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Posted on on April 17th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (

from Iulia Trombitcaia  Iulia.Trombitcaia at via

Dear colleagues,

UNECE has just published the third Environmental Performance Reviews of two countries: Georgia and Belarus.

Both reviews cover air, water, waste, biodiversity and the integration of environmental considerations into a wide number of sectors (energy, forestry, transport, tourism, health, etc.).

Both reviews reflect the successes and challenges for these countries in the achievement of MDGs, and we very much hope that the recommendations of the reviews will assist these countries in developing their national agendas for the achievement of SDGs.

The publications can be found here:

3rd Environmental Performance Review of Georgia: (in English)

3rd Environmental Performance Review of Belarus: (in English and Russian)

Iulia Trombitcaia, UNECE

Environmental Affairs Officer
Environmental Performance Review Programme
UN Economic Commission for Europe
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Telephone: 0041-22-917 3332
Telefax: 0041-22-917 06 21
E-mail:  iulia.trombitcaia at


Posted on on February 11th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

New opportunity for EU support for climate action in Eastern Partnership countries

from: Zsolt Lengyel –  zsolt.lengyel at

February 10, 2015

Dear Madam/Sir,

We are pleased to inform you that the Clima East Expert Facility (EF) has a new round for applications for support from eligible organisations involved with climate actions, targeting both mitigation and adaptation in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

In this round we will also accept collaborative applications from two or more beneficiary organizations. This track should enable sectoral ministries, other national or local administration bodies, and in particular civil society organisations, to contribute successfully to the definition, development and delivery of national climate policy and actions.

The Clima East Expert Facility is one of the channels through which the European Commission funded Clima East project provides technical assistance to Partner Countries’ stakeholders to facilitate the development, adoption and implementation of effective and appropriate climate change mitigation and adaptation policies and actions.


Posted on on August 21st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

EU-Ukraine: The next chapter

from EUobserver of August 21, 2012

A few days ago campaigning for Ukraine’s 28th October Parliamentary elections began. It seems set to be quite a battle with emotions running high. It may prove to be one of the most important elections in Ukraine’s history. Not only will it represent a litmus test for democracy, it may also be a defining moment for EU-Ukraine relations.

Today the EU and Ukraine are passing through a difficult period. For a long time Ukraine was the “star” in the EU’s Eastern neighborhood. All the other countries in today’s Eastern Partnership have gained from Ukraine’s labours. Kyiv pushed for Association Agreements, Free Trade Agreements and visa liberalization.

Unfortunately today “the star” has lost some of its shine. The Association Agreement, including an integrated Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which Ukraine and the EU spent more than four years negotiating may not be signed due to EU concerns over democratic values and the rule of law. The EU has made further economic and political integration dependent on improving democratic standards, ending selective justice, serious reform and carrying out free and fair elections.

Ukrainian efforts to justify events in the country have fallen on death ears, with a negative trend towards Kyiv prevailing in Brussels.

Dialogue of the Deaf

While the answers to today’s problems lie, rightly or wrongly – mainly with Kyiv, at the same time history has shown that Ukraine’s relationship with the EU has never been a really satisfactory one. Ukraine has always wanted more than the EU has been willing to give. For most of the past fifteen years the EU and Ukraine have been carrying out something of a “dialogue of the deaf”. While Ukraine has talked incessantly about obtaining an EU membership perspective, the EU has spent most of this time trying to avoid this eventuality.

Unfortunately, for the most part, Ukraine has been burdened by incompetent leaders more interested in furthering their own interests than those of the country. Transforming the country has been more wishful thinking than concrete actions. This has led to “development stasis” and sadly, for a country with so much potential, today’s Ukraine scarcely differs from that of ten years ago.

Meanwhile, the EU has never really embraced Ukraine, failing to develop a policy that could stimulate and encourage reform by giving strong support to the reformers in the country. The EU has seemingly been quite content for Ukraine to remain in a sort of grey zone.

Ukraine has watched many of its neighbours enter the EU. It also witnessed, almost ten years ago, the countries of the Western Balkans receive a membership promise even though the region was far from meeting EU values of democracy, freedoms and human rights. Meanwhile Kyiv has been consistently told it is “different” and needs to get fit, both politically and economically, before a membership perspective may be considered. The combination of Ukraine’s lack of capacity and weak leadership, together with the EU’s lack of strategy and inadequate support has made EU conditionality, the core element of its European Neighborhood Policy, virtually ineffective in Ukraine. Yet, while Ukraine may seem like a country unchangeable in its habits, these habits were broken with the 2005 Orange Revolution. Unfortunately, the Yuschenko-Tymoshenko duo failed to deliver. While one cannot pin the shambolic and wasted “orange years” on the EU, more may have been achieved if the EU had been more generous and visionary in its approach in the revolution’s aftermath. Unfortunately the EU failed to harness the momentum, maintaining the same mediocre policy and Ukraine slipped back into bad habits.

While undoubtedly Ukraine is a complicated country, burdened by a Soviet past and continually struggling with identity issues, it is unmistakably a European country. Yet at times some member states, for example Germany, have resisted recognizing this fact.  Why has the EU done this given the EU defines Ukraine as a “priority partner”; the most important country in the region. Rather like the case of Turkey, the EU has always been divided over Ukraine, although for different reasons. Big countries which would one day have a significant share of power are not particularly welcomed even though they have the potential to make the EU stronger and more globally competitive. Indeed, if Poland had not been part of a group of ten, its membership may have been far more difficult.
Ukraine’s situation is further complicated because of Russia, and the interesting relations some member states have with Moscow.

Ukraine was always the biggest jewel of the Soviet Union, and for Russia “losing Ukraine”, would be like having a limb severed. Moreover a modern, prosperous and democratic Ukraine, grounded in European values would serve to undermine Russia’s current style of governance. Therefore today Ukraine has turned into a battle-ground, with Moscow trying to persuade Kyiv, one way or another, from pursing closer ties with the EU, and join Russia’s Eurasian Union instead.

What Lies Ahead?

While efforts in the reform arena have shifted up a gear including the establishment of an EU Coordination Centre, launching of a broad package of EU demanded reforms and intensified dialogue with civil society, it is not enough to guarantee the signature and ratification of the Association Agreement by EU member states. If Yulia Tymoshenko remains in prison the status quo will probably prevail. Much will depend on the report of the EU’s Special Envoys, Pat Cox and Alexsander Kwasniewski, who are monitoring the Tymoshenko appeal. At the end of the hearing a report will be submitted to the EU based on their findings.

The 28th October Parliamentary elections, the crucial pre-election period -and its compliance with international standards, including on issues such as media freedom which has recently come under fire, will also be key. Indeed the EU would be well placed to create a special media monitoring commission, as they have done in Georgia which is due to hold parliamentary elections on 1 October.

If Ukraine does not deliver the Association Agreement and DCFTA, which have the potential to anchor Ukraine onto a track of reform and modernization as well as support the reformers in Ukraine’s government, will be shelved. Considering how much effort went into negotiating these agreements it would be a big loss. It also leaves them open for renegotiation at some future point, if there is a change of leadership. The visa liberalization negotiations will probably continue, as blocking this would have a negative impact on ordinary Ukrainians, seriously damaging the EU’s image.

However, relations will not freeze, Ukraine is not Belarus: the two partners are entwined in too many different sectors including energy, transport, biotechnology, airspace, security and defence, for this to happen.  Yet a Ukraine left to “float” and “flip-flop” in the “grey zone” is not in the interests of either party, nor will it contribute to greater regional stability. Unfortunately, today’s EU is neither courageous or visionary, and it is therefore more than likely Ukraine will be left to drift, even if that drift risks Kyiv finally succumbing to Russian pressure.

Yet, even if Ukraine delivers, it is unlikely Kyiv will receive it’s much sought-after membership perspective, more so because of the current climate of economic malaise and depression in Europe. However, even without the EU membership carrot Ukraine needs to step up and introduce European standards: first and foremost for its long suffering but ever patient population.

Unfortunately today the EU still does not know what its ultimate objectives are for this region. It has failed with Ukraine and its neighbourhood policies are still waiting for a real success story. The EU needs to have a serious discussion over how it sees its future relations with Eastern Europe. Whether the final outcome will reflect the position of Poland or the UK -if you achieve certain criteria you will join – or whether it will be nearer to the German position – Russia first and foremost – remains to be seen.


We wonder – Would it not make sense to allow a partitian of the Ukraine so the Western part joins the EU and the Eastern part forms with Belarus the kind of buffer State that the EU actually likes to have between itself and Russia?


Posted on on February 21st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is currently Vice President and with American help he is without a competing candidate the sure winner in an election where there was not allowed an opponent. To his credit it can be said that he is a tool helping to remove the current President Ali Abdullah Saleh who stayed glued to his throne for 33 years and was forced to resign by the US  in order to avoid blood letting because of rebelling forces in parts of Yemen.

Joahim Gauck becomes President because of FDP politicians, who are part of the government, using some public dismay with Ms. Angela Merkel’s policies, decided to chastise her by backing personnel that was not to her liking – be that to the position of Federal President of Germany. Next German President, to be elected March 18, 2012, is thus the most rightward oriented German President elected with the votes of the Socialists and the Greens who gave bo consideration to potential other candidates. Giving unified backing to a candidate allows for avoidance of open political bloodletting but asures potential future problems of government.

Above two cases should be remembered wherever such dealings are possible when attempting moves towards temporary peace. Let us contemplate this sort of potential in cases like Iran, Syria, Belarus.


Posted on on December 25th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

On Dec. 25, 1991, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev went on TV to announce his resignation as the eighth and final leader of a Communist superpower that had already gone out of existence.

. Russia was always an Empire – as such it only changed name when the Empire survived WWII and even became larger but just as undemocratic under the Soviets as it was under the Czars. Will the Russian Winter lead to a RUSSIAN SPRING in 2012 or 2013? Where these last 20 years the time-span required to allow the germination of  democracy in a land mass that never knew one? Did the modern communication systems, such as the internet and travel, make this inevitable?

Vast Rally in Moscow Is a Challenge to Putin’s Power.

Few protesters said they held out hope for rapid changes, and they will have to find a way to channel their still-vague frustrations into a movement that can be sustained for the long haul. The demonstrators have ranged from stylish young clubgoers to diminutive pensioners, all of whose lives were fundamentally transformed 20 years ago Sunday when the Soviet Union came to an end.

Now they are seeking another shake-up, as the torrent of social, economic and political forces that came after the hammer and sickle was lowered over the Kremlin for the last time has left the country traveling a current that is frustrating to many.

“We want to live in a free country,” said Timur Khutseev, 23, a theater aide who shivered in the freezing Moscow weather. “Our parents grew up under [Leonid] Brezhnev,” whose 18-year reign over the Soviet Union became a synonym for stagnation and repression. Putin, too, is seeking to extend his era to 18 years in March presidential elections. “We don’t want that,” Khutseev said.

Dec. 24, 2011, Denis Sinyakov / Reuters,  Flag-waving and chanting demonstrators call on Saturday for a disputed parliamentary election to be rerun, increasing pressure on Vladimir Putin as he seeks a new term as Russian president.

The rally exceeded the size of one held two weeks ago, whose scale surprised even the organizers. On Saturday, they estimated, 120,000 people protested in temperatures that were in the teens. The Interior Ministry put the number at 29,000.

The challenge for organizers will be keeping up the fight. The movement’s strengths and weaknesses were on display Saturday, as many of the young, middle-class people who have been the driving force behind the sudden show of discontent this month said they remained cautious about politics in general even as they thought the country needed to change.

The protest comes shortly before a 10-day national holiday that includes New Year’s Day and Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 7, virtually shutting down the country. Organizers called for another protest in early February, and the March 4 presidential elections will help maintain focus, but if Putin is reelected and few changes follow, activists will need to find other ways to keep the crowds motivated.

“We don’t know who the leader might be, because there is no person who represents us,” Viktor Shenderovich, a popular writer, told the crowd. “But this is an expression of moral attitude. People don’t want to be stepped on.”

Two decades after he resigned from office, the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, told Putin to follow his example. “I would advise Vladimir Vladimirovich to go right now,” he told Ekho Moskvy radio, citing his own resignation on peaceful terms. “That’s what he should do too.”  But Gorbachev remains more influential  outside Russia than at home, and his opinion was unlikely to sway minds here.

Dec. 24, 2011

Russian opposition flags are a common sight during the demonstrations.

Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

Dec. 24, 2011

This protester’s placard reads, “Freedom to political prisoners.” The bird-shaped placard reads: “Russia without Putin.”

Alexander Demianchuk / Reuters

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Dec. 10, 2011

People wearing masks attend a rally on a bridge near Bolotnaya Square in Moscow.

Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters

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Protesters in Moscow hold a poster depicting Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, left, former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, second from right, and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, right, during a demonstration against alleged vote rigging in Russia’s parliamentary elections Dec. 24, 2011.

Mikhail Metzel / AP

James Hill for The New York Times

The crowd at the Moscow protest on Saturday heard exhortations from Aleksei L. Kudrin, the former finance minister, and Aleksei Navalny, a popular blogger.

By  and 
December 24, 2011 –  Published – The New York Times on-line

MOSCOW — Tens of thousands of citizens converged in Moscow on Saturday for the second huge antigovernment demonstration in a month, an early victory for activists struggling to forge a burst of energy into a political force capable of challenging Vladimir V. Putin’s power.

The first such demonstration, two weeks ago, was unprecedented for Mr. Putin’s rule, and there were reasons Saturday’s turnout could have been lower — among them, winter holidays and the onset of bitter cold.

Instead, people poured all afternoon into a canyon created by vast government buildings, and the police put the crowd at 30,000, more than they reported on Dec. 10. Organizers said it was closer to 120,000. Hours later, as the protesters dispersed, they chanted, slowly: “We will come again! We will come again!”

If the movement sustains its intensity, it could alter the course of the presidential election in March, when Mr. Putin plans to extend his stretch as the country’s dominant figure to an eventual 18 years. Opposition voters were furious over the conduct of this month’s parliamentary election, and will be roused again by Mr. Putin’s campaigning. Still, maintaining momentum is a huge challenge, and the initial giddy mood has already hardened into something more serious.

The crime novelist Boris Akunin, peering out through wire-rimmed glasses as he addressed the crowd from a stage, said demonstrators should prepare themselves for a long haul.

“We will have a difficult year,” Mr. Akunin said. “But it will be an interesting year. It will be our year.”

The protests have rattled the Kremlin, which has not encountered widespread political resistance for a decade. Mr. Putin initially sneered at the demonstrators, saying days after the first rally that the white ribbons they have adopted as a symbol resembled limp condoms, and that they participated only because they were paid by foreign agents seeking to undermine Russia.

But it is clear that government elites are taking protesters’ complaints as a warning and scrambling to head off a more dangerous confrontation. On Saturday, for the first time, two high-level figures connected to the Kremlin were at the demonstration.

Former Finance Minister Aleksei L. Kudrin, a member of Mr. Putin’s inner circle for more than two decades, took the stage to express his support for many of the protesters’ demands: the dismissal of the head of the Central Election Commission, Vladimir Y. Churov; the dissolution of Parliament and new elections; and changes in the election code to allow for free competition.

Mr. Kudrin published an article on Saturday in Kommersant, a respected daily newspaper, noting that many employees of state enterprises were participating in the demonstrations.

“It seems to me they wanted to say the following: ‘Respected leaders! Many of us have come here for the first time, fully consciously and entirely independently. We have something to lose, and we are for stability,’ ” Mr. Kudrin wrote. “But the violation of your own rules — and this is the way we take the information about mass falsifications and violations of statistical patterns — this is too much.”

The billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov, who has said he will run against Mr. Putin, was also in the crowd, though he did not deliver a speech. He arrived without a security detail, stooping occasionally to answer questions and pose for photographs with young women.

Both Mr. Kudrin and Mr. Prokhorov are viewed skeptically by a portion of the protesters, who fear they represent attempts by the Kremlin to dilute or divide a powerful new protest electorate.

“Sorry, what relationship does Kudrin have to democratic movements?” wrote Vladimir Varfolomeyev, an editor at the radio station Ekho Moskvy, via Twitter. “He’s a bureaucrat who has faithfully served the regime for 10 years.” When Mr. Kudrin took the stage, he was booed by some in the crowd and cheered by others.

Though all demonstrators interviewed said they were hoping to avoid a violent uprising, some left the possibility hanging in the air like a warning. Aleksei Navalny, the blogger whose enormous popularity set these protests in motion, was greeted with a deafening roar from the crowd, which had been begging to see him for more than an hour.

“I can see that there are enough people here to seize the Kremlin,” said Mr. Navalny, 35, who listened to the earlier protest on the radio while serving 15 days in jail. “We are a peaceful force and will not do it now. But if these crooks and thieves try to go on cheating us, if they continue telling lies and stealing from us, we will take what belongs to us with our own hands.”

Mr. Navalny especially delighted the crowd with barbed insults of Mr. Putin; indeed, hatred for the prime minister has become a motif at these events. One popular sign read “Putin is our condom,” in a reference to his comments about the white ribbons. Another, painted in the style of Salvador Dalí, showed the prime minister melting in front of a giant clock with the words “Your time has passed.”

“Where is this man?” Mr. Navalny asked. “Can you see him? Is he here?”

He added: “These days, with the help of the zombie-box, they are trying to prove to us that they are big and scary beasts. But we know who they are. Little sneaky jackals! Is that right?” The crowd roared. “Is that true or not?” Another roar.

Pavel Morozov, 23, said he realized that dislodging Mr. Putin might hurt the middle-class quality of life he enjoys. But he said it did not matter. “Putin is a reincarnation of Brezhnev,” he said. He added that while he did not know whether people like Mr. Navalny or the environmental activist Yevgenia Chirikova were worthy alternatives, “at least they are an alternative. Anyone now but Putin.”

Former President Mikhail S. Gorbachev told Ekho Moskvy that he thought Mr. Putin should withdraw his bid for the presidency. When asked whether he thought Mr. Putin would give up power voluntarily, Mr. Gorbachev, who was not at the rally, said, “What’s terrible about it?” and noted that he had done so 20 years ago. “Then all the positive that he has done would be safeguarded.”

For organizers, the challenge is to keep the movement alive at all, since the protesters are working people who will leave the city for two soporific weeks in January. Their commitment to politics is unclear; some say that they are willing to demonstrate for years, others that they will lose interest if a leader does not emerge.

“I don’t know what people here want or what they expect from today, but the fact that they are here is important and valuable in and of itself,” said Zinaida Burskaya, 22. “I do feel that it will affect things over the next two to three years. That people have torn themselves from off their couches and have come here and are not apathetic. This may allow for new leaders to emerge.”

Toward evening, the humorist Viktor Shenderovich looked out at the protesters and said, “This toothpaste cannot be put back in the tube.” And they dispersed in a great surge through back streets and alleyways — anarchists and incrementalists, nationalists and bread-and-butter voters waving the hammer-and-sickle flag of the Soviet Union. Marina Shkudyuk, 58, an economist, said she was motivated by rising housing and utility costs, and planned to keep coming out until her demands were satisfied. She said she did not see a leader emerging from the movement, but “at least let there be something different.”

“My family thinks that Grandma has gone crazy,” she said.


The Russian Federation of today is a result of the Soviet bureaucracy division into republics with the Russian Republic having taken over the whole extent of the Czarist Empire before the post WWI enlargement in Europe, the Caucasus and Asia. Belarus is a natural part of Russia, but regions of the Caucasus parts of  the Russian Federation of today, and in far Asia, are not. The Muscovite’s would gladly part with those added-on regions.
Recently I had the good fortune to hear an off the record presentation by such a Moscovite and it seems that the public is inclined to speak up – and leave the previous attitude of “let us live in peace and we will not try any involvement.” A new westward looking Russian Nationalist is being created and a clearer participation in internal developments and in Europe is desired.

Vladimir Putin
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Official portrait of Vladimir Putin
Prime Minister of Russia
Assumed office
8 May 2008
President Dmitry Medvedev

The Next Russian Revolution?

Published The New York Times December 23, 2011 – printed December 24, 2011, Western Christmas eve, the bear designed by Alain Pilon.

Oxford, England – – –  TWENTY years ago, Mikhail S. Gorbachevannounced the end of a huge global experiment. After seven decades, the Soviet Union would be dismantled, its 15 republics becoming independent countries, and capitalism replacing the planned Soviet economy. Lenin’s embalmed corpse was left undisturbed in the Red Square mausoleum in Moscow, but the cause for which he led the October 1917 revolution no longer held the affection of hundreds of millions of Russians and millions more around the world.

For two decades since, the Russian people have largely endured in silence the oppressive and corrupt system of power that ensued — until blatant irregularities in parliamentary elections earlier this month sent an estimated 50,000 people out in protest. These protesters have planned what is expected to be the biggest demonstration since the fall of Communism for Saturday in Moscow. Vladimir V. Putin, the once and future president, is at last facing trouble from the streets.

The terminal crisis of Communism, by contrast, was a quiet affair. The end of the Soviet Union was revolutionary, but it did not involve a crowd storming the walls of the Kremlin, an attack on the K.G.B. headquarters or calling up the Moscow army garrisons. Indeed the final days of the Communist era were remarkable for the low intensity of political activity of any kind.

On national television, Mr. Gorbachev put on a brave face: “We’re now living in a new world,” he said during a Dec. 25, 1991, broadcast of his resignation speech. “An end has been put to the cold war and to the arms race, as well as to the mad militarization of the country.” But he could not disguise his regret that the Soviet order was about to be taken apart.

Mr. Gorbachev was paying the price for his failures. The economic laws he introduced in 1988 had weakened the huge state sector without allowing private enterprise to emerge. He had irritated the country’s dominant institutions — the Communist Party, the K.G.B. and the military — but had merely trimmed their capacity to retaliate. By widening freedoms of expression, moreover, he inadvertently encouraged radicals to denounce Communism, despite his reforms.

Mr. Gorbachev had complacently assumed that reform would release the energies of “the Soviet people.” But the truth was that no such people existed. The Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians pressed for independent statehood and chose their own Baltic patriots to lead them. The Georgians in 1990 elected a wild nationalist as president. Throughout the western and southeastern borderlands of the Soviet Union, the disintegration proceeded apace.

In August 1991, while Mr. Gorbachev vacationed in Crimea, his subordinates acted to halt his reforms by staging a coup. But the plotters overlooked the need to apprehend Boris N. Yeltsin, an ex-Communist radical who had been elected president of the Russian republic two months earlier. Mr. Yeltsin raced to the Russian White House in central Moscow. Standing atop a tank, he defiantly denounced the plotters. The coup was aborted, and when Mr. Gorbachev returned from house arrest, it was Mr. Yeltsin who appeared the hero. Yet Yeltsin felt he couldn’t consolidate his personal supremacy unless he broke up the Soviet Union and governed Russiaas a separate state. He and his supporters saw Russia as a slumbering giant with a future of enormous potential if the encumbrance of the other Soviet republics was removed. He saw Communism as a dead end and a totalitarian nightmare. And unlike Mr. Gorbachev, he was willing to say this openly and without equivocation.

His opportunity for action arose on Dec. 1, 1991, when Ukrainians voted to break away from the Soviet Union. Without Ukraine, it was clear, the Soviet Union would face further secessionist demands. Mr. Yeltsin met quietly with the presidents of Ukraine and Belarus and came to an agreement to declare the Soviet Union abolished.

Mr. Gorbachev had no choice but to agree, and the vengeful Mr. Yeltsin unceremoniously bundled him out of the Kremlin. The Russian people, it turned out, preferred to watch politicians on television rather than become active participants in the country’s transformation. They had long been cynical about Communist leaders, and the trauma of the arrests and executions during Stalin’s Great Terror of the late 1930s had made them wary about taking part in politics.

Although thousands of young Russians had joined Mr. Yeltsin in defying the coup plotters in August 1991, civic activism declined as conditions worsened. As state enterprises underwent privatization, workers feared unemployment and resisted calls to go on strike. Russia’s manufacturing sector collapsed; only the petrochemical, gold and timber sectors successfully weathered the storms of capitalist development. A few businessmen became super-rich by exploiting legal loopholes and often using fraudulent and violent methods. Most citizens of post-Communist Russia were too exhausted to do more than grumble.

Public protest against the Kremlin became more difficult under Mr. Putin. Elected to the presidency in 2000, and now serving as prime minister, he has used ballot-box fraud, disqualification of rival political candidates and control of national television to stay in power. Although he gained popularity for bringing stability, his own administration is now attracting growing hostility.

Most Russians are sick of the corruption, misrule and poverty that plague their country while the Kremlin elite feasts on the profits from oil and gas exports — and who can blame them? At the turn of the millennium, 40 percent of the Russian people were living below the United Nations-defined poverty line. Rising oil prices have made poverty decline to some extent, but Mr. Putin has made no effort to eradicate it altogether.

The opposition, having suffered from years of harassment at Mr. Putin’s hands, has not yet succeeded in taking advantage of today’s unstable situation. But the recent outburst of public protest has flummoxed Mr. Putin, as he finds that his authoritarian government lacks the pressure valves that allow liberal democracies to anticipate and alleviate expressions of discontent.

Mr. Putin can no longer take his supremacy for granted. It is not yet a revolutionary situation. After all, Mr. Putin, like Mr. Yeltsin before him, can count on the money and pork-barrel politics needed to win the presidency next year; and he has no qualms about letting the security agencies use force.

But Russians, having sleepwalked away from Communism, are awakening to the idea that if they want democracy and social justice, they need to engage in active struggle. Quiescent 20 years ago during Soviet Communism’s final days, they may at last be about to stand up for their rights.

Robert Service, a fellow at Oxford’s St. Antony’s College and Stanford’s Hoover Institution, is the author of the forthcoming book “Spies and Commissars: the Early Years of the Russian Revolution.”


Freed From Jail, Russian Blogger Drives Anti-Kremlin Movement


Aleksei Navalny moved quickly to promote a huge antigovernment protest against United Russia, the party of Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin.


  1. Mass Anti-Putin Protest In Moscow

    Sky News – 4 minutes ago
    He also said he was ashamed of prime minister Vladimir Putin’sreaction to anti-government protests in his strongest criticism of the Kremlin yet. 

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  2. ==============================
Vladimir Rodionov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Kremlin’s chief political strategist Vladislav Surkov, left, conferred with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev.

A Kremlin Strategist Tries to Defuse Discontent and Undermine the Protesters’ Leaders

Published The New York Times: December 23, 2011

MOSCOW — The Kremlin’s chief political strategist sought to soothe the discontent of street protesters on Friday, a day before a rally expected to draw a large crowd, saying in an interview that the government had already acquiesced to many of the protesters’ demands.

“The system has already changed,” the strategist, Vladislav Y. Surkov, a former advertising man who has shaped the Kremlin’s public messages for years, said in the interview published in the newspaper Izvestia.

His comments continued what appears to be a two-pronged effort to defuse street protests with concessions, while simultaneously attacking the protesters’ already splintered leadership with accusations of foreign backing.

With 40,000 people indicating on a Facebook forum that they intend to join the Saturday protest in Moscow, Mr. Surkov made a point of bowing to some criticism. He said the Russian government had grown “deaf and stupid before your eyes.”

But he also insisted that calls for change had been heeded, pointing to Thursday’s state of the nation address by President Dmitri A. Medvedev. Mr. Medvedev, who leaves office in a few months, recommended long-sought political reforms, including the restoration of direct elections for governors and the creation of an independent public television station for news. But he has long labored in the shadow of Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, and few political analysts think his words carry much weight at this juncture.

“Tectonic structures in society are shifting, the social fabric is taking on a new quality,” Mr. Surkov said. “We are already in the future. And the future is not calm. But there’s no need to be afraid.

“Turbulence, even strong, is not a catastrophe but a form of stability. All will be fine.”

In what appeared to be another effort to siphon off interest in the rally on Saturday, where the former Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev is expected to speak, the leader of Russia’s Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill I, warned Russians not to trust social networking sites, where much of the protest organizing has been taking place. He said the sites were susceptible to manipulation.

He denounced “the naive confidence of a modern person in the information available on social networks along with moral disorientation,” the Interfax news agency reported, although he did not mention the protest.

Mr. Surkov, who is an amateur novelist and who also writes lyrics for rock music, is an architect of the Russian government’s plans to counter street politics, a system of countermeasures that have been in the works here since the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine alerted the Kremlin to the potential dangers. To his critics, he is a man who long ago moved on from advertising to propaganda, with particular influence among the Russian elite.

In September, the billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov, now a presidential candidate, called Mr. Surkov the “puppet master” of Russian politics, while denouncing what he called Mr. Surkov’s efforts at dialogue as a sham.

In the interview on Friday, Mr. Surkov vilified those protesters who he said represented foreign-inspired interests, repeating a formulation many officials in Moscow have used to dismiss the unrest. “The point is not these scoundrels,” Mr. Surkov said. “It’s the absolutely real and natural protests. The best part of our society, or rather, the most productive part, is demanding respect for itself.”

“People are saying, ‘We exist, we have significance, we are the people,’ ” Mr. Surkov said.

But in an earlier interview, he characterized the protesters as “annoyed urbanites.”

Some protesters saw Mr. Surkov’s about-face as an attempt to co-opt the protest movement.

Nikolai Troitsky, a liberal commentator, told Kommersant FM radio that “Surkov is very principled in living by the precept of divide and rule.”

“He wants to separate the protesters into parts while they have no leaders,” Mr. Troitsky added.


Russia wins approval to join WTO.

The WTO’s 153 members gave their second and final approval for Russia’s membership bid, ushering in the last major economy outside the trade club.

Reuters: Russia has won admission to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) after 18 years of negotiations, finally gaining full integration into the global economy two decades after the Soviet Union collapsed.

Published :  December 19, 2011, The Financial Times – two days later then in the business channels of the Arab Gulf!

The Russian parliament will have until June 15 to ratify the accord and bring it into force.
“This is clearly a historic moment for the Russian Federation and for the rule-based multilateral system after an 18-year marathon,” said WTO director-general Pascal Lamy.
Russia’s $1.9 trillion economy was the largest outside the WTO, and accession will help reduce the dependence on energy exports that left it badly exposed to the oil price collapse of 2008.
Accession by Russia, with the second-largest nuclear arsenal after that of the United States, into a rules-based club should limit the danger of any repeat of regional conflicts like its 2008 war with Georgia.
Trade conflicts have repeatedly exacerbated tensions between Moscow and the South Caucasus state and the WTO could offer a forum to address disputes before they escalate.
Describing the accession as a win-win for both the WTO and Russia, Lamy said it “accords the quality WTO label” on Russia and with the membership the trade body “will cover 97 per cent of world trade.”
“We are rapidly approaching universality in the coverage of global trade,” said the director-general.
Making a reference to the storm over Geneva, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov welcomed the accession saying: “The storm is a sign of a wind of change – change for the better.”
Russia applied to join the trade body in 1993 but talks dragged on and its brief war with Georgia in 2008 further delayed its application.
No other country has had to bargain so long before being granted entry. China was the previous record holder with 15 years of negotiations for membership. Moscow cleared its last hurdle for WTO accession when it finally clinched in November a deal with last hold-out Georgia.
In all, Russia sealed 30 bilateral agreements on market access for services and 57 on access for goods in order to secure the green light from other WTO states.
For the overall package, Moscow agreed to cut its tariff ceiling from the 2011 average of 10 per cent for all products to 7.8 per cent.
The average tariff ceiling for agricultural products is cut to 10.8 per cent from 13.2 per cent currently, with manufactured goods at 7.3 per cent, down from 9.5 per cent.
Russia also agreed to limit farm subsidies to $9 billion in 2012 and to gradually reduce them to $4.4 billion by 2018.


17 Dec 2011 – GENEVA: Russia yesterday secured the final approval to join the World  Describing the accession as a winwin for both the WTO and Russia

Russia wins approval for WTO membership – Middle East North 

17 Dec 2011 – menafn: Russia finally wonapprovaljoinWorld Trade Organization (WTO), after two decadestrying, AP reported.


Posted on on September 19th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Autocrat Autumn.

Maryna Rakhlei is a journalist with Belarusian information company Belapan – the country’s oldest independent news outlet. She has reported on Belarus-EU relations since 2004. She fits in a suitcase and travels a lot.…

Autocratic regimes often hit the ground running.

The October Revolution in Russia in 1917 was hailed by intellectuals as a socialist and a social coup. Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi and Cuba’s Fidel were also promising revolutionaries at one time.

But any great idea can fail in its implementation. If there are x ways to get from starting point a to point b, the choices need to be examined and debated, but this is impossible in autocratic regimes. There are no roads in the authoritarian jungle. The socialist revolution and the road to Communism were followed by almost a century of passionate struggle against individualism. The fist of Soviet autocracy crushed free spirits. It is the same story with Cuba and Libya.

Where are these countries going? Against the flow? Going their own, unique way, not giving a damn about America or EU? But who do they listen to? An inner circle of wise counsellors? Righto – the masses are already inert and can be easily ignored.

Authority is inherently so dangerous and prone to corruption that no system can stay healthy without division of power, elections and rotation of leaders. The problem is that any change is a challenge for autocrats. For them, a one-man protest could have a butterfly effect and bring everything crashing down.

But let us come back to Europe.

Belarusian leader Lukashenka won the first presidential elections in the country when it became independent and broke away from Soviet rule. He wanted to end corruption and to improve the economy. Seventeen years later his regime is heading into a cul-de-sac. “Cul” means “arse” in French and “sac” is “bag” – they literally describe the situation.

Inflation in Belarus in the first seven months of 2011 was between five and 103 times higher than elsewhere in post-Soviet countries. In 2011 consumer prices have gone up by 41%. A shortage of foreign currency prompted mass sales of Belarusian products to Poland and to Russia in order to get hold of Polish zlotys and Russian roubles. There are shortages in the shops. Now people go to queue up in the morning to get meat. Meanwhile, the upward leap in prices saw Belarusians stockpile sugar, cereal an sunflower oil. They say, it’s temporary that there’s not enough meat sold in Belarus. Well, was economic stability temporary as well?

And what does this panic show? It reveals the lack of trust and lack of empathy of ordinary people toward the leadership. People need an alternative and they cannot find one. It’s natural – an autocratic regime presupposes no alternative. As we say in Minsk, there’s no grass where the tanks drive. But discontent and distrust do not automatically bring autumn to the patriarchs. There’s panic about failing economy in Belarus, but no mass protests, no walkouts.

EU is now thinking to revive the conditional dialogue with the regime to help the country out. That would be the right thing to do for your neighbour, even if stabilising the country means stabilising the regime. When negotiating, one can trade help for necessary changes.

The colossi are heavy and not easy to move. But they are bound to fall in the end. Sometimes after 42 years, sometimes more quickly.


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

U.N. faults Japan for weak crisis prep: Says according to Kyodo – Projections for nuclear accidents were “too modest”…
Friday, Sep. 16, 2011

Hazardous cargo: A cylinder filled with highly radioactive waste reprocessed in Britain is transferred to a vehicle at the port of Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, on Thursday. KYODO PHOTO

News photo

NEW YORK — The United Nations says Japan was “too modest” in projecting potential accidents at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled the facility.

“The principal lesson of the Fukushima accident is that assumptions made concerning which types of accident were possible or likely were too modest,” the United Nations said in a report released Wednesday on the nuclear crisis.

“Those assumptions should be reviewed for all existing and planned reactors, and the possible effects of climate change should be taken into account,” the report says.

The report was compiled by 16 U.N. organizations, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization.

It was prepared for a high-level meeting on nuclear safety and security to be held Sept. 22 during the U.N. General Assembly.

The report calls for the IAEA to “establish a global radiation monitoring platform to display real-time data on radioactive releases and integrate data from international and national monitoring and early warning systems.”

It also proposes that the preparatory commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization “provide its expertise and radionuclide data for that purpose.”

The report says the Fukushima accident also has implications for nuclear security as both accident and sabotage could cause similar problems “through the loss of power, communications, computer, safety and physical protection systems, and the loss of key operating, safety and security personnel.”

The report strongly calls for facilitating “coordinated support to national, regional and international food and agriculture response planning to nuclear emergency.”

“Contaminated areas may not be able to grow crops or support livestock grazing as a result of the persistence of radionuclides such as cesium-137 for decades,” it says.

A nuclear accident could have an impact on food trade, “which arises not only from imposed food restrictions in certain areas, but also from consumers’ reluctance to consume some foods because of public fears of radioactive contamination,” it says.

In its reference to the risks that climate change pose to nuclear power plants, the report says climate- and weather-related risks for nuclear power plants are “not insurmountable” as knowhow and technologies can significantly reduce or eliminate them.

The report expresses appreciation for Japan’s measures on public health, saying steps to protect public health were quickly implemented and residents in the affected areas were evacuated in a timely manner.

But the report adds: “Physical and prolonged stress among the evacuees has had significant health impacts.

“The disruption in their lives, breakdown of social contacts, long detention at evacuation sites with little privacy and crowded conditions, and sharp changes in their social environment have all contributed to grave stress, causing mental trauma.”


Posted on on June 7th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

The World Economic Forum on Europe and Central Asia will be held in Vienna, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday June 7-9, 2011.

Vienna, Austria: venue for Euro World Economic Forum

Above is the Vienna venue for the WEF meeting – the place will be surrounded by security forces to make it sure the place does not turn into a demonstrators haven. Vienna just survived attacks by German hooligans that came over to accompany the German soccer team playing the Austrians. Papers called them neo-Nazis making the Hitler salute. But those were just one segment of a possible barrage by protesters invoking financial reasons for disaffection with the EU, the US, and the results of government sponsored capitalism. Seattle comes to mind of what Vienna might look in a few days.

So, Schengen or no Schengen Austria took note of Denmark closing its borders for immigration reasons and closed its borders as well for Global Economics reasons as per this conference. In the Europe of today – what this means is that vehicles at border crossings will form long lines and have delays with border police checking papers. Same at airports, train crossings and boat landings. What do you do with those crossing on foot on village roads? Oh well – solutions will be found for them too and the idea of a united Europe is out the window because of mutual mistrust. How do you decide that someone is unwanted? Do you check their tatoos or haircuts? Do you have a policy discussion with them or take the example from Turkey and look up past records that made them deny to former Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik her job as head of the OSCE – Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Will they let in UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, if he decides to show up, considering his leniency on UN member States positions on Human Rights? He will have declared his running for reappointment to his position for a new term by the beginning of the week and might indeed find this conference as a good venue for a revisit. He was years ago Korea’s Ambassador to Vienna and has friendly relations to Austria.

The Kronen Zeitung of Sunday June 5th carries two revealing pieces of “Readers Mail” that stress the difference between Denmark and Austria. In both cases the argument goes that Denmark is closing its borders in order to safeguard its own citizens from the effects of migration caused by the events in the Arab World, in the Austrian case this happens always – the Austrian taxpayers’ money is used in order to safeguard foreign political and economic leaders and nothing is done when the issue is the security of the Austrian citizen. This comment hides the fact that Austria is suffering from bands of EU citizens from Eastern countries that come to enrich themselves from break-ins here but nothing is done to check their entree. Oh well, what do you do with the fiction of this Union?

The above mention of the closing of Austria’s borders officially is because of the  June meeting of the World Economic Forum will convene more than 500 leaders from business, government and civil society to discuss policies and reforms aimed at their views of rebalancing the global economy.

The diverse yet highly interdependent economies of Europe and Central Asia have reached a critical juncture, according to experts at the World Economic Forum.

While the advanced economies of the European Union are experiencing fiscal austerity and slower growth, emerging economies further east and in Central Asia are grappling with the pressures of rapid growth.

In addition to these regional challenges, Europe and Central Asia must respond to far-reaching global events such as the ‘Arab Spring’ and the earthquake in Japan.

The objective of the Vienna meeting is set out in the statement from the European Commission’s Communication on Innovation Union: “Europe’s competitiveness, our capacity to create millions of new jobs to replace those lost in the financial crisis and, overall, our future standard of living depend on our ability to drive innovation in products, services, business and social processes and models,” it says.

Will the Washington of President Obama push for a similar meeting between the USA and the fast growing economies of Latin America – the backyard in the Western Hemisphere ?


The Underground open protests are being organized:

Attack WEF summit in Vienna, Austria, June 2011!
Smash imperialism and all its institutions!

please see:…


Posted on on June 2nd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

For the full article please see:…

in summary it says:  In the midst of chaotic upheavals in neighboring countries like Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, and local conflicts of smaller or greater degree in Russia, what Lukashenka offered his people was an oasis of financial and political stability with guaranteed wages and pensions: what he termed the “social contract.”  In short, they could live life as in the past without resorting to such evils as shock therapy or military alliances with either NATO or the CIS.

Today that oasis has been transformed into the most arid part of the desert, from which Belarus lacks the resources to extricate itself.  Lukashenka’s position might make sense if the Communist Party controlled Russia, but Moscow’s rulers are committed capitalists. All he can do henceforth, unless he concedes completely to Russia’s economic barons, is postpone the inevitable through more loans and short-term crisis measures, and specifically from the IMF, one organization that has not infrequently emphasized financial stringency and economic pragmatism rather than a free or democratic society.


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


April 9, 2011.

IPI/SEEMO Press Release: OSCE Report  – Turkey Is Holding 57 Journalists in Prison –  is the Lead Jailer of Journalists in the World.

The International Press Institute (IPI) obtained on 4 April a report from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) indicating that Turkey is currently holding at least 57 journalists in prison – apparently more than any other country.

The report followed an analysis of more than 70 journalists the OSCE conducted in conjunction with Erol Önderoglu, editor-in-chief of the BIANET Independent Communications Network in Istanbul.

While Iran and China topped lists last December by reportedly jailing some 34 journalists each, Turkey, a candidate for membership in the European Union, has nearly doubled that number five months later, raising questions about the country’s commitment to freedom of the press and the legitimacy of its democratic image.

The numbers in the report correspond with those given by the Freedom for Journalists Platform – an umbrella group representing local and national media organizations in Turkey, including IPI’s Turkish National Committee. One of the journalists jailed is IPI World Press Freedom Hero Nedim Sener, who reportedly stands accused of belonging to an armed terrorist organisation seeking to overthrow the government.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic, who commissioned the study, called on Turkish authorities to bring the country’s media legislation in line with OSCE commitments on media freedom. She wrote in a letter to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that the survey was intended to show the need for media legislation reform, which she offered her office’s support in developing.

Estimating that there are between 700 and 1,000 ongoing proceedings that could result in imprisonment of journalists, Mijatovic said: “The sheer number of cases poses fundamental questions about the legal provisions governing journalism in Turkey, and it raises concerns that the number of journalists in prison can further increase.”

Mijatovic acknowledged that governments have a legitimate need to fight terrorism, but she said that national security should not be used as a ground to curb media freedom. She also commented that criminalization of speech should be restricted to clear instances of intentional incitement to terrorism or other forms of violence.

“It is very important that authorities protect objective reporting even on sensitive topics such as terrorism or national security,” she said. “The public’s right to know includes such issues.”

According to the report, another 10 journalists in Turkey are awaiting trial. An additional journalist, whose location is unknown, is subject to a search warrant, and two other journalists have been convicted but subsequently released.

The report found that most of the jailed journalists are imprisoned under articles of Turkey’s anti-terror law relating to criminal code provisions on terrorist offences and organizations, or assisting members of or making propaganda in connection with such organizations; or under criminal code prohibitions on establishing, commanding or becoming member of an armed organization with the aim of committing certain offences.

It also found that prosecutors have sought and courts have imposed extremely long sentences. Vedat Kurºun and Emine Demir of the Azadiya Welat newspaper were sentenced to 166 years and 138 years in prison, respectively, while Bayram Namaz and Ibrahim Cicek of the Atilim newspaper each face up to 3,000 years in prison. Mustafa Balbay of Cumhuriyet newspaper, Mehmet Haberal of Kanal B Television and Tuncay Özkan of Kanal Biz Television all face dual life sentences, plus further time.

Journalists also face several trials, the report noted, such as Halit Güdenoglu of Halit Yürüyüs magazine, who currently faces 150 court cases.

The OSCE said in a release accompanying the study that both laws and their implementation need to be reformed, insofar as court practices vary widely throughout the country. The group also noted that writing about sensitive issues, including issues of terrorism or anti-government activities, is often viewed as support for those activities, and that imprisoned journalists are often placed in high security prisons with the most dangerous criminals.

IPI Board Member Ferai Tinc, who is also chairperson of IPI’s Turkey National Committee, said: “These journalists are in jail because of Turkey’s anti terrorism law, which has become a law that threatens press freedom in Turkey. Every investigative journalist is threatened by this law. We find this unacceptable. We have asked the government to change this law, but, unfortunately, the government does not listen to the voices of professional journalism organizations.”

IPI Director Alison Bethel McKenzie added: “Turkey, at the crossroads between east and west, is a major regional power with an ancient cultural heritage. The country is also often held up as an example of a healthy Muslim democracy, and IPI held its high-profile annual World Congress in Istanbul in 2007 in recognition of the pivotal bridge-building role the country plays.”

“For Turkey to step away from this history and to jail more journalists than any other country in the world is damaging. We call on the Turkish government to respect the right of freedom of the press and to release all journalists detained because of their work.”

The OSCE noted in its report that in many cases it could not access full information, meaning details could not be stated with precision. The organisation also pointed out that in many cases classified as secret defence lawyers were not even given access to trial documents.

By the South and East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO), an IPI affiliate.



Posted on on March 18th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

From Hiroshima 1945 to Fukushima 2011 – it is “Cukooshima!”

Let me start by saying that this posting is not an expression of any arrow shooting at Japanese that acted for all those years against their best interests. Yes – but sorry – it was Cukoo.

It all started with Japan believing it can stop US expansion in East Asia, and Japan picking the losing side in WWII. This led to the dropping of two nuclear bombs over Japan. Then Japan decided to compete with the US economy and went the way of nuclear energy for peaceful use. Now we see that this was as disastrous as their first encounter with nuclear technology – but this time by their own choice.

We love Japan. For one – I spent three weeks in Kyoto in 1997 with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting that gave birth to the failed Kyoto Protocol. At that time I got to know the Kyoto – Nara – Osaka triangle. But this was not my only encounter with the Japanese. In effect, with my family, we spent two weeks staying with Japanese in their homes thanks to the Ryokan hospitality system, and we exchanged our time-share at the Krystal Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for a week at the Resorpia Hakone Japanese Business Class Resort at Hakone, at the foot of the Fiji Mountain. We got to know two different levels which sandwich the Japanese society.

With this said – let me add that I write now from Vienna and that the Austrian people have voted down the opening of an atomic plant as they understood the terrible danger of living with an atomic monster-plant in your backyard. Austria has not even one nuclear plant but gets part of its electricity from the European grid that includes nuclear plants. The Austrians are thus not clean of nuclear energy either – this unless they disengage from the European grid and run their own separate grid for which they have enough hydro-power to provide over 80% of electricity need and could easily supply the remaining part with biomass, biofuels, solar and wind energy. Clearly no real need for nuclear power and the possibility to achieve this without empty posturing based on the truth that once in the past they voted down the opening of the Zwentendorf nuclear plant.


The Donella Meadows Archive – Voice of a Global Citizen – wrote:
Zwentendorf, a Nuclear Plant That Will Never Be Turned on.

On the bank of the Danube 20 miles northwest of Vienna stands a
completed nuclear power plant, loaded with fuel, ready to start up. It
has stood there, just so, for 9 years, while the Austrians argue about
what to do with it. The most popular plan is to turn it into a museum
for obsolete technology.

The plant, called Zwentendorf, was intended to be the first of six
Austrian nuclear plants. It was begun in 1970 and completed in 1978 at
a cost of 8 billion Austrian schillings — at present value about a
billion dollars. It is rated at 700 megawatts, about two-thirds the
size of Seabrook and Shoreham, two American nuclear plants that are
also ready to go and hotly contested.

“When Zwentendorf began, we didn’t know anything,” an Austrian
environmentalist told me. “Nuclear power sounded better to us than a
coal plant or another hydropower dam on the Danube. If only we had
known then what we know now.”

They know now that two of the four German plants with the same design
as Zwentendorf have been shut down permanently by mechanical problems.
They know now that Zwentendorf is located squarely on an earthquake
fault zone. And during a Danube flood, water seeped into its
containment vessel, so now they know that the groundwater is not
protected from contamination in case of a meltdown.

Furthermore Austria, like every other country with nuclear power, has
no plan for the disposal of nuclear waste. The original idea had been
to bury it in deep granite under the Alps. But the villages at the
chosen site vehemently rejected this plan, and by Austrian law a
locality cannot be forced to accept such an imposition from the
federal government. The Austrians offered the waste to Hungary, Egypt,
and China, but all refused. The Shah of Iran was eager to have it, but
then he fell from power. The Ayatullah wasn’t interested.

By the time Zwentendorf was finished, so many doubts had been raised
that the government was forced to hold a referendum to decide whether
to start the plant. During the weeks preceding the vote, the argument
raged — the same one that polarizes every country that permits public
discussion of nuclear power. People were told they had to choose
between progress and safety, between jobs and the environment, between
present brownouts and future contamination. Bruno Kreisky, then
Chancellor, declared Zwentendorf a top priority and appealed for a yes
vote. Austrians still do not agree whether he caused more
anti-Zwentendorf pro-Kreisky people to vote yes than he did
pro-Zwentendorf anti-Kreisky people to vote no.

At any rate, on November 5, l978, 50.5% of the voters said no to
Zwentendorf. The Austrian nuclear power program came to a halt.

This is part of an article from The Donella Meadows Archive, for
further information please contact Sustainability Institute, 3 Linden
Road, Hartland, VT 05048

Today – that is in 2011 – the Zwentendorf  facility serves as a source
of spare parts for the five German atomic power plant of the same
design, and is used for training purposes. Visits are possible only in
exceptional cases.


Austrians understand the pain of Japan and the papers are full with articles and letters regarding the nuclear events unfolding in Japan.

The PolitikHeute page of the popular free-of-charge Vienna Heute daily, March 18, 2011, has two out of the three letters from readers, dealing with the EU “Stress Tests for EU Nuclear plants, or the EU and the Atomic Power Plants (the German word AKW):

H. Fruhwirth from Hoenbach reminds us that it is Austrian Environment Minister Nikolas Berlakovich who suggested the stress-tests for all EU AKWs and thinks that had one done so with the Fukushima plants perhaps they would have been stopped before disaster stroke. The mentioned stress tests have already led Germany to announce the non renewal of the operating licenses for as many as 12 plants – this to take effect in a month or two.

Further, the letter points out that politicians, and those that favor nuclear power, finally were driven by what happened in Japan to the realization that humanity is helpless before environmental inputs.

S. Hauer writes a short note asking why the EU deals with crooked bananas and crooked cucumbers, but has no decisions regarding the AKWs, airplane accidents, acts of terror, earth-quakes – even though it is clear that 100% safety does not exist?

On the following page there is an article titled ANSWERS, by Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn.

The Cardinal announces  that tonight, Friday March 18th, 7 pm, he will hold at the Stephansdom (clearly most important Cathedral in Austria) – a special service for Japan.

The Cardinal writes that the Fukushima events made him think these last days of his friend, a Chemist at the University of Bern, Switzerland, Professor Max Thuerkauf, who lost his position at the university because of his criticism of the technological insufficiencies of our times and warned of dangers even of the peaceful uses of nuclear power.  His words sound prophetic these days.

Back in 1984 he was saying that the nuclear power plants were just the tip of an iceberg – the development of technologies that were unsustainable. No engine is safe he was saying to those that argued that nuclear power plants are safe. He was noting that men build them, and use them, and we know that even the impossible can happen.

Thuerkauf  said that atomic energy is a fire that cannot be extinguished – surely not by closing a faucet. There is no material that can extinguish a fire that burns a thousand time brighter then the sun – the artificially created radioactivity.  Science has no means to bottle up this artificially created radioactivity will be here for eternity,  and the Cardinal calls us to reconsider what we are doing and look at what price the poor Japanese will pay for these activities.


But I cannot leave it at this only. I feel I must make a further comment regarding the Japanese culture that bred the reality of people committing harakiri for some National purpose. Obviously, we had no admiration for those that sacrificed themselves for their emperor and we do not admire a Prime Minister who makes now an official visit to the shrine that sort off deifies their memory, but look now at the 50 workers that still busy themselves in the pit left by the explosions at the dying reactors of Fukushima. These people know they have little chance to survive. The head of the Japanese nuclear authority did not go to inspect the disaster – right on location. He must have had years ofd good pay and it is those workers that will be his sacrificial lambs. He is no better then the US bank-directors that raked in the profits  from the financial collapse in the US or the BP officials who watched the fouling up of the US Gulf. Neigh – the Japanese energy leaders might actually prove to be much worse then these other self-gratifiers.


Posted on on August 5th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky wedding of Saturday July 31, 2010 was described in the papers and gowns depicted. The brides parents were in front and the grooms father well – very much in the back as he has  some nasty things on his records.
Well, further, the name itself, may not be considered a great asset to the Clintons – but there is also something quite interesting in this name – it belongs to some sort of Jewish  aristocracy – and no-one seemed to take notice.

So here is our SCOOP.

We have a Scoop – The name Mezvinsky comes with Jewish history that was not noted by the “mavens” of the Chelsea and Marc Wedding. There is a family tree here somewhere that might be as old as the Clinton’s.


You see – the ending … sky means you come from a particular location.

A name such as Polsky or Polansky  as a family name means you came from Poland and probably ended up somewhere else.
It connects to Polonia or Poland.  Warshawsky is more specific – you come from Warsaw.

Jews had no family names – they were called by a first name the son of a first name – something like David ben Yishai, who was King David – so his dynasty had really no name. When European governments decreed you must have a name they turned around and looked for help in professions, trees, animals…  and eventually names of locations.

As most Jews lived in small towns and rural settlements in the Poland, Ukraine, Belorussia, Western Russia  region, and eventually many of these Jews migrated to the West, many of these locations became immortalized of sort and in many cases in a Yiddish language form of the name.

So we have Brodsky  based on Brodi. It becomes more difficult with Berdishewsky – that was Berdichevsky based on Berdichev.

Similarly, Mezvinsky – we guess – comes from Mezibish  via  Mezivish – Mezvishsky – Mezvinsky. The “b” and “v” are interchangeable – with certain rules – in Hebrew and thus also in Yidish (Jidish). The shortening and “n” introduction are no surprise either.


We researched the internet and did not fail to discover the importance of MEZIBISH / Mezibush.

The Baal Shem Tov’s grave is in Mezibush – today thousands of religious Jews travel to Mezibish  on his day of death according to the Jewish Calendar. In 2007 this was May 30th.


We found a travelogue from a Viznitz Chassid…

A Pilgrimage to the Baal Shem Tov’s grave – Baal Shem Tov …
Late in the morning we were off to Mezibush (170 km), where the Holy
Baal … After a three-hour ride, we arrived in Mezibush. The day was
bright blue with … – Cached – Similar


Journey to the grave site of The Baal Shem Tov – Israel Baal Shem Tov, born Chai Elul 1707, which in 2007 calendar happened to be on September 9th, is described by Tzvi Meir Cohn, Executive Director, Baal Shem Tov Foundation.

They went to Kiev, then in a four hours trip they reached Berditchiv which is the old Berditchev. From there it is 170 km to Mezibush – another 3 hours ride. There they found the place where the Holy Baal Shem Tov is buried.

“The day was bright blue with sculptured clouds scattered through the sky. By this time, we were all so excited. We found a few young boys that ran up ahead of the bus on a dirt road to show us the location of the Baal Shem Tov’s Grave Site. At the top of a hill, we found a new synagogue/guest house next to the old cemetery with the Ohel (building) containing the Baal Shem Tov’s grave.


Their travels to the grave sites of the Baal Shem Tov in Mezibush and all the Rebbes in the Chabad lineage from the Altar Rebbe Schneur Zalman, the author of the Tanya, to the fifth Lubavich Rebbe Rashab buried in the Soviet Union (The last two Lubavitch Rebbes are buried in New York). In total, we drove over 1500 miles through Russia and Ukraine by bus, sometimes day and night sleeping in contorted positions on our seats.
We visited a number of different Jewish communities each with its own story. For me, the highlight of the trip was standing at the grave of the Baal Shem Tov.


The Ohel The new synagogue/guest house, although not completed at that time, was very beautiful and contained a Mikveh, several rooms to sleep, meeting rooms, a Bet Midrash and a shule. The views from the synagogue/guest house stretched out over a picturesque valley toward the back and along one side. On the other side of the house, the old cemetery with the Ohel (a small red brick building), sat nestled among some trees.

As we entered the cemetery, we saw a young Lubavitch woman SLK, from our old neighborhood standing at the front door of the Ohel. She was surprised to see us and we reminisced how she had babysat for DMM (the authors son) when he was a baby. Once inside the Ohel, we said the customary prayers and offered our request for blessings written on a piece of paper. Then we
tore up the paper and threw the torn pieces onto the grave, as is the custom. Our Rabbi, Rav Sholom Ber Volpo, delivered a sermon on Torah.

Then, we sang 8 or 9 niggunim (songs without words) originated by each of the Rabbis leading to and including the seven Lubavitch Rebbes. Then, I sang my original composition, “The Baal Shem Tov Blues” accompanied by my guitar. This was a magical moment.

Just outside the cemetery, there was a man selling Russian styled fur hats, a few fox skins and some other souvenirs. We purchased two hats and a fox skin. Both the hats and the fox skin smelled as if they had only just recently been removed from their owners.

Then, we went walked down a long, dirt road towards the center of Mezibush and to a well bubbling up the legendary Baal Shem Tov water that has the power of healing.

Legend has it that the Baal Shem was with his students and they couldn’t find water to wash their hands before praying Mincha (afternoon prayer). The Baal Shem struck the ground three times with his walking stick and the water miraculously bubbled out. Some of us, including DMM and me, jumped into the well to take a Mikveh in the Baal Shem Tov water. Also, we collected some of the legendary Baal Shem Tov water and carried it home.

By late afternoon, we were off to visit the grave sites of the Maggid of Mezritch and his students, Reb Zushe and Rabbi Aaron HaCohan, a few hours away, in Annapole.

To understand some more about Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (The Besht) 18 Elul 5458 – 6 Sivan 5520 (1698-1760), please see –

And a few further short notes: “Rabbi Yisroel (Israel) ben Eliezer, August 27, 1698 (18 Elul) – May 22, 1760), often called Baal Shem Tov or Besht, was a Jewish mystical rabbi. He is considered to be the founder of Hasidic Judaism (see also Mezhbizh Hasidic dynasty).

The Besht was born to Eliezer and Sara in Okopy – a small village that over the centuries has been part of Poland, Russia, and is now part of Ukraine, (located in the Borshchivskyi Raion (district) of the Ternopil Oblast). He died in Medzhybizh, ( Polish: Mi?dzybórz, Mi?dzyborz or Mi?dzybó?), which had once been part Poland and Russia, and is also now in Ukraine, in the Khmelnytskyi Oblast.

The Besht is better known to many religious Jews as “the holy Baal Shem” (der heyliger baal shem in Yiddish), or most commonly, the Baal Shem Tov . The title Baal Shem Tov is usually translated into English as “Master of the Good Name”,
with Tov (“Good”) modifying Shem (“[Divine] Name”), although it is more correctly understood as a combination of Baal Shem (“Master of the [Divine] Name”) and Tov (an honorific epithet to the man). The name Besht — the acronym from the words comprising that name, bet ayin shin tes—is typically used in print rather than speech. The appellation “Baal Shem” was not unique to Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer; however, it is Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer who is most closely identified as a “Baal Shem”,
as he was the founder of the spiritual movement of Hasidic Judaism.

The little biographical information that is known about Besht is so interwoven with legends of miracles that in many cases it is hard to arrive at the historical facts. From the numerous legends connected with his birth it appears that his parents were poor, upright, and pious. When he was orphaned, his community cared for him. At school, he distinguished himself only by his frequent disappearances, being always found in the lonely woods surrounding the place, rapturously enjoying the beauties of nature. Many of his disciples believed that he came from the Davidic line tracing its lineage to the royal house of King David, and by extension with the institution of the Jewish Messiah.”

Today, The Chabad Hasidic Dynasties exist in the US and no parties running for elections dares to forget them. In New York State the big centers are in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and in Monsey, Rockland County. They used to support Mayor Giuliani.


What was described above is a little hole today but this was a wonderful town with a Rabbi’s court that sent its emissaries all over the Jewish World – think of it as a mini-Jewish Vatican. The fact that someone came from there was not un-noted. We do not know what the Mezvinsky ancestor’s role was at that court – but being part of that court made him into the Jewish counter-part of a knight – albeit a spiritual knight.

To explain why I am susceptible to research of this sort is very simple to me – I am a descendant of a similar court in the town of Emden, Germany. That was Rabbi Jacob ben Zwi – Emden whose acronim is YA’BETZ and then was spelled as Jawetz, with various turns that in the US got also the much more recent spelling Javits by the brothers Benjamin and Jacob Javits who Americanized their father’s name that was Jawetz. Jacob Javits is obviously the famous US Senator from New York who wrote among other things the act that limits the Presidential power to declare war. I vouch that in most vases, when someone has a name with this sort of lineage – this becomes a responsibility for behavior and a shield against the outside world. Does it work in all cases – obviously not. Will it work in Marc Mezvinsky’s case – that remains to be seen.

If by any chance someone shows this article to Marc Mezvinsky or to any of the Clinton’s, my suggestion is that he leave Goldman Sachs and takes his talents and I am sure, good intentions, to a job that will bring honor to him and to future generations of Mezvinskys.


Posted on on July 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

For one thing, see there is a good South African Restaurant in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and we go there for inspiration and nourishment from time to time.…

Based on the above – we write: Two freedom fighters I most admire, writes Noel Anderson, Professor at Brooklyn College, in the struggle for South African democracy are Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela. Law partners and comrades, both men helped to shape the direction of the country, with Mandela leading the struggle from within, while Tambo raised international consciousness and money while exiled abroad. Tambo is no longer with us, but Mandela keeps the best of that struggle alive, becoming the first truly democratically elected President of South Africa after decades of imprisonment, and continuing to serve as a moral symbol for African and world affairs.

Born 92 years ago on July 18th, 1918, into a royal family in the Transkei, Mandela has been at the center of not just South African but global freedom struggles. He was the head of the ANC youth league and became a founding member of Umkhonto we Sizwe (“Spear of the Nation”) the armed wing of the ANC, before being imprisoned for 27 years.

President Obama, in tribute to Mandela’s work, has called on all to engage in community service. (In effect this past weekend everyone of us was called to put aside 82 minutes of his time and dedicate those 82 minutes to the community.  The United Nations has also recognized his birthday as Nelson Mandela International Day by calling on November 10, 2009 to make the !8th of July The International Mandela Day – and this year – the July 18th 2010, was supposed to be The First International Mandela Day. But it fell on a Sunday and that is a no-no for the UN Free Birds that must keep the weekend in New York for free enjoyment – really – what other reason for spending the time in this hot city? So, the UN moved to celebrate the day, this year, on  Thursday night and Friday Morning – 15th and 16th of 2010.

Strange as it sounds, its important to recognize that “Madiba” (his term of endearment), the 92 year old grandfather, still has a revolutionary spirit and still… very much alive. The press tends to talk about him the past tense, as if he is long gone and only his legacy survives. Yes, health concerns has led him to retreat from a once rigorous travel schedule, and his chronological age puts him in the twilight of his life. But Mandela is  mentally very lucid, weighs in on global politics and still advises in the affairs of his philanthropic foundation. Further, despite the controversial painting of Mandela, depicting him as dead and being used for an autopsy by political leaders, he still speaks with leaders on pressing concerns, and remains loyal to those countries that supported the freedom struggle.  Happy Birthday, Madiba!

{Dr. Noel S. Anderson is Associate Professor of Political Science and Education at the City University of New York – Brooklyn College. His work focuses on urban politics, human development and education and comparative issues in public policy – U.S. and South Africa}.


The celebration started on Thursday night 6:30 pm with a series of three talks and the screening of the documentary “MANDELA: Son of Africa, Father of a Nation, in the new ECOSOC Chamber in the UN temporary North Lawn building.

No one from the high flyers of the UN was there – their place taken by fill-ins, but luckily Jonathan Demme the director, and Peter Saraf, the co-producer of the film were there – so the aesthetics of their production could be brought up.

For the UN spoke Margaret Novicki and Nicholas Haysom.

Margaret Novicki was appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan  as the Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Pretoria, South Africa.  Ms. Novicki, a national of the United States, brings to this post extensive experience in communications, media relations and journalism, much of it acquired in Africa. Prior to Pretoria she worked for the UN in Accra. She chaired the evening. She spoke on behalf  of the UN USG for UNDPI – Mr. Kiyotaka Akasaka.
Why DPI? Why not the Secretary General himself?

Nicholas Haysom, as an attorney of the South African High Court, he litigated in high-profile human rights cases between 1981 and 1993.  He acted as a professional mediator in labour and community conflicts in South Africa between 1985 and 1993, and has advised on civil conflicts in Africa and Asia since 1998. Founding partner and senior lawyer at the human rights law firm of Cheadle Thompson and Haysom Attorneys, and an Associate Professor of Law and Deputy Director at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits University in South Africa until May 1994, when he was appointed Legal Adviser to President Mandela.

Mr. Haysom was closely involved in the constitutional negotiations leading up to the interim and final Constitutions in South Africa.  He served as Chief Legal Adviser throughout Mr. Mandela’s presidency, and continued to work with Mr. Mandela on his private peace initiatives up to 2002.

Since leaving the office of the President upon Nelson Mandela’s retirement in 1999, Mr. Haysom has been involved in the Burundi Peace Talks as the Chairman of the committee negotiating constitutional issues (1999–2002). He continued to serve on the implementation committee of the Burundi Peace Accord after 2002.

Incoming UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Professor Nicholas Haysom of South Africa as Director for Political Affairs in his Executive Office, May 16, 2007. Our friend Matthew Russell Lee complained that he is never seen at the UN – but in a careful reading of the article we find there the concept of preventive diplomacy – we wish had more credence at the UN.  “He said there is a resistance to preventive diplomacy among member states, leading to the blocking of reform and regional offices of the Department of Political Affairs — he ascribed the most strenuous opposition to Latin America — and to resistance to the Responsibility to Protect doctrine and Ed Luck’s appointment as special advisor on the topic.” In short – he actually seems to be well ahead of the UN but not really of the UN – where he finds it difficult to execute policy that is factually set by only the Permant Five of the Veto Power.

What we said above was that both speakers for the UN are somehow South Africa based and not UN based.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (Xhosa pronunciation: [xo?li?a?a man?de?la]; born in a Xhosa home in Qunu, Transkei,where his father, the Town Counselor, had 4 wives and the boys lived in a separate home from the parents. Chief Jogintamba saw his potential and sent him to the Clakebury Boarding School. In 1933, at 15, he got involved in the Walter Sisulu led ANC and when he reached 30 years, that is when coincidentally Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd’s contribution to Afrikanerdom was to dress up apartheid and make it appear respectable to his followers, and the Mandela & Tambo law-firm took on the anti-apartheid legal defense.

In 1956 Mandela prepared the Freedom Charter and the people declared – “We Stand by Our Leader.” Then in 1960 happened the Sharpeville masacre and the call changed to: “Freedom in Our Time” and Wolfie Kadesh, a white man, was an activist. In 1962 Mandela went underground and George Bizios, also a white man, was his lawyer. Eventually, Mandela was apprehended and was in jail 1961 – 1988. Gowan Mbeki was imprisoned for 25 years. In August 1989 Botha resigns and De Klerk takes over and leeds the negotiations with Mandela. November 1993 both of them get the Nobel Prize. Friday, 10 Dec 1993 was Mandela’s speech in Oslo.…

Fully representative Democratic elections took place on 27 April 1994, and Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.

Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist. We saw how he got there from his village roots and we learned about the 27 years he spent as a FREE MAN behind bars – freer in his spirit then his captors that knew that they were the captives in the hands of the true Free World. Yes – those years – post World War II – when the UN was young and small – the World had hope for a future that will be very different from the way history evolved prior to those days. Today we can say that the hope tuned out to be pre-mature and Nelson Mandela who moved with his times forged an image for the World well ahead of his time. But no despair, his personal example moved at Least South Africa to ending its internal conflict even though many other conflicts in the World continue to rage on.

Mandela, son of Africa and Father of the New South Africa, depicted in advertisement as a barefoot young boy in what looks like a general’s coat, armed with a stick, said that his watchwords were TRUTH & FREEDOM.


From the screening event at the UN I hurried down to the Manhattan Village – to TEATROIATI at 64 East 4th Street (between Bowery and 2nd Av,) where Sabrina Lastman of Uruguay was having a showing of her CANDOMBE JAZZ PROJECT – mixture oral tradition AFRO-URUGUAYAN MUSIC with elements of Jazz. I bring this in here because in many ways it was befitting the Mandela event.

In the Mandela documentary we saw much of the peoples culture of the Indigenous Africans of the original South Africa, and somehow it must have been quite similar to what Africans, probably from the Congo region, brought with them to what are now Uruguay and Argentina. The fact that this music has survived, and in effect has now a revival, are signs of its resilience, but also of the influence Mandela’s achievements had world-wide.

The Candombe Jazz Project is a New York City-based ensemble playing Candombe, the Afro Uruguayan music tradition. CJP presents an exciting concert of original compositions by Sabrina Lastman & Beledo, arrangement of oral tradition songs, & songs by renown Uruguayan songwriters.

Candombe Jazz Project includes:
Sabrina Lastman – voice / compositions
Beledo – guitar / keyboard / compositions
Arturo Prendez – candombe drum / percussions
Special guests: Agrupación Lubola Macú


“PEACE IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF CONFLICT – IT IS THE CREATION OF AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE ALL CAN FLOURISH,” Mandela said. He also wanted to see the emancipation of women – not just the races. These are things the UN must write on its flag – does it?


On Friday was the Official Commemorative Ceremony, in the big General Assembly Hall, that started with the usual UN delay at 10:20 am., with many Missions to the UN having one warm body sitting in their row – only South Africa, headed by a Minister, having all six seats, and some more, occupied. This was a Special Plenary, ahead of the regular daily Plenary.

The UN had the event open to outsiders, and that was nice. The problem that there were not many insiders present.

The President of the General Assembly, the former Libyan Foreign Minister Mr. Ali Abdussalam Treki, who is under a Schengen Travel Ban,  was not there, and that was good. Instead was one of his seconds, but the Press kit just goes ahead selling him to the innocents. We do not even know the name of the nice lady that chaired the meeting she defined as an “INFORMAL Meeting” of the GA.

“IT IS IN OUR HANDS TO CREATE A BETTER WORLD” said Mandela – God bless him and save the GA.

That was followed by a video message from the UN Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon, who said that Mandela’s greatness came from: “HE FOUGHT HIS OPRESSORS FOR YEARS AND THEN FORGAVE THEM. – HE CONSTANTLY REMINDS US HE IS AN ORDINARY MAN, BUT HE ACHIEVED UNORDINARY THINGS.”


This was followed by The Minister of International Relations and Commonwealth Relations of South Africa, Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashbane, who said that in October 1994 he helped Free South Africa.

She continued saying that in the next two days – to July 18th, people of the globe will get together to hear the words that inspired us in South Africa. She thanks in the name of President Jacob Zuma for adopting in November 2009 this resolution to have the International Mandela Day started this year. South Africa and the World are fortunate to have had a man as Nelson Mandela. She added that the UN was all the way on “Our” side in our fight against Apartheid. We owe our freedom to the role of this august house. By celebrating Mandela Day we celebrate the best for what the UN was created. UBUNTU – we believ in ourselves for what we are.

Her words were followed by a video, and we saw February 19, 1994 people of all South Africa standing peacefully in line and giving their vote.

The Minister’s presentation was clearly the highlight of the informal ceremonial, that was then followed  {informally?} by one representative from each one of UN’s major group.


This was a sad succession of obligatory diplomatic bows with some sparks of freshness.

Egypt spoke on behalf of the Non-aligned Movement – the enigma of the UN,

The Republic of Congo on behalf of the African States, spoke of the recent World Cup,

Darussalam on behalf of the Asian States, this is the Brunei Darussalam State, that clearly needs still its own liberation,

Belarus on behalf of the East European States, spoke interestingly of a long walk to Freedom,

Saint Lucia on behalf of the Group of Latin & Caribbean States, who in our opinion was the best speech  we called the Mission and asked for the speech. We attach the full speech to the end of our posting. The Afro-Caribbean Ambassador, surely descendant of slaves, H.E. Donatus Keith St Aimee, in obvious heart felt fashion said that “Few persons whose name resonate with approval on all continents – All our efforts at the UN came to essence in his life.”

Belgium on behalf of the Western European and Other States, but was mis-introduced by the Chair as speaking for the EU as temporary President of the EU. The main point was that “Let us remind ourselves that our work is far from complete – our work is for freedom or all.”

The last speaker was for the host country – the USA. who said that Apartheid was twisted and grotesque in its effort to justify oppression. Mandela overthrew apartheid by force of example.





Mr. Chairman, I am honored to speak on behalf of Member states comprising the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC), as we show our respect and admiration for an icon of the ages.

In the annals of recorded history there are few individuals whose names resonate with esteem and are uttered with deference on all continents and in all societies.  There are few lives that are unequivocally admired or unreservedly revered by all races and ethnicities; and there are few persons who in a more emotional sense, are cherished and held dear by such a large segment of humanity. Like all celebrated and remarkable men or women, this person whom we come to honor today is identified internationally with one single name befitting his role in our global society and that name is – MANDELA.

We are here today to honor Nelson Mandela pursuant to the adoption of Resolution A/64/L.13. We are here today to commemorate a man who in a lifetime of dignity has come to represent the very ideal for which we struggle daily in the United Nations. All our words, all our actions, all our individual and collective efforts aim in their sum total to equal what is represented by the life of Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela became an international symbol because of his struggle against oppression generally and apartheid in South Africa in particular. We know his history:

· From the early nineteen forties he was a leader of one of the most significant non-violent movements in history.
· For 27 years he was imprisoned under brutal conditions even as he heard of the death beyond his prison walls, of his brothers and sisters in the struggle against apartheid. How many times he must have wondered when his time would be coming to also face death at the hands of his captors.
· Finally he was released on 11th February, 1990.
· To understand the magnitude of his suffering and indignity of his incarceration, we must comprehend that he entered prison at the age of 45 and left at age 72.

These facts as we know them only scratch the surface of the beauty that is the life of Nelson Mandela. What was it that resulted in Nelson Mandela receiving more than 250 awards over four decades including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize? It was not his physical incarceration that captured the imagination of people, it was not the brutality of apartheid nor the interest of so many supporters the world over to stop this aberration.

What captured our imagination was that Nelson Mandela’s indomitable spirit, his humanity, his humility and his vast love of his people could not be imprisoned in any way by iron, concrete or barbed wire. He went into prison in 1963 as an unbowed, proud, determined South African fighter and came out in 1990 as an unbowed, proud, determined 20th Century leader and icon.

As Mandela himself put in words:

“I cherish my own freedom dearly, but I care even more for your freedom… I cannot sell my birthright, nor am I am prepared to sell the birthright of the people to be free…”

Mandela turned down freedom at an earlier date because he insisted that it had to be unconditional and as President from 1994 to 1999, he frequently gave priority to reconciliation in order to harness all the resources of South Africa to lift the economic conditions of his people. His spirit of forgiveness, his turning of the other cheek has ensured that South Africa joined as an equal partner in the nations of this world, so that within the past month we have all had the great joy of watching South Africa host the World Cup in splendid and successful fashion.

How important it is that the Member States of the United Nations saw it fitting to adopt a Resolution to commemorate Nelson Mandela International Day, an annual event which the world would observe, now for the first time on the occasion of his 92nd Birthday, and for years to come.

We the Member States of GRULAC, have experienced in similar forms many of the travails experienced by South Africa and personified in the life of Nelson Mandela. Our region has had its own icons, and we remember their considerable contributions to the development of our nations when we pause here to honor the life of Mandela.  For this reason his life, his response to adversity, his humanity, resonates not just in our minds for the success of his mission but in our hearts for the beacon he has become for all peoples suffering repression.

What this man said was merely a punctuation for what he did, and what he did is being recognized today in this august forum so that present and future generations need not wonder as to the path to success in nation building, but merely need to follow the footsteps of this great man.

He truly is an ordinary man who has behaved in an extraordinary way!


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


UNECE climate change activities[1]

Table of Contents:

Vehicle regulations
Energy efficiency in production
Energy-efficient housing
Sustainable forestry
Sustainable biomass
Other related UNECE areas of work


Climate change is a human-induced process of global warming, largely resulting from the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and fluorocarbons.[2] Countries are under increasing pressure to curb their emissions of these gases and to enhance carbon sinks in a drive to mitigate the effects of climate change. However, combating the threats of human-induced global warming requires more than mitigation; it is equally important to reduce society’s vulnerability to climate change through adaptation, as established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, launched in 2005. Adaptation addresses the impacts of climate change, including climate variability and weather extremes.[3]

The United Nations Secretary-General has put climate change at the top of the United Nations agenda, ensuring that the “United Nations system will continue … to bring to bear the collective strength of all its entities as an integral part of the international community’s response to climate change.”[4] The five regional commissions have assumed an active role in coordinating United Nations support for action on climate change at the regional level through the regional coordination mechanisms mandated by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1998/46 (annex III).[5] The five commissions are seen as conveners to support global, regional and national action on climate change, while coordinating their workplans and implementation efforts with other organizations that have significant mandates in their respective areas.[6]

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is a key driving force in combating climate change in the pan-European region and beyond. The UNECE region comprises 56 member States, spanning the whole European continent, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and also including Israel, Turkey, Canada and the United States of America. The region has a crucial role in contributing to the local and regional success of UNFCCC, as was noted by UNECE member States at the “Sixth Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” (Belgrade, 10–12 October 2007).[7] UNECE has spearheaded the region’s efforts to achieve the targets of United Nations Millennium Development Goal 7, especially to integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and to reverse the losses of environmental resources.



Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution

The 1979 UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP), and its protocols aim to cut emissions of air pollutants, inter alia, sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs). Such pollutants can either directly influence global warming, by affecting the cooling or absorptive characteristics of the atmosphere, or indirectly influence it through, for example, ozone formation. Recent studies have shown important synergies in addressing air pollution control and climate change mitigation and have highlighted the economic and environmental co-benefits that are possible by tackling these issues in an integrated way.

The Convention has 51 Parties and eight protocols, which are all in force. The most recent of these, the 1999 Gothenburg Protocol, is currently under revision. It targets the environmental effects of acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone through emission cuts for SO2, NOx, NMVOCs and ammonia. Such cuts are known to mitigate global warming.

A recent major conference and workshop entitled “Air Pollution and Climate Change: Developing a Framework for Integrated Co-benefit Strategies” was held in September 2008 in Stockholm under the auspices of the Convention and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and in consultation with the UNFCCC secretariat. It brought together policymakers and scientists from all United Nations regions to consider ways to develop and implement integrated programmes for decreasing emissions of both air pollutants and GHGs. The conclusions stressed the importance of using integrated strategies. Of special note was the possible “buying of time” in GHG mitigation through cuts in such air pollutants as black carbon and ozone, and air pollutants with a strong radiative forcing effect, which might be cut more readily than CO2 and achieve some GHG mitigation in the short term. The conference agreed there was a need to strengthen air pollution abatement efforts as well as climate change mitigation to achieve better health and environmental protection. It also noted the significant cost savings of using integrated approaches. The conclusions and recommendations of the workshop will be considered by the Convention’s Executive Body (Meeting of the Parties) in December 2008.

The Convention is using different models and methods to analyse environmental effects and to calculate the necessary emission abatement and related costs. In this way, cost-effective pollution control strategies can achieve the desired environmental targets with the least overall expenditure. Recent use of the Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollution Interactions and Synergies (GAINS) integrated assessment model, developed by the Convention’s Centre for Integrated Assessment Modelling, has explored synergies and trade-offs between emissions of air pollutants and GHGs, for current and projected energy use. The model includes both end-of-pipe controls and non-technical measures, such as behavioural changes in traffic or economic instruments.

The Convention’s scientific bodies are also incorporating climate change issues into their programmes of work. The European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP), which monitors and models air quality, is involved in reporting and estimating emissions. Reporting requirements of the Parties have been harmonized with those of UNFCCC. EMEP is also responsible for the integrated assessment modelling work described above. The international programmes of the Working Group on Effects monitor and model environmental and human health effects of air pollution. Increasingly, these need to take account of the links to observed or predicted changes in climatic conditions. They also provide long-term monitoring of data that can identify changes that might be associated with a changing climate.

Discussions in the Convention’s bodies have drawn attention to the strong links between air pollutant and GHG emissions and have highlighted specific issues where integration of strategies is needed. For example, the current emphasis on renewable energy is leading to increased use of wood as a fuel. However, unless appropriate boiler technology is used, this can also lead to increased air pollution.


The intrinsic relation of the hydrological cycle – and thus water availability, quality, and services – to climate change makes adaptation critical for water management and the water sector in general. The UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) is an important legal framework for the development of adaptation strategies, in particular in the transboundary context.

At their fourth meeting in Bonn, Germany, in 2006, the Parties to the Water Convention took a decisive step to supporting the development of adaptation strategies by agreeing to elaborate a guidance document on water and adaptation to climate change. A draft has now been prepared by the Task Forces on Water and Climate and on Extreme Weather Events, both under the Convention’s Protocol on Water and Health. This marks the first attempt under any convention to flesh out a climate change adaptation strategy in the water sector with a particular emphasis on transboundary issues. Based on the concept of integrated water resources management, the Guidance will “provide advice on how to assess impacts of climate change on water quantity and quality, how to perform risk assessment, including health risk assessment, how to gauge vulnerability, and how to design and implement appropriate adaptation measures” [ibid. p. 8]. The Guidance is expected to be formally adopted in November 2009 at the next meeting of the Parties.

One important step in the Guidance’s preparation was a workshop on climate change adaptation in the water sector organized under the Water Convention and the Protocol on Water and Health (Amsterdam, 1–2 July 2008). The workshop, which allowed for an exchange of experience in the region, an assessment of information needs for adaptation strategies and a discussion of the benefits of and mechanisms for transboundary cooperation, touched upon the institutional, policy, legal, scientific and financial aspects of adaptation in the water sector and included cross-cutting issues such as education. The workshop highlighted current challenges such as still limited transboundary cooperation, the focus on short-term rather than long-term measures, and the need to consider climate change together with other global drivers of change, e.g. the energy and food crises and changes in production and consumption patterns.

The Protocol on Water and Health, the first legally binding instrument aimed to achieve the sustainable management of water resources and the reduction of water-related disease, is also highly relevant to climate change adaptation. It establishes joint or coordinated surveillance and early-warning systems, contingency plans and response capacities, as well as mutual assistance to respond to outbreaks or incidents of water-related disease, especially those arising from extreme weather events. The Protocol’s Ad Hoc Project Facilitation Mechanism is a funding tool for implementation of the Protocol at the national level; its provisions on safe drinking water and sanitation are also of relevance to climate change.


Access to information, public participation and justice

The UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) constitutes the only legally binding instrument so far to implement principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which provides for the participation of citizens in environmental issues by giving them appropriate access to the information concerning the environment held by public authorities, including access to judicial or administrative proceedings, redress and remedy. Access to scientifically based information and public participation in decision-making on environmental issues – as provided by the Convention – are widely recognized as an important foundation for climate change mitigation efforts. UNFCCC, for example, underlined the importance of these principles at its thirteenth session, encouraging Parties to facilitate access to data and information and to promote public participation in addressing climate change and its effects and in developing adequate responses.[8] Environmental information can help to raise awareness about climate change issues and to strengthen synergies between mitigation and adaptation needs. Public participation in this process ensures that social values and trade-offs are represented in political decisions on climate-related issues.

UNECE is a co-organizer of the international conference, “The Role of Information in an Age of Climate Change” (Aarhus, Denmark, 13–14 November 2008). The event, marking the Aarhus Convention’s tenth anniversary, brings together leading scientists, policymakers, government authorities, non-governmental organizations, and representatives of the private sector to promote public access to information and public participation in addressing climate change.

The Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTR), adopted in May 2003, is the first legally binding international instrument on PRTRs. PRTRs assist governments in collecting information on the emission of GHGs and toxic or hazardous substances from industrial facilities and other sources. By making this information available to decision makers and the wider public, PRTRs contribute to enhancing companies’ environmental performance, regional mitigation efforts and the fight against global warming and climate change.


Vehicle regulations

Transport is a significant and growing contributor to global climate change. According to some estimates, it is responsible for 13 per cent of all anthropogenic emissions of GHGs and for almost one quarter of the world’s total CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.[9]

In May 2008 in Leipzig, Germany, UNECE took part in the OECD International Transport Forum Ministerial Session, “The Challenge of Climate Change”, the first global meeting of transport ministers that focused on energy and climate change challenges relevant to the transport sector. Climate change mitigation and adaptation activities in the transport sector focus on different means of CO2 abatement: (a) innovative engine technologies to increase fuel efficiency; (b) use of sustainable biofuels; (c) improved transport infrastructure, including inter-modal transport and logistics to avoid road congestion; (d) dissemination of consumer information on eco-driving; and (e) implementation of legal instruments. In their key messages, transport ministers urged UNECE World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) to “accelerate the work to develop common methodologies, test cycles and measurement methods for [light] vehicles” [ibid. p. 5], including CO2 emissions. For over 50 years, the World Forum has served as a platform for developing harmonized global regulations for vehicle construction, thus increasing their environmental performance and safety.

The World Forum agreed that a possible strategy for the automotive sector to contribute to the abatement of emissions was to pursue: (a) improved energy efficiency and the use of sustainable biofuels as a short-term objective (2015); (b) the development and introduction into the market of plug-in hybrid vehicles as a mid-term objective (2015–2025); and (c) the development and introduction into the market of electric vehicles as a long-term objective (2025–2040). This strategy would shift the automotive sector from the use of fossil energy to the use of hydrogen and electric energy. To be effective, this strategy needs to rely on the sustainable production of electricity and hydrogen, a crucial policy issue identified for future discussions on global warming and the reduction of CO2 emissions.

The World Forum previously adopted amendments to UNECE regulations to limit the maximum admissible level of vehicle emissions for various gaseous pollutants (e.g. carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, NOx) and particulate matter. These have resulted in a substantial abatement of the emissions limits for new private cars and commercial vehicles. Moreover, UNECE Regulations were amended to include electric and hybrid vehicles as well as vehicles with engines fuelled with liquefied petroleum gas or compressed natural gas. At the present time, the World Forum is considering a number of energy efficiency measures, such as the development of a common methodology and measurement method to evaluate environmentally friendly vehicles, hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles, the use of other alternative energy sources such as biofuels including biogas, the installation in vehicles of engine management systems (e.g. the stop-and-go function), intelligent transport systems, tyre-pressure monitoring systems and the development of tyres with low rolling resistance. Once a consensus is reached, many of these measures are likely to be added to the UNECE regulations, which will help increase vehicles’ energy efficiency.

As concerns fuel-quality standards, in 2007 the World Forum demonstrated the close link between the market fuel quality and the emissions of pollutants from motor vehicles.  It recognized that further reduction of emissions required that cleaner fuel be available to consumers.  The lack of harmonized fuel quality standards was seen to hamper the development of the new vehicle technologies. Supported by UNEP and the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association, the World Forum is committed to developing a necessary standard on market fuel quality, thus enabling vehicles to use fuels that minimize vehicle emission levels.

The Transport Health and Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP), a joint project of UNECE and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, was initiated to help achieve more sustainable transport patterns and a better reflection of environmental and health concerns in transport policy. In particular, THE PEP also promotes sustainable urban transport, including alternative modes of transport, in the region.


Energy efficiency in production

As energy is a major market in the UNECE region, which contains 40 per cent of the world’s natural gas reserves and 60 per cent of its coal reserves, a number of UNECE activities promote a sustainable energy development strategy, a key to the region’s climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. The combustion of fossil fuels, the mainstay of the region’s electricity generation, is also a major source of GHG emissions. The sustainable energy projects of UNECE aim to facilitate the transition to a more sustainable and secure energy future by optimizing operating efficiencies and conservation, including through energy restructuring and legal, regulatory or energy pricing reforms. UNECE projects also encourage the introduction of renewable energy sources and the use of natural gas until cleaner energy sources are developed and commercially available, as well as the greening of the coal-to-energy chain.

For the period 2006–2009, the UNECE Energy Efficiency 21 (EE21) programme is working to promote regional cooperation to enhance countries’ energy efficiency and to reduce their GHG emissions, thus helping them meet their international treaty obligations under UNFCCC and the UNECE conventions. Energy efficiency is achieved by focusing on more efficient production, conservation and use of all energy sources in order to minimize GHG emissions.

Within the overall EE21 programme, UNECE manages the Financing Energy Efficiency Investments for Climate Change Mitigation project, with a budget of approximately US$ 7.5 million, financed by the Global Environment Fund, Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial and the European Business Congress. This project is currently establishing a privately managed equity fund with private and public sector partners. The fund, which will benefit from both public and private sources, will target energy efficiency and renewable investment projects in 12 countries in Central Asia and Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.

Another project within the EE21 programme is RENEUER, a regional activity supported by the United States Agency for International Development, the United States Department of Energy, France and other bilateral donors. RENEUER promotes sustainable development in the region by overcoming regional barriers and creating favourable conditions for the introduction of advanced technologies for the efficient use of local energy resources.

Outreach activities to other regional commissions in the context of energy efficiency for climate change mitigation are being organized under the Global Energy Efficiency 21 (GEE21) project. This project, to be launched in December 2008 in Poznan, Poland, will develop a systematic exchange of information on capacity-building, policy reform and investment project financing to promote cost-effective energy efficiency improvements that will reduce air pollution, including GHGs.

The work of two expert groups under the Committee on Sustainable Energy relates to climate change mitigation. The Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane (CMM) promote the recovery and use of methane gas from coal mines to minimize GHG emissions. In February 2008 in Szczyrk, Poland, a UNECE-supported workshop assessed prospects for CMM recovery and use, noting that “Global potential for CMM projects to contribute to climate change mitigation and take advantage of the carbon markets is very strong because a reduction of one ton of methane yields reductions of 18 to 23 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent”.[10] However, economic feasibility of such projects typically requires a clear regulatory and legal framework, reasonable access to markets and relatively stable prices.

The Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Cleaner Electricity Production from Coal and Other Fossil Fuels held its first meeting in November 2007. Its programme of work includes reviewing the prospects for cleaner electricity production from fossil fuels and measures or incentives to promote investment in cleaner electricity production. The Group also assesses the regulatory needs for promoting investment in cleaner electricity production from fossil fuels, appraises the comparative advantages of investments in new capacities and analyses issues related to carbon capture and storage technologies, especially in the context of emerging economies in the UNECE region.[11]


Energy-efficient housing

Due to both its high GHG emissions and its large potential for energy-saving measures, the housing sector plays a critical role in climate change mitigation. IPCC estimates that the global potential to reduce emissions at roughly 29 per cent for the residential and commercial sectors.[12] The energy-saving potential in this sector is also considerable: UNEP estimates that in Europe, buildings account for roughly 40 to 45 per cent of energy consumption, emitting significant amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2). Residential buildings account for the lion’s share of these emissions.[13]

Energy-efficient buildings can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation by reducing buildings’ energy consumption as well as by making them more resistant to severe weather events. Improving energy efficiency is especially important in the UNECE region, where projected increased housing construction and homeownership are likely to be accompanied by higher electricity consumption and thus growing emissions. UNECE has a programme geared to achieving maximal energy efficiency in the region’s housing, which will allow countries to share experience and good practice in reducing energy consumption in the residential sector, both vis-à-vis existing housing stock and new residential housing construction. This is expected to especially improve energy performance in parts of the region where progress is hampered by low innovation capacity and by a lack of knowledge about technical options to improve the thermal efficiency of existing buildings, and by outdated building codes that prevent countries from embracing the latest energy-efficient construction techniques. The programme will also include a wide-ranging regional assessment – featuring financing mechanisms, case studies, workshops and seminars for policymakers – and will benefit from close collaboration with above-mentioned EE21 project.

To date, UNECE has published country profiles on the housing sectors of Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia Lithuania, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation and Serbia and Montenegro. In 2009, two workshops (in Sofia and Vienna) will address the issue of energy efficiency in housing. A group of interested experts will assist the host countries in shaping the programme of the events and will provide the necessary expertise. In September 2008, the Committee on Housing and Land Management addressed energy efficiency in housing in the region, focusing on the legislative framework and incentives.[14]


Sustainable forestry

Forests and wood are integrally linked to climate change and have an important role to play in mitigation and adaptation. Forests sequester carbon from the atmosphere when they grow, thereby offsetting a significant part of GHG emissions. According to the forthcoming UNECE Annual Report, the annual increase of carbon in EU-27 forests is equivalent to 8.6 per cent of GHG emissions in the European Union (EU). In Europe, forests sequester approximately 140 million tons of carbon a year. Wood products are a store of carbon, keeping it from release to the atmosphere. Forests store more than 80 per cent of terrestrial aboveground carbon and more than 70 per cent of soil organic carbon. They are also the source of wood energy that can substitute fossil energy, thereby reducing GHG emissions.[15] Wood can also be a substitute for non-renewable construction materials such as plastics, steel or concrete.

The UNECE Timber Committee has an active role in monitoring these trends and in promoting sustainable forest management. It collects basic data on forest resource assessment (e.g. carbon sequestration and storage in forests) and the production of and trade in forest products (e.g. harvested wood products, substitution of other materials). It contributes to policy monitoring by reporting on qualitative indicators of sustainable forest management and by publishing a chapter in the Forest Products Annual Market Review. It is currently developing a database on forest sector policies and institutions. In September 2008, UNECE hosted a workshop on “Harvested Wood Products in the Context of Climate Change Policies” to discuss different approaches to account for carbon stored in wood products and their economic, social and ecological impacts. It will also participate in the plenary session on Forest and Climate Change during European Forest Week (Rome, 21–24 October 2008). Finally, the UNECE Timber Committee provided an analytical contribution to the European Forest Sector Outlook Study in 2005 and has authored various papers on wood availability and the market for wood.


Sustainable biomass

Since 1998, UNECE has been directing a major cross-sectoral project for enterprises in the biomass sector in the region. One of the central tasks of climate change mitigation is to replace fossil fuels with alternative energy. The project aims to strengthen sustainable biomass supply from selected countries in the UNECE region to energy producers in the EU, with a focus on agro- and wood residues, whose use is an important alternative to the use of (food) crops for fuel. The project also seeks to improve the logistics chain of biomass trade from producer to the end-user through improved inland transportation, port and trade logistics, and customs cooperation with respect to imports and exports of biomass. Two further aims of the project are facilitating the exchange of good practice with the private sector and exploring cross-sectoral approaches that take into account environment, energy, trade and transport issues.


Other related UNECE areas of work

The “Environment for Europe” ministerial process

The “Environment for Europe” process provides a pan-European political framework for the discussion of key policy issues, development of programmes and launching of initiatives to improve the region’s environment and harmonize environmental policies. At the Sixth Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” (Belgrade, 10–12 October 2007), environment ministers explicitly recognized the urgent need to address climate change in the UNECE region. The Conference saw the launch of the Belgrade Initiative[16], a subregional effort in South-Eastern Europe to support subregional implementation of the UNFCCC through a Climate Change Framework Action Plan and a virtual climate change-related centre in Belgrade designed to help raise awareness and build capacity.

UNECE Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development

The UNECE Strategy of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), adopted in 2005 by ministers and other officials from education and environment ministries across the UNECE region, endeavours to integrate key themes of sustainable development into all education systems. It constitutes the regional pillar of implementation of the United Nations Decade of ESD. At the joint session on ESD held during the Sixth Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe”, environment and education ministers referred to the problems posed by climate change as a “leading example of where ESD could be applied to daily life, as climate change affects everyone and ESD offers an essential way to shape knowledge and attitudes, and hence could help us to address these problems” [17]

Modifying transport policies based on traffic-based information about carbon dioxide emissions

In order to evaluate the implementation of new national or regional measures to reduce their contributions to the global warming, Governments must analyse different possible strategies, especially those that address the total energy consumption of the transport sector. To make the right policy decisions and to optimize their strategies to attain CO2 reduction targets, an assessment and analysis tool is needed that integrates the most recent developments in transportation. This tool should be transparent so as to ensure that decisions overly swayed by special-interest groups. Such an information tool is currently under consideration. It is based on a uniform methodology for evaluating CO2 emissions in the land transport sector, and incorporates climate-relevant indicators as well as new transportation trends.

Environmental Performance Reviews

The UNECE Environmental Performance Reviews (EPRs), based on the OECD/DAC peer review process, aim to improve individual and collective environmental management. Since 1996, Central, South-East and Eastern European as well as Central Asian countries have been reviewed by UNECE, in addition to a few countries in transition that were reviewed in cooperation with OECD (Bulgaria, Belarus, Poland and the Russian Federation). A second round of EPRs have already been carried out for Belarus (2005), Bulgaria (2000), Estonia (2001), Republic of Moldova (2005), Ukraine (2006), Montenegro and Serbia and (2007) and Kazakhstan (2008), and are in process for Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

By disseminating relevant information, they contribute to enhancing public access to information about the environment and environmental issues and thus to more informed decision-making, relevant to the climate change debate. In future, they can provide a comprehensive analysis of instruments used in the context of regional climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, a means to share good practice and highlight gaps in this area, and a way to offer important policy recommendations.

Strategic environment assessment

The UNECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) provides a framework for considering transboundary environmental impacts in national decision-making processes.

The Convention’s Protocol on Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA), not yet in force, will ensure that Parties integrate consideration of the environment into their plans and programmes at a very early planning stage. SEA can be used to introduce climate change considerations into development planning. This is in line with the conclusions reached at the high-level event “The Future in Our Hands”, convened by the Secretary-General in September 2007, as well as the recommendation of IPCC[18] that climate change mitigation and adaptation be integrated into an overarching sustainable development strategy. The IPCC also concluded that consideration of climate change impacts in development planning, as might be provided by SEA, is important for boosting adaptive capacity, e.g. by including adaptation measures in land-use planning and infrastructure design or by reducing vulnerability through existing disaster risk reduction strategies.[19]

Statistics related to climate change

The global official statistics community still only engages in an ad hoc way with the issues of climate change. UNECE is reviewing the possibility of setting up a joint task force (subject to the approval of the Bureau of the Conference of European Statisticians) to explore statistical activities related to the UNFCCC guidelines on the compilation of emission inventories. The task force will also take into account the recommendations that are expected to be developed at a forthcoming conference on statistics of climate change in the Republic of Korea. In June 2008, the meeting of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (UNCEEA) recommended that statistics on emissions should become part of the regular production and dissemination process of official statistics at the national level. In this context, national statistical offices should gradually take on the responsibility for regularly compiling emission statistics and contributing to the review of the guidelines to assembling emission registers.

This is expected to contribute to a better understanding of how official statistics can contribute to the understanding, measurement and monitoring of the different aspects of climate change as well as to bring together all current activities in a coherent framework.

Innovation and financing

UNECE has organized workshops and seminars with a view to enhancing the understanding of the process of technology diffusion, identifying possible barriers to take-up, and providing training and technical assistance to the region’s Governments on their innovation policies. This includes a financing dimension, in particular regarding early-stage financing of innovative enterprises. During the International Conference Investing in Innovation, which took place in Geneva in April 2008, a session on how environmental challenges can be addressed through innovation brought together policy makers and specialized financial intermediaries to discuss emerging trends in the allocation of risk capital for eco-investing and the type of policies required to encourage the mobilization of private financing in this area.

Efforts to mitigate or adapt to climate change are significantly boosted by the diffusion of existing technologies but also by the introduction of new ones. Given the scale and systemic nature of the necessary shift towards low carbon technologies, there is a clear link between the challenges posed by climate change mitigation and innovation policies.  In future, work on innovation and its related financing and intellectual property aspects could help to inform policies in relation to climate change.

[1] This note, prepared by Laura Altinger, has benefited from valuable inputs by Ella Behlyarova, Francesca Bernardini, Nicholas Bonvoisin, Lidia Bratanova, Keith Bull, Paola Deda, George Georgiadis, Franziska Hirsch, Romain Hubert, Matti Johansson, Albena Karadjova, Marco Keiner, Monika Linn, Eva Molnar, José Palacin, Kit Prins, Juraj Riecan, Patrice Robineau, Gianluca Sambucini, Angela Sochirca and Michael Stanley-Jones.

[2] More formally, climate change is defined as “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods” (UNFCCC, art. 1).

[3] According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Climate Change 2007 Synthesis Report (p. 76), adaptation relates to the ‘initiatives and measures aimed at reducing the vulnerability of natural and human systems against actual or expected climate change effects. Various types of adaptation exist, e.g. anticipatory and reactive, private and public, and autonomous and planned. Examples are raising river or coastal dykes, the substitution of more temperature-shock resistant plants for sensitive ones”.

[4] A/62/644 , para. 11.

[5] E/2008/SR.38 , para. 25.

[6] Letter by United Nations Secretary-General to the members of the Chief Executives Board and the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, 30 May 2008.

[8] Decision 9/CP.13, annex, paras. 14 and 15 (FCCC/CP/2007/6/Add.1), amended the New Delhi Work Programme on article 6 of the UNFCCC. The thirteenth session was held from 3 to 15 December 2007 in Bali, Indonesia.

[9] OECD (2008), The Challenges of climate change, key messages, International Transport Forum, Ministerial Session, 29 May, p. 2.

[12] Quoted in Deda, P. and G. Georgiadis, “Tackling climate change ‘at home’: trends and challenges in enhancing energy efficiency in buildings in the ECE region”, in UNECE Annual Report 2009.

[13] Ibid. p. 3.

[14] ECE/HBP/2008/2 of 7 July 2008.

[15] Prins, Kit et al (2008), “Forests, wood and climate change: challenges and opportunities in the UNECE region”, in UNECE Annual Report 2009.

[18] Ibid.

[19] IPCC, WG II, Summary for policymakers.


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

UKRAINE: Back Full Circle
Analysis by Zoltán Dujisin

BUDAPEST, Feb 8, 2010 (IPS) – The 2004 ‘Orange revolution’ saw a pro-Western leadership emerge victorious in a Presidential vote that opposed them to a pro-Russian candidate accused of vote rigging. After six years of political and economic chaos, the once villain Viktor Yanukovich has reclaimed the President’s post.

Ever since outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko and current Prime Minister Yuliya Timoshenko successfully led the 2004 popular uprising against allegations of electoral fraud that were internationally-backed, the high democratic expectations created gradually gave way to disappointment with the leaders’ inability to work together and to better the country’s depressing economic situation.

Following a campaign filled with mutual accusations of vote-rigging plans, the runoff of the presidential vote saw Yanukovich obtain 48.8 percent of the vote, closely followed by Timoshenko with 45.6 percent. The main outcome of the first round on Jan. 17 had been the sound defeat of President Viktor Yushchenko and his anti-Russian line.

In spite of popular fatigue with yearly elections, turnout bordered 70 percent. Representatives from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and the European Union have all considered the election free and fair, and have called on all sides to accept its results.

Joao Soares, head of the OSCE mission saidd “yesterday’s voting was a very impressive example of a democratic election,” whereas PACE mission head Matyas Eorsi said in a press conference that both candidates “should agree that the election was democratic; Ukraine deserves to be applauded.”

Yanukovich secured victory with a message of national unity, geopolitical moderation and economic and political stability to a country that has been bitterly divided and unstable ever since the Orange revolution.

“I think that we have made the first step towards uniting the country,” Yanukovich said. “I will spare no effort so that Ukrainians, no matter in what part of the country they live, feel comfort and peace in a stable country.”

For years accused of not being truly democratic, Yanukovych has said that, although he considered the period following the Orange revolution a “nightmare”, he is “not opposed to the slogans” of democracy and Europe promoted back then.

While it is clear that relations with Russia will continue on the path of normalisation favoured by both presidential contenders, the main question under a Yanukovich government is to what extent he will be accepted by Western countries as a reliable partner.

Yanukovich is not promising EU membership any time soon, but his support for step-by-step Europeanisation shows that the goal of entering the EU has become consensual among both the population and Ukraine’s political elites. Timoshenko has so far refused to concede defeat as many of her allies make allegations of massive fraud, but analysts believe she will eventually admit defeat.

“Timoshenko was defeated with dignity, the numbers show it was a minimal defeat, but if she decides to fight the results she will lose all international support,” Balazs Jarabik, Ukrainian expert at the Madrid-based Foundation for Foreign Relations and International Dialogue (FRIDE) told IPS.

The election winner Yanukovich recognised Timoshenko was “a strong rival or opponent to me” but called on her to lose “with dignity” and follow “the road all the way and admit defeat just like I did” in the past.

“She probably needs time to consult with her political allies and decide whether to stop being a serious obstacle and focus on keeping her premier position,” Jarabik told IPS.

With Prime Minister Timoshenko still holding a majority in the Ukrainian parliament, the prospect of a continued crisis in governance is more than likely.

If the two bitter rivals don’t reach a power-sharing agreement, the solution may lie in Yanukovich calling early parliamentary elections to consolidate his power with a new parliamentary majority that will prove more cooperative. Shortly after his victory, Yanukovich reminded the Prime Minister she “should start preparing for dismissal. She understands this very well. I think she will get a proposal to this effect.”

However, Yanukovich may not be able to accomplish her dismissal without help. Outgoing President Yushchenko has insisted he is not leaving politics, and Jarabik believes that in exchange for certain guarantees, he might use his deputies to support Yanukovich in dismissing Timoshenko from her post as Prime Minister.

“Yushchenko is willing to finish off Timoshenko in exchange for a high price, which could be asking for a prime ministerial position for an ally of his or even for himself, although that would be a bit extreme,” Jarabik told IPS.

The elections also signaled that Ukrainians are less preoccupied with national, symbolic and historical issues promoted by the current President and more concerned with Ukraine’s difficult socio-economic situation.

Yanukovich will inherit a country in an extremely dire economic condition. He will have to prove a more reliable partner to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) than his predecessors were in order to obtain much needed loans.

Ukraine’s economy continues to be on the verge of collapse, and budget revenues have diminished as a result of the global financial crisis, which may lead to a new round of privatisations.

Representatives of large businesses will continue to have a say in how Ukraine’s economic policy is run, and the business sectors behind Yanukovich are likely to demand policies that promote exports


Posted on on January 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (


OP-ED in The Jewish Press.

Posted Jan 14 2009 on…

And yet the slurs continue.

On December 31, Paramount Vantage released “Defiance,” which tells the
story of Tuvia, Asael, and Zus Bielski, three Jewish brothers from a
tiny village in Nazi-occupied Belarus. They formed a guerrilla unit in
the dense woods, created a makeshift village from ghetto escapees and,
in the end, saved some 1,200 Jews from Hitler. The Bielski brothers
have long deserved to be mentioned with Oskar Schindler and the
fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

The film, which is based on a book of the same title by Nechama Tec,
has garnered a shower of positive attention. It stars Daniel Craig,
the current James Bond, as the visionary Tuvia, who ended his life as
a Brooklyn truck driver. Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell (of “Billy
Elliot” fame) play Zus and Asael respectively.

The project has also drawn a more negative response.

Although smears against the brothers have long enjoyed currency among Polish
anti-Semites – who can’t seem to decide whether the Bielskis were
simpering cowards or heartless savages – they had not reached the
respectable press until word of the film’s release began to spread.

In June, Gazeta Wyborcza, an important Polish daily edited by
Solidarity hero Adam Michnik, gave prominent airing to the charge that
“Bielski partisans were involved in the massacre of 128 [Polish]
civilians by a Soviet partisan unit in the village of Naliboki in May
1943,” according to an English language translation of the article on
its website.

As a source, the paper cited an investigation being conducted by the
Lodz branch of the Instytut Pami?ci Narodowej or Institute of National
Remembrance (IPN), a Polish government-affiliated body charged with
prosecuting crimes against the Polish nation.

Since the Gazeta Wyborcza article appeared, other periodicals have
followed suit. A Polish “historian” named Jerzy Robert Nowak told
Variety, the daily newspaper of the entertainment industry in
Hollywood, “We Poles are furious. It is a scandal that anyone could
think of making a film casting the murderers who massacred Polish
villagers as heroes.”

On December 31 The Times of London published a story, “Poland Split
Over Whether Daniel Craig is Film Hero or Villain,” which repeated the
IPN accusation and said that some “Poles fear that in telling
Bielski’s story Hollywood has airbrushed out some unpleasant
episodes.” (The piece concluded by pointing out that “several members
of the Bielski family served in the Israeli armed forces,” which the
writer seemed to regard as a damning fact.)

The Daily Mail (of London) followed up a few days later with a story
on Tuvia Bielski headlined, appallingly, “Jewish Savior or Butcher of
Innocents?” It said that “critics” accuse him of “terrorizing ethnic Poles.”

None of the articles noted that the IPN’s accusation is utterly
lacking in solid evidence. It is, in fact, little more than an
exercise in character assassination.

The IPN, which has been investigating the Naliboki incident since
2001, has said that Soviet partisan detachments – which began a covert
war against the Nazi occupiers soon after the invasion of the Soviet
Union on June 22, 1941 – murdered a group of 128 Polish individuals,
mostly men but also three women, an unspecified number of teenage boys
and a ten-year-old child, on May 8, 1943.

In the roughly 300-word description of the investigation e-mailed to
me in 2007, the word Bielski is only mentioned once, in the final
line: “Jewish partisans from Tweje Bielski’s detachment also
participated in the attack on Naliboki.”

Then in June 2008 the IPN issued another statement, one that
backtracked considerably from its previous statement. Noting that some
eyewitnesses claimed Bielski partisans were “among those who
attacked,” it added that the “eyewitnesses don’t say on what factual
basis this statement is based.”

Their statements were “not supported by any other proof, for instance
by archival documents.” (The Soviet documents on the Naliboki attack
do not mention the Bielskis.) The IPN also said that “some historians”
allege the Bielski detachment was involved “but the authors don’t give
sources of this information in their works.”

“So the fact of the participation of the partisans from the Bielski
detachment in the attack on Naliboki is only one of the versions
accepted in the course of the investigation,” the IPN said.

Yet even the Polish journalist who co-authored the original Gazeta
Wyborcza story, Piotr G?uchowski, has come to believe the charge is
shockingly flimsy. In a December 28, 2008 e-mail message to me, he
said he tracked down a Polish war survivor, Wac?aw Nowicki, who wrote
a memoir in 1993 suggesting the Bielski unit was involved in the

The book has been a primary source for Polish anti-Semites wishing to
denigrate the brothers’ achievements. “After a two-hour interrogation
he said to us that he is not sure that the Bielskis were in Naliboki
on May 8, 1943,” he wrote.

Nowicki claimed he was relying on testimony from “Lova from
Novogrudek,” whose words were confirmed for him by “Vanya from
Lubocz,” wrote G?uchowski in a subsequent article for Gazeta Wyborcza.

Here’s the simple truth: The Jewish unit was not “stationed in the
Naliboki dense forest” nor “active in the area” in May 1943 at the
time of the Naliboki attack, as the IPN has alleged.

The Bielski brothers, strapping sons of a miller, hailed from
Stankevich, a speck on the map in a borderland region that has been
part of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia at various points in its
history. After the Nazis and their collaborators began conducting mass
slaughters of the Jewish population, they slowly built a ragtag
community of desperate Jews in the woods where they had tromped as
boys. On the day in May 1943 when the Naliboki attack occurred, the
brothers’ group was located in a forest called Stara-Huta near
Stankevich. It is more than 50 kilometers to the west of Naliboki

It is true that since February 1943 the brothers’ unit (then a few
hundred strong) had been formally integrated into the Soviet partisan
structure, pledging allegiance to a cause that provided cover for its
rescue and resistance efforts. At the time of the Naliboki attack, it
was officially known as the second company of the October Detachment
of the Lenin Brigade in the Lida District. (The official name would
change a handful of times over the course of the war.) All of the
group’s movements were recorded in Soviet documents that now reside in
the archives of the Belarussian branch of the Soviet partisan movement
in Minsk and in Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

According to the IPN, the attack on Naliboki village was not
perpetrated by detachments from the Lenin Brigade in the Lida
District. Instead, the IPN said it was carried out by three
detachments from the Stalin Brigade and “partisans from” the Chkalov
Brigade. Both brigades, based in the Naliboki forest, were members of
the Ivenets District.

The IPN didn’t respond when I asked if wandering members of the Jewish
unit participated in the attack, acting under the orders of someone
other than the Bielski brothers and operating outside of their
designated brigade structure. It probably doesn’t need to be stated
that the Soviets were very serious about adhering to lines of
authority. Soviet partisans were executed for violating even the most
minor of regulations.

The Bielski partisans eventually did reach the Naliboki forest, which
may explain why they have become mixed up in this allegation. They
first arrived in August 1943, after it became too dangerous to remain
in the area near Stankevich, only to be driven out by German attack.
Then in September and October 1943 they returned with nearly a
thousand men, women, and children and created a legendary shtetl, an
extraordinary place with tailors, shoemakers, blacksmiths, and

It had a large kitchen, a central square for gatherings, a mill
powered by a horse, a main street, a theater troupe, and a tannery
that doubled as a synagogue. It was well known to the gentile peasants
in surrounding communities like Naliboki village on the forest’s
eastern edge. They called it Jerusalem.

It is an outrage that wartime achievements of this magnitude can be so
casually denigrated. The Bielski brothers were far from perfect. But
what they accomplished in the woods of Belarus deserves the highest of

Peter Duffy is the author of “The Bielski Brothers”
(HarperCollins, 2003).  He writes for The New York Times, the Wall
Street Journal, and other publications.


Posted on on January 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (


The Best at the UN ends up reflecting also on the worst: The UN Headquarters have many people of value – of compassion and of hope for a better future – this besides of some in the bureaucracy that might be innocents with no vision, others might be plants from Member States that want no part of human rights, dignity, or even of plain truth – so be it.

The good people under the leadership of Eric Falt and Kimberly Mann came up with a very interesting program that we posted earlier so people from outside the UN could know how to find their way in order to participate at these events. The list is in our following link:…

Later we found out that the information about these events was sent to parties outside the UN, was made available to the Press accredited to the UN, but as it turned out – from the 6 events listed by UN Outreach – only two events were printed in the Daily Journal of the UN. That journal is not made available now to NGOs – only to the diplomats – but then NGOs get their information from reading the Journal on the internet – so you can say that the UN Department of Information – the source of the Journal – even though it can contend that it made the information available to the PRESS – can in no way justify why it did not make available the information to the in-house members of the UN – except may-be say that some of those were not interested in the Holocaust as more pressing issues are at hand. But what about the educational aspects that were so important to the good people of the UN Outreach Division?

The day after the main event of Wednesday, a head of an NGO Committee that is daily at the UN, asked me – how did you know about the concert? I did not see it listed anywhere. And trust me – that was neither a question of space nor of security. Then what?

The UN In-House events numbered six, and participation was being granted by various sources – some of them outside the UN.

Let us start with the two events that appeared continuously in the Journal announcements:

These were the Wednesday January 27, 2010 event organized by the Jewish B’nai Brith International NGO in cooperation with the UN Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic. It dealt with the “Inter religious responses to the Holocaust – 65 years after liberation.” Tickets to this event were sent out by the B’nai Brith organization. There was no problem obtaining them after the appropriate phone call.

The other event was on Thursday January 28, 2010 – titled “The Moroccan Jews and Their legacy of survival.” The Journal does not mention that it was organized by the Moroccan Government but directed those interested to contact the DPI/NGO section as it was booked as a regular, weekly, DPI briefing to the NGOs. When approached – the appropriate UN officials said – send us a letter on NGO letterhead. So – this event was being treated as a regular NGO event – not as the important message that the Moroccan Government intended to put forward before members of the UN, and others who actually had no knowledge that during the terrible days of the Holocaust – there was indeed one Arab King – H.M. King Muhammad V of Morocco – who told the Nazis – the Jews of Morocco are my subjects and I do not discriminate between Jews and other Moroccans. Now that was a powerful message that deserved to be heard at the UN – and if not – the organization does not deserve the funds the world sends its way. I had no doubt that I had to take a stand on this issue – and I did.


The other four events of the week, none of them listed in the Journal, included two quentesential exhibits organized by Non-Governmental factors outside the UN.

On Monday, January 25, 2010,  there was a show of hope – it was actually called “Generations: Survival and Legacy of Hope,” for which entrance was obtained from the Shoa Foundation Institute in Los Angeles. This organization, funded initially by Mr. Steven Spielberg from Schindler’s list funds, has documented on video the stories of survivors and their descendants. Two families were present at the showing of material. Despite the terrible material it is the hope that shows through in the success of having picked up their lives again – this is what gives a reason for having hope in institutions that were established under the “Never Again” logo. This event – paired up with the following day opening – together form the raison d’etre for the UN institution – but you would not know this from the way the UN kept these two events of its Journal.

On Tuesday. January 26, 2010, the Exhibit – “Architecture of Murder: Auschwitz-Birkenau,” for which entrance was obtained from the Yad Vashem – Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority. At this event participated also the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, The Israeli Minister for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, and US Ambassador Rick Barton.


The other two events that were not listed in the Journal are:

– The main Holocaust Memorial Ceremony and Concert in the General Assembly Hall for which one needed special tickets – so it was clearly a more controlled participation, and that was the event that the lady I mentioned earlier asked me about as she would have wanted to come had she known about it.

– The Thursday January 28, 2010 screening of the film “Defiance” that was co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the US and had present the lady that wrote the book, Nehama Tec, and her son who made the movie. The great thing about this movie is that it depicts the true story of the Bielski brothers – a story of Jewish fighters in the forests of Belarus – as the UN release says correctly – it depicts  “the struggle of a group of brave Jews who fought against overwhelming odds thus providing a sharp contrast to the countless WWII movies that portray Jews just as victims.” The two Bielski Brigades – the one under one brother that fought with the Russian partisans, and the other – under another brother that guarded the Jewish families in the forest. When the two groups fought together – they turned around the Nazi effort to clear the forest. 1200 people survived thanks to the Bielskis’ leadership. Two of the three Bielskis survived and eventually owned a small trucking business in the US.


Posted on on March 6th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

Russia in a New Gas War with Ukraine.

Kester Kenn Klomegah

MOSCOW, Mar 5 (IPS) – The Ukraine-Russia gas dispute has boosted plans for construction of the South Stream and North Stream gas pipelines that would eventually divert Russian gas supplies through the Black Sea and the Baltic seabed respectively to European consumers. But the plans have led to a new spat between Russia and Ukraine. The new plans would mean that Russia would no longer send its gas supplies through Ukraine, which locked horns with Russia over payment of outstanding gas debts last December. The dispute led to gas supply disruptions to European consumers in the dead of winter.

“Going beyond the controversy, diversification of gas supplies is an important factor in energy security,” Denis Daniilidis, spokesperson for the Moscow office of the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, told IPS. On an official visit to Spain early this month, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller promised development of the Arctic gas field, which has estimated reserves of 3.8 trillion cubic metres. This would supply the North Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, currently being built under the Baltic Sea.

Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy and many other European Union members have also reiterated their interest in construction of the South Stream gas pipeline, intended to send Russian gas to Europe across the Black Sea bed. The South Stream gas pipeline, linking the Russian Black Sea port Novorossiysk to Bulgaria’s Varna, is due to be commissioned in 2013.

Belarusian Prime Minister Sergey Sidorsky has proposed another pipeline to guarantee stable supply of Russian gas to Europe, and has sought involvement of Poland and Germany in the project. The proposed pipeline would bring gas from the Yamal Peninsula in north-western Siberia.

But some Ukrainian experts are cautioning against such expansion. Volodymyr Vakhitov, Ukrainian expert on energy economics, told IPS that it is necessary to guarantee not just the route but the supplier.


Posted on on November 24th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

We post the following – an eight months old article – because of the news that Russia’s Lukhoil is intent on buying 30% of the Spain’s Repsol – this is a clear evidence that the Gideon Rachman Article still holds true.

Rachman was talking about the Natural Gas Pipelines from Russia to West and Central Europe via The Ukraine and Belarus, with potential of investment in pipelines that could bypass these countries – but he believes that the overall interest of Russian business will not make it necessary to look for these alternatives – in effect one could rather foresee that Russia would be just as reliable in its supplies as the Soviet Union was before, this because of the entanglements of international investments and business in general.




Posted on on October 6th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Obama-led US would protect eastern Europe.
VALENTINA POP, October 5, 2008 for the   EUOBSERVER from BRUSSELS.

If elected president of the US, senator Barack Obama would not trade eastern European security for Russian help on Iran, his senior foreign policy advisor, Gregory B. Craig, told EUobserver in an interview. Any notion that the US tried to sabotage the Lisbon treaty is “silly,” he added.

Barack Obama will be a more “pro-European” president if elected, his advisor says. Mr Obama would be a “much more pro-European president” than his Republican predecessor if elected on 4 November, said Mr Craig – a lawyer who led former president Bill Clinton’s defence against impeachment and also worked as foreign policy advisor to former secretary of state Madeleine Albright.

The US and Europe will have to co-operate with Russia in areas where they have “common objectives and common ground,” especially on non-proliferation – reduction of the global nuclear arsenal, security of nuclear materials and challenges such as North Korea and Iran – senator Obama’s foreign policy man explained.

“[But] that doesn’t mean that you trade away our security commitments to the new members of NATO, that’s not even thinkable. I always remember the notion that the expansion of NATO was not a threat to Russia, that this was a decision not by NATO to move east, but a decision by the new democracies from the former Soviet space to integrate with the West.”

“The notion that you choose to co-operate with Russia vis-a-vis Iran at the expense of central and eastern Europe, I just don’t accept that. That’s not viable and it won’t happen that way,” Mr Craig said.

Russia’s aggressive stance toward neighbours who want to be part of NATO and the EU is a historical throwback, he added. “I think the notion that Russia has a veto over what they decide inside of Ukraine or Georgia is very 19th to 20th century. In a 21st century world, with global impacts, global trends, Russia suffered enormously economically as a result of its intervention in Georgia.”

The Obama advisor underlined that new members of NATO are protected by a “solemn security commitment,” while NATO aspirant states can look to the United Nations charter that “requires nation states to respect the sovereignty of other nation states.”

“Although a country like Ukraine is not a member of NATO, Russia does not have under international law the right to violate the sovereignty of Ukraine. Even if there is no security obligation, the people of Europe and US will be supportive of the freedom and independence of the Ukrainian people to make their own decisions, to choose democracy and affiliate themselves with Western institutions if they want to.”

Mr Craig said that senator Obama would also stick to plans to build parts of the US global missile shield in Poland and the Czech republic, despite fierce Russian criticism. The new Democratic president would “not turn his back on that agreement” as it is a “solemn commitment” signed by Washington, Prague and Warsaw.

“The timing, pace and scope of the implementation of that agreement is going to be a matter left to the discretion of the president of the United States,” he added, however.

US military facilities in Romania and Bulgaria – also disliked by Moscow – are not up for discussion either, Mr Craig said. “Democracies from the former Soviet space have every right to make their own decisions,” he explained, calling the notion of a Russian veto a “relic of the Soviet past.”

Obama good for EU-US ties:

The Obama camp believes America-bashing is decreasing in the EU in a trend that would be accelerated by a Democratic victory in November.

The European Parliament president’s recent request for an investigation into alleged CIA funding of the irish No-campaign against the Lisbon treaty is a freak event resulting from the parliament’s own upcoming elections in 2009, Mr Craig said.

“Every election has its silly season … this speculation or rumour that the CIA would support the No vote in Ireland is preposterous.”

“It seems to me that the European Union has some problems with its public relations, not just in Ireland, but also elsewhere where the [EU] constitution has been defeated. That should not, in my view, deter the Europeans from continuing on the course of consolidating its institutions, the rule of law, economic trading agreements and greater co-operation. This has been the policy of many, many US presidents and it will be the policy of president Obama to support that.”

Asked why senator Obama didn’t stop in Brussels during his European tour in July – which included Berlin, Paris and London – his advisor said it was just a question of “limited time.”

“We couldn’t include every capital that we wanted to visit. We regretted not being able to go to Brussels for many reasons – because it’s the European Union, it’s NATO, it’s a capital in itself of importance. And there is no doubt that at some point early in his administration, if elected, senator Obama would visit Brussels.”

No “League of Democracies”

Senator Obama also disagrees with Republican candidate John McCain’s idea of creating “League of Democracies”, a new global institution excluding Russia and China designed to escape the perceived deadlock of the United Nations Security Council, Mr Craig said.

“We would not want to exclude governments and nations from where their participation is required to solve problems. Creating another organisation that draws a line between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is not productive in solving the great challenges that face the world’s democracies today,” he explained.

“As flawed as it is, [the UN] is still the place people go to solve their problems. Not only about war and peace, but also about poverty and development, disease and the future of the planet. Creating yet another institution called the League of Democracies won’t get us where we want to go,” Mr Craig said.