Wednesday 16 April 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?

 

Aid was promised, but where is the money?

Posted by on 15/04/14

At the end of February of this year the EU leaders in reply to changing of State power in Ukraine promised to give financial help, aimed at financial system stabilization and different investment projects realization directed on development of the country economy.
Then Elmar Brok, chairman of the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs announced a sum in 20 billion Euros, which will be received by Ukraine for the reform implementation as soon as a new government will be formed.
At the beginning of March Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission informed that the sum of total aid would make 11 bn Euros. However, this is not all. A sum of 11 bn Euros will be allocated not immediately, but over four years and only on condition of signing of Association Agreement and implementation of all IMF requirements by Ukraine.
And only then aid will be given to Ukraine…only of about 610 million euro?! Why such number? Europe unexpectedly forgot its primary promises. After some time the EU leaders thought and decided to raise the size of macro financial aid, which will be given to Ukraine on 1 bn Euros, but the primary 610 million will be given in three tranches.
There is a rather strange “aid, aimed at financial system stabilization and effective reforms implementation”. It looks like a handout for the temporal closing of the budget gap. At the same time, according to Barroso, rest of the money will be collected by means of the European financial institutions including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and European Investment Bank. Hence, it raises new questions: Will this money cover those projects, which were ratified by EBRD and EIB before?
If it’s so, then it turns out that Europe promises money, which was already planned. It looks like not European way, frankly speaking, they are waiting for our firm steps, but we just promise.
Now it’s already the end of March and Ukraine didn’t get any financial aid tranche. Is it simple surrendering of Ukrainian interests or banal confirmation that Europe doesn’t charge with its promises?
There is certainly probability that Europe doesn’t have money for such “giant” aid, after the decision of allocation of 8,5bn Euros to Greece within the “second anti-recessionary program” framework. Or did our leaders decide that people in trouble are left to themselves!? It is necessary to think over that consequences of Ukrainian economic crisis may without fail influence on us. The weak state is always under the threat of its neighbor’s aggression. So let’s start to do something, while we can help.

Mehr Gehalt für Putin und Medwedew

Posted by on 15/04/14

Russlands Präsident und der Regierungschef bekommen künftig 2,65 Mal so viel Gehalt wie bisher. Bislang bekam Putin 74.000 Euro pro Jahr, Medwedjew 85.000 Euro. Mit der Erhöhung werden Gehaltssteigerungen nachgeholt, die bislang nur für andere Regierungsbeamte und Kreml-Beschäftigte gegeben habe. Das Durchschnittsgehalt in Russland liegt bei etwas über 7.000 Euro pro Jahr.

The Eurasian Union turning into a Mirage

Posted by on 15/04/14

On 2 October 2012 Vladimir Putin published an article, entitled “A new Integration Project for Eurasia” in which he set out his visions for the future of Russia and the former Soviet Republics.

His vision was simple and optimistic. He hoped to establish a powerful association of independent states capable of becoming one of the poles of the modern world that would serve as an efficient bridge between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific area.

Its member states would be linked by a customs union and cooperation reaching from services to capital flows, free labour movement, technical standards, patents, economic and currency policies, a development bank, a court of justice, a joint Commission and other supranational components.

Basically, the vision mirrored the EU. No surprise therefore that it also aimed at joining hands with the EU to establish a huge free trade area reaching from Lisbon to Vladivostok. But the EU did not pick up the “offer” being not allured by Putin’s vision which contrasted too much with the real policies pursued by him.

Though the idea goes back to the 1990 s the EAU has not progressed the way the Kremlin had hoped for.

The number of member states has not increased beyond the three founding countries, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Under pressure from Moscow tiny Armenia, heavily dependent on Russian security, had to accept joining in 2013. The central Asian countries – Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan- are still not keen on membership. Nor are Georgia, Azerbaijan and Moldova, let alone Ukraine, seen as a crucial element.

Cooperation has not advanced much beyond free trade. No comparison with the internal EU market, which is huge compared to that of the three EAU countries.

For Putin it must have been painful to see how the former Soviet Republics refused to accept his courtship in favour of the much more attractive European Union, where small countries have nothing to fear from big ones bullying them or ignoring their interests. Feeling himself as a “modern zsar” Putin failed to address the structural fault lines of the EAU, the overwhelming Russian dominance, the absence of the rule of law, independent judiciary and democratic governance.

No doubt, his pride must have been hurt by the lacking success of his “geostrategic baby” which was to replace the Soviet Union, in his eyes the biggest geostrategic catastrophe of the 20th century.

This may also explain his reactions to the Ukrainian shift toward Europe. If he succeeded to “recover” the Donetsk basin, Ukraine’s industrial core, he might succeed in winning even more support from the nationalist majority at home. But at what costs for him and Russia? And how often can he play that trick?

Rather than pursuing the mirage of a Russian-dominated Eurasian Union his successors would be well advised to follow a more realistic approach of a Eurasian free trade area with the EU, fully based on the rule of law, independent judiciary, personal freedoms and democracy. But for this to happen Russia would have to undergo profound political and constitutional changes that are not in view.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 15/4/2014

 

Le calendrier « post-stockholm » : un affrontement stérile

Posted by on 14/04/14
Par EU-Logos La réponse à cette question s’impose au calendrier du « post-stockholm » puisque nous atteignons la mi-parcours et le prochain sommet du mois de juin se profile déjà dans son immédiate priorité (cf. autre article dans le présent numéro). Peut-on se contenter comme seul viatique de la déclaration du récent sommet Union Européenne- Afrique ? « Le respect des droits de l’homme fondamentaux des migrants, indépendamment de leur statut juridique, constitue une question transversale de notre coopération » Allons-nous une fois de plus préférer les intentions aux faits.

Reality check time of Mideast peace process

Posted by on 14/04/14

The Mideast peace process is now on the edge of collapse and the parties desperately are looking for a package of measures which would be the basis for extending talks beyond the original deadline at the end of April 2014. Ironically one could note that now talks are ongoing only to find whom to blame about failure of peace process.

peace logoThe Obama administration’s efforts to impose a peace settlement seems to be a disastrous failure despite whether the negotiations formally break down or a face-saving formula is adopted which is nonbinding and incorporates sufficient reservations to make it meaningless. It seems that U.S. is preparing for a possible reduction of its involvement in the Israel-Palestinian peace process and Obama administration is taking position that Israel and Palestinians need to work through current deadlock themselves. Abed Rabbo (SG of PLO) might hit the nail on the head saying “We can’t return to the empty routine, a search for a framework for talks – this empty routine which is negotiating about negotiating,”.

Is it time issue a death certificate for the peace process or keep the facade?

The apparent breakdown in the American-brokered Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is a good time to re-evaluate basic assumptions of the diplomatic process. As reports about possible deal and even changes for deal differ it remains to see if there will be extension of negotiations or not. Even if formal meetings take place the peace deal in my opinion would be extremely unlikely. “The way it’s looking now, the talks as they were several weeks ago are no longer relevant. Last week’s package deal (offered to the Palestinians) is now off the table and Israel is preparing to return to routine dealings with the Palestinians as they were before the negotiations started nine months ago,” one official said. “As far as we’re concerned, the coordination on the ground with the different security forces continues, but the peace process is no longer relevant,” he added. (Source: YnetNews )

mideast peace talks

However Channel 2 reported that based on a source in Washington Israel and the Palestinians were close to finalizing a deal that would see peace talks extended by nine months. Also the head of the Arab League – Nabil Elaraby – said he was confident that Israel and the Palestinians would resolve the crisis soon and extend peace talks beyond April. (Source: The Times of Israel )

The Palestinians reportedly issued a long list of new preconditions for resuming talks — demands that Israeli officials privately dismissed immediately. These preconditions, according to the Ma’an news agency, included a demand for official Israeli agreement to the establishment of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital; the release of 1,200 Palestinian prisoners including convicted terrorist chiefs Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Saadat; a building freeze in East Jerusalem and the West Bank; granting Israeli citizenship to 15,000 Palestinians under a family reunification program; the termination of Israel’s security blockade of Gaza; permission to bar the IDF from West Bank Area A (areas under full PA control) for entrance to arrest or kill terror operatives; and increased Palestinian control in Area C (areas under full Israeli control). (Source: The Times of Israel ) However, according to Haaretz, Erekat denied that his team presented such a list, arguing instead the demands had been issued by Fatah officials, rather than the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation), and did not represent the official Palestinian negotiating position.


A potential deal which would extend final status negotiations between the two sides for a further year would include a Palestinian commitment not to make use of international conventions they have already joined and suspend additional applications for membership. In exchange, Israel would go ahead with the suspended release of the fourth group of 26 prisoners serving long sentences for terror offences agreed in July 2013, including Arab-Israelis. Israel would further release hundreds of additional Palestinian prisoners described as “high calibre,” and also agree to a quiet freeze on settlement construction. It is expected that the deal will include the release from prison of Jonathan Pollard, a former US intelligence officer convicted of spying for Israel 30 years ago.

Unilateral options

After Israel initially postponed the fourth prisoner release, Abbas retaliated by resuming efforts to win further recognition of a state of Palestine, over Israeli and U.S. objections. Among Palestinians, lead negotiator Saeb Erekat recommended his government unify with militant groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad – designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. – to govern the Gaza Strip. Probably the PA would now continue their unilateral steps by applying to numerous other international organizations, including pushing for boycotts of Israel and seeking legal rulings against Israel via international courts in The Hague. Earlier the Palestinian leadership was planning to apply for member in 48 additional international treaties if peace talks with Israel failed. The immediate implications might be: international legitimization of the Palestinian appeal to the UN for recognition, with European backing, and a parallel intensification of the settlement boycott phenomenon – with it leaking across the Green Line – causing harm to the Israeli economy.

American legislators – in senate and Congress and both Republican and Democratic leaders – have expressed disappointment with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas’s latest move – applying for membership in United Nations organizations as the “state of Palestine.” Both said that the U.S. should seriously consider cutting aid – about $400 million annually from the US – to the PA if Abbas continues with the process. The PA’s applications are violating the agreed framework of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Israel area CFrom Israeli point of view if even three-state solution does not come true so then unilateral solution would be in my opinion the best option. To connect main blocs up to Israel will require a land swap of about 6% and 20-30,000 households will have to be absorbed back into Israel. That is doable as this has been almost accepted in previous talks at Camp David and Annapolis as well in Olmert’s proposal at last final status negotiations 2008. (More in PaliLeaks, land swaps and desperate search of peace )

Recently Mr Yoaz Hendel (chairman of the Institute for Zionist Strategies ) offered his solution in his column in the Guardian as follows:

For the international community to remain relevant it must understand the restrictions and the available options. The most realistic practical option in the current circumstances is the drawing of borders along demographic lines. Most Palestinians (98%) in the West Bank live in Areas A and B, under the control of the Palestinian Authority. These areas are spread over 40% of Judea and Samaria. Most Israelis live in 12% of the West Bank in large settlement blocks.
The remaining 48% of the territory has 100,000 Israelis and an equal number of Palestinians. The Palestinians’ territories should be upgraded to the status of demilitarised state with interim borders and continuity based on A and B. The large settlement blocks can be annexed to Israel, and as result of that the disputed territory would be immediately halved.
It is not a permanent solution, but it would be progress. If the money from the various pro-peace organisations were to be invested in the Palestinian education system, encouraging support for democracy, it would be possible to restart negotiations in a generation. If the international community can let go of its attachment to the phrase “an end to the conflict” who knows – maybe we will have a glimmer of a practical peace on the ground, which would improve the chances for a comprehensive peace in the future.

Indeed Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett has urged PM Netanyahu to turn his back on the failed negotiations and annex portions of the West Bank. In a letter to Netanyahu, Bennett requested “to have a session as soon as possible on an alternative plan (Plan B) to begin the process of applying Israeli sovereignty on areas in Judea and Samaria that are under Israeli control.” The economy minister listed some of the blocs he wants to annex, including Gush Etzion, Maale Adumim, the settlements of Ofra and Beit El and more. These areas are home to 440,000 Israeli settlers, Bennett argued, and only tens of thousands of Palestinians, and would therefore not cause a demographic crisis and undermine the Jewish majority. Bennett compared the process of absorbing these areas into Israel to the incorporation of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War, and the Golan Heights during then-prime minister Menachem Begin’s reign. (Source: Times of Israel )

palestine mapAnnexation the main (settlement) blocs from sc Area C to Israel in my opinion means inheriting the arabs: Israel would be obligated – while excluding mass population transfer as option – to give the Arabs full citizenship which would change the demographic balance. Palestinians could then have full autonomy in areas A and Band most parts of area C. While the situation is not ideal, until the Palestinians agree to full peace with Israel, they could build capacity of their society as well be welcomed as neighbors in the Israeli economic system – participating in Israel’s commercial and creative life.

Negotiating about negotiating or minor points

The whole April so far has been mostly empty talks about wheater to negotiate after April or not. In addition issues outside this formality have in my opinion been only secondary ones. From my point of view the core issues are borders, Jerusalem, refugees and security. The dispute over recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people is only secondary one and simply hides that chasm.

Recognizing Israel as ‘Jewish State’ has been from Israeli side a core element in peace deal as from my point of view it is only unnecessary and empty phrase. The Palestinians have already recognized the State of Israel de facto, through Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat and then by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas. In addition, the Arab peace initiative also officially recognized the State of Israel, as have Jordan and Egypt, which signed peace treaties with it. Moreover, Israel has no need of specific recognition by any country or entity. “‘Jewish state’ was resolved in 1947 in resolution 181, where there are more than 30 mentions of ‘Jewish state’ and this in my opinion should be enough. Even if that kind of formulation would be in agreement so what is the worth of this kind of lip-service without any commitment from PA side.

West bank settlements mapSpeaking about settlements one should note that besides allowing to build new homes in disputed territories Israel also tries to remove some illegal (according Israeli law) constructions and outposts. Last example was on 8th Apr. 2014 when Israel Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers met with violent resistance from extremist Jewish settlers in the West Bank as they moved in to destroy four illegally constructed buildings in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. Hundreds of settlers participated, throwing stones, burning tires, blocking roads, and damaging IDF vehicles. An IDF post in the area to protect the settlement was also attacked. The soldiers responded with riot dispersal methods. According to reports six soldiers and four settlers were hurt in the clashes. Yitzhar is a small mainly Orthodox settlement with a population of just 1000, situated just south of the Palestinians city Nablus in the northern West Bank. It is known as one of the most extreme settlements, and its residents have a history of clashes with IDF forces and local Palestinians. (Source: Bicom )

The Mideast peace process with or without Kerry

(Kerry) has come to us determined and is acting out of an incomprehensible obsession and a messianic feeling – (he) cannot teach me a single thing about the conflict … The only thing that can save us is if (he) wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us alone … The security plan is not worth the paper it is written on.” (Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon)


In wider perspective I have some doubts if the negotiations with PA will have real impact to the Mideast peace process. One should remember that with the exception of Fatah, all PLO factions were against the resumption of the peace talks under Kerry’s terms. These factions include the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Peoples’ Party, in addition to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. With this background the options of President Abbas and PA are quite limited.


One possible scenario could be a partial – temporary – deal; a gradual deal that would require neither dividing east Jerusalem nor an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders, despite fears that any partial agreement will end up constituting a permanent arrangement the partial deal not necessry solve any core problems.


Failure with the Mideast peace process might be the last nail to Kerry’s Nobel Peace Prize coffin. “He doesn’t understand the situation on the ground,” Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said, adding that Kerry’s motives were illegitimate, “messianic” and “obsessive.” Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl echoed Yaalon’s sentiments, saying that the secretary was “delusional” and “detached from reality.” At the same time, the Palestinians view Kerry as someone incapable of pressuring Israel and getting results, deeming him irrelevant.

From my point of view FM Kerry’s commitment to the success of the diplomatic process and the time he has invested in solving the Mideast problem, regardless of the other unresolved conflicts (Ukraine, Syria, Iran…) in the world, should to be appreciated. Regrettably, the U.S. intervention has only exacerbated the situation and even undermined the chances of low-profile interim progress and economic cooperation. One way to continue the Mideast peace process could be to dig the archives and pull out two or three documents bearing the signatures of various Israeli prime ministers, including the present one, dust them off and implement them. Fulfilling the existing agreements could completely change the skeptical and even gloomy mood hanging over the diplomatic negotiations. The United States, which was an active partner in formulating these documents and which provided them with its imprimatur, cannot absolve itself from them. (More e.g in Al-Monitor )

peace sign israelThe peace settlements between Israel and Egypt and Jordan were achieved because both parties sought to come to an accommodation. The U.S. did not then seek to impose solutions. It only became involved as a facilitator and honest broker after both parties had taken the initial steps and invited them.

Three State Solution(s)

One interesting approach for replacing two-state solution is a new kind of three-state solution proposed by Georgetown University lecturer Ori Z Soltes few years ago. In his article A Modest Proposal: The Three-State Solution he uses the experience of India and Pakistan. Having primarily Muslim Pakistan divided into two parts by primarily Hindu India proved disastrous for decades, until finally the two Muslim states were disconnected from each other, leaving one as Pakistan and the other as Bangladesh. Why not do the same with non-Israeli Palestine?


According Mr Soltes, this proposal would eliminate the main logistical complication pertaining to the communication between the two parts of the Palestinian state. The notion of creating a land corridor between Gaza and the West Bank, with a free flow of people and commerce between the two, seems ill-conceived as an on-the-ground practicality. It effectively cuts Israel in half: how do Israelis then flow from north to south of the corridor? There have been other proposals, for extensive connecting tunnels or bridges, but these, too, are a logistical challenge. Moreover, two separate states for Palestinians would accord more realistically with a key current political reality: Hamas controls Gaza and the Palestinian Authority controls the West Bank. Creating two separate states would allow each to develop according to its own plans.

The three-state solution would make it possible for Israel to focus toward normalized relations with the West Bank, PA-led Palestinians; and on defense measures with regard to the Gazans. The possibility of Hamas being voted out by the Gazan Palestinians themselves would increase. But the potential isolation might also increase the incentive for Hamas to accept peaceful co-existence with Israel.

The idea of Mr Soltes is different than that three-state approach, which I have propagated a half decade. There Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty. From my point of view this solution is both pragmatic and doable and now more actual than ever as two-state solution is more and more utopia and road map towards it has been death for years. (More in A Jordanian-Palestinian Confederation Is On The Move and The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict )

The three-state solution essentially replicates the situation that existed between the 1949 Armistice Agreements and the 1967 Six-Day War. Beginning in 1949, Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip, Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and no Palestinian Arab state existed. In 1950, Jordan officially annexed the West Bank and granted the Arab residents Jordanian citizenship.

 

Potential scenarios

A monthly peace index, last published in March by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, found 69 percent of Israelis “somewhat don’t believe” or “don’t believe at all” that the negotiations will lead to peace. A poll conducted last month in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research showed that about three-quarters of those surveyed believed chances for establishing a Palestinian state in the next five years are “slim or non-existent.” (Source: The Jerusalem Post )

An face-saving win-win deal now could be following: The Palestinian Authority terminates their U.N. bid, Israel withdraw their plans for economic retaliation, the Palestinian prisoners who were going to be released are released, the U.S. releases convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, and possibly the Israelis make some muted statement about restraint on construction in disputed territories in the future. Each side would be able to state that had it not been for their tough actions, a deal would have been impossible.


intifada logoThe crisis in the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians has shaken up the Israeli political scene. The stability of the governing coalition has once again come into question, with Yisrael Beytenu’s leader, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, saying that he would prefer new elections over the release of more terrorists, and Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) calling for the formation of a new government comprised of the Left and haredi parties without holding new elections.

Publicly all sides want the peace talks to continue, but also know that they will not lead to anything. Negotiations and attaining a peace agreement that will, in the short-term, prevent regional violence and isolation of Israel, and in the long-term avoid a binational state with a Palestinian majority, are essential interests of the State of Israel. It is therefore believed that, just like in previous rounds of gestures to the Palestinians, Netanyahu will manage to reach a series of silent understandings with them and attempt to win their approval for a quiet freeze in settlement construction, rather than engage in a demonstrative release of terrorists. Such a scenario would grant Netanyahu another half a year of quiet and enable him to maintain the diplomatic status quo. In the end, however, even this six-month grace period will end, and Netanyahu will no longer be able to avoid anymore making political decisions and then the outcome might be that Netanyahu will be forced to make the necessary changes to his coalition.

In my opinion the situation now is leading Israel toward a de facto binational future toward one-state solution and this might be the worst option for both sides. If negotiations now fail so I think that unilateral moves might not be so bad idea. If three-state option can not replace the buried two-state solution so then the way forward for Israel seems to be annex the main settlements to Israel, finalize the security fence and wait if and when the Palestinian side and international facilitator want negotiate about some details based on this reality on the ground.

anti-obama plakat

Appendix:

An excellent background information in concerning the guidelines on European funding of Israeli entities in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories”:


ECI Open Letter to Ashton April 2014

israel peace sign

 

Donne del Kashmir nel Parlamento europeo

Posted by on 14/04/14

Sono seduto in una di quelle grandi sale da cento persone nell’edificio Altiero Spinelli del Parlamento Europeo, all’evento su “Women in conflict zone: Kashmir through women’s eyes” (Donne in zone di conflitto: il Kashmir attraverso gli occhi delle donne). L’evento è interessante perché, nonostante il Parlamento europeo affronti la questione del Kashmir da una decina d’anni attraverso risoluzioni, iniziative e conferenze, raramente l’argomento coinvolge le donne.

Io e la mia amica G. osserviamo le relatrici sedute di fronte a noi illustrare i problemi che affrontano quotidianamente all’estero e all’interno del loro paese. Così insieme ascoltiamo Kaoula Siddiqi (fondatrice dell’associazione SILK in Canada) affermare che si parla poco del suo paese e raccontare che il Kashmir amministrato dall’India è la zona più militarizzata del mondo con ben 800 mila soldati e truppe paramilitari.

Il giudice donna Shumayala Mehmood descrive il problema delle sparizioni degli uomini nei villaggi e degli effetti sulle loro mogli che fino a poco tempo fa non si potevano risposare anche dopo anni, perché il loro marito non era ufficialmente morto.

«Sì, ma spiegate il perché del conflitto!» dice G. e Mehmood collega le sparizioni e la presenza militare al controllo dell’acqua nella regione e spiega come quella sia una delle cause del conflitto.

«Sembra ti abbia ascoltato!» dico io sorridendo a G., mentre la relatrice cita alcuni trattati internazionali.

 

 

Per chi fosse interessato al Kashmir e il Parlamento europeo, consiglio di leggere:

Risoluzione del Parlamento europeo del 24 maggio 2007 sul Kashmir: situazione attuale e prospettive future (2005/2242(INI)): http://goo.gl/0sdB1x

Risoluzione del Parlamento europeo del 10 luglio 2008 sulla presunta esistenza di fosse comuni nella parte del Kashmir sotto amministrazione indiana: http://goo.gl/dmxTeK

Proposta di risoluzione del Parlamento europeo sulla situazione in Kashmir (23 gennaio 2014): http://goo.gl/I3ptuI

 

Per chi fosse interessato alla storia del Kashmir, consiglio di leggere gli articoli di IndiaIndie: http://goo.gl/qd8Cco

 

Bringt die Ukraine das Ende von Europa?

Posted by on 14/04/14

Natürlich spielt die Ukraine am Rande eine zentrale Rolle – Zitatende, und zitiert wurde der Bundesfinanzminister. Man weiß nicht, ob es ein Freudscher Versprecher oder ein mit Bedacht gewähltes Wortspiel war. In jedem Fall brachte Wolfgang Schäuble damit die vorherrschende Stimmung beim IWF-Frühjahrstreffen auf den Punkt. Die Ukraine spielte tatsächlich eine zentrale Rolle – auf den Gängen, auf den Fluren und in den kleinen Besprechungszimmern, wo jeder mit jedem redet, eben am Rande dieses Treffens.

Klar wird damit allerdings auch: Die Krise in der Ukraine und um die Ukraine ist eher ein europäisches und vielleicht noch ein transatlantisches Thema. Chinesen, Brasilianer oder Australier bringt die noch nicht um den Schlaf, was vielleicht daran liegt, dass diese Krise noch nicht auf die Weltkonjunktur übergeschwappt ist. Das Zeug dazu hätte sie, wenn jetzt nicht aufgepasst wird. Denn die Zutaten für eine Eskalation liegen bereit: bei den russischorientierten Hitzköpfen in der Ostukraine, bei der Regierung in Kiew, die offenbar an ein Naturrecht auf günstige Gaspreise glaubt, bei Wladimir Putin, der in Gashähnen und -pipelines ein altes Erpressungsinstrument neu entdeckt, aber auch bei der US-Regierung in Washington, die forsch neue Sanktionen gegen Russland verhängt und weitere ankündigt, sollte Moskau den Konflikt weiter so anheizen wie etwa in dieser Woche.

Das alles weckt ungute Gefühle, denn eine überzeugende Antwort, wie mit dieser Krise und ihren Verursachern, also mit der Ukraine und Russland, umzugehen ist gab es in Washington noch nicht. Immerhin blieben die westlichen Industriestaaten geschlossen bei ihrer Haltung, Russlands Vorgehen unmissverständlich zu missbilligen, auch wenn die Rollen verteilt waren. Die spielten den “bad Cop”, den raubeinigen Weltpolizisten, der Russland offen mit Sanktionen droht; Deutschland dagegen spielte den “good Cop”, übernahm also den Part des Polizisten, der gegenüber Russland verständnisvoll auftritt, ohne dabei gleich – wie die Amerikaner – mit dem Holzhammer der Sanktionen daher zu kommen.

Ein Wolfgang Schäuble will erst einmal weiter mit den Russen reden, ihnen sogar Recht geben, wenn sie auf bockbeinige Ukrainer zeigen, die partout ihre Gasrechnungen nicht bezahlen wollen. Und ein Wolfgang Schäuble will die Russen wieder ins Boot holen bei der Suche nach einer konstruktiven Lösung. Eine nüchterne Analyse gibt ihm Recht. Die Ukraine ist im Inneren zerrissen in einen einst habsburgischen und heute immer noch europäisch tickenden Westteil, und einen russischorientierten Ostteil. Sie hat eine schwache Regierung und Politiker, die Moskau entweder unversöhnlich gegenüberstehen, oder bei Wladimir Putin am liebsten auf dem Schoß säßen. Angesichts dieser Zerrissenheit kann es nur eine Lösung mit, und nicht gegen Russland geben.

Es ist einfach vermessen, zu glauben, dass der Westen, wie man neuerdings wieder sagt, die Ukraine mit Milliardensummen stützen könnte, wenn dieses Land gleichzeitig in voller Konfrontation zu seinem übermächtigen Nachbarn Russland verharren sollte. Das wird nie funktionieren. Und deshalb ist jeder Gedanke, wie man Russland wieder mit ins Boot kriegt, ein lohnender Gedanke. Wahrscheinlich wird am Ende die Ökonomie die Sache richten, denn mit seinem wiedererwachten Großmachtgetue schadet sich Russland selbst am meisten. Das Wachstum schwächelt, Investoren mit russischem, vor allem aber mit ausländischem Pass halten sich zurück. Damit gerät Russland im globalen Wettbewerb noch weiter ins Hintertreffen als es das ohnehin schon ist. So etwas kann sich auch ein in Rohstoffen schwimmendes Land wie Russland nicht leisten, wenn gleichzeitig andere Länder ihre Ressourcen klüger einsetzen und sie eben nicht in militärisches Abenteurertum stecken. Die Herausforderung besteht deshalb darin, dies der russischen Regierung möglichst schnell beizubringen. Denn die Zeit, Russland erst einmal ökonomisch vor die Pumpe laufen zu lassen, um so Einsicht und hoffentlich Umkehr im Kreml zu befördern, hat die Welt eigentlich nicht. Dafür steht in diesem Rest der Welt einfach zu viel auf dem Spiel, und das nicht nur ökonomisch.

‘You have the right to immigrate’?

Posted by on 10/04/14

“Why, then, do most citizens of Western democratic countries oppose the opening of their borders? I believe the best explanation is that most of us suffer from a bias that makes it easy for us to forget about the rights and interests of foreigners. Racial bias once caused white persons to view members of their race as more important than those of other races, and to ignore the rights of members of other races. Sexist bias caused men to view themselves as more important than women and to ignore the rights of women. In modern times, great progress has been made in overcoming these biases. But some prejudices remain socially acceptable today, not even recognized by most as prejudices. Among these privileged prejudices is nationalist bias, the prejudice that causes us to view our countrymen as more important than citizens of other countries, and to ignore the rights of the foreign-born”.

Here is why: http://spot.colorado.edu/~huemer/immigration.htm

Brussels must urge Beijing to follow international law

Posted by on 08/04/14

A recent joint opinion article by European leaders called for the EU to do more in challenging Chinese president Xi Jinping to fix their human rights issues and find a solution to end territorial conflicts.

As they argued, “China’s significant economic growth has not been matched by meaningful progress in rule of law, respect for human rights, democracy and the environment.”

They also indicated China’s behaviors on the international stage, particularly its politicization of “international forums where its human rights record has been challenged” and its “unilateral actions on the Indian border and over the East China Sea.” This has shown the potential threat of China in becoming a global power supplemented with an undesirable system.

But what those leaders forgot to mention in their article was China’s growing aggression towards its neighbors. In Southeast Asia, an ongoing conflict is currently intensifying over a group of islands claimed by the People’s Republic and the ASEAN states, particularly the Philippines. Manila submitted to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in The Hague its 4000-page petition last March 30 seeking to challenge Beijing’s claim over the majority of the South China Sea, which includes territories within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The Centrist Democrat International, whose European wing is the European People’s Party, recently released a one-page resolution explicitly condemning China’s forcible takeover of the territories, affirming the Philippines’ legal occupation of the islands. They also pressured China to “pursue peaceful, lawful and internationally sanctioned rules on dispute resolution to remove rising tensions in the region.”

The Brussels-based political bloc, consisting mainly of Western democracies in Europe, passed the said resolution and has been seen as a first step in achieving victory.

The next step should be for the European Union to take a position in this issue and remind China that their behavior is unacceptable; if not for Manila, then for the ASEAN countries and the international community. China should realize that their failure to adhere to diplomacy and international arbitration is a sign of their inadequacy to become a superpower. Europe and its allies must be reminded of history where catastrophic wars commenced as a result of democratic countries standing silent when other countries’ sovereignty were unlawfully and forcefully breached.

http://i.imgur.com/fZpE1pI.jpg

Courtesy of the Delegation of the European Union to the United States

 

Jonathan Holslag: ‘Europe will be the world’s playground’

Posted by on 08/04/14

It happens rarely that I write ‘Dear Mr/Mrs…’ to people younger than me. But with Professor dr. Jonathan Holslag, that is the case. He is only 32 years old, professor of international politics at the Free University of Brussels since 2011 (!) and has written three academic books, mainly on China, Asia and Europe. After the interview I told him one of my heroes is Robert Kaplan. Holslag responded: ‘He’s a good friend of mine. We read our work to each other.’

I was notified on Holslag’s existence by Luuk van Middelaar, the speech writer to Herman Van Rompuy, who is also a hors categorie of his generation. It took me months to get a date for the interview, because Holslag was busy with the preparation of his latest book, The Power of Paradise. Which deals with the future of Europe and our relations with Asia. The book is out since two months – first as a Dutch version – and has already sold nearly 10,000 copies, which is extremely good for the Dutch-language book market and especially for political non-fiction.

Europe isn’t the prime focus of research for the young professor. ‘My career has developed quite capriciously. Initially I started in Africa, working on African affairs like rebel groups in Congo, and then I was almost forced to start working on Asia by my supervisor.’ But now his prism turned to the old continent. ‘By traveling extensively to the Asian region, also by talking to a lot of decision makers and business folks from Asia, it really became clear that Europe is in quite an uncomfortable position nowadays. But also in terms of perceptions it is going down rapidly.’

Holslag

That perspective from the East instigated Holslag to ponder about the question how bad our position is, as a market, as a society, as a political constillation, as an international actor. And will our ‘fragile European construction’ be altered further by ‘a turbulent and uncertain international order?’

The fourfold crisis of Europe
‘It has been said many times that Europe was in a death struggle and that it was reaching its terminal stage,’ argues the researcher. ‘Each time Europe came out of those episodes of uncertainty in a stronger way. But this crisis is different. Altogether the world order has changed and it will make it less easy for us to adjust as we did in the past.’ His analysis is one of a fourfold crisis.

  1. The most manifest one is that there is a collective action problem at the European level. Many of the negotiations, very complicated ones, have moved to more discreet technical committees, where national powers are still very blatant and outspoken.
  2. A stark weakening of pragmatic elites, the central parties in the member states. They used to bear the European project. The electoral shift is really sliding to a critical point. The electoral share of the central parties  will become smaller than a colorful array of populist, conservative and extremist parties.
  3. The fraying of the welfare state, as a system of redistributing economic opportunities. The bottom fourty percent of the European population are losing out rapidly in terms of purchasing power and employment opportunities. That reverses the positive current that we witnessed in the last six decades.
  4. The altering of the economic balance of power at our expense. Europe bit by bit becomes less competitive, and more dependent on external debt. Government debt has become the most successful export product of the EU.

Looking beyond these immediate crises, Holslag reckons that the failure of Europe ‘to provide tangible economic opportunities’ is the biggest long term threat. ‘Europe as a political project is not an exception. Like each political project it will only survive if it visibly advances the interests of the majority of its people. And it is no longer able to do that, as the member states are also no longer able to do that.’ But what about all the measures that have been taken in the past years to reform our economies and stabilize the eurozone? ‘I don’t see with the current answers to the crisis, the banking union, some efforts to create new jobs amongst the youth, sufficient reassureances that we will turn the tide. So my prediction is we will slither further down into our legitimacy trap and the EU will fray.’

Afbeelding 1

Europe as a playground, not a player
As we become weaker, the world will take advantage of us, predicts Holslag – who is a realpolitik thinker. ’Friction between the member states will be exploited ruthlessly by the other major powers. That we already see. In the past week the Chinese president came here to visit several member states. In spite of not giving anything in terms of clear concessions, or giving clear gestures to Europe, still all the governments went on their knees, flat on the ground, and they walked over us.’

The way we kowtowed in front of China, bodes ill. In the upcoming power politics between the major powers, ‘Europe is not going to emerge as a player but as a playground,’ thinks Jonathan Holslag. ‘The situation is really gloomy. What the reality bears a lot of resemblance with, is with Italy in the 15th-16th century, the time of Machiavelli and the Liliputer states in Italy. They believed they could use the great powers around them – the Austrians, the French, the Turks – to maintain their position. Whereas in fact the reality showed the opposite. These powers trampled the Italians because they couldn’t agree and form partnerships, cooperation that was solid enough to deflect the ambitions of the others.’

Luckily, the other kids on the playground all have their own issues. ‘I don’t think the world order is characterized by new strong leaders. We are all fragile in our own way. China is struggling, India is at disarray almost, the US is also having serious problems.’

Though we may not be played upon, Europe can expect a very volatile – even violent – world in the 21st century. ‘In such order characterized by fragile powers, there is a greater tendency towards greed, selfishness, free riding, economic power politics, mercantilism, protectionism.’ In such an environment we are bound for trouble. ‘The very tough economic power politics will ultimately merge with the military one. The chance that things spiral out of control is quite large, it will spill over into Europe’s backyard, which is a belt of uncertainty.’ Holslag even thinks that we will see a militarization of space as well as of cyber, and that is just the start.

Afbeelding 7

Sham power politics
In his book the researcher calls for stronger foreign policy by the EU. But as we witnessed in the Ukraine crisis, Europe fails to take a collective stance because the interests of national member states are too different. Holslag is very critical of the policy towards Russia. ‘I am not sure these countries, are playing their national interests. They are departing from very opportunistic, short-sighted interests, not from what basically is for this generation of citizens and the next one. It is sham power politics. It is sham statemanship. It is not real. We see politicians pretending to pursue statecraft but in fact they are selling out the future of their own citizens.’

‘What is missing is an institution in Brussels, a group of officials that is able to turn the natural differences of political orientations into a sort of consensus. What the External Action Service ought to do, is to do less external action, and more internal action. It has to invest in brokering this consensus, it has to explain why it is in the interest of the Swedes to mind the instability in North Africa, why it is in the interest of the Italians to mind the power play in the Arctic, what the Russians are doing there and so forth.’

‘Only by striking that geopolitical consensus and also by explaining it to the people, not just to the governments, we can overcome the problem. We can do this fairly easily. The message of Europe at the brink of drowning, submerging into its new, complicated security environment is a very compelling one, and could even turn the tide of euroscepticism. We have to explain, and I think it is doable, to European people that we are in the same boat. This is a tiny tail piece of Eurasia and we do not have any other option but to stick together.’

Afbeelding 5

Maintaining the paradise
In a world of realpolitik, how can we maintain legitimacy for Europe-wide cooperation and even further integration? Jonathan Holslag is not too worrisome about the supposed lack of democracy. ‘The European Union is one of the most democratic projects in the world, even in world history, certainly given its scale with more than 500 million citizens. It’s not peanuts to organize ourselves in democratic structures that are functional at the same time.’

No, the real problem is in politics. ‘The crisis is more a consequence of a lack of ideas. And that’s what Mill already said: a democracy is a marketplace of ideas. It only functions if there are enough ideas that appeal to the people, and that explain how the political structure benefits to them.’ Therefore Holslag – a researcher, but also one who supports federalist thinking – pleads for a ‘progressive vision’ for Europe. ‘Conservatism and economic orthodox policies for me are not enough. The progressive vision provides in the maitenance of standards of living of Europe’s youngsters, provides in their security, and especially comes up with a project that is more dynamic, that is more competitive, but is still also solidary enough and more pleasant than what we have to do today.’

With the upcoming European elections and the instalment of the new Commission (November), the EU has a big window of opportunity to take this path. Holslag hopes that the change will be primarily in communication. ‘It is all about form. The new Commission has to play politics more vigorously and more actively, we have to have a face of the Commission that is recognizable, and a voice that is convincing, expresses empathy, and an understanding of what is happening in the 28 countries.’

On a policy level, the way forward is to get standards that allow companies to create growth and jobs, ‘without having the fear to be washed away from credit-supported imports from China, and polluted shale gas imported from the US.’

‘The ideas and visions are quite obvious. But we have to learn to play politics with the European institutions and be not afraid to go instantly to the people that we serve. These are not governments in capitals, these are the people on the streets, the 500 million European citizens.’

Watch the interview with Jonathan Holslag here (25 minutes):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WNchea5WsA

 

Afrique et Europe résolues à renforcer leur partenariat pour la prospérité et la paix. Les migrations et la mobilité à l’ordre du jour.

Posted by on 08/04/14

Le Quatrième Sommet a établi sa feuille de route pour la période 1014-2017 avec notamment un plan en cinq points pour les migrations et la mobilité. La feuille de route comprend cinq objectifs prioritaires d’une stratégie commune : la paix et la sécurité ; la démocratie, la bonne gouvernance et les droits humains ; le développement humain et la croissance durables et inclusifs, et l’intégration continentale; les questions globales et émergentes, comme la lutte contre le changement climatique . 

De l’avis des participants le sommet a été fructueux en termes d’objectifs et de perspectives faisant incontestablement franchir une étape importante à leur partenariat malgré les conflits dévastateurs qui marquent encore beaucoup de pays africain : le taux de croissance moyen sera de 6% en 2014.

Est à souligner tout particulièrement le plan d’action en cinq points pour éviter que ne se reproduisent les drames de la migration tels que celui du 3 octobre dernier à Lampedusa qui avait causé la mort de 300 africains. En adoptant une déclaration spécifique sur la mobilité et la migration, l’UE et les pays africains se sont engagés « à lutter contre l’immigration illégale en promouvant une coopération efficace et complète pour éviter les conséquences dramatiques de la migration illégale et protéger la vie des migrants ». Ce plan d’action court jusqu’en 2017, date du prochain sommet. L’impact humain et social de la migration irrégulière devrait être contrecarré avec efficacité.

Concrètement le plan s’articule autour :

- de la lutte contre la traite des êtres humains (renforcement du partenariat et de la coopération en matière de prévention, de protection et de poursuite et de la lutte contre ceux qui profitent de toutes ces formes d’exploitation) ;

- de la coopération pour éviter les conséquences dramatiques de la migration illégale et protéger la vie des migrants (prévention, renforcement de la gestion des migrations et des frontières,lutte contre le trafic des migrants, retour et réadmission) ;

- du renforcement du lien entre le développement et les migrations ;

- de la promotion de la migration légale et de la mobilité ;

- du renforcement de la protection internationale « à travers la mise en oeuvre des instruments internationaux et régionaux en matière de protection des réfugiés, de demandeurs d’asile et de personnes déplacées à l’intérieur d’un même pays ».

 Le respect des droits de l’homme fondamentaux des migrants, indépendamment de leur statut juridique, constitue une question transversale de « notre coopération » souligne la déclaration en matière de conclusion.

 Ce qu’il faut retenir : l’UE semble vouloir renouer avec la pratique qui fut la sienne lors de la deuxième moitié de la décennie passée : des sommets accompagnés de déclarations ayant les apparences d’engagements d’où il n’est guère sorti des résultats tangibles et durables pouvant déboucher sur de nouvelles pratiques. Ce sera-t-il à nouveau le cas ? Par exemple le dernier sommet tenu en Libye en 2010 avait buté sur les réticences des africains à contrôler leurs frontières, à l’avenir y aura-t-il un changement réel des comportements ? On peut en douter. En contrepartie des efforts réclamés aux africains, l’UE a promis d’intensifier  les « efforts visant à réduire les coûts des envois de fonds par les immigrés à leur pays d’origine » « de promouvoir l’immigration légale et la mobilité » La réorientation par l’UE de son aide au développement en faveur de la formation et de l’emploi des jeunes(65% de la population africaine a moins de 35 ans et c’est dans ses rangs que se recrute la majorité des candidats au départ ) doit, espère-t-elle, freiner les aspirations à l’immigration.

 Les droits de l’homme sont également une source de tensions vives : menée par le premier ministre belge, l’UE a appelé les dirigeants africains à veiller au respect des droits des minorités y compris sexuelles alors que tous les pays africains (à l’exception notable de l’Afrique du sud) ont une législation anti- homosexuelle plus ou moins répressive. «  Prévenir de nouvelles barbaries comme les massacres Rwandais passe par l’éducation de jeunes à la tolérance et à la non-discrimination. » « Nous ne pouvons pas tolérer, où que ce soit, que certains soient privés de leurs droits et persécutés en raison de leurs origine, de leur orientation sexuelle, de leur religion, de leur conviction » a souligné le premier ministre belge . « Il y a encore trop d’hommes et de femmes dans le monde qui doivent se battre pour leur dignité et leurs libertés. Trop de minorités sont méprisées, trop de droits sont déniés ». Le président ougandais n’est pas seul dans sa croisade anti-homosexuelle, accompagné qu’il est par le président nigérian ou kenyan. Plusieurs pays européen ont dé jà annoncé le gel d’une partie de leur aide destinée à l’Ouganda notamment. La partie européenne souhaitait faire adopter une déclaration explicité comportant une référence au respect « de l’égalité des sexes et des droits des groupes les plus vulnérables, incluant ceux appartenant à des minorités », une mention assez vague qui disparu du projet final : reste un engagement à combattre toutes les formes de discrimination, de racisme, de xénophobie et tous les actes d’intolérance sur les deux continents ».

 La politique migratoire de l’UE reste trop lourdement handicapée par des difficultés qui vont croissantes : difficultés économiques, difficultés à maîtriser les flux migratoires aux frontières, dans un contexte vécu de façon anxiogène, la mondialisation, les élargissements successifs mal gérés, les craintes d’attaques terroristes, le vieillissement démographique. Les politiques migratoires de l’UE restent axées pour l’essentiel sur le contrôle des frontières extérieures, la lutte contre l’immigration irrégulière, l’accueil des demandeurs d’asile, la régulation de l’immigration légale et l’intégration des migrants. A cela s’ajoutent la domination des Etats membres soucieux avant tout de décider souverainement de qui peut entrer et séjourner sur leur territoire, une extrême diversité des politiques et pratiques nationales, des pays qui se sentent diversement concernés par les phénomènes migratoires et enfin une solidarité entre Etats membres qui trouve rapidement ses limites. Enfin des oppositions fortes de nature culturelle qu’on ne peut cacher ou minorer.

 Face à tant de handicaps structurels et de handicaps aussi anciens, la moindre déclaration commune doit être saluée comme une avancée qui a ses mérites.

 

 Pour en savoir plus :

- Texte de la déclaration : (FR) / (EN

-  Intervention du président van Rompuy à l’issue du Sommet: (FR)


Classé dans:IMMIGRATION, Lutte contre l'immigration illégale, Politique d'intégration

Electromobilité : le plan d’action berlinois

Posted by on 07/04/14

Le 26 mars dernier s’est tenue la seconde conférence sur l’électromobilité dans la ville de Berlin. Les deux autorités en charge, l’agence s’occupant du programme et le Sénat de Berlin, ont ainsi révélé leur plan d’action. Locations de voitures et vélos électriques, production d’énergies renouvelables décentralisées, développement des smart grids…  Alors que de nombreuses stratégies sont déjà mises en place depuis plusieurs mois, voire années, les projets de la ville sont aujourd’hui encore ambitieux.

Alors que Paris vient à peine de réussir à sortir du niveau d’alerte maximum en termes de pollution aux particules fines, une ville comme Berlin surprend par son engagement et montre sans nul doute l’exemple que la capitale française devrait suivre depuis déjà de longues années. Preuve qu’il est possible aujourd’hui de réduire les émissions dans une grande ville sans en faire pâtir les habitants, la ville s’est dotée, ces dernières années, de pas moins de 5 plans d’action : le Plan cadre Berlin Ville d’industries 2010-2020, le Plan de développement urbain Transport, le Plan d’action ProIndustrie, la Stratégie énergétique 2030 et la Stratégie commune d’innovation Verlin-Brandebourg. Une totalité de cinq plans réunis plus  globalement sous l’appellation « Plan d’action 2020 ».

L’enjeu est de taille pour la ville : être reconnue dans le monde entier comme un modèle de l’électromobilité en instaurant une économie forte afin de créer une nouvelle chaîne de valeur. Les transports sont bien évidemment au centre de ce plan d’action, sous toutes leurs formes. La ville développe aujourd’hui un réseau de voitures et de vélos électriques pour les déplacements individuels, mais réfléchis également à développer d’autres modèles de transports personnels comme l’auto-partage. Pour les transports de fret, extrêmement polluants, deux axes sont envisagés. Il serait d’abord possible de remplacer les propulsions habituelles par des propulsions électriques. L’électrification du dernier kilomètre des livraisons ou encore la micro-mobilité électrique pour les livraisons de courte distance, d’autres solutions innovantes existent.

Vous l’aurez compris, Berlin mise sur l’énergie électrique pour réduire au maximum ses émissions. Celle-ci n’est cependant pas infinie et pour mener à bien ces projets, la ville doit également réfléchir à une meilleure gestion de son réseau ainsi qu’à l’intégration de plus d’énergies renouvelables dans celui-ci. Pour cela, personne n’a douté un seul instant : les smart grids constituent la piste la plus intéressante. Capables d’intégrer à un réseau électrique conventionnel de l’électricité provenant de sources d’énergie renouvelable, les réseaux électriques intelligents peuvent également aider la ville à adapter l’offre en électricité à la demande et ainsi éviter les pics de consommation ou les gaspillages.

Les infrastructures de rechargement seront également prochainement repensées. Outre les smart grids, la ville pourrait également faire le choix de décentraliser sa production d’énergies renouvelables à Brandebourg. L’augmentation du nombre de vélos et de voitures électriques en location s’accompagnera du développement de nouveaux types de batteries basés sur l’hydrogène et l’induction. Enfin, la dernière étape de la transformation de Berlin en une capitale mondiale de l’électromobilité passera par une large stratégie de communication. Évènements, salons, et coopérations internationales seront les pendants de cette révolution énergétique berlinoise. Paris n’a plus qu’à en prendre de la graine.

Making Room for Alternative Democracies

Posted by on 05/04/14

The landslide success of Erdogan’s party, the AKP, and Vladimir Putin’s skyrocketing domestic popularity in the wake of the Crimean crisis are golden opportunities for a rethink of Western officialdom’s policies towards Turkey and Russia.

Unlike my counterparts in Washington, I prefer to label the Turkish and Russian political systems as “alternative democracies”. Sure, on the White House’s national security site they are unceremoniously called “authoritarian regimes”, to distinguish them from outright dictatorships. Fact is, the West has been trying for too long to impose its own views and standards when it comes to the global economy (the ill-fated Washington agenda) or to world politics (liberal democracy).

In countries like Turkey and Russia, the state and its leadership have always been paramount to their economic development and political stability. As anyone would easily agree, over more than twelve years in power both the Russian and the Turkish leader have delivered exactly that. No Turk or Russian citizen in his right mind, however, expects their leaders to be thrashed on a daily basis in the media, or the latter’s political authority to be undermined with a helping hand from the West. These countries, while not fully democratic according to Western standards, do organize regular elections, allow for a multi-party system and do respect – with some exceptions – most of the basic human rights and freedoms.

The proof is, so to speak, in the pudding. Erdogan’s party has won the 2014 municipal elections with 47 percent of the vote, compared to 38 percent in 2009. A few years ago, Putin’s approval rating was hovering around 60 percent. Today, his most recent actions meet with the approval of some 82 percent of Russians. Consequently, Western policy-makers would be better-advised to refrain themselves – in the interest of regional and world peace – from sponsoring almost weekly attacks in the international media directed against these states and their leaders, as alternative democracies have earned the right to exist alongside their older, but far less stable liberal model.

Obama’s message to the the world: nuke up!

Posted by on 02/04/14

Nobel Peace Prize winner and apostle of disarmament and America “leading from behind” President Barack Obama has driven a stake into the heart of an already ailing Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the nuclear disarmament movement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NPT recognizes the US. Russia, China, France and U.K. as nuclear-weapons states. Since it entered into force in 1970 Israel, North Korea, India, Pakistan and South Africa have gone nuclear. When the Soviet Union broke up, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine inherited nuclear arsenals, all of which under pressure from the West by the end of 1996 were turned over to Russia. South Africa destroyed its atomic stockpile.

Atomic arms are neither good nor bad. They are used every day for good: deterrence. Their use ended WW2. But depending upon who wields them, like a machete, nuclear weapons can also be an instrument of evil. The implications of Australia, Canada and Switzerland joining the nuclear club are rather different than Cuba, Hamas and Iran joining it.

The world’s bad actors have reason to want nuclear weapons.

In 1981 the Israelis bombed and destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor where Iraq intended to develop, and arguably was within several years of obtaining nuclear weapons. If Iraq had had nuclear weapons it’s not likely US and coalition forces would have freed Kuwait in 1991. A US-led alliance certainly would not have toppled despot Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Libya had nuclear, chemical and biological weapons development programs. Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi however worried he would be next on President Bush’s and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s “Shock and Awe” hit parade. In December, 2003 shortly after Iraq’s liberation, Libya renounced its WMD programs.

Starting with airlifting 55 thousand tons of documents and components of its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs to the US, during 2004 Libya’s WMD infrastructure was dismantled and destroyed.

Diplomacy coupled with military action or its credible threat is more effective than diplomacy alone.

In 2011 with American, British and French air strikes and military assistance, Gaddafi was overthrown and killed. If he’d had nuclear weapons, he’d be alive and in power today.

Japan, South Korea and the US are all more likely to turn the other cheek to North Korea’s military provocations, assassinations, arms dealing and counterfeiting currency because it possesses atomic arms.

American voters elected Obama and Euro-elites got the pantywaist progressive US president they wanted. With Obama in the White House, for at least the next three years friends cannot rely on and enemies have no reason to fear America.

Worryingly longer term, casual and profligate use of America’s military when no vital national interests were at stake or advanced, and Europe’s increasingly obvious unwillingness to share the burden to defend itself, has stoked isolationist sentiment in the US.

The Iraq war as executed resulted in an Iranian client state, and the cleansing of Christians and Al Qaeda resurgent in Iraq. After the first year NATO troops in Afghanistan did not advance vital US or Western interests. There was no conceivable critical US interest justifying deploying troops however few, in Africa supporting fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army. The Libyan war hurt US interests.

German finance minister and “Mr. Euro” Wolfgang Schäuble illustrated Euro-cognitive dissonance comparing Putin’s seizing Crimea to Hitler’s annexing the Sudenteland, acknowledging Eastern Europe’s fear of the Russian bear and going on to say spending more on defense “would be of no use.” Germany’s boosting defense expenditures would be of far more use than the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton’s, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s and Obama’s bleating.

Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal vividly captured the current situation observing “The wolf is attacking a pack of sheep. It is gobbling up one of them and going about its business eating and the rest of the sheep are bleating. Baaaaaa baaaaaaaa!”


 

 

 

 

 

Within reach of an increasingly assertive China can Japan and Taiwan afford to rely on America honoring its treaty-defense commitments? A nuclear Japan and Taiwan however would give Beijing cause for pause.

When Iran’s mullahs obtain nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia and perhaps Turkey and Egypt will probably go nuclear.

In 1991 Ukraine had 1272 strategic nuclear weapons and 2500 tactical nuclear weapons. If it still had even a fraction of that arsenal, Russian capo Vladimir Putin would not have seized Crimea and be menacing the rest of Ukraine and Eastern Europe.

When America is weak and leads from behind, the liberal world order and freedom are at risk, and nuclear proliferation inevitable.

The staggering cost of armed violence to Africa

Posted by on 02/04/14

By Martin Butcher is Oxfam’s Policy Advisor on Conflict and Arms


As the fourth EU-Africa summit takes place in Brussels, we note that the theme “Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace” reflects exactly Africa’s needs, and emphasizes Oxfam’s concerns about armed violence and conflict in Africa which are at the base of the decade-long campaign for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to curb the irresponsible arms trade.

Oxfam research that was published in our report Africa’s Missing Billions showed that between 1990 and 2007 the cost of armed violence and conflict to Africa was $300 billion – approximately the same as the aid money that flowed into the continent during that time. Losses continue at around $18 billion a year. Conflict shrinks the economies of affected African countries by at least 15% a year.

This is a tremendous sum of money, enough to solve the continents’ problems of HIV and AIDS, or to address Africa’s needs in education, clean water and sanitation, and prevent tuberculosis and malaria.

There are the obvious direct costs of armed violence – medical costs, military expenditure, the destruction of infrastructure, and the care for displaced people – which divert money from more productive uses. The indirect costs are even higher. Economic activity falters or grinds to a halt. Income from valuable natural resources ends up lining individual pockets. Conflict brings inflation, debt, and reduced investment, while people suffer from unemployment, lack of public services, and trauma. Inequality rises, bringing further social problems in its wake. Compared to peaceful countries, African countries in conflict have, on average:

• 50 per cent more infant deaths;

• 15 per cent more undernourished people;

• Life expectancy reduced by five years;

• 20 per cent more adult illiteracy;

• 2.5 times fewer doctors per patient; and

• 12.4 per cent less food per person.

Serious armed violence, and particularly civil war, also erodes the institutions of civil society. Family, community, and inter-community links are severed, and a culture of violence spreads. In one current example, Oxfam staff in the Central African Republic observed children in Bangui earning money for their family by selling hand grenades for the equivalent of 50 cents each.

At least 95 per cent of Africa’s most commonly used conflict weapons come from outside the continent, for example, the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, few of which are made in Africa. In the Central African Republic, Seleka rebels were armed with weapons trafficked from elsewhere in Africa. Anti-balaka militias are armed with home-made arms and older military weapons. One thing is clear – none of the arms were manufactured in the Central African Republic. And few entered the country legally.

A steady supply of ammunition is required to keep arms deadly, but little military ammunition is manufactured in Africa. A 2012 report showed that ammunition shipped by Iran was used in 14 African countries, though it was used by government forces in only four of these cases. The ammunition was supplied to governments who then sold it on illicitly, fuelling rebellions, civil wars, armed conflict, and criminal and inter-communal violence.

Africa desperately needs to stop the flow of arms. Our main tool for change will be the ATT adopted by overwhelming vote at the UN last year. The ATT provides for the first time a global framework to control to restrict the irresponsible trade in arms, and to subject the arms trade to control under provisions of IHL and human rights law.

To make the Treaty work mechanisms to control the import and export of arms must be established and made to work effectively. Stockpiles must be secure, and corruption addressed. Many African countries will need assistance with this, something the EU has already committed to provide. But it is not enough for the EU to say that their arms controls are perfect, that only Africa needs to act. Arms exports must be effectively implemented observing the spirit and the letter of the new Treaty.

The EU has a strong interest in peace, stability and economic growth in Africa. Africans and Europeans need to act together in partnership to achieve this vital goal.

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