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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Mixing Music in Istanbul: 
Turkish Jews and Their Sacred Songs
lecture/demonstration featuring
Maureen Jackson
special musical guest: Munir Beken (oud)
Monday, March 24, 7:00PM

at Center for Jewish History

15 W 16th Street in Manhattan

Admission is free – RSVP to info@jewishmusicforum.org

This lecture-demonstration explores the linked histories of Istanbul, its Jewish community, and historical musical traces of multi-religious music-making in Ottoman and Turkish society.  Author of Mixing Musics: Turkish Jewry and the Urban Landscape of a Sacred Song (Stanford University Press; winner of the National Jewish Book Award in Sephardic Culture, 2013), Dr. Maureen Jackson focuses on the Jewish religious repertoire known as the Maftirim, which developed in interaction with Ottoman court music. Her research in Istanbul illuminates the people, places, and practices that shaped an Ottoman music world, Jewish cultural life, and continuities and ruptures experienced across the 20th and 21st centuries. 
 
Munir Beken, an oud virtuoso and ethnomusicologist at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music will be on hand to perform musical examples that bring to life the Turkish musical forms at the heart of Dr. Jackson’s study.

Dr. Maureen Jackson has received the Sabanc? International Research Award 2nd Prize in 2008 as well as grants from the Fulbright Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Turkish Cultural Foundation.

The Jewish Music Forum is a project of the American Society for Jewish Music, with the support of he American Jewish Historical Society and the Center for Jewish History. Founded in 2004, the Jewish MusicForum is now in its tenth season.

For more information please visit www.jewishmusicforum.org/

This event has received promotional support from the American Sephardi Federation American Sephardi Federation and CTMD.

Panel Discussion

Passing the Torch: Jewish Music Archives

and the Future of Yiddish Song

moderated by

Mark Slobin

Sunday, April 6, 11:00AM

at Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street, Manhattan

Admission: $10

click here to reserve tickets

 

Around 1900, East European Jews became acutely aware of the impact of modernization and urbanization on their culture: on their songs, their tales, and customs. They set in motion a wide range of projects and institutions to gather, archive, and study fading folklore. YIVO was a pioneer in this push, along with a galaxy of Polish and Russian (later Soviet) activists. Today, with the loss of the original population and the huge demographic and cultural shifts of world Jewry, the surviving archives both preserve and channel a rising tide of interest, even a hunger, for what’s called “Yiddish” music and folklore.

This symposium brings together archivists, scholars and performers to discuss the history and creation of Yiddish folk music archives, and the future of the study and performance of Yiddish song today. What is the role of Jewish music archives in fostering new scholarship and Yiddish music?

Wesleyan University ethnomusicologist  Mark Slobin will moderate the panel which will also feature CTMD artistic director Ethel Raim, Lorin Sklamberg (YIVO, The Klezmatics), Robert Rothstein (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), Gila Flam (National Library of Israel) and Lyudmila Sholokhova (YIVO).

 

The event is dedicated to the memory of Chana Mlotek, YIVO’s Music Archivist from 1978 until her recent passing at age 91 in 2013. This program is made possible with the generous support of the Mlotek family. It is co-sponsored by the American Society for Jewish Music.  

Bessarabian Klezmer:
Tantshoyz Dance Party
featuring Master Klezmer Clarinetist/Accordionist
Isaac Sadigursky
 Dance leading by Michael Alpert
Tuesday, April 22, 7:30PM-10:00PM 
Isaac Sadigursky
At the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, 
30 W. 68th St. (btw Columbus and Central Park West on Manhattan’s Upper West Side)   
Admission $15 

CTMD’s An-sky Institute for Jewish Culture is excited to bring back clarinetist/accordionist Isaac Sadigursky for a special program on Bessarabian* klezmer. Born in Belts, Moldova, the Los Angeles-based clarinetist/accordionist Isaac Sadigursky is a major exponent of the Bessarabian klezmer tradition and its rich Ottoman/Balkan-influenced repertoire.

 

Lace up your dancing shoes for a special Tantshoyz Yiddish Dance Party as Sadigursky will lead an all-star band with dance leading by Michael Alpert. Folks new to Yiddish Dance absolutely welcome! 

 

Instrumentalists can come at 5:30PM for a special workshop (extra charges apply), and hang around for a jam session at the end of the evening.

 

Presented as part of the New York Klezmer Series, curated by Aaron Alexander.

*Bessarabia, a historic region between the Prut and Dniester Rivers, named after the Basarab ruling dynasty is geographically equivalent to today’s Republic of Moldova, inclusive of the contested Transnistrian Republic.  The region has been a fascinating cultural crossroads for centuries, fought over by the Ottoman and Romanov empires, then Romanian and later Soviet until the fall of the USSR. The region’s largest city is Chisinau (Yiddish: Kishinev).

Yiddish Song of the Week
The Internet’s leading site for Yiddish folksong!

 

Online at www.yiddishsong.wordpress.com

 

Hundreds of Yiddish song enthusiasts from all over the world participate in an online community surrounding CTMD’s Yiddish Song of the Week blog – the internet’s leading destination for information, recordings and transcriptions of rare Yiddish folksong repertoire. Blog editor Itzik Gottesman of the Yiddish Forverts newspaper and a group of leading song researchers post their favorite field recordings of important traditional folksingers such as Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, Tsunye Rymer, Josh Waletzky, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman and many others. 

Sponsors and Credits
Major support for the An-sky Institute for Jewish Culture is provided to the Center for Traditional Music and Dance by the Keller-Shatanoff Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the Atran Foundation as well as public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Scherman Foundation, Con Edison, the Hearst Foundation, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Friends of Cantor Janet Leuchter and the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation. We are grateful additionally to the Forward Association for providing seed funding for the Institute. Photo of Isaac Sadigursky courtesy of YiddishkaytLA. Photo of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman courtesy of Itzik Gottesman.

For more information about upcoming events, what’s happening in New York City’s traditional music and dance scene, to join or to donate, go to CTMD’s website, or contact Pete Rushefsky at 212-571-1555, ext. 36 (office), 917-326-9659 (cell) or prushefsky@ctmd.org (email).

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 30th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

With the US insisting on leaving the position of World’s policemen – a job anyhow  it did not do well in the last couple of decades – skimming over the news, we find plenty to worry about.

We read about China scrambling its jets over islands it claims as they think they have oil there, and the US advising passenger liners to submit to the  the Chinese  requests even though backing the other side in this land and sea grab which is just as obnoxious as the spreading of Russia’s flag under the Arctic polar ice cap.

Further, Russia is threatening again the Ukraine it raped last century – this while a large part of the Ukrainian population wants to rejoin their European identity. Russia has in its power to cut the energy supply to the Ukraine and leave them to the throes of a cold winter. What can the EU do?

At the UN, where the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon grew in understanding of subjects like Sustainable Development, Climate Change/Global Warming and for a while was steering the organization towards sun-light, it is the permanent staff – there on behalf of nay-sayer governments – that just continues to hide information about the possibility you can live in a world less dependent on nature’s saved fossil carbon. It is this permanent staff that turned the organization to its freeze and true to inaction on mostly everything. Previously this bureaucracy was run directly by those close to the Oil barrels and now just by their students that learned from their old masters how you stay on by making sure you do absolutely nothing worthwhile.

North Korea? They  flex a muscle from time to time – just to make sure their mischief is not forgotten and their thunder taken over by others envious of the success they had in their past advances. Will one ever use nuclear bombs?

Obviously, from all of the above, we are most concerned with the way the World continues its march downhill with water spreading uphill – the melting of the three ice-caps and the foreseeable increasing misery in the 100 poorest countries – the UN Member States that already cry environment-uncle and see how the UN institution is of no help to them. Nothing has changed from the days Ahmad Fawzi and his henchman Gary Fowlie had the audacity to tell Grenada Ambassador August Friday on whom to invite to his Press Conference and to cow UNFCCC head Yvo de Boer into submission. Now it is Mr. Kandeh Yumkella and his blossoming SE4All which are being cowed by the UN Headquarter Staff bent to freeze this new attempt at UN progress and fit it to their own designs. This is the freeze that lets the ice melt undisturbed and gloats at the uncovering of resources that will enrich some corporations planted at the UN and allowed free hand by its staff.

—————————————————————–

In the case of Russia there is hope thanks to 80% of the Ukrainian people. How does this play out at the UN? Are the people of any consequence?

Ukrainians are in the EU, even if Ukraine isn’t.

If Brussels doesn’t learn its lesson from a tactical defeat by Russia and prepare a plan for secure economic integration with Ukraine, tens of millions of Europeans will remain outside of the EU’s borders.

Demotix/Zoya Shu. Some rights reserved.

The European Union has let itself be outplayed by Russia in the struggle over Ukrainian integration. The EU Partnership Summit in Vilnius did not result in the signing of the Association Agreement with Ukraine. It is hard to believe that all it took was so open and primitive a ploy as the embargo imposed by Russia on certain Ukrainian goods several days ago.

Moldova, placed in a similar situation, is bravely hanging on. Ukraine’s trade with Russia is of a similar volume to its trade with the EU, and EU investments in Ukraine are ten times larger than Russia’s. Of course the EU has nothing to be afraid of, which is why it lost. It also lost because it failed to take Ukraine seriously and offer assistance at an adequate level. EU politicians’ stories to the effect that ‘integration is not a trade fair’, contain about as much truth as Yanukovich’s pronouncements that he is upholding human rights. Everyone knows that the greatest marketplace in Europe is not Kapal?çar?? in Istanbul, but the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels.

Proposing Ukrainian integration with the EU at the cost of ruining hundreds of companies and a sudden drop in competitiveness, with a concurrent loss of Russian markets (and, at the same time, fulfilling IMF loan conditions, that involve freezing wage growth, implementing significant budget cuts, and increasing consumer gas prices by 40 percent), is like inviting a poor man for dinner at the most expensive restaurant in town and informing him that he will be responsible for his own bill.

This time around Poland was defeated, but not alone. Putin also thumbed his nose at Berlin and Brussels. And this might be the “positive minus” of the Vilnius summit. There were declarations – strong ones, coming from Jose-Manuel Barroso – such as, “We know how much ordinary Ukrainians feel themselves to be Europeans! We will not abandon them,” or Herman van Rompuy’s words: “We must not submit to Russian pressure.”

We will see. After the Vilnius summit, the ball is definitely in Brussels’ court. If the EU wants to take its own intentions seriously, it should prepare a plan for secure economic integration with Ukraine. This is a basic precondition for fulfilling the EU’s fundamental mission, that is, ensuring lasting peace in Europe.

A Russia swallowing Ukraine is fodder for imperialism and an obliteration of realistic prospects for democratizing the Kremlin. A Russia without Ukraine is a farewell to empire and an end to the Russian authorities’ disregard for their own citizens, who must be distinguished from Putin and his Putinoids. This also represents the only chance for good EU-Russian relations, contrary to the hopes of some European politicians, who believed that they could reach a direct agreement with Russia over the heads of smaller nations.

Integration with Moldova and Georgia without Ukraine is geopolitical nonsense. Nevertheless, Rompuy and Barroso have announced that the just-initialed agreements should be signed as quickly as possible. This is a source of constant friction in relations between Moscow and Brussels, and so represents hope that the EU can avoid embracing Putin at the cost of Ukraine, although assuming anything other than cynicism confronted by today’s politics is self-delusion.

Putin has outplayed the politicians, but he has lost with the Ukrainians themselves. All of a sudden, about 20 per cent of the population wants integration with Russia, far fewer than those who want integration with the EU. And this is the greatest achievement of the recent negotiations. Ukraine has not yet signed the Association Agreement with the EU. But it has been signed by the country’s active citizens, without Yanukovich.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 3rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Poland takes over EU presidency can it help save the EU from its Member States?
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Poland takes over first day July for the second half of 2011 the rotating EU presidency. Poland is one of the largest EU Member States and should be seen at par with Germany, France and the UK in the leadership of the Union – but Poland has a very hurting history – it was the historic sacrificial lamb when Western Europe tried to talk to Russia – it always dealt with the partition of Poland. Today Poland, basically still an agricultural State, is still on an industrialization path that plays very well with the potential for strengthening the EU economy.
-|
Warsaw wants to work towards solving the debt crisis/€ crisis. Focal points of its EU Presidency Half-Year will be energy security, the security and defense policy of the EU, and the deepening of economic ties within the EU and with the neighboring states of the European Union. Prime Minister Donald Tusk is strongly opposed to a return to nationalism.
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The Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk wants his country to be the driving force of the EU – He also opposes a return to nationalism and national thinking. Given the debt crisis in Euro-countries Poland tries to work on a solution, although it is not a member of the Euro zone. Having been on the East side in the European divide and still on the East frontier, Poland understands well the importance of a strong EU.
Focal points of the Presidency will be energy security, the security and defense policy of the EU, and the deepening of economic ties within the EU and with the neighboring states of the European Union. Also it can be expected that Poland will be closer to working with the US then some of the other EU leaders. Moreover, there will be a new focus on growth and EU enlargement. The way to achieve this will be to complete the internal market arrangements, especially in services and Internet commerce, says the Polish government.
-
Poland takes over the EU Presidency from Hungary – Thus for the first time in the same year, two new EU Member Countries (one considered small and the other large) are holding the rotating presidency.
===============================================================

Poland takes over EU presidency can it help save the EU from its Member States? From Poland itself?

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

Polish minister pledges loyalty to EU’s Ashton.

by ANDREW RETTMAN, 02.07.2011

EUOBSERVER / WARSAW - Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski has promised to be EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton’s “loyal deputy.” But his outspoken ways could upstage her despite his best intentions.

Sikorski made the pledge at a press briefing in Warsaw on Friday (1 July) as Poland took over the rotating EU presidency.

Sikorski and Ashton in Brussels:  Who will stand out as the top EU personality on foreign affairs in the next six months?

Under the Lisbon Treaty, Ashton became the official figurehead for EU foreign policy. But she has found it hard to assert her role as big EU countries take the lead on major developments such as Libya and amid grumbling that she is not cut out for the job.

Sikorski in deference to Ashton on Friday declined to say if Poland would back the Palestinians if they apply for UN membership in September. “We [EU foreign ministers] have agreed to withhold our national positions to help Cathy Ashton reach a consensus. There is a need for the EU to speak on this with one voice,” he said.

He also defended her against criticism that she is not active enough.

“She has an impossible portfolio. She has taken over the portfolios of two previous commissioners. She’s trying to co-ordinate the positions of 27 countries on difficult issues such as the Middle East and she is trying to create her own ministry from scratch. On any given day, she should be in five places at once.”

His deputised tasks are to include a trip in Ashton’s name to Afghanistan and India. He will also help her put together EU aid for post-war governance in Libya and new ways of funding NGOs in repressive countries.

Minor tension has already emerged on the Middle East, however.

An EU diplomatic source said Ashton asked Poland not to call an informal EU foreign ministers’ meeting in September in case ministers go off message on the Palestine question at a sensitive moment. But Poland called the meeting anyway, to take place one week before the UN event.

Meanwhile, Ashton’s cautious approach to media could see the more flamboyant Polish minister put her in the shade over the next six months.

Reacting to press questions about Libya and Belarus on Friday, Sikorski could not resist making risque jokes.

On whether Colonel Gaddafi should step down, Sikorski said: “If he were to ask for transit over Polish territory to seek asylum in Belarus, we would be helpful … I think he [Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko] and Gaddafi would get on like a house on fire.”

With Ashton’s attention on the Middle East, Poland is also likely to play a leading role on EU relations with post-Soviet countries.

Ukraine’s EU ambassador recently complained that he has been asking Ashton to come to Kiev for the past year to no avail. When asked by EUobserver about prospects for ending the frozen conflict in EU-aspirant Moldova, a diplomat in Ashton’s service said: “Frankly, we don’t care.”

For his part, Sikorski on Friday noted that the Polish presidency is looking to clinch an EU association pact with Ukraine and to make progress on a similar deal with Molodva as two top priorities.

He also made clear that Poland wants to make a historic mark on EU affairs during its six-month tenure.

Looking to plans to sign an accession treaty with Croatia in autumn, the minister said: “The options [for a venue for the treaty ceremony] are Brussels, Warsaw and Zagreb. We like Croatia but we wouldn’t mind the accession treaty for Croatia being known as the Warsaw Treaty.”

————————————————————————-

AND WHAT ABOUT POLAND HEADING THE EU AT A TIME THERE IS A NEED TO DEFEND THE EU FROM THE EURO CRISIS AND POLAND IS NOT A MEMBER OF THE EUROZONE? HOW WILL THIS WORK OUT IN WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE A UNION BETWEEN EUROZONE STATES AND THOSE THAT HVE NOT OPTED YET FOR THE EURO?

Poland takes part in eurozone meeting amid worry ‘if it’s safe to join’ – 03.07.2011
—————————————————————————-
Non-eurozone country Poland has managed to get into what is normally an
exclusive meeting of euro-using finance ministers, as Warsaw wonders “if
it’s safe to join.”

euobserver.com/9/32581/?rk=1

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 2nd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

For the full article please see: www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/d…

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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Danube’s menacing industrial legacy.

DOUG SAUNDERS

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

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

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

More related to this story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More related to this story

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 4th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The GUAM States are Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova – States on the Western Extended Borders of Russia – that have expressed interest in good relations with the West and in adopting Western Ways of Government and joining Western Institutions. They are not part of the EU. Azerbaijan is a Muslim Oil-State in conflict with Russia backed Armenia.

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Remarks at Meeting With the Staff and Families of Embassy Baku.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Embassy Baku
Baku, Azerbaijan
July 4, 2010

SPEAKER: Madam Secretary, on behalf of our entire embassy family, we welcome you to the embassy, and welcome you to our garden.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, thank you.
SPEAKER: Please.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, thank you. Well, Happy Fourth of July to all of you.
(Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: This is a wonderful way to celebrate the American Independence Day, here in this beautiful garden, and to be with all of you here in Azerbaijan, where independence and the values of freedom and equality and opportunity enshrined in our Declaration of Independence are all the more meaningful for this young, independent country.
This has been a very whirlwind trip, and I thank every one of you who has helped to make it possible. And I thank you, too, for all the work you have done this past year to further and steady our relationship between our country and Azerbaijan, and we are trying to do everything we can to support you, including working for a new embassy compound — although you won’t have a garden like this, I’m afraid. That’s kind of a trade-off, isn’t it?
Earlier today I had a productive meeting with President Aliyev, and assured him of the importance of Azerbaijan to the United States, and that we are committed to working in partnership to enhance global security and promote democracy and stabilize the region.
I just came from a meeting with some young people at the Mugam Club in the historic, beautiful old city, who are working to promote civil society, protect human rights, develop a free media in the country. They are the reason that I come to work every day, because much of what I do is about the next generation. And I was very proud and impressed to listen to them, and especially 5 of the 10 had studied in the United States under the exchange programs that some of you help to run.
We are very focused in the Obama Administration on working to strengthen our relationship, and supporting the modernization, the secularization, the democratization of this very exciting country at this time in history.
I want to thank Chargé Donald Lu for his steady leadership during this past year. He has kept everything running during a difficult time without the help of an ambassador. We are working very hard to get our new ambassador confirmed, and hopefully he will be joining you shortly. And, in the meantime, I welcome Adam Stirling as the new chargé, and will look forward to working with him.
Now, I can imagine that for our locally-engaged staff, who have never celebrated an American Fourth of July — which means that you have never eaten barbeque or gone to a fireworks or gotten sunburned with your family out in some beautiful place — it might seem a little bit distant to be here in Baku, celebrating the founding of our country. But for Americans this is a very special day. And it’s a day that we really do take time out to appreciate the founding of our country 234 years ago, and all that we have had to do over those years to create a more perfect union, to overcome injustice, discrimination, to make sure that the circle of opportunity grew bigger and bigger, so that it could encompass every American.
So, I thank each and every one of you on this Fourth of July for your hard work: our foreign service and our civil service officers, all of our colleagues from other U.S. government agencies, our Peace Corps volunteers, our family members, and especially our locally-engaged staff. We honor your sacrifices and your dedication. And I wish you a very safe and happy Independence Day. But, more than that, I wish you a day every single day of this upcoming year of greater cooperation and partnership to deepen and broaden our relationship.
And I know that when someone like me comes, it adds to your workload. So I am hoping that with the outgoing chargé and the incoming chargé, that maybe they will give you the rest of the Fourth of July off. What do you think? That’s a departmental, Secretary of State directive.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 2nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

www.unece.org/oes/disc_papers/climat_change.html

—–

UNECE climate change activities[1]

Table of Contents:

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

Introduction

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.

Top

Conventions

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.

Water

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.

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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.

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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.

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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]

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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]

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 15th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

SEEMO / IPI Press Release: Journalist Arrested, Charged with Treachery in Moldova

Ernest Vardanian Detained in Front of his House by Secret Service Agents

Vienna, 15 April 2010 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East and Central Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), strongly condemns the arrest of Ernest Vardanian, an independent and well-known journalist in Moldova.

According to information brought to the attention of SEEMO, Vardanian was arrested on 7 April 2010 in front of his house in Tiraspol and was accused of espionage and treason by men who indentified themselves as secret service agents of the Transnistria region of Moldova. Vardanian remains in pre-trial detention. If found guilty, he could face 12-20 years in prison.

Vardanian is an independent journalist well-known in Moldova for his often critical reporting on state officials and matters of public interest. Vardanian was also a correspondent for the Russian Novuy Region agency.

SEEMO Secretary-General Oliver Vujovic said: “The accusations against Vardanian of high treason due to critical reporting are unacceptable. SEEMO regards prison terms for defamation as a gross violation of internationally-accepted standards and believes that defamation should be treated under civil law, not as a criminal offence subject to punishment by the state. SEEMO urges the Ministry of Security in Tiraspol to withdraw the charges and the prison sentence. SEEMO would also like to remind the Ministry of Security in Tiraspol that an open media environment, allowing for the free flow of information, is a fundamental principle of any democratic society.”

The arrest and charging of Vardanian has prompted members of the Moldovan government and various international organizations to call for his release. SEEMO fully supports all these organizations, as well as those Moldovan authorities calling for Vardanian’s release.

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SEEMO on Web:
 www.seemo.cc
 www.seemo.org/activities/futureac…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 13th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Franny Armstrong <franny@spannerfilms.net>
Date: Sun, Sep 13, 2009 at 2:15 AM
Subject: [Age-of-Stupid] 9 days to go… Welcome Italy, Iceland & Iran

Hello from New York,
The good news is that those gorgeous Italians have finally joined the Global Premiere (eight cinemas confirmed, maybe more coming soon) – as have IcelandIran, Moldova. and Nigeria (where we’re going to be featured on a TV show called Morning Ride on Ch 5 on Sunday 13th). There are no cinema screenings in Australia, New Zealand or the UK - as the film’s already been released there – but anyone in those countries can join the premiere by setting up their own screening via our Indie Screenings website.
But the bad news is we’ve just realised there’s a fundamental flaw in this ludicrous plan of ours… We are attempting the world’s biggest live film event…. with no advertising money whatsoever…. for a low-budget documentary about climate change (as opposed to, say, a high budget feature film about war starring Brad Pitt)… which means we have to rely totally on word of mouth for people to hear about it. So far so logical, yeah? But word on mouth works by people seeing the film and then recommending it to their pals…. Whereas our film is playing for one night only…. so there is no time for word of mouth to build…. aaaaaaaaaaargh….
Help.
1. Word of mouth before the event. Tom has made a super-easy page with all the possible ways for you to spread the news. Just go to this page www.ageofstupid.net/promote and add the new widget to your site, make a poster in various languages, email all your pals and so on. If you do all the steps, you’ll also land in the electronic hat to win a Stupid goodie bag.  (In case you were wondering: this is not a money making exercise like a normal film. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever even break even – would have to take ten million pounds or something – and, even if we did, all the cash gets shared out to our funders and crew. So if you are able to help promote the premiere, you’ll be helping spread the news about the climate crisis rather than making anyone rich.)
For a bit of inspiration, check out the fantastic Stupid websites in Holland (www.notstupid.nl) and Hungary (ahulyesegkora.com/). There’s also some brilliant SpanishDutch and Hungarian twittering going on. No idea what they’re saying, but they’re sure saying a lot of it. If any of you twitterers, out there felt like sending a message with the #ageofstupid tag, that would be much appreciated. Or do you have any famous twitterer friends who might care to mention it?

2. Friends in far places. Check out the v v v v v looooooooooong list of countries which have now confirmed for the premiere. Got any pals living in any of them? Please forward them the link to their country page and encourage them to buy tickets to their local screening. Might be an idea to mention that they have to go on the day of the Global Premiere (21st Sept in USA, 22nd Sept everywhere else) or there’ll miss it. It’s just for the one night, not a whole week of screenings or anything.
10:10 update
Our mega-climate campaign welcomed an iconic British business into the fold this week….. Yup, Royal Mail have signed up to cut their emissions by 10% in 2010. ie the postman. Well, all the postmen. And all their vans, all their offices, all their stamping machines…  It is ridiculously exciting after so many years of talk, talk, talk to finally see people actually starting to cut their emissions… Enough to melt the hardest heart.
“Are you an inspired, original and highly organised strategic thinker with a passion for fighting climate change and experience running a major campaign?” 10:10 is advertising for a full-time Director. With a proper salary, natch. See full job ad here.
In other news
My first bash at writing for the world’s biggest and most respect blog, the Huffington Post, was accepted and published this week. Yahey. Pls retweet it if you think it’s any good. Then again, it’s just the normal stuff about yeast and coin-flips which I’m sure you’re all bored to tears with by now.
My old sparring partner Ed Miliband and I had another of our public spats this week. This time on BBC’s Newsnight. Except I had the major disadvantage of not being able to see Ed or Paxo and having a killer echo of myself in my ear, which made it extremely difficult to string a coherent sentence together. I demand a rematch.
Just in case you were feeling sorry for me there for a second – humiliated on national TV – the supremely generous Eric and Lenny (the dudes who will be satellite-linking our New York solar tent to all the world) have not only given us a giant free office (which is already crammed full with our ever-expanding team of interns – minimum requirement pHD in climate science, it seems), but they also dragged Lizzie and myself out from behind our desks the other night and took us to…. the US Open tennis. Ha ha. To entertain us even further, they got their pals on the cameras to make sure they kept filming us at inopportune moments – and then to round off the evening, John McEnroe came out of the commentary box and bashed a few balls around with Djokovic.  At last the perks are starting to roll in…
Over and out,
Franny, Lizzie, Rhiannon, Alexandra, Laurel & Tommy
NY Sat night team

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 29th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We found an excellent blog that specializes in the understanding of “de Facto States” in general, and in the GUAM states and their separatist outside backed generally unrecognized states.

 blogs.euobserver.com/popescu/ is manned by Nicu Popescu who is a research fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) in London, where he deals with the EU’s eastern neighborhood and Russia.

These days, with China ready to pour in $1 billion into Moldova, the East flank of the EU may become even more interesting, so good inside information will be important o Brussels and those that would like to see Europe hold together.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 15th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

June 14, 2009 – the Puerto Ricans in New York had a proud parade, in Iran we saw the Ahmedi-Nejad goons, and at the Bar Ilan University Netanyahu did hide under a capota. This in a day’s TV harvest.

Sunday, June 14, 2009 was a day of pride to Puerto Ricans who paraded in New York after the fact that one of their ladies of the people was nominated to the Supreme Court of the USA, but it was also a day of some tension to the rest of us who were watching a potential Ahmedi-Nejad and Netanyahu media fight. Now that was a total fizzle – Ahmedi-Nejad was the victor hands down. He shrugged off the whole world while Nethanyahu managed to hide under the Bar Ilan “capota.”

We watched on CNN the full Iran program that was there for the whole world to see – Iran’s Ahmedi-Nejad with all his wisdom and warts. Whatever he may be – we do not forget that he has a capable nation behind him and they know now how to tie together an atom bomb. We also saw that their young people are restless, and want more say in the way their country is run. The Supreme Leader has hand picked four competitors to become Prime Minister – so we know that there is indeed no great difference between them. Some TV pundit in the US said today that they range in US terms from Duke to Dole. So, no great importance in practical turns for who wins.

But that was not the issue. What we saw is that the young generation preferred a new generation of the Revolution, even though embodied by someone that he himself had previously worked with the leaders of the Revolution – that was the Moussavi candidacy. They preferred him over the first generation of the Revolution, that is represented by the people who surround Ahmedi-Nejad, even though he himself was previously only the Mayor of Tehran. Why that preference? Simply – that would have meant change – at least some change – even if that change is still within the system. Not having been granted this minimal change, the day is near that they will want real change, and this may be good for the world or who knows if this is the case indeed?

Moussavi campaigned with his wife at his side, this was a novelty – a la Obama or Clinton – and the women came to vote for him because of her. With half of the population women, the declared 85% that voted, so 40% should have been just the part of the female voters in the Moussavi bag – but Ahmedi-Nejad’s police gave a final reading to the   Abadgaran candidate Mir-Hossein Moussavi 13,216,411 votes or 33.75% and to Independent Reformist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 24,527,516 votes or 62.63%.

This just does not seem right – further, the Iranian officials knew to release the results already after 2 hours from the end of the election – as they said after having counted just one fifth of the votes – and you know what? They seemed to have hit quite close with the suggested 2/3 for Ahmedi-Nejad and 1/3 for Moussavi – a 2:1 win that did not seemingly take in consideration areas were Moussavi had a clear advantage – like in his home town in the Azeri part of Iran. According to the official figures he lost even there – and at the same split? Does not seem right. In short – it was there for the whole world to see that the governing Iranian machine cheated all the way!   So, not enough that the Iranian economy is in shambles, and the standing of Iran in the world is in the pits – now Iran will have on its hands a younger generation that has seen that it was had by the religious leaders. Is internal unrest in a faltering Iran, that plays at the big nuclear casino table, to anyone’s interest?

Now I turned the TV monitor to this morning’s press conference in Tehran. And what did we see? A one man cross between Hitler and Goebels trying to smile his way in the face of the world – and talk to the nitwits that mistake life for a game of soccer.

We saw an imaginary two line of questions – the one line from what he called the Press, that were the government paid folks of Iran – giving him their congratulations, one even his adoration, then throwing a soft-ball – the other line of people with questions – what he called the “Private Media” that was the International Press were The Independent, The Economist, and Our Christiane Amanpour of CNN, did shine like the sun. This second group had real questions and Ms. Amanpour, herself born in iran, simply did not let him get away with the movement of the feather boa – she should get the good journalist of the year award or something like it. The questions came in alternating sequence – one from an iranian official press person and one from the “Private” people – privates like in BBC.

The Iranians also watched that program – not just the outside world – and they know for sure that the world is ready to point a finger, but it is now for them to clench their fists. So, where does this take us when we realize that Iran has enough baton swirling goons, in civil close, to enhance any fighting force sanctioned by the Ayatollahs, in Iran and outside?

—————-

After I saw the above, and watched the Puerto Ricans, I waited to open at 1PM the website that advertised a video where I could see the Nethanyahu long awaited answer to the Obama Cairo University speech to the Muslim World.
We have written about this new speech, its location at the religious Bar Ilan University, wondered why there and speculated what he will say. We understood his dilemmas and wished him well.

Well? We know he is US educated, speaks a good English and expected him to speak in English to the world. We knew he is under pressure and needs friends that need arguments – why he will or will not accept the advice that President Obama was giving him.

We knew that Mr. Netanyahu was looking eastwards to Iran, and having watched Ahmedi-Nejad we thought that this super-goon gave him now material to be able to avoid giving straight answers to Obama. We did not like this because we think that Israel and the World should take advantage of the Obama interest to push the various Middle East fractions to some sort of an understanding that could actually benefit them all. We have our collection of papers on the subject and I will mention here the Jacob Stein article in The Jewish Sentinel (New York) of June 16-22, 2006 – “Israel at 58 – Time for Borders and Sovereignty.” Now Israel is 62 and there are no borders yet and as such – indeed – what is the meaning of “Sovereignty?” If you have no borders you are by definition in a continuous state of war – is it not so?

We loved President Obama’s recognition of the fact that the US was responsible for the start of the Iranian disaster – back then when the US CIA removed the Mosadegh government. We know that President Obama understands that previous US Presidents imposed addiction to cheap Mideast oil upon the US economy – this is something like what the British did when they brought cocaine addiction to China. OK – I know that some will cringe at reading this – but then this is what the Middle East had to live with for more then the second half of last century. We believe President Obama wants to move away from oil, and could work with the local governments to help them develop alternatives to their own addiction to the oil money. He promised that the US will get out of Iraq and its oil wells and pockets. Israel has here a tremendous potential scientifically – and potential political interest. would Netanyahu pick up something here and put in his speech? Look – Iran and his nuclear programs are oil based, and its economy is broken – now its Prime Minister, forget his obsession with the Holocaust, but he personally showed on TV the real goon he is. Will Netanyahu pull out some honey from this bee-hive for his speech?

Also, today’s New York Times had the Clifford J. Levy article written in Moscow – “Mideast in Flux – An Israeli Cozies Up To Moscow” that tells about Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a previously Soviet citizen, who is now a friendly guest in Putin’s court. Russia has serious interests in Iran, it cannot be bypassed in the whole rest of the region east of Suez either – can Nethanyahu take an initiative, with Lieberman’s help, of enlarging on the US-Israel-Iran triangle by suggesting how the Russians who want to become accepted suppliers of arms to a Palestinian government, could be pulled in to his larger concept of regional peace? Was Netanyahu going to provide some new ideas for international consideration?

So what does Netanyahu do instead? He decides to speak in Hebrew from the pulpit of the modest size hall at the BESA Center. TV coverage – zilch! Don’t worry, Obama has his own translators – the one that I heard, on the two minutes that FOX allowed his voice, was not so hot. But then, if I were Obama, I would just have the third secretary of the US Embassy fax in his printed release from the official Israeli Ministry of Information – or whatever this is called in Israel. The content of the speech was anyway sent to him beforehand, and the real target of that speech was not the US and was not the World – Islamic or not – but right there the right wing members of the Netanyahu governing coalition – the choir in the room that had to be kept in line so they do not rebel.


The following website, advertised by Israeli sources, which we also posted on our web – did not work –   www.biu.ac.il/live/
and let me state flatly here that I did not take kind to having been mislead and having thus mislead others. When I write these lines after 7 PM New York Times, that is full five hours after the speech, there is no video released yet to the internet from that speech.

Fox News, that is their Channel #44 in Manhattan, said that they will show the speech when it starts. The speech was delayed and started 5 minutes late but their whole coverage amounted to less then 5 minutes – first by cutting out after two minutes what Mr. Netanyahu was saying and replacing it with their own pundits’ words, then they also cut off the picture altogether. We decided that they really did not feel it important enough to let the translation lose valuable commercial TV time. Nevertheless, the few minutes were enough to show the “wild west” atmosphere in the room – I must have seen some of those that represented the settlers in the shown frames.

The regular FOX channel – #5 – had a completely different program

CNN is not represented in Israel for over a year, this because of disagreements on the way they covered the last two wars, so the 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM time slot that belongs to the excellent Farid Zakaria GPS program, and that is repeated anyway 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM was untouched – there was a lot about Iran and the Middle East – very good material – but about Netanyahu all they said was that he will speak that day and answer President Obama’s speech in Cairo.

Two Jewish programs went on that time – on channel #51 and on channel #67 – but they did not consider seemingly replacing those programs with Mr. Netanyahu’s presentation.

I was thus left without contact to the speech until information started to trickle in.

from: CNN Breaking News <BreakingNews@mail.cnn.com>

 textbreakingnews at ema3lsv06.turner.com

Sun, Jun 14, 2009 at 1:47 PM

——- Israeli prime minister says Israel would agree to a peace agreement with a “demilitarized Palestinian state.”

and then the first real information we got was from the Jewish www.sanfranciscosentinel.com and it amounts (after reorganization) to:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened his address by saying that he had formed his new government earlier this year with three major challenges facing Israel: the economic crisis, the Iranian threat, and the Middle East peace process.

He stressed that the greatest threat to the world today was the link between Islamist extremism and nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu, who until now had not endorsed U.S. President Barack Obama’s goal of Palestinian statehood, used this policy speech as an opportunity to reverse course and try to narrow a rare rift between Israel and its closest ally.

The address at Bar Ilan was much anticipated in the wake of the Obama administration’s insistence that Israel impose a complete freeze on settlement construction and recognize the two-state solution.

During the speech, Netanyahu vowed that Israel would not build any new settlements and would refrain from expanding existing Israeli communities in the West Bank. Still, he said the government must be allowed to accommodate natural growth in these settlements. Netanyahu has until now been adamant that a settlement freeze is unfeasible and that he would concentrate on strengthening the Palestinian economy, rather than agreeing to their statehood.

The Prime Minister called on Palestinian leaders to restart Middle East peace negotiations without preconditions: “I call on you, our Palestinian neighbors, and to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority – Let us begin peace negotiations immediately, without preconditions,” he said. “Israel is committed to international agreements and expects all the other parties to fulfill their obligations as well.”

In an apparent reversal of Israeli policy, Netanyahu also declared that he was prepared to see the creation of a Palestinian state, so long as the international community can guarantee that it not have any military capabilities. Israel cannot agree to a Palestinian state unless it gets guarantees it is demilitarized,” Netanyahu said. He also said that Jerusalem must remain the unified capital of Israel.

The prime minister said he was prepared to meet with the leaders of neighboring Arab countries at any time, to promote regional peace and to gain their contribution to the Palestinian economy.

Netanyahu reiterated that Israel has no desire to control the Palestinian people, and declared that both nations should be able to live side by side in peace.

“We want both Israeli and Palestinian children to live without war,” Netanyahu said, but added: “We must ask ourselves – why has peace not yet arrived after 60 years?”

Israel would not accept any situation in which it was forced to exist beside a terrorist state. Every withdrawal from settlement territories would contribute to such terror, said Netanyahu.

The prime minister also said that Palestinians must accept Israel as a Jewish state, and cited the root of the regional conflict to “even moderate” Palestinian elements’ refusal to do so.

“When Palestinians are ready to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, we will be ready for a true final settlement,” the prime minister said.

He emphasized that the Jewish people have been linked to the land of Israel for over 3,000 years and ruled out the option of granting Palestinians refugees the right to settle within Israeli borders.

Netanyahu said that Israel would not negotiate with terrorist who wish to destroy it, and said that Palestinians must choose between path of peace and Hamas.

——————-

If we use already material from the San Francisco Sentinel – then let me also include their pre-speech info that came from Jerusalem and remember please that this was before the Ahmedi-Nejad press conference but after the results of the elections in Iran gave already been announced by the Ahmedi-Nejad machine:

from HOWARD SCHNEIDER     www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=3…

When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu delivers a major foreign policy address Sunday, the setting will be part of the message: He will speak at Bar-Ilan University, which was founded in 1955 to unite secular learning with religious Zionism. Advisers to Netanyahu and Israeli political analysts say the speech will be a response to President Obama’s address to Muslims this month at Cairo University. Netanyahu, they say, wants to inject a Zionist “narrative” into a discussion that he believes was tilted in Obama’s speech toward the Arab version of events.

While Netanyahu’s remarks are expected to range across issues, including Obama’s demand for a freeze on Jewish settlements and the U.S. president’s call for the establishment of a Palestinian state, they will center on Netanyahu’s assertion that Arabs must recognize Israel as a state for the peace process to succeed.

The point is not a condition for the start of peace talks with the Palestinians or other Arab nations, Netanyahu’s advisers have said. But just as Israel is being asked to acknowledge the Palestinian identity of a neighboring country under the “two-state solution” advocated by Obama and European leaders, Netanyahu believes that an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict requires a similar acknowledgment from the other side, they say.

“They need to cross the Rubicon of a Jewish state,” said a Netanyahu adviser involved in preparing the speech. “That will be necessary for an agreement, because then you know the conflict is over.”

The run-up to Netanyahu’s speech has been dominated by debate in the media and in political circles about how he will address Obama’s call for a settlement freeze and whether he will endorse the establishment of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu and his governing coalition oppose both ideas, and they say that security concerns still make creation of a Palestinian state and a withdrawal from the West Bank too risky. That argument is likely to be bolstered by the reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose support of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and pursuit of nuclear technology are considered among Israel’s chief threats.

——————

Then arrived The Washington Post with an exotic picture sub-noted: An Ultra Orthodox Jewish man walks past posters,   hung by an extremist right wing group,   depicting US President Barack Obama wearing a traditional Arab headdress,   in Jerusalem,   Sunday,   June 14,   2009. Senior aides say they don’t expect Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to explicitly endorse Palestinian statehood when he delivers an anxiously awaited policy speech Sunday night,   a stance that would preserve an uncomfortable impasse with the United States. T (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner), (Sebastian Scheiner – AP)


Netanyahu accepts limited Palestinian state.

The Associated Press, Sunday, June 14, 2009; 2:38 PM

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday called for creation of a limited Palestinian state for the first time, saying it would have to be disarmed.

Netanyahu made the call during a major policy speech about his Mideast peacemaking intentions.

“In any peace agreement, the territory under Palestinian control must be disarmed, with solid security guarantees for Israel,” he said.

“If we get this guarantee for demilitarization and necessary security arrangements for Israel, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, we will be willing in a real peace agreement to reach a solution of a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state,” he said.

Up to now Netanyahu has resisted endorsing the creation of a Palestinian state as part of a Mideast peace settlement, drawing intense pressure from the administration of President Barack Obama.

Netanyahu also said the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and he declared that the solution of the Palestinian refugee problem must be “outside Israel.”

Palestinians claim that refugees from the 1948-49 war that followed Israel’s creation and their millions of descendants have the right to reclaim their original homes.

“I call on you, our Palestinian neighbors, and to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority: Let us begin peace negotiations immediately, without preconditions,” he said. “Israel is committed to international agreements and expects all the other parties to fulfill their obligations as well.”

Netanyahu also called for Arab leaders to meet him and contribute to Palestinian economic development.

——————-

eventually, the Israeli HAARETZ came up with the full talk
Last update – 23:41 14/06/2009

I picked up for direct posting two excerpts from the text of Netanyahu’s foreign policy speech at Bar Ilan
as released at 23:41 Israel time   – 7:00 or 4:41 PM New York Time.

for the full article please see:   www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1092…

Whoever thinks that the continued hostility to Israel is a result of our forces in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is confusing cause and effect. The attacks on us began in the 1920s, became an overall attack in 1948 when the state was declared, continued in the 1950s with the fedaayyin attacks, and reached their climax in 1967 on the eve of the Six-Day War, with the attempt to strangle Israel. All this happened nearly 50 years before a single Israeli soldier went into Judea and Samaria.

To our joy, Egypt and Jordan left this circle of hostility. They signed peace agreements with us which ended their hostility to Israel. It brought about peace.

To our deep regret, this is not happening with the Palestinians. The closer we get to a peace agreement with them, the more they are distancing themselves from peace. They raise new demands. They are not showing us that they want to end the conflict.

A great many people are telling us that withdrawal is the key to peace with the Palestinians. But the fact is that all our withdrawals were met by huge waves of suicide bombers.

We tried withdrawal by agreement, withdrawal without an agreement, we tried partial withdrawal and full withdrawal. In 2000, and once again last year, the government of Israel, based on good will, tried a nearly complete withdrawal, in exchange for the end of the conflict, and were twice refused.

We withdrew from the Gaza Strip to the last centimeter, we uprooted dozens of settlements and turned thousands of Israelis out of their homes. In exchange, what we received were missiles raining down on our cities, our towns and our children. The argument that withdrawal would bring peace closer did not stand up to the test of reality.

With Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north, they keep on saying that they want to ‘liberate’ Ashkelon in the south and Haifa and Tiberias.
Even the moderates among the Palestinians are not ready to say the most simplest things: The State of Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish People and will remain so. (Applause)

———

The connection of the Jewish People to the Land has been in existence for more than 3,500 years. Judea and Samaria, the places where our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob walked, our forefathers David, Solomon, Isaiah and Jeremiah ? this is not a foreign land, this is the Land of our Forefathers. (Applause)

The right of the Jewish People to a state in the Land of Israel does not arise from the series of disasters that befell the Jewish People over 2,000 years — persecutions, expulsions, pogroms, blood libels, murders, which reached its climax in the Holocaust, an unprecedented tragedy in the history of nations. There are those who say that without the Holocaust the State would not have been established, but I say that if the State of Israel had been established in time, the Holocaust would not have taken place. (Applause) The tragedies that arose from the Jewish People?s helplessness show very sharply that we need a protective state.
The right to establish our sovereign state here, in the Land of Israel, arises from one simple fact: Eretz Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish People. (Applause)

As the first PM David Ben Gurion in the declaration of the State, the State of Israel was established here in Eretz Israel, where the People of Israel created the Book of Books, and gave it to the world.

But, friends, we must state the whole truth here. The truth is that in the area of our homeland, in the heart of our Jewish Homeland, now lives a large population of Palestinians. We do not want to rule over them. We do not want to run their lives. We do not want to force our flag and our culture on them. In my vision of peace, there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor?s security and existence.

These two facts ? our link to the Land of Israel, and the Palestinian population who live here, have created deep disagreements within Israeli society. But the truth is that we have much more unity than disagreement.

I came here tonight to talk about the agreement and security that are broad consensus within Israeli society. This is what guides our policy. This policy must take into account the international situation. We have to recognize international agreements but also principles important to the State of Israel. I spoke tonight about the first principle – recognition. Palestinians must truly recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. The second principle is demilitarization. Any area in Palestinian hands has to be demilitarization, with solid security measures. Without this condition, there is a real fear that there will be an armed Palestinian state which will become a terrorist base against Israel, as happened in Gaza. We do not want missiles on Petah Tikva, or Grads on the Ben-Gurion international airport. We want peace. (Applause)
And, to ensure peace we don?t want them to bring in missiles or rockets or have an army, or control of airspace, or make treaties with countries like Iran, or Hizbullah. There is broad agreement on this in Israel. We cannot be expected to agree to a Palestinian state without ensuring that it is demilitarized. This is crucial to the existence of Israel ? we must provide for our security needs.

—————

To summarize – Israel lost a tremendous opportunity to publicize its cause – right there on the day that Ahmedi-Nejad showed up in his nakedness, but Israel blew it.

Our question to Nethanyahu is – Why talk to one wing of the Israeli government when you can get the whole world to listen to you. Why talk in Hebrew from the jewish religious Bar Ilan University small hall, when you could actually have spoken from some historic hall of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem – the University that was built as part of the reconstruction of Jewish sovereignty in its homeland – and speak in your good English so the world does understand what you are saying?

Yes, we know that Bar Ilan University is home of the Begin-Sadat Center for Peace, but The Hebrew University has The Truman Institute on its campus that has done much to bring Israel closer to Africa and other developing regions in the world. Why talk about Jerusalem from Ramat Gan and not from the real place were your justification of your States existence comes from?

Then, why not take advantage of what goes on in Iran of today. Would not – right now – just with the young people in Tehran in upheaval – be in place to remind the young Iranians of Cyrus and the days the Jews and the Persians actually did have good relations – that the Jews are part of the history of the region – and that Ahmedi-Nejad’s diatribes are total rubbish?

Seemingly Israel has to get greater internal consensus, to include its intellectuals, and in addition to the useless 30 Ministries that were established by the ruling coalition – establish also a Ministry for Future Generations to serve as Think Tank and Ministry of Intelligent Information to the outside world.

————————————————————————————————–

UPDATED with SAN FRANCISCO SENTINEL
MONDAY MORNING EDITION
June 15 2009

EGYPT SAYS NO ARAB COUNTRY WOULD ACCEPT NETANYAHU APPROACH:
Hosni Mubarak  rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102611203798&a…]
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak blasted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech
on Sunday saying “Netanyahu’s demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish
state is ruining the chance for peace,” Egyptian news agencies reported on Monday.
Mubarak further added that “not Egypt, nor any other Arab country would support
Netanyahu’s approach.”
Continue Reading:   EGYPT SAYS NO ARAB COUNTRY WOULD ACCEPT NETANYAHU APPROACH  rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102611203798&a…]

PALESTINIANS REJECT TERMS OF NETANYAHU ADDRESS  rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102611203798&a…]–

——

IRAN SUPREME LEADER REVERSES POSITION, ORDERS ELECTION INVESTIGATION – MOUSAVI SET
TO APPEAR AT BANNED RALLY  rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102611203798&a…]

FIVE REASONS TO SUSPECT IRAN’S ELECTION RESULTS  rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102611203798&a…]

IRAN REJECTS PRO-MOUSAVI RALLY – COMMUNICATIONS DISRUPTED  rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102611203798&a…]
MOUSAVI SUPPORTERS PLAN RALLY IN TEHRAN MONDAY  rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102611203798&a…]

——

REACTIONS TO NETANYAHU KEYNOTE SPEECH  rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102611203798&a…]

NETANYAHU SPEECH RECEIVES HARSH RESPONSE FROM ISRAELI RIGHTIST PARTY SPOKESMAN  rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102611203798&a…]

THE NETANYAHU SPEECH – START PEACE TALKS IMMEDIATELY – ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER WILLING
TO MEET ANY ARAB LEADER, EVEN IN RIYADH  rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102611203798&a…]

———————

and from truthout.org
Steve Weissman | Israel Offers a State and a Half.
<A href=”http://www.truthout.org/061509J”>http://www.truthout.org/061509J</A>
Steve Weissman, Truthout: “Could Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu become the Richard Nixon of the Middle East, as Barack Obama invited him to do? Could he break with his hard-line past and reach out to the Palestinians the way Nixon did with the Chinese? Or will he pay lip service to peace even as he does everything he can to keep the Palestinians from ever getting a viable state of their own?”


Top Ayatollah Calls for Investigation of Iran’s Election.

<A href=”http://www.truthout.org/061509L”>http://www.truthout.org/061509L</A>
Ian Black and Matthew Weaver, The Guardian UK: “Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has ordered an investigation into claims of vote-rigging and fraud in last week’s presidential election, Iranian state TV reported today. The report said Khamenei had told the guardian council, the clerical body that oversees elections, to examine the pro-reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi’s claims of widespread rigging in Friday’s poll.”

———————

The analysisis in the June 15th Economist ends with:

“Western diplomats express disappointment with the opposition’s failure to unseat Mr Ahmadinejad, but not because they expected any of his challengers to make dramatic policy turns. Iran’s foreign relations, including such important issues as the nuclear file, fall largely within the remit of the Supreme Leader, rather than the presidency. But a fresh face, and a change in style, would have made it easier for other countries to engage with Iran. Seeking to think positively, one diplomat suggested that Mr Ahmadinejad’s return to office would at least eliminate a lengthy transition between administrations. The president’s undisputed conservative credentials might also make him better able to rally backing for any future concessions on the vexed question of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”   Let us pray that the pragmatic people are right, and that a chastised Ahmadi-Nejad might be willing to stop spitting fire.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 17th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The UN Holocaust event announced for Tuesday January 27, 2009 (The Mandated Day to Remember the Holocaust) is balanced out with an announcement for the Arab Edition on a book on The Question of Palestine. We find this appalling.

//////////////////

From: UN DPI UPDATES (16 – 31 January 2009)

MEETINGS, CONFERENCES AND SPECIAL EVENTS:

Tuesday 27 January 2009

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: Memorial ceremony at the UN General Assembly Hall :   “An Authentic Basis for Hope: Holocaust Remembrance and Education”, with keynote speaker Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Chairman of Yad Vashem Council.   USG Kiyo Akasaka will open the event, which will include a message from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.   Statements will be made by H.E. Mr. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, President of the 63rd session of the General Assembly, and H.E. Ambassador Gabriela Shalev, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations. Ruth Glasberg Gold, a survivor of the Transnistria camps, and WWII veteran Leonid Rozenberg will share their personal stories. Cantor Ya’akov Motzen will recite “El Ma’le Rachamim” and “Ani Ma’amin”. The ceremony will also include musical performances by Elisha Abas (piano) and Yoon Kwon (violin). Please register at  holocaustremembrance at un.org or by fax 212-963-0536.    
Wednesday 28 January

1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.   Holocaust Survivors’ Memoirs Project Book Signing at the UN Bookshop. Mrs. Frances Irwin will present and sign copies of her memoir included in the volume titled “Stolen Youth: Five Women’s Survival in the Holocaust”.   Every January in observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, volumes from the Holocaust Survivors’ Memoirs Project are on display in the Public Lobby and for sale in the Book Shop.   Mrs. Jeannie Rosensaft, one of the editors of the memoirs, will discuss the Project, which is an initiative of Nobel Prize laureate and United Nations Messenger of Peace Elie Wiesel, and Menachem Rosensaft, Chairman of the Project’s Editorial Board.

For further information, please contact  holocaustremembrance at un.org

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Thursday 29 January

9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.: DPI-NGO briefing on the experience of Jews in Greece during the Holocaust, in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium.   Non-UN grounds pass holders please register at  HU2 at un.org .

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.:   Film screening, “Forgiving Dr. Mengele”, with statement by Ms. Eva Kor, who makes an inspirational visit to Germany, Israel and Auschwitz to come to terms with her experience.     Venue: Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium.   Please register at  holocaustremembrance at un.org or by fax 212-963-0536.

Contact:  mann at un.org/prudhommem@un.org

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NEW PRINT AND ONLINE PUBLICATIONS
The Question of Palestine and the United Nations (Arabic edition):   The Arabic edition of The Question of Palestine and the United Nations will be published by the end of January.        
Contact:  ueki at un.org

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From: UN DAILY NEWS , UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE
16 January, 2009 =========================================================================

BAN URGES UNILATERAL ISRAELI CEASEFIRE IN GAZA; MEETS WITH PALESTINIAN LEADERS

On the third day of his intensive diplomatic mission to secure a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon conferred today with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah, and called on Israel to unilaterally cease hostilities.

“We have no time to lose,” he told reporters after his meetings in the West Bank on the 21st day of the offensive Israel launched with the stated aim of halting Hamas rocket attacks against it from Gaza. “A unilateral declaration of a ceasefire would be necessary at this time.” He said he would exert his utmost efforts to realize that goal and underscored his full support for President Abbas’s leadership.

“There is increasing hope that flows from the intensive political discussions that are going on, not least by our Secretary-General, which is much appreciated here on the ground,” a top UN official in Gaza reported, speaking to journalists in New York by video link from ground zero from where he has been giving daily briefings on the death and destruction.

“Let’s keep the urgency and momentum moving, because if there were a briefing tomorrow I am sorry to say there are people alive including children right now who will be dead, so that is where the imperative lies, we have to get the ceasefire because every hour that passes without a ceasefire is costing the lives of innocent civilians here,” Gaza Director of Operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) John Ging said.

As of noon New York time the death toll stood at 1,115 dead, including 370 children, with 5,150 wounded, 1,745 of them children, according to Gazan health ministry figures, which UN officials call credible. Mr. Ging said 4,000 more people had fled their homes in the last 24 hours to seek shelter in UN schools, bringing the total to 49,000. Hundreds of thousands of others are estimated to have sought refuge with relatives and friends in less conflict-hit areas of Gaza.

After meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem last night, Mr. Ban told reporters the Israeli Government would make an important decision on a ceasefire and he hoped it would be the right one, with Israel showing the world that it is a responsible member of the UN, abiding by Security Council resolutions. Last week the Council called for an immediate ceasefire.

Following his stop in Ramallah, Mr. Ban travelled to Ankara to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, stressing his determination to work with the Turkish Government to help find solutions to the terrible crisis in Gaza. At the weekend he will go to Lebanon and Syria for talks with Government officials in both countries about the violence in Gaza and southern Israel, before attending the Arab Economic Summit in Kuwait on Monday.

Mr. Ging said UNRWA, which aids 750,000 Palestinian refugees in Gaza, about half the population, is establishing alternative warehouses and is “up and running again” after Israeli shells destroyed the warehouse in its main compound yesterday, sending hundreds of tons of food and medicine up in flames. The fire continued to burn today. “Massive devastation and destruction” was reported in the area of the compound, he added.

“I myself would never have predicted what has happened in full view of the whole world over these past 21 days and nights, but it has happened and continues right now, but I am hopeful, not least because of the efforts of our Secretary-General, which is there for all to see, and I wish others would join him in the degree of commitment and pro-activity that he is bringing to bear.”

DPI UPDATES (16 – 31 January 2009)

MEETINGS, CONFERENCES AND SPECIAL EVENTS

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Ministerial-level meeting on Food Security for All: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of Spain are convening a ministerial-level meeting on “Food Security for All”, 26-27 January in Madrid, to chart action on the continuing global food crisis. DPI is working with communicators from the Rome-based agencies and the Secretary-General’s High-level Task Force to develop information materials and a possible advance press briefing. There will be at least one press conference in Madrid, on 27 January. More information is available on the conference meeting site www.ransa2009.org
Contact: wallt@un.org

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International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust: DPI will organize several events in observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust (27 January). These events include:
  • Monday 26 January 2009
9 a.m.- 11a.m.: Videoconference with six francophone UN Information Centres (Antananarivo, Brazzaville, Bujumbura, Dakar, Lomé, Yaoundé), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Kigali, the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme (New York Headquarters) and the Mémorial de la Shoah (Paris) at UNESCO, Paris. Students gathered at UNICs and in Kigali will hear the testimony of a Holocaust survivor in Paris and will be able to ask questions about his personal experience.

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Exhibition “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race”. This exhibition shows how the Nazi regime, with the support of doctors and scientists, aimed to change the genetic makeup of the population through measures known as “racial hygiene” or “eugenics”. Open to the public from 26 January through 22 March 2009. Venue: UN Public Lobby at visitors’ entrance, 1st Ave. and 46 Street.
  • Tuesday 27 January 2009
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: Memorial ceremony at the UN General Assembly Hall : “An Authentic Basis for Hope: Holocaust Remembrance and Education”, with keynote speaker Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Chairman of Yad Vashem Council. USG Kiyo Akasaka will open the event, which will include a message from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Statements will be made by H.E. Mr. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, President of the 63rd session of the General Assembly, and H.E. Ambassador Gabriela Shalev, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations. Ruth Glasberg Gold, a survivor of the Transnistria camps, and WWII veteran Leonid Rozenberg will share their personal stories. Cantor Ya’akov Motzen will recite “Kel Ma’le Rachamim” and “Ani Ma’amin”. The ceremony will also include musical performances by Elisha Abas (piano) and Yoon Kwon (violin). Please register at holocaustremembrance@un.org or by fax 212-963-0536.
  • Wednesday 28 January
1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Holocaust Survivors’ Memoirs Project Book Signing at the UN Bookshop. Mrs. Frances Irwin will present and sign copies of her memoir included in the volume titled “Stolen Youth: Five Women’s Survival in the Holocaust”. Every January in observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, volumes from the Holocaust Survivors’ Memoirs Project are on display in the Public Lobby and for sale in the Book Shop. Mrs. Jeannie Rosensaft, one of the editors of the memoirs, will discuss the Project, which is an initiative of Nobel Prize laureate and United Nations Messenger of Peace Elie Wiesel, and Menachem Rosensaft, Chairman of the Project’s Editorial Board.
For further information, please contact holocaustremembrance@un.org
  • Thursday 29 January
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.: DPI-NGO briefing on the experience of Jews in Greece during the Holocaust, in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium. Non-UN grounds pass holders please register at HU2@un.org .
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.: Film screening, “Forgiving Dr. Mengele”, with statement by Ms. Eva Kor, who makes an inspirational visit to Germany, Israel and Auschwitz to come to terms with her experience. Venue: Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium. Please register at holocaustremembrance@un.org or by fax 212-963-0536.
NEW PRINT AND ONLINE PUBLICATIONS

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The Question of Palestine and the United Nations (Arabic edition): The Arabic edition of The Question of Palestine and the United Nations will be published by the end of January.
Contact: ueki@un.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 29th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Who’s Next? Russia’s Cat and Mouse Game with Moldova.
William H. Hill, October 24, 2008, on Open Democracy.
 www.opendemocracy.net/article/rus…

Two years ago Moldova’s president President Vladimir Voronin began a process of repairing his relations with Russia and seeking Moscow’s cooperation in negotiating a settlement with breakaway republic of Transnistria. Moldova has not yet received its payoff from improved relations with Russia and its reintegration with Transnistria has remained as uncertain as before.

Russia’s crushing use of force against Georgia last August gave rise to frenzied speculation that Moscow would mount similar military threats to other neighboring states and former Soviet republics.   However, the next major Russian initiative in the “post-Soviet space” has come in a different fashion in the miniscule Republic of Moldova.   In contrast to the Georgian case, the Russian scenario in Moldova casts President Dmitri Medvedev in the role of sage peacemaker in an internal territorial dispute left over from the days of the Soviet collapse.

A small nation of some four million, predominantly Romanian-speaking people wedged between Ukraine and Romania, Moldova sought and won its independence as the USSR disintegrated in the late 1980s.   A group of primarily Slavic Soviet political figures and enterprise managers on the east, or left bank of the Nistru (Dniestr) River in the Soviet Republic of Moldavia resisted Moldovan attempts to leave the USSR and proclaimed their small sliver of land a separate, Transnistrian Moldovan Republic.   In 1992 Moldova and Transnistria fought a brief, bitter war which the separatists won, with the assistance of a contingent of locally-based Russian troops left over from the Soviet Red Army.

During the conflict in 1992 Moldova appealed for assistance to the UN, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (now the OSCE), and various western nations.   Only Moscow heeded Chisinau’s call for mediation and brokered a cease fire that left Russian troops in place as peacekeepers.   Negotiations for a political settlement have dragged on since that time between Chisinau and Tiraspol (the separatist “capital”), with Russia, and then the OSCE and Ukraine serving as mediators.   In 2005 the U.S. and European Union formally joined the negotiations as observers.

With a population roughly the size of Luxembourg, Transnistria’s prospects as an independent state were always sketchy.   The region supported itself partially through a heavy industrial base left over from Soviet times that enjoyed surprising success in penetrating the EU and North American markets.   The left bank enclave received subsidies from Moscow, especially in the form of low-cost natural gas, running at least $30 million per year.   Finally, the region augmented its income and solidified its political position mostly by serving as a haven for smuggling and tax evasion, not only for its own residents, but also politicians and businessmen from all of the neighboring states.   “A giant off-shore” is how one Moldovan political figure characterized the region to me.

No state, including Russia, has recognized Transnistria’s independence.   Moscow’s stated policy has always been that Transnistria is a part of Moldova, and the two sides should agree voluntarily on peaceful unification of the country, with a special status for the left bank.   However, backed by influential circles in Moscow, Transnistrian leaders have been reluctant to give up their lucrative status quo for an uncertain future.   Moldova, by most statistical measurements the poorest country in Europe, has few material incentives to win over its breakaway region.   Instead Chisinau has generally pinned its hopes on intervention by a large outside power – Russia, the U.S. or the EU – to coerce Tiraspol into the Republic of Moldova.

In 2003 Moldova and Transnistria almost reached a political settlement of their conflict.   The proposed agreement, the so-called “Kozak Memorandum,” brokered by Deputy Head of the Russian Presidential Administration Dmitri Kozak, fell apart at the last minute, partially because of western objections to a provision calling for a long-term Russian troop presence.   With Kozak as point man in 2003, Moscow bypassed the existing negotiating mechanism with its broader international participation.   Swayed by promises that Moscow would overcome Transnistrian resistance and unite his country, Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin went along with the gambit until the last minute.   With angry crowds gathering outside the Presidential Building and frantic calls from western leaders, only at the last moment did Voronin call Russian President Putin and tell him not to come to Chisinau to sign the Memorandum.   Putin has reportedly nursed a grudge ever since.

Five years later events are in the works that may repeat this scenario.   The leader of one of the last post-Soviet communist parties in power in the former USSR, Voronin turned toward the West after 2003 and declared a policy of European integration.   Russia retaliated by banning imports of Moldovan meat, fruit, and wine, placing grave economic pressure on the small country.   Moscow also frustrated Moldovan attempts to use Ukrainian, EU, and U.S. support to press Transnistria into a political settlement.

In late 2006, while keeping western negotiators informed of his course of action, President Voronin began a process of repairing his relations with Russia and seeking Moscow’s cooperation in negotiating a settlement with Transnistria.   There have been some modest gains from this process, but overall the results are disappointing for Chisinau.

As events in Kosovo and Georgia developed in 2008, Moldova sought to portray itself as more moderate and reasonable than Tbilisi.   Moldova did not recognize Kosovo, declared itself a neutral country (already guaranteed in the 1994 Moldovan constitution), and ostentatiously announced that it had no need to seek NATO membership.   Chisinau was rewarded in March, when after theatrical hearings the Russian Parliament advocated recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but recommended only a special status for Transnistria within Moldova.   On August 25, one day before he announced Moscow’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russian President Medvedev met with Voronin in Sochi and reaffirmed Russia’s dedication to seeking a peaceful resolution of the Transnistrian conflict.

The formal Transnistrian political settlement negotiation process goes on, although there has not been an official round of negotiations since February 28, 2006, when Moldovan negotiators walked out in protest of Transnistrian provocations.   The mediators and observers in the so called “5+2″ process – Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE, the EU, and the US – continue to call regularly for resumption of the negotiations.   The latest meeting of mediators and observers took place September 8 at OSCE Headquarters in Vienna, ending with a hopeful statement.   However, a full-scale negotiating round scheduled for October 7-8 in Vienna failed to materialize.   The ostensible reason was the Transnistria’s refusal to attend, widely seen as a tactic to allow more time for Moscow’s bilateral efforts with Chisinau to bear fruit.

Meanwhile Moscow has intensified contacts with Voronin and Transnistrian leader Igor Smirnov.   Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov brokered a one on one meeting between Voronin and Smirnov in April; the two had not met in person since August 2001.   Shortly after his Sochi conversation with Voronin, Medvedev also received Smirnov.   The blustery Transnistrian leader, whose line is usually that he has nothing to discuss with Voronin except bilateral relations between their two independent states, announced meekly after his talk with Medvedev that the two sides needed to meet to bring their positions closer together.

The current expectation in Moldova and Russia is that Voronin and Smirnov will get together once more, to be followed by a meeting of both of them with Medvedev.   Lavrov has floated a trial balloon in the Russian press that revival of the Kozak Memorandum might be a good basis for reaching a solution in Moldova.

However, Transnistrian leaders continue to do their utmost to deflect any settlement process and to defend their comfortable status quo.   Smirnov recently annoyed his Moldovan interlocutors and Russian patrons, ducking a widely anticipated late September meeting with Voronin in order to celebrate Abkhaz “independence” on the beaches near Sukhumi.   Moldovan negotiators, on the other hand, are increasingly frustrated by Moscow’s failure to react to a comprehensive Moldovan package proposal that has been on the table for almost two years.   Venting his irritation during a late September visit to Moldova’s largest landfill, President Voronin announced that this – a garbage dump – was the proper place for the separatist regime.

The Moldovan President is under great pressure to reach agreement now to unite his country, or give up on what has been the highest priority of his two terms in office.   National elections must be held in Moldova no later than spring 2009, when Voronin’s second and final term as president runs out.   Constitutional experts claim the sitting Moldovan Parliament must approve any settlement at least six months before the end of its term, so there are only a few weeks left before a Transnistrian settlement becomes impossible for the remainder of this legislative term.   For Voronin, who was born and raised on the left bank during Soviet times, and who desperately wishes to see his country united, it is frustrating in the extreme to watch the clock run out on his opportunity to reach a settlement.

Moscow will not go after Moldova with military means.   The small contingent of Russian troops now stationed in the Transnistrian region (around 1400) is no match in military terms for either the Moldovan or the Transnistrian armed forces.   Russian military forces in Moldova serve rather as a political symbol, tripwire, and deterrent to small-scale military adventures.   Any Russian reinforcements need to come through or over Ukraine, not a realistic possibility in current political circumstances.   Including their armies, special forces, militia, interior ministry and security troops, both Chisinau and Tiraspol can muster between 12000 to 18000 men under arms.   This is enough to deter each other (and the Russians), but probably not enough to take and hold territory.   In addition – as opposed to Georgia – no one on either side in Moldova wants to fight.   The quarrel along the Nistru is between political and economic elites, and not hostile communities, ethnic, or national groups.

Russia has already established a public posture on Moldova that implies clearly: “Here is how we deal with friendly countries that don’t join NATO and don’t use violence to settle separatist conflicts.”   Moldova has not yet received its payoff from improved relations, and Moscow appears to be stringing Chisinau along with the hope of a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.   The crucial time will come, much as it did in 2003, if and when a solution presented to Chisinau in its separate 2008 track with Moscow turns out to have a crucial catch in it, such as a bilateral agreement with significant obligations, perhaps a long-term troop presence.

In 2003 western negotiators (I was one of them) repeatedly argued with our Russian counterparts that negotiating a political settlement in Moldova was not and should not be a zero sum game.   We tried to convince Moscow that there were win-win solutions that protected and furthered the fundamental security interests of all parties in the region, indeed in the Euro-Atlantic area.   Obviously we did not succeed; Russia apparently considered primacy in the region more important than cooperation.   In 2008, with the strategic security environment much worse, Russia seems to favor the same myopic, unilateralist path.

With respect to Moldova in 2008, the absence of a solution to the Transnistrian question will be better than a bad solution that cripples the country’s chances for reform and integration into Europe as a whole.   For any settlement to succeed, Russia must be a part – but so must the rest of Europe and the North Atlantic community, i.e. the EU and US.   Commenting on US actions elsewhere in the world, the Russians are fond of proclaiming that unilateral solutions do not work.   The conflict areas like Moldova on the periphery of the former USSR are places where they ought to listen to their own advice.
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The author, currently Professor of National Security Strategy at the National War College in Washington DC, served two terms between 1999 and 2006 as Head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova.   The views expressed are entirely his own.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 6th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zaventem is Brussel’s main international airport.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

War of words:

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

A strategy for Ukraine:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 31st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The EU Must Reengage in the Moldova’s Transnistria (Trans-Dniester ) Problem To Avoid a Russian-Ossetian Type of Intrusion. What is at Stake here Is the Clear Return to a Reasserting Russia That Has Throws a Shadow Reading   Cold War II. Front-line Countries are the GUAM Countries: Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova. The Latter Is The Only One That Does Not Border Russia – But Is In Danger of Becoming Another Belarus.

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[Comment] The EU should re-engage with Moldova’s ‘frozen conflict.’
Nicu Popescu, August 30, 2008, The EUoserver.

EUOBSERVER / COMMENT – Recently, the EU has learned that a war over an obscure place such as South Ossetia can shatter the arrangements of post-Cold War Europe. The armed conflict between Russia and Georgia has reverberated even more shockingly across the post-Soviet space. Without stronger engagement with its neighbours, the EU might end up with a bi-polar Europe, not a “ring of friends” in its neighbourhood.

In addition to Abkhazia and South Ossetia [in Georgia], Transnistria is a third “frozen conflict” zone supported politically, economically and militarily by the Russian Federation and used to exert influence on Moldova. The war in Georgia is beginning to have an impact in Moldova. The danger is not that of another war, but of unsustainable peace and the transformation of Moldova into a second Belarus.

***

At just 100 kilometers from the EU border, Transnistria is the closest unsolved secessionist conflict to the European Union. This conflict undermines Moldovan statehood, threatens Romania and Ukraine’s security and complicates EU-Russia relations. In the last years the EU has significantly stepped up its engagement in Moldova. The EU offered Moldova a visa-facilitation agreement and trade liberalization as well as making Moldova the second biggest recipient of EU assistance in the European neighbourhood (after Palestine). The EU also appointed an EU Special Representative, introduced a travel ban against Transnistrian leaders, and launched an 120 people-strong EU Border Assistance Mission to reduce the smuggling on which Transnistria thrived. The EU efforts are partly effective, but they need time, which might be in short supply.

***

On the wings of a military victory in Georgia, Russia’s president Dmitri Medvedev convoked his Moldovan counterpart, Vladimir Voronin, to a summit in Sochi. Russia offered Moldova a settlement in Transnistria on Russian terms, or to face gradual recognition of Transnistrian independence. Russia wants a return to the “Kozak Memorandum” – a 2003 deal on Transnistria that the EU and Moldova refused for fear of entrenching Russian military presence in Moldova. Russia also wants Moldova to interrupt virtually all its cooperation with NATO, condemn Georgia, possibly end the presence of the EU Border Assistance Mission in the region and accept a dysfunctional federalisation agreement.

The Moldovan government has been ready to accept some Russian conditions, but not a Russian military presence in the reunified Moldova. It also wants Russian peacekeepers to be replaced with international civilian monitors, but has little EU support on that. On this really tough issue Moldova is left pretty much on its own with Russia.

***

The EU has an enormous, but untapped potential in Moldova. This country is on the EU’s fringe, but 1,000 km away from Russia. Moldova wants to join the EU. The EU accounts for over half of Moldovan external trade, while Russia has roughly 15 percent. Still, many EU member states have been too hesitant to support stronger EU involvement in Moldova.

The EU’s biggest failure is to push for the transformation of the Russia-dominated and biased peacekeeping operation in Moldova. The EU discussed this twice. In 2003, the idea was refused by Russia. But in 2006 a few EU member states killed the scheme for fear of irritating Russia. This approach now has to be revisited in the light of the Georgian crisis.

***

There are four things the EU should do to send a symbolically powerful signal of engagement. The first, is for EU High Representative Javier Solana to visit Moldova, a country he has not been to since 2001. In the aftermath of the war in Georgia, European heads of state and foreign ministers have visited Georgia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan to show solidarity, but not Moldova (except for the Romanian president).

The second, is for EU member states to urgently agree on a mandate to launch negotiations on a new enhanced EU-Moldova agreement, a process that is already underway with Ukraine and even Russia. The negotiations themselves on this agreement could start after the Moldovan elections in March 2009. Despite some problems with democracy, Moldova along with Ukraine still remains one of the most pluralistic post-Soviet states.

Thirdly, the EU should agree internally that the current peacekeeping format in Transnistria is biased and should launch an initiative to internationalize the force, while offering a comprehensive EU civilian presence upon Moldovan invitation.

Fourth, the EU should offer to discuss a road-map for a visa-free regime between the EU and Moldova. This would be the strongest signal for both Moldova and Transnistria that they have a future in a Europeanised and reunified country. And it would also be a good demonstration of the EU’s ability to prevent future instability and conflict in its neighbourhood through soft, not hard, power.

Nicu Popescu is research fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, London office

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Miliband rallies ‘coalition against Russian aggression’ {starts with talks in the Ukraine.}
PA, Wednesday, 27 August 2008, The Independent.
 www.independent.co.uk/news/world/…

Related Articles:
Ukraine condemns Russian move on Georgian regions.
Russian relations with West reach new low.
EU condemns Russia move on Georgia regions.
***

David Miliband will make a keynote speech in Ukraine today strongly condemning Russia’s decision to formally recognise two breakaway regions of Georgia.

The Foreign Secretary said he was visiting Kiev in a bid to assemble the “widest possible coalition against Russian aggression”.

Russia’s president Dmitri Medvedev was yesterday accused of “inflaming” the crisis by insisting that South Ossetia and Abkhazia should be independent.

Mr Medvedev told a news agency: “We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a new Cold War.

“But we don’t want it and in this situation everything depends on the position of our partners.”

He said the West would have to “understand the reason behind” the decision to recognise the regions if it wanted to preserve good relations with Russia.

***

Mr Miliband said Russia’s recognition of the two regions was “unjustifiable and unacceptable” and further inflamed an already tense situation in the region.

“It will also not work,” he said in a statement yesterday. “It is contrary to the principles of the peace agreement, which Russia recently agreed, and to recent Russian statements.

“It takes no account of the views of the hundreds of thousands of Georgians and others who have been forced to abandon their homes in the two territories.”

The Foreign Secretary was backed by Western leaders including US President George Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mr Bush condemned Mr Medvedev’s decision as “irresponsible” and called the move “inconsistent” with UN Security Council resolutions and the French-brokered ceasefire plan.

“Russia’s action only exacerbates tensions and complicates diplomatic negotiations,” Mr Bush said.

Ms Merkel condemned Russia’s decision as “absolutely not acceptable,” but said Europe must still keep channels of communication open with Moscow.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said the Russian decision was “regrettable, and we reaffirm our attachment to Georgia’s territorial integrity”.

France, which currently holds the EU presidency, has called an emergency meeting of EU leaders on Monday to review the relationship between Russia and Europe.

***

Mr Medvedev has warned that he was considering halting co-operation with Nato altogether, amid the fallout from the one-sided military confrontation between Russia and Georgia earlier this month.

Yesterday Russia cancelled a visit by Nato’s secretary-general, and it has complained that the alliance is bolstering its military presence in the Black Sea.

And in a move that is likely to increase tensions even further, Mr Medvedev later warned that his country may respond to a US missile shield in Europe through military means.

Mr Medvedev said the deployment of an anti-missile system close to Russian borders “will, of course, create additional tensions”.

He said: “We will have to react somehow, to react, of course, in a military way.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 12th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

GEORGIA: Where the Cold War Never Ended.
Analysis by Zoltán Dujisin

PRAGUE, Aug 11 (IPS) – As war breaks out in Georgia, the geopolitical struggle between the U.S. and Russia becomes more violent and closer to Russia’s border than ever.

The conflict started after Georgian troops tried to take control of the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia, which had been de facto independent and protected by Russian peacekeeping forces since 1992.

Russia has responded by launching an extensive military operation in South Ossetia, repelling Georgian forces from regional capital Tskhinvali, 100 km northwest of the Georgian capital Tbilisi, and advancing into Georgian territory.

Mikheil Saakashvili, President of the 4.6 million Caucasus country, claims the Russian “invasion” was premeditated.

Abkhazia, another breakaway region in Western Georgia that proclaimed independence in the same year, has also become entangled in the conflict by taking Russia’s side.

Sporadic clashes between Georgian and separatist soldiers were not rare, but hostilities never reached the current extent.

The Georgian move apparently took Western leaders, who had warned against attempting a military solution, by surprise.

Ivan Sukhov, a journalist specialised in the region told Radio Free Europe on Friday that Saakashvili had taken “a position that is awkward for the West, since Georgia has consistently positioned itself as a principled opponent of military action. Even if the Georgian actions were provoked by the South Ossetians, this is a serious political mistake.”

Georgia seemed determined to expose Russia’s involvement in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and present the conflict as one between Western democracy and Eastern authoritarianism, possibly hoping to obtain a more decisive Western intervention in the conflict.

The attempt to revive cold war rhetoric was palpable in Saakashvili’s parallels of Georgia’s situation with the 1956 Hungarian and 1968 Czechoslovak interventions by the Soviet Union.

One possible goal of the Georgian leadership’s military intervention was to internationalise the conflict so as to change the format of the present Russian-dominated peacekeeping mission, and facilitate the regions’ peaceful or forcible reintegration.

Many have seen in Georgia’s rash decision the first consequence of Kosovo’s unilateral independence from Serbia last February.

The move has encouraged the separatist claims of the South Ossetian and Abkhaz leaderships, and Georgia’s renewed determination to fully regain its territorial sovereignty.

The leaders of the separatist regions trust that after Kosovo’s independence, the consent of the sovereign state is no longer necessary if a greater power can guarantee its security.

Moreover they have deployed similar arguments to those applied in Kosovo: a past of ethnic-driven war which left thousands of civilians dead and countless displaced on both sides.

Unhappy with the U.S.-promoted Kosovo independence, Moscow had promised an adequate response to the latest violation in international law, and its first step came with the institutionalisation of ties with Georgia’s two breakaway regions in March.

Unlike the West in Kosovo, Russia can claim the conflict in its southern regions directly affects its own security, and above all, that of a population of which 80 percent hold Russian passports.

Russian claims of arbitrary killings of up to 1,600 civilians by Georgian forces have not been independently verified, although a few Western journalists have started to take interest in testimonies by Ossetian refugees allegedly witness to human rights abuses by Georgian troops.

If the claims were to be at least partially verified and Russia was to show self-restraint and restore order, its ambition of a role as a legitimate world power and a regional pacifier could gain credibility.

Besides Kosovo, Russia was irritated by Washington’s enthusiastic promotion of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) membership for two of Russia’s neighbours, Ukraine and Georgia, as well as U.S. plans to build a missile defence system in Eastern Europe which it claims will alter the balance of forces in Europe.

Georgia’s NATO bid was presented by the U.S. and Georgia’s former communist Eastern European allies as a chance to expand the area of freedom and democracy and to limit the expansion of Moscow’s authoritarian tendencies in Russia’s near abroad.

Many elites in the post-communist countries tend to believe that Russia is inherently inclined towards authoritarianism and expansionism and that the Soviet Union was just another expression of this impulse.

But the Western European member states, aware that Georgia’s commitment to liberal democracy was dubious and territorial tensions on the rise, decided to postpone the discussion on Georgia’s membership of NATO.

Many have noted an increase in Saakashvili’s authoritarian tendencies over the last year, with the arrest of opposition activists and the abuse of state resources by merely citing the “Russian threat”.

The U.S. has also been openly providing military support and training to the Georgian army while often encouraging Georgia to see itself as a crusader for democracy in the midst of authoritarianism. But as a member of NATO, a young and nationalistic state like Georgia could have drawn the entire alliance into a direct military confrontation with Russia.

Different points of view were posted by Open Democracy.net :
 www.opendemocracy.net/article/geo…

 www.opendemocracy.net/russia/arti…

 www.opendemocracy.net/article/sou…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 11th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

EU-Russia relations in jeopardy as bombs hit Tbilisi.

By Phillipa Runner for EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS, August 11, 2008   – The suspension of EU-Russia negotiations on a new bilateral pact, freezing talks on visa-free travel for Russian citizens and holding back EU humanitarian aid to Chechnya until Russia ends aggression in Georgia could be among ideas debated by EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Wednesday (13 August).


Once fighting dies down, the EU may also offer to send policemen – but not soldiers – to help keep the peace in Georgia’s breakaway regions and speed up free trade and visa facilitation deals with Georgia and Ukraine, “to show that those countries are not part of a ‘grey zone’ for Russia to expand [into],” a senior EU diplomat told EUobserver.

The EU launched talks in July on a new pact to replace its old Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Russia and pays around €18 million a year in aid to help rebuild war-torn Chechnya. But Russia’s incursion into Georgia last week threw EU-Russia relations into turmoil, in the gravest European security crisis since the 1999 Kosovo war.

In the early hours of Monday morning (11 August), Russian jets struck two targets within earshot of Tbilisi city centre and Russian tanks advanced toward Gori, 65 kilometres from the Georgian capital. The moves came despite a unilateral Georgian ceasefire on Sunday, with Moscow saying Georgian forces have violated the ceasefire announcement.

“According to our sources, Russia is going to launch a last attack on Georgia with the aim of regime change,” the EU diplomatic contact said. “I’m afraid the Russians may storm Tbilisi soon. I hope the ministers [still] have something to discuss next week.”

The French EU presidency has called the emergency EU foreign ministers session for 10:00 local time on Wednesday to respond to the situation, with EU ambassadors to meet in Brussels on Tuesday afternoon to prepare the agenda. No extraordinary meeting of EU leaders is foreseen for now, despite a call by Poland to hold an emergency summit.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy will travel “in the coming days” to Moscow to meet Russian president Dmitry Medvedev.

Meanwhile, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner and Finnish foreign minister Alexander Stubb arrived in Georgia on Sunday night. The plane touched down at Tbilisi International Airport just a few hours after the airport was struck by Russian bombers.

“We must find the means for an immediate ceasefire, accepted by both sides,” Mr Kouchner told AFP following talks with Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili. “We must move quickly, this is not a diplomatic exercise, it’s an exercise of survival.”

“We are now in the business of crisis management, we are now in the business to broker peace. We are not in the business of seeking who has done what, when, where and how,” Mr Stubb said.

Bitter resentment:

Russia says its actions are designed to protect Russian passport holders and peacekeepers in the Georgian breakaway republic of South Ossetia, in line with existing treaties. It has accused Georgia of “genocide” in shelling the South Ossetian town of Tskhinvali last week, during what it called Mr Saakashvili’s “suicidal” bid to defeat the rebels.

But Georgia says the Russian-backed separatists provoked its attack on Tskhinvali, which Russia used as a pretext to attack the small NATO and EU-aspirant state. It says the Russian push is designed to reassert power in Russia’s old sphere of influence and to cut off an emerging oil and gas corridor between Europe and the Caspian Sea.

The UN refugee centre estimates that 10,000 to 20,000 people have become internally displaced in Georgia, but news reports on the ground indicate the figure could be tens of thousands more. Casualty estimates range from a few hundred soldiers and civilians, to over 2,000 mostly civilian deaths, with at least two reporters killed.

EU and US leaders conducted intensive telephone diplomacy over the weekend, with the US president and the NATO secretary general both criticising Russia’s “disproportionate” use of force. US practical help has so far been limited to helping airlift home 2,000 Georgian soldiers from Iraq, while the EU has earmarked €1 million for humanitarian aid.

“Over the past few years I lived in a democratic country, and I was happy. Now America and the European Union spit on us,” a Georgian soldier told an IHT reporter on Sunday, as Georgian troops retreated from the South Ossetian front line.

—————————-

The GUAM are Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova. www.sustainabiliTank.info even has an Asian GUAM button for Georgia and Azerbaijan – two States in the Caucasus region that are of high importance to the EU as transit area for oil and gas lines originating in Azerbaijan and in the Central Asian States. Georgia has applied for acceptance to NATO and has developed friendly relations also with the US. A confrontation in Georgia is not unthinkable for the NATO members, even though the Balkan-alike Caucasus area is much more difficult to defend by the Atlantic alliance then the original post-Yugoslavia real Balkans. Nevertheless, bypassing the UN Security Council with biting resolutions that can hurt the Russian economy is in the cards. The Wall Street Journal today points out the fall in the Russian stock market and the impact Putin’s decisions have on potential future investments in Russia. Further, with a rising China, Russia would be unrealistic in its evaluation of its position in the world and the WSJ starts seeing the possibility that Medvedev, the nominal President, might indeed distance himself from Putin, the nominal President. These are interesting days that sprang out in the shadow of the Olympics.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

‘Eastern Partnership’ could lead to enlargement, Poland says.

27.05.2008 – 09:15 CET | By Renata Goldirova, Euobserver from Brussels.
Poland and Sweden have officially tabled proposals for an “Eastern Partnership” between the EU and its neighbours Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – with Poland presenting the deal as a path toward EU membership.

“It’s time to look to the east to see what we can do to strengthen democracy,” Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said on Monday (26 May), after presenting the project to the rest of the EU club with his Polish counterpart, Radoslaw Sikorski.

According to Mr Sikorski, the eastern partnership initiative is tailored to “practically” and “ideologically” strengthen the union’s existing neighbourhood policy towards countries that could eventually become EU members, but are held back by “enlargement fatigue” within the bloc.

The minister drew a clear line to distinguish the EU membership prospects of those countries affected by the Polish-Swedish proposal and those involved in the “Mediterranean Union” – a similar, French-sponsored project for countries lying south of the EU.

“To the south, we have neighbours of Europe. To the east, we have European neighbours…they all have the right one day to apply [for EU membership],” Mr Sikorski said, urging the eastern countries to follow the example of the Visagrad Group set up in 1991 by Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic as part of their EU integration efforts.

“We all know the EU has enlargement fatigue. We have to use this time to prepare as much as possible so that when the fatigue passes, membership becomes something natural,” the Polish minister said.

The initiative has seen some criticism from countries such as Bulgaria and Romania who do not want to see the union’s “Black Sea Synergy” – a co-operation scheme for Black Sea rim states – undermined. But the Czech Republic, which will sit at the EU’s helm in 2009, has thrown its weight behind the Polish-Swedish plan.

“It goes in the same direction that we want. And we see that the next year, we need to balance. This year, it is a Mediterranean year. So, the next year would be the eastern year,” the country’s deputy prime minister, Alexandr Vondra, told journalists.

EU-hopeful Ukraine has, for its part, made it clear it is not willing to settle for anything less than EU membership.

“We believe that the initiative of the Eastern partnership should envisage a clear EU membership perspective to those European neighbours of the EU who can demonstrate the seriousness of their European ambitions through concrete actions and tangible achievements,” said a statement issued by Ukraine’s foreign ministry on Monday.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 22nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Poland and Sweden to pitch ‘Eastern Partnership’ idea

By Philippa Runner, May 22, 2008.

Poland and Sweden are to unveil joint proposals for a new eastern Europe policy at an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels on Monday (26 May), in a mini-version of France’s “Mediterranean Union.” The “Eastern Partnership” envisages a multinational forum between the EU-27 and neighbouring states Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Polish press agency PAP reports. {This list amounts to the old GUAM States + Armenia}

The forum would aim to negotiate visa-free travel deals, free trade zones for services and agricultural products and strategic partnership agreements with the five countries.

It would also launch smaller, bilateral projects on student exchange, environmental protection and energy supply, but would avoid the controversial topic of EU membership perspectives.

Dictatorship Belarus could join at a technical and expert-level only. Russia would also be invited to cooperate on local initiatives, involving the Kaliningrad enclave for example.

Unlike the grander Mediterranean club, the eastern set-up would not have its own secretariat but would be run by the European Commission and financed from the 2007 to 2013 European neighbourhood policy budget. A commission official would be appointed as its “special coordinator.”
Following the foreign ministers’ debate, Warsaw hopes to secure formal approval at the EU summit in June and to start detailed work on the “partnership” by the end of the year.

Warm reception:

“Poland prepared the proposal with Swedish cooperation. The project was presented to the European Commission in recent days and met with a positive reaction,” Polish foreign ministry spokesman Piotr Paszkowski said.

The upcoming French EU presidency – keen to secure Polish support for its Mediterranean baby – is warming to the idea, with French leader Nicolas Sarkozy to hold talks with Polish prime minister Donald Tusk in Warsaw next week, PAP writes.

Germany, the UK and the Netherlands have also voiced initial support, but Spain and Italy could prove problematic while Ukraine will have to be persuaded the partnership offers something better than the current EU neighbourhood package, Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza reports.

“The EU’s eastern policy is of interest to the whole EU,” Polish commissioner Danuta Hubner told the Rzeczpospolita newspaper. “The weakness of [previous] northern, eastern or southern European Union policies was that they existed only in the sphere of interest of member countries in those regions.”

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