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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 11th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) says it has a membership of 57 States on four continents with a total population of 1.3 billion people. Having seen its map we realize it has also at least three “blocked States” – India, Thailand, and The Philippines  though it has the Moro National Liberation Front as an observer State, a withdrawn State – Zimbabwe, and at least one non-State – Israel that was replaced by Palestine as a member State. Cote d’Ivoire was the last member to enter – it joined in 2001. Russia became an Observer in 2005.

Afghanistan was suspended during the years of Soviet occupation 1980 – March 1989 and Egypt, the fifth largest Islamic population, was suspended May 1979 – March 1984 when it tried for peace in the Middle East.

The organisation attempts to be the collective voice of the Muslim world (Ummah) and the official languages of the organisation are ArabicEnglish, and French.

The flag of the OIC has an overall green background (symbolic of Islam). In the centre, there is an upward-facing red crescent enveloped in a white disc. On the disc the words “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “The Almighty God”) are written in Arabic calligraphy.

 

The OIC attracted attention at the opening session of the meeting in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on 16 October 2003, where Prime MinisterMahathir Mohamad of Malaysia in his speech argued that the Jews control the world: “They invented socialismcommunismhuman rights, and democracy, so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power.” He also said that “the Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.” The speech was very well received by the delegates, including many high ranking politicians, who responded with standing ovations.”

India, a country that has 161 million Muslim, only Indonesia with 203 million and Pakistan with 174 million have larger Muslim populations then India, was not welcome even as an observer to OIC – this because of its conflict with Pakistan where India would like to have a referendum of the local population as a means to decide the future of Kashmir.

Most OIC member countries are non-democratic. There are no OIC countries which are rated as a “Full Democracy” under the Democracy Index guidelines, and only 3 of the 57 members are rated as high as a “Flawed Democracy.” The rest are rated either an “Authoritarian Regime” or a “Hybrid Regime.”

Only 3 OIC member states were rated as Free in the Freedom in the World report in 2010 based on Political Rights and Civil Liberties in the member countries.

Reporters Without Borders in its 2011 Press Freedom Index rated only Mali and Suriname among the OIC members as having a Satisfactory Situation. All other members had worse ratings ranging from Noticeable Problems to Very Serious Situation.

Freedom of religion is severely restricted in most OIC member states. In 2009, the US Department of State cited OIC members Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan as being Countries of Particular Concern, where religious freedom is severely violated.

On August 5, 1990, 45 foreign ministers of the OIC adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam to serve as a guidance for the member states in the matters of human rights in as much as they are compatible with the Sharia, or Quranic Law  www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/cai… )

OIC created the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. While proponents claim it is not an alternative to the UDHR, but rather complementary, Article 24 states, “All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah.” and Article 25 follows that with “The Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.” Attempts to have it adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council have met increasing criticism, because of its contradiction of the UDHR, including from liberal Muslim groups.  Critics of the CDHR state bluntly that it is “manipulation and hypocrisy,” “designed to dilute, if not altogether eliminate, civil and political rights protected by international law” and attempts to “circumvent these principles [of freedom and equality].”

Human Rights Watch says that OIC has “fought doggedly” and successfully within the United Nations Human Rights Council to shield states from criticism, except when it comes to criticism of Israel. For example, when independent experts reported violations of human rights in the 2006 Lebanon War, “state after state from the OIC took the floor to denounce the experts for daring to look beyond Israeli violations to discuss Hezbollah’s as well.” OIC demands that the council “should work cooperatively with abusive governments rather than condemn them.” HRW responds that this works only with those who are willing to cooperate; others exploit the passivity.

The OIC has been criticised for diverting its activities solely on Muslim minorities within majority non-Muslim countries but putting a taboo on the plight, the treatment of ethnic minorities within Muslim-majority countries, such as the oppression of the Kurds in Syria, the Ahwaz inIran, the Hazars in Afghanistan, the Baluchis in Pakistan, the ‘Al-Akhdam‘ in Yemen, or the Berbers in Algeria.

The formation of the OIC happened shortly after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Leaders of Muslim nations met in Rabat to establish the OIC on September 25, 1969.

OIC is run out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, its first Secretary General was Tunku Abdul Ramman of Malaysia (1971-1973) and its current Secretary General, since 2005, is Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu of Turkey.

 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organisatio…

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Muslim_population

We found the following map of substantial interest for understanding if there is a realistic chance for change in the Arab world and in the Islamic world at large.

Much of the attention of observers of UN debates on terrorism was on how Contradictions between OIC’s and other U.N. member’s understanding of terrorism has stymied efforts at the U.N. to produce a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. The world must be reassured that new leaderships of Islamic States will not equivocate on terrorism – whatever true sentiments they may harbor – it is important to agree that terrorism is not an acceptable tool for attainment of political goals.

 upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/OIC_map.png

The list of OIC Member States: Afghanistan · Albania · Algeria · Azerbaijan · Bahrain · Bangladesh · Benin · Burkina Faso · Brunei ·

 Cameroon · Chad · Comoros · Côted’ Ivoire · Djibouti · Egypt · Gabon · Gambia · Guinea · 
Guinea Bissau · Guyana · Indonesia · Iran · Iraq ·
 Jordan · Kuwait ·Kazakhstan · Kyrgyzstan · Lebanon · Libya · 

Maldives · Malaysia · Mali · Mauritania · Morocco · Mozambique · Niger · Nigeria ·Oman · Pakistan · 

Palestine · Qatar · Saudi Arabia · Senegal · SierraLeone ·

 Somalia · Sudan · Suriname · Syria · Tajikistan ·Turkey · Tunisia · Togo · Turkmenistan · Uganda · 

Uzbekistan · United Arab Emirates · Yemen

The Observers are: Bosnia and Herzegovina · Central African Republic · Russia · Thailand · Northern Cyprus (asTurkish Cypriot State), Moro National Liberation Front, Russia.



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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)





































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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

nbsp;asiasociety.org/style-living/food…

Aug 13, 2010

Fasting this Ramadan? Follow these few key guidelines to eating well and staying healthy during the holy month.

(Photo by ulterior epicure/Flickr)

(Photo by ulterior epicure/Flickr)

By Rafaya Sufi

Fasting this Ramadan? Or have friends who are? Follow these few key guidelines to eating well and staying healthy during Ramadan.

Since its foundation, Ramadan is celebrated with vigor amongst Muslim communities. A typical day of fasting consists of consuming an overnight breakfast at dawn, restricting any food and drink till sunset. Muslims may continue to eat and drink after the sun has set till the next morning’s fajr prayer at dawn.

The key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the month depends on a few practical points.

1. Water: For starters, proper hydration is essential. Fasting does not mean that all bodily functions stop requiring water. Headaches, fatigue, fuzzy thinking, irritability, and illness are often caused by inadequate hydration. We need half our body weight each day to just maintain normal bodily functions. To determine your water needs, use this simple formula:

Your body weight in pounds/2 = The amount of water you need to drink in ounces a day

So, If you weigh 180 lbs/2 = 90 oz/day, minimum

2. Replace Sugar With Fruit (when possible): What’s better than eating a delicious slice of cake (or baklava, or brownie, or some chocolate mousse, or….) once you break your fast? Fruit! Yes, this is a hard one, so quit complaining and follow these instructions for healthier you. You may think you deserve a piece of your favorite dessert after all those hours of restraining, but sugar robs our bodies of minerals and vitamins. During a period of fasting, our bodies need to hold on to as many minerals and vitamins as possible, so don’t let them escape just by giving in to your craving (after all, this is a month of self-restraint). Try baking this nutritious Fried Banana recipe at home as an alternative to sugar-loaded desserts.

3. Soup: A quick, easy, and nutritious food to consume during Ramadan is soup. Soup provides deep nourishment and is easily absorbed by the body. It is also a great way to meet your water needs, and if you blend all the good stuff together, picky eaters will never question what they are eating! After you break your fast, have some soup, and make it a staple diet for the month. Try making some delicious, vitamin-packed Mulligatawny soup at home.

4. Eat Slowly/Don’t Overdo It: What’s the rush? You have all evening! There is a tendency to eat really fast amongst people breaking their fasts. Trying to pack in 101 activities within the first few minutes of breaking your fast, which includes eating 101 foods, can cause some serious indigestion. Avoid that awful feeling by slowing down. Take small bites so you can chew well. The longer you chew your food, the less work your digestive track needs to do and you absorb more nurturance. So overall, it’s a win-win situation.

5. Vitamins and Minerals: Load up on them! Unfortunately, food today is not as nutritious as it was once. Unless you’re consuming 100 percent organic foods, you’ll probably need to replenish your body with lost electrolytes and vitamins. The top nutrients to look at are vitamins C, B-complex, zinc, E, and A. Vitamins C, A, and E along with zinc are known as antioxidants, and unless you’re living under a rock, antioxidants are in–they’re the latest health trend these days because they do wonders for your body. Eat fresh fruits, berries, and vegetables in abundance! B-complex vitamins are great at relieving stress, so be generous with those. Most Americans are already deficient in the B-complex vitamins due to eating high amounts of refined and processed foods, so skip the white bread, and opt for a whole-wheat option instead. Enjoy this healthy Ginger Tea to combat that tired feeling after fasting all day.

That’s all for now, folks. Have a healthy Ramadan!

Watch and learn how to make Harira soup

Traditional Moroccan Soup (Ramadan Special)

cookingwithalia

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

New pact to let European public track pollutants.

The 17 states that have ratified the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers are: Albania, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland. The European Commission is also a party.

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GENEVA (Reuters) – Friday, July 2, 2010 – European citizens will be able to find out what dangerous substances are emitted in their neighborhoods under an environmental treaty to go into effect in 17 countries in October, the United Nations said on Friday.

Participating states will have to issue public inventories of major pollutants that their industries, traffic, agriculture and enterprises spew into the air, soil and water, including greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Some 86 categories of substances — ranging from mercury and other heavy metals, benzine, asbestos, pesticides including DDT, and dioxins — are covered under the pact.

“These inventories are made available to the public over the Internet and generally also through a downloadable map that helps people identify major pollutants that are traveling through their neighborhoods to discover what is in their backyard …,” Michael Stanley-Jones, an environmental expert at the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), told reporters.

“It doesn’t cover all chemicals, but it does cover the major releases of chemicals,” he said.

The pact, signed in 2003 by 36 countries, enters into force on October 8 after being ratified recently by a 17th country (France), according to the Geneva-based agency. It is open to all U.N. member states for ratification.

“It is truly a global instrument, part of a global movement initiated in the 1980s after the major accidents in Bhopal and Chernobyl,” said Stanley-Jones.

A catastrophic industrial accident in central India killed nearly 8,000 people in 1984 when tons of toxic gas leaked from a pesticide plant of Union Carbide, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co, the largest U.S. chemical maker.

The Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986, the world’s worst civil nuclear accident, sent radiation over most of Europe.

The protocol to the 2001 Aarhus Convention enables citizens to voice concern over pollution to industry or regulators.

“As the major greenhouse gas pollutants are included in the protocol, this will give decision-makers and the public powerful new tools for identifying the major industrial sources of greenhouse gas emissions,” Stanley-Jones said.

“Major exceptions are for national security (facilities) and also the nuclear industry — radioactive substances are not covered by the protocol,” he said, noting that countries may add further substances and facilities to their national registers.

Countries outside of Europe, including Chile and Mexico, have developed their own registers and China’s industrial region of Shanghai is also drawing one up, according to the expert.

The 17 states that have ratified the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers are: Albania, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland. The European Commission is also a party.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 3rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Top Muslims to meet pope: Groundbreaking Vatican talks to promote interfaith dialogue.

(ANSA) – Rome, November 3 – Leading Muslim scholars arrived in Rome on Monday ahead of groundbreaking talks with top Catholic officials. Nearly 60 delegates will gather in the Vatican on Tuesday morning for two days of meetings aimed at forging closer ties between the two faiths.

On Thursday, the two delegations will discuss their ideas during an audience with Pope Benedict XVI and a final declaration will be released in the afternoon.

Led respectively by the Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mustafa Ceric, and the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the delegations will discuss ways to improve relations between the world’s two largest religions. The meeting is the fruit of an interfaith initiative by a broad coalition of influential Muslim clerics and scholars, the Common Word group.

***

Set up to bridge the growing gap between Islam and Christianity, in October 2007 the group sent an open letter to Pope Benedict, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and 25 other Christian leaders calling for interfaith collaboration.

Originally signed by 138 figures, the number of high-profile Sunni and Shiite Muslims adhering to the letter’s principles has since doubled and includes the religious heads of 43 countries, among which Saudi Arabia and Iran.

***

The Vatican meeting comes just two weeks after a similar round of talks in the UK with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

***

A precise agenda for the Vatican event has not been published although each side is expected to raise a range of initiatives aimed at promoting peace and mutual understanding.

Cardinal Tauran emphasized the importance of discussing religious freedom.

”If Muslims have places of worship in Europe then it is normal that the reverse should be true in societies where Muslims are the majority,” he said in an interview with French Catholic daily La Croix.

However, he said reciprocity was not a precondition for the talks, which he said offered ”real glimmers of hope”.

***

The discussions had to look at ways to convert such dialogue with the elite into a connection with the masses, he added.

The Secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Religious Dialogue, Pier Luigi Celata, said the talks should try to identify the real reason for continuing tension between Christianity and Islam.

”It would be interesting to see whether these tensions are shaped by social, economic, ideological, political and exploitative factors on both sides, rather than by actual religious differences,” he said.

Pope Benedict has made inter-religious dialogue a priority of his papacy and has worked hard to mend relations with Islam since he upset Muslims around the world with his comments on the prophet Mohammed in 2005.

The pontiff sparked anger after citing a medieval emperor who said Islam was a ‘violent’ religion at a lecture in Regensburg, Germany.

In an effort to demonstrate his commitment to fostering goodwill among religions he re-established the Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue in 2007 after having merged it with the Council for Culture at the start of his pontificate.

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This and all “other news” issues can be found at www.other-net.info/index.php

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Ukraine has high hopes for French EU presidency – writes Elitsa Vucheva from Kiev for the EUobserver – May 14, 2008.

Expectations are high in Kiev that an EU-Ukraine summit in September in France will result in stronger ties between the two sides and boost progress in negotiations on a new bilateral agreement.

“We expect certain serious steps to be taken along the lines of preparing the new enhanced agreement and the free trade agreement [between Ukraine and the EU],” Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko told a group of journalists in Kiev.

“We look forward to the EU flashing the green light for us that would help us on our way forward,” she added.

Ukraine’s relations with the EU are currently regulated by a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in force since 1998, a set-up that Kiev considers politically insufficient.

Negotiations to replace the PCA started in March 2007 and Ukraine wants it to contain a clear reference to eventual EU membership, and avoid the vague political formulations that have characterised Brussels statements about the large eastern European country to date.

The new bilateral agreement is also to include a free trade agreement on which negotiations were launched in February.

Oleksandr Chalyi, a senior foreign-policy adviser to Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko, suggested that after overcoming a “very deep political and social crisis” by signing the Lisbon treaty, the EU would now be “more capable of developing a consensus on Ukraine’s European perspectives.”

“We want the legal substance of our partnership transformed to association,” instead of a simple “closer cooperation,” Oleksandr Chalyi
said.

According to government estimates, a clear majority of Ukrainians – around 65 to 70 percent – back the idea of seeing their country becoming a future EU member. The EU, however, has not shown much enthusiasm for this and still prefers to talk about “a much closer and enhanced partnership.”

Ian Boag, head of the European Commission’s delegation to Ukraine, stressed that the deal that will be eventually reached should not be seen as “a stepping stone for membership of the EU.” But in a bid to reassure the Ukrainian side he added that “nothing excludes [such an option].”

In this context, a high-level EU-Ukraine meeting planned to take place on 9 September in France and under French EU presidency, is expected to bring a breakthrough in the stagnating bilateral relations.

Paris recently floated a proposal for an “Association Agreement” with the former Soviet country – which stops short of any EU accession commitments but provides for visibly stronger ties.

Kiev welcomed the fact that “such country as France recently put new ideas to bring Ukraine closer to the EU.”

“Now we are working on the basis of the French proposals and… hope this event [the EU-Ukraine summit] will produce some results,” said deputy foreign minister Kostiantyn Yelisieiev in charge of negotiating the new agreement.

He stressed the importance of the French idea, considering that “France was one of the countries ‘a little bit cold’ [towards Ukraine’s EU perspectives].”

According to Mr Yelisieiev, the September summit will be “the real test [for EU-Ukraine relations] and will show the real intentions of the French leadership” regarding Ukraine.
Problems still to be tackled:
Along with the lack of political consensus among EU states on the 46-million strong country’s EU future, Ukraine still has its own internal issues to tackle before such a possibility could be realistically discussed.

Political in-fighting blocking much needed changes has on several occasions prompted the EU to call for more political stability in Ukraine, while Kiev still has to tackle its inefficient administration, high levels of corruption, as well as judicial and economic reforms.

Ukrainian politicians concede there are problems.

“We have got to get rid of corruption and other negative consequences of our socialist past… We should achieve European standards as soon as possible,” foreign minister Volodymyr Ogryzko told journalists in the margins of Europe’s day celebrations in Kiev on Sunday (11 May).

But he added: “I do hope that we will have a very concrete signal from the EU that Ukraine will in the nearest future be in the EU.”

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At www.SustainabiliTank.info, we expressed already in the past our “puzzlement” of why Ukraine does not agree of its own free will to let the eastern third of the country – still Russian speaking – go and join Russia – if that is what the people living there prefer – and then the western 2/3 of the country could easily readjust and join the EU as the EU’s natural eastern frontier. That would leave outside only Russia and Belarus – quite a natural outcome.

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Further, in euobserver.com/9/26150/?rk=1 Peter Sain ley Berry, while questioning the EU intent with Turkey, makes the point that the Ukraine belongs to Europe.

[Comment] The elephant on the European doorstep.
16.05.2008 – By Peter Sain ley Berry.

EUOBSERVER / COMMENT – Politically, it has been a propitious time for those named Boris. Not only do we now have a Boris as Mayor of London, but, in the Balkans, the parties that support Serbian President Boris Tadic, and seek a European future for Serbia, defeated those that affected an isolationist persuasion. Whether Mr Tadic will now be able to form a pro-European government remains to be seen.

The European Union’s position at least is settled. The Western Balkans – seven countries with a population of approximately 27 million – have been offered a European future, subject only to satisfying the normal criteria. This process will take time but few doubt the result. We are on course therefore for an EU of 34.

This will make the government of the EU more complex. If there are 15 possible bilateral relationships in a community of six, there are 351 in a community of 27. Adding a further seven states increases the complexity by a whopping 210. Apart from this complexity there will be other consequences, including for financing, for decision-making, for the distribution of MEPs and Commissioners. None of this seems to be being discussed. Nevertheless, there is general agreement that the Western Balkans should accede to the Union in due course. Public opinion is broadly favourable.

The same cannot be said for Turkey, to which Queen Elizabeth II of Britain paid a state visit this week. At the formal banquet she praised the advances made by the government and rehearsed Britain’s credentials as a champion of Turkish entry. Although Turkey is formally a candidate for accession, the end of that process seems as far away as ever. Britain, and her allies among the newer member states, may champion Turkish entry for sound geo-political and geo-economic reasons, but France and Germany most certainly do not. Moreover, European public opinion is divided.

The reasons are partly geographical. I remember a former President of the European Commission, the late Roy Jenkins, saying that the then Turkish President had acquired a piece of paper from some prestigious geographical institute certifying Turkey’s Europeaness. His response was that any country that needed a piece of paper….. probably wasn’t European.

In this he was no doubt correct, though in the absence of a recognised border with Asia, who can say? But there are other more important arguments – financing of the poor but populous Turkish state is one, the internal coherence of the Union is another. Which is why France and Germany have been trying to divert Turkey down the route of a ‘privileged partnership,’ instead of full accession, through which the EU’s commitment might be modified if necessary. Turkey, of course, is having none of that. Meanwhile the accession negotiations drag on.

Out of 35 chapters only six have been opened and eight are frozen by the Cypriot stand-off. France, which assumes the rotating Union Presidency on 1st July, has said it will continue the negotiations in good faith. This is a semi quid pro quo for Turkey agreeing to sup from the poisoned chalice of France’s ‘Mediterranean Union’ scheme (now formally adopted by the EU) designed to provide a political forum for the EU and its Mediterranean neighbours.

Turkey has been told specifically that belonging to the Mediterranean Union will not affect its EU candidacy. But as the French rather hope that the Turks may be persuaded to accept some leadership role in this body – so taking its mind off EU membership – it would be prudent for them to take this assurance with a grain of salt.

What is certain is that the Union would not be the same if Turkey joins with its 80 million population. It would not necessarily be a worse Union, or a better Union, but it would be a different Union. For quite apart from the effect that Turkey itself will have on the existing member states, its accession would change the dynamics of other nations looking for a European future.

Chief of these is the Ukraine whose Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, was again this week announcing her intention to bang on Mr Sarkozy’s door come July.

In fact, when it comes to European credentials the Ukraine has rather better claims than Turkey. It’s capital, Kiev, is closer to Brussels, for instance, than Athens. Moreover, as anyone reading Heinrich Boell’s – great anti-war novel ‘Der Zug war Punktlich,’ can appreciate, Germany, Poland and the Ukraine are but stations on a journey into Europe’s deep hinterland. The railway line is no doubt still there.

It is true to say that with its 55 million people the Ukraine is therefore the elephant on our European doorstep. Still, the policy is to resist giving any hint of promise of future membership. True, the country has much to reform before it could become a credible candidate. Nevertheless, it has as much right to lay claim to its place in the European firmament as anyone else. The banging on the door will become louder and more insistent. There will be other bangings, too; Georgia is already demanding to be heard. Belarus, Moldova, the other Caucasian nations may well follow suit.



No one can believe the Union can remain the same should these accessions take place. Again, they are not necessarily to be resisted. It may be in our interest that we should go ahead. But we should not sleepwalk toward a decision, finding out too late that we have no room left for manoeuvre.

For despite the frequency of the phrase, ‘Future of Europe,’ and constant enjoinders to discuss it, a conspiracy of silence surrounds anything more remote than the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. Only the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has raised the difficult questions about where the future borders of Europe should lie and what sort of Europe, in terms of its integration, competencies and governance, we are seeking. And short shrift he has got for his pains.

This is unfortunate, for the Future of Europe is the future of the next thirty or forty years.
I do not see how we can continue to espouse Turkey’s candidacy and not that of the Ukraine. But this has consequences. If we are to have a grand Europe, a Europe of 42 states and 700 millions of people, it is not too early to start debating the prospect now.

The author is editor of EuropaWorld.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 7th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 2nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Will ‘rebirth’ of China level the field? – Writes Frank Ching from Hong Kong For The Japan Times, on Sunday March 2, 2008.   The only other time I heard about this sort of thinking was at the Asia Society in New York where President and CEO of the Asia Society mentioned last Wednesday the Chinese Magic of 8. Now we have Five Eights.
an eclipse of
At precisely eight minutes past 8 p.m. on Aug. 8 — the eighth day of the eighth month of the year 2008 — the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, this year’s summer Olympics, will officially open in Beijing. It is widely seen as China’s debut party after
an eclipse of  
a couple of centuries.

The Chinese Communist Party’s choice of opening date is significant. The atheistic regime is pragmatically enlisting the help of numerology to ensure the Games’ success. The number eight, to Chinese, signifies prosperity — the country’s goal since 1978, when Deng Xiaoping became China’s leader.

Gone is the revolutionary ethos of Mao Zedong, China’s leader from the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949 until his death in 1976. Mao called for constant class struggle. Today’s leaders want a xiaokang shehui (a society of small prosperity or a comfortable society) in which everyone is comfortably off.

While China under Mao was internationally isolated, with tiny Albania its closest friend, Dengist China reached out to all while keeping a low profile, focusing on growth. Now, 30 years later, China is ready to step out into the world in earnest.

That feeling has been increasing since 1997, when Britain returned Hong Kong to Beijing after a century and a half. Then, in 1999, Portugal returned Macao. Since then, no part of China has been under foreign rule. (Taiwan, which remains apart, is not under Western rule.)

For millennia, China was the world’s most advanced civilization, producing such inventions as paper, printing, the compass and gunpowder. But, dazzled by its own brilliance, the Chinese empire closed itself off from the rest of the world. In 1793, when King George III sent Lord Macartney to propose trade, the Qianlong Emperor dismissed the idea: “I set no value on objects strange or ingenious, and have no use for your country’s manufactures.”

But less than 50 years later, British victory in the Opium War forced China to cede Hong Kong, triggering a century of humiliation. It is no coincidence that when Mao proclaimed the People’s Republic, he announced: “The Chinese people have stood up.”

China remained poor, however, because of Mao’s political campaigns. Today, China possesses the world’s fourth-largest economy and, this year, may well move up a notch by overtaking Germany.



But all this growth was achieved at a stupendous prize. According to the World Bank, 16 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in China. The air is so bad that athletes have been debating whether they should wear masks during the Olympics. China’s rivers and lakes are also poisoned.

Despite China’s arrival as an economic superpower, it has not been included in the most industrially advanced Group of Eight, which comprises the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Canada, Italy and Russia, largely because the country is not a democracy and has a poor human-rights record.

The Chinese government often says that human rights have never been better in China, and as far as this goes, this statement is true. The government has withdrawn from vast areas of people’s private lives.



Now individuals can decide for themselves what to study, what jobs to take, who to marry and whether to travel abroad. But in the political realm, the Communist Party will not stand for any opposition, especially if it’s organized.

China is also accused of protecting other repressive countries. The actress Mia Farrow has dubbed the coming Games the “Genocide Olympics,” ostensibly because of Beijing’s support for Sudan, accused of genocide in its Darfur region.

Beijing vigorously denies such charges and asserts that the Games should not be politicized. When China first sought to host the games in the early 1990s, it promised that they would lead to a more open China. Beijing has instituted relaxed rules for foreign journalists from 2007 until after the Olympics. There has been no noticeable improvement in human rights generally.

The government is not alone in seeking a bigger role for China. The Chinese public largely agrees. A 2006 opinion survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs reported that “the Chinese express unreserved enthusiasm for China playing an active role in the world and increasing its power and influence.”

When China first made its bid to host the Olympics, its intention was to break through the diplomatic isolation that followed the military crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

The 2008 Olympics have assumed even greater significance — nothing less than the rebirth of a country. China is ready to take its place as a respected and responsible member of the international community. And the world at large is bracing for this epochal change.

Frank Ching is a Hong Kong-based journalist and commentator ( Frank.ching at gmail.com.)

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 19th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Colonial power?

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

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

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

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

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

——————–

EU remains split on Kosovo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————-

EU fudges Kosovo independence recognition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————-

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

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

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

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

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

 —————–

 

Rift Emerges at the U.N. Over Kosovo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 7th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The future of Serbia and Kosovo lies in the EU – Saryusz-Wolski
External relations officer for the European Parliamment.

February 5, 2008. Saryusz-Wolski: “EU is ready to absorb Serbia.
With the pro-European Boris Tadić just elected Serbia’s President, all eyes are now on Serbia’s relations with the EU and the future status of Kosovo. We spoke to Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, the Polish centre-right MEP who Chairs Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, about the possible future relationship of Serbia and Kosovo with the EU. He believes that both could one day be members of the Union – providing their people want it and they fulfil the rules for membership.

Boris Tadić has been re-elected as President of Serbia. What is your interpretation of this result?

First of all the elections have been executed according to all international standards and have expressed the free democratic will of the people. From the EU point of view it is good news: a newly re-elected president that shares European values and sees the future of Serbia within the European family. This gives the perspective of (European Union) membership to Serbia, hopefully in the not too distant future. So we are optimistic at this stage and looking forward to cooperating with the new president and his administration.

EU ministers recently decided to postpone the signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), considered as the first step towards EU membership. How do you see the future of the relationship between Serbia and the EU?

The SAA is ready for signature, there are only minor reservations linked to the cooperation of Serbia with International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). So, as soon as these reservations disappear, the whole process of signing and then implementing the SAA can proceed. I certainly see Serbia’s future in the EU. The election of a president with the will to join the EU means that the Serbian people want this option. So now it is a question of technicalities, of finalising the SAA, implementing it and then achieving full membership.

Do you think that the EU is ready to “absorb” Serbia?

Yes, the EU is ready to absorb Serbia as all other states of Western Balkans, provided that the difficult and demanding conditions are met (the EU’s “Copenhagen criteria” membership requirements – democratic government, respect for human rights and a functioning market economy) – as for everybody who has joined so far. But first we need peace and stability in the Western Balkans and then we can negotiate membership.

The election seems to show Serbs deeply divided over a possible EU future for their country (Mr Tadić won slightly more than half of all votes). How can the EU win them over?

Once the SAA is signed and put into practice, the Commission and Parliament will monitor that process. Given time, once relations between Serbia and the EU have intensified and the association process has moved forward – then it is likely the attitudes of Serb citizens will be more and more in favour of EU integration.

Kosovo is expected to declare independence soon, a prospect that was opposed by both Serbian presidential candidates. How will this affect relations between the EU and Serbia?

We know that the Kosovo problem is very difficult and painful for Serbia but we are looking towards integrating into the EU the whole of the Western Balkans. So once all those countries are in all those borders will disappear. We are looking forward to establishing good relations throughout the Western Balkans, but especially between Serbia and Kosovo.

What is important now is that if there is a unilateral declaration of independence, as many Member States as possible recognise Kosovo.

Will Kosovo join the EU?

I think that this is the future for Kosovo provided obviously that this is the will of its citizens – their future lies also in the Union.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 28th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Extermination Camp at Auschwitz Was Liberated By The Soviet Army on January 27, 1945.

That date was now generally accepted as the memorial date for the Holocaust. This in part as thanks for the Soviets having ended this Nazi killing machine, and in part in deference to the Western allies’ contention that until faced with the reality that became visible with the opening of the Auschwitz gates by the Soviet Army, supposedly, the atrocities that were happening inside were not known to the Western leaders. Nevertheless, something had to be learned from this reality – the fact that the world stood still and did not try to destroy the camps by bombing them or bombing the railroads that were used to transport the human fodder to this killing machine.

Thus, from the ashes of the Holocaust was born the UN – a body intended not to allow such inhuman behavior as shown possible by the Nazi extermination machine – a behavior, that with our respect for animals, we will not dare to call on these pages as beastly.

Today, Saturday, January 26, 2008, 63 years later, at the Park East Synagogue in New York City, the President of the 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, Minister Dr. Srgjan Kerim, from a country that the UN has not had yet the courage to call by the name its people chose to call themselves, Macedonia, and in UN jargon is called The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), made the following observation:

“Dear Friends and members of Park East Beit Knesset,

The United Nations was founded on the ashes of the Holocaust, when the world was in need of hope for a better future.

It was created to embody that hope as a promise to humanity. However, most disturbingly, since the Holocaust there have been genocide and serious crimes against humanity in Cambodia, Rwanda, and Yugoslavia.

That these atrocities occurred is not necessarily the failure of the United Nations as an organization; but rather, represents the lack of collective will of its Member States to take the decision to act or intervene.

Even while we gather here, there are places – like Darfur – where people suffer from the very crimes, which, time and time again, we vowed would never again happen.”

Further, President Kerim comments included the observations that “terrorism, violence, rape, murder, poverty and discrimination on the rounds of race or religion continue to be part of everyday lives of many people. He reminded the people assembled at the Synagogue of the 2005 UNGA resolution on the “Responsibility To Protect” – this as the commitment that all nations took upon themselves to hold themselves accountable for their responsibilities to their peoples. He concluded then with Reverend Martin Luther King Jr’s saying that: “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere . . . . Whatever affects one directly, affects all directly.”

Above are surely great statements, but we also believe that for an institution that professes to act according to consensus, the fact that there is no “collective will of its Member States to take decision to act or intervene,” reduces significantly its practical value as a tool of making good.

A very appropriate example of what we have in mind is the fact that it took full 60 years to get this institution that was created from the ashes of the Holocaust, to even recognize within its wall the Holocaust with a special memorial.
It was only November 1, 2005, as part of its 60th years anniversary, that A/RES/60/7 – RESOLVES THAT THE UNITED NATIONS WILL DESIGNATE 27 JANUARY AS AN ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COMMEMORATION IN MEMORY OF THE VICTIMS OF THE HOLOCAUST. So, the first such commemoration was held in 2006, and this year there will be the third commemoration. In effect there is this year a whole week-long series of commemorations.

It started on Monday this week with an exhibition arranged by the Russian Mission to the United Nations with the presence of some heavily decorated warriors from among the troops that are WWII veterans. Then this coming Monday, January 28, 2008, there will be the release of a special UN stamp to honor the Holocaust, with the Minister of Communications of Israel, Mr. Ariel Atias, present, and in the evening, in the Hall of the General Assembly, there will be a Memorial Ceremony and concert with the participation of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Maestro Zubin Mehta. Interestingly, the launching of the UN postal stamp is within an agreed joint release of a National Holocaust remembrance stamp of the State of Israel. Also, before the evening concert, US congressman Tom Lantos, himself a Hungarian Jewish survivor of Auschwitz, will lecture the UN on: “Civic Responsibility and Preservation of Democratic Values.”

Now, why did it take 60 years for the UN to realize that it owes its own existence to the Holocaust? That clearly has something to do with the Arab States opposing any attention to be paid to Jews and to Israel, and the rest of a large majority at the UN not having had the courage to stand up as a matter of principle. At various times – Saudis, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Malaysians, Syrians, Iranians … made derogatory statements and Israel was left in limbo at the UN.
Things may change now for the Member State Israel, but will it change in what relates to Jews being able to live freely in a country like Saudi Arabia? If that does not change, so how can life for folks in Darfur change within Sudan?
What about the second anti-semitic/anti-Israeli UN sponsored conference at Durban? So far as we know, only the US and Canada said – No! Thank you!

The UN is very far from ideal – it is just as good an organization as its lowest common denominator allows it to be – but individual States, and individual people, that is a different matter – and some of the best showed up, today, Saturday January, 26, 2008, at the Park East Synagogue, where part of the service, there was the following event:

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Present were about 25 survivors of concentration and extermination camps – including some survivors of Auschwitz. The Rabbi himself, originally from Vienna, Rabbi Arthur Schneier is a survivor of Auschwitz. Besides the President of the UN General Assembly, present was the Foreign Minister of Australia – Mr. Stephen Smith, the Vice Mayor of Vienna – Ms. Renate Brauner, 16 Ambassadors to the UN, including Albania, Austria, and Turkey, many Consuls General and other members of the Diplomatic Corps.

Going over the biographical notes of the Honorable Dr. Kerim and his speech before the Congregation at Park East Synagogue, I found that his father helped amidst the terror of the Nazi occupation of the Balkans, his school friend Isac Sion and his family, subsequently, the father and Isac Sion joined Macedonian freedom fighters and the National Liberation Movement to fight alongside the Allies. Isac survived and had then important positions in Yugoslavia’s economy.

Addressing the survivors in the audience, the Minister said: “Not only have you survived, but you have rebuilt communities all over the world, become stronger, and enabled future generations to thrive. You just have to look around at all the people gathered here today to recognize this fact.

The recognition of this day of Holocaust remembrance by the international community heralded a change of tide at the United Nations; and, a step forward in the collective memory and conscience of our world.”

He also read an excerpt of a poem “Temple” that he wrote after having visited the Park East Synagogue for the first time – five years ago:

“I’ve always believed
There’s nothing greater in a temple
Than the final sounds meting
In the concluding Amin
Until I heard the word
Of a great friend of mine
Who walked in the steps of Moses
And is called a Rabbin.”

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