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

 

 

ICC Press Release: 23/07/2014

 

17 July commemorations and social media campaign garner wide support

States representatives, civil society organisations, legal professionals and scholars, children, youth and elders all over the world sent the strong message that justice matters to us all. Commemorating 17 July, the Day of International Criminal Justice, many took action to support justice, promote victims’ rights, and prevent grave crimes that threaten the peace and security of the world. 17 July marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute on 17 July 1998, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which seeks to protect people from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. 

Numerous events were held around this date in The Hague (The Netherlands) where the seat of the Court is located, as well as at the United Nations headquarters in New York (USA) and in countries where ICC investigations are being conducted, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Uganda.

 

The Justice Matters social media campaign, launched jointly by the ICC and the President of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) around 17 July, also garnered large support worldwide.

 

Worldwide call for photos on Facebook

Hundreds of participants held up #JusticeMatters signs and submitted their photographs on the temporary #17July Facebook page, which featured infographics, GIFs, and posters illustrating the crimes under the Court’s jurisdiction. The campaign’s resulting mosaic of over 500 photograph submissions from more 70 countries, with more photos being received each day, represents all regions of the world and is a symbol of the global support for all those who stand for justice.


Call for tweets using the #17July and #JusticeMatters hashtags

Countless ambassadors, legal professionals, students, leaders, NGOs, and many others from across the globe, sent messages of support on Twitter, voiced concerns about the need for justice, or reconfirmed their solidarity with survivors of mass atrocities, with the aim of generating discussion and awareness of issues surrounding international criminal justice.

A story and photographs, and a collection of tweets, official statements, additional events, infographics, a 17 July quiz and posters are featured here, showing a large commitment to the fight against impunity and a more just world.


For further information, please contact Fadi El Abdallah, Spokesperson and Head of Public Affairs Unit, International Criminal Court, by telephone at: +31 (0)70 515-9152 or +31 (0)6 46448938 or by e-mail at: fadi.el-abdallah@icc-cpi.int.

You can also follow the Court’s activities on YouTube and Twitter

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

 

Call for UN Reforms After Ban Flies on Qatar-Funded, UK Registered Plane

By Matthew Russell Lee, The Inner City Press at the UN – Follow up on exclusive

 

UNITED NATIONS, July 21, more hereWhy shouldn’t the UN be able to live up the most basic standards of transparency and good government?

   Inner City Press, and now the Free UN Coalition for Access, have been asking this question. From the UN’s July 21 transcript, video here from Minute 12:55

Inner City Press: As I asked you before, and I know that you had said you would answer at some point, how did the Secretary-General fly from New York to Qatar?  Was it on a Qatari plane, and what safeguards are in place? Would he take a flight from any nation?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Okay, Matthew, it was the Qatari Government [that] very generously chartered a plane for the Secretary-General to enable him to go about his visit.  This is not the kind of visit that we could do if we were not flying on a private plane.  It is not a Qatari plane; it was chartered.  It is a British-registered plane, as some of you will be able to see on the photos.  But, it is a private aircraft funded by the Qatari Government.

   Should the UN Secretary General in a mediation attempt accept free travel from a country with a particular interest in the conflict to be mediated?

   What review should take place? What disclosures should be made, and when? From later in the UN’s July 21 transcript, video here from Minute 31:

 

Inner City Press: you are saying that the use of private planes, generically if necessary, is signed off by the ethics office, but my question is, private planes provided by anyone? Would the Secretary-General, would he accept such service from any Member State, or would he accept it from corporations? The question becomes, given that particular countries have different views of the conflict, what review is made before accepting a particular country’s contribution?

Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq: Well, we do have, like I said, an ethics office and a legal office that can look into these things and see whether something is appropriate or not.

Inner City Press: Was this particular flight checked or you’re saying there’s a generic ruling in advance that any private plane is okay?

Deputy Spokesman Haq: No, I don’t think there’s a generic ruling about this, but certainly, if you need to justify this for essential needs, and something like this, a trip that the Secretary-General was able to embark on and made the decision on just at the end of last week and then had to travel, starting Saturday evening, something like that would have been extremely hard or basically impossible to do in a different sort of way.

Inner City Press: I’m asking because in the budget Committee, often many, particularly developing world countries, they say that things should be funded out of the UN’s general budget rather than taking voluntary contributions from States that then have influence. So, my question is, isn’t there a travel budget? We’ve asked in this room many times to know what the budget is, so I’d still like to know that. But, if there is a budget, why wasn’t the general UN budget used for this rather than taking a specific gift from a specific country? That’s the question.

Deputy Spokesman Haq: The worry is, of course, if you run out of money early, does that mean you can’t travel, even if there’s a crisis? In this case, there was a crisis that necessitated sudden travel.

  Inner City Press broke the story on July 19 — credit has been given, for example, by Newsweek, here — and has been asking Ban’s spokespeople for disclosure and what safeguards are in place.

   Lead spokesman Dujarric replied but did not answer on July 19. When he called in to the UN noon briefing from Cairo on July 21, Inner City Press asked him again on whose plane Ban is traveling.

  This time, Dujarric answered that Ban is flying on a Qatar government funded, UK registered plane.  But he did not answer if there are any safeguards against influence or conflicts of interest. Would Ban accept free flights from any UN member state? From anyone at all?

  Inner City Press asked Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, who said  the UN Ethics Office said taking private planes is okay when necessary.

  But private planes from ANYONE? Any member state? A corporation? There have been no real answers, yet. But there need to be.

 Diplomats told Inner City Press that Ban would fly — on a Qatari plane — to Qatar, Ramallah (but not for now Gaza), Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.

  The diplomats who complained to Inner City Press questioned not only Ban taking free flights from a particular country, but also how the use (and landing) of a Qatari plane will play in, for example, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

 Inner City Press asked Ban’s top two spokespeople, and the spokesperson listed as on weekend duty, the following:

“Please state whether the Secretary General is accepting free transportation from any member state or outside party for his current trip to the region concerning the Gaza crisis, and if so please explain the reason and any safeguards in place against influence or conflict of interest.

“Such disclosure should be common practice; if necessary, note that former Spokesperson Nesirky did answer such Press questions, for example concerning the Secretary General flying on a UAE plane (see sample below). On deadline, thank you in advance.

From: UN Spokesperson – Do Not Reply [at] un.org
Subject: Your questions
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at] InnerCityPress.com
Date: Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

- The UAE Government provided an aircraft to fly the Secretary-General from Beirut to Abu Dhabi because of time constraints.

     Later on July 19, the following was received, which we publish in full 25 minutes after receipt:

 

 

From: Stephane Dujarric [at] un.org
Date: Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 5:30 PM
Subject: Re: Press question if SG is accepting free travel from any member state or outside party, as was disclosed in 2012, on deadline, thanks
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress [dot] com
Cc: FUNCA [at] funca.info

Dear Matthew, Thanks for your question and thanks for the draft answer. The logistical details of the SG’s trip, including the travel arrangements are still being worked out. Once we are in a position to confirm them, i will revert.

best

Stephane Dujarric (Mr.)
Spokesman for the Secretary-General

  But obviously the “logistical details” of getting to Qatar were worked out – Ban had already been to Qatar, then Kuwait before Cairo.

  One asked, what can you solve if you can’t even say how you got there?

  Inner City Press thanked Dujarric and his colleagues for the interim response and asked, “both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Poroshenko’s office say they have spoken with the Secretary General and give read-outs. Will a UN read-out be put out? If so, when? If not, why not?”

  On July 21, Inner City Press asked Haq, who confirmed the calls took place but nothing about the contents. What is happened with the UN?
The Free UN Coalition for Access is pressing for reforms.
We’ll have more on this.

 

 

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

MEP tells Europe to ‘wake up’ following Ukraine air crash tragedy.

Written by Kayleigh Rose Lewis and Rajnish Singh on 18 July 2014 in News – The European Parliament Magazine.

MEPs have expressed their “deepest sympathy” and called for a response to the MH17 plane crash in which 298 people died in Ukraine.

Debris from the Malaysian Airline plane crash in Ukraine

The incident, involving a Boeing 777 Malaysia Airlines plane traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was carrying passengers from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and the UK.

Reports are showing the increasing likelihood that the tragedy was the result of military action, with Ukraine’s foreign minister already pointing the finger at Russia.

Gianni Pittella, S&D group president, has responded, saying, “Our sorrow has to turn into action for peace.”

“Europe wake up,” he urged, “We have to all stand together against war and take Russia and Ukraine to a peaceful roundtable.

“This is our natural mission as the European Union. This is our role as a political family,” he explained.

“The consequences of any further silence from us would be more killings, desperation and innocent victims.

“Europe is not just a common union of goods and interests. The European Union is first of all a political community and as such we have to act now,” he rallied.

“We have to immediately clarify what led to this tragic plane crash, as justice has to be guaranteed for all victims.

“The first and most important task for Europe is to ensure that firing stops and that diplomacy and politics take over,” Pitella continued.

“We can no longer close our eyes pretending nothing is going on. There is a war beyond our Eastern borders.

“As members of the EU we have to live up to our responsibilities. Europe is, and has to remain, a space for peace and dialogue,” insisted the Italian deputy.

Dutch MEP Hans van Baalen suggested that the incident could be an act of “terrorism”, saying, “Our immediate thoughts and sympathies must go to the bereaved relatives of the passengers killed in this terrible and tragic incident.

“We cannot rule out that this was a despicable and callous act of terrorism”  – Hans van Baalen

“Given the location and the kind of weapons suspected of being in the possession of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, we cannot rule out that this was a despicable and callous act of terrorism,” he explained.

“It is vital that there is an internationally supervised investigation into the accident immediately before the wreckage is tampered with and Russia must cooperate fully with it,” the ALDE deputy concluded.

ALDE group leader Guy Verhofstadt, also expressed the “utmost importance” of confirming the “circumstances of this tragedy”.

“If it is confirmed that Russian backed separatists are responsible, an emergency summit of EU leaders and foreign ministers must be convened to discuss the new and deadly escalation of the security situation affecting also international civil aviation,” he argued.

A joint statement by several members of the ECR group were also suspicious of the nature of the crash, saying, “It seems increasingly likely that this was a criminal act.”

The statement, by Syed Kamall, Peter van Dalen, Anna Fotyga and Charles Tannock also went on to say, “Whoever was responsible, and those assisting them, must understand that the west will not allow civilian aircraft to be attacked without serious consequences.

“Facts must be established first, but consequences must follow from this likely act of aggression against Europe and her allies,” urged the deputies.

European parliament president Martin Schulz has also offered his condolences, saying, “I was shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic crash of the Malaysian airliner which led to the death of so many people.”

“The circumstances which led to the crash must be thoroughly investigated and responsibility of the tragedy established” – Martin Schulz

The German MEP stressed that “the circumstances which led to the crash must be thoroughly investigated and responsibility of the tragedy established.” He called on the EU and member states to offer the Ukrainian authorities the “necessary expertise” to assist in carrying out the investigation.

The crash occurred just after a debate in parliament’s Strasbourg plenary session where deputies agreed a resolution calling on Russia to cooperate with Ukraine on a peace settlement. MEPs also wanted to see Russia withdraw military assistance to separatist groups and for EU members to stop selling arms to Russia.

The parliamentarians also requested that the EU help Ukraine secure alternative gas supplies, and formally backed the signing of an association and free trade agreement between Kyiv and the EU.

The resolution was passed by 497 votes, with 121 against and 21 abstentions. As part of the resolution, MEPs also called on the EU council and member states to reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian gas and impose further sanctions, including economic restrictions and actions in the financial and energy sectors. Deputies also called for better unity among national governments when dealing with Russia.

Earlier this week stronger sanctions had been announced at the extraordinary European council meeting, but Greens/EFA group co-president Rebecca Harms complained that, “The latest EU sanctions against Russia, fall short of what was is needed in response to the crisis in Ukraine.”

She called on member states to be more resolute in dealing with Russia, saying, “EU governments must also end their double speak. As long as individual countries continue to train the Russian military, supply weapons…conclude agreements for energy supplies, EU foreign policy towards Russia cannot succeed.”

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

 

With  Interference from Breaking News from the battle fields in the Ukraine and the Muslim World – the US and Russia are at Cold War level; Israel has already 20 dead (two civilians) and dozens wounded – Fareed Zakaria on CNN/Global Public Square did his best this Sunday July 20, 2014, to try to make sense from the present global wars.
I will try to reorganize the material into a neat tableau that can be viewed as a whole.

Fareed’s own introduction was about what happened in recent years is a “democratization of violence” that created an asymmetry like in Al Qaeda’s 9/11 where each of their one dollar generated the need for  7 million dollars to be spent by the US in order to counter-react. Thus, before, it was armies of States that were needed to have a war – now everyone can cause it with a pauper’s means.

Then he continued by saying that this is NOT what happened in Ukraine. There Putin was trying to fake it, by using his resources large State resources to create from former Russian soldiers a “rebel force in the Ukraine.”  The Kremlin is operating the rebels in a situation where the military expenditures by Russia, which are 35 times larger then those of the Ukraine, take care of the expenditures of this war.

But where Vladimir Putin miscalculated – it is that he did not realize that when he takes the ginny of Nationalism out of his dark box, he will never be able to cause it to go back. Putin unleashed both – Russian and Ukrainian Nationalism and it might be that by now he is no boss over the outcome anymore.

Let us face it – G.W. Bush played a similar game in Iraq and Afghanistan and the US will not be  master in the Middle East anymore.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was asked on the program what should Obama do?

He thinks this is a historical defining moment that allows still to Putin to redeem himself. It is for him – rather then somebody else – to call for an International tribunal and allow open investigation by telling the pro-Russians in the Ukraine, whom he supported and provided them with arms, that they crossed the line.  Brzezinski says this is a situation for Europe like it was before WWII.

The issue is that the Europeans are not yet behind the US. London is a Las Vegas for the Russians, France supplies them military goods, it was a German Chancellor before Merkel who made Europe dependent on Rusian gas.
Without being clearly united behind the US, the West will get nowhere.

On the other hand – Russia, seeing the sanctions coming, sees the prospect of becoming a China satellite if sanctions go into effect. Not a great prospect for itself either.

So, the answer is Obama leadership to be backed by the Europeans and Putin making steps to smooth out the situation and redeem himself. This is the only way to save the old order.

Steven Cohen, Professor on Russia at Princeton: The US is in a complicated situation by having backed fully the Ukrainian government.

It is the US that pushed Putin to take his positions. The Ukraine is a divided country and the story is not just a recent development. Putin cannot just walk away from the separatists in the Ukraine – they will not listen to him. The reality in the Ukraine, as per Professor Cohen, is very complex and there are no good guys there – basically just a complex reality that was exploited from the outside.

Christa Freeland, a famous journalist, who is now a Canadian member of Parliament, and traveled many times to the Ukraine, completely disagrees with Cohen and says a US leadership is imperative.

Our feeling is that all this discussion goes on as if it were in a vacuum – the true reality is that in the Globalized World we are far beyond the post WWII configuration that was just Trans-Atlantic with a Eurasian Continental spur going to China and Japan.  What has happened since is the RISE OF THE REST OF THE WORLD – with China, india, Brazil, and even South Africa, telling the West that besides dealing with Russia the West must deal with them as well !!
 The BRICS meeting in Fortaleza (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) where this week they established a $50 Billion alternative to the World Bank and a $100 Billion alternative to the IMF, ought to be part of the negotiation in the US and at the EU Member States  when talking about a post-Ukraine-flare-up World. The timing may have been coincidental – but the build-up was not.

These days there is the celebration of 70 years (1–22 July 1944) of the establishing of the Bretton Woods agreements system that created the old institutions that can be changed only with the help of US Congress – something that just will not happen. Those are the World Bank and the IMF – but In the meantime China has become the World’s largest economy and they still have less voting power at the World Bank then the three BENELUX countries.
The BRICS do not accept anymore the domination of the US dollar over their economies. If nothing else they want a seat at the table, and detest the fact that three out of five are not even at the UN Security Council.

So, the New World Order will have to account for this Rise of the Rest having had the old order based just on the West.

   Further on today’s program, Paul Krugman a very wise man, a Nobel Prize holder in Economics, was brought in to show  a quick take on the economy. He made it clear that there is an improvement but it is by far not enough.

It is more half empty then half full because by now it should have been better. But he stressed that despite the interference, Obamacare works better and ahead of expectations. Even premiums rise slower then before.

Yes, there are some losers, but this is a narrow group of young and healthy, but people that were supposed to be helped are helped.

On energy – yes – renewable costs are lower then expected.

Obama’s grade? Over all B or B-, but on what he endured from the opposition A-. Yes, we can trust Obama to decide the correct moves – and on International and Foreign Policy the White House has freer hands then in Internal, National, policy. His presidency is the most consequential since Ronald Reagan – whatever we think of Reagan – but in Obama’s case, he will leave behind  a legacy of the country having been involved in less disasters, but leaving behind more achievements – be those in health-care, environment, finances, energy, migration, etc. then any President of the last 40 years. But where does this leave him in relation to the Rest of the World?

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

 

Azerbaijan and the Two EUs.       (?? – this is our comment)

by Amanda Paul – a Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, where she deals with the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood, Russia, Turkey and Eurasia Region. She is also a columnist for the Turkish Daily, Today’s Zaman.

Of the six countries in the EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP), Azerbaijan is the only one that has not chosen to definitively align itself with either the EU or Russia. With the signing of Association Agreements with the EU on June 27, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia declared their strategic choice to further integrate with the EU and, despite Russian opposition and aggression, stated full membership as their goal. Meanwhile, Belarus and Armenia have taken another path, choosing Russia’s Eurasian Union (EaU).

Azerbaijan, as Georgia and Armenia, is located at a very sensitive and volatile geopolitical crossroads, sandwiched between Russia, and Iran. However, unlike its neighbors, Baku has chosen a policy of “choosing not to choose”, having a cautious approach, not wanting to openly confront and create waves with Russia. Nevertheless, when analyzing Azerbaijan’s relationships with the West and Russia, it seems that Baku’s feet are increasingly under the West’s table. In fact, this engagement is nothing new. It began 20 years ago when former President Heydar Aliyev signed the “Contract of the Century” with a consortium of Western energy companies. Over the last two decades ties with Euro-Atlantic institutions have gradually deepened, although Azerbaijan has no aspirations to join either the EU or NATO. However, Baku wants Western “know-how” to work on modernizing the country including vocational training, best practices in sectors such as energy, science and technology and education.

For the EU Azerbaijan is an important and reliable partner. While energy is the backbone of relations, with Azerbaijan the enabler of the Southern Gas Corridor, there is a desire from both sides to broaden areas of cooperation. This was underlined during a recent speech, on 12 June, at Azerbaijan’s Diplomatic Academy, by President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso. Today the two partners are moving ahead with a “Strategic Partnership for Modernization (SPM)” along with ongoing Association Agreement talks. THE SPM, which will act as a framework for cooperation, is almost ready for signature, with EU officials hoping this can be done before the end of the present European Commission in the autumn. However, with the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine and the ramifications this has had on the broader region it is not impossible that signature may take place at a later date, possibly at the 2015 EU EaP Riga Summit.

This relationship is also clearly not without difficulties. While on the one hand the EU would like to see Azerbaijan take more steps towards improving democracy and human rights, Baku on the other hand would like the EU to have a more credible and consistent approach towards recognizing Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, as it does with other EaP countries that have territorial disputes — Georgia, Moldova and most recently Ukraine following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Unfortunately, the EU’s ambiguous approach towards Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity is a thorn in relations. In fact in light of Russia’s revanchist ideas, the EU should give explicit support to the territorial integrity of all EaP countries, not only those with territorial disputes.

Despite the fact that Azerbaijan has not expressed a desire to join the EU, and because Azerbaijan is not a member of the WTO  it is unable to have a deep trade agreement with the EU, with Russian President Vladimir Putin apparently fixated on “rebuilding” the Soviet Union, Baku has still come under increasing pressure from Moscow, to join the EaU. In recent weeks Moscow has significantly increased its diplomatic activity with a number of visits to Baku, including from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who arrived the day after Barroso left.

Azerbaijan wants good relations with Moscow, but it also wants to maintain full control over its foreign and economic policies. Joining the EaU would affect this independence. Not only would it have no added value for Azerbaijan economically – Azerbaijan’s economy, which is currently dominated by energy sector, is increasingly linked to the West – it would also impinge on Azerbaijan’s sovereignty.

There is also little appetite for closer ties with Russia from Azerbaijani society. There is a broad dislike and distrust of Russia’s leadership, something that has been exacerbated since the Russia’s annexation of Crimea, while deep resentment also continues to exist over the role that Russia has played in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia. Furthermore, and fortunately, because the majority of Azerbaijanis prefer to watch Turkish television rather than Russian, they have not been exposed to Russia’s extensive media propaganda campaign over Ukraine.

However, while Russia presently continues to be focused on Ukraine, as with the other EaP countries in the region, Moscow may also try to impact Baku’s foreign policy choices although its leverage on Azerbaijan is less than some of the other countries in the region. All the same, some 500,000 Azerbaijanis work in Russia; Azerbaijan is home to a Russian-speaking Lezgin ethnic minority that Moscow has tried in the past to create internal tension; the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia, where Russia is key to any settlement and uses for its own self-interest and Georgia. Georgia is important to Azerbaijan because it is the transit state for Azerbaijan hydrocarbons to European markets. Instability in Georgia could be disastrous for Baku.

Ultimately, while many people believe that Moscow may try to make Baku a very tempting offer, it is highly unlikely if not totally impossible that Azerbaijan will accept it. Nevertheless with such a resurgent Russia with a President that seems to have “no limits”, the ongoing climate of uncertainty and trepidation over what may be around the corner, over what Russia may or may not do next, is of significant concern and will probably keep Baku on a very cautious track. Moreover, the fact that there has been a significant failure from the EU (and the West more generally), to adequately respond to Russia’s actions towards Ukraine, is hardly reassuring to other countries in the region either.

(This article was originally published – in a shorter form – in Today’s Zaman)

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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.

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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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Sports
A fan lifting up a replica of the World Cup trophy. Brazil lost to Germany in the semifinals, 7-1, but avoided the added blow of rival Argentina winning the World Cup.

On Soccer

Success for Brazil, Just Not on the Field

By JERÉ LONGMAN

Its team suffered a humiliating semifinal defeat, but Brazil is taking comfort in its success as host of the World Cup and in its archrival Argentina’s loss in the final.

Protesters in Brazil played their own final.

Brazilians Go Back to Real Life

By SIMON ROMERO

Fans and authorities in Brazil breathed a sigh of relief as the World Cup ended without any major off-the-field incidents, and without an Argentine victory.

Germany's Mesut Ozil celebrated after scoring Germany's second goal, which was ultimately the game-winner.

Germans See World Cup Win as a Symbol of Global Might

By ALISON SMALE and JACK EWING

The victory symbolized, at least to fans, not just Germany’s dominance of Europe, but its prominence on the world stage.

. In Buenos Aires, Applause and Cheers Despite Argentina’s Loss

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

 

Europe

An Argentine and a German, but No Sign at the Vatican of a World Cup Rivalry

Pope and Predecessor Have No Plans for World Cup Final

By

 
Photo

 
Benedict XVI, pope emeritus, of Germany, with Pope Francis, of Argentina. Their countries will compete in the finals of the World Cup on Sunday. Credit L’Osservatore Romano, via Associated Press

ROME — They have prayed together and embraced each other as brothers, but Pope Francis and his predecessor, Benedict XVI, now pope emeritus, find themselves confronting an odd sort of schism: their two countries are competing in the finals of the World Cup on Sunday.

For many, this has raised the question of whether they will watch the game together. But the more basic question is whether Francis, 77, of Argentina, and Benedict, 87, of Germany, will be watching at all, given that the match begins at 9 p.m. in Italy and may not end until nearly midnight.

Francis and Benedict have both lived on the grounds of the Vatican since Francis was elected to the papacy in March 2013, after Benedict’s historic resignation. Initially, some analysts speculated that the arrangement might breed intrigue: Would the Vatican be divided between two popes? Instead, the two men have apparently forged a warm friendship, as Benedict has quietly receded from public life while Francis has emerged as a major global figure.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, who has fielded soccer questions this week with a chuckling amusement, doubted the two men would watch the game together, or at all. He noted that Benedict, a scholarly theologian and author of a multipart meditation on the life of Jesus, has never been much of a soccer fan, “though he clearly understands that it’s important to many people.” (In March 2012, Benedict did greet the German star Miroslav Klose at the Vatican.)

 

The first Latin American pope, Francis is unquestionably a fan, who as archbishop of Buenos Aires cheered for San Lorenzo, a local soccer club. After San Lorenzo won the Argentine championship last year, a small delegation of managers and players came to the Vatican in December to present Francis with a trophy and an inscribed team jersey that read, “Francisco Campeon,” or “Francis Champion.”

Last August at the Apostolic Palace, Francis welcomed the national teams of Italy and Argentina, including the star Argentine striker Lionel Messi, before the two sides played a friendly match in Rome. Francis managed to duck a question about which country he would be rooting for (Argentina won, 2-1), even as he called on the athletes to be role models for young people.

Francis also asked players on both teams to pray for him, according to The Associated Press, “so that I, on the ‘field’ upon which God placed me, can play an honest and courageous game for the good of us all.”

In that spirit, the Vatican Pontifical Council for Culture has launched a “Pause for Peace” campaign and is asking for a global moment of silence before Sunday’s match to remember people enduring war and conflict.

And will the pope be watching on Sunday night?

Father Lombardi said the pope “sent the Argentine team his best wishes before the tournament,” but added that Francis watches very little television, “and especially at that hour.”

“Above all,” he added, “I think they both want the best team to win. They’re above partisan passion. In this, they are united.”

 

A version of this article appears in print on July 12, 2014, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: An Argentine and a German, but No Sign at the Vatican of a World Cup Rivalry.

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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.

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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


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The New York Times July 3, 2014

An Alternative World Cup – the Conifa Cup in Ostersund, Sweden.

By

It was a World Cup full of goals, political intrigue and pressure of an expectant home crowd. Amid equal measures of excitement and agony, penalties decided most of the second round games. In the end, an unlikely champion was crowned.

Not to be confused with the World Cup finals now underway in Brazil, this tournament took place last month in the northern Swedish city of Ostersund. As 203 national teams fought a two-and-a-half-year battle across six continents to qualify for Brazil, the Swedish tournament, called the Conifa World Cup, was played by national teams not recognized by FIFA, the sport’s governing body.

The participating teams represent a collection of unrecognized states, ethnic groups, islands and “frozen conflict” zones. Some want to raise awareness of their unique culture, while others hope for greater autonomy and perhaps even a nation of their own. And one of the first steps toward that, they believe, is having a national soccer team.

Photo

Kurdish players showed team pride in Ostersund.Credit Manfredi Pantanella & Lavinia Parlamenti

The 12-team tournament included Iraqi Kurdistan, a self-governing region in the north of Iraq; Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both separatist states within Georgia; and Darfur, from Sudan.

Membership in FIFA can be intensely political. For many teams, membership confers legitimacy and a shot at reaching the World Cup finals, a huge stage from which to wave their nation’s flag.

Palestine — recognized as a “nonmember observer state” by the United Nations and a member of FIFA since 1998 — now has a national stadium near Ramallah and has attempted to qualify for four World Cup finals. Other teams, like Kosovo, have been unable to join European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, because of political lobbying from Serbia. When Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on the Iberian Peninsula claimed by Spain, tried to join FIFA, Spain threatened to pull all of its teams — including the powerhouses of Barcelona and Real Madrid — from the European Champions League and international football. Despite the political pressure, Gibraltar became a member of UEFA in 2013 and hopes to join FIFA next.

Photo

Players from the Countea de Nissa team celebrating their victory.Credit Manfredi Pantanella & Lavinia Parlamenti

Almost all of the teams in Sweden have little chance of political recognition, and little chance of joining FIFA or any of its six confederations. The Conifa World Cup is the best opportunity for some of them to play international football.

Darfur, playing its first games on a grass field, lost its debut match 20-0, and its second 19-0. In the quarterfinals Abkhazia met South Ossetia in the Georgian frozen conflict zone derby (South Ossetia won on penalties). But it was the county of Nice, from the South of France, and Ellan Vannin, the national team of the Isle of Man, a self-governing British crown dependency, that met in the final.

The match finished 0-0 and, like the 1994 World Cup final between Brazil and Italy, was decided by a penalty shootout. Nice prevailed, but for the players the tournament meant more than merely winning.
“This has been about culture and friendship,” Conor Doyle of Ellan Vannin told Isle of Man News. “We showed our culture to the rest of the world. We’ve done our island proud.”

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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

From Harry Langer, New York City, June 20, 2014:

 

                               EU Selective Credit Stimulation PROPOSAL

 

Consideration should be given to establishing an EU program to stimulate weak key sectors of the economies of its member states and correct bubbles through dedicated ECB lending on specific terms and conditions to their Central Banks. This would enable each member country to have control over its own economy: to stimulate job and revenue growth and minimized bubble risks by varying the amount and costs of this dedicated and restricted money supply borrowed from this ECB program to each of its economic sectors. This program would have a sunset provision.

   

Eligible Economic Sectors: manufacturing plant construction or upgrades; new machine tools or equipment to increase productivity; new and improved commercial services and communications; agricultural improvement; infrastructure repair, maintenance, and expansion; education and skill training; residential and commercial construction; clean and alternative energy, regional transportation networks; power grids; water conservation; tourism; etc.                                              

                                                                                                                             

Flexible and Dedicated Selective Sector Credit Simulation Recovery Policy would be set by the European Commission, carried out and supervised by European Central Bank, and administered by the Central Banks of each member country since they are familiar with and understand the economic conditions and needs of their respective nations. All of these ECB loans to the Central Banks of each country would be exclusively dedicated to stimulating specific sectors of its economy approved by the ECB.

 

The Banking System As Operating Instrument: The ECB would be allowed to adjust the amount and/or vary the interest rate of these restricted and dedicated loans to each member country’s Central Bank according to need. In turn, each Central Banks would utilize qualified local or national banks to place and service said dedicated funds on a modest fee basis to qualified collateralized borrowers on pre-set Central Bank terms and conditions. All loans would be subject to the approval of the Central Bank. Each member country would guarantee all said ECB dedicated funding to its Central Bank for these dedicated local purposes. All such Central Bank lending would be confined to their own country and only used for private sector job and revenue growth and other eligible purposes as specified above.

 

Domestic Insourcing: When and if necessary, any and all member state outsourcing needs would be confined within the boundaries of the EU to help create job and revenue growth for mutual recovery and prosperity.

 

A Selective credit stimulation policy could be an effective, minimum cost tool for economic, job, and revenue growth.    

Harry L. Langer, NYC, USA  T: 212-517-5942   (E:  harrylanger at hllanger.com)

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REQUISITES FOR GLOBAL LEADERSHIP AND FULL EMPLOYMENT:

 

(1) Nations cannot achieve and maintain greatness without a balanced multi-sector economy.

 

(2) A wealth generating high and low tech industrial base is essential to supply the funds to support a service economy, obtain full employment, provide opportunity, achieve a positive trade balance, sustain prosperity, maintain security, and reduce debt and income inequality.

 

(3) The most common causes of the decline and/or downfall of great nations or empires are unaffordable foreign military adventurism (beyond national security) and prolificacy at home.

 

(4) Governments, as well as, individuals must live within their means.

 

(5) If the domestic economy cannot produce the revenues to support the needs and demands of the nation, a country must either reduce its living standards, public services, and the size and costs of its government or develop the capability to exploit the growth opportunities in the global   economy to generate the jobs and revenues needed to avoid decline, sustain itself, and prosper.

 

(6) Government is overhead and expense and must be kept lean and cost efficient. All non-essential or superfluous departments, programs, services, perks, benefits, and personnel must be continuously culled along with ineffective or counterproductive laws and regulations. Extendable sunset provisions should be incorporated into all government programs.

 

(7) Government has a duty and obligation to create and maintain the business friendly economic environment needed to enable the private sector to provide the job and revenue growth necessary to achieve and sustain national prosperity.

 

(8) Good and effective government is dependent upon: campaign reform (solely government financed) and tax reform (graduated Flat Tax over poverty levels); all elected and public officials being held to the highest standards of competence, honesty, diligence and ethics and be removed for failure to place the national interests above personal, political, and special interests;  the elimination of crony regulations, regulators and revolving job switching between public officials and regulated entities, and special interests; the prohibition of insider trading by all elected or appointed officials and government employees; and the return of all unspent campaign funding.

 

(9) Automatically grant Green Cards to all top foreign graduates of American Universities and all talented foreign immigration seekers with college and/or advanced degrees in science, math, physics, engineering, and business from other countries and individuals with special skills to keep the U.S. the leading R&D magnet and innovation center of the world.

 

(10) Effective economic growth strategies and policies can quickly reverse negative conditions, statistics, research findings, and conventional thinking.

 

(11) Decent jobs, quality education, relevant skill training, and high and low tech re-industrialization and domestic insourcing, are the most feasible means to eliminate poverty, reduce the income gap, increase revenues, and reduce/eliminate the national debt.

 

(12) It is not true that automation and innovation will cause permanent unemployment shortages and declining wages. While automation may reduce minimum wage assembly line jobs, it increases productivity and competitiveness and creates compensating higher paying jobs in the innovation , design, production,  operation, maintenance, and installation of sophisticated machine tools, and robots, and their related services (marketing, distribution, clerical, accounting, education, training, etc.) along with the development of educational partnerships and apprenticeship arrangements between industry and school and community college systems to produce an educated, sophisticated, high tech middle class workforce that will be more prosperous, productive and globally competitive in both high and low tech manufacturing and services.

 

(13) Sustained severe unemployment, under employment, and denied opportunity can lead to social and political unrest, revenue reduction, and increased criminal activity as a means of individual or family support and survival.

 

(14) The fastest means to middle class values is a middle class income. Decent jobs, quality education, and relevant skill training are the best means to end poverty and inequality.

 

(15) Minimize taxes on the producers of jobs and opportunity and fairly and progressively

tax their beneficiaries eliminating all deductions.

 

(16) Foster and sustain a national and personal spirit and culture of excellence, pride, and pre-eminence. Teach civics. Enact compulsory voting with penalties for non-compliance.

 

(17) It is essential to upgrade the skills, professional status and compensation of teachers and provide superior and free public education from grade schools through universities.

 

(18) The keys to successful global and domestic trade are to build superior products at an affordable price and to require reciprocal market access, set minimum labor and environmental standards, and disallow unfair currency manipulation with foreign trading partners.

 

Following is a proposal for full employment via cost free high and low tech reindustrialization, relevant skill training, and affordable Universal Healthcare and livable Social Security systems:

HOW TO GET AND KEEP U.S. FULL EMPLOYMENT  AND PROSPERITY COST FREE

Despite dire predictions to the contrary, it is not true that automation and innovation will cause permanent unemployment, job shortages and declining wages. While automation may reduce some minimum wage assembly line jobs, it creates others plus compensating higher paying jobs in the innovation , design, production, operation, maintenance and installation of sophisticated machine tools, and robots, and their related services (marketing, distribution, clerical, accounting, education, training, etc.). A key part of the solution is the development of educational partnerships and apprenticeship programs between industry and school and community college systems to develop an educated and

skilled, high tech middle class workforce. This workforce will be more prosperous, productive and globally competitive in both high and low tech manufacturing and services to provide full employment, a positive balance of trade, and produce the revenues to fully fund the government, its agencies, and programs, and reduce the debt. Immigration laws must be liberalized to attract the world’s best and

brightest to make the U.S. the global center of research, development, and innovation reinforced by free public college and universal healthcare funded by a fractional securities and derivatives transfer tax.

   REINDUSTRIALIZATION could be accomplished by requiring all recipients and beneficiaries of government basic research, development grants and/or other incentives to produce the created products in the USA for 3-5 years. After that period, these goods would likely become generic and could be offshored through patent, copyright, and/ or joint venture arrangements, making room for the next generation of innovation.  All research and development would be required to be done in the USA. Non-compliance would result in duties on those goods produced overseas in whole or in part. Domestic insourcing must be promoted. Also, Sovereign high tech and financial investments would be strictly regulated to prevent industrial theft. This is not protectionism. These measures would ensure U.S. technological- superiority, competitiveness, job growth. Additionally, a U.S. High Tech Light Industrial Export Free Zone Program for Major Urban Centers is necessary for fiscal and social stability. U.S. prosperity is dependent upon the expansion of markets and demand. While innovation creates its own global markets (especially in advanced nations), the developing countries in South America, Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia and Russia offer the greatest trade growth potential. It is essential to cultivate and dominate these developing markets through mutually beneficial trade agreements. The major portion of our foreign aid policy should be the exchange of U.S. produced goods, equipment, and know-how for raw, semi-finished, and low tech goods and materials. This would create jobs in both donor and recipient nations, increase the economic value of the recipient’s natural resources,   provide needed education, skill training, technical assistance, and boost their GDP.

   FISCAL AND SOCIAL VIABILITY: Our cities, states, businesses, and unions must be saved from the unaffordable and crippling burdens of health and pension obligations both of which are rightfully the duty and responsibility of the federal government and are universal rights. Consequently, it is necessary to (1) implement affordable universal healthcare incorporating well known reforms and expanding Medicare to cover all citizens and veterans  (eliminating the need for Medicaid) and (2) reform Social Security on a need and livable basis. Both systems could be financed by a new progressive flat tax code that would eliminate all tax havens, loopholes, deductions, and carried interest. Impose a fractional securities and derivative transaction tax dedicated to reduce healthcare, Social Security, and education costs. Legitimate business capital investments would be expensed in accordance with IRS schedules. Existing pension and 401k accounts would be automatically switched, on a pro rata basis, into either Roth IRA’s or a special inflation protected issue of U.S. government bonds (any resulting bond revenue surplus to Social Security needs would be added to the Social Security Fund).

TAX REFORM: A graduated flat tax would cover actual cost of government operations and said federal programs. There would be separate tax surcharges (and/or FICA increases) for the actual costs of healthcare and Social Security and the military, thus creating an effective taxpayer watchdog effect on government spending, waste, inefficiency, and military expenditures beyond national security needs. Set mandatory repatriation of 80% +/- of foreign business profits at a capital gains rate (to offset foreign taxes and special charges). Alternatively, compensating duties would be imposed on the goods and services produced overseas by non-compliant corporations and sold in the U.S. There would be modest progressive estate taxes and only a mortgage interest deduction on primary homes. The International Financial Stability Board and /or the Bank for International Settlements would set and oversee a uniform global transaction tax on all stock, bond and derivative transfers. SEC regulation of shadow banking.

Harry L. Langer 20 E 68th St. NY, NY 10065.  E:harrylanger@hllanger.com  T:212-517-5942

 

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

(2008)

REAL Financial Sector Reform

(Without Strangulation or expanding the bureaucracy)      

*Restore a revised Glass/Steagall Act to separate banking and speculation to reduce systemic risk.

*Restore former individual usury interest limits (6 to 7%) and personal bankruptcy protection standards (including judicial cram-downs for home mortgages, college debt, and usurious credit card interest rates,   fees and penalty charges. Set and enforce heavy civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance. (No need for an additional consumer protection agency.)

*Restrict access to the Federal Reserve Window to legitimate commercial and savings banks for domestic lending and normal operational purposes only [not for use to offset funding for capital market affiliates, bank holding companies, Wall Street financial houses or hedge or equity funds in order to prevent their gaming of the financial markets, speculation and obscene remuneration at taxpayer risk and expense, and financial system crisis].

 

*Set minimum reserve (12% Tier One capital assets) and maximum leverage limits (8.5 X Tier One capital assets) for each type of bank, financial institution, lender, insurer, pension fund, hedge fund, equity fund mutual fund etc. domestically and globally.

 

*Set and regulate minimum equity capital requirements (12% of asset value) and maximum leverage limit (8.5 X equity capital in assets) in each category of financial transactions domestically and globally via the International Financial Stability Board, the Basel Committee on Banking Regulation and Supervision and make compliance a condition of membership in the Group of 30, IMF, World Bank, OECD, WTO who would also ban all national bank secrecy protections by governments to help stop tax evasion and financial fraud).

 

*Establish and enforce uniform standards of transparency, disclosure, and due diligence in all individual and consumer financial transactions including mortgages, credit cards, credit & investment accounts, etc.

 

*The Financial Stability Board should: set and oversee a global ban on Credit Default Swaps and all naked trading including sovereign debt and bank equity and debt control; regulate shadow banking; set and oversee a uniform global transaction tax on all stock, bond and derivative transactions; establish exchange for derivatives; and put Hedge Funds and shadow banking under SEC supervision and regulations. Eliminate carried interest tax advantage.

 

*Enact law allowing only government campaign financing and prohibit all contributions, gifts or benefits to elected, aspiring, or appointed public officials from any source to end government for sale.

 

*End crony capitalism and the rotation of regulators and regulated officials between Wall Street, other financial institutions, hedge funds, lobbyists, and banks and government regulatory agencies and departments (Treasury, Federal Reserve, SEC, FDIC, Comptroller of the Currency, etc.). Prohibit employment of regulators and their key staffers by the regulated for a minimum period of 3 years after they leave government service to stop the existing clubby, revolving door system that creates individual, financial institution, and corporate insider advantages, favoritism and gains at public expense. Staffing of the regulator agencies should primarily come from top highly qualified independent professionals (academics, economists, public spirited retired and active top executives of leading corporations, think tank experts, etc.) without ties to banks, Wall Street, financial institutions, hedge funds, investment houses, and corporate special interests. An advisory panel of independent financial and economic experts should be established to oversee the regulators and the efficacy of their activities and policies to help maintain economic growth and stability, and detect and avoid systemic risk.

*No bank bonuses, perks, and top executive salary increases until the government gets fully repaid and then bank bonuses should be paid in stock options at high target bank stock exercise price. Restitution by Bank and Wall of all Government bailout costs (loans, toxic assets and subprime mortgage losses).

Although they perform certain beneficial financial and capital market and merger services, Wall Street houses, financial institutions, and hedge and equity funds can also suck the wealth out of the economy for themselves at the expense of jobs, economic growth, and their corporate targets and their stockholders. All shadow banking must be regulated in the public interest. The raison d’etre for banks and Wall Street is to provide services for businesses, governments, and individuals, not to control or exploit them. Harry L. Langer, NYC,   Permalink | | Email This Article Email This Article
Posted in Archives, Brussels, European Union, Reporting from Washington DC

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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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.

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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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 13th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Ukraine: four crises, one country.

    • The Ukraine Neighbourhood

      by Nicu Popescu -  senior analyst at the EU Institute for Security Studies in Paris, where he deals with the EU’s eastern neighbourhood and Russia.

    For most of the last two decades virtually every Ukrainian election or opinion poll has displayed two Ukraines – one Western-leaning and another looking to Moscow; one voting Timoshenko or Yushchenko and another pro Yanukovich; one against Putin and another in favour of him. Unsurprisingly, many feared that the ousting of Yanukovich, the Russian annexation of Crimea, and the infiltration of eastern Ukraine by Russian military intelligence would lead Ukraine to split in two or collapse altogether like a house of cards.

    Ukraine still faces four interconnected existential crises: economic, political, territorial and diplomatic (with Russia). It is also clear that even if the country manages to overcome these challenges, it will not be left unscathed. The past three months, however, have shown that Ukraine was not a powder keg waiting to explode, despite several matches having been thrown at it.

    The country’s resilience has proven stronger than many assumed (both in Russia and the rest of Europe) and while its blend of problems might be poisonous, they are not insurmountable. Petro Poroshenko’s unexpectedly smooth popular election – with support drawn evenly across Ukraine – represents a potential turning point in the spiral of overlapping crises that have characterised its recent past.

     

    One Ukraine, not two

    Both Sunday’s elections results and the localised nature of the armed insurgency in east suggest there is neither two Ukraines nor a distinct ‘southeastern’ Ukraine. Although electoral preferences in Ukraine may have differed in the past, there is overwhelming popular and elite support for maintaining Ukraine as one state in the majority of its regions.

    For all the worrying images of what looks like a descent into civil war, the armed insurgency is affecting just parts of two Ukrainian regions, or oblasts – Donetsk and Luhansk. The other regions of the ‘southeast’ – Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Mykolaiv, Odessa, Kharkiv and Kherson – have more or less remained stable. None of these regions witnessed the overnight implosion of the state apparatus that occurred in Crimea or parts of Donetsk and Luhansk, although it is not impossible that further Russian inroads could destabilise the situation further.

    This relative stability is partly due to attempts by Ukrainian elites – in Kiev and in the east – to find a new post-Yanukovich modus vivendi. But the wider public also seems to be on a similar path: an opinion poll conducted last month by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology revealed that over 70% of people in the south and east of the country no longer consider Yanukovich their legitimate president; 79% do not support secession from Kiev (and only 25% support federalisation); and 45% would be happy with decentralisation. Although in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk there are greater levels of support for Yanukovich, the armed insurgency, and for joining Russia, even there such support hovers around 20%-30% (in the other regions it is under 10%). In short, there is no broad-based support for either armed separatists or a Russian intervention.

    Finally, the recent election results are indicative of a country that has significant regional variations but is, nonetheless, one country. Poroshenko, who was born in south Ukraine not far from Odessa, came first in the presidential race in every single region of Ukraine.

    Localizing the armed insurgency

    In response to the takeover of public buildings in parts of eastern Ukraine, the government deployed military and police units in an attempt to fight the armed challenge to state authority. The start of the operation was, however, a disaster. Local police and intelligence in the Donetsk and Luhansk area refused to obey orders or simply disbanded: in one instance, a group of soldiers surrendered several armed personnel carriers to a protesting crowd. In Mariupol, the army, not trained in the ways of managing large, mostly unarmed crowds in urban settings, opened fire on civilians. Now several weeks into the operation, several towns in the two regions remain outside governmental control.

    Yet in another sense, the operation has been a qualified success. Although its maximalist goal of quickly defeating the separatists was not achieved, its minimalist goal – containing the insurgency, preventing its geographic spread, and holding the 25 May presidential elections in most parts of Ukraine – has been achieved. Elections were properly organised and carried out in 22 out of 25 regions (people were denied the opportunity to vote in Donbas and Luhansk, as well as in annexed Crimea). Despite the intensified fighting and additional bloodshed since the elections, the chances that Kiev can prevent the contamination of other parts of Ukrainian territory look reasonable.

    A key player in containing and even rolling back the insurgency is one of Ukraine’s most prominent oligarchs and leader of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine: Igor Kolomoisky. Upon being appointed governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region in March, he quickly stabilised the situation by asserting control over the law enforcement agencies. Parts of the Donetsk region, unhappy with the descent into separatist chaos, are now seeking protection from the Kolomoisky-led Dnipropetrovsk administration. And when around 40 people died after clashes in Odessa between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian activists, a Kolomoisky protégé was quickly appointed local governor.

    Avoiding an economic crash

    Thanks to Western assistance, a total economic collapse seems to have been averted, and the self-styled ‘Kamikaze government’ led by Yatseniuk has already begun to undertake certain reforms. An all-out assault on vested interests is unlikely, but a lower-key war of attrition against some of the more corrupt elements of the state is underway.

    Partly thanks to strong IMF and Western conditionality, some progress is being made. A new, World Bank approved public procurement law was adopted in parliament (albeit on the second attempt and with a one vote majority). An anti-discrimination law, paving the way to EU visa liberalisation, has also been passed. The government has increased the cost of the hitherto subsidised energy prices, which should help redress some of Ukraine’s gas debt. Pavlo Sheremeta, the economy and trade minister (a graduate from Harvard Business School and former advisor to the Malaysian government), boldly aims to bring Ukraine closer to the top 10 countries with the best business environment – according to the Cost of Doing Business report, where Ukraine held the 145th place in 2013. Admittedly this is no small task, but setting ambitious goals is having the positive effect of focusing minds in Kiev.

    For a government that is three months old, and has spent most of its time managing an armed challenge to its statehood, localising separatism, organising presidential elections and taking steps to deal with the country’s economic mess, this is a decent start. Yet success is far from assured, since the remedy for one type of crisis often aggravates another. In this respect, the central question for Ukraine in the following months will be how to maintain internal unity while reforming the oligarchic economy that triggered the revolution in the first place.

     

    Disempowering the oligarchs?

    The system whereby oligarchs made their fortunes by looting the state through corrupt public procurement, various subsidies (including gas), and the privatisation of law enforcement agencies – which allowed the most powerful business sharks to take over assets of their competitors through administrative pressure, in what is called ‘reiderstvo’– had long undermined the Ukrainian state. Reform means conflict – with vested interests, a bloated public sector, and the subsidised sectors of the economy which are driving the whole country to bankruptcy. The system survived for so long precisely because it has so many stakeholders, with a handful of oligarchs being only the most visible beneficiaries.

    Though tackling corruption was supposed to be a key priority for the post-Yanukovich government, the focus on internal reform shifted to territorial defence following the armed intervention on its eastern borders. Confronted with an military conflict, Kiev took steps to co-opt (rather than squeeze) the oligarchs – not least because most of them have their power bases in eastern Ukraine – and to offer them a stake in the new political system as a way of maintaining the country’s unity. Declaring war on the oligarchs could have led to even greater destabilisation of eastern Ukraine. Igor Kolomoisky was appointed as governor of Dnipropetrovsk, and Serhiy Taruta as governor of Donetsk, while other oligarchs such as Dmitri Firtash, or regional ‘barons’ like Genady Kernes in Kharkiv, positioned themselves as relatively constructive players in order to retain as much (and as many) of their fiefdoms as possible. Petro Poroshenko, the new president of Ukraine, is one of the country’s richest individuals and has served in various governments under both presidents Yushchenko and Yanukovich.

    Co-opting the oligarchs has yielded success in the short term, helping to confine the armed insurgency in the east to just two regions. Yet this short-term success could turn into a mid-term failure if the oligarchic system remains the same. Since the government is not in a position to launch an all-out Saakashvili-style assault on corruption and vested interests, the best-case scenario would be to embark on a series of ‘salami’ reforms conducted by technocrats in the government with as much external support as possible and strong conditionality from international donors in order to strengthen the hand of the reformists. While such a piecemeal approach could be an arduous task and could easily fail, it appears to be the only real possibility given the current environment.

     

    Federation or separation?

    Ukraine’s territorial crisis will not be resolved soon. Short of a Chechnya-style, large-scale military assault on urban areas – which would risk the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians – Ukraine is not in a position to defeat the armed insurgents as long as they receive (tacit) Russian support.

    For the time being, two possible models of a ‘non-solution’ have been floated. One is labelled ‘Finlandisation’, i.e. the creation of a neutral state which – as the theory goes – would offer credible guarantees that NATO will not grant membership to Ukraine and thus assuage Russia. The other is labelled ‘Bosnia-isation’, i.e. the creation of a federalised entity with large veto powers for its constituent regions. The two models do not appear incompatible, and could even be combined.

    On paper, both options have their merits. Finland has done well since the end of the Second World War, is prosperous and secure and joined the EU in 1995. For its part, while Bosnia might appear a rather dysfunctional federation but its constituent parts have at least prevented further bloodshed. Unfortunately, neither option is likely for Ukraine.

    Should Ukraine become either neutral or federal – or both – it would end up nothing like either Bosnia or Finland. Bosnia might be still divided internally, but it sits in the middle of the single most benign international environment on earth. Finland’s neutrality throughout the Cold War was agreed upon and respected: none of these two conditions are likely in Ukraine. It suffices to look at Moldova, which adopted neutrality in 1994 in the hope that this would persuade Russia to cease their support for secessionist Transnistria. Not only this has not happened, but Moldova has been under constant and growing Russian pressure not to move closer to the EU. Even Ukraine under President Yanukovich – who gave up trying to move closer to NATO – was placed under constant pressure not to sign the Association Agreement with the EU. Similarly, a neutral Ukraine would be unlikely to bring about a new era of Russian-Ukrainian-Western cooperation, for now Russia perceives it to be in direct competition with not just NATO but also the EU.

    Another scenario, almost by default, would be the transformation of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions into a bigger ‘Transnistria’ – a secessionist territory that is not recognised by anyone, but which creates de facto state structures with Russian support. Moscow’s logic would be that, at a later stage, this could be used as a bargaining chip with the government in Kiev to push for federalisation and/or neutrality.

    These tactics has been employed several times before – in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria itself – but without much success for Russia. The presence of these frozen conflicts made Georgian and Moldovan moves away from Russia more, rather than less, likely. Both countries have now learned to live without their former regions and are on the verge of signing Association Agreements with the EU despite Russian threats and at the risk of complicating relations with their secessionist regions further. While Georgia and Moldova might lag far behind the EU in political and economic terms, they nevertheless have score reasonably well for resource-poor countries manoeuvring in a very difficult geopolitical environment.

    There is already a growing sentiment among Kiev elites that, if it comes to it, losing the Donbass would not be catastrophic and might actually lead to a more cohesive and reform-oriented Ukraine. Against all odds, Ukraine is managing to survive as a country: it now needs to build a state.

    EUISS Brief, May 2014

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

     Our original posting of June 9th was updated June 10th with further information about the Vatican meeting and the visit to Italy’s Rome.

     

    Photo

    From left, President Shimon Peres of Israel, Pope Francis and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in the Vatican gardens on Sunday for a “prayer summit.” Francis said he hoped it would begin “a  ew journey where we seek the things that unite, so as to overcome the things that divide.”      Credit Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

     

    VATICAN CITY — In a richly symbolic ceremony, Pope Francis oversaw a carefully orchestrated  “prayer summit” with the Israeli and Palestinian presidents on Sunday as Jews, Christians and Muslims offered invocations for peace in the Vatican gardens.

    “It is my hope that this meeting will mark the beginning of a new journey where we seek the things that unite, so as to overcome the things that divide,”  Francis said at the ceremony.

    During his trip last month to Israel, Jordan and the West Bank, Francis unexpectedly extended invitations for a summit at the Vatican to President Shimon Peres of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.

    He said the meeting would be about prayer, not politics, and Vatican officials sought to dispel any expectation that a breakthrough would emerge.

    Many Mideast analysts, while applauding the gesture, have been skeptical that the meeting would help revive the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but it did, at least, bring together the two presidents, who held a private meeting after the ceremony with Francis.

    Photo

    Mr. Abbas of Palestine, center, kissed Mr. Peres of Israel, left, following a joint peace prayer with Francis at the Vatican.   Credit Filippo Monteforte/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

     

    During the ceremony, Mr. Peres and Mr. Abbas avoided the familiar political tropes. There was no mention of 1967 borders or security arrangements. Mr. Abbas did not use the word “occupation,” according to an English translation of his prepared text distributed by the Vatican. (Nor did he say the word “Israel,” though he did refer once to Israelis.)

    Yet there were some subtle provocations. Mr. Abbas called Jerusalem, considered by both Israelis and Palestinians as their capital, “our Holy City” and referred to “the Holy Land Palestine.” (Mr. Peres described Jerusalem both as “the vibrant heart of the Jewish people” and as “the cradle of the three monotheistic religions.”)

    Mr. Abbas also prayed for a “sovereign and independent state” and said Palestinians were “craving for a just peace, dignified living and liberty,” implying that they were denied these things under Israel’s occupation.

    Mr. Peres did not mention rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, but he evoked the attacks with the biblical quotation, “Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”

    The ceremony was held in a garden behind St. Peter’s Basilica that is enclosed by a high hedge to provide a sense of intimacy, and that offers a spectacular view of the cupola of the basilica. It also was chosen as a place that seemed somewhat neutral in terms of religious iconography. The service was carefully organized into three successive “moments,” in which prayers and readings were offered by Jews, then Christians and then Muslims. Then the three leaders spoke.

    In the moments before the ceremony, the three men rode together in a small bus to the garden, along with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the Orthodox Christian leader. At times, they appeared to share a laugh.

    The prayer summit came at a fraught political moment. Less than a week ago, a new Palestinian government was sworn in that is based on a pact with Hamas, the militant Islamic movement branded as terrorist by most of the West. Israel has officially shunned the new cabinet and has sought unsuccessfully to galvanize the world against it.  Israel’s cabinet did give Mr. Peres the pro forma approval to travel to the Vatican, but some in Israel worried about the timing of this new embrace of Mr. Abbas.

    In contrast to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr. Peres has long maintained that Mr. Abbas is a suitable partner for peacemaking.  In a recent television interview, Mr. Peres said that in 2011, Mr. Netanyahu cut off back-channel talks between the two presidents that had come close to a deal, something the prime minister’s office has denied.  But even as Mr. Peres was arriving for the Vatican event, Mr. Netanyahu continued his criticism of the new Palestinian government during a cabinet meeting on Sunday in Jerusalem.

    “Whoever hoped that the Palestinian unity between Fatah and Hamas would moderate Hamas is mistaken,” he said, calling for international pressure on Mr. Abbas to dissolve the new partnership.

    In the hours before the prayer summit, the usual crowd of tourists milled about St. Peter’s Square, including some people who hoped the meeting could make a difference.

    “His gesture can help solve the situation,” said Esteban Troncosa, 16, of Santa Fe, Argentina, who was in Rome for a one-month language study trip with his class. “His message has always been to stop wars, and avoid any form of violence. I am sure this can make a difference. The pope can’t sign political agreements, but he is a symbol and can make people and politicians think.”

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    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.

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    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

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    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

     

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    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.

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    Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 2nd, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

    <
    unfccc.int/files/press/news_room/press_releases_and_advisories/application/pdf/pr20140106_ctcn.pdf
    >

    (Copenhagen/Bonn, 2 June 2014):

    Developing countries are now beginning to make active use of the UN’s new global network for climate technology solutions, the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). This constitutes a promising signal that momentum for climate action is building ahead of a new, universal climate agreement in 2015.

    So far this year, six countries have submitted eight requests for technology assistance to the CTCN, which is headquartered in Copenhagen.

    These include – Afghanistan, Bhutan, Chile, Colombia, Honduras and Pakistan.

    The requests for support relate to a broad range of climate action, from renewable energy policies to public transportation, and from biodiversity monitoring to saving mangrove forests for coastal protection.

    Welcoming the development, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said:

    “Innovation is the engine of development, and replacing current technologies
    with cleaner, low-carbon alternatives is a vital part of tackling the
    causes and effects of climate change. The Climate Technology Centre and
    Network works to accelerate the use of new technologies in improving the
    lives and livelihoods of millions of people in developing countries who are
    dealing with the impacts of climate change on a daily basis.”

    According to Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the Bonn based UN
    Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – the growing use of the
    CTCN is encouraging and now needs the necessary finance.

    “As countries work towards a universal climate agreement in Paris in 2015,
    the CTCN provides yet another foundation upon which optimism and action is
    being built. For it to fully flourish and provide maximum support to
    developing country ambitions, the requests for support now need to be
    matched with the finance required, most notably through swift and
    sufficient capitalization of the Green Climate Fund,” she said.

    Last week, the board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) completed the
    essential policy requirements to make the fund operational. The GCF was
    established as a prime global channel to deliver public funds and to
    leverage private sector finance for developing country climate action.

    Meanwhile, the CTCN has put all central requirements for the transfer of
    technology in place.

    Since its launch in late 2013, over 80 countries have established national
    CTCN focal points (known as National Designated Entities) who work with
    country stakeholders to develop and relay requests to the Climate
    Technology Centre’s network of regional and sectoral experts from academia,
    the private sector, and public and research institutions.

    A side event on the progress to date of the Technology Mechanism and the
    CTCN will be held on the margins of the upcoming Bonn Climate Change
    Conference on 7 June 2014, 18.30-20.00.

    This side event is organized collaboratively by the Technology Executive
    Committee (TEC) and the CTCN. It will opened by UNFCCC Executive Secretary
    Christiana Figueres, and will include presentations by the Director of the
    CTCN, Mr. Jukka Uosukainen, and the Chairs of the TEC and the CTCN.

    More information: goo.gl/PUK0Kp.

    For more information, please contact:
    Karina Larsen, CTCN Knowledge & Communications Manager
    +45 4533 5373; karina.larsen@unep.org
    Climate Technology Centre & Network (CTCN)
    Website: www.unep.org/climatechange/ctcn/

    Nick Nuttall, Coordinator, Communications and Outreach: +49 228 815 1400
    (phone), +49 152 0168 4831
    (mobile) nnuttall(at)unfccc.int
    John Hay, Communications Officer: +49 172 258 6944 (mobile) jhay
    (at)unfccc.int
    Website: 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.

    About the CTCN
    The Climate Technology Centre and Network promotes the accelerated transfer
    of environmentally sound technologies for climate change mitigation and
    adaptation in developing countries. The CTCN quickly responds with
    potential solutions as well as tailored capacity building in order to
    transfer valuable knowledge and practical advice from one country to
    another in order to accelerate the pace of climate technology
    implementation. The CTCN is the operational arm of the UNFCCC Technology
    Mechanism and is hosted by UNEP in collaboration with the United Nations
    Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and 11 independent, regional
    organizations with expertise in climate technologies.

    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 June 2nd, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

     

    Scots Are Divided Over Independence, and Its Economic Costs.

     

    The case for tearing apart the United Kingdom was made on a recent evening at a community center in Beith,  a small town near Glasgow. More than 200 people were packed into folding chairs and standing along walls lined with posters promoting an independent Scotland, like the one with the word “Aye” emblazoned on a Scottish flag. A disco ball hung overhead.

    The official campaign period kicked off Friday for the referendum that will determine whether Scotland will remain in Britain. If successful, the vote, which will be in September, would fundamentally reshape America’s closest ally, redrawing the borders of a union that has existed for more than 300 years.

    Although the pro-Britain unionists lead, momentum has swung back and forth. The spread narrowed to just three percentage points in an April poll by ICM Research for the Scotsman newspaper, but it widened to 12 points in mid-May, with 20 percent still undecided.

    The movement goes beyond the nationalistic pride that has fed previous calls for a split. For Scottish nationalists, much of the discontent comes down to clashing politics. They believe that the British government is far too conservative and has pushed austerity on a Scottish government that never wanted it.

    “We again take a different view about the macroeconomic choices available for the country,” John Swinney, Scotland’s finance minister, said in challenging the British approach.

    The financial implications weigh heavily on the debate. Top British government officials have ruled out sharing the pound with an independent Scotland, though their resolve has been questioned. José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, has said it would be “extremely difficult, if not impossible” for Scotland to join the European Union. That raised the question of whether Scotland would be left to create its own potentially volatile new currency.

    We at SustainabiliTank.info, specially now, with the EU elections in, and the fact that UKIP or the Independence Party of all of Britain won the election in the UK, and Prime Minister David Cameron is being cowed, himself,  into becoming a pain in the side of the EU – then a breakaway Scotland that chooses to be a founding member of a stronger European Union, is a welcome event indeed – and a way to reach out to a  more sustainable EU.  It is clear that the UK of today is closer to the US then to the EU and thus counterproductive to efforts to strengthen the European Union.

    Wealthy Scots are choosing sides. The biggest donor to the pro-British pro-union advocacy group Better Together is Donald Houston, a Scottish hotel and whisky magnate who has said “ripping up” the union “is a ridiculous idea.”

    The biggest individual donors by far to the pro-independence advocacy group Yes Scotland are Colin and Christine Weir, who won the $271 million EuroMillions lottery jackpot in 2011. Established Scottish business figures, including George Mathewson, former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, have also spoken in support of independence.

    Executives of large multinational corporations tend to see a breakup as a needless risk. More are speaking out, like the BP chief Bob Dudley, who said “Great Britain is great and it ought to stay together,” or General Electric’s top executive in Europe, who said “there would be some consequences that are unpleasant.” And two of Scotland’s largest employers, Royal Bank of Scotland and the insurer Standard Life, have mentioned a “yes” vote as a risk in regulatory filings. But are not such groups rather Wall Street oriented? The Scots-for-Independence could then realize that they live on a different continent indeed might find closer kinship to Denmark or Sweden, for instance, then the US.

    The Weir Group, a large Scottish engineering company, released a study that found that independence would “create a number of costs and uncertainties, but fewer and more uncertain benefits.” The study cited increased borrowing costs and the likelihood of higher taxes and spending cuts. There would also be fees to convert a potential Scottish currency across a new border; the report projected $840 million in annual transaction costs.

    The ruling Scottish National Party, however, sees a vibrant future for an independent Scotland, buoyed by North Sea oil wealth, free of nuclear weapons, and able to erect a firmer welfare state. This latter point being of importance to the Scots at large when looking back at Conservative London!   Several nationalists pointed to their own government’s analysis projecting that Scotland, on its own, would have the 14th-highest output per person among advanced economies. Their findings, however, were recently undercut by a University of Glasgow analysis that said “foreign ownership in key economic areas” was a drag on national income statistics.

    Scotland already runs many of its own affairs after a 1997 referendum on so-called devolution of powers from London gave it authority over its health and education services, justice system and housing policy. The Scots also have some taxation powers.

    Nationalists envision a fully independent Scotland as a petro-power. But oil revenue has fallen sharply, by 38 percent from 2010 to 2013. Last year, Scotland paid less into Westminster’s coffers than it took out. Total revenue, including its geographic share of North Sea oil, was about $89 billion, against spending of roughly $109 billion. Another recent analysis by the University of Glasgow’s Center for Public Policy for Regions projects that Scotland will be “significantly worse off than the U.K.” for several years to come, with a higher deficit of almost $1,700 a person in the fiscal year ending in 2016.

    Then there is the debt. The cost of servicing Scotland’s proportional share of Britain’s debt “would be worth twice as much as North Sea oil,” said John McLaren, a professor at the University of Glasgow.

    Photo

    John Sweeney, the Scottish finance secretary, addresses an independence meeting in Edinburgh. A vote will be held in September.     Credit Robert Ormerod for The New York Times

     

    Scotland is threatening to walk away from any share of its debt should it be kept out of a currency union. While there is precedent for that — Russia assumed all Soviet debt — it could lead to an acrimonious split and retaliation by Britain.

    Creating a border with Scotland’s largest trading partner — the rest of Britain — could also be costly. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Stirling project that such a change could reduce Scottish output more than 5 percent.

    Above might be quite true but it has a second side as well – the losses that England would have to carry in case of a belligerant divorce.

    Over time, the conduct of business across the border would become more difficult,” said Iain McMillan, head of the Scottish office of the Confederation of British Industry, a leading British trade group. “People can move from Scotland to England to Wales to Northern Ireland without any restrictions whatsoever, and we believe that is the very best business and economic environment for Scotland.”

    BUT THEN THE GENTLEMAN FORGETS THAT THERE IS AN EU THAT MAKES ABOVE POSSIBLE ANYWAY – IF HE WANTS ALSO TO SEE THE UK LEAVE THE EU, HIS THREATS AGAINST THE SCOTS – THAT MIGHT STAY WITH THE EU – HAVE TO BE ANALYZED MORE IN DEPTH, AND QUESTIONS ABOUT UK-US RELATIONS PULLED INTO THIS EQUATION IN FULL LIGHT FOR US TO ANALYZE THEM AS WELL.

    Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s deputy first minister, spoke from a lectern covered with a tartan drape.

    “As a country, we’ve spent an awful long number of years being told we’re too wee, too poor and probably a bit too stupid to be independent,” she said. “If we were too small and too poor and too stupid, if we were the economic basket case, if we were the subsidy junkies that some of our opponents try to imply that we are, then don’t you think Westminster might have offloaded us by now?”

    After the applause died down, she asked, “What’s the downside?”

    Plenty, in the minds of many business leaders and economists, who are concerned that an independent Scotland will not have the financial strength to prosper alone. The economy would lean heavily on revenue from North Sea oil, which has been falling, and its per capita government spending outpaces the rest of Britain.

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