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Posted on on March 7th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Thursday, March 6, 2008, The European Union Studies Center of The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, with the help of the Alexander S. Onasis Public Benefit Foundation (USA), had the great opportunity to hear from one of Greece’s important political figures – Dr. Yannos Papantoniou.
Dr. Papantoniou currently serves as an Onassis Foundation Senior Visiting Scholar at the University of Athens. In 1981, he was elected as a member of the European Parliament and in 1984 became adviser to the prime minister on European Economic Community affairs.

Since June 1989, he has been an elected member of the Greek Parliament. He served as deputy minister of National Economy, then variously as minister of Commerce, minister of National Economy and Finance, and minister of National Defense under the Socialist, or Pasok, government.

On February 27, 2008, Greece Named Yannos Papantoniou As its Candidate To Lead the the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development , (EBRD). He has also been Governor of the National Bank of Greece in 2000.

Over the 12-month period in 2002-03, when Greece held the presidency of the European Union’s Council of Defense Ministers, Dr. Papantoniou helped to coordinate the policies that led to the creation of the European Military Force and its engagement in international peacekeeping operations as well as the establishment of the European Defense Agency.

Dr. Papantoniou studied economics at the Universities of Athens and Wisconsin, history at the Sorbonne (France), and obtained his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Cambridge (U.K).

The topic at the CUNY presentation was: “Regional Security in Southeastern Europe.” We got obviously an explicit Greek point of view.

At first we got a tour of the European expansion from 15 to 27 States and we saw how this was possible. The Three Baltic States were adopted by the Scandinavian States and this helped their economic integration into the EU. Poland was helped by foreign investment and its relations to US Poles. The Central Europeans were helped by Germany and Austria (Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians – also Slovenia and the future accession of Croatia. The Creation of a partnership for peace at NATO helped Bulgaria and Romania.

So now we are left with the remnants of the Balkans. The situation came to an edge with Kosovo declaring unilaterally independence on February 17, 2008 and being by now recognized as an independent State by over 100 countries. Obviously Serbia and Russia do not recognize Kosovo – neither does Greece. We found in effect, on the internet, a 2007 official statement from Greece saying that they do not agree to an “imposed’ solution for Kosovo. They think of the old concept of Sovereignty under which you cannot dismember Serbia, this because if that succeeds, North Cyprus will also want to become an independent Turkish State …

Turkey? As an attached State to the West would be an important role player to stabilize the Middle East – that gave me a reason to think that one should also ask the Turks what they think.

“The EU is an economic organization with political ambitions.”

The requirements for accession are: a. Democracy; b. A market Economy; and c. Adaptation of EU law into National law.

“Turkey is a strong regional power. If it were to come into the EU it would come in as a 100 million bloc that would change the balance of power in the EU. They might have more power then Germany and the UK combined, and this is unacceptable. The EU would prefer a special linkage to be offered to Turkey. After 12 additions the enlargement may have reached a limit. The EU has already become less homogeneous and less coherent.”

For the Balkans, joining the EU gives them the best motivation to normalize their society and economy. The speaker would like this to happen eventually, but not immediately.

Here, Professor Hugo M. Kaufmann, Professor of Economics at Queens College and at the Graduate Center, who chaired the event, opened up for questions, and there were many very interesting questions. I will bring up mainly our own question that came about because of the suggestion of having special relationships between the EU and countries like Turkey, that want to join the EU, but are rebuffed – then offered a special compensation that looks good to some at the EU, but which they cannot accept. Internally their governments will look like losers, and they will become losers indeed because of internal politics.

My question was why look at special arrangements with single countries, while a special arrangement with a large group of countries would be much more palatable to these outsiders – and I named three such groups: The Mediterranean Group, The Black Sea Group, and the Turkic Group.

The Mediterranean group does exist in effect – this as a result of the Barcelona Process. It started as an alliance to clean up the Mediterranean Sea – as such it had to include the Southern States of the EU – those reaching the sea shores – the North African States, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey etc. It includes countries that do not have good relations with each other – but they have to cooperate – and you know what – it works and gives results.

The Black Sea International Council started out as an environmental organization with Greece as the only participating EU member. Now after the EU accession of Romania and Bulgaria, a new Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation was created. This group that obviously also includes Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, has been extended to include the ‘frozen conflicts’ in Georgia, Moldova and between Armenia and Azerbaijan. (To others this reminds of the GUAM countries) This is indeed also an economic power house that can deal with quite a few oil and gas pipelines as well.

The Turkic group includes obviously Turkey and the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia. It could include also Azerbaidjan and Georgia. In effect it could be an oil backyard of the EU.

The bottom line of all this is that Turkey is a central part of all these three groups – it could in effect come in with all this dowry and thus be welcome in its special arrangement as leader of outside EU alliances. This – rather then thinking of Turkey as the EU opening to a Middle East where Turkey is indeed not welcome to the Arab feast – surely, even less, then its welcome to the EU table.

I had also a short question – what about Albania? Why actually not putting it ahead of all this talk about Turkey?


The respected Greek speaker said that Albania was one of the poorest countries in the world and he did not think Germany will want to finance Albania. (I clearly could not reopen this point – if I could I would have reminded him that the Kosovars are also Albanians, so are some 15% of the people of Macedonia. Nobody speaks now of a greater Albania, like nobody speaks now of rejoining the present Greek part of Cyprus with Greece. The latter came about because some sort of solution was found, but leaving Albania dangling brought once Mao to this country, now it could be Al Qaeda. This is just unsound policy.)

On the Barcelona process the answer was again money. The process does not go forward because of lack of money. Again I do not think that this is the case – it seems to be rather a jelousy of North EU not wanting to fund deals that favor the South States of the EU – sort of shooting themselves in the feet in the process. The speaker did not pick up the other two groups beyond saying that these are interesting ideas.

On the other hand, to a question about the name dispute between Greece and Macedonia, the speaker explained that the problem was that it worries Greece if later Macedonia would put claim to the areas in Turkey and Bulgaria that carry that name. He recognized that you cannot restrain people from naming themselves what they wish, but for international relations purpose they will have to pick for themselves some neutral name because even the temporary name of FYROM is not acceptable to Greece. Because of this – in our eyes total nonsense – Greece is vetoing Macedonia’s entrance to NATO – thus in effect hurting more NATO then Macedonia.


After all of this, when the meeting was called to end, in overtime, a Turkish Consul in New York asked for his right to say also a few words. He said flat that for 200 years Turkey is part of Europe. Turkey’s per capita income is now 1/5 to 1/4 of the average of the EU, but when Spain and Portugal entered the EU they were only 1/10. It is already 45 years that Turkey is trying to get recognition for its potential.

With the final end of the meeting I had the chance to talk to Mr. Basar Sen the Turkish Consul. He explained to me that the expectation of joining the EU has created its own logic and the government is now trapped by it, and turning away will have internal consequences. Surely I remember that starting with Ataturk and his “Young Turks,” a secular new Turkey was created out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire – a secular Turkey that wanted to be recognized, already then, as part of Europe. How can the speaker try to push them back into the Middle East from where these military men tried already then to escape?

But, sensing a friendly person, I followed up with a question I posed years ago to the Turkish Ambassador to the UN. Something that I think was the cardinal sin of Turkish thinking of last century. The question of the Kurds.

The Young Turks wanted to create a homogenized people out of the remnants of the Empire. They still had many – many different ethnic groups in the large piece of land that became Turkey – some say 154 ethnicities with language differences. But even if this was the case, there was only one minority that counted – these were the Kurds. What Turkey feared was that the Kurds will seek independence for their part of the land – so the Turkish government pursued them vehemently and turned them into real enemies. But even if the Kurds might have dreamt of having a larger Kurdistan to include also parts of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Azerbaijan, those other Kurds where not yet convinced that they, themselves, were ready to go for such a frame, with all this uncertainty hanging over the heads of their Turkish brethren. On the other hand, had Turkey realized that there were tremendous benefits in turning Turkey into a bi-national Turkish-Kurdish State, they could have indeed lured into their sphere of influence the Kurds of Iraq – the oil world would have looked differently, and the chances of having created an EU interest in their future would have helped more modernize Turkey, then the way they ended up fighting the greater majority of their people without showing for real economic results. We hope now that the Consul will find a way to provide us with think-tank material to help explain the the thinking of the Turkish leadership – past and present.


Posted on on February 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

During a one-hour debate organised by Brussels-based think-tank The Centre on Tuesday, 26 February 26 2008, Mr Jouyet, French EU affairs minister, indicated a certain change in France’s plans to create a Mediterranean Union.

“There is no Mediterranean Union”, the minister said, specifying that one should now speak of a “Union for the Mediterranean” which is a “semantic shift that is not neutral.”

The French idea of a Mediterranean Union involving a union of EU and non-EU Mediterranean states, has been particularly criticised in Germany, which fears it will be detrimental to the already existing EU policies in the area.

Earlier this week, a postponement of a Franco-German meeting initially planned for 3 March prompted speculation that disagreement over this specific project was the cause.

Mr Jouyet tried to reassure opponents of the project during Tuesday’s debate.

The proposed Union for the Mediterranean is only about “completing and enriching” the already existing policies, as the Mediterranean is an important EU border, he said.

“For my part, I am optimistic that we will find together with our partners, in particular with our German friends, an agreement on the modalities [of the project],” he added.


Posted on on February 25th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Cyprus elects communist president.

By Elitsa Vucheva, for EUobserver, February 25, 2008.

Cyprus’ communist party leader Dimitris Christofias won Sunday’s (24 February) elections, becoming the EU’s only communist head of state.

Mr Christofias, the head of the communist Akel Party, won against former foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides with around 54% against Mr Kasoulides’ 46.6 percent.

About half a million people were eligible to vote at these elections, including 390 Turkish Cypriots, with some 91 percent of them voting, according to Bloomberg.

Despite being Soviet-educated and leading a communist party however, Mr Christofias has vowed to preserve his country’s market economy and ruled out nationalisations of companies.

In addition, countering attacks to his EU commitment in a debate with his rival last week, he insisted he was “not a Eurosceptic”.

But he added: “I’m a Euro-fighter. I fight for Cyprus’s best interests within Europe. I won’t say yes to everything the EU says,” Bloomberg reports.

{The Silver lining}

However, what Mr Christofias’ election also brings to the table, are hopes for a relaunch of discussions on the reunification of the divided island.

Cyprus has been independent since 1960 and divided since a Turkish invasion of the island’s northern part in 1974, triggered by a Greek-inspired coup.

Currently Northern Cyprus is only recognised internationally by Turkey.

Both Mr Christofias and Mr Kasoulides campaigned on re-launching the peace talks that had stopped in 2004 after a failed referendum on the matter, when Greek Cypriots rejected the idea of reunifying Cyprus.

“There is only one ideology: Cyprus and its salvation and a more just society,” the new president told his supporters in Nicosia last night.

Mr Christofias’ Akel party has traditionally good relations with Cypriot Turks and analysts note that the conditions are currently good for a re-launch of the process, as Northern Cyprus has also been run by moderate left-wing President Mehmet Ali Talat since 2005.

Turkish Cypriots welcomed Mr Christofias’ election.

“We consider this change as a chance and we wish that negotiations [on the island’s reunification] start immediately, without useless preliminaries,” stated Hasan Ercakica, spokesperson for the Turkish Cypriots.

“We cannot wait another 34 years to solve this conflict,” Turgay Avci, Northern Cyprus’ foreign minister, told the Daily Telegraph.

But according to some, good personal relations between Mr Christofias and Mr Talat need to be backed by serious efforts and compromises in order to obtain real results.

“Having good relations is a positive factor, but it won’t be enough to deliver a solution,” Ozdil Nami, a member of the Turkish Cypriot parliament who belongs to Mr Talat’s party, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

“Christofias and Talat would have to make a compromise necessary for a solution and then succeed in convincing their populations,” he added.

For his part, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso also insisted that Mr Christofias’ election “offers the opportunity to overcome the longstanding stalemate on the Cyprus issue”.

“I would strongly encourage you to grasp this chance and without delay start negotiations under United Nations auspices with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community on a comprehensive settlement”, Mr Barroso said in a statement.


Our posting was echoed by a Marxist media from India:

akel.gif“First Communist president in the European Union – The winner of last week’s presidential runoff in Cyprus was Dimitris Christofias, from the AKEL party (which is the Communist Party of Cyprus in all but name). He is, I believe, the first-ever Communist head of state in the European Union. Somehow I would guess that this Cypriot Revolution will not cause Washington’s generals and bankers to quake in their boots (not least because news reports suggest that AKEL has become a Social Democratic party) — but hey, still cool.”… That website says:   “Social democracy equals Stalinism.”


Posted on on February 19th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

EUobserver [Comment] On Kosovo – The 28th EU Member State.

{The article shows that A UN sponsored organization, like UNMIK, is not capable to take a task to its desired end – but if the major powers within the EU decide to move on in unison, even when some lesser UN stars disagree because of their own home grown reasons, if those major powers are consistent in their efforts – there is hope that something positive will be born.}

February 18, 2008, By Pim de Kuijer, a policy officer in the European Parliament and election observer for the Dutch Foreign Ministry.

Its anthem (for the moment) is Beethoven ´s Ninth Symphony, its currency the euro and it houses more EU civil servants than any other place outside Brussels. Welcome to Kosovo, 28th Member State of the European Union.

Or it would be, if it were not for the fact that not all EU members will recognise Sunday ´s declaration of independence, casting doubts on future membership prospects. In the meantime though, the EU will have a great say in running the new country. Perhaps more so than if it really were a new member state. The EU will deploy not one but three so-called pillars, the International Civilian Office (ICO), the EULEX mission with a focus on the rule of law and the European Commission’s Liaison Office. Confused locals are already clamouring for just one EU interlocutor in the field.

The ICO’s stated aim is to prepare for a transfer of authority from UNMIK, which currently administers Kosovo for the UN, towards the Kosovo authorities. But how long this will take is anyone’s guess. Milosevic’s termination of Kosovo’s administrative autonomy in the late eighties has left a whole generation of Kosovars without much experience of good governance, although Kosovars themselves will claim that the parallel structures set up clandestinely provided them with the best training possible.

Still, with tensions remaining high between Kosovar Albanians and Serbs living in Kosovo, it may be a long time yet before it is decided the ICO is no longer needed. This, coupled with the presence of up to 2000 European police officers, judges and legal experts in the form of the EULEX mission, might lead Kosovars to question what self-determination actually means for them in practice.

Already signs of discontent are visible. Overnight, walls in the new capital Pristina as well as in other cities have been covered by graffiti saying no to the EULEX mission. Traffic lights light up stickers saying Jo EUMIK (a play of words on UNMIK), vetëvendosje, or ‘no to EUMIK, forwards.’

The Vetëvendosje movement, made up mostly of young Kosovars, does not limit its activities to spray-painting walls.

A year ago, in February 2007, two men died during demonstrations against the international presence. One of the leaders of Vetëvendosje, Albin Kurti, is currently under arrest, accused of organising violent protests. Vetëvendosje claims thousands of followers but it is hard to tell how much support, if any, it enjoys among the general population. However, if prolonged EU presence will not be seen as helpful to resolving the people’s day-to-day problems, support for Vetëvendosje or similar movements is likely to grow.

This means the EU should put sufficient energy into winning over the local population. After a recent visit to what was then still the province of Kosovo and having spoken to many locals as well as internationals, I believe this can be done in three ways.
Getting economy right:
Firstly, the EU should look beyond its own interests in the region. The EULEX mission will focus on the rule of law, with the EU standing to lose if organised crime gets even more of a foothold in Kosovo. Already, women traffickers and drug traffickers use Kosovo as a stopover on the way to EU member states.

But the local population is more concerned about the economy. Roughly half the country is made up of young people under the age of 25, with unemployment at over 60%. Many young Kosovars think about leaving Kosovo for France, Germany or, most popular of all, the USA. The poor level of education and the lack of jobs are their two foremost reasons to think about leaving. The EU presence should work with local authorities on strengthening the economy and improving education.

Secondly, the EU should build up local capacity. Kosovars need to see that the way is being paved for them to take over the reins of their own country. Kosovars say one of the faults of the UNMIK administration was to use local staff almost exclusively as translators and drivers. The EULEX preparatory mission for one is planning to give local staff real career opportunities within the new mission. It is also foreseen that its international police officers, judges and legal experts will be coupled with local colleagues, thereby leaving behind knowledge and skills by the time the mission leaves.

Colonial power?

The third way is perhaps the most difficult one. The European expats who will be working in Kosovo over the next few years should try their utmost to get along with the local population, if they are not to be perceived as colonial powers. Differences in lifestyle, income, language skills and values will make this integration very difficult.

Kosovar society, despite the modern look of its inhabitants, shops and European television programmes, is still quite traditional. It is influenced by an old moral code known as the canons of Lekë Dukagjini, a mediaeval prince. Many Kosovar Albanians deny that this code is still in force, but police in the country side still have to take people into custody simply to protect them from blood feuds. The European expats will have to tread a careful line between respecting local culture and adressing its wrongs.

All in all, the EU’s presence in Kosovo is likely to be a learning experience for all involved. As the biggest foreign EU presence with more powers than any other EU mission, it will be a test of the limits of the European Common Foreign and Security Policy as well as the European Security and Defense Policy. With the Reform Treaty in its ratification process, Kosovo may also prove to be a future training ground for the new post-Lisbon foreign policy of the EU. If Kosovo turns out to be another Bosnia, where internationals have been running the show for the last 13 years, the EU will have years to hone its skills.

To end on a positive note, it should be said that the fact that the EU is on the ground in Kosovo is already a success in itself. Although the EU is divided on the issue of recognition of Kosovo, the new mission can go ahead thanks to the formula of constructive abstention, which gives member states such as Cyprus the possibility of not agreeing to send a mission to Kosovo, without obstructing it.

Finally, the EU is learning how to agree to disagree.


EU remains split on Kosovo.

February 18, 2008, EUobserver from Brussels | By Renata Goldirova.

The question of whether the 27-nation European Union will be able to come up with a unified reaction to the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo currently rests with Spain, as the country is refusing to sign up to a common position drafted by the Slovenian EU presidency.

According to a draft document discussed by EU foreign ministers, “the council noted that member states can decide, in accordance with national practice and legal norms, to establish their relations with Kosovo as an independent state under international supervision.”

However, Spain has refused to agree to the text and has instead tabled its own proposal. Cyprus also strongly opposes the current text proposed by the Slovenian EU presidency.

“The council notes that member states will decide, in accordance with national practice and international law, on their relations with Kosovo,” reads the Madrid-sponsored paper.

Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said before the ministers’ meeting on Monday morning that his country will not recognize Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence – made on Sunday (17 February) – as it is not in accordance with international law.

“The Spanish government has always shown respect for international law,” the minister added, pointing to the fact that following the US-led invasion of Iraq, the Socialist government withdrew troops from the country upon its election in 2004.

He concluded by saying that should Serbia’s territory be split, it should be via an agreement reached between Belgrade and Pristina or via a decision taken by the UN Security Council.

Spain, which is to hold parliamentary elections on 9 March, has its own worries about separatist movements in the Basque country and Catalonia.

The Spanish draft proposal also says: “Kosovo constitutes a sui generis case, which does not set any precedent. The council reiterates the EU’s commitment to the principle of territorial integrity of states as enshrined in the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act.”

But Madrid’s version is also facing opposition. The UK is said to prefer that the EU’s position has some reference to Kosovo’s status, rather than the more general statement that Spain has drawn up.

According to diplomats, if the EU bloc fails to agree on the common position, its is unlikely to see swift recognition by individual member states.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already been cited by AFP as saying Berlin would not decide on Monday whether to give formal recognition.

Germany will wait for the EU meeting “to put in place a platform that will allow each member to take a position on the declaration of independence.”


EU fudges Kosovo independence recognition.

February 18, 2008, EUobserver from Brussels| By Elitsa Vucheva.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday (18 February) adopted a common text in reaction to Kosovo’s proclamation of independence, leaving it up to the bloc’s member states whether to recognise the newly proclaimed state.

“The council takes note that the resolution [of independence adopted by the Kosovo assembly on Sunday] commits Kosovo to the principles of democracy and equality of all its citizens, the protection of the Serb and other minorities, the protection of the cultural and religious heritage and international supervision,” read the final text.

“The council [the EU’s foreign ministers] notes that member states will decide, in accordance with national practice and international law, on their relations with Kosovo,” the document continues.

Due to the conflict in the late 1990s, and the extended period of international administration, ministers also felt that Kosovo constitutes a sui generis case that does not call into question the territorial integrity principles of the UN Charter.

Announcing the decision, Slovenian foreign minister Dimitrij Rupel, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, expressed his “happiness that we managed to see a uniformed decision, a unified stance and that we protected the unity of the EU.”

“We managed to react accordingly to a historic event,” he added.

The refusal of some member states – such as Spain, Cyprus, Romania and Greece – to recognise Kosovo ensured that Monday’s debates were heated and lengthy.

But while those countries reiterated their positions during the meeting, they did not object to the council’s final text, which had itself been significantly revised from earlier versions.

An earlier draft – rejected by member states – read: “Member states can decide, in accordance with national practice and legal norms, to establish their relations with Kosovo as an independent state under international supervision.”

Spain had strongly opposed this text and put forward its own, very similar to the one eventually adopted by the ministers.

France, UK, Italy to recognise independence.
Some member states declared their intention to recognise Kosovo immediately after Monday’s meeting.
“We intend to recognise Kosovo,” French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner told journalists, the AP reports.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has written a letter informing Pristina that Paris would establish diplomatic ties with the new country, Mr Kouchner said.

The UK, Italy, Belgium and Germany also said they would recognise Kosovo.

“A majority of [EU] member states will recognise a democratic, multi-ethnic Kosovo founded on the rule of law. Germany, too, will make this step,” the country’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said.

At least half the bloc’s members will formalise their recognition of Kosovo by the end of the week, the UK’s David Miliband predicted.

“The British government has decided to recognise Kosovo,” he said.
On the other hand, Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos stated that his country would not “recognise the unilateral act proclaimed… by the assembly of Kosovo”.

Romania, Cyprus and Greece have also reaffirmed their earlier positions opposing independence at this stage.

For now, Slovakia will not recognise Kosovo either and will again assess the situation after the deployment of the EU’s civilian mission to Kosovo, which will be finalised in four months.

Another group of states, including Bulgaria and Denmark, have expressed their readiness to recognise Kosovo, provided that its government implements the principles to which it has committed itself – such as democracy and the respect of the rights of all minorities living on Kosovo’s soil.

Bulgarian foreign minister Ivailo Kalfin told journalists that if Kosovo sticks to its commitments, Sofia could decide to establish diplomatic relations with Pristina in the next few weeks.


The Wall Street Journal finds that the Serbs caused recent wars that left a quarter million dead, so their resort to mere rhetoric counts as a Balkan progress.

The new flag of Kosovo will be a blue banner featuring a golden map of Kosovo and six stars, one for each of its main ethnic groups.

Kosovo’s population of two million has 90% ethnic Albanians the most of whom are Muslims. There are also 130,000 ethnic Serbs, half of them in the area of the northern town of Mitrovitsa. Many historic relics of original Serb culture are in Kosovo. The EU has now an opportunity to lead the Kosovars in establishing a good relationship with their Serb minority and the other smaller minorities. This while we saw on TV that in their celebration, the Kosovars displayed many more red Albanian flags with the double headed eagle, then their new blue flag.

The greatness of the EU is that it makes it possible to have small Nations – from Estonia to Macedonia and this has enhanced stability and democracy. Obviously there is a limit to smallness, and the EU will not want to see Bosnia and Herzegovina split up. On the other hand, lets take the case of Spain. The Eu might indeed someday make it possible for Spain to agree to independent Basque and Catalan entities, even though that at present time it may yet be premature and this is the reason for Spain’s difficulty with the Seb/Kosovo split – this simply because Kosovo was only a province of Serbia, while Slovenia, for example, was a separate Republic in the Yugoslav Federation. On the other hand, Turkey was an immediate backer of a Kosovo State, this because they think of what this could do to have a separate future State for North Cyprus. Obviously, all of this has little to do with the merits of the Kosovo case, and the reasons for objection from Russia and China are thus again for self-serving reasons. Now think of the slowness of enthusiasm from the majority of Arab States who think of Sudan – the obvious next candidate for disintegration – an empire that was set up by others and now serves only its ruling Arab elite. And what about Iraq? Aha! This is a Turkish/Kurdish problem?

Our own favorite example is the split of Bangladesh from Pakistan – the example par excellance of a success story that managed to overcome the “Sovereignty” objections that were had by Pakistan.



Rift Emerges at the U.N. Over Kosovo.

Staff Reporter of the New York Sun, Correspondent at the UN
February 19, 2008

UNITED NATIONS — Kosovo’s declaration of independence over the weekend is creating an international split, as the top Western powers, including America, rush to recognize the newborn country and others caution against regional and world turmoil that would result from other unilateral secessions.

The international debate came to a head yesterday at the U.N. Security Council, where the country that until Sunday was the uncontested sovereign over Kosovo, Serbia, called an emergency session. President Tadic of Serbia called on Secretary-General Ban to term Kosovo’s independence “null and void,” but the U.N. chief sidestepped the issue and declined to rule on the legality of Pristina’s weekend declaration. Similarly, the divided council came to no decision.

“Recognition of states is for the states, and not for the secretariat,” Mr. Ban told reporters after the council session yesterday. While America, Britain, and France were quick to recognize the new state, European countries such as Spain, which is concerned about the secession of its Basque region, were hesitant to do so. Despite the majority Muslim population in Kosovo, international groupings of Islamic and Arab states also refrained from taking decisions. Concerns over disintegration of current recognized states stopped many other countries from making statements.

Serbia, which considers Kosovo’s declaration illegal, recalled its ambassador in Washington for “consultations” yesterday, and the Serbian foreign minister, Vuk Jeremic, told U.N. reporters that his country planned to act in a similar fashion with any country that recognizes Kosovo. However “Serbia will not resort to force” in Kosovo, relying instead on diplomatic means and persuasion, the president, Mr. Tadic, told the council.

“There are dozens of various Kosovos in this world and all of them lie in wait for Kosovo’s act of secession to become reality and be established as an acceptable norm,” Mr. Tadic said. “If a small, peace-loving, and democratic country in Europe, a member state of the United Nations, can be deprived of its own territory illegally and against its will, historic injustice will have occurred because a legitimate democracy has never before been punished in this way.”

Although the European Union said in its statement yesterday that the case of Kosovo, with its unique history, is “sui generis” in the affairs of states, Mr. Tadic’s argument was powerful for many countries, including some of those that emerged out of the former Soviet bloc. Russia and China, concerned about their own separatists in Chechnya and Taiwan and Tibet, led the charge at the council yesterday. As permanent council members, they can block U.N. membership for Kosovo.

“Safeguarding sovereignty and international integrity is one of the cardinal principles of contemporary international law,” the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, Wang Guangya, told the council. “The unilateral action by Kosovo may rekindle conflicts and turbulences in the region.”

It is “too early” to make a decision on recognition, the Egyptian ambassador to the United Nations, Maged Abdelaziz, told The New York Sun, adding that neither the Arab League nor the Organization of Islamic Conference has agreed on a common approach. “I don’t expect we will have a unified position,” he said.

Many people in the Arab and Muslim world identify with the fight of Muslims in Kosovo against the rule of a Christian country, and some Arab fighters joined the Balkan wars out of such solidarity. But countries like Morocco and Sudan are concerned about secession of ethnic groups within their own territories.

Turkey, which has sought to join the European Union for years, yesterday became one of the first countries to recognize Kosovo, even as some Turks fear a Kurdish rebellion in the southeastern part of their country. But Turkish nationals also have maintained an Ankara-backed autonomous region in the northeast of Cyprus, where locals have long called for secession.

“The United States has today formally recognized Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state,” Secretary of State Rice said in a statement yesterday. “We congratulate the people of Kosovo on this historic occasion.”

The European Union dispatched a “rule of law” mission of 1,900 troops to Kosovo in addition to the existing 5,000-troop NATO force there. But the European Union has not been able to unify its members behind a single position on recognition.

The Bush administration has been criticized by some Republicans for its Balkan policies. “Recognition of Kosovo’s independence without Serbia’s consent would set a precedent with far-reaching and unpredictable consequences for many other regions of the world,” a former secretary of state, Lawrence Eagleburger, and a former American ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, wrote in the Washington Times late last year, urging the administration to “reconsider” its decision to urge independence.


Posted on on January 8th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Slovenia hopes for Kosovo solution by end of EU presidency.

By Elitsa Vucheva, for EUobserver, January 8, 2008
Slovenia is hoping the status of the Serbian breakaway province of Kosovo will be solved by the end of its EU presidency in June, and has indicated that an outcome other than independence for the province is unlikely.

Legally still a part of Serbia, Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since 1999 and wants full independence from Belgrade.

“For Kosovo it’s clear what will happen, it’s more a question of how to do it”, Slovenian prime minister Janez Jansa told journalists on Monday (7 January) in Ljubljana.

It is “obvious” that a solution that satisfies both parties cannot be found and “it’s not possible” to force Serbs and Kosovars to live together after the way ethnic Albanians were treated during the regime of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, Mr Jansa was reported as saying by AFP.

Kosovo will probably not obtain “total independence” right away though, he added.

It is likely to remain internationally supervised and dependent on NATO troops to guarantee its internal security.

While avoiding giving a concrete timetable, the Slovene premier has expressed the hope that the future status of Kosovo would be solved by the end of June – when his country’s presidency of the 27-member bloc comes to an end, according to French daily Liberation.

Further developments on the thorny issue are unlikely before the Serbian presidential elections, which take place on 20 January and 3 February.

The EU is still struggling to come up with a common position on Kosovo, with Mr Jansa stating that “it won’t be easy” to reach a unified stance among the 27 EU members.

While a large majority of member states are ready to recognise an independent Kosovo, some – such as Cyprus, Greece and Slovakia – are still reluctant to do so fearing this may set a precedent for other separatist regions.

Besides Kosovo, Slovenia is hoping to make headway on another sensitive dossier during its presidency.

It will try to push ahead with Turkey’s EU accession talks, despite opposition from some member states, notably France.

“We will try and enter negotiations on some new chapters” with Turkey, Mr Jansa said, but did not give any guarantees that there would be progress.

The opening of legislative chapters to be negotiated on the way to EU membership has to be approved by all national capitals.

“Of course we need total support from other member states. We will work on that but we cannot guarantee the outcome”, the Slovene premier added, according to Reuters.


Further, as you can find on our link, there is a change in the position of France regarding EU enlargement – this could make easier for the Slovenes to achieve what they set out to do.

France open to further EU enlargement – 08.01.2008                                           —————————————————————————-
France has indicated that it is ready to support further enlargement of the
European Union, no longer believing that a greater number of member states
will prevent the effective working of the union.


Posted on on January 1st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Cyprus and Malta adopt the EURO.

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS, January 1, 2008, by Elitsa Vucheva – The European currency is today (1 January) replacing the national currencies of the two Mediterranean islands of Malta and Cyprus, bringing the number of EU states using the euro to 15 out of the 27 member states.

The euro will replace the Cypriot pound and the Maltese lira, which currently equal €1.71 and €2.33 respectively.

Cyprus and Malta joined the EU on 1 May 2004 together with eight other states and follow Slovenia which in January 2007 became the first “new” EU state to join the euro club.

They will add around 1.2 million people to the euro zone – some 800,000 Cypriots and around 400,000 Maltese – bringing the number of those EU citizens using the euro as a national currency to 320 million out of the EU’s total 495-million large population.

The new euro coins in circulation as of 1 January also add six new “national sides” to the already existing ones.

The Maltese €1 and €2 coins represent the eight-pointed Maltese cross, seen as a symbol of the Maltese identity; the 10-, 20- and 50-euro cent coins feature the Maltese coat of arms; while the Mnajdra temples, considered to be one of the world’s oldest free-standing temple groupings, are seen on the 1-, 2- and 5-cent coins.

The Cypriot €1 and €2 coins feature the idol of Pomos, seen as representing the country’s contribution to civilisation since prehistory; the 10-, 20- and 50-euro cent coins represent the ancient Kyrenia ship symbolising the island’s historical importance from a trading point of view; and the 1-, 2- and 5-cent coins depict a species of wild sheep representing the island’s wildlife.

Cyprus and Malta got the green light to introduce the euro in May 2007, after fulfilling the necessary criteria, including a government deficit lower than three percent of GDP, a government debt not higher than 60 percent of GDP, as well as price and exchange rate stability.

On both islands, thousands of euro converters have been distributed to households to facilitate the transition to the new currency.

However, both Cypriots and Maltese citizens have indicated they fear the euro entry may be followed be a possible price rise – as it happened in Slovenia in 2007.

Strangely, Britain also introducing the euro because of its bases in Cyprus! As a side-effect of Cyprus’ adoption of the euro, the European currency will also be used in British military bases on the island.

Britain kept its sovereign military bases under an agreement signed in 1960 which released Cyprus from colonial rule.

The bases include Dhekelia, Episkopi and RAF Akrotiri, and some 10,000 British service personnel and their dependents are currently stationed on the island, according to French news agency AFP.

“It’s good news for Cyprus so we have to mirror the republic’s harmonisation with the EU as far as possible, otherwise it would make life unbelievably impossible”, British forces Cyprus spokesman Captain Nick Ulvert told the press agency.

The euro could also bring the economies of the divided island closer together, as the northern Turkish part of Cyprus may adopt the currency unilaterally, according to Reuters.

Northern Cyprus, which is recognised only by Turkey internationally, is currently using the Turkish lira, but would have no objection to introducing the euro, the agency reports.

Slovakia is expected to be the next member state to adopt the euro in 2009, while the two newest EU states, Bulgaria and Romania, hope to be able to follow suit by 2010-2011 and 2014 respectively.

Of the remaining 12 countries currently not in the euro zone, only the UK and Denmark have chosen not to adopt the European currency for reasons of economic sovereignty – but they have the option to join in the future.


Posted on on September 3rd, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

Chen Zhen (1955-2000, he died of leukemia in December 2000) was one of the outstanding artists of the Chinese avant-garde artists who disillusioned by post-Maoist reform policies left China in the mid-1980s.

Both of Chen's Parents were medical doctors, and during the cultural revolution were
sent to the country-side. When they could return to Shanghai, Chen started
first to study medecine, but dropped out and decided to be an artist.
Eventually he decided to leave, and as the door to the US was closed to
him, he went ln 1986 to Paris.

In Paris, Chen continued to develop his work into a transhistorical
projection with intention to create a "utopian harmony by
accentuating contrasts." Originally a painter, in Paris, he turned to
sculptural and installation works, using among other means also the human body, illness,
and Chinese medical practices, as methaphors to explore the complex
interplay between the material and the spiritual, the communal and the
individual, the inside and the outside. In his last years, his illness had
probably also impacted his works.

With the help of Chen's widow, the Kunsthalle at the Museumquartier in
Vienna, organized a "Homage to Chen Zhen" exhibit, May 25 - September 2,
2007. The exhibit included about 40 of his works. Thanks to my having come
to Vienna for the August 27-31, 2007, meetings on climate change, and to
the fact that I was limited by the UN media people to have my contacts
with the participants only outside the proper meeting rooms, I was able to
catch also this important exhibit that I found extremely topically
relevant to the goings-on at the meetings.

A main object of my interest was Chen's 1999 installation that he titled -
"Exciting Delivery." In this large work we look at a large dragon snake, a
reference to a typical Chinese heavenly dragon, or if you wish - a
menacing black cloud in the sky - made of interwoven bicycle tires - and
on the strands of bicycle inner-tubes, lined up on these tubes as if they
were roads, we see an innumerable horde of toy cars as if they were
parasites on the dragon's skin. The whole thing is painted black and is
seated on a triangle made by three bicycle wheels. The shape of the dragon
is also reminiscent of shapes of internal body organs, that he was
designing in his last years. Though usually they were also symbols of
cleanliness or medical purification, with one installation made of blown
glass. "Exciting Delivery" can also be seen as a large black kidney with
parasites in this context.

The bicycle and the dragon are features of Chinese identity, while the
heavenly dragon is an ancient cultural symbol, the bicycle may be an
indication of Maoist modernity, which is linked with the car as a symbol
of "Western affluent society." The catalogue of the exhibition says here
that "The past, the present, and the future merge into a complex triangle
bursting with suspense. The used materials and emerging forms, critically
hint at the social change brought about by economic and cultural
association with the West."

As I returned to see the exhibit at a time of a guided tour, I asked the
guide if one could see in the cars the menace that this black blob of a
cloud, with its parasite cars, does generate by sitting on the back of the
bicycle wheels, that had already become at the time part of China's
existance - perhaps this cloud with its cars is the invasion of China by
the West?

The lady quoted to me one of Chen Zhen's statements: "I don't play with
incomprehension, I try to create it." At a time when the words
globalization and multiculturalism were not part of the prevailing
language in the discourses dedicated to an explanation of the world, Chen
Zhen evolved ethical and aesthetic maxims which, with faresightedness,
brought the critique of globalization, interculturalism, and ethnicity
into international discourse.

Chen was a boundary crosser, he became a "cultural homeless" who created
symbolical bridges between different realities. In his life, cut short by
his leukemia, he managed to work in many different places. Besides his
beloved Shanghai, and his adopted Paris, he also had a third main cultural
home in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, where he loved to do projects with local
underpriviledged children.

Another installation that I found extremely interesting was his
"Purification Room" conceived in 2000, his last year of life. He covered
space and objects with brown earth - sort of a monochrome grave - this to
show people today's objects as they will be discovered by the
archeologists in the future ... it is sort of an archeology of the future.

The above reminded me of another China related exhibit that was shown at
the Vienna Kunstlerhaus 29.4 - 26.8, 2007, "The Terracotta Army," that I
was able still to catch at its closing day. That was a very similarly
looking archeology that dealt indeed with the past - so no wonder about
this Chen concentration on archeology as evidence.

While the exhibition tour guide was saying that in 2000, when Chen
designed this installation, he obviously has not seen yet the 9/11
pictures of 2001, but then I asked her what if he did make reference
instead to Hiroshima, and the intended shocking idea being thus of life in
the West being covered with this sort of ashes? People usually associated
this sort of ashes with that particular bomb that was thrown in the East?
Is this again a reference to a disaster in progress?

A third installation - titled "Homage to Duchamp" - designed in 1955 -
shows a panel made of mesh in which on one side there is a cover of rags,
 and on the other side there is a cover of ashes from burned paper. This
panel can swing between two door-frames that have no openning. On one it
says "No door to Earth" (the rags), and on the other side it says "No way
to Sky." This is a door to nowhere - please figure it out - dear reader.
But please remember also: Chen Zhen said: "Newspapers are snapshots of
time  .. Ashes the eternity of newspapers."

Further, with relevance to  the climate change Vienna rally - what about
Chen Zhen asking: "How far are we going to go with our material desires in
the presence of so many ecological problems?"

And Chen Zhen stating flatly: "Misunderstanding is the most seductive form
of communication - a powerful instrument permitting processes of
intercultural exchange and vital coexistance of different cultures."
Was this Chen's definition of diplomacy at work? Is this sort of the means
by which the dilemma of climate change will be solved before much of our
cultures become history? Are the final press releases from the UNFCCC
event merely a misunderstanding required in the search for coexistence?

Having strengthened myself with bits of culture, I was now ready to face
the realities of the UN diplomacy at work.

After five days of deliberations, the Vienna Conference ended on Friday
August 31, 2007 with the UNFCCC Secretariat declaring: "Vienna UN
Conference Shows Consensus On Key Building Blocks For Effective
International Response To Climate Change," and the world press, reading
that release translted it as - "Targets Agreed For Greenhouse Emissions in
Post-Kyoto Era."

We would love nothing more then to think that the case was indeed as
descibed by above statements - but this is simply not the case.

Indeed, as the Secretariat says now, more then 900 participants (the
previous figure was 1000), including delegates from 158 nations (out of
171 signatories and one observer to the 1992 UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change), came to Vienna to participate in the FOURTH SESSIONS OF
"Dialogue On Long-Term Cooperative Action To Address Climate Change By
Enhancing Implementation Of The Convention."

The AWG and Convention Dialogue, are two activities that were established
by decisions taken during the eleventh Conference of the Parties to the
UNFCCC (COP 11) and the first Conference of the Parties serving as a
Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 1) in Montreal in
late 2005. At those meetings, delegates discussed a range of issues
relevant for a framework for the post-2012 period (when the Kyoto Protocol
first commitment period ends) and a long-term cooperative action on
climate change.

AWG 4, the last of the series, was expected to analyze mitigation
potentials and policies, and address ranges of emissions reductions for
Annex I parties after the first commitment period. It was also expected to
develop a timetable to guide the completion of its work.

The AWG 4 will resume  at the start of the COP/MOP 3, which will take
place from 3-14 December 2007 in Bali, Indonesia.

What above meant was that the Annex I countries to the Kyoto Protocol to
the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UNFCCC, had to come to
Vienna  in order to come up with a program of how they intend to proceed
for the period starting 2012 in what regards their continuing decrease in
CO2 emissions. It was hoped that the advanced countries from among the
newly developed countries, read the five large countries that participated
at the German led G8+5 meeting, read here mainly China and India, will
then start making proposals of how they will then enter the process that
eventually will allow in Bali the start of the process that by the time of
the COP 15, in 2009, in Denmark, will formalize the new post-2012 regime.
So, let us make it clear, the AWG 4 was for the 38 Annex I countries to
come up with clear proposals, and in the Dialogue, all the signatories to
the UNFCCC could voice on how to proceed.

The parallel Vienna "Convention Dialogue" was supposed to focus on
bringing together ideas from the previous workshops and address
overarching and cross-cutting issues, including financing. This was also
intended as the fourth and final workshop in the series launched in May
2006 and after Vienna, the co-facilitators will present their report to COP
13 in Bali in December 2007.

So, despite the official press release by the UNFCCC, and most of the
material that appeared in the press that was based on those releases -
though quite clear reporting by  Reuters already pointed at discenssions
among the Annex I countries, the facts and the mathematics, are as

Out of the 38 Annex I countries 2, though present in Vienna, did actually
wash their hands of the Kyoto route - the US and Australia. The US will
nevertheless come possibly up with an alternative route based on bilateral
negotiations with high polluters that are not Annex I countries. President
George W. Bush has called a meeting of major emitters in Washington
September 27-28, 2007. If there will be openings created by these
negotiations, an alternative roadway to Bali will come into existance, and
Vienna might have lost its relevance. In case the US will not succeed in
the coming three month to provide its own negotiating alternative, then
clearly Vienna will have even less to present to Bali without having the
US on board.

But above is nothing yet, in effect it was known that the US and Australia
did not come to Vienna in order to treck back to Kyoto, so what about the
remaining 36 Kyoto Protocol Annex I countries? In here is the rub - and
the reason that we do not see how the UNFCCC can have justification to
their expressed optimism - beyond the clear good intentions to put up a
nice face, and expressions of hope for diplomacy reasons. But those
interested in the subject should not be fooled. When following closely the
exchanges in this week's meetings, it becomes clear that the road to Bali
is still far away, and the time left very short.

In Vienna, the European Union came up with an agreed proposal by its 27
members, to which adhered also the following 6 non-EU members who are
among the 38 Annex I countries: the EU candidate Croatia,, the aspirant
Ukraine, and the non-members - Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Monaco.
On the other hand, EU members Cyprus and Malta became EU members after
signature of the Kyoto Prtocol of 1997, have made no effort to join and
have no committments for emissions reduction under Kyoto. The mathematics
are thus 27-2+6 = 31 which means that five countries - Japan, Canada, New
Zealand, Switzerland, Russia are not part of the EU proposed targets. So
what is the reason here for happinesss?

The proposal is to reduce by 2020 the Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 25-40%
bellow the 1990 values, but the five countries that did not accept these
targets, and contend that they are too drastic for them to go along, this
in addition to the two countries that did not subscribe to the system
altogether, has weakened the EU chances at achieving an agreement in Bali
on the basis of these figures. Further, the Pacific Island States have
declared that even these figures are much too low, and stiffer cuts are
needed in order to avert rising seas that could wash them off the map.

It is true that Germany, and some others, are making serious diplomatic
efforts to drum up interest in these proposals, but all what the Vienna
meeting came up with was an agreement to allow the EU proposal to proceed
on its way to Bali without any promiss to back it there. The proposal is
backed officially by 31 countries from among the Annex I countries, out of
38, and we can say that the agreement not to explode the Vienna rally by
leaving with nothing in hand, all what the meeting is sending to Bali is a
suggestion to which 7 main countries have pronounced their disinterest,
with the remaining 150 countries not having had any role in its
formulation altogether.

This, even though we note that "the conference has recognized the
Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) indication that global
emissions of greenhouse gasses need to peak in the next 10-15 years, and
then to be reduced to very low levels, well below half of levels in 2000
by mid-century, if concentrations are to be stabilized at safe levels."
The remaining question is who will agree to do the reduction.

Now, that is our evaluation, and we think that Chen Zhen might have
approved of our analysis.

Among the most positive aspects of the meeting we found the mention of
technology - such as:

China, New Zealand and others highlighted the role of technology in
long-term cooperation. Uganda called for a formal and binding instrument
on technology; Iceland emphasized climate friendly technology as a way to
reduce emissions without halting economic growth and the Maldives called
for modern cleaner technologies. Nothing revolutionary here, but at least
the recognition of the need to bind the Annex I countries with the rest of
the world.

Mexico went even further. They said that a new process is needed that
provides a way for long-term reductions in concentrations of GHGs, and
identified the need for evolution of the current division betwen Annex I
and non-Annex I parties into a more realistic form of differentiation. He
said voluntary commitments, based on gradual strengthening of capacity,
should be part of a new formalized dialogue, and advanced developing
countries should have incentives for innovative schemes to build goals
over time. Uganda added that developing countries had no objections to
reducing emissions, but were asking about cost and impact on development.
Uganda said it was time for the Dialogue to deliver and called for the
launch at COP 13 in Bali of a process leading to a legally binding
instrument. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia, as it did at many previous
occasions, just tried to kill the whole process by arguing against
attempts by countries to use the climate regime to exert economic leverage
at the expense of others.

Canada stressed the need to build on the momentum created by the dialogue
and proceed at COP 13 by launching the post-2012 framework involving all
Convention parties. on this basis, called this
Conference a "Rally," because indeed, as the UNFCCC Secretariat's Press
Releases attest: "Vienna UN Meeting Tests Temperature Of International
Climate Change Process," it recognized, also as our friends from The Earth
Negotiations Bulletin, the publication we love to call KIMO/IISD, said in
the conclusion of their analysis, that with the limitations of the AWG's
mandate, the managers of the Vienna agenda calculated that
confidence-building from an open discussion under the Dialogue was the
only alternative left to them by the realities of the UN. KIMO/IISD finds
that this goal was achieved, and that a rich discussion emerged - on
building blocks that are likely to make up the agenda - "if, and
presumably when" - there will be a transition from informal dialogue to
formal negotiations . Moreover, the style of the dialogue took account of
the fact that decission making on the available options no longer lie
exclusively within the UNFCCC process. Above is basically what also felt after the initial visit, on Tuesday, with
the conference/rally. As we said, this was just one more talk-fest,in a
long line of such talk-fests labeled as confidence-building exercises, but
many of the delegates did indeed try to find a way out from this reality.
We wish, a Chen Zhen would show up to provide the visible presentation to
what manny of these negotiators feel.


Posted on on January 16th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

“Slovakia gets set for legal action against Brussels over CO2 plan” is the title of an EUobserver, January 16, 2007 article by Renata Goldirova.

Slovakia looks set to provoke a legal row with the European Commission in a bid to avert Brussels’ proposal to slash the amount of carbon dioxide Slovak businesses can emit between 2008 and 2012.

“A 25-percent cut could harm the current industrial boom, especially after Slovakia closed down part of its nuclear power plant at the end of 2006, set to be replaced by coal-production [of electricity]”, environmental minister Jaroslav Izak told EUobserver after talks with environment commissioner Stavros Dimas on Monday (15 January).

In November last year, the commission accused Slovakia of handing in over-generous figures for it national plan to slash carbon pollution – as part of the EU’s emission trading scheme.

Brussels is now demanding that Bratislava reduce its carbon emissions by a quarter, from 40.3 million tonnes per year to 30.9 million tonnes.

But Bratislava is ready to fight this plan at the European Court of Justice, with Mr Izak saying “legal action is high on the agenda” ahead of a 24 January government meeting where a decision is due to be taken.

The EU executive has so far refused to bow to pressure from Bratislava to reconsider its proposal, as it could encourage other member states to get better deals as well.

“Member states are giving more pollution permits that industrial plants need”, a commission spokesperson said, adding “it undermines the basic economics of the bloc’s emissions trading scheme”.

So far, only the UK’s plan – out of ten national pollution-reducing plans for trading period of 2008-2012 evaluated by the European commission – fulfilled all necessary criteria.

Germany softens its tone:   Germany is also considering legal action over the amount of pollution it is being allowed to emit, with economics minister Michael Glos saying the EU plan would hurt German competitiveness.

But Berlin – which currently holds the EU presidency – on Monday played down the prospect of a court case by pointing to a letter sent by environment minister Sigmar Gabriel to the European Commission on 28 December. “The letter has signalled Germany’s intention to engage in negotiations”, a German diplomat told EUobserver, adding that “talks are expected to be concluded by the end of January, while legal option is currently not on the table”.

Europe’s biggest economy has been asked to lower its carbon emissions by six percent to 453.1 million tonnes per year, an amount which Berlin considers “costly and harmful”.

More plans rejected:

Meanwhile, three more member states – Belgium, Cyprus and the Netherlands – are expected to be criticised as the European Commission prepares to release a second set of decisions on national allocation plans today (16 January).

According to a European Commission official, all three member states have allotted more permits to pollute than industrial plants need and will be formally requested to cut CO2 quotas.

Under the EU’s emission trading scheme, which covers energy-intensive business sectors such as electricity generation and steel-making, companies are being allocated allowances for each tonne of carbon dioxide they may emit. These can be traded between companies, encouraging them to reduce their emissions by selling their allowances.

The trading system is seen as the cornerstone of EU efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the international Kyoto Protocol against climate change.


Posted on on January 9th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

“EU favours renewable energy for the future”, writes Helena Spongeborg from Brussels for the EUobserver of January 8, 2007.

EU citizens largely favour renewable energies while only 20 percent are for nuclear energy, according to a new European Commission survey.

The Eurobarometer study – published on Monday (8 January) just two days ahead of the publication of the commission’s major EU energy plan – shows that 80 percent of EU citizens back solar energy while 71 percent are in favour of wind energy.

The Danes are most in favour with 95 percent and 93 percent saying solar- and wind energy, respectively, is a good thing. More than 20 percent of the electricity used in Denmark is generated by wind turbines – the highest percentage of any country in Europe.

The low figures are 70 percent of Latvians and 63 percent of Italians are in favour of solar and wind energy, respectively.

Other sources of popular renewable energies include hydroelectric and ocean energy favoured by 65 percent and 60 percent, respectively, of EU citizens.

The commission’s “Ambitious Energy Review Package” – to be published on Wednesday (10 January) – is expected to outline ways to lessen the bloc’s dependence on foreign imports of oil and gas which is associated with volatile prices and unreliable sources.


When it comes to nuclear – The EU citizens remain are very polarised on the issue of nuclear energy with the majority being against it.

Twenty percent of EU citizens are in favour of nuclear energy in their country while 37 percent oppose it and 36 percent are divided on the issue.

The Austrians (80%), Greeks (73%) and Cypriots (70%) are the most against it as a source of energy -. None of the countries uses nuclear power plants.

A higher percentage of Swedes (41%), Slovaks and Lithuanians (both 37%) favour nuclear energy as a source of energy in their country.

Around 70 percent of energy in Lithuania, 56 percent in Slovakia and 47 percent in Sweden is produced by nuclear power.

Nuclear energy is a tough sell among Europeans, especially after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in Ukraine and Belarus.

EU citizens expect the energy mix to be more diversified in the future than it is today where oil and gas are the two main sources, with solar energy anticipated to be a key energy source in the future.

All the 25 nationalities asked – except for Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden – place it among the three energy sources most likely to be used in 30 years time.

And despite strong opposition to nuclear energy, EU citizens expect its share to stay the same in the future.


On the Citizens’ role: One of the commission’s main solutions for cutting down energy consumption in Europe is to save on energy by making the EU more energy efficient.

But despite the fact that 54 percent of EU citizens find it very important to save on energy and become more energy efficient, only 21 percent admit they have actually taken action to do so, such as cut down on lighting and heating or replacing their cars with public transport.

“Citizens are not completely aware – they are well aware that energy is a challenge but they are not yet fully concerned,” a commission official told journalists in Brussels. He added EU citizens do not fully grasp their own role in overall energy consumption.