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Germany remains committed to Open Skies treaty: Kramp-Karrenbauer

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German Minister of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told the German broadcaster n-tv on Friday that her country will make an effort to salvage the international Open Skies treaty.

The U.S. administration revealed on Thursday its intention to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies, which allows its states-parties to conduct short-notice, unarmed reconnaissance flights over the others’ entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities.

“I deeply regret the U.S.’s announcement on abandonment of the treaty,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer, adding that in close coordination with Germany’s Foreign Office, “we will do everything we can to ensure that at the end of the day everyone will be able to stick with this contract.”

The Treaty on Open Skies, which aims at building confidence and familiarity among states-parties through their participation in the overflights, was concluded in 1992 and entered into force in 2002. Currently, 35 nations, including Russia, the United States, and some other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, have signed it. Kyrgyzstan has signed but not ratified it yet.

Germany’s Foreign Office stressed that the treaty “contributes to transparency and confidence-building and the cooperative security” of all 34 participating states.

According to the Foreign Office, the treaty created the “only arms control regime that covers the entire territory of both the U.S. and Russia.” Since its entry into force, over 1,500 reconnaissance flights have been conducted under the Open Skies treaty.

On Thursday, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also stressed that the treaty had contributed “to peace and security in almost all of the northern hemisphere,” and added that he understood that there had been difficulties. “However, from our point of view that does not justify withdrawing from the treaty.”

Together with its like-minded partners, Germany would use the remaining six months before the U.S. planned withdrawal to “encourage” the U.S. administration “to rethink its decision,” stressed Maas.

(XINHUA)

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Denmark to allow travels to Germany, Norway, Iceland from June 15

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Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Friday announced the reopening of Denmark’s borders for reciprocal holiday travel arrangements to Germany, Norway, and Iceland from June 15.

However, the reopening came with a caveat; the Danish government does not recommend travel to countries beyond the three countries until Aug. 31.

Speaking at a press conference in the PM‘s Office, Frederiksen said this summer “many Danes will have to spend their holidays at home.”

Danes that choose not to heed the PM‘s advice and travel beyond the three countries will be subject to 14 days of self-quarantine upon their return.

The reciprocal nature of the border openings entails a number of restrictions on Germans, Icelanders and Norwegians, including documented evidence of stay and sample testing at the borders.

In addition, foreigners will be rejected entering if any clear signs of illness are shown.

As regards Sweden, the prime minister was not prepared to make a reciprocal open-border agreement, as the neighboring state has a high level of infections compared to Denmark, which had adopted a containment strategy.

“We are in different places in relation to COVID-19. We have a strong desire on the part of the Danish government to find a solution with our Swedish neighbors,” said Frederiksen.

After Aug. 31, the PM said, the government anticipated the reopening of borders with the other Schengen countries and the United Kingdom.

As of Friday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Denmark stood at 11,593, with 568 deaths, according to the latest official count.

(XINHUA)

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People wear face mask in Berlin, Germany

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A cyclist wearing face mask is seen in Berlin, capital of Germany, April 6, 2020. Many citizens in Berlin choose variety of ways to cover their mouths and noses instead of wearing standard face masks. (Photo by Binh Truong/Xinhua)

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Germany’s non-food retail sector records heavy sales losses

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Germany’s retail sector in April recorded the “strongest month-on-month decline in sales since January 2007” as nominal sales fell by 5.1 percent, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) announced on Friday.

Due to closures during the COVID-19 crisis, sales in some retail sectors continued to fall sharply although the continued “strong demand for everyday consumer goods” led to increased sales in other areas, such as supermarkets, Destatis noted.

Demand for food, beverages and tobacco products continued to rise significantly in April and saw sales increase by 9.5 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, sales of retailers in the non-food sector fell by 14.4 percent year-on-year, according to Destatis.

The “largest drop in sales measured since 1994 in any sector of Germany’s retail trade” was recorded in the sectors of textiles, clothing, shoes and leather goods with a drop of 70.9 percent year-on-year, Destatis noted.

The German Retail Federation (HDE) also announced on Friday that the country’s non-food retail sector “suffered a historic drop in sales” and is expecting that non-food retailers could lose an additional 15 billion euros (16.7 billion U.S. dollars) in sales by the end of the year.

According to a HDE company survey, 29 percent of non-food retailers in Germany were currently generating less than 50 percent of last year’s sales.

“The crisis is hitting small and medium-sized retailers particularly hard, who are of central importance to our cities and communities like no other industry,” said Stefan Genth, head of HDE.

(XINHUA)

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Denmark to allow tourists from Norway, Germany, Iceland from June 15

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Denmark to allow tourists from Norway, Germany, Iceland from June 15

Tourist
Stockholm, May 29, 2020 Denmark is to reopen its borders for tourists from neighbouring Germany, Norway and Iceland from June 15, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Friday.

The visitors must show they have a booking of at least six nights at a camping site or a holiday home – outside the capital of Copenhagen.

Denmark closed its borders in mid-March as part of measures to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The country has recorded 568 Covid-19 deaths as of Friday.

“We have until now coped well as a country, the infection is under control thanks to a strong, joint effort from all Danes.

“The virus is still with us, we are not through the crisis,’’ Frederiksen added.

Frederiksen said her government was in “close dialogue” with its northern neighbour Sweden, which remained off the list of countries where tourists were allowed entry.

The prime minister said that under consideration was a regional solution.

Sweden has recorded 4,350 Covid-19 related deaths, however the case load is far lower in southern Sweden.

The Danish Foreign Ministry’s general advice against non-essential travel remained in place until Aug. 31,’’ Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said.

He said that while the Danish authorities no longer caution against travel to Iceland, Germany and Norway it was advisable to avoid large cities and follow advice from local authorities.

After the summer, Denmark could possibly allow entry for tourists from other countries.

As of Monday, Denmark allowed people with permanent residence in other Nordic countries and Germany to travel into the country if they own a holiday home in Denmark or have a Danish fiance, partner or grandparent.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)

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1st LD Writethru: Germany reports 741 new COVID-19 infections, total now at 180,458

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New infections with COVID-19 in Germany increased above last week’s average as 741 confirmed cases have been reported within one day, bringing the total to 180,458, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced on Friday.

Over the course of last week, an average of 561 daily cases had been reported by the RKI, the federal government agency for disease control and prevention.

According to the RKI, the number of deaths from the novel coronavirus in Germany increased by 39 to 8,450 on Friday, resulting in a case fatality rate of 4.7 percent in Germany.

The number of people currently infected with COVID-19 in Germany continued to fall to around 16,300 on Friday as the estimated number of recoveries increased by around 900 within one day to 164,100, according to the RKI.

The 4-day average reproduction rate (R-number) of COVID-19 in Germany decreased to 0.61, based on the RKI daily situation report for Thursday. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the RKI had reiterated that the R-number had to be below one in order to ease restrictions.

Germany’s federal government and states agreed on Tuesday to extend contact restrictions until June 29. However, schedules and procedures differ from state to state, with regard to, for example, the re-opening of schools and daycare centers for children.

“In view of the reduced circulation of the coronavirus, we take the wish of many parents to offer more regular care in daycare centers and schools very seriously,” said Daniel Guenther, minister president of Schleswig-Holstein, on Wednesday.

However, the country’s Minister of Health Jens Spahn told newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine on Thursday that “we currently have a research situation that does not allow any real conclusions to be drawn about the extent to which children contribute to the spread of the virus.”

(XINHUA)

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Germany’s COVID-19 cases rise by 741 to exceed 180,000 — RKI

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Germany’s COVID-19 cases rose by 741 within one day to 180,458, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said on Friday.

The death toll in the country rose by 39 to 8,450, it added.

(XINHUA)

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Visitors visit Panda Pavilion of Zoo Berlin in Germany

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A giant panda cub rests at Zoo Berlin in Berlin, capital of Germany, May 28, 2020. Zoo Berlin reopened to the public on April 28 after a closure for more than a month due to COVID-19. Giant pandas “Meng Meng”, “Jiao Qing” from China and their twin cubs “Meng Xiang”, “Meng Yuan” have attracted numerous visitors though restrictions are still imposed in the zoo. (Photo by Binh Truong/Xinhua)

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U.S. investment projects in Germany down 12 pct in 2019: EY study

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The number of international investment projects in Germany stagnated in 2019 “mainly due to the reluctance of U.S. companies,” according to a study published by the consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY) Germany on Thursday.

The number of U.S. investment projects in Germany fell by 12 percent year-on-year in 2019 to 197, noted the EY study on investment projects of international companies in Europe.

In contrast, projects announced by Turkish companies more than doubled to 77, and Chinese investment projects rose by 27 percent to 84, noted the EY study.

Most of the investment projects in Germany last year took place in the trade and logistics sector, while most of the new jobs were created by the automotive industry, the study found.

In the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, German companies were “traditionally by far the most important investors,” EY noted. In 2019, the German companies slightly increased the number of such investment projects to 253.

Of the 6,412 international investment projects announced in Europe last year, EY estimated that 65 percent had already been realized before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, while 25 percent of projects were postponed and 10 percent even canceled.

Because of the coronavirus crisis, investments were “reduced to a minimum,” said Hubert Barth, chairperson of the management board of EY Germany. “Now, for many companies, the primary concern is to maintain liquidity in the company.”

Overall, EY expects a decline in international investment of 35 to 50 percent in 2020, although the trend is likely “to vary considerably” depending on the sector.

“Mechanical engineering and the automotive industry, for example, are currently putting the brakes on investments massively, while pharmaceutical companies are, in some cases, increasing their capacities,” stressed Barth.

(XINHUA)

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Germany’s construction industry expects adjusted turnover to fall by 3 pct in 2020

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Adjusted turnover of Germany’s construction industry would fall by three percent in 2020 due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Germany’s construction industry association (HDB) announced on Thursday.

While adjusted turnover from commercial building construction was forecasted to decline by 6 percent, residential construction would only see a decline of 0.5 percent.

HDB is expecting total nominal turnover to stagnate at 134.9 billion euros (149.7 billion U.S. dollars) in 2020. Last year, Germany’s construction industry was growing at 6.7 percent.

In the first quarter, the turnover of companies with 20 or more employees in Germany’s main construction industry had grown by 12.4 percent, according to data from the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis).

Germany’s construction industry was “very optimistic” and had “started the year 2020 with full order books, said HDB President Peter Huebner. “Even during the coronavirus-related lockdown, it has impressively demonstrated its efficiency as the engine of the German economy.”

According to HDB, Germany‘s construction sector would keep employees stable at approximately 870,000 but would not increase the number any further as had been the case in the previous years.

“To avoid a slump, it is now essential that our companies’ order books remain well filled and that existing capacities are fully utilized,” stressed Huebner. “Public investment in our infrastructure at federal, state and local level in particular must be maintained in full.”

(XINHUA)

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