Friday 31 October 2014

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With the EU growing at the speed of global population while resources melt away, the Union’s interest is increasingly defined on a global scale. Will its Diplomatic Service be able to safeguard these interests? And what future for Europe’s relations across the Atlantic and to the emerging great powers in Asia?

 

George Soros: ‘Europe’s way of life is in danger’

Posted by on 28/10/14
By Joop Hazenberg The politically active billionaire George Soros and his organisation, Open Society Foundations, has been active in Ukraine for decades. Now, Soros is deeply worried that all this work has been for nothing.

EU & US industries step where regulators so far dare not!

Posted by on 28/10/14
[See the Video Position]

The transatlantic trade and investment relationship continues to account for the largest economic relationship in the world, and the EU and the US economies account together for about half of the entire world GDP and for nearly a third of world trade flows.

Orgalime and NEMA believe there is a great potential to strengthen further EU-US trade and investment relations to support mutually beneficial job creation, economic growth, and international competitiveness on both sides of the Atlantic. Therefore, we stand ready to assist negotiators in finding ways to increase trade and investment between the two regions.

Tackling regulatory divergences between the EU and the US will equally benefit businesses of all sizes and increase transatlantic trade flows. Currently the lack of regulatory convergence forces companies to invest time and resources in duplicative procedures in order to demonstrate compliance.

The future EU-US agreement should therefore develop processes and mechanisms to achieve regulatory coherence, both at the EU-US and at a global level. The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is an opportunity to adopt transparent procedures that would ensure coherence and streamlining of requirements in both existing and future legislation.

In this context, we emphasise that when ISO and IEC include products serving the markets in the EU and US, and neither unfairly favors or disadvantages either, they should remain the preferred standardisation platforms to ensure compatible standards not only between the EU and US, but also with third countries. We believe that the systematic use of or, at least, alignment with international standards from ISO and IEC would provide an excellent path for the reduction of technical barriers to trade between the EU and US.

The overall goal of businesses on both sides of the Atlantic is to achieve global market access on the basis of ‘one standard, one test, accepted everywhere’. As the ultimate goal, this would mean having fully transposed international standards, without regional or national deviations, that are applied globally.

We should be concerned about Ukip’s approach to overseas aid

Posted by on 20/10/14

We should be concerned about Ukip’s approach to overseas aid, argues Whitehouse Chairman Chris Whitehouse in his latest piece for The Universe magazine.

To read Chris’ article, please click here.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of Europe’s leading public affairs and communications agencies.

A Power Shift in China and the EU

Posted by on 19/10/14

Just how fast can China and Europe change? And just how fast can the relationship between them change? The answer, at least sometimes, is very fast.

A recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicting that solar PV could, in one scenario at least, become the largest single source of electricity generation by 2050 made something of stir recently in the media. The report forecast that at solar PV could possibly account for as much as 16% of global electricity generation by 2050. These forecasts will almost certainly be revised as much can happen in the technology and economics of electricity generation in the next 40 years, but they are an indicator of the possibility for change.

Apart from the possibility that solar power will become a major source of energy, something else in the in the forecast is striking. As the following chart from the report shows, by far the largest growth in solar PV power will come from China. According to the report, at its peak China will contribute about 40% of electricity generation from solar PV in the world in 2030.

Chart 1: Forecast regional production of solar PV electricity Source: IEA

This suggests that in the future China will help change the world. However, that future is already arriving. In 2013 China was already the largest single market for solar PV installations in the world, accounting for 30% of net installations (new installations less facilities retired from service).

Chart 2: Share of net solar PV installations in 2013 Source: Earth Policy Institute

This fact reminds us how fast China, and the world is changing. Only a few years ago China accounted for a negligible share of installations. In 2009 China’s share of new solar PV installations was only 2%. The key cause of this change is that since 2011 the Chinese government has vastly increased support to the solar PV generation sector.

Chart 3: Share of net solar PV installations 2003-2012 Source: Earth Policy Institute

In the EU, the opposite has happened. As recently as 2010 the EU was estimated to account for about 80% of global installations, but it has now become a minor market. In 2013 the three leading markets were China, the US and Japan, which together accounted for 61% of installations. In 2009 Germany by itself installed over 50% of the solar PV added in the world, but in 2013 it accounted for only 9%. One of the main reasons for this has been a sharp reduction in support for the sector across Europe, especially in the eurozone, following the onset of the crisis in the EU.

Whatever these figures may say about the future of solar PV electricity generation, If nothing else, they are a reminder that nothing in China is constant, nor even in Europe. And the relationship between them, and their position in the world, can change rapidly.

Uncertain times

Posted by on 16/10/14

Oil prices surprise us again as Brent falls to below USD 90 on Thursday (9/10). What is going to happen next? Will the downward trend continue? Or should we rather expect the prices to hit USD 100 and above again? The answer depends on the time frame of expectations. In the short-term perspective, three sources of uncertainty may be distinguished. First, there are the geopolitical factors which have caused oil production in six North African and Middle Eastern countries to decline by a total of 3.5 million barrels a day, resulting in an escalation of tensions on the global oil market, which has been historically dependent on Saudi Arabia’s sizeable crude reserves – a bulwark against sudden price upswings. There are many indications that the production slump has reached its lowest point. The possibility of these missing barrels of oil returning to the market produces a price decline risk. The word ‘risk’ is used, because whether production in the region will continue to rise or not remains a major source of uncertainty. When I discussed oil prices a month ago, there were few reasons to believe that Libya’s crude production would go up. As it did, rising to some 900,000 barrels a day at present, the unexpected upsurge in oil supply of more than 500,000 barrels a day reversed the upward price pressure triggered by the Islamic State’s offensive in northern Iraq. However, considering the precarious political situation in Libya, the country’s oil production can fluctuate widely and is unlikely to increase any further.

Interestingly, IHS reports that the Central Bank of Libya currently has all of oil production and oil terminal staff on its payroll and is financing militia forces to protect vulnerable locations. With the central bank’s involvement, crude oil production and supply can be expected to continue uninterrupted over the short term. Although the turmoil and rioting in Libya persists, the unrest has been moved away from oil and gas infrastructure and city areas, which has further reduced the risk of production stoppages in the near future. In the long-term perspective however, the situation remains uncertain as the forces which will eventually gain control of the country may also attempt to take over its oil revenues. While the House of the Representatives, Libya’s democratically-elected and internationally-recognised government, has power in the east of the country, the west is governed by the General National Congress, which also controls Tripoli, where the central bank resides. For now, the central bank is willing to pay salaries to maintain oil supplies, but retains most of the revenue from selling the commodity in an attempt to forestall the conflict between the two rival governments. Currently, neither side is trying to take over all oil revenues, but the situation is bound to change some time. When one of the factions lays claim to the money, the country’s oil production may shrink significantly.

Libya is not the only country whose oil production has the potential to rise above expectations. Iran is still blocked by sanctions, which prevent some 1 million barrels of oil from reaching the market every day. As negotiations with the P5+1 (United States, Russia, China, Great Britain, France + Germany) continue, addressing the sanctions as one of many issues, the oil market is struggling with more uncertainty. This also applies to countries whose oil production has so far not suffered any long-lasting slumps on a scale which could materially affect the global oil market, such as Nigeria, Venezuela, Russia, and Iraq, the last country’s situation being the most worrying in the short-term perspective.

As for the sanctions imposed on Russia, they will likely have their toll on the global oil market in one or two years as the effects of stymied investment in oil production become apparent.

The second source of uncertainty has to do with how fast oil production is going to increase in the United States. The country’s rising oil production, along with the increasing supply from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, more than offset the slump seen in North Africa and the Middle East, which has been instrumental in bringing relative stabilisation to the oil market. According to IHS, the potential increase in US oil production depends on whether the ban on American oil exports is lifted or not. The effects of the ban could be seen in the fourth quarter of last year, when the country’s market saw a steep decline in oil prices relative to Brent crude on the back of a seasonal decline in demand associated with repairs in American refineries. While unconventional oil extraction methods make drilling more and more wells necessary, low oil prices discourage any such investments. Lifting the ban on US oil exports could change the situation, as I argued in one of the previous posts.

Oil demand, which outside of the US has been growing at a slower rate than expected, will be the third factor of uncertainty in the coming years. What is uncertain in this case is economic growth in the Eurozone, which is facing the risk of deflation, and the condition of Asian economies, particularly China, which are grappling with an economic slowdown. The oil market is rapidly affected by stymied growth in the region due to still narrow refining margins. Russia and Brazil also contribute to the decline in crude oil demand.

However, there exist some concrete factors which will prevent crude oil prices from declining over the long term. Of these, production costs are the most important – if prices decline to a point where they are lower than production costs, oil production will be reduced, which will in turn cause the prices to go up again. A scenario where oil production declines due to low prices is particularly relevant in Saudi Arabia, where unconventional deposits account for a vast majority of the country’s reserves, and the United States, whose reserve potential is also unconventional in nature. While in Saudi Arabia the decision how much oil to produce is made arbitrarily (depending on economic factors), in the United States the same is based on individual decisions made by numerous independent entities, which are currently most affected by the oil export ban. This makes the US oil export policy, and any potential amendments to it, a crucial factor in shaping the situation on the American and global oil markets in the coming years.

 

EU-Russia Relations: Reloading again?

Posted by on 16/10/14

The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) will be held on October, 16-17, in Milano (Italy). German Federal Chancellor, British Prime-minister, Presidents of Ukraine and France confirmed their participation at the forum. Russian Prime-minister Medvedev was declared as a participant but at the very last moment President Putin announced his arrival to Milano.

Russians also confirmed that Putin was planning to meet with EU leaders as well as with the head of Chinese Parliament Li Kecian. There is also possibility of Putin-Poroshenko talks.

Putin’s primary goal in Milano is to convince EU leaders to lift sanctions imposed by Europe. It is worth to add that the future of these restrictive measures will be the main issue at the EU foreign ministers meeting on October, 20, in Brussels.

According to Kremlin’s official statements, Putin is going to offer for Europeans to ‘reload’ EU-Russian relations. The Russian economy has entered into recession. Russia should intensify its political and economic dialogue with Western countries, otherwise the decline of its economy cannot be stopped. The main source of the Russian budget income is oil & gas export (nearly 50%), but due to the latest trends in the oil markets Russia has lost profits – up to five trillion rubles. The Russian budget was based on oil price of $114 per barrel, therefore budget-2014 revenues will be reduced by 20-25%.

Trying to redirect its cooperation vector, Russia chooses China as the main strategic partner instead of EU. Lots of agreements were signed between Moscow and Beijing during last few years. The gas contract is one of the most important. The contract is worth $440 billion and the period of its validity is 30 years. However, gas deliveries will be possible not earlier than in 2018. But by that time, the Russian economy will not be able to survive without economic and political cooperation with EU.

“Reloading” of European-Russian relations is positively assessed by EU. But the Ukrainian issue is still open. A few European countries support lifting of sanctions against Russia: Hungary, France & Slovakia. Most of the EU members agree that sanctions against Russia must not be lifted until the situation in Ukraine becomes stable.

EU representatives consider that it is not the time to begin a new “Cold War”. All parties interested in resolving the Ukrainian conflict should carry on the effective dialogue. Only political negotiations can bring results.

The issue of economic sanctions lifting will be discussed during the meetings between EU leaders and Putin. Sanctions can be canceled under the only condition: Russia should withdraw its troops from the territory of Ukraine. This condition concerns not only the Eastern Ukraine, but also the annexed Crimea. So, EU-Russia relations reloading is possible but in case of fulfillment of this demand.

According to EU experts, Ukrainian and Russian economies bear loses due to the protracted conflict in the Eastern Ukraine. The countries have deeply integrated system of co-production in many industrial fields.

ASEM in Milano may become the starting point of the Ukrainian conflict resolving. Putin face a dilemma: to support EU peaceful initiatives and to create conditions for sanctions to be lifted or to destroy the Russian economy.

Ukraine and Russia may become a reliable economic bridge between Europe and Asia.

The Syrian tunnel and the Spring

Posted by on 16/10/14

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When the first spontaneous explosions of the Arab democratic revolutions erupted in Tunisia in December 2010, many were hoping that this revolt might usher in a new beginning for the whole region. When Egypt joined Tunisia a few weeks later, hopes mounted and everyone started to think that the long-awaited moment had finally arrived. This feeling further intensified with the Yemeni revolution and the early stages of the revolutions in Libya and Syria, and a new order was anticipated. Nevertheless, the trajectory of events took things in a completely different direction. Some opted to see the recent downward spiral as a conspiracy theory, while others saw in these events a natural outcome of an ignorance planted by corrupt rulers over decades.

In fact, every Arab, except those who were benefiting from toppled regimes, was happy and hopeful with the so-called Arab Spring, and Arab thinkers started to draw optimistic scenarios for their future. On the other hand, despite initial hesitation and falling into the trap of duality — i.e., interests versus morals — the West ostensibly began to cheer and support these revolts. Even the staunchest critics of the Arab world saw these revolts bringing the region into the democratic club.

Nonetheless, with the beginning of the armed conflict in Libya, the picture was distorted somehow. That is, people started to question how far violence can justify the fulfillment of democratic aspirations. Similarly, in Syria violence escalated to an unprecedented level as regional and international actors tried to use the Syrian scene either to counter others’ influence or to find a foothold in the region.

To that end, there were no objections whatsoever whose hands the money and weapons would fall into, as long as Bashar al-Assad’s regime was weakened and as long as they maintained some sort of leverage in the ongoing action in Syria. This fact refutes, without doubt, the allegations of some states that accused others of financing and funding the jihadists in Syria, because simply, everyone paid and funded everyone and anyone who fights against Assad.

The conflict in Syria revealed the divergence and the convergence in the policies of regional regimes concerning Arab revolts. While the Saudis were in favor of regional Status-Quo except for Syria and Libya (who did not have good relations with), the Iranians were in favor of a revolutionary change in the region, aiming to re-clone their experience, except for Syria- the ally. Turks, on the other hand, were in favor of a gradual transition in the region in order to maintain their economic interests, but again with the exception of Syria which they opt for a drastic change and toppling Assad.

With the emergence of al-Nusra followed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the whole Arab Spring was fully hijacked. In other words, with the number of atrocities committed by these two groups, not one single Arab is left with the luxury of thinking of democracy or fighting their dictatorships, lest they suffer from similar troubles.

Although there is a consensus on the grave threat ISIS-IS is posing, there has been no real agreement among regional and global powers on fighting or eliminating the group. Some powers see that weakening ISIS-IS would not only mean that Assad will remain, but would also give him the opportunity to retrieve lost territories in Syria. Other regional powers find in fighting and weakening ISIS-IS an empowered of other groups like Kurdish PKK and other Shiite guerrillas, while other super powers find that eliminating ISIS-IS would remove any reason for regional countries to seek support and assistance in fighting those radicals.

And again, as the notion of the US was what provoked many Arabs to revolt against their regimes, which were long accused of being American stooges, the moment the United States launched its air strikes against ISIL, the number of new recruits in ISIL increased dramatically — as it is claimed that more than 6,000 new recruits have joined the organization since the beginning of the US campaign.

With its quick rise and control of a large swath and chunk of Iraq and Syria, ISIL inspired many conspiracy theories to draw the certain and undoubted role of the US in these events. Although critics of this conclusion refute this, claiming that the US is currently leading a campaign against ISIL, I tend to see the latter argument as both erroneous and illogical.

Aside from the document revealed by former contractor at the US’s National Security Agency (NSA) Edward Snowden, which said British and American intelligence and Mossad worked together to create ISIL in order to attract all extremists of the world to one place, there are still other signs. First, all observers have concluded that these strikes are not really harming ISIL. US Senator John McCain himself told CNN on Oct. 7 that the ISIL advance shows the “ineffectiveness and fecklessness” of the air strikes. Second, the US’s tardy decision to launch air strikes took months during which ISIL was expanding and gaining power day by day and despite all the atrocities committed by the group. Third, attacking ISIL does not necessarily mean that the US has no role in the formation and the rise of the group. To illustrate, throughout history, many US administrations attacked former allies when their interests conflicted, e.g., Manuel Noriega of Panama.

However, one should concede that without the widespread ignorance among the Arab population — due to decades of malevolent policies by corrupt regimes that were allied with the US — such groups would not have found grounds to propagate an austere interpretation of Islam and such violent acts. This fact does not, however, rule out a foreign imprint in the ongoing chaos in the region, and several incidents do support this argument.

For instance, in a letter sent from Patriarch Gregorios of Greece to the czar of Russia at the end of the 18th century, he said that abolishing the Islamic Ottoman Empire militarily was impossible. He suggested weakening the empire from within, mainly through ending the discipline and morale and importing Western ideas (from the French Revolution) of liberation and freedom. Tracking the ensuing developments, not only during the demise of the Ottoman Empire but also in modern times, one can notice that this policy has been implemented perfectly and used non-Islamic culture as a cover, either by importing the values of liberation and equality from the French Revolution or the values of US globalization of human rights and democracy in order to penetrate Arab and Islamic societies. Confronting such foreign infiltration occurred through recalling historical exploits and sometimes adopting radical agendas.

Another example is a strategically important document: the 1907 Campbell-Bannerman Report. Although the report was suppressed and has not been officially released due to its gravity, several sources revealed a number of its conclusions, which included that the Arab countries and the Muslim-Arab people presented a very real threat, and it recommended promoting disintegration, division and separation in the region; establishing artificial political entities that would be under the authority of the imperialist countries; fighting any kind of unity, whether intellectual, religious or historical; and finally a “buffer state” to be established in Palestine, populated by a strong, foreign presence that would be hostile to its neighbors and friendly to European countries and their interests.

That said, Ismael Hossein-Zadeh in his article “Planned Chaos in the Middle East — and Beyond,” which appeared in Counter Punch on July 18-20, 2014, suggests that the “incoherent,” “illogical” or “contradictory” policies of the United States are in fact chaos that represents the success, not failure, of those policies — policies that are designed by the beneficiaries of war and military adventures in the region, and beyond. Quoting Hossein-Zadeh: “The seeds of the chaos were planted some 25 years ago, when the Berlin Wall collapsed. Since the rationale for the large and growing military apparatus during the Cold War years was the ‘threat of communism,’ US citizens celebrated the collapse of the Wall as the end of militarism and the dawn of ‘peace dividends’ — a reference to the benefits that, it was hoped, many would enjoy in the United States as a result of a reorientation of part of the Pentagon’s budget toward non-military social needs.”

Unfortunately, with the intercalation of new elements in the scene, i.e., the Kurdish and the ethnic factors, all regional players succumbed to a form of paralysis with few options at hand, and thus the whole region is susceptible to further schism and deeper ordeals until everyone realizes that no one will be immune from the ramifications of this scourge.

Appeared in: Your Middle East, Today’s Zaman, the Daily Journalist, Arabian Gazette, News 24, Arab Media Network, Iran Review, Political Science Academy, Middle East Monitor, Tuck Magazine, Middle East Online, Pakistan Tribune,

Welcome and Good Luck Mogherini

Posted by on 13/10/14

It was not long time ago when Federica Mogherini took office in Rome as the Foreign Affairs minister, and soon after she found herself to be the “chosen one” to cover a role as tricky as scorching in Mr Juncker’s “team” – as the incoming resident of the Berlaymont building rather calls the Junker Commission. Her former “chief” moved fast from being mayor of Florence in to take over the role of Italian Prime Minister, as well her career has markedly speeded up when she has been appointed to lead the EU external relations system, not only Italian foreign affairs.

 Italian FM Mogherini attends EU parliament hearingShe has been picked out of a bunch of overqualified names to make the difference. And indeed she differs from the old-fashioned attitude to appoint to the role of Commissioners “dinos politicians” on the edge of the retirement after a long honoured national career. The EP has loaded on her shoulder huge weights, made of great expectation and big tasks. Although this time, from great responsibility does not subsequently come great powers. Overcoming national interests in the management of foreign affairs may be her mandate’s first snag. One of her main claim during the EP hearing on Monday 8th October was to bear in mind that EU interests shall match national interests. It is the time to think big, and to act subsequently, as she answered to the question arisen by ECR group EPM, Tannock.

 Mogherini’s recent past in the national politics has endowed her with the classical taste for mediation and prevention of crisis stemming from the Italian systemic political instability.

It is vital to coordinate and act coherently so to react and counterweight properly threats against EU’s peace and security. In the previous five years, the disconnected actions undertook by 27 actors -then 28 with the Croatian accession- made of the EEAS a second fiddle playing a background melody in the general orchestra. Due to a dangerous mix of national interests and limited legal basis grounding its competences, the EU external service action’s scope has been bordered on a minor set of possible actions.

“Because size DOES matter…”

 Accordingly to this geopolitical assumption, as the time passed by and the EU actual shape outlined, its role has been fixed into a picture showing an economic giant with a weak political punch. Globally speaking indeed, this fragmentation has leaded the EU to be considered a significant actor within regional striking distance. Maybe, the day has come for the UE to counterbalance other global powers and gain the political shine that deserves at international level.

Shared goals and team-working shall involve not only the 28 Member States, but also the EU as a whole, getting rid of the dualistic dialectic of “us and them”, that apparently has been separating the work of the EU institutions for too long. As her sentence “there is no us and them” proves this assumption as well as gave the ground to the claim that all EU’s policies and Commissioners’ portfolio are somehow interconnected having at certain extend an external impact—such policies related to energy, migration, trade, respect of human dignity, recognition of the rule of law. Nonetheless, from a legal point of view, this holistic approach looking at the external and internal security related policy as a unicum, may find the opposition of the art.40 TUE (1).

 Miss Mogherini mentioned several times during the hearings that the EU plants its roots in a set of shared values and founds itself on the respect of the international law principles.

Actually, she sounded to experts and to part of the MEP hawkish when she had to answer the questions addressing her on the Russian territorial aggression against Ukraine (2).

 Some analysts argued that her position was more direct and the message easily intelligible this time to openly get rid of the alleged label of “fellow of Moscow” stuck on her brow due to her early reactions to the break of violence in Ukraine. Nevertheless her smooth reaction at that time was respondent to the Italian strategy, cautious to maintain good diplomatic relations with Moscow in the name of political realism and economic interests. Additionally, the Russian Federation is an essential interlocutor from the wider perspective of the enlarged Middle-Eastern chessboard, particularly for the relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and Syria.

 At this time, no holds barred if the counterpart begs to differ from the European undisputable principle of respect of the rule of law, as pointed out by Lady PESC, the “Signora” forced to recklessly dance at a winter ball with the Russian Bear (3).

 Her answered to the number of questions raised by the MEPs last Monday drawing up her receipt to the lack of prompt solutions and ability to act in the event of a crisis. Particularly, the question asked by the British S&D MEP Howitt, addressed the designated HR on which attitude she deemed valuable to face the Russian Federation, and how it would differ from the line drown by her predecessor, the Baroness Ashton. “Europe needs a mix of assertiveness and diplomacy […] the balance would also depend on the reaction of the Russian bear” as she thoughtfully answered, we may expect a steady shift in the EU-Russian Federation relations, or at least until Russian change of groove or, maybe, until the next big international crisis blows off. Mogherini underlined that at the moment the UE cannot consider the Russian Federation as a partner any longer or at least, till they keep up with the violence and territorial occupation in Ukraine. But answering to the question of the Romanian MEP of the EPP group Preda, she clarified that it is not simply all about finding a definition to describe partners, allies and whatsoever, but the concern is embedded on the third States’ behaviour and interest to “get along” with the EU establishment.

 Because crisis are not so kind to queue in front of your door and ask “may I burst into?”:

 Additionally to this diplomatic crisis involving the area of the Eastern partnership, the Mediterranean region has continued to boil during the summer. Besides the breeding grounds of violence already burning in Libya, Syria, Gaza, the self-proclaimed Caliphate leaded by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi started its compelling march launched to conquer territories and minds of the Muslims. Threatening with acts of pure violence and declarations against the “Imperialists”, the self-proclaimed ISIS Caliphate has been the other main geopolitical concern during the consultations. Indeed, this gave the floor to Mogherini to make clear that the EU must develop a marked sensibility to prevent crisis, to be ready to cope with the upcoming situation or, at least, sit the table of talks with a single coherent political view. The comprehensive strategy she claims must turn around a series of remarks she clarified during her audition, namely to activate a multitasking attitude towards the global scenario as a whole.

 Working simultaneously on the dossiers East and South shall be European priority at the present time, because crisis are not so kind to queue before knocking at your doors, they may erupt in the blink of an eye, everywhere, concurrently. By giving a hint of what the “Mogherini’s doctrine” will be, she sketched a series of instruments that the EU, as big payer in Middle East, may use as leverage to become, eventually, a big political player as well.

 Then, in concomitance with the International Gaza donors’ conference in Cairo of October the 12th, her plead has been not to focus merely on the economy and the material re-construction of Gaza, as case study valuable for many other post-war scenarios. What the EU should do, and actually is enabled to do, is to work together with regional actors so to build up political and social frameworks, which the stability and prosperity of the post-crisis scenarios can thrive through.

The designed keystone is the engagement of civil society and political structure towards a fruitful outcome of stability, notwithstanding the role of transnational and regional actors which may enter and alter these structures. From this perspective, it may be easier to appreciate Mogherini’s call to empower and set up solid region-to-region frameworks of debate, so to engage also those Countries of modest international impact. The logical conclusion of her rational political exercise is to fix solutions on the short-term but planning the long-term strategy to settle problems, so to work on their roots. As she underlined in the written answer to questions submitted by MPEs’ in early September, EU policy together with the agreements it has with third parts may positively affect the roots causes of humanitarian disasters, on the top the root causes of displacement.

 Unfortunately, those tools are only symbolic and so they will remain till the day will come and the Global Approach of Migration and all the mobility partnerships affecting the life of migrants and the whole institute of free mobility become effective (4). In addition, the insurgent issue related to the Jihadists return to their Countries of origin shook the EU policy-makers. Especially true for the conservative groups, as the Italian Northern League EMP Borghezio, he urged to search a new pattern to tackle the problems related to this menace. Mogherini’s remarks following the question underlined the need to find solutions to the uprising issue, although stressing that these set of interventions must not upturn the basic and fundamental EU rules on the free movement. In this sense, the need for an integrate approach and inter-bodies enhanced dialogue become a pressing issue. The interconnection of national orders in the European area of freedom, security and justice grants of course the freedom of movement and the common management and respect of individual freedoms and public security. Seen the return on the stage of security as key element of the contemporary States and consequently of the European democracy, to preserve the right balance between freedom and security turns to be a significant challenge to the European policy makers.

Although the focus was obviously on the two on-going crises emerging from the direct European’s neighbourhood, some MPEs’ questions addressed the designed High Representative on other geo-regions such as Asia, Gulf Cooperation Council, MERCOSUR as to launch a new foreign policy mantra that it may read “neighbours of our neighbours, are also our neighbours”.

 The MEP Lunacek of the Group of the Green, enlarged the scope of the interrogation by adding the EU’s prerogative to establish partnership within a legal frame and being assure of the third part respect of the so-called low politics, such as freedom of speech, respect of the human dignity and human rights. Besides, being of extreme importance for the Greens is, of course, the dossier related to the green energy; her question targeted the Azerbaijan, deemed to be the backbone of the energy supply diversification for the EU. Keeping an eye on the upcoming winter, Mogherini stressed once again the necessity to diversify the suppliers States group. Seen the potent leverage owned by the Russian Federation as huge energetic supplier, as well as acquainted with the Mediterranean instability, especially true for Libyan difficulties in producing and exporting gas, our neighbour partners in the South Caucasus may counterbalance the supply part in the energetic value-chain towards Europe (5).

 Additionally, she mentioned at least once the next big issue affecting the EU institutions and public opinion debate, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), referred as “trade is not only an economic but also a strategic instrument”. But it has still to be widely discussed, as the TTIP turned out to be a thorny point in the already extremely knotty point of the EU’s external projection network, as she answer to the legal issue brought up by the Italian MEP Castaldo, EFDD Group. The Transatlantic partnership, as well as the EU partnership with Israel and EU relations with its challenger, the People Republic of China, revealed how complex will be the forthcoming 5 years of work at the Barlaymont building, for the whole Junker Commission.

A mix of human rights-related issues and protectionist concerns flavoured the atmosphere when the audition touched the themes associated to the EU strategy towards Asian Continent. EU’s task should be to convince Asians that Europe is strategically important for them and not vice-versa, as Mogherini said.

 The quiz is over and Mogherini brings home the Jackpot

 Mostly, the committee’s questions addressed very specific geopolitical and strategic issues, covering pretty much every region in the world requiring foreign policy attention, in the present or prospectively in the next future, the Arctic included.

She remarked that none asked of her intentions on how to manage in particular the EEAS-EP relations. Standing article 218 TFUE (6), the EP should be “immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedure”. Notwithstanding the clear legal base, it never happened since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. Hence, she expressed her availability and interest to take part at any committee meeting and to keep the EP constantly posted on the evolution and affairs going on in the EEAS. She appeared calm, charmed the audience and sounded thoughtful without contributing too much in terms of concreteness and substantive policy. Although, an EP hearing is never the place to have an in-depth discussion on policy and where to hear well-structured action plans. Eventually, it was common perception of a person fitted for the role. She set the priorities and prepared the path to be trotted to frame forthcoming five years of actions and decisions.
(Anita Nappo)

(1)  Treaty of Lisbon, art.40 www.eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:12012M/TXT&from=EN (2)    Mogherini more hawkish on Russia in EP hearing www.euobserver.com/institutional/125933;

  • (3) Federica Mogherini questioned over EU-Russia relations

www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/eu-monitoring/federica-mogherini-questioned-over-eu-russia-relations;

(4)    Some questions to the candidate High Representative for external relations (Federica Mogherini) www.free-group.eu/2014/10/05/some-questions-to-the-candidate-high-representative-for-external-relations-federica-mogherini/

Further readings:

-        [en] Exchange of Views on the situation in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Gaza www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/afet/home.html

-        [en] Six things we like about Federica Mogherini, the EU’s candidate HRVP www.concordeurope.org/blogs/seamus-jeffreson-s-blog/180-six-things-we-like-about-federica-mogherini-the-eu-s-candidate-hrvp

-        [en] Priorities for the Next Legislature: EU external action www.ceps.be/book/priorities-next-legislature-eu-external-action


Classé dans:Actualités, CITOYENNETE EUROPEENNE, Questions institutionnelles

Ebola: Scary? Yes! Significant? No!

Posted by on 13/10/14
While the latest outbreak of Ebola is certainly a tragedy, its use by the media and political activists is sadly opportunistic. This crisis should provide the opportunity for us to consider fast-tracking development programmes in these poor West African countries.

Numeri esagerati e Curdi nel Parlamento europeo

Posted by on 13/10/14

Sto camminando per Parc Leopold con il mio amico O e andando verso il Parlamento europeo. Parliamo di quanto è successo il giorno precedente, martedì 7 ottobre, quando una settantina di attivisti curdi è entrata nel Parlamento per manifestare contro l’ISIL.

«Capita l’assalto al Parlamento europeo l’unico giorno che quest’anno non lavoro, ma sono a casa in malattia! Ma che cavolo!» mi dice O scherzando.

«Sono entrati dall’agorà Simone Veil e sono saliti al terzo piano, fermandosi di fronte alla postazione per le interviste».

«Ma come hanno fatto a entrare?» mi chiede O stupito.

«Si è rotta una delle due porte girevoli che erano state chiuse a chiave e dopo non c’erano abbastanza persone per fermare tutti» e aggiungo «Sai qual è la cosa interessante? »

«Cosa?»

«È interessante l’esagerazione dei numeri secondo i media: per Euronews e EUobserver gli attivisti erano centinaia. Euronews ha anche scritto che i Curdi hanno occupato il terzo piano del Parlamento europeo…».

«Beh, occupare tutto il terzo piano è dura con settantaquattro persone: ne servirebbe qualche migliaio».

«Già, anche perché quello è il piano dove si trovano i ponti che collegano tutti gli edifici del Parlamento».

 

Per l’articolo di Euronews, questo è il link: http://it.euronews.com/2014/10/07/protesta-contro-l-isil-centinai-di-curdi-occupano-il-parlamento-ue/

Les grands enjeux géopolitiques d’aujourd’hui

Posted by on 13/10/14

Pour ceux qui s’intéressent à la géopolitique globale, la version française de mon livre sur la théorie du pivot est maintenant disponible sur la plate-forme Kobo (Fnac) à l’adresse suivante :

Le nouveau pivot géographique de l'histoireLe nouveau pivot géographique de l’histoire

La fin de la thalassocratie anglo-saxonne

Depuis la défaite de Napoléon, deux pays maritimes – l’Angleterre et les Etats-Unis – se sont succédé en tant que puissances hégémoniques mondiales. Aujourd’hui la primauté des Etats-Unis est en train d’être remplacée par le pouvoir combiné de deux Etats terriens alliés, la Chine et la Russie, ce qui constitue un véritable « cauchemar géopolitique » pour les Anglo-saxons. « Le nouveau pivot géographique de l’histoire »fait le point sur l’ancienne théorie du pivot d’Halford Mackinder, géographe britannique qui fut le premier à saisir le futur changement de l’ordre international en faveur des puissances militaires terriennes de l’Euro-Asie.

No peace partners in the Middle East

Posted by on 05/10/14

While the Middle East is sliding into chaos, the once promising Arab Spring has turned into winter, and a broad coalition is taking on the fight against the Islamic State, the old Israeli-Palestinian conflict is receiving less attention. The recent Gaza war resulted in an open-ended cease-fire which hasn’t yet been followed by talks in Cairo which were supposed to result in a more sustainable solution to Gaza.

It was the break-down of the peace process which led to the escalations which ignited the Gaza war. However, a restart of the peace process is not likely any day soon – either because the timing is not right when so much else is happening in the region or because both parties to the conflict seem to disqualify each-other as serious peace partners.

Both Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have delivered their speeches at the UN general assembly. Both were uncompromising and did not take the opportunity to propose well-needed confidence building measures.

Abbas who was first to speak seemed to have lost all faith in bilateral peace talks with Israel. While he during the first days of the Gaza war seemed to criticize Hamas for inflicting civilian casualties, he now accused Israel for war crimes and even genocide in Gaza.

Netanyahu used a big part of his speech to rebut Abbas’, unfounded, allegations but did not come up with any concrete ideas on how to move the peace process forward. He expressed a belief in that improved relations between Israel and the Arab states now combatting the Islamic State would impact positively on the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

It is true that Palestinian leaders have a tendency to ask the Arab League for its opinion on any future peace deal and that the League has blocked any progress towards a deal unless such difficult final status issues as Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugee problem are solved. It would be a step in the right direction if the Arab States could moderate their positions on these issues and give the Palestinians leeway to negotiate a peace settlement in their own best interest.

But this does not absolve the Netanyahu government from its responsibility from proposing constructive confidence building measures and, above all, abstaining from any settlement construction during on-going peace talks. Announcements on new settlement construction, as happened during the previous round, are political in nature and intended to obstruct the peace process.

But how likely is it that a government which includes parties which are linked so closely to the settlement movement will give peace a chance?

Eine Gesamteuropäische Sicherheitspolitik für die EU aus Deutschland

Posted by on 05/10/14

Deutschland will mehr sicherheitspolitische Verantwortung übernehmen. Dies könnte die Überschrift über die Sicherheitspolitik der Bundesregierung 2014 sein. Als dies im Februar bei der Münchener Sicherheitskonferenz postuliert wurde, war keinem klar, wie schnell diese Aussage auf die Probe gestellt werden könnte. Die Krisen in der Ukraine und im Irak treffen aber ins Zentrum deutscher Interessen. Wie also ist das mit der Verantwortung?

Da gibt es zwei Sichtweisen. Betrachtet man das Thema aus deutscher Sicht, aus der Sicht von innen, dann liefert die Bundeswehr Waffen in den Irak, damit die Terrorarmee Islamischer Staat aufgehalten werden kann. Sie bildet an diesen Waffen Perschmerga-Kämpfer aus. Jetzt soll ein ganzes Ausbildungszentrum dort errichtet werden. Die irakische Armee könnte man auch ausbilden, im Irak oder anderswo. Die Stäbe der NATO-Partner, Stäbe, die den Einsatz dort planen, will die Bundesregierung unterstützen. Aber bei den Kampfflügen sind deutsche Jets nicht dabei. Und: Bei der Unterstützung der Stäbe ist nicht daran gedacht, dass die deutschen Offiziere bei den Planungen für die Kampfflüge mitwirken.

In der Ukraine, wo Deutschland sich intensiv für eine Lösung ohne Militär eingesetzt hat – auch das ist Übernahme von Verantwortung -, könnte sie nun auch bei der Überwachung der Pufferzone mitwirken, mit Drohnen, die sich in Afghanistan bewährt haben. Über den Schutz der Soldaten, die die Überwachungsdrohnen bedienen, redet man intensiv mit Frankreich. Also: Aus deutscher Sicht ist alles fabelhaft, Deutschland zeigt Flagge und Verantwortung.

Aus der Sicht der Bündnispartner sieht dieselbe Angelegenheit so aus: Im Irak hilft Deutschland humanitär, beim Abwurf von Lebensmitteln aus Transportflugzeugen haben sie nicht mitgemacht – gut, da haben sie Materialprobleme. Sie liefern Panzerabwehrsysteme und Gewehre. Die Panzerabwehrsysteme brauchen sie selbst nicht mehr, das ist zwar gut und wirksam, aber auch ein praktisches Entsorgungsmodell. Ja, bei der Ausbildung macht die Bundeswehr mit, das ist hilfreich und gut. Dass sie Soldaten für die Stäbe bereitstellen, hilft auch. Aber warum bitte sollen die nicht Operationen mit planen?…

Also: Deutschland beteiligt sich bei den weichen Teilen des Spektrums. Aber wenn es in die Nähe von Kampfhandlungen kommt, ziehen sie sich vornehm zurück. Das ist dann weniger fabelhaft. Es kommt also auf den Blickwinkel an. Die Bilanz der Bundesregierung ist nicht schlecht: Sie hat auch regional ferne Konflikte auf dem Schirm, die uns sehr schnell sehr nahe kommen, sie leistet in der NATO einen wesentlichen Beitrag zur Stabilisierung der Partner und zur Abschreckung von denkbaren Angriffen auf NATO-Staaten.

Es fehlt immer der letzte Schritt für eine Beteiligung in Augenhöhe zu den Ländern, mit denen sich Deutschland leicht vergleicht: Frankreich, Großbritannien, vielleicht noch Polen. Zur ganzen Verantwortung gehört das ganze Spektrum – nicht überall, aber immer mal wieder. Und da fehlt der Bundeswehr nicht nur hier und da das einsatzbereite Material, sondern – zumindest noch – der politische Wille. Das Glas ist nur halb voll.

What Russia wants from the world

Posted by on 05/10/14

Few Geopolitic  never hurt. I will present in the following the relationship with the World as Kremlin ideologists  see:

Russia wants a weakened USA and in this time is open to ally with anyone and do anything to weaken NATO’s credibility, even a war.

Russia wants a friendship relationship with Germany for access to his technology and to undermine the power position of the United States. Russia wants cold relations between the USA and Germany.

Russia wants good relations with Japan, even if is necessary to drop Kuril islands.  Everything to strengthen relationships and to use anti-American Japanese sentiments , dating from World War II.

Russia wants total control over former Soviet states and any advancement of the democratic system is perceived as a physical attack on its territory.

Russia fears China, but enjoys its growth to undermine the future of American hegemony. “Roads Friends” is the best way to phrase the Russia-China relationship.

Russia wants a buffer space to Germany and made it from the former communist countries (communist not equals with Soviet ).

Russia wants to be friend to  Iran to control the  Islam world and to weaken the power of the United States on Arab oil.

Turquie : vers un contrôle des cerveaux pour les écoliers ?

Posted by on 30/09/14

Mauvaise nouvelle pour la démocratie : des centres d’endoctrinement islamistes vont accueillir tous les lycéens en échec scolaire. Erdogan poursuit méthodiquement son programme, avec l’embrigadement des écoliers et le contrôle des cerveaux.

Islamisation à marche forcée. Pour le pieux président Recep Tayyip Erdogan : 40 000 écoliers fréquentent d’office en cette rentrée les « imam hatip ».

Les « iman hatip », des écoles intégristes

La Turquie laïque est à l’agonie. Alors, dans un dernier souffle, elle manifeste. Depuis le 15 septembre, des parents d’élèves marchent dans toutes les grandes villes du pays pour refuser qu’on envoie leurs enfants dans des lycées islamiques.

La nouvelle loi d’orientation prévoit en effet un inquiétant cursus pour les élèves à l’entrée au lycée. Si leurs résultats sont médiocres, les enfants sont dirigés vers les écoles « imam hatip ». Ces « écoles de l’imam du prêche du vendredi », en turc, sont des établissements particulièrement câlinés par le très pieux président islamiste Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Selon Jean Marcou, chercheur associé à l’Institut Français d’Études Anatoliennes d’Istanbul, ces établissements sont à l’origine des « écoles coraniques de prédicateur », mais en réalité, « elles sont devenues au fil du temps des établissements religieux confessionnels où les élèves sont soumis à un cursus de cours comparable à ceux des écoles publiques, mais avec des cours de religion plus charpentés et une sensibilité religieuse plus marquée de l’ensemble du système. »

Seulement 2% des écoliers les fréquentaient avant l’arrivée de l’AKP – parti pour la justice et le développement – au pouvoir. Aujourd’hui, ces centres d’endoctrinement, réfractaires à tout enseignement moderne et ouvert, accueilleront l’intégralité des jeunes dont les notes auront été jugées trop faibles pour l’enseignement général.

40 000 écoliers sont concernés

En cette rentrée, 40 000 écoliers ont déjà été inscrits d’office. C’est un peu comme si un collégien français était orienté vers une école intégriste catholique en classe de troisième, parce qu’il n’a pas eu la moyenne en maths … Une très mauvaise nouvelle pour la démocratie.

Voilà pourquoi les Turcs manifestent, toutes confessions et origines confondues : Arméniens, Kurdes, sunnites modérés, athées et alévis. Les alévis représentent 20% de la population. Ils forment une branche originale du chiisme, égalitaire et universaliste. Éternels persécutés sous l’Empire Ottoman, ils furent sauvés par Atatürk. Aujourd’hui discriminés par l’AKP, ils sont les premiers visés par cette radicalisation.

De son côté, la Cour européenne des droits de l’Homme a condamné la Turquie pour « violation du droit à l’instruction », mais le Premier ministre turc Ahmet Davutoglu voit dans l’enseignement religieux « une nécessité » pour éviter la radicalisation observée dans les pays voisins.

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