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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

Europe

 

In Taking Crimea, Putin Gains a Sea of Fuel Reserves.

 

 

Photo

Vladimir V. Putin of Russia visiting a Lukoil oil platform in the Caspian Sea in 2010. Credit RIA Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin, via Pool, via Reuters

 

When Russia seized Crimea in March, it acquired not just the Crimean landmass but also a maritime zone more than three times its size with the rights to underwater resources potentially worth trillions of dollars.

Russia portrayed the takeover as reclamation of its rightful territory, drawing no attention to the oil and gas rush that had recently been heating up in the Black Sea. But the move also extended Russia’s maritime boundaries, quietly giving Russia dominion over vast oil and gas reserves while dealing a crippling blow to Ukraine’s hopes for energy independence.

Russia did so under an international accord that gives nations sovereignty over areas up to 230 miles from their shorelines. It had tried, unsuccessfully, to gain access to energy resources in the same territory in a pact with Ukraine less than two years earlier.

“It’s a big deal,” said Carol R. Saivetz, a Eurasian expert in the Security Studies Program of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It deprives Ukraine of the possibility of developing these resources and gives them to Russia. It makes Ukraine more vulnerable to Russian pressure.”

Gilles Lericolais, the director of European and international affairs at France’s state oceanographic group, called Russia’s annexation of Crimea “so obvious” as a play for offshore riches.

In Moscow, a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin said there was “no connection” between the annexation and energy resources, adding that Russia did not even care about the oil and gas. “Compared to all the potential Russia has got, there was no interest there,” the spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Saturday.

Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and other major oil companies have already explored the Black Sea, and some petroleum analysts say its potential may rival that of the North Sea. That rush, which began in the 1970s, lifted the economies of Britain, Norway and other European countries.

William B. F. Ryan, a marine geologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, said Russia’s Black Sea acquisition gave it what are potentially “the best” of that body’s deep oil reserves.

Redividing the Black Sea.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea also gives Russia control of a large swath of the Black Sea, including deep oil reserves.

THE “BEFORE” and “AFTER” ECONOMIC ZONE MARITIME MAPS:

The RED is the newly acquired expanse.

 

 

Oil analysts said that mounting economic sanctions could slow Russia’s exploitation of its Black and Azov Sea annexations by reducing access to Western financing and technology. But they noted that Russia had already taken over the Crimean arm of Ukraine’s national gas company, instantly giving Russia exploratory gear on the Black Sea.

“Russia’s in a mood to behave aggressively,” said Vladimir Socor, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, a research group in Washington that follows Eurasian affairs. “It’s already seized two drilling rigs.”

The global hunt for fossil fuels has increasingly gone offshore, to places like the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and the South China Sea. Hundreds of oil rigs dot the Caspian, a few hundred miles east of the Black Sea.

Nations divide up the world’s potentially lucrative waters according to guidelines set forth by the 1982 Law of the Sea Treaty. The agreement lets coastal nations claim what are known as exclusive economic zones that can extend up to 200 nautical miles (or 230 statute miles) from their shores. Inside these zones, countries can explore, exploit, conserve and manage deep natural resources, living and nonliving.

The countries with shores along the Black Sea have long seen its floor as a potential energy source, mainly because of modest oil successes in shallow waters.

Just over two years ago, the prospects for huge payoffs soared when a giant ship drilling through deep bedrock off Romania found a large gas field in waters more than half a mile deep.

Russia moved fast.

In April 2012, Mr. Putin, then Russia’s prime minister, presided over the signing of an accord with Eni, the Italian energy giant, to explore Russia’s economic zone in the northeastern Black Sea. Dr. Ryan of Columbia estimated that the size of the zone before the Crimean annexation was roughly 26,000 square miles, about the size of Lithuania.

“I want to assure you that the Russian government will do everything to support projects of this kind,” Mr. Putin said at the signing, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

A month later, oil exploration specialists at a European petroleum conference made a lengthy presentation, the title of which asked: “Is the Black Sea the Next North Sea?” The paper cited geological studies that judged the waters off Ukraine as having “tremendous exploration potential” but saw the Russian zone as less attractive.

In August 2012, Ukraine announced an accord with an Exxon-led group to extract oil and gas from the depths of Ukraine’s Black Sea waters. The Exxon team had outbid Lukoil, a Russian company. Ukraine’s state geology bureau said development of the field would cost up to $12 billion.

“The Black Sea Hots Up,” read a 2013 headline in GEO ExPro, an industry magazine published in Britain. “Elevated levels of activity have become apparent throughout the Black Sea region,” the article said, “particularly in deepwater.”

When Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine on March 18, it issued a treaty of annexation between the newly declared Republic of Crimea and the Russian Federation. Buried in the document — in Article 4, Section 3 — a single bland sentence said international law would govern the drawing of boundaries through the adjacent Black and Azov Seas.

Dr. Ryan estimates that the newly claimed maritime zone around Crimea added about 36,000 square miles to Russia’s existing holdings. The addition is more than three times the size of the Crimean landmass, and about the size of Maine.

At the time, few observers noted Russia’s annexation of Crimea in those terms. An exception was Romania, whose Black Sea zone had been adjacent to Ukraine’s before Russia stepped in.

“Romania and Russia will be neighbors,” Romania Libera, a newspaper in Bucharest, observed on March 24. The article’s headline said the new maritime border could become a “potential source of conflict.”

Many nations have challenged Russia’s seizing of Crimea and thus the legality of its Black and Azov Sea claims. But the Romanian newspaper quoted analysts as judging that the other countries bordering the Black Sea — Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania — would tacitly recognize the annexation “in order to avoid an open conflict.”

Most immediately, analysts say, Russia’s seizing may alter the route along which the South Stream pipeline would be built, saving Russia money, time and engineering challenges. The planned pipeline, meant to run through the deepest parts of the Black Sea, is to pump Russian gas to Europe.

Originally, to avoid Ukraine’s maritime zone, Russia drew the route for the costly pipeline in a circuitous jog southward through Turkey’s waters. But now it can take a far more direct path through its newly acquired Black Sea territory, if the project moves forward. The Ukraine crisis has thrown its future into doubt.

As for oil extraction in the newly claimed maritime zones, companies say their old deals with Ukraine are in limbo, and analysts say new contracts are unlikely to be signed anytime soon, given the continuing turmoil in the region and the United States’ efforts to ratchet up pressure on Russia.

 

“There are huge issues at stake,” noted Dr. Saivetz of M.I.T. “I can’t see them jumping into new deals right now.”

The United States is using its wherewithal to block Russian moves in the maritime zones. Last month, it imposed trade restrictions on Chernomorneftegaz, the breakaway Crimean arm of Ukraine’s national gas company.

Eric L. Hirschhorn, the United States under secretary of commerce for industry and security, said sanctions against the Crimean business would send “a strong message” of condemnation for Russia’s “incursion into Ukraine and expropriation of Ukrainian assets.”

 

Alexandra Odynova contributed reporting from Moscow.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

PLEASE VOTE NEVERTHELESS !
WE ALL KNOW THAT THE FOLLOWING IS TRUE BUT BY NOT VOTING AT ALL YOU DO NOT ACHIEVE A THING BEYOND ASSURING THAT DECISIONS WILL BE TAKEN WITHOUT ANY CONSIDERATION TO  WHAT YOU HAVE IN MIND. IF YOU VOTE YOU MIGHT OPEN THE DOOR FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

 

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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 24th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 
Via Expo is an organizer of high level international exhibitions and conferences in Bulgaria ( www.via-expo.com ) We will highly appreciate including in your listing the information and new dates of our events to be held in Sofia (Bulgaria) during 5-7 March 2014:
 
10th Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Congress and Exhibition for South-East Europevia-expo.com/en/pages/ee-re-exhibition. It corresponds to the  world trends and presents latest energy efficient solutions, technologies for the production of bio-, hydro, solar, geothermal and wind energy, energy from waste and electric vehicle innovation. The EE & RE Congress will bring together  all relevant players from the Region: from  the energy sector, grid operators and utilities, building industry, finance and state administration.
 
Save the Planet – 5-th Conference and Exhibition on Waste Management, Recycling, Environment for South-East Europevia-expo.com/en/pages/waste-management-recycling-exhibition.  The event encourages the waste and recycling technology transfer to South-East Europe. It will be again a meeting place for executives from the sectors: waste management, recycling, ecology and related industry branches, investors and entrepreneurs; municipal representatives e.g. government officials, mayors, ecologists; branch associations.
 
SEE Solar – South-East European Solar PV & Thermal Exhibition  – via-expo.com/en/pages/see-solar.  In line with recent trends, the 2014 edition will put the focus on the building-integrated photovoltaics and autonomous solar systems in industrial and residential buildings, energy storage products, as well  as  innovative home appliances.
‘Smart Cities’ – South-East European Exhibition & Forumvia-expo.com/en/pages/smart-cities. The  event will focus exclusively on Intelligent Energy, Intelligent Mobility & Transport, Intelligent Emergencies Management and ICT, Intelligent Waste Management. Smart Cities Exhibition and Conference are the logical successor of  Smart Buildings 2013 Expo. The event will be held in parallel to the 10th Forum and Exhibition on Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Waste Management & Recycling and Solar PV & Thermal Exhibition.
LiftBalkans – South-East European Exhibition on Elevators and Escalatorsvia-expo.com/en/pages/liftbalkans . ‘LiftBalkans’ is the only specialized show in Bulgaria devoted to elevators, escalators, components and accessories, monitoring and safety systems, etc. The event will shape the forthcoming priority directions in the industry development – safety, accessibility and energy efficiency improving. A parallel Seminar will strengthen the networking between attendees and exhibitors which will debate on the new Lift Directive, safety rules and security solutions, noise prevention, retrofitting of the existing lifts, etc. LiftBalkans will be held parallel to events covering close related topics: Energy Efficiency and Smart Cities.
 
5-7 March 2014, Sofia, Bulgaria
Organizer: Via Expo
T/F +359 32 512 900, 960 011

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 23rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


Toothless move? Experts doubt efficacy of Hezbollah blacklist.

July 23, 2013
By Kareem Shaheen
of The Daily Star of Beirut.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, talks with Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino, and Malta’s Foreign Minister George Vella during the EU foreign ministers meeting, at the European Council building in Brussels, July 22, 2013 – as per an AP photo.

BEIRUT: The blacklisting of Hezbollah’s military wing is a message warning the party over its involvement in Syria and activities in Europe and would only have a limited effect, experts and analysts said Monday. Few saw a distinction between the group’s military and political wings, saying it would be prohibitively difficult to target military cadres and assets, and arguing that the party had few financial resources in Europe that could be subject to sanctions.

But they said the decision to blacklist the military wing would make it easier to carry out investigations in concert with European intelligence agencies into Hezbollah’s fundraising and militant activities.

“They distinguish between the military and political wing when in reality there isn’t much distinction,” said Nadim Shehadi, an associate fellow at the Middle East and North Africa Programme in Chatham House.

“But it’s a way of creating constructive ambiguity to maintain engagement at the same time as sending a strong message.”

The EU maintains contact with Hezbollah on a variety of issues, including the activities of UNIFIL, the peacekeeping force on the border with Israel, and on joint projects between the EU and Lebanon.

Shehadi argued the distinction made it possible for the EU to continue talking to Hezbollah, likening the measure to the U.K.’s decision to distinguish between the Provisional Irish Republican Army, which fought a protracted insurgency against British rule, and its political wing, Sinn Fein, allowing negotiations to end the fighting.

“The introduction of a separation between the military wing and the political wing gives a way out,” he said.

Hezbollah itself does not distinguish between its two wings.

“This is long overdue,” said Matthew Levitt, a former deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the U.S. Treasury Department. “Hezbollah has believed that it could mix militancy, terrorism, crime on the one hand, and politics and social welfare on the other.”

“They felt that by virtue of being involved in politics they got a free out-of-jail-card and they could blow up buses of civilians in Bulgaria and try to do so in Cyprus, partner with Iran in Syria, and much more,” said Levitt, who testified recently before the EU Parliament in support of blacklisting all of Hezbollah.

But a senior Arab diplomat in Beirut, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the issue, said this distinction meant the decision would have no impact on the ground.

“You cannot distinguish between the civil and military wing of the party,” he said. “How would you define that this person is a member of the military wing? And does the military wing have any exposed assets that you can restrict or freeze? It is very difficult to implement this decision.”

Levitt said the decision would have no impact on Hezbollah finances in Europe since there are few known assets belonging to the military wing there, but he said it would open up avenues for intelligence operations investigating the party and would send a clear deterrent message.

European countries have been reluctant to carry out “proactive” intelligence investigations into Hezbollah since it was not labeled a military organization, said Levitt, who is a senior fellow and director of the Washington Institute’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. He has also written a book on the party called “Hezbollah: The Global Footprints of Lebanon’s Party of God.”

Such investigations will now be carried out if a link can be established to potential Hezbollah militancy, he said: “It is very likely that Hezbollah will curtail the amount of its activities in Europe having to do with militancy or fundraising because they know that these investigations are going to be run.”

Further, he said, Hezbollah could no longer treat Europe as a “near abroad” where it could carry out such activities.

He said Hezbollah was already under enormous pressure due to its involvement in Syria and the accusations against four of its operatives by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon over the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Domestically, the Arab official said the decision was likely to worsen the political deadlock in Lebanon, increasing what he termed “Hezbollah’s siege mentality” and compelling it to hold onto its political positions.

The party is now unlikely, for instance, to allow the government formation to go ahead without it being represented in the Cabinet.

Experts differed on the impetus and timing behind the decision.

Shehadi said the decision was the result of the party’s implicated in the Burgas bombing last year targeting Israeli tourists, and was part of an ongoing process that began after the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh. Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s former military chief, was killed in Damascus in 2008, prompting the party to acknowledge his military role. He is accused of involvement in a number of attacks including the 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut.

The Arab diplomat said the timing of the decision was likely the result of a combination of pressure by the U.S. and Israel to compensate for a recent decision by the EU to boycott products made in West Bank settlements.

He said it appeared to be influenced by Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria, rather any potential role for the party in the bombing in Burgas.

“I wouldn’t back something like this if there is no strong evidence that the party is involved in terrorist activity on European territory, and until now I can’t say there is enough evidence for an accusation,” he said.

The diplomat said that Hezbollah officials repeatedly said in meetings they had no assets or financial activity in Europe, so that any such freeze would have no impact on the party.

Legally, the decision will represent a greater challenge to the Lebanese government than to Hezbollah, said Chafic Masri, a professor of international law. He said the Lebanese government would have to help the EU distinguish between military and civilian cadres in the party.

Further, only the EU is legally empowered to add individuals to the list.

“It is challenging because now anyone who may be elected as a parliamentary member or selected as a minister will remain subject to the de facto approval of the EU,” Masri said. “This is not just confusing but embarrassing as well to the Lebanese government.”

———————–

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star of Berut on July 23, 2013, on page 3.

Read more: www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Analysi…
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: www.dailystar.com.lb)

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

Israel’s Foreign Ministry had some help from Hollywood in convincing at least one country to label Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organization, according to Hebrew-language daily Maariv.

Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, an Austrian by birth and the former governor of California, sent a letter to the country’s chancellor, Werner Faymann, to express his belief in the importance of an EU move to blacklist the Lebanese terror organization.

According to Maariv, Austria initially vehemently opposed the move, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Austria Chancellor Feymann and the country’s president Fischer, and with the help of Schwarzenegger was able to convince the Austrians to support the measure.

The decision to put Hezbollah’s military wing on the European Union terror list required the unanimous consent of the bloc’s 28 members and was passed unanimously.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry lobbied several EU holdouts, such as Ireland, in recent months to pass the measure.

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

Hezbollah and its involvement in Syria have already bankrupted politically Lebanon – this starting with the killing On February 14, 2005 with Syrian involvement of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. His son, Saad Hariri was Prime Minister 2009 – 2011 but for his personal security he prefers to stay in Saudi Arabia from where he manages his family wealth. The Hariris are Sunni Muslim billionaires and it would be dangerous for him to go back again to the Lebanese infighting.

This is described in the same issue of The Daily Star – at www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politic…

The United Nations special tribunal (see Special Tribunal for Lebanon) investigating the murder of Hariri is expected to issue draft indictments accusing Hezbollah of murdering Hariri.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The UPDATE is today’s meeting of the UN Security Council and Israel Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Ron Prosor, presenting the Israeli case:

To watch the live webcast, please see: webtv.un.org/

Attached are Ambassador Prosor’s talking points from today’s speech as received from the Israeli Mission to the UN.

Today, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, spoke during the UN Security Council’s Open Debate on “The Situation in the Middle East.” Please find the full text of his remarks attached, as well as a photograph (photo credit: UN Photo/JC McIlwaine).

In his speech, Ambassador Prosor commends the EU for labeling Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organization, but noted that the decision came after decades of allowing Hezbollah to operate freely on European soil. He said: “At long last, having realized how dangerous Hezbollah is and what it is capable of, the EU showed up late to the party to condemn the ‘Party of God.'”

He also said:

• Hezbollah “is as sophisticated as it is interconnected. Any attempt to distinguish between Hezbollah’s military wing and political wing, while politically convenient, is entirely impractical…Not even Harry Houdini could pull off the illusion that there is a difference between these two groups. Europe took a significant step in the right direction, but it must go one step further and demonstrate its unequivocal condemnation of terror.”

Ambassador Prosor also sharply criticized the EU for deciding to limit its funding for institutions in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the Golan. He said:

• “While the United States has been working to bring the parties back to the negotiation table, the EU prefers to table harmful and divisive measures. Just as a window of opportunity opened for the resumption of talks, the EU seemed intent on slamming it shut. Instead of setting a course towards peace, the EU is steering the Palestinians in the wrong direction.”

Finally, Ambassador Prosor discussed the Iranian elections. He said: “For those who thought that the so-called Arab Spring sweeping the Middle East would cause Jeffersonian democracies to sprout, take note. [Hassan] Rowhani may have been given a starring role in the charade of Iranian democracy – but the fundamentalist Ayatollah remains its choreographer, director, and executive producer.” He also said:

“Even with a new conductor, Iran’s nuclear weapons program continues to advance at the speed of an express train. In contrast, the international community’s efforts are moving at the pace of a local train, pausing at every stop for some nations to get off and some nations to get on…The sanctions are working, but they are not enough. You must increase pressure on Iran until it stops all enrichment, removes all enriched material, closes its illegal nuclear facility in Qom, and ends its support for terrorism.”

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

Statement delivered by UK Ambassador and Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant to UN Security Council Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East – 23 July 2013


Madam President,

I thank Robert Serry for his briefing and the Permanent Observer of Palestine and the Permanent Representative of Israel for their statements.

The government of the United Kingdom warmly welcomes Secretary Kerry’s 19 July announcement that Israel and the Palestinians have reached an agreement that establishes the basis for resuming direct final status negotiations.

We pay tribute to the efforts of Secretary Kerry and his team, and commend the leadership shown by both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. The United Kingdom stands ready to do all that we can over the coming months to support the parties and the United States in their efforts to achieve a lasting peace for the Israeli and Palestinian people.

The European Union set out clearly its full support for US efforts at yesterday’s Foreign Affairs Council. There is also a vital role for Arab states to build on the constructive steps taken so far to reiterate the strategic importance of the Arab Peace Initiative.

Friday’s announcement is of course only a beginning, not an end. We welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas’ clear commitment to a two-state solution and to work to achieve peace for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. Now more than ever, it is vital that both show bold and decisive leadership.

With this new momentum, the Israeli and Palestinian people must be able to trust that progress is possible. This would be undermined by a repeat of recent events such as further settlement announcements, the use of live fire in demonstrations by the Israeli Defence Forces and rockets from Gaza into Israel. We urge all sides to exercise restraint and look forward.

As talks resume, we should not forget Gaza. Gaza must be an integral part of any two-state solution. As our Minister for the Middle East saw last month, for ordinary Gazans the Strip remains a desperately difficult place to live. In the heat of summer, Gazans face very poor living conditions, including regular and sustained power cuts.

It will be important that Gaza benefits fully from any economic package which is being prepared to accompany the political track, including the easing of Israeli restrictions on movements of goods and people. The United Kingdom believes that an improved economy is not only essential for the people, including the children, of Gaza, but firmly in Israel’s security interests.

Current US efforts, and the strong commitment shown by the parties themselves, reflect the best chance for many years of securing peace. We must all unite to help reach our shared goal of a negotiated two-state solution where a safe and secure Israel can live in peace with an independent and viable Palestinian state.

Madam President, turning to Syria.

It was with great dismay that we heard Valerie Amos’ briefing before this Council last week. It is truly shocking that more than 6 million people require humanitarian assistance and that 4 million people are no longer able to meet their basic food needs yet the Assad regime continues to prevent the United Nations from delivering aid effectively inside Syria.

With the death toll now well over 100,000, the situation in Syria gets worse by the day. Since last July an average of nearly 200 people have been killed every 24 hours.

What started off as peaceful protests over two years ago has become a protracted conflict by a murderous regime, aided and abetted by Hizballah and Iran. The Assad regime has continued to ramp up its brutal military offensive over recent months, as witnessed today in Homs, where thousands of innocent civilians are currently trapped in their homes with limited access to food, water or electricity.

Madam President,

The countries of the region have already provided sanctuary to 1.7 million Syrians. More will come. We urge all neighbouring countries to keep their borders open for Syrians to escape the tragic and dangerous situation they are facing at home.

In response, the United Kingdom has doubled its support for humanitarian assistance, bringing the total to over half a billion dollars, including support for Syrian refugees and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon. G8 countries last month committed over $1.5 billion. Yet, the UN’s $5.2 billion Syria appeal for 2013 is only 35 per cent funded. The needs for aid in Syria will sadly only grow, and without help Lebanon and Jordan risk being destabilised. Member states need to contribute more, and encourage others to do more, now and in the long term.

Madam President,

The continuing deterioration of the human rights situation is also of grave concern. The Commission of Inquiry’s latest report found that the conflict had reached new levels of brutality. War crimes, crimes against humanity and gross human rights violations continue at a frightening rate. We remain at the forefront of the international community in calling for full accountability for all those responsible for human rights violations and abuses. This Council should refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court without delay.

Madam President,

There is a growing body of limited but persuasive information showing that the regime has used and continues to use chemical weapons, including sarin. Use of chemical weapons is a war crime. We call on Syria to allow the UN unfettered access to investigate incidents of chemical weapons use in Syria.

On 17 June, the G8 re-affirmed support for a second conference in Geneva, leading to the creation of a transitional governing body with full executive powers. Yet the regime’s offensive of recent weeks has made it even harder for this conference to take place.

We continue to support the expanded National Coalition and its new president, Ahmed al-Jarba. The Coalition remains the most legitimate and credible representative of the Syrian people. They have made clear their commitment to a future democratic Syria in which the rights of all Syrians are respected. We must not conflate this moderate opposition with terrorist groups.

We must not accept what Assad wants us to believe – that the only alternative to his brutal regime is extremists and terrorists. There are millions of Syrians who want a peaceful and democratic future, and legitimate forces that are fighting for their interests. We should be on their side.

Madam President,

Despite our differences – this Council shares some fundamental aims: to end the conflict, to stop Syria fragmenting, to let the people decide who governs them and to prevent the growth of violent extremism. As a Council we need to recommit to working with the Parties in a meaningful way towards a viable political settlement, based on last year’s Geneva Communiqué.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


Anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks in Burgas, Bulgaria and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Press Statement to the Western Hemisphere, Europe and Eurasia lists of the US Department of State.
Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 18, 2013

The United States notes that July 18 marks the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, that claimed the lives of six innocent civilians and the 19 year anniversary of the attack in Buenos Aires, Argentina that killed 85 innocent victims. We extend our condolences to the people of Bulgaria, Argentina, and Israel for the tragic loss of life and call for the perpetrators of these attacks to be brought to justice.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

100 imams to commemorate Holocaust in France.

Following visit to Yad Vashem, Muslim leaders to hold memorial in Drancy, where Jews were held before being transported to extermination camps

February 5, 2013, 3:00 am

JTA — Some 100 imams will commemorate the Holocaust at a memorial monument near Paris.

Monday’s event is planned for Drancy, a suburb of the French capital where tens of thousands of Jews were confined in 1942 before being transported to extermination camps during the German Nazi occupation, according to a report in the French daily Le Figaro. The paper called the event unprecedented.

Hassen Chalghoumi, the imam of Drancy and a veteran activist for dialogue between Muslims and Jews in France and against anti-Semitism, will host the imams.

Manuel Valls, France’s interior minister, also is scheduled to attend the event, which Le Figaro reported is the initiative of Chalghoumi and the French Jewish novelist Marek Halter.

In explaining the goal of the event, Halter recalled a landmark visit by 19 French Muslim leaders, many of them imams, to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum.

“This had a huge impact in Israel and the Arab World,” Halter told Le Figaro. “The objective is to re-create this at Drancy.”

Since the second intifada of 2000, France’s Jewish population of approximately 550,000 has experienced an increase in anti-Semitic violence, mostly by Muslim extremists. Last March, Mohammed Merah, a 23-year-old French-Algerian Islamist terrorist, killed four Jews at a Jewish day school in Toulouse.

“We are in a period of crisis, and tensions take the form of violence,” Halter said. “We need to soothe the tensions. It’s a time bomb.”

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Australian, Hezbollah suspected in Burgas bus attack.

Bulgaria to present report Tuesday on probe into bombing, blaming Lebanese terror group and Iran for deaths of five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver.

By February 5, 2013

 www.timesofisrael.com/bulgaria-ex…

The coffins of the five victims of the Burgas bombing arrive at Ben Gurion airport (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)

The coffins of the five victims of the Burgas bombing arrive at Ben Gurion airport (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)

Bulgaria will reportedly blame Iran and Hezbollah on Tuesday for a bombing that claimed the lives of five Israelis and a Bulgarian over the summer. An Australian is also suspected in the bus attack.

Sofia has been mum thus far on placing blame for the July 18 attack on a bus at the Burgas airport, though Israel publicly pointed its finger at Hezbollah and its patron Iran immediately after the attack.

The interior minister of Bulgaria is expected to brief top officials on the investigation into the bombing thus far and announce the findings of the probe, which has yet to produce any arrests, later Tuesday.

Two Western officials told the Associated Press an Australian is a suspect in the bus attack.

The officials are familiar with the investigation and spoke Tuesday only on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the news media.

The Wall Street Journal, citing US and European officials briefed on the report, said Lebanese Shi’ite terror group Hezbollah would take the brunt of the blame, along with Iran, which will be accused of ordering the attack.

Five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver were killed in the bus bombing at the airport outside the popular Black Sea resort town of Burgas, and another 30 people were injured.

The anticipated report may push the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terror organization — something Israel and the United States have urged. European heavyweights Germany and France have not designated Hezbollah as a terror group.

Naming Hezbollah a terror organization could have far-reaching political ramifications that officials fear would disturb Lebanon’s fragile peace and cause confrontations between the EU and Syria and Lebanon, the Wall Street Journal reported. The EU would also need to reevaluate its relatively open-door policy for Hezbollah’s members and funds via the continent.

The US and Israel accused Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards of masterminding a string of terror attacks aimed at Israeli and American nationals in India, Thailand, and Georgia over the past two years. Iran and Hezbollah denied any involvement in those attacks — which were speculated to be retaliations for what Tehran claimed was Israel’s assassinations of leading Iranian nuclear scientists.

Bulgaria’s Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov was set to announce the results of the interim progress report of the attack Tuesday after a high-level security meeting between the prime minister, top cabinet members and military officials. It was not yet clear if the report would reveal which individuals were behind the terror attack. The White House was also expected to issue a statement after the release of the report.

Last month, the lead investigator in the case was dismissed after she told a Bulgarian newspaper that all three suspects were foreigners, with no local accomplices. The investigator, Stanelia Karadzhova, told Bulgaria’s 24 Chasa daily that one of the suspects had been identified and that an arrest warrant had been issued.

Karadzhova said new evidence suggested the bombing was not intended to be a suicide attack, as previously believed. Karadzhova said the bomber either pushed the detonator by mistake, or that somebody triggered the explosives remotely.

This image taken from security video provided by the Bulgarian Interior Ministry on Thursday, July 19, 2012, purports to show the unidentified bomber, center, with long hair and wearing a baseball cap, at Burgas Airport in Burgas, Bulgaria, on Wednesday, July 18, 2012. (photo credit: Bulgarian Interior Ministry/AP)This image taken from security video provided by the Bulgarian Interior Ministry on Thursday, July 19, 2012, purports to show the unidentified bomber, center, with long hair and wearing a baseball cap, at Burgas Airport on July 18, 2012. (photo credit: Bulgarian Interior Ministry/AP)

In December, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said both he and US President Barack Obama knew who the bombers were, but more solid evidence was needed to build a case.

In January, Bulgarian police said they identified one of a trio of terrorists involved in the bombing, but that they were still searching for the suspect and did not release his name.

The suspect acted with the bomber, known under the alias Jacque Felipe Martin, as well as another accomplice, known under the alias Ralph William Rico.

The real identities of Martin and Rico had not yet been discovered, according to Bulgaria’s Sofia news agency. Investigators also suspect there may have been a fourth or fifth accomplice.

Bulgarian police have maintained all those involved were foreigners, but have not publicly said placed blame on anyone.

In November, an Interpol official said he was worried by the lack of progress in the case. Ronald Noble told Bulgarian TV the lack of progress was “abnormal.”

Dimitar Bechev, head of the Sofia office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, told the New York Times that it seemed as if Sofia had delayed naming names to avoid upsetting the EU’s relations with Hezbollah.

“If you factor in the suspicion that there are political implications beyond Bulgaria’s borders, it’s completely understandable that they’ve been playing for time,” he said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 22nd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Dear Reader,

We have all been greatly saddened by the horrific shooting last night in Aurora, Colorado. Our hearts go out to the victims of another senseless act by a killer with access to dangerous weapons. If you feel strongly about keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people and wish to express your condolences to the victims and their families, please click here. Join with more than 700 U.S. Mayors committed to ending gun crime.

Don Hazen
Executive Editor, AlterNet

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YES – but not enough. Let us understand finally that we have been hijacked by our own inaction.

The papers this weekend want us to believe that the two greatest things that are happening right now are the start of Olympics 2012 in London and the opening of  “The Dark Knight Rises” or Batman III. What goes on in Syria is just a distraction from above focal points of our lives.

Just in case – if we want a little bit more then tragicomedy in our lives – the main attraction at the London Olympics – the first since 1948 – will be the helicopter-carrier positioned in the middle of the Thames River, and the main advertisement for the Batman movie was done with the help of news from the killings at Aurora, Denver, Colorado.

For the honest reality show – the whole world was placed in a Ghetto by the terror act at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

The present Olympics Committee – just a mere 40 years later, did not even agree to have a special ceremony at this year’s Olympics – the tenth since that on-TV event of 1972. Now the TV programs amaze us with the killings of Arab-against-Arab, as in the Damascus routine, and the pre-Olympic celebration in Burgas near the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. There, a terrorist blew himself up, and took along six other people – five of them Israelis – his presumable targets.

Who was the terrorist of Burgas? We do not know and do not assume to know, but we read that Israel says Hamas, and the US know that it was a Hezbollah man backed by Iran, while  the Bulgarian official version is simply – he was not Bulgarian but someone who came from the outside with a pre-conceived plan. Strangely – a Bulgarian journalist had more to say.

He wrote on inter-view.info hat the killer, Mehdi Muhammad G. (33) was born in Sweden, son of immigrants – an Algerian father and a Finnish mother, and went to Pakistan to absorb Islamic teachings. There he was found by the US and brought to Guantanamo on December 1, 2001.

July 2004 (that is still during the G.W. Bush US Presidency – something worthwhile noting right here in the light of the potential of politicizing the event – if true)  he was subsequently released upon request from Sweden. We have no proof that this story is true, but if it is there will clearly be repercussions at the EU and in the US.  So far we read only in Austrian papers, whatever the facts, Bulgaria’s chances to join the Schengen agreement are now diminished.

But above mishap, or perhaps an Olympic reminder to the survivors of the Israeli 1972 team, that went this week to re-visit the Munich site, was coincidentally only a first step – followed by an unrelated event – that we argue to be related nevertheless.

The second event is the Aurora shooting in at a movie house near Denver, Colorado – the killing of 12 people, and injuring 59 more, by what the papers try to describe as a deranged person who had – in a US crazy way – legal access to buy guns and ammunition. (The amo bought on internet and delivered to his home and school, the guns bought directly from official dealers based on his having a clean record.)

James Eagan Holmes, a 24 year young student of neuroscience, hair dyed red, with a gas mask on his face, armed with tear gas and guns, did his thing at the midnight premiere of Batman III, a movie officially titled “The Dark Knight Rises,” that was going to bring in a lot of money to its producers – who prepared as well a great advertising campaign with the help of a website www.RottenTomatoes.com The website itself, though managed by the film-critics community Flixter.com is owned by Warner Brothers – the studio that produced this film.

The critics, based on seeing trailers or having been at previews, posted 197 articles out of  which 86% were positive.
The first negative review earned the critic, Marshall Fine, threats to his life.

The film, like all Batman films, deals in hidden ways with what is interpreted as a glorification of the George W. Bush, post 9/11 War on Terror. That would not have excited us. We decided to write this posting only when we read that Rush Limbaugh, the fire-brand of the US Tea-Party, and the storm-trooper of the fight against an Obama Presidency, pointed out that the character’s name  in the film – Bane, is a hidden psychological hint at the Bain Capital Company (same pronunciation) owned by Mitt Romney in real life, and this is no coincidence according to Rush.

Rush expressed the certainty that this was intended so that it plants in the mind of the viewers the idea that Romney is a personification of evil. The fact that the book was actually written in 1993 by a conservative writer –  Christopher Nolans – and the character was already there – is a detail of no importance to Rush – but we fear  that in real political life of the Republican Party  in the USA of 2012, facts have no importance.   …. It is the figments of imagination that are being expressed as facts, and weak minds draw weak conclusions. The real  problem is that such conclusions can kill.

Holmes booby-trapped his apartment in Aurora, and now the police must be very careful in gaining access – we hope they do not proceed by blowing up the place and losing whatever further evidence can be found there.

In Paris the opening of  The Dark Knight Rises was cancelled, in Vienna the Tuesday preview is still on, and the opening is scheduled for Wednesday. In New York, supposedly the movie’s Gotham City – a sin city of the stock exchange if you want this sort of interpretation for creation of good ticket-box results, Mayor Bloomberg, who calls for gun-control laws, has made sure that the movie house is supervised by no-nonsense police.

Also, we understand that some wise person wrote a pro-guns’ proliferation piece contending that had there been more guns in the theater room, the number of casualties would have been smaller. I guess, if this logic holds, our lives would be safer living in a wild west coral – like in the movies – all of us would would be drawing guns.

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Our posting is very short – if interested here are some further material that throws light at the low state we find ourselves in the post-Munich insecurity that benefits only the arms producers and the outspoken and powerful moron politicians:


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 19th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

A bus carrying Israeli tourists at Bulgaria’s Burgas airport suddenly exploded today, killing seven and wounding at least 30 more.

A U.N. spokesperson said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack “in the strongest possible terms.” In fact, however, the U.N. chief’s choice of terms was weak in comparison to his statement two weeks ago on the bombing of churches in Kenya. In that case, Mr. Ban rightly spoke of “terrorist” attacks, “reprehensible and criminal,” saying the perpetrators “must be held to account.” Yet today he referred only to the deadly “bombing” of Israelis — noticeably declining to describe it as an act of terrorism — and he made no call for holding the perpetrators to account. UN Watch today urged Mr. Ban to clarify his position and to truly use the strongest possible terms to condemn today’s terrorist attack.

• U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has remained silent on today’s attack. By contrast, hours after the Gaza Flotilla incident of 2010, Ms. Pillay expresed her “shock” and condemned Israel. The top story on her office website instead criticizes Western states for how they combat terrorism, with America accused of having “dangerous” laws that violate due process. Supported by a Facebook campaign now going viral, UN Watch called on the High Commissioner to speak out for victims of terrorism, condemn today’s gruesome murders in Bulgaria, and instruct her staff to investigate the perpetrators and hold them fully accountable for the crimes.

• The U.N.’s 47-nation Human Rights Council has also stayed silent. By contrast, in 2004 it wasted no time in convening an emergency session to eulogize Hamas terrorist leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and to condemn Israel. Currently, the council is busy with yet another “fact-finding mission” into alleged Israeli human rights violations. The council has never mandated an inquiry into terrorism or rocket attacks targeting Israelis.

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All in all, five Israelis died in the attack, along with the suicide bomber and the bus driver.

Speaking to Haaretz earlier in the day, a Foreign Ministry official said that the attack was a result of a suicide bombing, an estimate seconded by comments made by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Metodiev Borisov.

The Bulgarian police said that footage from airport security cameras captured the suspect roaming the airport for at least one hour, the Bulgarian news agency Novinite reported. According to the report he was a long-haired Caucasian in sportswear.

The body suspected as belonging to the terrorist had a U.S. driver’s license issued in Michigan – apparently fake.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

BULGARIA PRESSES AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY FOR ALL BALKAN COUNTRIES TO JOIN EU

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

AT UN, HUNGARY AND CZECH REPUBLIC OFFER ADVICE TO ARAB STATES ON DEMOCRATIC TRANSITIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 10th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


Analysis / Crises with Turkey and Egypt represent a political tsunami for Israel. The political crisis has become a reality well before the Palestinians declare their independent state, writes Haaretz editor-in-chief Aluf Benn, leaving Israel isolated in facing Iran, Turkey and Egypt.
By Aluf Benn
HAARETZ online, September 10, 2010
The anxiety caused by the Arab Spring among the Israeli public became a reality this weekend, when protesters broke into the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, and expelled the Israeli diplomats from their country.
The embassy staff’s urgent evacuation in a special IAF plane in the wake of President Obama’s intervention is a stark reminder of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. Seven months after the downfall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, Egyptian protesters tore to shreds the Israeli flag, a symbol of peace between Egypt and its eastern neighbor, after 31 years. It seems that the flag will not return to the flagstaff anytime soon.
The historians who will write about the collapse of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty will start their stories during the twilight years of the Mubarak regime, when the government gradually lost control over the Sinai Peninsula, turning the desert into an abandoned frontier of weapons smuggling, human trafficking, and African refugees.
The demilitarization agreements, which removed the Egyptian army from Sinai and were slowly eroded following Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip, have accelerated sharply in the last several months. Time after time, Egypt requested and received permission to “temporarily” deploy more troops and weaponry along the border, in order to restore order and security in the region.
For the Egyptians, this was an opportunity to shake off the limitations imposed on them by the peace agreement, and regain their full sovereignty over the buffer zone that lies between the Suez Canal and the Negev.
In the 70s, when the peace accords were signed, the Egyptian military’s presence in Sinai posed a great security threat. Now, Egyptian soldiers seem like the lesser evil and an antidote to the much larger threat of a political and security vacuum across the border.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is concerned that the Sinai Peninsula will turn into a larger version of the Gaza Strip, full of weapons and launching pads aimed at Israeli territory. The fence that Israel is building along the Egyptian border is intended to ensure routine security measures aimed at preventing terrorists and refugees from spilling over the border. Israel will not be able to handle the strategic dangers that are bound to unfold on the other side.
The “embassy crisis” exploded in the wake of the killing of five Egyptian soldiers on August 18 during a border skirmish that came on the heels of a terrorist attack against Israeli civilians on their way to Eilat.
The Tahrir protesters and Egyptian politicians, frustrated with the slow pace of regime change, have directed their anger toward the most hated target in Cairo – the Israeli Embassy. Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s public expression of regret, and the Israeli promises to cooperate with Egypt in investigating the incident did not interest the Egyptian public.
The protests continued, and a week after the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Ankara on similar grounds – anger stemming from the killing of Turkish citizens aboard last year’s Gaza flotilla – the Israeli ambassador was expelled from Cairo. The only difference is that in Turkey, the government initiated the downgrading of ties, while in Egypt the people did so against the will of their rulers.
Netanyahu and his government have prided themselves on their steadfast commitment to national ideals, and the prime minster is convinced that he was right in refusing to apologize to the Turks for killing their citizens. According to his perspective, the Arab world scrutinizes Israel’s actions, and an apology to Turkey would be interpreted as a sign of unforgivable weakness.
But Netanyahu was not content with merely refusing to apologize. Instead of attempting to calm the conflict with Turkey, Israel was dragged into a dangerous battle with Ankara.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to send a Turkish naval fleet to accompany the next flotillas to Gaza, and Netanyahu responded with a widely-covered visit to an Israeli naval base. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who consistently outflanks Netanyahu from the right, suggests, publicly, that Israel aid the PKK Kurdish insurgency, in order to balance out Turkey’s support for Hamas.
Netanyahu and Lieberman are heroes of the media, but when the chips are down, it turns out that Israel has direct influence on Egypt. Thus, Netanyahu must resort to asking for help from Obama, his great opponent, in order to evacuate the embassy employees. Once again, it becomes clear that Israel cannot manage without help from the United States.
Netanyahu now hopes that Israel might be able to get close with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, who also seek to block the possibility of an Arab Spring in the region. In the West, Netanyahu is hoping to circumvent Turkey by strengthening ties with Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. During his visit to the Balkans, he was shown photos and statues of national heros, sent to their deaths by the Ottoman Empire. A real basis for friendship.
These are but minor comforts. The political tsunami that Ehud Barak foresaw has come true prior to the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state in the UN. Israel is left isolated facing Iran, Turkey and Egypt, which in the past were considered close allies. Netanyahu is convinced that the Arab Spring uprisings are a decree of fate, leaving Israel with little to do but to stand firmly in its place.
Israel cannot prevent the rise of Erdogan or the fall of Mubarak, the same way that it cannot halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The fall of the American superpower is not Netanyahu’s fault. But he has not done a thing to mitigate the fallout from the aforementioned developments. Israel’s political and strategic positions are far worse under his leadership.
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THE NEW YORK TIMES ECHOES THE ABOVE ARTICLE BY ALUF BENN WITH:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/world/middleeast/11israel.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2 By  from Jerusalem

“Beyond Cairo, Israel Sensing a Wider Siege”

With its Cairo embassy ransacked, its ambassador to Turkey expelled and the Palestinians seeking statehood recognition at the United Nations, Israel found itself on Saturday increasingly isolated and grappling with a radically transformed Middle East where it believes its options are limited and poor. The diplomatic crisis, in which winds unleashed by the Arab Spring are now casting a chill over the region, was crystallized by the scene of Israeli military jets sweeping into Cairo at dawn on Saturday to evacuate diplomats after the Israeli Embassy had been besieged by thousands of protesters.

It was an image that reminded some Israelis of Iran in 1979, when Israel evacuated its embassy in Tehran after the revolution there replaced an ally with an implacable foe.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

VALERIO CALZOLAIO, a journalist, ecologist, and ex-member of Italian parliament, is the author of:

“ECO-REFUGEES: FORCED MIGRATION YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW.”

He writes, as reported by Roberto Savio of IPS, from Rome, October 8, 2010:

“For the entire month of August the front pages of the world’s major daily papers gave considerable coverage of developments in the Indus Valley: monsoon rains in the north of Pakistan in late July, the flooding of rivers and tributaries, submerged land, villages, and towns, then more flooding in the centre and south of the country, the contamination of wells and aqueducts and other sources of water, inadequate international funding, flight, desperation, and anger.

Almost two thousand dead were immediately confirmed, thousands and thousands of people lost, six million left homeless, 10 million evacuated, 20 million effected in some way. They could be defined climate- or eco-refugees.

It was a disaster on a planetary scale represented in shocking photographs of the distant suffering. But alongside this story ran a range of national matters of varying importance -in Italy, for example, the story about a drop in prices of homes in Montecarlo. Now the climate refugees of the Indus have vanished from the media. For two months we have heard nothing more about the disaster, though hundreds of thousands of people remain in camps and normal life has not returned for millions of Pakistanis.

In recent weeks, however, news has arrived about another wave of climate refugees elsewhere in the world, in Indonesia, the Amazon, and the Danube in Hungary. For almost twenty years the proliferation of climate refugees has been a source of diffuse emergencies, migrants driven to leave their homes by bad choices or the mistaken behaviour of humans. In the case of climate change, they are fleeing because of actions that we are taking here.

In 2008 and 2009 the number of international “political” refugees (those who are given “refugee” status) was about 15 million; the official number of international eco-refugees was higher. The number of eco-refugees even exceeds that of internal political refugees (who remain within their country’s border). With world conferences about to be held yet again on biodiversity (Nagoya) and the climate (Cancun), in November and December, it is time the UN is provided permanently with the means to help eco-refugees and prevent the creation of more of them.

In a book now being released in Italy, I have tried to reflect on these figures and means. Whether we like it or not, hundreds of thousands of eco-refugees are arriving in Europe each year, and their numbers will only rise. Moreover it is we that are responsible for their lack of homes. They cannot stay in camps forever, not will all manage to find a home in their own country, and the sooner we recognise this the better.

I recognise that since Adam and Eve there have always been environmental and climate refugees. It is not by chance that I dedicated the first part of the book to migratory species and the archaeology of the original waves of human migration. The migration of individuals and groups of our species have always had multiple causes and environmental and climatic effects and repercussions, especially when forced, when people were driven from their homes.

In the history and evolution of homo sapiens, the other major causes of migration are war and conflict. Refugees and eco-refugees are not an invention of modernity. Today those made refugees by “political” causes -violence or persecution by institutions or human communities- are granted “refugee” status and assistance by a United Nations commission. And yet climate refugees are victims of human action, too, so shouldn’t they be given this same status? We must find a way to provide the same assistance and take the same preventive measures in the case of migration caused by contemporary human-caused climate change. The second part of my book is dedicated to this subject.

I have tried to reconstruct the infancy and adolescence of the UN system, showing who’s in charge (and how) of human rights and the right to asylum, aid, and protection from climate change. I have sought to gather together the most advanced proposals from UN agencies, scientists, and researchers to address the migration caused by rising sea levels, by the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, and by the shrinking availability of water for drinking and sanitation.

Forecasts indicate that in the next two decades there will be tens of millions of new eco-refugees, especially in certain areas, headed primarily towards Europe, mostly across the Mediterranean. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports call attention to global developments that are certain to occur though they will vary in intensity according to location: rising sea level, water scarcity, and extreme weather events.

For example, according to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), the real risk of deaths resulting from flooding has risen by 13 percent from 1990-2007 while the percentage of the world population directly effected has increased by 28 percent in that period. Moreover, on the basis of past experience and forecast models, over 75 percent of these risks will be concentrated in a handful of countries: those effected by monsoons (Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan) and China.

The risks are not the consequence of exposure and intensity alone: an island or sparsely-populated country or a small poor country risks both the life and development of entire populations for generations. Forced emigration is the near certain outcome. By 2050 the risk of becoming climate refugees as a result of these developments, even in a best case scenario, will cast its shadow over no fewer than 200 million people.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Danube’s menacing industrial legacy.

DOUG SAUNDERS

From Saturday’s Globe and Mail, London and Toronto.
Published Friday, Oct. 15, 2010, Last updated Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010

When the earthen retaining wall burst on a Hungarian chemical refinery’s settling pond last week, a lake of caustic red sludge burst forth, drowning or burning to death at least nine people and polluting large tracts of land and river.

But the Ajkai alumina refinery disaster also exposed an alarming, half-buried legacy of poison and potential disaster that stretches along the banks of the Danube River as it courses through the former Communist nations of Eastern Europe – a decades-old legacy of crumbling chemical plants and mines that threatens far worse accidents.

More related to this story

Regional organizations, ecological groups and the European Union list hundreds of rickety Communist-era chemical plants, refineries and mine smelters strung along the banks and watersheds of the Danube.

Most are like the Ajkai refinery, which was built by the Soviet-bloc Hungarian government in the 1940s and privatized in the early 1990s while relying on the same aging infrastructure.

During the decades of the Warsaw Pact, the Soviets had designated the Danube basin – notably Hungary, but also Romania, Bulgaria and their neighbours – the empire’s centre of chemical and mineral processing. After the end of communism in 1989, the plants either passed into private hands, often with little investment or upkeep, or were abandoned.

“We have no idea how many ticking time bombs are out there – we thought we had a list of the most dangerous sites, but then something like this takes us by surprise,” says Andreas Beckmann, director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Vienna-based Danube program.

The WWF, Greenpeace and local environment groups had all maintained lists of the dangerous mines and chemical ponds in the area – a list that includes more than 1,000 operating and 700 abandoned sites in Hungary alone, and eight that are considered dangerous “hot spots.”

But the Ajkai refinery, site of the worst disaster in a decade (though environmental groups say they have detected only minor pollution of the Danube itself), did not even appear on those lists.

“In this case I wasn’t aware it had existed until last week, which is the unsettling thing – it makes you wonder what else is out there,” Mr. Beckmann said. Its aluminium-oxide sludge pits, which contain millions of litres of a sufficiently potent alkaline to give lethal burns, are not considered a serious pollutant under European regulations.

When the countries of the eastern Danube joined the European Union – Hungary in 2004, then Romania and Bulgaria in 2007 – they became subject to some of the world’s most rigorous environmental regulations. To qualify for membership, both the prospective members and Brussels invested billions in upgrading health and safety infrastructure.

But officials now fear that many of these countries, which tend to register high on corruption indices, may have hidden unsafe, crumbling industries in much the same way that Greece hid billions in debt liabilities. There is a fear, one European Commission official involved in the Hungarian case said, that “these guys could be paying the inspectors to overlook a chemical Chernobyl.”

Hungarian environmentalists feel that the Ajkai alumina plant could not have passed any sort of rigorous inspections – aerial photos released Thursday showed the containment walls leaking and crumbling months before the collapse. “They made a huge mistake in legalizing this factory in the first place,” Marton Vau, spokesman for Greenpeace Hungary, told reporters.

And while weak and under-inspected mines and refineries such as Ajkai are a worry, even more serious are the hundreds, possibly thousands, of abandoned Communist-era chemical plants and storage ponds, many of them falling under the jurisdiction of no private or public-sector authority, some of them forgotten.

To drive across Bulgaria, for example, is to pass through scores of abandoned Stalinist factory towns, their concrete work yards and high-rise apartments turned into graffiti-pocked ghost towns. Many contain fields and lakes of serious toxins, slowly leaching into the watershed as their containers decompose.

And the Danube nation of Serbia is a particular worry, as it contains hundreds of ex-Yugoslav Communist factories – many abandoned – is not yet a member of the EU, and lacks the financial resources to clean up its industrial ruins.

“I do worry that there could be an even more serious catastrophe out there that we haven’t noticed, waiting to happen,” said Mr. Beckmann of the WWF. “And instead of red sludge, it could end up being cyanide next time.”

More related to this story

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Romania and Bulgaria keep low profile on Roma expulsions – 26.08.2010 –

———————————————-
The Romanian population has received the news of the beginning of the
expulsion from France of hundreds – possibly thousands – of Romanian
Gypsies with almost total indifference, bordering sometimes on outright
hostility to the return of the marginalised social group. See more at WAZ.EUobserver.

euobserver.com/9/30680/?rk=1

==========
Barroso and Fillon to hold Roma ‘workshop’ – 27.08.2010 –

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Even as France in defiance of international criticism on Thursday continued
its policy of rounding up and deporting Roma, Prime Minister Francois
Fillon announced a further attempt to Europeanise the issue.

euobserver.com/9/30687/?rk=1

===========
Euro Zone Dialogue – Does the euro have a future?

September 23rd 2010, Berlin

Can the euro survive? The next few years may well be the toughest the euro
has ever faced. Chaired by John O’Sullivan, The Economist’s European
economics correspondent, Euro Zone Dialogue boasts an unrivalled agenda
featuring senior policymakers, leading executives and economists.

For further information visit www.economistconferences.com/eurozone

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


EU commission monitoring French Roma expulsions.

LEIGH PHILLIPS

August 19, 2010

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – The European Commission is keeping a close eye on the French government’s round-up and expulsion of Roma to ensure that EU rules are not breached, the EU executive said on Wednesday (18 August) on the eve of the deportations.

“We are watching the situation very closely to make sure rules are respected,” said Matthew Newman, spokesman for EU fundamental rights commissioner Viviane Reding.

“If a state is deporting anyone, we must be sure it is proportionate. It must be on a case-by-case basis and not an entire population,” he continued.

Referencing a 2004 EU law on the free movement of citizens, he said: “The rules are pretty clear. They apply to France and they apply to any other EU country.”

However, Mr Newman said the commission did not feel that Paris is engaged in a “mass expulsion”.

Two commissioners are understood to be monitoring the situation, Ms Reding and Laszlo Andor, the employment and social affairs commissioner.

In a move that has given President Nicolas Sarkozy a bump in opinion polls, the government has ordered the destruction of some 300 Roma settlements which were constructed without permission, and the expulsion from the country of a number of gypsies and their repatriation to Romania.

Paris for its part maintains that it is indeed in compliance with European rules. Foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told AFP news agency European law “expressly allows for restrictions on the right to move freely for reasons of public order, public security and public health”.

So far, some 51 camps have been broken up in the run-up to the deportations. Meanwhile, a flight taking 79 Roma to Bucharest as part of what the government describes as a voluntary repatriation is to take off on Thursday.

A second flight is scheduled next week and a third in September. A total of 700 out of the country’s estimated 15,000 Roma are expected to be kicked out.

Paris says that the individuals have agreed to return to Romania in exchange for €300 a piece. Children get a cut-rate €100 for agreeing to leave France.

Mr Newman stressed that European law allows for the free movement of EU citizens anywhere in the bloc’s 27 member states. Despite the expulsions, there is nothing to prevent the individuals from heading back to France the very next day.

The commission had previously come in for sharp criticism from human rights campaigners for taking a hands-off approach to the issue, saying the the commission had no competence in what was exclusively a matter for member states.

Romanian foreign minister Teodor Baconschi also issued his concerns about France’s expulsions.

“I am worried about the risks of populism and xenophobic reactions against the backdrop of economic crisis”, he told the Romanian service of Radio France International.

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SAN FRANCISCO SENTINEL
THURSDAY MORNING HEADLINES

August 19 2010

Roma Expulsion [r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1103626237182&s=1352&e=001uZX4Wjm8Kp5N3KJKdWubgu7dBCR1QNG1T61r31zLe_XhWR9Au3dqgR71uTRxhA1IKDcsoTgFH0AXvrKvNhz5mWQizNa7rCPcPnRJ99HdhlwqGKE-A958FtSkVKMp1EM5oxexACFid6RR2OOU5xNCIg==]

FRANCE BEGINS ROMA EXPULSION – SARKOZY FINDS A SCAPEGOAT [r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1103626237182&s=1352&e=001uZX4Wjm8Kp5N3KJKdWubgu7dBCR1QNG1T61r31zLe_XhWR9Au3dqgR71uTRxhA1IKDcsoTgFH0AXvrKvNhz5mWQizNa7rCPcPnRJ99HdhlwqGKE-A958FtSkVKMp1EM5oxexACFid6RR2OOU5xNCIg==]

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 25th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

nbsp;search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/eo20…

Monday, July 26, 2010

Black Sea challenge by U.S. set to keep Russia on edge.

A storm is gathering in and around the Black Sea as Russia faces a mounting challenge from the United States, which is beefing up its military presence in former Soviet satellite countries like Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.

One look at a map of the region shows the critical geopolitical importance of the Black Sea, as its southern coast connects to the Middle East via Turkey and its northern coast adjoins Ukraine, which is home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and which houses 80 percent of the pipelines supplying natural gas from Russia to Western Europe.

In Romania, the U.S. has spent $50 million since last year to expand bases to accommodate 1,700 troops. The principal facility is the Mikhail Kogalniceanu Air Base located in Constanta, facing the Black Sea. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is said to maintain a secret detention facility at the base.

There is nothing new about the U.S. maintaining military bases in Romania, which dates back to the beginning of the Iraq war. What is important is Washington’s announcement of its intention to use them indefinitely. In May, a marine corps unit centered around a tank battalion was dispatched to the Mikhail Kogalniceanu base for the first time.

In Bulgaria, meanwhile, the U.S. plans to expand bases there to accommodate 2,500 troops. The core facility is the Bezmer Air Base, about 50 km from the Black Sea southern coast. When the project is completed, the U.S. will have a strategic air base in Bulgaria comparable in scale to the air bases at Inzirlik in Turkey and Appiano in Italy. Joint American-Bulgarian air force drills were conducted in May.

The American move to strengthen its defense capability in countries formerly under Soviet influence is not limited to Romania and Bulgaria. It is also conspicuous in Hungary, although that country does not face the Black Sea. For several years the Papa Air Base in Hungary has functioned as a base for the U.S. Air Force’s state-of-the-art Boeing C-17 transport aircraft, making it one of the crucial strategic air transport centers outside of the U.S.

It is important to note that all these moves represent only the initial step that Washington has taken to expand its military presence in the Black Sea region. Upon completion of these base expansion projects in 2012, two-thirds of the highly mobile Rapid Reaction Corps of the U.S. Army in Europe will be concentrated in Romania and Bulgaria.

This means that the U.S. front line of defense is shifting from the eastern border of Germany to the Black Sea, which is adjacent to the Middle East, the Caucasus and Russia.

Another source of Russian uneasiness is a move to revive a plan to establish a U.S. missile defense system in Europe. Even though President Barack Obama is said to have abandoned a project involving Poland and Czech Republic, it is said that a similar system will be completed in Romania and Bulgaria between 2018 and 2020.

Romania is ready to accept deployment of 20 SM-3 anti-ballistic missile units, currently installed on American naval vessels with the Aegis Combat System. These missiles could later be replaced with the more advanced terminal high altitude area defense (THAAD) missiles. They will also be deployed in Bulgaria.

Meanwhile, it has become more likely that the X-band radar system, which the U.S. originally planned to install in the Czech Republic, will be set up in Israel.

U.S. destroyers carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles have made a number of calls on Georgian, Romanian and Bulgarian ports since the armed conflict between Russia and Georgia in 2008.

A leading official of the Russian Navy stated recently that an increased U.S. presence in the region would bring about a “dramatic change in the military balance in the Black Sea” and present a “serious threat to Russia.” He went on to say that Russia would counter these American moves by further strengthening the Black Sea Fleet.

Washington responded by bluntly claiming that the deployment of the missile defense system is designed to prevent Iran from attacking Europe with its missiles. But anyone with even the most rudimentary military knowledge would admit that Tehran has neither the technology to develop long-range missiles nor the need to attack Europe. Russia’s sense of crisis is not groundless.

The only consolation for Moscow of late came in Ukraine’s presidential election in February, when pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko lost to pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych. Subsequently, the Ukrainian legislature passed a new law, permitting the Russian Black Sea Fleet to continue using the facilities in Sevastopol for another 25 years. Even so, Moscow does not have any effective means of countering Romania and Bulgaria, which seek to strengthen their military collaboration with the U.S.

The whole world puzzles over Washington’s motivation for seeking a greater military presence in the Black Sea region, since it hardly can be interpreted as mere expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Nor is it impossible to understand the true motive of the U.S. by reading the Quadrennial Defense Review, announced in February. It appears all but certain that the waves of the Black Sea will only get higher.

This is an abridged translation of an article from the July issue of Sentaku, a monthly magazine of political, social and economic affairs.

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

UN deplores Gaddafi call for anti-Swiss ‘jihad’


Col Muammar Gaddafi speaking in Benghazi, 25 Feb 10

Mr Gaddafi spoke from behind bullet-proof glass in Benghazi

A top UN official has condemned as “inadmissible” Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s call for a jihad, or holy war, against Switzerland.

“Such declarations on the part of the head of state are inadmissible in international relations,” said Sergei Ordzhonikidze, the UN chief in Geneva.

Col Gaddafi criticised a Swiss vote against the building of minarets and urged Muslims to boycott the country.

Libya and Switzerland are embroiled in a long-running diplomatic row.

The dispute dates back to 2008, when one of Mr Gaddafi’s sons was arrested in Geneva, accused of assaulting two servants.

A Swiss foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment on the jihad call.

Hannibal Gaddafi (2005)

Hannibal Gaddafi’s arrest in 2008 sparked the diplomatic spat

The Libyan leader made his comments while speaking at a meeting in Benghazi to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

“Let us wage jihad against Switzerland, Zionism and foreign aggression,” he said.

“Any Muslim in any part of the world who works with Switzerland is an apostate, is against Muhammad, God and the Koran.”

Mr Ordzhonikidze, director-general of the UN mission in Geneva, said the UN’s security in Switzerland was very professional and well-prepared for any incident. He was responding to questions from journalists about Mr Gaddafi’s “jihad” call.

In a referendum last November, 57.5% of Swiss voters approved a constitutional ban on the building of minarets. An appeal against the ban has been submitted to the European Court of Human Rights.

Tit-for-tat quarrel

Earlier this month, Libya stopped issuing visas to citizens from many European nations – those in the Schengen border-free travel zone. That drew condemnation from the European Commission.

Libya’s move came after Switzerland allegedly blacklisted 188 high-ranking Libyans, denying them entry permits. The Swiss ban is said to include Mr Gaddafi and his family.

The row began after the arrest of Mr Gaddafi’s son Hannibal and his wife, Aline Skaf, in Geneva in July 2008.

They were accused of assaulting two servants while staying at a luxury hotel in the Swiss city, though the charges were later dropped.

Libya retaliated by cancelling oil supplies, withdrawing billions of dollars from Swiss banks, refusing visas to Swiss citizens and recalling some of its diplomats.

In the same month that the Gaddafis were arrested, Libyan authorities detained two Swiss businessmen, in what analysts believe was a retaliatory move.

One was finally allowed to leave the country earlier this week but the second was transferred to jail, where he faces a four-month term on immigration offences.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 19th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Will some other countries follow the Libyan leader’s example?  We think this could actually enhance  UNESCO’s credibility.

——————————————————————————————————————–

MONDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2009  


First Woman Head Seeks New Direction for UNESCO
Alecia D. McKenzie

PARIS, Oct 18 (IPS) – The rapturous applause that greeted Irina Bokova last week as she was confirmed UNESCO’s new director-general was a sign that the organisation is keen to move on from recent controversies.

Bokova, a 57-year-old Bulgarian, will be the first woman and the first Eastern European to head UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) since it was formed in 1945. She has pledged to advance dialogue between nations and cultures, rejecting the idea that the world is on course for a “clash of civilizations”.

“Your vote of confidence brings me great strength,” she told UNESCO members. “I shall be guided in my work by my concept of a new humanism for the 21st century.”

The race for the top job had been marred by controversy around the leading contender, Egyptian culture minister Farouk Hosni. He had remarked last year that he would “burn Israeli books” if he found any in his country’s Library of Alexandria.

His candidature was slammed by a group of Jewish intellectuals and other critics, who mounted well-publicised opposition in the months leading up to the first round of voting. Although Hosni apologised for his remarks, critics said he was unfit to head an organisation devoted to the promotion and protection of cultural diversity. 

In the end, Bokova was named director-general in September after five rounds of voting. Her nomination was confirmed Thursday by UNESCO’s member states at their 35th general conference. Of the 173 secret ballots cast, 166 were for her. 

Bokova told journalists that she remained friends with the Egyptian minister, and that she respected Arab countries. She said she comes from a country with centuries of peaceful co-existence between different ethnicities, religions and cultures. 

While Egypt seems to have accepted her election, its neighbour Libya announced five days before Bokova’s confirmation that it would freeze cooperation programmes with UNESCO if she were chosen the new director- general, and that it would withdraw from the executive board and all committees. 

“Libya, as a member of the body, has the right to let its voice be heard, but I think it is unfortunate that the decision they’ve made has come at this time,” Davidson Hepburn, president of the general conference, told IPS. 

“You cannot prevent a member state from carrying out its government’s mandate,” he added. “I think Libya has been a great contributor to the work of UNESCO, and their decision is a pity, but I personally don’t think any group should be held hostage by one member state.” 

Analysts say the Libyan position is a result of the case involving five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who were declared guilty in Libya of intentionally infecting more than 400 children with the HIV virus at a hospital in the city of Benghazi in the late 1990s. 

Bulgaria and the European Union argued that the nurses were innocent and were being used as scapegoats by the government of Col. Muammar Gaddafi. The issue was resolved in 2007 when the medical workers were freed with the help of France, after eight years in jail. 

Bokova, who served earlier as Bulgaria’s ambassador to France, has not commented on the Libyan stance. She told journalists that “synergy” between herself and the 193 UNESCO member states would help to create “more inclusive, just, and equitable societies through sustainable economic and social development, based on science, innovation and new technologies.” 

She said she was personally dedicated to gender equality, and that UNESCO could deliver more on the education of women and girls. The group’s member states include several countries where there is systemic discrimination against women. 

“That will be a challenge for her to deal with as a woman head of the organisation,” said Raj Isar, professor of global communications at the American University of Paris, and former director of cultural policies and of the International Fund for the Promotion of Culture at UNESCO. 

Isar told IPS in a telephone interview that there were also other pressures facing the organisation. 

“What UNESCO needs is the same thing that’s necessary right across the UN system – news ways to function in today’s globalised, digitised world,” he said. “All these organisations were created in 1945, and the world has changed a lot. 

“The whole ethos is based on the games that international diplomats and people play as representatives of governments. But that’s not necessarily the best thing in today’s world.” 

Bokova will head a Paris-based secretariat of about 2,100 civil servants from more than 170 countries. She will have to deal with reforms instituted by her predecessor, Koïchiro Matsuura of Japan, who led UNESCO for 10 years. 

Considered uncharismatic but pragmatic, Matsuura cut staff and the number of field offices, and was successful in getting the United States to return to the organisation in 2003 after it withdrew in 1984 in protest at some member states’ criticism of the West. 

Bokova said she would continue Matsuura’s reforms with “conviction and vigour”, while working for “less bureaucracy, more accountability and more transparency.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 20th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Turkey Gets Boost from Pipeline Politics.

by Helena Cobban

WASHINGTON, Jul 19 (IPS) – The political geography of the modern Middle East has been affected for one hundred years by the appetite of westerners and other outsiders for the region’s hydrocarbons. Last week, the region’s “pipeline politics” took another step forward with the signing in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, of an agreement to build a new, 3,300-kilometre gas pipeline called Nabucco, running between eastern Turkey and Vienna, Austria.

The project underlines the new influential role that Turkey, a majority Muslim nation of 72 million people, is playing in the Middle East, and far beyond. The new project’s name was chosen, Austrian officials said, after the Verdi opera that representatives of the five participating countries – who include Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary, along with the two terminus states – saw together during an earlier round of negotiations in Vienna.

But the name also gives clues to two intriguing aspects of the project’s geopolitical significance. The theme of the opera is the liberation from bondage of slaves held by the ancient Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (‘Nabucco’) – and it is a widely discussed feature of the Nabucco project that many European nations want access to a gas source that is not under the control of Russia. Last winter, several European nations suffered severe gas shortages after Russia, locked in a tariff dispute with transit-country Ukraine, closed off the spigots completely.

But the other implication of the name is more strictly Middle Eastern. The modern-day home of Nebuchadnezzar is Iraq. Washington has given strong support to the Nabucco project – and one of the reasons U.S. officials give for this support is their hope that once Nabucco is up and running in 2015, Iraq can be one of the nations that reaps large profits by feeding gas into it. However, construction of the pipeline is estimated to cost some eight billion dollars, and many officials in the participating countries are still unclear where they will get enough gas to make it economically viable.

The Nabucco participants had been hoping that a key feeder state would be one of Turkey’s eastern neighbours, Azerbaijan. But on the eve of the project’s inauguration in Ankara, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev took the CEO of the vast Russian gas company Gazprom to Azerbaijan, where they signed a contract with the state gas company that will force Nabucco to compete hard against Gazprom for any purchase it wants to make from Azerbaijan. One fairly evident other source for Nabucco’s would be Iran, which is reported to have considerable amounts of new gas coming online in the next five years.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 14th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

New Fascism Hunts Roma.
David Cronin

BRUSSELS, Nov 13 (IPS) – A political ideology based on the desire to exterminate Roma gypsies is emerging in parts of Europe, a Brussels conference has been told. Following a number of violent attacks on Roma by skinheads and other extremists in Bulgaria, it was announced during August 2007 that the far-right National Guard party was being established. The ‘anti-gypsyism’ advocated by its leader Vladimir Rasate could be compared to the anti-Semitism that helped bring the Nazis to power in 1930s Germany, according to Michael Stewart, professor of anthropology at University College London. “With the National Guard party, the disposing of the Roma is seen as a basis for national renewal,” said Stewart, who has worked extensively with Roma communities in former communist countries. “This is a new phenomenon in Europe that has not existed before. It is a real danger.” Stewart’s comments, delivered to a hearing in the European Parliament Nov. 13, echo the findings of a recent report on hate crime against Roma by Human Rights First. The New York-based organisation stated that for Roma in some countries “the newly virulent anti-gypsyism is an eerie reminder of the Porrajmos, the Romany Holocaust during the Second World War that killed more than half of Europe’s Roma population. “When senior European political leaders publicly discuss ‘solutions’ to the ‘Roma problem’, advocating the use of dynamite, electrified fences, mug shots, fingerprinting of men, women and children, and deportations, historical parallels inadvertently come to mind.” The hostility against Roma has been particularly acute in Italy, where parties in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s ruling coalition have openly tried to portray all Roma as criminals. In May, the Italian government introduced a ‘security package’ which provided for the dismantling of Roma camps and the automatic deportation of migrants who cannot prove they have regular employment.

Discrimination against Roma in Italy is “unrivalled by any other country in Europe,” said Monica Rossi, researcher at the University of Rome, explaining that Roma are denied the official status of a minority and are unable to claim Italian citizenship. Programmes ostensibly aimed at allowing Roma children go to school have failed, she said. “After 40 years of having schooling projects, we have got 20 underage Roma who are in secondary schools. That is out of a population of 15,000 people.”

Graziano Halilovic from Xoraxane Rrom, Italy’s Roma federation, described the conditions in the camps where his people live as “pretty extreme”.

“It’s a shame for the Italian nation to allow Roma to live in such conditions,” he added. “What’s even worse is that Italy is a part of the European Union. Italy’s shame can readily become the shame of the European Union.”

During September, the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, hosted a Roma summit, which heard calls for the development of an EU strategy on Roma inclusion. Estimated to comprise between 12 and 15 million people, the Roma are frequently described as the largest ethnic minority in Europe, up to nine million of which live within the EU’s 27 countries.

Valeriu Nicolae, secretary-general of the European Roma Grassroots Organisation, said Roma are not properly consulted when policies affecting them are being formulated. “The main body dealing with Roma issues in the European Union — which is the European Commission — does not employ any Roma or any Roma policy expert,” he said.

Jan Jarab, a Commission official dealing with social policy, said the EU’s executive is willing to increase its efforts to ease the plight of the Roma. But it is reluctant, he added, to simply “repackage” previously introduced laws against discrimination and “put on the label ‘strategy’.”

At the moment, policies in EU countries on Roma are often based on either a ‘laissez-faire’ approach or repression, he said. He cited Spain as a country where success has been registered in providing Roma with decent jobs and housing.

Marian Nedelica, a teacher in the Romanian city Craiova, said that although his country has enacted a law guaranteeing access to education, some 27 percent of Roma children do not attend school. Penalties should be introduced against school authorities that allow discrimination to occur, he argued.

Livia Jaroka, a Hungarian member of the European Parliament of Roma origin, said that her people suffer from an “extreme sub-Saharan Africa type of poverty.” Instruments to punish EU governments that fail to enforce the Union’s anti-discrimination laws are needed, she added.

Gabriela Hrabanova, an official with the Czech ministry of labour and social affairs, said that there is a “lack of coordination” between the EU’s member states on issues concerning the Roma. “In many member states, there is nothing going on at the local level, although on paper it looks like everything is great.”

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