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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


New opportunity for EU support for climate action in Eastern Partnership countries

from: Zsolt Lengyel –  zsolt.lengyel at climaeast.eu

February 10, 2015

Dear Madam/Sir,

We are pleased to inform you that the Clima East Expert Facility (EF) has a new round for applications for support from eligible organisations involved with climate actions, targeting both mitigation and adaptation in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

In this round we will also accept collaborative applications from two or more beneficiary organizations. This track should enable sectoral ministries, other national or local administration bodies, and in particular civil society organisations, to contribute successfully to the definition, development and delivery of national climate policy and actions.


The Clima East Expert Facility is one of the channels through which the European Commission funded Clima East project provides technical assistance to Partner Countries’ stakeholders to facilitate the development, adoption and implementation of effective and appropriate climate change mitigation and adaptation policies and actions.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

A CHOREOGRAPHY THAT EXPLORES THE IDEA OF RECONCILIATION.

Fishman Space in BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Place, near Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; 718-636-4100, www.bam.org.

The main purpose of DanceMotion USA, a cultural diplomacy program run by the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the State Department, is to send American artistic troupes abroad. Yet the program also benefits New Yorkers directly by having  American companies bring back a foreign one for a free, collaborative stay and performance here of several weeks – sometimes at dance camps out-of-town i.e. in Maine.  Eventually a new program is born and it is shown at the Brooklyn BAM which is now blessed o have also the  Fisher Building (Fishman Space) next door. These visits have proven to say the least – interesting. The New York Times prefers to say illuminating.

At the BAM Fishman Space on Thursday, David Dorfman Dance which is based at the BAM, back from a four-week tour of Turkey, Armenia and Tajikistan, teamed up with the Korhan Basaran Company from Istanbul, augmented by two Armenian dancers – Karen Khatchatryan and Davit Grigoryan. 

The program was not one with pieces from each of the performing triangle’s previous repertory.  Mr. Dorfman and Mr. Basaran went all the way,  joining forces for an hour-long  joint program titled – “Unsettled” with a  chosen theme of  “reconciliation.”   It was remarkable how well the two companies, both packed with powerful dancers did merge.

The work teemed with groups pushing and shoving, but it did not set one troupe against the other. The sharpest contrast — in the opening moments and in two later face-off duets — was between the choreographers: Mr. Basaran, tall, with a tendency to collapse inward, and Mr. Dorfman, squat, always hurling his energy out. Yet the aesthetic kinship between them was also apparent in eruptive rhythms and labile emotions.

The music, composed and played live by Sam Crawford, Liz de Lise, Jesse Manno and Timothy Quigley, beguilingly blended Western and Middle Eastern styles and instrumentation. It borrowed the folk song “Sari Gyalin” (or “Sari Gelin”), which in Turkish, Armenian and English versions laments the failure of love across ethnic divides.


A few scenes — for example, a forced march — could be read as specific allusions to the bloody history between Turks and Armenians, but much of the work’s tension was cannily translated into the power dynamics of the choreographic process. In its strongest segment, Evrim Akyay, a slinky Turkish dancer with a menacing presence, directed the motions of an ingenuous American, Kendra Portier, as if in rehearsal for this show. The more he yelled at her in Turkish and slapped her around, the brighter her smile. Though, the power of that scene was squandered as Ms. Portier turned to audience members and implored them to move closer together, vocalizing her needs in dancerly double entendres (“I need to be moved”).  Similarly, another scene swerved from infantile humor to a sharp evocation of the coercion in making people say they’re sorry, only to end with weeping on the ground. A shrewd point about forced reconciliations got belabored in a manner that was itself coercive.

Still, it is to the credit of all involved that “Unsettled,” after a celebratory group dance, had the honesty to remain unsettled. What resonated was a moment before the end, when Mr. Dorfman, having failed to force his friendship on Mr. Basaran, took a line from the folk song and allowed it to expand into a humble question for everyone: “Oh tell me please, what can I do?”

 

This reporting of mine follows a review in the New York Times and a feeling that many in the audience, including myself, had that though seeing a piece that historically dealt with the Armenian – Turkish relations that included an attempt at genocide, actually today the topic is the Israeli Palestinian conflict and it was obvious that to untrained ears Turkish, Armenian, or Arab music – seem all the same – and thus a presence in the air – reference was being made to the Middle East as if there were some generic to it.

The performances at the BAM went on Thursday – Friday – Saturday evenings, but then there was also a performance Saturday afternoon that I attended because it had also a follow up discussion with TV link to Istanbul and questions via the internet from London, Ankara, Germany and some other places.

On a question about the collaboration we heard an answer that said – in a month we become one but in some things where there were differences we become States.

Before the TV land internet links the conversation was according to the natural language of the speaker with a sometime translation into English – then from Ankara came the notion that something that was said in Armenian needed also Turkish translation. Fair enough.

On the I AM SORRY piece: “Children can easily apologize to each other – forget and forgive.”  As he got older, the comment went on, he felt he needed more – the words alone mean less.

Then he saw The Planet of the Apes – they have the capacity of forgive & forget – but we do not have that capacity anymore.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Woolly mammoths faced extinction between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago. (photo: Unknown)
Woolly mammoths faced extinction between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago. (photo: Unknown)

go to original article

The Sixth Extinction Menaces the Very Foundations of Culture

By Jonathan Jones, Guardian UK

08 September 2012

Human culture is profoundly rooted in nature, yet human activity endangers the survival of entire species of plants and animals.

n a cave in south-west France an extinct animal materialises out of the dark. Drawn in vigorous black lines by an artist in the ice age, a woolly mammoth shakes hairs that hide its face and vaunts slender tusks that reach almost to the ground.

Those tusks were not dangerous enough to save it. As human hunters advanced on its icy haunts, mammoths faced extinction between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago. The end of the ice age did for these shaggy cold-lovers, but humans helped: entire huts built from mammoth tusks and bones have been found.

We didn’t mean to help make the mammoth extinct. The wonderful portrait of a mammoth in Pech Merle cave reveals that early homo sapiens was fascinated by these marvellous creatures. This masterpiece of cave art is as acute as any modern work of naturalist observation. The hunters who painted in caves showed the same passion for the natural world as their descendants do. Their culture must have been bereft when the mammoth vanished – even as they helped it on its way.

In the 21st century the same paradox endures. Human activity endangers entire species, yet human culture is profoundly rooted in nature. The loss of a species is also a loss of the images, stories, symbols and wonders that we live by – to call it a cultural loss may sound too cerebral: what we lose when we lose animals is the very meaning of life. Those first artists in ancient caves portrayed animals far more than they portrayed people. It was in the wild herds around them that the power of the cosmos and the mystery of existence seemed to be located.

No species in modern times embodies that fascination more fully than the tiger, one of today’s most endangered predators. Since the Romantic age tigers have been endowed in art and literature with the marvellous essence of life itself, a primeval power like the enigmatic strangeness the stone age artist saw in a mammoth. “What immortal hand or eye,/ Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” wonders William Blake in his 1794 poem The Tyger. That same childlike awe – Blake’s poem appears in his child’s eye Songs of Innocence and Experience – is shared by Henri Rousseau’s 1891 paintingSurprised! of an archetypal tiger in a fantastic jungle.

These artistic hymns to the tiger are just the noblest expressions of an imagery that pervades modern culture from tigers who come to tea to tigers with neat feet. It just seems unimaginable that a creature so familiar in our shared dreams should vanish from the natural world. Human culture would lose immeasurably from such a disappearance. And what about sharks? More ancient than dinosaurs,under threat for the first time in their mind-bogglingly long history, these creatures feed modern culture some of its darkest folklore. Shark films and scare stories are the modern equivalent of stone age hunters telling tales about bears and wolves around the fire. We fear them, but our culture needs them.

Cute creatures as well as scary ones inspire the stories and myths that humans cannot live without. Amphibians, most threatened animal group of all, are among the most universal stars of culture. While Blake was marvelling at tigers, the Grimms recorded the folk tale of the frog-prince. Long before that Plato said the ancient Greeks were like frogs around a pond. Aristophanes wrote a comedy called The Frogs. American frogs were depicted by the Aztecs as well as providing Amazonian peoples with arrow poison. The very naming of poison dart frogs reveals how deeply they are associated with cultures that are themselves on the brink of extinction.

In Britain too, the amphibious denizens of threatened waterlands have always inspired imaginations. Could our culture survive without Toad of Toad Hall?

Not so long ago British beaches were seasonally covered with “mermaid’s purses”, the eggs of sharks and rays. The name reveals how deeply nature feeds folk culture, in Britain as in the Amazon. Is it possible still to find masses of mermaid’s purses on the Welsh rocks where I used to wonder what they were? I have to look for them with my daughter soon, before it is too late. The range of animals and plants threatened by the sixth extinction – as covered by the Guardian over this fortnight – is such that it menaces the foundations of culture as well as the diversity of nature. We are part of nature and it has always fed our imaginations. We face the bare walls of an empty museum, a gallery of the dead.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Sunday, October 25th, 2010 Fareed Zakaria, on his CNN/GPS program – 9 days before the US Mid-term Elections of November 2, 2010 –  started his analysis of the changing World – and he promised to continue to deal with this subject in his Halloween – Sunday, October 31st Very Special program to be seen also in the evening – and in a Special Time Magazine issue.

The World has changed in the last two decades mainly because of two developments – and the US must learn that it is no-more the one Super-power and that it will have to adapt to the idea that it might not even be the leading power anymore. These two developments are:

(A) the Technology Revolution – particularly the information technology which since the 1990s has started the economic spiral of job losses.

(B) Globalization that resulted in the largest 500 US companies getting an average of 26% of their profits from overseas and among the largest of theses companies this figure could be as high as 80%.

In global politics – Vietnam 1973 has changed to Bosnia 1996 and the art of negotiation that will be reapplied to a readiness to talk with the Taliban. Richard Holbrooke was on the program, and very thoughtfully said that at the moment there are not yet negotiations but “contact and discussions” – it is not yet the stage of secret negotiations that went on towards the end of the war in Vietnam. We are not trying to win the Afghanistan War and a Dayton-type of negotiations is in the cards – but we are not there yet, he said. If no-body noted this earlier, Holbrooke was appointed by Hillary Clinton in the name of President Obama  to the AF/Pak desk – just for this purpose – and he surely is eager to justify the trust in him.

The US must face it – 9 years of war and a half trillion dollars expenditures since 9/11, and the US has not started to scratch the issue of finding Bin Laden. The US must learn and reassess – and Fareed brought in a truly stellar panel to start this analysis.

SIMON SCHAMA – the author of “The American Future: A History”, where he takes the long view of how the United States has come today to this anguished moment of truth about its own identity as a nation and its place in the world.

He was born in London, son of Jewish parents with roots in Lithuania, Romania, and Turkey – a renown British historian – he has lived half his life in the US and is now a Professor at Columbia University having taught in the 80s at Harvard.

Schama is a supporter of President Obama and a critic of President G.W. Bush. He appeared on the BBC’s coverage of the 2008 U.S. presidential election, clashing with John Bolton.

SHASHI THAROOR – now a member of the Indian Parliament from the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in Kerala. On 2 May 2010, he was nominated to be a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for External Affairs.

Tharoor previously served as the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information. He ran for UN Secretary General and lost to the present chief – Mr. Ban Ki-moon who had the G.W. Bush backing. Tharoor’s loss was the World’s loss of highly intellectual, outspoken, potential World leader. Born in London and educated in the US – His doctoral thesis at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, “Reasons of State”, was a required reading in courses on Indian foreign-policy making. He was with the UN from 1978 till April 1, 2007 and we knew him well in his last years as UN Undersecretary-General for Communications and Public Information, and as the head of Department of Public Information (UNDPI) under UNSG Kofi Annan. During his tenure at the UNDPI, Tharoor reformed his Department and undertook a number of initiatives, ranging from organizing and conducting the first-ever UN seminar on anti-Semitism, the first-ever UN seminar on Islamophobia and launching an annual list of “Ten Under-Reported Stories the World Ought to Know About.”

KISHORE MAHBUBANI – the author of “The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Power to the East,”  as well as “Can Asians Think?” and “Beyond the Age of Innocence: Rebuilding Trust between America and the World”. Now he is the Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, he served for 33 years as a diplomat for Singapore, and has written many articles on world affairs. We met him several years ago at the Asia Society in New York and got material directly from him.

Mr. Tharoor observed that Americans are moving away from the concept of Globalization that they themselves managed to sell to the World. He said that a G-2 concept of the US and China is unacceptable to “THE REST OF US.”

Mr. Mahbubani reminded Mr. Schama that in the past he also advocated a 5% Consumption tax that could be used to change the system – and flatly stated that China’s views get more sympathy from us – meaning also THE REST OF US then the US does. Simply stated – The US capacity to provide leadership has diminished.

Mr. Schama pointed out that recently China threatened Japan unnecessarily, China’s currency is undervalued, and that China’s relationships with the rest of the world is based on what it can get in term of resources. To this Mahbubani answered that indeed China overplayed Japan and the Chinese President went to Japan for a making-up visit.

Mr. Schama reviewed the November 2nd 2010 US elections today as part of the Financial Times www.ft.com  /obamaatbay series. He says that if Mr. Obama’s good works – and they were the best since the Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society years of the 1960s, and the momentous opening charge of the New Deal of 1933 – he calls for Mr. Obama to discard his Plato and to summon instead his “inner Machiavelli” – but these topics are not the subject of our present article.
We will get back to them in a later – elections related posting.

———————

Watching the Fareed Zakaria stellar program  that touched upon the reality of a new world of global blocks – I decided to come up with a summation of our own views of the kind of World the Obama II Administration will be facing in the 2011-2013 years when preparing for the 2012 US elections.

The World population is pushing to the 7 Billion figure – presently as per US Census Bureau estimates it is 6.88 Billion – well over half of which is made up by clear three blocks – as we will see the agreed upon three blocks account for 4 Billion out of the 7 Billion :

CHINA – by the end of 2010 it is expected to be 1.4 Billion.

INDIA – presently at 1.2 Billion and by 2030, because of higher birth rates, India’s population will surpass China’s that will have stabilized at 1.45 Billion.

THE MUSLIMS presently at 1.2 Billion. Now still an agglomerate but with developing Turkish leadership.

In our opinion rather then continuing the Fareed Zakaria panel’s talk of the US as the fourth block, a failed G-2 concept of the US and China – which by the way is  a concept we presented many times on our own website, and which we still see as a stepping stone on the way the World will eventually tackle the climate change issue – and their fifth block – the members of the panel called THE REST – simply does not agree with our gut-feelings and mental analysis – rather WE THINK THAT THE REMAINING 3 BILLION PEOPLE WILL BELONG TO A DIFFERENT SET OF Rather THREE BLOCKS as follows:

– THE CHRISTIAN EUROPE – LED BY GERMANY AND RUSSIA  – about 750 million that is Continental Europe –
up to and including Russia, Georgia and Armenia – excluding possibly the UK.

– THE US  and MORE-OR-LESS ANGLO  ALLIES – 310 million and about  650 million when including Canada, the UK,
Australia, New Zealand, and some others from among Japan, Korea, Mexico.

– THE REST – which will be BRAZILIAN LED including Sub-Sahara Africa, Central and South America, parts of Asia and
the Island States. This block remains the largest in total numbers of people.

———————–

Having seen the papers of Monday and Tuesday I found further justification to above suggestions I am making in the fact that some in the US, and perhaps even the UK, starting the blame game of WHO HAS LOST EUROPE TO RUSSIA.
We rather think that Europe getting together with resources rich Russia may prove to be in Europe’s self-interest in the six-block World we see in the future and we rather find further justification in the attitudes expressed by the Fareed panel.

Jorge Benitez – NatSource of the Atlantic Council of NATO, October 26, 2010 notes:

From John Vinocur, the International Herald Tribune:  Germany and France, meeting with Russia in Deauville, northern France, last week, signaled that they planned to make such three-cornered get-togethers on international foreign policy and security matters routine, and even extend them to inviting other “partners” — pointing, according to diplomats from two countries, to Turkey becoming a future participant.
Then we saw by Politicus something like:

Will (or Could) the US Lose Europe to Russia.

as per JOHN VINOCUR, Published: October 25, 2010

PARIS — The United States used to call wayward members of NATO back to the reservation with a whistle or a shout. It decided what was deviation from doctrine, and that decision was pretty much law.

When the Obama administration stamped its foot this time, no one snapped to attention.

Rather, Germany and France, meeting with Russia in Deauville, northern France, last week, signaled that they planned to make such three-cornered get-togethers on international foreign policy and security matters routine, and even extend them to inviting other “partners” — pointing, according to diplomats from two countries, to Turkey becoming a future participant.

That can look like an effort to deal with European security concerns in a manner that keeps NATO, at least in part, at a distance. And it could seem a formula making it easier for Russia to play off — absolutely no novelty here — the European allies against the United States, or NATO and the European Union, against one another.

But there’s more detail in the theoretical Euro-Atlantic apostasy department: Add Chancellor Angela Merkel’s proposal, made in June, that the European Union and Russia establish their own Political and Security Committee, and President Nicolas Sarkozy’s intention, enunciated in Deauville, to establish an E.U.-Russia economic space “with common security concepts.”

Just before the Deauville meeting, Vladimir Chizov, Russia’s ambassador to the E.U., leapt ahead of the Merkel/Sarkozy plans and told a reporter that Russia now wants a formalized relationship with the existing E.U. committee on foreign and security policy. “I don’t expect to be sitting at every committee session,” he said, “but there should be some mechanism that would enable us to take joint steps.”

As for the Obama administration stamping its foot, what it came down to was a senior U.S. official saying: “Since when, I wonder, is European security no longer an issue of American concern, but something for Europe and Russia to resolve? After being at the center of European security for 70 years, it’s strange to hear that it’s no longer a matter of U.S. concern.”

So, a follow-on burst of European contrition? I asked a German official about it. He spoke of German and French loyalty to NATO. And he said, “I understand there are American suspicions.”

“But,” he added, “the United States must accept that the times are changing. There are examples of it having done this. Why wouldn’t it accept our view in this respect?”

The official did not list them, but there are obvious factors explaining the French and German initiatives.

A major one is President Barack Obama’s perceived lack of interest and engagement in Europe. His failure to attend a Berlin ceremony commemorating the end of the Cold War and his cancellation of a meeting involving the E.U.’s new president has had symbolic weight.

Example: Ivo H. Daalder, the United States’ permanent representative at NATO, gave a speech in Paris last week in which he skipped over the Russians’ maneuvering, but described as “baffling” and “very strange” that “NATO doesn’t have a real strategic partnership with the E.U.”

True enough. On the other hand, Russia is getting a whole series of passes: Ten days ago, when Mr. Medvedev offered Hugo Chávez of Venezuela help to build the country’s first nuclear power station, the State Department expressed concern about technology migrating to “countries that should not have that technology” — but added (bafflingly), that the relationship between Venezuela and Russia (for years Iran’s supplier of nuclear wherewithal) “is not of concern to us.”

Last week, more of the same. When Mr. Medvedev bestowed Russia’s highest honors at a Kremlin ceremony on a group of sleeper spies who were expelled from the United States last July, a State Department spokesman turned away a reporter’s question with a “no comment.” Washington chooses not to say anything either about Mr. Medvedev’s support, repeated in Deauville, for Mr. Sarkozy’s plan, as next year’s president of the G-20 consultative grouping, to focus its attention on limiting the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency.

In the Deauville aftermath, the Americans have preferred applauding Mr. Medvedev’s decision to come to a NATO summit meeting in Lisbon next month, following U.S. congressional elections. He is not expected to announce Russian participation in or endorsement of a U.S.-initiated antimissile shield for Europe — the United States’ notionally organic bond in strengthening the alliance’s trans-Atlantic future — yet the Russian president’s appearance as a guest on NATO’s turf could be seen as an important gesture of real cooperation.

Still, for all the Americans’ concern about Europe dealing with Russia on its own, there hardly has been a corresponding public statement from the administration that’s a call for caution about Moscow’s interest in setting up rivalries between NATO and the E.U. For David J. Kramer, a former senior State Department official with responsibility for Russia, the new circumstances show “the Russians now have far more leverage in the U.S. relationship than they should.”

It was unexpected in the circumstances, but at a briefing in the run-up to the Deauville meeting the administration liked so little, a French presidential source put a big asterisk — more than Washington does openly — next to France’s desire to create “an anchorage in the West” out of “fragile” indications of change in Russia.

“We do not have assurance there is a permanent strategic turn,” the Élysée Palace said.

That can look like an effort to deal with European security concerns in a manner that keeps NATO, at least in part, at a distance. And it could seem a formula making it easier for Russia to play off — absolutely no novelty here — the European allies against the United States, or NATO and the European Union, against one another.

But there’s more detail in the theoretical Euro-Atlantic apostasy department: Add Chancellor Angela Merkel’s proposal, made in June, that the European Union and Russia establish their own Political and Security Committee, and President Nicolas Sarkozy’s intention, enunciated in Deauville, to establish an E.U.-Russia economic space “with common security concepts. …”

At the same time, the U.S. reset with Russia and the administration’s willingness to treat President Dmitri A. Medvedev as a potential Western-oriented partner has given the Germans and French the sense they were free to act on the basis of their own interpretations of the changes in Moscow.

In this European view, the United States has become significantly dependent on Russia through its maintenance of military supply routes to Afghanistan and its heightened pressure, albeit in wavering measure, on Iran. Because the reset is portrayed by the administration to be a U.S. foreign policy success, criticism from Washington of Russia is at a minimum.

Consider this irony: the more Russia makes entry into the E.U.’s decision-making processes on security issues a seeming condition for deals the French and/or Germans want (think, for example, of France’s proposed sale to Moscow of Mistral attack vessels), the more the impression takes hold that the administration’s focus for complaint about the situation has been off-loaded onto the Europeans.

————–

Looking at these last lines, our opinion is that the EU is a work in progress, as we said many times previously,  with three EU Presidents still functioning  in  parallel, while talking of extending invitation Eastwards and Southwards to the Ukraine and Serbia. This latter moves bring it clearly into the elbow space of Russia – so extending an invitation for co-operation with Russia becomes more and more the only option available to the EU. These are parts of the reasoning of our futuristic proposition.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 4th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The GUAM States are Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova – States on the Western Extended Borders of Russia – that have expressed interest in good relations with the West and in adopting Western Ways of Government and joining Western Institutions. They are not part of the EU. Azerbaijan is a Muslim Oil-State in conflict with Russia backed Armenia.

——————–

Remarks at Meeting With the Staff and Families of Embassy Baku.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Embassy Baku
Baku, Azerbaijan
July 4, 2010

SPEAKER: Madam Secretary, on behalf of our entire embassy family, we welcome you to the embassy, and welcome you to our garden.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, thank you.
SPEAKER: Please.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, thank you. Well, Happy Fourth of July to all of you.
(Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: This is a wonderful way to celebrate the American Independence Day, here in this beautiful garden, and to be with all of you here in Azerbaijan, where independence and the values of freedom and equality and opportunity enshrined in our Declaration of Independence are all the more meaningful for this young, independent country.
This has been a very whirlwind trip, and I thank every one of you who has helped to make it possible. And I thank you, too, for all the work you have done this past year to further and steady our relationship between our country and Azerbaijan, and we are trying to do everything we can to support you, including working for a new embassy compound — although you won’t have a garden like this, I’m afraid. That’s kind of a trade-off, isn’t it?
Earlier today I had a productive meeting with President Aliyev, and assured him of the importance of Azerbaijan to the United States, and that we are committed to working in partnership to enhance global security and promote democracy and stabilize the region.
I just came from a meeting with some young people at the Mugam Club in the historic, beautiful old city, who are working to promote civil society, protect human rights, develop a free media in the country. They are the reason that I come to work every day, because much of what I do is about the next generation. And I was very proud and impressed to listen to them, and especially 5 of the 10 had studied in the United States under the exchange programs that some of you help to run.
We are very focused in the Obama Administration on working to strengthen our relationship, and supporting the modernization, the secularization, the democratization of this very exciting country at this time in history.
I want to thank Chargé Donald Lu for his steady leadership during this past year. He has kept everything running during a difficult time without the help of an ambassador. We are working very hard to get our new ambassador confirmed, and hopefully he will be joining you shortly. And, in the meantime, I welcome Adam Stirling as the new chargé, and will look forward to working with him.
Now, I can imagine that for our locally-engaged staff, who have never celebrated an American Fourth of July — which means that you have never eaten barbeque or gone to a fireworks or gotten sunburned with your family out in some beautiful place — it might seem a little bit distant to be here in Baku, celebrating the founding of our country. But for Americans this is a very special day. And it’s a day that we really do take time out to appreciate the founding of our country 234 years ago, and all that we have had to do over those years to create a more perfect union, to overcome injustice, discrimination, to make sure that the circle of opportunity grew bigger and bigger, so that it could encompass every American.
So, I thank each and every one of you on this Fourth of July for your hard work: our foreign service and our civil service officers, all of our colleagues from other U.S. government agencies, our Peace Corps volunteers, our family members, and especially our locally-engaged staff. We honor your sacrifices and your dedication. And I wish you a very safe and happy Independence Day. But, more than that, I wish you a day every single day of this upcoming year of greater cooperation and partnership to deepen and broaden our relationship.
And I know that when someone like me comes, it adds to your workload. So I am hoping that with the outgoing chargé and the incoming chargé, that maybe they will give you the rest of the Fourth of July off. What do you think? That’s a departmental, Secretary of State directive.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 2nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

www.unece.org/oes/disc_papers/climat_change.html

—–

UNECE climate change activities[1]

Table of Contents:

Introduction
Conventions
Vehicle regulations
Energy efficiency in production
Energy-efficient housing
Sustainable forestry
Sustainable biomass
Other related UNECE areas of work

Introduction

Climate change is a human-induced process of global warming, largely resulting from the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and fluorocarbons.[2] Countries are under increasing pressure to curb their emissions of these gases and to enhance carbon sinks in a drive to mitigate the effects of climate change. However, combating the threats of human-induced global warming requires more than mitigation; it is equally important to reduce society’s vulnerability to climate change through adaptation, as established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, launched in 2005. Adaptation addresses the impacts of climate change, including climate variability and weather extremes.[3]

The United Nations Secretary-General has put climate change at the top of the United Nations agenda, ensuring that the “United Nations system will continue … to bring to bear the collective strength of all its entities as an integral part of the international community’s response to climate change.”[4] The five regional commissions have assumed an active role in coordinating United Nations support for action on climate change at the regional level through the regional coordination mechanisms mandated by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1998/46 (annex III).[5] The five commissions are seen as conveners to support global, regional and national action on climate change, while coordinating their workplans and implementation efforts with other organizations that have significant mandates in their respective areas.[6]

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is a key driving force in combating climate change in the pan-European region and beyond. The UNECE region comprises 56 member States, spanning the whole European continent, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and also including Israel, Turkey, Canada and the United States of America. The region has a crucial role in contributing to the local and regional success of UNFCCC, as was noted by UNECE member States at the “Sixth Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” (Belgrade, 10–12 October 2007).[7] UNECE has spearheaded the region’s efforts to achieve the targets of United Nations Millennium Development Goal 7, especially to integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and to reverse the losses of environmental resources.

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Conventions

Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution

The 1979 UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP), and its protocols aim to cut emissions of air pollutants, inter alia, sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs). Such pollutants can either directly influence global warming, by affecting the cooling or absorptive characteristics of the atmosphere, or indirectly influence it through, for example, ozone formation. Recent studies have shown important synergies in addressing air pollution control and climate change mitigation and have highlighted the economic and environmental co-benefits that are possible by tackling these issues in an integrated way.

The Convention has 51 Parties and eight protocols, which are all in force. The most recent of these, the 1999 Gothenburg Protocol, is currently under revision. It targets the environmental effects of acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone through emission cuts for SO2, NOx, NMVOCs and ammonia. Such cuts are known to mitigate global warming.

A recent major conference and workshop entitled “Air Pollution and Climate Change: Developing a Framework for Integrated Co-benefit Strategies” was held in September 2008 in Stockholm under the auspices of the Convention and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and in consultation with the UNFCCC secretariat. It brought together policymakers and scientists from all United Nations regions to consider ways to develop and implement integrated programmes for decreasing emissions of both air pollutants and GHGs. The conclusions stressed the importance of using integrated strategies. Of special note was the possible “buying of time” in GHG mitigation through cuts in such air pollutants as black carbon and ozone, and air pollutants with a strong radiative forcing effect, which might be cut more readily than CO2 and achieve some GHG mitigation in the short term. The conference agreed there was a need to strengthen air pollution abatement efforts as well as climate change mitigation to achieve better health and environmental protection. It also noted the significant cost savings of using integrated approaches. The conclusions and recommendations of the workshop will be considered by the Convention’s Executive Body (Meeting of the Parties) in December 2008.

The Convention is using different models and methods to analyse environmental effects and to calculate the necessary emission abatement and related costs. In this way, cost-effective pollution control strategies can achieve the desired environmental targets with the least overall expenditure. Recent use of the Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollution Interactions and Synergies (GAINS) integrated assessment model, developed by the Convention’s Centre for Integrated Assessment Modelling, has explored synergies and trade-offs between emissions of air pollutants and GHGs, for current and projected energy use. The model includes both end-of-pipe controls and non-technical measures, such as behavioural changes in traffic or economic instruments.

The Convention’s scientific bodies are also incorporating climate change issues into their programmes of work. The European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP), which monitors and models air quality, is involved in reporting and estimating emissions. Reporting requirements of the Parties have been harmonized with those of UNFCCC. EMEP is also responsible for the integrated assessment modelling work described above. The international programmes of the Working Group on Effects monitor and model environmental and human health effects of air pollution. Increasingly, these need to take account of the links to observed or predicted changes in climatic conditions. They also provide long-term monitoring of data that can identify changes that might be associated with a changing climate.

Discussions in the Convention’s bodies have drawn attention to the strong links between air pollutant and GHG emissions and have highlighted specific issues where integration of strategies is needed. For example, the current emphasis on renewable energy is leading to increased use of wood as a fuel. However, unless appropriate boiler technology is used, this can also lead to increased air pollution.

Water

The intrinsic relation of the hydrological cycle – and thus water availability, quality, and services – to climate change makes adaptation critical for water management and the water sector in general. The UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) is an important legal framework for the development of adaptation strategies, in particular in the transboundary context.

At their fourth meeting in Bonn, Germany, in 2006, the Parties to the Water Convention took a decisive step to supporting the development of adaptation strategies by agreeing to elaborate a guidance document on water and adaptation to climate change. A draft has now been prepared by the Task Forces on Water and Climate and on Extreme Weather Events, both under the Convention’s Protocol on Water and Health. This marks the first attempt under any convention to flesh out a climate change adaptation strategy in the water sector with a particular emphasis on transboundary issues. Based on the concept of integrated water resources management, the Guidance will “provide advice on how to assess impacts of climate change on water quantity and quality, how to perform risk assessment, including health risk assessment, how to gauge vulnerability, and how to design and implement appropriate adaptation measures” [ibid. p. 8]. The Guidance is expected to be formally adopted in November 2009 at the next meeting of the Parties.

One important step in the Guidance’s preparation was a workshop on climate change adaptation in the water sector organized under the Water Convention and the Protocol on Water and Health (Amsterdam, 1–2 July 2008). The workshop, which allowed for an exchange of experience in the region, an assessment of information needs for adaptation strategies and a discussion of the benefits of and mechanisms for transboundary cooperation, touched upon the institutional, policy, legal, scientific and financial aspects of adaptation in the water sector and included cross-cutting issues such as education. The workshop highlighted current challenges such as still limited transboundary cooperation, the focus on short-term rather than long-term measures, and the need to consider climate change together with other global drivers of change, e.g. the energy and food crises and changes in production and consumption patterns.

The Protocol on Water and Health, the first legally binding instrument aimed to achieve the sustainable management of water resources and the reduction of water-related disease, is also highly relevant to climate change adaptation. It establishes joint or coordinated surveillance and early-warning systems, contingency plans and response capacities, as well as mutual assistance to respond to outbreaks or incidents of water-related disease, especially those arising from extreme weather events. The Protocol’s Ad Hoc Project Facilitation Mechanism is a funding tool for implementation of the Protocol at the national level; its provisions on safe drinking water and sanitation are also of relevance to climate change.

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Access to information, public participation and justice

The UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) constitutes the only legally binding instrument so far to implement principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which provides for the participation of citizens in environmental issues by giving them appropriate access to the information concerning the environment held by public authorities, including access to judicial or administrative proceedings, redress and remedy. Access to scientifically based information and public participation in decision-making on environmental issues – as provided by the Convention – are widely recognized as an important foundation for climate change mitigation efforts. UNFCCC, for example, underlined the importance of these principles at its thirteenth session, encouraging Parties to facilitate access to data and information and to promote public participation in addressing climate change and its effects and in developing adequate responses.[8] Environmental information can help to raise awareness about climate change issues and to strengthen synergies between mitigation and adaptation needs. Public participation in this process ensures that social values and trade-offs are represented in political decisions on climate-related issues.

UNECE is a co-organizer of the international conference, “The Role of Information in an Age of Climate Change” (Aarhus, Denmark, 13–14 November 2008). The event, marking the Aarhus Convention’s tenth anniversary, brings together leading scientists, policymakers, government authorities, non-governmental organizations, and representatives of the private sector to promote public access to information and public participation in addressing climate change.

The Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTR), adopted in May 2003, is the first legally binding international instrument on PRTRs. PRTRs assist governments in collecting information on the emission of GHGs and toxic or hazardous substances from industrial facilities and other sources. By making this information available to decision makers and the wider public, PRTRs contribute to enhancing companies’ environmental performance, regional mitigation efforts and the fight against global warming and climate change.

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Vehicle regulations

Transport is a significant and growing contributor to global climate change. According to some estimates, it is responsible for 13 per cent of all anthropogenic emissions of GHGs and for almost one quarter of the world’s total CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.[9]

In May 2008 in Leipzig, Germany, UNECE took part in the OECD International Transport Forum Ministerial Session, “The Challenge of Climate Change”, the first global meeting of transport ministers that focused on energy and climate change challenges relevant to the transport sector. Climate change mitigation and adaptation activities in the transport sector focus on different means of CO2 abatement: (a) innovative engine technologies to increase fuel efficiency; (b) use of sustainable biofuels; (c) improved transport infrastructure, including inter-modal transport and logistics to avoid road congestion; (d) dissemination of consumer information on eco-driving; and (e) implementation of legal instruments. In their key messages, transport ministers urged UNECE World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) to “accelerate the work to develop common methodologies, test cycles and measurement methods for [light] vehicles” [ibid. p. 5], including CO2 emissions. For over 50 years, the World Forum has served as a platform for developing harmonized global regulations for vehicle construction, thus increasing their environmental performance and safety.

The World Forum agreed that a possible strategy for the automotive sector to contribute to the abatement of emissions was to pursue: (a) improved energy efficiency and the use of sustainable biofuels as a short-term objective (2015); (b) the development and introduction into the market of plug-in hybrid vehicles as a mid-term objective (2015–2025); and (c) the development and introduction into the market of electric vehicles as a long-term objective (2025–2040). This strategy would shift the automotive sector from the use of fossil energy to the use of hydrogen and electric energy. To be effective, this strategy needs to rely on the sustainable production of electricity and hydrogen, a crucial policy issue identified for future discussions on global warming and the reduction of CO2 emissions.

The World Forum previously adopted amendments to UNECE regulations to limit the maximum admissible level of vehicle emissions for various gaseous pollutants (e.g. carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, NOx) and particulate matter. These have resulted in a substantial abatement of the emissions limits for new private cars and commercial vehicles. Moreover, UNECE Regulations were amended to include electric and hybrid vehicles as well as vehicles with engines fuelled with liquefied petroleum gas or compressed natural gas. At the present time, the World Forum is considering a number of energy efficiency measures, such as the development of a common methodology and measurement method to evaluate environmentally friendly vehicles, hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles, the use of other alternative energy sources such as biofuels including biogas, the installation in vehicles of engine management systems (e.g. the stop-and-go function), intelligent transport systems, tyre-pressure monitoring systems and the development of tyres with low rolling resistance. Once a consensus is reached, many of these measures are likely to be added to the UNECE regulations, which will help increase vehicles’ energy efficiency.

As concerns fuel-quality standards, in 2007 the World Forum demonstrated the close link between the market fuel quality and the emissions of pollutants from motor vehicles.  It recognized that further reduction of emissions required that cleaner fuel be available to consumers.  The lack of harmonized fuel quality standards was seen to hamper the development of the new vehicle technologies. Supported by UNEP and the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association, the World Forum is committed to developing a necessary standard on market fuel quality, thus enabling vehicles to use fuels that minimize vehicle emission levels.

The Transport Health and Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP), a joint project of UNECE and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, was initiated to help achieve more sustainable transport patterns and a better reflection of environmental and health concerns in transport policy. In particular, THE PEP also promotes sustainable urban transport, including alternative modes of transport, in the region.

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Energy efficiency in production

As energy is a major market in the UNECE region, which contains 40 per cent of the world’s natural gas reserves and 60 per cent of its coal reserves, a number of UNECE activities promote a sustainable energy development strategy, a key to the region’s climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. The combustion of fossil fuels, the mainstay of the region’s electricity generation, is also a major source of GHG emissions. The sustainable energy projects of UNECE aim to facilitate the transition to a more sustainable and secure energy future by optimizing operating efficiencies and conservation, including through energy restructuring and legal, regulatory or energy pricing reforms. UNECE projects also encourage the introduction of renewable energy sources and the use of natural gas until cleaner energy sources are developed and commercially available, as well as the greening of the coal-to-energy chain.

For the period 2006–2009, the UNECE Energy Efficiency 21 (EE21) programme is working to promote regional cooperation to enhance countries’ energy efficiency and to reduce their GHG emissions, thus helping them meet their international treaty obligations under UNFCCC and the UNECE conventions. Energy efficiency is achieved by focusing on more efficient production, conservation and use of all energy sources in order to minimize GHG emissions.

Within the overall EE21 programme, UNECE manages the Financing Energy Efficiency Investments for Climate Change Mitigation project, with a budget of approximately US$ 7.5 million, financed by the Global Environment Fund, Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial and the European Business Congress. This project is currently establishing a privately managed equity fund with private and public sector partners. The fund, which will benefit from both public and private sources, will target energy efficiency and renewable investment projects in 12 countries in Central Asia and Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.

Another project within the EE21 programme is RENEUER, a regional activity supported by the United States Agency for International Development, the United States Department of Energy, France and other bilateral donors. RENEUER promotes sustainable development in the region by overcoming regional barriers and creating favourable conditions for the introduction of advanced technologies for the efficient use of local energy resources.

Outreach activities to other regional commissions in the context of energy efficiency for climate change mitigation are being organized under the Global Energy Efficiency 21 (GEE21) project. This project, to be launched in December 2008 in Poznan, Poland, will develop a systematic exchange of information on capacity-building, policy reform and investment project financing to promote cost-effective energy efficiency improvements that will reduce air pollution, including GHGs.

The work of two expert groups under the Committee on Sustainable Energy relates to climate change mitigation. The Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane (CMM) promote the recovery and use of methane gas from coal mines to minimize GHG emissions. In February 2008 in Szczyrk, Poland, a UNECE-supported workshop assessed prospects for CMM recovery and use, noting that “Global potential for CMM projects to contribute to climate change mitigation and take advantage of the carbon markets is very strong because a reduction of one ton of methane yields reductions of 18 to 23 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent”.[10] However, economic feasibility of such projects typically requires a clear regulatory and legal framework, reasonable access to markets and relatively stable prices.

The Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Cleaner Electricity Production from Coal and Other Fossil Fuels held its first meeting in November 2007. Its programme of work includes reviewing the prospects for cleaner electricity production from fossil fuels and measures or incentives to promote investment in cleaner electricity production. The Group also assesses the regulatory needs for promoting investment in cleaner electricity production from fossil fuels, appraises the comparative advantages of investments in new capacities and analyses issues related to carbon capture and storage technologies, especially in the context of emerging economies in the UNECE region.[11]

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Energy-efficient housing

Due to both its high GHG emissions and its large potential for energy-saving measures, the housing sector plays a critical role in climate change mitigation. IPCC estimates that the global potential to reduce emissions at roughly 29 per cent for the residential and commercial sectors.[12] The energy-saving potential in this sector is also considerable: UNEP estimates that in Europe, buildings account for roughly 40 to 45 per cent of energy consumption, emitting significant amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2). Residential buildings account for the lion’s share of these emissions.[13]

Energy-efficient buildings can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation by reducing buildings’ energy consumption as well as by making them more resistant to severe weather events. Improving energy efficiency is especially important in the UNECE region, where projected increased housing construction and homeownership are likely to be accompanied by higher electricity consumption and thus growing emissions. UNECE has a programme geared to achieving maximal energy efficiency in the region’s housing, which will allow countries to share experience and good practice in reducing energy consumption in the residential sector, both vis-à-vis existing housing stock and new residential housing construction. This is expected to especially improve energy performance in parts of the region where progress is hampered by low innovation capacity and by a lack of knowledge about technical options to improve the thermal efficiency of existing buildings, and by outdated building codes that prevent countries from embracing the latest energy-efficient construction techniques. The programme will also include a wide-ranging regional assessment – featuring financing mechanisms, case studies, workshops and seminars for policymakers – and will benefit from close collaboration with above-mentioned EE21 project.

To date, UNECE has published country profiles on the housing sectors of Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia Lithuania, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation and Serbia and Montenegro. In 2009, two workshops (in Sofia and Vienna) will address the issue of energy efficiency in housing. A group of interested experts will assist the host countries in shaping the programme of the events and will provide the necessary expertise. In September 2008, the Committee on Housing and Land Management addressed energy efficiency in housing in the region, focusing on the legislative framework and incentives.[14]

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Sustainable forestry

Forests and wood are integrally linked to climate change and have an important role to play in mitigation and adaptation. Forests sequester carbon from the atmosphere when they grow, thereby offsetting a significant part of GHG emissions. According to the forthcoming UNECE Annual Report, the annual increase of carbon in EU-27 forests is equivalent to 8.6 per cent of GHG emissions in the European Union (EU). In Europe, forests sequester approximately 140 million tons of carbon a year. Wood products are a store of carbon, keeping it from release to the atmosphere. Forests store more than 80 per cent of terrestrial aboveground carbon and more than 70 per cent of soil organic carbon. They are also the source of wood energy that can substitute fossil energy, thereby reducing GHG emissions.[15] Wood can also be a substitute for non-renewable construction materials such as plastics, steel or concrete.

The UNECE Timber Committee has an active role in monitoring these trends and in promoting sustainable forest management. It collects basic data on forest resource assessment (e.g. carbon sequestration and storage in forests) and the production of and trade in forest products (e.g. harvested wood products, substitution of other materials). It contributes to policy monitoring by reporting on qualitative indicators of sustainable forest management and by publishing a chapter in the Forest Products Annual Market Review. It is currently developing a database on forest sector policies and institutions. In September 2008, UNECE hosted a workshop on “Harvested Wood Products in the Context of Climate Change Policies” to discuss different approaches to account for carbon stored in wood products and their economic, social and ecological impacts. It will also participate in the plenary session on Forest and Climate Change during European Forest Week (Rome, 21–24 October 2008). Finally, the UNECE Timber Committee provided an analytical contribution to the European Forest Sector Outlook Study in 2005 and has authored various papers on wood availability and the market for wood.

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Sustainable biomass

Since 1998, UNECE has been directing a major cross-sectoral project for enterprises in the biomass sector in the region. One of the central tasks of climate change mitigation is to replace fossil fuels with alternative energy. The project aims to strengthen sustainable biomass supply from selected countries in the UNECE region to energy producers in the EU, with a focus on agro- and wood residues, whose use is an important alternative to the use of (food) crops for fuel. The project also seeks to improve the logistics chain of biomass trade from producer to the end-user through improved inland transportation, port and trade logistics, and customs cooperation with respect to imports and exports of biomass. Two further aims of the project are facilitating the exchange of good practice with the private sector and exploring cross-sectoral approaches that take into account environment, energy, trade and transport issues.

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Other related UNECE areas of work

The “Environment for Europe” ministerial process

The “Environment for Europe” process provides a pan-European political framework for the discussion of key policy issues, development of programmes and launching of initiatives to improve the region’s environment and harmonize environmental policies. At the Sixth Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” (Belgrade, 10–12 October 2007), environment ministers explicitly recognized the urgent need to address climate change in the UNECE region. The Conference saw the launch of the Belgrade Initiative[16], a subregional effort in South-Eastern Europe to support subregional implementation of the UNFCCC through a Climate Change Framework Action Plan and a virtual climate change-related centre in Belgrade designed to help raise awareness and build capacity.

UNECE Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development

The UNECE Strategy of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), adopted in 2005 by ministers and other officials from education and environment ministries across the UNECE region, endeavours to integrate key themes of sustainable development into all education systems. It constitutes the regional pillar of implementation of the United Nations Decade of ESD. At the joint session on ESD held during the Sixth Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe”, environment and education ministers referred to the problems posed by climate change as a “leading example of where ESD could be applied to daily life, as climate change affects everyone and ESD offers an essential way to shape knowledge and attitudes, and hence could help us to address these problems” [17]

Modifying transport policies based on traffic-based information about carbon dioxide emissions

In order to evaluate the implementation of new national or regional measures to reduce their contributions to the global warming, Governments must analyse different possible strategies, especially those that address the total energy consumption of the transport sector. To make the right policy decisions and to optimize their strategies to attain CO2 reduction targets, an assessment and analysis tool is needed that integrates the most recent developments in transportation. This tool should be transparent so as to ensure that decisions overly swayed by special-interest groups. Such an information tool is currently under consideration. It is based on a uniform methodology for evaluating CO2 emissions in the land transport sector, and incorporates climate-relevant indicators as well as new transportation trends.

Environmental Performance Reviews

The UNECE Environmental Performance Reviews (EPRs), based on the OECD/DAC peer review process, aim to improve individual and collective environmental management. Since 1996, Central, South-East and Eastern European as well as Central Asian countries have been reviewed by UNECE, in addition to a few countries in transition that were reviewed in cooperation with OECD (Bulgaria, Belarus, Poland and the Russian Federation). A second round of EPRs have already been carried out for Belarus (2005), Bulgaria (2000), Estonia (2001), Republic of Moldova (2005), Ukraine (2006), Montenegro and Serbia and (2007) and Kazakhstan (2008), and are in process for Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

By disseminating relevant information, they contribute to enhancing public access to information about the environment and environmental issues and thus to more informed decision-making, relevant to the climate change debate. In future, they can provide a comprehensive analysis of instruments used in the context of regional climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, a means to share good practice and highlight gaps in this area, and a way to offer important policy recommendations.

Strategic environment assessment

The UNECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) provides a framework for considering transboundary environmental impacts in national decision-making processes.

The Convention’s Protocol on Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA), not yet in force, will ensure that Parties integrate consideration of the environment into their plans and programmes at a very early planning stage. SEA can be used to introduce climate change considerations into development planning. This is in line with the conclusions reached at the high-level event “The Future in Our Hands”, convened by the Secretary-General in September 2007, as well as the recommendation of IPCC[18] that climate change mitigation and adaptation be integrated into an overarching sustainable development strategy. The IPCC also concluded that consideration of climate change impacts in development planning, as might be provided by SEA, is important for boosting adaptive capacity, e.g. by including adaptation measures in land-use planning and infrastructure design or by reducing vulnerability through existing disaster risk reduction strategies.[19]

Statistics related to climate change

The global official statistics community still only engages in an ad hoc way with the issues of climate change. UNECE is reviewing the possibility of setting up a joint task force (subject to the approval of the Bureau of the Conference of European Statisticians) to explore statistical activities related to the UNFCCC guidelines on the compilation of emission inventories. The task force will also take into account the recommendations that are expected to be developed at a forthcoming conference on statistics of climate change in the Republic of Korea. In June 2008, the meeting of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (UNCEEA) recommended that statistics on emissions should become part of the regular production and dissemination process of official statistics at the national level. In this context, national statistical offices should gradually take on the responsibility for regularly compiling emission statistics and contributing to the review of the guidelines to assembling emission registers.

This is expected to contribute to a better understanding of how official statistics can contribute to the understanding, measurement and monitoring of the different aspects of climate change as well as to bring together all current activities in a coherent framework.

Innovation and financing

UNECE has organized workshops and seminars with a view to enhancing the understanding of the process of technology diffusion, identifying possible barriers to take-up, and providing training and technical assistance to the region’s Governments on their innovation policies. This includes a financing dimension, in particular regarding early-stage financing of innovative enterprises. During the International Conference Investing in Innovation, which took place in Geneva in April 2008, a session on how environmental challenges can be addressed through innovation brought together policy makers and specialized financial intermediaries to discuss emerging trends in the allocation of risk capital for eco-investing and the type of policies required to encourage the mobilization of private financing in this area.

Efforts to mitigate or adapt to climate change are significantly boosted by the diffusion of existing technologies but also by the introduction of new ones. Given the scale and systemic nature of the necessary shift towards low carbon technologies, there is a clear link between the challenges posed by climate change mitigation and innovation policies.  In future, work on innovation and its related financing and intellectual property aspects could help to inform policies in relation to climate change.


[1] This note, prepared by Laura Altinger, has benefited from valuable inputs by Ella Behlyarova, Francesca Bernardini, Nicholas Bonvoisin, Lidia Bratanova, Keith Bull, Paola Deda, George Georgiadis, Franziska Hirsch, Romain Hubert, Matti Johansson, Albena Karadjova, Marco Keiner, Monika Linn, Eva Molnar, José Palacin, Kit Prins, Juraj Riecan, Patrice Robineau, Gianluca Sambucini, Angela Sochirca and Michael Stanley-Jones.

[2] More formally, climate change is defined as “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods” (UNFCCC, art. 1).

[3] According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Climate Change 2007 Synthesis Report (p. 76), adaptation relates to the ‘initiatives and measures aimed at reducing the vulnerability of natural and human systems against actual or expected climate change effects. Various types of adaptation exist, e.g. anticipatory and reactive, private and public, and autonomous and planned. Examples are raising river or coastal dykes, the substitution of more temperature-shock resistant plants for sensitive ones”.

[4] A/62/644 , para. 11.

[5] E/2008/SR.38 , para. 25.

[6] Letter by United Nations Secretary-General to the members of the Chief Executives Board and the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, 30 May 2008.

[8] Decision 9/CP.13, annex, paras. 14 and 15 (FCCC/CP/2007/6/Add.1), amended the New Delhi Work Programme on article 6 of the UNFCCC. The thirteenth session was held from 3 to 15 December 2007 in Bali, Indonesia.

[9] OECD (2008), The Challenges of climate change, key messages, International Transport Forum, Ministerial Session, 29 May, p. 2.

[12] Quoted in Deda, P. and G. Georgiadis, “Tackling climate change ‘at home’: trends and challenges in enhancing energy efficiency in buildings in the ECE region”, in UNECE Annual Report 2009.

[13] Ibid. p. 3.

[14] ECE/HBP/2008/2 of 7 July 2008.

[15] Prins, Kit et al (2008), “Forests, wood and climate change: challenges and opportunities in the UNECE region”, in UNECE Annual Report 2009.

[18] Ibid.

[19] IPCC, WG II, Summary for policymakers.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: BESA Center
Date: Wed, Feb 10, 2010
Subject: BESA Lecture: “Turkey and the Caucasus,” Dr. Alexander Murinson, February 14, 2010

You are kindly invited to a lecture on

Turkey and the Caucasus

Dr. Alexander Murinson
University of London

Sunday, February 14, 2010, 17:00
BESA Seminar Room (Building 203), Room 131
Bar-Ilan University

Faculty of Social Sciences

Dept. of Political Studies

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 1st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Yes, there was an act of genocide by Turks against Armenians at the time the new Turkey was born from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, but close to a hundred years later it is high time the act is recognized and reconciliation started.

Turkey and Armenia to Establish Diplomatic Ties.

By SEBNEM ARSU
Published: August 31, 2009, The New York Times

ISTANBUL — Turkey and Armenia, whose century of hostilities constitutes one of the world’s most enduring and acrimonious international rivalries, have agreed to establish diplomatic relations, the two countries announced Monday.

In a breakthrough that came after a year of tiny steps across a still-sealed border and furtive bilateral talks in Switzerland, the foreign ministries of the two countries said that they would begin talks aimed at producing a formal agreement.

The joint statement said they had agreed “to start political negotiations” but did not touch on when or how some of their more intractable disputes would be addressed, starting with the killing of more than a million Armenians by the Ottoman Turk government from 1915 to 1918, which the Turkish government has denied was genocide.

The two countries have never had diplomatic relations, and their border has been closed since 1993, when Armenia and Azerbaijan, both former Soviet republics, went to war over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. At the border, soldiers of Turkey, a NATO country, face Russian ones, called in by Armenia, across a mini-Iron Curtain.

Turkey supported Azerbaijan in the dispute, but Russia’s military action in Georgia last year shifted the security calculus in the region. After the war in Georgia, Turkey sought to improve ties with its neighbors in the Caucasus, and Armenia elected a new government interested in reciprocating.

Both countries hope an eventual opening of the border will benefit their struggling economies. Currently, there are limited charter flights between the countries but no real trade.

For Turkey, better relations with Armenia could improve its chances for admission to theEuropean Union, where the genocide issue remains one of the main obstacles, and remove a bone of contention over the same issue with the United States, which has a large Armenian community.

The Swiss-mediated talks began last year, keeping a low profile to avoid exciting nationalist antagonism in both countries. Armenia’s insistence that border and trade relations be normalized before any discussion of genocide began helped push the most contentious issue to the back burner.

Last September, President Abdullah Gul of Turkey attended a Turkey-Armenia soccer match in Yerevan, the Armenian capital, the first visit by a Turkish leader in the two nations’ history.

The symbolic gesture, dubbed soccer diplomacy, was widely opposed in both countries, where bitter ethnic enmity commands large majorities.

The central dispute is the genocide, about which there is little dispute among historians. Turkey has resisted the label, arguing that the Armenians were killed in warfare.

The next round of talks is scheduled to last six weeks, ending about the time of a World Cup match between Turkey and Armenia in Istanbul. President Serge Sargsyan of Armenia is invited to attend.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 12th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

 
The Czar Makes Up With the Sultan 

 

Analysis by Hilmi Toros
ISTANBUL, Aug 12 (IPS) – Once the worst of enemies, involved in 12 wars in three centuries, Turkey and Russia have suddenly become the best of friends, forging strong bonds that could be a counterpoint to the European Union if it freezes Turkey out of full membership.

The countries call their ties “multi-dimensional co-operation,” somewhat short of a “strategic partnership”, but that too may be in the offing. 

On an eight-hour visit to Turkish capital Ankara last week, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed 20 deals with his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. These are mostly commercial contracts in energy, collectively worth some 40 billion dollars. 

The two leaders also declared that rival gas pipelines Nabucco and South Stream to bring natural gas to European markets would be “complimentary” rather than “conflicting”. 

Nabucco, the 7.9 billion euro project backed by the EU and the United States, would bypass Russia in bringing gas from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Iraq and potentially also from Iran to Europe via Turkey. It is due to be operational by 2014. 

The Russian proposed South Stream, to become operational by 2016, would carry gas from Russia to Europe through Turkey’s territorial waters in the Black Sea and onward to Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia to Austria. Its objective is to bypass Ukraine, currently the conduit for 80 percent of Russian gas pumped to Europe.

In the end, conflicting or complimentary, if both projects are realised, Russia and Turkey would play a major role in meeting Europe’s growing gas needs. For Europe, either an unfriendly Turkey or Russia would endanger energy security – and it would be much worse if both were ever to gang up on the EU together. 

There already are signs that Turkey, aware of its critical role as a corridor for EU energy needs, is flexing its muscles, with the rapprochement with Russia seen as a warning to the EU. 

“Turkey is not changing its foreign policy. It still gives priority to ties with the West. But the energy issue is giving a new dimension,” writes Sami Kohen, foreign affairs columnist for the daily Milliyet. “The energy equation will make Turkey’s policy more independent.” 

That translates into more national, less EU, interest. 

“If EU doesn’t want us, we won’t beg,” businessman Hasan Aydemir told IPS. “Europe has to think twice of the implications of Turkey out of its union and allied with Russia. If that happens, why not?” 

Yusuf Kanli, chief columnist for the English language daily Hurriyet, says the current Turkish-Russian closeness will in turn bring Turkey closer to EU as Europe becomes more aware of Turkey’s growing importance and critical geopolitical status. 

But Turkey within the EU is far off, if ever it will happen. Its aspiration to join the EU as the first Muslim nation is now in the 50th year since the first bid – perhaps the longest engagement on record with no marriage in sight. The accession process is faltering in the face of opposition from EU members such as France, Germany and Austria. 

Meanwhile, Turkish-Russian ties are in constant expansion. Russia will ship oil through a pipeline to a southern Turkish port and also deliver gas to Lebanon and Israel via Turkey. A Russian company will be involved in Turkey’s plans to build a nuclear power station. 

Culturally, Turkey will open Russian study institutes and cultural centres. Russians are now the second largest group after Germans visiting Turkey; they numbered about three million last year. Signs in Russian accompany those in English in resorts such as Fethiye, Antalya and Alanya. Radio stations broadcast in Russian. And there are now Russian language newspapers in Turkey. 

Turkey declared 2007 The Year of Russian Culture, and Russia reciprocated in 2008. 

Last year, trade between the two countries reached 38 billion dollars, an eight-fold increase in eight years, making Russia Turkey’s biggest partner. Trade is forecast to reach 100 billion dollars in four years. 

The combined diplomatic weight of the two countries may also help find solutions to regional conflicts, including disputes between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and Armenia and Turkey. They might even persuade Iran to take a more moderate stand. One or the other has solid relations with most countries involved in opposition to one another. 

The closeness may be helped by a similarity between Putin and Erdogan: both come from humble origins; both seem ready to bury historical enmities; both are seen as strong leaders firmly entrenched in power for years to come (they are in their 50s); both are dynamic and sporty (Putin excels in judo and Erdogan is a former soccer player); both are stern and all business. 

If there is the touch of a Czar in Putin, there is a Sultan in Erdogan. The Turkish leader has become a regional folk hero for his defence of Palestinians against Israeli strikes when he stormed out of a debate with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Davos, Switzerland, in February when the moderator attempted to cut short his anti-Israel oratory. 

The closeness contrasts sharply with the history of the two nations. The Czarist Russian and the Ottoman Turkish empires were at each other’s throats from the 17th up to the 20th centuries, when Russia eventually succeeded in wresting the Black Sea and the Balkans from Ottoman domination. 

Later, after World War II, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin eyed but failed to control the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits in Turkey for passage from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. Even as late as the 1980s, Turkey was the West’s bastion against feared Soviet expansionism from the East. If that was seen as the unwelcome Soviet Bear Hug, this now is a mutual embrace. 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 18th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification – 2008 Conference. December 14-17, 2008, Sede Boqer Campus, The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Israel.

www.desertification.co.il

THE PROGRAM As Available on November 18, 2008. There might be still Changes and Additions, as well –   further Poster Sessions.

Download this schedule: detailed_program_sessions_1611_publish.doc

Drylands, Deserts and Desertification – 2008
December 14-17, 2008

Please note that the list of presentations is still not final. Furthermore, the breakdown into sessions may change. Abstracts for the Poster Sessions will be listed separately during the conference

Pre Registration will begin on the evening of December 13, 2008
Day 1, December 14, 2008: LIFE AND SOIL DEGRADATION IN THE DRYLANDS
8:00-9:00 Registration
9:00 – 9:30 Welcome
9:30 – 10:15 Plenary Address: Cutting through the Confusion: An Old Problem (Desertification) Viewed through the Lens of a New Framework (the DDP, Drylands Development Paradigm) – James Reynolds, Duke University (U.S.A)
10:15 – 10:30 Respondents: Thomas Schaaf,, Chief, Ecological Sciences & Biodiversity Section, UNESCO, Ingrid Hartman, Amoud University, Borama, Somaliland, Godfrey Olukoye Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Uriel Safriel, Hebrew University, Israel
Moderator: Alon Tal
10:30-11:00 Coffee Break
11:00-12:30 Parallel Sessions I
1. Soil Degradation and the Drylands
Chair: Professor Yonah Chen, Hebrew University Agricultural Faculty, HYPERLINK “mailto:yonachen@agri.huji.ac.ilyonachen@agri.huji.ac.il
Causes and Consequences of Soil Damages in Bosnia and Herzegovinia: Some Experiences in Soil Conservation, Markovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Soil Decomposition in a Tropical Semi-arid Region in Central Mexico, Maria Hernandez Cerda, Enrique Romero, Gonzalo Madero, (Mexico)
Soil Communities in the Arava Valley Desert System, Stanislav Pen-Mouratov, Tamir Mayblat, and Yosef Steinberger (Israel)

Effect of plant patchiness on soil microbial community structure

Ali Nejidat, Eric A. Ben-David, Yonatan Sher, Regina Golden, Eli Zaady (Israel)
2. Desert Ecology (A)
Chair: Professor Tamar Dayan, Tel Aviv University, HYPERLINK “mailto:DayanT@tauex.tau.ac.ilDayanT@tauex.tau.ac.il,
Water and Carbon Balances of Tamarix Desert Vegetation Under Variation in Precipitation and Groundwater Table,Hao Xu, Yan Li, (China)
Periodic and Scale-free Patterns: Reconciling the Dichotomy of Dryland Vegetation, Jost von Hardenberg, Assaf Kletter, Hezi Yizhaq, Ehud Meron (Israel)
Water Balance in Desert Mammals and in Flying Birds: Different Evolutionary Paths with Similar Physiological Outcomes, Berry Pinshow (Israel)
Desertification In the Grasslands Of Central Australia: Effects Of Fire And Climate Change, C. R. Dickman, G. M. Wardle, A. C. Greenville and B. Tamayo (Australia)
3. Benchmarks and Indicators of Desertification
Chair: Professor Moshe Shachak, Ben Gurion University, shachak@bgu.ac.il
Spatial Vegetation Patterns Indicating Imminent Desertification Max Rietkerk (Netherlands)
Do Vegetation Indices Reliably Assess Vegetation Degradation? A Case Study in the Mongolian Pastures, Arnon Karnieli Y. Bayarjargal, M. Bayasgalan, B. Mandakh, J. Burgheimer, S. Khudulmur, and P.D. Gunin (Israel)
Results On Changes Of Vegetation Structure And Composition In Semi-Desert Steppe,B.Mandakh Ph.D, Ganchimeg Wingard, (Mongolia)
Restoration of Pasture Vegetation and Assessment of Desertification in Kazakhstan Mirzadinov R.А., Baisartova А.Y., Bayazitova Z.Е., Torgaev А.А., Makhamedzhanov N.Т., Usen К., Karnieli A., Mirzadinov (Kazakhstan)
4. Pastoralism and the Drylands (A)
Chair: Dr. Eli Zaady, Gilat Research Station, Volcani Institute
Complex Interactions Between Climate and Pastoralists in Desert Grasslands, Curtin, charles (U.S.A)
Sustainable Grazing Strategies for Semi-arid Rangelands of Central Argentina, Roberto Distel (Argentina)

Trophic interactions and the ecology of habitat degradation in grasslands, Yoram Ayal(Israel)

12:30 – 14:30Short Field Trips and Lunch Break
14:30-16:00 Parallel Sessions II
5. Remote Sensing and Assessment of Desertification Processes (A)
Chair: Professor Danny Blumberg, Ben Gurion University, blumberg@bgu.ac.il
Progress in mapping global desertification, S. D. Prince (U.S.A)
Desertification Risk Assessment in Northeastern Nigeria Using Remote Sensing and GIS Techniques, Taiwo Qudus, S.O. Mohammed, (Nigeria)
Integrating Remotely-sensed Vegetation Phenology and Rainfall Metrics to Characterize Changes in Dryland Vegetation Cover: Example from Burkina Faso Stefanie Herrmann, Thomas Hopson, (U.S.A)
On the Definition of Desertification through the Case Study of the Egyptian-Israeli Borderline, Arnon Karnieli, Christine Hanisch, Zehava Siegal and Haim Tsoar (Israel)

Evaluation of optimal time-of-day for detecting water stress in olive trees by thermal remote sensing, Nurit Agam, Alon Ben-Gal, Yafit Cohen, Victor Alchanatis, Uri Yermiyahu, and Arnon Dag, (Israel)

6. Drought and Salt Resistant Plants for Sustainable Dryland Development (A)
Chair: Dr. Gozal Ben Hayyim, The Volcani Institute HYPERLINK “mailto:vhgozal@agri.gov.ilvhgozal@agri.gov.il
Potentials for Utilizing the Mulberry (Morus Alba) and the Neem (Azadirachta Indica) For Desertification Control In Northern Ghana: the Experience of the Sericulture Promotion And Development Association, Ghana. Paul Kwasi Ntaanu (Ghana)
Phenology, Floral and Reproductive Biolgy Studies of Genus Zizipus in Negev Desert Conditions, Manoj Kulkarni, Bert Schneider and Noemi Tel-Zur (Israel)
Dissecting the Molecular control of Stomatal Movement in CAM plant: A Potential Source for Genes Conferring Drought Tolerance in C3 Plants, Yaron Sitrit (Israel)
Comparison of Germination Strategies of Four Artemisia Species (Asteraceae) in Horqin Sandy Land, China, Li Xuehua, Liu Zhimin and Jiang Demning (China)
Role of Hydrophilins in Water-stressed and Salt-stressed Environments, Dudy Bar-Zvi, (Israel)
7. Water Management Strategies in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Alfred Abed- Rabbo, Bethlehem University, abedrabo@gmail.com
Water Management in a Semi-arid Region: An Integrated Water Resources Allocation Modeling for Tanzania, Shija Kazumba (Tanzania/Israel)
Towards Sustainable Management of Wadis in Semi-Arid Environments- IWRM Approach, Walid Saleh, Amjad Aliewi, Anan Jayyousi (Dubai)
Is Desalination Right for Sydney? Phoenix Lawhon Isler(Australia)
16:00-16:15 Coffee Break
16:15-17:15 Parallel Sessions III
8. Remote Sensing and Assessment of Desertification Processes (B)
Chair: HYPERLINK “home.geoenv.biu.ac.il/lecturer_html.php?id=33” Prof. Hanoch Lavee, Bar Ilan University , HYPERLINK “mailto:laveeh@mail.biu.ac.illaveeh@mail.biu.ac.il
Assessing Land Cover Change and Degradation in the Central Asian Deserts Using Satellite Image Processing and Geostatistical Methods, Arnon Karnieli, Tal Svoray, Uri Gilad, (Israel)
A Dynamic Model of Dryland Hydrology Using Remote Sensing, Elene Tarvansky, (United Kingdom)
The Effect of Wildfires on Vegetation Cover and Dune Activity in Australia’s Desert Dunes: A Multi-Sensor Analysis, Noam Levin, Simcha Levental, Hagar Morag (Israel)
9. Desert Ecology (B)
Chair: Dr. Yehoshua Shkedy, Chief Scientist, Israel Nature and Parks Authorit, HYPERLINK “mailto:y.shkedy@npa.org.ily.shkedy@npa.org.il
Is Grass Scarcity in the Chihuahuan Desert A Result of Shrub-Grass Competition or Soil Moisture Limitation? Giora Kidron and Vincent Gutschick (Israel/U.S.A)
Short-term responses of small vertebrates to vegetation removal as a management tool in Nizzanim dunes, Boaz Shacham and Amos Bouskila (Israel)

Microbial diversity of Mediterranean and Arid soil ecosystem. Ami Bachar, Ashraf Ashhab, Roey Angel, M. Ines M. Soares and Osnat Gillor, (Israel)

Effects of woody vegetation and anthropogenic disturbances on herbaceous vegetation in the northern Negev, Moran Segoli, Eugene David Ungar, Moshe Shahack (Israel)
10. Land Restoration Strategies
Chair: Dr. Avi Gafni, Director of Research, Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael, Avig@kkl.org.il
Role of Wetlands in Sustainable Drylands D. Mutekanga (Uganda)
Restoration of Abandoned Lands, Gabrielyan Bardukh, (Armenia)

Desertification in the Sahel: causes, prevention and reclamation Dov Pasternak (Israel)

11. Strategies for Living in the Drylands
Chair: Prof. Avigad Vonshak, Director Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, avigad@bgu.ac.il

Micro-Climatic Effect of a Manmade Oasis During Different Season in an Extremly Hot, Dry Climate, Oded Potchter (Israel)

Ecological sanitation (ECOSAN) as an alternative approach for sustainable dry-land development, Amit Gross (Israel)
Has dependence on runoff agriculture on the dryland environment of the central Negev mountains changed significantly in the last few thousand years? Testing the contribution of the geological substrate, Wieler Nimrod. Avni Y. Benjamini C. (Israel)
12. Pastoralism and the Drylands (B)
Chair: Mr. Shmulik Friedman Head of Israel Grazing Authority HYPERLINK “mailto:shmulikf@moag.gov.ilshmulikf@moag.gov.il
Normative Carrying Capacity of an Isralei Forest for Domesticated Grazers. David Evlagon, Samuel Komisarchik, Yehuda Nissan, No’am Seligman (Israel)
Herd No More: Livestock Husbandry Policies and the Environment in Israel: from 1900 Until Today, Liz Wachs, Alon Tal (U.S.A)
17:15-19:00 Poster Session (including contest) and Cocktail
19:00-20:00 Dinner
20:00 Evening Activities (optional)
Moonlit Hike in Nahal Haverim (Please come w/ walking shoes and warm clothes)
OR Films from the Desert Nights Film Festival (sponsored by the Italian Embassy, Tel Aviv)

 —————————————
DAY 2,December 14, 2008: VEGETATION’S ROLE IN SUSTAINABLE DRYLAND LIVING
8:00-8:30 Registration
8:30 – 10:15Plenary Addresses
Professor Pinhas Alpert, Director, Porter School of the Environment, Tel Aviv University,
“Climate Change’s Impact on Desertification in the Mediterranean Region”
Rattan Lal,Director, Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, Ohio State University. “Carbon Sequestration in the Drylands: Where we Are? Where we might go?”
Dan Yakir, Head, Department of Environmental Sciences & Energy Research, Weitzman Institute, “Israel Forestry, Carbon and the Drylands: Recent Findings from Israel”
Moderator: Mark Windslow, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Germany
9:45-10:00 Coffee Break
10:00-11:30 Parallel Sessions IV
13. The Role Vegetation in Combating Desertification (A)
Chair: Dr. Elli Groner, Arava Institute for desert studies/BIDR, elli.groner@arava.org
Use of Indicator Species in Enhancing the Conservation of Drylands of Kenya J. Aucha, V. Palapala, and J. Shiundu (Kenya)
Green Spots as a Tool to Combat Desertification in the Aral Sea Region, Lilya Dimeyeva, (Kazakhstan)
Vegetation Change in Response to Grazing and Water Level Decline in the Enot Zukim Nature Reserve (en Fescha) Israel, Linda Whittaker, Margareta Walczak, Amos Sabach and Eli Dror (Israel)
Improving sustainability and productivity of rainfed field crops in the Negev regions
David J. Bonfil (Israel)
14. Drought and Salt Resistant Plants for Sustainable Dryland Development (B)
Chair: Professor Micha Guy, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, HYPERLINK “mailto:michagu@bgu.ac.ilmichagu@bgu.ac.il
The chemical induction of Polyploidy Mutan in Zizphus Mauritiana, Noemi Tel Zur and Mohmmad A.Taher (Israel / Jordan)
Using the Model Plant Arabidopsis Thaliana and Extremophile Arabidopsis Relatives to Identify Genes that Can Confer Plant Tolerance to Arid Conditions, Simon Barak (Israel)
Recently Domesticated Native Desert Herbs for Sustainable Planting in Arid and Saline Areas, Elaine Solowey (Israel)
Pattern Formation, State Changes and Catastrophic Shifts in Poa bulbosa Production as Responses to Simulated Grazing, Hadeel Majeed, Yaakov Garb, Moshe Shachak (Israel)
Germination and seedling survival in NaCl solutions after desiccation of some halophytes-used in pasture and fodder production in the solonchak salinities of the Kyzylkum desert, in Uzbekistan, Tanya Gendler, Japakova Ulbosun, Nicolai Orlovsky and Yitzchak Gutterman (Israel)
15. Afforestation in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Gabriel Shiller, The Volcani Institute, HYPERLINK “mailto:vcgabi@volcani.agri.gov.ilvcgabi@volcani.agri.gov.il
Dryland Afforestation, Bill Hollingworth, (Australia)
Soil and Water Management along with Afforestation for Rehabilitation of Desertified Areas of the Israeli Negev, Yitzak Moshe (Israel)
Land Restoration in the Mediterranean, V. Ramon Vallejo, (Spain)
The Impact of Tree Shelters on Forest Survival of Eight Native Broadleaf Species in Forest Plantations in Israel, Omri Boneh (Israel)
16. Irrigation in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Alon Ben-Gal, Gilat Research Station, Volcani Institute, bengal@volcani.agri.gov.il
Combating Land Degradation in Irrigated Agriculture Through Systematic Characterization of Saline-Sodic Soils for Improved Irrigation Efficiency in Kenya – E.M. Muya, (Kenya)
Adaption of Drip Irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa, Towards a Strategy for Technology Transfer, Lonia Friedlander (U.S.A)
Managing salt, nutrient and soil structure in reclaimed water irrigated vineyards of South Australia, Biswas and McCarthy (AU)
Future strategies for drainage problems in the desert area (IGNP) of Western Rajasthan in India, Kiran Soni Gupta (India)
Root zone salinity management strategy for the Australian drought, Schrale (AU)
17. Climate Change in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Yeshayahu Bar-Or, Chief Scientist, Ministry of Environmntal Protection, HYPERLINK “mailto:Ybo@sviva.gov.ilYbo@sviva.gov.il
Climate Change Trends in an Extreme Arid Zone, Southern Arava (Israel and Jordan) Hanan Ginat, Yanai Shlomi, Danny Blumberg (Israel)

Climate change and its effect on Mediterranean Basin ecosystems, Pua Bar (Kutiel) (Israel)

Climatic Change and Desertification Predictive Modeling In The Northeastern Nigeria.
Dr. Ojonigu Ati And Taiwo Qudus (Nigeria)
11:30-13:30 Open Campus Lunch Break
13:30-15:00 Parallel Sessions V
18. The Role of Vegetation in Combating Desertification (B)
Chair: Mr. Tauber Israel, KKL, HYPERLINK “javascript:addSender(%22IsraelT@kkl.org.il%22)” IsraelT@kkl.org.il
Desertification not at all costs – a matter of temporal and spatial scales and policies
Pua Bar (Kutiel) (Israel)
Cropping systems in the Indian arid zone and long-term effects of continuous cropping
N.L. Joshi (India)
Establishing the Relationships between Soils, Vegetation and Ecosystem Dynamics: A Strategy for Land Degradation Control in Nurunit Marsabit District, Kenya, E.M. Muya, (Kenya)
19. Indigenous Knowledge in the Combating of Desertification
Chair: Prof. Aref Abu Rabia, Ben Gurion University, HYPERLINK “mailto:aref@bgu.ac.ilaref@bgu.ac.il
Ethnobotanical Approach to the Conservation of Dryland Vegetation James Aucha (Kenya)
Environmental and Economic Potential of Bedouin Dryland Agriculture, Khalil Abu Rabia, Elaine Solowey and Stefan Leu (Israel)
Traditional Knowledge and Technologies: Administration of Common Goods from the Perspective of Goat Producers in the Lavalle Desert, Laura Maria Torres (Argentina)

 

20. Managing Drought in the Drylands

Chair, Mr. Yaakov Lomas, Israel Metereological Institute, HYPERLINK “mailto:lomasjakob@yahoo.comlomasjakob@yahoo.com

Drought Risk Reduction in Rajasthan, India Madhukar Gupta (India)
Merits and Limitations in Assessing Droughts by Remote Sensing, Arnon Karnieli and Nurit Agam (Israel)
The Impact of Long Term Drought Periods in Northern Israel, Moshe Inbar (Israel)
Hydric Characterization of the Sinaloa State (Mexico), Through the Aridity and Aridity Régime Indices, Israel Velasco, (Mexico)
Economic Sustainable rainfed wheat production under Semi-Arid climatic conditions – Agrometeorological criteria for planning purposes, Lomas (Israel)
21. Carbon Sequestration
Chair: Dr. Noam Gressel, Assif Strategies, HYPERLINK “mailto:noam@assifstrategies.comnoam@assifstrategies.com
Semi-arid Afforestation and its Effect on Land-atmosphere Interactions,
Eyal Rotenberg et. al., (Israel)
Capacity of the forest ecosystems to sequester carbon (Case of the watershed basin of Rheraya- area of Marrakech) ) Rachid Ilmen (Morocco)
Halting Land Degradation and Desertification: A Win-Win Mitigation Strategy Neglected by the Climate Establishment, Stefan Leu (Israel)
Special Round Table discussion: Mid-east Regional Cooperation to Research Desertification with Arab and Israeli Desertification Experts
Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli experts meeting and discussing common concerns and solutions to address desertification in the Middle East region.
Moderator: Prof. Avigad Vonshak
Jeffrey Cook Workshop in Desert Architecture and Planning
Architecture and Urban Planning in the Drylands
Dryland Urban Expansion: Environmental Problems and Urban Planning, the Case of Urmuqi China S. Liu (UK)
Towards a Comprehensive Methodology for Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE): A Hot Dry Climate Case Study, Isaac Meir, Eduoardo Kruger, Lusi Morhayim, Shiri Fundaminsky, Liat Frenkel, (Israel)
Sick Building Syndrome in a University Building – an Educational Survey, Lusi Morhayim, Issac Meir (Israel)
Urban Sustainability in Desert and Dryland Areas – a First Exploration, Yodan Rofe and Gabriela Feierstein (Israel/Argentina)
Microclimatic Issues in the Planning of a Modern City in a Desert Environment, Evyatar Erell (Israel)
Sustainable Architecture in the Outback/Desert Regions of Australia: The Paradigm in Theory and Practice, Terence Williamson (Australia)
Arch. Suhasini Ayer-Guigan (India)
Arch. Mary Hancock (UK)
Arch. Laureano Pietro (Italy)
15:30 Bus Ride to Mitzpe-Ramon
16:00-17:00 Sunset Overlooking the Ramon Crater, Visit to Ramon Visitor’s Center
17:30 PLENARY LECTURE: Professor Uri Shani, Director, Israel Water Authority,
“Addressing Scarcity in the Drylands: Israel’s New Water Management Strategy”,
Moderator, Ms. Hila Ackerman, Director of Environmental Department, Ramat Negev Regional Council
19:00 Dinner
20:00 Evening Activity: Music & Dancing OR Astronomy Lecture
—————————————–
DAY 3, December 16, 2008: FIELD TRIPS

A detailed plan will be provided separately

—————————————

DAY 4, December 17, 2008: THE HUMAN DIMENSIONS- POLICIES AND PARTNERSHIPS TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION
8:00-8:30 Registration
8:30 – 10:15Plenary Addresses/ PanelReconsidering the Axiom of “Bottom Up” Desertification Programs: Lessons Learned about Partnerships and International Assistance
Chris Braeuel UNCCD Focal Point, Canada,
Christian Mersmann, Director, The Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, Rome
Alon Tal, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research
DelphineOuedraogo, Ministry of Environment, Focal Point to UNCCD, Burkina Faso

Moderator: TBA

10:00-10:15 Coffee Break
10:15-11:50 Parallel Sessions VI

 

22. The Contradictions of “Gender Equality” in Development Discourses in Desert Regions (Panel A)

Chair: Prof. Rivka Carmi, President Ben Gurion University, president@bgu.ac.il

Rethinking modern education among indigenous Negev Bedouin, Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder (Israel)

Looking Ahead: Bedouin Women, Higher Education, Identity and Belonging,Ronnie Halevi (Israel/U.S.A.)

The nation and its natures: Depictions of women Environmental Educators in the Israeli Negev Desert, Miri Lavi-Neeman, (Israel/USA)

“My Life? What is there to tell?” : Interpreting the life stories of multiply marginalized women in an Israeli ‘Development Town” Sigal Ron (Israel)
23. Public Policy, Economics and Desertification
Chair: Dr. Moshe Schwartz, Ben Gurion University, moshesc@bgu.ac.il
Economic Instruments for Mitigation of Desertification Problems in Armenia Gevorgyan Suren, (Armenia)
Land Degradation, Subsidies Dependency and Market Vulnerability of Stock –breeding Households in Central Crete Hugues Lorent, et. al., (Belgium)
The Value of Israel’s Forests and Desertification, Tzipi Eshet, Dafna Disegni and Mordehcai Shechter (Israel)
Current Status and Issues for Combating Desertification In Western Rajasthan, Kiran Soni Gupta, (India)
How To Put Desertification and Water Management in The Political Agenda: The South Italy Development Policies, Carlo Donolo (Italy)
24. Food Security in the Drylands
Chair: TBA
Livelihood Strategies: Indigenous Practices and Knowledge Systems in the Attainment of Food Security in Botswana, Maitseo Bolaane (Botswana)
Drought and food insecurity: a rationale for national grain reserves, Hendrik Bruins (Israel)
Drought Management Planning in Water Supply System, Enrique Cabrera (Spain)
The Impact of Drought on Agriculture in Jordan, Sawsan Batarseh and Hendrik J. Bruins (Jordan)
25. Case Studies – Projects that Combat Desertification
Chair: Beth-Eden Kite, Deputy Director, Mashav, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, beth-eden.kite@mfa.gov.il
Combating Desertification: An Attempt at Wasteland Development in Rajasthan, India, Kusum Bhawani Shanker, (India)
Valuing the Successes of combating desertification – Experience of Burkina Faso in the rehabilitation of the productive capacity of the village territories, Ouedraogo Delphine (Burkina Faso)
Development of Drylands of Kenya Using the Jatropha Curcas Value Chain J.A. Aucha, V. Palapla, and J. Shinundu, (Kenya)
Production Diversification for Expanding the Economic Foundations of Argentinean Monte Desert Communities, Elena Maria Abraham, Giuseppe Enne (Argentina)
11:50-12:00 Coffee Break
12:00-13:00 Parallel Sessions VI
26. Bottom Up: Community Participation in Programs to Combat Desertification
Chair: Dr. Haim Divon, Deputy Director, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Man, Desert and Environment, Hanan Ginat, Noa Avriel-Avni (Israel)
People and institutional participation in forest management for sustainable development: options for drylands based on experiences from Sudan. Edinam K. Glover (Finland)
Dryland Gardening: A Sustainable Solution to Desertification? Southern Africa as a Case Study, Adam Abramson (U.S.A)

27. Culturing Desertification: Gender and the Politics of Development (Panel B)

Chair: Dr. Pnina Motzafi-Haller, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, pninamh@gmail.com
Development and the Role of Women in Pakistan, Masooda Bano, (UK)

Domestic Water Provision and Gender Roles in Drylands, Anne Coles (UK)

Women’s Work: Gender and the Politics of Trash Labor in Dakar,Rosalind Fredericks, (USA)

28. The Negev Desert – Development and Conservation
Chair: Dr. Yodan Rofeh, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, yrofe@bgu.ac.il
The Israeli Negev Desert: From Frontier to Periphery, Yehuda Gradus (Israel)
The National-Strategic Plan for Developing the Negev – Negev 2015: An Old Prospect or a New Future, Na’ama Theshner (Israel)
The potential of TOD for development of the Northern Negev, Prof. Dani Gat (Israel)
Sense of place and naming in Hura as an example of the changing spatial consciousness of Beduoin in the Negev, Arnon Ben Israel and Avinoam Meir (Israel)
29. The Political Ecology of Deserts and Desertification
Chair: Dr. Yaakov Garb, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, ygarb@bgu.ac.il
Rebuilding the Land: Political Ecology of Land Degradation in Somaliland Ingrid Hartman (Germany)
Desertification Narratives (and Their Uses) in the Middle East and North Africa, Diana Davis (U.S.A)
Desertification or Greening in the Sahel? Case study of Inadvertent Greening in the Oued Kowb, Mauritania, Stefanie Herrmann, Mamadou Baro, Aminata Niang (U.S.A)
Political Ecology: Wind Erosion on the U.S. Southern High Plains
R. E Zartman and A.C. Correa (U.S.A)
30. Assessing International Efforts to Combat Desertification
Chair: Professor Uriel Safriel, Hebrew University, uriel36@gmail.com
Follow the Money: Navigating the International Aid Maze for Dryland Development Pamela Chasek (U.S.A)
The Global Mechanism – Lessons Learned C. Mersmann, (Italy)
Research Priorities of the UNESCO Chair on Eremology Gabriels (Belgium)
An Analytic Review for International Collaborations for Drylands Research and Sustainable Development, J. Scott Hauger (U.S.A)
A Conference to Improve the Flow of Science into the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Mark Winslow (Germany)
13:00-14:30 Lunch and Concluding Session

e-mail:  desertification at bgu.ac.il
tel:   972-8-659-6997
fax: 972-8-659-6772

——————————————————

See also:

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2008

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 3rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

His Excellency Manouchehr Mottaki, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran since 2005, has come now for the third time to The Asia Society during the September – October period of the UN General Assembly In New York City.

Last year I had the opportunity to ask him about about Climate Change and why Iran, with its great scientists, and people involved at the UN level, does not embark in a leadership position in the area of renewable energy rather then striving for nuclear energy incurring only indignities. Others asked him about Iran’s stand on Israel.

This year – none of the above. One question from the floor asked about Israel – but was answered in the general line of the presentation – without the question been tackled at all. The Moderator was illustrious US Career Ambassador Frank G. Wisner, who served as impeccable host, presenting lots of compliments to his guest and making sure he is very comfortable. Further, The Asia Society simply managed to put the press away in a back room, and without the Q & A period reaching out to them – that is except the literally last question which asked about the possibility for regional negotiations in the crucial Middle East problem.   And the answer to that question was then submerged under the previous line of presentation that exposed beautifully the way Iran wants to be seen. No mention was made of the name Israel also in this   answer by the Minister.

The reality is   that many in Iran like actually some of the cocoons   created via the 1980 revolution that came as a reaction to some real injustices its people incurred from the hand of the US CIA when it undid the Mohammad Mosaddeq   April 28, 1951 – August 19, 1953 regime for its nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) and reinstated the   Shah who returned   on 22 August 1953, from the brief self-imposed exile in Rome. Also, some in the US Administration feared that Mossadeq was, or would become, dependent on the pro-Soviet Tudeh Party, at a time of returning Soviet influence, and too close for comfort to have the cold War Tectonic Plates reach towards the Saudi and Iraqi oilfields.

The extent of the US role in Mossadeq’s overthrow was not formally acknowledged for many years, although the Eisenhower administration was quite vocal in its opposition to the policies of the ousted Iranian Prime Minister. In his memoirs, Eisenhower writes angrily about Mossadeq, and describes him as impractical and naive, though he stops short of admitting any overt involvement in the coup.

Eventually the CIA’s role became well-known, and caused controversy within the organization itself, and within the CIA congressional hearings of the 1970s. CIA supporters maintain that the plot against Mosaddeq was strategically necessary, and praise the efficiency of agents in carrying out the plan. Critics say the scheme was paranoid and colonial, as well as immoral.

In March 2000, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated her regret that Mosaddeq was ousted: “The Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons. But the coup was clearly a setback for Iran’s political development, and it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America.” In the same year, the New York Times published a detailed report about the coup based on alleged CIA documents. For his sudden rise in popularity inside and outside of Iran, and for his defiance of the British, Mosaddeq was named as Time Magazine’s 1951 Man of the Year. Other notables considered for the title that year included Dean Acheson, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and General Douglas MacArthur.

In early 2004, the Egyptian government changed a street name in Cairo from Pahlavi to Mosaddeq, to facilitate closer relations with Iran.

 Now, these last few paragraphs, obviously, do not come from the monologue of Minister Mottaki, but I thought to bring this up because otherwise the show at the Asia Society cannot be understood, and the Ministers personality grasped.

***

The literally last question mentioned above, that came from the back-room filled with people from media was added when the announced “last question” that came from a lady sitting at the front-right table, clearly laudatory asked, “for those of us interested in the understanding of the history of the Middle East, when did Iran invade last one of its neighbors?”   The clear short answer was – “not in our lifetime.”

***

Had be given to me the opportunity to ask a question – what I had in mind was something like this:

“In light of what your excellency has said in regard to regional solutions for regional problems, and in light of justifiable aspirations by Iran to become an Asian powerhouse, what is your reaction to the Bahrain proposal at this year’s High-Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly, when Bahrain suggested the creation of a new UN organization comprising ALL STATES OF THE REGION – that wasinterpreted as meaning a Middle East organization that includes Israel?” This is exactly the most wanting direct question that was not put before our guest.

***

From The Speakers Profile and The Internet:

 Manouchehr Mottaki was born   May 12, 1953 in Bandar Gaz, in the northern Iranian Province of Golestan, and went to school there. Bandar-Gaz, during the Reza Shah Pahlavi rule, was an important city in the north with a national railroad and “several infrastructures.” It was considered   a transit bridge to the Soviet Union. After graduation, he joined the army and as per national plan joined the public education program by which was conducted by the government. He went to Khorasan province and established a school in a poor village around Mashhad, and taught there. After his service in the army, since he was interested in social and political issues, he decided to travel abroad both for experience and study. At that time India was a popular academic destination for young Iranians. So he traveled and studied for a few years in India, before the revolution in Iran.       He holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Bangalore University in India (1976). Mottaki also holds a master’s degree (MA) in international relations from the University of Tehran (1996).

 After the 1980 revolution, he was elected by the people of his home town and the neighboring cities as the first parliament representative and assigned by the other representatives as the head of the national security and foreign policy committee due to his politic and diplomatic talents. During his years in Majlis (Congress) and effective collaboration with the foreign ministry, he was employed then by the ministry after parliament.   Or, he made thus his career within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during 24 years of continuous presence in different positions through   the Majlis (Parliament)..

He served thus as member of parliament in the first Majlis, head of seventh political bureau of Foreign Ministry (1984),

Iran’s ambassador to Turkey (1985),

Foreign Ministry’s secretary general for Western European affairs (1989),

Deputy Foreign Minister – first for international affairs (1989) and then   for legal, consular and parliamentary affairs (1992).

 Iran’s ambassador to Japan (1994),

Advisor to foreign minister (1999),

Deputy head of Culture and Islamic Communications Organization (2001)

Chief of the Foreign Relations Committee of the 7th Majlis National Security and Foreign Relations Commission (2004).

During the 2005 presidential election, he was the campaign manager of Ali Larijani, the right-conservative candidate.

President Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejad, in 2005,   appointed him to the position of Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2005.

 

Mottaki quotations:

“Referring the case to the Security Council would be a lose-lose game, and we would prefer that this game does not happen. We see a win-win situation, that is where the EU and international community have confidence and the Islamic Republic of Iran reaches its legitimate right.”

“The Islamic Republic pays great cost to control and prevent transfer of narcotics to West.

“We do not accept global nuclear ‘apartheid’ and scientific ‘apartheid’.

“All voluntary measures taken over the past two-and-a-half or three years have been halted and we have no further commitment to the additional protocol and other voluntary commitments.”

“We should try to cool down the situation. We do not support any violence.”

“Nobody can remove a country from the map. This is a misunderstanding in Europe of what our president mentioned.”

“The time for using language of threats is over, it’s time for negotiation. We express our readiness for negotiations based on justice and a comprehensive compromise. We want to peacefully solve the problem.

“Nuclear weapons are not in Iran’s defense doctrine.”

“The issue is quite simple. We would like to enjoy our membership as well as the other members of the [Nuclear] Nonproliferation Treaty. The country has followed the rules and regulations of the [International Atomic Energy Agency] and wants to keep its rights.”

***

The Foreign Minister’s Introductory Presentation Before The Asia Society, Thursday, October 2, 2008:

Mottaki started by saying that since our last meeting here (2007), we had three events:

(1) The enjoyable visit of members of this Society in Tehran – he hopes this is a start for more such exchanges. This as a better way for mutual understanding – Scholars, Tourists, Students in such exchanges create the possibility to have more realistic picture of each other.

 

(2) LEBANON: A solution of more then 30 months of crisis was achieved after being initiated by different parties. Foreign Minister Mottaki wants to talk about how it was achieved – because the process is as important as the results.

It was a regional-based solution for the Lebanon crisis. The decision was that it has to be a solution based on votes by a 50+ plurality of all groups in the country – all groups in the country come to the table and a consensus is built – that was the tone of the Lebanon Policy agreement.

On the second day of the negotiations in Doha, at 2:30 AM, the feeling was that it all collapsed the negotiations were locked. Amr Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League said go ahead, but others opposed. Mottaki was in contact with Doha and Beirut and   at 9 AM they took up the issue again, and it was settled after a day of negotiations by 9 PM.

One learned that use of force should expect a reaction from the other side. Then also that territorial integrity is an integral part of any solution. These lessons apply whenever you have conflict – this clearly also in the Georgia – Russia case.

 

(3) GEORGIA: The areas are already affected by crisis – energy, transportation, security.

The crisis started by use of force based on wrong information and miscalculation. The latter by not expecting reaction.

The second point is territorial integrity.

Its the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia now, before it was Kosovo, Does it result from the same policies? If so, are there other areas where action led to reaction? If Yes – What are these?

On the second day of the Georgia case there was an agreement signed with Poland. If this signing of the agreement with Poland has become another step, should we look for reaction in Syria? in Venezuela?

What is NATO going to do?

Iran is a neighbor of Azerbaijan and Armenia – so there is a regional concern and Iran has to take part in the initiatives – parallel with Europe. So he went to the region and to Berlin. Is NATO moving to accept Georgia as a member?                             The interesting question is then the borders.

***

 

Now it was the turn for Ambassador Frank G. Wisner to take his position as moderator and conversation partner.

He has retired from the US Foreign Service in 1997 with the highest rank – that of a Career Ambassador, but continued to be involved in special positions like the Special US envoy for the Kosovo Final Status (December 2005 – March 2008).   Now he is in the private sector.   In his career postings he was Ambassador to India, the Philippines, Egypt, Zambia… among other appointments, he was also Under Secretary of Defence for Policy.

He started by saying that Iran is a great nation that commands and deserves respect – yet for many of us it is difficult to see how Iran chooses to challenge the international community. How do you square your requirement for respect with a confrontation attitude he then asked the Minister.

Mottaki, who made his introductory presentation in English, but now used a translator for the conversation part of the event, started to smile.

His answer was: A very nice gathering and behavior – my response – What we see is   selective dealing and approach – and double standards.

Back in the 80s we extensively talked up issues. I suggest how the first Iraq war was dealt with and the second war – the war of Saddam against Kuwait. In all   these the underlying issue is the occupation of foreign lands. {I assume he means the Iraq war against Iran as the first war and the war of Iraq on Kuwait as the second war}   Back then the heated discussion was having a cease-fire not a settlement. So the first step is a cease-fire, another first step is withdrawal. We wanted to have the an “a” inserted so that it is clear that a withdrawal comes after the cease-fire. See, using “oil-for-food” money – even now a percentage goes to Kuwait, this while for 4 years we were engaged in lengthy negotiations that were ordered by the UN. Two Assistant Secretary-Generals that dealt with this are present here – they remember those negotiations. Sometimes just to keep things going we had to put proposals on the table. We felt these were in Iraq’s favor and Iraq asked – what do you pay us to accept?

On the nuclear issue – at the end of the day – it is officials of one country … But Islamic and Sharia teachings say that atomic bombs have no place in our defense.we also contend that nuclear weapons are nomore effective. Also military powr has lost effectiveness.

I outlined new agreements for the IAEA last year. 1,5 years ago, in Madrid, we said to the Agency we will give the right answers to the IAEA questions. Then the US turned over questions to the IAEA and they posed them to us. The agency said they have other questions and we started answering them one by one. For each set of questions they sent us a written letter that they accepted the answer as adequate. What expectations should Iran have? We expect the 5+1 to thank us for these efforts to answer all questions. We expected that at the September meeting to be told by the Agency that they put aside all questions, but they provided a second US set of contentions.

They were supposed to bring up questions in one set of timetable. These questions went beyond the timetable. but we accepted.

These questions, like the previous are baseless, we will not agre to the US directed routes. I believe if we continue the negotiations we will reach a point of agreement that will lead to action.

 

{All the above sounded to me like a reprise of the 1001 Nights stories – this time from Tehran. I wonder how many people in the room accepted these, though, as I remarked at the beginning of this article, I am probably one of the most inclined to allow some slack to the Iranians because of past US behavior – but this story contained really too much rope. It did not inspire safety at all.}

 

Now Ambassador Wisner had one more short question he said. The elections in the US. “Do you see from Iran’s point of view an opportunity for dialogue? What will be the modalities for negotiation?

A. A US President will have to reach out including the Middle East. If there are changes in the White House we will intently consider them. We take note of comments made by previous Presidents, who are not in power anymore, also candidates not yet elected. Comments made, promises given by them cannot yet be seriously considered. We have to wait and see.

As for an interest section, there is only stories in news media.

 

***

Q&A from the floor:

Answer On Israel of sorts:   Iran US relations are dependent on a number of issues. Unilateral Vs. Policies in the Middle East have complicated the situation. NO MENTION OF ISRAEL IN THE ANSWER.

 

Answer on Nuclear In The Middle East:   Atomic weapons cannot provide security. We all heard that the US had enough to destroy Russia. It helped in the balance of fear.

Six years have passed from the day your troops have entered Iraq – they have not succeeded. Why could not atomic weapons help in Afghanistan and Iraq? This year the 13th anniversary since the Islamic revolution in Iran.

if I were to list our grievances against the US it will be a long long list. Had we a nuclear bomb, could that have changed your actions in Iraq?

In tandem with development on hardware side, the software side. The US is not lacking in modern weapons, also in its economic might (except for the present problems). No serious changes will occur in the US. The problem is – insufficient reasoning to convince the international public opinion.

 

Answer to the last question on the Middle East: We go about our business about our nuclear problems. We provided the answers.

if a person is asleep- how hard you knock, it will not help. The US cannot accept Iran’s peaceful proposals because once they accept they will not be able to stay in this position.

US intelligence agencies announced that Iran does not work on nuclear bomb, but the uS did not accept. I know of five different reports. I think it is high time for them to accept this.

The 15 years they were against my country. What is wrong about changing policies – and see what was wrong for their country?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 18th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

This weekend, as expected, the TV was plastered with the Russians in Georgia and the Beijing Olympics.

President Bush and Secretary Condaleezza Rice said that Russia will not get away with this like it happened in Hungary.

On CNN, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, the man with the Kosovo and Bosnia experience, said this was not Kosovo. The Russians were ready to stage this action already two years ago. It happened now because there was a Russian provocation and there has been indeed a real ethnic cleansing going on in Ossetia and in Abkhazia that caused many thousands of refugees pouring continuously into Georgia. The US says the number is 150,000 displaced people.

Holbrooke looks back into history and thinks of Budapest of 19956, Prag of 1966, Afghanistan of 1968 – so this is the invasion of Georgia that was executed in similar methodology.

Dmitry Simes, President of the Washington DC Nixon Center, and Rose Gottemoeller, Director of Carnegie, Moscow, agree to the above and say that the fact that this happened again at the time of the Olympics, just shows the Putin self confidence and that Putin does not worry that this will harm Russia’s Sochi Winter Olympics of 2014. That area is in fact just across the border from were fighting was going on now.

Governor Bill Richardson stressed that this is not time for high US talk, simply, “we have no leverage on Russia,” so we have to engage them and not isolate them. He knows the area, problems, has been there – all as part of his UN Ambassadorship.

Georgia was incorporated into Russia in 1801 and stayed under Russian rule for 190 years. They re-emerged as an independent state only in 1991. The Ossentians always considered themselves different from the Georgians – and also not similar to the Russians. The same goes for Abkhazia and Azaria as per Rick Stengel, editor of Time Magazine, who was this Sunday’s coordinator of the GPS program that is usually brought out by Fareed Zakaria.

So, can one ostracize Russia from world business? Will this bring about a renewal of the Cold War?

He does not think that Russia has become a revisionist State and that it is fighting for a larger Russia. His idea is that the area is specially complicated – something like the Balkans, and that there were many reasons to what went on.

———
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***

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Cold Friends, Wrapped in Mink and Medals.

By BILL KELLER
Published in The New York Times August 16, 2008

Writing in The Financial Times last week, Chrystia Freeland recalled Francis Fukuyama’s 1989 essay “The End of History?,” which trumpeted the definitive triumph of liberal democracy. The great nightmare tyrannies of last century — the Evil Empire, Red China — had been left behind by those inseparable twins, freedom and prosperity. Civilization had chosen, and it chose us.

Related
Map
Russia Marches, Neighbors Check Their Cards (The New York Times, August 17, 2008)
Specter of Arrest Deters Demonstrators in China (The New York Tines, August 14, 2008)

Chrystia Freeland’s Article: The New Age of Authoritarianism  www.ft.com August 12, 2008)

So much for that thesis. Surveying the Russian military rout of neighboring Georgia and the spectacle of China’s Olympics, Ms. Freeland, editor of The Financial Times’s American edition and a journalist who started her career covering Russia and Ukraine, proclaimed that a new Age of Authoritarianism was upon us.

If it is not yet an age, it is at least a season: Springtime for autocrats, and not just the minor-league monsters of Zimbabwe and the like, but the giant regimes that seemed so surely bound for the ash heap in 1989.

The Chinese have made their Olympics an exultant display of athletic prowess and global prestige without having to temper their impulse to suppress and control. From the dazzling locksteps of that opening ceremony, to the kowtowing international V.I.P.’s, to the carefully policed absence of protest, this was an Olympics largely free of democratic mess.

Individualism has been confined between lane markers. The pre-Olympics promises that attention would be paid to international norms of behavior went unredeemed. The New York Times’s Andrew Jacobs followed one citizen who decided to take up the government’s Olympic offer of designated protest zones for aggrieved parties who had filed the proper paperwork. Zhang Wei applied for the requisite license and was promptly arrested for “disturbing social order.” Take that, International Olympic Committee.

The striking thing about Russia’s subjugation of uppity Georgia was not the ease or audacity but the swagger of it. This was not just about a couple of obscure border enclaves, nor even, really, about Georgia. This was existential payback.

It turns out that if 1989 was an end — the end of the Wall, the beginning of the end of the Soviet empire, if not in fact the end of history — it was also a beginning.

It gave birth to a bitter resentment in the humiliated soul of Russia, and no one nursed the grudge so fiercely as Vladimir V. Putin. He watched the empire he had spied for disbanded. He endured the belittling lectures of a rich and self-righteous West. He watched the United States charm away his neighbors, invade his allies in Iraq, and, in his view, play God with the political map of Europe.

Mr. Putin is, in this sense of grievance, a man of his people, as visitors to the New York Times Web site can see in the sampling of breast-beating commentary from Russian bloggers. It is safe to assume that Mr. Putin’s already stratospheric popularity at home has grown to Phelpsian proportions, not least among the long-suffering military.

In China, 1989 was the year that a spark of liberal aspiration flickered on Tiananmen Square, and was decisively extinguished. That was another beginning, or at least a renewal: of Chinese resolve. In May of that year, in the midst of the Tiananmen euphoria, Mikhail S. Gorbachev visited Beijing, and two visions of a new communism stared each other in the face.

The protesters on the Chinese pavilion held banners welcoming Mr. Gorbachev as a champion of the greater freedom they sought. Meanwhile, the visiting Russian delegation marveled at the abundance in Chinese stores, the bounty of a policy that chose economic liberalization without political dissent.

The Chinese and Russians scorned each other’s neo-Communist models, but in some ways they have evolved toward one another. Both countries now tolerate a measure of entrepreneurship and social license, as long as neither threatens the dominion of the state. Both countries have calculated that you can buy a measure of domestic stability if you combine a little opportunity with an appeal to national pride. (The Chinese “street” felt no more sympathy for restive Tibetans than the Russian blogosphere felt for Georgia.) And both have discovered that if you are rich the world is less likely to get in your way.

President Bush was mocked from both sides for his seeming impotence. Neoconservatives were appalled by photos of President Bush sharing a laugh with Mr. Putin in Beijing while Russian armor gathered at the Georgian border. For a president who has made the export of democracy his signature doctrine, that looked to the stand-tough crowd like a “Pet Goat” moment.

Others argued that this was a crisis Mr. Bush tacitly encouraged by talking up Georgia’s rambunctious president as a friend and NATO candidate. By midweek, possibly goaded by the wailing of neoconservatives and the aggressively anti-Putin rhetoric of Senator John McCain, Mr. Bush had abruptly amped up his opprobrium and dispatched an American airlift of humanitarian aid. And by the weekend there was a cold war chill in the air.

But Mr. Bush’s predicament is not just his. The question of how to deal with these reinvigorated autocracies bedevils the Europeans and will surely rank high among the legacy issues that confound Mr. Bush’s successor.

This time it is not — or not yet — the threat of nuclear apocalypse that limits the West’s options toward our emboldened Eastern rivals. The Chinese, in fact, are acting as if they have gotten past the saber-rattling stage of emerging-power status; they lavish diplomacy on Taiwan and Japan, and deploy the might of capital instead. The Russians may be in a more adolescent, table-pounding stage of development, but Mr. Putin, too, prefers to work the economic levers, bullying with petroleum.

The United States, meanwhile, is mired in Iraq and Afghanistan, estranged from much of the world, and bled by serial economic crises.

History, it seems, is back, and not so obviously on our side.

Bill Keller, executive editor of The Times, covered the last years of the Soviet Union for the newspaper.

***

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The New Age of Authoritarianism.
By Chrystia Freeland
Published: August 12 2008 in The Financial Times.

In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, democracy was on the march and we declared the End of History. Nearly two decades later, a neo-imperialist Russia is at war with Georgia, Communist China is proudly hosting the Olympics, and we find that, instead, we have entered the Age of Authoritarianism.

It is worth recalling how different we thought the future would be in the immediate, happy aftermath of the end of the cold war. Remember Francis Fukuyama’s ringing assertion: “The triumph of the west, of the western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to western liberalism.”

Even in the heady days of 1989, that declaration of universal – and possibly eternal – ideological victory seemed a little hubristic to Professor Fukuyama’s many critics. Yet his essay made such an impact because it captured the scale, and the enormous benefits, of the change sweeping through the world. Not only was the stifling Soviet – which was really the Russian – suzerainty over central and eastern Europe and central Asia coming to an end but, even more importantly, the very idea of a one-party state, ruthlessly presiding over a centrally planned economy, seemed to be discredited, if not forever, then surely for our lifetimes.

That collapse brought freedom and prosperity to millions of people who had lived under Soviet rule. Moreover, the implosion of Soviet communism inspired hundreds of millions of others around the world to embrace freer markets and demand more responsive governments. The great global economic boom of the past 20 years, which has brought more people out of poverty more quickly than at any other time in human history, would not have been possible had the Soviet way of ordering the world not been discredited first.

Yet today, in much of the world, the spread of freedom is being checked by an authoritarian revanche. That shift has been most obvious in the petro-states, where oil is casting its usual curse. From Latin America to Africa to the Middle East, the black-gold bonanza has given authoritarian regimes the currency to buy off or to repress their subjects. In Russia, oil has fuelled an economic boom that prime minister Vladimir Putin, and some of his foreign admirers, mistakenly attribute to his careful demolition of the chaotic democracy of the 1990s.

For Russians, that argument is strengthened by the fact that the rising economic power of the moment – China – is unashamedly sticking to its faith in one-party rule. The end of the cold war made it tempting to believe that as countries opened up their markets, and became richer in the process, they would inevitably open up their societies, too. George W. Bush, US president, reiterated that hopeful thesis on his Asia tour last week, insisting: “Young people who grow up with the freedom to trade goods will ultimately demand the freedom to trade ideas.”

But the Chinese mandarins and the Russian siloviki are taking a different view – and acting on it. As China scholar David Shambaugh recounts in his new book, China’s Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation , the CCP studied the collapse of Soviet communism with great care. And rather than seeing it as proof of the inevitable, global triumph of western liberalism, the Chinese comrades treated the Russian example as a textbook case of what a ruling Communist party ought not to do.

In this version of history, sinologist Andrew Nathan tells me, 1989 is also a turning point, but not because that was when communism’s most notorious wall came down. Instead, the key event of that year was the bloody suppression of protesters in Tiananmen Square: “As a propaganda position they have put it out that we had a crackdown in 1989 and we saved the party and we saved the country,” he says. “We didn’t have a failure of will like the Russians. Without that, we wouldn’t have been a great, modern power.” That’s a point of view Mr Putin has embraced, too, describing the collapse of the Soviet Union as a tragedy and his own reconstruction of a neo-authoritarian state as the only way to restore Russian “greatness”.

The west has been remarkably sanguine about this resurgence of authoritarianism, and one reason is that, this time, the comrades have money. Even as the Kremlin repeatedly confiscates the assets not just of its own businesspeople but of foreign ones, too, investment bankers, and plain old investors, are flocking to a Moscow flush with petro-roubles. The same is true of the Gulf states. China, on a path to become the world’s largest economy, is the most attractive of all.

But the Age of Authoritarianism is bad news for all of us, not just the human rights campaigners that businesspeople and practitioners of realpolitik love to dismiss. Like all overly rigid objects, authoritarian regimes conceal a tremendous fragility in their apparent strength – and their leaders know it. It is this realisation that has driven Mr Putin’s systematic destruction of all forms of civil society – an eminently pragmatic measure, although it has mystified some outside observers, who wonder why so popular a leader needs to be so heavy-handed. China’s chiefs have figured this out, too, hence their anxiety about everything from the Muslim Uighurs to the internet to the former Soviet Union’s “colour revolutions”.

Of course, another way to ensure popular support for your authoritarian regime is by playing up nationalist sentiment. We are more tolerant of our home-grown bullies if we think we need them to fight our enemies abroad – as even democratic America has demonstrated in recent years. Mr Putin has understood this all along, launching a brutal attack on Chechnya even before his coronation as president in 2000.

Russia’s expert taunting of the hotheads in Georgia, followed by immediate and massive retaliation the moment Tbilisi took the bait, is the latest evidence that, for the Kremlin, neo-imperialism is an essential bulwark of neo-authoritarianism. Bringing down the walls really did make the world safer. Now that so many leaders are building them back up again, figuring out how to contain the 21st century’s monied authoritarians is our most pressing foreign policy dilemma.

 chrystia.freeland at ft.com

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 1st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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July 31, 2008
Contact:   Anne Bayefsky
(917) 488-1558
 hudsonny.org

DURBAN II ALERT

IRAN BECOMES A MEMBER OF THE INNER CIRCLE OF THE DRAFTING COMMITTEE
OF UN “ANTI-RACISM” CONFERENCE

New York — EYEontheUN reports that Iran has become a member of the “Group of Friends of the Chair”, an informal group of states charged with taking the first steps towards producing a Durban II manifesto. Anne Bayefsky, Editor of EYEontheUN says: “the travesty of Durban II as a vehicle for getting serious about combating racism is more obvious than ever, as a regime whose President is a Holocaust-denier acquires an important role in shaping the result.”

Durban II – known formally as the UN Durban Review Conference – will be held next April in Geneva. It is charged with implementing the notorious 2001 Durban Declaration which found Israel guilty of racism and gave no other country even a passing mention.

The role of his “friends” is described by Armenian Chairman Zohrab Mnatsakanian as “engaging in brainstorming and consolidating inputs.” Other members of the behind-the-scenes group are Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Egypt. Bayefsky adds, “one shudders to imagine the brainstorming among such human rights paragons.”

The “friends of the Chair” have already met twice in July 2008 and intend to meet again shortly.

By creating this informal group, UN states have deliberately created a forum which excludes NGOs for the first time from the Durban II process.

The first contribution of the “Group of Friends” will be filed at the next stage of the process, the ‘Intersessional Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group’ session to be held in Geneva September 1-5, 2008.

“The authority figures surrounding Durban II remind us once again that this forum is an instrument serving those states bent on defeating human rights not protecting them,” said Bayefsky.

HUDSON INSTITUTE   |   90 Broad Street   |   Suite 2003   |   New York, NY 10004

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

‘Eastern Partnership’ could lead to enlargement, Poland says.

27.05.2008 – 09:15 CET | By Renata Goldirova, Euobserver from Brussels.
Poland and Sweden have officially tabled proposals for an “Eastern Partnership” between the EU and its neighbours Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – with Poland presenting the deal as a path toward EU membership.

“It’s time to look to the east to see what we can do to strengthen democracy,” Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said on Monday (26 May), after presenting the project to the rest of the EU club with his Polish counterpart, Radoslaw Sikorski.

According to Mr Sikorski, the eastern partnership initiative is tailored to “practically” and “ideologically” strengthen the union’s existing neighbourhood policy towards countries that could eventually become EU members, but are held back by “enlargement fatigue” within the bloc.

The minister drew a clear line to distinguish the EU membership prospects of those countries affected by the Polish-Swedish proposal and those involved in the “Mediterranean Union” – a similar, French-sponsored project for countries lying south of the EU.

“To the south, we have neighbours of Europe. To the east, we have European neighbours…they all have the right one day to apply [for EU membership],” Mr Sikorski said, urging the eastern countries to follow the example of the Visagrad Group set up in 1991 by Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic as part of their EU integration efforts.

“We all know the EU has enlargement fatigue. We have to use this time to prepare as much as possible so that when the fatigue passes, membership becomes something natural,” the Polish minister said.

The initiative has seen some criticism from countries such as Bulgaria and Romania who do not want to see the union’s “Black Sea Synergy” – a co-operation scheme for Black Sea rim states – undermined. But the Czech Republic, which will sit at the EU’s helm in 2009, has thrown its weight behind the Polish-Swedish plan.

“It goes in the same direction that we want. And we see that the next year, we need to balance. This year, it is a Mediterranean year. So, the next year would be the eastern year,” the country’s deputy prime minister, Alexandr Vondra, told journalists.

EU-hopeful Ukraine has, for its part, made it clear it is not willing to settle for anything less than EU membership.

“We believe that the initiative of the Eastern partnership should envisage a clear EU membership perspective to those European neighbours of the EU who can demonstrate the seriousness of their European ambitions through concrete actions and tangible achievements,” said a statement issued by Ukraine’s foreign ministry on Monday.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 19th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

A NAGORNO-KARABAKH FOREIGN MINISTRY IN DISCUSSIONS WITH THE EU?

01nabucco.gif
The Nabucco pipeline – the EU hopes construction will begin in 2010
(Photo: Nagorno-Karabakh foreign ministry)

Turkmenistan to cut EU dependence on Russian gas.

April 14, 2008 – By Renata Goldirova, for the EUobserver.

Turkmenistan has agreed to supply 10 billion cubic metres of natural gas to the European Union each year – something that should cut the energy-hungry bloc’s dependence on gas from Russia.

“The president [Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov] gave us assurances that 10 bcm will be set aside for Europe in addition to possibilities in new fields to be tendered,” EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told the Financial Times on Sunday (13 April).

Ms Ferrero-Waldner described the deal as “a very important first step” in energy cooperation, although she acknowledged the amount agreed by the two sides does not represent a “vast quantity”.

The former Soviet Republic in Central Asia has the world’s fifth largest reserves of natural gas and substantial deposits of oil. It annually produces 60 billion cubic metres of natural gas, but two-thirds are exported to Russia’s state-run Gazprom.

Demand for energy is sharply rising in the European Union. By 2020, it is expected to import at least 360 bcm – out of 500 bcm consumed – from third countries.

The 27-nation bloc has been trying to diversify its energy supplies away from Russia and is currently pushing for a new energy corridor, the Nabucco pipeline.

The pipeline – connecting Turkey with Austria, via Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary – would enable the transportation of Caspian energy resources to the European market. Main gas supplies could come from countries such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan or Egypt.

Speaking about the fresh deal with Turkmenistan, Ms Ferrero-Waldner called on European business to invest in infrastructure in order to bring the project to life.

It is still unclear how Turkmen gas will be imported to Europe, with the commissioner suggesting three possible short-term scenarios in the interview with the Financial Times.

Under the first one, a 60-kilometre gap between Azeri and Turkmen offshore installations could be closed with a mini-pipeline.

Secondly, an onshore link to Kazakhstan could be built to connect with a route to Azerbaijan.

Under the third option, the gas could be compressed into liquid form and taken by tanker across the sea.

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Russia questions value of Nabucco energy pipeline.

April 18, 2008 – By Renata Goldirova from Brussels for EUobserver:

Moscow has questioned the viability of the EU-backed Nabucco energy corridor, a pipeline designed to lessen the bloc’s dependency on Russia.

“I know few things about political geography. The only way to fill the Nabucco pipeline is to rely on Iranian gas,” Russian ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov told journalists earlier this week (15 April). He added: “But then, it’s up to the West, I would not tell the EU, to make up its mind how to deal with Iran. Either bomb Iran or buy its gas.”



Mr Chizhov’s blunt comments came only hours after Turkmenistan had agreed to supply 10 billion cubic metres of natural gas to the EU each year – something that should cut the energy-hungry bloc’s dependence on gas from Russia.

“There have been some euphoric comments about Turkmenistan,” the ambassador said, stressing that the volume agreed by the two sides is “not enough”. In addition, he questioned the ability of Azerbaijan, another potential source, to fulfil the union’s sharply rising energy demand.

The European Commission considers Nabucco to be “essential” to the EU as it is designed to bring gas from non-traditional suppliers via a new transport route.

The pipeline – connecting Turkey with Austria, via Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary – would enable the transportation of gas from the resource-rich Caspian region to the European market.

Its capacity amounts to 31 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year. The bulk of the supplies are expected to come from countries such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan or Egypt.

The EU is also hoping to secure natural gas from Iraq, with Baghdad earlier this week pledging to provide five billion cubic metres of gas each year. The two sides are set to sign a so-called energy security memorandum of understanding in coming days.

In response to Mr Chizhov’s statements, the commission said that a list of source countries was yet to be defined. It addmitted, however, that once the problems with Iran are solved, Tehran can be taken into consideration on the longer term.

Meanwhile, Moscow – the world’s largest producer of natural gas – has been pushing for its own project, the South Stream pipeline. It should connect Russia’s Black Sea coast and Italy, with Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Serbia already saying they will take part in the project.

According to the Russian ambassador to Brussels, there will be enough room for the South Stream, Nabucco and perhaps for another pipeline due to growing energy consumption in Europe – but only in the long run.

In the short run, the defining difference is that the South Stream can rely on real gas supply, whereas Nabucco does not have gas, Mr Chizov said.

The South Stream project is seen by some as a rival to Nabucco, with the European Commission saying “it is not promoting it actively” because the pipeline will bring more gas from Russia.

“The two projects are complementary, not contradictory,” reads the commission’s official line on the issue. The EU needs 80 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year on top of current consumption.

But some experts on EU-Russia energy relations have also suggested that Moscow has made a valid point.

According to Marco Giuli from the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies, the Nabucco pipeline is “economically viable only with Iranian gas”.

He cited political tensions in Central Asia, the proximity of Chinese market as well as the US’ tough stance on Iran among those factors that cloud Nabucco’s prospects.

Within the 27-nation EU, France and the UK seem to have the toughest position towards the Iranian regime, wanting to stop its nuclear ambitions not only through dialogue, but also via sanctions.

On the other hand, Italy’s oil and gas producer ENI is set to undertake some investments in Iran – something, Mr Guili says has been endorsed by the country’s outgoing as well as incoming political leadership.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 18th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

THE DARFUR DISGRACE.

By Daniel Rackowski, The TransAtlantic Institute, Brussels     www.TransAtlanticInstitute.org

Introduction

After years of deliberation, repeated condemnations and the eventual deployment of UN and EU troops, Darfurian communities continue to be threatened by expulsion, rape, famine and extermination in a strife-torn region.

Darfur is not only a testimony to the atrocities committed by the apocalyptic Janjaweed horsemen and by Sudan’s very own armed forces in response to rebel factions demanding greater independence and power; it equally serves as a reminder of the world’s continuous and collective failure to effectively interfere in the gravest man-made catastrophes of our time.

A timeline   of omission in Darfur:

The African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), dispatched in mid-2004 to contribute to a solution to the Darfur crisis amounted to little more than a fig leave.

AMIS never had any real de jure or de facto power to intervene and was, from the outset, lacking the structure to deliver relief and provide protection to civilians.

Years of wrestling with the UN went by with talks held in Abuja, Addis Ababa, N’djamena, Tripoli and other places that were all prematurely hailed as the settings where lasting agreements came into being.

The Sudanese regime seemed to finally give in to mounting pressure and in late 2006 agreed to a hybrid AU/UN force (UNAMID) with the requested numbers of 20,000 soldiers and about three times as many service personnel to be deployed on the ground. Khartoum however continued with its charade. President Omar Al-Bashir inserted yet another caveat according to which most armed troops on the ground will have to remain African in what he alleges is an attempt to thwart the hidden neo-colonial aspirations behind the deployment. The regime knew all too well that AU forces are spread thin throughout Africa and therefore managed to undermine the very rationale of the agreement: to place substantial numbers of well trained blue helmets on the ground in order to fulfill the task that the African green helmets cannot accomplish with only logistical and minor ground troop support. As could have been expected, the UN takeover of the peace force at the beginning of this year has done little to improve the situation. Recently, reports have emerged that document the continued use of government planes to bomb areas in West Darfur.

It appears that each time new sanctions are looming on the horizon, the government seems to agree to some sort of compromise from which it can subsequently renege. It is a sophisticated method to protract the suffering of segments of the country’s population and to dupe the international community. In spite of this lengthy and obvious display of the government’s unwillingness to cooperate, the Security Council stood by its decision to make troop deployment quasi-contingent on Khartoum’s approval by inviting the “consent of the Government of National Unity” to it in its Resolution 1706 (1) (2006). In light of its past poor compliance record with UN requests, one could have already expected Khartoum to remain defiant of a functional UN peacekeeping operation at the time 1706 and subsequent resolutions were drawn up. Members of the Security Council should have felt compelled to act without delay, irrespective of the approval of the bellicose Sudanese regime which demonstrated on so many occasions to be remarkably unyielding.

What lessons can Europe learn from the Darfur episode?

While a concerted effort at the UN level is often a sine qua non for eventual settlement of major conflicts, the Security Council is also an arena for political stalemate due to the widely diverging geopolitical interests of its Members.

The existence of the UNSC should not mean that the EU cannot develop its own policies towards murderous groups or regimes that go beyond Security Council stipulations. When confronted with devastating conditions on the ground, measures need to be taken swiftly and the omission to do so cannot be entirely blamed on an impasse at the UN. If apposite, sanctions regimes should be imposed to the extent deemed necessary by the EU member states – not only in accordance with UN sanctions, but possibly exceeding them.

EU governments can call for an EU-wide divestment from companies that directly or indirectly aid and abet atrocious policies. Comprehensive asset freezes and more extensive travel-bans to European countries can be imposed and extended to the highest echelons of the government, as part of a pinpointed and incremental sanctions policy.

One way to rally more support for a stronger European involvement would be to remind decision-makers of their responsibilities and to urge politicians and the media to start referring to episodes like Darfur by the correct legal classification – fully-fledged genocide. Part of the reason why there has been relatively little outrage at the lack of effective action against Khartoum is because the European public remained for a long time largely unaware of the magnitude of the atrocities.

EU officials and European government representatives will quietly admit that genocidal acts are being committed but most are reluctant to say so in public because they are aware of the legal obligation to act.

Nonetheless, such a categorisation would reflect the tenor of the 1948 Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which states that cases of genocide are defined as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” No matter how one spins it, in the case of Darfur, the government’s actions – directed against parts of the population that are almost always distinguishable by ethnicity, culture or other determining factors from their persecutors – are covered by the Convention. The Security Council reaffirmed its responsibility to protect populations from genocide in Resolution 1674 (2006), yet the language of European governments has not changed.

As we Europeans are debating whether atrocities committed against the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire by the young Turks some 90 years ago constituted genocide or not, we fail to adequately address our responsibility to forestall its recurrence in the present. When it comes to the Holocaust, a healthy commitment to remembrance has taken root in the West. Yet, remembering the past is worth little, if it does not translate into a resolve, in the present, to prevent atrocities from re-occurring. To do our utmost to effect speedy intervention in such conflicts would be the most sincere attempt to honor the memories of those who perished on European soil through ethnic cleansing and genocide. How can intervention in the Balkans be justified on the basis of human rights, yet what is deemed a universal right denied to others? It is trite knowledge that the remedy of humanitarian intervention is not solely administered against the malaise of gross violations of human rights, but rather on the basis of a fitting constellation of political, economic and altruistic factors. One has to choose battles wisely, but the disparity between the scale of humanitarian crisis in areas where the international community has intervened in recent years on the one hand, and largely neglected conflicts on the other, is at times so significant that interference should not be a question of choice but a relative moral obligation. This disparity is further compounded when it comes to troubled Africa, where European colonial legacy and humanitarian values have left us with a responsibility duly recognised in the EU’s Strategy for Africa.

The EU can pride itself to be the single biggest aid donor in the region. Its engagement in Congo, humanitarian aid delivered chiefly through ECHO as well as the support for AMIS and now UNAMID are vital lifelines for the many victims of internal strife, refugees and internally displaced persons. Yet Brussels is mostly treating the symptoms and not effectively fighting the disease. The humanitarian situation in Darfur has worsened to an extent that aid cannot even reach the intended recipients in most cases and while UNAMID is unlikely to change the situation in Darfur, the conflict has long spread beyond the borders to Chad and to the Central African Republic. The deployment of the EUFOR force in these countries is another commendable effort, but ultimately only serves the purpose of containment and is in itself dependent on the goodwill of the host states.

None of the above efforts will have a lasting impact however, unless EU governments step up their military capabilities and show a willingness to use them. Such attempts have been given new impetus through the creation of the European Defence Agency (EDA), the EU Battlegroups, the EU Reform Treaty in general and recent policy speeches given by European leaders notably Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Miliband.

In order to synergise the mechanisms already available to the EU and those currently in the making a task force on genocide prevention at the Council level could be created. Such an entity would draw from a range of experts with different portfolios with the aim of identifying conflicts with the potential for mass atrocities before break-out or at a very early stage of conflict. It could further function as a catalyst for various planning and actions stages and demonstrate the EU’s seriousness in battling this undying phenomenon.

There are strong indications that the European public too, supports such policies. An overwhelming majority of Europeans show a willingness to take on greater responsibility in facing global threats.[1] Among them, the greater part is all for stepping up aid for development, trade as a means of pressure and committing more troops for a variety of missions, including a staggering 67% in favour of sending troops to Darfur.[2]

Conclusion

There is an urgent need to generate the political will among EU member states, to move beyond a myopic policy of damage control to more forceful measures. Genocide is a recurring reality and we Europeans have insufficient means to address this predicament. The lessons learned from the horrors of two World Wars ought not to be the complete negation of interventionism, but preventionism coupled with the ability to have recourse to the full spectrum of means available to us under the framework of international law.

Daniel Rackowski is a senior fellow for EU affairs at the Transatlantic Institute

[1] Transatlantic Trends – Key Findings 2007, p.13
[2] ibid., p14

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 7th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Thursday, March 6, 2008, The European Union Studies Center of The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, with the help of the Alexander S. Onasis Public Benefit Foundation (USA), had the great opportunity to hear from one of Greece’s important political figures – Dr. Yannos Papantoniou.
Dr. Papantoniou currently serves as an Onassis Foundation Senior Visiting Scholar at the University of Athens. In 1981, he was elected as a member of the European Parliament and in 1984 became adviser to the prime minister on European Economic Community affairs.

Since June 1989, he has been an elected member of the Greek Parliament. He served as deputy minister of National Economy, then variously as minister of Commerce, minister of National Economy and Finance, and minister of National Defense under the Socialist, or Pasok, government.

On February 27, 2008, Greece Named Yannos Papantoniou As its Candidate To Lead the the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development , (EBRD). He has also been Governor of the National Bank of Greece in 2000.

Over the 12-month period in 2002-03, when Greece held the presidency of the European Union’s Council of Defense Ministers, Dr. Papantoniou helped to coordinate the policies that led to the creation of the European Military Force and its engagement in international peacekeeping operations as well as the establishment of the European Defense Agency.

Dr. Papantoniou studied economics at the Universities of Athens and Wisconsin, history at the Sorbonne (France), and obtained his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Cambridge (U.K).

The topic at the CUNY presentation was: “Regional Security in Southeastern Europe.” We got obviously an explicit Greek point of view.

At first we got a tour of the European expansion from 15 to 27 States and we saw how this was possible. The Three Baltic States were adopted by the Scandinavian States and this helped their economic integration into the EU. Poland was helped by foreign investment and its relations to US Poles. The Central Europeans were helped by Germany and Austria (Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians – also Slovenia and the future accession of Croatia. The Creation of a partnership for peace at NATO helped Bulgaria and Romania.

So now we are left with the remnants of the Balkans. The situation came to an edge with Kosovo declaring unilaterally independence on February 17, 2008 and being by now recognized as an independent State by over 100 countries. Obviously Serbia and Russia do not recognize Kosovo – neither does Greece. We found in effect, on the internet, a 2007 official statement from Greece saying that they do not agree to an “imposed’ solution for Kosovo. They think of the old concept of Sovereignty under which you cannot dismember Serbia, this because if that succeeds, North Cyprus will also want to become an independent Turkish State …

Turkey? As an attached State to the West would be an important role player to stabilize the Middle East – that gave me a reason to think that one should also ask the Turks what they think.

“The EU is an economic organization with political ambitions.”

The requirements for accession are: a. Democracy; b. A market Economy; and c. Adaptation of EU law into National law.

“Turkey is a strong regional power. If it were to come into the EU it would come in as a 100 million bloc that would change the balance of power in the EU. They might have more power then Germany and the UK combined, and this is unacceptable. The EU would prefer a special linkage to be offered to Turkey. After 12 additions the enlargement may have reached a limit. The EU has already become less homogeneous and less coherent.”

For the Balkans, joining the EU gives them the best motivation to normalize their society and economy. The speaker would like this to happen eventually, but not immediately.

Here, Professor Hugo M. Kaufmann, Professor of Economics at Queens College and at the Graduate Center, who chaired the event, opened up for questions, and there were many very interesting questions. I will bring up mainly our own question that came about because of the suggestion of having special relationships between the EU and countries like Turkey, that want to join the EU, but are rebuffed – then offered a special compensation that looks good to some at the EU, but which they cannot accept. Internally their governments will look like losers, and they will become losers indeed because of internal politics.

My question was why look at special arrangements with single countries, while a special arrangement with a large group of countries would be much more palatable to these outsiders – and I named three such groups: The Mediterranean Group, The Black Sea Group, and the Turkic Group.

The Mediterranean group does exist in effect – this as a result of the Barcelona Process. It started as an alliance to clean up the Mediterranean Sea – as such it had to include the Southern States of the EU – those reaching the sea shores – the North African States, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey etc. It includes countries that do not have good relations with each other – but they have to cooperate – and you know what – it works and gives results.

The Black Sea International Council started out as an environmental organization with Greece as the only participating EU member. Now after the EU accession of Romania and Bulgaria, a new Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation was created. This group that obviously also includes Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, has been extended to include the ‘frozen conflicts’ in Georgia, Moldova and between Armenia and Azerbaijan. (To others this reminds of the GUAM countries) This is indeed also an economic power house that can deal with quite a few oil and gas pipelines as well.

The Turkic group includes obviously Turkey and the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia. It could include also Azerbaidjan and Georgia. In effect it could be an oil backyard of the EU.

The bottom line of all this is that Turkey is a central part of all these three groups – it could in effect come in with all this dowry and thus be welcome in its special arrangement as leader of outside EU alliances. This – rather then thinking of Turkey as the EU opening to a Middle East where Turkey is indeed not welcome to the Arab feast – surely, even less, then its welcome to the EU table.

I had also a short question – what about Albania? Why actually not putting it ahead of all this talk about Turkey?

 

The respected Greek speaker said that Albania was one of the poorest countries in the world and he did not think Germany will want to finance Albania. (I clearly could not reopen this point – if I could I would have reminded him that the Kosovars are also Albanians, so are some 15% of the people of Macedonia. Nobody speaks now of a greater Albania, like nobody speaks now of rejoining the present Greek part of Cyprus with Greece. The latter came about because some sort of solution was found, but leaving Albania dangling brought once Mao to this country, now it could be Al Qaeda. This is just unsound policy.)

On the Barcelona process the answer was again money. The process does not go forward because of lack of money. Again I do not think that this is the case – it seems to be rather a jelousy of North EU not wanting to fund deals that favor the South States of the EU – sort of shooting themselves in the feet in the process. The speaker did not pick up the other two groups beyond saying that these are interesting ideas.

On the other hand, to a question about the name dispute between Greece and Macedonia, the speaker explained that the problem was that it worries Greece if later Macedonia would put claim to the areas in Turkey and Bulgaria that carry that name. He recognized that you cannot restrain people from naming themselves what they wish, but for international relations purpose they will have to pick for themselves some neutral name because even the temporary name of FYROM is not acceptable to Greece. Because of this – in our eyes total nonsense – Greece is vetoing Macedonia’s entrance to NATO – thus in effect hurting more NATO then Macedonia.

 

After all of this, when the meeting was called to end, in overtime, a Turkish Consul in New York asked for his right to say also a few words. He said flat that for 200 years Turkey is part of Europe. Turkey’s per capita income is now 1/5 to 1/4 of the average of the EU, but when Spain and Portugal entered the EU they were only 1/10. It is already 45 years that Turkey is trying to get recognition for its potential.

With the final end of the meeting I had the chance to talk to Mr. Basar Sen the Turkish Consul. He explained to me that the expectation of joining the EU has created its own logic and the government is now trapped by it, and turning away will have internal consequences. Surely I remember that starting with Ataturk and his “Young Turks,” a secular new Turkey was created out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire – a secular Turkey that wanted to be recognized, already then, as part of Europe. How can the speaker try to push them back into the Middle East from where these military men tried already then to escape?

But, sensing a friendly person, I followed up with a question I posed years ago to the Turkish Ambassador to the UN. Something that I think was the cardinal sin of Turkish thinking of last century. The question of the Kurds.

The Young Turks wanted to create a homogenized people out of the remnants of the Empire. They still had many – many different ethnic groups in the large piece of land that became Turkey – some say 154 ethnicities with language differences. But even if this was the case, there was only one minority that counted – these were the Kurds. What Turkey feared was that the Kurds will seek independence for their part of the land – so the Turkish government pursued them vehemently and turned them into real enemies. But even if the Kurds might have dreamt of having a larger Kurdistan to include also parts of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Azerbaijan, those other Kurds where not yet convinced that they, themselves, were ready to go for such a frame, with all this uncertainty hanging over the heads of their Turkish brethren. On the other hand, had Turkey realized that there were tremendous benefits in turning Turkey into a bi-national Turkish-Kurdish State, they could have indeed lured into their sphere of influence the Kurds of Iraq – the oil world would have looked differently, and the chances of having created an EU interest in their future would have helped more modernize Turkey, then the way they ended up fighting the greater majority of their people without showing for real economic results. We hope now that the Consul will find a way to provide us with think-tank material to help explain the the thinking of the Turkish leadership – past and present.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 7th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 THE EU LOOKS TO THE MEDITERRANEAN AND TO THE BLACK SEA AS ITS NATURAL FRONTIERS. SYNERGIES IN THESE AREAS WILL SERVE ITS INTERESTS. IN THE CASE OF THE BLACK SEA, VIA EU NEW MEMBERS BULGARIA AND RUMANIA, THE EU IS ALREADY PART OF LOCAL REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS.

[Comment by Fabrizio Tassinari on Euobserver] Sailing the black sea at last.

February 7, 2008EUOBSERVER / COMMENT – At a meeting between the EU and Black Sea countries foreign ministers in Kiev on February 14th, the EU will finally kick off its new Black Sea policy.

In view of the 2007 expansion of the EU to Bulgaria and Romania, and after some ten years since the European Commission’s only communication on Black Sea cooperation, the launch of the Black Sea Synergy last spring was a long-awaited and welcome step.

Now it’s time to deliver, which is where things could begin to look difficult.

In this new initiative, the commission identifies as many as thirteen cooperation areas. It plans to draw the EU closer to the existing regional organisations, primarily the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation. And it aims to correlate region-wide developments with the resolution of the ‘frozen conflicts’ in Georgia, Moldova and between Armenia and Azerbaijan. All this is not endowed with new financial means, but will draw on existing resources, as well as on mechanisms for joint financing with other international actors operating in the region.

These indications appear sensible and promising, but they also raise a number of important questions that the Black Sea countries and the commission will have to address if the proposed policy is to be effective and sustainable.

First, there is the sector-specific focus of the initiative. The commission places a strong emphasis on sectors such as the environment, energy and transport, where EU programmes and initiatives are already up and running. This is understandable. EU-sponsored mechanisms in these fields deserve a new boost, particularly the case of energy, where enhanced Black Sea cooperation could play a key role in the EU’s fledging goal of supply diversification.

The inclusion in the Synergy of issues such as democracy and internal security is also noteworthy.

Regional cooperation and exchange of best practices in these fields could potentially have a major impact on the fragile governance structures of most former Soviet countries. Likewise, EU initiatives when it comes to the promotion of democracy could take particular advantage of the interest shown for the Synergy by local and regional authorities, as well as non-governmental actors in the region.

Overall, however, the list of priorities is a bit on the long side: issues such as employment, science and technology have little regional specificity and could in the long run dilute the effectiveness of the new initiative.

The second question relates to the institutional level. The Synergy will not create new institutions, and the commission has obtained observer status in the BSEC. These are, as such, sound moves. Black Sea cooperation is already a jungle of agreements, associations, and acronyms. And BSEC, with a membership spanning from the western Balkans to the Caspian shores, represents the most comprehensive forum to discuss pan-regional issues.

At the same time, the EU would be well advised not to rely exclusively on this organisation for its Black Sea policy. What should warn against it is, on the one hand, BSEC’s relatively modest implementation record over the past fifteen years. Furthermore, the EU would have much to gain from including in its plans the other regional initiatives and their main sponsors: Romania, Ukraine and Georgia. As these countries emerge from a turbulent couple of years of domestic power struggles, they should be encouraged to revive and streamline the core business of organisations such as the Black Sea Forum and the Community of Democratic Choice.

Third, the launching of a Black Sea Synergy presents unavoidable challenges at the broader strategic level. Russia’s assertiveness in the region is of course the major stumbling bloc here. Should the new EU policy really fulfil its promise, it may further ratchet up Moscow’s aggressive posturing, especially in relation to its western neighbours, energy and the frozen conflicts. But this need not necessarily be so. Moscow’s recent constructive BSEC chairmanship suggests that the prospect of isolation can give way to a more cooperative attitude towards the EU in due course.

Lastly, and just as importantly, there is the issue of visibility and ‘branding’ of the region. A new framework organising Black Sea cooperation should send a strong signal about the importance that the EU attaches to this region. At the same time, regional leadership must necessarily come from the region itself, not from Brussels. One indirect outcome of the new EU initiative, in this respect, has to be a more concerted effort of the littoral actors to enhance cooperation and promote the region at the wider European level.

May the meeting next week point the way in that direction.

Fabrizio Tassinari, author of “A Synergy for Black Sea Regional Cooperation” (CEPS, 2006), is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen, a non-resident Fellow at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University and at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Brussels.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 18th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

A Scholar’s Legal Peril in Poland: Princeton Historian Could Face Criminal Charges Over Book.

By Craig Whitlock, Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, January 18, 2008.
WARSAW — Polish prosecutors are considering taking the unusual step of filing criminal charges against an Ivy League professor for allegedly “slandering the Polish nation” in a book that describes how Poles victimized Jewish survivors of the Holocaust in the aftermath of World War II.

Jan T. Gross, a Princeton University historian and native Polish Jew, has raised hackles here with the publication of “Fear,” an account of Poland’s chaotic postwar years in which Jews who barely survived the brutal Nazi occupation under the Germans often went on to suffer further abuse at the hands of their Polish neighbors.

The book was first published in 2006 in the United States, where reviewers found it praiseworthy. Gross’s work, however, generated bitter feelings among many Poles who accused him of using inflammatory language and unfairly stereotyping the entire population as anti-Semitic. When the Polish-language edition of his book was released here last Friday, prosecutors wasted no time in announcing that he was under investigation.

A spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office in Krakow, which is handling the case, said a decision was expected this week on whether to press charges against Gross or summon him for questioning.

The law in question was adopted in 2006, around the time that “Fear” was published in English; Gross and some other historians say it was partly a response to the book. The measure prohibits anyone from asserting that “the Polish nation” was complicit in crimes or atrocities committed by Nazis or communists. The maximum penalty is three years’ imprisonment.

The threat of legal action has not deterred Gross so far. He arrived in Warsaw on Monday for a nationwide tour to promote his book, which has already sold out in some stores. In an interview, he said he doubts prosecutors will charge him.

“It’s completely bizarre,” he said, seeming to relish the attention. “There’s an old saying in Polish that if God wants to punish someone, he takes away their brains first.”

Poland has prosecuted Gross for his views before. In 1968, during communist rule, he was arrested as a student for participating in a free-speech movement and served five months in prison. He departed for the United States a year later, taking advantage of a Polish government policy that encouraged Jews to leave the country. He enrolled at Yale University and ultimately became a U.S. citizen.

In 2001, as a scholar, he provoked an intense public reckoning in Poland by publishing “Neighbors,” a book about a 1941 pogrom in the town of Jedwabne. Uncovering new evidence, he documented how hundreds of Jews were massacred by Polish villagers in an atrocity that had previously been blamed on the Nazis. Although the book caused an uproar, its findings were later corroborated by an official historical commission and endorsed by the government.

Many Polish historians are less enamored of Gross’s most recent book. But several have slammed the authorities for even thinking about taking the Princeton professor to court, saying it makes the country look backward.

“As a historian, I quite simply consider it a scandal,” said Pawel Machcewicz, a professor at the Polish Academy of Sciences. “It jeopardizes the standing of Poland as a democratic nation. We must demonstrate that we are not afraid of any historical truths, no matter how devastating.”

At the same time, Machcewicz and other scholars have strongly criticized “Fear,” arguing that Gross has sought to inflame public opinion by exaggerating the Polish attacks on Jews as “ethnic cleansing.” They also said he ignored how Polish society was filled with ethnic and religious recriminations after the war and that many Catholics, Poles and Ukrainians found themselves the target of violence.

“I’m not going to say the majority of his facts are wrong,” said Machcewicz. “It is true: Polish anti-Semitism existed. There were pogroms. Many Jews were killed. There is no reason to deny it or hide it. . . . But the language he used is counterproductive.”

Poland’s tragic wartime history remains a highly sensitive topic here. The Nazis exterminated an estimated 3 million Jews in Poland, or about 90 percent of the prewar Jewish population. But 3 million other Poles were also killed, and many people see them as forgotten victims in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Many Poles are still reluctant to engage in an open discussion of those years. Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the archbishop of Krakow, suggested this week that the publisher of the Polish-language edition of “Fear,” a printing house with close ties to the church, had made a mistake.

“Your task is to promulgate the truth on history and not to wake up demons of anti-Polishness and anti-Semitism at the same time,” he said. “Reading the book filled me with pain.”

Andrzej Paczkowski, a well-known Polish historian and board member of the Institute of National Remembrance, said Gross had succeeded in stirring up emotions but questioned whether the public debate would do much good.

“This book is as much for psychologists as historians,” he said. “I think in this case he’s not a very good teacher. If you want to persuade someone of your own opinion, in my view, you should avoid scandals and media circuses and instead slowly demonstrate the course of events by relying on facts.”

As he prepared to launch his book tour, Gross said he was not surprised at the hostile reaction.

“The memories of the war here are fixed, of people being victims and heroes,” he said. “The truth of the matter is that European societies during the war did not behave as they’d like to think toward Jews.”

He also said he was not intimidated by the risk of a legal backlash or any other dangers. Next week, he is scheduled to make a public appearance in Krakow, the city where prosecutors are weighing legal action.

“People have warned me that I should worry and not walk at night alone, but I don’t feel any threats,” he said. At the same time, with his photograph in dozens of newspapers and magazines these days, he admitted to wearing a hat to disguise himself on the streets. “We’ll see what happens,” he said with a shrug.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Rival priests do battle in Bethlehem church – The Church of the Nativity.
By Nasser Shiyoukhi in Bethlehem for AP.
Published: December 28, 2007.

Robed Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests attacked each other with brooms and stones inside the Church of the Nativity yesterday as long-standing rivalries erupted in violence during holiday cleaning.

The basilica, built over the grotto in Bethlehem where Christians believe Jesus was born, is administered jointly by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic authorities. Any perceived encroachment on one group’s turf can set off vicious feuds.

Yesterday, dozens of priests and cleaners came to the fortress-like church to scrub and sweep the floors, walls and rafters ahead of the Armenian and Orthodox Christmas, celebrated in the first week of January. Thousands of tourists visited the church this week for Christmas celebrations.

But the clean-up turned ugly after some of the Orthodox faithful stepped inside the Armenian church’s section, touching off a scuffle between about 50 Greek Orthodox and 30 Armenians.

Palestinian police, armed with batons and shields, quickly formed a human cordon to separate the two sides so the cleaning could continue, then ordered an Associated Press photographer out of the church.

Four people, some with blood running from their faces, were slightly injured.

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