary magnitude as 6.7, with the quake affecting not only Turkey but also Syria, Georgia and Armenia.
Turkish media said the earthquake sent people running outdoors for safety. 

Normalcy Returns to Guatemala-Mexico Border After Caravan

From the roadside stand where his family sells mole, barbecue and chicken stew, Miguel Ángel Vázquez has seen all the caravans of Central American migrants and asylum seekers stream past his front door in recent years, throngs of people driven to flee poverty and violence in hopes of a better life in the United States.After watching armored National Guard troops and immigration agents break up the latest one right on his doorstep, loading men, women and wailing children onto buses and hauling them off to a detention center in the nearby city of Tapachula, he’s sure of one thing.Mexican National Guards block a highway in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico after a group of Central American migrants crossed the nearby border from Guatemala to Mexico, Jan. 23, 2020.“I can see that these caravans are no longer going to pass,” said Vásquez, 56.On Friday morning, life was back to normal at the river border between Ciudad Hidalgo and Tecun Uman, Guatemala.Carmelino Sánchez Cumes, 54, left his home in Champerico Guatemala at 4 a.m. to come buy medicine for two elderly aunts that’s not available back home.The partial closure of river crossings “was tough” on people accustomed to doing so as part of daily life, he said.The international bridge reopened at 5 a.m. and cars and motorcycles were crossing freely.National guard troops stood watch in groups of about a half dozen, visibly fewer than before, and said privately that the tension of recent days had vanished.One said it’s easy to distinguish local Guatemalans who cross for ordinary workaday reasons for their manner of speaking, and they’re welcome “because they’re neighbors.”Where the first caravans were allowed to pass through Mexican territory and even given humanitarian aid or transportation by many communities and some officials, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration changed that beginning last year in response to steep trade tariffs threatened by Washington.The result was on display Thursday on a rural highway in the far-southern Mexican city of Frontera Hidalgo, just across the river border between Mexico and Guatemala that the hundreds of migrants, mostly Hondurans, crossed before dawn.The migrants walked for hours before stopping at the crossroads where Vázquez’s stand lies, taking advantage of the copious shade on a road otherwise largely exposed to the beating tropical sun. They bought all the food the family and refreshments the family had and behaved respectfully, according to Karen Daniela Vázquez Robledo, his daughter.Then hundreds of national guard troops advanced their lines to within 100 yards (meters) of the migrants. A brief negotiation stalled, and the migrants knelt to the ground in prayer and began to chant “we want to pass.”National guardsmen advanced banging their plastic shields with batons and engaged the migrants. There was shoving and pepper spray as migrants were rounded up.Many of the people allowed themselves to be escorted to the buses without resistance. Women cradling small children or holding kids’ hands wept as they walked toward the buses. In all, 800 migrants were detained, according to a statement from Mexico’s National Immigration Institute.Others resisted and were subdued. One man dragged by three guardsmen and a migration agent shouted “they killed my brother, I don’t want to die,” presumably in reference to the possibility of being returned to his country.A paramedic attended to an injured woman lying on the highway shoulder.The road was left littered with water bottles, plastic bags and clothing. An irate man in a blue shirt yelled at the agents “this is a war against the Hondurans.”On Friday, López Obrador said he had been briefed about the operation and commended military commanders for not resorting to force, without explaining what he considered to be force.“I have information that the National Guard has acted well,” said López Obrador, who said he was briefed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard. “He told us there had not been injured, had not been wounded, that the problem has been resolved well.”López Obrador went on, as he has before, to describe the migrants as being “tricked” by unscrupulous organizers in Honduras who lead them to believe they will pass without problems. He added that his political adversaries, “the conservatives,” had hoped it would go badly for the Mexican government.“Clearly there is a need,” López Obrador said. “But there’s a management, we’ll say political. Fortunately, human rights have been respected.”Thursday’s confrontation was a sudden climax after the day had seemed to be winding down.Central American migrants cross the Suchiate River from Tecun Uman, Guatemala, to Mexico, Jan. 23, 2020.The migrant caravan had been diminishing since its last concerted attempt to cross the border Monday was turned back by Mexican National Guardsmen posted along the Suchiate River, which forms the border here.The national guardsmen intercepted the caravan on the edge of the community of Frontera Hidalgo, near Ciudad Hidalgo where the migrants crossed the river at dawn.In previous caravans, Mexican authorities have allowed caravans to walk for awhile, seemingly to tire them out, and then closed their path.Mexico and Guatemala have returned hundreds of migrants from the caravan to their home countries since the caravan set out last week, mostly to Honduras.Back at the roadside food stall in the southern state of Chiapas, Karen Vázquez, 26, was dismayed by what she saw unfold — the pepper spray, children running and crying.“It was something very unpleasant, seeing how the people are taken away, and us hiding as well so they don’t take us away,” she said. “It makes us sad because they don’t take them in the right way. In truth, they take them very badly.”

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