links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter

AustriaCzech RepublicHungary
SlovakiaSlovenia

 
Austria and Central Europe:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 From Daniel Pipes:

Dear Reader:

The article below began life as a presentation at a Muslim conference in Toronto a week ago and is today published in Turkish and English by a newspaper in Turkey.

Also: I appeared August 22 on Sun News Network’s The Arena with Michael Coren, and discussed “Hamas and ISIS on the Rampage.” It’s studio quality and 8 minutes long. Click here.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Pipes


The Caliphate Brings Trauma.

by Daniel Pipes
Ayd?nl?k (Turkey)
August 24, 2014

www.danielpipes.org/14791/caliphate-trauma

Without warning, the ancient and long powerless institution of the caliphate returned to life on June 29, 2014.
What does this event augur?

The classic concept of the caliphate – of a single successor to Muhammad ruling a unified Muslim state – lasted just over a century and expired with the emergence of two caliphs in 750 CE.

The power of the caliphate collapsed in about the year 940 CE. After a prolonged, shadowy existence, the institution disappeared altogether in 1924. The only subsequent efforts at revival were trivial, such as the so-called Kalifatsstaat in Cologne, Germany. In other words, the caliphate has been inoperative for about a millennium and absent for about a century.

 

“The Kaplan Case,” a German magazine cover story about the “Caliph of Cologne.”


The group named the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria conquered the city of Mosul, population 1.7 million, in June; days later, it adopted the name Islamic State and declared the return of the caliphate. Its capital is the historic town of Raqqa, Syria (population just 220,000), which not-coincidentally served as the caliphate’s capital under Harun al-Rashid for 13 years.

Under the authority of an Iraqi named Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim, the new caliphate projects boundless ambition to rule the entire world (“east and west”) and to impose a uniquely primitive, fanatical, and violent form of Islamic law on everyone.

 

{Harun al-Rashid was the fifth Abbasid Caliph. His actual birth date is debatable, and various sources give dates from 763 to 766. His surname translates to “the Just,” “the Upright” or “the Rightly-Guided.”  He died: March 24, 809 AD, Tous, Iran.

Al-Rashid ruled from 786 to 809, during the peak of the Islamic Golden Age. His time was marked by scientific, cultural, and religious prosperity. Islamic art and music also flourished significantly during his reign. He established the legendary library Bayt al-Hikma (“House of Wisdom”) in Baghdad in modern-day Iraq, and during his rule Baghdad began to flourish as a center of knowledge, culture and trade.

In 796, he moved his court and government to Ar-Raqqah in modern-day Syria.

Since Harun was intellectually, politically, and militarily resourceful, his life and his court have been the subject of many tales. Some are claimed to be factual, but most are believed to be fictitious. An example of what is factual, is the story of the clock that was among various presents that Harun had sent to Charlemagne. The presents were carried by the returning Frankish mission that came to offer Harun friendship in 799. Charlemagne and his retinue deemed the clock to be a conjuration for the sounds it emanated and the tricks it displayed every time an hour ticked.  Among what is known to be fictional is  The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, which contains many stories that are fantasized by Harun’s magnificent court and even Harun al-Rashid himself.

Amongst some Shia Muslims he is despised for his role in the murder of the 7th Imam, Musa ibn Ja’far.

(These lines above were  added by PJ when editing this material for SustainabiliTank.info as we wonder how the ISIS fighters reconcile their deeds with the historic image that put the Ar-Raqqah town on the Caliphate’s map?)}

Caliphs of Baghdad
(749–1258)

 

 

Harun al-Rashid as imagined in a 1965 Hungarian stamp.

 

I have predicted that this Islamic State, despite its spectacular rise, will not survive: “confronted with hostility both from neighbors and its subject population, [it] will not last long.” At the same time, I expect it will leave a legacy:

No matter how calamitous the fate of Caliph Ibrahim and his grim crew, they have successfully resurrected a central institution of Islam, making the caliphate again a vibrant reality. Islamists around the world will treasure its moment of brutal glory and be inspired by it.

 

Looking ahead, here is my more specific forecast for the current caliphate’s legacy:

1. Now that the ice is broken, other ambitious Islamists will act more boldly by declaring themselves caliph. There may well be a proliferation of them in different regions, from Nigeria to Somalia to Afghanistan to Indonesia and beyond.

2. Declaring a caliphate has major implications, making it attractive to jihadis across the umma (the worldwide Muslim community) and compelling it to acquire sovereign control of territory.

3. The Saudi state has taken on a quasi-caliphal role since the formal disappearance of the Ottoman caliphate in 1924. With the emergence of the Raqqa caliphate, the Saudi king and his advisors will be sorely tempted to declare their own version. If the current “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” (as the Saudi king like to be called), who just turned 90, does not indulge this claim, his successors might well do so, thereby becoming the first caliphate in a recognized state.

 


Pope Benedict XVI (right) met in 2007 with Saudi king (and future Caliph?) Abdullah.
{is this picture a sign of things to come – the Saudi King’s ambition to speak for all Islam?}


4. The Islamic Republic of Iran, the great Shi’ite power, might well do the same, not wanting to be conceptually out-gunned by the Sunnis in Riyadh, thus becoming the second formal caliphal state.

5. This profusion of caliphs will further exacerbate the anarchy and internecine hostility among Muslim peoples.

6. Disillusion will quickly set in. Caliphates will not bring personal security, justice, economic growth, or cultural achievement. One after another, these self-declared universal states will collapse, be overrun, or let lapse their grandiose claims.

7. This caliphate-declaring madness will end some decades hence, with a return to roughly the pre-June 29, 2014, conditions. Looking back then on the caliphal eruption, it will appear as an anachronistic anomaly, an obstacle to modernizing the umma, and a bad dream.

 

In short, declaring the caliphate on June 29 was a major event; and the caliphate is an institution whose time has long passed and, therefore, whose revival bodes much trauma.

—————————–

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. This paper was first delivered at a QeRN Academy conference on “The Caliphate as a Political System: Historic Myth or Future Reality?” in Toronto on August 16, 2014. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

Related Topics:  History, Islam This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The changing landscape of religion.

Laxenburg, Austria, 20 August 2014: The mixes of religion and ethnicity in society are changing in Vienna, Europe, and the world. IIASA research provides a demographic perspective. 

Religion is a key factor in demography, important for projections of future population growth as well as for other social indicators. A new journal, Yearbook of International Religious Demography, is the first to bring a quantitative demographic focus to the study of religion. The journal is co-edited by IIASA researcher Vegard Skirbekk, an expert in the field of religious demography. The first edition of the journal includes three studies by IIASA researchers:
 

Vienna: Growing diversity in religion and ethnicity.

The city of Vienna is growing increasingly diverse in both religion and ethnicity, according to a new study by IIASA researcher Markus Speringer and Ramon Bauer of the Vienna Institute for Demography, which explored how Vienna’s ethnic and religious diversity has developed from 1970 to 2011.

The study reflects Vienna’s changing religious and ethnic structure, which has seen increased migration since 1970. By 2011, almost a third of Vienna’s population was foreign-born, the study showed. But while in 2001, a majority of those immigrants came from Turkey and the former Yugoslavia, in 2011 the immigrant population was far more diverse, including many newcomers from Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

At the same time, the percentage of Roman Catholics has declined in the city, from nearly 80% in 1971 to less than 50% in 2001. This decline is due to both an increase in religious disaffiliation as well as an influx of people of different religions, the study shows.

The study also assessed the makeup of Vienna’s neighborhoods – showing that most migrants live in Vienna’s inner districts, in diverse, mixed neighborhoods. The outer districts of Vienna, by contrast, are mainly home to people born in Austria with a catholic religious affiliation.

 

Europe:  Immigration and religious switching.

Christians still make up 75% of people in Europe, according to a second paper published in the journal, which quantified Europe’s population by religious affiliation. The study, led by IIASA researcher Marcin Stonawski, showed that the next-largest group (18%) of Europeans claims no religious affiliation, and Muslims are the third-largest group with about 6% of the population. The study estimated religious distribution by age and sex for 42 countries – the first to provide such a detailed demographic analysis over all of Europe. It shows that the Christian population is relatively old, with a median age of 41.7 years, while the median age for the Muslim population was 31.8 years.
Contact: Marcin Stonawski stonaw@iiasa.ac.at


A third paper published in the new journal provides the methodology behind the Pew Research Global Religious Landscape Study published in 2012, the most thorough demographic analysis to date of global religious populations. The study, based on more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers, found that 84% of the 2010 world population was affiliated with a religion. The study also found that roughly one-in-six people around the globe had no religious affiliation.

The report included estimates of the religious composition of over 230 countries and territories and, for the first time ever, median age data for followers of each religion. The study documented a wide gulf between the median age of Muslims (23) and Jews (36).
 
The report was produced by the Pew Research Center in collaboration with researchers from the Age and Cohort Change Project (ACC) at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), including Vegard Skirbekk, Marcin Stonawski and Michaela Potancokova.
Contact: Vegard Skirbekk  skirbekk@iiasa.ac.at

Reference
Feng, Kuishuang, Klaus Hubacek, Stephan Pfister, Yang Yu, Laixiang Sun. 2014. “Virtual Scarce Water in China.” Environmental Science and Technology, dx.doi.org/10.1021/es500502q.

For PDF copies of the studies highlighted in this release please contact IIASA Press Officer Katherine Leitzell.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Burgenland Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage Nachhaltigkeitstage NachhaltigkeitstageLogo Lebensministerium
for the full article:    
Stimmen-Alois_Schwarz Dr. Alois Schwarz, Diözesanbischof. In der Österreichischen Bischofskonferenz für Wirtschaft und Nachhaltigkeit zuständig
Über ethische und nachhaltige Grundsätze in der Wirtschaft

„Langfristig erfolgreiche Unternehmen zeichnen sich dadurch aus, dass sie eine Balance finden zwischen den Interessen ihrer EigentümerInnen, ihrer KundInnen, Ihrer Mit-arbeiterInnen und der sie umgebenden Umwelt. Solche Unternehmerinnen und Unternehmer würden statt einer kurzfristigen Gewinn-Maximierung langfristiger Stabilität, fairen Kundenbeziehungen und respektvoller Mitarbeiterführung den Vorrang einräumen und mit ihrer gesellschaftlichen und ökologischen Umwelt in offener und verantwortungsvoller Beziehung stehen. Leitbilder leben von den Vorbildern, die sie leben. Erfolgreiche Unternehmen verstünden es, ihren Wertekanon in allen Phasen und Ausgestaltung ihres wirtschaftlichen Daseins konsequent zu leben.“

 

stimmen_helga_kromp-kolbHelga Kromp-Kolb, Institut für Meteorologie Department Wasser-Atmosphäre-Umwelt Universität für Bodenkultur Wien, Österreich

„Nachhaltigkeit, Zukunftsfähigkeit, Enkeltauglichkeit – sie alle bedeuten, heute so zu handeln, dass es ein glückliches Morgen geben kann. Dieses Handeln kann erfreulicher Weise schon heute zu einem erfüllteren Leben verhelfen – um den Preis, Gewohnheiten zu ändern.
Leider müssen wir schnell Handeln – das Klimasystem gerät unwiederbringlich aus dem Gleichgewicht. Es ist wichtig, jetzt zu handeln und andere für das nachhaltige Leben zu begeistern!“

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Die Ukraine im Ersten Weltkrieg
19. September 2014
Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften der Ukraine Kiew, Wolodymyrska 54

Veranstalter: O?sterreichisches Kulturforum Kiew, Deutsche Botschaft Kiew Kuratoren: Ukrainische Akademie der Wissenschaften, LBI fu?r Kriegsfolgen-Forschung Kooperationspartner: Tschechisches Kulturzentrum Kiew, Polnisches Institut Kiew.

Die heutige Ukraine geho?rte im Ersten Weltkrieg zu den Staaten, die am schwerwiegendsten und tiefgreifendsten von diesem Jahrhundert-Ereignis betroffen war: Die Ostukraine und die Nordbukowina, die heute Teil der Ukraine und damals Kronla?nder O?sterreich-Ungarns waren, wurden zwischen 1914 und 1919 mehrfach waren heftig umka?mpft. Insbesondere ab 1917/18 wird am ukrainischen Beispiel die in den letzten Jahren in der Historiographie vielfach diskutierte neue Chronologie sichtbar, die den Ersten Weltkrieg und den Russischen Bu?rgerkrieg als gemeinsames Ereignis, als „Neue Zeit der Wirren“ ansieht. Denn, es ist nahezu unmo?glich, die Ereignisse des Ersten Weltkrieges von den folgenden in Osteuropa und insbesondere im Bereich des ehemaligen zarischen Russland zu scheiden. Aus diesem Grund verfolgt die vorliegende Tagung einen integrativen Ansatz, mo?chte die Ereignisse zwischen 1914 und 1922 in die langfristigen Linien des spa?ten 19. Jahrhunderts und der folgenden Jahrzehnte einbetten.

Tagung

Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften der Ukraine, Wolodymyrska 54 9:00 Uhr Ero?ffnung
17:00 Uhr Ende der Tagung

Buchpra?sentation mit Empfang

Ab 18 Uhr
Deutsche Botschaft, Wul. Bogdana Khmelnitzkoho 25 Mit Helmuth Kiesel, Petro Rychlo und Julia Eichenberg

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Here at SustainabiliTank we find above interesting in the sense of a retroactive effort to create history – the facts being that like in the Palestinian case, there really was never before an Ukrainian State – though undeniable the ethnicity of the people was different then that of their neighbors, but not until Stalin were they hammered together and called a Republic even though they had differences among themselves in religion, language, and aspirations. Interesting also that the German Government representation is part of the September 19th effort.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Kein Grund zur Euphorie

Kommentar | Gudrun Harrer15. August 2014, 14:35

Maliki ist nicht die einzige Barriere zur politischen Gesundung und Einheit des Irak.

Am Ende hat er noch US-Lob für seine “ehrenvolle” Entscheidung bekommen: Nuri al-Maliki hat seine – von seinem Wahlsieg bei den Parlamentswahlen abgeleiteten – Ansprüche auf das Amt des Premiers aufgegeben und damit die Gefahr gebannt, dass sich zur Sicherheitskrise im Irak auch noch eine Verfassungskrise gesellt. Haidar al-Abadi kann nun seine Regierung bilden, ohne dass einer der eigenen Leute mit der Axt hinter ihm steht.

Allerdings ist jede Euphorie, in der die Person Malikis als einzige Barriere zur politischen Gesundung und Einheit des Irak gesehen wurde, völlig fehl am Platz: Abadi wird den arabischen Sunniten und den Kurden weit reichende Angebote machen müssen, um sie wieder einzubinden. Und er wird seine Zusagen – anders als es Maliki nach den Wahlen 2010 getan hat – auch halten müssen.

Alle, auch seine eigene Dawa-Partei, hatten Maliki fallen gelassen. Mit seinem Schritt hat er sich erspart, einmal mehr in der Freitagspredigt des Vertreters der wichtigsten schiitischen Autorität im Irak, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, wenig subtil zum Abtreten aufgefordert zu werden. Aber dass erfolglose Politiker sich besser zurückziehen, hatte Sistani schon vor den Wahlen dekretiert, seinerseits erfolglos, weder Maliki noch seine Wähler hatten auf Sistani gehört. Erst als das Trommelfeuer auch aus dem Iran, von höchsten Stellen, kam, hatte Maliki ein Einsehen.

US-Präsident Barack Obama wiederum knüpfte seine Zusage für ein verstärktes militärisches Engagement an eine inklusive Regierung in Bagdad, unter Kooperation aller Gruppen. Dem stand der polarisierende Maliki im Wege. Es ist traurig, dass es der Gefahr des „Islamischen Staats“ (IS) und einer humanitären Krise katastrophalen Ausmaßes bedurfte, um ihn zum Gehen zu bewegen. Umgekehrt könnte man sein (vorläufiges) Ende auch als Erfolg des sunnitischen Aufstands gegen Bagdad verbuchen – wäre nicht dieser Aufstand längst vom jihadistischen Wahnsinn aufgesogen und delegitimiert worden.

Wenn man die Berichte von Militäranalysten über die von der IS infizierten Gebiete liest, könnte man den Schluss ziehen, dass die IS zwar momentan punktuell noch gewinnt, aber ihre große Offensive etwas stockt. Die schlechte Nachricht ist, dass gegen die IS oft nicht die irakische Armee, sondern schiitische Milizen erfolgreich sind: Sie muss Bagdad schnell in den Griff kriegen, denn ihr Wüten ruft wieder eine sunnitische Gegenbewegung hervor.

Die Jesiden sind zwar nicht alle in Sicherheit, aber die US-Hilfe greift. Der Vorwurf, dass es den USA einmal mehr um die Ölfelder und den Schutz der dort präsenten internationalen Ölfirmen ankommt, konnte nicht ausbleiben. Aber erstens ist das in diesem Moment ohnehin sekundär. Und zweitens ist die US-Einstellung zu den nahöstlichen Ölvorkommen in einem grundlegenden Wandel begriffen. Das eigene Interesse am Öl mag ein Motiv sein, aber vor allem gilt es zu verhindern, dass noch mehr Ressourcen der IS in die Hände fallen. Und das ist ja wohl vernünftig. (Gudrun Harrer, DER STANDARD, 16.8.2014)

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program – as reported by Irith Jawetz who participated at the UN in Vienna Compound July 15th Meeting .

 

The Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) and Search for Common Ground  invited us to attend a panel discussion titled “A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program,” which was held on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 13:00 at the Vienna Center for Disarmament & Non Proliferation (VCDNP).

 
As P5+1 and Iran are meeting in Vienna at Foreign Ministers level to resolve the outstanding issues preventing a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program before the 20 July deadline, a group of renown experts on the technical and political aspects of the negotiations have met at VCDNP to discuss and identify possible compromises.

 

Panelists: 
 
Dr. Frank von Hippel, Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security 
 
Mr. Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Coalition to reduce Nuclear Dangers, and the Director of Security Programs for Physicians for Social Responsibility.
 
Ambassador (ret.) William G. Miller, Senior Advisor for the US-Iran Program, Search for Common GroupHe is a Senior Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Middle East Institute. He is the co-Chairman of the Kyiv Mohyla Foundation of America and a Director of The Andrei Sakharov Foundation. He has also been a senior consultant for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

This was a very timely event, as the Foreign Ministers of the P5+1 group of Nations – the U.S., U.K., France. Germany, China, and Russia – spent the weekend in Vienna  discussing follow ups to the interim agreement reached between them and Iran in advance of this July 20th deadline.


At the start of the Panel discussion, it was announced that at that very moment Secretary of State John Kerry is giving his Press Conference before flying back to Washington to report to President Obama about the negotiations. He is willing to come back next weekend for the July 20-th continuation of the discussions.

———–

Ambassador Miller was the first speaker, and he gave a rather optimistic view of the situation. His presentation had more of a political nature.  In his presentation he said that the basic principles of the negotiations is to assure that Iran has no nuclear weapons . Iran has the capability, brain, expertise and knowhow but has no strategic moral or ethical reason to develop nuclear weapons to be used as weapons of mass destruction.
It is a fact, though, that the Iranians insist on use of peaceful nuclear energy – to what extent it is peaceful and how can the rest of the world be sure that it will be peaceful, this is why the negotiations have to succeed. Ambassador Miller is hopeful that, after 35 years of the current regime in Iran, those negotiations will result in a positive answer.
Ambassador Miller commended all the participating teams, the Press and Academia. First he mentioned the top quality Iranian team at the negotiations, many of the participants he knows personally. They were able, motivated, and anxious to find a solution. The US team, led by Secretary Kerry did a  remarkably good job, as did the rest of the teams. He commended the Press who were persistent – fully covered the negotiations and were very professional – and academia who helped with background information.
—————

Mr. Daryl G.Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association talked about a solution for the Iranian Uranium-Enrichment Puzzle. In his presentation he stressed that “Solutions that prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, lower the risk of yet another major conflict in the region, and still provide Iran with the means to pursue a realistic, peaceful nuclear program are within reach” – he said.
Progress has already been achieved on several key issues – stregthening International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections and oversight at existing and undeclared sites.  …   Iran has agreed to modify its Arak heavy-water reactor to drastically cut its plutonium output, and a general framework has been developed to waive, and eventually lift, sanctions against Iran.   …  Nevertheless, the two sides have more work to do to bridge differences on the most difficult issue: limiting Iran’s uranium-enrichment capacity.As part of a comprehensive deal, Iran and the P5+1 have to agree on several steps to constrain Iran: limit uranium enrichment to levels of less than 5% – keep stocks of its enriched uranium near zero – and halt production-scale work at the smaller Fordow enrichment plant and convert it to research-only facility.

He shares Ambassador Miller’s hope and positive outlook that the negotiations will succeed. Anything less than success will be a catastrophe.

—————-
The last speaker was Dr. Frank von Hippel who is a Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.Dr. von Hippel gave a very technical presentation about the Possible elements of a compromise on Iran’s Nuclear Program.

Potential sources of fissile material from Iran’s nuclear energy program are:

1. Plutonium presence in reactor fuel (current issue is Arak reactor)

2. Iran’s centrifuge enrichment complex.

There are two stages in rationalizing the Current situartion:

Stage I

Iran currently has installed 18,000 IR-1 centrifuges  – the compromise would be:

1) to retire IR-1  and replace it with already installed IR-2ms to support research-reactor LEU needs.

2) Continued transparency for Iran’s centrifuge production – possibly as a template for enhanced transparency for centrifuge production worldwide.

3) Continued minimization of stocks of low enriched UF6.

Stage 1 will provide time to cool down an inflamed situation and would provide Iran and the West an opportunity for a cooler assessment of the costs and benefits of diferent possible paths.

In stage II, negotiations might agree on a solution currently beyond reach and also lay a base for a new global regime for enrichment.

Stage II

 

National or Multi-National enrichment? A global Issue.

National – Every  state has the right to enrich fuel for power reactor fuel. However today only Brazil, China, Iran, Japan and Russia have completely independent national civilian enrichment programs.

Multinational – Urenco (Germany, Netherland, UK) . Today Urenco owns the only operating U.S,. civilian enrichment plant.

Building in Flexibility for Iran:

1. Iran should have access to nuclear reactor and fuel vendors worldwide – to ensure that it is getting a good price and reliable delivery.

2. Iran could build up stockpile of fabricated fuel for Bushehr. That would take care of Iran’s fuel security concerns and make it easier for Iran to postpone a large domestic enrichment capacity or depend on a multinational enrichment plant – perhape equiped with Iranian centrifuges in another country in the Middle East.

Dr. von Hippel COPLIMENTED his theory with  charts.

The consensus at the end of the discussion was that the negotiations seem to go well, and all panelists, as well as some members of the audience expressed their hope that they will indeed succeed. Ambassador Miller even went as far as to state that Iran at the moment is the most stable nation in the region, and we have to take advantage of it, make sure the negotiation succeed,  and bring Iran back to the International community.

In the news today it was reported that Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Washington to brief President Obama on the negotiations – rather then on a prior advertised new effort in the Israel-Palestine arena. He was hopeful, but also said there are still some points which need to be clarified.

==========================
Further last comment by SustainabiliTank editor – we add – taken from a Thom Friedman article about a different issue:
We accept that in the future the World true powers of today – The US, China, India, Russia, Japan and the EU – and we like to add Brazil as well – will have to meet their minds and harmonize what ought to be a global leadership for a safe future planet. Just ad hoc chaperoning specific issues will be proven to be not enough.

The way to find a solution to the issue of a nuclear Iran shows that in the globalized world of today there must be an international guiding force. But on this much more has to be written for the sake of Sustainability.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Priorities during the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

 MEETING OF THE EUROPE CLUB, VIENNA.
Wednsday, 9. July 2014, 17:00 Uhr (Einlass ab 16:30)
Haus der Europäischen Union
Wipplingerstraße 35, 1010 Wien
 
Keynote:
S.E. Giorgio Marrapodi
The Italian Ambassador to Vienna
 
Moderation:
Johann Sollgruber
Europäische Kommission – Vertretung in Österreich, Leiter a.
the representative of the EU in Vienna.

——————————————————————

On July 1, 2014 Italy took over the Presidency of the European Union. The Europa Club Wien invited His Excellency Ambassador Giorgio Marrapodi, Italy’s Ambassador to Vienna to lay out Italy’s Priotities during the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU .

Mr. Johann Sollgruber, Head of the Austrian Chamber of the European Commission was the Chair and Moderator of the event.

Mr. Sollgruber started the event by greeting HE Giorgio Marrapodi and thanking him for coming.

Itly’s Ambassador -
Mr.Marrapodi - lay out a vast program, which Italy will tackle during its Presidency. It is a very ambitious program.  He spoke of the main issues that Italy will try to solve – and we will just highlight in short a few of those:

Creating jobs among young people,  especially now with the high unemployment rate in many of the EU countries, which will require not only finding jobs, but also training and educating young people;

Economic growth and stability of the banking system througout the EU;

Developing a common EU position on Climate Change and Energy;

Tackling the very difficult problem of Migration, refugees who seek sylum in the EU countries and there he stressed the immense problem his country is facing ;
Fundamental Human Rights and equal rights for men and women;

The Global Role of the EU in getting involved in the problems of the Mediterranean Region, Middle East, Libya Syria, Iraq, Ukraine;

Economic Partnership between the EU, Canada and Japan  in Trade and Investment;

Promotion of Macro-Regional strategies;

For a full program of Italy’s challenges for their Presidency please log on to their website at:  www.italia2014.eu

Ambassador Marrapodi then went on to inform us of the EXPO Milano 2015 which will take place in Milan between May 1, 2015 to October 31, 2015. Expo Milan will be the largest worldwide event ever organized on the theme of Food: “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.

For full information about the Expo please log on to their website at: www.expo2015.org.

Mr. Sollgruber introduced His Excellency Ambassador Edgars Skuja, Latvia’s Ambassador to Austria. Latvia will take over the Presidency after Italy from January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2015. Ambassador Skuja said that he is looking forward to work with his Italian colleague in preparing his country’s first ever Presideny and he will be happy to report to us in January 2015.

At the End of the event we were invited for a glass of wine and some delicacies from Umbria, courtesy of the Embassy of Italy.

For whoever is curious:    Umbria, is a region of historic and modern central Italy. It is the only Italian region having neither a coastline nor a common border with other countries. It includes the Lake Trasimeno, Cascata delle Marmore, and is crossed by the River Tiber


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We picked the following article from the Austrian Erste Foundation Newsletter . We were intrigued by the fact that in Timisoara, Romanian West, there is nearly full employment and this makes for the need to change demands of worker skills in order to help bring in new investors when there is shortage of local labor.

At first the city grew after ouster of communism the usual way – it provided cheap labor to foreign investors. But since the 2008 economic crisis in the EU, above had to change and the level of skilled labor increased. The mayor dtill complains that not enough people can be offered to new investors, but nevertheless, as a total – the city is doing very well in the EU that evolves from the crisis. This is thus 2.0 in Timisoara’s post-communist economy. We are anxious to report on Timisoara 3.0 which will come when it will be obvious that industry has to take in consideration the environment. We say this when looking at the photo posted here.

————————————————————————

Return to Europe – Timisoara 2.0

timisoara


Dan Diaconu, deputy mayor of Timisoara, has an unusual problem. “Unemployment in our city stands at one per cent,” the 36-year-old, elected in 2012, explains. “This is a problem for attracting new investors. Some are scared away by this fact.”
In conditions of near full employment, labour is hard to find.

Yet this is a problem that most European cities would long to have. Diaconu concedes, with no sign of enthusiasm, that in his city of 320,000 people, “the economic indicators show that indeed there is no big crisis in Timisoara today.”

Diaconu was twelve years old in 1989, the year Timisoara became famous as the birthplace of the Romanian anti-communist revolution, which precipitated the fall of the Ceausescu regime. He was a student in the 1990s when the first Italian investors, mostly smaller businesses looking for cheap labour, arrived in Timisoara. When he graduated from the local Polytechnic University in 2000, the first multinationals, Siemens and Alcatel, had arrived in town. Many of his colleagues went to work for them. Diaconu decided instead to manage social projects, focusing on the plight of young people. In 2007, while Diaconu was running EU projects, the BBC called Timisoara a “revolutionary boomtown.” More than 2,600 Italian and 1,500 German companies had settled in the city. There was a growing number of multinational companies, from the tire maker Continental to the consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble. By this point, finding workers was already a challenge.

Romania’s membership of the EU in 2007 seemed to promise a continuation of this growth trajectory and an eventual catching up with EU living standards. It was a promise that seemed plausible until 2008. In the six years after Romania started its accession negotiations, GDP per capita rose from 30 to 47 per cent of the EU average. Romania remained poor, but salaries were rising. A new middle class – university graduates employed by multinational companies – found itself with money to spend. It began heading off with low-cost airlines for weekend trips. Timisoara airport offered daily direct flights to more than 20 European destinations.

Then, in late 2008, the European economic crisis hit Romania. Convergence with the EU stopped. Salaries ceased to rise. The citizens of one of the EU’s poorest economies were left to ponder whether the dream of “convergence” had gone.

Visiting Timisoara in 2013, one can get the impression that little has changed since 2008. If one asks businessmen about major recent foreign investors, many have difficulties coming up with even a single new company. But they also cannot name a single major foreign investor who has left. Unemployment, after increasing to 4.5 per cent in the Timisoara region, is back to 2 per cent. In the city itself, it is even lower. Yet salaries average just €400 net and are barely keeping up with inflation. The dynamism of the pre-crisis years has gone, leaving many with the impression of protracted stagnation. But is this really the case?

Florentin Banu, a casually dressed man with a firm handshake, has a remarkable story to tell. In 1994, he started producing wafers in a garage. The company and its “Joe” brand became so successful that Nestle bought it (and still today sells “Joe” wafers). With the proceeds, Banu started a local supermarket chain. He nearly went bankrupt, and had to bring in additional investors before the chain turned profitable. In 2005, he sold his share in the chain (now owned by French retail giant Carrefour). He started two new businesses from scratch: Banu Construct, a real estate developer, and Interpart, producing plastic parts. By 2008, before the crisis, Banu Construct turned in annual profits of more than a million Euros. Interpart made losses of half a million. At that time Banu said: “If I was interested only in money, I would only do real estate.” But with his passion for management, he persisted in his efforts to turn Interpart into a profitable company that would supply the automotive industry.

It was a far-sighted decision. In late 2008, the construction sector imploded. Banu dryly lists the facts: “The demand for flats and real estate fell by about 90 per cent. The prices gave way by 50-60 per cent. Land prices decreased even more.” Banu’s company had just purchased a huge piece of land where he planned to build 300 flats. The land price was €200 per square metre. “Today it is worth 60 or 70.” Banu Construct only survived because it could cover its losses from profits accumulated in the pre-crisis years, and by shrinking dramatically. Of 170 employees, only 30 remain. Banu is “proud that we are still standing.” Of the bigger real estate developers in town, all but two went bust.

Interpart, Banu’s other company, has grown, however. He moved the factory premises to an industrial suburb southwest of Timisoara. The new building includes offices and even a flat, where Banu now lives. “It is very practical.” Down in the production hall, visitors are walked along a row of precision instruments producing metal moulds. Across the other side of the hall, large machines use the moulds to produce plastic parts of diverse shapes and colours, which drop continuously into large plastic boxes.

With only a slight increase in its workforce – from 100 to 120 – the company has managed to double its annual turnover in the last two years to €5 million. The investment has finally turned profitable. Sixty percent of production now is for the automotive industry, a growth sector across Romania. Interpart supplies various multinationals in the surrounding area, including in Hungary. Banu is optimistic: “The industry needs us. We are a local supplier for global players.”

Banu’s story, combining success, defeat and innovation, is telling. A lot has changed in Timisoara’s economy since 2008. One whole sector, construction, collapsed. Others, like IT and transport, have grown. Industrial producers have adapted. Domestic purchasing power, driven by credit growth, took a hit during the crisis and is only slowly recovering. Many smaller companies lacked the resources to survive the crisis and have had to close. However, with its focus on manufacturing and export, Timisoara weathered the crisis better than less industrial areas of South East Europe.

Peter Hochmuth is a German businessman who came to Timisoara 12 years ago as the financial director of the Continental tire factory. When the company wanted to rotate him to headquarters in Hannover, Hochmuth decided to quit and stay on in Timisoara. Since then, he has advised foreign investors and – more recently – Romanians on doing business with foreigners. “There is a clear transformation in the industry here,” he says. “Simple manufacturing jobs that were predominant in the 1990s are disappearing. Geox and Rieker, the Italian and German shoe giants, have closed their production facilities. But more skilled jobs, particularly in the automotive industries and IT, are growing.”

Hochmuth is also president of the German-speaking business club. Initially an informal gathering, the club today brings together over 150 German-speaking executives.

One of them is Dan Popovici, general director of the Timisoara plant of Dräxlmaier, a big German automotive supplier with production sites in more than 20 countries. Waiting for Popovici in the company’s entrance hall, one is left wondering how the floor of white tiles can be kept so impeccably clean, even on a rainy day. Popovici is in his 50s. His measured tone carries the authority of someone who has witnessed many dramatic changes. Asked about developments in the industry, he says: “We can talk about two waves: the first was labour intensive. The second is technology oriented.”

The automotive industry was particularly hard hit by the global financial crisis. Sales collapsed. The suppliers based in Timisoara first introduced shorter working hours and compulsory leave, before beginning to shed workers. Their headquarters quickly realized, however, that it made little sense to close efficient and cost-effective plants in Romania. Within six months, the industry was in full swing again.

In 2008, Dräxlmaier employed 2,000 people in Timisoara. They manufactured cable harnesses for higher end cars like BMW. Harnesses are a complex product, comprising all the electric cables in a car. “Every harness is different, depending on the specifications of the car,” Popovici explains. “In each car, you find 1.5 to 2.5 kilometres of cables.” Since 2008, Dräxlmaier has relocated the more labour intensive production steps to Serbia. In Timisoara, they invested in the automation and mechanisation of production and now mainly produce motor harnesses. “Few plants in this sector are technically as equipped as we are here. While since 2008 we have reduced our staff from 2,000 to 800 people, efficiency has risen,” says Popovici. “There is a constant battle to remain competitive,” he adds, pointing to new machines in the huge production hall.

The jobs in the plant have become more sophisticated. They are also better paid. The share of university-educated staff has tripled over the last five years to about 20 per cent. Over 100 jobs are in services for other plants of the company abroad. There is a service centre covering all locations except North America. When new factories are opened, often staff from Timisoara are sent there, be it to China, Mexico or Serbia.

“In the simplest sectors, Timisoara cannot compete anymore,” claims Hochmuth. “But it is competitive in the higher skilled production processes where you have to work closer with your clients. Take software system development. Engineers here earn at least €700 a month, much more than their colleagues in low-cost countries. But you can easily and cheaply fly a team from here to Germany, Austria or Italy. Many speak German, Italian or good English. They know what a consumer expects. They have the same way of thinking. Eventually, everything considered, it pays off to be here for these more sophisticated production activities.”

The fact that household incomes have not grown for many years is reflected in the city’s overall mood. Many people are slightly worse off than five years ago. There are many challenges for businesses: administrative hurdles, a shortage of skilled labour. And yet, it is not difficult to imagine Timisoara as a prosperous, bustling, global industrial centre a decade from now. This cannot be said for many cities in the region, and certainly not for those across the border in Serbia, where membership of the European Union still seems a distant prospect. There, politicians will continue to envy Dan Diaconu for his problem – convincing outsiders to keep investing under conditions of almost full employment.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Last night, June 23, 2014, former Austrian Ambassador to Finland, Canada, Jamaica,  and at the Council of Europe, Wendelin Ettmayer, presented his views at the Austrian Consulate General in New York City in answer to the double question: “World War I: Why did European Diplomacy Fail – Could it Happen Today?”

In effect – his topic is “Is it Still Possible to Win Wars?” as he presented it in Vienna at an ACUNS (Academic Council of the United Nations System).

The basic idea is that at the time of WWI Europe had not emerged yet from feud.alism while starting to develop Nationalism. Heads of State could still take vacation while in one day 80,000 of their soldiers were killed. On the other hand wars were something viewed as a concept of honor -so that day was seen as a day of glory.

The Ambassdaor’s thesis is that today it could not happen in Europe anymore – but outside Europe yes. Simply some of the emerging countries have not learned from the experience of WWI and are in effect still in that feudal age where the leader has complete power – or at least that is what he thinks. In these conditions diplomacy is viewed as Klausewitz described it when he said that war is a continuation of diplomacy by other means. In this situation he sees China’s interest in Islands of fthe Pacific a question of honor – something a member of the audience tried to correct by just saying – OIL!

From notes of the Vienna meeting – Ambassador Ettmayer does in effect see the change that occured since the preparations that led to WWI:

 

New Dimensions of Security and Power: The Essence of Security and Power has Changed Dramatically in Recent Decades

Traditional security was to 90% military security. Compared to the great challanges of human security in today´s world, military security covers only 10%. The same can be said as far as power is concerned:

traditionally, 90% of power exerted on an international level was military power. Today, the power of the brave, the new players and new dynamic forces make up 90% of the power. In this sense, 90% of the changes which took place in former times were caused by war, which is responsable of 10% of the new development in today ´s world, when we think of globalisation, the rise of China, the implosion of the Soviet Union or the unification of Germany.

In former times, wars were decided to 90% on the battlefield, today to 10%, what makes it practically impossible to win wars anymore. On the other hand, people today are affected to 90% by the international development, what was not the case in former centuries.

1. New Dimensions of Security

Traditionally foreign policy was orientated towards the security of the state, based on a strong army. Today, foreign policy is, to a very large extent, also oriented towards human security, towards the security of the individual citizen. In the 21th century, threats to international security are to 90% non-military threats.  An essential goal of foreign policy has become to guarantee the basic necessities of human life. Many international orgainziations, countless NGOs and governments are actively promoting human security. They fight against hunger and disease and are in favor of development, human rights and a decent standard of living. Where the basic requirements for human security are not met, from Ukraine to Venezuela and from the Central African Republic to Thailand, peace and security are in danger.

The United Nations and many of their agencies like UNCTAD, UNICEF, UNESCO, to name only a few, want to create security through cooperation. To safeguard human security and to promote human rights has become a basic legitimacy of foreign policy.

In former times, international relations were mostly about one single

issue: military security, power and war. Today countless issues are an essential part of international conferences and international activities. Today there are many dimensions to international security:

there is an economic and financial dimension; there is the important role of energy and the environment; there are human rights and education. Most importantly, those new dimensions of human security do not anymore rely on the strength of the military.

2. New Dimensions of Power

In former times, the essence of power was based on the grace of God or on military power. Today, power should be based on a democratic legitimacy. In practice, the legitimacy of a government is linked to its possibility to increase the wellbeing of the people. For many people it has become more important to increase their standard of living than to increase the military power of their country in order to dominate others.

To demonstrate what fundamental changes have taken place, consider the word “great” we use for powerful personalities in history. Alexander the Great as well as Peter the Great or Catherine the Great are considered “great”, because they succeeded to increase their power of their country, conquering and destroying others. Any ruler who would act in similar ways today would not be considered as “Great”; the international community would demand that they would be brought before the International Criminal Court.

In former times, a ruler was powerful if he succeeded to enforce his will upon his subjects. Today an elected official can exert power if he can attract and convince others. In former times, conquering a country was a legitimate act. Anyone who wants to conquer foreign territory today faces international sanctions, like Saddam Hussein, after he invaded Kuwait in 1990.

In former times a state had a power-monopoly. This monopoly has been broken by countless new institutions like the media, NGOs or international corporations. Those new institutions can not only exert power, but also oppose the power of the state.

What are the driving forces behind great changes which take place in the world today? Through centuries wars were the driving force for changing the international landscape. If we analyze today why the Soviet Union imploded, why apartheid was abolished in South Africa or why minorities succeeded to emancipate themselves, we can see that those changes were not brought about by wars, but by the power of the brave, by new technologies or by new ideas.

The Polish trade Union movement, Solidarnosc and Nelson Mandela represent the power of the brave. The anti baby-pill, the mobile phones, the internet and computers stand for the power of new technologies. The power of new ideas was demonstrated by the 1968 movement and the influence of human rights.

His answer comes to his asking – “How Could All That Happen?”

Those dramatic changes in international relations took place on the basis of a revolution in education; a democratic revolution and a revolution in information. People have become more critical. They see the great sacrifices, suffered by wars and that goals proclaimed on the occasion of outbreaks of wars are hardly achieved. On the other hand people have developed a sense of entitlement. They prefer a higher standard to a conquering army.

With the mobile phone, the computer and the internet a revolution in information has taken place. Social media give everybody the opportunity to share his or her opinion to participate in decision making. Naturally it is easier to be critical than to be constructive in this context.
——————————————————————

The New York City presentation was organized by Austrian Council General H.E. Ambassador Georg Heindl who does this sort of events as New York City, with a large Austrian population that evolved because of the presence of immigrants that escaped Nazism can provide for lively discussions of this sort of intellectual topics. Last night just proved the point with a lively follow up Q&A period.

There was no cosensus on many issues. Questions asked why NATO, why Turkey and not Russia which had an aristocracy formed after Western Europe and were even family. Actually, the Europeans have no alternative to peaceful internal coexistence between its member states if facing billion people mega-States.

While still thinking about last night, I found the following article in incoming e-mail and decided to post both points of view.

IT IS CLEAR TO ME THAT A TRUE STRONG STRUCTURE OF A EUROPEAN MEGA-STATE MUST FIND A POSITIVE WAY THAT HAS A NATURAL BASE. IT SEEMS ONCE MORE THAT HUMAN RIGHTS aND DEMOCRACY MUST BE THE BASR ON WHICH SUSTAINABILITY EXISTS.

 

———————–

For a European Republic

Ulrike Guerot and Andres Ortega 24 June 2014

Today we have to move away from the idea of a United States of Europe, to think of the EU as a republic, as the European res publica, and to put citizens and civil society back into the centre stage that they have abandoned.

Human Chain in Irurzun for the right to decide for the Basque region Human Chain in Irurzun for the right to decide for the Basque region. Demotix/Javi Julio. All rights reserved.

The European Union, and more particularly the Eurozone, does not know what it is. This is not only a matter of nominalism, but also of the meaning of the project.

To still consider this Europe as a “Federation of Nation States”, as Jacques Delors put it many years back, is clearly insufficient as a description and as a desideratum. Today we have to move away from the idea of a United States of Europe, to think of the EU as a republic, as the European res publica, and to put citizens and civil society back into the centre stage that they have abandoned.

To consider a European republic means to make democracy a priority, especially in these times in which we are emptying out national democracy without replacing it with a European democracy.

European citizens feel they can choose among politicians, but much less so among policies. Or that, to make a real difference, they would need to choose among European policies.

But that is not possible, as the electoral system, as we have seen in the last elections to the European Parliament, is a sum of national elections, even in some ways of nationalistic elections, and nationalism can destroy Europe and its peoples.

That Europe has no demos (people), but rather a collection of demoi (peoples) is not the central problem. A demos is not something given, but constructed as a result of historical processes and also of policies, of purpose. The problem is to see Europe as an entity formed exclusively by states­­–not even nation states but member states–and not by citizens, in spite of the Treaties that say that it is both at the same time.

The problem of not being able to choose European policies is that the real choice is between populisms and technocracy. And that is something that alienates people and ultimately reinforces populisms (of various kinds).

The way out of that bogus choice, again was very present in the recent European  elections, is by going for transnational European choices that could form the basis of a European republic. Citizens in Europe are not organized in a transnational setting. They have no real voice through their representatives. The idea of a European republic should push the emergence of a political ‘we’, based on social bodies.  A more transnational and republican organization would also mean getting away from the vertical structures of the EU towards a horizontal one that would allow coalitions building among European citizens.

It also means that there is a need for a redistribution of powers among the EU institutions. The European Parliament has gained new powers with every new treaty, all except the one which from a democratic point of view it should have: the right of initiative that remains a monopoly at the behest of the European Commission (and in some instances, of the member states).

Joachim Glauck, the president of Germany, has made use of the term ‘European Republic’ in some of his speeches. This idea of a ‘Republic’ is connected with the meaning it possessed in the European Middle Ages as it appeared in the first modern writings of thinkers like Bodino: that is, a legal concept of the cross-national exercise of sovereign powers. It was conceived as a way of sharing a democracy in common among citizens, but citizens with different national democratic systems and different ways of doing things. Some are parliamentary monarchies, others more purely parliamentarian, others presidential or semi presidential systems, and so forth.

It also means aiming for a European common good. And that idea of the common good shared by every European citizen would also be a way of overcoming the worrying divisions that have arisen of late in Europe between north and south, creditors and debtors, centre and periphery and even between the ins and outs (of the Eurozone), although the major aim which the republic needs to steer towards has to be the construction of the economic and monetary union, open to all EU member states of course.

The republic has to be based not so much on equality as on solidarity, even solidarity in the plural—solidarities–, as a concept and a set of realities no longer directly linked to sovereignty and national borders.

It has also to be a solidarity between generations, and especially towards the young who have felt abandoned in the latest phases of construction of the EU and the Eurozone, an abandonment that has led to more people aged 18-25 voting above average for populist options in most of the countries of the Union.

In the end, to opt for the European republic idea means to organize European civil society and to give it a voice in the European system. Not to do this will lead citizens to exit the system, as Albert O. Hirschman would have put it.

In this context, the Spanish debate should be more than about a monarchy-republic. It should be about the European dimension of the res publica.

——————————————–

This article was originally published in El Pais on 24/6/14.

About the authors
Andrés Ortega is presently senior fellow at the Elcano Institute in Spain and member of the European Council on Foreign Relations. He has been twice (1994-96 and 2008-2011) director of Policy Planning in the Prime Minister’s Office. His latest book is Recomponer la democracia (2014).

Ulrike Guérot is Senior Associate for Germany at the Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE). She previously worked as head of the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), head of the European Union unit at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) and as senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund (GMF). She blogs for the ECFR here.

—————————————-

Related Articles
Europe’s unfinished democracy
Robert Menasse  – an Austrian -  From the idea of Europe to a Europe of ideas
Anya Topolski

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

ERDOGAN SAYS EUROPE WITHOUT TURKEY IS UNIMAGINABLE
International-Daily Sabah-18 hours ago
Anti-Erdogan protests held in Vienna
The Local Austria-22 hours ago

In between Koln in Germany and Paris, Erdogan, Turkey’s Prime Minister landed also in Vienna wher he was not invited by the local National Government. Austria’s Foreign Minister, after making public announcements that he has asked the Turkish Prime Minister not to stir trouble in Austria with a heated speech to his assumed voters among the Austrian Turkish minority, did nevertheless meet with him before his departure from Vienna to Paris. There the President will meet with him – here in Austria the Chancellor does not met uninvited visitors.

More to it – Vienna remembers the Siege of Vienna of 1529 – the Turks outside the gates of Vienna – clearly with unfriendly motives.   But today Turkish citizens that want to improve their life immigrate to Europe in large numbers and try to assimilate. In many countries it is possible to assume the local citizenship without giving up their citizenship in the land of origin. Obviously, the majority of Austrians harbor no friendly feelings to Turks in their midst that flaunt their diversity and show that they do not want to assimilate. If this is something bad – this is not our topic here.

The same is true for Germany and France – yet Mr. Erdogan chose to come to these counties to campaign among the Turkish minorities for his re-election in Turkey – this August. If nothing else this shows that he builds on some of them not wanting to become true part of their new country of residence. This is the Turk of 1529 in the Austrians mind. No special laws have ever impacted the Turkish minority in Austria like efforts are on the way in France. This has led to a softer approach by the French President to the Turkish visit. Austria not having the need to cover anything – just did not go beyond the minimum in courtesy.

So what does Erdogan really want? Does he want to stir animosity against Turkish immigrants to the EU? Does he want to decrease emigration of his talented young people? Does he just want to be the bull in the china store and be unworthy of relations between states? Is this the Erdogan that broke his country’s relations with Israel in messing with the blockade of Gaza? Does he expect to make friends this way outside Turkey or inside Turkey.

I spoke about this off the record with officials of a Turkish organization in New York and the man felt that the candidacy of Ekmeleddin ?hsano?lu might present some hope now because of this bullish behavior of Erdogan and his AKP politics, while Ihsanoglu does not belong to a party and can thus be seen as a unifier to a country in need of new direction.


Hurriyet Daily News
  1. Cihan News Agency ?- 2 days ago
    The opposition reached the decision on ?hsano?lu after holding talks for weeks. The former OIC secretary-general was picked for his academic …

 

===============================================================================

Austrian foreign minister blames Turkish PM Erdo?an for ‘disorder’ in Vienna amid thousands’ protest.

VIENNA – Agence France-Presse

Kurz and Erdo?an met in Vienna on June 20. AA Photo

Kurz and Erdo?an met in Vienna on June 20. AA Photo

 

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s visit to Austria, which sparked mass demonstrations in Vienna, has drawn more sharp words from Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, who said the visit “clearly shows Erdo?an has brought his election campaign to Austria and has caused disorder.”

“We refuse to accept this. The only thing I can say is that respect for a country does not look like this,” Kurz told journalists on June 19, after as many as 10,000 people demonstrated against Erdo?an’s visit, according to figures provided by organizers and local police.

Kurz’s remarks came ahead of his meeting Erdo?an scheduled for June 20. The Turkish prime minister will meet the Austrian foreign minister before his departure for Paris, where he will meet with French President François Hollande.

Erdo?an has been increasingly accused of autocratic tendencies in Europe and a similar trip to Germany last month ruffled feathers after he spoke out against the assimilation of Turkish immigrants.

On July 19, he addressed a crowd of some 6,000-7,000 supporters from Austria’s 250,000-strong Turkish minority in a sports arena. A further 10,000 people watched his speech on a big screen outside the venue.

Erdo?an is touring European countries with large Turkish populations ahead of a widely expected run for the presidency in August. 

Austrian police said they used tear gas spray after a “minor incident” when a bottle was thrown at the protesters in the Austrian capital, most of whom were from the local Turkish community. No injuries were reported.

Austria’s government had warned Erdogan against making “provocative comments” and he appeared to heed the advice in his speech, telling the crowd that “no one has anything to fear from us.”

During his address, Erdo?an said that Europe needed his country, trumpeting Turkey’s economic growth under his stewardship.

“Europe does not end where the river Danube flows into the Black Sea, but begins where the Euphrates and the Tigris begin,” he said.

June/20/2014

 

Politik

Türkei

19.06.14

Erdogan erinnert Wien an die Belagerung von 1529

Wie in Köln absolviert der türkische Premierminister einen Wahlkampfauftritt in Wien. Tausende Anhänger feiern ihn frenetisch als “Sultan der Welt”. Fast genauso viele Menschen protestieren.

Von , Wien  – for DIE WELT published in Germany.
In der Wiener Innenstadt ist es am Donnerstagmittag noch ruhig. Das katholische Österreich feiert Fronleichnam, der Rest das schöne Wetter. Der angekündigte Besuch des türkischen Ministerpräsidenten Recep Tayyip Erdogan kümmert allenfalls die Polizisten, die entlang der Ringstraße auf die Anti-Erdogan-Demonstranten warten.

Einige haben sich schon neben dem Bahnhof Praterstern versammelt. Es ist eine bunte Schar aus türkischen und österreichischen Linken, Kurden, Aleviten und Armeniern, noch keine 10.000 wie angekündigt, eher 2000. Sie schwenken Fahnen in Landesfarben oder solche, auf denen der kurdische Rebellenchef Abdullah Öcalan oder türkische Kommunisten zu sehen sind, aber auch Schilder mit Porträts von Opfern der Gezi-Park-Proteste oder dem Bergwerksunglück von Soma.

“Auf wie vielen Ebenen Erdogans Politik versagt hat, sieht man an der Breite unseres Bündnisses”, ruft eine Sprecherin des Demokratischen Bündnisses gegen Erdogan von der Bühne. “Erdogan get out of Vienna”, steht auf einem Transparent dahinter. Die weiteren Redner nennen Erdogan einen Lügner, Verbrecher und Mörder.

Ein paar Kilometer stadtauswärts, vor einer Eissporthalle auf der anderen Seite der Donau, ist das Bild homogener. Die Menschen schwenken nur eine Art von Fahne: Stern und Halbmond auf rotem Grund, die Nationalflagge der Türkei. Ein paar Männer haben sie auf dem Boden ausgebreitet und beten, daneben sitzen alte Frauen mit Kopftüchern und picknicken. Aus einer Stretchlimousine werden T-Shirts mit Erdogans Bild verkauft, darunter steht: “Sultan of the World”.

Rosenblätter säumen seinen Weg

Drinnen in der Halle sind noch mehr Menschen mit noch mehr türkischen Fahnen. Sie schwenken sie im Takt eines Popsongs, dessen Refrain allein aus dem Namen des Stargastes besteht: “Re-cep Tay-yip Er-do-gan”. Immer wieder. Seine bevorstehende Ankunft lässt die Anhänger alle paar Minuten in frenetischen Jubel ausbrechen. “Erdogan ist die einzige Führungsfigur, die wir haben”, ruft ein Einpeitscher von der Bühne. Als er die Gezi-Park-Proteste erwähnt, wechselt die Halle von Jubel- zu Buhrufen.

Als der “Sultan der Welt” schließlich die Halle betritt, streuen ihm seine Gefolgsleute Rosen. Buchstäblich. Er winkt der Menge zu, begrüßt die Würdenträger in der ersten Reihe, dann setzt er sich neben seine schwarz verschleierte Frau.

“Die Türkei ist stolz auf dich”, rufen die etwa 7000 Menschen im Saal, zwei, drei, vier Mal. Der Moderator begrüßt den Ehrengast, dann ergreift Abdurrahman Karayazili das Wort, der Vorsitzende der Union Europäischer und Türkischer Demokraten. Seine Organisation hat den “Privatmann” Erdogan eingeladen, um ihr zehnjähriges Bestehen zu feiern. Sie gilt als Auslandsarm von Erdogans Partei AKP, was Karayazili genauso heftig dementiert wie den Vorwurf, Erdogan sei nach Wien gekommen, um wie Ende Mai in Köln und demnächst in Lyon um die Stimmen von Auslandstürken für die Präsidentschaftswahl im August zu werben.

Die Enkel der Wien-Belagerer

Mit eineinhalbstündiger Verspätung erklimmt der Premier die Bühne. Er dankt Österreich für die Gastfreundschaft. Er verurteilt die “Kampagne”, die es vor seinem Auftritt in Köln gegeben habe. Er mische sich nicht in die deutsche oder österreichische Innenpolitik, sagt er. “Mein einziges Ziel seid ihr!” Er beschreibt, wie gut die “neue Türkei” durch die Krise gekommen sei – und er sagt, dass sich niemand vor ihr fürchten müsse. Er erwähnt das Attentat von Sarajevo 1914, aber auch den Namen von Süleyman dem Prächtigen, jenem osmanischen Sultan, der die Türken 1529 erstmals bis Wien führte: “Wir sind alle seine Enkel”, ruft Erdogan, und das Publikum jubelt.

Am Höhepunkt der Rede formuliert er sein altbekanntes Credo: “Assimilation nein, Integration ja!” Dann ruft er seine Zuhörer dazu auf, im August wählen zu gehen, und schließt mit den Worten: “Wir sind alle Brüder und Schwestern.” Die Menge schwenkt ein letztes Mal ihre Fahnen, dann verlassen die Menschen die Halle und jubeln der Wagenkolonne hinterher, in der sie Erdogan vermuten.

Nicht einmal hundert Meter weiter sieht man wieder die bunten Fahnen der Gegner. Ihre Zahl soll auf 6000 angewachsen sein, bevor sie vom Praterstern in Richtung Eishalle aufbricht. Ihr Marsch über die Donau verläuft ziemlich friedlich, bis zum frühen Abend sind jedenfalls noch keine gewalttätigen Ausschreitungen bekannt geworden. Damit das so bleibt, hat die Polizei die Straße zwischen Erdogans Freunden und Feinden gesperrt. Die Stimmung, die bei den Gegnern erst Volksfestcharakter hatte und bei den Anhängern geradezu euphorische Zustände annahm, ist jetzt angespannt.

Drinnen in der Innenstadt ist unterdessen der deutsche Außenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier eingetroffen. Sein Amtskollege Sebastian Kurz hat ihn vom Flughafen abgeholt und wollte, während Erdogan sich in der Eishalle bejubeln ließ, mit Steinmeier über die Ukraine und Russland sprechen, über Putins Besuch in Wien nächste Woche, vielleicht auch über die Mautpläne der deutschen Regierung.

Der Krisenlöser ist zum Problem geworden

Und Steinmeier richtet am Rande des Besuchs auch ein Wort an Erdogans Regierung – allerdings in Sachen Irak: “Wir sind interessiert daran zu erfahren, ob die Türkei eine Rolle spielt in der Auseinandersetzung – und wenn ja, welche”, sagt der SPD-Politiker. Er will am Freitag mit seinem türkischen Kollegen Ahmet Davutoglu zusammentreffen. Die Türkei hatte erklärt, sie prüfe die Voraussetzungen für einen Militäreinsatz gegen Islamisten im Irak, nachdem diese 80 türkische Staatsbürger als Geiseln genommen hatten.

Alle Regierungen in der Region müssten zur Deeskalation beitragen, mahnt Steinmeier noch. Die Türkei als großer Krisenlöser im Nahen Osten – so sah Erdogan seine Rolle einmal. Doch seine Regierung ließ die Islamisten im syrisch-türkischen Grenzgebiet gewähren und hat dadurch zu ihrem Erstarken beigetragen.

Den Abend wollen die Außenminister bei einem Heurigen in den Grinzinger Weinbergen verbringen. “Zu zweit”, wie ein Sprecher vorab bekannt gab. Den “Privatmann” Erdogan wird Außenminister Kurz erst am Freitag treffen, “auf neutralem Boden”, wie es hieß.

==========================

Kritik an Erdogan-Auftritt in Wien: ”Gefährliches Spiel”

20. Juni 2014, 17:2 Der Standard

Außenminister Sebastian Kurz bat den türkischen Premier zu einem klärenden Gespräch.

Wien – Außenminister Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) ist am Freitagvormittag mit dem türkischen Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan zu einem nach eigenen Angaben “sehr klaren” und zugleich “sehr emotionalen Gespräch” zusammengetroffen. Kurz betonte nach der Unterredung vor Journalisten in Wien, es sei ihm ein Anliegen gewesen, Erdogan zu sagen, “was wir von solch einer Veranstaltung hier in Österreich halten”.

Mit der Veranstaltung war die Rede des türkischen Premiers vor tausenden Anhängern am Donnerstagnachmittag in der Kagraner Albert-Schultz-Eishalle gemeint. Bereits am Vortag hatte Kurz diese als “Wahlkampfrede” kritisiert, die “für Unruhe in unserem Land gesorgt hat”. Von “einigen Provokationen” sprach der Außenminister am Freitag, die Erdogan so jedoch nicht gesehen habe. Man habe festgestellt, dass man in einigen Punkten “ganz eindeutig nicht einer Meinung” sei.

Kritik an Erdogan-Auftritt in Wien: ”Gefährliches Spiel”

20. Juni 2014, 17:20 Der Standard – followed by tomorrow’s article.

Außenminister Sebastian Kurz bat den türkischen Premier zu einem klärenden Gespräch.

Wien – Außenminister Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) ist am Freitagvormittag mit dem türkischen Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan zu einem nach eigenen Angaben “sehr klaren” und zugleich “sehr emotionalen Gespräch” zusammengetroffen. Kurz betonte nach der Unterredung vor Journalisten in Wien, es sei ihm ein Anliegen gewesen, Erdogan zu sagen, “was wir von solch einer Veranstaltung hier in Österreich halten”.

Mit der Veranstaltung war die Rede des türkischen Premiers vor tausenden Anhängern am Donnerstagnachmittag in der Kagraner Albert-Schultz-Eishalle gemeint. Bereits am Vortag hatte Kurz diese als “Wahlkampfrede” kritisiert, die “für Unruhe in unserem Land gesorgt hat”. Von “einigen Provokationen” sprach der Außenminister am Freitag, die Erdogan so jedoch nicht gesehen habe. Man habe festgestellt, dass man in einigen Punkten “ganz eindeutig nicht einer Meinung” sei.

martin thür

Recep Erdo?an: “Wir sind die Enkel Kara Mustafas.” Der türkische Premierminister beim Auftritt in der Wiener Albert-Schultz-Halle.“Er hat das Identitätsthema, das ohnehin ein sehr schwieriges ist, uns noch einmal schwieriger gemacht”, fügte Kurz hinzu. Viele junge Türken in Österreich und Österreicher mit türkischen Wurzeln täten sich oftmals schwer mit der Identitätsfrage. “Und diese Art der Einmischung aus der Türkei ist schädlich für die Integration in Österreich”, so der Außenminister. Erdogan hatte wie bereits zuvor in Köln Auslandstürken empfohlen, sich zu integrieren, aber nicht zu assimilieren.

Der türkische Premier hat sich laut Kurz während des Treffens “in einer eher rechtfertigenden Rolle” befunden. Man habe Erdogan auf viele Inhalte seiner Rede angesprochen. Zudem habe man versucht, ihm den “Fortschritt” der Integrationspolitik in Österreich zu erläutern und auch “wie schwierig” dieser Prozess sei. So würde das Thema Integration heute “sachlicher diskutiert”, und es sei gelungen, “Emotionen aus dem Thema” herauszunehmen. “Daher war dieser Auftritt alles andere als hilfreich”, so Kurz.

Historische Anspielung

Auch die Grünen und die FPÖ kritisierten Erdogans private Wahlveranstaltung für die anstehenden Präsidentenwahlen in der Türkei. Die Klubobfrau der Grünen, Eva Glawischnig, warf Erdogan “ein gefährliches Spiel mit Symbolen” vor. Wie berichtet, hatte er hier lebende Türkeistämmige als “die Enkel des Sultans Süleyman des Prächtigen”, dessen Heer 1529 Wien vor den Toren Wiens stand, bezeichnet. Und weiter: “Wir sind heute nach Wien gekommen, um Herzen zu erobern. Keiner von uns hat Grund, Angst zu spüren oder nervös zu sein.” Davon gibt es auch Videomitschnitte. Der historische Süleyman steht aber freilich auch für eine blutige, osmanische Expansionspolitik.

Auch FPÖ-Bundesparteiobmann Heinz-Christian Strache hakte historisch nach: “Damit hat sich der türkische Despot endgültig als radikaler Nationalist und neoosmanischer Imperialist entlarvt.”

Polizeibilanz: 13.500 Anhänger bei der Rede Erdogans, 7850 Gegner bei Protestdemos, 14 Festnahmen bei Auseinandersetzungen nach Gegendemo. (APA/red, DER STANDARD, 21.6.2014)

  • Kurz und Erdogan beim Treffen am Freitag. Der Außenminister erläuterte dem türkischen Premier Integrationspolitik.  vergrößern (500×339)
    foto: apa/tatic

    Kurz und Erdogan beim Treffen am Freitag. Der Außenminister erläuterte dem türkischen Premier Integrationspolitik.

==================================================

AND AS PER AA – The 100 years old ANADOLU AGENCY – THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL REPORT OF THE EVENT -  A POSITIVE COLLOR TO THE MEETING FOR WHICH THE AUSTRIAN GAVE HIS CLEAR FEELINGS TO THE PRESS.

Turkey’s Erdogan holds ‘positive’ talks in Austria.   it said

20 June 2014 16:27 (Last updated 20 June 2014 16:42)
Prime Minister RecepTayyip Erdogan met Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz in Vienna
 

VIENNA

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held “positive” talks on Friday with Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz amid a critical reception from the Austrian media.

The 50-minute meeting, closed to the media, came after Kurz said Erdogan’s visit to address Turks living in Austria had “caused disorder”.

The Austrian press had reported that 70 percent of Austrians did not want Erdogan to visit after a similar trip to Germany was criticized for being “divisive”.

Turkey’s Minister for EU Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters the meeting was “very positive” and that Kurz was pleased with Erdogan’s message of integration to Austria’s Turks.

The discussion also touched on further bilateral ties, Turkey’s EU accession process and regional developments, Cavusoglu added. Erdogan also asked Austria to be more active in Turkey’s EU membership process.

www.aa.com.tr/en

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Feb 03, 2014

World’s top solar thermal experts to lecture at University Pretoria.

Back Download PDF

Solar Heat (0.07 MB)

The world’s top solar thermal experts offer a specialist workshop on “Solar Heat for Industrial Applications” at the University of Pretoria on 3 and 4 February 2014.

The audience of 36 is exclusively limited to persons who have attended previous SOLTRAIN courses, or have experience with large solar water systems in Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

This Train-the-Trainer workshop is part of the unique Southern African Training and Demonstration Initiative, sponsored by the Austrian Development Agency. The Pretoria University workshop is coordinated by the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa. “Train-the-Trainer” entails that the recipients of this specialist training are committed to disseminate the knowledge they received.

More Insight

South Africa and the SADC region urgently need this expertise“, says Prof Dieter Holm, regional SOLTRAIN coordinator, “and this is a cost-effective way of creating decent long-term jobs”. Project leader, Werner Weiss, concurs: “Southern Africa has twice Austria‘s sunshine”.

The University of Pretoria is South Africa‘s and SADC’s leader in the use of solar water heating in their student residences. The University is also building a thermal demonstration unit for practical experiments by students. The Pretoria campus falls within the SOLTRAIN Solar Thermal Flagship District where various installations can be visited by technical tourists and political decision-makers.

Southern Africa boasts 59% of the world’s best winter sunshine area, but does not rank among the global solar thermal leaders. “Not yet”, says Holm, “but, given enabling legislation and leadership by example in government buildings, we would create a sustainable and competitive solar water heating industry in the region. A strong local solar water heating industry will earn forex, reduce our chronic regional electricity problem, reduce pollution and contribute to achieving our environmental commitments”.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter

 

Sector News

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 10th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The title of the Second Correction of Second Correction – of June 1, 2014 -  to this article was:  “The Party of European Socialists …” for the backing of President for the New European Commission – as we find out serially that this will not be Brussels reality. Now it is crystal clear that the UK, with one foot in the US and one foot in the EU, will just not allow the creation of a strong EU that can become World Power at equal level with the US and China. The UK Prime Minister David Cameron takes cue from the anti-EU UKIP party that won the elections for the European Parliament in the UK, and organizes the resistance to those that represent the two major parties in the European Parliament by insisting that the new Commission has to be dominated by the Member States rather then by their people/citizens. This is nothing less then a hold on to the power that the Parliament was voted to wrestle out from them.

With this reality in lead we lose all hope that the EU can become anything more then the window dressing to a bunch of 28 rather small States united in form but not in fact. This will not lead to the stability that more enlightened Europeans were envisioning.

Our hope now is that the Scots do indeed vote for independence and become their own EU members reducing England to its correct position as an ally of the US and a candidate to join the the United States of America instead. That is what they want and that is what they deserve. The European continent will then be allowed to unite in its own interest and perhaps Russia would then be able to consider its own interest in realigning with it in a Eurasian Economic Union from Lisbon to Vladivostok that can hold the line versus China on its Eastern borders.

THE NEWS OF THE DAY ARE:

Merkel and Cameron in battle over European Commission.

(L-R) Dutch PM Mark Rutte, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British PM David Cameron and Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt an informal meeting on 9 June 2014 in in Harpsund, Sweden. Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt (far right) is hosting the wide-ranging talks at his summer residence in Harpsund

The leaders of Sweden, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands are meeting at a mini-EU summit near Stockholm to try to reach a consensus on European reform.

The controversial question of who is to head the European Commission is likely to be discussed, but not officially.

UK PM David Cameron is expected to try to get leaders on-side to block Jean-Claude Juncker taking the job.

It sets him against German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who publicly supports the ex-Luxembourg leader’s appointment.

Few details from the summit have emerged. However, job creation, institutional changes in the EU and structural reforms to boost EU competitiveness were said to be high on the agenda.

The UK, Sweden and the Netherlands are leading a campaign to block Mr Juncker’s candidacy, which has the support of the largest centre-right political grouping in the European Parliament, the European People’s Party (EPP).

David Cameron, Angela Merkel, Fredrik Reinfeldt and Mark Rutte talk in a boat near the summer residence of the Swedish Prime Minister The four leaders took to the river for a spot of relaxation before the talks began in earnest

Ahead of the two-day talks that began on Monday, Mr Cameron said he had the support of “all major UK parties” in opposing the appointment.

He also spoke to the prime ministers of Italy and Hungary, Matteo Renzi and Viktor Orban, by phone to discuss the matter, Reuters reports.

The BBC’s Ben Wright, in Harpsund, said the scene was set for a lengthy power struggle between EU leaders and the European Parliament over the appointment with the UK worried about the prospect of a “stitch-up”.

A news conference on the outcome of the talks is scheduled for 08:00 GMT on Tuesday.

Role of commissionMr Cameron is strongly opposed to Mr Juncker’s belief in a closer political union between EU member states and has described Brussels as “too big” and “too bossy”.

His hand was strengthened on Monday when the UK opposition Labour party said its MEPs in the European Parliament, which must approve the choice by EU leaders, would vote against Mr Juncker.

On arrival in Sweden, Mr Cameron said it should be EU leaders and not the European Parliament who decide who will head the commission.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt also dismissed the idea of a stronger role for the European Parliament.

“We in principle dislike the idea of presenting front-runners from the different parties because we think that twists the balance between the institutions and the way that the Lisbon treaty is set up,” he said.

More discussions were needed on the role of the EU commission before looking at names, he added.

line
Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker The German chancellor has given Jean-Claude Juncker her backing 

Juncker: For and againstAngela Merkel: German chancellor, after some hesitation, backed European People’s Party candidate. Some in Germany believe she may be willing to discuss alternatives

David Cameron: Opposed to former Luxembourg PM’s candidacy – said to see him as a “face from the 1980s” who cannot solve the problems of next five years

Fredrik Reinfeldt: Seen as opposed to Mr Juncker and reports in European media suggest Swedish prime minister himself could be compromise candidate

Mark Rutte: Opposed to Mr Juncker, and Dutch PM due to meet Irish prime minister after Swedish summit to discuss alternative candidates

line

Dutch PM Mark Rutte told reporters that it was premature to put forward names for who should replace Jose Manuel Barroso as head of the commission.

“My belief is that we should first focus on content, discuss what the new commission should do… then discuss who fits that profile,” he said.

Mrs Merkel said the four leaders would not make a final decision on who they would back, adding that her position was well known.

EU leaders have traditionally named the commission head on their own, but new rules mean they now have to “take into account” the results of the European Parliament elections.

The EPP grouping, of which Mr Juncker is a member, won the largest number of seats in May’s polls, and he has argued that that gives him a mandate.

The decision will be made by the European Council – the official body comprising the 28 leaders – by qualified majority vote. That means no single country can veto the choice.

The decision is expected at an EU summit on 26-27 June although an agreement by then is by no means guaranteed.

More on This Story

Related Stories

From other news sites

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The first Correction title was: “Correction to “The Party of European Socialists that backs Martin Schultz for the European Commission presidency seems to have an advantage in the building of a ruling coalition for the EU” – but we found out that this will not be Brussels reality.”  But after 3 days even that title was overtaken by real Brussels life as directed from the 28 Member States’ Capitals – and even some non-member States as well —- Perhaps.

Turns out that while the great gains of the parties of the Right introduced to the EU strong elements that came to undo the EU – these parties will have a hard time creating a new faction in the EU Parliament. In effect there might be two such factions – one based on a UK-Hungary alliance and the other on an Austria-France alliance. Nevertheless, the Black and Red factions are afraid of this invasion of their previously calm and inactive EU. Rather then gearing up for strong leadership – seemingly they are opting for a united front like it is the Austrian Government norm. It loooks that the Austrian Chancellor Mr. Faymann (a Red) initiated this effort by saying he backs Mr. Jean-Claude Junker (a black)  for the position of the New President of the New European Commission, because he got the largest number of votes.

Perhaps this was done in agreement with other heads of State or Government, we will never know, but what we know is that Mr. Junker then turned around and suggested Mr. Martin Schulz, the candidate of the reds, the holder of the second largest number of votes and mandates, should be his only Vice President. In this case the Denmark Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt could replace Mr. Van Rompuy as permanent head of the European Council which according to protocol is the highest EU position {sort of a Senate to the Parliament’s similarity to a House of Representatives}.

Denmark is outside the EURO group and could thus be a bow to the non-Euro States. Similarly the Poland’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Radoslaw Sikorski is being mentioned as a professional, for replacing Lady Catherine Ashton at the EU Foreign Policy desk. Let us see if this short list will be the final one in what has become negotiations run from the Capitals rather then the one we thought will be handled directly by the heads of fracctions based in Brussels.

The Alliance of Socialists and Democrats won only 193 seats in the Parliament and is second largest faction to the 211  member European People’s Party, but when analyzing the rest of the colors’ pallet they seem to have an advantage when judging the potential for coalition building in the 752 member Parliament. A majority means having 376 votes. 

The news of these elections is the emergence of Euro-skeptic parties and Right extremists that are outside the reach of the two rather centrist contenders for heading the new Parliament who will eventually head also the Commission – being something akin to a first EU President. Extreme right and EU skeptists just do not fit in – and that was the target of those that stood up to their home governments anyway.

The two largest blocs that are positioned between the EPP and the S&D – the ALDE liberals and the Greens, amount together to 132 mandates, and they are much closer to Martin Schulz of the S&D who wants to introduce change with a more socially oriented set of policies, then to Jean-Claude Juncker of the EPP who would mean more of the same and a continuation of the policies that allowed the EU to fall into an economic crisis that was set up in the US.

If indeed the two parties mentioned join Martin Schulz, and yesterday I learned from Mr. Gerhard Schick of the German Greens that this is in the cards, then Schulz presents himself as the head of a 325 bloc, which makes it easier for him then for Junker, to reach out to the magic 376 number, or at least be indeed the leader of the largest bloc if it has to be a minority rule.  

Juncker stakes claim to EU commission’s top job  - might thus be premature.

We wonder if all new Members of the European Parliament already packed their suitcases and are off to Brussels to do there the negotiations that eventually will lead to the real results.

EU wakes up to Eurosceptic hangover.
- 26 May 2014
The EU’s mainstream political parties will move quickly to re-establish themselves as the voice of the European parliament, following EU elections that saw a significant increase in support for Eurosceptic, extreme right and anti-establishment parties.
ONE MORE COMMENT – WITH FRANCE BEING REPRESENTED IN THE EU by DELEGATES VOTED IN by 25% of ITS POPULATION THAT IS ANTI-EU, and THE UK HAVING ALSO A LARGE REPRESENTATION OF ANTI-EU MANDATARIES, Mr. SCHULZ COULD FINALLY MOVE AWAY FROM THE NONSENSE SECOND SEAT  IN STRASBOURG THAT WAS AN EXPENSIVE GIVEAWAY TO FRANCE. REALLY – HE WILL OWE THEM NOTHING.
—————————————————————————————————————————-

PES say Eurosceptic election swing sounds ‘warning bell.’

Written by Martin Banks on 26 May 2014 in News – The Parliament Magazine.

Party of European Socialists president Sergei Stanishev has conceded that the rise of far right and Eurosceptic parties in the elections sounds a “warning bell” for the political elite.

 

Martin Schulz and Sergei Stanishev at a Party of European Socialists event in the European parliament

Speaking at a news conference in parliament on Monday, the former Bulgarian prime minister said the big gains for such parties was “not so much about European politics but more about national policies and a protest vote”.

He went on, “The fact that parties like Front National and UKIP, which won more votes in the UK than another other party, can gain such support do so well is very serious and cause for concern. It should sound a warning bell to other parties and send a message that European people want change.”

“The EPP is the party which has run Europe for the last 10 years during the economic crisis and they were the big losers even though they remain the biggest group in parliament” Sergei Stanishev

Stanishev said the “big losers” in the election were the EPP, which he said had lost 60 seats and seen its share of the vote fall by some 20 per cent compared with the 2009 elections.

“The EPP is the party which has run Europe for the last 10 years during the economic crisis and they were the big losers even though they remain the biggest group in parliament.”

He said the Socialist vote share had remained stable compared with five years ago but voiced veiled disappointment that it had not done better. Even so, he said he was confident the party remained well placed to achieve its objectives in the next legislature, including further regulation of financial markets.

He also praised his colleague, German MEP Martin Schulz, a candidate for the commission presidency and parliament’s president, for an “outstanding” electoral campaign, saying he had “reached” 150 million citizens via social media. “His profile is now even bigger than it was before the election.”

Stanishev. who has led the Bulgarian Socialist party since 2001, also insisted that member states must “take account” of the outcome of the vote in deciding the next commission head, adding that, on this, he believes PES are in a “stronger position” than the EPP.

Addressing the same conference, PES general secretary Achim Post said, “It is now up to the political group leaders to form a ‘stable’ majority and the Socialists will play a decisive role in this.”

—————————————————————————————————————————-

BUT WAKING UP ON WEDNESDAY MORNING WE FOUND THAT THE POLITICAL REALITY IS SUCH THAT THE SOCIALISTS OF VARIOUS COUNTRIES WILL NOT WANT TO UPSET THE GERMAN CHANCELLOR Ms. ANGELA MERKEL WHO PREFERS TO BACK THE BLACK  PARTY CANDIDATE WHO HAPPENS TO BE FROM LUXEMBOURG, OVER THE SOCIALIST CANDIDATE WHO HAPPENS TO BE FROM THE GERMAN OPPOSITION.

Above is good for a Europe if it wants to be seen as a post-Nationalism Union that gives preference to ideas over National identity.  But then, Mr. Junker does not get yet free sailing as members of his own European Party – from the UK, Hungary, and Sweden seem to prefer alternatives from inside the EPP  – names from Finland and Italy being mentioned.

The political juggling seems even more interesting when the other positions to be filled are taken into account.

As possible  compensation for Mr. Schulz getting himself out of contention – he might then get to be the German Commissioner – although one would have expected someone closer to the German Chancellor. Austria seems to follow the German example with the Red Party Chancellor from the Red Party declaring his backing for the candidate of the Black Party as he got more votes. This opens the question whom will he support for Commissioner from Austria?

With a Catholic holiday on Thursday there is no chance now that the Parliament will have a prospective winner before the end of this week,  another week of politics is still in the cards, and in effect it might take all of the month of June.

Also, if Mr. Junker does not get full backing from his own party and does not reach a majority – then according to Parliament norm the ball is passed to the second largest faction and that is Mr. Schulz – so it might be that the wheel might still turn in his direction. Seemingly Mr. David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, has the ropes in his hands – but in mind he has the success  the anti-EU UKIP party had at these elections. Similarly France is looking at the success the Le Pen Front National had on Sunday. Does this mean that these two EU members are now favoring a weakened EU because this seemed to be the wish of their countrymen?

The French Christian Democrat Joseph Daul is leading the Black Faction negotiators and Austrian Commissioner Hannes Swoboda is leading the Red Party negotiators with outgoing Head of the Parliament, the Belgian Hermann Van-Rompuy the address of their efforts. Who will get his job? Could it be that this position will go to the Commissioer from Poland – Ms. Danuta Hebner?

 

 

 

About the author:   Martin Banks is a veteran freelance, Brussels-based journalist specialising in European politics.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

In the Ukraine — the Crimea, the Eastern and Southern Oblasts (States) – the locus of the kerfuffle – seem to give birth to a growing butterfly effect that has landed on the Russian Dynosaurus Rex back, and finally got it to act in ways it was not prepared  to act originally.

This is an analysis inspired by a programmed  presentation at the Concordia Press Club in Vienna – that seemed to focus merely on a Freudian analysis of the Putin mind, but turned eventually into a very good  wide conversation about the topic as originally advertised. We recognized fully the change in the discussion having had to do something with this redirection of the event as it proceeded.

We found the Press conference exciting, but decided to write up what was NOT said originally and what we thought was going to be said, but came out only later. So, was my original expectation just wrong? My topic here is rather the second part of that Press Conference that was originally unsaid by the speaker.

So, let us start with the title of the original ICEUR Class of May 23, 2014, with Sergei Medvedev of the Higher School of Economics, Faculty of Political Science, of the Moscow State University with the title: “THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT: HOW CRIMEA WILL TRANSFORM RUSSIAN DOMESTIC POLITICS” – held at the Concordia Press Club in Vienna, Austria. 

The Class chaired by Hans Georg Heinrich who with Ludmilla Lobova are since the 201 beginnings the Responsible Editors of the ICEUR “Strategic & Business Intelligence” product.

Prof. Hans-Georg HEINRICH is professor emeritus for Political Sciences at the University of Vienna, Vice-President and manager of ICEUR-Vienna. Dr. Lubmilla Lobova is the Scientific Director of ICEUR-Vienna.

ICEUR-Vienna – the International Center for Advanced EU-Russia Research – is an independent brain trust providing analysis, intelligence and customized services for clients in business, economic decision making and the academia.

I did not write this up earlier – but left more then a week go by to make sure I do not just shoot from the hip. Since then we had the results of the Presidential elections in the Ukraine and it seems that the team – of President Petro Poroschenko, a western style businessman, and Boxing Champ Vitali Klitschko, Mayor of Kiev (Kyiv), are holding in solid hands all areas west of Kyiv, with strong backing in most of the rest of the Ukraine – except the Krim (Crimea) which the Russian will never return to the Ukraine.

What seems very interesting is that seemingly Mr. Putin has indeed drawn for his use a chart of plus and minus for further action in the Ukraine – this after it sunk in that there were some enormous losses in economic terms and in goodwill – mainly in the US and in some other OECD countries – and what is worse – among his own oligarchs. After all, it was not nice to hear of further acquisitions in the west made with money that flew out of Russia – be it even such things as buying part of Pirelli by Roseneft albeit – Pirelli’s chief Marco Tronchetti-Provera came to St. Petersburg to sign the agreement with Rosneft’s chief Igor Sechin in Putin’s presence – thus honoring Putin – but the money left Russia and went to banks in the west the likes of Bank-Austria-Mutter, UniCredit and Banca Intessa Sampaio.

Putin is also aware of the results in the May 25, 2014, elections for the European Parliament. Mme. Le Pen in France, some Anti-Unionists in the UK – and others that will not even be able to form an internal united opposition in the EU, but infuriate whoever will lead the EU seemed to like Putin’s Russia. But this is only a foot-note. The EU will worry about the Ukraine rather then about Russia.

In effect the first result of these elections that has a big impact on Russia is that this last Thursday, May 29, 2014, the EU Commissioner of Energy, Mr. Guenther Oettinger, declared null and void any attempt by the Austrian oil company OEMV and Russia’s Gasprom to build the South Stream pipeline that would have reinforced Europe’s dependence on Russia’s gas supplies.  Oettinger made it clear that a pipeline with its sole reason the bypassing the Ukraine in order to avoid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, is not ethical and not in the EU’s interest. Now, that was a blow Putin had anticipated, and the tactician he is, he used his visit with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to sign an agreement to sell gas to China – building a new pipeline to China instead. This agreement was being negotiated for the last three years, but it did not reach the signing stage because the Chinese were not ready to pay to the Russians more for the gas then what they pay to Turkmenistan for the gas that gets delivered to them from Central Asia. Finally – now – under conditions of duress – Putin signs the equivalent of a $400 Billion 30 years agreement with China with exact details hidden. Above happened May 21, 2014 and we learned that though he got more then what was offered before, but still much less then what he gets from the EU – the real disaster for him might be in the fact that he will be payed in Yuans rather then US dollars. He is thus forced to move in part away from the World Trade that uses the dollar currency, to the new bloc being created by Brazil and China that will use BRIC currencies for trade. Someone having called this a switch from a Petro-Dollar driven World economy to a Gas-o-Yuan new system. As a new comer to this very successful bloc of upstart industrializing economies, with his underdeveloped, resource-exports State – this in effect makes him dependent of his buyers – now China – while before these Ukraine adventures he was in a long-range friendlier environment of Europe. That is why we think that the Crimea adventure was indeed that BUTTERFLY that landed n the dynosaurus back and started a process that might lead to the unraveling of Russia without a drama of a Cold War and nuclear weapons focused on each other.

But we are not complete pessimists in regard to Russia – and looking at Brussels were we see in the cards a grand coalition that will put in charge of the EU the Black and Red parties in tandem – this like it is done nearly always in Austria, and sometimes in Germany.  These moves in Brussels might  allow eventually Mr. Putin to come back to the negotiations’ table after making sure he forgets about his troika ambition – that meant for him the harnessing of the Ukraine and hitch it together with Belarus and Kazakhstan to his beloved troika. He will then  have to resign himself  to a two horses wagon only.

Regarding South Stream, that was a figment of OEMV’s 31.5% Austrian Government owned Corporation (24.9% owne dby IPIC – the  International Petroleum Investment Company – formed by the Abu Dhabi government in 1984 to invest in the energy and related sectors across the globe. Today it manages a portfolio of investments in more than 18 leading companies across the hydrocarbon value chain, including exploration and production, shipping and pipelines, downstream retail and marketing, petrochemicals, power and utilities as well as industrial services. IPIC is an exponent of international oil and as such can be counted of trying to derail any plans to make a country or the world less dependent on fossil fuels. OEMV is thus against renewable energy and its influence on the Austrian Government weakens the freedom of action by Austria. Austria has thus not contributed fully yet to the EU green efforts. Mr. Oettinger, who himself was backing the European production of fracking gas (shale gas) in order to decrease imports from Russia, has yet to be convinced to move in the direction of Renewable Energy, but then – we do not know yet who will be next European Commissioner on Energy beyond what we can say – Russia will never be allowed to be as influential in the energy supply of European countries  after the Crimea takeover as they were before that.

Professor Medvedev might have been right in his analysis of Putin the man – but the final words were with the “butterfly” nevertheless.

 

 

=================================

See Also from   —   

ICEUR Mission statement

ICEUR-Vienna is an independent brain trust providing analysis, intelligence and customized services for clients in business, economic decision making and the academia. Drawing on a wide network of experts and partner institutions, it conducts joint projects with the objective to promote business, economic, political and cultural cooperation between partners from the EU and Eastern Europe. ICEUR strives to fill the gap between the declarations of intent resulting from high-level meetings and realities on the ground by identifying problems and proposing smart

solutions. Its geographical core area spans Eastern Europe and, specifically, the entire post-Soviet space. ICEUR´s commitment to non-partisan, issue-oriented applied research and consulting ties in with the Austrian tradition of a neutral go-between which respects the vital interests of the parties as a precondition for conflict resolution and enhanced cooperation.

ICEUR´s approach is comprehensive in that it is based on the insight that neither economic, nor political nor social problems can be resolved independently of each other. Its span of activities ranges from political to market analysis, and the expert meetings organized by the center convene specialists from various fields.

ICEUR´s institutional and company membership assures a solid presence in industrial and financial circles. Its lean management and flexible operation mode makes it more mobile and capable of rapid reaction than many large companies and institutions. Read more

23.05.2014

Upcoming ICEUR Master Class with Sergei Medvedev
“The butterfly effect: How Crimea will transform Russian domestic politics”
Time: 23 May 2014, 10:00
Venue: Presseclub Concordia, Bankgasse 8, 1010 Vienna
Lecturer: Sergei A. Medvedev, Professor HSE Moscow, Deputy Dean for International Affairs
Language: English
Please register: office@iceur-vienna.at

17.03.2014

“Ukraine-A new departure?”
A Touch of High Politics: The ICEUR Round Table on Ukraine
ICEUR-Vienna´s statutory mission is to support and promote the dialogue between the post-Soviet area and the other European states. The rapidly escalating Ukrainian crisis has clearly evidenced the need for an institution that provides a meeting place for the business-like discussion of relevant issues. For the Ukrainian Round Table, we had deliberately invited panelists with different backgrounds and political convictions. Events in the Crimea loomed large over the agenda, which made diversity management difficult, but feasible. Despite the sharp conflict lines and the emotions generated by the recent tragic events (one speaker was a participant at the Maidan demonstrations, another had, among other things, consulted past presidents), the outlines of a common ground became visible. All panelists agreed on the goal of a future civilized Ukraine, preferably in a federal format. When it comes to issues of state and nation building, opinions diverged: Mr. Pogrebinskyyi came out strongly against presidential elections in May. He argued that such a move would polarize the nation and went with the hazard of re- introducing presidential authoritarianism through the back door. According to him, parliamentary elections should take precedence, and the new constitution should drastically curb the powers of the president. Mr. Vysotskiy supported the views of groups represented by the Maidan. They pursue a different strategy and believe that a strong elected president would guarantee stability. Mr. Fesenko, who is an advisor of the government in power, pleaded for fair elections that would reproduce a representation of the major political forces and reduce the political weight of marginal groups Unsurprisingly, the panelists as well as the discussants (among them members of the Russian Embassy) had widely divergent views about who was to blame for the violence in Kiev and elsewhere. Yet, they agreed that the truth could not be established at this point. It was also pleasant to hear that the discussants felt a follow-up to be held in Vienna would yield even more concrete and tangible results. ICEUR stands ready to act as a focal point for such initiatives. Panelists from Ukraine:
Mikhail B. Pogrebinskiy,
Director, Kiev Center for Political and Conflict Research. Analyst, advisor of all Ukrainian presidents since 1991

Sergey Vysotskiy,
journalist, LIGABusinessinform, participant in the Maidan demonstrations

Vladimir Fesenko,
analyst, director, Center for Applied Political Research “Penta”, advisor of the present Ukrainian government

03.03.2014

Business Seminar in Vienna “The Russian Economy After Sochi”

Summary of findings of the ICEUR Business Seminar, 3 March 2014-03-10
The two speakers, Mikhail Dmitriev and Segey Afontsev, dealt with the dynamic of the Russian economy from different perspectives, but arrived at more or less the same conclusions. They both presented a gloomy outlook for the near future. The period of high growth rates is over and recession may be around the corner. The impact of the Ukrainian crisis can be felt already, particularly in the ballooning exchange rate and the rapid decay of the securities market. Yet, they maintain that the downslide of the Russian economy has structural causes which are merely reinforced by the Ukrainian conflict. Mr. Dmitriev predicts the stalling of growth figures because of the fact that a relatively high level of consumer saturation has been reached and income growth has ground to a halt. In fact, consumption growth has outdistanced income growth during the boom years. The shrinking of the working age populations worldwide is bound to hobble productivity and economic growth. Mr. Afontsev drew the attention to the fact that since 2009, outward FDI has surpassed inward FDI. Almost 40% of the capital leaving Russia is invested in EU countries (as opposed to 9% in Ukraine). Conversely, most investment capital coming to Russia originates in Cyprus and the Netherlands (together, 36% of total FDI). This ties in with the observation that the share of energy carriers in total exports has been growing in recent years (from a low of 37% in 1994 to almost 68% in 2013). The speaker was also skeptical about the economic benefits of megaprojects: As a rule, they drain important reserve funds, stimulate corruption and are not sustainable. Both speakers agreed that in order to preserve and improve the achievements of the boom years and to avoid wide-spread dissatisfaction and protests, the Russian economy must be radically modernized. There is no other option than the dehabituation from the addiction to oil and gas.
M. Dmitriev. The new Russian consumer: Preferences, socio-economic situation, consumption patterns (Power Point)
S. Afontsev. The Russian Economy: Situation and Outlook (Power Point)

Permalink | | Email This Article Email This Article
Posted in Archives, Austria, Austria and Central Europe, Brussels, European Union, Russia, Ukraine, Vienna

Discuss this article

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

AMAZING – I just spent two days at the yearly meetings of the Austrian Economic Association that this year dealt with: ECONOMICS OF INEQUALITY and had as key-note speaker Sir Tony Atkinson f Oxford U., and now I find in my incoming e-mail an article from Bill Moyers talking to Professor Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia U. who is President of the International Economic Association and cooperates with Sir Atkinson, something that nails the same topic down in excellent journalistic terms. Yes – clearly – we are doing everything wrong when it comes to build an economy – Why?

The Vienna meeting was held on the new campus of the Business University – WirtschafysUniversitaet Wien – in a building funded by the Austrian oil Company OEMV that is just in the news for the ill-advised South Stream Pipeline that is being planned to bypass The Ukraine when bringing to the EU Russian Gas – and was just shut down by the EU Commissioner for Energy who clearly does not want responsibility for this politically most miserable attempt by an oil company and a EU Member State to make money from fossil fuels and undermine a European Effort to go instead for Renewable Energy.

Professor Joe Stiglitz unmasks here this self-righteousness of the rich that think the World is their oyster and they have a Constitutional right to rob and legally cheat. The implications are immense and reach into globalization and efforts to enlarge the scope of international piracy using multinational trade agreements to undo healthy laws in countries that somehow managed to pass such laws.

 

Joseph E. Stiglitz: Let’s Stop Subsidizing Tax Dodgers.

 

By Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company

 

31 May 2014
 readersupportednews.org/opinion2/…

 

  new report by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz for the Roosevelt Institute suggests that paying our fair share of taxes and cracking down on corporate tax dodgers could be a cure for inequality and a faltering economy.

This week on Moyers & Company, Stiglitz tells Bill that Apple, Google, GE and a host of other Fortune 500 companies are creating what amounts to “an unlimited IRA for corporations.” The result? Vast amounts of lost revenue for our treasury and the exporting of much-needed jobs to other countries.

“I think we can use our tax system to create a better society, to be an expression of our true values.” Stiglitz says. “But if people don’t think that their tax system is fair, they’re not going to want to contribute. It’s going to be difficult to get them to pay. And, unfortunately, right now, our tax system is neither fair nor efficient.”

 

BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Our democracy is now probably better described as one dollar, one vote than one person, one vote. We have a tax system that reflects not the interest of the middle. We have a tax system that reflects the interest of the one percent.

 

TRANSCRIPT:

BILL MOYERS: Welcome. Avoiding taxes has become a hallmark of America’s business icons; Apple, Google, GE, and many more of the Fortune 500. The nation’s largest corporations are sitting on more than $2 trillion in cash while revenue from corporate income taxes have plummeted from just below 40 percent in 1943 to just below 10 percent in 2012. Government and big business have colluded to create what’s tantamount to an “unlimited IRA” for corporations.

That’s not my term, although I wish I had thought of it, because it explains so much about what’s gone wrong in a country where some 20 million workers who would like a full-time job still can’t get one. Yet the upper one percent of the population takes home a staggering 22.5 percent of America’s income while their effective federal income tax rate has dropped.

No, the phrase was coined by Joseph Stiglitz, a man eminently worth quoting, a Nobel Prize winner and one of the world’s most influential economists.

Currently he’s president of the International Economic Association. Former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Bill Clinton, and the author of best-selling books that have shaped worldwide debates on globalization, income inequality, and the role of government in the financial marketplace. Now he’s written one of his shortest but most important works: this white paper, published by the Roosevelt Institute where Joseph Stiglitz is a senior fellow. It’s a mere 27 pages, but in clear and cogent prose, backed up by facts and figures, it lays out a plan that not only would reform our taxes but create jobs and strengthen the economy. I’ve asked him here to tell us about it. Welcome.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Nice to be here.

 

BILL MOYERS: You argue that elimination of corporate welfare, or at least its reduction, should be at the center of tax reform. Why?

 JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well, let me put it in a broader context. Our country needs, faces a lot of challenges. We, as you mentioned, 20 million Americans would like a full-time job and can’t get one. We have growing inequality. We have environmental problems that threaten the future of our planet. I think we can use our tax system to create a better society, to be an expression of our true values. But if people don’t think that their tax system is fair, they’re not going to want to contribute. It’s going to be difficult to get them to pay. And, unfortunately, right now, our tax system is neither fair nor efficient. Look at the tax rate paid by that one percent. It’s much lower than the tax rate paid by somebody whose income is lower who works hard for a living, as a percentage of their income.

You know, Warren Buffet put it very -  why should he pay a lower tax rate on his reported income than his secretary? And the interesting thing that he didn’t emphasize was most of his income is in the form of unrealized capital gains.

 

BILL MOYERS: Unrealized capital gains are not taxed as long as the owner keeps them, right, doesn’t get rid of them?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: That’s right. And what’s even worse, if you’re a corporation and you even realize the capital gains but you’re abroad, you don’t bring the money back home, there’s still no taxes.

As long as they don’t bring the money back here, it accumulates, it grows and grows and grows, and they get wealthier. But it’s even worse than that. Because it means that they have an incentive to keep their money abroad.

And what does that mean? They have an incentive to create jobs abroad. And with our trade agreements, they can take the goods that are produced abroad with this tax-free money, bring it back in the United States, basically making it unfair competition with the goods produced by Americans.

 

BILL MOYERS: Yeah. There are several startling statements in your report. This is one of them: “our current tax system encourages multinationals to invest abroad.” And create jobs abroad, as you just said. And yet, these are people who defend their practices by saying, we are the job creators, we’re the job producers. And yet, you say they have an incentive to send jobs abroad.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: The whole discussion of who are the job creators, I think, has been misplaced. You know, what really creates jobs is demand–

 

BILL MOYERS: I spend my money to buy things.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Exactly. Americans of all income groups are entrepreneurial. You got people across our income distribution who, when there’s a demand, respond to that demand. But if there’s no demand, there won’t be jobs. Now, the problem is that the people in the one percent have so much money that they can’t spend it all. The people at the bottom are spending all of their income and hardly getting by. In fact, a very large fraction of those in the bottom 80 percent are spending more than their income. And it’s part of the instability of our economy. So, the point is this inequality contribute, to which our tax system contributes actually weakens our demand.

And that’s one of the main messages of my report, which is if we had a more progressive tax system, we could get a more efficient economy. Because there would be more jobs being created.

 

BILL MOYERS: So, these 20 million people I referred to, and you referred to in your report, who are looking for full-time work but can’t find it, if they had that work, they’d be spending their money. They’re not going to send it to the Cayman Islands, right.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Exactly. And they’re going to be paying taxes. Because they don’t have the opportunities for tax avoidance that the people who have the Cayman Islands and can use these unlimited IRAs and other ways of tax avoidance. You know, they don’t keep the money in the Cayman Islands because the sunshine makes the money grow better. They put their money there because the lack of sunshine, the way of tax avoidance–

 

BILL MOYERS: Dark money, money in the shadows, money now going into our political process, as you know so well, to reinforce this tax code.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: That’s right. Reinforce the tax code, which has led America to be the country with the highest level of inequality of any of the advanced countries.

 

BILL MOYERS: Give us a working definition for the laity of corporate welfare.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well, this was an idea that I began talking about when I was serving as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers–

 BILL MOYERS: Twenty years ago.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: –twenty years ago. And everybody was talking about how much money you were giving to the poor people. It wasn’t, if you actually looked at the amount of money, it wasn’t that much. But we said, well, you’re also giving away a lot of money to rich corporations, directly and indirectly. Most of the indirect way is through the tax system. So, for instance, if you give special tax provisions for oil companies, so they don’t pay the full share of taxes that they ought to be paying, that’s a welfare benefit.

Lots of other provisions in our, hidden in our tax code basically help one industry or another, that can’t be justified in any economic terms. And, so, that’s where we coined the term “corporate welfare.” It’s caught on. And because it says it’s a subsidy, but not a subsidy, help going to a poor person, which is where welfare ought to be going, but going to the richest Americans, going to our rich corporations.

 

BILL MOYERS: So, we have a tax code that encourages people to– encourages companies to send their profits abroad, to send jobs abroad, and to reward owners of their company whose money may not come back to the United States?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: It doesn’t make any sense, you might say. And the fact it doesn’t, you know, one of the reasons I wrote the paper was, you know, there’s a lot discussion going on about we have a budget of deficit. And we have to slash this, and slash that, and cut back education, and cut back research, things that will make our economy stronger, cut back infrastructure.

 And I think that’s counterproductive. It’s weakening our economy. But the point I make in this paper is it would be easy for us to raise the requisite revenue. This is not a problem. This is not as if it’s going to oppress our economy. We could actually raise the money and make our economy stronger. For instance, we’re talking about the taxation of capital. If we just tax capital in the same way we tax ordinary Americans, people who work for a job, who pay taxes we pay on wages.

If we eliminate the special provisions of capital gains, if we eliminated the special provisions for dividends we could get, over the next ten years, over, you know, approximately $2 trillion. And those are numbers according to the CBO. And so, we’re talking about lots of money.

 

BILL MOYERS: The figures make sense to me. But the politics doesn’t. Because these are the people, once again, who dominate our system with their contributions to the politicians who then have no interest in changing a system that rewards their donors.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: We have this vicious cycle where economic inequality gets translated into political inequality. It gets translated into rules of the game that lead to more economic inequality, and which allow that economic inequality to get translated into evermore political inequality. So, my view, you know, the only way we’re going to break into this viscous cycle is if people come to understand that there is an alternative system out here.

That there is an alternative way of raising taxes, that we are not really faced with a budget crisis. It’s a manmade crisis. You know, when we had the government shutdown, we realized that that was a political crisis. That wasn’t an economic crisis. And the same thing about our budget crisis, you know. It’s not that we couldn’t raise the revenues in a way which actually could make our economy stronger. We can.

If we just had a fair tax system, to tax capital at the same rate that we tax ordinary individuals, if we just made those people in that upper 1 percent pay their fair share of the taxes they got 22.5 percent of the income, well, let’s make sure that they pay a commensurate part of our income tax, if we had taxes that would be designed to improve our environment.

 

BILL MOYERS: You mean by taxing pollution?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Taxing pollution.

BILL MOYERS: Carbon emissions.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: A general principle that we’ve known for a long time, a lot better to tax bad things than good things. Rather than tax people who work, let’s shift some of that burden into things that are bad, like pollution.

BILL MOYERS: You make it sound so easy. And I’m still hung up on your saying, you know, it would be easy to do these things. And yet, if they were easy, why haven’t we done them?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well, that’s the politics. The fact is that we have a political process that I won’t say is broken, but is certainly not functioning the way we think a democracy is supposed to function, you know. In democracy, supposed to be one person, one vote. And there’s a well-developed theory about what does that imply for the outcome of a political process?

We talk about it, called the median voter. It should reflect the middle, you know. Some people want more spending. Some people want less spending. Some people, you know, so the nature of democracy is compromise. And it’s supposed to be compromise sort of in the middle. But that’s not we have today in the United States. We have a tax system that reflects not the interest of the middle. We have a tax system that reflects the interest of the one percent.

 

BILL MOYERS: Let me cite some examples of the biggest tax dodgers. These come from the organization, Americans for Tax Fairness. Citigroup had $42.6 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. Exxon Mobil had $43 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. General Electric made $88 billion from 2002 to 2012 and paid just 2.4 percent in taxes for a tax subsidy of $29 billion, I could go on. Pfizer, Honeywell, Verizon, FedEx, Apple. What goes through your mind when you hear these figures?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well, so, many things go through my mind. But, you know, one of the things is how unfair this is, and how angry Americans ought to be about this. I also think of the ethics of the question. If I were a CEO, take of a company like Apple, use the ingenuity of America, based on the internet. Internet was created, in large measure, by government–

 BILL MOYERS: Right.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: –by government spending. They’re willing to take but not to give back. So, there’s really a whole set of problems that concern it, ethics, equity, fairness, resource allocations. What they don’t seem to understand is our society can’t function if these large corporations don’t make their fair share of contributions.

 

BILL MOYERS: Aren’t they likely to say, though, in response, well we do this because the law permits it. This is what the system incentivizes.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well the law does permit it. They use their lobbyists to make sure that the law gives them the scope to avoid taxes. So, this argument, oh, we’re only doing what the law allows, is disingenuous. The fact is they created, their lobbyists, their lobbying helped create this law that allows them to escape taxes, pushing the burden of taxation on ordinary Americans.

 

BILL MOYERS: So, that’s the big impact on people, right. They– somebody has to make up the difference between–

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Somebody has to make up the difference. I mean, we can’t survive as a society without roads, infrastructure, education, police, firemen. Somebody’s going to have to pay these costs.

 

BILL MOYERS: Summarizing what you say in here about your proposal, raise the corporate tax rate, but provide generous tax credits for corporations that invest in the U.S. and create jobs here. Eliminate the loopholes that distort the economy, increase taxes on corporations, the profits of which are associated with externalities such as pollution, reduce the bias toward leverage by making dividend payments tax deductible, but imposing a withholding tax. I mean, these seem so common-sensical that a journalist can understand them. But they don’t get into the debate.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Yeah, well, I hope this paper will help move that along. You notice when you were listing them that these are very much based on incentives. As I said–

 

BILL MOYERS: Your plan is based on incentives?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: On incentives that we’ve created a tax system that has an incentive to move jobs abroad. And what I want to do is create a tax system that has incentives to create jobs. And if you tell a corporation, look it, if you don’t create jobs, you’re taking out of our system, you’re not putting anything back, you’re going to pay a high tax.

But if you put back into our system by investing, then you can get your tax rate down. That seems to me, common sense, particularly in a time like today, when 20 million Americans need a job. When we have so much inequality and this unemployment is contributing to that inequality.

You know, in this, the first three years of the so-called recovery, between 2009 and 2012, 95 percent of all the gains went to the upper 1 percent. So, the American workers are not participating. And the reason they’re not participating is there’s just not enough job creation here at home. And, so, this is a way of trying to incentivize all these corporations who are sitting on all this money abroad to start using some of their huge resources, some of all those benefits that we’ve given them, for the benefit of the American people.

 

BILL MOYERS: You move in circles where you come into contact with the CEOs of these companies, many of whom are deficit hawks, you know. They keep, they’re on committees. They keep testifying in Washington. They call for deficit reduction. What do they say when you make this argument to them face to face, as you’re making it to me?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Most of them are not economists. And most of them are concerned with their corporation’s own bottom line and with their own salary. So, we’ve created a corporate system in the United States where the CEOs’ pay is related to the shareholder value. The shareholder value is related to how little taxes they pay. Because if they get the taxes down, profits look high and people will pay more for their shares.

So, when they’re making an argument for, let’s lower the corporate income tax, let’s lower taxes that I have to pay, let’s expand corporate loopholes, they don’t use those words. But what they’re really saying is, pay me more, because if I succeed in getting Congress to do that, my pay goes up, not because I’ve worked harder.

I haven’t invented something new. I haven’t made my customers happier. I made my company more valuable by succeeding in getting provisions that allow my company to avoid taxes. And then, my shareholder value goes up, and my salary goes up.

 

BILL MOYERS: My conversation with Joseph Stiglitz will continue next week. {and we promise here to post the follow-up as well – The SustainabiliTank.info editor}

 

As if to prove a point, the U.S. House of Representatives, functioning these days as a legislative bordello for corporate America, is moving to extend and make permanent six separate tax cuts for big business. The whole package would come at a cost of $310 billion, virtually wiping out all the deficit reduction from last year. One of those tax credits, for research and development, already has been approved, at a cost over the next ten years of $156 billion. That’s 15 times as much as it would cost to extend unemployment benefits.

 

Did House Republicans offer to renew help for people out of work? Nope. They’re deficit hawks, and they said there’s no money to pay for it. Of course they could just ask their corporate friends to give the tax breaks back. But that would be asking too much, especially on the eve of the fall Congressional elections when secret or dark money from you-know-who will flow into you-know-whose campaigns like….well, like champagne on the company jet.

 

Yet another reminder that you need not impose fraud on people by stealth if you can succeed by law.

 

Next week, more on politics, taxes, and inequality with Joseph Stiglitz.

 

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: We already have a tax system that has contributed to making America the most unequal society of the advanced countries. That doesn’t have to be. We can have a tax system that can help create a fairer society— only ask the people at the top to pay their fair share.

 

BILL MOYERS: At our website, BillMoyers.com, we’ll link you to Joe Stiglitz’s white paper for the Roosevelt Institute. You’ll also find a list there of ten corporate tax dodgers whose names and brands we bet you’ll recognize.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As per UNFCCC website:

unfccc.int/files/press/press_releases_advisories/application/pdf/ma20142205_cf_nama.pdf

UN NAMA Registry records first matched support exercize – came up with the cooperation between Austria and Georgia:

(Bonn, 23 May 2014) – A new UN Registry which records and matches offers of
support from developed nations to the stated plans of developing countries
to reduce and limit greenhouse gas emissions has recorded the first such
agreed cooperation between Austria and Georgia.

“This first success highlights the enormous potential of the new registry
as a transparent, efficient clearing house that matches financial,
technology and capacity-building support from the developed world to the
needs developing nations have defined themselves to act on climate change,”
said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The online NAMA Registry was designed and is operated by the UNFCCC
Secretariat, at the request of governments, to record both the Nationally
Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) which developing countries choose to
enter into the system and also the offered support available for these
actions.

Its objectives are to facilitate the matching of finance, technology, and
capacity building support with these NAMAs and to serve as a platform for
international recognition of the mitigation actions of developing
countries.

In the first recorded match in the registry, Georgia has received a grant
from the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment, and Water
to implement Georgia’s NAMA entitled “Adaptive, Sustainable Forest
Management in Borjomi-Bakuriani Forest District”.

“I congratulate Georgia and Austria on entering their information into the
registry, thereby debuting this important tool.  It is a clear invitation
to other countries and organizations to continue to populate the registry
and boost the international cooperation between developed and developing
countries in reducing and limiting greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ms.
Figueres.

For more information, please contact:
Nick Nuttall, Coordinator, Communications and Outreach:  +49 228 815 1400
(phone), +49 152 0168 4831 (mobile) nnuttall(at)unfccc.int

John Hay, Communications Officer: +49 228 815 1404 (phone), +49 172 258
6944 (mobile) jhay(at)unfccc.int

About the UNFCCC

With 196 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997
Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC
Parties. For the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, 37 States,
consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the
process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission
limitation and reduction commitments. In Doha in 2012, the Conference of
the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol
adopted an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, which establishes the second
commitment period under the Protocol. The ultimate objective of both
treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at
a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate
system.

See also:  <unfccc.int/press/items/2794.php>
Follow UNFCCC on Twitter:  @UN_ClimateTalks
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres on Twitter: @CFigueres
UNFCCC on Facebook:  facebook.com/UNclimatechange

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

BEIJING, May 21, 2014  —  China and Russia signed a $400 billion gas deal on Wednesday, giving Moscow a megamarket for its leading export and linking two major powers that, despite a rocky history of alliances and rivalries, have drawn closer to counter the clout of the United States and Europe.

The impetus to complete the gas deal, which has been talked about as a game-changing accord for more than a decade, finally came together after the Ukrainian crisis forced Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, to urgently seek an alternative to Europe, Moscow’s main energy market. Europe has slapped sanctions on Russia and sought ways to reduce its dependence on Russian energy.

Mr. Putin, on a two-day visit to Shanghai, and the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, oversaw the signing of the contract between Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation, the biggest natural gas deal Russia has sealed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The contract runs for 30 years and calls for the construction of pipelines and other infrastructure that will require tens of billions of dollars in investment.

Ostensibly on the same side during the Cold War, the Asian neighbors even then competed for global influence with their divergent brands of communism. They fought a brief but explosive border war in 1969, and later took opposite sides in conflicts in Vietnam and Afghanistan.

They have similar views of the United States, however, including opposition to its unilateral military actions in Kosovo, Iraq and Libya, and wanted to take Uncle Sam down a peg or two.  Mr. Putin, in particular, wanted to make a point of showing that the United States and its NATO partners were in decline.

The deal offered a lift for the Russian economy, he said, and for Mr. Putin, China’s validation would improve Russia’s world image.

At the same time, Mr. Xi is unhappy with the Obama administration on issues ranging from Washington’s outspoken support of its military alliance with Japan, its criticism of China’s actions in the South China Sea, and its hard line on cybertheft.

Although China had expressed neutrality over the Ukraine crisis because of the take-over of land – the strained relations with Washington in other spheres tip China’s position in favor of Russia.

The final price of the Russian gas, which will flow through a 2,500-mile pipeline from two fields in Siberia, was not disclosed, and energy markets were trying to parse who gained the bigger advantage.

Russia had been holding out for a price close to what European countries pay, and China for a price akin to the cheaper gas it buys from Central Asia, energy experts who tracked the talks said.

With Russia’s economy near recession and the International Monetary Fund projecting 0.2 percent growth this year, Mr. Putin was desperate to get the deal done, energy experts said.

The chief executive of Gazprom, Alexey Miller, said the contract called for Russia to supply 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually over 30 years, making the price about $350 per thousand cubic meters. In 2013, the average price of Gazprom’s gas in Europe was about $380 per thousand cubic meters.

“The pricing appears to be between European Union prices and Turkmenistan prices,” said Joerg Wuttke, the president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. “We will have to wait for the next few months to learn about the details.”

Morena Skalamera, a fellow at the Geopolitics of Energy Project at Harvard, said Mr. Putin was more willing to concede on price than he had been before the Ukraine crisis.

“If the European market was a question mark before the Ukrainian crisis, now with sanctions, Putin needed China even more,” she said.

“Politically, it is important for Putin to show that the ‘Greater Russia’ is back on the international scene and that it has other, non-Western options to restore its rightful place.”

In exchange for a lower price, China offered a loan of about $50 billion that will finance development of the gas fields and the construction of the pipeline by Russia up to the Chinese border, Ms. Skalamera said. The Chinese would build the remaining pipeline, and gas is scheduled to start pumping in 2018, she said.

In remarks after the signing, Mr. Putin stressed that the price of the gas was based on the market price for oil, just as it was for Russia’s gas supplies to European countries. “The gas price formula, as in our other contracts, is pegged to the market of oil and oil products,” Itar-Tass quoted him as saying.

Without the oil price benchmark, Russia would be under pressure to renegotiate European prices, said Kenneth S. Courtis, a founding partner of Thames Investment. The price of Russian gas to Europe is based on fluctuations in oil prices, making it more expensive than gas that China buys from Central Asia, he said.

Even with this new agreement, Europe will remain Russia’s biggest market, but Siberian natural gas does give China a cleaner substitute for the fossil fuels — coal and petroleum — that provide most of its energy needs, and cause much of the pollution smothering China’s cities. China will  have diverse suppliers of gas not making it not dependent only on the Russians.

Globally, the newly marketed shale gas technology allows for additional potential gas suppliers to join the international market. The subject of gas supplies becomes thus a main issue of geopolitics and Europe is best advised not to find itself dependent on the goodwill of Russia. So we see no reason for Austria continuing to back the construction of new pipelines for Russian gas – the like of  “South Stream” and let Europe use the funds in order to develop indigenous renewable sources of energy instead.

——————————————————

Gas deal more important to Russia than China
Tom Mitchell and Kathrin Hille, The Financial Times
Chinese President Xi Jinping finally granted his Russian counterpart a long-awaited gas supply contract on Wednesday, ending a decade of negotiations during which China’s economic growth tilted the bilateral balance of power in Beijing’s favour.
jlne.ws/1m7Qp4W

Russia-China Deal Seen Damping LNG Prices as Output Rises
Robert Tuttle, Anna Shiryaevskaya and Isis Almeida, Bloomberg
China’s deal to buy natural gas from Russia after a decade of talks risks making tanker shipments of the fuel less competitive as new projects target Asian markets.
jlne.ws/1i6SCJF

Russia’s Rosneft gearing up for gas exports to Asia
Alexei Anishchuk, Reuters
Russia could significantly boost its natural gas sales to Asia if companies other than Kremlin-controlled Gazprom secured exporting rights, documents from Russia’s top oil producer Rosneft showed.
jlne.ws/1jFGlkS

PetroChina, Utilities Stand to Gain From Russia Gas Deal
Aibing Guo, Bloomberg
PetroChina Co., the country’s biggest oil and gas producer, stands to win from Russia’s $400 billion deal to supply natural gas to China as it will provide gas at a price lower than had been expected.
jlne.ws/1m7XceO

Russia may exempt China gas from mineral extraction tax – Ifax
Reuters
Russia will consider exempting gas sent to China from mineral extraction tax, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Thursday in comments cited by the Interfax news agency.
jlne.ws/RWLB7O

China’s Global Search for Energy
Clifford Krauss and Keith Bradsher, The New York Times
Whether by diplomacy, investment or in extreme cases, force, China is going to great lengths to satisfy its growing hunger for energy to fuel its expanding car fleet and electrify its swelling cities.
jlne.ws/1k7h0je

——————————————————-

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The following is being monitored by the Vienna and Los Angeles based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center (often abbreviated SWC), with headquarters in Los Angeles, California, was established in 1977 and named for Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. According to its mission statement, it is “an international Jewish human rights organization dedicated to repairing the world one step at a time. The Center’s multifaceted mission generates changes through the Snider Social Action Institute and education by confronting antisemitism, hate and terrorism, promoting human rights and dignity, standing with Israel, defending the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaching the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations.”[1]

The Center is accredited as a non-governmental organization (NGO) at the United Nations, the UNESCO, and the Council of Europe.

 

Jews Implicated by Pro-Erdo?an Turkish Newspaper for Coal Mine Disaster.

May 21, 2014  in The Algemeiner,  17 comments

Front page of Turkey’s pro-government daily Yeni Akit implicating Jews in the Soma mining disaster. Photo: Screenshot.

Turkey’s pro-government daily Yeni Akit sought to implicate Jews in the country’s recent Soma coal mine disaster that left over 300 dead, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported on Wednesday.

The paper blasted its distaste for Jews with a headline that criticized the mine’s owner for having a Jewish son-in-law and ”Zionist-dominated media” for distorting the story.

Hurriyet said Yeni Akit ”has a long track record of anti-Semitic slurs” and noted the front page wording used to describe Alp Gürkan, the mine’s owner, for “giving his daughter to a Jew,” which it implied to be the main reason why the “Zionist-dominated domestic and foreign media” was “attacking Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an,” to “distort” the truth behind the disaster.

“While the cartel media in cooperation with Jews, Jew-lover parallel media and Jew controlled western media targets the Prime Minister over the Soma disaster, it is revealed that the groom of Alp Gürkan, owner of the company responsible for the disaster, is a Jew named ‘Mario Asafrana’ who changed his name and is now called ‘Mahir’,” the paper wrote.

Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center called for Turkey’s Prime Minister to repudiate the report.

In an interview with The Algemeiner SWC Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper described the story as being “In the infamous tradition of the Protocols of Zion and Der Stuermer” and as “one of the most despicable and frightening uses of anti-Semitism by a contemporary newspaper.”

“As a nation mourns the death of hundreds of its people in a coal mine—such a banner headline seeks to further fan the toxic hate of Jews. The Wiesenthal Center urges Prime Minister Erdo?an to publicly denounce this headline,” Cooper said.

Twitter was alight with comments calling the newspaper anti-Semitic, while others used the social media platform to affirm their hatred of Jews.

Dutch journalist in Turkey Marc Guillet wrote, “#Turkish Yeni Akit #antisemitic page 1 #Soma mine owner’s son-in-law is Jew, Jewish-controlled media distort disaster.”

To which a Turkish Twitter user responded, “so what, I’m anti-jewish, too (semitic includes arabic, better not to use it that way).”

The focus on Jews in the mining disaster came after Erdo?an was reported calling a protester in Soma after the mine disaster “the spawn of Israel.”

Turkish Jew Haymi Behar reflected on “what it is to be born as ‘Israeli spawn’ in Turkey,” also in Hurriyet, writing about the intense misunderstanding and reflexive hatred for Jews in his country, and how it “means being a part of a mere 13 million tribe in a sea of 7 billion in the world, and being a small sample of the 17,000 ‘spawn brothers’ in Turkey.”

The crisis also enlivened defenders of Erdo?an, with Der Spiegel magazine withdrawing its Turkey-based reporter, Hasnain Kazim, after he received 10,000 death threats via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, with one even threatening to “cut his throat.” The offending article quoted the reaction of a miner in Soma who said, “Go to hell, Erdo?an,” stirring anger of supporters of the Turkish government.

Despite the rising tensions, Erdo?an, in a speech on Tuesday, thanked Israel for cancelling a planned celebration last week for Israeli Independence Day out of respect for the families of the 301 dead at the Soma mine.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THE FOLLOWING WE PICKED UP FROM THE GFSE (Global Forum on Sustainable Energy) Newsletter #2,  of  May 21, 2014.

 

SE4ALL Chief Executive proposes three “Creative Coalitions” to transform the world’s energy system.

NEW DELHI, 6 February 2014 – The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All and Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4All), Kandeh K. Yumkella, today proposed the establishment of three “Creative Coalitions” during a keynote address titled “Rethinking Development” at the 2014 Delhi Sustainable Development Summit hosted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Yumkella’s coalitions’ will focus on accelerating continued cost reductions for renewable energy technologies, forging a deal on energy efficiency among the twenty three highest green-house-gas emitters, and supporting a group of progressive developing countries to deepen energy sector reforms to attract investments in distributive energy systems and sustainable infrastructure.

(I)  Describing the first coalition as the Solar Coalition for Increased Cost Reduction, CEO Yumkella noted that accelerating massive cost reductions in renewable energy technologies is essential. “We need a group of countries to come together and agree to radically drive down the cost of renewable energy within a decade. Though there are already some locations where wind and solar power have reached grid parity with fossil generated electricity, the key is to make renewable energy universally as cheap as, or cheaper than, current centralized-fossil-based power generation,” he said.

(II) The second coalition, the Energy Efficiency Coalition will comprise the 23 members of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) who account for about 80 percent of global energy demand and 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. “They must agree to act collectively to achieve the doubling of the rate of energy efficiency in their economies and small actions such as energy-saving bulbs can reduce a household’s total electricity consumption by up to 15% and could save Europe 40 billion kilowatt-hours a year,” he said.
(III) Noting that African countries embraced mobile telephony more rapidly than other regions, Yumkella’s third coalition – the Coalition of Progressive Transformers would allow the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) to lead the coalition and help many least developed countries leap -frog into the energy internet. “The developing countries can ride the green energy wave into the energy internet by beginning to unbundle the power sector, reforming the governance of their power utilities to make them more transparent and profitable, and by establishing robust institutions, and longer-term predictable policies to crowd-in investment into the sector.”
Yumkella’s proposals are in keeping with the three interlinked targets of the initiative on sustainable energy including increasing access to energy, improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of renewables by the year 2030 and an effort to achieve a dedicated goal on “securing sustainable energy for all” in the post -2015 development agenda.

————-
For more information:

Mr. Anthony Kamara
Communications & Media Relations Coordinator
UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4ALL)
W: +43-1-260-608-3402
M: +43-699-1458-3402
E: A.Kamara@SE4ALL.org

===========================

 

Energy: Finally Recognized as a Key Driver for Sustainable Development?

author irene ginerreichl

by  Ambassador Irene Giner-Reichl

How do we move towards sustainable development? How do we ensure the provision of water, food, and natural resources for a world population expected to peak around 9 billion people by mid-century? How do we balance economic growth with social justice and with a management of natural resources that respects the earth’s carrying capacity and takes into consideration future generations’ needs? And how does energy fit into the equation?

These are concerns the international community deals with in its search for a new development paradigm beyond 2015. A paradigm that should guide the development of so-called developing and developed countries alike. A paradigm under which governments and civil society, businesses and academia will have to find new ways of adjusting production and consumption. A paradigm which will operate within countries and across national boundaries.

 

Energy’s Slow Move unto the Sustainable Development Agenda:

Even though it is hardly conceivable to discuss “sustainable development” without also examining the production, distribution and use of energy, some 20 years had to pass since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit before energy considerations started to be included into global governance. Neither Agenda 21 (the seminal program of action passed at Rio) nor the Millennium Development Declaration adopted in 2000, included energy considerations.

Informal multi-stakeholder platforms operating patiently over lengthy periods of time and major international scientific endeavors contributed greatly to building a consensus about the role of energy in the pursuit of sustainable development. In the late 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century, recognition spread slowly that poverty eradication would remain elusive as long as extreme energy poverty was not tackled; that none of the MDGs could be attained without appropriate energy interventions; and that curbing greenhouse gas emissions would require a major shift to more sustainable energy futures.

Expert groups such as Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC) brought together major stakeholders and their reports helped jell the emerging consensus. The Vienna Energy Forum meetings of 2009 and 2011, drawing on the international network built in yearly meetings of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy (www.gfse.at) since 2000, prepared the ground for the launching of the Initiative of the UN Secretary-General on “Sustainable Energy for All” (SE4All) in December 2011.

 

insights giner reichl  SE4All has three overarching objectives that are mutually supportive and should be reached by 2030:
• To provide access to electricity and to modern cooking fuels for those billion people currently without it;
• To double the rate of energy efficiency improvements;
• To double the share of renewable energies in the overall energy end use.

 

A New Form of International Cooperation on Sustainable Energy for All:

At the Rio+20 conference in June 2012, major partners of SE4All came together to publicly show their support for the initiative. On 21 June 2012, the UN SG announced more than 100 commitments to sustainable energy, estimated at over $50 billion and formulated by governments; private sector corporations, small and medium-scale enterprises; financial institutions, donors and development banks; by non-governmental organizations, artists, academia, and individuals.

Kandeh Yumkella, who had been working tirelessly to build the needed coalitions, was named as UN-SG Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All. He acts as SE4All’s full-time CEO since June 2013.

SE4All is in search of its future legal nature. Any format chosen will have to allow for a good interaction between the public and the private sectors. As the WEC Trilemma Reports 2012 and 2013  underline, public and private players need to listen better to each other and to interact more effectively. Governments need to set clear, long-term frameworks for markets; private sector players have to articulate their needs and expectations clearly to governments.

But an “Initiative” cannot sign checks, nor rent premises. The options are to align with the UN, to form another international organization, or to operate out of a non-for-profit non-governmental setting. For many stakeholders, strict intergovernmental settings and alignment to the UN are too narrow. Yet the UN’s convening power and ability to promote global consensus are irreplaceable.

In order to keep the momentum going Kandeh Yumkella has most recently proposed to form three “creative coalitions” to transform the world’s energy system. These would accelerate continued cost reductions for renewable energy technologies (Solar Coalition for Increased Cost Reduction); forge a deal on energy efficiency among the twenty three highest green-house-gas emitters (the Energy Efficiency Coalition); and support a group of progressive developing countries to deepen energy sector reforms to attract investments in distributive energy systems and sustainable infrastructure (the Coalition of Progressive Transformers).

 

Evolving Regional Cooperation:

As SE4All is unfolding as a network of networks, regional institutions are also evolving. In Africa, the ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, in operation since 2010, has already catalyzed the adoption of regional policies on renewables, energy efficiency, hydro-power and biofuels.

ECREEE is perceived to be so successful that the Eastern African Community (EAC) is now emulating its approach, and so is SADC. The small island developing States, long averse to regional cooperation, are developing similar endeavors with the Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE) and the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE).

 

UN-Decade of Sustainable Energy for All:

In 2012, the UN decided that 2014 to 2024 should be the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All. On 16 December 2013, member States agreed on the first overall energy mandate for the SG who is tasked to coordinate the UN’s work on the Decade of SE4All (2014-2024). All member States are urged to contribute to it.

 

Post 2015: a Sustainable Development Paradigm with Energy Goals:

So when the international community later this year negotiates the development paradigm for the post-2015 period , energy considerations will hopefully be fully integrated into the deliberations. The High-Level Report “A New Global Partnership” of 30 May 2013 includes, among the 12 indicative goals proposed, goals on energy: the three SE4All goals plus a fourth goal, “to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption”. The Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s report, “An Action Agenda for Sustainable Development” proposes 10 goals and includes “ensuring sustainable energy”. A global consultation process about targets and indicators is currently under way.

While it is not certain that the post-2015 development paradigm negotiations will agree on goals, targets and indicators, the energy community has every interest to keep energy considerations on the table and to see energy goals included, if at all there are goals.

 

Ambassador Irene Giner-Reichl is founder and president of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy and a Vice-President of REN21. She currently serves as Austria’s Ambassador to the PR of China and to Mongolia.
==================================

UNIDO support for ECREEE and new regional sustainable energy centers in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific.

VIENNA, 13 December 2013 – The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of the Austrian Development Cooperation, signed agreements to support the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) and to set up three more centres in East and Southern African and in the Caribbean region. 

“The regional renewable energy and energy efficiency centres are another good example of our fruitful partnership with Austria. Local companies and industry will benefit from the growing sustainable energy market opportunities, as well as from regional cooperation and South-South and North-South technology and knowledge transfer,” said LI Yong, the Director General of UNIDO.

“We consider the regional centres to be a powerful way to simultaneously address the challenges of energy access, energy security and climate change mitigation in our partner countries. We are pleased to see that our initial contributions have already leveraged major funding commitments from international donors and generated tangible results and impacts. In this context, we would like to thank the Energy and Climate Change Branch of UNIDO for the excellent cooperation in previous years,” said Martin Ledolter, Managing Director of the ADA.

The ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), based in Praia, Cabo Verde, was established in 2010 to create favourable framework conditions for renewable energy and energy efficiency markets in the 15 member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  The new project will strengthen the ECREEE’s capacity to deal with a rapidly growing project portfolio and expanding external demands for its services.

The two new centres in sub-Saharan Africa will seek to replicate the success of the ECREEE model. One will be established, together with the East African Community (EAC), to serve partner States, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda; and the other will serve the 15 Members States of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). It is expected that both centres will be fully operational in 2014.

Recently, UNIDO was requested by the Sustainable Energy Island Initiative (SIDS DOCK) of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) to assist the island nations in the Caribbean and Pacific in the creation of similar centres. A final agreement on the centres is expected in 2014, which has been declared the International Year of Small Island Developing States.

 

ECOWAS Observatory Countries:

Benin
Burkina Faso
Cape Verde
Cote d Ivoire
Gambia
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Liberia
Mali
Niger
Nigeria
Senegal
Sierra Leone
Togo

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Eurovision and Euro elections: the final straw in Polish gender wars.

 

 

 How is the victory of Conchita Wurst being politicized in Poland? What is the connection between Eurovision and the upcoming European Parliamant elections?

 

The Polish political scene was electrified following the Austrian win in the Eurovision song contest. Right-wing parliamentarians and candidates in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament held numerous press conferences in order to complain about  this ‘new’ Europe, which allows the victory of a ‘woman with a beard’.  Also Polish social media exploded with homo- and transphobic comments and memes.

‘Europe takes away our shipyards and sugar factories and gives us bearded weirdoes instead!’ a
right wing political party spokesperson tweeted yesterday. Another tweet by a Polish candidate for the European Parliament epitomizes the general mood yesterday: ‘Europe has lost it! They promote
a bearded weirdo from Austria instead of beautiful and talented girls. This madness needs to be done away with!’

The victory of the Austrian singer Conchita Wurst (drag alias of performer Thomas Neuwirth) politicized Eurovision for Poland (to see how political Eurovision has always been in other parts of Europe, it is enough to follow voting patterns in the Balkans or the Caucasus). Politicians and commentators alike were going out of their way to deride the debauchery they saw. ‘Conchita Wurst is a symbol of the direction, in which Europe is heading (…) a symbol of Europe I don’t want. My Europe is based on Christian values’, said the spokesperson of the main Polish opposition party, Law and Justice (currently polling first for European elections).

‘Very disquieting things are going on in Europe, things that show decadence, downturn and we would like to reverse this trend’ Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Law and Justice, pointed out. ‘Any propaganda aiming to efface differences between men and women is the road to decay (…) we should definitely not celebrate such things, these events do not bode well’ he added.

The Polish Catholic Church lost no time in putting their two cents in as well: ‘This is another form of promoting groups that sneer at human dignity (…) another confirmation that backgrounds priding themselves on sexual licentiousness are protected by the dominant media and “politically correct” authorities’ said priest Marek Drzewiecki. ‘It seems that the victory of Conchita Wurst was a result of the propagation of genderism. And here we should have concerns, because in the long run this destroys the family’, commented the Polish media go-to priest Dariusz Oko.

It has to be said that Polish commentators were outdone only by the Russian nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who stated that this was the end of Europe and that the Soviet army should have never left Austria 50 years ago…

 

Polish gender wars:

Trolling and hate speech are a common blight of internet memes and fora. But the Polish political and social media reaction to this year’s Eurovision winner is part of a larger war which has been waged against the term ‘gender’ in Poland. As outrageous as it sounds, for the past two years or so, mainstream conservative and right wing forces (which dominate the Polish political scene) have constructed and maintained a discursive fight over the meaning and application of the seemingly obscure academic concept of gender. The virulent attacks were mostly aimed at feminist and queer academia, gender equality programs and policies especially in school and kindergarten education.

The ‘war on gender’ discourse originated in the catholic church and quickly spilled over into parliamentary and local politics. By conflating and mixing terms and phenomena this discourse attempts to hammer the message home that ‘gender’ (or ‘gender ideology’ and ‘genderism’ as used by the proponents) destroys traditional Polish family values (through divorce and same-sex relationships), promotes and ‘spreads homosexuality’, causes child sexual abuse (gender equality education is supposed to ‘sexualise children’), and turns everyone into transvestites. There is no knowledge or education on the differences between sexual reassignment, cross-dressing or transgender and queer identities and essentially no awareness on issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Hence, the ‘war on gender’ in Poland is intensely trans- and homophobic and plays into the wider anti-feminist and anti-LGBT moods within Eastern Europe. According to the 2013 ‘EU LGBT Survey’ by the Fundamental Rights Agency, 57% of people self-identifying as LGBT felt discriminated against in Poland (EU average – 47%), with only Lithuania and Croatia ranking higher (61% and 60% respectively). The lack of improvement in the social position of sexual minorities paired with attempts to roll back women’s rights (restrictions on abortion law, lack of civil partnerships legislation, problems with the implementation of anti-discrimination clauses) are a wider feature in the region. After the fall of state socialism, Eastern Europe has seen waves of growing religious and nationalistic intolerance. The rhetoric of ‘return to tradition’ (where ‘tradition’ stands for normality and nature, meaning mono-ethnic patriarchy) has become an ever-present image and dominant component of the revived and mythologized national identities in Poland, Russia, the Baltic states, the Balkans, Slovakia and Hungary.

 

‘We are Slavs’ vs. Wurst

According to such narratives ‘women are women and men are men’, because there are undeniable biological differences which give the two sexes specific gender roles, since men and women must have inherently different emotional and psychological qualities. This gender essentialism emerges most strikingly if you compare the Polish Eurovision performance – the song ‘We are Slavic’ and Conchita Wurst’s ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’. Eurovision is a proud feat of kitsch, but the two performances give a perfect illustration of competing gender perspectives. Conchita Wurst embodies everything that conservative Eastern Europe fears from the EU – subversion and transgression in terms of gender roles, gender ambiguity and flexibility in gender expression (translated in Poland into moral decay, rampant trans- and homosexuality, as well as going against nature or god’s law). What about ‘us, Slavs’? The song depicts perfectly the Polish heteronormative natural and traditional vision of gender roles: ‘We Slavic girls know how our charms and beauty work/We like to shake what mom gave us in our genes/ This is Slavic blood!/(…) What’s ours is best, because it’s ours!’ Whether you think the performance was pastiche, soft porn or just good fun, the not-so-subtle message was that Slavic women know ‘how to use what mother nature gave them’ and half-dressed do the laundry and churn butter by hand in sexually inviting ways for their men.

 

War on gender and European Parliament elections

The Polish ‘war on gender’, which had somewhat died down in the past couple of months, reached another apogee this week thanks to the Eurovision song contest. The amount of bile, hate speech and trans- and homophobia that spilled from Polish political elites and social media in response to the event shows how dominant the ‘gender war’ thinking has become as a comfortable rhetoric tool in debates. It also gave conservative Eurosceptics an image to point to before the European Parliament elections later this month. Given the already extremely low interest and weak voter turnout (never exceeding 25% so far) in European elections, the Polish right wing gained an emotive picture to scare people with and to rally against. An image that plays perfectly into the political game they have been playing since mid-2012, when they took on fighting ‘gender’ and trying to curb gender equality, women’s and sexual minority rights even further. Image of a woman with a beard.

 —————————————-

Barbara Gaw?da is a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on gendered political discourses in Eastern Europe.

Related Articles of Open Democracy:
The lead-up to the European elections in Bulgaria: how not to do politicsNikolay Nikolov
We don’t talk about politics in PolandMarzena Sadowska
—————————————–
And from the ECONOMIST of  May 19, 2014 by T.J. in Eastern approaches – Ex-communist Europe:“The Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church and another senior churchman have used the floods to attack the country’s lesbian and gay community as well as Conchita Wurst, the bearded Austrian drag queen who won the Eurovison song contest on May 10th. They claim that the floods were a punishment from God for their vices.”
But this is not all – similar arguments come in Vienna also from Muslim sources. Personally  – I was lectured today by my good Macedonian Muslim tailor on how from above angels punish us for the ways women behave,  and he gave me full description of the way these angels, under Gabriel, act according to the Koran and tradition.He also reminded me of Lot’s daughters and the upheaval they caused and the hole in the earth that is now the Dead Sea! To show how series this is he gave me to take home some booklets that were given to him.
In short, a poor rational person like myself is pushed to take cover by these Eastern minds – be they from the Eastern Christian Churches or Muslims.    Europe is still far away from enlightenment.
And what about the Christian right or the extreme Jewish Orthodoxy in America? Are they any better?
Too bad that in the 21st Century we still have to hear such arguments while we try to analyze man-induced climate change.
==============================
On the other hand, according to the “Heute” paper of today, the husband of Conchita Wurst (Tom Neuwirth) is Jacques Patriaque – who is a “Boylesque” dancer – that is the men parallel to Burlesque that shows mostly women.

This information became available as Mr. Patriaque will be performing in an upcoming festival – www.boylesque festivalvienna.com – This new angle to Conchita’s story story is bound to be reason for new criticism.
Whatever – we will continue to hold to our idea that people’s preferences do not entitle them to prejudice that impacts human rights of others.

 

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Photo

Ukrainian soldiers guarded a base outside Izyum on Monday, as Russia announced another pullback of its forces from the border. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin said Monday that he was withdrawing Russian troops from the border with Ukraine, the second time he has said that in less than two weeks. He also praised the government in Kiev, which he had previously called an illegal, fascist junta, for its willingness to negotiate structural changes.

But the intended audience for these conciliatory remarks may not have been the United States and Europe, who would distrust them in any event. No, Mr. Putin’s gaze was more likely fixed on China, where he arrives on Tuesday by all accounts determined to show that he, too, wants to pivot to Asia.

 

While Mr. Putin has been casting an eye eastward practically since he returned to the presidency in 2012, the crisis in relations with the West over Ukraine has made ties to Asia, and particularly relations with its economic engine, China, a key strategic priority. With Europe trying to wean itself off Russian gas, and the possibility of far more serious Western sanctions looming should the crisis deepen, Moscow needs an alternative.

Mr. Putin has stressed repeatedly in recent weeks that Russia sees its economic future with China, noting that its Asian neighbor was on track to surpass the United States as the leading global economic power. A tilt to the East is also in keeping with Mr. Putin’s recent turn to a conservative nationalist ideology, emphasizing religion, family values and patriotism in contrast to what he sees as the increasingly godless, relativist and decadent West.

“Today, Russia firmly places China at the top of its foreign trade partners,” Mr. Putin said in an interview with Chinese journalists on the eve of his visit, according to a transcript released Monday by the Kremlin. “In the context of turbulent global economy, the strengthening of mutually beneficial trade and economic ties, as well as the increase of investment flows between Russia and China, are of paramount importance.”

Mr. Putin’s announcement of a pullback of Russian forces from the Ukraine border was likely to help calm the situation there before presidential elections scheduled for Sunday. But it could also be seen as a gesture to Chinese sensitivities about separatism, given Beijing’s continuing troubles with Tibet, the Uighurs and scores of lesser-known ethnic and religious minorities.

It was also the third time Mr. Putin had announced a pullback without any evidence of troops actually departing, the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, noted Monday at a news conference in Brussels.

The centerpiece of Mr. Putin’s two-day visit to China could well be a long-stalled deal with Russia to ship natural gas from new Siberian fields to China starting around 2019. The two have been haggling over the deal for a decade, but could not agree on a price for the gas.

Experts anticipate that Russia is finally prepared to come to terms, if only to let Washington and Western Europe know that it has other markets for its gas and important friends in the world.

“Because of this current disaster in our relations with the West, they have no alternative,” said Vasily B. Kashin, a China expert at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a Moscow policy organization. “They need to go to Asia to make any deals possible as quickly as possible.”

Mr. Putin is due in Normandy on June 6 for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. He is likely to meet with President Obama and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to discuss the Ukraine crisis. Brandishing a new gas deal with China would strengthen Mr. Putin’s hand, helping deflate the threat of Western sanctions.

In the interview with Chinese journalists, Mr. Putin noted that bilateral trade with China last year was close to $90 billion. Although Russian trade with the European Union as a bloc is far larger, amounting to some $370 billion in 2012, trade with China is on par with leading individual partners like Germany. Trade with the United States was only $26 billion in 2012.

Russia needs new markets because it is hugely dependent on commodity exports, earning some 67 percent of its export income from oil and gas alone. Financing from China would also help offset reluctance by Western banks to extend new loans, given the threat of sanctions.

“There will be a natural gas agreement, which is very important not for the agreement itself, but because it will open the road for further, much bigger agreements in natural gas and other raw materials,” Mr. Kashin said.

Mr. Putin said Russia would try to increase trade volume with China to $100 billion next year and double that by 2020.

Aside from what he described as a “strategic energy alliance,” Mr. Putin mentioned possible joint projects in airplanes and helicopters, mining, agricultural processing and transportation infrastructure. Other technical and military cooperation agreements will also be discussed, but both sides tend to keep those secret, so details might not emerge for some months, experts said.

Russia and China, which share a border of more than 2,600 miles, have long had uneasy relations. Russia, wary about the economic gorilla along its southern borders, blocked Chinese investment, particularly in fields considered strategic like energy, except for two small deals. Mr. Putin on Monday clearly enunciated a more welcoming message.

“That is a big shift,” said Clifford Gaddy, of the Brookings Institution in Washington and the author of a book on Mr. Putin, “and indicates how serious they are in taking a step toward China.”

Mr. Gaddy added, “It is a shift in rhetoric, and we will see if it is followed up with a shift in action.”

In highlighting that the sanctions are helping to disrupt the Russian economy, the Obama administration has virtually ignored that it is pushing Russia toward greater dependence on China, Mr. Gaddy noted.

The Russians are hoping that China will also agree to help build a bridge linking the mainland to the Crimean port of Kerch, lending not only valuable expertise but also tacit endorsement of an annexation that much of the world considers illegal. There is no current land link to the annexed territory.

China abstained from a United Nations Security Council vote in March rejecting the referendum that Russia organized in Crimea before annexing it. That earned China special praise from Mr. Putin in his speech announcing the annexation.

Russia and China are also scheduled to hold joint naval exercises in China toward the end of the month, and President Xi Jinping was one of the few world leaders to put in an appearance at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

There is, of course, no guarantee that the two sides will come to terms on the gas deal. Alexei Miller, the chief executive of state-run Gazprom, announced over the weekend that Russia and China had agreed on everything in the 30-year contract except the price.

Experts noted that the price gap had endured for years, although it is generally believed to have shrunk from hundreds of dollars per thousand cubic meters to $50 or less. Before, Moscow’s bargaining strategy was to wait out the Chinese, figuring that their insatiable appetite for natural resources would bring them to Russia’s doorstep at favorable terms.

But analysts believe that passive strategy is over.

“There is no more time, with sanctions escalating,” said Ildar Davletshin, the head of oil and gas research at Renaissance Capital, an investment bank. “Russia has become more desperate to get a real outlet.”

Mr. Davletshin also noted that as negotiations had dragged on, Russia gradually lost market share to other suppliers in Central Asia.

Russia, with its massive resources, is attractive to the Chinese. “Russia is just across the river and it is vast and underpopulated, so it is attractive for China to own a piece,” Mr. Davletshin said.

That also puts its resources out of reach of American sanctions and the United States Navy, analysts noted.

As initially conceived, Russian gas was to enter China in its far west, where the demand was lowest, and in the ensuing years China negotiated deals for other, cheaper sources.

So the current deal concentrates on selling 38 billion cubic meters of gas, worth about $14 billion if they agree to a price of around $380 per thousand cubic meters, as analysts expect. Part of the bargaining also concerns the financing China might provide to build the nearly 1,500 mile pipeline, estimated to cost $30 billion.

 

Andrew Higgins contributed reporting from Brussels.

 

###

« Previous Articles

RSS Feed

back to top