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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

RECEIVED FROM: Editeur : RIAED | Réseau international d’accès aux énergies durables
www.riaed.net/portail

from RIAED | Réseau international d’accès aux énergies durables
reply-to dufail@gret.org
date Mon, Jul 19, 2010
subject: La lettre d’information du RIAED, n°41

THIS IS THE INFORMATION No. 41 from RIAED WHICH IS THE INTERNATIONAL NETWORK FOR ACCESS TO SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FOR THE FRENCH SPEAKING COUNTRIES OF WEST AFRICA, BUT THEY HAVE ALSO A LINK TO THE ENGLISH FORM OF THIS LETTER. THE POSTING IS INTERESTING AS IT SHOWS LOTS OF ACTIVITIES THAT GO ON IN THE REGION SINCE 2006 AND CONTINUE TO DATE.

Voici la lettre d’information du site RIAED | Réseau international d’accès aux énergies durables.

A la Une

Un inventaire des opportunités de réduction d’émissions de GES en Afrique subsaharienne

Un rapport de la Banque mondiale détaille, sur 44 pays d’Afrique subsaharienne, les opportunités de réduction d’émissions de gaz à effet de serre dans 22 domaines. Au travers de l’approche MDP, cette étude a pour objectif d’explorer le potentiel offert par les projets énergétiques à faible contenu en carbone qui peuvent contribuer au développement de l’Afrique subsaharienne. Dans ce but, l’équipe de réalisation de l’étude a identifié les technologies pour lesquelles il existe déjà des méthodologies MDP et qui ont déjà donné lieu à projets MDP dans d’autres régions en voie de développement.

Actualités

Liberia : deux firmes américaines financent la construction d’une centrale hydroélectrique Les firmes Buchanan Renewable Energies (BRE) et Overseas Private Investment Company (OPIC) basées aux États-Unis, ont déboursé 150 millions de dollars pour la construction d’une centrale hydro-électrique à Kakata, dans la région de Margibi (environ 45 kilomètres de la capitale Monrovia).

Maroc : lancement du plus grand parc éolien en Afrique Le Maroc a lancé le 28 juin 2010, au nord du pays, le plus grand parc éolien en Afrique, pour une enveloppe de 2,75 milliards de dirhams (400 millions de dollars) soit une des étapes – clés du Programme marocain intégré de l’énergie éolienne, qui table sur un investissement d’environ 31,5 milliards de dirhams (4 milliards de dollars).

Cap Vert : la CEDEAO ouvre un centre des énergies renouvelables La Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique d l’Ouest (CEDEAO) a ouvert un nouveau centre pour les énergies renouvelable (ECREEE) aux Iles du Cap Vert pour développer le potentiel de la région en énergies renouvelables.

Côte d’Ivoire : l’état relance le barrage de Soubré Dans le cadre des mesures annoncées pour palier aux difficultés dans le secteur de l’énergie électrique, l’état ivoirien va relancer le projet de construction du barrage hydroélectrique de Soubré.

Malawi : un projet de biogaz mène à d’autres services Une unité de production de biogaz de petite échelle au Malawi, récemment créée dans le but d’atténuer le changement climatique, peut également, si elle est bien exploitée, améliorer la sécurité alimentaire et les moyens de subsistance dans les régions rurales du Malawi.

Afrique sub-saharienne : les meilleurs produits d’éclairage hors réseau gagnent le soutien de Lighting AfricaCinq produits innovants ont été sélectionnés lors de la conférence de Lighting Africa et du commerce équitable à Nairobi en mai dernier.

Bénin : projet d’amélioration de l’acccès à l’énergie moderne Le Gouvernement de la République du Bénin a obtenu un crédit auprès de l’Association Internationale de Développement (IDA) d’un montant équivalant à quarante sept millions cinq cent mille Droits de Tirages Spéciaux (47 500 000 DTS) soit soixante dix millions de dollars US (70 000 000 USD) pour financer le Projet de Développement de l’Accès à l’énergie Moderne (DAEM).

Afrique de l’Est : Les micro-entrepreneurs font leurs entrées dans le marché de l’énergie, à temps pour la coupe du monde Un groupe de 20 micro-entrepreneurs originaires de Ranen, un marché local de l’ouest de Kenya, sont les premiers entrepreneurs DEEP formés et mis en relation avec les institutions financières pour obtenir des facilités de crédits et développer leurs affaires dans le secteur énergétique.

L’Égypte compte ouvrir sa première centrale à énergie solaire fin 2010 L’Égypte compte mettre en service sa première centrale électrique à énergie solaire d’ici la fin de l’année 2010, a indiqué lundi 14 juin 2010 le ministère égyptien de l’Énergie.

Accord entre le Pool d’énergie ouest-africain et la BEI Le président de la BEI (Banque Européenne d’Investissement) se félicite de la seconde révision de l’Accord de Cotonou et signe avec le Pool d’énergie ouest-africain un accord d’assistance technique en faveur d’un projet dans le secteur libérien de l’énergie.

Colloques, conférences, rencontres, forum…

France : Forum EURAFRIC 2010 La 10ème édition du Forum EURAFRIC « Eau et Énergie en Afrique » se tiendra du 18 au 21 octobre 2010 au Centre des Congrès de Lyon (France).(29/06/2010)

Sénégal : salon ENERBATIM 2011 La deuxième édition du Salon International des Energies Renouvelables et du Bâtiment ENERBATIM en Afrique se tiendra du 6 au 9 avril 2011 au CICES (Dakar).

Tunisie : Congrès international sur les Énergies Renouvelables et l’Environnement Ce congrès aura lieu du 4 au 6 novembre 2010 à Sousse (Tunisie).

Algérie : salon international des énergies renouvelables ERA 2010 Le Salon international des énergies renouvelables, des énergies propres et du développement durable, se tiendra les 19, 20 et 21 octobre 2010 à Tamanrasset (Algérie).

Afrique du Sud : forum Hydropower Africa 2010 Ce forum sur l’hydroélectricité en Afrique aura lieu du 16 au 20 août 2010 à Johannesburg (Afrique du Sud)

Ressources

Derniers documents (études, applications…) proposés en libre téléchargement :

La revue de Proparco – n°6 – mai 2010 Cette revue bimestrielle n°6 de Proparco (groupe AFD) a pour thème : « Capital-investissement et énergies propres : catalyser les financements dans les pays émergents »

Les petits systèmes PV font la différence dans les pays en développement La coopération technique allemande (GTZ), a publié une étude qui fait le point sur l’impact des petites installations photovoltaïques sur le processus d’électrification rurale hors réseau, dans les pays en développement.

L’électricité au cœur des défis africains Manuel sur l’électrification en Afrique – Auteur Christine Heuraux

Interactions bioénergie et sécurité alimentaire Ce document de la FAO fournit un cadre quantitatif et qualitatif pour analyser l’interaction entre la bioénergie et la sécurité alimentaire.

Blogues du Riaed

Petit site dédié à un projet, une rencontre, une institution… Vous pouvez présenter vos connaissances et proposer des ressources en libre téléchargement.

Accès aux blogues hébergés par le Riaed : www.riaed.net/spip.php?rubrique41

Annuaire du Riaed

Inscrivez vous en qualité d’expert, ou inscrivez votre entreprise / institution / projet, etc. dans l’annuaire du Riaed pour être facilement identifiable et joignable. Vous le ferez en ligne, en quelques minutes, à la page www.riaed.net/spip.php?breve6. Vous pouvez aussi le faire en adhérant au réseau du Riaed, en qualité de membre, à la page www.riaed.net/spip.php?breve11 et en précisant à la fin votre souhait d’être aussi présenté publiquement dans l’annuaire (cocher la case ad hoc).

ASAPE ASAPE ou Association de solidarité et d’appui pour l’environnement

Burkina énergies et technologies appropriées (BETA) BETA est une entreprise solidaire qui a fait le choix de s’investir dans la promotion de l’accès à l’énergie en milieu rural.

Opportunités de financement de projets

EuropeAid – Facilité Énergie n°39 – Newsletter de juin 2010 Ce numéro de la lettre de la Facilité Énergie de la Commission Européenne nous fournit les statistiques sur l’évaluation des notes succinctes.

Formation, stages, partenariat, bourse d’échanges

Maroc : formation continue « La pérennisation des systèmes énergétiques décentralisés » L’objectif de cette session est la formation d’un groupe de techniciens impliqués dans les aspects techniques et socio-économiques de l’introduction de l’énergie solaire photovoltaïque dans l’électrification des zones rurales et isolées.

Burkina Faso : formation continue « Développer son expertise pour économiser l’énergie dans les bâtiments climatisés » L’IEPF et 2iE ont développé une formule qui comprend non seulement la formation proprement dite, mais également le suivi des bénéficiaires de cette formation (en particulier les entreprises industrielles), avec un engagement de leur part à mettre en oeuvre les recommandations des audits, en finançant tout ou partie des coûts.

Sites francophones sur l’énergie

Une liste de sites francophones et de réseaux sur l’énergie est proposée à la page www.riaed.net/spip.php?rubrique=34

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

(Autres liens et réseaux)

THAT IS – THE SIMILAR TEXT IN ENGLISH FROM THE FRENCH SPEAKING COUNTRIES OF AFRICA SEEMS TO BE AVAILABLE AT:

Une liste de sites anglophones et de réseaux internationaux sur l’énergie est proposée à la page www.riaed.net/spip.php?rubrique=35

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

THE BLOGGS LINK IS THE FOLLOWING BUT IT SEEMS  OLD: www.riaed.net/spip.php?rubrique41

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 1st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

July 1, 2001

The e-mail reads:

Today Belgium assumes its role as the President of the Council of the European Union for the twelfth time in its history. It is a moment for Flanders and Belgium to shine: the rest of Europe, and indeed the world, will be watching as our country takes partial command of the complex EU institutional machinery. This time, Belgium is part of a triumvirate, in which Spain, Belgium, and Hungary consecutively chair the Council of Ministers for six months. This trio presidency of the Council of the European Union is the first one that falls entirely under the regime of the new Lisbon Treaty. This Treaty gives Europe the necessary clout to answer today’s challenges. Flanders has made substantive contributions to the joint presidency program of Spain, Belgium and Hungary, and to the Belgian one.

Thanks to our unique state structure, which has been taken into account in the EU Treaties, either a federal or a regional minister can represent our country in the EU Council meetings, depending on the internal distribution of competences in our country. During the Belgian EU Presidency, Flanders will preside over the important policy areas of Education, Youth, Sports, Environment, and Fisheries, and play a major role in the Agriculture Council. For other important policy fields such as Culture, Energy, Social Affairs and Employment, Flemish ministers will either occupy the national Belgian seat at the Council of Ministers’ table, or assist the Belgian colleague who holds the EU Presidency.

Through this important, multi-disciplinary role, Flanders will have the opportunity to steer European discussions and policy making and draw attention to the Flemish priorities for this Presidency.

With the EU tentatively emerging from an economic downturn – and stumbling through crises like the recent euro debt threat – the Belgian presidency comes at a sensitive moment, particularly after last month’s federal elections. The big winner of these elections in the northern part of the country, the NVA and its president Bart De Wever, picked up 27 seats in parliament, making it the largest party in Flanders and Belgium. Even without a new, fully mandated federal government, our politicians and officials are more than up for the task of running an EU presidency simply because our country has such a rich tradition and expertise in EU matters.

The EU has much more influence on the daily life of Europeans than you may think: generally more than 70% of the legislation Europeans have to abide by, originates at the EU level! As our Minister-President recently highlighted with the slogan “Flanders shines in Europe, Europe shines in Flanders;” the EU Presidency is an excellent opportunity for Flanders to celebrate Europe and to bring Europe even closer to the Flemish people. We hope to achieve something similar with this introduction and to bring the European Union and the role of Flanders in the EU somewhat closer to all Flemings and the friends of Flanders in the US.

I wish you all an enjoyable Flanders Day on July 11 and relaxing summer holidays!

All the best,
Kris Dierckx
Director, Flanders House New York

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Media speculation on whether the collapse of the government would impact negatively on Belgium’s EU presidency stint began immediately following Belgian prime minister Yves Leterme’s decision on this Thursday to resign after a key partner, the Flemish Liberals, withdrew from the Federal governing coalition over a long running linguistic rights dispute between the Dutch-speaking Flemish and Francophone communities.

The collapse of the Czech government during its 2009 EU presidency term caused serious disruption to the EU’s agenda, and concerns have been raised that a long running bout of political turmoil during the Belgian presidency could similarly paralyse the EU’s workload.

The FT quoted an unnamed Brussels diplomat as saying, “The last thing we need is another presidency hobbled by domestic events.

“There are serious institutional, economic and diplomatic questions to be resolved – we cannot afford another vacuum in leadership.”

So, this is the political mess at an EU burdened with three “Presidents” where one Belgian Mr. Herman Van Rompuy heads  the Brussels  so called two year-term “Permanent” Presidency of the European Council, while his successor is losing his Belgian cabinet just in time he was going to take over the 6-months temporary EU Rotating Presidency. All that while the finances of a monetary EURO union that was not backed by a common treasury, is unraveling because on incompetency in Member States that cannot be disciplined, because there is no powerful central home to this chaotic assembly of States calling itself a Union.

—————-

Greece formally requests EU-IMF aid – Euro area states have pledged to give up to €30 billion this year.

ANDREW WILLIS

23.04.2010

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – Greece has formally placed a request to activate a €40-45 billion EU-IMF aid package, a day after new budget deficit figures revealed the country’s 2009 shortfall to be worse than previously forecast.

The country’s finance minister, George Papaconstantinou, transferred the message on Friday (23 April) in a letter addressed to Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker, EU economy commissioner Olli Rehn and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet.

“In accordance with the Statement of the Heads of State and Government of 25 March 2010 to provide financial support to Greece, when needed, and the follow up Statement of the Eurogroup, Greece is hereby requesting the activation of the support mechanism,” reads the letter.

Earlier, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said he would instruct his finance minister to place the request. “It is a national and imperative need to officially ask our partners in the EU for the activation of the support mechanism we jointly created,” he said in statements broadcast live from the remote Aegean island of Kastellorizo.

“Our partners will decisively contribute to provide Greece the safe harbour that will allow us to rebuild our ship,” said the embattled premier against a picturesque backdrop.

Fresh figures released by the EU’s statistics office, Eurostat, on Thursday revealed Greece’s 2009 deficit to be 13.6 percent of GDP, significantly higher than the previous 12.7 percent forecast.

Markets subsequently leapt on the new EU data, sending the yield on 10-year Greek bonds to 8.83 percent, the highest since 1998, and prompting credit rating agency Moody’s to cut the country’s sovereign rating from A2 to A3. On Friday, bond yields retreated marginally following the formal aid request.

Next steps?

A significant amount of uncertainty remains however. Greece, swamped by a €300-billion debt pile, is currently negotiating the lending terms with EU and IMF officials in Athens, with the talks potentially lasting for several more weeks.

An agreement between EU leaders in late March indicated that any request for aid must first be approved by the ECB and the European Commission, before then being formally agreed by euro area states.

While governments may be willing to bail-out their profligate partner, doubts remain as to how quickly member states will be able to release the funds, with at least one legal challenge being mounted in Germany against the unpopular transfer to Greece.

Responding to questions from MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said several times that he is confident the Greek plan does not breach the EU treaties. The solution found so far is “fully in line with the treaty,” he said. “It is simply wrong to say that it is some kind of bailout.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel, faced with crucial regional elections in May, has been at pains to stress that any support must be considered ‘ultima ratio’, or a last resort.

As well as the legal uncertainty, total contributions to the three-year support package have yet to be finalised. Euro area states have agreed to contribute €30 billion, this year, but figures for 2010 and 2011 remain unclear.

German central bank chief Axel Weber recently conceded that “the numbers are changing all the time”, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal, adding that total euro area contributions over the three years could reach as much a €80 billion.

——————————–

Further on Greece:

 www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con…

 www.nytimes.com/2010/04/24/opinio…

—————————–

New York Times Editorial

Greece and Who’s Next?

Published: April 23, 2010

As Greece careened ever close to default this week, frightened investors also rushed to dump bonds from financially troubled Portugal, Spain and Ireland. But while the markets increasingly see this as a euro zone crisis, many European leaders are in denial.

Unless the European Union and the International Monetary Fund back up Greece, it could default on its debts. And the roughly $40 billion bailout promised — grudgingly — by Brussels with an additional $15 billion to $20 billion from the International Monetary Fund is unlikely to be enough. Greece has more than $50 billion in debt coming due over the next 12 months alone.

Meanwhile, Germany is resisting turning over the money. After George Papandreou, the prime minister of Greece, called on Friday for the bailout plan to be “activated,” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said Greece first had to negotiate “a credible savings program.” Georg Nuesslein, a lawmaker in Merkel’s governing coalition, told Bloomberg the program “has to hurt.”

Greece’s efforts to curtail public spending have not made enough of a dent in its deficit to persuade investors it can bring its debt under control. But amid a severe recession, which is likely to be exacerbated by budget cuts, even the tightest belt-tightening can’t eliminate a deficit that amounted to more than 13 percent of its gross domestic product last year.

To stop a rout, the European Union must commit to activating the bailout. Then Europe and the International Monetary Fund must start negotiations with Greece for a much bigger bailout package. This would help restore investors’ confidence, allowing interest rates on its debt to fall from the punitive heights of nearly 9 percent reached last week. While some economists believe Greece would still have to restructure its debts, it would have space to negotiate the terms.

As investors made clear this week, the turmoil doesn’t end with Greece. Portugal, Spain and Ireland have seen their deficits balloon as the housing bust and the economic downturn took a toll. The European Union and the International Monetary Fund must put together a pre-emptive bailout package to convince investors of the stability of their finances and head off a flight to dump their bonds on a bigger scale. Speed is essential.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and European finance ministers should start working on that during this weekend’s International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington. This is mainly a European problem. But Washington must ensure that the fund commits adequate resources. The good news, if there is any here, is that American banks do not own much Greek debt. But the American economy won’t be immune if the Greek crisis spreads much further.

——————

But who should work on The EU CHRONIC STRUCTURAL POLITICO-ECONOMIC DISEASE?

A simple intervention by the Belgian King attempting to beat sense into the heads of his two different National groups warring in his own country, doe nothing to the much larger problem of many more ethnically different groups in the EU that have not yet digested the idea that building a Federal Nations means giving up the previously held pretenses at National Sovereignty. If they do not digest this their model becomes the UN and not the US – so they exist on the grace of their interdepedence but not on the basis of being a major global player to sit at the UN-China discussions table – not even as outsiders like India and Brazil, not even as a tolerated South Africa that is there because they represent the consumers of all-of-Africa.

 www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3d5c4cea-4e6e-…

Fall of Belgium coalition threatens its Brussels chair role.

By Stanley Pignal in Brussels, The Financial Times

Published: April 23 2010

The Belgian government was in turmoil yesterday after the federal coalition collapsed, driven apart by tensions between French and Dutch-speaking factions that will threaten the upcoming presidency of the European Union.

Yves Leterme, prime minister, tendered his resignation to the king after the Flemish liberal party pulled out of the coalition, making it all but impossible for the five-month-old ruling grouping to carry on.

King Albert II sought to avert an outright political crisis by withholding his acceptance of Mr Leterme’s resignation, leaving his government in place but with no viable political mandate.

The upheaval threatens to damage its leadership of the EU, whose six-month rotating presidency Belgium takes on in two months.

“The last thing we need is another presidency hobbled by domestic events,” said an EU diplomat. “There are serious institutional, economic and diplomatic questions to be resolved – we cannot afford another vacuum in leadership”. The collapse of the Czech government in early 2009 while it was in the EU chair caused turmoil in Brussels and forced it to drop large swathes of its presidency agenda.

The king said a political crisis would harm Belgium’s standing in Europe and hamper its economic prospects as it emerged from the downturn.

In an interview with the French-language state broadcaster, Mark Eyskens, a former prime minister, warned: “If we have a deep political crisis, we could find ourselves in a similar position to Greece. We have a debt of over 100 per cent [of GDP] that we must finance.”

Spreads on Belgian debt widened to 50 basis points over equivalent German paper, partly driven by EU deficit statistics published yesterday.

Lieven De Winter, a professor at Université Catholique de Louvain, said new elections in June now appeared inevitable. “We are in a position where the government has been put on hold, it cannot take important decisions. It would be a massive face-losing situation to take on the EU presidency in such circumstances.”

Part of Belgium’s latest bout of political instability can be traced back to the EU; Herman Van Rompuy, Mr Leterme’s predecessor, left national politics to take on the European Council presidency in November.

His departure paved the way for the return of Mr Leterme, a centre-right politician from the Dutch-speaking northern half of the country with a record of antagonising the French-speaking Walloons living in Belgium’s southern half.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 28th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The original November 20, 2009 posting:

The European dis-Union did not chose an Obama, but someone whose only managerial success was the creation of a Belgian government after a long time they had none. His departure from the job – will throw perhaps into a relapse his country divided into Flanders and Wallonia. The Foreign Policy at the EU will be headed by someone that comes from foreign trade and has to show for herself only a bilateral trade agreement with South Korea.

The general press we read is no show of enthusiasm for the results produced at last night’s diner, and prefer to call this as a transition phase in European history. Yes, there is unification at the end of the tunnel, but for now there is subservience, and the EU will be led rather by a General Assembly concept where the small States will not allow the result to become a Major State.

The reaction is rather like:

EU leaders have chosen Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy to be the first president of the European Council, while UK trade commissioner Catherine Ashton will become the bloc’s foreign policy chief.

Welcoming the decision on Thursday evening (19 November), Swedish leader Fredrik Reinfeldt said: “What we were seeking were people to create continuity” and “to be the voice and face of Europe throughout the world.”

Mr Van Rompuy, from the centre-right in European politics, is a trained economist and has been running Belgium for less than a year. He writes Haiku verse in Flamish, and is known for his low-key style, which includes a line in self-deprecatory humour and caravan holidays.

He came to prominence after Germany and France a few weeks ago agreed between themselves to promote him. Several diplomats subsequently suggested that his short term in office stood to his advantage as he has had no time to make enemies among other EU leaders – he will not upstage the big leaders and comes from a small country with problems. He also knows Brussels well.

The presidency decision – nominating a person from a small country with no international profile – confirms the speculation of recent weeks that the majority of member states wanted to choose a person whose main role will be that of an internal fixer, rather than someone who can open doors in Washington and Moscow.

Mr Van Rompuy underlined his low-key approach by saying he intended to be “discreet” and that his personal opinions were “subordinate” to the council.

He talked up the importance of member states and their diversity and noted that he would “put forward the positions that the council has approved” at international meetings without stepping on the toes of the European Commission president.

Catherine Ashton, meanwhile, emerged relatively late in the race to be the EU’s top diplomat. Her name appeared after UK foreign secretary David Milliband, the preferred candidate at the beginning, said he was not interested in the job.

With the EU president being a man, from a small country, and from the centre-right, Ms Ashton balances the scales in terms of gender, coming from the left,  and being from a big country.

Ms Ashton, trade commissioner since October last year, has no foreign policy experience and has never held a senior ministerial post.

She said it was a measure of “her slight surprise” that – unlike Mr Van Rompuy – she did not have a prepared speech but pledged to “represent [European] values across the world.”

Ms Ashton, who still has to be approved by the European Parliament, highlighted her skills by pointing to her success in negotiating a free trade agreement with South Korea, the EU’s largest ever bilateral trade deal.

——————–

UPDATED November 28, 2009:

It is easy to get exasperated with the EU if you want to see a strong union, but if you are a realist and see what the present 27 look like when they sit together, you might rather think that the choice of Mr. Van Rompuy and Lady Ashton was an inspird one.

The problems facing the EU will not be its position at a table of three but: its inability to set policy goals, poor follow up to what they decide, and poor coordination among the states. So, what is needed is someone who is a unifier to a fractious coalition on the home front – call it marriage councilor at home. The fact that Van Rompuy steps out from the Belgian House that is divided between the Flemish and the Waloons, into the EU House that is splintered even much more, is thus Belgium’s loss and Europe’s gain.

OK, today we know the Barroso choices for the EC Commission and next problem will thus be for Mr. Van Rompuy to find his way in the coexistence package between his position of a Permanent President with a  two and a half year’s permanency, and the half-a-year revolving Presidents of which he will have five starting with Spain on January 1, 2010, while also having to maneuver between his “supremo” foreign policy manager Lady Ashton, the European Parliament, and the European Commissioners, all claiming some sort of rights known only to them. Good Luck EU!

Some say that Van Rompuy has a hidden agenda to build a strong Union – I wonder where they got this – surely not from his statements. If they are right – we will be very happy.

Barroso Commission II

Austria – Johannes Hahn (EPP) – Regional policy

Belgium – Karel De Gucht (ELDR) – Trade

Bulgaria – Rumiana Jeleva (EPP) – International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response

Cyprus – Androulla Vassiliou (ELDR) – Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth

Czech Republic – Stefan Fuele (PES) – Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy

Denmark – Connie Hedegaard (EPP) – Climate Action

Estonia – Siim Kallas (ELDR) – Transport (Vice-President)

Finland – Olli Rehn (ELDR) – Economic and Monetary Affairs

France – Michel Barnier (EPP) – Internal Market and Services

Germany – Günther Oettinger (EPP) – Energy

Greece – Maria Damanaki (PES) – Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Hungary – László Andor (PES) – Employment, Soclai Affairs and Inclusion

Ireland – Maire Geoghegan Quinn (ELDR) – Research, Innovation and Science

Italy – Antonio Tajani (EPP) – Industry and Entrepreneurship (Vice-President)

Latvia – Andris Piebalgs (EPP) – Development

Lithuania – Algirdas Šemeta (EPP) – Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud

Luxembourg – Viviane Reding (EPP) – Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship (Vice-President)

Malta – John Dalli (EPP) – Health and Consumer Policy

The Netherlands – Neelie Kroes (ELDR) – Digital Agenda (Vice-President)

Poland – Janusz Lewandowski (EPP) – Budget

Portugal – Commission President José Manuel Barroso (EPP)

Romania – Dacian Ciolos (EPP) – Agriculture

Slovakia – Maros Sefcovic (PES) – Institutional Affairs and Administration (Vice-President)

Slovenia – Janez Potocnik (ELDR) – Environment

Spain – Joaquín Almunia (PES) – Competition (Vice-President)

Sweden – Cecilia Malmström (ELDR) – Home Affairs

United Kingdom – Catherine Ashton (PES) – EU foreign policy chief (Vice-President)


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 27th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The UN University Is Becoming The Institution of Research it Was Intended to Be:
It Deals Now With Subjects Like The Possible Updating of the UN Security Council; Other Effective Governing Tools; The Concept of Ethics in Adam Smith in the light of the Present Global Crises; or the Prospect of International Mediation of Conflicts.

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The UN University – UNU –  is one of the smaller United Nations organizations, and is reliant on voluntary contributions. UNU receives no funds from the regular UN budget. Headquartered in Tokyo it is obviously supported by the Japanese government. Further funding comes from other government, agencies, international organizations, foundations, and private companies.

UNU is dedicated to the generation and transfer of knowledge, and the strengthening of individual and institutional capacities in furtherance of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

The mission of UNU is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are a concern of the United Nations, its Peoples and Member States.

In fulfilling this mission, UNU fosters intellectual cooperation among scholars, scientists, and practitioners worldwide — especially those in the developing world — and functions as:

an international community of scholars;
a bridge between the United Nations and the international academic community;
a think-tank for the United Nations system;
a builder of capacity, particularly in developing countries; and
a platform for dialogue and new and creative ideas.
Since its modest beginnings in September 1975, UNU has grown and matured into a decentralized, global network comprising UNU Centre in Tokyo, a worldwide network of 13 UNU Research and Training Centres/Programmes (UNU RTC/Ps), and liaison offices at United Nations headquarters (New York) and UNESCO headquarters (Paris).

UNU Press publishes numerous books each year and cooperates in the production of five journals. The UNU Office of Communication oversees production of the Work in Progress and UNU Updatenewsletters and UNU Annual Report, and assists the academic units the preparation of their public information materials and other communications.

UNU has 15 Research and Training Centres/Programmes spanning many critical issues facing humanity today.

The ‘programme space’ within which UNU operates is defined by three variables:

the major processes that are profoundly changing our world
the actors that are effecting these changes
and the topics and themes most relevant to UNU’s mission
Within this programme space, our activities are clustered into two broad programme areas — Peace and Governance, and Environment and Development — and further focused within five thematic areas: Peace and Security; Good Governance; Development and Poverty Reduction; Environment and Sustainability; and Science, Technology and Society.

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FROM OUR POINT OF VIEW – UNU IS THE ONLY THINK TANK IN THE UN SYSTEM AND ITS MAIN INTEREST IS IN:

HUMAN SECURITY, PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT. THE LATER IS OBVIOUSLY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND THE RELATED ISSUES OF RENEWABLE ENERGY AND THE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE.

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Associated Institutions of the UNU:

Supplementing the work of UNU’s 15 centers are institutions of academic excellence that have been designated by the University Council as UNU Associated Institutions.

Federal University of Mato Grosso, Pantanal Regional Environmental Programme, Mato Grosso, Brazil;

Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, International Environmental Research Center, Gwangju, Republic of Korea;

Griffith University. Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law, Queensland, Australia;

Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, India;

GRID-Arendal, Global Virtual University, Arendal, Norway;

University of Bonn, Center for Development Research, Bonn, Germany;

Tufts University, Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Boston, USA;

Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand;

Global Fire Monitoring Center, Freiburg, Germany;

International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, Enschede, the Netherlands;

University of Madras, Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Chennai, India;

National Food Research Institute, Ibaraki, Japan;

University of Ulster, INCORE (International Conflict Research), Northern Ireland;

Cornell University, UNU Food and Nutrition Programme for Human and Social Development, Ithaca, NY, USA;

University of Chile, Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology, Santiago, Chile;

Mahidol University, Institute of Nutrition, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand;

National Institute of Public Health, Mexico, Nutrition and Health Research Center, Cuervavaca, Mexico;

Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population, National Nutrition Institute, Cairo, Egypt;

Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institution for Nutritional Sciences, Shanghai, PRC;

University of Nairobi, Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya;

Gansu Natural Energy Research Institute, Gansu Natural Energy Research Institute / UNIDO International Solar Energy Center for Technology Promotion and Transfer (ISEC-GNERI), Gansu, PRC.

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Liaison Offices

UNU Office in New York

As part of its mandate to serve the United Nations University, UNU-ONY has a multifaceted mandate with an overarching mission to showcase and make UNU’s Research and Programmes (RTCP) available to the UN Secretariat, UN Permanent Missions, NGOs, academics and civil society.

Dr. Jean-Marc Coicaud
2 United Nations Plaza, Room DC2-2060, New York, N.Y. 10017 U.S.A.
Tel: (1-212) 963-6387; Fax: (1-212) 371-9454
E-mail:  unuona at ony.unu.edu   –  www.ony.unu.edu

UNU Liaison Office at UNESCO, Paris

Luk Van Langenhoven
Representative, United Nations University Office at UNESCO
c/o UNESCO Bureau 7B 4.06, 1, rue Miollis, 75732 Paris Cedex 15, France.
Tel: (33-1) 45.68.46.42 Fax: (33-1) 40.65.91.86
E-mail:  unuoe at unesco.org

Headquarters: United Nations University Centre
5–53–70 Jingumae,
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-8925
Japan

Tel: +81–(0)3–5467–1212 • Fax: +81–(0)3–3499–2828 • E-mail:  mbox at unu.edu
Webmaster:  webmaster at hq.unu.edu

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WE WRITE ABOUT THE UNU AT THIS TIME AS WE REALIZED THAT THE UNU IS TAKING ITS ROLE AS UN THINK TANK VERY SERIOUSLY AND THIS MONTH HAS HAD SEVERAL PRESENTATION S AT THE UN HEADQUARTERS SPONSORED BY ITS NEW YORK LIAISON OFFICE. THESE PRESENTATIONS, OPEN TO ALL WITH INTEREST IN THE FUTURE OF THE UN, CLEARLY MAY HELP FINDING SOLUTIONS TO SOME OF THE UN PROBLEMS AT A TIME THE UN HAS REACHED ALL-TIME LOWS IN THE WAY IT IS PERCEIVED IN THE WORLD.  I saw at those presentations members of Missions to the UN, NGOs and plain interested outsiders, but very little participation from among the in-house accredited Press. This worries me as it can be seen as a sign that the Media that keeps criticizing the UN does not make an effort to look at ways that may improve the working of the UN.

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Monday, October 26, 2009 UNU tackled the topic: “SECURITY COUNCIL REFORM” led by the presenter Dr. Joseph Schwartzenberg, an academic from Brooklyn, who is now with the University of Minnesota, who devised a mathematical formula for a weighted voting system at the UN. His ideas were published in a book titled accordingly – “REVITALIZING THE UNITED NATIONS: REFORM THROUGH WEIGHTED VOTING.” He wrote this in 2004 while President of the Minnesota Chapter of Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS), formerly the World Federalist Association (WFM). Among the organizations that backed this project were also the Center for UN Reform Education (CURE), and the Canada based Academic Council on the United Nations (ACUNS), as well as the CGS and the WFM.

Professionally, Professor Schwartzenberg is a Cartographer of South East Asia, and he was also the author of books about the Indian subcontinent ranging from Geography to the caste system and to an effort at Peace-making in Kashmir.

The specific in The Schwartzenberg system is a regional formula for a 12 Member Security Council based on the equation that evaluates the Weighted Voting power of a Region as one third of the total Population percentage of the world population defined as “P” plus one third of the region’s financial Contribution to the UN budget which obviously is a function of its share as measured by its total GNP – this is defined as “C” and plus a constant which is based on the present size of the UN membership – that is 192 and is intended to give equal status to all States – this last factor is defined as “M” and is dependent on the number of States that are members of the region – each State having an 0.52% value as in 1/192 – but when it comes to the formula – the constant used by Dr. Schwartzenberg is 8.33% which is 1/12 as per the 12 regions.

We get thus  WV = (P + C + M) / 3

These numbers Range then from a 16.19 for Europe to 4,27 for the Westminster League which covers Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The US gets 14.32 and China gets 11.09.

Those in between include:India (8.95); (Japan 8.03); Latin America (7.77) includes the Caribbean; East Asia (7.46) includes the Pacific Island States, the Koreas, and Mongolia; Africa (6.56) Subsahara, West Asia (6.04) includes Turkey, Iran, and Central Asia; Arab League (4.96) that includes the MENA States; Russia (4.38) including Belarus and the Ukraine.

The presentation was followed with a lively discussion at which participated quite a few members of the Missions.

Professor Schwartzenberg answered many questions by the fact that these groups or Regions can change like for instance if Turkey or the Ukraine join the EU. He also insisted that nobody gets the Veto right as the weighted vote gives Europe, the US and China the high level of power and India, Japan and a Brazil led Latin America have strong power also.

I expressed my questions regarding the fact that the Small Independent Island States in the Pacific, being led by New Zealand, might prefer being part of the Westminster League group rather then East Asia. Professor Schwartzenberg agreed and said that the former British Colonies in the Pacific and in the Caribbean, with Parliamentary government systems in place may indeed opt to move and he does not object to this. He had a more negative position to my suggestion that a 10% WV or even an 11% figure should be entitled to a RIGHT OF VETO POWER. My suggestion came in effect in the steps of a remark he made that Russia should never have been recognized as the inheritor of the USSR original veto power of the charter. This is clearly a correct observation that puts the Security Council in question as nothing but a diplomatic arrangement that is far from the original charter agreement. Imagine Scotland and Wales leaving the UK – will then England hold on to the Veto power? Will the proliferation of the number of States resulting from break-up of empires result in enhanced power by numbers? Will the break-up of Nigeria result in the infusion of 38 mini-states to the UN? This last thought has special value in the light of Africa asking for a permanent membership for Nigeria – so the idea is not far fetched.

My suggestion of 10 or 11 in the Schwartzenberg scheme to be the the veto cut off point has also the added value that it removes the mistaken veto that the UN body has allowed to Russia, and it forces the EU to finally proceed in its unification procedures. It further sets an attainable goal for a solidified India and in the mean-time it makes it more acceptable for the US, China and the EU to accept the Schwartzenberg proposal.

I strongly feel that having such a discussion at UNU gives this UN member something to be proud off. Further I must say that I am partial to this UNU effort because of my old activities within think-tanks, and the fact that the same CURE, that backed the Schwartzenberg proposal, also backed my own “Promptbook on Sustainable Development” which can be seen on this website – that was before the Johannesburg Summit of 2001.

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Monday, October 19, 2009, UNU hosted a Panel that was Initiated by the Government of Catalonia, an Autonomous Region In Spain.

The Topic: “DECENTRALIZED GOVERNMENTS AND THE NEW MULTILATERALISM.”

The Catalans came in full force and there were a sprinkle of Basques and Flemish officials in the room as well. It was a three hour long event. The point was that autonomous well-to-do regions in Europe that would like to achieve their independence within an EU context, and probably will eventually be able to do so, have started to institute their own foreign aid programs as a first step towards getting the international recognition even before they are released by their own UN member National governments.  n the other hand, what about areas that are under very different regimes then Europe? What about the ethnic regions of China? Or even less controversial areas in Africa or Latin America? What about Chechnya and other regions in Russia? The Catalan success story just highlights the darker corners of the UN system. But then, when it comes to break-away parts of a UN member state even a country like Belgium is not rational about its comport, The Flemish Gentleman, whom I asked why do his people fight for keeping Brussels as their wished-for capital, while dividing the country into three, rather then two parts would be easier and would be much more in the interest of all involved. In such a case Brussels could become the Federal District of a Federalized European Union. He said – NEVER.

We had there the president, Vice president, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Director General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid of Catalonia. There was also a speaker for the North Atlantic Autonomous Region of Nicaragua whose region is aided by the Catalans. There was a participant for the Spanish Government, and towards the end and the eating of the great sandwiches, came also the Spanish Ambassador to the UN.

There were also representatives of various humanitarian UN affiliates and of the UN proper. The argument was made that a region-to-region foreign aid relationship is more efficient then when central governments are involved. Further, today many other non-central government organizations can act very efficiently, or those NGOs or even corporate interests when bent to do good.

I just glanced over the event, but in reality there was much that was put forward. There was talk of the Cardozo report that involved civil society in the works of the UN.

Non-centralized government is somewhere closer to civil society – this specially when the talk is about a G2, 7, 18, 20, 22 or whatever figure will evolve. There must be place for Parliaments, cities, Mayors, local authorities and Regions inside States and in between States. The 21st century strategy will deal with Global Public Goods and the renewal of multilateralism on a different scale. We go to more globalization of the problems and this will require a more down to earth approach to the solutions.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009, UNU hosted the new Turkish Ambassador to the UN, Ertugrul Apakan whose topic was: “CONFLICT AND INTERNATIONAL MEDIATION: A TURKISH PERSPECTIVE.”

Though only two months in New York, Ambassador Apakan has in the past held positions that got him directly involved in the Turkish – Greek controversies over Cyprus, and his position in New York seemingly comes about Turkey’s efforts to be the Middle East mediator.

Turkey sees itself part of the region that stretches from Afghanistan to the caucasus and from the Middle East to the Balkan that includes the main areas of conflict in the world. Having friendly relations with Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Turkey has viable peace in mind as its objective – that calls for mediation.

To have a peace agreement one must have a viable plan – without such a plan agreements fall apart he said. The Turkish approach is to respect the value system of all partners. The Ambassador thinks that in the Middle East the situation is ripe for mediation – provided the parties agree to have mediation. Asked what is most important in mediation – his answer was to be a good listener.

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Friday, October 23, 2009, UNU hosted Professor Charles Sampford, Director of the Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law, which is a joint UNU and Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. 2002-2004 he was a member of a task force on responding to threats to democracy chaired by Mme. Madeleine Albright, and 2006 he was the convener of the first World Ethics Forum in Oxford.

The presentation looked at the present global financial crisis as the result of multiple and reinforcing governance failures – financial intermediaries abused the powers entrusted to them. His main point was that they completely misrepresented what ADAM SMITH was saying by using their quotes only from his “Wealth of Nations,” and completely leaving out of their sites his other book – “THE THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS.” The presentation in New York was in effect a celebration of 250th Anniversary of its publication.

The topic: “ADAM SMITH’S LOST LEGACY: ETHICS IN FINANCIAL REGULATION.”

In 1533 Peter Stuyvesant built a brick wall to keep out the Barbarians and in 1961 East Germany built a wall to keep out the capitalists. These walls came down. The Social Democrats thought they can leave space for democracy when dealing with capitalism. The quote says nevertheless that it is not from the butcher, backer and brewer that we expect our dinner – but it is rather from their self interest. But watch out – self interest can put food on our table and drop the bomb over Nagasaki.

Adam Smith allowed that for tackling a problem it suffice to go back to Confucius, Jesus and Moses, but we know now that further elements are needed – there was no ethics yet in his days.

When joint stock holdings were created – that is when it became clear that capital gathering unions can do better then the individual. Further, groups like NGOs work for more then just the self-interest.

Corruption is abuse in the name of self interest so we cannot go back to The Wealth of Nations ideas of Adam Smith. Economists say now we need Incentives and Disincentives. Institutions are all about interests and incentives alone. Disincentives may help bring about change.

Corruption and climate change are areas we cannot leave to Adam Smith alone these days! We must find solutions that are large – but they have to include his ideas also.

There is serious problem when a theory becomes ideology. also we have to define scales like global, local, regional. corporate…governments – the same for financial area problems – global, regulatory, financial regulatory, corporate, government, …

The artificial financial instruments that were created – where do we get the balance between regulation and freedom in financial instruments? with the Market and Democracy distinction – how does one give legitimacy to the market?

Of course – one person one vote is not the same as one dollar one vote – we must decide which way we go, but we must remember that ethics is how we claim to serve the community.

Smith does not speak of the law – but in his second book he stresses ethics & Justice.

There is promotion and economic rewards, but when you get your first loaf of bread you are happy – when you get the third it does matter much less.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 6th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Chinese company wants to buy Brussels Airlines and its Airport.
VALENTINA POP, September 5, 2008.

Chinese airline Hainan may challenge a bid by Lufthansa to buy Brussels Airlines, with the Asian firm already in talks to snap up Belgium’s Charleroi airport.

German carrier Lufthansa remains the favourite bidder for Brussels Airlines, but some shareholders in the Belgian company believe the offer is too low and are looking at other partners, such as British Airways and Hainan, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Friday (5 September).

Late last week, Lufthansa said it was in “constructive negotiations” to acquire a 45 percent stake in Brussels Airlines for €65 million, expecting to close the deal within the next few weeks. The remaining stake was then to be taken over after two years.

But shareholders in Brussels Airlines believe the carrier is worth at least €200 million. Brussels Airlines is the heir to the bankrupt Sabena, with a 30 percent share having been taken over in 2006 by Richard Branson’s Virgin Express.

Hainan’s interest in Brussels Airlines is fortified by its bid for Charleroi airport, a low-cost hub 46 km south of the Belgian capital.

Hainan is among the three companies shortlisted to buy up the currently publicly owned Charleroi airport, with the Chinese company saying it is one of their priorities and promising further developments of the low cost terminal, La Libre Belgique reported on Tuesday.

The move has sparked internal competition between Charleroi and the main Brussels airport, Zaventem, out of which Hainan operates a number of flights. Unidentified sources close to the deal told the Belgian newspaper that the managers of Zaventem had launched a “sabotage and denigration campaign” of Charleroi airport, in order to distract the Chinese.

La Libre Belgique also reported that the Flemish region and the Brussels Airport Company (BAC) who manages Zaventem gave Hainan Airlines financial advantages worth €1.5 million.

The newspaper draws a comparison with the aid offered by the Charleroi airport and the Walloon region to the Irish carrier Ryanair, aid deemed illegal by the European Commission in 2004.

After having read the newspaper report, the Walloon minister for transportation, Andre Antoine, said: “Nobody is stupid. The aim of the manoeuvre is to attract the Chinese to Zaventem, not Charleroi.”

Zaventem is Brussel’s main international airport.

In return, BAC said it didn’t understand the minister’s reaction and didn’t see any problems with the €1.5 million contract it signed two years ago with the Chinese company, in order to promote the Flemish region in Shanghai and Beijing. The contract does not involve directly neither BAC, nor Hainan Airlines, a press spokesman for BAC said.

La Libre Belgique reported that the contract involved some €400,000 being payed to Hainan for “marketing support” and €200,000 for language training for the pilots of the company. Only €900,000 were allocated to promoting the region in China, the newspaper says.

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[Comment / Opinion on EUobserver] After Georgia: is Ukraine next?
ANDREW WILSON, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, September 5, 2008.

EUOBSERVER / COMMENT – The war in Georgia began by exposing the security vacuum in the surrounding region. Now it has claimed its first collateral victim, after the fall of the Ukrainian government on 2 September.

The crisis has been brewing over the summer recess, but came to a head in late August after President Yushchenko’s administration accused Prime Minister Tymoshenko of trading her relative silence over Georgia for Russian support in a campaign to supplant him as president.

Ukraine president Viktor Yushchenko – the 2004 Orange Revolution feels a long time ago (Photo: timoshenko.com.ua)

When parliament reassembled, Tymoshenko joined forces with the east Ukrainian-based Party of Regions, ramming through a law to reduce presidential power, and apparently repositioning herself as a more pro-Russian candidate in the presidential race.

Parliament was also unable to agree any of several diametrically opposed resolutions on Georgia, ranging from outright condemnation of Russia to recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The crisis comes in between the emergency EU summit on Russia-Georgia in Brussels on 1 September and the regular EU-Ukraine summit on 9 September in Evian, France.

The EU therefore has an ideal opportunity to push back against Russia’s attempts to dominate the European neighbourhood by starting with Ukraine, which is also the linchpin for the whole region.

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War of words:

Many Ukrainians now hear domestic echoes of the lead-up to war in Georgia. Ukraine has its own potentially separatist region in Crimea, and the country’s Russian minority numbers some 8.3 million (the largest minority in Europe).

Half of Ukraine’s population of just over 46 million are Russian-speaking in various degrees. Although the Ukrainian constitution bans dual citizenship, the government has launched an inquiry into alleged covert Russian passport-holding in the Crimean city of Sevastopol.

Some Ukrainians note that Russia justified its invasion of Georgia, as the Nazis once justified their dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, as being necessary to “protect” a minority to whom they had just given citizenship.

Russia has begun a war of words over Ukraine’s alleged supply of arms to Georgia. And the conflict itself has shown that the Russian Black Sea Fleet, based in Sevastopol, can operate with impunity, whether Ukraine likes it or not.

Based on its analysis of Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution” as a foreign-backed “NGO coup,” Russia has also been quietly building its own network of Russia-friendly NGOs in Ukraine since 2004.

Ukrainians also talk of an otkat ekonomiya (“kickback economy”), in which Russian money percolates throughout the Ukrainian elite.

***

A strategy for Ukraine:

What should the EU therefore offer in Evian? The European Neighborhood Policy is a worthy enough technical process, but it does not address pressing political concerns about maintaining and securing Ukraine’s independence.

Many member states will worry about leaping straight to the contentious issue of ultimate membership for Ukraine, but the EU already recognizes Ukraine’s theoretical right to join once it has met the Copenhagen criteria; and it cannot be beyond EU leaders’ verbal dexterity to play up the prospect.

What Ukraine would value and needs most is a real sense that it is being treated distinctly in its own right. The key words are “association” and “partnership,” in whatever order or combination.

The EU has greater scope for short-term measures, which should be designed to deliver a multi-dimensional solidarity strategy for Ukraine.

The EU’s foreign ministers should invite their Ukrainian counterpart to give a briefing on Ukraine-Russia relations at their next meeting.

Ukraine should be offered a road map for visa-free travel, as well as ensuring that member states deliver on current visa facilitation measures. The new EU-Ukraine agreement should include a beefed-up solidarity clause, building on the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, whereby the EU would consult and assist Ukraine in case of challenges to its territorial integrity and sovereignty. And the EU should back Ukraine if it insists that the Russian Black Sea Fleet leaves on schedule in 2017.

The EU should also launch a comprehensive study of all aspects of Europe’s reliance on Russian energy supplies, including transit, energy security and conservation, supply diversification, and the impact of “bypass” pipelines like Nordstream and South Stream.

It should consider linking the opening of the Nordstream pipeline, which would allow Russia to cut off gas to Poland and Ukraine while maintaining deliveries to Germany, to the opening of the proposed “White Stream” pipeline to bring gas from Azerbaijan directly to Ukraine via Georgia, bypassing Russia.

The EU could even play a part in keeping the 2012 European Championship football finals on track. The decision to appoint Ukraine and Poland as co-hosts was a powerful symbol of European unity across the current EU border (Poland is a member, Ukraine is not).

UEFA is unhappy with Ukraine’s progress in building the necessary infrastructure, but Ukraine should be given time to get its act together.

Where appropriate, the EU should extend these measures to Moldova, which is now calling Ukraine a “strategic shelter,” most probably after the elections in March 2009.

Ukraine faces a crucial presidential election in 2009 or 2010. After getting its fingers badly burned at the last election in 2004, Russia is clearly tempted to intervene again. The “Russian factor” will strongly influence the campaign.

Greater Western engagement is needed to ensure that the “Europe factor” is equally prominent.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 30th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Belgian south keen to join France – writes Philippa Runner for the EUobserver.
Almost one out of two French-speaking Belgians would like to join France if their country split up, a new survey says, amid a deepening political crisis in the host-state of the European Union’s top institutions.

Forty nine percent of people in the south-lying Belgian region of Wallonia said they would support “rattachment” – a re-joining – with France in the event of a break-up with the northern Dutch-speaking region of Flanders.

The figure shows a huge jump from 29 percent six months ago, even though just 23 percent of Walloons believe the country might actually fall apart, an Ifop poll for Belgian and French papers Le Soir and La Voix du Nord found.
On the French side, 60 percent of respondents would like to join-up with their Belgian neighbours, up from 54 percent in previous surveys. The majority in favour is even higher in bordering regions such as Pas-de-Calais.

The news comes after more than a year of political paralysis in Belgium, which saw government coalition talks drag on for nine months after June 2007 elections and whose prime minister has resigned three times since March.

The Dutch-speaking leader, Yves Leterme, last threw in the towel on 14 July in a row over giving more power to local governments, with French-speakers worried that richer Dutch-speaking regions might hold back financial support.

The Belgian king rejected his resignation and has appointed three “wise men” to propose a solution by the end of the month, with early general elections in mid-2009 looking increasingly likely.

Around half of the people in Flanders regularly say they would like to split from Wallonia – caricatured by Flemings as lazy, poor and pretentious – with a minority in the north keen to join the Netherlands instead.



“We shouldn’t touch Belgium…unless the Flemish make life so impossible for the Walloons that the Walloons throw themselves into our arms,” an editorial in Le Soir quoted former French leader Charles de Gaulle as saying in 1965.

The Manken Pis statue in Brussels: who would it belong to if Belgium divorced?  

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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Belgium heading for new crisis after Leterme resignation
Belgian prime minister Yves Leterme has resigned after failing to reach an agreement over power sharing, Le Monde reports.

The Flemish Leterme was elected after promising greater autonomy for the Dutch-speaking Flanders region, but his reliance on hard-line independence parties in his ruling coalition has forced him to take a tough stance over relations with French-speaking Wallonia.

The paper says that this is the third time Leterme has resigned since winning the elections in June 2007, but that this time he is unlikely to return.

The issue of the bilingual region around Brussels – which continues to encroach on monolingual Flemish regions and has the nationalists incensed – was cited as the key reason for Leterme’s failure.

===============
 www.spiegel.de/international/euro…

THE WORLD FROM BERLIN
‘Belgium Is the World’s Most Successful Failed State’

Chaos has returned to Belgium’s capital: The government has collapsed, the prime minister has offered his resignation. German newspapers on Wednesday wonder if the linguistically divided country will ever get its act together.

Getty Images
Belgium and the road to nowhere. The linguistically divided country seems incapable of moving forward.

The Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme threw in the towel late on Monday night, saying he could not force through a consensus between the Flemish and French-speaking coalition partners.

Leterme offered his resignation (more…) to King Albert II, who has so far not formally accepted it. The king is now holding consultations with lawmakers expected to last several days.
In his statement, Leterme, head of the Flemish-speaking Christian Democrats, said the “federal consensus model has reached its limits” — raising the specter of Belgium breaking up for good. The prime minister had a self-imposed July 15 deadline to come up with an agreement on constitutional reform.
The nation’s two main regions — Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north, and Francophone Wallonia in the south — have enjoyed increased regional autonomy since the 1970s. The prosperous north now wants more autonomy. It has pushed for reforms that would shift responsibility for taxation and some social security down to the regional level. Francophone parties accuse their Flemish counterparts of trying to separate the north from the poorer south, where unemployment is three times as high.
Matters have been further complicated by a dispute over an electoral district that comprises largely Francophone Brussels and 20 Flemish-speaking towns near the capital.
German papers on Wednesday are concerned about the political crisis at the heart of Europe, but most hold out hope that the Belgians will save their government.

The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
“There is a great sense of perplexity. No one knows how Belgium should go forward. New elections won’t bring any new power relations and so won’t bring any solution. Before one starts to criticize small Belgium for its political incompetence one should reflect on the fact that if the Flemish want more regional autonomy and the Walloons are fearfully fighting against that, as in all political conflicts, it is a question of the deep desire for self-determination, identity and belonging. Belgium’s search for a new internal balance is not simply about the country’s folklore. It concerns all of Europe.”

The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:
“The vast majority of the six million Flemish and four million Walloons have nothing against living in the same state, even if it is often a parallel existence. What has pushed the country to the edge of a crisis of state are the provincial-minded politicians and the parties which have become mere lobby groups. Stubborn insistence on proportionality and the splitting of the party system along both political and linguistic lines have caused the art of compromise to slowly shrivel away. That is why there is no easy way out of the crisis. The voters should now speak.”

The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes:
“In terms of economics, Belgium is the most successful ‘failed state’ of all time. Its per capita income is way ahead of Germany, the world’s leading exporter …”
“Belgium can continue to flourish without a national government for the simple reason that the cabinet doesn’t have to decide much anyway. Most authority has devolved to the regions … The central government is left to deal with foreign policy, defense and finance policy — all issues that are increasingly taken care of at the EU level.”
“The Belgian government still controls spending on social welfare. And this is where the conflict has blown up between the two language groups, because rich Flanders wants to pay less for poorer Wallonia.”
“There is still no solution in sight. But part of the Belgian paradox is that there will be some sort of compromise at some stage. Belgium is not lost yet.”

The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes:
“In Belgium the word ‘separation’ is rearing its ugly head again. But things are still not quite that bad. Belgians are masters of muddling through and reaching compromises. Once again King Albert II is playing a key role: He can reject Leterme’s resignation and force the coalition partners to work together for a transitional period. He could also ask someone else to form a government.”
“Snap elections are unlikely: that would require a compromise in the dispute over the bilingual electoral district in Brussels. This is the issue that forced the break-up of the government. It is possible that voters will be asked to elect a new parliament when they go to the polls for European and regional elections next June. Now it’s a question of playing for time. No one in Belgium believes in big solutions that will ease the conflict between the linguistic groups in the long term.”

The conservative Die Welt writes:

“Belgium had always prided itself on being a model for Europe: exemplifying, through the art of compromise and the virtue of tolerance, how nations and cultures can exist peacefully side by side. The country can no longer claim this. The latest political crisis sees the kingdom moving towards the limits of being governable. It is difficult to understand how a people can get so caught up in trifles that they allow the very existence of the country come under threat. On the surface the conflict seems to hinge on a small electoral district in Brussels that was supposed to be split up, ending its bilingual status. “

“In reality, however, the Belgians are arguing about much more. The question is how much solidarity people are prepared to show when times are tough. The rich north no longer wants to help out the south, which has been buffeted by globalization. In the end it’s all about money.”
— Siobhán Dowling,

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OPINION

“Belgium Is the Laboratory for Europe.”
Tuesday 15 July 2008, by: Mathieu Carbasse Interviews Olivier Mouton, Le Nouvel Observateur.

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Brussels’ Grand Place, a World Heritage site. Le Soir’s Olivier Mouton talks about Belgium’s political fractiousness: “If there were a scission, what does Brussels become? A city with international status? A city with its own government? Brussels is the capital for both sides; it’s the capital of the country; the capital of Europe.” (Photo: Hideo Kurihara-Stone / Getty Images)


Le Nouvel Observateur: Why don’t Walloons and Flemings reach agreement over institutional reform?

Olivier Mouton: The Flemish parties have wanted to reform the State for a long time in order to obtain greater autonomy for Flanders. Since 1999, they demand the regions take greater responsibility for themselves, especially on a financial level. They also want a reconsideration of the possibility Francophones in the Flemish periphery of Brussels have today to vote for Brussels Francophone candidates in the legislative elections.
On the French-speaking side, the parties have always said the same thing: “After the five big reforms of the 1970s, the federal government suffices to govern the country.”
And on the eve of the June 2007 legislative elections, the Flemings once again ran up against the Francophones’ calm refusal to implement institutional reforms. Hence the failures of successive governments and the impasse in which we find ourselves.
But today, thinking has evolved, especially on the Francophone side. There has been a radicalization of understanding, a maturation that has led the Francophones to say to themselves: “we too could be autonomous.” At present, one feels a real disposition to allow stronger regional autonomy, even going beyond what the majority of Flemings desire.
Is a partition of the kingdom between Francophones and Dutch-speakers imaginable?
Ten years ago, the question was still taboo. In 2008, it’s a question that public opinion revisits. People talk about it, but one must not lose sight of the fact that the country is accustomed to crises, as in the 1930s and 1950s. Then people talked about major misunderstandings within the country itself. However that may be, a partition will not happen in a snap of the fingers.
The Brussels question poses a problem because the city has a legal status and a reality apart. It’s the hyphen between Flemish Belgium and Francophone Belgium. If there were a scission, what does Brussels become? A city with international status? A city with its own government? Brussels is the capital for both sides; it’s the capital of the country; the capital of Europe. This question cannot be settled just like that.
The primary reality today is the global economic crisis that is looming. So we must find a way to streamline the discussion and find a fast way out of the crisis.
Don’t you think the political crisis in Belgium exposes the identity problems that Europe is currently experiencing with respect to economic solidarity and respect for cultural and linguistic specificities?
I know that some do not like this definition, but Belgium is a little bit the laboratory of Europe. There’s an economic and social fracture between a rich region and a poor region, as is the case in Italy and in Spain. It’s also a country where two cultures cohabit, one Latin, one Germanic. The Belgian question reveals the difficulties the European Union is currently confronting in terms of solidarity, notably post enlargement.
Belgium, like Europe, is in a phase of withdrawal in on itself, an economic, social and cultural turning inward. The Flemings feel cornered and retreat behind a linguistic barrier. They are arrogant economically, but very fragile culturally. When that position is taken up by certain populist parties, it backfires.
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Olivier Mouton is editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper, Le Soir.
Translation: Truthout French language editor Leslie Thatcher.

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