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Posted on on April 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (

EUobserver NEWS – ENERGY

EU-Israeli gas pipeline to compete with Russia.


BRUSSELS, April 4, 2017 – 09:14

The EU and three member states have backed a plan for Israel to reduce Europe’s gas dependence on Russia – The European Commission and ministers from Cyprus, Greece, and Italy signed up to build a new gas pipeline from Israel to Europe at a meeting in Tel Aviv on Monday (3 April).

Israeli gas considered safer than Russia’s, which has been used for political blackmail

The 2,200-km East-Med pipeline would connect Israeli and Cypriot offshore gas fields to Greece and Italy.

It is designed to come online in 2025 with a capacity of up to 16 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year.

It would be the longest and deepest ever built, but an EU co-financed feasibility study by Italian firm IGI Poseidon said the project should go ahead.

Speaking in Tel Aviv on Monday, EU energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete took a swipe at a competing Russian project, Nord Stream 2.

“North Stream is a pipeline [that] adds nothing to the [EU’s] security of supply,” he said.

He said the commission’s strategy was “to diversify sources, routes, and suppliers” and hinted that Israel was a safer partner than Russia, which has used gas to blackmail neighbouring countries.

“Cyprus and Israel are very reliable suppliers,” he said.

With Nord Stream 2 disliked by Baltic, central European, and Nordic states, Canete added that the Israeli project “is a pipe that unites and will have the full support of all the members of the European Union”.

Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s energy minister, said US investment banks, such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, got excited about the €6 billion project when they learned that the commission was on board.

“When they heard that the European energy commissioner was behind it [and] ready to give some assistance, that was very helpful,” he said.

He said the amount of gas discovered for export so far, up to 500 bcm, was “just the tip of the iceberg”.

Carlo Calenda, Italy’s economic development minister, said Rome would seek the backing of the G7 club of wealthy nations, which includes Canada, Japan, and the US, for the pipeline at a summit in Sicily in May.

The Cypriot energy minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said the project would “showcase” the region’s potential as an alternative EU supplier.

The much bigger Nord Stream 2 pipeline is designed to pump 55 bcm of gas a year to Germany from 2020, concentrating EU supplies in Russia and Germany’s hands.

It faces open questions on whether EU laws would apply to its offshore section, as well as complaints from the Polish energy regulator, but Russia has already started buying pipe segments.

Political risk

The East-Med pipeline is to run through Cypriot waters to avoid disputed maritime zones with Turkey and Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus.

But EU-Israeli cooperation carries other political risks.

According to Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, the EU’s envoy to Israel delivered a stinging rebuke on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians last week.

He said Israeli evictions in the West Bank constituted “forced transfers” in violation of Israel’s “obligations” under the Geneva Convention as an “occupying power”.

The ambassador, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, read out the EU note, which had been approved by all 28 member states in the bloc’s Political and Security Committee, at a meeting with Israel’s top foreign ministry official.

The EU foreign service had planned to hold a summit with Israel in February to upgrade relations, but plans were put on hold after a surge in Israeli settlement expansion.

That means the major political risk as seen by the EU is thus the treatment by Israel of the Palestinians – but here at SustainabiliTank we are now confident that Trump is working on this so possible realignments are on the political horizon as well.



Posted on on March 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (

Exxon eyes Israel after Cyprus win…

9 Mar, 2017 14:09
Nati Yefet

After winning a Cypriot government tender, Exxon Mobile has expressed interest in bidding for Israeli natural gas tenders.

Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz met last week with senior executives from Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell during his visit to the US. The minister’s associates say that while Royal Dutch Shell will probably not take part in the new tender for oil and gas exploration licenses in Israeli waters, the Exxon Mobil executives came equipped with a great deal of relevant information, and expressed interest in the tender.

The reason is allegedly the announcement two days ago that Exxon had won a tender for oil and gas exploration in Block 10 in Cyprus as part of a consortium with Qatar Petroleum. A group composed of Italian company ENI and Total, and ENI by itself, won the concession for two other blocks in the tender.

In a fourth block already held by Total, the company asked the Cypriot government for permission to add ENI as a 50% partner in the license, because the block is located only six kilometers away from the Egyptian Zohr gas reservoir discovered by ENI. Total expects ENI’s extensive knowledge of the geology in the area to be of use in finding gas in Cyprus.

Steinitz’s associates say that since Exxon is starting to prepare for activity in a nearby area, the company believes that it is likely to prove worthwhile to develop parallel activity in Israel, and to use the same transportation infrastructure to export gas discovered in both countries to Europe.

Steinetz went to Europe early this week, and flew from there to New York and Houston for a week of meetings with energy concerns. In Rome, he met with his Italian counterpart, and held meetings in New York with the Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan investments banks, as well as with a group of private investors organized by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). In Houston, he took part in the CERAweek energy conference, and held meetings with energy companies.

Steinitz told “Globes,” I was surprised to see energy ministers and representatives of energy companies from all over the world congratulate us on the beginning of development in Leviathan, after years of delay. Almost everyone had assumed that Leviathan was a lost cause… especially given the global crisis in investments in oil and gas fields and the fact that some of the deep water projects of the Leviathan type have been canceled or postponed in various places around the world.

“In meetings with some of the world’s largest investment banks, they noted the change in Israel’s image in the energy market, from a place to be avoided into a responsible country attractive for energy investments in general, and private gas in particular. The plans we displayed for building an undersea pipeline to Turkey, and from Israel and Cyprus to Greece and Italy, aroused a surprising degree of interest.”

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News – – on March 9, 2017
and appears in many Israeli publications, i.e. The Jerusalem Post, March 10, 2017

SustainabiliTank, sorry for the Trump Administration’s definitive efforts to undo the Obama Administration’s great successes in decreasing the place of oil in the global energy markets,
sees now a decreasing importance of the EPA, Energy Policy, Environment Policy and Global Climate Change avoidance. But also a planed subservience of The State Department to the US oil Interests – the revival of the American Petroleum Institute (API) in the Governing of the USA.
Geting the present Israel Government interested in the cooperation in developing sea resources could perhaps take off some of the pressure in the political arena, though clearly inctreasing
pressure against the potential of an Iranian sea base on Syrian soil. All of this within Israel and US State Department attention.



Posted on on March 19th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (

Shifting Eastern Mediterranean Alliances

by Emmanuel Karagiannis
Middle East Quarterly – Spring 2016 (view PDF)…

Shifting Eastern Mediterranean Alliances

The exploitation of energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean has drawn together hitherto estranged states.

In August 2013, Cyprus, Greece, and Israel signed onto the “EuroAsia Interconnector” project, which would install a 2000-megawatt underwater electric cable (illustrated above) to connect their power grids and to be a means by which “three nations … [can] enhance their growth and prosperity” and build a “bridge of friendship between our nations.”

The Eastern Mediterranean is changing fast with its estimated 122 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas reserves (the equivalent of 21 billion barrels of oil) already having an impact on regional patterns of amity and enmity.[1] With Israel and Cyprus well underway to becoming gas exporters, the problematic Israeli-Lebanese and Cypriot-Turkish relationships have been further strained. At the same time, energy cooperation has been the driving force behind the nascent Greek-Cypriot-Israeli partnership, manifested in rapidly growing defense and economic cooperation. Clearly, the development of energy resources and their transportation will have far-reaching geopolitical implications for the Eastern Mediterranean and its nations.

The Strategic Significance of the Gas Reserves

Natural gas is the fastest growing source of energy in the world, currently accounting for 22 percent of total global energy consumption.[2] It is both affordable and more environmentally friendly than other commercially feasible options, resulting in an increasing demand even in an era of dropping oil prices. That demand seems likely to be met in large part by the newly discovered gas reserves of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Israel has the potential to become an important regional producer of liquefied natural gas. Its Tamar field, with estimated reserves of 9.7 trillion cubic feet (tcf), came online in 2013 while its Leviathan gas field (above), with a potential of 16 tcf, is slated to be ready for production in 2017.

Israel, for one, has the potential to become an important regional producer.[3] Its Tamar field was confirmed to have estimated reserves of 9.7 tcf while its Leviathan gas field has the potential of producing up to 16 tcf.

Meanwhile, in November 2011, U.S.-based Noble Energy announced a major gas discovery south of Cyprus: The Aphrodite field was estimated to contain 7 tcf. In February 2013, a seismic survey south of Crete indicated that rich hydrocarbon resources may soon be found in Greek waters. Most recently, the Italian company Eni announced the discovery of a huge gas field off the coast of Egypt.

For reasons of geographical proximity, these Mediterranean energy resources concern first and foremost the European Union—the world’s third largest energy consumer behind China and the United States.[9] While oil is still the dominant fuel, accounting for 33.8 percent of total EU energy consumption, natural gas comes in second at 23.4 percent.[10] The Eastern Mediterranean gas reserves have three distinct advantages for European governments (and companies) and are thus viewed by them as a strategic priority. First, due to their smaller sizes and populations, the needs of Israel and Cyprus are relatively low and most of their gas could be exported. Second, Eastern Mediterranean gas could partly cover Europe’s energy needs and thereby decrease its dependence on an increasingly volatile Russia. Finally, since both Israel and Cyprus lack the capital and the offshore drilling technology to develop gas reserves on their own, foreign energy companies have identified them as investment opportunities that could generate significant financial returns.

As the Middle East implodes, security of energy supply has become an important policy objective for the EU. Indeed, there is a consensus among European governments that new initiatives are needed to address energy challenges. The EU is already directly involved to some extent in Eastern Mediterranean energy affairs because Greece and Cyprus are member states while Turkey is a candidate for membership and has a customs union with the EU. Although the governments of the EU and Israel are often at odds politically, economic relations between Jerusalem and Brussels are close and multifaceted.

The development of Israeli and Cypriot gas fields could help strengthen Europe’s energy security. Currently, European countries import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from politically unstable countries such as Nigeria and Algeria. But the Eastern Mediterranean could serve as a third gas “corridor” for Europe, alongside Russian gas and the southeast European pipelines for Azeri gas. The Italian Eni company, the British Premier Oil, and the Dutch Oranje-Nassau Energie have clearly shown interest by bidding in the second round of licensing for natural gas exploration in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ),[11] a sea zone prescribed by the United
Nations over which a state has special rights.

The U.S. administration views Eastern Mediterranean gas as an alternative source for its European allies who depend heavily on Russian supplies.

Given the prominence of the Middle East for U.S. energy policy, it is hardly surprising that the gas finds in Israel and Cyprus have drawn Washington’s attention as well. Although the U.S. is likely to become the largest gas producer in the world as a result of increased use of shale gas, the administration views Eastern Mediterranean gas as an alternative source for its European allies who depend heavily on Russian supplies.[12] Within the private sector, the American company, Noble Energy, has played a leading role in the exploration process; it has a 40 percent stake in the Leviathan fields, a 36 percent stake in Tamar, and a 70 percent stake in Aphrodite.

Not surprisingly, these discoveries have attracted Moscow’s interest as well due to a potential, adverse impact on its gas exports to European markets. Russian energy companies, which often act as the Kremlin’s long-arm, are particularly active in the region. In February 2013, for example, Gazprom signed a 20-year deal with the Israeli Levant LNG Marketing Corporation to purchase liquefied natural gas exclusively from the Tamar field.[13] Then in December 2013, the Russian company SoyuzNefteGas signed an agreement with the Assad regime to explore part of Syria’s exclusive economic zone. One month later Putin signed an investment agreement with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to develop gas fields off the Gaza Strip.[14]

Warming Israeli-Greek Relations

Despite past support for the Palestinians, newly-elected Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras (left) of the left-wing SYRIZA party, here with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, has sought to strengthen ties with the Jewish state. Greece’s location makes it a natural bridge between the energy-rich Eastern Mediterranean and energy-consuming Europe while Israel is now poised to become a major natural gas producer. Thus, Greece and Israel share significant energy interests.

Energy considerations have a long history of influencing the course of relations between states, and the new gas discoveries are no exception to this rule, affecting Israel’s relations with both Greece and Cyprus.

Greek-Israeli relations have been frosty for decades. The postwar Greek governments typically followed a pro-Arab foreign policy in order to protect the large Greek community in Egypt, secure Arab support on the Cyprus dispute in the United Nations, and maintain access to cheap Arab oil.[15] While there was de facto recognition of the Jewish State in 1949, legal recognition needed to wait until 1990 under the right-wing Mitsotakis government. But the formation of a Turkish-Israeli strategic partnership in the mid-1990s provoked a strong backlash with Athens reverting to its pro-Arab policy.[16]

This policy, too, has changed with the rise of Recep Tayyip Erdoan and his Islamist Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalk?nma Partisi, AKP) in Turkey since the early 2000s. With Athens alarmed by Ankara’s growing regional assertiveness, and Jerusalem disturbed by the new regime’s fiercely anti-Israel approach, Greek-Israeli relations improved rapidly with the two countries signing a string of agreements in the fields of security, energy, trade, and tourism, and exchanging official visits at the ministerial, presidential, and prime-ministerial levels.[17] In March 2012, the air-naval exercise Noble Dina, involving U.S., Israeli, and Greek forces, was conducted in the Aegean Sea while, a month later, a joint Greek-Israeli air exercise was held in central Greece. Most recently, Minister of Defense Panos Kammenos stated that “[Greek] defense planning should take into account friends and allies who seek defense cooperation in the region. And I clearly mean eastward toward Israel.”[18]

Athens’s new Israel policy has been largely unaffected by the frequent change of governments in recent years. The last three prime ministers before the current one—George Papandreou (2009-11), Loukas Papadimos (2011-12), and Antonis Samaras (2012-15)—all met with Israeli officials and concluded agreements, all the more striking given the political and ideological differences among them: Papandreou is a moderate, left-of-center politician; Papadimos is known as a liberal technocrat, and Samaras, a right-wing politician.

In the wake of the economic crisis that has roiled domestic Greek politics and the austerity measures that the EU has sought to impose on Athens, Greeks took to the polls in January 2015 and brought to power the left-wing SYRIZA (Greek acronym of the Coalition of the Radical Left) party, in coalition with the small, right-wing party, the Independent Greeks. This caused considerable alarm in Jerusalem as many senior SYRIZA officials have strong pro-Palestinian sympathies: European Member of Parliament Sofia Sakorafa, for one, is a self-proclaimed friend of Hamas while Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has participated in pro-Palestinian rallies. In late December 2015, the Greek parliament passed a non-binding resolution recommending recognition of “Palestine” as a state.

And yet, the SYRIZA-led government has not distanced itself from Jerusalem. Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias identified Turkey as a source of threats[19] while Minister of Defense Kammenos, leader of the Independent Greeks, harbors strong pro-U.S. and pro-Israeli views.[20] In late November 2015, Tsipras visited Israel and, yet again, on January 27, 2016, together with six members of his cabinet when they held a joint meeting with the Israeli government.[21] So it seems likely that the Greek-Israeli partnership will continue.

Athens is seeking bids for an Eastern Mediterranean pipeline to carry Israeli and Cypriot gas to Europe.

Beyond common concerns about Turkey’s intentions, Athens and Jerusalem share significant energy interests. Both countries want to implement the 1982 U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to facilitate the exploration and exploitation of the seabed;[22] and both maintain that the Eastern Mediterranean could be unilaterally developed through its division into exclusive economic zones of 200 nautical miles. In contrast, Ankara has not signed on to UNCLOS and favors a settlement in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean that would take perceived Turkish interests into greater account.

Moreover, Greece’s location makes it a natural bridge between the energy-rich Eastern Mediterranean, including Israeli fields, and energy-consuming Europe, and Greeks see the country as a hub for bringing Eastern Mediterranean gas to European markets. In March 2014, Athens announced an international tender for a feasibility study of the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline to carry Israeli and Cypriot gas to Europe via Crete and the mainland.[23] While the proposed pipeline would be rather expensive and pass through disputed waters, Russian intervention in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine has given new momentum to the project as the EU looks for alternative sources of natural gas.[24] The European Commission has included the proposed pipeline in its list of “Projects of Common Interests” that could receive financial support.[25]

If Jerusalem and Nicosia decide to opt for liquefaction of their gas resources, then Greek-owned shipping could also play an important role in transporting liquid gas to the international market. During his visit to Israel in November 2015, Tsipras stated,

One of the main issues in our discussions today was [sic] the opportunities arising in the fields of energy in the Eastern Mediterranean … We are examining ways to cooperate in research, drilling, and the transportation of gas from Israel to Europe.[26]

While energy is not the sole factor contributing to the improvement of bilateral relations, it has certainly played a crucial role in the convergence of Greek and Israeli interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Jerusalem and Nicosia

The development and exploitation of Eastern Mediterranean energy resources have also given a boost to Israeli-Cypriot relations. Despite geographical proximity, the two countries have largely ignored each other for years. For most Israelis, Cyprus is either the site where Holocaust survivors were forcibly interned by the British (1946-49) as they sought refuge in mandatory Palestine or the closest place where couples unable or unwilling to contract a religious marriage in Israel are able to enter into a civil marriage.

For its part, Nicosia traditionally took a pro-Arab line in diplomatic settings that differed little from neighboring Greece; and just like in Greece, the AKP-induced chill in Turkish-Israeli relations had a warming effect on Cypriot-Israeli relations. In March 2011, Israeli president Shimon Peres hosted his Cypriot counterpart, President Demetris Christofias, who reciprocated this hospitality in November. Both sides came to view each other as potential counterbalances to Turkey’s presence in the Eastern Mediterranean. Cypriot defense minister Dimitris Iliadis signed an agreement on the “Mutual Protection of Confidential Information” in January 2012 with his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak,[27] and a month later, Netanyahu paid a visit to Nicosia, the first ever by an Israeli prime minister, to discuss energy and defense cooperation. According to press reports, the Cypriot navy is planning to buy two Israeli-manufactured hi-tech offshore patrol vessels in order to patrol its exclusive economic zone.[28]

The energy dimension of the nascent Israeli-Cypriot relationship is particularly strong. Nicosia has announced plans to build a liquefied natural gas plant in its Vassilikos industrial area to process its gas. Since the current gas finds are not large enough to make this multi-billion dollar project economically viable, Nicosia has suggested to Jerusalem that the two countries pool their gas reserves to form a single producing unit. In 2013, Minister of Energy Yiorgos Lakkotrypis declared:

[W]e feel that through a close collaboration with Israel, we will be able to be a major player in the world energy market, something that might be too hard for each country to achieve individually.[29]

The future of the Israeli-Cypriot partnership will also depend on the export route of the Israeli gas. Jerusalem has examined a number of options for the optimum utilization of its gas fields but probably prefers to export gas westward in order to improve its relations with European countries.[30] From the Israeli perspective, energy cooperation with Greece and Cyprus could build a new web of alliances with the EU that would help Jerusalem to break out of its increasing geopolitical isolation. The Netanyahu government even lobbied on behalf of Greece in Europe and the United States for an economy recovery plan.[31] In late March 2012, during an energy conference in Athens, then Israeli minister of energy Uzi Landau spoke of “an axis of Greece, Cyprus, and Israel and possibly more countries, which will offer an anchor of stability.”[32] In August 2013, the three countries signed an agreement to install a 2000-megawatt underwater electric cable to connect their power grids—the first of its kind to connect Europe and Asia.[33]

Most recently, in December 2015, a series of trilateral consultations was held in Jerusalem in which a set of issues were taken up and discussed, with energy development topping the list. The parties agreed to further promote trilateral consultations and to meet on a regular basis, beginning with a meeting of their heads of state in Nicosia on January 28, 2016.[34]
Lebanon, Cyprus, and Israel

While revenues from the sale of oil and gas can bring wealth and prosperity to societies, they also have the potential to upset regional balances of power. In the Eastern Mediterranean, where countries have been locked in conflicts over territory for decades, gas discoveries seem likely to increase the stakes. Contested ownership of gas resources has, in fact, destabilized already strained relations between Israel and Lebanon as well as between Turkey and Cyprus.

Although a delimitation agreement between Lebanon and Cyprus was signed in January 2007, the Lebanese parliament has refused to ratify it to date, and Hezbollah declared the agreement

null and void because the Lebanese side that signed it had its official capacity revoked … The sea, like land, is a one hundred percent legitimate Lebanese right, and we shall defend it with all our strength.[35]

When in December 2010, Nicosia signed an agreement with Jerusalem demarcating their maritime borders, Beirut accused both states of violating its maritime rights.[36] The following year, in a televised speech marking the fifth anniversary of Hezbollah’s 2006 war with Israel, the group’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, threatened Israel with a strike against its energy infrastructure:

We warn Israel against extending its hands to this area and steal[ing] Lebanon’s resources from Lebanese waters … Whoever harms our future oil facilities in Lebanese territorial waters, its own facilities will be targeted.[37]

These are not hollow threats. Hezbollah has the military capacity to attack Israel’s offshore gas platforms should it choose to do so. The 2006 war revealed that its vast arsenal of missiles and rockets includes Chinese-manufactured C-802 anti-ship missiles (range 75 miles) and Zelzal-2 rockets (range 125-250 miles).[38] For its part, the Israeli navy is acquiring at least two 1,200-ton patrol-class vessels, along with additional unmanned aerial vehicles and missile-armed, remote-control gunboats.[39] In this way, Jerusalem seeks to deter possible raids from Lebanon. The protection and exploitation of gas reserves is thus seen by the Israeli leadership as a matter of national security.
Turkey, Cyprus, and Israel

The relationship between Turkey and Cyprus is yet another example of a long-standing conflict with few prospects of imminent resolution, and the AKP’s rise to power has only exacerbated the situation.

Turkey’s strongman, Islamist Recep Tayyip Erdo?an (left), seen here at the World Economic Forum, Davos, in 2009, publicly berating Israel’s then-president Shimon Peres for alleged Israeli misconduct, has managed to alienate—and alarm—Eastern Mediterranean neighbors with frequent outbursts and occasional saberrattling. This has led Cyprus, Israel, and Greece, the area’s potential energy producers and transporters, to seek closer ties that would have been inconceivable a decade ago.

In Erdogan’s increasingly paranoid worldview, the possible economic and diplomatic revival of Cyprus as a result of gas development poses a clear and present danger to Turkish national security. In September 2011, Ankara signed a continental shelf delimitation agreement with the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” and shortly afterward, the Turkish state oil company (TPAO) started its first drilling near the occupied Cypriot city of Famagusta.

While Ankara has invited foreign companies to explore its Mediterranean coast for energy resources, only the Royal Dutch/Shell has thus far expressed interest.[40] In late October 2014, a Turkish research vessel entered the Cypriot EEZ to collect seismic data. Nicosia viewed this as a violation of its sovereign rights, since it had already licensed parts of its EEZ to foreign energy companies.[41]

Israeli and Turkish officials have recently concluded secret talks about bilateral reconciliation.

The energy factor has also internationalized the “Cyprus Problem,” creating a new point of friction between Ankara and Jerusalem. The Turkish government did not anticipate the rapid improvement of Israeli-Cypriot relations and fears that the bilateral cooperation will not be limited to the energy sector. Even before this development, Erdo?an had threatened Jerusalem over its gas exploration initiatives, warning that while “Israel has begun to declare that it has the right to act in exclusive economic areas in the Mediterranean…[it] will not be owner of this right.”[42] For its part Jerusalem has not remained passive, requesting Cypriot permission for the use of the Paphos air base by Israeli fighter jets.[43] In early November 2015, the two countries conducted the second Onisilos-Gideon military exercise in the western part of the island.

The internationalization of the “Cyprus Problem” extends well beyond the region. Chinese companies have already bid for gas exploration and liquefaction projects in the Eastern Mediterranean and are negotiating an agreement with the Cypriot government to purchase LNG by 2020. Consequently, Beijing has closely followed the Cyprus peace negotiations.[44]

An Engine for Conflict Resolution?

The Eastern Mediterranean energy boom has helped warm traditionally chilly bilateral relationships between some countries while aggravating already strained relations with others. Can it also become an engine for promoting regional cooperation?

While the last few years have seen a great deal of saberrattling out of Ankara, the likelihood of a military confrontation between Cyprus and Turkey, or Israel and Turkey, seems small. The construction and operation of energy infrastructure (e.g., pipelines, refineries, natural gas plants) is a costly business requiring political stability, and Ankara may not wish to undermine its role as an energy transit state. Indeed, Israeli and Turkish officials have recently concluded secret talks about bilateral reconciliation that covered, among other items, the laying of a natural gas pipeline between the two countries. This would allow Turkey to reduce its energy dependence on Russia (relations with which have worsened following the downing of a Russian fighter jet in November 2015) as well as to open up a new market for Israel’s natural gas projects off its coast.[45]

In addition, Ankara has offered to build a “peace pipeline” to transport Cypriot gas to European markets via Turkish territory.[46] Nicosia has not rejected this plan provided there is a resolution to the “Cyprus problem,” including the reunification of the island and the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the northern section. This bolsters the argument, advanced by the U.S. State Department among others, that gas profits could contribute to the island’s unification as both Greek and Turkish Cypriots would have major additional incentives to accept a peace deal.[47] It is no coincidence that the special representative for regional energy cooperation for the newly-established State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources is based in the U.S. embassy in Nicosia.[48]

This optimism is rooted in the long-held, liberal view of international relations positing that economic benefits resulting from energy transportation can help resolve political conflicts. Yet if history offers any guide, an economic boom attending hydrocarbons exports can just as often lead to ethnocentrism and economic nationalism as to goodwill and shared prosperity. The production of large quantities of oil and natural gas in the North Sea, for example, has strengthened Scottish nationalism and may eventually lead to Scotland’s secession from the United Kingdom. Likewise, the Clinton administration’s promotion of a “peace pipeline” to carry Azerbaijani oil through the contested area of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia to the Turkish market failed because Armenia did not wish to make the necessary territorial concessions to Azerbaijan.[49] Then again, in 2004, Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili floated the construction of a Russian-Georgian oil pipeline through the breakaway republic of Abkhazia to facilitate a solution to the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, only to be rebuffed by both Russia and Abkhazia.[50] The proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline had the same fate in 2009 when the Indian government announced its decision not to participate in the project for security reasons.[51]

Evidently, such pipelines have failed to materialize because states were neither willing to surrender territory nor comfortable depending on hostile neighbors in return for possible economic benefits. Those who envisage the prospect of a “peace pipeline” positively affecting the current negotiations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots for the resolution of the “Cyprus Problem” may find themselves seriously disappointed.

The new substantial gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean are rapidly transforming regional orientations. Energy interests have brought Israel closer than ever diplomatically to Cyprus and Greece and have played an important role in the apparent thaw in Israeli-Turkish relations. At the same time, energy has generated new tensions between producing countries and countries that feel excluded from the regional natural gas development opportunities. Relations between Turkey and Cyprus as well as between Israel and Lebanon, poor at best, have come under further strain.

U.S. and European interests will be well served by the emergence of the Eastern Mediterranean as a gas-exporting region.

Undoubtedly, U.S. and European interests will be well served by the emergence of the Eastern Mediterranean as a gas-exporting region. However, this will only be possible if there is a resolution to the ownership issue that can accelerate the pace of private investment in the regional gas industry.[52]

Without a region-wide legal agreement, energy companies may not be able to secure the necessary funding to develop and implement gas projects. Washington, which enjoys good relations with all Eastern Mediterranean countries, could act as a broker in hosting multilateral regional talks to defuse tensions and promote mutual understanding between countries in the region.

Emmanuel Karagiannis is senior lecturer at the department of defense studies, King’s College, London, and author of Political Islam in Central Asia (Routledge, 2010) and Energy and Security in the Caucasus (Routledge, 2002).

[1] “Natural Gas Potential Assessed in Eastern Mediterranean,” U.S. Geological Survey, Office of Communication, Reston, Va., Aug. 4, 2010.

[2] “International Energy Outlook 2013,” Office of Communications, U.S. Energy Information Administration, Washington, D.C., July 25, 2013.

[3] Brenda Shaffer, “Israel—New Natural Gas Producer in the Mediterranean,” Energy Policy, Sept. 2011, pp. 5379-87.

[4] Haaretz (Tel Aviv), Aug. 13, 2009.

[5] “Israel and its natural resources: What a gas!” The Economist, Nov. 11, 2010.

[6] Cyprus Mail (Nicosia), Oct. 4, 2013.

[7] Kathimerini (Neo Faliro, Gr.), Feb. 27, 2013.

[8] BBC News, Aug. 20, 2015.

[9] “Total Energy Consumption, 2014,” Global Energy Statistical Yearbook 2015, Enerdata, Grenoble, accessed Jan. 15, 2016.

[10] EU Energy Market in 2014 (Luxemburg: Publication House of the European Union, The European Commission, 2014), p. 6.

[11] “Second Licensing Round—Hydrocarbons Exploration,” Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Republic of Cyprus, Nicosia, accessed Dec. 29, 2015.

[12] Middle East Online (London), Aug. 6, 2013.

[13] RIA Novosti (Moscow), Feb. 26, 2013.

[14] Ed Blanche, “Enter the Bear,” The Middle East, Mar. 2014, pp. 29-30.

[15] John Sakkas, “Greece, Arab World and Israel: A Troubled Triangle in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Defensor Pacis (Athens), Mar. 2007, pp. 95-104.

[16] Amikam Nachmani, Turkey-Israel Strategic Partnership (Raman Gan: The BESA Center for Strategic Studies, 1999), pp. 1-10.

[17] The Washington Post, Oct. 21, 2010.

[18] The Times of Israel (Jerusalem), Feb. 11, 2015.

[19] Sigma Live (Nicosia), Nov. 30, 2015.

[20] The Jerusalem Post, July 19, 2015.

[21] Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Israel and Greece hold Government-to-Government Consultation,” Jan. 27, 2016.

[22] “Israel’s Candidature for IMO Council 2014-2015,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sept. 9, 2013.

[23] Reuters, Aug. 10, 2014.

[24] New Europe (Brussels), Mar. 11, 2014.

[25] “Projects of Common Interests,” The European Commission, Brussels, Oct. 14, 2013.

[26] Kathimerini, Nov. 25, 2015.

[27] Today’s Zaman (Istanbul), July 3, 2012.

[28] Cyprus Mail, Dec. 18, 2013.

[29] Hürriyet (Istanbul), May 9, 2013.

[30] Simon Henderson, “Natural Gas Export Options for Israel and Cyprus,” German Marshall Fund of the United States, Washington, D.C., Sept. 10, 2013.

[31] The Jerusalem Post, Mar. 6, 2011.

[32] Kathimerini, Mar. 28, 2012.

[33] Cyprus Mail, Aug. 9, 2013.

[34] Joint Statement: Second Political Consultations at the level of Secretaries General of Israel, Greece and Cyprus MFA’s—17/12/2015, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nicosia.

[35] Al-Akhbar (Beirut), Oct. 27, 2012.

[36] YNet News (Tel Aviv), July 10, 2011.

[37] The Daily Star (Beirut), July 27, 2011.

[38] BBC News, Aug. 3, 2006.

[39] United Press International, May 23, 2013.

[40] Hürriyet, Nov. 23, 2011.

[41] The Guardian (London), Nov. 10, 2014.

[42] Simon Henderson, “Turkey’s Threat to Israel’s New Gas Riches,” Policywatch, no. 1844, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Washington, D.C., Sept. 13, 2011.

[43] The Jerusalem Post, July 2, 2012.

[44] Li Guofu, “China: An Emerging Power in the Mediterranean,” in Daniela Huber, et al., eds., The Mediterranean Region in a Multipolar World: Evolving Relations with Russia, China, India, Brazil, (Washington, D.C.: The German Marshall Fund of the United States, 2013), pp. 11-9; “Will Cyprus Become a New Investment Heaven for China?” China Radio International (Beijing), Oct. 31, 2013; Chinese ambassador Liu Xinsheng, interview, Cyprus Mail, Jan. 5, 2015.

[45] The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 18, 2015.

[46] Hürriyet, May 27, 2013.

[47] Sigma Live, July 24, 2015; Ethnos (Athens), Mar. 29, 2012.

[48] Cyprus Mail, Feb. 9, 2012.

[49] John J. Maresca, “A Peace Pipeline to End the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict,” Caspian Crossroads, Winter 1995, pp. 17-8.

[50] George Anjaparidze and Cory Welt, “A Georgian-Russian Pipeline: For Peace or Profit?” Eurasianet (New York), Mar. 8, 2004.

[51] The Hindu (Chennai, Madras), Nov. 25, 2013.

[52] James Stocker, “No EEZ Solution: The Politics of Oil and Gas in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Middle East Journal, Autumn 2012, pp. 579-97.


Posted on on August 12th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Our View: ‘Historic’ MoU with Israel must be followed through with actions.

Cyprus Mail, Monday, 12th August, 2013

YESTERDAY’S signing of the memorandum of understanding on energy and water resources by Cyprus, Greece and Israel was hailed as ‘historic’ and in a sense it was. There has never before been such an agreement by the three countries and many view it as the start for greater co-operation and stronger relations.

Israel’s minister for energy and water resources, Silvan Shalom spoke this prospect on Wednesday. He said: “The fact that we are here shows that we do not only work well on (issues concerning) water, but it’s also about geopolitics, strategy and political issues among the three countries.”

President Anastasiades appeared on the same wavelength. In a speech at the opening of a fifth desalination plant, which Israeli companies had helped build, he said the common energy interests could become “the driving force for an enhanced partnership between our two countries.” He also invited Israel to commit to exporting its natural gas from Cyprus’ LNG facility, which is still at a very early planning stage.

While the good intentions exist, so far, most plans of co-operation exist in the realm of theory, nothing tangible having been decided, let alone agreed. The memorandum provides a framework for exploring the feasibility of joint projects – one envisages linking the three countries through an underwater electricity cable, a second would involve an underwater gas pipeline linking the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe via Greece and the third relates to LNG storage facilities in Cyprus. But these projects might not even be viable – feasibility studies would have to be undertaken.

There is no shortage of ideas for co-operation. During Shalom’s visit there were also reports that the Israeli Electricity Company had proposed to supply Cyprus with cheaper electricity through an underwater cable. And when Cyprus started to produce cheap electricity, the flow could be reversed with Israel buying power from the island. Such an arrangement would make the agreement for the temporary supply of natural gas, that the government is currently negotiating, unnecessary.

While plenty of proposals are floating about, it was only a memorandum of understanding that was signed yesterday. There is a very long way to go before any of the plans take shape and are implemented. When this happens, we can talk about historic agreements, geopolitics and strategy, but at present such talk seems premature. What can be said was that yesterday’s signing of the memorandum was an important first step – a declaration of intent – but the words need to be followed by actions if the ‘historic agreement’ billing is to be justified.


We understand that Muslim held Northern Cyprus is interested as well to participate in these programs which would mean a step away from their total dependence on Turkey and perhaps a step towards normalization of relations between them and Greek Cyprus.


Posted on on July 27th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Cyprus Oil Spill Threatens Pristine Coastline.

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 08:49 PM PDT

Cyprus Oil SpillBetter call out that airborne Mediterranean pollution surveillance crew Tafline just wrote about! Last Tuesday, an oil tanker delivering fuel to a power plant in the Turkish Cypriot-controlled north of Cyprus spilled approximately 40 tons of oil into the Mediterranean Sea.

In a separate report, officials estimated more than 100 tons of oil were spilled near pristine coastline, threatening wildlife and tourism facilities. There has been no explanation for the conflicting fuel estimates.

A spill barrier has been established but officials, anticipating additional leakage, are seeking to extend it, Turkish Cypriot Environment Minister Mehmet Harmanci told Reuters in a telephone interview. He described the risk as “ongoing”.

According to Harmanci, power plant owner Aksa Enerji pins the spill on a pressure problem or an improper connection in the pumping process. Human error has not been ruled out.

Local authorities were struggling to contain the slick which extends for 4.5 miles along the Karpasia peninsula. Clean-up materials, including oil-absorbing solvents, were ordered from Turkey but, as of this writing, delivery has been delayed.

cyprus-oil-spillThe Karpasia peninsula, which stretches approximately 50 miles, boasts unspoilt beaches and a rich variety of wildlife. The area is a recognized nature reserve that serves as a breeding ground for rare turtles, with July and August the most critical months for spawning.

It is one of the last undeveloped areas in Cyprus, in large part due to stalled development attributed to international sanctions that stunt the northern Cypriot economy. The region’s biggest tourism area, the nearby town of Bafra, is also threatened.

As reported by World Bulletin, only Turkey recognizes the Turkish Cypriot administration, while the rest of the world sees the Greek Cypriot government as the sole authority in the island. Cyprus was divided between Turkish and Greek Cypriots in1974, when Turkish forces invaded in the wake of a short-lived coup by Greek Cypriots seeking union with Greece.

Aksa said operations at the Kalecik power station were unaffected.


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

The following is a presentation of facts that cannot be ignored anymore. Deserves close reading by those in the North that thought you can bumble your way through without creating a real union capable of calling out “it is all for one and not just one for all!” The EU is not just the fulfilling of the German dream of takeover of Europe by peaceful means. Cyprus dreaming of being the Mediterranean base of Russia? What else? Austria a bridge to the East? Yes, but only after twinning up with Finland.
The article does not mention the UK even once – we interpret this as a sign it has crystallized as the island off-shore that ought to partner with the US and stop bothering the decision making process of the continent at large.
It was the UK interest that created Cyprus in the first place by not letting it split and join Greece and Turkey. Who needed two weak Greek States in the Union? Malta? another UK invention? Slovenia was good – why not also a Catalunya or Catalonia?


english banner othernews

A Line Of Demarcation Through The Eurozone Is Taking Shape

Wolf Richter*  

Everyone learned a lesson from the “bail-in” of the Cypriot banks: Russian account holders who’d laundered and stored their money on the sunny island; bank bondholders who’d thought they’d always get bailed out; Cypriot politicians whose names showed up on lists of loans that had been extended by the Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank but were then forgiven and written off. Even brand-new Finance Minister Michael Sarris who got axed because he’d been chairman of Laiki when this was going on. His lesson: when a cesspool of corruption blows up, no one is safe. And German politicians learned a lesson too: that it worked!

“With the Cyprus aid package, it was proven that countries like Germany, the Netherlands, and Finland, if they stick together, are able to push for a strict stability course,” Hans Michelbach told the Handelsblatt. The chairman of the finance committee in the German Parliament and member of the CSU, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition partner, called for deeper collaboration of the triple-A countries in the Eurozone “to strengthen the confidence of citizens and investors in the common currency.”

There are still five in that euro triple-A club: Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Finland, and Luxembourg. “It would be good if we could also convince Luxembourg to participate more strongly in this stability collaboration,” he said. It would be in the best interest of Luxembourg as major financial center, he added. A reference to Luxembourg’s precarious status, as Cyprus had learned, of being a tiny country with banks so large that it can’t bail them out by itself.

To protect the euro, the alliance of the triple-A countries must be united firmly against large euro countries like Italy and France, he said. “Strong signals of stability would be of great importance for the Eurozone,” particularly now, given the “unclear situation” in Italy, renewed doubts about Greece, and the failure of the French government in its stability policies.

Exactly what French President François Hollande needs: the euro triple-A club breathing down his neck. He’s already in trouble at home. To reverse the slide, he got on state-owned France 2 TV last Thursday to speak to the French people so that they could see how his sincerity, wisdom, and economic policies would stop the country from sinking ever deeper into a quagmire.

And a quagmire it is: double-digit unemployment, a Purchasing Managers Index just above Greece’s, new vehicle sales that plunged almost 15% so far this year, a budget deficit that refuses to be brought under control…. He has tweaked some policy measures here and there. And he dug up a new version of the 75% income-tax bracket that had been squashed by the Constitutional Court. But Jérôme Cahuzac, the Budget Minister who’d tried to get the first version through the system, went up in flames over allegations of tax fraud and “tax fraud laundering.”

Now the people have had it. After the TV appearance, his approval rating, ten months into his term, plummeted another 6 points to 31%, a low that scandal-plagued Nicolas Sarkozy took four years to reach. And only 27% approved of his economic policies. “The French simply don’t want austerity,” lamented an unnamed government insider.

France was suffering the consequences of the “socialist experiments” of its government and was becoming less and less competitive, explained Michelbach. He emphasized that France would remain an important partner of Germany. He wasn’t kidding: France buys 10% of Germany’s exports and is crucial to the German economy. But if France didn’t change course, he said, that could become a “serious problem” for the Eurozone.

As opposed to the mere hiccups of Cyprus or Greece. More banks and more countries will require bailouts­Slovenia, Spain, Italy, and Malta are on the list. And no one wants to see France on that list. Even Italy is too large to get bailed out by other countries­though it’s rich enough to bail itself out, à la Cyprus [ A “Politically Explosive” Secret: Italians Are Over Twice As Wealthy As Germans].

But in Germany, a revolt against these save-the-euro bailouts has been brewing for a while. With elections in September, it’s taking on volume and voices, and the structure of a political party, the Alternative for Germany, not unpalatable radicals but the educated bourgeoisie, and they want to stop the bailouts and dump the euro.

The government is feeling the heat. No one can afford to lose votes. Michelbach’s triple-A club, a line of demarcation in the Eurozone, is one of the reactions. Merkel might benefit from it in the elections. The other four countries might find if appealing, though it will be of dubious appeal in the rest of the Eurozone. But if efforts fail to fix the Eurozone’s problems­and the Eurozone lumbering that way­a tightly knit triple-A club could weather the storm together, more stable and more unified than the Eurozone ever was. And Michelbach had just floated a version of that idea.

Every country in the Eurozone has its own collection of big fat lies that politicians and Eurocrats have served up in order to make the euro and the subsequent bailouts or austerity measures less unappetizing. Here are some from the German point of view…. Ten Big Fat Lies To Keep The Euro Dream Alive


Wolf Richter wrote also – “White House Hypocrisy And Trade Sanctions Against China.” –  Practically every car sold in the US contains Chinese-made components. But suddenly, in the middle of a heated presidential campaign, the Obama administration decided to do something about it.

Wolf Richter is a  San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience.

In… he explains “Having worked a bit on international deals, and for companies operating in foreign markets, cross border transactions have an even lower success rate than domestic ones. The big reason is the one mentioned here, which is marked cultural incompatibility between the seller and buyer. Here the Chinese did less badly than they could have (they could have tried forcing Chinese practices on the German operation, which would have destroyed the value of the asset). But the logic of the transaction was unclear. Was it technology transfer? Consolidation? It appears both might have been goals, and neither happened very much.

But I find it intriguing that as lousy as the Japanese were at doing deals  (they found it hard to understand that the contract was the deal, and were too inclined to overpay), they were good at managing workers in manufacturing operations (service businesses were another kettle of fish, there they tended to drive Americans crazy).  This is a skill the Chinese will have to master, since they desperately need to re-invest their surpluses, and they are trying to acquire more real-economy assets.”    FASCINATING.

His insights in Wall Street machinations are also very good.




Posted on on March 24th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


Russian PM lectures Barroso on Cyprus.

Medvedev: ‘The euro crisis has strengthened ideas that Europe is in decline.’


By Andrew Rettman

BRUSSELS – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev humbled European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso in public remarks on Thursday (21 March) over the EU’s handling of Cyprus.

Speaking alongside Barroso at a conference in Moscow, he called the EU’s original Cypriot bailout idea “to put it mildly, surprising … absurd … preposterous.”

“The situation is unpredictable and inconsistent. It [the bailout model] has been reviewed several times. I browsed the Internet this morning and I saw another Plan B, or a Plan C or whatever,” he noted.

He upbraided EU institutions for failing to give Moscow due notice of its decision.

“The system of early warning did not work very well … that means we need to work on it,” he said.

He also quoted unnamed Russian “eurosceptics” as saying: “The euro crisis has strengthened ideas that Europe is in decline in the 21st century … that the European project has turned out to be too cumbersome.”

Earlier the same say, he told Russian newswire Interfax that he is thinking of reducing Russia’s holding of euro-denominated currency reserves.

In a sign of broader Russian upset, Leonid Grigoriev, an academic and a former Russian deputy finance minister, told a separate news conference that Russian money is no longer safe anywhere in the EU.

“The Cyprus situation has created new uncertainty in the banking sector. People have started thinking whether the same can happen elsewhere, in Spain, Portugal, Ireland?” he said.

The EU’s Plan A for Cyprus was to lend it €10 billion, but to impose a 7-to-10 percent levy on all Cypriot savers, including Russian expats, who alone stood to lose €2 billion.

It has now been scrapped.

It is unclear what new model might be found.

But the Cypriot finance minister, Michael Sarris, also in Moscow on Thursday, said he is in talks to give Russia shares in Cypriot “banks, natural gas [reserves]” in return for Russian bailout money.

For his part, Barroso told Medvedev that the EU could not have warned Russia even if it wanted to.

“Regarding the conclusions of the last Eurogroup [euro finance ministers, who drew up Plan A], Russia was not informed because the governments of Europe were not informed – let’s be completely open and honest about that issue. There was not a pre-decision before the Eurogroup meeting. The Eurogroup meeting concluded, I think, in the very early hours of Saturday and the decision was the result of a compromise,” he said.

He added: “Don’t believe in this idea of the decline of Europe … The European Union is stronger than it is today fashionable to admit.”

Leaked documents on internal EU talks seen by the Reuters news agency give substance to Russia’s criticism, however.

The notes record remarks by finance officials from euro-using countries during a panicky conference call about Cyprus held on Wednesday.

According to Reuters, a French official said Cyprus’ decision not to take part in the phone-debate is “a big problem … We have never seen this.”

A German official said Cyprus might quit the euro and there is a need to “ring-fence” other countries from contagion.

A European Central Bank official said there is a “very difficult situation” because savers might pull money from the island if banks re-open next week.

Meanwhile, Thomas Wieser, an Austrian-origin EU official who chaired the phone-meeting, described the situation as “foggy.” He added: “The economy is going to tank in Cyprus no matter what.”


To the above we add that Turkey, its holding onto North Cyprus, and its interest in the gas fields that stretch from Cyprus to Israel and Lebanon, having first development seen by Israel, are part of the larger scope of the Cyprus potential move away from the EU. But, In effect, these other aspects might make the EU stiffen up in a bailing out effort conditioned only on reorganizing some of the Cypriot Banks – letting Russian oligarchs foot part of the bill – without selling to Russia port holdings in the Mediterranean. Seeing a Syria solution that drives out Russia from its port facilities there, may be part of the American interest in the region as well. In short – Cyprus is not Iceland – this because it is geographically located in a very complicated region of the Outer EU. Is it so that an Obama trip could help by forcing a Cyprus-Turkey reconciliation first?


We just found out that The New York Times is catching up:

Russian Ties Put Cyprus Banking Crisis on East-West Fault Line

By ANDREW HIGGINS, The New York Times, March 24, 2013

With Cyprus’s role as a provider of financial services for Russians, what began as another episode in a familiar narrative has escalated into a drama with geopolitical implications.



Also, we know that Oligarch Abramowich is overexposed in Cyprus banks, is this also the case of Mr. Berezowski who just committed suicide at his home near London? Were there politics involved and this was a Russian in-fight? The coincidence of the timing will create rumors – we say.

Russian Oligarch and Critic of Putin Dead in Britain.

Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Boris Berezovsky in London in last year. He is said to have committed suicide on Saturday.

Published: March 23, 2013

MOSCOW — Boris A. Berezovsky, once the richest and most powerful of the so-called oligarchs who dominated post-Soviet Russia, and a close ally of Boris N. Yeltsin who helped install Vladimir V. Putin as president but later exiled himself to London after a bitter falling out with the Kremlin, died Saturday.

He was 67 and lived near London, where last year he lost one of the largest private lawsuits in history — an epic tug-of-war over more than $5 billion with another Russian oligarch, Roman A. Abramovich, in which legal and other costs were estimated to be about $250 million.

Mr. Berezovsky’s death was first reported in a post on Facebook by his son-in-law Egor Schuppe and was confirmed by Alexander Dobrovinsky, a lawyer who had represented him.

Mr. Dobrovinsky wrote in Russian on his Facebook page: “Just got a call from London. Boris Berezovsky has committed suicide. The man was complex. An act of desperation? Impossible to live poor? A series of blows? I am afraid that no one will know the truth.”

The Thames Valley police in Berkshire, an hour from London, said Saturday that they were investigating the “unexplained” death of a 67-year-old man, apparently Mr. Berezovsky, in Ascot.

The police statement did not name Mr. Berezovsky, but British news reports said an investigation was under way at his home. “Specially trained officers are currently at the scene, including C.B.R.N.-trained officers, who are conducting a number of searches as a precaution,” said a spokeswoman for the Thames Valley police, referring to the force’s chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear team. “This is to enable officers to carry out an investigation into the man’s death. The body of the man is still in the property at this time.”

In London, Mr. Berezovsky had adopted much the same style as an oligarch in Russia, with chauffeurs and bodyguards. But recent news reports said Mr. Berezovsky had begun to sell personal assets, including a yacht and a painting by Andy Warhol, “Red Lenin,” to pay debts related to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, in which Mr. Berezovsky brought a claim against Mr. Abramovich in a dispute over the sale of shares in Sibneft, an oil company, and other assets, ended in a spectacular defeat.

In her ruling, the judge in the case, Elizabeth Gloster, called Mr. Berezovsky an “unimpressive and inherently unreliable witness” and at times a dishonest one. By contrast, the judge said Mr. Abramovich had been “a truthful, and on the whole reliable, witness.”

Mr. Berezovsky’s legal troubles worsened recently with a claim by his former girlfriend, Elena Gorbunova, that he owed her about $8 million from the sale of a house they owned in Surrey, England. The judge also ordered him to pay more than $53 million of Mr. Abramovich’s fees.

A friend of the tycoon, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said Mr. Berezovsky said he had been “extremely depressed” for at least six months since losing his case. “He was a great believer in British justice, and he felt it let him down,” the friend said.

A spokesman for Mr. Putin said Mr. Berezovsky had recently sent a letter asking President Putin for forgiveness and permission to return to Russia. “Some time ago, maybe a couple of months, Berezovsky sent Vladimir Putin a letter, written by himself, in which he admitted that he had made a lot of mistakes,” the spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said on the Russia 24 television channel. “He asked Putin for forgiveness for the errors to be able to return home.”

Mr. Peskov said that he did not know Mr. Putin’s reaction, but that “news of anyone’s death, no matter what kind of person they were, cannot arouse any positive emotions.”

Mr. Berezovsky was a Soviet mathematician who after the fall of Communism went into business and figured out how to skim profits off what was then Russian’s largest state-owned carmaker. Along with spectacular wealth, he accumulated enormous political influence, becoming a close ally of Mr. Yeltsin’s.

With Mr. Yeltsin’s political career fading, Mr. Berezovsky helped engineer the rise of Mr. Putin, an obscure former K.G.B. agent and onetime aide to the mayor of St. Petersburg who became president of Russia in 2000 and last May returned to the presidency for a third term.

After his election, Mr. Putin began a campaign of tax claims against a group of rich and powerful Russians, including Mr. Berezovsky and Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, an oil tycoon, who remains jailed in Russia.

Mr. Berezovsky fled to London, where he eventually won political asylum and at one point raised tensions by calling for a coup against Mr. Putin.

David E. Hoffman, the author of “The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia,” an exploration of the role of such magnates in the era after the breakup of the Soviet Union, said Mr. Berezovsky stood out for seeking not only wealth but political clout.

“Boris Berezovsky was among that wave of oligarchs who realized that great fortunes were to be made in the massive sell-off of assets in the new Russia,” Mr. Hoffman said by e-mail on Saturday. “While many of his peers also saw the opportunity, Berezovsky was more focused than most on the role that politics would play. He realized the need to co-opt those in power in order to make deals. He did it from the early days with automobiles and later with oil.”

Mr. Berezovsky had an outsize, if hardly always benevolent, role in post-Soviet Russia.

George Soros, a financier and a critic of the Russian oligarchs, had likened them to 19th-century American robber barons. But if that was an apt metaphor, the power and influence of these new tycoons was amplified by the legal and political vacuum left by the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Mr. Berezovsky amassed his fortune at first in automobiles, including a business he formed in 1993 with Aleksandr Voloshin, who would later become Mr. Yeltsin’s chief of staff. But like other oligarchs, Mr. Berezovsky’s interests spread across many sectors of the post-Soviet Russian economy, to oil; media; and Aeroflot, the Russian airline.

He survived an assassination attempt in 1994, a car bombing in which his driver was killed.  

The assassination attempt connected him to a K.G.B. officer, Alexander V. Litvinenko, who was poisoned by the radioactive isotope polonium 210 in London in November 2006.

Mr. Litvinenko, then working for the F.S.B., the domestic successor to the K.G.B., was assigned to investigate the blast, and Mr. Berezovsky became his mentor and later his employer.

Mr. Berezovsky helped Mr. Litvinenko flee Russia in 2000 before he, too, left the country to seek asylum in London.

On the day he was poisoned, Nov. 1, 2006, Mr. Litvinenko went from a meeting with several Russians at a hotel in central London to Mr. Berezovsky’s nearby office. There he met with a Chechen exile, Akhmed Zakayev, another Berezovsky protégé, and the two drove together to adjacent homes financed by Mr. Berezovsky, in North London.

After Mr. Litvinenko’s death, and with his wealth dwindling during his time in London, Mr. Berezovsky slowly withdrew his financial support for Mr. Litvinenko’s widow as she pressed for an inquest into the death, now scheduled to begin in May.

Boris Abramovich Berezovsky was born in Moscow on Jan. 23, 1946, to Abram Berezovsky, a civil engineer who worked in construction, and Anna Gelman, at a time when the Soviet Union was recovering from World War II.

He studied forestry and mathematics at the Moscow Forestry Engineering Institute. He worked as an engineer and researcher until the late 1980s.

In the mid-1990s, Mr. Berezovsky served on Russia’s security council, only to be dismissed from that post by Mr. Yeltsin in 1997.

Mr. Berezovsky and Mr. Putin had been close, and Mr. Berezovsky aided Mr. Putin’s rise to the presidency. But signs came quickly that Mr. Berezovsky had fallen out of favor. In October 2000, just 10 months after Mr. Yeltsin’s resignation, Mr. Berezovsky was ordered to vacate a spacious government country house and to return the government plates on his limousine. He left Russia for Britain that year.

In March 2003, the British authorities arrested Mr. Berezovsky and said they were beginning a process that could lead to his extradition. But he was granted political asylum later that year apparently after the British determined that Russia sought him solely on political grounds.

In 2007, he was convicted of fraud charges by a Russian court in absentia and sentenced to six years in prison, and had potentially faced prosecution in at least 10 other cases.

The sharpest blow to his wealth came from the failed lawsuit against Mr. Abramovich.

On the day last August when the court ruled against him, Mr. Berezovsky attempted an air of nonchalance. “Life is life,” he said, flanked by bodyguards, before driving off in a Mercedes.

Andrew E. Kramer contributed reporting from Moscow, Alan Cowell from Venice, and Ravi Somaiya from New York.


Posted on on March 24th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

To the Europe and Eurasia and the Near East lists of the US Department of State
– following the President’s trip to the Middle East:

Press Statement

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 23, 2013



The reconciliation between Israel and Turkey is a very important development that will help advance the cause of peace and stability in the region. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister Erdogan deserve great credit for showing the leadership necessary to make this possible.

As I discussed with Prime Minister Netanyahu this evening, this will help Israel meet the many challenges it faces in the region.

We look forward to an expeditious implementation of the agreement and the full normalization of relations so Israel and Turkey can work together to advance their common interests.


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


The Turkish Prime Minister has called for urgent action to help Somalia alleviate its humanitarian crisis and to build peace and stability, stressing that the world cannot let the cry of the Horn of Africa nation go unheard.

“Today the international community is watching the suffering in Somalia like a movie,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the high-level debate of the General Assembly yesterday. “However, we should urgently face this situation which is a test to our humanity.”

Mr. Erdogan said he witnessed the poverty and suffering of the Somali people during a visit to the country last month.

“The tragedy of Somalia, where tens of thousands of children died due to the lack of even a piece of bread and a drop of water, is a shame for the international community…

“No one can speak of peace, justice and civilization in the world if the outcry rising from Somalia is left unheard.”

Turkey has launched an aid campaign for Somalia, collecting $300 million within the last two months. It also organized an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that resulted in more than $350 million in pledges, and has undertaken various projects, ranging from transport and agriculture to education and construction of roads, hospitals and schools.

And by re-opening its embassy in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, Turkey has shown the world that claims of security challenges cannot be an excuse for delaying assistance, said Mr. Erdogan.

In addition to alleviating the humanitarian situation, it is also necessary to act urgently to support efforts to build peace and stability in Somalia, he added.

“As Somalia takes its well deserved place within the international community, the world will become a safer and more stable place,” Mr. Erdogan said.

The Prime Minister also voiced Turkey’s “unconditional” support to the recognition of the State of Palestine, and called on Israel to take the necessary steps towards peace rather than building new barriers.

Turkey, he noted, has never pursued hostile and confrontation policies against any other country, but has always acted on the basis of cooperation and friendship.

“However, Israel has made a grave mistake against a country and its people,” he said, referring to the May 2010 incident in which nine people were killed during Israel’s interception of an aid flotilla headed for Gaza that originated in Turkey.

An independent panel of inquiry examining the flotilla incident released a report earlier this month in which it found that Israel’s interception of the vessels was “excessive and unreasonable,” while the flotilla acted “recklessly” in attempting to breach the naval blockade.

“Our demands from Israel are known,” said the Prime Minister. “Our position will not change unless Israel takes the necessary steps to redress its mistake and meet our demands.”

Turning to Cyprus, he said that Turkey will continue to support a comprehensive and lasting solution to produce a united country, in line with the UN-backed negotiations, but will not let the future of the Turkish Cypriots remain uncertain forever.

“At this critical juncture, we can also not accept any attempt by the Greek Cypriot side to act as if they are the sole representative of the island or have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots,” he stated.

The attempts by the Greek Cypriot side to unilaterally determine maritime jurisdiction areas and to engage in oil and natural gas exploration activities in these fields are “extremely irresponsible” both in terms of timing and possible outcomes, the President added.

Mr. Erdogan also discussed the Cyprus talks and the flotilla report, among various other issues, in a meeting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday.


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

AP – Turkish PM to visit Egypt, Tunisia, Libya.

By SUZAN FRASER, Associated Press – September 7, 2011.

An official says Turkey’s prime minister is planning to visit Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, where popular uprisings have ousted autocratic leaders.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was already scheduled to visit Egypt, starting on Sept. 12. But a Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday trips to Tunisia and Libya “are also on the agenda.” He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the ministry’s rules.

Erdogan has said he intends to also cross into the Gaza Strip from Egypt, but it was not clear if that trip would go ahead.

Erdogan’s tour comes at a time as ties between Turkey and its former ally Israel have deteriorated further over Israel’s refusal to apologize for last year’s raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla that killed nine pro-Palestinian activists.


Turkey: Warships Will Back Next Gaza Flotilla – Sami Aboudi
“Turkish warships, in the first place, are authorized to protect our ships that carry humanitarian aid to Gaza,” Prime Minister Erdogan said in an interview with Al-Jazeera on Thursday.
Erdogan also vowed to stop Israel from exploiting natural resources in the Mediterranean. “You know that Israel has begun to declare that it has the right to act in exclusive economic areas in the Mediterranean….You will see that it will not be the owner of this right, because Turkey, as a guarantor of the Turkish republic of north Cyprus, has taken steps in the area, and it will be decisive and holding fast to the right to monitor international waters in the east Mediterranean,” he said. (Reuters)


Posted on on August 15th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

THIS WAS A WORK IN PROGRESS WRITTEN AFTER I SAW ONLY HARTITY – I Piked this up again after having seen SHITZ last night – Sunday August 14th.


As a posting in our series about the Israeli Summer 2011 – we position this as a sequel to the posting #2 – that was also about Hanoch Levin. This posting thus gets #1.2

The previous posting was:


“Hartity” or “Thrill my Heart” or as in another translation – “Move my Heart” – makes the connection between the “Wonderful woman in us” and the image of the woman that is wanted but not realized – all this in context of the “Work of Life” (Mlechet Hechaiim) in which characters move without illusions and make their accounts with the zero of their real life and the reasoned conclusion of “what there is – is it.”

A terrific monolog in this play has just one word – LOVE. The actor manages to find all nuances he wants to find there – we reach from his dreams to the miserable reality of his life. Then there is the LaLaLa who is also the Fegra we mentioned in the previous posting – the critically attacked targets of the Levin world. Here  interpreted by Jeta Monte, the character lives with every little movement on the stage.

On the male side – all Levin Characters first shown in the Ya’akobi and Leidental play – roll up here as Judge Lamka and his friend or alter ego – Pashuniak with the only real woman the just So-So.

The LaLaLa here is presented as a singer that is really not a singer. She has plenty of time for her cavaliers which she presents to Judge Lamka as professionals and he is so gullible that he accepts it.

In general – this is a very good production of a very sad comedy.


To my tremendous surprise, I found that the Cameri Theater production was preempted by a production in Nicosia, Cyprus, March – May 2011.

(Agios Andreas Market Theater, Parthenonos 21, Agios Dometios, Nicosia, Cyprus – and I assume it was in Greek, though I am not sure – it might have been in English.)

It says:  THOC’s Experimental Stage presents “Thrill My Heart”, a comedy by Hanoch Levin

‘Thrill My Heart’ is a romantic comedy with no romance, which tells the story of a judge and his singer-lover. The play, written by Israel’s most renowned playwright, was discovered shortly after Levin’s death in 1999 and caused a stir of excitement and anticipation.

Translation from Hebrew: Jacob Simbi

Direction: Theodoros Nikolaides

Sets: Constantinos Taliotis

Costumes: Sose Eskidjian

Music: Lukas Erotokritou


Stavros Louras (Lamka)

Lea Maleni (Lalalala)

George Mouaimis (Pashuniak)

Annita Santorineou (So-So)

Panos Makris (Chorchechalito / Haji Noutza)

Nektarios Theodorou (Barmpaspaskoua / Lofats Bovits)

Diomedes Koufteros (Tatrala / Nazim Bay / Charouz Parantouchi)

Nektarios Theodorou, Diomedes Koufteros, Panos Makris (three youngsters)

please see –…


Then, further on, thanks to the internet, we learned:

Kamil Pasha » Israeli Theater Show in Turkey Canceled Under Threat

22 May 2011 –  by Turkey’s national theater in Antalya, after the theater’s managers saw a performance of Hanoch Levin’sThrill My Heart” in Israel… 

So, should we look into the Middle East politics that evolved on their own, but nevertheless one could say that were predicted by Hanoch Levin when he wrote into the Israeli classics the characters of the Fogra and the LaLaLa?

No, we will not enlarge on this here on what we hinted already in posting #2.


SHITZ  is a family comedy with Levin’s wit and songs dating back to 1988. The original staging was by Roni Toren and it was very popular at that time.

The Shitz family is a mirror to a society that sees its base crumbling while there is a growth of the lust for money.

The couple Fefechts and Tsesha have long dreamt of the day when their daughter Schprachtzi will find a husband. Cherches, a former officer in the military, shows interest, and he wants to marry Shprechtzi.

Shprechtzi wants a ring and a baby, Tcharchess wants money and lots of it. The money must come from Fefechts, the father, who does not have the money or simply does not want to part with it.

“A delicate matter as the non-existence of a father must be carefully arranged” Tcharchess tells Schprachtzi. The two begin to plan, and try to execute, and even manage to get Tsesha, the mother, into their dreams and schemes.

A sad observation by Fefechts: “I have a future son in law who is attached to the dollar, and a daughter attached to sausages.”

The first performance  of this revival by a production team from the Mara Theatre of Kiryat Shmona and the Upper Galilee (directed by Yagil Eliraz with original music by Adi Zisman) with the actors from the Cameri Theatre – Rami Baruch, Esti Kosovitzki, Alon Dahan and Irit Kaplan, took place at the Cameri on February 17, 2011.


Posted on on March 16th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


{the original title is as follows, but the article shows signs of much higher complexity !}

Poland to use 1989 revolution as lesson for Arab countries.

As presented by ANDREW RETTMAN

March 16, 2011,
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – Poland is to use lessons learned from its 1989 revolution against Communism to help spread democracy in the Arab world during its upcoming EU presidency.

Warsaw had originally aimed to concentrate on political reform in the EU’s post-Soviet neighbours in the east.

But a new draft programme for its six months at the EU helm adopted by the government on Tuesday (15 March) and seen by EUobserver notes that events in north Africa and the Middle East are forcing it to change priorities.

“Thanks to the rich experience of its own, successful political and economic transformation, Poland can bring a lot to this debate and furnish practical help for the new governments in north African countries,” the paper says.

In one example, Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski is re-working plans to create a new EU foundation to help dissidents in countries such as Belarus. An international conference in December on the Sikorski project will now be devoted to “supporting transformational processes” in north Africa instead.

The Polish government is also keen to craft a long-term “complex strategy” for EU relations with the Arab world, containing “mechanisms to support persecuted minorities, including Christians.”

With deadly violence in Bahrain on Tuesday opening a new front in the Gulf states, a Polish diplomat noted that the programme is likely to see more changes in the next three months.

“We are only half-way through the Hungarian presidency. We will know the final Polish priorities when the government presents them to the EU Council and the European Parliament in July,” he said.

The provisional Polish calendar still leans toward the east rather than the south despite the political preamble.

Poland aims to hold a summit (date to be confirmed) and a foreign-minister-level meeting (in December) with the six post-Soviet countries covered by the EU’s Eastern Partnership policy. Six other high-level meetings in Warsaw and Krakow will look to EU-Eastern Partner integration in tourism, phytosanitary standards, statistical reporting, infrastructure, the economy and migration.

On Russia, Poland “hopes” to make some progress on signing a new EU-Russia treaty, but makes no mention of concluding the pact.

On the Balkans, it aims to sign the accession treaty with Croatia and to hold an EU home affairs ministers meeting in Ohrid, Macedonia, in September. Rising ethnic tensions in the country are threatening to undo the Ohrid Agreement peace treaty of 2001.

Poland’s other top priorities will be energy security and the EU economy, with little mention of previous plans on EU military integration.

The paper states that: “If Europe is to become competitive on the global scale, it cannot focus only on paying back debts, it must also act decisively on growth.”

It predicts that average EU economic growth in 2011 will be 2 percent but that some member states will stay in recession while others get richer. It adds that: “Our societies are ageing and the current model of the welfare state must change.”

One pet Polish project will be to help the European Commission set up a “28th” legal regime for online transactions to stand alongside the 27 member states’ existing laws in the area.

“A classic example [of existing problems] is the inability of Polish citizens to … buy products on iTunes. In the opinion of the Polish presidency liquidating barriers in online trade could – by the year 2020 – generate an extra four percent for the EU’s GDP.”

The first EU summit on the Polish watch is to take place in Brussels on 14 September. The last one will be in the EU capital on 9 December.


Posted on on December 6th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Pincas– Israel was struck by disaster on Thursday – four days ago: A forest fire blazed out of control outside of Haifa. More than 40 people were killed. Israel’s firefighters didn’t have the manpower or the equipment to put out the blaze.

Today the fire is under control thanks to assistance Israel received from the United States, European countries, Turkey, and its Arab neighbors.

That’s right. Egypt, Jordan, and even the Palestinian Authority sent men and equipment to help Israel put out the flames.

Skeptics believe that the Israelis and Palestinians harbor so much hate and pain that peace is impossible. The events of the past week show that they are wrong.

The image of Palestinian firefighters standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their Israeli counterparts shows us that both peoples understand that they have a common humanity and a shared future.

This week, in the midst of tragedy, we saw a glimpse of the future that we’re fighting for.

Thank you for being a part of our movement.

Noam Shelef
Director of Strategic Communications
Americans for Peace Now

PS — Israeli security expert Yossi Alpher penned a column for APN with insights on the strategic ramifications of the fire.

To read the Alpher article – please – Check it out here.


Posted on on November 23rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

We saw an announcement in The Forward – put there by The American Friends of Israel Civic Action Forum.

It spoke of two meetings in New York City, with Rabbi Michael Melchior, a political figure from Israel, as well as Chief Rabbi in the oil-state of Norway.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2010, 6 pm, at the Anshe Chesed Synagogue at 252 West 100 Street, near Columbia University, NYC.

MONDAY NOVEMBER 22, 2010, 7 pm, at The Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life, New York University, 53 Washington Square South, between Thompson & Sulivan Streets, NYC Downtown.






We clearly subscribe to every word in above manifesto – I had only the question in my mind about the involvement in this by the distinguished Rabbi-turned-politician who has a strong ego that interferes sometimes with his visions.

In effect, it was Rabbi Melchior who in 2008 joined a group of University Professors from the Ben Gurion University led by Professor Alon Tal in a new Green Movement and bad-mouthed Peer Visner, Deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv, the head of the existing Green Party – with the foreseeable result that the vote was split and neither faction entered the Knesset. Had they instead joined forces, there would have been a three member green faction in the Israeli Parliament and Israel would have had a different Government. Why did this happen? Clearly – the egos involved.

Further, in December 2009, in Copenhagen at the Climate Change convention, I looked for Rabbi Melchior – who is Danish, his father the former Chief Rabbi lives there, he was born there, and in disbelief, the new Chief Rabbi, at an event with global religious Greens, told me that Michael Melchior did not come home.

So, I went to the advertised events, first to the one organized by Professor Jonathan Shorsch of Columbia University, listened to the amiable Rabbi – and could not agree more.

I will not get involved with the figures and history of the drilling beyond saying that the quantities found will make the entrepreneurs multi-billionaires beyond their present status. Further, the way they skinned the State of Israel is nothing short of what is done to any third world country. In effect much worse. To top this there is the overhanging cloud of US oil interests – and to this purpose Noble calls itself a US company. Sure, there are hints of Israeli government favoritism that allowed concessions to individuals who sold them to the two major partners – The Noble Company interests or the Tshuva Group. There is a spaghetty structure to all of it – untouchable and hard to unravel – not different then any third world country that oil was found in its territory.

OK, some of the money – it would involve in practice 10.5% in royalties and taxes that in theory are 22% but with terrible loopholes. This instead of Government income  that in the US are in theory at a 70% level and in the World at large move between 50% and 90%.

But then even if Israel gets 33% of the income – in light of the Dutch disease that showed how easy money from oil and gas was a course that destroyed the country’s agriculture and some manufacturing industries by pushing up the currency, something that was avoided later by Norway, a country that understood the income is better placed in a fund and only the interest from that Fund is used to cover the Country’s expenses. What the Rabbi suggests is that Israel establish such a fund, as he learned from his Norway experience, and uses the money only for education, pensions, and the environment. Thus we talk here about raising the Israeli government take from the oil income to 80% and use the money for above noted social and future oriented purposes. GREAT!

He amassed a serious coalition – stretching from the Communist member of the Knesset Dov Khenin who is another person in Parliament with Green and Social real credentials – to some of the leaders of the Settler movement who regard this as a National issue, and individuals from the religious parties.

On the other side there are Knesset members from the Foreign Minister’s Russian immigrants party and an army of lawyers and oil lobbyists. The Government decided to create a Commission headed by Hebrew University economist Professor  Eytan Sheshinsky.…)

Committee members:

Prof. Eytan Sheshinski Committee chairman

Prof. Eugene Kandel head of the National Economic Council

Mr. Shaul Tzemach director general of the Ministry of National Infrastructures

Dr. Yaakov Mimran petroleum commissioner, Ministry of National Infrastructures

Mr. Yehuda Nasradishi director of the Tax Authority

Dr. Udi Nissan budget director, Ministry of Finance


Attorney Avi Licht assistant attorney general (economic fiscal)

Dr. Amit Friedman Bank of Israel

and according to… of November 17, 2010.

They concluded: “The Committee found that the oil and gas exploration industry was given significant tax benefits that are not consistent with international practice. The main tax benefit is the depletion deduction, which offsets and neutralizes the remuneration demanded by the state by virtue of its ownership of the oil and gas deposits, which, at present, is comprised solely of royalties. Depletion deduction is a tax break that enables holders of oil and gas rights to significantly reduce their taxable income. The depletion deduction was intended to reflect the depletion of the resources in the deposits, and thus a decrease in the value of the asset. However, since no payment for the resource in the deposit was made, and the depleting asset is owned by the state, this cannot be used as a justification for the deduction and, therefore, it is actually a subsidy that is given for operations in the industry by means of a tax benefit.”

According to Rabbi Melchior, the recalculated part the government should receive according to the conclusions is 66% – or double the amount at present – this is still low considering other OECD countries – well bellow the 80% figure.


Considering the Intervention by the US Ambassador, and the fact that the US is backing Israel on other levels, above becomes a political football with serious implications and the Rabbi is here to bring this to the attention of the Jewish lobby – with the possibility to bring about a clash of right vs. the American Right. Strange indeed if you do not understand how countries stay in the Third World for ever – even when money is on the horizon.


The two meetings Rabbi Melchior had in New York brought out a mainly older religious crowd – obviously more so at the Synagogue Synagogue site then at the NYU student site. As the students were already away for the Thanksgiving week – only about 5-6 students out of a total of 20 attendees, showed up – most others older people – nevertheless the questioning was very much to the point. At the NYU site there were also questions involving the environment, US interests, geopolitics, the European market for the gas and how this will play with Russian interests whose gas sales to Europe will be hurt. One young lady asked afterwards the Rabbi about how all of this plays out in Jewish law. At the Synagogue the questions were mostly about Israel internal politics.


Rabbi Michael Melchior is a DanishNorwegian rabbi, an Israeli politician – leader of the left-wing religious party Meimad, which he represented in the Knesset.

Melchior was born in Denmark into a family whose members had served as the country’s chief rabbis for seven generations. He studied in Jerusalem and in 1980 received rabbinic ordination after which he returned to Scandinavia to serve as Chief Rabbi of the Norwegian Jewish Community. In 1986, he Immigrated to Israel where he served as International Relations Director for the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. He is still Chief Rabbi in Oslo, and his son is filling in as he spends most his time in Israel.

Melchior became involved in politics when the Meimad party was formed shortly before the 1999 elections from the movement founded by Yehuda Amital in 1988. The party joined Labor (with which it was friendly, Amital having served as a non-parliamentary minister under Shimon Peres in the early 1990s) and Gesher in forming an alliance called One Israel. In 2000, he hosted the Pope John Paul II‘s visit to Israel and said he was “very moved” by the Pope’s gesture.

The alliance won 26 seats, with Melchior taking the one reserved for Meimad. He was appointed Minister of Social and Diaspora Affairs in Ehud Barak‘s government. After Barak lost a special election for Prime Minister to Ariel Sharon in 2001, Melchior lost his post, but was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, though he lost his new job in November 2002 when Labor pulled out of the national unity government Sharon had formed.

He was re-elected to the Knesset in the 2003 elections as Meimad’s sole representative, and was appointed Deputy Minister of Education, Culture, and Sport when Labor joined the coalition government in January 2005. In June 2006 he became Deputy Minister of Social and Diaspora Affairs, but again lost his position when Labor pulled out of the coalition.

He retained his seat again in the 2006 elections and chaired the Education, Culture, and Sports Committee and the Social-Environmental lobby in the 17th Knesset.

After Meimad left its alliance with the Labor Party, it ran a joined list with The Green Movement in the 2009 elections, with Melchior at the head of the list. However, the party failed to cross the electoral threshold of 1.5% and Melchoir lost his seat.



The web pages as suggested by Rabbi Melchior are: and

Further –

The Noble Corporation: By the early 2000s, Noble Drilling changed its name to Noble Corporation as a result of its change in domicile from the United States to the Cayman Islands.

On December 19, 2008, Noble, incorporated in the Cayman Islands and operated from Sugar Land, Texas, announced plans to reincorporate in Switzerland. In March 2009, Noble Corporation redomesticated to Switzerland. At that time it was removed from the S&P500 Index.

In June 2010, Noble Corporation entered into a definitive agreement to buy Frontier Drilling for US$2.16 billion.

Noble completed the purchase of Frontier in late July 2010. As a result, Noble’s fleet grew by seven units to a total of 69 offshore drilling units (including five drilling rigs currently under construction), which are located worldwide, including in the Middle East, India, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Mexico, the Mediterranean, the North Sea, Brazil, West Africa and Asian Pacific. Noble also owns and operates the dynamically positioned floating production, storage, offloading vessel, FPSO Seillean.

Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. is doing the drilling in the sea area between Israel, Lebanon and Cyprus and Noble Energy Mediterranean is the operating company based in Israel.

Delek and Noble Energy are part of the Yam Tethys consortium, which has discovered natural gas in commercial quantities offshore Israel. The partners in Yam Tethys are Noble Energy (47%), Delek Drilling (25.5%), Avner (23%), and Delek Group Ltd. (4.44%).

In July 2009, Israel’s state-owned Israel Electric Corp said its directors had approved a plan to buy 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas from the Yam Thetis consortium for $1 billion over the next five years.

Delek-controlled companies and partners led by Noble Energy in January 2009 announced a find at the Tamar prospect that may hold 7.7 trillion cubic feet of gas (218 billion cubic meters), according to a survey by Netherland, Sewell & Associates Inc. That’s more than twice the annual output of Norway, the world’s second-largest gas exporter. The partners have secured about $11 billion in domestic gas commitments and expect output by 2012.

In August 2010 the consortium announced even a larger find – the Leviathan gas field discovery that might hold also 4.2 billion barrels of oil.

The legend has it that when the Noble interests started their first search for oil in Israel, they did this with the Bible in their hands and that it was the Bible-belt in Texas that spurred their interest in the Holy land.

The Levant Basin, where he original Tamar is located, and which stretches the length of Israel and Lebanon, may hold 227 trillion cubic feet of gas, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a report released April 8, 2010, its first review of the region.

Yitzhak Tshuva, a self-made Israeli billionaire  whose father immigrated from Libya, was listed at No. 214 on the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people in 2007 with $4 billion, but in the 2010 listing he comes up only as 463 and $2.1 billion. He owns real estate in the US including the old Plaza Hotel in New York City, but also the Delek Oil company in Israel which owns 4% of Noble Energy Company. He owns gas filling stations in the US, Israel and Europe. In France he bought up recently  the BP stations. His recent losses were in real estate.


Developments in Natural Gas and Oil Explorations. – From an Israeli Government site.
See more: USGC report – The Land of “Milk and Honey”… and Natural Gas.

Following the developments in the last few months, Israel is on the verge of absorbing impressive amounts of local extracted natural gas into its energy market. The updated map of Israel’s offshore gas potential include 3 major fields: Mari-B field located offshore the towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon, Dalit and Tamar fields located offshore the city of Haifa and the town of Hadera, and the Leviathan field, south-east of Tamar.

The Mari-B field is operated by Yam Tethys, a consortium comprised of Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL) and Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG), since 2004. The Tamar field is operated by Noble Energy, which was given in August an approval by the state to develop and deploy gas from Tamar via Yam Tethys’ infrastructures on Mari-B. The third big field is Leviathan, which received major optimistic assessments for its huge potential this late May, enough to probably transform Israel into a natural gas exporter.

Noble Energy owns 36% of Tamar, Delek Group subsidiaries Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE: AVNR.L) and Delek Drilling LP (TASE: DEDR.L) each own 15.625%, Isramco Ltd. (Nasdaq: ISRL; TASE: ISRA.L) owns 28.7%, and Dor Alon Energy in Israel (1988) Ltd. (TASE:DRAL) unit Dor Alon Energy Exploration Ltd. owns 4%. Noble Energy and Delek Group jointly own Yam Tethys, and both companies are partners in the Leviathan structure, together with Ratio Oil Exploration (1992) LP (TASE:RATI.L).

Regulation and the Sheshinsky Committee:

Due to these encouraging findings and calls from the public to reassess the tax regulation on profits from these natural resources, the ministry of finance assembled a committee to examine this issue, headed by Prof. Eytan Sheshinsky. The committee is due to hand in its conclusions this October.

Oil Explorations:
In addition to latest developments in the natural gas market, there are also signs for oil in Israel. Givot Olam is a public partnership devoted to oil search in Israel. Positive signs for oil were found in Givot’s search areas, near the towns of Rosh Haayin and Kfar Saba in Central Israel.

All this hullabaloo is strange to Israel, a country not known for its natural resources. Being placed between the great water sources of Mesopotamia and the Nile, Israel had to pray for water throughout history and until new technologies for drilling for gas and oil came about – had neither. Will it insist now to live up to its intellectual power, or it will bow to the oil curse? Will the World Bank and the UN institutions tell the African countries to learn also from the Norwegian example and use funds for their National Development? Could this be a case in point for OPEC countries also? Is here a new world in the making – based on fossil fuels – no less? The stranger it gets?

In answer to my two public questions to Rabbi Melchior at the Sunday meeting, one dealing with his being instrumental in splitting the Green movement in Israel, and the other why he did not come to the Copenhagen meeting, the honorable Rabbi was kind to answer in what amounts to his having been interested in the social movement he was trying to establish as an extension of his Meimad party. In effect this is not a Green Movement as such, and as he knew that nothing was going to come out from the Copenhagen meeting he decided against coming to Copenhagen.

He likes rather to go to places that turn out results, and that is why one months before Copenhagen, part of the tun-up to Copenhagen, he went to the Windsor Castle religious-leaders meeting that was organized by the UN Secretary-General, and where he represented the Jewish Green leadership.

We clearly understand his feelings about Copenhagen, but are hard pressed about his evaluation of the Royal Windsor/UN pomp. I wish he spent some learning days at the UN in New York. Also, I was astonished how the Lady Rabbi of the Synagogue where Rabbi Melchior spoke on Sunday did not grasp that the questions and answers had significant value indeed. We hope that the present effort will have more positive results.


Noble Energy CEO: Will Lobby Vs Israel Raising Energy Taxes …
Nov 12, 2010 … HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- Noble Energy Inc. (NBL) Chief Executive Charles D. Davidson said Friday he will lobby against the possibility of ……

Noble Energy Moves Forward With Israeli Project
Nov 1, 2010 … Noble Energy made good progress on its Israeli offshore portfolio of assets and increased its acreage position in a key onshore play in the ……

News for noble energy
Noble Energy (NBL) Approaches New Downside Target of $80.33? – 5 minutes ago – November 23, 2010
SmarTrend has detected shares of Noble Energy (NYSE: NBL) have bearishly opened below the pivot of $82.26 today and have reached the first level of support …


Posted on on July 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria (Spanish pronunciation: [mi?t?el ?at?e?let]; born September 29, 1951) is a moderate socialist politician who was President of Chile from 11 March 2006 to 11 March 2010—the first woman president in the country’s history.

She won the 2006 presidential election in a runoff, beating center-right US dollar billionaire businessman and former senator Sebastián Piñera with 53.5% of the vote.

She campaigned on a platform of continuing Chile’s free-market policies, while increasing social benefits to help reduce the gap between rich and poor, one of the largest in the world.

Bachelet, a pediatrician and epidemiologist with studies in military strategy, served as Health Minister and Defense Minister under President Ricardo Lagos.

Bachelet is the second child of archaeologist Ángela Jeria Gómez and Air Force Brigadier General Alberto Bachelet Martínez.

Facing growing food shortages, the government of Salvador Allende placed Bachelet’s father in charge of the Food Distribution Office. When General Augusto Pinochet came to power in the September 11, 1973 coup, General Bachelet, refusing exile, was detained at the Air War Academy under charges of treason. Following months of daily torture at Santiago’s Public Prison, on March 12, 1974, he suffered a cardiac arrest that resulted in his death. On January 10, 1975, Bachelet and her mother were detained at their apartment by two DINA agents, who blindfolded them and drove them to Villa Grimaldi, a notorious secret detention center in Santiago, where they were separated and submitted to interrogation and torture.[13] Some days later they were transferred to Cuatro Álamos (“Four Poplars”) detention center, where they were held until the end of January. Later in 1975, thanks to sympathetic connections in the military, both were exiled to Australia, where Bachelet’s older brother Alberto had moved in 1969.

Her paternal great-great-grandfather, Louis-Joseph Bachelet Lapierre, was a French wine merchant from Chassagne-Montrachet who emigrated to Chile with his Parisian wife, Françoise Jeanne Beault, in 1860 hired as a wine-making expert by the Subercaseaux vineyards in southern Santiago.

In February 1979, Bachelet returned to Santiago, Chile from East Germany. Her medical school credits from the GDR were not transferred, forcing her to resume her studies from where she had left off before fleeing the country. [citation needed] She graduated as M.D. on January 7, 1983. She wished to work in the public sector wherever attention was most needed, applying for a position as general practitioner; her petition was, however, rejected by the military government on “political grounds.” Instead, because of her academic performance and published papers, she earned a scholarship to specialize in pediatrics and public health at Roberto del Río Children’s Hospital (1983–1986). During this time she also worked at PIDEE (Protection of Children Injured by States of Emergency Foundation), a non-governmental organization helping children of the tortured and missing in Santiago and Chillán. She was head of the foundation’s Medical Department between 1986 and 1990. Some time after her second child with Dávalos, Francisca Valentina, was born in February 1984, she and her husband legally separated. She is a separated mother of three and describes herself as an agnostic.

In 1990, after democracy was restored in Chile, Bachelet worked for the Ministry of Health’s West Santiago Health Service and was a consultant for the Pan-American Health Organization, the World Health Organization and the German Corporation for Technical Cooperation.

Driven by an interest in civil-military relations, in 1996 Bachelet began studies in military strategy at the National Academy for Strategic and Policy Studies (Anepe) in Chile, obtaining first place in her class.[2] Her student achievement earned her a presidential scholarship, permitting her to continue her studies in the United States at the Inter-American Defense College in Washington, D.C., completing a Continental Defense Course in 1998. That same year she returned to Chile to work for the Defense Ministry as Senior Assistant to the Defense Minister. She subsequently graduated from a Master’s program in military science at the Chilean Army‘s War Academy.

In 1996 Bachelet ran against future presidential adversary Joaquín Lavín for the mayorship of Las Condes, a wealthy Santiago suburb and a right-wing stronghold. Lavín won the 22-candidate election with nearly 78% of the vote, while she finished fourth at 2.35%. At the 1999 presidential primary of Coalition of Parties for Democracy (CPD), Chile’s governing coalition since 1990, she worked for Ricardo Lagos’s nomination, heading the Santiago electoral zone.

On March 11, 2000 Bachelet—virtually unknown at the time—was appointed Minister of Health by President Ricardo Lagos. She began an in-depth study of the public health-care system that led to the AUGE plan a few years later. She was also given the task of eliminating waiting lists in the saturated public hospital system within the first 100 days of Lagos’s government. She reduced waiting lists by 90%, but was unable to eliminate them completely and offered her resignation, which was promptly rejected by the President.  Controversially,  she allowed free distribution of the morning-after pill for victims of sexual abuse.

On January 7, 2002 Bachelet was appointed Defense Minister, becoming the first woman to hold this post in a Latin American country and one of the few in the world. While Minister of Defense she promoted reconciliatory gestures between the military and victims of the dictatorship, culminating in the historic 2003 declaration by General Juan Emilio Cheyre, head of the army, that “never again” would the military subvert democracy in Chile.  She also oversaw a reform of the military pension system and continued with the process of modernization of the Chilean armed forces with the purchasing of new military equipment, while engaging in international peace operations.

A moment which has been cited as key to Bachelet’s chances to the presidency came during a flood in northern Santiago where she, as Defense Minister, led a rescue operation on top of an amphibious tank, wearing a cloak and military cap.

In late 2004, following a surge of her popularity in opinion polls, Bachelet was established as the only CPD figure able to defeat Lavín, and she was asked to become the Socialists’ candidate for the presidency.

According to The Economist magazine the government of Bachelet opted to make social protection and the promotion of equality of opportunity her main priority. Since becoming President, her government built 3,500 crèches daycare for poorer children. It introduced a universal minimum state pension and extended free health care to cover many serious conditions.
A new housing policy aimed at abolishing the last remaining shanty-towns in Chile by 2010 featured grants to the poorest families. Some of them had to pay just US$400 for a house costing about US$20,000.

In October 2009 Ms Bachelet’s popularity peaked at 80 percent according to a public opinion poll by conservative polling institute Adimark GfK., and in March 2010 she showed an approval rating of 84%, and in terms of specific characteristics attributed to Chile’s president, ‘loved by Chileans’ reached a record 96%.

The Chilean Constitution does not allow a president to serve two consecutive terms, so Bachelet left office in March 2010.

Chile’s October 16, 2006 vote in the United Nations Security Council election—with Venezuela and Guatemala deadlocked in a bid for the two-year, non-permanent Latin American and Caribbean seat on the Security Council — developed into a major ideological issue in the country, and was seen as a test for Bachelet. The governing coalition was divided between the Socialists, who supported a vote for Venezuela, and the Christian Democrats, who strongly opposed it. The day before the vote the president announced (through her spokesman) that Chile would abstain, citing as reason a lack of regional consensus over a single candidate, ending months of speculation.

Continuing the coalition’s free-trade strategy, in August 2006 Bachelet promulgated a free trade agreement with the People’s Republic of China (signed under the previous administration of Ricardo Lagos), the first Chinese free-trade agreement with a Latin American nation; similar deals with Japan and India were promulgated in August 2007. In October 2006, Bachelet promulgated a multilateral trade deal with New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei, the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (P4),  also signed under Lagos’ presidency.  She also held free-trade talks with other countries, including Australia, VietnamTurkey and Malaysia. Regionally, she signed bilateral free trade agreements with Panama, Peru and Colombia.

At the beginning of 2010 Chile became the OECD’s 31st member, and its first in South America. This acceptance for OECD membership marked international recognition of nearly two decades of democratic reform and sound economic policies; for the OECD, Chile’s membership was a major milestone in its mission to build a stronger, cleaner and fairer global economy

She speaks Spanish (her native language), English, German, Portuguese and French.

In 2009 Forbes magazine ranked her as the 22nd in the list of the 100 most powerful women in the world (she was #25 in 2008, #27 in 2007, and #17 in 2006). In 2008, TIME magazine ranked her 15 on its list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Eleanor Clift wrote on on June 10, 2010 that Michelle Bachelet moved the Chilean Government from Macho – to – Maternal. She was clearly the best qualified person to establish and head the new UN institution that was baptized with the terrible name UNWOMEN. And you know what, letting into the UN building a highly qualified person may endanger the minions working there. That, is what doomed on me today, this because I also learned an additional fact about Bachellet’s Chile, and that is why I write this UPDATE.…

The additional fact I learned today came from reading material that will appear in an Energy Management Magazine Published in India. The article is by – Ms. Jimena Bronfman, Vice Minister of Energy, Chile , and it deals with Chile moving into leadership position on energy issues – and you guessed right if you said that Dr. Bachelet started this. In effect the Ministry of Energy – which for Chile is a Ministry of Energy Efficiency – was set up at the end of her days in the Presidential Office. We are sure that this was not an easy task to fulfill – but we are sure that it will be one of her most important legacies. We know that Energy Efficiency is not a top priority of the G77 real on-going leadership and this, more then anything else, explains the diatribe we described in our original posting which we updated now.

The creation of the Ministry of Energy in February 1st 2010 is an important milestone in this process. The law that is the basis for Chile’s current institutional framework also includes the creation of the Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency, a public private entity that will implement the public policies designed by the Energy Efficiency Division of the Ministry.

Energy Efficiency is one of the main goals of Chile’s national energy policy, families are changing their habits and industries, corporations and local governments are trying to reduce their energy consumption by adopting energy-efficient measures. This fostering environment was recently faced by the February 27th earthquake and tsunami that devastated several regions of our country. We have taken this catastrophe as an opportunity and a challenge to rebuild our towns and cities using energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The Ministry of Energy is working with other ministries, such as the Ministry of Housing, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education to include energy efficiency measures and non-conventional renewable energies in the reconstruction of health and education infrastructure and emergency housing. We are also developing a pilot project to rebuild a town with the leading best practices in sustainability and energy consumption, so it can be replicated in other parts of the region and world.

Energy Efficiency is key to Chile’s competitiveness and economic growth. According to studies carried out before the earthquake, energy efficiency measures could help reduce Chile’s energy demand by around 14% by 2020. This would have a positive financial impact in the reconstruction process, as public funds saved by reduction of energy consumption can be reallocated to other priorities of the rebuilding program.

Energy Efficiency will also help Chile, whose economy is based on exports, to reduce its carbon footprint and be competitive in a world that is increasingly carbon-conscious. Although Chile’s contribution to global greenhouse emissions is low compared to many other nations, our wines, copper, fruits, fish and wood products are sold in developed markets that will require sustainable production processes.

In order to achieve our goals we are currently developing the Energy Efficiency Strategy for 2020. At the moment a draft proposal is being reviewed by key actors from the private and the public sectors who will be involved in the actual implementation of the strategy. The main objective of this process is to promote a broad discussion of the specific proposals, introduce appropriate improvements and gain comprehensive support for the energy saving goals contemplated in the strategy.  The official version of the E3 will be published after completion of this discussion period, hopefully by the end of November 2010.

Other challenges for this year include the implementation of the rest of our institutional framework, which will be completed by the creation of the Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency, a public-private non-profit entity that will implement the Ministry’s public policies. It will be funded mainly through public funds but will include private sector representatives in its board. The focus of the Agency’s work will be guided by the E3 strategy; however, we shall also aim at developing other important projects such as education. We strongly believe that a crucial driver for change in these matters is highly-skilled human resources. Therefore, education in schools, undergraduate and post-graduate education is needed to introduce strong energy efficiency programs. Other important aspects of energy efficiency lie in smart-grid and net-metering programs.

Another main priority for 2010 is the development of energy efficiency labelling for cars, new houses and domestic appliances. Labelling is currently mandatory for refrigerators and light bulbs, and we aim to expand this initiative so consumers have all the information available to make the right decisions.

We also want to continue growing our international alliances and cooperation. We have already executed collaboration agreements with several countries and organizations worldwide, and we will work to strengthen and deepen those relationships. Energy Efficiency is a global effort that can be fostered by exchanging best practices that will benefit consumers, industries and countries all over the world.


The China and Developing States, the full name of the G77 that purports speaking for 130 out of the 192 UN Member States, is a UN charade – simply, because there never was a common interest among all these various States Now, with China becoming at least a G2 with the United States, if not the straight Global Economic Super power, for her to use the leadership of this rag-tag bunch and push into leadership positions at the UN – Libya, Zimbabwe, Sudan etc. resulted in turning the whole UN into a laughable enterprise. Bravo to little Palau that walked out on this continuous obstructionist committee circuit that calls for time-out whenever the UN tries to reach some decision. We watched them at climate Change meetings where Saudi Arabia is their representative.

Perhaps there was once s difference between the industrialized European  – North American countries plus Japan, and the rest of the world – this when the UN was created and the decolonizing process was giving birth to many new UN Member States – in effect multiplying by three the total number of global independent States, but since then much has changed.

The Latin ABC, Mexico, Korea, Turkey, India, Indonesia, South Africa have all knocked successfully at the corporate doors of development and entered the G20. The OECD club includes most of these G20 plus most EU States and Israel that is a perpetual  G77 pariah. They have now real interests to defend and not much time for posturing – so we will see slowly a realignment also at the UN. OK, China and South Africa will not want to give up their positions as leaders of the 130. It keeps some of their diplomats in the circuit and the UN will continue the fiction, but how long hence that the AOSIS/SIDS will still play this game? When will they see that Palau was indeed a trailblazer? Will the lack of action on Climate Change by some of the major OECD members who effectively joined the Saudis in opposing real action on climate, push these States back into the G77 arms?


Chile Threatens to Split South Unity in World Body.
Thalif Deen…

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 7 (IPS) – The Group of 77 (G77) has historically maintained a united front, vociferously protecting the economic interests of developing countries at the United Nations. But its longstanding solidarity is now being threatened by the continued presence of a single Latin American country which recently joined the ranks of a rich elitist group.

Chile, which was formally inducted last May into the 30-member Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), described as an exclusive club of industrial nations, has given no indications of leaving the G77, thereby triggering a sharp division of opinion among its 130 members. “Chile wants to have it both ways,” one G77 member told IPS, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It wants to have one foot in the OECD and another in the G77. But this is unacceptable to some of us.”

When Mexico and South Korea broke ranks with the developing world and joined the Paris-based OECD back in 1994 and 1996, respectively, both countries quit the G77, the largest single coalition of developing countries at the United Nations.

Chakravarti Raghavan, editor emeritus of the Geneva-based South-North Development Monitor published by the Third World Network, told IPS if Chile does not voluntarily quit the G77, the group must find a way around its longstanding convention of consensus decisions, and “politely but firmly throw Chile out”.

“This will be in line with the spirit and the intentions behind the formation of the Group of 77 and its functioning over all these years,” he added.

“It is probably about time that the G77 being an informal grouping expel Chile – on the simple ground that you can’t belong to two different groupings,” said Raghavan, who is considered a foremost authority on the G77, and who has written extensively about the Group since its inception in June 1964.

“It is my impression that Mexico, when it joined OECD, initially wanted to be in both camps, but was told it was not possible,” he added.

On North-South economic issues at the United Nations, the G77 and the OECD hold diametrically opposite views – most or all of the time.

The OECD is home to some of the world’s major economic powers, including the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Japan. Most of the emerging economic powers, including Brazil, India, China and South Africa, are longstanding members of the G77 and not members of the OECD.

But according to the OECD, it is planning to have discussions with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa – all active members of the G77 – “with a view to possible membership”.

The G77 has lost four other members over the years: Cyprus and Malta (both in May 1994) and Romania (January 2007) when they joined the European Union.

A fourth country, Palau, a small island developing nation in the Pacific, withdrew from the G77 in June 2006, ostensibly for financial reasons.

Besides Chile, Mexico and South Korea, the OECD has also added three other non-G77 members into its ranks: Estonia, Slovenia and Israel.

Speaking off-the-record, a diplomat from a G77 country expressed a dissenting point of view when he told IPS: “There is nothing in the G77 rules or guidelines stating that an OECD member has to quit the G77.”

He said Chile is well within its rights to remain a member of the G77.

“And, while there may be a few in G77 who may not be pleased about Chile remaining in the G77, there are no serious moves afoot to push them out of the grouping,” he said. “Most of us, support Chile remaining in the G77. There will be strong resistance from a number of us if anyone tries to eject Chile from the G77.”

And as an after-thought, he added: “The OECD had made leaving the G77 a condition for Mexico’s entry into the OECD. However, when Chile was applying to the OECD, there was no such condition.”

Moreover, he said, Mexico stated that leaving the G77 should not be a condition for Chile’s entry.

Another G77 delegate told IPS that if Chile does not voluntarily leave the Group, as Mexico and South Korea did in previous years, a divided G77 may be forced to take a decision either way.

Meanwhile the former G8 – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia – has been expanded into the G20 to include seven developing nations (besides Australia, Mexico, South Korea, Turkey and the European Union).

The seven developing countries – Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa – are still members of the G77.

Chile has argued that G77 members that belong to the G20 should be considered in the same light as G77 members belonging to the OECD. But the G20 is not considered a formal body like the OECD, which is treaty-based and whose decisions are binding on all its members.

According to an OECD statement, the invitation to Chile to become the Organisation’s 31st member came at a time when the OECD is expanding its relations with the region.

As an OECD member, Chile will participate in all areas of the OECD’s work, from economic and financial policy to education, employment and social affairs. It will also join with other OECD countries to share experiences and best practices, setting new standards and developing new governance mechanisms for its economy and society more broadly.

The statement said that during two years of accession negotiations, Chile was reviewed by some 20 OECD committees with respect to OECD instruments, standards and benchmarks.

The invitation to take up membership confirms that Chile is taking appropriate steps to reform its economy including in the areas of corporate governance, anti-corruption, and environmental protection, the statement said.


Posted on on February 2nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

U.N. Looks for Diplomatic Breakthroughs: U.N. looks for diplomatic breakthroughs in 2010.
Posted By Colum Lynch   Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Ban Ki-moon and his diplomatic envoys have been scouring the globe this week in search of a promising peace settlement for 2010, pursuing talks with Kim Jong Il’s government in North Korea, Afghanistan’s Taliban, and Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders.

These latest diplomatic initiatives follow a year that brought few breakthroughs on the mediation front as the U.N. strained to advance democracy in Burma, head off mass rights abuses in Sri Lanka, and manage a crisis that threatens to trigger a resumption of civil war in Sudan.

U.N. officials say the proliferation of new initiatives is largely coincidental, the product of months, if not years, of preparation, but that it provides the U.N. with an opportunity to show that it can achieve some diplomatic wins. “There’s no grand strategy here,” said one official. Here’s a survey of key U.N. diplomatic initiatives for 2010 and their prospects for success {cynics at the UN say that this is propelled by the wish to secure a reappointment for a seconf term at the UN – editor}:

1. Cyprus. Ban traveled to Cyprus this weekend to nudge Demetris Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat, the parties representing the ethnic Greek and Turkish sides of the island, into a breakthrough in a conflict that has lasted more than 35 years despite repeated efforts at mediation. Ban said that he is confident that a political settlement “is within reach.” But the two Cypriot leaders appeared more downbeat about the prospects for a deal. Cyprus has been split since 1974. Talks between the two sides during the past 17 months have produced some results, including an agreement to open a pedestrian crossing in Nicosia, the divided capital. But there is concern that April elections in the Turkish section may bring a hard-liner to power. “Time is not on the side of settlement,” the two leaders acknowledged in a joint statement Monday.

2. North Korea. Ban, a former South Korean diplomat, has been seeking a role in the North Korea crisis since he first took office in January 2007. A confidential U.N. policy paper, produced on April 25, 2007, called for “intensifying and expanding engagement” with Pyongyang, and possibly for the appointment a special North Korea coordinator. But initial attempts to start talks faltered after North Korea launched its missile test and detonated its second nuclear explosive last April and May. On Sunday, Ban announced that he would send his top political advisor, B. Lynn Pascoe, a former U.S. diplomat, to Pyongyang to restart high level U.N. talks later this month. He will be joined by Ban’s top Korean aide, Kim Won-soo. Can Ban be far behind?

3. Afghanistan. The U.N.’s outgoing special representative, Kai Eide, held secret talks with members of the Taliban sometime last year. Eide has been pursuing such contacts with the Taliban since he first started his job. U.N. sources described those talks as highly preliminary, and said that they do not have the approval of the Taliban leadership, which claims that its movement is not negotiating with the U.N. But an official close to the talks confirmed that they had in fact taken place and that Eide’s successor, Staffan di Mistura, would likely continue pursuing those contacts. While these discussions offer little hope of providing a breakthrough, they could provide a useful back channel over the long haul.

4. Sudan. The U.N. faces perhaps its greatest diplomatic challenge in Sudan, which is preparing for presidential elections this year and a referendum in 2011 that will determine whether the country remains unified or whether Sudan’s southerners decide to vote for independence. Ban has said Sudan will be one of his top priorities in 2010, and he has just assigned his two top Africa specialists, Ibrahim Gambari and Haile Menkerios, to manage U.N. operations on the ground. Success in Sudan will largely be measured by the U.N.’s ability to stop the referendum from triggering a renewed civil war. “Partitioning the country without violence: that will be a miracle,” said one Security Council diplomat. “I don’t know how they are going to do it.”

5. Burma. U.N. diplomatic efforts in Burma have pretty much run aground. Ban has reassigned his top Burma envoy, Gambari, to Sudan, and made his chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar of India, his temporary point man on Burma. The Burmese military junta recently rebuffed a U.N. request to invite Gambari back to the country for a final visit. U.N. diplomats say that Burma has little interest in meeting with the U.N.’s diplomatic placeholders, particularly now that the Americans are looking to engage the regime directly.


Posted on on February 10th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

UN Halts Aid to Gaza in Dispute with Hamas – Griff Witte
The UN aid agency that serves more than half the residents of the Gaza Strip suspended humanitarian shipments on Friday, accusing Hamas of confiscating UN material for the second time in a week. The UN Relief and Works Agency said Hamas seized 10 trucks filled with rice and flour. Earlier in the week, the agency had accused Hamas of confiscating blankets and food from a UN warehouse. In a statement from New York, the world body said the suspension would remain in place “until the aid is returned and the agency is given credible assurances from the Hamas government in Gaza that there will be no repeat of these thefts.” John Ging, head of the relief agency in Gaza, said Hamas’ actions had “crossed a red line.” “We’re not going to bring aid in here and let it be hijacked by Hamas or anyone else.” (Washington Post)

Cyprus Ship Is Carrying Prohibited Weapons-Related Material from Iran

A ship detained by Cyprus appears to be carrying banned weapon-related material from Iran prohibited under UN resolutions, a senior Cypriot source said on Saturday. A UN panel monitoring compliance of sanctions said that on the basis of evidence provided, the Cyprus-flagged “Monchegorsk,” sailing from Iran to Syria, is carrying a cargo that is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. (Reuters)


Posted on on July 29th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Credit Sarkozy for working to revive a club – that is the Mediterranean Club.

By CHRIS PATTEN, OXFORD, England, and posted as…

Maybe it is time to be a bit more generous to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and look at the outcome of what he does rather than the way he does it.

The original launch of the Mediterranean Union almost sank the whole enterprise. Appearing to speak without giving the issue much thought, Sarkozy initially proposed a club of European and mostly Arab states along the Mediterranean’s shore. It would have been in essence a French-run enterprise that the rest of Europe would have paid for. This did not go down well, particularly with the Germans.

Suspicion was strong that the French were trying to find a way to buy off Turkey with a relationship falling well short of European Union membership.

So the auguries for an attempt to revitalize Europe’s relationship with its Mediterranean partners were not good. But by the time of this month’s grand Paris Summit to send the new club on its way, initial suspicions had largely dissipated.

Sarkozy bowed to his European critics and enjoyed a diplomatic triumph. We shall soon see whether there is substance to the initiative, or whether it is just a coat of fresh paint on an old and tired idea.

The original Barcelona Process, launched in 1995, was an excellent scheme. Intended to provide an economic and political backdrop to peacemaking through confidence-building in the Middle East, it was an admirable recognition of Europe’s historical, commercial, cultural and political ties with its neighbors south of the sea, which have brought us all together over the years.

There were aspirations for a free-trade area by 2010. There were pledges of political integration based on shared values. There were people-to-people links. There was a forum where Israelis and their long-term Arab foes could sit together and discuss other matters than the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Development projects were funded through grants or cheap loans, and these have probably played at least some part in increasing the attractiveness of the Maghreb and the Mashraq to foreign investors.

There was some lowering of agricultural and other tariffs by the EU. Dialogue on political reform, and the euros to support it, helped further the process in some countries, notably Morocco and Jordan. There was some cooperation on common problems like illegal drug use and immigration.

Yet, the successes of the Barcelona Process were modest: a great idea on the launchpad had difficulty getting off the ground. So Sarkozy deserves at least 2 1/2 cheers for trying to revitalize it. But if the Mediterranean Union is to achieve more than was managed in its first manifestation, a number of things will need to happen.

First, Europe is better at talking about free-trade areas than delivering free trade. For example, there are still too many barriers to agricultural trade between the north and the south. And guess which country leads the opposition to any significant opening up of European agriculture. France, take a bow.

Second, however slow we have been in opening up a real Mediterranean market, the barriers to freer trade between Arab League countries are just as great.

Third, it was excellent that, in Paris, Sarkozy began the process of bringing Syria in out of the diplomatic cold. Hopefully, his attempts to act as a peace broker between West Bank Palestinians and Israel are also blessed with success.

But the truth is that Europe, for all the gallant efforts of Javier Solana, has been absent from serious politics in the Middle East. We have not dared cross the absentee monopolists of policy in Washington.

Europe should get more seriously involved, even at the risk of occasionally irritating America, which may be less likely to happen once the Bush administration is history.

For a start, we should recognize that there will be no political settlement in Palestine without including Hamas. What would incredibly have been former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s first visit to Gaza in his first year of peacemaking had to be canceled recently because of security concerns. Enough said.

Europe must decide how serious it is about all the admirable stuff in the Barcelona Process regarding pluralism, civil society, the rule of law and democracy. Should a shared concept of human rights be one of the foundations of our Mediterranean partnership?

If so, what are we in Europe proposing to do about it? If this is just blah-blah, better not say it. We discredit ourselves and important principles when we say things we don’t mean.


Lord Patten is a former governor of Hong Kong and European commissioner for external affairs. He is currently chancellor of Oxford University and co-chair of the International Crisis Group.


Posted on on May 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

EU to tussle with Latin America’s ‘Pink Tide’ at Lima summit.

By Leigh Phillips, EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – May 15, 2008
Tussles over biofuels, trade and even capitalism itself are likely to take centre stage in Lima, Peru on Friday, today, as European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and some 60 heads of state from the EU and Latin America and the Carribean (LAC) descend on the Peruvian capital for the fifth EU-LAC summit.

Under the protection of some 85,000 soldiers and police who have set up the usual array of roadblocks, traffic detours and zones restricted to local citizens, the leaders are to rattle through what is an ambitious agenda.

Although the leaders will focus on two key issues – combating inequality and tackling climate change – poverty, social inclusion, sustainable development, energy and the environment in general are also set for discussion.

At the summit, the commission is to announce Euroclima, a €5 million fund for Latin American projects that tackle climate change.

Additionally, the two camps are hoping to boost trade and increase economic co-operation. The EU would like to see some movement towards an agreement in the Doha round of world trade negotiations.

The Doha round has been stalled since 2001 largely due to the differing trade priorities of poor and wealthy nations.

However, the politicians will also likely end up discussing a range of off-agenda topics that have forced themselves onto the front pages in the last few weeks, such as food shortages and the miniature cold war between Colombia and Ecuador that has simmered away since the former bombed alleged encampments of Colombia’s Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) within Ecuador without Quito’s permission in March.

Merkel, Hitler and Chavez: The discussions are expected to be quite fractious, as the largely liberalising perspective of the EU comes up against what can be fairly described as currently the most left-wing continent on the planet.

Ahead of the meeting, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned other Latin American nations against the “left-wing populist” policies of Venezuela’s perennially beret-adorned president, Hugo Chavez, who responded in typical bombastic fashion by comparing Ms Merkel to Adolf Hitler.

On Sunday (11 May), Mr Chavez criticised the objectives of the European Union in their dealings with Latin America and the Caribbean.

The EU “is coming here to help us. Where is their plan to help the poor? Ask the president of Haiti how much promises from Europe and the United States have done,” he said, according to DPA, the German Press Agency.

In recent years, centre-left and socialist governments have been elected in all but a few nations across the region – the so-called Pink Tide.

Nonetheless, Latin American and Caribbean leaders are not all of one mind.

The more centre-left presidents Lula da Silva of Brazil, Michele Bachelet of Chile, and Peru’s own Alan Garcia largely support the free market and the so-called Washington Consensus – policies of fiscal discipline, deregulation, privatisation and trade liberalisation – albeit with more of a social cushion than their centre-right counterparts would prefer.

Meanwhile, to their left, Evo Morales – Bolivia’s first indigenous leader in 500 years, Mr Chavez and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa are committed to building what they call “a socialism of the 21st century,” and have instituted a range of policies that favour the poor of their countries, such as boosting health and literacy programmes and, more controversially, the nationalisation of key industries.

Fernando Lugo, a former Catholic bishop and adherent of liberation theology won Paraguay’s presidency in April, adding to the continent’s collection of progressives. Analysts expect Mr Lugo’s policies, as with those of Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner, to fall somewhere between that of Mr da Silva and Mr Chavez.

‘Biofuels debate will be central’
The sides align themselves slightly differently however when it comes to the question of biofuels.

EU leaders last spring agreed that the EU should increase the use of biofuels in transport fuel to ten percent by 2020, up from a planned 5.75 percent target to be achieved by 2010.

But the European Union has come under repeated pressure from international institutions such as the World Bank and the UN World Food Programme, as well as environmental and development NGOs, to abandon its biofuels targets due to concerns that the controversial fuels contribute to global warming and food price rises.

As a result, the commission has touted as-yet undefined sustainability standards that it says will ensure the biofuels Europe uses are green.

Brazil, the world’s leading producer of ethanol, while publicly supporting these sustainability criteria, is very worried that if standards are too strict, European markets will be closed off to them.

On the other hand, most of the other LAC countries have lined up against both Brazil and the EU’s positions on biofuels, aghast at the site of Haiti’s government falling in April as a result of food riots on the island nation.

Even Peru’s moderate Mr Garcia complains that biofuel crop cultivation is pushing up the prices of staples such as corn, rice and wheat, and is planning to ask for a limit to biofuel production.

“I have no doubt that the theme of food will be central to the debates of the summit,” Peru’s foreign minister, Jose Garcia Belaunde, said last week.

As with many such international gatherings, an alternative “People’s Summit,” is currently being held all week in a working class Lima neighbourhood, with attendants from social, labour and indigenous groups.

“The Brussels Consensus is the new Washington Consensus, and has started a new period of neocolonialism,” said Brid Brennan of the Netherlands-based Transnational Institute, one of the organisers of the People’s Summit.

However, unlike similar counter-summits elsewhere, this one will also be attended by a number of heads of state, notably Mr Chavez, Mr Morales, Mr Correa and the new president of Cyprus, Dimitris Christofias.

External relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, trade commissioner Peter Mandelson, and development commissioner Louis Michel will join President Barroso at the EU-LAC summit.

The EU-LAC summit was preceded on Thursday (15 May) by the second EU-LAC Business Forum, bringing together business and political leaders, and will be followed on Saturday by separate summits between the EU and each of Mexico, Chile, the Andean Community and Central America.


Posted on on April 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Macedonia was approved for NATO but could not join because of the two Greek EU Member States – Greece and Cyprus – objecting to its name.

Now a Cyprus Former First Lady, to become   EU Commmissioner of Health, hesitates to discover her age for cultural reasons and Turkey may finally decriminalize questions about “Turkishness.” Does   the EU take itself seriously?

New commissioner asked ‘rude question’ about age.

08.04.2008 | By Renata Goldirova
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – Androula Vassiliou, a former first lady of Cyprus and the country’s new EU commissioner-designate, has revealed that she does not like people asking her age.

On Tuesday (8 April), her spokesperson refused to reveal how old Ms Vassiliou is following a journalist’s question, saying it was “rude” to ask and inappropriate to speak about a woman’s age.

“In Greek, in our culture, it is a bit rude to ask for a woman’s age. So if you insist that much, I would suggest that you do some research on Google and you will find the CV of the commissioner and there you can find her exact age,” commission spokesperson Nina Papadoulaki said.

She added: “Honestly, I don’t have her age.”

Only later did the commission provide media with the required information that Ms Vassiliou’s birthday falls on 30 November 1943 – making her 64.

The spokesperson insisted, however, that her secretive tone was not a result of lack of transparency, but only a question of cultural perception. “In general, we neither mention nor publicise the age,” she said.

In fact, even the Cypriot would-be commissioner’s profile on the official commission website falls short of mentioning her birthday. Similarly, the free encyclopedia Wikipedia also cites only dates related to her legal and political career.

At the same time, eight other female commissioners make no effort to hide their age, with this piece of personal information available on each of their official websites.

The ‘rude-question’ kerfuffle comes just one day ahead of a vote in the European Parliament on the nomination of Ms Vassiliou as a new member of the commission.

She is to be put in charge of the health dossier, replacing Markos Kyprianou – who left the commission to take on the foreign minister post in Cyprus.

Turkey set to pass key freedom of speech reform.

09.04.2008   By Elitsa Vucheva
The Turkish parliament is next week likely to pass a bill softening a law which sets limits on freedom of the speech by criminalizing insults to “Turkishness”.

One article in the country’s penal code – article 301 – currently imposes up to three years in prison for such an insult.

Many Turkish intellectuals and writers have been tried under the article, including Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk.

“I believe we will push the amendment to Article 301 through parliament next week,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday (8 April), according to press agencies.

Late on Monday, the Turkish government submitted its draft proposal for amendments to the parliament, suggesting, among other things, that the country’s president should give his consent before prosecutors can launch cases in that field.

It also proposes that the vague term “Turkishness” be replaced by “Turkish nation”, and the prison time envisaged be decreased from three to two years while the sentence could be suspended or converted to a fine, AFP reports.

The move comes just days before a visit to Turkey on Thursday and Friday by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn.

The EU has repeatedly called on EU candidate Turkey to “repeal or amend without delay” the controversial article as a prerequisite to join the bloc.

The article has mostly been used against those who refuse to follow Turkey’s official line on the killings of Armenians during World War I, by for example referring to the events as “genocide” – a term Ankara categorically rejects.

The amendment is expected to be adopted without difficulty in the country’s parliament, as the governing Justice and Development (AKP) party maintains a majority of 340 deputies in the 550-seat parliament.

Turkey has been an EU candidate country since 1999, and launched accession talks with the bloc in October 2005. Progress has been slow and it has so far opened six out the 35 chapters needed in order for the accession negotiations to be closed.