SOFIA, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- The European Border and Coast Guard Agency was officially launched on Thursday at Bulgaria's Kapitan Andreevo checkpoint near the border with Turkey to address migration and security challenges.

"Right here and right now, we officially launch the European Border and Coast Guard, both legally and operationally," European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos said.

"It is an unprecedented achievement of European political will and union, in times where our unity is tested," Avramopoulos said, adding that the new agency "is a symbol of a Europe that is efficient in addressing the migration and security challenges we are facing in cooperation with our neighbors."

Avramopoulos recalled that thanks to the common work and commitment, the European Border and Coast Guard has become a reality in less than nine months since the European Commission proposed it.

"The European citizens have demanded a tangible European response, and today we deliver it collectively," he said.

By 2020, the agency will include 1,000 staff members, and will also be able to activate a rapid reaction pool of at least 1,500 border guards and other relevant staff, as well as a pool of rapid reaction equipment, Avramopoulos said.

"These two pools will be made available to the agency whenever needed to address urgent situations. With this innovation, we will resolve one of the main weaknesses of the current system," he said.

The new agency will closely monitor the management of the external borders by all EU member states through the deployment of liaison officers and mandatory vulnerability assessments, he said.

Fabrice Leggeri, the agency's executive director, said that it is stronger and better equipped than its predecessor, Frontex (the European Agency for the management of operational cooperation at the external borders of the member states of the EU), to tackle migration and security challenges at Europe's external borders.

The agency would also be able to offer operational support to neighboring non-EU countries that ask for assistance at their border and share intelligence on cross-border criminal activities with national authorities and European agencies in support of criminal investigations, Leggeri said.

It would have a key role at Europe's maritime borders through its new coast guard functions, Leggeri added.

Rumiana Bachvarova, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, said that through this agency, the EU has launched a more effective and collaborative partnerships for security and management of its external borders.

"We do it in the name of safety and security of all European citizens," she said.

However, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that Turkey should remain a strategic partner of Europe, along with countries like Jordan and Lebanon.

Meanwhile, Europe must focus on stopping the war in Syria to allow refugees to return to their homes, Borissov said. Enditem


BEIJING Authentic Paul Stastny Jersey , Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) said Saturday that it may issue its first U.S. dollar-denominated bond as soon as the end of June this year.

Soren Elbech, treasurer of the Beijing-based multilateral development bank, said in a statement that the earliest issuance window will be ""toward the end of the first half of 2018,"" with time required for certain procedures, including the Board of Governors' approval of AIIB's 2017 financial statements as well as borrowing and swap documentation.

Elbech said the minimum size of the issuance will be 1 billion dollars, but as demand for the first bond issue from a triple-A multilateral institution in 25 years may be large, ""we anticipate having to issue a larger size.""

In terms of maturity of the bond, Elbech said the choice will be between three and five years depending on investor demand at the time.

He said the bank plans to cap its total borrowing volume at 3 billion dollars in 2018.

The AIIB has received three top-notch ratings from the global credit rating agencies S&P Global Ratings, Moody's and Fitch in recognition of the bank's strong capital base and stable outlook.

With 84 members so far, the bank was officially established in December 2015 and opened for business in January 2016.

It prioritizes investment in energy, power generation, transport, rural infrastructure, environmental protection and logistics in Asia.

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BEIJING, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized ""consistency"" in upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in his speech for senior officials on Friday, setting guidelines for the Communist Party of China (CPC) to make new progress.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, asked the officials to ""consistently"" promote the ""great new project of Party building"" and increase their sense of precaution and prevention of risks and challenges.

He made the remarks at the opening of a workshop attended by newly elected members and alternate members of the CPC Central Committee, as well as provincial and ministerial-level officials.

Xi's speech placed ""socialism with Chinese characteristics in a new era"" into its historical lineage of social revolutions led by the CPC, illustrating the links of continuity.

The speech also put socialism with Chinese characteristics into the context of the evolution of socialism worldwide.

When socialism emerged, it was a brand new social form, and socialism with Chinese characteristics was an unprecedented pioneering cause that must continuously develop.

""Consistency"" in Party building has been the key to the victory of the CPC, from the ""great project"" of Part.