The News Editorial Analysis 28th Dec 2021

The News Editorial Analysis 28th Dec 2021

The News Editorial Analysis 28th Dec 2021

15-17 age group to get Covaxin from Jan. 3

Third dose for seniors only 39 weeks after second

Teenagers aged 15 to 17, who will be eligible for vaccination from January 3, will be administered only Covaxin doses, a note from the Health Ministry said on Monday.

Healthcare workers and frontline workers who have received two doses would be eligible for a “precaution dose” from January 10, though those with a gap of at least 39 weeks since the second dose would be prioritised.

‘Precaution dose’

Those 60 years and above with co-morbidities who have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, would on doctor’s advice be provided a similar “precaution dose” from January 10. The prioritisation and sequencing of this dose would also be based on the completion of nine months — 39 weeks from the date of administration of second dose.

According to the Health Ministry, those born in 2007 or earlier will be able to register on CoWIN from January 3. They can do it online through an existing account or create a new account through a unique mobile number. They can also be registered on-site by the verifier and vaccinator in facilitated registration mode. Appointments can be booked online or onsite.

Healthcare workers, frontline workers and citizens aged 60 or above with co-morbidities will be able to fix appointments for the precaution dose through their existing CoWIN accounts.

The CoWin system will send an SMS to such beneficiaries for availing the precaution dose when the dose becomes due. It is however unclear from the Health Ministry note if the precaution dose would be a third dose of the same vaccine or any other vaccine. Currently the only vaccines that have been administered to Indians are Covishield, Covaxin and a few doses of Sputnik V.

Kerala tops NITI Aayog Health Index; U.P. at bottom

Telangana moves into top three with Tamil Nadu.

For the fourth year in a row, Kerala has topped a ranking of States on health indicators. Uttar Pradesh has come in at the bottom. The “Health Index” is part of a report commissioned by the NITI Aayog, the World Bank and the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry.

Kerala is followed by Tamil Nadu and Telangana, which improved its ranking.

The Health Index score is prepared based on the States’ performance across a large set of indicators that are divided into three broad domains — health outcomes, governance and information, and key inputs and processes. Health outcomes, for instance, include parameters such as neonatal mortality rate, under-5 mortality rate and sex ratio at birth.

Governance includes institutional deliveries, average occupancy of senior officers in key posts earmarked for health. And the “key inputs” domain consists of the proportion of shortfall in healthcare providers to what is recommended, functional medical facilities, birth and death registration and tuberculosis treatment success rate.

The cold truth about India’s income inequality.

The News Editorial Analysis 28th Dec 2021

Far from pushing for social and economic equality, the state is fanning systems and principles to strengthen the divide.

The latest edition of the World Inequality Report ( and has confirmed that the world continues to sprint down the path of inequality. “Global multimillionaires have captured a disproportionate share of global wealth growth over the past several decades: the top 1% took 38% of all additional wealth accumulated since the mid-1990s, whereas the bottom 50% captured just 2% of it.” India’s case is particularly stark. The foreword by Nobel laureate economists, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, says, “India is now among the most unequal countries in the world.” This means that the gap between the top 1% and the bottom 50% is widest for India among the major economies in the world. The gap is wider in India than the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Russia and France.

Poverty has persisted

The journey of this inequality over time reveals that “socialist-inspired Five Year plans contributed” to reducing the share of the top 10% who had 50% of the income under colonial rule, to 35%-40% in the early decades after Independence. However, since the mid-1980s, deregulation and liberalisation policies have led to “one of the most extreme increases in income and wealth inequality observed in the world”. While the top 1% has majorly profited from economic reforms, growth among low- and middle-income groups has been relatively slow, and poverty has persisted.

In recent years, on the economic front, India, post-2014, seems to have got into a phase of an even greater reliance on big business and privatisation to fix economics and the result has been to beget even more inequality. The latest World Inequality Report firmly concludes that the “bottom 50% share has gone down to 13%. India stands out as a poor and very unequal country, with an affluent elite”.

Static growth rate

But beyond all this, what bears emphasis is the observation by Aunindyo Chakravarty, in The Tribune, about what was happening to the income of the bottom 50% in India since 1951. This grew at the rate of 2.2% per year between 1951 and 1981, but what is telling is that “the growth rate remained exactly the same over the past 40 years”. This makes it clear that irrespective of the economics or politics at play, the state of the bottom half of India barely changed, with an abysmal rate of income growth. That inequality in terms of the immobility of those at the bottom (at least one half of India) stood, irrespective of the economic policies adopted, is an irrefutable fact. It was because of the social conditions and constraints in India.

Clearly, the very social structure that underpinned India, encouraged and fanned this inequality. Plenty changed after India’s Constitution was adopted. In the Nehruvian years — and after that too — a bid was made to battle the basic absence of social democracy in India, but it remained confined to States and regions. Therefore, one sees a little more mobility and well-being in States such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Parts of Karnataka and Andhra also recorded attempts at smashing social structures that had pushed those at the bottom to a life in perpetual poverty and deprivation, and those attempts showed in better economic prospects. So, beyond these economic policies which have been fanning inequality, it is the ruling party tying faith directly into politics and backing of old social structures – far from getting rid of them, strengthening them each day – that should set alarm bells ringing. The linkages between our social structures and income inequality and poverty must be faced up to.

Survey and data

Globally, the economic transformation of people and particularly the lessening of inequality has never happened unless socially regressive mores have been challenged. Path-breaking research across 106 countries in 2018 tackled the elephant in the room when researchers from the Universities of Bristol in the U.K. and Tennessee in the U.S. used data from the World Values Survey to get a measure of the importance of religion spanning the entire 20th century (1900 to 2000) and found “that secularisation precedes economic development”.

Furthermore, the findings show that secularisation only predicts future economic development when it is accompanied by a respect and tolerance for individual rights. That can only happen when beyond sufferance of diversity or tolerance, a society is able to see all shades of humans, of varying castes, creeds, faith, colour, gender and choices as equal. The central aspect of secularisation is delinking of religion from public life. It leads to respect for each citizen irrespective of their faith and for science and rationalism. This is clear from the European experience over centuries or of Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, South Korea and others — the old social structures need to be smashed and not resurrected.

‘One size nation’ is flawed

The rapid movement of India in the reverse direction of secularisation, with the Union government’s now-stated policy to prioritise members of one religion and one language, has severe economic consequences too and the widening income inequality only reflects that. The quick descent into a ‘One size nation’, does not fit its many diversities. The avenues available for all kinds of citizens to make a life, informal if not formal, is deeply inhibited by India’s social fabric being torn by the Government’s new priorities and policies. Far from pushing for social and economic equality, which can be done by dismantling old shibboleths in which India’s rank social and economic inequalities are anchored, the state is now fanning systems and principles to further them. This fundamentally distorts the hard wiring that had made modern India possible.

Criminalising the freedom of religion and choices, which is what the Indian compact is based on, by hunting out the diverse, mixed or cosmopolitan as inauthentic has consequences, both social and economic. It was exactly this that B.R. Ambedkar had warned of: “In politics we will be recognising the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life?”

B.R. Ambedkar had issued a grim warning in 1949 that if we continue to deny social and economic inequality for long, we could “blow up the structure of political democracy”. We risk much more. There is no ‘destiny’ of nations foretold. Choices are made and destinies created. By choosing to reverse the idea of modernisation, linking religion firmly into the public sphere, trying to unmake the modernity India had tried to set for itself as an ideal, we may be already setting ourselves on a narrow path which ends in places that scores of nations in the world and several in our neighborhood have already arrived at, only to their peril and dismay.

Why the Aadhaar-voter ID link must be stopped

Aadhaar use to construct elector databases has resulted in exclusion and will help in profiling the voter

The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that was passed in haste in the winter session in the Lok Sabha, and which facilitates amendment to the Representation of People’s Act, is a step toward implementing online-based remote e-voting for which the use of Aadhaar will be the primary identity. The linking of Aadhaar with one’s voter ID was primarily to build a biometric dependent voting system from the very beginning. The tall claim made to support this change was to fight “fraud and duplicates” in the electoral rolls. At the same time, in practice, in places where it was used — done by the mashing of Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC) data with surveillance databases — it facilitated a selective removal of voters from the lists. In the 2018 Telangana Assembly elections for instance, the consequence of such a measure led to the deletion of an estimated two million voters.

The case of two States

In 2014, the Election Commission of India (ECI) conducted two pilot programmes on linking the voter id with Aadhaar in the districts of Nizamabad and Hyderabad. Using the claim of effectiveness in removing duplicate voters, the ECI called for a National Consultation on Aadhaar and voter id linking, organised in Hyderabad in February 2015. The ECI launched the National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme (NERPAP) on April 1, 2015, which had to be completed by August 31, 2015. After a Supreme Court of India order on August 11, 2015, it was announced that this NERPAP would be shut down. But as Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were early adopters of this programme since 2014, both States have nearly completed linking Aadhaar and voter id for all residents. Though the composite State of Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated in 2014, there was only one office of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Telangana and Andhra Pradesh as the bifurcation procedure was not yet complete in 2015.

Database integration

The methodology followed by the ECI to find duplicate voters using Aadhaar is unknown to the general public. Nor is the information available in the public domain. Several applications under the Right to Information Act to the Chief Electoral Officer, Telangana asking for this information have been in vain. In 2018, the ECI wrote back to the CEOs asking for the methodology used in NERPAP for Aadhaar data collection after questions were raised about the ECI collecting Aadhaar data without the consent of voters. In a letter (No. 1471/Elecs.B/A1/2018-3, April 25, 2018), from the CEO Andhra Pradesh (then for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh) to the ECI, it is clear that the State Resident Data Hub (SRDH) application of the Government of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh was used to curate electoral rolls.

The SRDH has data on residents of the State which is supplied by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) or collected further by the State governments. The UIDAI initially created the SRDH to give States information on residents — similar to the Aadhaar database without biometrics. Private parties now maintain the SRDH. While the UIDAI was constrained not to collect data on caste, religion and other sensitive information data for Aadhaar, it recommended to the States to collect this information, if required, as part of Aadhaar data collection; it termed the process as Know Your Resident (KYR) and Know Your Resident Plus (KYR+).

In Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, the State governments also conducted State census where voter data, Aadhaar data, 360-degree profiling with details such as caste, religion, bank accounts and other sensitive personal information were also collected. These State Census surveys were called the Samagra Kutumba Survey 2014 and the Smart Pulse Survey 2016.

The SRDHs are now a part of the State surveillance architecture targeted at the civilian populace. It is these SRDH applications that the ECI used to curate electoral rolls which resulted in the deletion of a sizeable number of voters from the list in Telangana in 2018. It is not just Telangana but across India; the ECI has already linked Aadhaar and voter IDs of close to 30 crore people resulting in voter deletions (Unstarred question 2673, Rajya Sabha of January 2019).


The role of the ECI to verify voters using door-to-door verification (in 2015) has been subsumed (based on RTI replies from the ECI, and widely reported in 2018, after the Telangana Assembly elections in December); a software algorithm commissioned by the Government for purposes unknown to the public and maintained by a private IT company is in control now. While the role and autonomy of the ECI itself is speculative, subjecting key electoral rolls to surveillance software damages the concept of universal adult suffrage. What the experience in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh highlights is voter suppression and disenfranchisement.

A mock election (in October 2021) was conducted in Telangana by the State Election Commission with smartphones using facial recognition, voter ID, Aadhaar number and phone number for authentication while voting (this was tweeted by the Collector, Khammam) . This method kills the “secret ballot”. In a situation where the role of money makes a mockery of the democratic process, linking Aadhaar will be futile. Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), if foolproof, put an end to the days of booth capturing prevalent in the days of paper ballots. But these manifestations are about to bring the age back. E-voting can also be gamed using malware to change the outcome of an election. While the Bill does not look into large-scale e-voting, there is an issue of ensuring electoral integrity.

An Aadhaar-voter ID linkage will also help political parties create voter profiles and influence the voting process. Online trends on the day of voting and micro-targeting voters using their data will make it easier for political parties in power to use data for elections. A ruling coalition will always have an advantage with the data it possesses. An example is of the Chief Ministers from certain States being asked to get the data of the beneficiaries of welfare schemes. How this data was used in the 2019 elections is a pointer. The way Aadhaar has been pushed across the country has been undemocratic and unconstitutional since its inception. Aadhaar itself has several fake and duplicate names, which has been widely documented. The linking of Aadhaar with voter ID will create complexities in the voter databases that will be hard to fix. This process will introduce errors in electoral rolls and vastly impact India’s electoral democracy.

Kiran Chandra Yarlagadda is General Secretary, Free Software Movement of India (FSMI). Srinivas Kodali is Researcher, FSMI.

The gaps in the plan to tackle plastic waste

The draft regulations on extended producer responsibility are retrogressive in their approach

In October, the Environment Ministry published draft regulations on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), set to come into effect by the end of this year. Disregarding the commitments made by the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016; the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016; and the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), these regulations denote a backslide, particularly with respect to integration of the informal sector.

EPR requires the manufacturer of a product, or the party that introduces the product into the community, to take responsibility for its life cycle. An FMCG company should not only account for the costs of making, packing and distributing a packet of chips, but also for the collection and recycling/reuse of the packet. In India, producers have externalised these costs due to the presence of a robust informal sector composed of waste pickers. By failing to mention waste pickers or outlining mechanisms for their incorporation under EPR, the guidelines are retrogressive. An effective EPR framework should address the issue of plastics and plastic waste management in tandem with the existing machinery, minimise duplication and lead to a positive environmental impact, with monitoring mechanisms including penalties for non-compliance. The guidelines fall short in three areas: people, plastics and processing.


For decades, waste pickers, working in dangerous and unsanitary conditions, have picked up what we throw away. They form the base of a pyramid that includes scrap dealers, aggregators and re-processors. This pyramid has internalised the plastic waste management costs of large producers. Besides, by diverting waste towards recycling and reuse, waste pickers also subsidise local governments responsible for solid waste management. Further, they reduce the amount of waste accumulating in cities, water bodies and dumpsites and increase recycling and reuse, creating environmental and public health benefits.

Unfortunately, most informal waste pickers remain invisible. Between 1.5 and 4 million waste pickers in India work without social security, health insurance, minimum wages or basic protective gear. The SBM Plastic Waste Book attributes India’s high recycling rate to the informal sector. But the guidelines not only disregard waste pickers and don’t involve them as stakeholders in formulating the guidelines, but also direct producers to set up a private, parallel plastic waste collection and recycling chain. This is akin to dispossessing waste pickers of their means of livelihood as all plastic waste, contributing up to 60% of their incomes, will likely be siphoned away from them and channelised into the new chain.

EPR funds could be deployed for mapping and registration of the informal sector actors, building their capacity, upgrading infrastructure, promoting technology transfer, and creating closed loop feedback and monitoring mechanisms. For easily recycled plastics, EPR requirements could have been fulfilled by formalising and documenting the work of the informal sector and adequately compensating them. Without strong government regulation, the millions of workers who have shouldered the burden of waste management for decades will stand to lose their livelihoods – only so that companies can keep meeting their targets to continue producing plastic.


The EPR guidelines are limited to plastic packaging. While a large part of plastics produced are single-use or throwaway plastic packaging, there are other multi-material plastic items like sanitary pads, chappals, and polyester that pose a huge waste management challenge today, but have been left out of the scope of EPR.

Plastic packaging can be roughly grouped into three categories: recyclable and effectively handled by the informal sector, technologically recyclable but not economically viable to recycle, technologically challenging to recycle (or non-recyclable).

Rigid plastics like PET and HDPE are effectively recycled. In keeping with the EPR objective that all recyclable plastics are effectively recycled at the cost of the producer, the government could support and strengthen the informal recycling chain by bridging gaps in adequate physical spaces, infrastructure, etc.

Typically flexible plastics like LDPE and PP bags are recyclable, but due to their contamination with organic waste, light weight, and high volume, the costs of recycling are prohibitively expensive relative to the market value of the output. Market value for these plastics can be increased by increasing the demand for and use of recycled plastics in packaging, thus creating the value to accommodate the current costs of recycling. The mandated use of recycled plastics, as prescribed in the draft regulations, is a strong policy mechanism to create this value.

Multi-layered and multi-material plastics form the abundant type of plastic waste. These are low weight and voluminous, making them expensive to handle and transport. Since they are primarily used in food packaging, they often attract rodents, making storage problematic. Even if this plastic is picked, recycling is technologically challenging as it is heterogeneous material. The Plastic Waste Management Rules mandated the phase-out of these plastics. However, in 2018, this mandate was reversed.


Not all processing is recycling. Processes like waste-to-energy, co-processing and incineration have been proven to release carbon dioxide, particulate matter, harmful dioxins and furans which have negative climate and health impacts. Technologies like chemical recycling and pyrolysis are capital-intensive, yielding low returns and running into frequent breakdowns and technological problems. They also release carbon dioxide and other pollutants.

The SWaCH-ITC Ltd project has diverted over 1,000 MT of multi-layered and low-value flexible plastics since its inception. However, project scalability suffers due to the absence of processing plants that can consistently accept multi-layered plastics. These end-of-life processes are economically, environmentally and operationally unsustainable. A number of gasification, pyrolysis and other chemical recycling projects have figured in accidents such as fires, explosions and financial losses. GAIA estimated that such technologies wasted at least $2 billion in investments, due to permit complications, operating costs, etc. While the environmental impact and desirability of these processes continues to be debated, the draft regulations legitimise them to justify the continued production of multi-layered plastics.

In conclusion, the government should redo the consultation process for the draft guidelines and involve informal workers. The scope of plastics covered by the guidelines could be altered to exclude those plastics which are already efficiently recycled and to include other plastic and multi-material items. And end-of-life processing technologies should be closely evaluated, based not only on their health and environmental impacts, but also on the implications for continued production of low-quality and multi-layered plastics.

Satyarupa Shekhar provides leadership and coordination within the Break Free from Plastic movement and Siddharth Ghanshyam Singh is Deputy Programme Manager at the Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi.

Recall directive on M.P. local body poll, Centre urges SC

Government flags inadequate representation of OBCs

The Centre has moved the Supreme Court seeking recall of its December 17 order directing the Madhya Pradesh State Election Commission (SEC) to stay the election process for seats reserved for Other Backward Classes in the local bodies and renotify those seats for the general category.

The government has argued that uplift of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the OBCs has been its utmost priority, and inadequate representation of the OBCs in local self-government defeats the “very object, intent and purpose of the very idea” of the de-centralisation of power and taking governance to the grassroots level.

The Supreme Court has also sought the deferment of the polls by four months with a mandate to the State government to come out with the report of the Commission and directing the SEC to hold the elections accordingly.

The Centre has asked the Supreme Court to suspend the election process as an interim measure.

The Centre has also sought impleadment in the matter in which the court had passed the order on December 17.

The Supreme Court had referred to the Constitution Bench verdict of 2010 which had mentioned the “triple test” condition.

This included setting up a dedicated commission to conduct a contemporaneous rigorous empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of the backwardness of the targeted communities before reservation of seats for them in the local body elections.

Omicron cases rise to 578 across India

Maharashtra has confirmed 167 cases of the variant, and it is followed by Delhi with 142

The number of Omicron cases has risen to 578 in the country and at least 151 patients have recovered, the Health Ministry said on Monday. India reported 6,531 new coronavirus cases and 315 deaths on Monday, hiking the total active cases to 75,841 and the death count to 4,79,997.

There were at least 38 new cases reported from Maharasthra and Telangana.

Delhi saw its daily COVID-19 case count and test positivity rise to a six-month high with 331 cases reported in the past 24 hours.

However, the government did not confirm how many of these were Omicron cases.

Maharashtra has so far confirmed 167 cases of Omicron, followed by Delhi at 142. Telangana has reported 56 cases and Karnataka 38 since it was first detected in India on December 4.

In Tamil Nadu, 605 more persons were diagnosed with the infection on Monday. Currently 6,562 persons are under treatment, either in hospitals or at home.

Maharashtra also recorded 1,426 fresh COVID-19 infections as the active case tally rose above the 10,000 mark to reach 10,441, while 21 fatalities took the total death toll to 1,41,454. The active cases had dropped below 6,000 a little over three weeks ago.

All persons among the new infections in Maharashtra had an international travel history except two who are high-risk contacts of an international traveller.

The number of people admitted in Delhi hospitals increased to 266 from 230 a day earlier. But about 97% of hospital beds for COVID-19 are vacant and all 3,871 beds in COVID Care Centres are also vacant as on Monday evening, as per official figures.

Dr. Ritu Saxena, Deputy Medical Director of the Delhi government-run LNJP Hospital said, “Out of the 142 patients, about 80% are asymptomatic and the rest have mild symptoms such as low-grade fever, general weakness, or headache. Actually, none of them require hospitalisation and are fit to be in home isolation. They are here only because the existing policy demands it.”

The doctor said that except for one or two, all of the 142 patients have received both doses of vaccines and some of them have even got booster doses.

Telangana’s 12 Omicron cases included two contacts of people with the variant. Ten cases were discovered in the random sampling tests carried out among air passengers at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport who landed from countries other than the designated at-risk countries. Out of the 263 passengers from at-risk subjected to tests at RGIA airport, 24 turned out to be positive. This took the total count to 182 COVID-19 cases.

Kerala registered 1,636 cases of COVID infection on Monday with Thiruvananthapuram district logging the highest number of 344, followed by Kozhikode with 233 and Ernakulam with 190.

Of the 1,636 fresh cases reported on Monday, 836 were breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated citizens while 86 were partially vaccinated and 537 were unvaccinated.

As many as 2,864 COVID-19 patients under treatment at various hospitals were discharged on Monday after they tested negative.

Andhra Pradesh reported 54 COVID-19 infections and zero deaths in the 24 hours ending Monday morning.

SC clarifies when dowry deaths may be presumed

Abuse near death can be indicator

Dowry death can be presumed if the wife was harassed, mentally and physically close before her death in the marital home, the Supreme Court has held.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana was interpreting Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code (dowry death).

The provision mandates that the death of a married woman could be linked to the crime if she had been harassed for dowry “soon before her death”.

“The cruelty has to be proved during the close proximity of time of death. It should be continuous. Such continuous harassment, physical or mental, by the accused should make life of the deceased miserable which may force her to commit suicide,” Justice Hima Kohli, who authored the judgment for the Bench, recorded.

Proximate link

The court said the expression “soon before her death” would normally imply that the interval should not be much between the cruelty or harassment concerned and the death in question.

“In other words, there must be an existence of a proximate and live link between the effect of cruelty based on dowry demand and the death concerned. If the alleged incident of cruelty is remote in time and has become stale enough not to disturb the mental equilibrium of the women concerned, it would be of no consequence,” the Bench, also comprising Justice Surya Kant, noted.

However, the presumption of dowry death was also rebuttable, Justice Kohli observed.

“The presumption is, however, rebuttable and can be dispelled on the accused being able to demonstrate through cogent evidence that the ingredients of Section 304B IPC have not been satisfied,” the judgment said.

The judgment was delivered in the death of a woman in 1997 in Bihar only a few months after her marriage.

The few months of her marital life was marred by constant harassment for dowry. Her body was found on the banks of a river. The court concluded that she was pushed into the river by her husband, and confirmed his conviction by the lower courts.

Turkey urges Russia to drop ‘one-sided’ NATO demands

They should come to the table with proposals that both sides can accept: Minister.

Turkey urged Russia on Monday to drop “one-sided” demands and adopt a more constructive approach in its stand-off with Western powers and NATO over Ukraine.

NATO member Turkey has irritated Moscow by supplying combat drones to Ukraine that Russia fears could be used by Kiev in its conflict with separatists in two eastern regions.

But Turkey has also upset Washington and NATO by acquiring an advanced missile defence system from Russia that resulted in sanctions from the United States.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged Moscow and the Western defence alliance to air their differences in direct negotiations proposed by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

‘Be constructive’

Russia wants NATO to provide Moscow with a binding security guarantee and withdraw its forces to positions they held before a wave of eastward expansion that began after the Soviet Union’s collapse. “For any proposal to be accepted, it should be acceptable by both sides. Russia made some proposals. But maybe NATO seeks the same kind of guarantees from Russia. This is not a one-sided issue,” Mr. Cavusoglu told reporters.

“If the requests are maximalist — I’m not saying that Russia is maximalist in any case — both sides must be constructive,” he said.

“They should come to the table with proposals that both sides can accept,” the Minister added.

A NATO spokesman said the Brussels-based alliance had been “in touch” with Moscow about holding a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council on January 12.

Russia has not yet formally accepted the offer.

“If Russia has any certain specific expectation or issue from Turkey regarding reducing tensions between Russia and NATO, Turkey will evaluate this positively because our objective is clear,” said Mr. Cavusoglu.

“Everyone would be affected, God forbid, by conflict in the region.”



The News Editorial Analysis 27th Dec 2021



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