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Posted on on May 6th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (

EU Official: Hungarian PM’s Crusade Against George Soros Is Anti-Semitic

May 5, 2017 By JTA

(JTA) — A leading official in the European Commission — one of the European Union’s governing bodies — implied that efforts by Hungary’s prime minister to shut down a university founded by George Soros are anti-Semitic.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has long harbored animosity toward Soros, a Hungarian-born Jewish financier who has donated millions of dollars to liberal causes. Orban is now defending controversial legislation that many see as an attempt to shut down Central European University, a highly respected university Soros founded in 1991.

Orban told the European Parliament on Wednesday that Soros is an “American financial speculator attacking Hungary” who has “destroyed the lives of millions of Europeans.”

The following day, European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmerman, a center-left Dutch politician, agreed when asked if he thought Orban’s comments sounded anti-Semitic.

“I understood that exactly the same way and was appalled,” Timmerman said, according to Euractiv.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called on Timmerman to resign for his assertion.

Hundreds of academics around the world have protested Orban’s legislation, which are amendments to the Hungarian National Higher Education Act. The fight is seen as a battle between Orban’s nationalist priorities and Soros’ “open society” outlook.

Read more:…


Former Anti-Semitism Envoys Urge Trump To Fill Position

May 5, 2017 By JTA


(JTA) — Four previous U.S. envoys to fight anti-Semitism and promote religious freedom called on President Donald Trump to fill the two positions, which are currently empty.

The letter, sent by the Lantos Foundation, noted “spreading anti-Semitism both at home and abroad” and persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East and Asia.

The signatories include two former envoys for international religious freedom, Robert Seiple and Rabbi David Saperstein, the former director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center; the two previous envoys for combating anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal and Ira Forman; and the president of the Lantos Foundation and former chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Katrina Lantos Swett.

“The perilous state of religious freedom around the globe confirms the wisdom of America’s leaders in creating a legal framework for addressing these abuses and ensuring that our foreign policy remains focused on protecting and advancing these fundamental rights,” read the letter sent Tuesday by the human rights-focused nonprofit.

There have been conflicting reports as to whether Trump will fill the anti-Semitism envoy position, but in April, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement to JTA that the Trump administration would appoint someone to serve in the role.

Read more:…



Posted on on March 5th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Precautionary Principle: Governance of Innovation and Innovations in Governance – CEU/EEA summer school.

from: Anton Shkaruba <> March 5, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

Applications are now open for the 2016 Summer School: “The Precautionary Principle: Governance of innovation and innovations in governance”. It will be held in Budapest (Hungary) from June 26 to July 2, 2016.

The course is co-organised by Central European University (CEU), Median S.C.P., and the European Environment Agency (EEA) as the first event of its EEAcademy.

The purpose of the School is to explore challenges and possible ways forward for the effective and appropriate application of the precautionary principle in sustainability governance, in particular in such an uncertainty-prone area as climate change. It will bring together a solid and diverse group of scholars and practitioners with expertise on the precautionary principle, risk assessment, vulnerability and adaptation management, health research, science and technology studies, the governance of innovation, environmental governance, and long term transitions to sustainability.

The School is designed as a strategic knowledge and experience sharing course at the intersection between a research-oriented course and a professional development course, dedicated to collaborative exploration and learning. It will provide intensive research training, but also allow for policy discussions in a variety of sector and contexts and, through a knowledge co-creation approach, help to identify and find solutions to course-related issues in the participants’ research, policy, and business application fields.

We aim to achieve a mix of participants and faculty from a variety of backgrounds (including both researchers and practitioners from public bodies, NGOs and business) and research interests related to the Course.

Participants from public institutions, business, public institutions and research are encouraged to apply.

Application deadline is April 1, 2016. For more information on the Summer School, including a detailed course description and application instructions please visit:…

For the organising team,
Sybille van den Hove & Anton Shkaruba

Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Research Associate, PhD


Posted on on February 26th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (

The very important WEF NEXUS for SUSTAINABILITY that links the Paris 2015 Outcome and the SDGS.

Theme of a meeting sponsored this week by the Hungarian Mission to Austria and to the UN offices in Vienna.

Water-Energy-Food Nexus – Responding to Emerging Needs and Opportunities.

Date: February 22, 2016
Host & Location: Hungarian Embassy, Bankgasse 4-6, 1010, Vienna, Austria.

In September 2015, world leaders formally adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,
including 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 associated targets which are aimed at
stimulating action over the next 15 years in areas of critical importance for a more equitable and
sustainable world. The strong linkages between the SDGs underlines the notion that progress on each
goal will be critical for progress on others, with increasing understanding for the implementation
of the SDGs through an integrated framework that demands close collaboration at all levels of governance.
As a result, the water-energy-food nexus (WEF NEXUS) has emerged as a crucial policy and governance approach for
integrated planning and implementation of the SDGs.


10:00 –10:05 Welcome remarks: H.E. Ambassador Karoly Dan

10:05– 0:45 Setting the Scene
– Background and scope of the workshop, approach, expectations and potential outputs/outcomes –
Mr. Paul T.Yillia, SE4All
Presentation: The cross-cutting nature of the SDGs – emerging opportunities for operationalizing
the water-energy-food nexus (WEF NEXUS) – Prof. András Szölösi-Nagy

10:45–12:45 Session I: Discussion Session on partner experiences
Session Chair: Mr. Olivier Dubois, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO);
Co-Chair of the SE4All High Impact Opportunity (HIO) on the WEF NEXUS
– What are the realities, needs and challenges in the countries partners operate?
– How can the SE4All Nexus HIO respond to the needs and challenges?

14:00 –15:30 Session II: Discussion Session on identifying emerging opportunities
Session Chair: from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ);
Co-Chair of the SE4All High Impact Opportunity on the WEF NEXUS
– What opportunities are emerging on the WEF NEXUS
– Presentation: SE4All initiative on Technical Assistance Programme to Strengthen Inter-sector Coordination
(TAPSIC) – Mr.Paul T. Yillia, SE4All
– Exploring the possibility to develop a concrete framework to anchor emerging opportunities within o the SE4All Nexus HIO

15:45-17:45 Session III: Synthesis of Sessions I & II – Developing key elements for action
Session Chair: Mr. Martin Hiller, Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP)
– Mobilizing resources – exploring the possibility of a call for funding
– Mobilizing additional partnerships, including the private sector, civil society and the public sector
– Key message from the workshop (short communication)

17:45–18:00 Closing remarks – Ms. Rachel Kyte, SRSG & CEO, SE4All


Posted on on January 24th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (

This present posting was conceived as a sequel to our posting that pointed out the Vienna Burgtheater as a provider of “Theatre for Ideas” events. That posting was titled:

The TTIP is flushed out – January 17, 2016 – in a great panel at the Burgtheater, Vienna. It seems that the present differences between US and EU make a legislature-overriding agreement impossible.

Posted on on January 19th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz ( PJ at

January 24, 2016 I had the opportunity to listen in on the interview of theater director Andrea Berth by Ms. Haide Tenner of the Burgtheater. The event took place in the smaller hall – the Casinotheater on Schwarzenberg Platz. The title was: “What is Theater?” and the pre-event publicity was saying it was about language. So I got interested.

Andrea Breth is a large-size woman – a chain-smoker that gives the impression of a Midwest cowboy. But inside this large body it was clear that resides a sensitive and self deprecating woman. Her breakthrough in the theater came in 1983 with the Freiburg City Theater where she staged Federico García Lorca’s “The House of Bernarda Alba.” This staging brought her an invitation to the Berlin Theater Conference and the Theater Magazine “Theater” nominated her as best Theater Director of the Year. Many rewards followed. This year she got the German Republic Cross of Merritt and the Schiller prize of the City of Marbach (Schiller’s birthplace). Since 1999 she is also home-director for the Vienna Burgtheater and did stagings for the Salzburg Festival.

Indeed she says theater is about language but she enlarges o the meaning of language. What is important is for te actors to relate to te text. A movement of the foot becomes language. The actor has to develop by himself his method – there is not one for all she said. Nevertheless, a text by Tennessee Williams can not be worked out in a different way from how it was intended. She does not want to bend her actors – she want them rather to be themselves and brought in the example of Michael Kramer who she knew his father was a large orchestra conductor – so she had Michael work with big groups.

Her direction is not for the public but for te piece – the original work. I am retelling it and ten comes the public.

The interviewer proposes that a person changes according to whom they speak with. The director answers there must be something above this which she demonstrates with a large movement of her whole arm.

The interviewer insists – one more topic – language: There always is less information available.



This is next topic at the “DEBATING EUROPE” Theatre for Ideas exercise and thresh-out.

This time under the moderation of Der Standard Editor Alexandra Foederl-Schmid personally – the panel will include:

Kinga Goencz – a former Foreign Minister of Hungary;

Rebecca Harms – Fraction Chair of the Greens in the European Parliament;

Giorgos Chondros – Member of the Central Committee of the Greek Governing Syriza Party;

Peter Keller – Swiss Journalist and Politician with the Swiss Peoples’ Party;

Adam Krzeminski – Polish Journalist and Publicist.

The Discussion will take place February 14, 2016 at 11:00 at the Burgtheater in vienna, UNIVERSITAETSRING 2, 1010 VIENNA.

This will be a debate about the Democratic model of Government at a time that in Europe new authoritarian structures are being created, and protest movements like Syriza, Podemos, Pegida are taking roots as well. It seems as if we are entering a POST-DEMOCRACY age. Politologues point out that he participation at elections is in retreat.



Posted on on September 6th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Postcapitalism and the refugee crisis

Julian Sayarer 5 September 2015

This was brought to our attention by the London based OpenDemocracy…

and was written by Julian Sayarer of “this is not for charity.” That site and blog arose from his 2009 world record for a circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle – a protest against the corporatisation of sport and human endeavour. You can buy his account of the adventure – “Life Cycles.”


The response of European citizens to the imperative to offer refuge has been inspiring, unlike the response of some governments. It shows the best face of postcapitalism.

2,200 cars are moving from Austria to Hungary, so as the drivers might ease the march of those Syrian refugees walking away from Hungary’s xenophobic position on the refugee crisis, and towards the safe haven that has been offered, in particular, by Germany.

The refugee crisis is dire and has been for a long time. We should not allow ourselves to forget that the image of a drowned toddler served only to bring us belatedly to our collective moral senses – we might have expected many of the innocent deaths before his to have done so already, but you cannot undo the past, only make good on your mistakes. The obligatory mention of western culpability, which is not the point to be dwelt on here, must also be made; western governments and media rushed into rash and heady military interventions that were painfully ill-judged. Some news outlets that now run hot for a refugee crisis have cultivated the indifference that saw the same crisis ignored for so long. It would be dangerous were we to forget that we have been fickle and that we have acted poorly, but it would be no less dangerous to have that remorse stopper our attempts to do good in the face of so much that is now ill. Right now, as 2,200 Austrian drivers head to Hungary to pick up refugees, positive things are happening in Europe.

This week, a flatmate asked me if we could house a refugee in our front room in London. I am, ordinarily, the flatmate urging we switch to a provider of renewable energy, the flatmate encouraging his flatmates consider a look at a Triodos ethical savings account rather than one with Lloyds Bank. My flatmates know that’s what I’m like, and so too do I know it, and as a result I go easy on them; well aware that there are arguments to be made on the part of ethics, but if you disregard the demanding daily lives of those you mean to convince, then they will soon disregard your ethics. And so I was not about to suggest we have a Syrian move in. Not only, however, was it my flatmate and not me who suggested we house a refugee, but a third housemate, on hearing the suggestion of the second, responded to the proposal with borderline approval. At this point, naturally, I announced that I would not be the flatmate that vetoed the decision to house a Syrian refugee. More significant than this good intention, however, is the extent to which it is already being put into practice; a UK initiative is in the process of trying to find ten thousand willing homes for Syrians, an Icelandic initiative has already found ten thousand (on an island of only 300,000), and a German initiative is actively pairing refugees with homes around the country and beyond. This is to say nothing of the assorted crowdfunding ventures and, once again, the 2,200 Austrians currently driving to Hungary to help drive refugees towards asylum.

That so many individuals now care enough to do so much so out of the ordinary is, in itself, remarkable. Still more encouraging, however, is the fact that it is working. Europeans are creating a trickle-up politics whereby Austrians drive to collect Syrians from Hungary and so Hungary feel compelled to – at least – provide buses, Iceland’s government realise it has misjudged the popular mood in only 50 asylum places and so return with an offer in the thousands. David Cameron is yet to announce how many Syrians will now be granted asylum in the UK, but – even before a 12th September march on Downing Street that will number into the tens of thousands – the figure will be substantially higher than the one the Government once felt it could get away with as the bare minimum of human rights duties. None of this is to say that now is a time for congratulating ourselves, quite the opposite – it is simply a reminder that the campaigning is working and we should keep at it. What is more, however, is that this is no longer only adversarial – whether it is the Daily Mail or the Conservative Party, some of the voices most steadfastly opposed to the movement of human beings – be that in refuge or migration – are being swallowed by the size of the consensus now under construction. The silent majority on immigration is, at last, speaking – the centre ground is being redefined. We have a humanitarian crisis and so we must respond as humans – some who would have bemoaned the issue of refugees a fortnight ago are doubtless becoming more sympathetic to the matter, and while it would be nice if we’d all of us agreed all along, this is real life, and the reality of winning a debate is that people who disagreed with you come to agree. It should be welcomed, not condemned.

This is – it bears saying – a work in progress; Eritreans, Afghans and the Sudanese are every bit as brutalised as Syrians, the latter are not the ‘special case’ some tabloids have sought to define them as – a cherry-picked victim by which we superficially re-legitimise World War Two narratives of safe-havens and our own morality. This is not to say that we can or should take infinite refugees, rather, that we must give according to our own ability and the needs of others, and that our foreign policies ought be waged (if that is still the correct verb) in a fashion that considers these human repercussions and where they flee to.

My own position on how much we might do is, probably, more utopian than most. I love to imagine British people talking of the successes and difficulties faced in integrating the Syrian couple now living with them for six months. Of people telling their boss they’ll be late for work because of dropping-off an adopted child at an English class – the boss understanding because his neighbour is running a day care centre for similar reasons. I fantasise about the idea of us all being forced to interrupt our business as usual, being reminded that millions of ruined lives and our ability to help a little was worth more than what the damn markets are saying. Sure, plenty of it is fantasy, but, there again, a week ago the UK was to take a few hundred Syrians. Next week, already with a certainty that that number will have increased, tens of thousands will march on Downing Street to demand more. I don’t go in for the nationalist baloney that The British People are good and moral… I simply believe that people are good and moral, especially where an agenda can be cleared of ulterior motives and polling data-induced paralysis, at which point you let people make up their own mind as to whether they like helping or vilifying those in need. That this open heartedness should not stop at international refugees goes without saying, but those I’ve seen most active on the refugee crisis are also those most active on UK inequality, its housing crisis, and the reliance of millions on food banks. What we are exercising is our emotional-political muscle to do good and demand more.

Individually, our own, personal morality-politics already represents as much. Countless memes circulate the internet on a feel-good theme that performing an act of kindness, of generosity, does not leave you depleted of that energy, but rather gives you your own energy redoubled. It is good to be a good person, just as it is good to be a nation that stands for values and humanity. Buddhist monks forego all possession and work so as to allow those around them opportunity to be humane in their support – the west and westerners have not, collectively, behaved with the piety of monks, and we should seek no self-congratulation, but societies have an impulse for compassion, and where that impulse is continuously stifled – where we are consistently bludgeoned with ideas that we haven’t the time, the capital, the empathy – we eventually come to believe it. Western society needs to be reminded that it can stand for change and stand for good, not only for a cheap fiscal orthodoxy; it is vitally important that we seize this moment, for it is in times of crisis that humans are able to reinvent themselves by either rising to, or falling, in the face of the challenge. We should continue to campaign, work and innovate for the sake of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, but we should also be doing it for ourselves.

Crucial in the call to action now rising are the voices of those elderly people who remember the evacuation of children from cities during World War II – their memory is essential for in them is a precedent, a recollection, that people can take in strangers for the good of all, and that life as you know it can legitimately be interrupted for an act of conscience. In those born since that time, the idea is only a text book or a history lesson, and it is so very important that each generation builds these examples anew so that they can continue to live on in the memory of those who come next.

There are, of course, practical considerations beyond only the good intention. As has been pointed out, even the 800,000 asylum places made available in Germany cannot be accessed from a refugee camp in Turkey or Lebanon, nor – quite possibly – even from the consulates within those nations. People are being obliged to make perilous and extortionately costly journeys (which, from the outset, marginalise the most economically vulnerable) to get to those asylum spaces; the momentum now needs to turn to military airlifting or charter flights. The pairing of refugees and willing hosts needs to gather momentum, and crowdfunding of – for example – the necessary bank deposits for visa sponsors could be an avenue for investigation.

None of these measures will, in themselves, solve the crisis, but by asking for them we will continue to build pressure on our governments to deliver the more adequate responses being demanded by their populations. In many ways, what we are seeing now is a hacking of government politics – the mechanisms of a much-vaunted ‘sharing economy’ put to humanitarian rather than market ends. Pressure should be applied to Airbnb to make good their ‘sharing credentials’ and have their reach and infrastructure leant to implementing, genuinely, the open-hearted human values they market themselves as espousing. People – whether in their accommodation, vehicles, expertise, time or spare belongings – are taking the unused value of their surpluses and investing it towards making good. This is what postcapitalism looks like, and here we see are seeing the network technologies of the twenty-first century mobilised to ameliorate the sort of crisis not seen since the twentieth.

The response of European governments and campaigners so far has – by and large – been one of terrible inaction on the part of governments shamed by enterprise and passion on the part of people. Governments can be embarrassed, either by other governments’ positions (read: Germany) or when their own populations demand more of them, either vocally, or by outdoing the efforts of the government itself; creating such a clamour that you break the machinery of government, the emotional armour, and break through to the humans that wear it. The Greek bailout crowdfunder, which so cheerfully managed to raise under 1% of only one debt instalment, illustrates that the efforts of networked individuals cannot match the smallest clout of a government. We should let this refugee crisis show that, whilst groundswell cannot replace government, it can and must help shape it.


Posted on on May 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

From pro-American to pro-Russian? Nikola Gruevski as a political chameleon.
Vassilis Petsinis, 22 May 2015, openDemocracy, London

A former staunch ally of the US-led War on Terror, Macedonia PM Nikola Gruevski has gradually turned his country away from the west towards Russia – all the while keeping his neoconservative ideology intact.

Following the unrest in Kumanovo and the massive anti-government protests, FYR Macedonia has captivated the interest of the international press. The most recent mobilization has been the peak of a wave of discontent that commenced with the countrywide student protests some weeks ago. In the domestic front, opposition circles have issued a series of charges against the government led by the conservative VMRO-DPMNE such as: promotion of nepotism, unwillingness to combat corruption, illegitimate surveillance of political opponents and, on top of all, growing authoritarianism.

Meanwhile, political analysts have detected a certain rift in the relations between Skopje and the West which has resulted in the Macedonian government’s more decisive reorientation towards Moscow.

Russia has pledged its political support to Nikola Gruevski’s and the two sides have extended their cooperation in energy issues and other areas of economic concern. Without neglecting the crucial impact of shifting geopolitics, this brief piece mostly concentrates on VMRO-DPMNE’s, predominantly, neoconservative agenda under the leadership of Nikola Gruevski. It also sets in a comparative context how this neoconservative platform has remained intact despite the gradual readjustment of the state’s foreign policy from Euro-Atlantic institutions towards Moscow’s orbit of influence.

From one neocon to another:

In 2003, Nikola Gruevski succeeded Ljub?o Georgievski in the party’s leadership. An ambitious young politician back then, Gruevski’s main ambition was to centralize decision-making within VMRO-DPMNE and modernize the party’s structures.

The latter objective was achieved via the recruitment of a younger pool of cadres. Following a widespread trend all over Southeast Europe (e.g. Albania’s Edi Rama and Serbia’s Vuk Jeremi?), the party’s central committee and later the Cabinet of Ministers consisted of young, aspiring and, often, Western-educated individuals (e.g. the Foreign Minister between 2006 and 2011, Antonio Milošoski). Moreover, Gruevski maintained the central aspects of Georgievski’s strategy of rapprochement vis-à-vis the ethnic Albanian community.

Despite this, Gruevski’s term in office has been marked by the emphatic endorsement of Neo-Macedonism to the detriment of the modernist narratives over the Macedonian ethno-genesis in the nineteenth century. The adoption of Neo-Macedonism became further institutionalized through the endorsement of grandiose architectural projects, largely inspired by classical antiquity, which commenced in 2010.

On the domestic front, the Socialists/SDSM and other opposition circles accused the government of investing a disproportional percentage of the state’s budget on these projects. In foreign policy, the emphasis on Neo-Macedonism further complicated relations with the southern neighbour, Greece.

Since the early days of Nikola Gruevski’s term in office, the ‘new’ VMRO-DPMNE drew inspiration from the rather influential trend of neoconservatism among policymaking circles in the US. As it was the case with various other statesmen in Central and Southeast Europe (e.g. Romania’s Traian B?sescu), Nikola Gruevski underlined his firm commitment to Euro-Atlantic institutions and opted for the rapid liberalization of the economy along post-Keynesian lines.

Meanwhile, Gruevski constantly stressed his deep faith in God and highlighted the significance of Eastern Orthodoxy and its system of moral values as a fundamental pillar of the state’s identity. In the field of foreign policy, Nikola Gruevski soon emerged as a staunch supporter of George W. Bush’s policy-doctrine on the Middle East. Throughout the 2000s, FYR Macedonia had dispatched military personnel to Afghanistan and Iraq under the auspices of the US-led ‘Coalition of the Willing’.

The NATO summit in Bucharest (April 2-4, 2008) was a landmark. As a gesture of gratitude to its small Balkan ally, the US delegation elaborated possible ways to include FYR Macedonia in the NATO enlargement round irrespective of the state’s dispute with Greece. However, the Greek PM, Kostas Karamanlis, vetoed this proposal on the basis that any outstanding issues with the northern neighbour must be previously resolved in order for Greece to grant its assent.

The Greek veto was met with discontent in Washington and infuriated Skopje. Especially in the light of Karamanlis’ opening to Russia, Skopje-based policymakers and think-tanks did not simply charge Athens with ‘parochial and introverted nationalism’. They went a step further and accused Greece of acting as a ‘Trojan horse’ in Moscow’s service with the aim to destabilize NATO and sabotage its enlargement in Southeast Europe.

The pendulum shifts: Fluctuating geopolitics and disillusionment with the West

Barack Obama, who succeeded G.W. Bush to the US Presidency in 2009, watered down various aspects of his predecessor’s ‘hawkish’ foreign policy. Instead, the new administration in the White House opted for a doctrine of appeasement in regards to their regional competitors (e.g. Russia and Iran).

Meanwhile, the simultaneous advent of the economic crisis made European policymakers more introverted and reluctant to the prospects of the EU’s wider enlargement. With specific regard to FYR Macedonia, European policymakers and political analysts soon stroke a critical stance towards Nikola Gruevski and his apparatus. The main areas of concern were symptoms of nepotism and authoritarianism as well as accusations over the relentless propagation of ‘ethno-kitsch’.

This shifting landscape in global and regional politics had direct ramifications on the government circles in Skopje. Several commentators have argued that delaying the state’s accession to Euro-Atlantic institutions runs detrimental to FYR Macedonia’s stateness and it is largely to account for Skopje’s disillusionment with the West. From a more ‘ideological’ angle, though, the change of guard in the White House and the subsequent adoption of a new US foreign policy doctrine are not to be overlooked either.

In other words, Nikola Gruevski’s government has lost much of the patronage that it enjoyed during George W. Bush’s tenure in office. Moreover, we are currently experiencing the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world order. The last few years have witnessed the consolidation of semi-authoritarian models of governance among emerging regional actors (e.g. Recep Tayyip Erdo?an in Turkey and Vladimir Putin in Russia). The latter development has encouraged the, if only subtle, admiration of certain statesmen throughout Central and Southeast Europe towards the above-mentioned models.

For instance, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán recently coined the concept of illiberal democracy. According to the Hungarian PM, ‘it is not an imperative that contemporary democracy must be structured along the ideological frame of Liberalism…there can be numerous other models of democracy in Europe, nowadays’. Moreover, Viktor Orbán has also positioned Hungary’s foreign policy more solidly within Russia’s orbit of influence.

In particular, both FIDESZ and VMRO-DPMNE converge along a common axis. Both are post-Communist parties that commenced their engagement in politics as, anti-establishment, umbrella-initiatives that hosted a wide range of conservative as well as liberal standpoints. However, in the long run, local adaptations of neoconservatism evolved into the dominant intra-party trend.

Nikola Gruevski and/or Viktor Orbán are not merely unhappy with the outlook(s) of Euro-Atlantic institutions on their respective states or the way(s) that their rule has been portrayed in the Western press. They have also isolated specific elements in Vladimir Putin’s leadership which they deem rather akin to their brand(s) of neoconservatism. These are, namely, Russia’s leader-centred and strong government, the promotion of national and Christian values, and the safeguarding of ‘naturally ascribed’ gender-roles.

Especially in the light of a multipolar international system, one might contend that the neoconservative, ideological, core in parties such as VMRO-DPMNE and/or FIDESZ has remained intact despite the, apparent, foreign policy readjustment towards Moscow.
What next? Skopje amidst political polarization and fears of ethnic radicalization

In addition to the decline of popular confidence, the government in Skopje may also have to face the challenge of resurgent ethnic radicalization. During the last couple of weeks, a militant group, allegedly consisting of ethnic Albanians, became active in the northern town of Kumanovo. The apparent resurgence of militant Albanian ethno-nationalism triggered a series of conspiracy theories.

Pro-government circles have hinted at the involvement of ‘foreign decision-making centres’ who are not particularly content with the bilateral cooperation between Russia and FYR Macedonia. In the other end of the spectrum, opposition circles have suspected the government of engineering the Kumanovo troubles in an attempt to play the card of ‘national unity’ as a last resort. A third assumption that has not been examined to an adequate extent is the possibility of a peculiar, yet amorphous, blend between Albanian ethno-nationalism and elements of Islamic fundamentalism along the lines of the ‘Chechen precedent’.

Russia, on its part, has been quick to point the finger for both the Kumanovo incidents and the anti-government mobilization at the West. The US and the EU have been accused of orchestrating one more ‘Maidan-style’ coup with the aim to destabilize the government and obstruct cooperation with Russia in energy issues.

Russia Today and other pro-Kremlin media outlets dedicated considerable time to the coverage of pro-government demonstrations where Russian flags also featured among the crowd. Quite a few Western political analysts have expressed the wishful thinking that Nikola Gruevski may be forced to resign under popular pressure and be replaced by a coalition government with a Euro-Atlantic orientation.

Setting regional geopolitics aside, Nikola Gruevski’s opening to Russia reveals an additional pathology of Post-communist politics. Even back at the time when parties such as VMRO-DPMNE and FIDESZ had adjusted their foreign policy more firmly towards the West, their political activity and decision-making had been shaped by local adaptations of the neoconservative narrative. Within the context of their political development, such parties replaced their admiration for certain aspects of American neoconservatism with the endorsement of selected elements found in Vladimir Putin’s semi-authoritarianism while their (neoconservative) ideological core remained intact.

Apart from nominally right-wing parties, centre-left statesmen in the region have also detected, albeit more subtly, some ‘positive’ aspects in Vladimir Putin’s pattern of governance (e.g. the Bulgarian Socialist Party/BSP and Slovakia’s SMER). Therefore, in order to grasp such chameleonic mutations more adequately, one should also pay close attention to political culture among post-Communist parties in Central and Southeast Europe and its evolution.

Dr Vassilis Petsinis is a Visiting Researcher at the Herder Institute (Marburg, Germany). His main areas of specialization are European Politics and Ethnopolitics with a regional focus on Central and Southeast Europe. His profile can be found here.




Related Articles: The deep roots of Macedonia’s current turmoil – and the way forward – Heather Grabbe -the same source.

The deep roots of Macedonia’s current turmoil – and the way forward.

Heather Grabbe 13 May 2015, openDemocracy, London

The country must avoid just replacing the driver in the seat of a captured state machinery – by increasing inclusion and pluralism in governance. This will be impossible without EU and NATO assistance.

For nearly two decades, Macedonia has been a pressure cooker of public anger at corruption, deteriorating governance and chronic unemployment. Now the valve has blown. This year, union-organised strikes were followed by student protests against flawed education reforms. Then the opposition party released recordings of conversations that exposed government wire-tapping of more than 20,000 citizens. Quickly dubbed “bombs”, these recordings were released over the last three months by the main opposition party leader at press conferences. On them appear the voices of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, senior officials, journalists, judges and security officials conspiring in electoral and judicial fraud, and organising systemic corruption. On the latest, released on 4 May, the prime minister discusses with interior ministry officials a cover-up of the murder in June 2011 by one of his bodyguards of 21-year old Martin Neshkovski, a student who supported the ruling party.

These revelations have led to a new wave of protests, led by grassroots networks of civil society rather than the opposition party. The young activists have become more radical in their demands under sustained attacks by riot police and government infiltrators, who provoked the protestors for five nights in a row. Last Friday, they pledged to come back to demand the resignation of the prime minister. Then the population awoke on Saturday morning to news of what the government called a “terrorist attack” in an ethnically mixed neighbourhood in Kumanovo, a town near the Serbia/Kosovo border. The results were the deaths of police officers and arrests of alleged terrorists. The government-controlled media called for unquestioning support for the government, and labelled as a traitor anyone who disputed the official interpretation of events. What is going on? Is this a security crisis or a consolidation of power by the ruling party in the face of mounting opposition?

High stakes – but for security or politics?

The shootings in Kumanovo have woken up the rest of the world because they are reminiscent of the security crisis fifteen years ago, when ethnic Albanians took to the hills with their guns to demand rights, representation and jobs. The country narrowly escaped a full-blown civil war thanks to the Ohrid Agreement, which gave the Albanians greater political and economic inclusion, including quotas for public-sector jobs and parliamentary seats.

It was NATO and the EU that took responsibility for Macedonia’s security in 2001, with Javier Solana, as EU High Representative for Foreign Policy at the time, and George Robertson, then NATO Secretary-General, as the main negotiators at Ohrid. But the current crisis is not primarily driven by ethnic tensions. The security framing by the government obscures a much deeper crisis in the body politic, and a looming one for the economy.

After 24 years of independence, Macedonia’s model is crumbling. The ruling party has held onto power by controlling the state and media, and borrowing on international markets to keep the economy going. This has undermined the country’s fragile democracy – despite the promises made at Ohrid, which are still not fully implemented – and failed to build rule of law and a sustainable economy. Prime Minister Gruevski won power nearly a decade ago on promises of clean government and economic development. But he then perfected the system of clientelism and state capture begun by Branko Crvenkovski, his predecessor as opposition leader and prime minister, and later president. Gruevski has used snap elections twice to keep his party in power, and his leadership has become increasingly coercive. The wiretap recordings have confirmed that his VMRO-DPMNE party has captured all vital areas of the economy and established complete control over media, even imprisoning critical journalists. Macedonia’s ranking has fallen from 36 to 136 in the freedom of media index produced by Reporters Without Borders.

The government dispensed with parliamentary debate at the end of 2013. Faced with a short deadline to approve the next loan to pay pensions before the Christmas and New Year holidays, they forcibly expelled the opposition and media from the parliament during a debate over the state budget rather than find an agreement.

The public is scared. More than half of Macedonians believe they cannot freely express their opinions. A staggering 81 percent believe that fear of consequences for them and their families prevent them and others from speaking out. Their political fears are heightened by their economic vulnerability.

The chronic economic malaise underlying acute political crisis.

The Macedonian economy appears to be financially stable. The government nurtures an image of business promoter and responsible borrower. Until recently, it was the region’s poster child for the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. European banks were happy to earn good returns on Macedonian state bonds. Macedonia’s average GDP growth of 3% in the last three years is the highest in the region, completing this picture of prosperity.

But the economy is not sustainable. The government has used debt financing to invest in grandiose infrastructure projects, including the flagship “Skopje 2014” project, which erected statues and faux-classical buildings in the capital at a cost of over 600 million euro. Between 2008 and 2014, Macedonia’s public debt quadrupled, rising from 23% of GDP in 2008 to around 46% in 2014. Debt is projected to reach the 60% ceiling prescribed by the international financial institutions by 2019. The state budget increased by a third over the same period (from roughly 2 to 3 billion euro). Inflows of foreign direct investment averaged only 2.8% of GDP per year between 2009 and 2014, low even by regional standards.

Life for citizens has become more precarious. Around a third of the workforce is unemployed, the second highest rate in Europe after Kosovo. Without the heavy borrowing, the fragile economy could not sustain more than 300,000 pensioners, who rely on the state budget for half of their needs. Nor could it afford to pay the huge number of state employees. The last official number was 140,000 in 2008, and latest estimates range from 200,000 to 255,000. The total number of people employed in Macedonia is 700,000 – meaning that the state employs nearly a third of the workforce. No wonder people are leaving to seek better prospects abroad. A census has been postponed by the government, but Gallup estimates that more than 300,000 people have left the country. According to Deutsche Welle, most of the 120,000 Macedonians who acquired Bulgarian passports have already emigrated to the EU or elsewhere. Macedonia seems to have more registered voters (at 1,780,128) than residents.

VMRO-DPMNE has kept its hold on power in this unhappy state by resorting to strident nationalism and intimidation of its opponents, increasing the divisions in a multi-ethnic country. Ethnic Macedonians are understandably aggrieved by the lack of a solution to the dispute with Greece over the country’s name, which already blocked entry to NATO – and Gruevski has adroitly used the issue to rally nationalism in support of the government. Meanwhile, the ethnic Albanian political parties have been co-opted by their share in the spoils of mis-governance, even though their people remain even more alienated and poorer than the rest of the population.

The divisions are deepening right across society. Three-quarters of ethnic Albanians still firmly believe in EU and NATO accession as the way to a better future, but by now over 62 percent of other Macedonians think badly of joining the EU. Three-quarters of the ruling party’s supporters see the name dispute with Greece as the key reason for Macedonia’s now bleak EU accession prospects; but only 20% of opposition supporters agree. The biggest divide is between rich and poor, especially along party lines. The poor are undoubtedly getting poorer: resources available to the poorest fifth of citizens fell by 38% between 2008 and 2012. But business profits have grown by almost two and a half times since the year 2000. Nearly 80% of all Macedonians believe it is unfair that employment in state institutions and general prosperity is based on political party membership.
The way forward: a unity government with EU and NATO support

Macedonia is once again becoming a security threat on the EU’s borders. But this time it’s different: a non-partisan civic movement has taken to the streets for the first time to change the country. There is a real opportunity to use this energy to build democracy and a market economy in this multi-ethnic state.

No party is doing well in Macedonia: the secret recordings have lost the government all credibility, but the public has little faith in the leaders of the opposition and ethnic Albanian parties either. The immediate solution lies in collective action first by all those who have created the problem.

Now that three of the prime minister’s key allies have tendered their resignations, Macedonia should turn again to the solution that averted the civil war in 2001: a unity government composed of the four main parties. To foster the necessary compromises and offer a fresh start. it would not include the current prime minister, public prosecutor or speaker of the parliament – but opposition parties must be involved in open and credible oversight of the intelligence agencies, and take responsibility for the discredited interior ministry.

The most promising scenario is a government of national unity that lasts for 12-18 months, to prepare the country for free and fair elections, and create an independent commission to investigate all the events since the opposition was violently ejected from the parliament in 2013. And it should agree on a common negotiating platform on the name dispute with Greece. Macedonia’s newly reinvigorated civil society should also contribute to the work of the parliamentary commissions and monitor the new government’s progress in restoring the accountability of public institutions. The country must avoid just replacing the driver in the seat of the captured state machinery, by increasing inclusion and pluralism in governance.

As so often in the Balkans, such a scenario will be impossible without EU and NATO assistance. The default position among EU foreign ministers is to expect sovereign countries to sort out their own political problems through democratic institutions. But after a decade of unconsolidated democracy and state capture, Macedonia does not possess those institutions. Therefore, other levers of influence are needed. NATO could offer a tangible incentive to all parties by offering a possibility to re-open membership talks. EU accession negotiations are far off because so much time has been lost on necessary reforms, but the enlargement process is vital to offer hope, especially to the ethnic Albanians, and guidance to reformers who are seeking to take back captured parts of the state. The support of EU institutions, member-states and banks is vital for the country’s macroeconomic stability. Neighbouring governments could also exert more pressure, as their own security is at stake. Bulgarian Prime Minister Borisov was the first to request Gruevski to step down.

The EU can no longer afford to indulge a model of governance in Macedonia that has been far more aggressive in its authoritarian zeal than nearby Montenegro or Turkey. The European People’s Party has a particular responsibility to get involved, having accepted and protected VMRO-DPMNE as a sister party for all these years. Now it must act to uphold the standards of democracy on which it was founded, by putting pressure on VMRO-DPMNE to relinquish its grip on power and join a unity government. The time to move is now, as the costs of inaction will continue to rise.


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 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

 From Daniel Pipes:

Dear Reader:

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

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

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Pipes

The Caliphate Brings Trauma.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Caliphs of Baghdad



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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


Posted on on June 10th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


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

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

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


Merkel and Cameron in battle over European Commission.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU wakes up to Eurosceptic hangover.
26 May 2014
The EU’s mainstream political parties will move quickly to re-establish themselves as the voice of the European parliament, following EU elections that saw a significant increase in support for Eurosceptic, extreme right and anti-establishment parties.

PES say Eurosceptic election swing sounds ‘warning bell.’

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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




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


Posted on 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 May 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (




This is the eighth elections to the European Parliament – and perhaps the forst really important election as it will lead to the establishment of the FIRST PRESIDENT of the EU.
There are many subjects of first line importance that will have to be decided by the new Parliament but some of the most important topics are not mentioned in the election campaigns – this because they might be too controversial  for the constituencies.
We will deal here just with one such topic – the need for an European energy policy that is not based on imports of gas.The insecurity of Russian supplies ought to teach Brussels that best energy policy is one of efficiency in the use of energy and supplies that are local and from Renewable Energy sources. If this lesson is not forthcoming in days of constraints applied who is full enough to believe in promisses that such policies will be made posible in a calmer future – if this ever comes?
Just see:

Russian gas supplies ‘not guaranteed’, EU commissioner warns.

The EUobserver May 2, 2014.

By Valentina Pop


BRUSSELS – A first mediation attempt by the EU between Russia and Ukraine on their gas price dispute on Friday (2 May) in Warsaw ended with no results other than the willingness to meet again.

  • Guenther Oettinger at a press conference after meeting the Russian and Ukrainian energy ministers (Photo: European Commission)

“It is with concern that we see the security of supply for end consumers in EU and non-EU states like Ukraine is not guaranteed,” EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger told press after the meeting.

The energy ministers of Ukraine and Russia, for the first time at a table since the annexation of Crimea and the Russia-backed separatist movements in eastern Ukraine, decided to hold separate press points rather than join Oettinger in a common press conference.

Still, when asked about the atmosphere in the meeting, Oettinger responded that “we are all adults” and emphasised the willingness of both sides to meet again mid-May.

“The European Commission will stabilize Naftogaz [Ukraine’s state-owned gas company] and Ukraine and will be a fair mediator for justified and fair gas prices,” Oettinger said.

At the core of the current dispute is how much Ukraine owes and has to pay for current and future gas deliveries from Russia: 485 US dollars per cubic meter of gas as Gazprom demands or roughly half of it, the price Kiev used to pay before the political turmoil that started late last year.

For the Russian side, the price is “clear, set in the contract signed until 2019” and any negotiations are “odd”.

Russian energy minister Alexander Novak told press after the meeting that Ukraine has not paid for any gas it imported in the last quarter of 2013 and the first three months of this year.

“There is a 16 May deadline when an invoice will be issued to pay for the gas by 31 May and to prepay for the consumption in June. If by June these payments are not made, Gazprom will have the possibility to restrict supplies to Ukraine,” Novak said.

He added that European supplies should not be affected as they are paid for until September 2014. Any disruptions in gas flows to the EU during this time should only be blamed on Ukraine, if it “illegally” taps these supplies or diverts them to storage.

Novak also questioned plans by the EU to reverse the flow of gas and supply Ukraine with Russian gas via Slovakia.

“If such contracts are executed, we’ll look at them very attentively and reserve our right to address courts and institutions of arbitration,” he said.

As for Ukraine, its energy minister Yuriy Prodan said the doubling of the gas price by Russia was “discriminatory” and “abusive” and that Kiev will take the matter to the international court of arbitration in Stockholm.

“It is possible that in arbitration we can change the volume of our debt to Gazprom, possibly no debt at all,” Prodan said.

He insisted that “Ukraine is a reliable partner, a transit country and it will fulfil all its obligations to its European partners.”

Ukraine is the main transit country for Russian gas supplies to EU countries, with previous price disputes having translated into gas cuts at the height of cold winters, leaving citizens in Bulgaria and Slovakia in the cold.

The situation has since improved, with increased reserves and the capacity to reverse the gas flow from less-dependent EU countries to the ones totally relying on Russian imports.

But with pro-Russian separatists shooting down two Ukrainian helicopters and with Russian President Vladimir Putin declaring a Geneva peace deal “no longer valid”, the chances of a solution to the gas dispute are low.

Related   —  Ukraine signs gas deal with Slovakia.


Above is a fine description of the situation when all what Brussels is ready to talk about is the supply of new gas to old pipelines – “in reverse.”  we find this ridiculous because we did not hear of any of the parties running in the elections for the European Parliament saying in full light that Energy Policy is not a synonim for Gas Policy. Where is the call for investment in a long term solution that makes the gas unneeded? YES, THEY CAN – AND IT IS POSSIBLE TO DO IT!

In Austria we follow this topic closely by monitoring the position of the top people in the various parties – and even having picked up in private this topic with them – we found something that until today I used to call a Chicken’s attitude.

I said that “until today” and this because my eyes opened up when the papers today  wrote about –
“A PIPELINE SPLITS EUROPE” – it is the Austrian Oil Company OEMV that has a contract with the Russian GAZPROM to build the SOUTH STREAM PIPELINE to bring Russian Gas under the Black Sea to Bulgaria – and from there via Serbia, Hungary to a branch to Austria –  that will link to Central Europe,  and another branch to Slovenia – that will supply Italy and West Europe.

The First leg is to follow the route: Bergowaja near Sochi in Russia – all the length of the Black Sea to Varna in Bulgaria -Pleven in Bulgaria – Subotica on the Serbian/Hungarian border – to Baumgarten in Lower Austria.

The idea is to bypass the Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania. This is an answer the Russians think to apply to their relations with their pesky Ukrainian neighbors,  and Austria is playing the European partner in this scheme.  With OEMV having strong connections to the Austrian political system – voila – the reason the Austrian parties are not keen to do more then just speak with low voice about true ENERGY INDEPENDENCE. I find this very disturbing, and though I do not want to be the first to point fingers – suffice to say that this might undermine many good positions Austria has in its attempt to help solve in a logic way the Ukraine/Russian controversy – something that becomes impossible if the government ends up speaking for the National Oil Company.


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


When I opened the papers this morning I saw:

Vasil Bilak, Czechoslovak Communist Who Encouraged 1968 Soviet Invasion, Dies at 96


Mr. Bilak was a former hard-line communist leader who paved the way for Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Just a timely reminder following the Syrian’s allegation that the lack of law in his country is not internal/local but external/by occupation – so what in the hell is the Russian meaning when he says  intervention from the outside is “Verboten.”

The Event at the UN, the news building about Showcase Sochi and the spotlight on suppression of democracy in Russia by a new Czar-bound Russian Megaloman who reaches out to the Ukraine and to Syria as steps in his dream of reconstituting the Soviet empire are just pathetic. We found the move to kill the Sochi dogs much worse then the keeping of street children away from Rio de Janeiro during Brazil’s days of glory when they hosted the Climate Change Convention meeting. Death is final even for dogs! In Syria it is for humans as well!

And let us not forget why I was at the UN. These are days the UN is trying to come up with a global regime for the post 2015 era – that will be based on Sustainable Development Goals and the meeting yesterday, with lots of participants trying their best to show that without Rule of Law – or more accurate Rule By Law – and Good Governance – there will be no Sustainability. These are things we advocated years ago and our website has on the right side of the Home-page the booklet – The PROMPTBOOK –  we wrote for the 2002 Johannesburg Summit – so our readers are familiar with our hopes. Encouraging yesterday was that all speakers except the Syrian and the Russian did indeed address the issues and their questions were not plain national propaganda like these two renegade States showed. The Hungarian Chair of the Open Working Group navigated this very well.

The Opinion Pages|Editorial of The New York Times.


A Spotlight on Mr. Putin’s Russia.


The Olympic Games that open in Sochi, Russia, on Friday are intended to be the fulfillment of President Vladimir Putin’s quest for prestige and power on the world stage. But the reality of Mr. Putin and the Russia he leads conflicts starkly with Olympic ideals and fundamental human rights. There is no way to ignore the dark side — the soul-crushing repression, the cruel new antigay and blasphemy laws and the corrupt legal system in which political dissidents are sentenced to lengthy terms on false charges.

Maria Alyokhina, 25, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, of Pussy Riot, the Russian punk band, are determined that the glossy celebration of the Olympics will not whitewash the reality of Mr. Putin’s Russia, which they know from experience. Charged with “hooliganism,” they were incarcerated for 21 months for performing an anti-Putin song on the altar of a Moscow cathedral that cast the Russian Orthodox Church as a tool of the state.

Such political protest is not tolerated in a nation that is a long way from a democracy. In December, the women were freed under a new amnesty law that was an attempt by Mr. Putin to soften his authoritarian image before the Olympics.

But if he thought releasing the two women from prison would silence them, he miscalculated badly. On Wednesday, they told The Times’s editorial board that their imprisonment, and the international support it rallied to their cause, had emboldened them. They plan to keep criticizing Mr. Putin — they were hilarious on Stephen Colbert’s show the night before — and working for prison and judicial reform. Their resolve and strength of character are inspiring.

There is a lot of work to do, beginning with the cases of eight people who are now on trial, charged with mass disorder at a protest at Bolotnaya Square in Moscow in 2012 on the eve of Mr. Putin’s third inauguration as president. Amnesty International, which sponsored the Pussy Riot visit to New York, where they appeared at a benefit concert on Wednesday, has called for dropping the charges of incitement to riot against the Bolotnaya demonstrators. The Pussy Riot activists dismissed the charges against those demonstrators as baseless and more evidence of “Putin’s way of getting revenge” on his critics.

A Russian prosecutor has demanded prison terms of five and six years for the eight protesters, with the verdict expected a few days before the Olympics end in late February. Ms. Alyokhina and Ms. Tolokonnikova have called for a boycott of the Olympics, or other protests, to pressure the government into freeing the defendants. The most important thing is that the world speak out now, while Mr. Putin is at the center of attention and presumably cares what it thinks.

More broadly, the Russian penal system is in desperate need of reform. The activists described conditions in which prisoners are cowed into “obedient slaves,” forced to work up to 20 hours a day, with food that is little better than refuse. Those who are considered troublemakers can be forced to stand outdoors for hours, regardless of the weather; prohibited from using the bathroom; or beaten.


Their observations are reinforced by the State Department’s 2012 human rights report, which said that limited access to health care, food shortages, abuse by guards and inmates, inadequate sanitation and overcrowding were common in Russian prisons, and that in some the conditions can be life threatening.

The Olympics cannot but put a spotlight on the host country, and despite all efforts to create a more pleasant image of his state, Mr. Putin is facing a growing protest. On Wednesday, more than 200 prominent international authors, including Günter Grass, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood and Jonathan Franzen, published a letter denouncing the “chokehold” they said the new antigay and blasphemy laws place on freedom of expression.

Mr. Putin has unconstrained power to put anyone associated with Pussy Riot and thousands of other political activists in prison. But these women and those who share their commitment to freedom and justice are unlikely to be silenced, and they offer Russia a much better future.

As Olympics Arrive, Russia Experiences a Downturn


MOSCOW — After President Vladimir V. Putin delivered Russia’s successful pitch to host the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi — in English and a smattering of French, no less — he declared it an international validation of the Russia that had emerged from the ruins of the Soviet Union.

“It is, beyond any doubt, a judgment on our country,” he said then, nearly seven years ago.

Now, as the first events begin, the Games have for Mr. Putin and his allies become a self-evident triumph of Russia’s will. The avalanche of criticism that has already fallen, from minor complaints about ill-prepared hotels and stray dogs to grave concerns about the costs, security and human rights, is being brushed away like snowflakes from a winter coat.

“Its realization is already a huge win for our country,” Dmitri N. Kozak, a deputy prime minister and one of Mr. Putin’s longest-standing aides, said in Sochi on Thursday. He went on to use a phrase attributed to Catherine the Great when she intervened to halt the court-martial of a general who had stormed an Ottoman fortress without orders in the 18th century: “Victors are not judged.”

Aleksei A. Navalny, a critic of Mr. Putin, said the money spent on the Sochi Games represented a missed opportunity. James Hill for The New York Times

The Games are a crowning moment for Mr. Putin, a chance to demonstrate anew his mastery of the global levers of power, but perhaps not for the country he governs. With Russia’s natural-resource dependent economy slowing as commodities prices fall, and with foreign investments drying up, the Kremlin has already signaled that it would have to cut spending. The $50 billion or so lavished on Sochi is becoming a political liability.

Lilia Shevtsova, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, argued that the International Olympic Committee awarded the games to Sochi — over Salzburg, Austria, and Pyeongchang, South Korea — when Mr. Putin was at the zenith of his powers in his second term but when the verdict on his legacy remained an open one. Many had been critical of his authoritarian instincts after he rose to power, including the tightening of news media and political freedoms and the war in Chechnya, but Russia had indisputably recovered from the chaos of the 1990s.

“At that time, Russia was ‘rising from its knees,’ ” Ms. Shevtsova wrote in an essay on the center’s website, “whereas now — in 2014 — Russia has started its downward slide.”

The stalling of the economy, despite the stimulus of Olympic spending, has raised worries about popular unrest directed at the Kremlin and a tightening of political freedoms in response once the Games are over.

Growth last year slowed to 1.3 percent, the lowest in a decade except for during the global recession in 2009, even as other major economies showed signs of recovery. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recently called for urgent changes in labor policies, productivity and a government and legal bureaucracy that now stifle development — all long promised but not enacted.

“Structural reforms to improve the business climate are key to raising potential growth and economic resilience,” the organization wrote in its survey of Russia’s economy last month. “As energy prices stagnate and labor and capital become fully utilized, growth is falling behind pre-crisis rates. Making the economy stronger, more balanced, and less dependent on rents from national resource extraction is therefore a key challenge.”

The sheer cost of the Games has suddenly become a liability even in a political system that allows little room for public debate about the wisdom of government spending.

“It is about a lost chance,” said Aleksei A. Navalny, whose Foundation for the Fight Against Corruption recently published an interactive website charting what critics have called excessive waste and corruption in the construction of the Olympic facilities. “It is about what Russia could have done with this money. We could have had a new industrialization along the same lines as the industrialization under Stalin.
Instead, he added, “it’s just one crazy little czar who chose to throw money right and left in some kind of madness.”

Russia is not about to collapse. Nor does Mr. Putin’s rule face any foreseeable challenge, something even a determined critic like Mr. Navalny acknowledged. Mr. Putin’s approval rating, bolstered by lavishly positive coverage on state television, remains as high as when he first came to office.

Hosting the Olympics, however, seems to have lost some of the luster officials expected for Russia’s prestige at home and abroad, much to the frustration of Mr. Putin’s supporters.

The Olympics have refocused international attention on the hard-line policies Mr. Putin’s government has pursued since he returned to the presidency in 2012 after four years as prime minister, and prompted calls for protests and even boycotts.



Posted on on April 22nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Foto Hausfront



Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum

Austrian Museum
for Social and Economic Affairs
 A-1050 Wien, Vogelsanggasse 36
Telefon: ++43-(0)1-5452551
Fax: ++43-(0)1-5452551-55

ZVR-Zahl: 622163785


22. 04. 2013
17.00 Wirtschaft in den Medien

Herbert Hutar, Wirtschaftspublizist und Gründer des Radiomagazins SALDO (Ö1), spricht über tatsächliche oder vorgetäuschte Objektivität in der Wirtschaftsberichterstattung, über Themenauswahl und Fallen, in die Medienkonsument(en)innen stolpern können.

Eintritt, Erfrischungen und Brötchen frei!

22. 04. 2013
19.00 Vom Haydn-Gymnasium in Wien
in die EU-Kommission in Brüssel

Johannes Hahn, EU-Kommissar für Regionalpolitik, berichtet über seine derzeitigen Agenden und Herausforderungen und gibt Ausblick auf zukünftige Entwicklungen Europas.

Eintritt, Erfrischungen und Brötchen frei!

24. 04. 2013
19.00 Social Settlements –
Über die Verbreitung einer Idee in Österreich-Ungarn

Elisabeth Malleier, Historikerin, spricht über die Verbreitung der Settlements in Österreich-Ungarn. Als ein Initiator dieser Entwicklung gilt das in Wien gegründete „Ottakringer Settlement“, dessen Ziel der direkte und persönliche Kontakt zwischen Arm und Reich in den Armenvierteln der Großstädte war.



Posted on on March 4th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

March 3, 2013

Populists or Business (Banking) Lobbyists?

The public media and European mainstream parties’ politicians are unisono lamenting the rise of populism as manifested by the strong showing of Beppe Grillo in Italy’s parliamentary election last weekend. They decry, as they did earlier in the case of Greece, when the “populist” Syriza party nearly won the election, the irresponsibility, the negativism, the “against-it-all” attitude of these parties’ leaders. Let us add to these election results the street demonstrations and battles in Greece, in Spain, in Portugal, in Bulgaria, in Slovenia – all these before the background of people jumping to death from windows of their to-be-repossessed apartments, of soup kitchens, of soaring unemployment rates (especially, and even more tragically, of the young), and of the horrifying increase in poverty rates in many of these and other countries.

It does seem, that in spite of these politicians’ lamentoes, that European citizens are no longer accepting the crisis resolution policies imposed on them by politicians – at the bidding of financial markets. Yes, Mario Monti, the unelected and now defeated prime minister, managed to calm “market fears”, yes, Mario Draghi, the ECB president, managed to do the same – and more – by last fall promising to “do everything necessary” to enable European states’ return to the financial markets, yes, some of the Southern states (plus Ireland) were able during the past months to place bond auctions at “sustainable” yields (i.e. below the benchmark of 6%). But the concomitant “aid programs” by the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund, the dreaded “troika” are what the restive populations are no longer willing to swallow. Since governments took over bank debt, the citizens have been called upon to foot the bill, by having their taxes increased, government expenditures, especially social expenditures, cut and losing their jobs as a result of the persistent recession which these programs (and the similar, if less stringent “debt brake” conditions imposed on all EU countries. There is already talk about a “lost decade” for Europe.

With all this austerity (which is portrayed as without alternative) it is completely unclear where future growth should come from even after this decade. The mainstream recipe that balanced budgets (and their corresponding structural reforms) guarantee growth has been proven false, not only in theory, but also in empirical practice. If the second largest economic block in the world (with about 18 trillion $ in GDP, about one fourth of the world economy) reduces public sector demand in addition to falling demand in the private sector, this affects the whole world. This is different from the frequently cited more recent cases, where one individual country managed to export its way out of recession, when all other countries were growing and thus increasing their demand.

In this situation, the EU parliament has achieved a spectacular success, by agreeing (also with EU Finance Ministers) to limit bankers’ bonus payments to 100% of base salary (in exceptional cases to 200%). This is part of a hard-fought package setting new rules for European banks’ equity and liquidity requirements. There are widespread “populism” cries by especially English bankers, but also their colleagues around Europe that this would drive out banking from Europe, that this is a Continental coup to transfer banking business from London to Paris or Frankfurt (??), that this is “unfair”. The more sanguine bankers say (see eg. Financial Times March 2, 2013) that this just means that their base salary will have to be doubled as a consequence. Tory MPs are fuming and using this as an additional argument that the UK should leave the EU as soon as possible. Of course, they do not mention the fact that it was their leader, David Cameron, who pulled the Tories out of the European Peoples’ Party group, which – in the form of the Austrian Othmar Karas – was leading the negotiations of the European Parliament with the Finance Ministers. They also forget to mention that banking lobbies (led by the English) have delayed and watered down the other parts of the Banking package to be concluded.

The Greek and Italian elections, the street protests, the events in many other European countries should lead to a realization by the EU policy makers, both in the Central Bank, in the Commission and in the Council, that it is not just “clowns” (@ Peer Steinbruck, the Social Democratic candidate for the German premiership) who say “no more” to this oppressive economic policy recipe, but it is large parts of the European populations who have not only lost confidence that these recipes will work, but actively are against them – because they see that as in the Great Depression of the late 1920s – they lead to impoverishment and political disaster. Politicians should listen more closely to their populations, and less to the financial sector lobbyists, who have caused this crisis and refuse to play their part in shouldering their part of the burden. It was the lobbyists’ close connection to the politicians who made banking debts into government debt, it was their whisperings which had told politicians fairy tales about the financial markets being the most efficient markets in the world, thus self-regulation and “light-touch” regulation was all that was needed.

What are the alternatives?

The primary policy objective should not be to “return countries to financial markets’ access”, but to have indebted states return to a sustainable economic and social policy path which improves the welfare of their populations. To this end, government debt financing should be taken away from financial markets and turned over to a publicly accountable public institutions (the ECB or the ESM with a banking licence).

As far as bank debt is concerned, a European plan must be developed with a medium-term view of how the European Financial sector should look like in 10-20 years. This would counter-act the present “re-nationalization” trends where every country attempts to save its banks (frequently at the expense of others) at high costs to the taxpayers. Some banks will need to be closed, others restructured, and effective regulation set up. It is clear that (some) debts will need to be repaid, but much of bank debt should be paid by bank owners and their bondholders, not by taxpayers. For highly indebted bank sectors, a European bank resolution fund could take over some of the debt.

It is true that a number of “problem countries” in the EU have pursued wrong policies in the past, e.g. waste of public (EU and national) funds, neglect of innovation and R&D policies, high military expenditures, neglect of industrial policies, neglect of modern education systems, neglect of building up sustainable energy systems (both on the supply and demand side), and many more. Each country needs to develop a positive vision of where it wants to stand in 10 years’ time, and then select the appropriate instruments, and convince its EU partners of its way.
The major political task will be to convince the populations that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that some sacrifices are necessary, but that these will be distributed equitably, that there are positive prospects for this and the next generation, that the social system will cushion the inevitable burdens. To generate the confidence that “we are all in this together” will not be credible, if voiced by those politicians who have gotten us (knowingly or unknowingly) into the present mess. This is the task for new, and credible politicians who not only know what possible alternatives are, but can also muster enough support, both political and technical, from the populations who voted for them. This may and will require new communication methods – as they have been employed during the recent elections.

At a European level, a new more comprehensive economic policy umbrella must be opened. The nearly exclusive attention to budget consolidation was geared to placating the financial markets – who also are getting cold feet seeing what “their” policies do to growth (see the most recent downgrade of the UK). It must throw off the yoke of financial market dictate and turn itself to strengthening the European model, with a view to balance social, economic and environmental requirements for the future.

European civil society is growing together. Public institutions, like the labor movement, are not. In the face of the crisis, labor unions are re-nationalizing, attempting to save jobs for their own members at the expense of their foreign colleagues. They should learn from the business lobby, which has been much more successful in convincing European and national policy makers of their own interests.


Posted on on March 3rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

From a new IISD Newsletter – “Sustainable Development in Action” (First year – Third issue).

Co-facilitators for Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals appointed.

The President of the General Assembly has appointed the Permanent Representatives of Hungary – Ambassador Csaba Korosi – and Kenya – Ambassador Macharia Kamau – as co-facilitators to prepare for the first meeting of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  In addition, as facilitators, the President of the General Assembly has also appointed H.E. Amb. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil in order to facilitate the transition from the Rio+20 or the June 2012 meeting that was run by Brazil, and Ambassador Dejan Sahovic as a Special liaison to Mr. Vuk Jeremic of Serbia – now President of the UN General Assembly. Last position before joining Mr. Jeremic in New York – Mr. Sahovic served as Ambassador of Serbia to Hungary (2008-2012)

Initially, they will facilitate consultations on the group’s leadership, agenda, and program of work and methods.

The first meeting of the OWG is currently expected to take place in mid-March 2013
(letter of appointment).


In UN fashion – this process, started last Mid-June having not led to a UNGA decision at the 2012 General Assembly meeting is now being pushed to bring forward suggestions to the September 2013 UN General assembly meeting, but rather then establishing directly a committee of specialists – the above decision leads to a group of diplomats that will in turn have to bring in the specialists – thus guaranteeing the continuation of the non-functioning UN Commission on Sustainable Development, rather then replace it with a better functioning body. We tend to bet that eventually the dead CSD will be asked to show the way; above pace is a disappointment to those that thought finally there will be action at the UN on Sustainable Development.

Establishing SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals to replace the MDGs that run out in 2015, is laudable but it seems also pre-ordained that the time till 2015 is intentionally not put to good use.

One of the main outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, was the agreement by Member States to launch a process to develop a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Rio+20 did not elaborate specific goals but stated that the SDGs should be limited in number, aspirational and easy to communicate.

The goals should address in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development and be coherent with and integrated into the UN development agenda beyond 2015.

A 30-member Open Working Group (OWG) of the General Assembly is tasked with preparing a proposal on the SDGs.

The Open Working Group was established on 22nd of January 2013 by the decision of the General Assembly.

The Member States have decided to use an innovative, constituency-based system of representation that is new to limited membership bodies of the General Assembly. This means that most of the seats in the OWG are shared by several countries.

The Rio+20 outcome document The Future We Want states that, at the outset, the OWG will decide on its methods of work, including developing modalities to ensure the full involvement of relevant stakeholders and expertise from civil society, the scientific community and the United Nations system in its work, in order to provide a diversity of perspectives and experience.


Posted on on November 15th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Yesterday I saw on TV a series of interviews in a hamlet in Texas where President Obama got only 5 votes while his opponent got 239 votes. It was said that this was the most one-sided voting-booth in the recent elections.The only person the journalist found who voted for Obama was afraid to give his name. Those that proudly acknowledged voting for Mr. Romney – simple people and not of high income – contended that the President was dictatorial, not a true American, not a Christian believer, he allows immigration that dilutes the values of the country … etc. This reminded me about The New York Times article that looked at the voting in the Ukraine. Antisemitism, not a factor yet in the US – but it can be banked upon that this sort of evolution will make it a factor as well. The attack on US military leadership and on the performance of the US government after the very serious mishap in Benghazi may be further proof that ultra-Nationalist elements in the US are on a roll again. The foot soldiers in such movements obviously do not come from the 1% of the extreme rich that help finance this.


Ukraine’s Ultranationalists Show Surprising Strength at Polls.

Published: November 8, 2012

KIEV, Ukraine — The last time Oleg Tyagnibok was a member of Ukraine’s Parliament, his colleagues kicked him out over a fiery speech in which he described how Ukrainians, during World War II, bravely fought Muscovites, Germans, Jews “and other scum,” and then used slurs to refer to the “Jewish-Russian mafia, which rules in Ukraine.”

Eight years later, Mr. Tyagnibok is preparing to return to Parliament, not as a lone member of a broader coalition, as he was when he was ejected, but as the leader of Svoboda, the ultranationalist, right-wing party that will control 38 of 450 seats, or about 8.5 percent of the national legislature.

Svoboda’s surprising show of strength in the Oct. 29 election — polls had predicted that the party would fail to meet the 5 percent threshold to enter Parliament — has stirred alarm, including warnings from Israel about the rise of anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic and a place with a firsthand knowledge of ethnic violence and genocide.

But in an interview in the downtown office building that Svoboda shares with an insurance company and a dental clinic named Smile, Mr. Tyagnibok said that fear of his party was misplaced and the accusations of racism and extremism unfounded.

“Svoboda is not an anti-Semitic party,” he said, seated behind a desk, a sport jacket stretched by his barrel-sized chest, his huge hands folded in front of him, speaking slowly and firmly in Ukrainian. “Svoboda is not a xenophobic party. Svoboda is not an anti-Russian party. Svoboda is not an anti-European party. Svoboda is simply and only a pro-Ukrainian party. And that’s it.”

Of course, that was not it.

Mr. Tyagnibok was just beginning to demonstrate the smooth charm that has helped Svoboda, which means “Freedom,” build support beyond its traditional stronghold in the Ukrainian-speaking west.

Tall, with beefy good looks, Mr. Tyagnibok, 44, who is a urological surgeon by training, has used his party’s pro-Ukrainian message to tap into frustration over the country’s stalled economy and growing disillusionment with the government of President Viktor F. Yanukovich.

From Mr. Tyagnibok’s frequent appearances on television talk shows, emphasizing national sovereignty and warning of encroachment by neighboring Russia, most viewers might never discern that some of his party’s members are unabashed neo-Nazis, while others shun the label but nonetheless espouse virulent hatred of Jews, gays and especially Russians.

Researchers who specialize in extremism say it is a talent shared by other leaders of far-right parties and has helped bring them into the mainstream in many European countries, including Hungary, Poland and Romania.

“This is a common phenomenon within these parties, that they have a front-stage image and a backstage agenda,” said Andreas Umland, an expert at the National University in Kiev. “The internal discourse, from what we can only suspect, is much more radical and xenophobic than what we see.” He added, “This is all much more radical.”

In the interview at his office, Mr. Tyagnibok said Svoboda’s message was only positive. “We do call ourselves nationalists,” he said. “Our view is love. Love of our land. Love of the people who live on this land. This is love to your wife and your home and your family. So, it’s love to your mother. Can this feeling be bad?”

“Our nationalism does not imply hatred to anybody,” he continued. “We formed a political party to protect the rights of Ukrainians, but not to the detriment of representatives of other nation.” He added, “So, if you ask about philosophy to be explained in two words: We are not against anyone. We are for ourselves.”

For a long time, they were for themselves and mostly by themselves. In the previous parliamentary election, in 2007, Svoboda received less than three-quarters of 1 percent of the vote, and that was an improvement. Until 2004, Svoboda was called the Social-Nationalist Party, which critics said was just a word flip of its true ambitions.

Born in Lviv, sometimes called the capital of the western, Europe-oriented Ukraine, Mr. Tyagnibok said he was raised to hate Communists, in part because his paternal grandfather was a victim of oppression under Stalin. He got his start in politics as a student organizer in the late 1980s, attended medical school and has been a member of the nationalist party from its inception in the early 1990s.

He served six years in Parliament, from 1998 until he was ejected in 2004. In 2001, with Ukrainian voters growing increasingly frustrated with the status quo, Svoboda made major gains in local and regional elections. Some voters who supported Svodboda said they believed that the party could present the strongest challenge to President Yanukovich. Many said they did not view the party as extreme.

“Those people who supported Svoboda in these elections, they don’t support racism, anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism,” said Vyacheslav Likhachev, who monitors extremism for the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress. “They support Svoboda because every vote for Svoboda was a vote against the ruling government.”

Still, Mr. Likhachev said, Svoboda’s rise was not a positive development for Ukraine. “It is bad for society,” he said.

In the days before the vote, Mr. Tyagnibok signed an agreement to work with other opposition parties, including the Fatherland party of the jailed former prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko. Ms. Tymoshenko, who was barred from the ballot this year, recently began a hunger strike to protest what she said was fraud in the elections.

Mr. Tyagnibok’s ties to Ms. Tymoshenko and former President Viktor Yushchenko date to before Ukraine’s Orange Revolution in 2004, which Mr. Tyagnibok and other nationalists supported. Critics of the alliance say that it will give Svoboda more power than it would have on its own, and grant it further legitimacy as a mainstream faction.

Although his occasional use of ethnic and religious epithets is well documented — there was the 2004 speech to supporters, and in 2005, his public signing of an open letter to President Yushchenko and others demanding an end to “criminal activities of organized Jewry in Ukraine” — Mr. Tyagnibok called the allegations of hate speech “a fantasy and a serious exaggeration.”

The general prosecutor charged him with inciting ethnic hatred, but the case was dropped after the Orange Revolution. “In 2004, I was accused of anti-Semitism, but I won in all the court cases,” Mr. Tyagnibok said.

Mr. Tyagnibok said nationalist parties were enjoying a renaissance in Europe because of the Continent’s financial problems, as well as conflicts with Muslim immigrants in countries like Italy, France and Spain. “Europe is change,” he said. “Economic failures make people look for reasons.”

But he said it was all for the best. “In our view the ideal is to see Europe as one big flower bed full of different flowers, with Ukraine as one of the most beautiful flowers in it,” Mr. Tyagnibok said. “It has its own scent, its own beauty. It is different from other flowers, but it is in the same flower bed.”

He waved away any thought of nationalist strife. “Just imagine one nationalist talking to another nationalist,” he said. “There should be no problems between them. Everybody respects their interests, and everybody understands we live in one big world.”


Also today’s:

Veteran F.B.I. Agent Helped Start Petraeus E-Mail Inquiry.

Published: November 14, 2012

DOVER, Fla. — The F.B.I. agent who spurred the investigation that led to the resignation of David H. Petraeus as C.I.A. director is a “hard-charging” veteran who helped investigate the foiled millennium terrorist plot in 1999, colleagues said on Wednesday.

Frederick W. Humphries II helped start the inquiry that led to the resignation of David H. Petraeus, center, as C.I.A. director and ensnared the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John R. Allen, left, shown with Leon E. Panetta in 2011.

The agent, Frederick W. Humphries II, 47, is also described by former colleagues as relentless in his pursuit of what he sees as wrongdoing, which appears to describe his role in the F.B.I. investigation involving Mr. Petraeus. Suspecting that the case involved serious security issues and was being stalled, possibly for political reasons — a suspicion his superiors say was unjustified — he took his concerns to Congressional Republicans.

“Fred is a passionate kind of guy,” one former colleague said. “He’s kind of an obsessive type. If he locked his teeth onto something, he’d be a bulldog.”

The question of how and why the F.B.I. opened the investigation that has had such momentous consequences has been central from the moment Mr. Petraeus stepped down Friday. The emerging portrait of the agent who initiated the inquiry is another step toward an answer.

Mr. Humphries, who was identified on Wednesday by law enforcement colleagues, took the initial complaint from Jill Kelley, a Tampa woman active in local military circles and a personal friend, about anonymous e-mails that accused her of inappropriately flirtatious behavior toward Mr. Petraeus.

The subsequent cyberstalking investigation uncovered an extramarital affair between Mr. Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, his biographer, who agents determined had sent the anonymous e-mails. It also ensnared Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, after F.B.I. agents discovered what a law enforcement official said on Wednesday were sexually explicit e-mail exchanges between him and Ms. Kelley.

A spokesman for Ms. Kelley provided her version of events in two conference calls with reporters on Wednesday. Ms. Kelley’s concern when she took the e-mails to Mr. Humphries was that she feared the sender was “stalking” Mr. Petraeus and General Allen, said the spokesman, who asked not to be identified.

“She asks the agent, ‘What do you make of this?’ ” the spokesman said. “The agent said: ‘This is serious. They seem to know the comings and goings of a couple of generals.’ ”

General Allen himself had received a similar anonymous e-mail message, sent by someone identified as “kelleypatrol,” advising him to stay away from Ms. Kelley. The general forwarded it to Ms. Kelley, and they discussed a concern that someone was cyberstalking them.

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said he had asked the Senate to postpone a confirmation hearing for General Allen’s next assignment while the department’s inspector general reviewed his e-mail correspondence with Ms. Kelley, which was discovered by F.B.I. agents investigating her initial complaint.

Pentagon officials said the review covered more than 10,000 pages of documents that included “inappropriate” messages. But associates of General Allen have said that the two exchanged about a dozen e-mails a week since meeting two years ago and that his messages were affectionate but platonic.

A law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, disputed that assertion on Wednesday, saying some messages were clearly sexual. Investigators were confident “the nature of the content warranted passing them on” to the inspector general, the official said.

In a statement on Wednesday, General Allen’s military counsel said he intended to cooperate fully with the inspector general’s investigation. “To the extent there are questions about certain communications by General Allen, he shares in the desire to resolve those questions as completely and quickly as possible,” said the statement from Col. John G. Baker, the chief defense counsel of the Marine Corps.

The F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, and the deputy director, Sean Joyce, briefed leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees about the investigation. Mr. Petraeus is expected to speak to the panel behind closed doors on Friday about the attack on the American Mission in Benghazi, Libya. The events leading to his resignation are certain to come up.

A Pentagon official said the security clearance of Ms. Broadwell, a West Point graduate and officer in the Army Reserve, had been suspended pending the outcome of the F.B.I. investigation. F.B.I. agents on Monday night carried boxes of documents and a computer out of the house she shares with her husband and two sons. The law enforcement official said that Ms. Broadwell had cooperated with investigators in their effort to remove all classified material, which by law cannot be kept in an insecure facility.

The officials said Ms. Kelley was no longer permitted to enter MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa “with a wave,” as she has for years as a regular volunteer and visitor to ranking officers there. Now she has to get approval and sign in at the visitor’s gate, the official said.

Ms. Kelley, whose house has been besieged by reporters and television crews, has called 911 several times to complain about snooping reporters, according to tapes and transcripts of the calls posted on the Web. In at least one call, she asked for “diplomatic protection,” saying she is an “honorary consul general,” a designation she reportedly received from South Korean diplomats.

By all accounts, Mr. Humphries doggedly pursued Ms. Kelley’s cyberstalking complaint. Though he was not assigned to the case, he was admonished by supervisors who thought he was trying to improperly insert himself into the investigation.

In late October, fearing that the case was being stalled for political reasons, Mr. Humphries contacted Representative Dave Reichert, a Republican from Washington State, where the F.B.I. agent had worked previously, to inform him of the case. Mr. Reichert put him in touch with the House majority leader, Eric Cantor, who passed the message to Mr. Mueller.

Lawrence Berger, the general counsel for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, who spoke with Mr. Humphries, said Mr. Humphries only received the information from Ms. Kelley and never played a role in the investigation.

Mr. Berger said Mr. Humphries and his wife had been “social friends with Ms. Kelley and her husband prior to the day she referred the matter to him.”

“They always socialized and corresponded,” he said.

Mr. Berger took issue with news media reports that said his client had sent shirtless pictures of himself to Ms. Kelley.

“That picture was sent years before Ms. Kelley contacted him about this, and it was sent as part of a larger context of what I would call social relations in which the families would exchange numerous photos of each other,” Mr. Berger said.

The photo was sent as a joke, he said, and was of Mr. Humphries “posing with a couple of dummies.” Mr. Berger added that it was not sexual in nature.

Two former law enforcement colleagues said Mr. Humphries was a solid agent with experience in counterterrorism. He has conservative political views and a reputation for being aggressive, they said.

Colleagues and news reports described the role of Mr. Humphries, who in 1999 was in his third year at the F.B.I., in building the case against Ahmed Ressam, who was detained as he tried to enter the United States from Canada with a plan to set off a bomb at Los Angeles International Airport.

In May 2010, after he had moved to the Tampa field office, Mr. Humphries fatally shot a knife-wielding man near a gate of MacDill Air Force base. A state prosecutor declined to prosecute the case, and the Justice Department’s civil rights division and an internal F.B.I. review board each also found that the use of force had been justified, according to bureau records.

A large American flag was flying on Wednesday in front of Mr. Humphries’s house in Dover, a half-hour drive from Tampa. A man standing in the driveway who appeared to be Mr. Humphries, approached by a reporter seeking comment, said his first name was not Fred. The man then walked into the house, closed the front door and did not respond to the doorbell.

In regard to his client’s speaking with Mr. Cantor, Mr. Berger declined to address the issue, saying only that his client “had followed F.B.I. protocols.”

“No one tries to become a whistle-blower,” he said. “Consistent with F.B.I. policy, he referred it to the proper component.”

A law enforcement official said disclosing a confidential investigation even to Congress members could sometimes violate F.B.I. rules. The official said that Mr. Humphries’s conduct was under review and that he had not been punished in any way.

On Wednesday, Mr. Cantor said he had no intention of “politicizing” the tip from Mr. Humphries, whom he did not name. “The information that was sent to me sounded as if there was a potential for a national security vulnerability,” Mr. Cantor said.


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


Building on Rio is vitally important, we must not let the momentum end nor the plethora of good ideas wither. But there is also a need to push the boundaries of sustainability into new frontiers to make it the holistic, integrated approach it needs to be if we are to see the real results and benefits it can deliver.


We learned today that the UN Secretariat has started on a path that does not yet take into account the above mandate – so we are compelled to point out that without attention to above, there is no gain from RIO+20.


Posted on on July 11th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Bhutan calls for a mindful revolution at the United Nations.

by  | May 12, 2012
Bhutan’s Prime Minister Jigme Thinley (left) and Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla at the UN, via AFP.

The monks of South Asia have been chanting on behalf of the happiness and well-being of all creatures for 2,500 years. Now, the spirit of those mantras has marched out of the monastery and into the streets, even into the halls of the United Nations.

Calling for nothing less than nonviolent resistance against the failed global economic system, the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan, sandwiched between India and China, took to the world stage last month by leading a “High Level Meeting on Happiness and Well-Being.” Its recommendation: Replace the Bretton Woods economic paradigm, imposed on the world by the United States in the wake of World War II, with an entirely new and inherently more just system.

The prime minister of Bhutan, Jigme Thinley, called on the people of the world to demand a change. Scholars, Nobel laureates, political actors, U.N. officials and staff, and spiritual and civil society leaders, many from the Global South, affirmed that the current system serves neither the human community nor other creatures on the planet.

“The GDP-led development model,” Thinley told the gathering, “compels boundless growth on a planet with limited resources.” Moreover, “it no longer makes economic sense. It is the cause of our irresponsible, immoral and self-destructive actions.” Finally, the prime minister concluded, “The purpose of development must be to create enabling conditions through public policy for the pursuit of the ultimate goal of happiness by all citizens.”

Most of the 600 in attendance shared Bhutan’s vision. Indian activist Vandana Shiva emphasized the importance of such a basic human need as food, the source of profit for a few and misery for many. As she has noted before, “The poor are not those who have been ‘left behind’; they are the ones who have been robbed.” The current paradigm creates a flow of financial, social, human and natural capital to the United States and other rich nations at the expense of everyone else.

Although Bhutan has faced criticism in the past for its treatment of Nepalese immigrants and the jailing of smokers, it has made considerable progress in recent years by establishing a new democracy and implementing creative efforts to measure its citizens’ well-being and happiness. The concept of Gross National Happiness was coined by the former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who abdicated in 2006 and set the democratization process in motion. To its credit, Bhutan is setting high standards for itself that may be difficult to reach, but the country is not alone in this endeavor.

Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla gave the keynote address, sharing the experience of her country, noting, “In 1948 we decided to consolidate the best of our civic values, and abolished the army. We chose to solve our disputes through the ballots, not the bullets; we decided to invest in schools and teachers, not garrisons and soldiers.” Rather than decreasing the national security, “This uninterrupted path turned Costa Rica into the most stable and longest living democracy in Latin America.”

Interfaith spiritual leaders at the meeting, including the moderator of the Church of Canada and the Buddhist supreme patriarch of Thailand, as well as representatives from major religious traditions, issued their own statement calling for a new economic paradigm “based upon compassion, altruism, balance, and peace, dedicated to the well-being, happiness, dignity and sacredness of all forms of life.”

Meanwhile, economists John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs distributed copies of the World Happiness Report. They argue, “We live in an age of stark contradictions. The world enjoys technologies of unimaginable sophistication; yet has at least one billion people without enough to eat each day.”

The official statement that came out of the meeting calls for a new paradigm with four pillars: ecological sustainability, happiness and well-being for all, fair distribution, and efficient use of resources. An unexpected 200 participants remained at the U.N. for two additional days to clarify what the new paradigm would look like, to propose new solutions, and to strategize how to mobilize a global movement in civil society to resist the current one and implement the change. Relevant civil society, educational, spiritual and activist organizations worldwide are being informed about the process, with an eye toward a 2014 convention that would replace Bretton Woods.

Widespread civil resistance movements would be a vital component in bringing about a shift toward so radically different a paradigm as this. Yet the meeting suggests that insufficient use has been made of the United Nations as a venue by change activists. Despite the U.N.’s obvious shortcomings — for instance, OWS recently protested the influence of corporations on environmental proceedings— it is nonetheless an infrastructure where every nation has a voice, at least in theory. Paradoxically, Global South elites who are also victims of the current economic paradigm provide an entrée into the system for grassroots activists, and this meeting demonstrates that the U.N. can offer a venue for radical critique. But the U.N. will only work on behalf of the people if the people insist that it does and begin to explore the possibilities that it might offer as a space for challenging injustice at a global level.

Dutch Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, a long-time veteran of international meetings, observed that this one had “a different spirit” and that the time was ripe for unprecedented change. His call for a 0.01 percent donation of everyone’s income, especially from the rich nations, was received with enthusiasm by the civil society working group, which is creating a World Happiness Bank (a tentative name) that would promote and model the new economic paradigm.

This change will not happen, of course, without the mobilization of a nonviolent resistance movement. That’s where we come in; we have a new opportunity to act against a system that is robbing humanity and its fellow creatures through what the meeting’s statement calls the “private capture of the common wealth.” And we can do so by following the lead of the marginalized.


Posted on on July 4th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Office Budapest is organising an international conference with the title

Border breakthrough at Sopron – Prelude of completion of Europe

on July 16-17 in Sopron (Pannonia Hotel, Várkerület 75.)

as a commemoration of the famous Pan-European Picnic in August 1989 where citizens of Hungary, Austria and other countries met to demonstrate for the necessity to tear down the Iron Curtain and unite Europe in peace and freedom. On this occasion, several hundreds of GDR citizens managed to escape to the West, by literally tearing down the old wooden gate on the site of the Picnic.

These events 23 years ago have been the first step for German and European re-unification. “The soil below the Brandenburg Gate is Hungarian soil.” (Helmut Kohl) could be described as motto of the historical happenings at those times. The role Hungary and Hungarians played by overcoming these obstacles should not be forgotten.

Our aim is to make a tribute to these historical moments by hosting an international conference assembling experts, the former organisers and civil rights activists, in total some 250 attendees. Moreover, we expect 100 youngsters from over 30 European countries in order to ensure the sustainability of this endeavour. Please note that the overall conference will have simultaneous interpretation in three languages (English, German, Hungarian).

In the attachment you will find a preliminary programme and a short fact box about the background of the Pan-European Picnic. May you have any further inquiries or questions, do not hesitate to contact my assistant, Dr. Bence Bauer via or +36 20 3345199. Registrations are possible with the attached form until July 10.

We would be more than delighted to have you in Sopron,

Yours sincerely

Minister ret.
Head of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Office Budapest

Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V.
H-1015 Budapest
Batthyány utca 49.
T.: +36 1 487 50 10
F.: +36 1 487 50 11

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Posted on on July 2nd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

This is our own first attempt at writing about what went on at the Rio de Janeiro 2012 meeting – the so called RIO+20 event.

I chose to start by displaying  selected events that happened in 1992  – a year which included a review in Rio de Janeiro of  the changes in humans’ behavior required so we achieve management of Planet Earth – after  bringing its human inhabitants to an understanding of sets of actions to be implemented, this if we want  to stop endangering our very existence as voyagers on this planet.

1992 was a specially good year – the break-up of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, surely to different degrees, but all of this gave the feeling that good things can happen if we only try to make them happen. On the other hand, Europe started out on an experiment of unification that emerged from a century of internal warfare, two World Wars, and the Marshall Plan of revitalizing  its Nation States.

UNCED seized on the 1987 Brundtland Commission’s Sustainable Development concept, and Maurice Strong, present everywhere, since the 1972 Conference on the Human Environment,  was able to maneuver the topic of Sustainability – the concept that bridges between our deeds now, and the needs of future generations, to the point that developing countries were able to see in their acceptance of the concept a way of obtaining funding for ongoing activities. But to be frank about it – they never measured up to the responsibility to future generations, as the developed and old industrialized States did not do in their own development either.

In the US, 1992 was the year of the emergence of strong Democratic leadership in Congress – specially in the Senate – to the point that Rio saw two separate US delegations – The official delegation, and the Senate delegation with Al Gore and Timothy Wirth holding the reins.

Europe also had two favorable delegations. The one anchored in the freshly signed Maastricht agreement for those countries that will be the first batch of EU member States, and the other group made up of Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Both of these groups were ready to link to the Al Gore US group, and the visions of conference leader Maurice Strong and Minister Klaus Toepfer, working for Germany, in order to shape up at Rio 1992 a UN position on the run.

Those days the BRICS were not yet strongly positioned on the map, and the G77 where ready to accept the idea that money might come their way.  In the following list I marked the Rio chain of events with color green.

A separate chain of events was happening in Europe – and that chain I marked in gold. That chain led from Maastricht to the creation of the EU, to the enlargement of the EU, and eventually to major miscalculations in the maturing process in terms of finances of EU States that were united only in name.  This, while the US and the EU exported their jobs, and their polluting industries,  to developing countries,  with the best of these countries becoming the BRICS on whom everything depends now.

While the global track has led twenty years later to this RIO+20 event that was allowed freely to show the bankruptcy of the UN process, the people at the helm of the EU are still trying to bamboozle themselves into believing that their problem can be healed without resorting to main restructuring the flawed original structure – so they did not call for a Maastricht+20 meeting – only for Internal Summits.  This means the EU is far from reform, while as we shall see, my belief is that the Brazilian hosts – with supreme talent of diplomacy – where able to redirect the future of the Rio process to new avenues at the just concluded RIO+20 bazaar.

I purport to try to show that without the EU looking into the mirror in order to restructure itself in a Maastricht+20 event, it will not be able to work with the UN reformers that are ready to talk Sustainability as a bridge between well-being in our society and full consideration of rights of future generations. This involves getting us to consider using less natural capital and finding a new yardstick for measuring growth that replaces the outdated GDP meter.

The industrialized Nations, the Emerging Nations, and the genuine laggards, will all have to cooperate to create and sustain this new paradigm – and realizing that you cannot be helpful by finger pointing at Greece as a substitute for a MAASTRICHT+20.

The last comment in this introductory section is our attention to what we call “TEAM B” – the States of Bhutan and Brazil – the States that led to positive results at the TOHU VAVOHU of the UN Preparatory meetings – in New York and at Rio.

The Prime Minister of Bhutan and his aids introduced notions of substance – “Well-Being and Happiness,” while the  whole Administration of Brazil, President, Foreign Minister, the Diplomatic front man and his large staff, taught  us the potential of “Olympic Diplomacy” – the kind of Kissingerian diplomacy that can provide something to brag about to every participant in negotiations – so when an agreement is reached there was not even a single loser – everyone claimed he had something to win in the final document.

The Brazilians titled their document “OUR COMMON VISION” and the Europeans at their just concluded Summit at Heads of State level (June 28/29, 2012, are still at the stage, as the “Wiener Zeitung”  of  30 June/1 July ” put it – “A ‘YES, MAYBE’ for a Europe-Vision.”

To be fair, I think it important to say right here – the Brazilian “COMMON VISION” when accepted by the UN, was unchanged but was renamed “The Future We Want” in line of previous releases from the UN. This was not in backing of the Vision, but rather in attempt to forget the Vision – and stress from the document the points close to official UN positions – as if the vision just never happened. We do not expect that the UN  bodies will get away with this, as it is rather hard to subdue visions.  In due time, some Member State will ask the UNSG to act according to the Brazil sponsored Vision, so we do not worry about mailings that we receive and that deviate from the agreed upon vision.

My choice of 1992 events follows:

January 1 – Europe breaks down trade barriers

January 1 – Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt becomes United Nations Secretary-General.

January 15 – The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia begins to break up. Slovenia and Croatia gain independence and international recognition in some Western countries.

February 6th – The Saami people of the Nordic countries have an official day celebrating their existence.

January 26 – Boris Yeltsin announces that Russia will stop targeting cities of the United States and her allies with Nuclear Weapons.
In return George H. W. Bush announces that the United States and her allies will stop targeting Russia and the remaining communist states with Nuclear Weapons.

February 7 – The  Maastricht Treaty is signed, founding the European Union.

February 26 – The Supreme Court of Ireland rules that a 14-year-old rape victim may travel to England to have an abortion.

March 9 – The People’s Republic of China ratifies the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

March  17 – Russian manned space craft TM-14, launches into orbit

March 18 – White South Africans vote in favour of political reforms which will end the apartheid regime and create a power-sharing multi-racial government.

June 3 – World’s Summit opens (Rio De Janeiro Brazil) – THE UN CONFERENCE ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT – UNCED.

June 8 – The first World Ocean Day is celebrated, coinciding with the Earth Summit held in Rio de JaneiroBrazil.

June 8 – Thomas Klestil succeeds Waldheim as president of Austria.

July 13 – Yitzhak Rabin becomes prime minister of Israel

July 20 – Václav Havel resigns as president of Czechoslovakia.

July 31 – The ex-Soviet Republic of Georgia becomes the 179th member of the United Nations.

September 16 – Black Wednesday: The pound sterling and the Italian lira are forced out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

October 12 – In the Dominican RepublicPope John Paul II celebrates the “500th anniversary of the meeting of 2 cultures,”
or was this rather the belated recognition of the subjugation of the Western Hemisphere to Christianity?

October 25 – Lithuania holds a referendum on its first constitution after declaring independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

October 31 – Pope John Paul II issues an apology, and lifts the edict of the Inquisition against Galileo Galilei.

November 3 – United States presidential election, 1992Bill Clinton is elected the 42nd President of the United States.

November 11 – The Church of England votes to allow women to become priests.

November 25 – The Czechoslovakia Federal Assembly votes to split the country into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, starting on January 1, 1993

December 22 – Archives of Terror discovered by Dr. Martín Almada detailing the fates of thousands of Latin Americans who had been secretly kidnapped, tortured, and killed by the security services of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. This was known as Operation Condor. The Involvement of the CIA is obvious.

December 29 – Brazil‘s president Fernando Collor de Mello is found guilty on charges that he stole more than $32 million from the government, preventing him from holding any elected office for 8 years.


The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Earth Summit, took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from June 2-14, 1992. It was held twenty years after the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE) took place in Stockholm, Sweden.

Government officials from 178 countries and between 20,000 and 30,000 individuals from governments, non-governmental organizations, and the media participated in this event to discuss solutions for global problems such as poverty, war, and the growing gap between industrialized and developing countries. The central focus was the question of how to relieve the global environmental system through the introduction to the paradigm of sustainable development. This concept emphasizes that economic and social progress depend critically on the preservation of the natural resource base with effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

Held to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Stockholm Conference, the Rio Earth Summit became everything that an earlier ‘Stockholm plus ten’ conference, held in Nairobi, Kenya in 1982, could not. Indeed, it became more than even its proponents had hoped for.

Instead of being the ‘second’ United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, Rio was the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development; putting those two terms together, which had been so much at odds at Stockholm, might itself have been Rio’s most important achievement. In particular, it broadened the scope of global environmental diplomacy by adopting the notion of sustainable development, which had been advocated 5 years earlier in by the World Commission on Environment and Development as one of its key policy frameworks.

The world at Rio was, of course, very different from the world at Stockholm. In the intervening two decades, the Cold War (the defining political framework at UNCHE) had disappeared, the level of public interest in the environment was greatly increased, environmental issues such as stratospheric ozone depletion and global climate change were now squarely on the global policy map, and energy had become a major concern for economic security in  aftermath of the oil price shocks of 1973–74 and 1980–81.

The results of the UNCED included the Rio Declaration enunciating 27 principles of environment and development, Agenda 21, and a Statement of principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests, which were all adopted by consensus (without vote) by the conference.

The institutional innovation resulting from the conference included an agreement on the operating rules for the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, and the establishment of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) on the basis of an Agenda 21 recommendation. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity were products of independent, but concurrent, negotiating processes that were opened for signatures at UNCED.

The problem we are facing twenty years later is that despite the high aspirations, the clear potential, and the basic correctness of the UNCED results, in practical terms, only little is there to show in terms of implementation, after these 20 years, of what was suggested in those UNCED results.

So, when the UN decided to have a meeting 20 years later in order to find out what should be done with those unattained goals of the famed, and now forgotten, Agenda 21, it found out very fast that a majority of UN Member States were not ready to talk of Sustainable Development period. Agenda 21 was hardly being mentioned by the discussants, the scene was back about money – many speakers from the South were observing that the North  did not provide the funds for development of the South that it promised.

At the Informal-Informal meetings of the Prepcom in New York, part of the RIO+20 Preparatory route, I sat in disbelief watching the Algerian Ambassador, spokesman for the G77, putting brackets on the word “Sustainable” when written next to Development – as in Sustainable Development – the official name of the RIO+20 Conference – UNCSD or the UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Did the gentleman know where he was going and what he was doing?

Clearly I must answer with a YES. He was there to get money from the North in order to “DEVELOP” the South – so it looks like the North. Sustainability had no place in his outlook. According to him, twenty years after UNCED, he still thinks in terms of the new Nations being entitled to repeat all the mistakes done previously by the old industrialized Nations of Europe and North America.

I posted from New York articles about this, and kept remarking that the G77 are falling apart. In effect – countries like Bangladesh, and many of the Small Island Independent States  already spoke up for themselves realizing that they are already suffering from the effects of Climate Change, and that the political grandstanding does not do them any good.

Mexico, the host for the 2012 G20 meeting, as well as Colombia, took positions to avoid this sort of useless confrontation, and countries of the South that do not belong to OPEC, had also  clear vision that supporting the Saudi Arabian claim for financial compensation for its loss of a market for the petroleum commodity has no place in their own National Interest in a world relying more on Renewable Energy.   Some countries, led by a man from Fiji, Vice President of the UN General Assembly, were ready to introduce to the UNGA the request to investigate the possibility to take the interest of future generations – yes, the yet unborn – to the International Court of Justice, as we are leaving the Future Generations with a spoiled environment depleted of Natural Resources.

The Prime Minister of Bhutan, Jigmi Yoezer Thinley , with a large entourage of Ministers and Officials, came to New York, and as mandated by the UNGA, held a special meeting on April 2nd, 2012 on Well Being and Happiness as targets of intent when talking about Sustainability and Sustainable Development. The Bhutanese were active in New York for a full week and economists were helping them by showing that there is a basic – fundamental misconception, when measuring growth by the GDP yard-stick.


Here for our sanity, come in the notions of Well-Being and Happiness. The GDP yard stick does not measure these objectives. So what was the G77 leadership standing for?  Is this not a fair question? Would it not make more sense to come up with a joint effort that looks not only at the present imbalance between industrialization levels of  Nations, but also on the rights of Future Generations? This introduces a notion of ethics that was not introduced to the UN previously.  All this at a time that there is a clear lack of understanding between various groups of Nations in the UN.

New alliances are possible – such as between the countries, mainly in the poor South,  that are already suffering from effects of climate change, and more visionary countries of the North, that have a civil society ready to switch gears in the economy and move to new industries that are less polluting, resources saving and create jobs – a win-win-win situation for all! But the structure of the UN is itself fossilized, and the RIO+20 Prepcom was frozen.  No outcome document could be hammered out. That is how it looked when the Informal-Informal meetings were moved to Rio, the Prepcom resumed, and the Brazilian platform accepted by acclamation as the conference outcome.

We will not rehash the unsuccessful part of the event – but follow from here the Brazilian prepared options and the outcome document to show that it in effect changes the direction of the Sustainability Bridge from the 1992 construct to a new option that turns OUR COMMON VISION to the UN language operative THE FUTURE WE WANT.


The Brazilians, hosts of 1992 and 2012, decided that their own good name is at stake, and descended on New York in full force.

Led by Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguilar Patriota, a Former Brazil Ambassador to the United States (2007-2009), and chief operational Ambassador Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, the Undersecretary for Environment, Energy, Science and Technology of the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil – Figueredo Machado, was surrounded by a total of 30 other Ambassadors and Ministers – made sure to speak to everybody who volunteered an opinion, and note the minimums of acceptance in a secret draft they kept revising

Foreign Minister, Ambassador Patriota, is  graduate in philosophy from the University of Geneva and later international relations at he Rio Branco Institute – Brazil’s Diplomatic Academy;  he was also Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs of the Ministry of External Relations, and Secretary General of the Ministry and Cabinet Chief of Foreign Minister  Celso Amorim,  now Minister of Defence (whom I also spotted at the RioCentro conference Center), his predecessor from whom he took over in 2011.

Ambassador Figueiredo Machado has a Law degree from the State University of Rio de Janeiro, and subsequently graduated in 1980 from Instituto Rio Branco. Mister Figueiredo Machado has taught Constitutional Law at Rio Branco.  His postgraduate thesis for the Advanced Studies Course at the Rio Branco Institute was published in 2000 under the title The Brazilian Continental Shelf and the Law of the Sea. Considerations for a political action.

As a diplomat, Mister Figueiredo Machado has held overseas positions in the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York where we met him, in the Embassies in Santiago, Washington and Ottawa, as well as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Mission to UNESCO, in Paris. Figueiredo Machado has also held numerous positions in the Ministry, handling multilateral issues, such as disarmament, oceans, Antarctica, space, health, and the environment.

Ambassador Figueiredo Machado served as Director of the Department of the Environment and Special Affairs from 2005 to 2010. Promoted to the rank of Ambassador in 2009, he got his present position in 2011 to oversee all Brazilian Government negotiations on environmental, technology, energy, science, ocean and space issues. Ambassador Figueiredo Machado served as well, since 2005, as Brazils lead negotiator in the climate change regime process.


Brazil, to play it safe, prepared a two parts defense-line around the Rio+20 negotiations. I enjoyed in New York the resistance of Ambassador Figueiredo Machado to accept the idea that the meeting should actually be called RIO-20 because of the need, at the end, to come up with a new paradigm to replace the Agenda 21 that nobody was actually talking about.  Ambassador Machado seemed self confident  – in the face of negotiations that seemed clearly bound in a direction of  – “NO CONCLUDING DOCUMENT”.  He once told me that this will not be the case and “don’t talk yet of a failed meeting.”

The Brazilian diplomats, as said above, keeping their fingers on the pulse of the debate – and being present everywhere – had by the end of the New York meeting – that clearly had only a huge compendium of text and bracketed versions within other brackets with up to a dozen versions to a topic. At this stage I will not analyse the situation – it is all on the record and clearly that material did not amount to a statement that governments could have agreed upon as a final document. BUT a draft document on the ready was already in Amb. Figuereido Machado’s briefcase.

The Brazilians, who were totally committed “not to see a Doha in Rio” – a failed meeting in their home, and the cadaver of their darling of 1992, laid down at their feet – not trusting completely the above first line of defense – set up very early a second defense line, which they called the RioDialogues, and which we described already in our posting –…  (see another link bellow)

That was an innovation at the UN.  Seeing that it was hard to work with governments, the Brazilians decided, within what the General Assembly allowed them to do, to offer as  well an alternative to the government process by creating a Civil Society process based on the UN Member States system, but using an internet voting method, and an illusion of real democracy.

Our posting of June 7th saw these possibilities, but then the Brazilians were  afraid that the UN will not allow enough freedom of action to  their innovative scheme, and wedge in so that the UN mechanism directs the details of the Brazilian effort.

Let’s see – Brazil picks ten topics and allows via the internet an inflow of free suggested recommendations to each one of these topics. Each topic is handled by a team of 100 appointed people managed by three scientists – one from Brazil, one from the North and one from the South. Internet backing allows in each topic an interplay with those recommendations, and eventually the 100 people pick out from the many recommendations ten that will be pushed forward to a two stage voting. After the second stage voting only three recommendations per topic survive.

This total of 3 recommendations times 10 topics, that is 30 recommendations, then move on to four High Level Panels –  and it was expected that the outcome from this discussion among the high level panelists can then lead to a second document that could be viewed as a “New UN Age” outcome – very appropriate if the  Brazilian first line of defense fails – so this second line of defense produces a document nevertheless.

The first stage via the internet, and the second stage during the RioDialogues days in Rio proper, are voting stages. These were the June 16-19, 2010 days that came in between the June 13-15, 2012 days left open to the government delegates to have another attempt at informal-informal culminating in a renewed short Prepcom meeting – that was the actual original route of RIO+20, before the RioDialogues start – and are then followed by the Conference proper scheduled just for three days June 20-22, 2012. Final meeting and concluding decisions-taking were planned for Friday June 22, 2012.

At the RioDialogues, the chosen ten recommendations from each one of those 10 topics were presented by their designed teams and voted upon by the people allowed into the room. This particular issue, the UN mechanism intended to stymie in UN fashion and make it difficult for free participation. That old system that allows only to insiders to get a pass under rules that say half men – half women – half North – Half South and if you are genuinely proponent of UN change you find that you do not belong to any half – you are just the outside whole. Oh Well! But here we saw a clear rebellion by Brazil, they took back the initiative and shoved aside the notion that the UN Secretariat is responsible for dishing out Secondary Passes to those interested to participate in those meetings – including the voting.  They simply declared “THERE IS ENOUGH SPACE IN THOSE ROOMS AND ANYONE WHO WANTS TO COME SHOULD BE LET IN” – BRAVO BRAZIL!

For instance, with my interest in the Energy panel, and my interest to participate in the Energy RioDialogue, I found that I would not get access if the NGO office of the Major Group office, had its way – then the Brazilians told me not to worry – that room will not be closed to anyone expressing an interest in the topic.  I eventually understood how the UN Secretariat framed the subject as the NGO spokesperson on the platform was not a climate related person, but a lady involved with business interests that would rather talk of cooking stoves then energy emissions in general.  The lady was also close to the organizers of the Major Groups structure that dominates the NGO office.  Nevertheless, I had no problem speaking up from the floor, and stressing that all energy with very few exceptions like geothermal, was energy that comes from the sun, and the recommendations do not go far enough to stress this point. Using Fossil Fuels is like living from the savings account and by definition non-sustainable.  Kerosene and LPG are not an acceptable way to dispense Energy for All. My comments were answered from the podium – so clearly the Brazilians were not losers in their effort to develop this second line of defense, though clearly the UN is yet far from opening up to the real issues at stake.

Eventually, as said, the recommendations from the Dialogues moved up to the four Round Table Panels, and much more will have to be reviewed in what went on in this Brazilian second line.

Ending this section with this “Much more” comment, I will just say that there was no need for this second document as the first Brazilian document “Our Common Vision” was eventually accepted by acclamation on June 22nd – leaving open the question how Brazil will now include the the outcome from the High Level Panel discussions as an appendix to the official outcome of the Conference.


In my last part I will thus try to pick up only the most important lines of thought from the UN official THE FUTURE WE WANT –  as per the RIO+20 Outcome Document based on Brazil’s OUR COMMON VISION:

Going directly to the main point – please follow us to paragraphs 84-86 which have the secondary heading:


and to make it even easier I marked red the most important operative lines. Most of the remaining lines are plain UN “boiler plate important to this or other Rio negotiators and show the all inclusiveness of the Brazilian diplomats.

84. We decide to establish a universal intergovernmental high level political forum, building on the strengths, experiences, resources and inclusive participation modalities of the Commission on Sustainable Development, and subsequently replacing the Commission. The high level political forum shall follow up on the implementation of sustainable developmentand should avoid overlap with existing structures, bodies and entities in a cost-effective manner.

85. The high level forum could:

(a) provide political leadership, guidance, and recommendations for sustainable development;
(b) enhance integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development in a holistic and cross-sectoral manner at all levels;
(c) provide a dynamic platform for regular dialogue, and stocktaking and agendasetting to advance sustainable development;
(d) have a focused, dynamic and action-oriented agenda, ensuring the appropriate consideration of new and emerging sustainable development challenges;
(e) follow up and review progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments contained in Agenda 21, Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, Barbados Programme of Action, Mauritius Strategy for Implementation and the outcome of this Conference and, as appropriate, relevant outcomes of other UN summits and conferences, including the outcome of the Fourth United NationsConference on the Least Developed Countries, as well as their respective means of  implementation;
(f) encourage high-level system-wide participation of UN Agencies, funds andprogrammes and invite to participate, as appropriate, other relevant multilateral financial and trade institutions, treaty bodies, within their respective mandates andin accordance with UN rules and provisions;
(g) improve cooperation and coordination within the UN system on sustainable development programmes and policies;
(h) promote transparency and implementation through further enhancing the consultative role and participation of Major Groups and other relevant stakeholders at the international level in order to better make use of their expertise, while retaining the intergovernmental nature of discussions;
(i) promote the sharing of best practices and experiences relating to theimplementation of sustainable development, and on a voluntary basis, facilitate sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges, and lessons learnt;
(j) promote system-wide coherence and coordination of sustainable development policies;
(k) strengthen the science-policy interface through review of documentation bringing together dispersed information and assessments, including in the form of a global sustainable development report, building on existing assessments;
(l) enhance evidence-based decision-making at all levels and contribute to strengthen ongoing efforts of capacity building for data collection and analysis in developing countries.
86. We decide to launch an intergovernmental and open, transparent and inclusive negotiation process under the General Assembly to define the high level forum’s format and organizational aspects with the aim of convening the first high level forum at the beginning of the 68th session of the General Assembly. We will also consider the need for promoting intergenerational solidarity for the achievement of sustainable development, taking into account the needs of future generations, including by inviting the Secretary General to present a report on this issue.
* * * * *
What above means is that the UN Secretary General is mandated to establish under UN General Assembly rules, that call for full UN Membership:

(1) a universal inter governmental high level political forum to replace the existing non-functioning Commission on Sustainable Development.

(2) though leaving the term Sustainable Development in place, the above looks at Developing Sustainability instead – this by mandating the UN Secretary General to look at taking into account the needs of future generations – “including by inviting the Secretary General to present a report on this issue.”

We say therefore that the concept of Sustainable Development introduced to the UN lingo by the 1992 meeting by Mr. Maurice Strong, a Canadian with strong ties to the US, but who lives now in Beijing, is effectively being replaced by “Developing Sustainability” as he pronounced it on June 21, 2012, at the official ceremony of celebration of the passing of 20 years between RIO UNCED and RIO+20.

The Brazilian Diplomats have accepted the need to consider Sustainability as the bridge to future generations when developing economies for the short sighted benefit of the current generation. This is in effect a negation of the common resources-grabbing
reality by the 1% of the population in North and South, while the remaining 99% of the population remains in effect in relative poverty – as described by the evolving Global Occupy movements.

Introducing the needs of FUTURE GENERATIONS does for the first time give the UN the needed sense of ethics required in full understanding of the term SUSTAINABILITY, that is intruding into the ongoing negotiations via a request to establish at the UN a “Small Office” of a HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS that we understand could  be modeled after the United States example of the US General Accounting Office.  The GAO  can be called by any Member of US Congress – House or Senate – to make public an evaluation of true facts regarding an issue that is in dispute. In the UN case, such a small office could answer questions of impact on future generations by any ongoing activity or negotiations at the UN.

This idea has already working examples.

Commissioners for future generations were tried by Parliaments of Israel and Hungary.

The Israeli Knesset Commissioner,  a retired Judge, had the right to review impacts of all legislation. The experiment eventually was ended as political forces found this cumbersome. In the Hungarian Parliament case the experiment that could have an impact in all EU States, continues and was the base for the introduction of the subject to the negotiations of the run-up to RIO+20. Professor Sándor Fülöp is since 2008 the Hungarian Parliament’s Commissioner on Future Generations. We applaud the Brazilians for seizing up on this very important point.

In effect we find this and the efforts by Bhutan to focus us on Well-Being and Happiness, the two most important driving forces that surfaced at the UN informal-informal negotiations.  They sum up the Ethics, and it is now up to representatives of the World Religions to seize the opportunity to enter UN negotiations. The rights of the yet to be born generations and the happiness of the present generations are not just Buddhist concepts – these are fundamentals to be found in any religious scriptures as evidenced by the religious leaders that the Prime Minister of Bhutan assembled at his most effective day at the UN in New York – April 2, 2012.

Getting back to  the Brazilian drafted text, in the opening paragraph, it also says that Sustainable Development Goals, protecting and managing natural resources and ecosystems for present and future generations, are to be formulated by the UN in order to follow in 2015 from the Millennium Development Goals.

Paragraphs 56-74 deal with rules and regulations of a Green Economy as needed for Sustainability and Justice for the people.

Paragraphs 87-90 deal with strengthening the Environmental pillar of the three legged concept of Sustainable Development, by making UNEP all inclusive with Universal Membership in its Governing Council.

We find that this section would benefit immensely had there been a UN Commissioner for Future Generations as UNEP has not enough of a handle on sovereign States to force them to take full responsibility over the environment in their own territory, but it could become possible to hold them responsible for damages to extraterritorial regions – specially those that are not covered by National Sovereignty claims, and belong thus to everyone as represented by the yet to be born in Future Generations.  In our opinion this facet of International Law has yet to be written with the establishing of a legal persona for the unborn – surely more important then the Corporate legal persona.

Paragraphs 224-226  deal with Sustainable Consumption and Production. These reiterate past commitments, including the elimination of subsidies to fossil fuels, but are clearly short of recommendations for true evaluation of the effects of ongoing production and consumption patterns. We believe that a handle on this could eventually be formed when the impact on future generations is considered.

Last Section – VI. Means of Implementation – including Finance, Technology, Capacity Building, Trade, and Registry of Commitments, is the obvious target of those that say the meeting came out empty handed. This, because if you were expecting a continuous flow of money from the North to the South, you simply did not look out your cell-window lately.

The money is no more with the States of the North – it is rather to be found in the Southern New Emerging economies, so there is no real promises of money to be found except in the registry of free commitments – mainly by private enterprise and all sorts of partnerships.   This last part is a success story, but not what some pundits were fighting for.  We do not think that this should be viewed separately from the call for change.

To summarize – RIO+20 as handled by Brazil – is a door to a new future that is going to rewrite the 1992 decisions that were not followed anyway.     As said – it will be rather DEVELOPING SUSTAINABILITY then SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, and in this respect the platform is only being developed and the eventual funding will be coming in major part from South-South cooperation. We will have to be patient and see the changes taking effect.

Learning from the above, we hope for a MAASTRICHT+20 to replace the EU Summits that talk of a “Montillande” wrestling Merkel as replacement to “Merkozy” – we think this sort of talk does not fit the reality, and is no way to crawl out from under the avalanche that was caused by the lack of real growth following that good year of 1992. So let me repeat – if Europe cannot do it alone – it ought to invite the UN “B-Team” – Bhutan and Brazil – and ask them to rewrite the rules.


Following is the link to our posting of the RioDialogues and on Judge Shlomo Shoham of the Commission for Future Generations in the Knesset .

Posted on on June 7th, 2012


Posted on on April 27th, 2010


To look further at the Hungarian example of  Professor Sándor Fülöp,  presently the only ongoing Parliament appointed Commissioner for Future Generations, please go to  and see also the involvement on this subject of the Hamburg based World Future Council.   [Mr Sándor Fülöp was elected to become Hungary’s first Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations in 2008. He holds a degree in law from the Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences (1982) and a degree in psychology (1987). Between 1984 and 1991 he has worked as a public prosecutor at the Metropolitan and the National Chief Prosecutor’s Office. Following a short period of private legal practice,  Mr Fülöp was also until his election as Commissioner, the director of Hungary’s principal non-profit environmental law firm: the Environmental Management and Law Association (EMLA).  During that time he has  held a number of international positions.  He participated in the drafting of the 1998 UN ECE Convention on Access to Information, Access to Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention). Between 2002 and 2008 he was a member of the Compliance Committee of the Aarhus Convention.  Mr Fülöp has been a university lecturer on environmental law since 1997.]