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ENERGY

Germany to ‘fast-track’ gas terminals as part of Qatar deal

Germany has committed to "fast track" the construction of two liquefied natural gas terminals as part of a new long-term deal with Qatar as it looks to reduce dependence on Russian gas.

Economics and Climate Minister Robert Habeck after talks with the Minister of Trade and Industry of Qatar in Doha.
Economics and Climate Minister Robert Habeck after talks with the Minister of Commerce and Industry of Qatar in Doha. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd von Jutrczenka

Economic Affairs Minister Robert Habeck secured the accord during talks in Doha with its emir and energy minister who have been pressing European nations to strike long-term deals to guarantee their supplies.

European states have been forced to turn to Qatar in recent months as they seek an LNG alternative to Russian gas in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Qatar has insisted on long contracts because of the huge cost of investing in gas production. Already one of the world’s top three LNG exporters, Qatar plans to increase production by 50 percent by 2027.

READ ALSO: Germany seals energy deal with Qatar in move away from Russia

Qatar’s energy ministry said that several years of talks with Germany had never led to “definitive agreements due to the lack of clarity on the long-term role of gas in Germany’s energy mix and the requisite LNG import infrastructure.”

It added that in a meeting between Habeck and Energy Minister Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, “the German side confirmed that the German government has taken swift and concrete actions to fast-track the development of two LNG receiving terminals in Germany as a matter of priority to allow for the long term import of LNG to Germany and that such scheme has the full support of the German government.”

The two sides “agreed that their respective commercial entities would re-engage and progress discussions on long-term LNG supplies from Qatar to Germany.”

READ ALSO: Germany begins slow move away from Russian gas after Ukraine invasion

In Berlin, a German spokeswoman confirmed a long-term partnership had been struck and that companies would “enter into the concrete contract negotiations”, the spokeswoman said.

Habeck also held talks in Doha with the emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani before heading to the United Arab Emirates where he is expected to hold talks on oil supplies.

Ahead of his trip, Habeck told Deutschlandfunk radio that Germany had major concerns over securing supplies for next winter.

“If we do not obtain more gas next winter and if deliveries from Russia were to be cut then we would not have enough gas to heat all our houses and keep all our industry going,” he warned.

Berlin has come in for criticism over its opposition to an immediate embargo being imposed on Russian energy supplies as a means of choking off Moscow’s foreign earnings.

Germany believes a boycott could cause major economic damage as well as huge rises in energy prices.

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UKRAINE

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest Sunday with an infectious hip-hop folk melody, boosting spirits in the embattled nation fighting off a Russian invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Riding a huge wave of public support, Kalush Orchestra beat 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event with “Stefania”, a rap lullaby combining Ukrainian folk and modern hip-hop rhythms.

“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal right now,” implored frontman Oleh Psiuk in English from the stage after their performance was met by a cheering audience.

In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the triumph was met with smiles and visible relief.

“It’s a small ray of happiness. It’s very important now for us,” said Iryna Vorobey, a 35-year-old businesswoman, adding that the support from Europe was “incredible”.

Following the win, Psiuk — whose bubblegum-pink bucket hat has made him instantly recognisable — thanked everyone who voted for his country in the contest, which is watched by millions of viewers.

“The victory is very important for Ukraine, especially this year. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Glory to Ukraine,” Psiuk told journalists.

Music conquers Europe

The win provided a much-needed morale boost for the embattled nation in its third month of battling much-larger Russian forces.

Mahmood & BLANCO  performing for Italy at Eurovision 2022

Mahmood & BLANCO perform on behalf of Italy during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he wrote on Facebook.

“This win is so very good for our mood,” Andriy Nemkovych, a 28 year-old project manager, told AFP in Kyiv.

The victory drew praise in unlikely corners, as the deputy chief of the NATO military alliance said it showed just how much public support ex-Soviet Ukraine has in fighting off Moscow.

“I would like to congratulate Ukraine for winning the Eurovision contest,” Mircea Geoana said as he arrived in Berlin for talks that will tackle the alliance’s expansion in the wake of the Kremlin’s war.

“And this is not something I’m making in a light way because we have seen yesterday the immense public support all over Europe and Australia for the bravery of” Ukraine, Geoana said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the win “a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom”.

And European Council President Charles Michel said he hoped next year’s contest “can be hosted in Kyiv in a free and united Ukraine”.

‘Ready to fight’
Despite the joyous theatrics that are a hallmark of the song contest, the war in Ukraine hung heavily over the festivities this year.
 
The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, banned Russia on February 25, the day after Moscow invaded its neighbour.
 
“Stefania”, written by Psiuk as a tribute to his mother before the war, mixes traditional Ukrainian folk music played on flute-like instruments with an invigorating hip-hop beat. The band donned richly embroidered ethnic garb
to perform their act.
 
 
Nostalgic lyrics such as “I’ll always find my way home even if all the roads are destroyed” resonated all the more as millions of Ukrainians have been displaced by war.

Kalush Orchestra received special authorisation from Ukraine’s government to attend Eurovision, since men of fighting age are prohibited from leaving the country, but that permit expires in two days.

Psiuk said he was not sure what awaited the band as war rages back home.

“Like every Ukrainian, we are ready to fight as much as we can and go until the end.

Britain’s ‘Space Man’

Ukraine beat a host of over-the-top acts at the kitschy, quirky annual musical event, including Norway’s Subwoolfer, who sang about bananas while dressed in yellow wolf masks, and Serbia’s Konstrakta, who questioned national healthcare while meticulously scrubbing her hands onstage.

Coming in second place was Britain with Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” and its stratospheric notes, followed by Spain with the reggaeton “SloMo” from Chanel.

After a quarter-century of being shut out from the top spot, Britain had hoped to have a winner in “Space Man” and its high notes belted by the affable, long-haired Ryder.

Britain had been ahead after votes were counted from the national juries, but a jaw-dropping 439 points awarded to Ukraine from the public pushed it to the top spot.

Eurovision’s winner is chosen by a cast of music industry professionals — and members of the public — from each country, with votes for one’s home nation not allowed.

Eurovision is a hit among fans not only for the music, but for the looks on display and this year was no exception. Lithuania’s Monika Liu generated as much social media buzz for her bowl cut hairdo as her sensual and elegant
“Sentimentai”.

Other offerings included Greece’s “Die Together” by Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord and “Brividi” (Shivers), a duet from Italy’s Mahmood and Blanco.

Italy had hoped the gay-themed love song would bring it a second consecutive Eurovision win after last year’s “Zitti e Buoni” (Shut up and Behave) from high-octane glam rockers Maneskin.

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