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Posted on on May 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Eurovision and Euro elections: the final straw in Polish gender wars.



 How is the victory of Conchita Wurst being politicized in Poland? What is the connection between Eurovision and the upcoming European Parliamant elections?


The Polish political scene was electrified following the Austrian win in the Eurovision song contest. Right-wing parliamentarians and candidates in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament held numerous press conferences in order to complain about  this ‘new’ Europe, which allows the victory of a ‘woman with a beard’.  Also Polish social media exploded with homo- and transphobic comments and memes.

‘Europe takes away our shipyards and sugar factories and gives us bearded weirdoes instead!’ a
right wing political party spokesperson tweeted yesterday. Another tweet by a Polish candidate for the European Parliament epitomizes the general mood yesterday: ‘Europe has lost it! They promote
a bearded weirdo from Austria instead of beautiful and talented girls. This madness needs to be done away with!’

The victory of the Austrian singer Conchita Wurst (drag alias of performer Thomas Neuwirth) politicized Eurovision for Poland (to see how political Eurovision has always been in other parts of Europe, it is enough to follow voting patterns in the Balkans or the Caucasus). Politicians and commentators alike were going out of their way to deride the debauchery they saw. ‘Conchita Wurst is a symbol of the direction, in which Europe is heading (…) a symbol of Europe I don’t want. My Europe is based on Christian values’, said the spokesperson of the main Polish opposition party, Law and Justice (currently polling first for European elections).

‘Very disquieting things are going on in Europe, things that show decadence, downturn and we would like to reverse this trend’ Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Law and Justice, pointed out. ‘Any propaganda aiming to efface differences between men and women is the road to decay (…) we should definitely not celebrate such things, these events do not bode well’ he added.

The Polish Catholic Church lost no time in putting their two cents in as well: ‘This is another form of promoting groups that sneer at human dignity (…) another confirmation that backgrounds priding themselves on sexual licentiousness are protected by the dominant media and “politically correct” authorities’ said priest Marek Drzewiecki. ‘It seems that the victory of Conchita Wurst was a result of the propagation of genderism. And here we should have concerns, because in the long run this destroys the family’, commented the Polish media go-to priest Dariusz Oko.

It has to be said that Polish commentators were outdone only by the Russian nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who stated that this was the end of Europe and that the Soviet army should have never left Austria 50 years ago…


Polish gender wars:

Trolling and hate speech are a common blight of internet memes and fora. But the Polish political and social media reaction to this year’s Eurovision winner is part of a larger war which has been waged against the term ‘gender’ in Poland. As outrageous as it sounds, for the past two years or so, mainstream conservative and right wing forces (which dominate the Polish political scene) have constructed and maintained a discursive fight over the meaning and application of the seemingly obscure academic concept of gender. The virulent attacks were mostly aimed at feminist and queer academia, gender equality programs and policies especially in school and kindergarten education.

The ‘war on gender’ discourse originated in the catholic church and quickly spilled over into parliamentary and local politics. By conflating and mixing terms and phenomena this discourse attempts to hammer the message home that ‘gender’ (or ‘gender ideology’ and ‘genderism’ as used by the proponents) destroys traditional Polish family values (through divorce and same-sex relationships), promotes and ‘spreads homosexuality’, causes child sexual abuse (gender equality education is supposed to ‘sexualise children’), and turns everyone into transvestites. There is no knowledge or education on the differences between sexual reassignment, cross-dressing or transgender and queer identities and essentially no awareness on issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Hence, the ‘war on gender’ in Poland is intensely trans- and homophobic and plays into the wider anti-feminist and anti-LGBT moods within Eastern Europe. According to the 2013 ‘EU LGBT Survey’ by the Fundamental Rights Agency, 57% of people self-identifying as LGBT felt discriminated against in Poland (EU average – 47%), with only Lithuania and Croatia ranking higher (61% and 60% respectively). The lack of improvement in the social position of sexual minorities paired with attempts to roll back women’s rights (restrictions on abortion law, lack of civil partnerships legislation, problems with the implementation of anti-discrimination clauses) are a wider feature in the region. After the fall of state socialism, Eastern Europe has seen waves of growing religious and nationalistic intolerance. The rhetoric of ‘return to tradition’ (where ‘tradition’ stands for normality and nature, meaning mono-ethnic patriarchy) has become an ever-present image and dominant component of the revived and mythologized national identities in Poland, Russia, the Baltic states, the Balkans, Slovakia and Hungary.


‘We are Slavs’ vs. Wurst

According to such narratives ‘women are women and men are men’, because there are undeniable biological differences which give the two sexes specific gender roles, since men and women must have inherently different emotional and psychological qualities. This gender essentialism emerges most strikingly if you compare the Polish Eurovision performance – the song ‘We are Slavic’ and Conchita Wurst’s ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’. Eurovision is a proud feat of kitsch, but the two performances give a perfect illustration of competing gender perspectives. Conchita Wurst embodies everything that conservative Eastern Europe fears from the EU – subversion and transgression in terms of gender roles, gender ambiguity and flexibility in gender expression (translated in Poland into moral decay, rampant trans- and homosexuality, as well as going against nature or god’s law). What about ‘us, Slavs’? The song depicts perfectly the Polish heteronormative natural and traditional vision of gender roles: ‘We Slavic girls know how our charms and beauty work/We like to shake what mom gave us in our genes/ This is Slavic blood!/(…) What’s ours is best, because it’s ours!’ Whether you think the performance was pastiche, soft porn or just good fun, the not-so-subtle message was that Slavic women know ‘how to use what mother nature gave them’ and half-dressed do the laundry and churn butter by hand in sexually inviting ways for their men.


War on gender and European Parliament elections

The Polish ‘war on gender’, which had somewhat died down in the past couple of months, reached another apogee this week thanks to the Eurovision song contest. The amount of bile, hate speech and trans- and homophobia that spilled from Polish political elites and social media in response to the event shows how dominant the ‘gender war’ thinking has become as a comfortable rhetoric tool in debates. It also gave conservative Eurosceptics an image to point to before the European Parliament elections later this month. Given the already extremely low interest and weak voter turnout (never exceeding 25% so far) in European elections, the Polish right wing gained an emotive picture to scare people with and to rally against. An image that plays perfectly into the political game they have been playing since mid-2012, when they took on fighting ‘gender’ and trying to curb gender equality, women’s and sexual minority rights even further. Image of a woman with a beard.


Barbara Gaw?da is a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on gendered political discourses in Eastern Europe.

Related Articles of Open Democracy:
The lead-up to the European elections in Bulgaria: how not to do politicsNikolay Nikolov
We don’t talk about politics in PolandMarzena Sadowska
And from the ECONOMIST of  May 19, 2014 by T.J. in Eastern approaches – Ex-communist Europe:“The Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church and another senior churchman have used the floods to attack the country’s lesbian and gay community as well as Conchita Wurst, the bearded Austrian drag queen who won the Eurovison song contest on May 10th. They claim that the floods were a punishment from God for their vices.”
But this is not all – similar arguments come in Vienna also from Muslim sources. Personally  – I was lectured today by my good Macedonian Muslim tailor on how from above angels punish us for the ways women behave,  and he gave me full description of the way these angels, under Gabriel, act according to the Koran and tradition.He also reminded me of Lot’s daughters and the upheaval they caused and the hole in the earth that is now the Dead Sea! To show how series this is he gave me to take home some booklets that were given to him.
In short, a poor rational person like myself is pushed to take cover by these Eastern minds – be they from the Eastern Christian Churches or Muslims.    Europe is still far away from enlightenment.
And what about the Christian right or the extreme Jewish Orthodoxy in America? Are they any better?
Too bad that in the 21st Century we still have to hear such arguments while we try to analyze man-induced climate change.
On the other hand, according to the “Heute” paper of today, the husband of Conchita Wurst (Tom Neuwirth) is Jacques Patriaque – who is a “Boylesque” dancer – that is the men parallel to Burlesque that shows mostly women.

This information became available as Mr. Patriaque will be performing in an upcoming festival – www.boylesque – This new angle to Conchita’s story story is bound to be reason for new criticism.
Whatever – we will continue to hold to our idea that people’s preferences do not entitle them to prejudice that impacts human rights of others.




Posted on on January 26th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

New York, 12 January 2013 – Remarks at Park East Synagogue Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of The Holocaust.

Rabbi Schneier,
President Hochberg,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Shabat Shalom.  Salaam.  Peace to you all.

It is a great honour to be with you once again.

Thank you, Rabbi Schneier, for your gracious introduction.  I hope every day to live up to your high praise and expectations.

On this day when we remember the victims of the Holocaust, let me pay special tribute to the survivors who have joined us.

Rabbi Schneier knows fully their pain and suffering, for he too is a survivor.

For most of us it is hard to imagine the anguish of knowing that you and your loved ones have been singled out to die because of your faith, your culture or your race.

Yet, this is the stark truth.

In the Second World War, Jews, Roma and Sinti, homosexuals, communists, the mentally ill – anyone who did not conform to Hitler’s perverted ideology of Aryan perfection – were systematically persecuted, rounded up and transported to death camps.

Some were murdered immediately; others cruelly worked to death.

Such an operation takes extensive organization.  It takes many people – from leaders to ordinary citizens – to participate, cooperate or simply turn a blind eye.

This is perhaps the greatest tragedy of genocide – and the reason why we must be ever vigilant.

The language of hatred is corrosive and contagious.  Its moral corruption can eat into hearts and minds in even the most progressive or sophisticated societies.

The more often you hear that your neighbour is vile, subhuman, not worthy of the rights that you take for granted, the greater the chance of such beliefs taking root.

That is why I spoke so frankly and forcefully last year in Tehran about Holocaust denial.

It is why Rabbi Schneier and I and so many others are so committed to the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

Neither anti-Semitism nor Islamophobia nor other such forms of bias have a place in the 21st century world we are trying to build.

This is also why I worry about the continued stalemate in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

We now have a whole generation of young people on both sides who risk growing up with a demonized, dehumanized – and utterly false – concept of their neighbours.

They need to be educated to co-exist peacefully with their neighbours.

The only way to build peace is to build bridges and break down walls.

Doing so will take courage, but it must be done.

This year, the United Nations has chosen “the courage to care” as the theme of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.

We are honouring those who risked their lives and their families to save Jews and other victims of persecution from almost certain death.

Some, like Raoul Wallenberg, are household names.

But most are unsung heroes — brave men and women from all walks of life, and many nations.

Teenagers and parents, parliamentarians and priests, journalists and diplomats — all had the courage to care.

Their example is as relevant today as ever – which is why the United Nations has produced an education kit for teachers to tell their story.

In a world where extremist acts of violence and hatred capture the headlines on an almost daily basis, we need to take inspiration from these ordinary people who took extraordinary steps to defend human dignity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Last year I visited Srebrenica, the site of the worst act of genocide in Europe since the Holocaust.

I visited the graves and wept with the mothers of the slain.

It is not an easy place for a United Nations Secretary-General to visit.

The United Nations – the international community – failed to protect thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys from slaughter.

The shadow of Srebrenica has joined that of Rwanda, Cambodia, the Holocaust.

Each time we hear “never again”.

But can we truly say we have learned the lessons of these tragedies?

As an international community, do we have the courage to care – and the resolve to act?

In 2005 the United Nations General Assembly – at the level of Heads of State and Governments — adopted the responsibility to protect.

It is a landmark concept.  It puts the obligation firmly on States to protect their populations from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or ethnic cleansing.

And in the face of these crimes and violations there is a corresponding duty of the international community to act.

The responsibility to protect applies everywhere and all the time.  It has been implemented with success in a number of places, including in Libya and Côte d’Ivoire.

But today it faces a great test in Syria.

More than 60,000 people have now died in a conflict whose seeds lie in the peaceful demand of people for greater freedom.

We have seen a government brutally and mercilessly oppress dissent and fan the flames of a civil war that threatens to bring instability to a whole region.

I have repeatedly called for unity from the Security Council to decisively address this tragedy.

So too has the General Assembly – by an overwhelming majority.

Each day brings more suffering.

I met some of the refugees last month, in camps in Jordan and Turkey.

I talked to families who had fled with just what they could carry; children whose future has been thrown into uncertainty.

They told me that all they wanted was to go home and live in safety and security.

Today’s theme challenges us: do we have the courage to care?

I am deeply concerned about the situation in Syria not simply because of the terrible suffering, but because of what may come next.

Each day’s delay in resolving the crisis raises the spectre of the violence spreading along religious and ethnic lines.

Each day’s delay sees new atrocities by both sides.  It is essential that all perpetrators of international crimes understand that they will be held to account.

There will be no amnesties for those most responsible.

The old era of impunity is ending.  In its place, slowly but surely, we are building a new age of accountability.

But the important thing is to end the violence in Syria – now – and begin the process of transition.

Too much blood has been shed.  It is time for reconciliation.

There is a proverb that says: if you want revenge you should dig two graves.

Syria will need many men and women of courage who will reject revenge and embrace peace.

People like Rabbi Schneier.

He too visited Srebrenica last year.

He spoke in solidarity — as only someone who has shared indescribable suffering can.

And this is what he said:

“As a survivor I neither turned against man or God.  Instead, in memory of my family and the many millions exterminated like them, I devoted my life to help build bridges between all of God’s children in pursuit of peace and justice.”  End of quote.

Such forgiveness takes courage – the courage to see what is right and to do it.

Whatever one’s faith, this is our duty – as individuals, as communities and as nations.

We have a responsibility to protect.

We must have the courage to care.

Thank you.


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

This posting is a work in progress and its main intention is to point out for now the particular event with Umberto Echo, to be held at the Burgtheater, Vienna, on the night of Wednesday, October 19, 2011.

Also, I want to put on notice our readers that having seen tonight the latest play by Peter Handke, I feel a relationship between the play and the Umbert Eco novel which I am sure has in it material that will eventually have it produced as a play as well. I would not be surprised if the two plays will not eventually be seen as complimentary to each other. In the meantime – I will just say that for 2011, it is Handke’s play that might be the most significant production of this season in the Vienna theaters, and the Umberto Eco book presentation the most important all around literary event of the year

Umberto Eco is one of the world’s best selling authors due to his novel The Prague Cemetery – published in October 2010. The book is a worldwide bestseller (being the best selling book in Italy, Spain, Argentina, Mexico and others) that sold millions of copies as of 2010 – now, a year since the first publication in Italian, we will hear him in Vienna release the German translation.

The characters of this novel are not imaginary. Except the main character who is imaginary so the plot can evolve,  all others lived in reality and include – Sigmund FreudLéo TaxilDiana VaughanEugène Sue and Maurice Joly, as well as Umberto Eco’s own grandfather – that gave a mysterious message to abbot Barruelo that gave rise to all modern anti-Semitism”. These were the the forgery known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion that inspired Hitler’s extermination of the Jews.

Eco deals with the Dreyfus affair and endless intrigue spun by the secret police of different countries, the Masons,  Jesuit plots, and other events whose accuracy can’t ever be authenticated, but that serve as fodder for feuilletons 150 years later.


Eco, as philosopher, is intrigued by the vision of things – real and fake and the potential strength of the untrue. We see how history is affected by the untrue. It took Eco six years to release this work – six years since his 2004 book “The Secret Flame of Queen Loana.”

In “The Cemetery of Prague” the fictitious central figure is Captain Simone Simonini who does an archaeologists work, as if he were using tiny brushes to release the memory from the debris that stuck to it.

The Burgtheater event includes a podium discussion with Alexandra Foederl-Schmid of Der Standard and Michael Kerbler of Oe1 – Austrian TV – that promises wide media coverage.
Also, reading from the book will be done by Peter Matic whose voice is fabulous and he, having been a Burgtheater actor is also famous for Ben Kingsley’s voice on German speaking TV.

The Peter Handke play is done like a dream with memories drifting from above like leaves falling from a tree and with reality and photo-memories intermingling so that Hanke’s stand in just moves in and out from the pictures of the past. What evolves from all of this is the story of a Slovenian family from Kernten State in the South of Austria and the neighboring Balkan States starting with pre-WWII and moving through the third Reich into the following Jugoslav State. The play is hard and in order to do it justice I got the text and will follow up in depth.

But, before I close this first piece, I must note the terrific and maddening Balkan dance of the whole family – those that were still around and the dead ones – affirming their personality – or if you wish their cultural identity – or even a form of Nationalism. From that moment it went down-hill sadness and resignation with the fate.

One more comment – and this in private to Flora who saw the Handke play. If you read this – please go to the Umberto Eco event as well to try to view this as a follow up.

Immer noch Sturm


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


The Balkans will only become a permanently stable region when all the countries that comprised the former Yugoslavia are accepted as members of the European Union, Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today.

Speaking during the Assembly’s annual general debate, Nickolay Mladenov – whose country became an EU member in 2007 – noted that the EU “was created to make war impossible in a continent that has seen at least a century of conflicts.

“Europe shall not be whole and complete until our neighbours in the Balkans are part of our Union,” adding that only membership will “make war impossible.”

The Balkans endured a series of vicious conflicts during the 1990s after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, and only one country to have emerged from that State – Slovenia – is now a member of the EU.

Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro are official candidate countries, while Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia have been recognized as potential candidates. The EU currently has 27 member countries.

Mr. Mladenov said Bulgaria would work to promote regional cooperation and neighbourly relations across the Balkans, and particularly encourage the EU-facilitated dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo.

“Bulgaria welcomes the pragmatic approach taken by both Kosovo and Serbia during their first meetings. It is important that they build on this momentum and continue to engage in a constructive and pragmatic manner,” he added.

“All must show restraint and prevent the build-up of tension. This is vital for the security, prosperity and – ultimately – for the European perspective of the region.”

* * *


Transitioning to democracy brings with it challenges and must be an inclusive and locally-driven process, the leaders of Hungary and the Czech Republic told the General Assembly today as they drew lessons from their own experiences two decades ago to apply to the current situations in North Africa and the Middle East.

“I want to stress that systemic change cannot be agreed upon or pre-arranged at international conferences, and that it cannot be mediated of passively ‘acquired’ as a foreign investment,” Czech President Václav Klaus said in his address to the Assembly’s annual general debate.

“It is a domestic task and it is a sequence of policies – not a once-for-all policy change.”

Mr. Klaus also said the democratic transitions in countries such as Tunisia, Libya and Egypt should lead to increased trade with Europe to create prosperity and stability in the region.

Hungarian President Pál Schmitt cautioned the emerging democracies that there will be challenges in establishing new structures of power, drafting new constitutions and ensuring credible elections.

“The Hungarian society has, on the one hand, already met successfully many of these challenges and, on the other hand, has also made some avoidable mistakes. We therefore feel equipped to share our experience and offer a substantive toolkit for good governance and democratic change.”

Separately, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today discussed a range of issues, including developments in the Middle East and the economic situation in the European Union, with the President of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski, when the two met on the margins of the General Assembly’s general debate.

Poland holds the current Presidency of the Council of the European Union and Mr. Ban and Mr. Komorowski also discussed UN-EU relations.


Posted on on May 11th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

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… )

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.…

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.

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.


Posted on on October 12th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The elections for the UN Security Council are in:

Japan, Mexico, Turkey, Austria, Uganda have finished their two year term and will be replaced by
India, Colombia, Germany, Portugal, and South Africa.

Lebanon, Brazil, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria, and Gabon are the hold-outs for 2011.

The only real contest was for the seats in the Western European and Other States Group (WEOG). The final contest there was between Canada and Portugal. Speaking after the vote, Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Joao Cravinho said the fact that Portugal is a smaller country appealed to other states of similar size and power.

“Our own campaign had enormous amounts of receptivity in the message that we brought about our willingness to engage closely – not just for the purposes of the campaign, but to engage closely over our tenure in the Security Council with different regional groups, with countries big and small. Our campaign was also based on the idea that countries of small or medium-sized dimension should have a voice, be present in Security Council, this message had a lot of echo and, in the end, was the basis for our success,” said Cravinho. We believe that the US would have liked to see Canada win this contest.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters that his country’s first round victory is a sign of international trust in Germany’s role in global affairs. We believe that Germany like Brazil, Japan and South Africa (G-4) should be permanent members of the UN Security Council. Next year Japan will be outside as they just completed their term.

These contests reminded us of the Island – Austria contest two years ago. Then both contenders were small States somewhat irrelevant in the UN structure – with one outside and one inside the EU. This time Canada was a larger contender, but Portugal has some similar-language former colonies that will back her. Then Iceland had the Scandinavian countries back her, but the economy was the miller’s stone around her neck – then, Austria fought as if the country’s life was at stake. In the larger context of the UN these fights point at the fact that the WEOG is a strange construct that has not got the feeling of the new UN forces yet, and is continuing under the assumption that nothing has changed, and that Europe can continue unchanged its post-World War II  multi-seating at important international bodies, even by over-ruling the non-EU members of the group. But unless the EU does unite into one strong force – these fights rather look like battles staged in an operetta.

The new elected States include India, Germany and South Africa which add up to Brazil and Nigeria from among the holdovers – to form a strongest quintet the UN has come up with in recent years. Only Japan will be missed. And let us see:

With India, South Africa and Germany winning three of the rotating non-permanent seats in the UN Security Council (UNSC), this is the first time the Security Council will witness the simultaneous presence of all BRIC, IBSA, and BASIC countries and three of the four G4 countries.

The BRIC countries comprise four emerging powers including Brazil, Russia, India and China who are set to becoming leading economies of the world by 2050. Russia and China are already permanent members of the UNSC – albeit not the original signers of the UN Charter!

Brazil was elected to a non-permanent seat last year and will remain there till end of 2011.

The IBSA comprises India, Brazil and South Africa, bringing three leading economies of three continents together.

The G4 comprising India, Brazil, Germany and Japan are aspiring for a permanent seat in the UNSC. India won the seat vacated by Japan from the Asia region.

The BASIC countries are The US and China – the so called G-2 – and IBSA. This is the leading group that chiseled out an approach to climate change in Copenhagen, will wait out changes in the US in Cancun, but will prepare some alternative approach for the 2011 meeting in Cape Town – not a moment too soon. So the UNSC will have the right configuration next year to deal with the subject.

India, as one of the four  countries seeking to expand the Security Council’s permanent membership,  G-4, U.N. Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said his country would use its two-year term to work towards a longer-term stay on the body. He also spoke about what India’s presence will contribute to the council.

“We bring the voice of one-sixth of humanity. We have 63 years of experience in nation building, and I think that is what the U.N. can use. We have experience in peacekeeping. We would like to transcend that into peace building,” said Puri.

South Africa has returned to the council after only a two-year absence. Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said her country would work with states both inside and outside the council to keep Africa as a zone of peace, security and development. It seems that Africa gets it now – that they must have a permanent representation at the table.

The BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – could present a united front on several contentious issues.

Earlier this year, Kazakhstan withdrew from the race leaving India as a sole runner from Asia for the two year term. The last time India had a seat on the Security Council was in 1992.

“BRIC coordination in the Security Council becomes a fact of life,” the Indian Foreign Minister said after a meeting with the foreign ministers of the three other countries.

BASIC becomes a way to tackle the global environment problems starting 2011 – we say. The subject was introduced to the UNSC by the UK in 2006 and no doubt will now come back strengthened with this new palette of members. Mexico’s membership at the Security Council, they are one of the States that are finishing their term, did nothing for Cancun – as if they were not there at all.


And an aside about the future of WEAG contests – for the 2013-2014 UNSC membership shift the competition in 2012 will be between Australia, Luxembourg and Finland. Australia is afraid that their fate will be similar to that of Canada this year – but we understand that Australia did not back Canada this time as it would have been even harder to replace Canada that has a similar background like Australia, then it will be to replace Portugal.

Another aside please see…
It seems that some believe that the right-wing Canadian government policies had something to do with the outcome that allows the EU to end up with four out of the total 15 chairs around the UNSC horse-shoe table.

Canada until this year managed to get a seat on the Council 6 times – that is once every decade – this compared to India that had a seat also 6 times earlier – last time in 1992 – and  was badly defeated by Japan in 2006. We found a paper from Winnipeg that accuses the Harper Government directly for this loss rather then trying to understand that distributing maple syrup bottles to delegations and sending in the mounties to the UN and paying for African Ambassador junkets – simply does not work when the competitor is a multi-headed EU. It is wrong to think that the right wing government was the only reason, – the UN had no problem with Colombia even though they were opposed by the ALBA group.


Posted on on November 18th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification – 2008 Conference. December 14-17, 2008, Sede Boqer Campus, The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Israel.

THE PROGRAM As Available on November 18, 2008. There might be still Changes and Additions, as well –   further Poster Sessions.

Download this schedule: detailed_program_sessions_1611_publish.doc

Drylands, Deserts and Desertification – 2008
December 14-17, 2008

Please note that the list of presentations is still not final. Furthermore, the breakdown into sessions may change. Abstracts for the Poster Sessions will be listed separately during the conference

Pre Registration will begin on the evening of December 13, 2008
8:00-9:00 Registration
9:00 – 9:30 Welcome
9:30 – 10:15 Plenary Address: Cutting through the Confusion: An Old Problem (Desertification) Viewed through the Lens of a New Framework (the DDP, Drylands Development Paradigm) – James Reynolds, Duke University (U.S.A)
10:15 – 10:30 Respondents: Thomas Schaaf,, Chief, Ecological Sciences & Biodiversity Section, UNESCO, Ingrid Hartman, Amoud University, Borama, Somaliland, Godfrey Olukoye Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Uriel Safriel, Hebrew University, Israel
Moderator: Alon Tal
10:30-11:00 Coffee Break
11:00-12:30 Parallel Sessions I
1. Soil Degradation and the Drylands
Chair: Professor Yonah Chen, Hebrew University Agricultural Faculty, HYPERLINK “
Causes and Consequences of Soil Damages in Bosnia and Herzegovinia: Some Experiences in Soil Conservation, Markovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Soil Decomposition in a Tropical Semi-arid Region in Central Mexico, Maria Hernandez Cerda, Enrique Romero, Gonzalo Madero, (Mexico)
Soil Communities in the Arava Valley Desert System, Stanislav Pen-Mouratov, Tamir Mayblat, and Yosef Steinberger (Israel)

Effect of plant patchiness on soil microbial community structure

Ali Nejidat, Eric A. Ben-David, Yonatan Sher, Regina Golden, Eli Zaady (Israel)
2. Desert Ecology (A)
Chair: Professor Tamar Dayan, Tel Aviv University, HYPERLINK “,
Water and Carbon Balances of Tamarix Desert Vegetation Under Variation in Precipitation and Groundwater Table,Hao Xu, Yan Li, (China)
Periodic and Scale-free Patterns: Reconciling the Dichotomy of Dryland Vegetation, Jost von Hardenberg, Assaf Kletter, Hezi Yizhaq, Ehud Meron (Israel)
Water Balance in Desert Mammals and in Flying Birds: Different Evolutionary Paths with Similar Physiological Outcomes, Berry Pinshow (Israel)
Desertification In the Grasslands Of Central Australia: Effects Of Fire And Climate Change, C. R. Dickman, G. M. Wardle, A. C. Greenville and B. Tamayo (Australia)
3. Benchmarks and Indicators of Desertification
Chair: Professor Moshe Shachak, Ben Gurion University,
Spatial Vegetation Patterns Indicating Imminent Desertification Max Rietkerk (Netherlands)
Do Vegetation Indices Reliably Assess Vegetation Degradation? A Case Study in the Mongolian Pastures, Arnon Karnieli Y. Bayarjargal, M. Bayasgalan, B. Mandakh, J. Burgheimer, S. Khudulmur, and P.D. Gunin (Israel)
Results On Changes Of Vegetation Structure And Composition In Semi-Desert Steppe,B.Mandakh Ph.D, Ganchimeg Wingard, (Mongolia)
Restoration of Pasture Vegetation and Assessment of Desertification in Kazakhstan Mirzadinov R.А., Baisartova А.Y., Bayazitova Z.Е., Torgaev А.А., Makhamedzhanov N.Т., Usen К., Karnieli A., Mirzadinov (Kazakhstan)
4. Pastoralism and the Drylands (A)
Chair: Dr. Eli Zaady, Gilat Research Station, Volcani Institute
Complex Interactions Between Climate and Pastoralists in Desert Grasslands, Curtin, charles (U.S.A)
Sustainable Grazing Strategies for Semi-arid Rangelands of Central Argentina, Roberto Distel (Argentina)

Trophic interactions and the ecology of habitat degradation in grasslands, Yoram Ayal(Israel)

12:30 – 14:30Short Field Trips and Lunch Break
14:30-16:00 Parallel Sessions II
5. Remote Sensing and Assessment of Desertification Processes (A)
Chair: Professor Danny Blumberg, Ben Gurion University,
Progress in mapping global desertification, S. D. Prince (U.S.A)
Desertification Risk Assessment in Northeastern Nigeria Using Remote Sensing and GIS Techniques, Taiwo Qudus, S.O. Mohammed, (Nigeria)
Integrating Remotely-sensed Vegetation Phenology and Rainfall Metrics to Characterize Changes in Dryland Vegetation Cover: Example from Burkina Faso Stefanie Herrmann, Thomas Hopson, (U.S.A)
On the Definition of Desertification through the Case Study of the Egyptian-Israeli Borderline, Arnon Karnieli, Christine Hanisch, Zehava Siegal and Haim Tsoar (Israel)

Evaluation of optimal time-of-day for detecting water stress in olive trees by thermal remote sensing, Nurit Agam, Alon Ben-Gal, Yafit Cohen, Victor Alchanatis, Uri Yermiyahu, and Arnon Dag, (Israel)

6. Drought and Salt Resistant Plants for Sustainable Dryland Development (A)
Chair: Dr. Gozal Ben Hayyim, The Volcani Institute HYPERLINK “
Potentials for Utilizing the Mulberry (Morus Alba) and the Neem (Azadirachta Indica) For Desertification Control In Northern Ghana: the Experience of the Sericulture Promotion And Development Association, Ghana. Paul Kwasi Ntaanu (Ghana)
Phenology, Floral and Reproductive Biolgy Studies of Genus Zizipus in Negev Desert Conditions, Manoj Kulkarni, Bert Schneider and Noemi Tel-Zur (Israel)
Dissecting the Molecular control of Stomatal Movement in CAM plant: A Potential Source for Genes Conferring Drought Tolerance in C3 Plants, Yaron Sitrit (Israel)
Comparison of Germination Strategies of Four Artemisia Species (Asteraceae) in Horqin Sandy Land, China, Li Xuehua, Liu Zhimin and Jiang Demning (China)
Role of Hydrophilins in Water-stressed and Salt-stressed Environments, Dudy Bar-Zvi, (Israel)
7. Water Management Strategies in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Alfred Abed- Rabbo, Bethlehem University,
Water Management in a Semi-arid Region: An Integrated Water Resources Allocation Modeling for Tanzania, Shija Kazumba (Tanzania/Israel)
Towards Sustainable Management of Wadis in Semi-Arid Environments- IWRM Approach, Walid Saleh, Amjad Aliewi, Anan Jayyousi (Dubai)
Is Desalination Right for Sydney? Phoenix Lawhon Isler(Australia)
16:00-16:15 Coffee Break
16:15-17:15 Parallel Sessions III
8. Remote Sensing and Assessment of Desertification Processes (B)
Chair: HYPERLINK “” Prof. Hanoch Lavee, Bar Ilan University , HYPERLINK “
Assessing Land Cover Change and Degradation in the Central Asian Deserts Using Satellite Image Processing and Geostatistical Methods, Arnon Karnieli, Tal Svoray, Uri Gilad, (Israel)
A Dynamic Model of Dryland Hydrology Using Remote Sensing, Elene Tarvansky, (United Kingdom)
The Effect of Wildfires on Vegetation Cover and Dune Activity in Australia’s Desert Dunes: A Multi-Sensor Analysis, Noam Levin, Simcha Levental, Hagar Morag (Israel)
9. Desert Ecology (B)
Chair: Dr. Yehoshua Shkedy, Chief Scientist, Israel Nature and Parks Authorit, HYPERLINK “
Is Grass Scarcity in the Chihuahuan Desert A Result of Shrub-Grass Competition or Soil Moisture Limitation? Giora Kidron and Vincent Gutschick (Israel/U.S.A)
Short-term responses of small vertebrates to vegetation removal as a management tool in Nizzanim dunes, Boaz Shacham and Amos Bouskila (Israel)

Microbial diversity of Mediterranean and Arid soil ecosystem. Ami Bachar, Ashraf Ashhab, Roey Angel, M. Ines M. Soares and Osnat Gillor, (Israel)

Effects of woody vegetation and anthropogenic disturbances on herbaceous vegetation in the northern Negev, Moran Segoli, Eugene David Ungar, Moshe Shahack (Israel)
10. Land Restoration Strategies
Chair: Dr. Avi Gafni, Director of Research, Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael,
Role of Wetlands in Sustainable Drylands D. Mutekanga (Uganda)
Restoration of Abandoned Lands, Gabrielyan Bardukh, (Armenia)

Desertification in the Sahel: causes, prevention and reclamation Dov Pasternak (Israel)

11. Strategies for Living in the Drylands
Chair: Prof. Avigad Vonshak, Director Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research,

Micro-Climatic Effect of a Manmade Oasis During Different Season in an Extremly Hot, Dry Climate, Oded Potchter (Israel)

Ecological sanitation (ECOSAN) as an alternative approach for sustainable dry-land development, Amit Gross (Israel)
Has dependence on runoff agriculture on the dryland environment of the central Negev mountains changed significantly in the last few thousand years? Testing the contribution of the geological substrate, Wieler Nimrod. Avni Y. Benjamini C. (Israel)
12. Pastoralism and the Drylands (B)
Chair: Mr. Shmulik Friedman Head of Israel Grazing Authority HYPERLINK “
Normative Carrying Capacity of an Isralei Forest for Domesticated Grazers. David Evlagon, Samuel Komisarchik, Yehuda Nissan, No’am Seligman (Israel)
Herd No More: Livestock Husbandry Policies and the Environment in Israel: from 1900 Until Today, Liz Wachs, Alon Tal (U.S.A)
17:15-19:00 Poster Session (including contest) and Cocktail
19:00-20:00 Dinner
20:00 Evening Activities (optional)
Moonlit Hike in Nahal Haverim (Please come w/ walking shoes and warm clothes)
OR Films from the Desert Nights Film Festival (sponsored by the Italian Embassy, Tel Aviv)

8:00-8:30 Registration
8:30 – 10:15Plenary Addresses
Professor Pinhas Alpert, Director, Porter School of the Environment, Tel Aviv University,
“Climate Change’s Impact on Desertification in the Mediterranean Region”
Rattan Lal,Director, Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, Ohio State University. “Carbon Sequestration in the Drylands: Where we Are? Where we might go?”
Dan Yakir, Head, Department of Environmental Sciences & Energy Research, Weitzman Institute, “Israel Forestry, Carbon and the Drylands: Recent Findings from Israel”
Moderator: Mark Windslow, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Germany
9:45-10:00 Coffee Break
10:00-11:30 Parallel Sessions IV
13. The Role Vegetation in Combating Desertification (A)
Chair: Dr. Elli Groner, Arava Institute for desert studies/BIDR,
Use of Indicator Species in Enhancing the Conservation of Drylands of Kenya J. Aucha, V. Palapala, and J. Shiundu (Kenya)
Green Spots as a Tool to Combat Desertification in the Aral Sea Region, Lilya Dimeyeva, (Kazakhstan)
Vegetation Change in Response to Grazing and Water Level Decline in the Enot Zukim Nature Reserve (en Fescha) Israel, Linda Whittaker, Margareta Walczak, Amos Sabach and Eli Dror (Israel)
Improving sustainability and productivity of rainfed field crops in the Negev regions
David J. Bonfil (Israel)
14. Drought and Salt Resistant Plants for Sustainable Dryland Development (B)
Chair: Professor Micha Guy, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, HYPERLINK “
The chemical induction of Polyploidy Mutan in Zizphus Mauritiana, Noemi Tel Zur and Mohmmad A.Taher (Israel / Jordan)
Using the Model Plant Arabidopsis Thaliana and Extremophile Arabidopsis Relatives to Identify Genes that Can Confer Plant Tolerance to Arid Conditions, Simon Barak (Israel)
Recently Domesticated Native Desert Herbs for Sustainable Planting in Arid and Saline Areas, Elaine Solowey (Israel)
Pattern Formation, State Changes and Catastrophic Shifts in Poa bulbosa Production as Responses to Simulated Grazing, Hadeel Majeed, Yaakov Garb, Moshe Shachak (Israel)
Germination and seedling survival in NaCl solutions after desiccation of some halophytes-used in pasture and fodder production in the solonchak salinities of the Kyzylkum desert, in Uzbekistan, Tanya Gendler, Japakova Ulbosun, Nicolai Orlovsky and Yitzchak Gutterman (Israel)
15. Afforestation in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Gabriel Shiller, The Volcani Institute, HYPERLINK “
Dryland Afforestation, Bill Hollingworth, (Australia)
Soil and Water Management along with Afforestation for Rehabilitation of Desertified Areas of the Israeli Negev, Yitzak Moshe (Israel)
Land Restoration in the Mediterranean, V. Ramon Vallejo, (Spain)
The Impact of Tree Shelters on Forest Survival of Eight Native Broadleaf Species in Forest Plantations in Israel, Omri Boneh (Israel)
16. Irrigation in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Alon Ben-Gal, Gilat Research Station, Volcani Institute,
Combating Land Degradation in Irrigated Agriculture Through Systematic Characterization of Saline-Sodic Soils for Improved Irrigation Efficiency in Kenya – E.M. Muya, (Kenya)
Adaption of Drip Irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa, Towards a Strategy for Technology Transfer, Lonia Friedlander (U.S.A)
Managing salt, nutrient and soil structure in reclaimed water irrigated vineyards of South Australia, Biswas and McCarthy (AU)
Future strategies for drainage problems in the desert area (IGNP) of Western Rajasthan in India, Kiran Soni Gupta (India)
Root zone salinity management strategy for the Australian drought, Schrale (AU)
17. Climate Change in the Drylands
Chair: Dr. Yeshayahu Bar-Or, Chief Scientist, Ministry of Environmntal Protection, HYPERLINK “
Climate Change Trends in an Extreme Arid Zone, Southern Arava (Israel and Jordan) Hanan Ginat, Yanai Shlomi, Danny Blumberg (Israel)

Climate change and its effect on Mediterranean Basin ecosystems, Pua Bar (Kutiel) (Israel)

Climatic Change and Desertification Predictive Modeling In The Northeastern Nigeria.
Dr. Ojonigu Ati And Taiwo Qudus (Nigeria)
11:30-13:30 Open Campus Lunch Break
13:30-15:00 Parallel Sessions V
18. The Role of Vegetation in Combating Desertification (B)
Chair: Mr. Tauber Israel, KKL, HYPERLINK “javascript:addSender(”
Desertification not at all costs – a matter of temporal and spatial scales and policies
Pua Bar (Kutiel) (Israel)
Cropping systems in the Indian arid zone and long-term effects of continuous cropping
N.L. Joshi (India)
Establishing the Relationships between Soils, Vegetation and Ecosystem Dynamics: A Strategy for Land Degradation Control in Nurunit Marsabit District, Kenya, E.M. Muya, (Kenya)
19. Indigenous Knowledge in the Combating of Desertification
Chair: Prof. Aref Abu Rabia, Ben Gurion University, HYPERLINK “
Ethnobotanical Approach to the Conservation of Dryland Vegetation James Aucha (Kenya)
Environmental and Economic Potential of Bedouin Dryland Agriculture, Khalil Abu Rabia, Elaine Solowey and Stefan Leu (Israel)
Traditional Knowledge and Technologies: Administration of Common Goods from the Perspective of Goat Producers in the Lavalle Desert, Laura Maria Torres (Argentina)


20. Managing Drought in the Drylands

Chair, Mr. Yaakov Lomas, Israel Metereological Institute, HYPERLINK “

Drought Risk Reduction in Rajasthan, India Madhukar Gupta (India)
Merits and Limitations in Assessing Droughts by Remote Sensing, Arnon Karnieli and Nurit Agam (Israel)
The Impact of Long Term Drought Periods in Northern Israel, Moshe Inbar (Israel)
Hydric Characterization of the Sinaloa State (Mexico), Through the Aridity and Aridity Régime Indices, Israel Velasco, (Mexico)
Economic Sustainable rainfed wheat production under Semi-Arid climatic conditions – Agrometeorological criteria for planning purposes, Lomas (Israel)
21. Carbon Sequestration
Chair: Dr. Noam Gressel, Assif Strategies, HYPERLINK “
Semi-arid Afforestation and its Effect on Land-atmosphere Interactions,
Eyal Rotenberg et. al., (Israel)
Capacity of the forest ecosystems to sequester carbon (Case of the watershed basin of Rheraya- area of Marrakech) ) Rachid Ilmen (Morocco)
Halting Land Degradation and Desertification: A Win-Win Mitigation Strategy Neglected by the Climate Establishment, Stefan Leu (Israel)
Special Round Table discussion: Mid-east Regional Cooperation to Research Desertification with Arab and Israeli Desertification Experts
Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli experts meeting and discussing common concerns and solutions to address desertification in the Middle East region.
Moderator: Prof. Avigad Vonshak
Jeffrey Cook Workshop in Desert Architecture and Planning
Architecture and Urban Planning in the Drylands
Dryland Urban Expansion: Environmental Problems and Urban Planning, the Case of Urmuqi China S. Liu (UK)
Towards a Comprehensive Methodology for Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE): A Hot Dry Climate Case Study, Isaac Meir, Eduoardo Kruger, Lusi Morhayim, Shiri Fundaminsky, Liat Frenkel, (Israel)
Sick Building Syndrome in a University Building – an Educational Survey, Lusi Morhayim, Issac Meir (Israel)
Urban Sustainability in Desert and Dryland Areas – a First Exploration, Yodan Rofe and Gabriela Feierstein (Israel/Argentina)
Microclimatic Issues in the Planning of a Modern City in a Desert Environment, Evyatar Erell (Israel)
Sustainable Architecture in the Outback/Desert Regions of Australia: The Paradigm in Theory and Practice, Terence Williamson (Australia)
Arch. Suhasini Ayer-Guigan (India)
Arch. Mary Hancock (UK)
Arch. Laureano Pietro (Italy)
15:30 Bus Ride to Mitzpe-Ramon
16:00-17:00 Sunset Overlooking the Ramon Crater, Visit to Ramon Visitor’s Center
17:30 PLENARY LECTURE: Professor Uri Shani, Director, Israel Water Authority,
“Addressing Scarcity in the Drylands: Israel’s New Water Management Strategy”,
Moderator, Ms. Hila Ackerman, Director of Environmental Department, Ramat Negev Regional Council
19:00 Dinner
20:00 Evening Activity: Music & Dancing OR Astronomy Lecture
DAY 3, December 16, 2008: FIELD TRIPS

A detailed plan will be provided separately


8:00-8:30 Registration
8:30 – 10:15Plenary Addresses/ PanelReconsidering the Axiom of “Bottom Up” Desertification Programs: Lessons Learned about Partnerships and International Assistance
Chris Braeuel UNCCD Focal Point, Canada,
Christian Mersmann, Director, The Global Mechanism of the UNCCD, Rome
Alon Tal, Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research
DelphineOuedraogo, Ministry of Environment, Focal Point to UNCCD, Burkina Faso

Moderator: TBA

10:00-10:15 Coffee Break
10:15-11:50 Parallel Sessions VI


22. The Contradictions of “Gender Equality” in Development Discourses in Desert Regions (Panel A)

Chair: Prof. Rivka Carmi, President Ben Gurion University,

Rethinking modern education among indigenous Negev Bedouin, Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder (Israel)

Looking Ahead: Bedouin Women, Higher Education, Identity and Belonging,Ronnie Halevi (Israel/U.S.A.)

The nation and its natures: Depictions of women Environmental Educators in the Israeli Negev Desert, Miri Lavi-Neeman, (Israel/USA)

“My Life? What is there to tell?” : Interpreting the life stories of multiply marginalized women in an Israeli ‘Development Town” Sigal Ron (Israel)
23. Public Policy, Economics and Desertification
Chair: Dr. Moshe Schwartz, Ben Gurion University,
Economic Instruments for Mitigation of Desertification Problems in Armenia Gevorgyan Suren, (Armenia)
Land Degradation, Subsidies Dependency and Market Vulnerability of Stock –breeding Households in Central Crete Hugues Lorent, et. al., (Belgium)
The Value of Israel’s Forests and Desertification, Tzipi Eshet, Dafna Disegni and Mordehcai Shechter (Israel)
Current Status and Issues for Combating Desertification In Western Rajasthan, Kiran Soni Gupta, (India)
How To Put Desertification and Water Management in The Political Agenda: The South Italy Development Policies, Carlo Donolo (Italy)
24. Food Security in the Drylands
Chair: TBA
Livelihood Strategies: Indigenous Practices and Knowledge Systems in the Attainment of Food Security in Botswana, Maitseo Bolaane (Botswana)
Drought and food insecurity: a rationale for national grain reserves, Hendrik Bruins (Israel)
Drought Management Planning in Water Supply System, Enrique Cabrera (Spain)
The Impact of Drought on Agriculture in Jordan, Sawsan Batarseh and Hendrik J. Bruins (Jordan)
25. Case Studies – Projects that Combat Desertification
Chair: Beth-Eden Kite, Deputy Director, Mashav, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Combating Desertification: An Attempt at Wasteland Development in Rajasthan, India, Kusum Bhawani Shanker, (India)
Valuing the Successes of combating desertification – Experience of Burkina Faso in the rehabilitation of the productive capacity of the village territories, Ouedraogo Delphine (Burkina Faso)
Development of Drylands of Kenya Using the Jatropha Curcas Value Chain J.A. Aucha, V. Palapla, and J. Shinundu, (Kenya)
Production Diversification for Expanding the Economic Foundations of Argentinean Monte Desert Communities, Elena Maria Abraham, Giuseppe Enne (Argentina)
11:50-12:00 Coffee Break
12:00-13:00 Parallel Sessions VI
26. Bottom Up: Community Participation in Programs to Combat Desertification
Chair: Dr. Haim Divon, Deputy Director, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Man, Desert and Environment, Hanan Ginat, Noa Avriel-Avni (Israel)
People and institutional participation in forest management for sustainable development: options for drylands based on experiences from Sudan. Edinam K. Glover (Finland)
Dryland Gardening: A Sustainable Solution to Desertification? Southern Africa as a Case Study, Adam Abramson (U.S.A)

27. Culturing Desertification: Gender and the Politics of Development (Panel B)

Chair: Dr. Pnina Motzafi-Haller, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research,
Development and the Role of Women in Pakistan, Masooda Bano, (UK)

Domestic Water Provision and Gender Roles in Drylands, Anne Coles (UK)

Women’s Work: Gender and the Politics of Trash Labor in Dakar,Rosalind Fredericks, (USA)

28. The Negev Desert – Development and Conservation
Chair: Dr. Yodan Rofeh, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research,
The Israeli Negev Desert: From Frontier to Periphery, Yehuda Gradus (Israel)
The National-Strategic Plan for Developing the Negev – Negev 2015: An Old Prospect or a New Future, Na’ama Theshner (Israel)
The potential of TOD for development of the Northern Negev, Prof. Dani Gat (Israel)
Sense of place and naming in Hura as an example of the changing spatial consciousness of Beduoin in the Negev, Arnon Ben Israel and Avinoam Meir (Israel)
29. The Political Ecology of Deserts and Desertification
Chair: Dr. Yaakov Garb, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research,
Rebuilding the Land: Political Ecology of Land Degradation in Somaliland Ingrid Hartman (Germany)
Desertification Narratives (and Their Uses) in the Middle East and North Africa, Diana Davis (U.S.A)
Desertification or Greening in the Sahel? Case study of Inadvertent Greening in the Oued Kowb, Mauritania, Stefanie Herrmann, Mamadou Baro, Aminata Niang (U.S.A)
Political Ecology: Wind Erosion on the U.S. Southern High Plains
R. E Zartman and A.C. Correa (U.S.A)
30. Assessing International Efforts to Combat Desertification
Chair: Professor Uriel Safriel, Hebrew University,
Follow the Money: Navigating the International Aid Maze for Dryland Development Pamela Chasek (U.S.A)
The Global Mechanism – Lessons Learned C. Mersmann, (Italy)
Research Priorities of the UNESCO Chair on Eremology Gabriels (Belgium)
An Analytic Review for International Collaborations for Drylands Research and Sustainable Development, J. Scott Hauger (U.S.A)
A Conference to Improve the Flow of Science into the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Mark Winslow (Germany)
13:00-14:30 Lunch and Concluding Session

e-mail:  desertification at
tel:   972-8-659-6997
fax: 972-8-659-6772


See also:

Posted on on May 17th, 2008


Posted on on November 3rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

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.

This and all “other news” issues can be found at


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

This WEEK in the European Union

Still dated 31.10.2008 an EUOBSERVER / EU WEEKLY AGENDA (3-9 November) – Europe’s attention will be focused on the US elections this Wednesday, when senator Barack Obama is set to become America’s first black president if recent polls prove to be accurate.

Two days after the election of the new US president, EU leaders will hold an extraordinary meeting on Friday. Summoned by the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who chairs the bloc’s rotating presidency, the heads of state and government are to formulate a common position ahead of the G20 summit scheduled a week later in Washington to address the financial crisis and its effects on the world economy.

Europeans will be watching the US presidential elections closely on Wednesday, with a clear preference for senator Barack Obama.

The consequences of the financial crisis will also be reflected in the European Commission’s autumn economic forecast for 2008-2010 to be published on Monday (3 November). The forecast will cover economic growth, inflation, employment and the government deficits. A day later, Eurogroup chair Jean-Claude Juncker will give the European parliament’s economic affairs committee his assessment of the way the crisis is having an impact on the bloc’s economies.

Also on Tuesday, the European Parliament begins its “Arab week”, which will see a number of Iraqi MPs and the secretary-general of the League of Arab States meeting European legislators.
Enlargement reports:

On Wednesday, enlargement is high on the agenda, with commissioner Olli Rehn presenting in the European Parliament an updated overview of the EU’s enlargement policy and a summary of the progress made over the past twelve months by each of the countries that want to join the EU.

According to a draft version seen by EUobserver, Croatia could conclude accession negotiations with the EU by the end of next year, if it fulfills the remaining conditions, while Serbia could become an official EU candidate. Macedonia will still not be offered a date to open membership talks with the bloc, while Bosnia-Herzegovina is to be criticised for its “inflammatory rhetoric” that “adversely affected the functioning of institutions and slowed down reform”.

Turkey still has a long way to go before concluding accession talks, the draft report reads, but the EU hails Ankara’s role as promoter of regional stability after the Georgian crisis.

Lobby for Nabucco after the Georgian crisis:

The August war between Russia and Georgia also highlighted Turkey’s “strategic significance for the EU energy security, particularly by diversifying supply routes”, the draft report reads, mentioning the importance to go ahead with the planned Nabucco gas pipeline, which will connect Austria, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria through Turkey to the gas-rich Caspian countries.

Promoting Nabucco will be also the aim of energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs next week, when he starts a five-day tour on Wednesday to the Caspian countries, Georgia and Turkey. He is scheduled to hold high-level talks on the issue for the first time since Georgian crisis, a development that made Caspian countries weary about their relationship with the West.

An EU-China energy conference will take place Thursday and Friday in Brussels, gathering industry and administration officials from the two sides, with discussions focusing on renewable energy, nuclear power and carbon capture and storage.

EU foreign ministers and those of the 12 southern Mediterranean countries involved in the Euromed partnership will also be meeting in Marseille on Monday to decide on, amongst other subjects, a headquarters for the organisation.


Posted on on September 22nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Some of the Jewish American Community will be having a vigil outside the UN building in New York, Monday, September 22, 2008, to protest the fact that the UN will be allowing Iran’s prime Minister Ahmedi-Nejad (Ahmedinejad), a self declared enemy of the Jewish people of Israel, and Holocaust denier, to come again to New York, this for the third time, in order to spew his venom and be feted by some that probably are like-minded, even though less expressive.

By coincidence, September 18th, the Center for Jewish History in New York City and the Yeshiva University Museum (YUM), had the unveiling reception of several exhibits that tie into one larger scope that deals with the resilience of the Jewish people.

Though having had to move around, persecuted in many places, the Jews enriched every place where they landed. In effect they graced every host, and Germany and Austria of today are not afraid to recognize the fact that the Jews were a very strong component of their culture, and are trying to make amends for what their country-people did to the Jews during the Holocaust years, and well ahead in historic times.

One of the exhibits deals with the German town Erfurt. In 1349, because of the Plague – The Black Death – the ignorant locals, that had no inkling about needs of hygiene, accused the Jews living among them as the cause for the Plague – this is clearly not much different from Ahmedi-Nejad’s hammering on the Jews of Israel as a reason for the backwardness of Muslim populations in the Middle East – that got stuck in a Medieval frame of mind and made not much real progress since. One of the local rich Jews hid a treasure that was found recently and these unique objects of art have been brought for display in New York before getting a permanent home in a new Museum in Erfurt.

Such museums exist in many old towns in Germany, and I was privileged visiting the city of Emden where the city library displays an important collection of works by Jewish philosopher Rabbi Jacob Ben-Zwi (Emden) – who originated the Jawetz family name, and brought fame to the city of Embden. It is the Germans of today in Emden, who care for that collection and are proud of that heritage, similarly with the Erfurt of today.

The opening of the shows on September 18th had many speakers. Considering the mix of artists and the Medieval artifacts from Erfurt, the speakers also represented Germany, Austria, Israel, and the New York museum. Obviously, there were cultural representatives from the various nationalities. But most interesting, and to the point, I found Dr. Andreas Stadler, the new Director of the Austrian Cultural Institute in New York, who said that what makes him feel most at home in New York is the Jewish culture that he was familiar with back in his home in Vienna. Mind you, Andreas, to the best of my knowledge is not of Jewish heritage, but he was brought up seemingly with the understanding that it is hard to see Viennese culture without its Jewish elements. So Hitler did not succeed after all.

Andreas Stadler came because of the painter Soshana and explained her life as a struggle of her position of a woman painter. 50 years of painting she fought for this recognition, and her son, Amos Schueller pointed out that she does this still, even though she cannot travel anymore. Sylvia Herschkowitz, the Director of the Museum said about Soshana that she wandered the World searching for her Jewish soul.




Another exhibit Was “The Suitcase Man” – Sculptures by Uri Dushi. He lives in Israel and his family are Holocaust survivors. He is now a very interesting exponent of creative Israel, and having looked over his career – I was glad seeing that among the many places he exhibited also in Graz – Austria, Bad Kissingen – Germany, Lodz – Poland,   Hag – The Netherlands. and at my favorite place in Moscow – at the Helicon Opera.


Uri Dushi’s initial entrance into the world of plastic art was with his photomontage works. About 15 years ago Dushy, who was up until then engaged in the field of music, began creating sizable, brightly colored paintings into which he incorporated dozens of personal photographs’ fragments. The works were overwhelming in their direct, forceful and dynamic execution, as well as the straightforward naivete that seemed to burst from the heart of the artist.

Dushy was imbued with the artistic courage to combine photographs of industrial sites that remained vacant and mute prior to their demolition, which he decided to document in his drawings, with dozens of apocalyptic industrial landscapes photographed by him. He then sank the photos in reservoirs of oil paint, combining and assimilating the one into the other, finally forming one artistic entity, amazing in its visual effect. His work has somewhat baffled the viewers, leading to more than one vague response from professionals in the field, who could not precisely categorize this new art.

The first exhibit was displayed in a commercial industrial space in southern Tel Aviv. Mobile bulbs positioned on lighting poles illuminated the works. The event itself, this ‘other’ and different gallery marked a breakthrough in a career that was predefined by ‘other’ criteria, directed towards the attention of the widest range of audiences possible, seeking to bedisplayed to all people, not solely for those who are ‘professionally qualified’ to understand art. Hanna Arendt, in  Herbert Reed’s  â€˜The History of Modern Painting’  comments on this matter in the above mentioned book: ‘The artist’s substantial worldliness might not change even if “objectless art” replaces the description of things. The artist, be he a painter, a poet or a musician, creates worldly objects and this realization has nothing in common with the expressionistic activity, which is dubious and at any rate certainly isn’t art. The term “expressionist art” consists of two contradicting words, which can not be said regarding the term “abstract art”.’ This may be the place to note the liberty that Uri Dushy has taken upon himself to individually represent the meaning of his art, to invent the genres in which he desires to create, and through his creative eyeglasses to project outwards to us the viewers his impression, created anew in the process of building his works.

Curator Doron Polak writes: “Few are the practicing artists possessing the broad and varied talents, ranging over manifold fields both different and complementary, such as Uri Dushy. It is difficult to find artists having such a command of painting and photography, music and composition, video art and massive industrial sculpturing. His unreserved mastery of these art forms, and moreover, his original capability of integrating them into a complete unit – result in a creative path that is both different and unique.

Uri Dushy’s work does not confine itself to the limits of his private studio, but rather exits into the public realm – into open sites frequented by bypassers, and members of the community, who are not necessarily familiar with museums and galleries. His art is favorably accepted both in official art institutes such as galleries and art centers in which he is active, as well as in business and industrial sites, through dozens of public locations where his works are permanently displayed. The combination of styles which characterize his works, usually merging and thus naturally constructing his work process, mark his exceptional course in the labyrinth of his highly personal art.”

As we have a particular idea in mind for this article, we will not delve further – but please look up –


SOSHANA is the artist’ name of Susanne Schuller-Afroyim. Born August 25, 1927 in Vienna, to a solid middle-class Jewish family, Susanne Schuller had all the traumatic experiences of the Vienna of the 1930s. After the Nazi “Anschluss, her family escaped to London where she started to study painting, then in 1941 the family ended up in new York – a direct and somewhat fortunate example of the Suit-Case People. Eventually she went to study with the Jewish painter Beys Afroim (the name meaning in Jidish “the house of Ephraim) in Chicago and they married in 1945. Her only son, called Amos Shueller, was born in Chicago and he is the one who takes care now of her rich oeuvre.

Amos Schueller was the one to chaperone her collection of paintings to the New York exhibition, and spoke at the opening, as Soshana, who lives now in Vienna, does not travel anymore.


The artists name Soshana is the Hebrew form of Susanne, and it means the flower lily-of-the-valley which from Hebrew is usually transliterated as Shoshana – so her spelling is actually a transliteration from Jidish – the language closer to her native German. Soshana says about her work that “it is suffering that helps you grow and develop, the struggle and conflict in life. Even the plants seem to struggle for light and space …I believe in a greater spirit of nature, from which each person is a part, here to play his role in life.”

Shoshana, rather then Susanne, pushed her personality through life by going many places – and all this reflects in her paintings. After her first major exhibition in 1948 in Havana, she moved to Paris, the avant-garde art center at that time. She and Beys Afroim lived in Israel at the beginning of the 50s, in India and places in Japan and China later 50s –   where she studied abstract art and calligraphy as well as Eastern philosophy and religion.

She then traveled to South America and Africa in 1958-59, where among others she met and painted Dr. Albert Schweitzer. She and Afroim painted many well known personalities including Arnold Schoenberg, Thomas Mann, Franz Werfel, Leon Feuchtwanger, Hans Eisler, Otto Klamperer, Pablo Picasso. Also, she was painted by Picasso and Giacometti – Picasso actually made her the special compliment that she had unusual talent. She used in Paris the old studio where Gauguin used to work. Others in whose company they were in Paris included Brancusi, Chagall, and Sartre – then in 1953 she exhibited in the well known gallery of Max Bollag in Zurich.

When the modern art scene relocated from Paris to New York, they went first to Mexico, back to Israel, and eventually back to New York in 1974. She was called the “Cassandra of the Canvas.” A Melancholic introvert that created a large body of work that reflects her reaction to traumatic events she experienced. Her paintings, among othr things, deal with subjects of war – the 9/11 event in New York, the two wars in Iraq, the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, Gandhi’s death, and the Holocaust.

Soshana returned to Vienna in 1985 and she was honored by the Austrian Government with a Special Postal Stamp.


Workers in a New York Sweatshop (1944), Oil on Canvas, 40 cm X 48 cm, 15.79″ X 16.72″


The Burning Bush.


Mauthausen (1988) – (A Nazi Labor and Extermination Camp in Austria) – Oil on Canvas, 70cm X 90 cm, 27.30″ X 35.10″


Stern was born in Essen, in the industrial Ruhr Region, Germany, in 1956 and attended schools in Dortmund and Dusseldorf. He started out as a painter of outdoor signs and advertisements, and when turning to art started to refer to himself as an “action painter” in the legacy of New York School painters Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. When he arrived in New York he was fascinated by the disorientation of the New York streetscape and its skyscrapers. He painted the movement of people in the streets and scenes in subways. After 9/11 he focused his attention on a series he titled “The Gatherings” which reflect on the collective mourning of the city following that tragedy.

His paintings hang in many museums around the world, including the Metropolitan museum of Art in New York. Interestingly – also in the US Embassy in Vienna. He returned many times to Germany to show his work.

In 2010, Essen will be the EU cultural capital, in recognition of the tremendous changes of the region from its original industrial, steel and coal, nature. and David Stern will surely be represented there as well.





The Yeshiva University Museum was started 35 years ago. The Center in its location on West 16th Street in Manhattan, is a later creation.



Further works by Soshana – our selection here deals with horrors of war – New York 9/11, Iraq (the first Gulf War), Kosovo and Vietnam:












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

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

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.”


At, 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.


Further, in 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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colonial power?

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

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

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

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

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


EU remains split on Kosovo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


EU fudges Kosovo independence recognition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



Rift Emerges at the U.N. Over Kosovo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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.


Posted on on November 12th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (…


Friends of Europe is a prominent Brussels-based think-tank for EU policy analysis and debate. We are non-profit, completely independent and have no national or political bias. Our goal since 1999 has been to foster open debate on the future of Europe. Our membership base is as youthful as it is influential, and we are dominated by neither academic, political nor corporate opinion.

Our landmark headquarters


Friends of Europe is privileged to be headquartered in and enjoy the use of one of Brussels’ most prestigious architectural landmarks, the 100+ year old Bibliothèque Solvay in the Parc Léopold next to the European Parliame

Bibliothèque Solvay
Parc Léopold
rue Belliard 137
1040 Bruxelles
T +32 (0)2 737 91 45
F +32 (0)2 738 75 97

 info at The building houses the
Friends of Europe team and hosts almost all of the think tank’s events

The Euobserver brought to our attention:
A one-day international conference to debate the present and the future of
the Balkans with EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, Croatia’s President
Stjepan Mesic, ICTY Prosecutor Carla del Ponte and many other top-level

European Policy Summit
Balkans Crossroads: The Policy Challenges Ahead

Tuesday, December 04, 2007 РBiblioth̬que Solvay

Friends of Europe has been organising international policy summits on reconstruction and economic development issues in South East Europe since 1999. This yearly high-profile event hosted at the Bibliothèque Solvay in Brussels offers a platform for debate on the issues still overshadowing the region’s stability, such as the unresolved future status of Kosovo.

Past policy summits have focused on Balkan stability, regional cooperation, future EU enlargement, reconstruction and development as well as the economic growth of the region. Each year, participants in the Balkan Policy Summits include some 200 EU and national policymakers, government representatives, business leaders, NGO representatives, academia, civil society and members of the international press.

This year’s speakers include:

European Policy Summit
Balkans Crossroads: The Policy Challenges Ahead

Tuesday, December 04, 2007 РBiblioth̬que Solvay


At a glance | Programme | Speakers | Logistics | Register Now | Documents | Contact us | Back to calendar


svenalkalaj_website.jpgSven Alkalaj
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Minister of Foreign Affairs

mark_almond_website.jpgMark Almond
Lecturer in Modern History, University of Oxford

del_ponte_website.jpgCarla del Ponte
Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

gordana_djurovic_website.jpgGordana Đurović
Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, Montenegro

jouyet_website.jpgJean-Pierre Jouyet
French Secretary of State for European Affairs

kacin_website.jpgJelco Kacin MEP
Member of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs and Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament Delegation to the EU-Moldova Parliamentary Cooperation Committee

lagendijk_website.gifJoost Lagendijk MEP
Member of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the European Parliament Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committeelehne_website.jpgStefan Lehne
Director of the Western Balkans, Council of the European Union
and former EU special representative to the Kosovo future
status process

m_leigh_website.jpgMichael Leigh
Director General for Enlargement, European Commission

mesic_website.jpgStjepan Mesić
President of Croatia

robert_manchin_website.jpgRobert Manchin
Chairman and Managing Director of Gallup Europe

doris_pack_website.jpgDoris Pack MEP
Chairwoman of the European Parliament Delegation for
relations with south-east Europe

olli_rehn_website.jpgOlli Rehn
EU Commissioner for Enlargement

sejdiu_website.gifFatmir Sejdiu
President of Kosovo (under United Nations Security Council
Resolution 1244)



worldfordpf_small.gifThe Development Policy Forum (DPF) is to be launched on December 4 by UNDP administrator Kemal DerviÅŸ at an evening debate entitled ‘Should climate change alter development policy thinking?’, at which some 150 policymakers are expected. Its core activity will be roundtable debates that bring together some 80 policymakers and experts to chart the future course of EU-level aid and development policies. The launch debate on December 4 will take place from 17:30 – 19:00 at the Bibliothèque Solvay in Brussels.

The DPF roundtables will be held in Friends of Europe’s Bibliothèque Solvay headquarters, close to the European Parliament, and will create ongoing debates on key topics. As well as providing a regular meeting point for development policy specialists in Brussels, the forum will seek to involve people from national capitals and further afield.

The roundtables will consist of two 90-minute sessions, the first beginning at 12.00 noon and the second ending at 16.00 so that participants from outside Brussels can come for the day. There will be a 60-minute buffet lunch to encourage networking.

The structure of the roundtables will be that each session is kicked-off by three or four opening speakers, with the debate then thrown open around the table. The introductory speakers will be of ministerial and senior NGO level, and long and prepared speeches will be discouraged in the interest of inter-active discussion around the table.

An account of the highlights of each roundtable will be widely circulated by Friends of Europe to ensure that key messages receive appropriate attention throughout the EU. The roundtables will be on-the-record and the media will be actively encouraged to attend as observers.

The Development Policy Forum was originally conceived by Friends of Europe in partnership with the UN and the World Bank, and that partnership has now been enlarged to include DFID and France’s AFD. These five partners will jointly decide the topics for 2008. It is expected that once the forum has been launched on December 4, further partners will be accepted.


Posted on on November 11th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

 Excerpts From MaximsNews Network / – November 11, 2007 — A global public opinion survey by Gallup International – conducted in collaboration with the European Council on Foreign Relation (ECFR) – shows that there is growing public support for a more multi-polar world, and one in every three citizens around the world (35%) would like to see the European Union’s influence to grow.   Authors Ivan Krastev and Mark Leonard point out that “the EU is unique among the four big powers (the other three being the US, China and Russia) in that no-one wants to balance its rise”.

The 2007 edition of “Voice of the People” © – the world’s largest survey this year based on interviews with 57,000 people from 52 countries – shows that world citizens most disapprove of an expansion of Iranian and US power.

39% of respondents would like to see Iran’s power decrease, while 37% would like less US power in the world. Russia and China also provoke more negative than positive reactions. Whilst 23% and 24% of respondents, respectively, would like Russia’s and China’s importance to increase, 29% and 32% believe the world would benefit from a decline in their power.

According to the authors, the poll results show that the public does not yearn for a world order where US hegemony is simply replaced by rivalry between other military powers such as Russia and China. There seems to be increasing support for countries whose rise is not connected in the global imagination with military might.

India, South Africa and Brazil each received a positive overall approval rating in the survey, and are referred to as ‘herbivorous powers’ by Krastev and Leonard.

While most European countries are keen on an increasing global role for the EU, citizens in the UK are ambivalent about the issue. The UK scored the lowest within the EU in terms of its support for increased EU influence: only 32% of UK respondents support this idea, while 24% think the EU’s global role should decrease. In contrast to that, 65% of France’s population supports an increased EU role, while 69% of Greek, and 56% of Spanish and Italian citizens share this view.

In the EU’s neighbourhood, Albania, Moldova and Kosovo scored highest in their support for a stronger EU role (76%, 63% and 55% respectively). However, the survey found that more Ukrainians support an increased role for Russia (45%) than they do for the EU (41%) – which the authors argue could be linked to the EU’s “foot-dragging on enlargement”. The survey also found more negative than positive opinions towards the EU in Turkey and Croatia – two EU candidates – where 45% and 36% of citizens, respectively, think that the EU should be less influential, against 9% and 26% who hold the opposite view.

Turkey is also amongst the countries with highest values of negative attitudes to the influence of the US (56% for the decrease, and barely 4% for an increase), as well as of Russia (43% for decrease and 4% for increase). Overall, the influence of the US is most welcome on the African continent (37%) and in Russia ((26%). However, the positive Russian attitude is not reciprocated in the US, where 34% of respondents want Russian power to decrease. Over half of all respondents in Canada (54%) and Latin America (53%) are opposed to increasing US influence.

While 51% of respondents in Western Europe (i.e. countries that were in the EU prior to the 2004 enlargement) oppose an increase in US power, in Central and Eastern Europe the negative view is only shared by some 37%. The survey also shows that as regards the US, the countries with the most positive view of expanding US power are Albania (71%), Kosovo (61%), Panama (45%), and the US itself (45%). Conversely, the countries with the highest proportions of people declaring that the US should have less influence are Bosnia and Herzegovina (80%), Luxembourg (74%), Greece (73%), Serbia (72%), and Finland (71%).

Krastev and Leonard argue that the EU’s increase in power is supported by many former European colonies, demonstrating that the colonial legacy of EU member states is declining in importance. They also point to worrying trends for the EU, such as a growing resistance to EU influence in places where the Union acts as a quasi-colonial power, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Kosovo, the EU’s increasing influence is desired by 55%, while that of the US is wished for by 61%.

With reference to Iran, the only two countries producing more positive than negative answers are Senegal (31%), and Hong Kong (28%). In the world, Luxembourg citizens are the most reluctant about Iran’s rise (72%), followed by 64% of Dutch and 57% of US citizens. Significant proportions of people in the Scandinavian countries (between 4-6 in ten) share this view.

Finally, some of China’s neighbours oppose the idea of an increase of its power. Considerable proportions of citizens in India, Philippines (both 42%), Japan (39%) and South Korea (34%) think it would be best for the world if China had less influence. Nearly half of US respondents (45%) feel the same way. Conversely, three quarters of citizens in Hong Kong (75%) would like to have a more influential China.


Posted on on May 20th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

Did the UN Reach a New Low – or it has Permanent Structural Defects.

The Wall Street Editorial, this week-end says the UN is a strange place and points out to what it calls “signature bodies” – the Commission on Sustainable Development and the Disarmament Commission. Strangely to us it forgot the Human Rights Council.

The CSD for an obvious reason: Zimbabwe, that used to be known as the breadbasket of Africa, but experiences now shortages of food and an inflation rate of 2,200% – just call it a failed state.
While Africa overall experienced in 2006 a growth rate of +5%, Zimbabwe contracted at -5%. Part of the blame should be put on Mugabe’s protector, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa. But, whatever,
Zimbabwe of today does not deserve to be Chair of the CSD, and its UN Ambassador complaining that his detractors point at human rights problems in Zimbabwe as a reason for their rejection of
Zimbabwe, and this is not the business of the CSD, is plainly laughable. Zimbabwe should not be considered an exemplary leader in Africa, for both reasons – its economy and its lack of respect for
human rights and human dignity. Just to remind the Ambassador – he did not fail only the economic development leg of the CSD tripod, but also the social development leg – that is were good
governance and democracy, and human rights reside. For South Africa to back Mugabe’s miserable show is simply a disservice to all of Africa. The New York Times editorial of May 17, 2007, says that if Mr. Mbeki is not ready to pull out the rug from under Mr. Mugabe for the sake of Zimbabwe, he better reconsider this for the sake of his own South Africa. “Investors might be turned off by the whole region if they continue to see the misery and upheaval just over the border.”

South Africa also backed its other neighbor – Angola – for the Human Rights Council. Angola and Egypt were on the UN Human Rights Watch list of states that do not deserve a seat at the Council.
Angola got 172 votes, Egypt got 168 votes out of the possible 192 – but then the Africans did not provide alternate choices.
Where there was an alternate choice, in the splintered Eastern European States Group – Belarus (78) lost to Bosnia Hezegovina (95) – confirmed by a second round that gave Belarus (72) to B-H (112).
In Asia, no choice, Qatar got 170 votes and joined Saudi Arabia as world judges on human rights and the oil business. Qatar being home after a quite successful show of run-into-the-ground of the CSD.

What that proves, is that when there is enough democratic breath left in the UN body – there is a possibility that only one third of the UN is rotten – but when the leadership of a group is out to do mischief – on their own volition, or on behalf of others – be those Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Cuba, or sometimes someone else, then the number of rogues, or governments with ulterior motives, can easily reach 172 out of 192, leaving the number of principled governments to about 10% of the UN body. In this context, let us also remark that the Wall Street Journal, that normally likes to quote the UN Human Rights Watch on human rights issues, did not do so this time because of the Qatari business. You see, Qatar, though it is not an oil exporter, it is an enormous natural gas exporter and its treasures are guarded by the US, so they can speak for their brothers of OAPEC and be protected by the US and the Wall Street Journal at the same time.

The Wall Street Journal, has a field day with the Disarmament Commission. There Iran was elected to be a Vice-Chair and Syria became the Raporteur, this to watch over and report on nuclear proliferation and on smuggling of guns to those that fight the infidel. That was nice material for the East River based stage of the Theatre of the Absurd.

The Wall Street Journal editorial ends by by saying: These episodes don’t reach the level of the multi-billion-dollar oil-for-Food corruption at high level UN, or the tens of millions of dollars that seemingly were handed by UNDP to the North Koreans. Nevertheless, the WSJ would have liked to see the US walk out from the CSD and the UNDC – not a very ingenious idea – this because you cannot pick which UN bodies you attend and which you leave to the dogs. Just remember what happened to the Soviets when they walked out from the Security Council and woke up with the war in Korea. Does this leave us with UN bodies that are just talk shows? Is that what the UN was meant to be? We understand that this might be right for the General Assembly, but bodies like the CSD, DC, and the HRC, were meant to achieve results – if they falter – then what?

AHA! Here we reach the main point of this article, this after we spent days at the Meeting of the Mayors of the 40 largest World Cities, let the UN talk about it – but then get people like Bill Clinton, George Soros, Bernard Kouchner … to show the way how to deal us out of a corner the UN is incapable by itself to do the job. The structural problems with the UN are there, but we do not have to discard the baby with the dirty waters.