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

 From Daniel Pipes:

Dear Reader:

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

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

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Pipes


The Caliphate Brings Trauma.

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

www.danielpipes.org/14791/caliphate-trauma

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caliphs of Baghdad
(749–1258)

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 


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


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

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

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

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

 

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

—————————–

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

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

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

 

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism:

ISIS Atrocities Started With Saudi Support for Salafi Hate.

By ED HUSAIN,  

ALONG with a billion Muslims across the globe, I turn to Mecca in Saudi Arabia every day to say my prayers. But when I visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad, I am forced to leave overwhelmed with anguish at the power of extremism running amok in Islam’s birthplace. Non-Muslims are forbidden to enter this part of the kingdom, so there is no international scrutiny of the ideas and practices that affect the 13 million Muslims who visit each year.

Last week, Saudi Arabia donated $100 million to the United Nations to fund a counterterrorism agency. This was a welcome contribution, but last year, Saudi Arabia rejected a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council. This half-in, half-out posture of the Saudi kingdom is a reflection of its inner paralysis in dealing with Sunni Islamist radicalism: It wants to stop violence, but will not address the Salafism that helps justify it.

Let’s be clear: Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram, the Shabab and others are all violent Sunni Salafi groupings. For five decades, Saudi Arabia has been the official sponsor of Sunni Salafism across the globe.

Most Sunni Muslims around the world, approximately 90 percent of the Muslim population, are not Salafis. Salafism is seen as too rigid, too literalist, too detached from mainstream Islam. While Shiite and other denominations account for 10 percent of the total, Salafi adherents and other fundamentalists represent 3 percent of the world’s Muslims.

Unlike a majority of Sunnis, Salafis are evangelicals who wish to convert Muslims and others to their “purer” form of Islam — unpolluted, as they see it, by modernity. In this effort, they have been lavishly supported by the Saudi government, which has appointed emissaries to its embassies in Muslim countries who proselytize for Salafism. The kingdom also grants compliant imams V.I.P. access for the annual hajj, and bankrolls ultraconservative Islamic organizations like the Muslim World League and World Assembly of Muslim Youth.

After 9/11, under American pressure, much of this global financial support dried up  {something this website doubts indeed – a PJ comment}, but the bastion of Salafism remains strong in the kingdom, enforcing the hard-line application of outdated Shariah punishments long abandoned by a majority of Muslims. Just since Aug. 4, 19 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia, nearly half for nonviolent crimes.

We are rightly outraged at the beheading of James Foley by Islamist militants, and by ISIS’ other atrocities, but we overlook the public executions by beheading permitted by Saudi Arabia. By licensing such barbarity, the kingdom normalizes and indirectly encourages such punishments elsewhere. When the country that does so is the birthplace of Islam, that message resonates.

I lived in Saudi Arabia’s most liberal city, Jidda, in 2005. That year, in an effort to open closed Saudi Salafi minds, King Abdullah supported dialogue with people of other religions. In my mosque, the cleric used his Friday Prayer sermon to prohibit such dialogue on grounds that it put Islam on a par with “false religions.” It was a slippery slope to freedom, democracy and gender equality, he argued — corrupt practices of the infidel West.

{ Above is an oxymoron – Wahhabism is the religious base that kept Salafism alive and is the base on which was mounted the Saudi throne. The Saudi monarchy and Wahhabism are one and the same so the Saudi treasury it is also the modern age father of Salafism. And what fills the Saudi treasury? Those are the foreign currencies spent at any gas-pump – be it by buying Saudi oil products or any oil products. As oil is fungible, any oil sold globally increases the value of Saudi oil sales.The bottom line is thus that anyone of us, by his thirst for oil, feeds ISIL.}

This tension between the king and Salafi clerics is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s inability to reform. The king is a modernizer, but he and his advisers do not wish to disturb the 270-year-old tribal pact between the House of Saud and the founder of Wahhabism (an austere form of Islam close to Salafism). That 1744 desert treaty must now be nullified. 

{WHAT IS HE TALING ABOUT HERE – WHAT TENSION? IT REALLY IS A SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP.
(PJ comment)}

The influence that clerics wield is unrivaled. Even Saudis’ Twitter heroes are religious figures: An extremist cleric like Muhammad al-Arifi, who was banned last year from the European Union for advocating wife-beating and hatred of Jews, commands a following of 9. 4 million. The kingdom is also patrolled by a religious police force that enforces the veil for women, prohibits young lovers from meeting and ensures that shops do not display “indecent” magazine covers. In the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the religious police beat women with sticks if they stray into male-only areas, or if their dress is considered immodest by Salafi standards. This is not an Islam that the Prophet Muhammad would recognize.

Salafi intolerance has led to the destruction of Islamic heritage in Mecca and Medina. If ISIS is detonating shrines, it learned to do so from the precedent set in 1925 by the House of Saud with the Wahhabi-inspired demolition of 1,400-year-old tombs in the Jannat Al Baqi cemetery in Medina. In the last two years, violent Salafis have carried out similar sectarian vandalism, blowing up shrines from Libya to Pakistan, from Mali to Iraq. Fighters from Hezbollah have even entered Syria to protect holy sites.

Textbooks in Saudi Arabia’s schools and universities teach this brand of Islam. The University of Medina recruits students from around the world, trains them in the bigotry of Salafism and sends them to Muslim communities in places like the Balkans, Africa, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Egypt, where these Saudi-trained hard-liners work to eradicate the local, harmonious forms of Islam.

What is religious extremism but this aim to apply Shariah as state law? This is exactly what ISIS (Islamic State) is attempting do with its caliphate. Unless we challenge this un-Islamic, impractical and flawed concept of trying to govern by a rigid interpretation of Shariah, no amount of work by a United Nations agency can unravel Islamist terrorism.

Saudi Arabia created the monster that is Salafi terrorism. It cannot now outsource the slaying of this beast to the United Nations. It must address the theological and ideological roots of extremism at home, starting in Mecca and Medina. Reforming the home of Islam would be a giant step toward winning against extremism in this global battle of ideas.

—————————

Ed Husain is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior adviser to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 23, 2014, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism

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

 

Commentary Magazine

Contentions

Israel’s Record on Civilian Casualties Compares Well to America’s.

@EvelynCGordon -  08.19.2014 – The Commentary Magazine.

Writing in the Washington Post last Friday, Natan Sharansky argued that Western nations are quite right to hold Israel to a higher standard than its nondemocratic neighbors; the problem is that they hold Israel to a higher standard than they hold themselves. Many Westerners would doubtless deny doing so. But for proof, just compare the recent war in Gaza to the Iraq War.

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009, of the victims of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq whose age and gender could be determined, 46 percent were women and 39 percent were children. The study, based on data from Iraq Body Count, covered the period from March 2003 to March 2008, but specifically excluded airstrikes carried out during periods of intense fighting, such as the initial U.S. invasion and the 2004 battle of Fallujah. In other words, it excluded those periods when fire was likely to be heaviest and most indiscriminate due to the need to protect troops at risk.

By contrast, according to statistics published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 12 percent of all Palestinians killed in Gaza were women and 23 percent were children (239 women and 459 children out of 1,976 fatalities). Thus even if OCHA’s numbers are accurate, the percentages of women and children killed in Gaza were far lower than the percentages killed in U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. Yet one would expect them to be higher, for at least three reasons.

First, unlike the NEJM study, OCHA’s figures cover the entire war, including periods of intense fighting when soldiers’ lives were at risk. In other words, they include the battles involving the heaviest fire, which NEJM’s study excluded. Second, the NEJM figures referred only to airstrikes, which utilize precision weapons; OCHA’s figures also include people killed by non-precision weaponry such as artillery fire. Third, though the claim that Gaza is one of the world’s mostly densely populated places is nonsense, almost all the fighting took place in dense urban areas: Since Hamas’s strategy depends on massive civilian casualties, it locates its rocket launchers and tunnels mainly in such areas. In contrast, U.S. airstrikes in Iraq weren’t limited to dense urban areas.

In short, even if OCHA’s figures are credible, Israel comes off well by comparison with coalition forces in Iraq. But in fact, they aren’t. First, OCHA doesn’t say whether any of these “children” were combatants, though it’s hardly unheard of for 16- or 17-year-old Palestinians to bear arms. More importantly, however, it doesn’t say how many of these women and children were actually killed by Hamas rather than Israel.

As I’ve noted before, almost a sixth of all Palestinian rockets launched at Israel–475 out of 3,137–actually landed in Gaza, where, given the lack of either Iron Dome or civilian bomb shelters, they would have been far more lethal than they were in Israel. In one documented case alone, a misfired Hamas rocket killed 10 people in a park, including eight children.

Moreover, as I’ve also noted, Hamas’s practice of booby-trapping and storing rockets in houses, mosques, and clinics means that many Israeli strikes inadvertently set off massive secondary explosions. In other words, many Palestinian “victims of Israeli attacks” were likely killed not by the Israeli strike itself, but by secondary explosions caused by Hamas’s own bombs.

Americans rightly expect the world to understand that when U.S. airstrikes decimate a Yemeni wedding party or kill civilians in Iraq, it isn’t because the U.S. is bloodthirsty, but because mistakes happen in wartime, especially when fighting terrorists who don’t wear uniforms and operate from amid civilian populations. But Israel is entitled to that same understanding.

Instead, the White House, Pentagon, and State Department have all accused Israel in the harshest terms of doing too little to prevent civilian casualties. Given that Israel’s record on this score, as the NEJM study shows, is even better than America’s, that is the height of hypocrisy.

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

The changing landscape of religion.

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

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

Vienna: Growing diversity in religion and ethnicity.

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

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

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

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

 

Europe:  Immigration and religious switching.

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Tagung

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

Buchpra?sentation mit Empfang

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

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

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

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

 

Kein Grund zur Euphorie

Kommentar | Gudrun Harrer15. August 2014, 14:35

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

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Transport Day 2014, 7 December 2014, Lima, Peru

UPDATES FROM THE SLOCAT PARTNERSHIP

Great Progress in the establishment of the SLoCaT Foundation

We expect that the SLoCaT Foundation, with the objective to provide support to the SLoCaT Partnership, will be formally established in the coming weeks. Over the last months the SLoCaT Secretariat, overseen by a special Ad-Hoc Committee, developed the governance structure, consisting of a Constitution and a set of By-Laws.  The members of the SLoCaT Partnership were asked on two opportunities to comment on the proposed governance structure.

The Board of the SLoCaT Foundation is being established in two phases, with the election of four Board members representing members of the SLoCaT Partnership taking place this week and the remaining three Board members representing the Supporters of the SLoCaT Foundation to be elected in Autumn 2014.

The SLoCaT Foundation will be registered in the Netherlands, while the Secretariat will remain to be located in Shanghai, China.  Over the next weeks we will be updating the SLoCaT website to provide more detailed information on the new organizational structure of SLoCaT.

We expect that the SLoCaT Foundation will be formally launched in late September at the sidelines of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit on Climate Change.

Growing Support for the SLoCaT Partnership

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

 

Presided upon by Mr. Richard N. Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, a panel of six of the Council’s experts in front of two rooms full in audience – one in New York the other in Washington DC, a whole gamut of Middle East problems was put on display and dissected.

The six experts were – Elliott Abrams who started out as staff member of Senators Henry M. Jackson and Daniel P. Moynihan and then moved on to the White House under Presidents Reagan and G.W. Bush;  Steven A. Cook who started out at the Brookings Institution, developed an expertise on Egypt, Algeria and Turkey, and is running a blog “From the Potomac to the Euphrates;    Robert M. Danin who started out as a journalist reporting from Jerusalem then worked at the State Department on Middle East Affairs and with Tony Blair as his Jerusalem based representative of the Quartet;   and Ray Takeyh, a widely published professorial expert on Iran – in Washington D C and Isobel Coleman who at CFR covers Civil Society, Markets and Democracy, comes from the business world, has written extensively on policy, was track leader at the Clinton Global Initiative, was named by Newsweek as one of 150 Women Who Shake the World and her blog is Democracy in Development; and Richard N. Haass who served in the White House at ambassadorial level but argued in a book that Foreign Policy starts at Home – the last two were with us in New York.

This discussion takes place at the beginning of the third week since this latest flare-up of Israel’s war against the Hamas of Gaza. A very fast consensus was reached among the four members of the Washington DC panel that to cool the situation without giving Hamas some credit is really difficult. Israel wants really to destroy the infrastructure of tunnels into Israel. Hamas points out that they managed to-date to beat Israel at that as just a day earlier they demonstrated they are capable to infiltrate Israel through such tunnels. Richard Haass evoked Henry Kissinger who said that what is needed to create a lasting equilibrium is (a) a degree of balance, and (b) a degree of legitimacy that comes from mutual recognition between the forces. The latter point does not exist here. Israel is united and out to eliminate Hamas – but if the fighting continues it is expected that the demand for change in the status quo will get louder in Israel – or just a return to a system that allows only breaks in the fighting will be unacceptable.

Asked about how to bring the Palestinian Authority back into Gaza – the prediction expressed was that Hamas demonstrating that only resistance keeps you in authority will allow Hamas to emerge as winner.  Today’s news that Israel bombed a UN managed school filled with displaced Palestinians, and probably also arms bearing Palestinians, will nevertheless put some more outside pressure on Israel.

Further, the news I get today from Vienna is that Saturday there will be large pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Europe on the occasion of the yearly celebration of the Al-Quds Day. This is a PR success for the Hamas – the show of harm done to the Palestinians that are being used as shield to those missiles, and then their misery exploited in order to achieve PR gains based in part also on the unleashing of an existing undertow of Antisemitism-comes-naturally to some layers of Christian Europe. These are aspects that were not looked at by the panel but which play now very seriously a role within Israel. My bet is that Israel will demand that the PA is reintroduced to Gaza at least at its borders – with a minimum role of making sure there are no tunnels. If this becomes part of the US and Egypt brokered solution, the other part will have to be a transparent start to the dissolution of some West Bank settlements. The military defeat of the Hamas can then be viewed as a success of the political leadership of the Hamas in ways acceptable to Israel.
Again – these ideas were not expressed at the Town-Hall meeting.

Steven Cook said that the present ruler of Egypt – President Abdel Fattah Saed Hussein Khalil al-Sisi, former Chief of the Army and Minister of Defense – is much more decisive then Mubarak was, and can be counted on to be more decisive in matters of Hamas. Now we have a situation that Egypt and the Saudis hate in full view the Muslim Brotherhood and their off-shoot – the Hamas,  while the Amir of Qatar is backing them.  So, now we have beside the Sunni – Shia Divide also a Sunni – Sunni Divide which is going and deepening and creates a further Divide between the Brotherhood & Hamas on the one hand and more extremist ISIS & Al Qaeda on the other hand. These latter without an official sponsor from any State.  Here again real life went beyond what was said at the CFR panel.

I made it my business to tell the organizer about the day’s news at the UN, the finding by investigative journalist Matthew R. Lee that the UN Secretary General’s charter flight to the Middle East was bankrolled by the Amir of Qatar, a sponsor of Hamas, does in effect put a notch in the UNSG effort in posing as an honest broker on Gaza. I thought this ought to be brought up at the Town Hall meeting and said I can volunteer to raise this as a question – but I could not – this because I was there as Press, and only Members of the CFR are allowed to ask questions. Members come from Think-Tanks but mainly from business. The reality is that the business sectors represented at the CFR are mainly those that belong to old establishments – Members of the International Chamber of Commerce, but no businesses that could profit from an economy less reliant on fossil fuels. The whole concept of energy seems here to still mean those conventional fuels – and it shows. It came up here as well when a question about Energy Independence was answered that though an Energy Revolution did happen lately in the US, we will never be Independent of “Energy” because the World Economy runs on “Energy.”

Many other points came up – and I will now highlight some of them:

  -  Iran was mentioned in the context that July 20th Vienna meeting was the rage at that time – but then came the Ukraine and Gaza wars. Now Iran was delayed to November 25th and is barely noticed. It was noted that it is only a 4 months delay while it was technically possible to delay it for 6 months. The Iranians believe that they already agreed to the red lines. Can these Red lines be adjusted?

  -  The Kurds will make now moves to go their own ways. The Turks now play more favorably to the Kurds – but the Kurds continue to be split and fight among themselves.

  -   Winner Takes All has been disproved for the Middle East. Maliki in Iraq learned it does not work, so did Morsi in Egypt who saw his Brotherhod and himself ousted merciless.  I found this an extremely valuable observation for all combatants of the region.

  -   New forms of COLD WAR. there is one between the Saudis and the Gulf States (Intra Sunni – Sunni) – and there is one between the Saudis and the Iranians. Like in the US-Soviet case this is not a fight between States. mainly it goes on now on Syrian Territory between parts of Syria a country that will be dismembered like Iraq was.  In the past governments were oppressive and economically weak, but had power internally – now this did collapse.

  -  Now we reached a favorite question about the UN. Are there any useful capacities remaining for the UN? Elliot Abrams said that if appointed to the UN he would try to get another job. UNRWA has become more and more controversial – specifically when there is a cease-fire.

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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.

==========================
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.

——————————————————————

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.

————————————————————————

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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