By Emma Cordwell in Barcelona
An economic report from the association of EU Tour Operators (AbtoSur) says there has been a 20% rise in foreign tourists in Spain in the first four months of 2018. The number is up to 18.1 million, while Spain is also welcoming a larger share of visitors (49%) compared to earlier in the decade. It predicts that last year was Spain’s best year ever for tourism.
While Spain has recorded big increases in tourist arrivals, the European commission is urging the EU’s Member States to maintain security measures to counter any further terrorist threats. Its latest Global Terrorism Index shows that the share of attacks in Europe was below the global average between 2007 and 2017. However, it warns that that European cities are still vulnerable, and that a “new wave of attacks cannot be ruled out” unless some changes are made. “Islamic terrorist groups continue to pose the greatest risks,” the index said.
Meanwhile, there is concern that expatriates are still on high alert against attacks in Spain following the May attack that killed 13 people in Barcelona. About 240 people from 58 countries have come forward to give accounts of their experiences or fears, according to the Foreign Office. Most recently a French man said: “My favorite meal in Barcelona is in San Miguel restaurant on Las Ramblas and the driver stopped and I told him to give me a smile for the feeling I had of myself on the floor.”
Joan Moncada Dordevila, president of the University of the Basque Country, has been praised for his announcement that it will no longer charge any members for the past decade of study and of PhDs. President Dordevila has told the Basque student newspaper Dadaiko that this “protection clause” had created a “kind of depression” among its students. They warned, he said, that study would never be the same again. “That’s not my business, so I thought: why do I have to be a consumer of educational opportunities and events in this area?” he told the newspaper.
Spain’s National Police have been asked to open new regional office in Asia. The new police unit is believed to be the first in the world to oversee regional police activity in more than just one country. It will be based in Seoul, where it will oversee activities of 12 police departments, 36 business police offices and four local police departments. The NPD will also analyse threats to international and European security in the state.
Meanwhile, the BBC’s Jim Muir reports that refugee camps are taking a back seat in the fight against extremists in Southeast Asia. This is because the threat from the Islamic State group has receded since 2016 and leaders, who were willing to take shelter in such camps, are now running their own operations. The Indonesian province of Aceh province is one of the most successful. Agung Prakoso from the BBC Indonesia Service said the annual average of arrests by the police in Aceh was “just 100” during the group’s first two years of existence. Last year, this figure rose to 507.
It is beginning to look as if British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, has realigned his priorities for his new job. On Monday he met Bahrain’s foreign minister, saying that the United Kingdom could count on him. Four days later, Bahrain slapped anti-terrorism laws on his local equivalent, Prince Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Abdulaziz al-Khalifa. Khalifa, who was appointed as Foreign Secretary in July, said he was “deeply disappointed by the decision” and accused the Bahraini government of “blatant disregard for any type of independence or transparency in governance, particularly in the economy and the legislative process”.
And finally, this blog published by the Academic magazine CSMonitor titled, “What will you do without Wikipedia?” has caused a great fuss in Turkey. According to a report by Turkey’s public broadcaster, that article accused Wikipedia of being a “private media company created by American intelligence agencies” and which has promoted Erdogan and “the AKP, his government’s party”. The story even got a mention on CNN Turkey, which has in the past referred to Wikipedia as a “radical opposition website”. But Turkish President Erdogan swiftly denounced the article. “I don’t read anything that foreigners post on my country’s websites, and I am very sad that other countries have an ownership in what’s written on my country’s portals,” he said.
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