links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter


 
Croatia:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The following was reported by Ms. Irith Jawetz who took part at the Presentation the UN made accessible also to outsiders.

“United Nations’ roles on Human Rights, Peace and Security”

Dr. Ivan Simonovic is UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights. On Tuesday, November 18th, 2014, he made at the UN an informative presentation on the subject: “United Nations’ Role on Human Rights, Peace and Security”


Mr. Ivan Simonovic assumed his functions as Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights on 17 July 2010 – head of the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) upon a UNSG Ban Ki-moon appointment of May 3, 2014.

A Croatian Diplomat, he was born May 2, 1959 in Zagreb. He is politician and law scholar. In October 2008 he was appointed Justice Minister of Croatia.

Dr. Šimonovic graduated from the University of Zagreb Law School in 1982. He got his doctoral degree in 1990, at the age of 31. Šimonovic joined Croatian diplomacy after the break-up of Yugoslavia. He was an assistant to Foreign Minister Mate Granic during the 1990s, although he never joined the ruling party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

In 1997, Croatian President Franjo Tujman named him ambassador to the United Nations. Šimonovic served there until 2002. While serving there, Šimonovic presided over the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

In 2002 he became Deputy Foreign Minister in Ivica Rajan government. Again, he didn’t join the ruling party,SDP. However, when HDZ swung back to power in 2003, Šimonovic was not offered a job in the new government.

In 2004, Šimonovic switched to academia and became professor at the University of Zagreb Law School, where he teaches general theory of law and state and international relations.

Dr. Šimonovic was appointed Minister of Justice-designate of Croatia by PM Ivo Sanader on October 6, 2008. His predecessor, Ana Lovrin, had resigned the same day following a series of unsolved assaults and murders linked to Croatian organized crime that culminated with the murder of Ivana Hodak, daughter of a prominent Croatian lawyer Zvonimir Hodak. However, Ivana Hodak was later found to have been murdered as part of a retaliation of a homeless man to Zvonimir Hodak.

In May 2010 then Šimonovic was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights.
————————–

Turning to the November 2014 lecture at the UN – Dr. Simonovic has just returned from Iraq and is on his way to Ukraine.

He started his lecture by quoting Secretary General Kofi Annan who said: “There is no peace without development, no development without peace and neither without Human Rights”.


Development is one of the key factors for human rights, people in less developed countries are more likely to rebel and if there are conflicts at home, they affect human rights. Syria and Ukraine are the latest examples how a disastrous economy can lead to human rights violations. This situation also spills to the neighboring countries affected such as Jordan and Lebanon, who have to absorb the many refugees and support them. On the other hand, lack of human rights also affects development. Discrimination of minorities, religious groups, gender leads to no access to social services, lack of jobs, and brings upon it corruption. Some people get privileges that other do not, this brings dissatisfaction, instability and fewer developed countries are eager to invest in such a society.


Even worse than economic problems are the violation of human rights during a conflict with elements such as starvation, executions, killings and rape to name a few.
The solution is accountability not retaliation and Criminals need to be brought to Justice.
How can this be achieved?


The United Nations has 800 people posted at the UN in various capacities, including peacekeeping forces, and 500 people posted in National Headquarters as representatives and advisers. They have to report to the Secretary General and General Assembly.
The UN has also established an “Intervention Brigade” which can act fast in some situations, as it happened in South Sudan when they managed to push back the rebels. The UN has come a long way since the times when so many innocent people were killed during the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Dr. Simonovic told a personal story how he saw people being killed outside the UN compound who were not allowed to enter that compound and seek shelter. In South Sudan, years later, this policy was changed. It was an “Open Gate Policy”, people could find shelter inside the UN compound and were saved. Of course this brought with it many logistic problems such as providing food, water, sanitary equipment, etc. but it was done nevertheless.

The secretary General has approached the subject of Human Rights, Peace and Security by making sure that all security forces have to be checked through very strict background checks. Not having a criminal record is not enough anymore.

Each person that is applying for a job is not allowed to have committed even the slightest violation of Human rights on his or her records. The same applies to personnel outside the UN in the countries themselves. It would be very embarassing for a country to recommend a person and then be found out by the UN independent background check that he or she had a human rights violation on their records.

The motto of the UN is Human Rights Up Front!
Human Rights violations can be used as a first warning to Genocide and war atrocities. The task of the advisers is to detect human rights violations and bring them to the attention of the Secretary General and General Assembly immediately.

Dr. Simonovic admitted that in Sri Lanka the UN has failed – something that at the UN was known a long time ago thanks to the insistent questioning from one single investigative journalist active at the UN – Mr. Matthew Lee. The UN did not act fast enough said now Dr. Simonovic, but Mr. Lee was not satisfied with this answer – he would like to see a full investigation of this case.

Dr. Simonovic said that the UN has women on their peacekeeping forces and they are basically better mediators than men. Women are more sensitive than men, more focused healing than on revenge, he said.

In conclusion Dr. Simonovic admitted that the system is not perfect, it is much better than it was, but there is a lot still to be done. Human Rights violations should not be tolerated and the United Nations is making the utmost efforts to combat this task.

While above was being discussed at the UN, on Thursday, US President Barack Obama, in an historic move has broken the US taboo of dealing with the illegal immigration issue, by acknowledging that trying peacefully to better one’s life is a basic human right – so that the UN official might find it easier now to do the right things at the UN as well.

According to NPR news, after six years of often bitter back-and-forth with congressional Republicans over the issue of immigration, President Obama announced he has decided to go it alone by temporarily shielding up to 5 million immigrants from being deported.

In a prime-time speech to the country on Thursday, President Obama said that he would defer the deportation of the parents of children who are either U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, and that he also would expand that protection to more “DREAMers,” or children who entered the country illegally with their parents. Those two groups also will be allowed to work in the United States legally, after passing a background check and paying a fee.

In a very compassionate speech, President Obama said:

“scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger — we were strangers once, too.

“My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal – that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 9th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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.

CementeryOfPrague.jpg

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 Sustainabilitank.info on September 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

BULGARIA PRESSES AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY FOR ALL BALKAN COUNTRIES TO JOIN EU

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.”

* * *

AT UN, HUNGARY AND CZECH REPUBLIC OFFER ADVICE TO ARAB STATES ON DEMOCRATIC TRANSITIONS

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 Sustainabilitank.info on July 13th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From the US we got – Small Car, Big Changes: When full-scale production of the Chevrolet Sonic begins in August at General Motors Corporation in the USA, it will be the only subcompact car produced in the United States.

They say: “To make it profitable, General Motors created a two-tier pay structure in which 40 percent of the entry-level workers are paid less, and revamped the assembly process. The assembly line for the Sonic is about 500,000 square feet, which is about half the size of a typical plant.”

How wrong can GM be, and how hopeless the US economy is in its steps?
See – all what they did was reduce the size of the assembly line, the size of the car, and the salaries they pay their labor force. I bet that these innovations will increase the cost of the car. That is very dandy according to old time economists – but it will not fly in a market in which consumers have a right to buy or not to buy.

Will Washington have to close the US doors to better imports – more desirable to knowledgeable consumers?
When I read this, I just came back from seeing a vehicle that was parked in front of the Maria Hilfer Church on the Mariahilfer Strasse in Vienna’s 6th district. The vehicle was a really small Peugeot iON – it says that it is iDEAL for the new urban mobility. Why so? This is because it is 100% electric.
This little car can do 130-150 Km on a charge that takes 10 minutes on fast charge or 3 hours if you do it by yourself from the regular electric outlet.  For these purposes the car has two different electricity intakes that you can use at will. It will cost you just 2.5 Euro if you do it yourself – if you do it at a charge station fast – it will cost you more, but as said – if you do it by yourself it will cost you one tenth of the cost of gasoline.
Sure, these are prototypes and as such cost much money – I was quoted 35.000 Euro for the vehicle – but then all sort of incentives are being contemplated and if you drive a lot your gains will be from the gas you save – our gains will be from the CO2 that you do not spew into the air.
In Europe, governments do think of air quality as a common good and consider savings in health costs part of the National governing plan. So much as we must point out that the 100% electric Peugeot – no hybrid gimmick please – is being shown off in Austria by the OEVP Party which is the minor member of the rulling coalition in the Austrian government.
The OEVP holds onto the Foreign Ministry (Mr. Michael Spindelegger),  the Environment Ministry (Mr. Nikolaus Berlakovich), the Energy Ministry (Mr. Reinhold Mitterlehner), and the Science and Research Ministry (Mr. Karlheinz Töchterle) – all important in the sponsorship of improvement of mobility in Austria. They do not hold on to the portfolio of  Transportation Ministry – but how can that Ministry behave in any other way then accepting pro-electricity arguments when these are interrelated to an Eco-electric Power law that promotes enhancement of solar and wind energy in Austria. Such a law was just past last Thursday in the Austrian Parliament – so the electric cars have indeed a future here and Austria will help paving the way for the increased introduction of electric mobility in other places as well.
The OEVP campaign’s motto is “JA, E” or YES to Electric Cars and the EKOSTROM LAW.
The poster picture shows a little car that has a long wire with an electric plug at its end. POWER TO THESE AUSTRIANS!

Strange as it may seem – the OEVP which is the more Conservative – the Black Party – in the Austrian Coalition they have with the Socialist centrists of the OESP – or the Red Party, come through as trying to “out-greene” the opposition Austrian Green Party.
For further references: www.agenda-wien.at    – www.peugeot.at

But I do not end here, this morning I was at an event at the Austrian Diplomatic Academy where the two Foreign Ministers of Austria and Croatia, Messrs. Michael Spindelegger  and Gordan Jandrokovi?, both holding also onto the positions of Vice Chancellor and Vice Prime Minister in their specific countries, where celebrating the agreed upon track for Croatia’s accession to the EU.

In the process I heard that the bilateral discussions will deal also with the environment and climate change.

Then I learned from Vjekoslav Majetic, Director General of a Croatian firm DOK-ING that makes industrial equipment they sell globally – that they contemplate making small electric cars. Would this not be an ideal case of leap-frogging?
Croatia come to the EU with the outlines to build an assembly line for small electric cars?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 3rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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

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

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

Polish minister pledges loyalty to EU’s Ashton.

by ANDREW RETTMAN, 02.07.2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————————————-

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

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

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

VALERIO CALZOLAIO, a journalist, ecologist, and ex-member of Italian parliament, is the author of:

“ECO-REFUGEES: FORCED MIGRATION YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW.”

He writes, as reported by Roberto Savio of IPS, from Rome, October 8, 2010:

“For the entire month of August the front pages of the world’s major daily papers gave considerable coverage of developments in the Indus Valley: monsoon rains in the north of Pakistan in late July, the flooding of rivers and tributaries, submerged land, villages, and towns, then more flooding in the centre and south of the country, the contamination of wells and aqueducts and other sources of water, inadequate international funding, flight, desperation, and anger.

Almost two thousand dead were immediately confirmed, thousands and thousands of people lost, six million left homeless, 10 million evacuated, 20 million effected in some way. They could be defined climate- or eco-refugees.

It was a disaster on a planetary scale represented in shocking photographs of the distant suffering. But alongside this story ran a range of national matters of varying importance -in Italy, for example, the story about a drop in prices of homes in Montecarlo. Now the climate refugees of the Indus have vanished from the media. For two months we have heard nothing more about the disaster, though hundreds of thousands of people remain in camps and normal life has not returned for millions of Pakistanis.

In recent weeks, however, news has arrived about another wave of climate refugees elsewhere in the world, in Indonesia, the Amazon, and the Danube in Hungary. For almost twenty years the proliferation of climate refugees has been a source of diffuse emergencies, migrants driven to leave their homes by bad choices or the mistaken behaviour of humans. In the case of climate change, they are fleeing because of actions that we are taking here.

In 2008 and 2009 the number of international “political” refugees (those who are given “refugee” status) was about 15 million; the official number of international eco-refugees was higher. The number of eco-refugees even exceeds that of internal political refugees (who remain within their country’s border). With world conferences about to be held yet again on biodiversity (Nagoya) and the climate (Cancun), in November and December, it is time the UN is provided permanently with the means to help eco-refugees and prevent the creation of more of them.

In a book now being released in Italy, I have tried to reflect on these figures and means. Whether we like it or not, hundreds of thousands of eco-refugees are arriving in Europe each year, and their numbers will only rise. Moreover it is we that are responsible for their lack of homes. They cannot stay in camps forever, not will all manage to find a home in their own country, and the sooner we recognise this the better.

I recognise that since Adam and Eve there have always been environmental and climate refugees. It is not by chance that I dedicated the first part of the book to migratory species and the archaeology of the original waves of human migration. The migration of individuals and groups of our species have always had multiple causes and environmental and climatic effects and repercussions, especially when forced, when people were driven from their homes.

In the history and evolution of homo sapiens, the other major causes of migration are war and conflict. Refugees and eco-refugees are not an invention of modernity. Today those made refugees by “political” causes -violence or persecution by institutions or human communities- are granted “refugee” status and assistance by a United Nations commission. And yet climate refugees are victims of human action, too, so shouldn’t they be given this same status? We must find a way to provide the same assistance and take the same preventive measures in the case of migration caused by contemporary human-caused climate change. The second part of my book is dedicated to this subject.

I have tried to reconstruct the infancy and adolescence of the UN system, showing who’s in charge (and how) of human rights and the right to asylum, aid, and protection from climate change. I have sought to gather together the most advanced proposals from UN agencies, scientists, and researchers to address the migration caused by rising sea levels, by the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, and by the shrinking availability of water for drinking and sanitation.

Forecasts indicate that in the next two decades there will be tens of millions of new eco-refugees, especially in certain areas, headed primarily towards Europe, mostly across the Mediterranean. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports call attention to global developments that are certain to occur though they will vary in intensity according to location: rising sea level, water scarcity, and extreme weather events.

For example, according to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), the real risk of deaths resulting from flooding has risen by 13 percent from 1990-2007 while the percentage of the world population directly effected has increased by 28 percent in that period. Moreover, on the basis of past experience and forecast models, over 75 percent of these risks will be concentrated in a handful of countries: those effected by monsoons (Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan) and China.

The risks are not the consequence of exposure and intensity alone: an island or sparsely-populated country or a small poor country risks both the life and development of entire populations for generations. Forced emigration is the near certain outcome. By 2050 the risk of becoming climate refugees as a result of these developments, even in a best case scenario, will cast its shadow over no fewer than 200 million people.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Danube’s menacing industrial legacy.

DOUG SAUNDERS

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

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

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

More related to this story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More related to this story

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)





































###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 1st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

This WEEK in the European Union
VALENTINA POP

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 Sustainabilitank.info on May 28th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Croatia well on the way to EU membership, MEPs told.

as per www.theparliament.com May 27, 2008
A major parliamentary conference was told that Croatia is “well advanced” on the road towards EU membership.

Speaking on Tuesday, Luka Bebic, speaker of the Croatian parliament, also said his country “shared the same principles and objectives” of the EU.

He said that meeting the necessary criteria for EU membership “lies at the heart of all our efforts” and that Croatia remained   “determined” to implement all the necessary reforms to complete accession negotiations by   September 2009.

The politician said   was “deeply convinced” that the process of European integration “will not be deemed complete” until “all the countries” of south eastern Europe are integrated into the EU.

Bebic was speaking in parliament at a joint meeting of MEPs and parliamentarians from countries in the western Balkans,including his own.

He said that in the last two years, Croatia and other countries in the region had achieved “great progress” in meeting one of the “fundamental” objectives of EU membership   – stabilisation of the region.

“I firmly believe that we stand at the threshold of a new era and that Croatia ´s experience from the European integration process will prodive an incentive and encouragement to other countries in the region,” he said.

Jan   Marinus Wiersma,deputy leader of the Socialist group, said that “full cooperation” with the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague continues to be one of the conditions for negotiations   on EU membership for countries in the region.

“The region is now taking responsibility for itself and the success of the reforms depends on maintaining a credible prospect of future integration in the EU,” said the Dutchman.

His party colleague, Hannes Swoboda said, “Croatia ´s progress sends a signal to the other western Balkan states regarding their own membership prospects.”

Parliament ´s president Hans-Gert Pottering told this website that event, organsied by parliament and the Slovenia parliament, had helped “build relations” between parliamentarians in the region and MEPs.

The two-day event, “Achieving the European perspective for south east Europe,” concluded on Tuesday.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ukrainian politicians concede there are problems.

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

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

————–

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

——————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

The author is editor of EuropaWorld.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 7th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 7th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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 Sustainabilitank.info on December 11th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The Commission on Sustainable Development Is It A Moribund UN Body Or Will It Be Revived Because It Is Needed After The Re-Engagement Hoopla That Happens Now At Bali?

Our Website was established in order to help create the awareness that there is no other development possible – not in the developing countries and not in the developed countries – that is not SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

We had experience starting from before the Brundtland Commission of 1987, we were engaged at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, and we wrote the “Promptbook on Sustainable Development for The World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg 2002. In short we are strong believers that if the UN CSD were not created in 1994, we would have had to create it now.

Why that? Simply, because as it is crystal clear now that the development of tomorrow cannot go on by rules of the development of yesterday – and this was given, right today, full global recognition in Oslo, when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the scientists of the IPCC, and to Al Gore – whatever will come out from the Bali-Poznan-Copenhagen process will be clearly a final global landing on the runway that was built in Rio for Agenda 21. And as we keep saying – this will be a joint Sustainable Development for North and South, East and West. It will be a world were those that have the needed technologies will share them with those that are only trying out for their own National development. This will not be done because of altruism – it will be rather because of self interest that comes from the simple fact that we are all residents of planet earth, and we understand that we have caused the planet to be on a path of destruction that harms the continuation of life as nature or god created.

After UNCED, The UN created a Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development and Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Gali appointed Mr. Nitin Desai, at the Under-Secretary-General level to head the Department. 1994-1998 Joke Waller-Hunter from the Netherlands was the first Director of the Division for Sustainable Development and the head of the Commission on Sustainable Development – so the Commission itself dates back, for all practical purpose, to 1994 – even though it officially was started in 1992. In May 2007 we witnessed the CSD 15 (that is counting back to 1992!).

In 1997, Secretary-General Kofi, in an effort to reduce the number of UN Under-Secretary-Generals, consolidated three economic and social departments and created UN DESA (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs) and eventually put Mr. Desai as head of DESA where he was until he was replaced in 2003 with Mr. Jose Antonio Ocampo, the former Finance Minister of Colombia; the new Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon, brought in, July 2007, Mr. Sha Zukang, the previous China Ambassador in Geneva. In 1998 Ms. JoAnne DiSano, with a background of having worked for the Canadian Government, and then for 11 years with the Australian Government, became the Director of the new Division of Sustainable Development within DESA. She held this position until September of 2007 and since then the position is VACANT, and it looks as if the UN does not care.

Ms. Joke Waller-Hunter, left her position with the CSD in 1998 in order to become the Executive Secretary of the of Bonn based   UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) where she remained untill her death in 2006. She was replaced there in 2007, by Mr. Yvo de Boer, appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Mr. Yvo de Boer is also from the Netherlands, where he was Director for International Affairs of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment. He was in the Past Vice-Chair of the Commision on SD and Vice-Chair of the COP of the UNFCCC. Both, the CSD and the UNFCCC are outcomes of the 1992 UNCED. Ms. Joke Waller-Hunter’s departure from New York may have had something to do with the 1997 UN reorganization that replaced the Department of SD with a Division of SD within DESA. She may have sensed that her presence at UNFCCC will further SD goals easier then   at the new Division of SD – that its creation caused in effect a demotion in her position.

The present vacancy at the nerve-center of the CSD, at a time the CSD is needed indeed, following the latest push at the UNFCCC, on matters of climate change, that causes our renewed interest in the UN CSD and in the UN Division that was established specifically in order to run the CSD. We are afraid that it will be difficult to see progress on the UN level, in matters of climate change, without a functioning office that deals with sustainable development.

Now to be honest, our interest is not just because of curiosity – but rather because of the worry that we understand very well the reasons for the slow demise of the CSD – the factors that got it to start on what may be a path to extinction.

At CSD 9 it was decided that the CSD will discuss specific topics in cycles of two years. So the first cycle was Water for CSD11-CSD12, the second cycle Energy for CSD14-CSD15, the third cycle Land Use for CSD16-CSD17.

So 2006-2007 was the Energy cycle, and as in UN fashion it was supposed to be the turn to have a chair from Asia, it was the Asians that suggested Qatar to chair the energy subject. Now Qatar is a producer of gas rather then oil.

Some said that though sustainable development must help put forward development methods that are less dependent on oil and coal, this for reasons of global warming and climate change, nevertheless, recognizing the role of natural gas as a cleaner fuel and a potential intermediary fuel from an oil and coal economy to an economy that is starting to be based on renewable sources of energy, Qatar could have been acceptable also as a political peace-maker between the interests of conventional industry and the incoming new industry based on renewbles. But to the consternation of those optimists, we could see that behind the representative of Qatar, at the CSD sessions, there was always sitting a representative from Saudi Arabia, and in the end there was no resulting negotiated text for what is probably one of the most important topics of Sustainable Development – Energy.

Above was nothing yet when compared with what happened in the last day of CSD 15. As always, there are elections for the next CSD membership – the membership is held at 53 countries elected according to a regional key – and then there is the election of the “bureau” and the new chair. The turn according to UN habit was that next chair will be from Africa, and as said, the topic for CSD16 in 2008, and for CSD17 in 2009, will be Land Use. The Africans decided to put forward Zimbabwe as their choice and campaigned with the G77 that this is their wish. The UK did not want any part of this, and specially since the land policies of the Mugabe Government have run Zimbabwe agriculture from being a large agricultural exporter to becoming a starving nation, with an economy that was totally destroyed, a monetary situation that shows astronomic inflation rate, and human rights problems that clearly make it ineligible for a UN leadership position, it is this obstinacy that reduced the CSD to plain irrelevancy. We were there that night of Friday May 11, 2007, in room 4 in the UN basement, and watched in disbelief how the distinguished, low-key German Ambassador, head in New York of the EU presidency, with the German Minister of the Environment next to him, simply told the CSD Chair from Qatar that the EU cannot work with this sort of CSD.

If by any way I exaggerate now, 7 months later, please forgive my memory, but see what I, Pincas Jawetz, Inner City Press journalist Matthew Rusell Lee, and the EUobserver from Brussels, wrote about this – the references on the www.SustainabiliTank.info web are:

– EUobserver on the 5/11 Crash of CSD15 (May 14th, 2007)

– A First Analysis: From The Ashes of the CSD, Will We See A Rising Phoenix? A Brundtland II, To be Called – “OUR COMMON GROUND” ? (May 13th, 2007)

– The UN General Assembly Resolution of September 30, 1974 against South Africa was not Premised On Apartheid’s Threat To Security, But On Its Serious Violation Of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. WHY DOES
SOUTH AFRICA OF 2007 BACK MUGABE’s ZIMBABWE SAYING HE DOES NOT THREATEN INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY? (May 13th, 2007)

– 9/11 and 3/11 Have Become Symbols of what Oil Money Can Cause To Those Who Insist On Buying The Oil, Will 5/11 Become The Symbol of Awakening at the UN? This Because Of May 11, 2007 Late Evening Happenings At
The So Called UN Commission On Sustainable Development? (May 12th, 2007)

– At the UN, Zimbabwe Elected 26-21 to Sustainable Development Chair for CSD16, As EU and Others Reject Final Text of The Chairman from Qatar of CSD15. (May 12th, 2007)

I took then the 5/11 date and in ways of exaggeration tried to compare this with 9/11 in New York and 3/11 in Madrid. Was it really an exaggeration? Could we say that the backing Zimbabwe got from States with unresolved problems from colonial days, and oil states that think, completely wrong, that they have anything to gain from derailing the concept of sustainable development, sustainable energy, global warming, climate change…, from efforts to improve the life of billions of people?

Further, the UN recognizes three groups of States with greater needs – these are the Least Developed States (LDCs), the Small Island Independent States (SIDS), and the Landlocked States. These are the States within the UN system that are most in need of help via sustainable development. Why did the UN take them out from being under the Under-Secretary-General who heads DESA, and put them under a separate Under-Secretary-General? Does this not cause waste and decreased efficiency? Would they not be served better within a well functioning unified economic organization that takes, for instance, in account the interests of Island States when it comes to the subject of the effects of global warming/climate change?

Now, I was not going to allow myself to lose my hope for a functioning CSD. The articles I refer to above are actually articles of hope – that is I hope that from the ashes the CSD will rise, as a Phoenix, under the leadership of Brundtland II.

Does this look likely? I submit it is imperative, and by the end of this week, whatever wind will be blowing from Bali, people will see that it does not go without sustainable development. So why do the Africans not get together and try to rein in Mr. Mugabe? Again, just this week, the EU invited all Heads of State of Africa to Lisbon for discussions on trade that were needed in order to help restart the Doha trade round. The Europeans were ready to put aside the dispute with Mugabe, and he was also invited – then why did he have to show physically his raised fist? Is this the end of an EU-Africa relation? Clearly not. It was just a new beginning showing that rational people can try to restart negotiations even in the presence of a street-bully. And that brings me back to the UN DC-2 building – that is where one finds the CSD Secretariat.

CSD 16 will happen one way or another in May 5-16, 2008. The full list of topics is: “The Review Session of The Third Implementation Cycle that Will Focus on Agriculture, Rural Development, Land, Desertification, and Africa.”

The CSD expects Germany to fund the bringing to New York of youth representatives from the developing countries. A main topic will be “Drought and Desertification and Africa” – this means effects of climate change that helped cause warfare in Africa. Will the world allow Africa to commit suicide through obstinacy, or is the world obliged to look into the mirror and say we cannot continue on this path? Mr. Baroso bit his lip and made an effort. We assume the EU will continue to try to find a way to keep the Commission in business, if at least the UN Secretariat helps reestablish a CSD Secretariat – and at the minimum there must be a functioning Director of the CSD Secretariat. That is the closing of the three month old vacancy that was created with the departure of Ms. JoAnne DiSano.

I understand that part of the nominating and election process involves the Commission itself. The present 53 members are:

African States: 12 besides Zimbabwe. They are – Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo/Kinshasa, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Tanzania, Zambia.

Asian States: 11 – Bahrain, China, North Korea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kuwait, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Thailand.

Eastern Europe: 6 – Belarus, Croatia, Czech Rep., Poland, Russia, Serbia.

Latin America and Caribbean: 10 – Antigua and Barbuda (the incoming head of G-77), Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Haiti, Peru.

Western European and Others: 13 – Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Monaco, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, UK, US.

By looking through this list I clearly see that Poland, the host of next year’s follow up meeting to Bali, motors of the UNFCCC track like Germany, UK, Japan, Australia, India, even China, Antigua, Korea,Tunisia, Congo/Kinshasa, Tanzania, Croatia will want to see a functioning CSD. What is needed is a low key peace maker with vision who comes from inside the UN system, and who has a history of having seen the difficulties when working with developing countries that seem to have memories from colonial days that they apply to new situations that really are of a totally different nature. Finding such a person would help, we hope, revive the CSD, so it could continue its functions and prepare for much larger importance when the UNFCCC track finally starts sputtering.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 12th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 www.friendsofeurope.org/Events/20…

foe_new_brighter_logo_grey.gif

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

bib-solvay.jpg

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 friendsofeurope.org 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
speakers.


European Policy Summit
Balkans Crossroads: The Policy Challenges Ahead

Tuesday, December 04, 2007 РBiblioth̬que Solvay
animated_balkans2007.gif

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

animated_balkans2007.gif

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

SPEAKERS

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)

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

BUT ALSO SAME DATE – A SECOND EVENT TO BE HELD IN THE SAME BUILDING:

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 Sustainabilitank.info on September 3rd, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Indeed, as the Secretariat says now, more then 900 participants (the
previous figure was 1000), including delegates from 158 nations (out of
171 signatories and one observer to the 1992 UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change), came to Vienna to participate in the FOURTH SESSIONS OF
THE AD HOC WORKING GROUP ON FURTHER COMMITMENTS FOR ANNEX I PARTIES UNDER
THE KYOTO PROTOCOL TO THE UNFCCC AND CONVENTION DIALOGUE - the AWG4 and the
"Dialogue On Long-Term Cooperative Action To Address Climate Change By
Enhancing Implementation Of The Convention."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

###