- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2008


Russian plane violates airspace

TALLINN | A Russian military transport plane violated Estonia’s airspace on its way to the Russian Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad, the Estonian military said Sunday.

In a statement, the Estonian armed forces said that the AN-72 transport plane entered Estonia’s skies at 9:03 p.m. Sunday, before leaving a minute later.

The plane was flying above neutral waters before straying into Estonian airspace over the island of Vaindloo, the military said.

The AN-72, which can carry 10 tons of cargo, also could be used for intelligence purposes, said the statement.

Estonia, the northernmost of the three Baltic states, was ruled by the Soviet Union until the collapse of the communist bloc in 1991, and along with its neighbors Latvia and Lithuania joined NATO and the European Union in 2004.

All three countries have regularly complained of airspace violations by Russian military and civilian aircraft, which have to cross close to their skies to reach Kaliningrad.

Russia, however, rarely concedes its planes have violated the three countries’ airspace.


Merkel pledges support for Sarkozy

BERLIN | German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged French President Nicolas Sarkozy her full support when Paris assumes the EU presidency next month despite ongoing differences, in an interview to be published Monday.

Mrs. Merkel told the daily Straubinger Tagblatt ahead of a Franco-German summit Monday that Mr. Sarkozy could count on Berlin’s help on thorny issues such as climate protection and European Union institutional reforms during Paris’ six-month stint at the helm.

The 27-nation bloc plans to introduce measures by the end of the year to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. The goal was set under the German presidency and is aimed at slowing global warming with an emphasis on renewable energy sources.

France and Germany are at odds over EU-wide plans to impose a carbon-emissions limit of nearly a half-pound per mile on all new EU cars by 2012.

Berlin opposes the plans as vehicles made by German firms such as BMW, Daimler and Porsche tend to be larger, luxury vehicles with greater emissions.

France backs the legislation as French automakers such as Peugeot and Renault tend to build smaller cars that pollute less.


Cowen optimistic on EU referendum

DUBLIN | Prime Minister Brian Cowen expressed confidence Ireland will vote in favor of the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum Thursday in which vital reforms to the European Union hang in the balance.

Ireland is the only country in the 27-member bloc that will vote on the treaty, and Mr. Cowen said if it is rejected, the country would “marginalize” itself and lose influence in the EU.

The referendum is being closely watched by concerned leaders in other European capitals.

Mr. Cowen’s comments Sunday come as Ireland’s Europe Minister Dick Roche warned that a “no” vote would plunge the EU into “crisis,” and the campaign’s final opinion poll put the “yes” camp narrowly ahead, but with the “no” vote growing.

The Lisbon Treaty aims to streamline decision-making in the EU following recent expansion and would create a full-time EU president and foreign-policy chief.

If the treaty is rejected by Ireland’s fewer than 4 million voters, it is expected to cause chaos across the bloc, which covers 500 million people.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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