Thursday 18 September 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?

 

Which MEPs voted against EU-Ukraine association?

Posted by on 17/09/14
By Georgi Gotev It were mostly extreme-left and extreme-right MEPs who voted against the ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement yesterday, according to the monitoring by VoteWatch Europe. Have a look at the list.

Interview with Mr Abdullayev, President of SOCAR

Posted by on 16/09/14

The President of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), Mr Rovnag Ibrahim Abdullayev, discussed with Dimitris Rapidis, Director and Project Coordinator at  Bridging Europe, on a string of issues ranging from energy supply and production, regional cooperation, ongoing and forthcoming projects and partnerships, to the risks of climate change, corporate social responsibility, and the special relationship with Greece as the linking corridor towards the expansion of the company in the Western Mediterranean Basin and the European Union.

*The interview was first published by Bridging Europe. It is republished here.

What is the positioning of SOCAR in the global energy run in terms of production and supply?

Let me first share the vision of SOCAR with you. SOCAR aims to become a vertically integrated international energy company resting upon advanced experience on operation efficiency, social and environmental responsibility, and so far has undertaken major steps to  strengthen its international presence both in terms of energy production and supply.

SOCAR positions itself as a reliable energy partner of Europe. We truly believe that diversification of energy supply is one of the most important topics of today’s energy policy of the European Union, and SOCAR is here to support its European partners.

From historical perspective, the Caspian region always has been and is again re-shaping itself as a hub for global energy supply. SOCAR is currently working on development of a number of upstream and midstream projects together with 25 global companies, which are involved in oil and gas projects in the Caspian region.

Being one of the major players in the industry in the region SOCAR is seeking to raise its own gas production from new fields it is exploring in the Caspian Sea. SOCAR hopes to see its gas production soar in the coming years as production capacity is expanded at existing fields and new ones are discovered and brought into production. Most of the gas produced is likely to be exported to consumers in Europe via forthcoming TANAP and TAP pipelines.

The formation of export routes was crucial for exporting our hydrocarbon potential to the global markets, with the large-scale production of oil and gas only possible once the BTC oil pipeline and SCP gas pipeline had been commissioned. The pace of the next phase of SOCAR’s output growth is to be set by the construction of export routes, especially TANAP and TAP pipelines that will carry the gas produced from Shah Deniz 2.

Which are SOCAR’s existing and forthcoming projects?

Today, SOCAR is actively involved in several significant projects both in a regional and in an international context. In these projects we closely cooperate with well-known global companies and highly experienced teams. Currently OGPC (Oil and Gas Processing Complex) is considered as the largest downstream project of SOCAR in Azerbaijan, which is of strategic importance. The construction of the Complex includes an Oil Refinery with around 9 m. tons, a Gas Refinery with 12 billion bcm capacities and a Petrochemical Plant. The Complex is planned to be fully operated in 2020.

The President Aliyev signed a decree in February establishing a closed joint-stock company (CJSC) for effective management of projects within the second phase of Shah Deniz gas and condensate field’s development, expansion of the South Caucasus Pipeline, Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). The gas which will be produced at the second stage of Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field development will be the main source of the Southern Gas Corridor, which envisages the transportation of the Caspian gas to European markets.

In addition to the main projects developed by SOCAR, there is a number of projects and business activities run by our daughter companies in Europe as well as in UAE and Singapore. Fuel retail networks in Georgia, Ukraine, Romania and Switzerland together with the infrastructure projects in UAE, Turkey and Georgia are amongst the most notable ones.

As an example of the diverse nature of projects run by SOCAR’s foreign subsidiaries we can mention “PETKIM Value-Site 2023 Refinery-Petrochemicals-Energy-Logistics Integration” project in Turkey. The project implies construction of a brand new Star refinery, new petrochemical plant facilities, STEP energy plant and Petkim Container Port in Turkey.

Another significant project is the recent acquisition of Greek Natural Gas Transmission system Operator (DESFA). This is work in progress at the moment as this asset provides an excellent diversification opportunity for SOCAR’s investment portfolio.

What is the goal of SOCAR’s Summer School

As part of talent acquisition strategy to develop and attract young professionals to oil and gas sector each year SOCAR purposefully launches sets of diversified projects. Summer School Project initiated by SOCAR since 2010, is one of the decisive activities respectively serving the mission of attracting young, potential and competent students, and retaining young professionals already working at different divisions of SOCAR, through creating deep understanding of SOCAR’s culture and activities both in domestic and international markets. As was clearly mentioned, the program has been launched since 2010, and year by year, every possible development is implemented to make program more comprehensive and useful for the participants. The project is based upon prearranged program, which covers all the chains of energy sector, starting from geology and geophysics of oil and gas wells, and continuing with drilling, production, transportation, refining of produced oil and gas.

The last but not the least, during the program the participants gain deep information on the sales and marketing of produced oil and gas products. It is worth noting that the program is not restricted only to lectures, but also excursions to different production units of SOCAR are organized in accordance with the topic of the day. Overall, the project has substantial positive outcomes in staff development and recruitment strategies of SOCAR.

Baku High Oil School

On 29th of November 2014, the Baku High Oil School was established under the aegis of SOCAR. The Baku High Oil School signed a cooperation agreement with Heriot-Vatt University of the United Kingdom with the purpose of specialists training under a Bachelor Degree Program in the fields of oil and gas engineering and chemical engineering. Since its establishment Baku High Oil School has managed to create modern infrastructure, to form professional administrative and academic personnel.

This higher education institution continues to successfully expand its international ties and attract advanced educational programs and technologies widely applied in Western countries. In the short run, it is expected that the Baku High Oil School will be able to train highly educated in-house specialists who will make their valuable impact in country’s dynamically developing industry and contribute to effective implementation of SOCAR projects both inside and outside of our country.

Baku French Lyceum

The Baku French Lyceum (“BFL”) was established in accordance with an agreement on establishment and activity of the Baku French Lyceum signed between the governments of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of France on 07.10.2011. BFL commenced its activity on 15.09.2013. Currently 120 children attend kindergarten and school functioning under the lyceum. A supreme governing body of BFL is a Management Committee. The Management Committee consists of 4 persons representing the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Embassy of the Republic of France in Azerbaijan and SOCAR, by one representative from each organization. The Principal of the school and main teachers are citizens of France. Lessons are held in accordance with curriculum of international french schools with observance of requirements of the Law on Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

What do you expect from the 2nd SOCAR Oil and Gas Processing and Petrochemical Complex Forum (OGPC) held in November 2014?

SOCAR OGPC Forum is designed to provide a detailed presentation of the new Oil and Gas Processing and Petrochemical Complex (OGPC) to be constructed by SOCAR. In April 2012, we organized the first forum devoted to SOCAR’s Oil-Gas Processing and Petrochemical Complex Project. During that Forum, the extensive discussions and productive meetings   have greatly benefited to both SOCAR and other participants of the event. Over two years after the first Forum, the OGPC activities have advanced considerably. Now, we are completing the FEED for the Gas Processing Plant and passing to EPC tendering. The works on the Petrochemical Plant will run in parallel. We have also completed the OGPC constructability study and other site surveys. At the same time, the FEED for utilities and off-sites and conceptual design for off-plot facilities has been carried out. As you see, the Project is now passing to a more significant phase. We are receiving more and more requests from various companies to organize another forum, which would help companies to obtain sufficient information about current stage of the Project and discuss the possibilities of further cooperation. That is why we decided to organize the second OGPC Forum, which we hope will help to establish close connections and promote cooperation and discussions on Project related issues at one single platform between potential stakeholders such as engineering companies, EPC contractors, licensors, manufacturers, vendors, service providers etc. We believe this event will play a crucial role in the future sustainable development of the Project.

In November 2014, the 2nd SOCAR OGPC Forum will be organized in Fairmont Hotel located in Flame Towers complex in Baku. Let me use this opportunity to invite our Greek colleagues to visit us in Baku in November!

How are you dealing with the climate change problem and environmental advocacy?

First of all, I would like to note that the dealing with climate change is an ethical issue for us and SOCAR has been taking regular actions to deal with climate changes. Moreover, we actively work with a variety of international institutions on climate change.

After Azerbaijan Republic ratified UN “Framework Convention on Climate Changes” and SOCAR enhanced its financial capabilities, it has started to pay more attention to enforcement of global ecological conventions and ecological issues in all company premises.

In 2008 SOCAR approved its Ecological Policy and actions were taken in the same year to enforce Framework Convention on Climate Changes.

It has been 7 years since SOCAR has been taking inventory of greenhouse gas (GHG). After inventorying process, steps were taken to conceive and implement new projects’ ideas regarding minimization of potential GHG emissions having adverse climatic effects. So accumulation and supply to consumers of associated gas produced with oil, substitution of old power-consuming equipment with modern power-saving equipment may be brought as examples. During these years to enforce these processes successful cooperation affairs have been established with the World Bank, GGFR, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Asian Bank of Development, companies from Germany, Norway, Japan and other countries. In frame of these cooperation activities such documents as “Plan on minimization of flue-gas emissions”, “Strategy for minimization of adverse effects of climatic changes” were developed.

Concurrently with the foregoing SOCAR also takes focus-oriented steps in other directions regarding environmental protection. Thus, in order to ensure ecological security, regular ecological monitorings are conducted at SOCAR in all offshore and onshore activities, including also oil-gas, petrochemical operations. Currently Environmental and Social impacts of SOCAR projects are assessed and preventive measures are being identified to minimize them. Mining sites traditionally polluted by oil and oil products are reclaimed and recovered to the natural-landscape design. Provisions were made to control in a closed system of produced waters extracted during the production on SOCAR oil-gas operation sites. Besides,  maintenance was provided on biological purification plants of all production facilities.

The discharges from vehicles globally along with other areas of industry also cause one of the most serious ecological problems.  Ecological impacts are crucial due to the growing number of vehicles in our country. In this regard, SOCAR Ecological Measuring Center conducts ecological diagnosis of vehicles.

One of the priority issues in SOCAR’s environmental protection activity is waste management. Work in this area is organized according to requirements of a Waste Management Plan approved by SOCAR. All types of industrial wastes generated at SOCAR facilities are taken over in Waste Management Center (WMC) being a part of a valid waste management system.

Expansion of plantation sites is one of the major directions of ecological policy in our Republic. SOCAR also contributes to planting activities implemented on a national scale. One of the essential environmental projects implemented by SOCAR was designing and constructing the Ecological Park. The main objective of laying out this Park was to create a contemporary form of society-environment relations, and to show that environmental propaganda, environmental upbringing and protection of the environment is a first priority duty of every citizen. It has been 3 years since SOCAR launched the project titled Eco-Park. As a result of the works performed in this scope, 574434 different types of trees-bushes and flowers were planted in an area of 400 ha. Ecological awareness and enlightening activities are implemented  in conformance with the SOCAR’s “Action Plan on Ecological Awareness”. In the frame of the plan, ecological days are celebrated at SOCAR enterprises and facilities, and cooperation with international ecology-oriented organizations is continuously broadening. In order to enhance environmental protection, to develop “approach to the environment with care” traditions and to educate the youth in the spirit of sensitive approach to the environment SOCAR expands its ecological awareness activity from year to year.

What are the major fields of involvement when addressing to corporate social responsibility (CSR)?

There are several key fields of the CSR in our day-to-day work and we think of corporate social responsibility across SOCAR in a strategic way.

Mainly, it is the idea of implementation of sustainable solutions in all areas of our operation. This implies working on strategy to improve working conditions, to integrate labour standards into our business practice, to monitor our facilities, and to collaborate with our partners in order to drive industry-wide change.

The next level concentrates on our employees and on making SOCAR a place where people can build their careers in a positive work environment. Particularly on this point, SOCAR has been a pioneer in developing various activities on employees’ health and labour safety in accordance with the requirements of Single management system for labour protection in the Azerbaijani oil industry.

Another key field in corporate social responsibility for us is the environment. For instance, SOCAR developed its own “Waste Management Plan” in order to ensure that the systems designed to manage waste, generated at our facilities work efficiently and that collection, sorting out, transportation, utilization of waste is conducted in line with the industry practice. Also, Environmental Department regularly carries out the quantitative and qualitative monitoring of harmful wastes in gaseous, liquid and solid forms emitted to the atmosphere as a result of natural and anthropogenic impacts at enterprises and companies subordinated to SOCAR.

Our CSR policy does not stop here of course, there are number of other projects that SOCAR is involved in, however I am afraid that we will need to have another interview to discuss them all.

What is SOCAR’s involvement in Greece? Do you perceive the country as a strategic partner for your company’s expansion in the West?

As you may be aware, SOCAR has been selected as the preferred bidder in the DESFA privatisation process that is still in progress and that is expected to be finalised within the course of coming months. DESFA is SOCAR’s first project of this scale in the European Union and we are very happy to collaborate with our Greek partners towards the success of it. Furthermore, Greece is one of the “TAP countries” and it certainly plays a central role in realisation of the TAP project.

As a result of our increasing activity in Greece, it was decided to open the country office in Athens so that we have our permanent presence in the country as well as in the region. Now, when SOCAR Energy Greece S.A. has been fully established it shall be much easier for us to manage our relationship with our existing counterparts and look at further business opportunities in Greece.

Indeed, Greece is a good friend and a reliable strategic partner of Azerbaijan. Perhaps, one of the most significant indicators of the friendship between our countries is the fact that our collaboration is not limited to the oil and gas industry and that it had constantly evolved during the past years. I believe that the relationship and the economic cooperation between our countries will grow even stronger in the future. I think that numerous official meetings of the Azerbaijani and Greek leadership and the recent official visit of the President Aliyev to Athens only support my point of view.

What is the company’s project plan for energy supply in the EU?

At the times when Europe needs reliable suppliers, supply from SOCAR and Azerbaijan is viewed as a part of Europe’s strategic goals. The challenges to security of supply could be political, technical or even due to extreme weather and demand. I would like to stress that SOCAR met its supply demands during the harsh winter of 2012 due to its storage facilities and strong commitment to meet its contractual obligations. Recently, SOCAR has engaged in expansion of its storage facilities in order to continue to be a reliable supplier.

Instead of selling to regional markets, SOCAR decided to embark on a chain of mega project to export gas to Europe: a chain that crosses 7 countries, deals with six regulatory systems, involves 12 investing companies, includes 12 gas buyers and requires 45 billion USD of investments. By the way, this chain of projects is called the Southern Gas Corridor, or shortly SGC. The mega project will be able to facilitate the transportation of gas not only from Azerbaijan but also from Central Asia and Middle-East countries. The pipeline is being built with the potential to double the capacity and can be scaled up to 30 bcm/a. This is the first project in decades to introduce new gas supplies into Europe rather than simply re-routing existing supplies, thus diversifying sources.

As we plan, the first gas explored from the second stage of the Shah Deniz field will be delivered to Turkey through TANAP in 2018 and then to Europe through TAP in 2019. Today successful execution of these projects is of top priority for SOCAR. The Southern Gas Corridor will be a strong catalyst for interconnectors across Southern Europe, while the TAP section will be able to connect Caspian gas to multiple European markets. In addition, there are signs of strong commercial interests in adding a component of the project into the Balkans.

Guantanamo fermé ?

Posted by on 15/09/14

Guantanamo n’est pas prêt d’être fermé, répond le journal le Temps qui le 13 septembre, week end anniversaire ou peu s’en faut, posait la question… C’est l’occasion aussi pour Eulogos de poser à nouveau la question au Parlement européen nouvellement élu : comptait-il donner une suite aux diverses résolutions adoptées au cours des deux dernières législatures. Une question que les eurodéputés vont avoir la possibilité de poser aux nouveaux commissaires lors de leur toute prochaine audition.Un dossier embarrassant pour Obama mais aussi pour tout le monde. (more...)

Portrait: Frans Timmermans vs geopolitics

Posted by on 11/09/14
Guest blogpost by Heinrich Matthee, director of research of INEGMA-EU in Brussels. During the summer of 2014 the claws of geopolitics have also touched Europeans. It is a time of punctuated equilibrium, 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. During the summer, pro-Russian rebels shot down the civilian airliner MH-17 over Ukraine. The [...]

On liberal Jews and the Israeli left

Posted by on 11/09/14

If the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas holds, it should be an opportunity for Israel to revisit its policy and offer Hamas a comprehensive deal which it cannot reject without losing its support among the Palestinians and any sympathy it may have gained abroad.

While the war united the Israelis, it didn’t bridge the political divide in the country. We’ll probably see a lot of political wrangling and disagreements about the war and Israel’s future. The recent Israeli decision to declare land close to one of the settlement blocs in the West Bank as state land, to satisfy the settlement lobby, is the opposite of the confidence-building so much needed.

However, a majority of Jews in Israel and around the world continues to support a two-state solution which will preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Their voices aren’t always heard abroad. International media has a tendency to publish marginal opinions denouncing support to Israel as either “too” liberal or non-liberal.

Take for example an article by the Israeli editor Shmuel Rosner published in International New York Times (INYT, August 8), where he was mocking “non-Israeli liberal Jews” and accusing them of not paying attention to Israel’s best interest in war time.

Being “liberal” and critical of Israeli government policy has suddenly become a reason to exclude a person from the “Jewish family”. My country, right or wrong, is obviously Rosner’s slogan.

This is strange to hear from a presumably liberal political editor representing a liberal democracy which prides itself of prosecuting ex-ministers for corruption, respecting freedom of expression and protecting minority rights.

The current situation is not sustainable and will only erupt in new wars without a serious peace process. Israel as the home land of all Jews will be less attractive and Israelis themselves who cannot stand the political and economic situation will leave in growing numbers.

Rosner continued in the same vein in another op-ed in INYT (September 7) titled “Who killed the Israeli left?” This time he claimed that the Israeli left was emigrating from Israel because they had lost influence in the country due to the support they had been receiving from the international community.

That ordinary Israelis are leaving, or would like to leave Israel if they could, because of the economic-political situation in the country has obviously escaped the attention of Rosner. He ignores also the fact that rightist parties and causes are funded and supported from abroad.

In the current situation a majority of the population is kept hostage by rightest parties lobbying for an increasing minority living in the settlements where they are enjoying economic benefits at the expense of poor development towns inside Israel. How do we reverse this policy?

Another example on the other end of the political spectrum was an article (INYT August 23 – 24) by Antony Lerman, a former director of the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research. Lerman who describes himself as a former “liberal Zionist” has completely lost faith in Israel.

He has adopted the Palestinian narrative of the events in 1948 and thinks seriously that a “joint Israeli-Palestinian movement” will bring peace and happiness for both peoples if they only lived in one state.

Where is the model for such a state? The Arab countries are breaking apart because of their sectarian and ethnic divides. In the Western Balkans, where multi-ethnic forms of governing were introduced after the civil wars, state-building is slow.

One would think that Lerman, as a British Jew who feels ashamed of Israel, would rather feel ashamed of Britain’s policy before and during the Second World War – not to speak about its role in more recent wars.

We all know the notorious White Paper in 1939 which restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine to appease the Arabs. During the war years the allied powers suppressed information about the Holocaust and opposed rescue operations to avoid receiving any significant numbers of refugees.

I would like to recommend a book by Daniel Tilles: “Passive Accomplices or Helpless Bystanders? British and American Responses to the Holocaust, 1941 -1945” (2008).

Lerman has obviously totally forgotten the lessons learned from the Holocaust when he questions the right of Israel to exist. It’s strange that Israel, so many years after its establishment, still have to prove that it has a right to exist as an independent nation state in a world full of nation states or failed states.

With all its flaws and problems Israel is the fulfilment of the right of national self-determination of the Jewish people and a more liberal democracy than many other Western countries.

On the corridors of the global recession’s labyrinth. The Sustainable welfare policy

Posted by on 10/09/14

The concerns on the “old continent” or the United States referring to the current economic, financial and societal downturn are based on different realities, but the main debates and concerns go the same path. Except that, following the general line, the American approach is more pragmatic and result-oriented.

Roads that obviously lead to nowhere. What is a road that leads to nowhere? We’ll try a somewhat simplistic definition. Let’s say it’s a route generated by sterile and ineffective options (even if at first glance they seem intelligent, timely and desirable). Route that doesn’t go to heaven, neither to Hell. It lands in a gray area, in a purgatory, the moment when all participants are trying to convince themselves and get used to the idea that Hell is not that bad and that they could not reach the Heaven (that may not exist). Meanwhile, somewhere deep inside, everyone knows that yes, it will be bad.

But there are individual solutions, aren’t they?

Transition from Purgatory to Hell will be done in time. But in this case, time doesn’t heal, it condemns. Definitively and irrevocably.

What do we lose?

The economy, the system, the global order? None of them. The economy will adjust itself, even if it goes back to the origins of primitive barter, the “system” will reinvent itself and the global order will remain the same, with some hue temporary adjustments.

We lose people, we lose generations, we lose consciousness.

Do we care?

We should! Because in the end all these losses will be paid by us. Or by our descendants.

This concept of “road to nowhere” is available in the economy and politics alike. If we want to answer the question “what phase of the crisis we are in?” we won’t do it only by looking at the numbers supporting a sluggish economic stimulus.

The recession we are talking about has chronicized, extended and transformed. The crisis is economic, financial, societal, educational, behavioral, identity and political. Our economies and societies are in that Purgatory.

A small inadequacy example. The lighthouse we follow in the analysis of the dynamics of national, continental or global economies is GDP’s evolution, with all its disclaimer variants. Although we know that this indicator doesn’t have the capacity to assess economy’s evolution, and less, of our societies.

Thus, what would be important to follow is not the recession’s phase, if we come out of recession or if it return – it is still in the chronic phase – but rather what policies to put in motion, what should be our new way of thinking, what should be the analysis perspectives, what are the necessary measures, detailed by stages and milestones, from where to start the systemic action, etc.

We live with evidence: the recovery, the return does not occur or, at least, doesn’t show to occur in a balanced and healthy pace. The finance people continue running after the most risky investments, but with high yields; the banks seem to have completely forgotten their place and role in the economy; the industrial production remained a “Cinderella”, being relocated to the suburbs which offer reduced costs and relaxed rules of the game.

The politics still holds the magic wand. It can still make decisions and choose what policies to implement. But does it? Why the politics isn’t using the power it actually holds? Due to the lack of solutions, lack of will, the desire to remain in the comfort zone, or all together?

The picture of the austerity’s impact presented by Caritas Europa in a report “The European crisis and social costs – A call to the correct alternative solutions” reveals that the programs implemented in Spain, Italy, Romania, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Ireland haven’t led to economic recovery but deepened the recession’s effects, revealing unprecedented unemployment, increased poverty level and impediments in economic and societal development, and even a significant setback.

We have seen the death of “infallible” neoliberal policies. Did we replace them with something? To a small extent. Basically, both Western Europe and the USA are keen not to accept the evidence, still claiming that this policy typology is alive and viable.

The Caritas report is an atypical one because is made from a collection of stories and not from just a set of numbers. It states that the consequences of the recession translated into reality through “houses that weren’t able to afford heating in winter”,an unprecedented lack of access to social services, including health services” and “serious psychological problems observed in society”. Through these descriptions we approach the first level of a more widespread reality, one that must not be delayed.

The same report shows that Romania “has a widespread and deep poverty problem” and “the VAT increase from 19% to 24%, introduced by the Romanian government in 2010 under the EU-IMF, affected the incomes of poor by increasing basic commodity prices”. All this is worsened by the high percentage, 35%, of Romanians living in low income families.

The social risks are huge and growing, the social systems don’t meet the current challenges, the social cohesion is a very distant principle and all these create a structural problem whose projection in the future may be long, persistent and serious.

The vicious chain austerity – unemployment – poverty – social polarization – isolation -extremism is the great challenge of the following years.

The current problem is the lack of major alternatives to austerity. What sould we put instead of austerity? The populist discourse of development, without solid foundation, prolongs the trend of irresponsibility.

Many of these errors actually come from misunderstanding the concept of austerity. “Neoliberal thinkers” did not bother to explain. Austerity does not mean cutting the spendings, hunger, social dramas, employment blocking, eliminating important chapters of the budget etc.

Austerity means removing those unproductive expenditure and prioritizing the productive ones, considering their expected results, prioritization of investments based on their expected value added, setting up a bureaucracy leaner, more flexible and definitely higher qualification (even if this means an additional investment in human resources).

Austerity means modesty, opportunity and accounting.

Furthermore, it requires but a profound rethinking of the internal market and new targets for the external one.

In other words, austerity cannot be an objective. The austerity policy may be a tool, a measure.

Austerity, a welfare instrument. Paradoxically, right?

If we have understood the necessary policies to be implemented in the right way, we would have gained several years of our development. But most importantly, we would save a lost generation.

This is the new economic concept that we need to promote and apply. But certainly won’t be called “economic austerity”.

We will describe and define it as “a policy of welfare intra and inter-generations“. It sounds pretentious, but the concept and implementation are handy.

Returning on the realm of numbers and analyzes, we have the World Bank report from June on the global economic outlook for 2015-2016 which concludes that the main engine of growth in the Euro area remains external demand, with the amendment that the worsening tensions between Europe and the Russian Federation can change the problem’ data. The banking institution’s forecast was conducted on the existence of a stress scenario that will not worsen. And probably will get worse.

However, there is a major concern about conflict developments in Ukraine and their effects on the world economy. Apart from the implications for the energy market, the agricultural market is put under serious pressure. Russia and Ukraine are significant grain exporters, accounting for 11% and 5% of global wheat exports. Ukraine has a share of 14% in corn exports.

As for Russian gas exports, the World Bank calculated a loss of 10% of GDP in the Russian Federation and a minimum 50% increase in gas prices needed in Central and South Eastern Europe. These figures are available without taking into account other possible sanctions and their effects.

The Russian gas price increase will blow yields and productivity of European companies and the prices of goods and services, including public deliverables. The European population will impoverish again.

How will react the European societies at this new wave of poverty and polarization? Will they explode or implode?

Hard to say at this time.

Consequently, the economic development forecast for this year has been adjusted to 3.2% from 2.8%. The often adjustments with very small percentages confirm us  that there is no effect on long-term actions and lasting positive developments are incidental. And probably the estimates will continue their descending pace.

The markets are fragmented, with a credit contraction and high cost of borrowing, economic growth of the Euro area is subject to several types of risks, internal or external shocks that inevitably affect market confidence, economic recovery and trigger off deflation, all these being mentioned by the International Monetary Fund report published in July 2014.

Another fault signal is activated by Jaime Caruana, General Manager of Bank for International Settlements, which captures the same ferocious hunting after high yields, the same dangerous practice that favored the crisis. He adds the economies liabilities which grew by 20 percentage points to 275% of GDP and looks very concerned about companies that borrow heavily just to redeem their shares, 40% of syndicated loans being granted to companies and institutions whose ratings are not recommended for investment, this rate being higher than in 2007. Even the emerging Asian powers cannot act as shock absorbers for the global economy as happened during the Lehman crisis; there is an expectation that they can turn themselves in danger sources.

We note that now there are numerous indicators in a worse state than pre-crisis period, which would naturally lead to a negative forecast.

The inter and intra-generations sustainable welfare policy must be understood correctly and quickly applied. Otherwise, the dominoes pieces of economy and society will not only tilt, but collapse.

Let’s not forget that this moment, time is not our ally!

 

NATO’s Wales Summit: Rhetoric vs. Reality

Posted by on 08/09/14

The recent NATO summit in Wales looked and sounded like a strong affirmation of the West’s willingness to counteract Russian intervention in Ukraine. With military tanks and a full-sized model fighter jet sitting on the lush green grass of the venue’s golf course, NATO’s Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, declared at the start of the summit that it would be one of the most important in the alliance’s history. There was no shortage of bold statements addressing Russia by the alliance’s attending heads of state, and the summit’s sharply worded official declaration summarizing the results of the gathering is reminiscent of the Cold War. However, behind the props and rhetoric, the substantive outcomes of the summit reveal a familiar lack of true solidarity with Ukraine.

The summit’s main result was the announcement of a 4,000 troop-strong “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force” which can be deployed rapidly to help protect Eastern Europe, especially the Baltic states, from potential Russian aggression. There was much talk about how the Ukraine crisis created the need for this task force, but no talk about actually deploying it to Ukraine, where it would desperately be needed. In fact, NATO leaders all agreed that joint military intervention is not an option to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, and instead called for more EU and bilateral sanctions.

Despite the tough statements, the most NATO is actually willing to do in Ukraine is to provide it with weapons, technical/logistical support and continue annual joint exercises dating back to 2006 – near the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, far from where the action is. The predictable result of this approach is that Russia is irritated, but not impressed, and that Ukraine feels grateful yet also let down by the West.

The Atlantic alliance’s reluctance to bring Ukraine under its wing of collective defense is a result of mainly Western European reservations, and is comparable to its hesitance to embrace a similarly Europhile nation, Georgia. Both countries’ populations have protested against Russian influence while holding European flags, and their governments have expressed a strong desire for Euro-Atlantic integration. But as unfair as it may be, no matter how many EU flags they wave, Ukrainians and Georgians are not (yet) perceived by most Western Europeans as really belonging to the European orbit. History, culture and geography place them too close to Russia for Western Europe to feel responsible for their security, especially at a time of growing Russian assertiveness.

It will take time for attitudes to change, but they can and have. The fact that most of the former Eastern Bloc was included in the EU and NATO shows that Western Europe is even willing to integrate countries that share a border with Russia – but only once it is clear enough to them that they really are a part of the family.

By Marco Funk

Poker Face

Posted by on 05/09/14

The European continent, like never before, is facing a number of security threats the like of which it has not seen since the collapse of communism some twenty years ago. To the south of Europe Islamic fundamentalism is wreaking havoc to previously oppressed, though stable, societies whilst to the east Russia has opted to play old-world war-games rather than become part of an integrated modern, prosperous, inter-connected global economy.

As the European continent grapples with how to deal with this new reality many turn to the European Union for answers. What does the EU have to say on the crisis in Ukraine? What role is it playing in arresting the spread of terrorism? Why is it not doing more to solve security issues that affect EU citizens? Why is it (or is it not as the case may be) taking a stronger stance on ISIS?

The more pertinent question should be what role can the EU play in crises that affect Europe’s security given its many limitations. Many erroneously believe that the EU is somehow either responsible for the emergence of the crises (as in the Ukraine) or is somehow capable of solving Europe’s increasing security challenges (as in the Middle East).

In reality, when it comes to security threats the EU is a pretty ineffectual beast. That has not stopped many of the EU’s detractors from muddying the waters and confusing people’s minds. To address this issue and in answer to those who accuse the EU of being too timid, too inept, too aggressive or too expansionist EU Perspectives intends to shine some light on the role of the EU in an increasingly conflict-prone world.

The limitations of an EU response

The EU, in short, was not created to resolve international conflicts. Although the EU was established at a time when the European continent was locked into the mother of all frozen conflicts – the Cold War it was never assigned a role in responding to the then East-West stale-mate. The EU is first and foremost a creature of the first and second world war and the perceived need to avoid armed conflict between the member states not to solve armed conflicts outside of the member states. As such the founders of the EU decided not to give the EU any executive powers but resolved to grant the EU a European Court of Justice to adjudicate on commercial disputes.

Which explains why the EU has developed a highly sophisticated and effective judiciary but has never purchased, commissioned nor owned a single highly sophisticated military tank. As the EU evolved and prospered so too its Core Values now enshrined in the EU Treaties namely: democracy, freedom, human rights, non-discrimination and the rule of law. These Core Values, combined with policies that seek to facilitate trade and commerce have made the EU the largest global economy in the world and the reason why so many of her neighbours want in.

Admittedly, over the years, there has been some flirtation with security and defence issues but the reality is that the EU has focused largely on matters relating to trade, the economy and finance whilst leaving security and defence issues to the member states and/or other international organisations such as the UN, NATO and the OSCE. The creation of a European President and European High Representative is one way in which the EU has sought to represent itself on the international stage. But neither of these roles, although high profile, can be described in anyway as executive. The EU has no military capabilities, it has no intelligence service, it has no police-force and in so far as it has a foreign policy it is in pursuit of the EU’s trading interests not its security interests.

In terms of economic capabilities the EU can and does threaten sanctions but even they can be fraught with difficulty given the need for consensus amongst 28 member states with very differing agendas. Often sanctions, much to the frustration of the US, are watered down as a result. In the case of Russia, Putin has dismissed EU sanctions as “wrist-slapping”. With his personal wealth and that of his closest advisers secure, sanctions are not going to make much of dent in his armour nor have they weakened his intentions.

In terms of military capabilities the most the EU can threaten belligerent neighbours with are paper airplanes shot from the fifth floor of a Meridian Conference Room. Hardly a threat. Putin knows this. Isis knows this. The Kremlin knows this. Assad knows this. The European Council President knows this too. So what exactly is it about the EU that makes countries such as Russia, Assad or even ISIS loath and fear the EU?

The EU’s Core Values

What all of them dislike and distrust the most are its Core Values. These Core Values question their very existence given that their authority to rule and govern is based on suppression, intimidation, fear, corruption and cronyism rather than dialogue, discussion, pluralism and transparency.

Democracy at gun point

Cast your mind back to November last year and the precipitation of the crisis that is now engulfing the Ukraine. Under instructions from the Kremlin, Yanucovych decided to call-off a long negotiated, hard-bargained for Association Agreement with the EU. To be clear an Association Agreement is not membership of the EU. An Association Agreement is not a military alliance. An Association Agreement does not redefine borders, under-mine minorities, offer military training or supply weapons. An Association Agreement is not expansionism by stealth.

An Association Agreement offers lower tariffs, investment and cross-border exchanges. It offers a glimmer of prosperity, it offers much needed investment, it offers finance to failing infrastructure projects. It also offers a very remote possibility of eventual EU membership but in the case of the Ukraine that was always going to be unlikely. As far as the EU was concerned the Ukraine, like Turkey, was never a real contender for EU membership.

For an increasingly piqued, peeved and paranoid Kremlin, however, even an Association Agreement was one step too far. Putin knows only too well that the EU can not threaten him militarily though he has been very good at portraying the EU as the expansionist aggressor and Russia as the victim of an aggressive, power-hungry European Union.

What Putin fears first and foremost about the EU are the very things that make the EU so successful – it Core Values. He fears that any encroachment further east by the EU would infect Ukraine with like-minded Core Values from where they would begin to lap on the borders of Russia before slowly but surely shimmy their way up to Moscow. Democracy, freedom, anti-corruption, freedom of speech and the rule of law are highly infectious. So long as populations remain quarantined from prosperity and freedom, autocracy can be accepted, even tolerated by populations who have tasted neither. Once they have had a taste of both it is hard to let it go.

So long as a cordon sanitaire exists separating prosperous populations from less economically developed regions it is still possible to make them believe in the fallacy of patriotism and territorial conquest. Ukraine, Putin has decided, will be that cordon sanitaire and he will enforce it through military might to ensure the EU’s Core Values stop right there.

The Kremlin is prepared to stage a bloody and destructive war in order to pursue those ends and threaten not just the Ukraine but EU member states that border Russia as well. Is it any wonder that other EU member states who share a common border with Russia and who have significant Russian minorities feel on edge? The present Russian regime is happy to use propaganda, lies, dis-information and violence to achieve these ends. Their motto – deny, deny and deny again – whilst using the language of the west to confuse people’s minds. Only the gullible believe them. Increasingly the EU Heads of State are beginning to realise that Putin is not calling anyone’s bluff. He is prepared to act and act he has.

Clearly, every sane person wants the war in Ukraine to come to an end but the EU is not going to be the organisation that is capable of bringing this about. It can and has threatened sanctions which in the long term, if not the short-term, will harm Russia’s economic interests. It is also close to signing the Association Agreement with Ukraine – the very thing that Putin wanted to avoid. The new EU High Representative has claimed that Russia is no longer the EU’s strategic partner. In this kind of conflicts no one emerges unharmed. There is no doubt that increased sanctions will lead to a trade war between the EU and Russia. Unless NATO acts to intervene it could go beyond trade and into territorial war-fare.

Once again we see, sadly, a return to cold war rhetoric and tactics. The EU may not have a military capability but its core values are worth defending from belligerent aggressors who would seek to undermine them and even cast them as somehow spurious and wrong. The EU’s Core Values are what make it strong, what make it prosperous and what make it successful. The Kremlin’s misinformation should not let us loose sight of this. Putin has laid his cards on the table. Only the very stupid would not be able to read his poker face and act to defend our Core Values which are very much under threat by those who prefer to rely on violence to meet their own ends rather than dialogue and negotiation. But who will blink first?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Russian Muslims Under Prejudice and Turkey Keep Silent?

Posted by on 04/09/14

In April 2014, the District Court of Kaliningrad (Russia) decided to ban the construction of a mosque in the southern city park. The judge granted the prosecutor’s claim, thereby recognizing the illegal administration of Kaliningrad permission to build the mosque. This decision caused outrage in the Muslim community of the city that was not surprising, because the Muslim community that numbers 100 thousand people is seeking permission for construction of a mosque in Kaliningrad for 21 years, and all in vain. There were donated more than $2 million for the mosque construction, but all the time building faced with restrictions, so as it is already 9th place where Muslim community tries to create the first mosque in the city. Such a situation is a fight against those of other religions, and nothing other, and the country’s leadership controls it. Muslims of Kaliningrad have already appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking him to reconsider the decision taken by politically engaged individuals in the government, but still there was no answer … Well it is unlikely to appear, because the policy pursued by Moscow “Russian world” is incompatible with a multi-faith religious communities. In recent years, there were built more than 150 temples, 30 chapels and three monasteries in Kaliningrad, there are Catholic and Lutheran congregations and even the splendid building of the Mormon church, although frankly miserly amount of Mormons in the region, but still, all these religious buildings are Christian. Muslims from originally German city of Königsberg (official name of Kaliningrad until 1946) should apply not to Putin but to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who could affect to the President of Russia. Indeed, there is a huge ten-million Muslim community in Germany, which knows no abuses and restrictions on religion, and Merkel’s influence on Putin is essential. German Turks have almost any problems with construction of mosques and in society at all. At the same time, Russia has a huge number of right-wing movements which preach religious intolerance and racism towards other religions and skin colors. Usually these movements accompanied by slogan “For the Russian world” and “Russia for the Russian”. In this context could we should remember last year fights in Muslim localities near Moscow, where Russians killed Muslims from the Asian regions of Russia. The Russian leadership has probably forgotten the consequences of the struggle against Islam, even hidden. Islam and modern Russia – are indivisible and what is Islamic fundamentalism is well known to the Russian people, who suffered thousands of casualties, including civilians, as a result of the confrontation with the Muslim population. A question arises: why leaders of Muslim communities, which have a weight in the president’s entourage, are silent, why a man like Kadyrov defends the religious beliefs of his fellow citizens of the Russian Federation, who leaves in another region? The answer is simple – they are bought up at the grassroots by Putin and will not conflict with him because of someone’s religious beliefs that are contrary to the criteria of the “Russian World” created in the corridors of the Kremlin. If this is an attitude of Russians to “their” Muslims, it’s frightening to imagine how they will relate to the Muslim population of the Crimea, which is originally an Islamic region with a long history. Indeed, many respected people have been denied entry to the Crimea, including Mustafa Dzhemilev, former head of the Crimean Majlis, in April awarded the Order of the Republic of Turkey. So why Turkey keep silence, why Erdogan keep silence? After all, Turkey sees itself as a regional leader of the Black Sea region and do not pay attention to the increasing pressure on the Muslim population of Russia. Or their ambitions do not match with the real potential? Time will show, but now we will observe how the Muslims of Russia continue to pray in the streets of Russian cities, as long as Putin allows them …

Back to school

Posted by on 02/09/14

By Natalia Alonso, Oxfam’s Deputy Director of Advocacy & Campaigns


Here we are again. First week of September. Although this year’s rentréé will start with quite a few new EU faces.

The women and men who take on the European Union’s ‘top jobs’ – three Presidents, one High Representative, and later the full team of European Commissioners – will be immediately faced with not only the internal debates that so often dominate the EU’s agenda, but with decisions that affect the lives of ordinary people both within and beyond Europe’s borders, not least the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.

Next year is of immense significance to the fight against both climate change and global poverty, with the world’s leaders gathering in Paris in December in order to reach an urgently needed global deal to prevent climate chaos, and earlier in the year to agree on a new global development agenda for beyond 2015 as a successor to the Millennium Development Goals.

It is vital that EU leaders ensure that the priorities of not only climate change but the growing gap between rich and poor that hinders the fight against poverty are embedded in an inclusive and sustainable agenda. This agenda should include ambitious global goals matched with a binding commitment to provide the resources necessary to achieve them. This means meeting aid commitments, yes, but also discerning engagement with the private sector and the use of innovative sources of financing such as a broad-based and well-designed financial transaction tax (FTT).

This work can and must begin now, and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, whose country assumed the rotating EU Presidency in July, need not wait to take action. Most immediately, the Italian Presidency can see to it that decisive action is taken by Member States to ensure that the EU’s humanitarian commitments are fully funded and that life-saving activities can continue in Syria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and many other places where people are in dire need.

Italy is well placed to ensure that the EU sets itself ambitious and binding targets ahead of next year’s climate summit for reducing carbon emissions and promoting genuinely sustainable solutions. Tensions in its neighbourhood are a reminder of the EU’s continuing reliance on imported fossil fuels. Instead of turning to expensive alternatives which commit Europeans to higher energy prices and do nothing to fight climate change and its consequences on hunger worldwide, Europe must take a sustainable path.

The 85 richest people own the same wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest people. But this economic inequality is by no means inevitable and solutions are out there for European leaders to pursue, including the fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance. The Italian Presidency can deliver concrete results in this fight for tax justice, such as concluding the review of the anti-money laundering directive and shedding light on who really benefits from shady tax arrangements, as well as concluding talks on the FTT by the end of the year.

The Italian Presidency can provide vision, continuity and momentum to the EU so that the new appointments at the top can hit the ground running. Those selected to lead the EU into this coming year will be confronted with global challenges that affect us all. Fortunately, change is as achievable as it is urgent, and solutions exist if we are willing to embrace them.

Mogherini’s first priority

Posted by on 01/09/14

A recent report from Euractiv Greece unveiled an ambiguous position of the European Commission regarding the question of alignment of candidate member-states Serbia and Turkey with the EU against Russia with reference to bans in food imports. Similar news reports of the past couple of weeks pointed out that both countries have benefited from the current embargo on food supply from the EU, increasing their exports to Russia and gaining a comparative advantage. In this respect, the following question comes in mind: Should the EU’s stance be a denominator for candidate member-states when such crises see the light or we should expect a more lenient approach, accepting the temporary free-riding?

To answer this question, I believe we should first define in which context the so-called Common European Foreign Policy is operated. The first step of the analysis should be whether EU has a true, institutionalized, and abiding foreign policy that all member-states should follow and respect. For the moment, it is clear that we do not have something like that. Instead, we do have member-states that use diplomacy more as a tool to promote national interest rather than as a tool to promote broader European interests.

The second step of the analysis should be whether candidate member-states have to abide by certain policy guidelines and decisions of the EU. From a legal perspective, no. From a political and diplomatic perspective, maybe. In other words, both Serbia and Turkey are not obliged to follow the decisions of the EU as long as they are not full member-states; but even if they were, empirical evidence shows that the EU is not behaving with one voice and one policy. Yes, there are decisions like the one against Russia taken by the last EU Council, but we should also acknowledge the delicate balances that exist in geopolitical and economic terms for Serbia and Turkey vis-à-vis Russia. For the time being, and as both countries are not full members of the EU, such “balances” should be at least respected by the EU.

Turning back to the EU’s stance against Russia, we need to stress out that if the EU wants to be considered as a prominent geopolitical power exerting influence in its area, it should first protect its member-states (i.e. regarding Russia, from the risk of gas shortage in the coming winter) and then respect the regional capacity and scopes of other adjacent geopolitical powers, like Russia. That is, to reconsider its position against Kremlin and try to find a compromise in Ukraine. As conditions change quickly, and after the last meeting between Poroshenko and Putin, it is time for the EU to come in terms with Russia and restitute the former status quo. In the meantime, EU leaders should also freeze any expansion plan of NATO in neighboring countries and control statements over “military capacity”, “security assertiveness” and “protection shield”.

As Baroness Catherine Ashton foresaw the pivotal role of Iran as a potential energy and geopolitical partner for the EU in the Middle East during the negotiations ended up to the Geneva Accords last November, it is now the time for Federica Mogherini to act accordingly with Russia and conceptualize the security risks involved.

The global challenges after a hot summer

Posted by on 01/09/14
By Antonia Colibasanu As the summer ends in Europe, we’re still seeing new crises unfolding, with an interesting winter coming up. Ukraine will remain a constant preoccupation of the Europeans. Gaza, Iraq and Syria are also still in the news. And there are other global developments Brussels and the EU member states must consider in the upcoming weeks. An overview...

Escalation lurks in Eastern Ukraine

Posted by on 29/08/14

If earlier, the Russian government has tried in every possible way to disown the gravity of the situation in Eastern Ukraine and conceal the supply of arms and ammunition, as well as involvement of Russian military specialists and special units, now apparently Moscow decided to change tactics.

Elena Vasilieva, chairman of the ICC “Forgotten Regiment”, in her article titled “cargo – 200” (coffin with military) from Ukraine to Russia” yesterday on the air to the Moscow radio station “Echo of Moscow”, causing heated debate, stated the whole blogosphere about a funeral of Russian paratroopers of Pskov Division.

“Members of the ICC” Forgotten Regiment “are combatants of various local and international wars and conflicts. However we do know what it means to get a cargo – 200. We still honor the memory of those killed fighting brothers. And it is unacceptable that soldiers sent to fight in another country have been forgotten relatives” – Mrs.Vasilieva says.

“The most difficult thing for the relatives of the dead – is to find and bring home to bury their bodies. No one knows where the military unit shall be redeployed, where his or her son, husband or brother may serve.

Therefore we publish an information about troops pulled back into combat areas in Ukraine. We hope this will become a reference point for certain family members who are worried about the fate of their relatives serving in the army.

This information is for obvious reasons can not be absolutely 100% accurate. But it confirmed fragmentary statements coming from the Ministry of Defense and publications of journalists.”

Russian troops in Ukraine:

From South Military District, ground forces and artillery:

- task force battalion from the 18th motorized Brigade / Chechnya Hankala / Kalynovska (the so-called Chechen battalion);

- task force battalion from the 17th motorized Brigade / Chechnya;

- task force battalion from the 136th motorized Brigade / Botlikh, Dagestan;

- task force battalion from the 205th motorized Brigade / Budennovsk, Stavropol Territory;

- task force battalion from the 19th motorized Rifle Brigade / Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia;

- task force battalion from the 7th military base from the occupied Abkhazia, Georgia;

- task force battalion from the 33th mountain infantry brigade / Maikop, Adygea;

- mixed division from the 291st Artillery Brigade / Trinity, Ingushetia.

- mixed company from the 78th brigade logistics / Budeonovsk, Stavropol region.

From Airborne:

- task force battalion from the 76th Division of Pskov;

- task force battalion from the 98th Division, Ivanovo;

- task force battalion of the 45 separate regiment Specialty / Kubinka;

- task force battalion from the from the 247th Regiment of the 7th Division of Novorossiysk.

- task force battalion and divisions of the Land Forces and artillery units South Military District – from the 20th Motorised Brigade / Volgograd,

- 34th mountain infantry brigade / Karachay-Cherkessia;

- division from the 943rd Artillery Regiment / Krasnooktyabrskoe Adygea (MLRS “Hurricane”)

- division from the 1st Missile Brigade / Krasnodar (PTRC “Tochka-U”, “Iskander-M”).

- 23 th motorized infantry brigade Samara;

- task force battalion from Airborne – from the 56th Air Assault Brigade / Volgograd,

- from the parts of the GRU (General Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Russia) stationed in the South of Russia – the 10th brigade of special operations / Molkino Krasnodar region,

- 22th special operations brigade, Aksai, Rostov region,

- 100th special operations brigade, Mozdok,North Ossetia,

- 346th special operations brigade, Kabardino-Balkaria,

- 25th special operations brigade, Stavropol;

- 2nd special operations brigade, Pskov,

- 16th special operations brigade, Tambov,

- 3rd special operations brigade, Ulyanovsk.

According to a rough estimate size of the Russian group (which they cynically called “peacekeeping”) on the eastern border of Ukraine is about 12-15 thousand personnel, which, if necessary, in the shortest possible time can be multiplied by 2. Also, large groups of Russian troops are concentrated in the south of the occupied Crimea and the North-Eastern border of Ukraine “, – reported the ICC” Forgotten Regiment. ”

These forces can severely complicate the situation of Ukrainian troops. Although with all the confidence we can say that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are ready to continue protecting the territorial integrity of its country and repel the aggression. It would be difficult not to agree that Ukraine has little chance of winning in the full military conflict against Russia.

As time has shown it us mistake to think that economic sanctions against Russia can really stop its aggression against Ukraine. It is needed more effectively methods. In this situation, the West must show Moscow that such aggressive policy in the 21st century will not succeed. It would be logical to declare an extraordinary session of the UN Security Council, as well as to provide financial and material assistance to Ukraine for protection against the ENEMY of RUSSIA.

Ukraine: Building up to a regional clash?

Posted by on 28/08/14
By Dimitris Rapidis A couple of months ago, the crisis in Ukraine could look like a common escalation between the Ukrainian and the Russian forces. Today, the escalation has taken a structural turn both in terms of army mobilization, diplomatic intervention, and timing, possibly leading to a regional war in Ukraine.

Will the economic sanctions of US and the EU against Russia fail?

Posted by on 26/08/14
By Tyszecki The harsh economic sanctions against Russia demonstrated the unity of the European Union and the United States on the issue of stopping the bloody war, unleashed and supported by Russia, as well as their full support for Ukraine. The stakes are high...

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