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Posted on on October 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

Eastern countries (of the EU) oppose EU climate goals.

The EUObserver, By Peter Teffer, .October 2, 2014

Brussels – With only three weeks to go before the European Council is to make a final decision on new climate goals for 2030, six Central and Eastern European countries have declared their opposition to the proposed targets.

In an effort to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, the European Commission proposed in January 2014 several targets for 2030.

Greenhouse gas emissions should be 40 percent lower; the market share of renewable energy should be 27 percent and energy efficiency should be improved by 30 percent.

In March and June, the European Council failed to agree on the commission’s proposal. When the EU government leaders meet again on 23 and 24 October in Brussels, they hope to reach a “final decision on the new climate and energy policy framework”.

However, the ministers and deputy ministers for environment of six Central and Eastern European countries, declared on Tuesday (September 30) their opposition to binding targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The six countries are the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania.

The six ask for a framework that “reflects different regional needs and circumstances”. The energy mix differs greatly among member states and reaching the targets will be easier for some than others.

The EU share of renewable energy consumption was 14.1 percent in 2012, according to Eurostat, but that average conceals regional differences.

Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Czech Republic are below that average, with shares between 9.6 and 11.2 percent. Most of the six rely heavily on coal, which is one of the energy sources that emits the most carbon dioxide.

The question then is, which targets will be binding for the whole of EU, and which for each individual member state.

A group of 13 mostly western and northern European states, called the Green Growth Group, is in favour of a binding greenhouse gas target of 40 percent for member states.

But in March it said the “Council should agree on a binding EU renewables energy target which should not be translated into binding national targets by the EU, leaving greater flexibility for Member States to develop their own renewable energy strategies.”


Posted on on August 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


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.


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

Buchpra?sentation mit Empfang

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


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


Posted on on May 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (





Kiev Struggles to Break Russia’s Grip on Gas Flow.




A natural gas worker in Chaslovtsy, the largest transit point in Ukraine for Gazprom exports to the European Union. Credit Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times


CHASLOVTSY, Ukraine — As Ukraine tries to contain a pro-Russian insurgency convulsing its eastern region, a perhaps more significant struggle for the country hinges on what happens beneath the ground here in a placid woodland in the far west, on the border with Slovakia.

This is where about $20 billion worth of Russian natural gas flows each year through huge underground pipelines to enter Europe after a nearly 3,000-mile journey from Siberia. It is also, the pro-European government in Kiev believes, where Ukraine has a chance to finally break free from the grip of Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled energy behemoth.

In an effort to do this, Ukraine has for more than a year been pushing hard to start so-called reverse-flow deliveries of gas from Europe via Slovakia to Ukraine, thus blunting repeated Russian threats to turn off the gas tap.

An agreement signed last week between Slovak and Ukrainian pipeline operators opened the way for modest reverse-flow deliveries of gas from Europe, where prices are much lower than those demanded by Gazprom for its direct sales to Ukraine.

But the deal, brokered by the European Union and nudged along by the White House, fell so far short of what Ukraine had been lobbying for that it left a nagging question: Why has it been so difficult to prod tiny Slovakia, a European Union member, to get a technically simple and, for Ukraine and for the credibility of the 28-nation bloc, vitally important venture off the ground?

Some cite legal and technical obstacles, others politics and fear of crossing the Kremlin, but all agree that a major obstacle has been the power and reach of Gazprom, which serves as a potent tool for advancing Russia’s economic and geopolitical interests, and is ultimately beholden to President Vladimir V. Putin.



Gazprom not only dominates the gas business across the former Soviet Union, but also enjoys considerable clout inside the European Union, which gets roughly a third of its gas imports from Russia and is itself vulnerable to Russian pressure.

Major Gas Lines

Uzhgorod and Chaslovtsy are the most West-Side dots in above map of The UKRAINE.

All the same, a fog of mystery surrounds the reluctance of Slovakia to open up its gas transit corridor — through which Russia pumps a large portion of its gas to Europe — for large reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine.

Built during the Soviet era to link Siberian gas fields with European markets, Slovak pipelines, according to Ukrainian officials and experts, could move up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas from Europe to Ukraine a year — more than all the gas Ukraine is expected to import from Russia this year.

Instead, the majority state-owned Slovak company that runs the system, Eustream, has offered only a small, long-disused subsidiary pipeline that still needs engineering work before it can carry gas to Ukraine. Once the work is finished in October, Eustream will provide just a tenth of the gas Ukraine has been looking for from Europe. The company says that small amount can be increased sharply later.

Here in Chaslovtsy, in southwestern Ukraine, where technicians from Ukraine’s pipeline company, Ukrtransgaz, and Gazprom monitor the flow of Russian gas into Slovakia, the Ukrainian head of the facility, Vitaly Lukita, said he wondered if gas would ever flow the other way.

“We are all ready here, but I don’t know why the Slovaks are taking so long,” Mr. Lukita said. “Everyone has been talking about this for a very long time, but nothing has happened.”

Andriy Kobolev, the board chairman of Naftogaz, Ukraine’s state gas company, said he was particularly mystified by the recalcitrance of Eustream because in 2011 the company had put forward the idea of using spare capacity in its trunk pipelines for reverse-flow supplies to Ukraine.

He said the Slovaks had rejected this option in recent negotiations, citing secret contracts with Gazprom. He added that he did not know what the problem was exactly, because he had not been allowed to see the contracts.

Eustream executives declined repeated requests for interviews. Vahram Chuguryan, the company’s spokesman, declined to comment on the apparent change of heart or on whether it was related to an ownership shuffle in early 2013, when a group of wealthy Czech and Slovak businesspeople purchased a 49 percent stake in Eustream. At the time, Czech news media speculated that they were acting as a stalking horse for Gazprom.

Daniel Castvaj, a spokesman for Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding, the company that made the purchase, denied Ukrainian assertions that Eustream has sought to limit reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine, describing these as “not only untrue but nonsensical” since the pipeline operator, which makes its money off transit fees, has a strong commercial interest in boosting flows regardless of direction.

He said he was unaware of any 2011 offer by Eustream to use the trunk transit system to deliver gas to Ukraine, but added that such an option has always been technically and legally impossible “without the consent of Gazprom,” which has not been given.

European Union officials, frustrated by months of haggling and worried about possible legal problems raised by Gazprom’s contracts with Slovakia, hailed last week’s modest deal as offering at least an end to the logjam. José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, described it as a “breakthrough” but also called it a “first step,” signaling hope that Slovakia may, over time, allow more substantial reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine.

Ukraine’s dependence on Gazprom to heat homes and power factories — it buys more than half its supplies from Russia — has not only left the country vulnerable to sudden price changes, which fluctuate depending on whether Moscow wants to punish or favor the authorities in Kiev, but has also helped fuel the rampant corruption that has addled successive Ukrainian governments.

When Gazprom raised the price of gas to Ukraine by 80 percent last month and threatened to cut off supplies if Kiev did not pay up, Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, blasted Moscow for “aggression against Ukraine.”

“Apart from the Russian Army and guns, they decided to use one of the most efficient tools, which are political and economic pressure,” he said.

   Ukraine Crisis in Maps

By pushing to buy the bulk of its gas from Europe instead of from Gazprom and murky middlemen endorsed by Gazprom, Ukraine hopes to protect what it sees as a dangerously exposed flank from Russian attack.

The best-known of those middlemen, the Ukrainian businessman Dmytro Firtash, was detained in Austria in April and has been fighting extradition to the United States.

“Imagine where you’d be today if you were able to tell Russia: Keep your gas,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told Ukrainian legislators during a visit to Kiev last month. “It would be a very different world you’d be facing today.”


Nearly all the gas Washington and Brussels would like to get moving into Ukraine from Europe originally came from Russia, which pumps gas westward across Ukraine, into Slovakia and then on to customers in Germany and elsewhere. Once the gas is sold, however, Gazprom ceases to be its owner and loses its power to set the terms of its sale.


Russia is currently demanding $485 per thousand cubic meters for the gas Ukraine buys directly — instead of the price of $268 it offered the Ukrainian government under President Viktor F. Yanukovych before his ouster — while “Russian” gas sold via Europe, which should be more expensive because of additional transit fees, costs at least $100 per unit less.

Russia denies using gas as a political weapon and says all Ukraine needs to do to secure a stable supply at a reasonable price is pay its bills on time and clear its debts, which Gazprom said total $3.5 billion.

Ukraine has already started taking reverse-flow deliveries from Poland and Hungary. But the quantities, around 2 billion cubic meters last year, have been too small to make much of a difference. Only Slovakia has the pipeline capacity to change the balance of forces.

“We have been struggling for a long time to convince them to find a solution,” said Mr. Kobolev, the Ukrainian gas chief. “We have now identified the problem, which was obvious from the beginning — restrictions placed by Gazprom.”

Ukraine’s energy minister, Yuri Prodan, dismissed Gazprom’s legal and technical arguments as a red herring. “I think the problem is political. We don’t see any real objective obstacles to what we have been proposing,” he said.

Opposition politicians in Slovakia, noting that 51 percent of Eustream belongs to the Slovak state, attribute the pipeline company’s stand to the country’s prime minister, Robert Fico, a center-left leader who has sometimes seemed more in sync with Moscow’s views than those of the European Union.

“Fico thinks that it is necessary to be very nice and polite to Mr. Putin,” Mikulas Dzurinda, a former prime minister of Slovakia, said in a telephone interview. “This is the heritage of old communists in a new era: The big guys are still in Moscow,” he said.

At a news conference in April, Mr. Fico insisted that Slovakia was “really ready” to help assist reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine. But he added, “We naturally protect our own interests” and will not risk punishment by Gazprom for moves that violate Slovakia’s own deals with the Russian energy giant.

Slovakia depends on Gazprom for around 60 percent of its gas supplies and worries that upsetting the Russian company would lead to higher prices for itself or even cuts in supplies.

Alexander Medvedev, the head of Gazprom’s export arm, said he had no problem in principle with reverse-flow supplies to Ukraine but said such arrangements “require the agreement of all parties involved,” including Gazprom.

“Normally, you can’t arrange a physical reverse flow without a new pipeline,” he added, indicating Gazprom’s opposition to the use of existing Slovak pipelines.

Watching over workers in Chaslovtsy as they laid new underground pipes, Ivan Shayuk, a Ukrainian engineer for Ukrtransgaz, shook his head when asked why the scheme was taking so long.

“What is the problem? The problem is simple — Putin,” he said.


Hana de Goeij contributed reporting from Prague, and Alison Smale from Berlin.

A version of this article appears in print on May 5, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Kiev Struggles to Break Russia’s Grip on Gas Flow.


comment from: orbit7er

Here is another piece of the farce being pushed by the plutocratic elite in denial of the realities of Peak Oil and Climate Change. To ship…

And you know – the comment is right – it is those that refuse to let Europe move away from the use of gas that keep watch the umbilical cord to Russia is not broken. This umbilical cord to an unpredictable Russia is the undoing of the EU, and EU member-States that stand up for to hang on this umbilical cord are the un-doers of Europe.
Strange, as it might seem, Austria may be one of these European States that like Slovakia take real interest in conserving the is. Our eyes opened up Sunday May 2nd thanks to two articles in the Austrian news-papers:

(a)  “A Pipeline that Splits Europe” by Veronika Eschbacher, in the venerable and historic Wiener Zeitung, and

(b)  “How Russia wants to Renew its Might via Gas” by Guenther Strobl in the respected Business pages of Der Standard

Both articles give the facts about the Austrian National Oil Company OEMV, that is in the process of planing with the Russian Gazprom to build a new pipeline – “The Southern Stream” – that will shoot directly under the Black Sea, from Russia’s Caucasus near Socchi, to Bulgaria’s port at Varna. Then from there go directly through Serbia and Hungar to Austria – the town of Baumgarten on the border with Slovakia. The achievement here is that this line does not touvh the Ukraine, Moldova, Poland or Rumania which are inclined to be most reluctant to stay under the Russian boot.

So where in this is the Austria of the very active young Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz who is laboring at finding an amicable solution in the conflict between The Ukraine and Russia?

Will an Austrian Government that listens to its own Oil Company be so influenced by it that it works against the better interests in Europe – that try to distance themselves from too close relationship with Russia and understand that Energy Independence in Europe means independence of imports of gas – specially if this gas originates in Russia – pipeline A or Pipeline B – there is no inherent difference in this?

The media has yet to explain this, and the politicians running in Austria for the European Parliament have yet to mention it.   Absolutely – not a single politician in Austria has yet had the courage to say that OEMV is not the source of Foreign policy or the guru of futurology and sustainability for Austria, the EU …  for Europe.


May 5, 2014, at the Wirtschaftsmuseum (the Economy Museum) at Vogelsanggassee 36, 1050 Vienna, Austria, a panel chaired by Dr. Patrick Horvath, included the Editor of the Wiener Zeitung, Mr. Reinhard Goeweil and titled “EU-Elections 2014 – The Role of the Media” gave me the opportunity to raise the importance of the OEMV in Austrian Government policy and the fact that the media just does not point it out. Dr. Horvath, PhD in Social Studies of Communication, is Head of the Union of Scientists dealing with Economic Policy (WIWIPOL) and the panel included as well Mr. Wolfgang Greif (a last minute addition) – Head of the Europe Section at the Employees and the Employers involved in Company Boards and wrote the book on the subject fighting for the right of the Employees to get information about their Companies; Professor Fritz Hausjell of the Vienna University Faculty of Journalism; and Mr. Wolfgang Mitterlehner – Head of Communication at the Viennese Workers’ Union Central Office.

Professor Hausjell pointed out that the Wienner Zeitung is the best provider of information among the Austrian Media and this is something I argue as well, so it made it easier for me to formulate my question by starting with my own congratulation with the paper’s editor right there on the panel. In effect, founded in 1703 under the name “Vienna Diarium” the WZ is worldwide the oldest newspaper still in print(!) (it appears now 5 times a week with Friday and Sunday excluded and carries the official announcements of use in legal Austria); Mr. Goeweil is editor since 2009 and by background a writer on economics.

As excited as I was by the paper’s expose last weekend of the “Southern Stream” pipeline plans intended to keep the Russian gas flowing to Europe under conditions that exclude the Ukraine, Moldova, and Rumania, while using Russian friendly Serbia, and safeguarding the position of Slavic Slovakia – a multibillion project that might become active by 2017, but can kill all development of Renewable Energy in Europe right now, I realized that further involvement in the subject, even by a paper like WZ, will not come as long as even the good people of that paper take for granted the oil lobby arguments that there is not possible to replace the gas because there is not enough sun, wind, hydro-power etc. If nothing else, the Fossil and Nuclear lobbies have numbed the inquisitiveness of even the good media in the EU States, like they did in the US. Why not bring Jigar Shah over here and have him talk of CLIMATE WEALTH?  Why are not more active businesses that stand to flourish ? Are we the only ones to still say YES WE CAN?


And Vienna is again the Center of Europe!

May 5-6, 2014 the Council of Europe is meeting in Vienna. 30 Foreign Ministers, including those of Russia and the Ukraine, are meeting here under the chairmanship of Mr. Thorbjorn Jagland, the second most popular politician of Norway and a person that has held all possible political positions in Norway and many in all of Europe who is trying to manage the States of all of Europe with the help of the resourceful Austrian Sebastian Kurz.

Norway is not part of the EU and is an outside gas supplier to the EU. Interesting that Mr. Kurz started his meetings on Sunday with meeting first the current Norwegian Foreign Minister – was this a line-up on gas policy? Is that what the New York Times had in mind when publishing their article? Is it all about lining up interests with Russia and Norway so gas continues to flow in those pipelines and The Ukraine pushed aside, isolated and neutralized?

We shall see and so far as Europe is concerned, we will keep a close eye on these developments because in them we see
a make or break not just for the Ukraine but even more important – for the European Energy Policy that some, like the Prime Ministers of Poland and Slovakia, think of as just a gas policy.



Posted on on February 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Sent: Sunday, February 21, 2014 12:37 PM

While we were traveling last week, an Israeli Knesset member accused my brother of anti-Semitism and a group of rabbis said he is waging “war on God.”  I wrote this op-ed in response on the plane back; it appears (in Hebrew) in today’s Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s widest circulation paper.  Since it discusses our trip, I thought it might interest you:

By Cameron Kerry

Last week at this time, I was in Terezin,  Czech Republic, at the 18th Century fortress where the Nazis gathered Jews from Czechoslovakia, Austria,Germany, and other countries for the tragic journey to death camps further east.  I joined a group from the Boston synagogue, of which my wife is the lay head, in traveling to Europe to celebrate Torah scrolls miraculously saved from Czech synagogues during World War II and restored 50 years ago.  Both of my daughters became a Bat Mitzvah reading from a scroll rescued from the Bohemian town of Blatna, from which 26 Jews were transported to Terezin and none survived.


At Terezin, I walked along the banks of Ohre River and joined other members of our temple in saying Kaddish at the place where the Nazis poured out the cremated remains of some 22,000 inmates who died at Terezin.  These presumably included the remains of my paternal great-uncle Otto Lowe, who died at Terezin in 1942.  He, along with his sister Jenni, was transported to Terezin in 1942.  Jenni was soon sent to die at Treblinka.


These experiences and their deeply personal meaning for my family make it all the more disturbing that some have recently suggested that my brother, John Kerry, had expressed “anti-Semitic undertones” in his pursuit of a framework  for negotiations, and some even suggested that he “has declared war on God.”  Such charges would be ridiculous if they were not so vile.


My family’s experience with anti-Semitism and oppression runs deep.  On another visit to the Czech Republic last fall, I visited the town where my grandfather Frederick Kerry was born Fritz Kohn. A few years before emigrating to America, while serving in the military, my grandfather converted from Judaism to Catholicism because of anti-Semitism in the ranks. In memory — and in honor — of the Kohns, I planted a tree in my grandfather’s town.


This experience is not limited to the side of the family with Jewish roots.  My mother – a Bostonian –  was living in Paris training to become a nurse when World War II broke out, and she was among the mass of refugees who escaped the city in front of the Nazis.  The sister she left with was later interned for helping the resistance in the south of France, where her activities included helping Jewish families get out of the country. My grandparents’ home was occupied by the Nazis and later destroyed by them because it offered an artillery spotting post in battles with Patton’s army.


All this is part of my brother John Kerry’s DNA.  His earliest memory is of holding our mother’s hand as, soon after the war, she walked in tears viewing the ruins of that house.  With my father serving his country in the State Department, our family took up a posting in Berlin with bombed, burned out, and shot-up buildings still visible across Europe.  My brother embraced my own conversion to Judaism when I got married. He has been part of our family mitzvot.  He was present when my daughters read from the Blatna scroll and helped to raise the chairs in which they were paraded on the dance floor.


I recall when he came home from his first visit to Israel with friends from the Boston Jewish community, more than thirty years ago as a young Senator: he spoke vividly of flying an Israeli military jet over the country and realizing how it was possible to cross the country in a matter of moments. Today, his determined work on Middle East peace is informed by an abiding sense of the need to secure  Israel as a home for the Jewish people. For years since that first visit, he has engaged passionately with a wide variety of leaders in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and across the region to understand the way to peace.  He also maintained a 100-percent pro-Israel voting record during his nearly three decades in the U.S. senate.


It is this deep involvement that has led to the conviction that Israel’s long-term security requires a two-state solution — that, in the face of the inexorable forces of security, demographics, and geography, Israel cannot sustain occupation of the West Bank and remain both democratic and Jewish.  It is the same conclusion that such resolute defenders of Israel as Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon reached and that Prime Minister Netanyahu is confronting now.


Prime Minister Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Lieberman, and Ambassador Dermer were courageous in their defense of my brother’s motives.  We can all debate the effectiveness of security measures, the delineation of borders,  arrangements for East Jerusalem, and other real issues among the parties, but there is no truth and no good that can come by calling into question John Kerry’s good faith toward his own heritage.  Israel and the Jewish people deserve better than that.


Posted on on July 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

You may find this new play interesting and entertaining.

Midtown International Theater Festival presents

(Mahler seeks help from Freud to save his marriage.)
A play by Gay Walley
Directed by Gregory Abels

(In 2006, Abels directed production of Rimske Noci in Prague, starring
Simona Stasova and Oldrich Visner. It now plays at the Divadlo Bez

Opens on Tuesday July 16 at 8:30pm ( 5 performances only. Last on August 4.)
The June Havoc Theater
312 W 36 Street

For more information see attached.

2 attachments — Download all attachments

Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences NY


Posted on on May 26th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

This report of ours starts with the May 22nd, 2013 meeting of The Vienna Club of Thinkers. The Topic was Energy Turnaround from a thinking person’s point of view. The presenter was Wilhelm Michael Zankl and the audience looked and sounded like a Mensa Club reunion.
The location was Cafe Benno, Alser Strasse 67, 1080 Vienna, and the club meets every Wednesday 8 PM.

The second event was the following day at the Renner Institut (the Governing Austrian Socialist Party Think tank) at their usual meeting-place at Garden-Hotel Altmansdorf (Hotel 2), Oswaldgasse 69, 1120 Vienna – and the topic was “Does the Energy Turnaround create jobs?

What drove our attention to these meetings is the upcoming introduction of the SE4All (Sustainable Energy for All) at the three-day meeting at the Austrian Presidency Halls – the Hofburg – May 28-30 – next week. But let me immediately say that I do not think that there was any direct planning of these meetings because of the conference – at least the people I talked to at above two meetings did not know about the larger event, rather I think that the topic of Energy Policy being picked up these days by the European Commission in Brussels, is the general motivator of these meetings, and the newspapers keep providing motivating articles as well.


In 1990, Zankl wrote “Energy, Anergy, Anarchy” with the latest edition of 1995 – the content of his logic has not really changed since. He cooperated with Hermann Scherr and Jeremy Rifkin and the system is clear. The road in front of us is clearly depicted:

You see a car nearing a decision point:

– No Oil – this is the end of the way

– No Nuclear – with a two kilometer slippery slope, at 3km you get storm and lightning and a sign of turn around

– Water, Sun and Wind – clear choice.

What is energy? It means “Inside – Somewhere” from two Greek words – then you divide it – you can use it.

Fast run down takes us to Archimedes, Leibnitz, Carnot (First law of Thermodynamics, Rudolph Clausius (Second Law of Thermodynamics).

Energy is Power, mass, and Work as energy per time and power per distance.

Anergy is what escapes to the environment. Entropy tells us we cannot bring it back – it pollutes the Environment and Hermann Scherr said it ought to be taxed – rather then the CO2.

There is an energy entropy, a matter entropy, and an information entropy – nothing is 100% sure. Order is the lowest entropy. A constructive process can be seen as negative entropy.

Biology uses energy sparingly but we humans waste it. But energy is existence. Energy is Welfare. If you want to waste energy – waste solar energy – it is there for us to waste. We get to politics and here to the conflict of interest with the notion of centralism – farmer unions and bio-energy.

He sees no problem if 10 billion people operate 5 billion electric vehicles with power derived from the sun and wind. The Turnaround must change the corporate economy to a people’s economy.

Growth Sustainability is not possible – this needs boundless energy that is not produced with oil, coal, Natural Gas.

Regenerative energy comes from wind, photovoltaic, biogas.

Time bombs: Change of Ocean Streams (the Gulf Stream), Melting of Glaciers, Methane Hydrates.

Global Warming but in Europe cooling because of the melting of glaciers.

Looking at 160,000 years CO2 curve we see the risingin the last 23,000 years with very intensive rising in the last 200 years.

He calculates the waste of money because of our neglecting to use the energy from the sun. The loss per meter square is 100 Euro and it is estimated that at least 30 Euro could have been easily obtained. This is decentralized energy – not the Desertech kind which he rejects.

At Q&A time much more came into focus. Vienna could export electricity if all roof space were used.

In the audience was also Herbert Rauch who in 2005 wrote with Alfred Strigl “Die Wende der Titanic” (The Turn of the Titanic) and created the “EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE PROMOTION OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT”  ESD  —

It is just a pity that our corporate world never really built policies around the ideas of these thinkers – and we stopped a long time ago wondering why.


The four hour long, two part, Renner Institute Seminar with encouragement from the European Commission, was a mixed bag. It included a variety of presenters divided into two panels by the moderator – Mr. Guenther Strobl, the Business Editor of “Der Standard.” The first panel dealt rather with generalities and the second panel was defined as from sectors. So the first panel had CEOs of major Austrian institutions and full audience, while the second panel lost half of the audience and that was a pity.

The first panel included the Director of the Board in charge of Energy at the Wiener Stadtwerke (the Vienna Energy that  supplies around two million people with electricity, gas and heat.) Mr. Marc Hall; Mr. Sven Hergovich The Environment and Transport head of the Labor Board of Vienna; Mr. Manfred Pils of the Austrian Power Grid and with the Naturamico International; and Ms. Theresis Vogel, business chair of Climate and Energy Funds.

I just did not believe my ears – the word “Nachhaltigkeit” or Sustainability in any form – was not mentioned by these speakers even once.

Indeed – the first speaker was Mr. Pils and he spoke of the problem that Fukushima made nuclear impossible and that in the EU 13 million people living at the sea-shore will lose their homes if the sea level rises by one meter. He mentioned the big bill that the EU pays for importing energy.
Then he asked – How do you finance efficiency? The investor is not the one who benefits from the increased efficiency of a building.

He spoke of the gas network as the best way to deposit energy and suggested the recycling of CO2 by making CH4 out of it. Sounds good but when and how?


Ms. Vogel stressed efficiency as Europe is committed to decrease CO2 emissions by 80-85% by 2050.


Mr. Hall also stressed efficiency and reminded us of Amory Lovins’ NEGAWATT. He defined Energy Turnaround for Germany as Electric Power creation and the avoidance of liquid fuel for mobility.


Mr. Hergovich suggested numbers for new jobs but did not clearly explain how it will be done.


The Q&A was lively and at the end I engaged Mr. Hall on the issue of the missing concept of Sustainability as a starting point to the discussion.
That is when I learned that the gentleman regards fossil fuels as renewables – only it takes a little longer. Climate Change is not something he worries about. Nice – but I do! It seemed that the members of the panel had in mind the rear-guard effort of surviving assault from people they do not trust.


The second panel, was much more open to innovation.  I will mention them in the order of their appearance – as the later they spoke in the pecking order, the better it got.

First speaker was Herbert Lechner the scientific coordinator of the Austrian Energy Agency – a government institution.
He compared Germany and Austria and spoke of Energy (R)EVOLUTION as choice between Evolution and Revolution in order to achieve the 2050 goals.
This can be achieved only if Zero-Emission buildings are part of new construction. But that is only the tip of the iceberg – the old buildings will continue to waste energy until replaced he explained.

The second speaker Michael Strebl, the CEO of Salzburg Netz GmbH, the promoter of the Smart-Grid of the Salzburg region. They work with Siemens. In the Koestendorf community they plan to use heat-pump systems.

Ms. Karin Tauz is the Head of the Business Unit that develops Electric Mobility for the Austria-Tech company that belongs to the Federal Government for Technology oriented political measures themes. She sounded very goal oriented and in tune with what politics needs in order to come up with solutions. She actually got applause from the remaining audience.

And now the last speaker – Mr. Hubert Ladinger who is with Ludwig-Boelkow-Systems Technology GmbH of Ottobrunn, Bavaria, Germany.
They work on a system to store electric power by creating a gas that is usable – CH4, H2 …

Finally I heard the word Sustainability. uses electrolysis to create these usable gasses and thus a way to store the energy obtained from the sun or the wind – for later use that can include Fuel Cells or Gas Turbines. THEY SELL WIND-GAS and before you know they can replace the Fracking-Gas !!  Further – he actually had employment figures and made suggestions to answer the questions that were posed before the first six speakers said what they did.

As part of the Q&A, it occurred to me that the seminar was actually very good because it exposed the negatives and eventually landed on a positive. And really what are seminars for? I respect a seminar when it provides the listener with enough ideas so he can leave and create by himself – in this respect – this seminar was a great success. Just listening to people tooting their horns hardly ever is worth the time spent.

Also – to the suggestion of EVOLUTION vs. REVOLUTION – it became clear to me that it is neither.


Further, it seems that the word REFORMATION with its old use in the replacement of corrupt church behavior of the Middle Ages, a new system based on much less waste and simpler demands by the public of the time, is indeed what the ENERGY TURNAROUND will have to come up with.

It was clear to me that voicing this to the people that came to the seminar will fall on deaf ears – and it did. But the LOGIC THINKERS might appreciate this better. Also I hope that next week’s three days exercise might come up with a beginning of a roadmap to get us to 2015, 2025 and beyond.


Over the weekend several articles and advertisements came to my attention:

First the self-congratulatories in Der Standard and the Kronen Zeitung of the Austrian OMV Oil Company about its Pipelines and Technologies – that they want us to think that are what is needed to secure a good energy future.

Then the article in the Business Section of the “Die Furche” of May 23, 2013, by Austria Ambassador to China Irene Giner-Reichl “Focus Energy-Revolution” about the Upcoming Energy Forum that starts May 28th. THE SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FOR ALL concept being based on Electricity that has a largely increased content coming from Renewable Energy. As per the UN, the intent is to double the Renewable Energy content  by 2030.

And in the weekend Der Standard – 25/26 May 2013 – Mr. Guenther Strobl, the moderator of the Renner Institute panels of May 23rd, has interviewed former German Environment Minister and former head of UNEP – Professor Klaus Toepfer, who told him that the idea of having a cheap energy policy in the EU does not make sense. My God, why did Mr. Strobl not take advantage of this concept at his Thursday panels? Or did this interview happen only on Friday the 24th?

The use of gas from underground fracking shale in order to replace reliance on more dirty oil is not something that can be noticed only in passing – a much more serious look at this technology is needed. But then this will not come up unless investigative reporting is ordered by editors of respected media.

Further – just saw the “Die Presse” of today – Monday, May 27, 2013 – article by Professor Emeritus at the University of Vienna Physics Department who lectures on Energy – Professor Gero Vogel. The title is “THE BIG SOBERING UP FROM THE ENERGY TURNAROUND” – the Energiewende – that this old-timer professional was very suspicious all the time because he knew that the talk of having “OECOSTROM” in Austria was just not true. While getting its electricity from hydro-power, nevertheless September to March Austria is short of water and imports from the European power market the nuclear and coal generated electricity from the Czech Republic – which the Austrian deride for their way of producing that electricity in the first place. (for those interested – the reference is to -“Die grosse Ernuechterung nach der Energiewende.”)

The Professor is obviously right describing the political reality – but like him saying that the weather now is warm and the snow melted, which is factually not true, as Austria is now again in the middle of a two weeks spell of freezing weather – he is wrong about the potential of having clean energy – honestly – for all of the EU. The Energy turnaround is not behind us – the truth is that we have not entered it yet. The conservative leaders of business hold us back for their very narrow economic reasons that if allowed will push us to environmental hell.






Posted on on December 16th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies

A series of billboards, posters and banners by Oliver Ressler

The central idea behind the billboard series “Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies” is to present different suggestions, which might be of interest when considering the principles on which an alternative to the existing capitalist system could be based. Such a society should in my opinion be less hierarchical, based on ideas of direct democracy and involve as many people as possible in decision-making processes. In the field of economy this would lead towards a variety of different models of workers self-management.

The billboard series, which has been carried out in public inner-city spaces in Europe and South America so far, might provide some ideas for people who are interested in thinking about a future society. The billboards can work as food for thought, as the basis for discussions, which are so necessary today when strategies for alternatives are not clear. But it also has to be clear that a desirable society should be realized and created by the people who live in it. A model, which prescribes and determines every aspect of this future society, cannot lead towards an ideal society.

The poster and billboard texts, with their large and highly visible fonts, are in the form of appeals, questioning existing dominant power relationships and indicating alternatives that share the rejection of the capitalist system of rule. Some of the ideas presented in this project have been elaborated upon in concepts such as “Participatory Economy” by Michael Albert, “Inclusive Democracy” by Takis Fotopoulos, are suggestions for an anarchist consensual democracy by Ralf Burnicki, or are based on considerations by the theorist John Holloway, especially in his book “Change the World Without Taking Power”. This project uses the format of posters and billboards as arenas for the imagination. “Imagination is a very powerful liberating tool. If you cannot imagine something different you cannot work towards it”, explains Marge Piercy in a video interview conducted for the ongoing exhibition project “Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies” by Oliver Ressler, to which this project is related.

The first presentation of this poster series took place in the framework of the project “Quicksand in De Pijp” by SKOR and Combiwel, curated by Amiel Grumberg, which was a program of artistic interventions taking place in the De Pijp neighborhood of Amsterdam in 2004. Since then, the posters, billboards or banners have been displayed in several cities, invited and funded by art institutions, and always carried out in the local language. Sometimes the presentations in public inner-city spaces were linked with the ongoing exhibitions project “”, which was the case with the poster presentations in Rijeka, Karlsruhe and Lima. Sometimes the billboards were realized on their own (as in Bratislava and Copenhagen). While in Amsterdam around 2000 posters were placarded more or less illegal throughout several months, in Bratislava the large-scale billboards were displayed on city-owned commercial billboard sites, which were left for free to the Billboartgallery Europe, which makes them available for artists. In several of the other presentations, the house facades of art institutions, which invited me to realize works, were used for the public interventions.

  • Image 1: Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, 2005
  • The poster texts reads: Imagine and create revolutionary processes which are not intended to take over state power but to dissolve power relations
  • Image 2: Billboartgallery Europe, Bratislava, 2004
  • The poster texts read: Imagine a society in which people have a say in decisions in proportion to the degree that they are affected
  • Image 3: “Quicksand in De Pijp”, org. by SKOR, urban space in Amsterdam, 2004
  • The poster text reads: Imagine being remunerated for effort and sacrifice, not for property or power


Posted on on December 1st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Six EU leaders to skip Nobel gala

30.11.12 @ 09:51

By Andrew Rettman on

BRUSSELS – Six EU leaders, including the UK, are to skip the Nobel gala next month, as criticism of the award multiplies.

  • A Nobel – the EU award continues to stir debate (Photo: EUobserver)

Nobel Institute director Geir Lundestad told EUobserver on Friday (30 November) that 18 EU leaders will come to watch the Union’s top three officials – Herman Van Rompuy, Jose Manuel Barroso and Martin Schulz – collect the peace prize in Oslo on 10 December.

He declined to list them. But he indicated that they include the “big” countries – France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain.

He said six others – including the Czech republic, Sweden and the UK – have confirmed they are not going, while the rest are still making up their mind.

The British and Czech decisions come from two eurosceptic VIPs – David Cameron and Vaclav Klaus – and are likely to fuel talk on whether Cameron thinks the UK is on its way out of the bloc.

Sweden’s Frederik Reinfeldt cannot go because he is busy in a parallel Nobel event in Stockholm the same day.

Lundestad declined to speculate on whether Cameron and Klaus’ decision amounts to a boycott. “It’s up to them to explain why they are not coming,” he said.

But he did criticise four cabinet ministers from Norway’s eurosceptic Centre Party for also deciding to stay away.

“They put the emphasis on Norway and whether Norway should be a member of the EU or not. The committee dos not address that question. It recognises the EU’s contribution to a more peaceful Europe through six decades. It has nothing to do with Norway,” he noted.

The Nobel decision back in October prompted debate on whether the EU deserves the prize.

Some of the arguments were repeated this week.

For his part, the Austrian leader of the centre-left S&D group in the EU parliament, Hannes Swoboda, said in a debate in Brussels: “The EU was a vision for peace, after WWII. And the EU brought peace.”

But a joint letter by the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches said: “The economic and humanitarian tragedy today in Greece challenges the EU as a peace builder for the next generation.”

Meanwhile, the recent Gaza crisis – which claimed 168 Palestinian lives and five Israeli ones – prompted a fresh rebuke.

A joint letter by 52 former peace prize laureates, artists, academics and diplomats on Wednesday said the EU should be disqualified for its ties to Israel.

“The role of the European Union must not go unnoticed, in particular its hefty subsidies to Israel’s military complex through its research programmes,” they wrote.

Former Nobel laureates Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Perez Esquivel also wrote a letter attacking the EU as a party in conflicts around the world.

“The EU is clearly not ‘the champion of peace’ that Alfred Nobel had in mind when he wrote his will … The Norwegian Nobel committee has redefined and remodelled the prize in a manner that is not consistent with the law,” they said.

They called for the committee to withhold the prize money of €930,000, even though the EU has promised to give it to charities for child victims of war.

For his part, Lundestad said the Tutu letter was organised by Fredrik Heffermehl, a Norwegian jurist who has “protested for many, many years against every decision of the Nobel committee.”

He added: “The prize money has never been withheld.”


  1. Barroso and Van Rompuy win battle for Nobel limelight
  2. Pride, confusion and sour grapes after EU wins Nobel
  3. EU ambassador to attend Nobel gala despite Chinese ‘bullying’


Posted on on May 25th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

US-based Climate Skepticism

Toxic shock

A climate-change sceptic is melting.

The Economist got this into its Print Edition of May 26, 2012. Great and very timely article considering the G.O.P. leadership.

For true believers only

THE Heartland Institute, based in Chicago, the world’s most prominent think-tank promoting scepticism about man-made climate change, is getting a lot of heat. In recent weeks it has lost an estimated $825,000 in expected donations, a couple of directors and almost its entire branch in Washington, DC.    At its annual shindig in Chicago this week, this instead of the previous escapades to New York City, the institute’s president, Joseph Bast, said Heartland had “discovered who our real friends are.”       The 100-odd guests who failed to show up for the “7th Climate Conference” were not among them.

The institute’s problems began in February when an American water scientist, Peter Gleick, published internal Heartland documents that he had obtained under a false name.    They provided details of its accounts—including references to an anonymous donor who gave $8.6m between 2007 and 2011—and of a plan to send teaching materials denouncing global warming to American primary schools.      (Mr Bast says that far from exposing his institute, the documents exonerated it from charges that it was a front for the fossil-fuel industry.)

Worse ensued early this month after the institute put up a digital billboard in Chicago that linked belief in global warming to madness and terrorism.   It depicted the “Unabomber,” a mass-murderer – Ted Kaczynski – with the slogan, “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?” The offending sign lasted only for a day.   But PepsiCo, BB&T bank and Eli Lilly, a pharma company, are among donors that announced the end of their support.

Mr Bast decries double standards: those who accept global warming routinely call their opponents Nazis, he argues. He admits that the billboard was in “poor taste” but says it was designed to get attention, and was good value at $200. The real price is proving rather higher.


Will this cause further thoughts to people like the President of a cEntral European State, whom I interviewed at a Heartland Institute New York anti-Climate rally? It could not be that all those that came to their meetings were mad-men or political opportunists – see Pepsi Cola – they will take their drinks elsewhere from now on.


and –…

The self-inflicted downfall of the Heartland Institute.

By Stephen Lacey

A version of this post originally appeared on    Climate Progress.

“I don’t appreciate being called a terrorist,” the woman said firmly.

I was standing outside the Hilton Chicago hotel talking to Jim Lakely, the director of communications for the Heartland Institute, when an elderly woman approached us on the street. Dressed in a business suit, she was loading her luggage into a taxi when she noticed Lakely’s Heartland name badge and interrupted our conversation.

“We can have a civil discussion. But I really don’t like being labeled a terrorist,” she said, referencing a billboard posted by Heartland equating people who believe in global warming to the Unabomber. “That’s all I wanted to say.”

“Well, I appreciate you telling me that,” said Lakely, who was taking a break from managing Heartland’s conference to watch the 60 or so people protesting the event outside the hotel.

The woman, who was wearing a badge for a different conference, got into her taxi and drove away. There was a brief moment of awkward silence between Lakely and me.

The exchange perfectly encapsulated the public-relations disaster the Heartland Institute has created for itself over the last few weeks. The downfall started with an offensive billboard campaign on May 3, and ended with 11 companies pulling support for the organization —stripping 35 percent its of corporate funds overnight and leaving its financial future uncertain.

The dramatic drop in support was facilitated by the advocacy organization Forecast the Facts, which collected more than 150,000 signatures from people calling on corporate donors to end their relationship with Heartland. Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Verizon, Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, and the Credit Union National Association are the latest to announce that they will not fund the Heartland Institute, bringing the total number of defecting companies to 15.

This series of events built on an earlier incident in which Peter Gleick, a scientist with the Pacific Institute, faked his identity to acquire internal documents from the Heartland Institute. Those documents showed that the organization planned to secretly develop school curriculum to spread doubt about the causes of climate change. It also opened up a window to the organization’s donors, which were forced to make a decision about whether or not they wanted to be associated with Heartland’s tactics.

And then yesterday, the other shoe dropped. In his closing speech, Heartland President Joseph Bast announced that the organization does not have the money to continue putting on its hallmark climate conference — an event that had become a rallying point for an insulated group of climate disinformers.

“I hope to see you at a future conference, but at this point we have no plans to do another [International Conference on Climate Change],” said Bast, explaining that Heartland was struggling to meet expenses.

The cancellation marks the end of an era — albeit a short era — for the oddball world of organized climate change denial.

The event was started in 2008 as a way to organize libertarians — many of whom believe that taking action on climate change would create a one-world government dominated by the United Nations.

Heartland tried hard to label the event a “science” conference. But the presentations were almost always political, peppered with anti-government rhetoric and conspiracy theories.

“We’re in a war. We’re in a war against our standard of living,” said Walt Cunningham, a former NASA astronaut, speaking in a morning session on Tuesday.

“There’s not a lot of science here,” said Scott Denning, an atmospheric scientist from Colorado State University who attended the event last year to present the so-called “warmist” case. Neither Denning nor any of the other 97 percent of climate scientists who say human activity is warming the planet presented at this year’s conference.

In fact, none of this year’s top speakers had any background in climate science. Instead, they spoke about the issues in highly conspiratorial terms.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus, a former economist who gave the keynote address on Monday, called environmentalism “identical to communism — identical, not similar.”

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the featured keynote speaker for Tuesday, asked if we “need to put catalytic converters on our noses” by addressing heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

And following Sensenbrenner’s nonsensical remarks, Heartland brought up “special mystery guest” Lord Christopher Monckton, who admitted at the beginning of his speech that he has “no scientific qualification” to challenge climate science. He then performed a comedy routine in which he questioned the legitimacy of President Obama’s citizenship — a joke that brought the room to full applause.

These fringe views made even Heartland senior staffers very nervous. After the billboard debacle, the leader of Heartland’s Washington, D.C., office, Eli Lehrer, left the organization and brought six staff members with him, saying the campaign “didn’t reflect the seriousness which I want to bring to public policy.”

But Heartland’s leadership twisted the knife into their self-inflicted wound with a decision to keep repeating their extreme rhetoric in the lead-up to the conference — later calling Bill McKibben and Michael Mann “Madmen.”

The rapid unraveling of Heartland forced it to scale down the conference, and seemingly kept attendees away. This year, only around 300 people showed up — a decrease from the 500 people at its first conference in 2008.

Despite the subdued mood, Rep. Sensenbrenner tried to rally the remaining troops during his Tuesday speech.

“Things are a lot better now than they were three years ago,” he said, referencing the failure to pass a carbon cap-and-trade bill and potential expiration of the Kyoto Protocol.

Things certainly weren’t better for Heartland. The following afternoon, the organization announced its decision to abandon the entire conference due to lack of funds and a backlash from corporate donors.

But Sensenbrenner was right about one thing: The public dialogue has moved dramatically backward in the last three years, driven largely by the aggressive disinformation tactics of the climate denial community — and enabled by the Obama administration’s decision to stop talking about the issue and the media’s decision to sharply curtail coverage.

While the dissolution of Heartland’s conference may be considered a “win” for those concerned about the spread of junk science and disinformation, there are still plenty of allies in industry and the halls of Congress willing to take up the denial cause.


Stephen Lacey is a reporter with Climate Progress covering clean energy issues. He formerly worked as a producer/editor at


Posted on on January 3rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Absurd, intellektuell, moralisch: der Dramatiker Václav Havel (1936 – 2011)

Die Burg, ein Muttertheater

Von Hans Haider

  • Viele von Havels Stücken wurden im Burgtheater uraufgeführt.…

Nicht der Autor, sondern eine Tafel mit seinem Namen verbeugte sich im Akademietheater. Nicht der Autor, sondern eine Tafel mit seinem Namen verbeugte sich im Akademietheater.Foto: Burgtheater

Prag, Hradschin, früher Jänner 1990. Wissenschaftsminister Erhard Busek überbringt Glückwünsche aus Wien. Václav Havel trägt im Amt, es ist später Vormittag, einen schwarzen Rollkragenpulli. Sein Gesicht strahlt. Er blättert im Pass, den er eben bekommen hat, dem ersten seit zwanzig Jahren. Was seine “Proféssion” ist, liest er zögerlich vor: Président de la République fédérative tchèque et slovaque. Über die Schriftstellerei kein Wort. Aus der von ihm selbst und der Mehrheit der Bürger gewählten Politikerrolle wird der Dichter nie mehr herausfinden.

2008 wollte es der schwer lungenkrebskranke Expräsident noch einmal wissen. Der Entwurf für das Stück “Abgang” (Odchazeni) lag seit 1988 in der Schublade. Ein Staatsmann räsoniert, ironisch-selbstkritisch und darum selbstzerstörerisch, nach dem Verlust der Macht über die verlogenen Mechanismen von Politik und Medien. Ein Achtungserfolg, nicht mehr. “Abgang” wurde als Abrechnung mit Havels Widerpart Václav Klaus missinterpretiert. Er verfilmte den Plot noch selbst als Regisseur – Premiere war heuer im März.

Zum Sterben zog sich der 75-Jährige in sein Häuschen im nordböhmischen Weiler Hrádecek zurück. Wo er am 18. Dezember einschlief, probierte er in den Jahren der Verfolgung in Privataufführungen neue Texte aus. Er kannte sein Publikum jenseits des Eisernen Vorhangs kaum. Was dort als universeller aufklärerischer Humanismus ankam, war mit unzähligen Anspielungen gespickt, die nur in der CSSR oder von tschechischen Emigranten zu verstehen waren.

Kein kalter Krieg
Der Schöpfer von Welterfolgen wie “Das Gartenfest” (1963) und “Benachrichtigung” (1965) saß sechs Jahre im Gefängnis. Warum der Polizeikrieg gegen die Dichter, die Intellektuellen? Der 1968 von der Sowjet-Internationale zerschlagene “Prager Frühling” war eine Kulturbewegung – zugleich Wiederbelebung der Avantgarde in der 1939 schon von den Nazis vernichteten bürgerlichen Republik und jugendkultureller Internationalismus Marke Woodstock. Havel liebte die Prager Popgruppe “Plastic People of the Universe”. Als sie ebenfalls drangsaliert wurde, formierten sich ihre Verteidiger zur “Charta 77”.

Kritik an kalten bürokratischen, verachtenden Systemen war, mit Orwells “1984” als Leitbuch, eine Waffe im Kalten Propagandakrieg. Kafkas Angstbilder in “Der Prozess” und “Das Schloss” wurden im Westen simpel als vorausgeschaute Beschreibungen von Stalins Terror interpretiert. Havel wollte kein Kalter Krieger sein. Er warb für die Zivilgesellschaft und führte, als Konservativer, in soziotechnokratischen Fiction-Kulissen scheinbar rationale moderne Politsysteme ad absurdum. Wie alle Intellektuellen gar zu gerne, wusste auch Havel das Schicksal der Welt in deren Hände gelegt. Sein Dr. Heinrich Faustka in “Versuchung” (1986) ist ein Wissenschafter in einem Institut zur Bewahrung der reinen materialistischen Lehre. Mephisto spricht für die Hölle, den Staat, das System. Das System siegt, Faust verbrennt.

Im Wiener Akademietheater fand Havels geistreiche Zuspitzung wenig Beifall. Sie war die letzte einer Serie von sechs Uraufführungen, die 1976 unter lautem Jubel mit dem Einakter “Audienz” begonnen wurde. Havel durfte trotz Interventionen von Kreisky und Sinowatz nicht zur Uraufführung reisen. Direktor Achim Benning, Dramaturg Rupert Weis und der Rowohlt-Theaterverlag organisierten den Schmuggel der Manuskripte über die Grenze. Havel pries die Burg als sein “Muttertheater” (materské divadlo).

Ekel vor Intellektuellen

Foto: Erich Lessing

Joachim Bissmeier traf bravourös die existenzielle Traurigkeit und Unbeugsamkeit des Alter-Ego Ferdinand Vanek, ein Schriftsteller, der wie Havel zur Zwangsarbeit in einer Brauerei verdonnert wurde. Der Braumeister muss der Polizei Überwachungsprotokolle schicken, scheitert aber am Formulieren. Der Dichter nimmt ihm die Arbeit ab. In den Fortsetzungen debattiert Vanek seine Freiheitsideale mit bürgerlichen Aufsteigern (“Vernissage”) und Intellektuellen (“Protest”). Und wendet sich angeekelt von denen ab.

Im Jänner 1977 wird die “Charta 77” bekannt, an der Havel mitgeschrieben hat. Die Amnesty-Gruppe Burgtheater lud zur Solidaritätsaufführung – und Kreisky, Sinowatz, Taus, Busek kamen. Wie nach der Premiere im Oktober fuhr eine Tafel mit dem Namen des Dissidenten aus dem Schnürboden.


Briefe als kleine Fenster im Gefängnis

(cb) Erich Lessing hat auf ebay Glück gehabt. Dort hat er ein Exemplar von Vaclav Havels “Briefe an Olga” ergattert. Dieses Buch ist nämlich vergriffen. Also nicht ganz. Denn der Thomas Reche Verlag hat einige der Briefe Havels aus dem Gefängnis neu herausgegeben. In dem Buch sind Briefe aus dem Jahr 1981 mit Bildern des Magnum-Fotografen Lessing illustriert (“Fünfzehn Stimmungen”). Es sind einerseits Fotos, die Lessing in den Jahren 1956 bis 1958 in Prag gemacht hat (siehe Bild). Auf der anderen Seite sind es Bilder, die das Eingesperrtsein verbildlichen: Mauern, tiefe Brunnen, kleine Fenster. Die Briefe mussten durch eine strenge Zensur – Havel erzählt in einem Interview, dass er besonders kompliziert formulieren musste, damit die Texte durchgingen. Gleichzeitig war ihm bewusst, dass die Briefe als literarische Signale in der Außenwelt aufgenommen wurden. Die Texte wurden zur einzigen Leidenschaft jener Zeit. Ein versprochenes Vorwort für das Buch hat Havel nicht mehr geschafft. Aber, so Lessing, Havel hat das Buch noch gesehen. “Ich habe ein von ihm signiertes Exemplar. Vaclav Havel steht da, mit einem Herz.”

Der junge Havel, als Klassenfeind vom Studium ausgeschlossen, tippte auf der Schreibmaschine visuelle Poesie wie Ernst Jandl. Im Prager Frühling befreite er sich aus der Zwangsrolle des anonymen Dramaturgen im Theater am Geländer – einer Kleinbühne unter der Leitung von Jan Grossman. Der inszenierte 1965 Havels in absurde Höhen geschraubte Totalitarismus-Satire “Benachrichtigung”. Funktionäre tyrannisieren die Bürger mit der Kunstsprache “Ptydepe”, die Knechte des Systems sind schaurige Jasager. Im “Berghotel” (1981) entlarvt sich ein totalitäres System in einsamer Höhenlage bei einem Bal macabre. Anders als Vanek resigniert hier die Hauptperson, wieder ein kritischer Schriftsteller. In “Largo desolato” gab Bissmeier einen Philosophen, traumatisiert von Verfolgung und Isolation. Er widersteht der Versuchung, proletarischer Märtyrer zu werden. Wieder waren es eigene Skrupel, die Havel zur Feder greifen ließen. Wieder wurden sie im Ausland nur von kritischen Intellektuellen und von den Hütern autoritärer Systeme verstanden. In seinem Essay “Versuch, in der Wahrheit zu leben” schrieb er 1980 Klartext, der in den Kanon der politisch-moralischen Weltliteratur einging.


Vaclav Havel’s Triumph

December 22, 2011 | by 

Vaclav Havel never received the Nobel Peace Prize.  He probably could have gotten it but, in 1991, when he was most celebrated as the dissenter and long-term political prisoner who had become the hero of Czechoslovakia’s “Velvet Revolution” and then its democratically elected president, he campaigned for its presentation to someone else.  He said it should be given to Aung San Suu Kyi and, with his support, she was chosen.  Not long before that, the Burmese military junta had cancelled an election after voting had taken place and it became clear that her political party, the National League of Democracy, would win more than 80 percent of the seats in Parliament.  She had been placed under house arrest.

Right now, a political opening may be taking place in Burma.  Some political prisoners have been released (though many more remain behind bars) and Aung San Suu Kyi says she is thinking of running for Parliament.  In the 20 years since she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, she has endured long periods of house arrest and also a period of actual imprisonment.  Yet the fact that she has survived and that her country now has a chance to emerge from its long nightmare of repressive rule has a lot to do with the protection provided by the Nobel Peace Prize.  Vaclav Havel was not only the hero of the Velvet Revolution.  He is also a hero of the transformation that is still to come in Burma and in such other countries as Belarus, Cuba, and China, to which he devoted his energies in recent years.

I met Vaclav Havel only a few times.  One occasion that stands out in my memory is when he came to the headquarters of Human Rights Watch in New York, where I was then the executive director, to thank us for our efforts on behalf of Czech dissenters during the period of communist rule.  This took place when he visited New York to attend a meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations not long after he became president.  Visiting our office to meet with the entire staff was a thoughtful gesture that made everyone there feel good about the work they were doing.

My last opportunity to see Havel took place a few weeks ago when I visited Prague to speak at the Forum 2000 conference that he has organized every year.  Because he had been ill, it was not certain that he would appear at his own conference.  Many of the participants knew that it would probably be their last chance to see him.  When he did appear, and expressed solidarity with those still struggling against repression, it provided a palpable thrill that I think was shared by all of us listening to him.  Not inclined to politics, he was more intent on practicing his profession as a playwright.  Yet he had become a central figure in the most important political struggles of our time, always as the champion of those whose cause seemed most hopeless.  His death is an occasion for deep mourning and, simultaneously, for celebration of the triumph of the human spirit.


Posted on on December 12th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

The “Monday After” the papers asked: Was the European Summit a “Fiasko” or a “Quality Jump?” The papers also wonder about the effectiveness of the “Durban Platform” having noted the strong involvement of the EU 27 in the Durban Conference fight. The Minister says it ended with a breakthrough – others say it was a “Mogelpackung.”

By the way – I happen personally to know know what a “Mogelpackung” is. Back years ago in New York some character sold me what I thought was a video-camera, but in reality it was just the box filled with trash. Surely I could have tried to accuse him of fraud but I preferred to condemn myself to a form of self-punishment for having been so brain weak – laughed it off and wrote off my loss on my self-education bill.  That was easy then, but what should an European State do now? Global 2000 NGO spokesman Wahlmueller said simply that another year in the war against climate change was just lost. We think he is right.

What happened in Brussels was indeed a “Tour de Force” of the Merkozy motor (Mme. Merkel and Herr Sarkozy) leading to the political exit of Mr. Cameron.  Yes, English will continue to be the diplomatic language of the evolving new European Union, but the UK is free to sail off to the Anglo-Saxon bloc led by the US – that is if the US can get its act together and lead again!

To the travails of the British Islands we attach an article from today’s New York Times – this just to say that the problems with the UK are  also internal.  This will be our only borrowed article of this posting – all the other material is of our own making, and as  we decided to write this up as we realized that we are not the only ones to think the way we do.
In effect at  an off the record meeting at the Vienna Diplomatic Academy  we heard that in Brussels it is understood that going it alone, the individual 27, do not amount to much.

In the real world of the 21st century it seems that as Thomas Friedman observed – the Globalized World is Flat – HOT, FLAT, and CROWDED. We add to this that it is important as well to think about how you draw the flat Map of the World. The realistic way is to put the Americas in the center of the map with the Pacific Ocean to the West – the left – and the Atlantic Ocean to the East – the right – with the Northern Hemisphere that includes among other States, the US and China on top – the North.

This maps shows the Trans-Pacific connection of the US to Japan, Australia and Indonesia, and the Trans-Atlantic connection to Europe and Africa.  In this map European Russia is in the periphery, but Asian Russia shows up closer.

A different map is the Euro-centric map. This map keeps Europe and Africa in the center with what the Europeans called the Western Hemisphere – the Americas – to the West – or left – and the huge Asian mass – all of it – to the East or right. The interesting thing is that on this map you see that Europe is just a small part at the West End of the Eurasian land-mass.

The history we learned in school was written by Europeans, and we never were given the true notion that in the last few hundred years it was the European tail that wagged the big Asian dog. We must now relearn our history and realize that the future belongs to big Asia and Europe could have an impact only if it unites and forgets some of the past grandeur, when small European States, Spain, Portugal, France, the netherlands, the British, Belgium, Denmark, later on Italy, Germany, even Austria, having developed their navies and rented  armies,  competed as colonial powers, and made inroads starting out from the coasts of that landmass. But even then – Europe was just an archipelago of small States with the British living on an actual island off the coast of Europe. And you know what? The colonies gone, this same picture stood on, though now, when the size of markets translates into economic power, these European economic islands are shrinking in size. Also, the former colonial powers that still have overseas possessions or linkages, create additional difficulties to their potential to create an integrated Europe. Denmark for instance, joined the EU without Greenland joining as well. Others, like France, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal had to find also ways to deal with their overseas possessions and linkages to their Francophone community or the British Commonwealth.

This last Friday, the unnatural division of the EU into 17 EURO-ZONE States and 10 Non-Euro States proved untenable and a much higher level of integration was suggested at least for the EURO-ZONE to be implemented with the agreement of the non-Euro States that will be called as well to contribute to the economic safety of the laggard States. Everybody agrees that the EURO idea was premature and showed up half backed, but now if the EURO laggards are not helped the whole global economy might collapse. A much higher level of integration is needed and the start is by calling for fiscal integration to back up the Euro-spending. After a lot of haggling 26 out of the 27 did bend to allow for the loss of some of their National decision making powers. But is it enough? The British opted out, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic showed unhappiness, so did the Hungarians, but in the end it was only the UK that did not vote in the positive and they may find out that the rest of the EU might now try to live without the UK as an active participant. Considering that what was decided upon will turn out to be insufficient, it may thus come to be that the UK will not be able to find its way back in = specially as 58% of the population might instinctively accept the notion that it will be to their advantage to leave the thinking Euro-ship.

But did the British lay people look at the Durban scene? That mob of 27 Environment Ministers that did not add up to a seat at the table with the China-India-US big polluters and nay-sayers of the UNFCCC event. In effect the EU 27 ended up being in alliance with over 100 of the smaller UN fray – the Small Island States, the Least Developed States and parts of Africa. Brazil and South Africa, even though they were not in full alignment with the other BASIC States or the US, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea … the other leading developing economies were still in the lead and the 27 Europeans were tripping over each other in trying to prove that they are on the side of the good and thoughtful. Oh well!
The final result was not satisfying at all and one could have imagined a united Europe with clear power to muscle its way to more concrete results – not just something that boils down to an agreement to meet again.

Kyoto is dead for all practical purposes with Canada, Japan, Russia, New Zealand, joining the US on the sidelines – so it is disingenuous to say that the individual EU States saved the day.

Please see the internal debate now in the UK:

Partner in British Coalition Criticizes Cameron’s Veto on Europe Treaty.

Published: December 11, 2011, Printed in the New York TimesMonday,  December 12, 2011.
LONDON — Serious cracks appeared in Britain‘ s coalition government on Sunday, when Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, a Liberal Democrat, broke with the government line and said he was “bitterly disappointed” at the outcome of last week’s European summit meeting.

Mr. Clegg told the BBC that the decision by Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, to veto proposed European treaty changes left Britain in danger of being “isolated and marginalized” in Europe. He added that if he had been in charge, “of course things would have been different.”

Mr. Cameron vetoed the proposals early Friday after seeking, and failing to secure, safeguards he said were vital for the health of London’s financial sector. But with the 26 other members of the European Union either agreeing to the proposed plan outright or saying they would put the matter before their Parliaments, Mr. Cameron’s veto left Britain alone on the margins at a time of great upheaval on the Continent, with the European Union struggling to resolve its financial crisis.

On Friday, Mr. Clegg appeared to support Mr. Cameron’s decision, although he warned the Conservative Party’s anti-Europe wing against being too triumphant about the problems facing the European Union. But his stance hardened over the weekend, and on Sunday he appeared to have backtracked, or at least tried to finesse his explanation to show that was in line with his party’s pro-Europe principles.

In fact, Mr. Clegg told the BBC that when Mr. Cameron called him at 4 a.m. Friday with the news that Britain had vetoed the plan: “I said this was bad for Britain. I made it clear that it was untenable for me to welcome it.”

Mr. Clegg has already lost the confidence of many Liberal Democrats by appearing to betray the party’s position when he has supported the government on other issues, like increasing the amount of tuition colleges can charge.

After the summit meeting, many prominent Liberal Democrats went further than Mr. Clegg.

A former party leader, Paddy Ashdown, described Mr. Cameron’s veto as a “catastrophically bad move” and said it would do nothing to shield London’s financial district, the City, from future European regulations. “In the name of protecting the City, we have made it more vulnerable,” he said.

Lord Ashdown also warned that the move had alienated Europe in a way that would haunt the United Kingdom.

“The anti-European prejudice of some in the Tory party,” he said, “has now created anti-British prejudice in Europe.”

Mr. Clegg, a former member of the European Parliament, said he would now “fight, fight and fight again” to make sure Britain remained an influential force inside the European Union. He said he would resist “tooth and nail” efforts by some Conservatives to take the country completely out of the union, particularly since the United States has found Britain a useful conduit to Europe.

“A Britain that leaves the E.U. will be considered irrelevant by Washington and a pygmy in the world, when I want us to stand tall in the world,” he said.

Mr. Clegg criticized Conservatives who had hailed Mr. Cameron as a “British bulldog” for his tough line on Europe.

“There’s nothing bulldog about Britain hovering somewhere in the mid-Atlantic, not standing tall in Europe, not being taken seriously in Washington,” he said.

To which one Conservative member of Parliament, Mark Pritchard, retorted, “Better to be a British bulldog than a Brussels poodle,” The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Cameron, meanwhile, was welcomed as a hero by his party’s anti-Europe right wing. “Up Eurs,” was the headline in Rupert Murdoch’s populist, anti-European tabloid newspaper, The Sun, along with a photograph of Mr. Cameron in a Churchillian bowler hat, holding two fingers up to Europe — the equivalent of an American middle finger.

“He did what I would have expected Margaret Thatcher to have done,” Andrew Rosindell, a Conservative member of Parliament, said approvingly.

But Kenneth Clarke, the Justice secretary and the Conservatives’ most prominent pro-Europe member, said in a radio interview that Mr. Cameron’s veto was a “disappointing, very surprising outcome.” He said he would be listening carefully to the prime minister’s statement in Parliament on the matter on Monday.

As upset as he is, Mr. Clegg said he did not want the coalition government to collapse.

“It would be even more damaging for us as a country if the coalition government was to fall apart,” he said. “That would cause economic disaster for the country at a time of great economic uncertainty.”



Posted on on October 30th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Today, Sunday October 30, 2011, the day Europe moves the clock an hour backwards and prepares for the All Saints Holiday, preceded by some American Halloween parties, I went on a tour of inner Vienna City with people from the  Department of Development Studies/University of Vienna, and guests from Thailand.  Appropriately we met at the “Pestsaeule am Graben” the memorial to one of the black plague infestations that are part of the history of Europe.

I knew that this multi level monument was  a thank you note to Heaven for having helped the ruler of the time vanquish the Plague that was brought about as a punishment to the people for having strayed from strict Catholicism. I knew that the target of thanks was the Holly Trinity that is represented on top of the structure with events on earth at the bottom of the structure, and all sorts of angels as the go-in-between part of the column.  But what I did not know, until I heard the explanation from Vienna guide “Elisabeth” was that the column is in effect triangular at its base, and not quadratic as I was given the impression previously.

The number 3 is not only because of the theological Trinity, but what is more important in fact – the three titles of the Habsburg Emperors who Where Archdukes of Austria, Kings of Hungary, and Kings of Bohemia (that is basically the Czech Republic of today). They could not be Kings of Austria because they were already Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire and as such rulers of Austria anyway – so they invented the non-existent previously Archduke title just to make sure that their title is more then the usual Duke title of European nobility.  The three countries that were the central kernel of the Habsburg Empire – the future Austr0-Hungarian Empire – have their crests depicted as part of the transition to the central part of the column from the starting triangular base.

Now we see the number 3 in the lower part of the structure morphing into the Trinity 3 of the top and people of the time had to be impressed of this transformation in their reverence of the Emperor who led them out of the misery of the plague.

To end this part of my narrative – let me say here that a fuller description of the Plague-column follows at the end of the posting – but I am sure you guessed that this posting is not about the column, and that I have indeed other things on my mind – but please remember the number 3.

When I saw this political importance of the number 3 I had to say aloud  that is great – it also keeps away the #4 and #5, so let me see how this applies to the Europe of today and the world that wants to see Europe as a united one to go with the G2 (China and the US) in order to turn the geopolitics to the trinity of a G3. And here, Dr. Wolfram Schaffar observed that the EU 27 divides by 3 and I saw the light that 27= 3×3 and I said – voila – this is it – we must get the EU aim at a G3 for its own survival. The plague is at its door if it does not unite.

The truth is that this morning I had a chance to see the papers and read my e-mail before leaving the house. I knew that the so called achievement of a financial rescue is built on the good will of China to fund the Merkel-Sarkozi agreement. But the papers say that Norway, India, Brazil – already said they are not interested in investing in EU paper I.O.Us.

I also read that China did not just buy Volvo, but SAAB as well. Does anyone believe that China will invest in just papers? Will they not require rather a pound of flesh? All this because the EU is not united in a way that tells the EURO-Printer to simply print out money the way the Greeks now say they wish they could still print old Drachma’s? We said this a long time ago that printing Federal Bonds is just a fake way of doing the same thing as printing directly currency. The people of Occupy Wall Street understand this – but the people who inhabit the Wall Street offices do not want to look in that direction because it would turn them back into what they were intended for – plain banks that store money and lend it – that is it. No financial monopoly games in bonds and derivatives of derivatives of loans. But this was not intended as a Wall Street posting. It was an EU Plague-piece inspired by the realization that a United Europe has all the attributes of a global power that has its own economy, currency and market size to sit at the global  table with China and the US, and while understood that India and Brazil will be next to be invited to this table.

You start looking at the economy-change plague caused by the high tech revolution in communication and production by standing on a triangular base (a binary system – based on 2 – is an oversimplification because the real world has further nuances. #3 is the minimum you can stand up with, if you move away from dictatorial #1 systems so the Trinity was a return to humanity from the strict monotheism of the Hebrews).  But let us not get further into this either, as we do not write on theology – but on plain old Europe that is now on the brink of economic extinction. The continent that colonized the rest of the World is about to be digested by others because of its economic fratricide. The papers in Vienna write about the Chinese leader that will be in Austria for two days on the way to the G20 meeting in France. I am sure Austria will role out the golden red carpet for him and take away some of his tourism time with business initiatives to be followed up later. Very good, but the best deals can be had between equals, and Austria is not the equal to China, and Ambassador Mayr-Harting, who represent not Austria anymore but the EU at the UN in New York, has really not a United EU propping him up in World negotiations.


I have seen Halloween spelled here this year as Hell-o-Wien   whatever this party tomorrow at the Ottakring brewery might mean. That is the day the full Boeing 747-400 of Air China will have deposited 160 members of an economic Chinese delegation headed by President  Hu Jintao, accompanied by First Lady Liu Yongqing, who will occupy appropriately the Imperial Hotel for two nights before moving on for a third night to the near SAlzburg Schlosshotel Fuschl that has seen many business meetings in the past. Considering the large presence in Austria of Free Tibet and Falun Gong groups, an entourage of 70 Chinese Security people came along to help direct the whole Austrian security manpower that will lay lame the city for the All Saints day which is not a working day here – but then all Government and Parliament people, not just the Austrian President Hans Fischer, will be at hand nevertheless. So it shall be done to the head of the most important financial Superpower these days. Having seen a photo of a well covered Austrian crack-Security fighter – I will attest that his looks were inspired by the seasoned warriors of the Middle Kingdom – or they got the uniform from the collection of the Museum of Armed Forces. But this was clearly not reciprocated as the Chinese come in a American made Boeing rather then  in an Airbus made in Europe. Maybe China will suggest buying the Airbus line and moving it to China. Actually why not?


The Wiener Pestäule or Dreifaltigkeitssäule can be found in the centre of Vienna?s most exclusive shopping street, the Graben. The word literally means “ditch” and refers to one that ran along the lane during Roman Times. Today, it is a rather strange blend of Gründerzeit villas with boutiques, tons of tourists, and a few Baroque remains.

Apart from a Baroque Palace and the Peterskirche Church, the most central Baroque eye-catcher is a sculpture that many foreigners find very unusual: The Pestäule orDreifaltigkeitssäule (meaning: Plaque- or Trinity Column) is a tower of clouds, saints, angels and Habsburgs (not necessarily in this order). It is the most important example of an entire genre of sculptures all over Central Europe.

At the base – which is triangular in its outlay – you find a kneeling Emperor Leopold I, easily recognizable by his enormous (and enormously ugly) chin. The Vienna Trinity Column is the most famous and oldest piece of a whole genreof columns that can be found in various cities mostly in Austria, Bohemia and Bavaria.

The Origin of the Trinity Column in Vienna

According to legend, its erection is directly linked to one of Vienna?s last really nasty plaque epidemics in 1679. As usual when things turned bad, the Emperor (Leopold I in this case) left the city immediately. But he promised to come back and erect a column to commemorate the events as soon as the plaque would cease. The reasoning was probably something like this: If god really wants a fancy column to his glory, he will stop bugging the Viennese with disease sooner than normal.

I don?t know to what extent this would hold up to contemporary theological concepts, but I do know that even art historians have difficulties with this explanation. In fact, trinity columns were a common tool for the Habsburg propaganda of the counter-reformation. They were built to impress and educate common people: About the glory of (the Catholic) god and why he is directly linked to the Habsburg family.

Back to the original story: Once the plaque had ceased, there was indeed a column erected in 1679. However, it was a very plain wooden one and nothing compared to the Trinity Column you can now see on the Graben. It wasn?t until the end of the Second Turkish Siege in 1683 and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire that the Emperor decided to built a proper Trinity Column as a memorial for the Holy Trinity, to commemorate the plaque, the Turkish defeat and his own glory. This was a costly enterprise: Plaque, Turks and Protestant wars (such as the 30-Years-War until 1648) had prevented the Habsburg from accumulating too much wealth.

Pestsäule Vienna: Mother of all Trinity Columns

Between 1683 and 1693, various important artists of the Austrian Baroque worked on the design – most notably Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlachand Paul Strudel. The core of the column was made of brick, but the sculptures and relief structures on the outside are made of (often guilded) marble from the Untersberg in Salzburg. Only the statue of Emperor Leopold I is made of a different kind of marble from South Tyrol. Since the “opening” in 1693, innumerable PhDs were written on the Trinity Column and its implications for the Baroque age and the Habsburg Society.

The Trinity Column of Vienna became an iconic model for many similar projects in other cities of the Habsburg Empire. They are usually dedicated to the virgin Mary – partly because she is the patron saint for times of crisis, but also because the adoration of Mary is a typically Catholic feature. In the days of the counter-reformation, a pro-Mary statement was always anti-Protestant. The Vienna Trinity Column was renovated recently and is now a shiny landmark at the heart of the city just as it was in the 17th century.

Attractions nearby include the Stephansdom Cathedral, the Michaelerplatz and the Hofburg, the Albertina, the Staatsoper, the Minoritenkirche, the…well, it is in the centre of Vienna, so approximately 80 percent of the city?s attractions are within walking distance.



Posted on on October 9th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

This posting is a work in progress and its main intention is to point out for now the particular event with Umberto Echo, to be held at the Burgtheater, Vienna, on the night of Wednesday, October 19, 2011.

Also, I want to put on notice our readers that having seen tonight the latest play by Peter Handke, I feel a relationship between the play and the Umbert Eco novel which I am sure has in it material that will eventually have it produced as a play as well. I would not be surprised if the two plays will not eventually be seen as complimentary to each other. In the meantime – I will just say that for 2011, it is Handke’s play that might be the most significant production of this season in the Vienna theaters, and the Umberto Eco book presentation the most important all around literary event of the year

Umberto Eco is one of the world’s best selling authors due to his novel The Prague Cemetery – published in October 2010. The book is a worldwide bestseller (being the best selling book in Italy, Spain, Argentina, Mexico and others) that sold millions of copies as of 2010 – now, a year since the first publication in Italian, we will hear him in Vienna release the German translation.

The characters of this novel are not imaginary. Except the main character who is imaginary so the plot can evolve,  all others lived in reality and include – Sigmund FreudLéo TaxilDiana VaughanEugène Sue and Maurice Joly, as well as Umberto Eco’s own grandfather – that gave a mysterious message to abbot Barruelo that gave rise to all modern anti-Semitism”. These were the the forgery known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion that inspired Hitler’s extermination of the Jews.

Eco deals with the Dreyfus affair and endless intrigue spun by the secret police of different countries, the Masons,  Jesuit plots, and other events whose accuracy can’t ever be authenticated, but that serve as fodder for feuilletons 150 years later.


Eco, as philosopher, is intrigued by the vision of things – real and fake and the potential strength of the untrue. We see how history is affected by the untrue. It took Eco six years to release this work – six years since his 2004 book “The Secret Flame of Queen Loana.”

In “The Cemetery of Prague” the fictitious central figure is Captain Simone Simonini who does an archaeologists work, as if he were using tiny brushes to release the memory from the debris that stuck to it.

The Burgtheater event includes a podium discussion with Alexandra Foederl-Schmid of Der Standard and Michael Kerbler of Oe1 – Austrian TV – that promises wide media coverage.
Also, reading from the book will be done by Peter Matic whose voice is fabulous and he, having been a Burgtheater actor is also famous for Ben Kingsley’s voice on German speaking TV.

The Peter Handke play is done like a dream with memories drifting from above like leaves falling from a tree and with reality and photo-memories intermingling so that Hanke’s stand in just moves in and out from the pictures of the past. What evolves from all of this is the story of a Slovenian family from Kernten State in the South of Austria and the neighboring Balkan States starting with pre-WWII and moving through the third Reich into the following Jugoslav State. The play is hard and in order to do it justice I got the text and will follow up in depth.

But, before I close this first piece, I must note the terrific and maddening Balkan dance of the whole family – those that were still around and the dead ones – affirming their personality – or if you wish their cultural identity – or even a form of Nationalism. From that moment it went down-hill sadness and resignation with the fate.

One more comment – and this in private to Flora who saw the Handke play. If you read this – please go to the Umberto Eco event as well to try to view this as a follow up.

Immer noch Sturm


Posted on on September 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


The Balkans will only become a permanently stable region when all the countries that comprised the former Yugoslavia are accepted as members of the European Union, Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today.

Speaking during the Assembly’s annual general debate, Nickolay Mladenov – whose country became an EU member in 2007 – noted that the EU “was created to make war impossible in a continent that has seen at least a century of conflicts.

“Europe shall not be whole and complete until our neighbours in the Balkans are part of our Union,” adding that only membership will “make war impossible.”

The Balkans endured a series of vicious conflicts during the 1990s after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, and only one country to have emerged from that State – Slovenia – is now a member of the EU.

Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro are official candidate countries, while Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia have been recognized as potential candidates. The EU currently has 27 member countries.

Mr. Mladenov said Bulgaria would work to promote regional cooperation and neighbourly relations across the Balkans, and particularly encourage the EU-facilitated dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo.

“Bulgaria welcomes the pragmatic approach taken by both Kosovo and Serbia during their first meetings. It is important that they build on this momentum and continue to engage in a constructive and pragmatic manner,” he added.

“All must show restraint and prevent the build-up of tension. This is vital for the security, prosperity and – ultimately – for the European perspective of the region.”

* * *


Transitioning to democracy brings with it challenges and must be an inclusive and locally-driven process, the leaders of Hungary and the Czech Republic told the General Assembly today as they drew lessons from their own experiences two decades ago to apply to the current situations in North Africa and the Middle East.

“I want to stress that systemic change cannot be agreed upon or pre-arranged at international conferences, and that it cannot be mediated of passively ‘acquired’ as a foreign investment,” Czech President Václav Klaus said in his address to the Assembly’s annual general debate.

“It is a domestic task and it is a sequence of policies – not a once-for-all policy change.”

Mr. Klaus also said the democratic transitions in countries such as Tunisia, Libya and Egypt should lead to increased trade with Europe to create prosperity and stability in the region.

Hungarian President Pál Schmitt cautioned the emerging democracies that there will be challenges in establishing new structures of power, drafting new constitutions and ensuring credible elections.

“The Hungarian society has, on the one hand, already met successfully many of these challenges and, on the other hand, has also made some avoidable mistakes. We therefore feel equipped to share our experience and offer a substantive toolkit for good governance and democratic change.”

Separately, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today discussed a range of issues, including developments in the Middle East and the economic situation in the European Union, with the President of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski, when the two met on the margins of the General Assembly’s general debate.

Poland holds the current Presidency of the Council of the European Union and Mr. Ban and Mr. Komorowski also discussed UN-EU relations.


Posted on on September 12th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Vienna papers this past week, this weekend, and today, Monday, September 12, 2011, are full with reporting of events from the US and studies via analysis interpreting the global situation looking at how these last 10 years have changed the US position in the world.

One such group of studies appeared in Der Standard –… – authored by Professor Heinz Gärtner,  of he OEIIP – The Austrian Institute for International Affairs…

The weekend Der Standard had whole sections about 9/11. The other papers might have had less in quantity but also came up with interesting articles – Die Presse i.e. had an article by Erich Kocina who spoke with Anas Schakfeh, then the head of Islam in Austria, who immediately in 2001 stated – “This is not good for Muslims.”

Anyway, today, the Monday after the memorials, “Heute” had on its front page “WIR WEINEN MIT NEW YORK” – WE CRY WITH NEW YORK.


At the UN enclave at the Vienna International Center the memorial was held only today – Monday. It was in the Rotunda – the round area from which radiate the corridors to the ‘Alphabet Buildings.”  The topic:

“Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the 11 September Attacks United Nations Vienna Office Honours Victims of Terrorism.” – that is terrorism in general not just 9/11.

To be crystal clear – the UN says: “All the victims of terrorism worldwide are being remembered in a special event at the United Nations in Vienna today.”

Fair enough for an international organization where some Member States either do not believe that the acts of terror of 9/11 were committed by Islamic Radicals, or their hatred of the US is open for all to see anyway. Having said this, we add nevertheless that I found the event in good taste and rather with acceptable honesty. I also include the posting of the speech by the US Ambassador who also had no problem with delving into all other acts of terrorism because the reaction to these acts is what binds us together these days. The terrorists are the outcasts!

On one side of the Rotunda there were eleven panels holding each the picture of the front page of a journal dated September 12, 2001 – with screaming photos and titles of the atrocity that was committed against the United States.

In front of that series of panels there was the speakers’ stand, and in front of the stand a map that showed the countries that had citizens among the nearly 3,000 people killed on 9/11. On the lower part of that map there was the list of 90 countries that lost citizens of their own on that day.

I have heard the number 90 before – I was familiar with it – but I never saw this in a map form. I looked at the map and was amazed – trust me that I do not make this up.


The whole MAGHREB, Sudan, All The GULF STATES, The whole Muslim part of the Horn of Africa – all of these States – not a single victim. Yes – we know that the perpetrators were mainly  from Saudi Arabia, with a sprinkle from the UAE (2), Lebanon (1) and Egypt (1) – I just saw their faces again courtesy of Der Standard – let them turn in their ashes.

We know that many of the States mentioned had oil business and financial dealings at the World Trade Center. They had trainees and professionals on banks’ staff – how were they so lucky not to be there at the T-time? I wonder if it will ever be possible to explain this simple coincidence.? Having shown that map – we consider it an act of courage of the UN.

To repeat one more time – the fact that nobody from Antarctica, Greenland, Mongolia, The Small Island States of the Pacific, or the African Sahel was among those killed at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon is clear, but how is it that in the whole expanse of the MENA (Middle East-North Africa) countries – it is only Egypt, Yemen, Ethiopia, and Kenya that had victims of 9/11?

The UN release says that there were “more then 2,800 victims” from “over 70 countries.” The facts are…  – there are close to 3,000 names on the new memorial – to be exact 2,996 – and to be sure – these names do NOT include the hijackers. Further, the map/list that  I saw had 10 columns of names of States with 9 names in each column – and 9X10 = 90. I hope the UN New York – takes notice.


The event was chaired by Mr. Janos Tisovszky,  Director of Information Service at UNOV, and it was mainly in the hands of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which is the largest tenant of the VIC.

Mr. Tisovsxky said that the meeting intends to honor the victims and to express solidarity against terrorism. He noted that the Directors General and the other heads of the UN institutions headquartered in Vienna, sit literally shoulder to shoulder with the US Ambassador.

The Opening speaker was Mr. Yury Fedotov, Director-General of UNOV and Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

He was followed by Mr. Yukiya Amano, Director General IAEA, and Mr. Tibor Toth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban- Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

The Closing remarks were made by US Ambassador Gkyn Davies who was actually the initiator of the event.


Mr. Fedotov said that the terrorists who carried out the “senseless, criminal” attacks on the United States that day did not succeed in destroying the common bonds of humanity – on the contrary, they made them stronger.   “All countries, all peoples were united in their condemnation of this atrocity,” he said.  “We are all united by our common rejection of terrorism which finds no sanctuary in any nationality, any religion nor any legitimate political philosophy.” He noted that the UN fights terrorism with projects like the MDGs to give people aspirations for a good life. We want to encourage people living by the rule of law and reject terrorism.

As terrorist acts continue to be a serious threat to peace and security around the world, Mr. Fedotov stressed that more needs to be done to combat this global scourge, especially through enhanced international cooperation and exchange of information.  He also drew attention to the links between terrorism and trans-national organized crime with criminal profits increasingly finding their way to support terrorism.

Mr. Fedotov honored specifically the memory of all the  23 people recently killed, and many more injured, in the bombing of the UN office in Abuja, Nigeria.  Eleven of those killed were UN colleagues.

Mr. Amano said: As the IAEA works to protect the world against the risk of nuclear terrorism, he renewed his pledge that nuclear security will remain a high priority throughout his tenure as Director General.Mr.Toth went on enlarging the list of past acts of terrorism – Paris, London, Mumbai, Moscow, … Abuja.

Ambassador Davies continued painting this larger picture of terrorism in order to reach the conclusion that we must be united.


Remarks by US Ambassador Glyn Davies:

September 12, 2011
Vienna International Centre

Directors General Fedotov and Amano, Executive Secretary Toth, and indeed all the heads of the international organizations who are present this afternoon, I thank you for participating in this commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.  Mr. Yumkella, Dr. Othman, welcome.

And, to all of you: Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, thank you all for taking the time today to join us for this simple, solemn event.  Ten years ago yesterday, nearly three thousand people from more than ninety countries died in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.  We come together today to honor their memory.

We also assemble today to remember and honor the victims of terrorism everywhere in the world.  We gather to mark our unity of purpose in confronting and countering any and all who seek to achieve political or religious ends through the senseless slaughter of innocent men, women, and children.

New York, and America, were struck ten years ago, but terrorism affects us all.  The list of nations recovering from terrorist attacks is long.  I say “recovering”, for indeed we, the nations and people of the world, have proven resilient.  What terrorists destroy, we rebuild, we re-consecrate, we rededicate.

After the 2002 Bali bombings, Indonesia demonstrated its resilience by holding a festival to commemorate the victims on the very beach where so many were slaughtered.  Madrid re-built its train station after the 2004 atrocities that killed nearly 200 injured more than 1000.  By the first anniversary of the London transit attacks that killed 52 in 2005, the transit system had been fully returned to normal.  In the United States, the collapse of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center laid waste to a large swath of Lower Manhattan.  And yet, by May of 2002, mere months later, the clean-up of the site was completed.  Today, a shining new edifice, One World Trade Center, is reaching up into New York’s skyline, and will soon claim its rightful place as the tallest building in North America.

But of course this isn’t about buildings, it’s about the people.  The children of those who died on September 1, 2001, are growing up.  Families have found the strength to cope with their grief, and indeed have formed networks to assist one another and other victims of terrorism.  And just as communities have come together to support those in need following terrorist attacks, the same is happening around the world.

From Bali to Beslan, Athens to Amman, Kigali to Kampala, people of all faiths from the four corners of the globe have united in their resolve to condemn terrorism and to offer support to victims.  In 2009 a suicide bomber killed five Pakistani staff members at the United Nations World Food Program in Islamabad.  One victim’s husband reached out to friends and survivors of violence to establish the Pakistan Terrorism Survivors Network, which works to help the wounded and family members overcome trauma and rebuild their lives.

And the solidarity, the strength displayed after terrorist attacks is not just local, it is global.  We all stood united with India after the cowardly attacks across Mumbai.  We all rejoiced when hostages held by the FARC in Colombia were rescued after six long years of captivity.  We grieved as one for the many thousands of civilians lost to car bombings in Iraq.  And after the deadly havoc wrought by one man recently in Norway, we rallied to stand by our Norwegian colleagues and renewed our common commitment to stand up to any and all who would use such appalling means to achieve political ends.

So how fitting that we mark 9/11’s ten-year anniversary in this place, this great rotunda of the Vienna International Centre, home to so many vital multilateral organizations whose work touches directly or indirectly on the challenge of countering terrorism.  For international organizations are indispensable partners in this effort, and international public servants have often borne the brunt of terrorist attacks.  We all well remember the terrorist attack on United Nations offices in Iraq in 2003, which killed 22 people, including UN envoy Sergio de Mello.  And only a few days ago United Nations offices were attacked in Nigeria. One of the UNODC’s own – Ingrid Midtgaard – lost her life, along with at least 22 others, in this most recent act of violence, and we offer our condolences.  The very nature of the UN’s work as a champion of freedom and international cooperation puts all who dedicate their lives to serving humanity at direct odds with terrorists.

But you are not alone.  Even before the death of Usama Bin Laden, the overwhelming majority of people saw that the murder of innocents did not bring about a better life for anyone.  People across the Middle East and North Africa continue to reject extremism, and are charting a path of peaceful progress based on universal rights and aspirations.

So, from Mumbai to Manila, Lahore to London, New York to Nairobi, we have witnessed resilience and solidarity.  Terrorism remains a threat, but our common human spirit has endured and emerged, stronger than ever.  We have not succumbed to the grief and fear that terrorists seek to spread.

On the contrary, since September 11, 2001, countries across the globe have responded collectively to reduce the threat of terrorism.  We have sharply diminished the capabilities of terrorist groups through the combined, collaborative efforts of the international community.  Together, we have answered the terrorists’ attempts to weaken or destroy our societies.  Our message of hope, of support for peace, security, and universal human rights is far more compelling than any message of hate, discrimination, and death.

The tenth anniversary of September 11 is an especially moving moment for Americans.  We are ten years on, but the pain and grief has hardly abated.  And that compels me to thank all of you profoundly for coming here today and joining us in this simple event.

Colleagues, Friends,

Here, gathered as the missions and the staff of the United Nations and the international organizations headquartered in Vienna, here in this great international city, I can think of no more appropriate charge to all of us than that voiced by UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold: “No peace which is not peace for all, no rest until all has been fulfilled.”

And that is the thought I wish to leave you with.  We gather today to share our common commitment to peace for all, and our common determination not to rest until terrorism is defeated.  We gather to make known our unified message: Terrorism will not prevail. We are vigilant.  We remember and honor those we have lost.  And we pursue our lives with confidence, not fear.

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for joining us here today.


and looking back at news reports from places not called New York or Washington:

9/11 Global Memorials, Tinged With Weariness.

By Published, The New York Times,  September 11, 2011…

PARIS — On Sunday, however briefly, nations around the world came together with the United States to remember the attacks on New York and the Pentagon that killed nearly 3,000 people from 90 countries.

Commemorations were held from Indonesia to Israel, with many political and religious leaders expressing their commitment to democracy and the fight against terrorism. But there was also weariness, with smaller-than-expected crowds in some cities and numerous commentaries noting the wars that followed Sept. 11 and the attacks’ more negative impacts — on civil liberties, air travel, international law and the United States’ reputation.

There was an overnight suicide bombing involving an explosives-packed truck in Afghanistan, the arrests of terrorism suspects in Berlin and Sweden and heightened security alerts most everywhere. There was analysis about how democratic values have triumphed in the Arab Spring, which has been seen as a defeat for Al Qaeda. But even with Osama bin Laden dead, Al Qaeda or its offshoots remain active in the chaotic areas of Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and the Maghreb, and its ideology still inspires some to plan attacks against the United States and its allies.

Although NATO is at war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, 10 years later, the European allies have tired of the war and are pressing for negotiations with the Taliban.

In Pakistan, where opinion surveys show most people doubt that Al Qaeda was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, the government ignored the anniversary, except to put an advertisement in The Wall Street Journal describing Pakistan as a victim, not a perpetrator, of terrorism.

In Germany, where the attacks were planned, there was a quiet commemoration, an interfaith service at the American Church in Berlin. Three days after the attacks, about 200,000 people had gathered near the Brandenburg Gate, but barely 200 showed up for a moment of silence on Sunday. “I thought there would be a few more people,” said Alan Benson, who helped organize the program and held an American flag. “First there was empathy with Americans, but as a consequence of the wars there are a lot of misgivings now.”

In Hamburg, Germany, where the lead 9/11 hijacker, Mohammed Atta, and several of the other plotters lived at Marienstrasse 54, Mayor Olaf Scholz ordered flags at half-staff on public buildings.

Britain, which lost 67 of its citizens on Sept. 11, held several commemorations. It has been America’s principal military partner in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade, and 559 British soldiers have died in the wars there.

In London, remembrances were led by Prince Charles and Prime Minister David Cameron and included many relatives of the 9/11 victims. The ceremony was held at the London memorial garden for the victims in Grosvenor Square, across a park from the United States Embassy.

After family members read the names of those who were killed, relatives, including children not yet born on the day of the attacks, walked into the arbor and laid white roses on a memorial stone that is atop a piece of twisted metal taken from the rubble at ground zero.

Prince Charles said he could identify with the families’ grief, having lost his uncle and mentor, Lord Louis Mountbatten, in a 1979 terrorist bombing in Northern Ireland. “For so many of those left behind,” he said, it had been “a continuing, awful agony that has to be endured day by day.”

In Rome, the Colosseum was illuminated on Sunday night as a gesture of mourning. The Italian president, Giorgio Napolitano, wrote President Obama of the need to “look forward and reinforce that international and multilateral solidarity that supported us 10 years ago.” Pope Benedict XVI urged world leaders to address “the grievances that give rise to acts of violence.” Terrorism in the name of God, the pope said, was a kind of abomination, adding, “No circumstances can ever justify acts of terrorism.”

In Paris, the main commemoration was across from the Eiffel Tower on the rainy Place du Trocadero, where 10-story replicas of the twin towers were covered with the names of the victims and messages from the French. Some 1,300 people came. A large sign in French and English read: “Sept. 11, 2001. The French will never forget.” One organizer, the businessman Patrick du Tertre, said, “We want the Americans to know that we love them, that we are their allies, that we remember and that we share their sorrow.”

On Friday, the American ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin, held a small ceremony in his garden with President Nicolas Sarkozy, who delivered a fiercely pro-American speech.

“In the darkest hours of its history, France has always been able to count on the American people,” he said. “Without you, the Americans, we would not have been able to keep our freedom. So on 11 September, when terrorists struck at the heart of America, every French citizen felt the blow.”

In Oslo, there was a sense of affinity with the United States after the July 22 killings by Anders Behring Breivik, who took 77 lives. He claimed to be acting to defend Europe from Islam, an obsession that began with the Sept. 11 attacks.

Kari Gasvatn, a commentator for the newspaper Nationen, said that both attacks were challenges to democracy and raised questions about what kind of society to build afterward. “Both attacks show how vulnerable we can be,” she said. “Skyscrapers can collapse on a sunny autumn day. Young people can be massacred on a peaceful Norwegian island.”
Asle Toje, a political analyst, said that in Norway, as in most of Europe, the initial sympathy for America after 9/11 was “followed by a lack of enthusiasm, you might say, for the way 9/11 was exploited for political purposes.”
The war in Iraq was connected to 9/11, he said, “and that has made sentiments about 9/11 a lot more complicated.”
Russia marked the anniversary with a powerful evocation of the Holocaust, a subject that was off limits for much of the Soviet era. The Russian National Orchestra performed Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13, “Babi Yar,” and Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 3, titled “Kaddish.”
Russians recalled the outpouring of sympathy 10 years ago and the sense, however fleeting, that the threat of Islamic terrorism meant that Russia and the United States were aligned. Yevgeniya Pishchikova pointed to deeper shifts. Fear has become so reflexive, she wrote in Moscow News, that conversations in hair salons touch on the changes in the Muslim world, the riots in Europe and the reliable conclusion that “everything is about to crash.”
“Only one thing is clear — there is no way to live calmly,” she said. “So let’s not put on airs. Whether America appeals to you or not, let us commemorate with her the decade of global fear.”


Reporting contributed by Ellen Barry in Moscow; John F. Burns in London; Jane Perlez in Islamabad, Pakistan; Henrik Pryser Libell in Oslo; Nicholas Kulish in Berlin; Elisabetta Povoledo in Rome; Michael Wines in Beijing; Isabel Kershner in Jerusalem; and Elvire Camus and Alan Cowell in Paris.


Posted on on September 10th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

We were informed of a Press Briefing

at the Vienna International Cenre, Thursday, September 8, 2011, 1:30 p.m. on

Adaptation to Climate Change by Spatial Planning in the Alps.

This was to be about: The main results and outcomes achieved under the CLISP Project “Adaptation to Climate Change by Spatial Planning in the Alpine area” will be discussed at the CLISP international final conference organized by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Federal Environment Agency Austria, held at the Vienna International Centre at that date – on 8 September 2011, at which the Head of the UNEP Vienna Office, Harald Egerer, stressed the importance of the particular study as a platform for the development of an integrated, transnational approach toward adaptation to impacts of climate change in the highly sensitive area of the Alps.

It also said  at the margins of the Conference, high level representatives from the European Union, the Alpine Convention and Austrian agencies will take part at the Press Briefing with the purpose of illustrating present and future strategies to tackle negative effect of climate change in the Alpine space.
Speakers include:

Rosario Bento Pais
DG Climate Action, European Commission

Andre Jol
Head of vulnerability group, European Environment Agency

Marco Onida
Secretary General, Alpine Convention

George Reberning
Managing Director, Federal Environment Agency Austria


Having shown interest, later we also received a Press Release:

Climate Change Adaptation by Spatial Planning in the Alpine Space.

VIENNA, 8 September (UN Information Service) – One hundred participants from the Alpine States have gathered today at the Vienna International Centre to discuss the main results and outcomes achieved under the Adaptation to Climate Change by Spatial Planning in the Alpine Space Project (CLISP). Organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Federal Environment Agency Austria, the CLISP Final Conference was opened with a video-message from UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner.
Climate change is expected to affect spatial development in the Alpine Space, including land use, socio-economic activities and life-sustaining ecosystems services more severely than in other European regions. Temperature increase, decreasing snow cover and more severe weather extremes could cause a variety of adverse climate change impacts. Growing risks from water scarcity, heat waves and natural
hazards might threaten settlements, physical infrastructure, utilities, material assets and human lives.
Vulnerability assessment:
Funded under the EU Alpine Space Programme, the CLISP Project in its three years focused on the challenges to spatial planning in the face of climate change. The 16 CLISP partner organizations have analyzed ten Alpine model regions according to their vulnerability to climate change. Results have shown that regions, which are already sensitive to the climate extremes, are expected to be the most vulnerable regions also in the future. Even though technical measures are mostly well implemented “soft” adaptation strategies like a proper “climate-proof” spatial planning, better coordination of actions within institutions, and better risk-communication are often missing.
Climate change fitness of spatial planning systems analyzed:
The investigation of the “climate change fitness” of spatial planning systems has shown that there are already strong formal planning instruments and important informal practices at hand that could be used to respond to climate change and to coordinate cross-sectoral adaptation activities. Nevertheless, climate adaptation needs to be addressed more directly and defined as an objective of spatial planning in legislation and other frameworks.
Transnational Planning Strategy:
One of the main outcomes of the CLISP project is the Transnational Planning Strategy (TPS) that is mainly aimed at policymakers, decision-makers and political actors in spatial planning in the Alpine space as a decision-making tool for the development of suitable adaptation strategies and actions in response to climate change.
Strategic project in the field of climate change adaptation and spatial planning:
The findings of the CLISP project as well as the pan-European perspectives of climate change adaptation have been discussed with representatives from the European Commission – Directorate General for Regional Policy, Directorate General for Climate Action, the Alpine Convention, the European Environment Agency as well as with participants from other international institutions attending the CLISP final conference.
CLISP Project is a pioneering project in the field of climate change adaptation and spatial planning. Its outcomes are not only of strategic relevance for the coordinated development of climate change adaptation policies in the Alpine region, but with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme the CLISP results and experience can also be shared with other mountain regions, such as the Carpathians, Balkans and the Himalaya region.
The CLISP project can be found at
For more information please contact:

Giulia Sechi
UNEP Vienna – Interim Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060 – 4454
Email: giulia.sechi[at]


At the Press Conference there were just two journalists – myself and the Vienna editor for an industry magazine 4C, Ms. Margarette Endl who came as a guest of the organizers of what turned out to have been the “graduating” event – the release of the final documents of this stage inthe CLISP Project.

Other people in the room were part of the conference and thus asked no questions. Ms. Endl asked questions on the basis of her attendance at the morning session.
I ended up asking on the base of my general interest in the subject, and learned that since the three poles concept the subject has evolved, and I have now much more to learn about the mountain regions. As evidence of this large area – I already posted several items today based on other sources of information.

Coincidently, years ago, I was present when Ambassador Dr. Irene Freudenschuss-Reichl  introduced for Austria and UNIDO the subject of Mountain Regions to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. At the UN Mountains were always a synonym to the Himalayas like deserts, arid and semiarid lands are a synonym to Africa – but she was already then speaking about Austria and the Alps. Now the subject has evolved and we speak of regions within this large area previously included in the Alpine region.

I mentioned the three poles where the Himalayas are the third pole – and asked if we should talk now of five poles – including the Alps and the Andes – while leaving out the lesser areas like the mountains of New Zealand – because the region is rather small or Africa where the melting of the snows of Kilimanjaro has sort of eliminated the problem. I knew this was a rather provocative question and got a very good answer from Mr. Pier Carlo Sandei where he explained that the mountain regions are not just about the disappearance of the glaciers – but rather about the moving up of vegetation lines – thus a general  changing in the nature in the mountains because of Climate Change and other reasons. This is a general UNEP interest and the subject has progressed through a series of Conventions.

I stayed for the afternoon sessions that were chaired by Ms. Sabine McCallum, the department head for the subjects of Environment Impact Assessment & Climate Change of the Austrian Department of the Environment. she was actually the head of the project and her Minister – Helmut Hojesky, Federal Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment, and Water Management, was the main speaker at the High-Level Panel Discussion: “Taking action towards climate-proof spatial development – What is the way forward?”

Others on the panel were Thomas Probst, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment; Rosario Benito Pais and Jose Ruiz de Casas, both from the European Commission one from  Climate Action and the other from Regions; Andre Jol, Head of group Vulnerability and Adaptation, European Environment Agency; and Marco Onida, Secretary General of the Alpine Convention.

What happened here was that the area of the Alpine Convention has been divided into 10 regions that the study dealt with separately. It is obvious that the problems of the Swiss Alps that are dedicated mainly to tourism are very different from the problems in the newer members of the EU from the Balkans and the Carpathian regions where there are also States that do not belong to the EU altogether. The project did not just reshuffle data – but produced data and starts proposing plans of action – this being the ultimate goal of the project that after being absorbed by the States involved – will then be continued in order to come up with further plans of action.

We were told not to forget mitigation. While adaptation is a defense for the countries here – if there are no tangible results on mitigation here and elsewhere – there will be need for more adaptation in the future.

The European Commission told us that CLIMATE ACTION is now a new DG (that means a Department with Department Head and Stuff and a mandate to act). All these studies and Plans of Axtion will be under this department.

THE minister said that his people learn the Swiss and German experience – AND WE HAVE TO ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE – BECAUSE IT WILL HAPPEN – WHATEVER WE DO.

UNEP declared that they are here because they want to learn from the A-B-C … the Alps, Balkans, Carpathian regions. The countries that were parts of Yugoslavia and Albania have lot of historic experience but having become independent of each other, whatever centralized poiicy there was it is now worse – there is no communication between them. Cooperation is needed and this project provides a unified platform and future regional adaptation. The Balkan region is actually a Balkan and Dinaric Arc Region that covers the Adriatic Coast.

So far as Vienna goes – as always – it finds itself in the middle – this time in the middle between the Alps and the Carpatians with the “B” region to the South.

There was the need for a Carpathian Convention in addition to the Alpine Convention. The Carpathian Convention includes The Ukraine and Serbia that are not part of the EU. 66% of the Carpathian region is still covered with forests – this provides extra-potential to preserve biodiversity, landscape and quality of air.

Pier Carlo Sandei spoke of SUSTAINABLE GROWTH in the context of the 21st Century – rather then the 20th Century. He gave me the feeling that Sustainable Growth as understood earlier is a no=no today when we must think of TRANSNATIONAL REGIONS that will aim by 2020 to be sustained by 20% Sustainable Energy.

He also used in the summary the conclusion: MITIGATION IS GLOBAL – ADAPTATION IS LOCAL & REGIONAL. One will have to look at climate costs – if you invest or you do not invest. This reminds us of the situation that compares the way industry looks at their strategy to answer CO2 emissions decrease requirements.

If you do something overseas – you get the credits and you can apply the full amount right now – but if you reduce your own emissions at home, you do not get the immediate full credit – you rather get the credit apportioned for the long range of the project – and that is what sends corporations to buy credits overseas. AHA! You Kyoto Protocol; affectionados – hear it from us = we warned you that the system never made sense!


Looking at the nice collection of material I took along – I would like to give here references for the benefit of our readers:

A – ALPINE CONVENTION, 2nd efition, January 2011, Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention, Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse 15, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria with a branch office in Bolzano-Bosen, Italy.

B – BALKAN VITAL GRAPHICS – Environment Without Borders. Published by UNEP/GRID=Arendal in 2007. It was backed by Austria and canada and was used as part of the Belgrade October 10-12, 2001 Ministerial Conference on Building Bridges To The Future Environment For Europe. It deals with mining, water and nature.

C – A COLLECTION ON THE CARPATHIAN CONVENTION, material prepared for the Second Convention of the Parties, Bucharest, June 17-19, 2008. Published in
Bolzano, Italy.  —– This material was followed by the Carpathian Project headed by Mr. Harald Egerer of UNEP Vienna. … Harald.Egerer@unvienna  … The Partners to the project are institutions from Austria, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic, Germany, Romania, The Ukraine.


Posted on on August 19th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

WIESEL ARRANGING DURBAN III COUNTER-CONFERENCE ON SEPTEMBER 22, 2011 –  to highlight The Perils of Global Intolerance: the United Nations and Durban III”

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Holocaust survivor seeking to debunk process which critics say riddled with hatred, intolerance.
from Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post Correspondent in Berlin.
August 19, 2011.
BERLIN – The third UN-sponsored anti-racisim conference, which plans to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the 2001 anti-Israel Durban I event, will face a counter-conference in September featuring Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.
The Durban process, so named for the South African city where the first conference took place in 2001, is shrouded in controversy because the first conference singled out Israel for attacks in its political document.
The Durban conference legitimized hate speech on a global scale,” said Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro College Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, and a principal organizer of the counter-conference. She added that the September 22 daylong conference, sponsored by the Hudson Institute and Touro College and titled “The Perils of Global Intolerance: the United Nations and Durban III”, will serve as a call to action.
“Given the events that Durban III is intended to commemorate, the UN will sadly serve as a global platform to promote the inverse of its original purposes and principles. It is imperative to deny legitimacy to prejudice and the Durban Declaration,” said Bayefsky, who is also a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and is scheduled to speak at the conference.
The COUNTER_CONFERENCE EVENT features a “who’s who” of prominent speakers from the academic, public policy, journalism, human rights, political and entertainment sectors.
In addition to Wiesel, the opposition conference has attracted speakers including: best-selling British journalist Douglas Murray, former Israeli UN Ambassador Dore Gold, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, Khaled Abu Toameh, the Jerusalem Post’s award-winning Palestinian affairs reporter, is slated to speak along with John Bolton, former US Ambassador to the UN, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and Bernard Lewis, a leading scholar on Islam and professor at Princeton University; Academy-award winning actor Jon Voight, Wafa Sultan, a psychiatrist who Time magazine named one its 100 most influential people in the world, Sudanese human rights activist Simon Deng, Ron Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, and Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, are listed as speakers as well.
Jason Kenney, Canada’s minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, is slated to to talk at the event. Canada was the first country to pull out of Durban II and III.
“At the widely-perceived racist ‘anti-racism’ conference, the streets were filled with signs such as ‘for the liberation of Quds machine guns based on faith and Islam must be used,’ and handouts with Hitler’s photo read ‘What if I had won? The good things: there would be no Israel…,’ according to a statement from conference organizers. Durban I ended three days before 9/11 and The Durban Review Conference, or Durban II, was held in Geneva in 2009. The only world leader to attend was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”
At that conference, Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust and proclaimed the Jewish state “illegitimate” and “criminal.”
He called for the obliteration of Israel and Zionism, declaring, “Governments must be encouraged and supported in their fights at eradicating this barbaric racism. Efforts must be made to put an end to Zionism.”
Ahmadinejad used the UN stage to voice, according to critics, his oft-repeated form of Holocaust denial, saying that Israel was “created on the pretext of Jewish suffering from World War II.”
Six countries from the UN’s 193 member nations have pulled out of Durban III – these are:
the US, Canada, Italy, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Israel.
Though Germany stresses that Israel’s security interests are integral to its national security, Germany’s Foreign Ministry is slated to attend the event.
“Germany’s behavior toward the UN’s Durban III conference raises serious questions about its commitment to combat modern anti-Semitism. As an event which will commemorate the hatefest held in Durban in 2001, and its Durban Declaration, which singles out only one country on Earth – the Jewish state – it is shocking that Germany has not refused unequivocally to withdraw in solidarity with Israel, the United States, Canada, Italy and other European nations,” Bayefsky said.

And in Vienna Israel will face fresh Arab pressure at UN atom meet of the IAEA September 19-23, 2011.

This from a Reuters report from Vienna by Frederik Dahl.

Arab states are expected to target Israel over its assumed atomic arsenal at a UN nuclear agency meeting next month, despite Western concerns this may undermine broader steps to ban such weapons in the Middle East.

It is unclear whether the International Atomic Energy Agency’s annual member state gathering would back the move after it last year narrowly rejected an Arab resolution calling on Israel to join a global anti-nuclear weapons treaty.

As in the run-up to the IAEA’s General Conference in 2010, the United States and other Western countries are trying to persuade Arab members of the Vienna-based agency not to put forward a similar text singling out the Jewish state.

“I think they (Arab governments) regard it as a matter of principle even if it is defeated. I would be surprised if it won this year,” one European diplomat said.

Last year, US officials warned that zeroing in on Israel, widely believed to be the region’s only nuclear power, could jeopardize an Egyptian-proposed conference in 2012 to discuss creating a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

It may also cast a shadow over plans by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano to invite both Israel and Arab states to a forum later this year to debate the experience of other regions where nuclear-weapons-free zones have been established.

Vienna-based diplomats said they believed Israel may attend those discussions, expected to be held in November in Vienna and seen as a way to help build confidence.

But any resolution aimed against the country at the September 19-23 conference of the IAEA’s 151 member states could harm prospects for the forum, they said.

Israel has never confirmed or denied having atom bombs under a policy of ambiguity to deter numerically superior foes. It is the only country in the region outside the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Arab states backed by Iran say this poses a threat to peace and stability. They want Israel to subject all its atomic facilities to IAEA monitoring.

Israel says it would only join the pact if there is a comprehensive Middle East peace. If it signed the NPT, Israel would have to renounce nuclear weaponry.

The United States and Israel regard Iran as the Middle East’s main proliferation threat. Tehran says its nuclear program is for power generation purposes only.

In 2009, IAEA member states approved in a close vote an Arab-proposed resolution expressing concern at “Israel’s Nuclear Capabilities.”

Brought up again last year, the symbolically important, although non-binding, resolution was defeated at the conference after a bruising diplomatic battle. But Arab states have already served notice they will try again this year.

“It is the same thing as last year … they will table a resolution, the question is whether they will bring it to a vote,” one senior Western diplomat said.

In a request for the issue to be included in the agenda, the 17-nation Arab group said the IAEA’s General Conference “must take appropriate measures to ensure that Israel places all its nuclear installations under Agency safeguards and accedes to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.”


Posted on on July 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Italy and The Netherlands Join Canada, Israel, U.S. and the Czech Republic in Boycotting UN’s Durban III.

Italy and The Netherlands announced over the weekend that they will not take part in the notorious United Nations Durban III meeting scheduled for September 22, 2011 in New York City.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini pointed out that “The [Durban] Process has been transformed … into a tribunal for accusations against Israel.”
As the main reason for boycotting Durban III the Italian foreign minister pointed to the anti-Israel elements of the Durban Declaration and its progeny.
In the past few days, UN negotiators – who are currently drafting a final political declaration for Durban III – signalled rejection of Czech, Italian and Dutch proposals to denounce the anti-Israel portions of the original Durban Declaration.
The Italians had asked that Durban III “explicitly recognize that past references, in the context of the Durban Process, to the specific situation of the Middle East are not part of the international commitment against racial discrimination.”

According to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands, Italy and the Czech Republic all wanted to include in Durban III a statement that “all participating states emphatically distance themselves from the linking of subjects that have nothing to do with the fight against racism.”
Their request was ignored by conference organizers, who are largely being driven by Arab and Islamist states, as well as South Africa and UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay, herself a native of Durban.
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Posted on on July 17th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

After the first week-end of July, with school having closed for 9 weeks, you see also many of the smaller businesses, and the major palaces of art closing for vacation, and families leave town to go to some summer retreat or plain travel. But do not worry – Vienna does not fall asleep – instead it is invaded by guests, students, and just tourists.

Instead of the usual indigenous Opera, Philharmonic orchestra, and theaters, all sort of art-groups from abroad come as part of orchestrated guest programs that the city is very well trained by now to organize. this does not only enrich the horizons of those from the locals who remain in the city, but also provides for the entertainment of the tourists and guests – after all – hospitality makes for a serious part of the Vienna economy.

Also, City Hall gets involved in setting up non-competing special festivals in public places. Let me move now to examples of what one could have done this past week-end.

For instance, as part of “Summerstage” – defined as Wine (culture) Festival – a series of well structured booth have been set up on Rossauer Laende on the Danube Canal. I suspect that this is a yearly event so everyone involved knows his place from last year. The wine part is obvious, and supplied by known Austrian vintners who also own “Hoerigen” houses. The food part is in the hands of selected – one of a kind – restaurants of the Vienna 9th District: Mortons Bar & Grill where this Saturday I had a lamb knuckle with a decent Riesling wine;  Charlies Ps – “Fish & Chips and homemade Pommes;”  Pancho und mas! – the Mexican place; Echo – the City Thai; Pizzeria Riva true Neapoli food;  and Casa Caribena – the Caribbean place where on Friday I had just some garlic toast with Austrian beer. In addition there is also the Viennese Pavilion where theoretically, if you order in advance at particular dates, you get expensive dinners delivered from the wine houses – but that does not happen in reality because of the fact that the mostly foreigners that come there at night just do not bother making plans in advance – so, on Saturday, there was not a single meal served under above plan. But no worry, sitting outdoors in good weather along the Canal is well spent time. Now to the Culture part – on Sundays – there are readings at the Pavilion by some of Austria’s best present writers.

On the culture side – Vienna, with its theaters abandoned for the summer by their lawful residents, the theaters are available to foreign troops – so I partook from this richess by going to see two unusual dance evenings.

Friday night, in the beautiful building of the Volkstheater, next to the Museum Quarter, I saw the Eduard Lock troupe “La La La Human Steps.” This is an amazing Montreal Canadian group that uses ballet dancing on toes with completely new way of moving the hands. I was watching with amazement fascinated by the movements and lighting – the four levels of the packed theater  so there was not any standing room left.

The audience was in its majority English speaking and I wondered where did all these folks come from? Yes, Vienna has a large expatriate community that swells in the summer with further influx of young tourists. The show must have been sold out for a while, but seats became available as some of those ticket holders did not show up to pick them up. The  musical accompaniment was by a band of four classical instruments on stage – at times part of the scene of the dance.

I will acknowledge that I was not really up to the very complicated text the dancing was about. This was a two track performance in which one track dealt with “Dido and Aeneas” while the other track with “Orpheus and Eurydice” – twice the young lady and the older lady appeared on two huge screens above the dancers – being there together but not really looking at each other – though – with sort of Mona Lisa smiles – telling us they understand each other. This tremendous image became even more a put-down to me and told me that had I known what I will be seeing I would have done some refresher reading of those two classic love stories, and the operas that were created by Purcell and Gluck. In retrospect now I see that it was not just the richness of the movements, but also the clever retelling of the stories that I should have been able to grasp – this said – I will just add that it is not an evening I will forget.


The dance series of Vienna summer 2011 started actually on Wednesday July 13th with a free performance of the Terrence Lewis Contemporary Dance Company based in Mumbai (Bombay), India with their “Jhoom” in Bolywood style. That is clear joy to the eyes and you really do not have to worry not knowing the stories of the Indian deities that are painted over the image they have of Holywood entertainment.


Sunday night, again, there was something else. This time it was the Belgian Jan Fabre who brought to Vienna his somewhat morbid “Preparatio Mortis” which I saw at the Odeon theater, and the Prometheus – Landscape II,” that will be performed at the Volstheater on Tuesday July 19th.

Fabre has the vision that death gives us better understanding of life – so we saw a one woman show of a sort of return to life. Annabelle Chambon, who trained and got started in Lyon, starts to move from under a carpet of flowers after quite a while of musical preparation, Eventually there is ahand sticking out, then another, a head and legs. We get a a naked  body coming back to life, After a while she retreats to her original place.

Fabre works in many different forms of art – not just dance. in effect he is the only contemporary artist who was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Parisian louvre (2008). It was titled Angel of Methamorphosis.

In dance he works now in choreography  with the Troubleyn/Jan Fabre  troupe.


As I said at the beginning – some summer activities in Vienna are very well planned ahead with the help of City Hall that does not forget for a minute that their city has to sell itself to visitors in order to support the city economy. But then other things happen that work in the same direction even they were not planned by City Hall. This Saturday this was no less then the event that put to final rest the Habsburgs Empire.

This was the funeral of Otto Habsburg – the last Crown Prince of the Habsburgs family. It was a State Funeral in all but name. The Monarchs of Europe were represented by the reigning heads of Sweden, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, and as well by the last Kings of Rumania and Bulgaria. Austria was there in the presence of President, Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, half of the Cabinet etc. As well there were at the funeral the Presidents of Croatia and Georgia, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and others from many of the various parts of the Empire – States that having become independent – form now a major part of the EU or are listed to join the EU eventually. Just think for a moment – Otto Von Habsburg as he was once called, in his years since exile from Austria and becoming citizen of Germany with residence in Bavaria, he was a Member of the European Parliament, and one of the movers to strengthen the Union and expand it to the East and South – thus making what his family’s Empire once was – a main ingredient of the Europe of the future. The Austrian Government, not afraid anymore by a revival of Monarchism in Austria – the last time a party that tried this got just 1.5% of the vote –  is allowing since last year the Habsburgs to run for political office in Austria. For those that watched on TV, at least part of the 6 hour long program – this was also part of a summer week end.


Posted on on April 2nd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

 From Anne Bayefsky

New York, April 2, 2011
Syria, the U.N. “Human Rights” Council,  and the Obama Administration.

This article by Anne Bayefsky appears today on The Weekly Standard.

The Obama administration’s effort to draw an artificial distinction between the butchers in Damascus and the gangsters in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, has taken a bizarre twist: Syria is seeking a seat on the U.N.’s top human rights body, the Human Rights Council. And, as part of the process leading up to the May 20, 2011 elections, the U.N. published a Syria’s “pledge” to protect human rights on Thursday. (that is March 30, 2011 – while the news were full of Syria represing its citizens who call out for democracy – is the whole decent world crazy or folks at the UN and in Washington are plain fakes? That seems to us the real question – the editor of

For context, this is the same pledge system that Muammar Qaddafi’s regime used to get a seat on the Council last May. Rather than refusing to legitimize a scheme that makes a mockery of the institution, the Obama administration announced hours before that it has decided to seek a second term on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The announcement comes a whopping 14 months before the U.S. term on the Council expires, making the declaration totally unnecessary to guarantee American reelection. Instead, it seems, President Obama aims to preempt mounting criticism of his decision to participate, as well as to minimize the serious menace posed by Syria’s ambitions. The move comes at precisely the wrong moment in time.

The Council was created in 2006 without any criteria for membership. The only advice given to the General Assembly says that, when electing Council members, states should “take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto.” Hence, Syria produced a pledge.

Notwithstanding the current bloody campaign by Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad to annihilate democracy-seekers, the Syrian pledge says: “Promotion and protection of human rights are of highest importance to Syria…Syria’s candidature to the Human Rights Council signifies its commitment to respect and to support the inalienable and indivisible nature of all human rights.”

The State Department’s most recent annual report on Syria describes the situation somewhat differently. It recounts that Syrian security forces “continue to use torture frequently” and describes in gruesome detail exactly which body parts Assad’s henchmen routinely mutilate, and how.

Undaunted, Syria’s pledge continues: “Syria believes that its membership on the Human Rights Council would contribute towards enriching the quality of dialogue…aimed at the promotion and protection of human rights for all peoples.” What this means is a bit of a mystery. But perhaps this example of Syrian dialogue, from a June 8, 2010 speech at the Council, might be what the Assad regime has in mind. “This is a state that is built on hatred,” a Syrian diplomat told the Council. “Let me quote a song that children on a school bus in Israel sing merrily as they go to school and I quote ‘with my teeth I will rip your flesh with my mouth I will suck your blood.’”

Syria’s pledge is accurate on one count, though. It says: “Syria believes that its membership…would contribute to accomplish the objectives of the Council.”  Since the Council systematically demonizes Israel – the Council has adopted the same number of resolutions and decisions condemning Israel as the rest of the 191 UN countries combined – Syria’s assistance is assured.

The pledge is expected to guarantee Syria a seat on the Council because its candidacy is currently part of a fixed slate. To date, the Asian group of states have put forward exactly the same number of candidates as the spaces they have been allotted. The same gimmick by the African group last May succeeded in electing Libya, after Qaddafi pledged: “the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya is fully committed to the promotion and protection of human rights principles.” 82 percent of the U.N. General Assembly thought that was good enough to welcome Libya aboard the U.N.’s idea of a human rights agency.

Why, then, does President Obama share Syrian and Libyan enthusiasm for the Council? This week’s announcement that his administration wants a second term was accompanied by a list of responses to this question, each more specious than the next.

The justifications include: “The Council took bold, assertive action to highlight Iran’s deteriorating human rights situation.” That “bold” step consisted of a resolution appointing one individual to “investigate” Iran’s human rights violations and report back to the Council a year from now.

Then the administration pointed to “efforts to renew the mandate of the independent expert tasked with monitoring human rights throughout Sudan.” It neglects to mention, however, that the mandate was renewed only after excising all criticism of the government of  Sudan from the Council resolution and substituting such praise as: “recognizing…the efforts of the government of the Sudan in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

The U.S. list also emphasizes the president’s “pivotal role” in suspending Libyan membership from the Council. This “success” (which should never have been necessary to begin with), somehow overlooks the fact that human rights paragons and Council members like Saudi Arabia and China remain comfortably in place.

Then there is the stunning misrepresentation of “a strong statement on LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] rights” from “a group of 85 countries,” that the Obama team heralds as a “landmark moment” for the U.N. Joined by less than half of U.N. members, a mere statement carries with it no practical consequences. And just two days later, the Council adopted a contrary resolution over the wishes of the same coalition. When the resolution on “traditional values of humankind” was passed, the American delegate specifically lamented that it “undermine[d]…the rights of…LGBT individuals.”

The administration even claims to have “end[ed] the divisive debate over the highly problematic concept of ‘defamation of religions.’” But the resolution ( by the UN Council on Human Rights  – Our Comment) on religion which was adopted specifically cites as a role model a “speech given by Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu,” delivered on September 16, 2010. In that same speech, not only did Ihsanoglu refer to the defamation of religions, he declared that Islamic law trumps human rights. In his words: “the holy Quran…places a premium on human dignity — a concept that transcends human rights. Furthermore, a December 2010 resolution of the General Assembly necessitates that a report on the “defamation of religions” be completed by the fall. Making reports of its demise premature, to say the least.

Overall, U.S. membership on the Council has been so “successful” that, at its latest session, the U.S. lost eleven of the fourteen votes held.

Most significantly, the session marked the end of the Council’s own five-year review. The administration billed membership as the golden ticket for ensuring reform “from within.” As it turned out, every serious recommendation that the Obama administration put forward on reform (39 of 42) was firmly rejected, ensuring nothing but more of the same in the years ahead.

We are left with the troubling reality that both Assad and Obama are enchanted with the same U.N. Human Rights Council, to the detriment of human rights victims in Syria and around the world (writes Anne Bayefsky and she has made some points in which she discredited the whole UN system – really not just the Washington Administration. Where is the EU? Where are the African States? Where are all those despots that do or do not own oil wells? Those are Our Comments)


Membership of the Human Rights Council

Officers of the Human Rights Council

H.E. Mr. Sihasak Phuangketkeow (Thailand) (Biography)

Vice President and Rapporteur
H.E. Madam Bente Angell-Hansen (Norway)

Vice Presidents
H.E. Mr. Arcanjo Maria Do Nascimento (Angola)
H.E. Mr. Rodolfo Reyes Rodríguez (Cuba)
H.E. Mr. Fedor Rosocha (Slovakia)

Membership of the Human Rights Council 19 June 2010-18 June 2011

  • by regional groups
  • by yearCountry and year when current mandate ends.
    We noted in red countries where citizens are fighting now the government for their human rights. It seems to us that membership on the Council is tantamount to the perception of outside legitimization of the ongoing repression. That is the essence of beef that Anne Bayefsky holds against President Obama. The question is if he is better off fighting repression from inside the Council or deligitimizing the Council by staying out of it. We have no answer but we think that it is all of the UN system – its voting by regions – is what deserves deligitimization by countries that allow for democracy. It is the UN as such that does not reside in Hall of Democracy and that deserves attention five times every day.
Angola 2013
Argentina 2011
Bahrain 2011
Bangladesh 2012
Belgium 2012
Brazil 2011
Burkina Faso 2011
Cameroon 2012
Chile 2011
China 2012
Cuba 2012
Djibouti 2012
Ecuador 2013
France 2011
Gabon 2011
Ghana 2011
Guatemala 2013
Hungary 2012
Japan 2011
Jordan 2012
Kyrgyzstan 2012
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya * 2013
Malaysia 2013
Maldives 2013
Mauritania 2013
Mauritius 2012
Mexico 2012
Nigeria 2012
Norway 2012
Pakistan 2011
Poland 2013
Qatar 2013
Republic of Korea 2011
Republic of Moldova 2013
Russian Federation 2012
Saudi Arabia 2012
Senegal 2012
Slovakia 2011
Spain 2013
Switzerland 2013
Thailand 2013
Uganda 2013
Ukraine 2011
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 2011
United States of America 2012
Uruguay 2012
Zambia 2011

* Libya – Suspended by General Assembly Resolution A/65/265 adopted on 1 March 2011.

The election of 15 members of the Human Rights Council will be held on 20 May 2011.

See List of candidates | List of current members

In accordance with paragraph 7 of General Assembly resolution 60/251 the Council shall consist of 47 Member States, which shall be elected directly and individually by secret ballot by the majority of the members of the General Assembly.

The membership shall be based on equitable geographical distribution, and seats shall be distributed as follows among regional groups:

  • Group of African States (13)
  • Group of Asian States (13)
  • Group of Eastern European States (6)
  • Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (8)
  • Group of Western European and other States (7)

The members of the Council shall serve for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for immediate re-election after two consecutive terms.

Member States who have chosen to announce their candidacies in writing are listed below. Voluntary pledges that Member States have chosen to provide in support of their respective candidacies, in accordance with paragraph 8 of General Assembly resolution 60/251, are issued as General Assembly documents in all official languages.

List of candidates

Click on country name below for additional information on candidature.

African States
(4 vacant seats)
Asian States
(4 vacant seats)
Eastern European States
(2 vacant seats)
Latin American & Caribbean States
(3 vacant seats)
Western European & other States
(2 vacant seats)
Benin India
Czech Republic
Botswana [A/65/732] Indonesia Georgia Costa Rica Italy
Burkina Faso Philippines
Syrian Arab Republic


List of current members

Members outlined in bold will retire on 18 June 2011.

African States Asian States Eastern European States Latin American &
Caribbean States 
Western European
& other States
Angola 2013 Bahrain 2011 Hungary 2012 Argentina 2011 Belgium 2012
Burkina Faso 2011 Bangladesh 2012 Poland 2013 Brazil 2011 France 2011
Cameroon 2012 China 2012 Republic of Moldova 2013 Chile 2011 Norway 2012
Djibouti 2012 Japan 2011 Russian Federation 2012 Cuba 2012 Spain 2013
Gabon 2011 Jordan 2012 Slovakia 2011 Ecuador 2013 Switzerland 2013
Ghana 2011 Kyrgyzstan 2012 Ukraine 2011 Guatemala 2013 United Kingdom 2011
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya 2013 Malaysia 2013   Mexico 2012 United States 2012
Mauritania 2013 Maldives 2013   Uruguay 2012  
Mauritius 2012 Pakistan 2011      
Nigeria 2012 Qatar 2013      
Senegal 2012 Repulic of Korea 2011      
Uganda 2013 Saudi Arabia
Zambia 2011 Thailand 2013      


Austria is a candidate for the Council on the Europe and “Other States – like the US” UN ticket. We find thus quite interesting that the Salzburg Festival 2011 has cancelled the opening speech by Swiss Diplomat Jean Ziegler who represented the worst of the UN Human Rights Council. His replacement by the musical genius Daniel Barenboim is really not just an accnowledgement of his musical tallents, but also of his humanitarian activities that outshine everything that the Council was intended to be.We hope that those interested to find out more about this will follow our links. Just see some points in the remnant of this posting – please:

“UN Watch has assembled a cross-regional coalition of 45 human rights groups who will be officially demanding that the U.N. Human Rights Council fire its long-time official, ” said Neuer. “Tragically, Ziegler is not a bureaucratic anomaly or a tolerated annoyance at the council — he is the product and embodiment of a distinct political culture, where abusers like China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia get to judge others on human rights, and where murderers like Syria’s Assad get a free pass.”

Victory: Salzburg Festival cancels on U.N. rights official Jean Ziegler over Qaddafi ties.

Opening Speech and Concert of the Salzburg Festival

Barenboim will deliver the opening speech of the Salzburg Festival this year on July 26th. Previous opening speakers have included George Steiner, Václav Havel, Christoph Ransmayr, and most recently Daniel Kehlmann in 2009. On the same evening, Barenboim will conduct and perform with the Vienna Philharmonic in a program that includes Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto, Boulez’s Notations, and Bruckner’s Te Deum. Click here for exact program details.

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