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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 5th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

As Jeremic (Former Foreign Minister of Serbia) Talks Sovereignty, What of Egypt and Kosovo, Budget from Serbia?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 3 — The UN seems to make even articulate people bland, and to turn everything into buzzwords and cliches. So it seemed at Vuk Jeremic’s first press conference as President of the UN General Assembly.

His deputy spokesman chose only five question — by the end of which, the obvious word “Kosovo” had not once been said.

Only on the seventh and last pre-drinks questions was the word broached. Jeremic answered indirectly, saying that just as he fought “for five and a half years” as Serbian foreign minister for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia, now he would fight for those things for the whole world. Is that a message to the proponents of Azawad in Northern Mali? Inner City Press has covered Mali’s on-again, then off-again recognition of Kosovo.


More pertinently, is it true as buzzed at the UN that the “new” Egypt may move to recognize Kosovo? What if anything could a PGA (President of the UN General Asembly) try to do?

Inner City Press covered — and called — Jeremic’s election as General Assembly President, and when the media in Serbia contacted it for stories about Jeremic’s budget, Inner City Press also asked Jeremic’s predecessor how much Qatar had spent (this was never answered).

But now one wants to know if it is true that the request to and contribution of Serbia is down to $1.5 million, and what will be the actual budgets of the office.

Wednesday these questions were not taken, nor more generic ones about mediation and the G-20. Team Jeremic offered drinks and cheese cubes to the correspondents, but that time might have been better spent on answering these questions. Perhaps in the future they will be answered.

———————-

UN Statement Calls for Restraint From Turkey and Syria, SC Prez Tells ICP

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 4 — On the UN Security Council’s press statement on Akcakale in Turkey, what changed in the 22 hours between the silence procedure being broken by Russia and the statement’s read-out by Council President Gert Rosenthal on Thursday evening?

Mostly the inserting of nine final words: “The members of the Security Council called for restraint.”

Inner City Press asked Ambassador Rosenthal, once he had read out the statement, whether it would be fair to read this as a call for restraint by Turkey as well, or just Syria.

“Both,” Rosenthal said. He confirmed that a separate draft press statement on bombings in Aleppo is under the Council’s “silence procedure” until 10 am on Friday. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the press that one Council member had extended silence until then. But would it be further extended?

There were a few other minor changes from the initial Azerbaijani (or “Ottoman”) draft and the one agreed to: the first draft expressed condolences first to the Government of Turkey then to the families of the victims; this was reversed in the final statement. Also a reference to “international peace and security” was removed.

Some drew a link from the negotiations to an upcoming visit to Turkey by Russian president Putin on October 14. Others speculated about some other deal being reached.

In the run-up to the passing, a well placed diplomat told Inner City Press of passing the press statement, “If they can do it to keep Turkey quiet, good.” But will it?

—————–

As France Spins 2-Step on Mali, ECOWAS Frustration, What of Algeria and Chad?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 4 — When Thursday’s Mali consultations of the UN Security Council broken up near 5 pm, French Ambassador Gerard Araud emerged and confirmed that France would circulate a draft resolution shortly (in a day or two) but NOT yet to deploy ECOWAS forces.

Why the delay? Araud twice said, we’ve been waiting for some time for details from ECOWAS. He said the resolution might specify, deliver the delays in 30 days or as soon as possible.

Inner City Press asked Araud, what about Mali neighbors which are not members of ECOWAS, like Mauritania and Algeria?

Araud replied that any and all countries are invited to be involved. He mentioned the European Union, then circled back to Chad.

But again, what about Algeria? The country has long opposed interventions, especially involving former colonialism France. While pretending not to take the lead or play any special role on Mali, it was Araud who came to the stakeout; it is France which is drafting.

Then again, MUJAO in Northern Mali last month executed an Algerian diplomat. Araud said that there is unanimity in the Council on Mali, and afterward Cote d’Ivoire Ambassador Bamba, who was not allowed in the meeting, emphasized to the press that at the Sahel meeting at the UN during General Debate week, there was a strong political demand a resolution authorizing force.

But what about the neighbors, which are not members of ECOWAS?

—————-

At UN, Syria Praises Jeremic as Heavyweight, Critiqus Qatari Ex-PGA

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 4 — Syria UN Ambassador Bashir Ja’afari had many duels with Qatar’s Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser while the latter was President of the General Assembly, culminating in UN Television being turned off when Ja’afari spoke.

On October 4, on UNTV, Inner City Press asked Ja’afari about new PGA Vuk Jeremic and about Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser. Video here, from Minute 14:09.

Ja’afari lashed out at Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, and praised Jeremic as a “heavyweight.” Later it was noted that Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser repeatedly offered UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon a private jet to travel for free.

Ban has since named Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser as High Representative on the Alliance of Civilizations.

By contrast, Ja’afari told Inner City Press:

“I think the former PGA harmed his personal reputation, the credibility of his country’s policy and the United Nations by misusing his mandate and the very important podium of the General Assembly. I think that he tried to use the national agenda of his country and to dictate this national agenda on the Member States as a whole…

“You may remember the procedural and political mistakes he made towards the point of view of my country as well as toward myself. In these wrongdoing, procedural and political, he crossed the line. He wasn’t diplomat. He didn’t act responsibly.

“In one of these meetings, the former PGA stopped the translation one time, and stopped recording the session, for the first time since 1945. He on many occasion manipulated the rules and procedure of the session and meetings of the General Assembly.

“The new PGA will be by all means different in his approach, his analysis, from former PGA. He is a real heavyweight, a trouble shooter, a professional diplomat… I guess that he will not fall in the same trap in which the former PGA had fallen.

My minister met with the new PGA and they discussed the best ways to help Syria, Government and people, to achieve national dialogue and to implement the Kofi Annan Six Point Plan as well as other instruments adopted by consensus with regard the Syrian crisis. We look forward to working with him very closely.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 25th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

April 24 in modern history is a peace day date. We just discovered this accidentally. We think the UN should look into the possibility of making this a holy day in its calendar.

This year it happened to be Easter Sunday, but this is not our point. Rather, we coincidentally did something we never do – we looked at the listing of things that happened on this date in modern history and it rang bells in our mind.

Look at April 24, 1916 – it was the start of a down-played conference of European Socialists at Kiental in the Swiss Canton Bern. The Conference lasted till April 30th and was officially painted as a tourism event. But it was much more then that. At this meeting Lenin called to the workers in all countries of WWI to act so the War is ended. That was a Lenin call to the workers of the world to stop a useless war!

In 1926 on April 24th there was the signing of an international agreement relating to mobile vehicles – this was an aspect of the start of globalization. It was thought at that time that mobility will bring people together.

On April 24, 1941 the US and Japan held secret talks to establish a “MODUS VIVENDI” in the Pacific and East Asia. It led to no results, but it was some sort of secretly held effort at avoiding war. Had it led to results, there might have been peace in the Pacific but Hitler would have won in Europe and this surely would not have been the peace we could have enjoyed. So, Japan actually helped bringing about peace by leading to its own defeat – something I could not miss contemplating.

April 24, 1981 President Reagan lifted the grain embargo against the Soviet Union. Was this the start of West-East detente or just the recognition that the “Containment” policy is bringing results?

April 24, 1996, The Palestinian National Council decided to take out the statement about the destruction of the State of Israel from the PLO Charter. This allowed for a step  towards the eluding Peace Accord in the Middle East -though without results yet, it was a required step in the right direction nevertheless.

Looking at birthdays – it was April 24, 1941 – (remember the US-Japan secret talks?) that was also the birthday of Richard Holbrooke – a man who tried to bring peace to places other did not dare to go – Holbrooke achieved great public prominence when he, together with former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt, brokered a peace agreement among the warring factions inBosnia that led to the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords. It is sad to look reality in the face – but it was the Holbrooke effort that led to the only tangible peace making event in Europe in the post WWII era – and again it had to be initiated by the US  as the EU has not moved away yet from the bickering among its constituent governments. (The EU is a Federation when it comes to common standardization of goods and measurements – this more then in the USA, but in the all important matters of Foreign Policy, Security, and military command, it is yet much less then the American style of Federal Government. Thus not yet able to be effective in Peace making.

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

His Excellency Manouchehr Mottaki, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran since 2005, has come now for the third time to The Asia Society during the September – October period of the UN General Assembly In New York City.

Last year I had the opportunity to ask him about about Climate Change and why Iran, with its great scientists, and people involved at the UN level, does not embark in a leadership position in the area of renewable energy rather then striving for nuclear energy incurring only indignities. Others asked him about Iran’s stand on Israel.

This year – none of the above. One question from the floor asked about Israel – but was answered in the general line of the presentation – without the question been tackled at all. The Moderator was illustrious US Career Ambassador Frank G. Wisner, who served as impeccable host, presenting lots of compliments to his guest and making sure he is very comfortable. Further, The Asia Society simply managed to put the press away in a back room, and without the Q & A period reaching out to them – that is except the literally last question which asked about the possibility for regional negotiations in the crucial Middle East problem.   And the answer to that question was then submerged under the previous line of presentation that exposed beautifully the way Iran wants to be seen. No mention was made of the name Israel also in this   answer by the Minister.

The reality is   that many in Iran like actually some of the cocoons   created via the 1980 revolution that came as a reaction to some real injustices its people incurred from the hand of the US CIA when it undid the Mohammad Mosaddeq   April 28, 1951 – August 19, 1953 regime for its nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) and reinstated the   Shah who returned   on 22 August 1953, from the brief self-imposed exile in Rome. Also, some in the US Administration feared that Mossadeq was, or would become, dependent on the pro-Soviet Tudeh Party, at a time of returning Soviet influence, and too close for comfort to have the cold War Tectonic Plates reach towards the Saudi and Iraqi oilfields.

The extent of the US role in Mossadeq’s overthrow was not formally acknowledged for many years, although the Eisenhower administration was quite vocal in its opposition to the policies of the ousted Iranian Prime Minister. In his memoirs, Eisenhower writes angrily about Mossadeq, and describes him as impractical and naive, though he stops short of admitting any overt involvement in the coup.

Eventually the CIA’s role became well-known, and caused controversy within the organization itself, and within the CIA congressional hearings of the 1970s. CIA supporters maintain that the plot against Mosaddeq was strategically necessary, and praise the efficiency of agents in carrying out the plan. Critics say the scheme was paranoid and colonial, as well as immoral.

In March 2000, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated her regret that Mosaddeq was ousted: “The Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons. But the coup was clearly a setback for Iran’s political development, and it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America.” In the same year, the New York Times published a detailed report about the coup based on alleged CIA documents. For his sudden rise in popularity inside and outside of Iran, and for his defiance of the British, Mosaddeq was named as Time Magazine’s 1951 Man of the Year. Other notables considered for the title that year included Dean Acheson, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and General Douglas MacArthur.

In early 2004, the Egyptian government changed a street name in Cairo from Pahlavi to Mosaddeq, to facilitate closer relations with Iran.

 Now, these last few paragraphs, obviously, do not come from the monologue of Minister Mottaki, but I thought to bring this up because otherwise the show at the Asia Society cannot be understood, and the Ministers personality grasped.

***

The literally last question mentioned above, that came from the back-room filled with people from media was added when the announced “last question” that came from a lady sitting at the front-right table, clearly laudatory asked, “for those of us interested in the understanding of the history of the Middle East, when did Iran invade last one of its neighbors?”   The clear short answer was – “not in our lifetime.”

***

Had be given to me the opportunity to ask a question – what I had in mind was something like this:

“In light of what your excellency has said in regard to regional solutions for regional problems, and in light of justifiable aspirations by Iran to become an Asian powerhouse, what is your reaction to the Bahrain proposal at this year’s High-Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly, when Bahrain suggested the creation of a new UN organization comprising ALL STATES OF THE REGION – that wasinterpreted as meaning a Middle East organization that includes Israel?” This is exactly the most wanting direct question that was not put before our guest.

***

From The Speakers Profile and The Internet:

 Manouchehr Mottaki was born   May 12, 1953 in Bandar Gaz, in the northern Iranian Province of Golestan, and went to school there. Bandar-Gaz, during the Reza Shah Pahlavi rule, was an important city in the north with a national railroad and “several infrastructures.” It was considered   a transit bridge to the Soviet Union. After graduation, he joined the army and as per national plan joined the public education program by which was conducted by the government. He went to Khorasan province and established a school in a poor village around Mashhad, and taught there. After his service in the army, since he was interested in social and political issues, he decided to travel abroad both for experience and study. At that time India was a popular academic destination for young Iranians. So he traveled and studied for a few years in India, before the revolution in Iran.       He holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Bangalore University in India (1976). Mottaki also holds a master’s degree (MA) in international relations from the University of Tehran (1996).

 After the 1980 revolution, he was elected by the people of his home town and the neighboring cities as the first parliament representative and assigned by the other representatives as the head of the national security and foreign policy committee due to his politic and diplomatic talents. During his years in Majlis (Congress) and effective collaboration with the foreign ministry, he was employed then by the ministry after parliament.   Or, he made thus his career within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during 24 years of continuous presence in different positions through   the Majlis (Parliament)..

He served thus as member of parliament in the first Majlis, head of seventh political bureau of Foreign Ministry (1984),

Iran’s ambassador to Turkey (1985),

Foreign Ministry’s secretary general for Western European affairs (1989),

Deputy Foreign Minister – first for international affairs (1989) and then   for legal, consular and parliamentary affairs (1992).

 Iran’s ambassador to Japan (1994),

Advisor to foreign minister (1999),

Deputy head of Culture and Islamic Communications Organization (2001)

Chief of the Foreign Relations Committee of the 7th Majlis National Security and Foreign Relations Commission (2004).

During the 2005 presidential election, he was the campaign manager of Ali Larijani, the right-conservative candidate.

President Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejad, in 2005,   appointed him to the position of Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2005.

 

Mottaki quotations:

“Referring the case to the Security Council would be a lose-lose game, and we would prefer that this game does not happen. We see a win-win situation, that is where the EU and international community have confidence and the Islamic Republic of Iran reaches its legitimate right.”

“The Islamic Republic pays great cost to control and prevent transfer of narcotics to West.

“We do not accept global nuclear ‘apartheid’ and scientific ‘apartheid’.

“All voluntary measures taken over the past two-and-a-half or three years have been halted and we have no further commitment to the additional protocol and other voluntary commitments.”

“We should try to cool down the situation. We do not support any violence.”

“Nobody can remove a country from the map. This is a misunderstanding in Europe of what our president mentioned.”

“The time for using language of threats is over, it’s time for negotiation. We express our readiness for negotiations based on justice and a comprehensive compromise. We want to peacefully solve the problem.

“Nuclear weapons are not in Iran’s defense doctrine.”

“The issue is quite simple. We would like to enjoy our membership as well as the other members of the [Nuclear] Nonproliferation Treaty. The country has followed the rules and regulations of the [International Atomic Energy Agency] and wants to keep its rights.”

***

The Foreign Minister’s Introductory Presentation Before The Asia Society, Thursday, October 2, 2008:

Mottaki started by saying that since our last meeting here (2007), we had three events:

(1) The enjoyable visit of members of this Society in Tehran – he hopes this is a start for more such exchanges. This as a better way for mutual understanding – Scholars, Tourists, Students in such exchanges create the possibility to have more realistic picture of each other.

 

(2) LEBANON: A solution of more then 30 months of crisis was achieved after being initiated by different parties. Foreign Minister Mottaki wants to talk about how it was achieved – because the process is as important as the results.

It was a regional-based solution for the Lebanon crisis. The decision was that it has to be a solution based on votes by a 50+ plurality of all groups in the country – all groups in the country come to the table and a consensus is built – that was the tone of the Lebanon Policy agreement.

On the second day of the negotiations in Doha, at 2:30 AM, the feeling was that it all collapsed the negotiations were locked. Amr Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League said go ahead, but others opposed. Mottaki was in contact with Doha and Beirut and   at 9 AM they took up the issue again, and it was settled after a day of negotiations by 9 PM.

One learned that use of force should expect a reaction from the other side. Then also that territorial integrity is an integral part of any solution. These lessons apply whenever you have conflict – this clearly also in the Georgia – Russia case.

 

(3) GEORGIA: The areas are already affected by crisis – energy, transportation, security.

The crisis started by use of force based on wrong information and miscalculation. The latter by not expecting reaction.

The second point is territorial integrity.

Its the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia now, before it was Kosovo, Does it result from the same policies? If so, are there other areas where action led to reaction? If Yes – What are these?

On the second day of the Georgia case there was an agreement signed with Poland. If this signing of the agreement with Poland has become another step, should we look for reaction in Syria? in Venezuela?

What is NATO going to do?

Iran is a neighbor of Azerbaijan and Armenia – so there is a regional concern and Iran has to take part in the initiatives – parallel with Europe. So he went to the region and to Berlin. Is NATO moving to accept Georgia as a member?                             The interesting question is then the borders.

***

 

Now it was the turn for Ambassador Frank G. Wisner to take his position as moderator and conversation partner.

He has retired from the US Foreign Service in 1997 with the highest rank – that of a Career Ambassador, but continued to be involved in special positions like the Special US envoy for the Kosovo Final Status (December 2005 – March 2008).   Now he is in the private sector.   In his career postings he was Ambassador to India, the Philippines, Egypt, Zambia… among other appointments, he was also Under Secretary of Defence for Policy.

He started by saying that Iran is a great nation that commands and deserves respect – yet for many of us it is difficult to see how Iran chooses to challenge the international community. How do you square your requirement for respect with a confrontation attitude he then asked the Minister.

Mottaki, who made his introductory presentation in English, but now used a translator for the conversation part of the event, started to smile.

His answer was: A very nice gathering and behavior – my response – What we see is   selective dealing and approach – and double standards.

Back in the 80s we extensively talked up issues. I suggest how the first Iraq war was dealt with and the second war – the war of Saddam against Kuwait. In all   these the underlying issue is the occupation of foreign lands. {I assume he means the Iraq war against Iran as the first war and the war of Iraq on Kuwait as the second war}   Back then the heated discussion was having a cease-fire not a settlement. So the first step is a cease-fire, another first step is withdrawal. We wanted to have the an “a” inserted so that it is clear that a withdrawal comes after the cease-fire. See, using “oil-for-food” money – even now a percentage goes to Kuwait, this while for 4 years we were engaged in lengthy negotiations that were ordered by the UN. Two Assistant Secretary-Generals that dealt with this are present here – they remember those negotiations. Sometimes just to keep things going we had to put proposals on the table. We felt these were in Iraq’s favor and Iraq asked – what do you pay us to accept?

On the nuclear issue – at the end of the day – it is officials of one country … But Islamic and Sharia teachings say that atomic bombs have no place in our defense.we also contend that nuclear weapons are nomore effective. Also military powr has lost effectiveness.

I outlined new agreements for the IAEA last year. 1,5 years ago, in Madrid, we said to the Agency we will give the right answers to the IAEA questions. Then the US turned over questions to the IAEA and they posed them to us. The agency said they have other questions and we started answering them one by one. For each set of questions they sent us a written letter that they accepted the answer as adequate. What expectations should Iran have? We expect the 5+1 to thank us for these efforts to answer all questions. We expected that at the September meeting to be told by the Agency that they put aside all questions, but they provided a second US set of contentions.

They were supposed to bring up questions in one set of timetable. These questions went beyond the timetable. but we accepted.

These questions, like the previous are baseless, we will not agre to the US directed routes. I believe if we continue the negotiations we will reach a point of agreement that will lead to action.

 

{All the above sounded to me like a reprise of the 1001 Nights stories – this time from Tehran. I wonder how many people in the room accepted these, though, as I remarked at the beginning of this article, I am probably one of the most inclined to allow some slack to the Iranians because of past US behavior – but this story contained really too much rope. It did not inspire safety at all.}

 

Now Ambassador Wisner had one more short question he said. The elections in the US. “Do you see from Iran’s point of view an opportunity for dialogue? What will be the modalities for negotiation?

A. A US President will have to reach out including the Middle East. If there are changes in the White House we will intently consider them. We take note of comments made by previous Presidents, who are not in power anymore, also candidates not yet elected. Comments made, promises given by them cannot yet be seriously considered. We have to wait and see.

As for an interest section, there is only stories in news media.

 

***

Q&A from the floor:

Answer On Israel of sorts:   Iran US relations are dependent on a number of issues. Unilateral Vs. Policies in the Middle East have complicated the situation. NO MENTION OF ISRAEL IN THE ANSWER.

 

Answer on Nuclear In The Middle East:   Atomic weapons cannot provide security. We all heard that the US had enough to destroy Russia. It helped in the balance of fear.

Six years have passed from the day your troops have entered Iraq – they have not succeeded. Why could not atomic weapons help in Afghanistan and Iraq? This year the 13th anniversary since the Islamic revolution in Iran.

if I were to list our grievances against the US it will be a long long list. Had we a nuclear bomb, could that have changed your actions in Iraq?

In tandem with development on hardware side, the software side. The US is not lacking in modern weapons, also in its economic might (except for the present problems). No serious changes will occur in the US. The problem is – insufficient reasoning to convince the international public opinion.

 

Answer to the last question on the Middle East: We go about our business about our nuclear problems. We provided the answers.

if a person is asleep- how hard you knock, it will not help. The US cannot accept Iran’s peaceful proposals because once they accept they will not be able to stay in this position.

US intelligence agencies announced that Iran does not work on nuclear bomb, but the uS did not accept. I know of five different reports. I think it is high time for them to accept this.

The 15 years they were against my country. What is wrong about changing policies – and see what was wrong for their country?

 iran002.gif

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As we have a particular idea in mind for this article, we will not delve further – but please look up –  www.du-art.com/about.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Burning Bush.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following was published on Japan Times online and we think it is either very naive or somewhere partisan and misleading.

 The UN, when it come to disputes – means the UN Security Council – the only UN body that can decide on matters of war. The Veto-Power system turns there the P5 into plain untouchables. How does Ramesh Thakur expects a UN position on Georgia when Russia holds a veto vote? Then, does he really believe that the other 4 Veto Powers will take decisions that are contrary to their self interests or perceived alliances?

Is it possible that Russia took positions on Kosovo, so they van prepare the base for their positions on South Ossetia and Abkhazia? Then, what kind of Russians are the people of South Ossetia? Do they really want back under a Russian roof, or actually they would prefer to have their own State for the Ossetians – North and South United?

We can only pray that the Japanese readers will be better informed then Mr. Thakur and those that gave him the ACUNS 2008 Award for the best recent book on the United Nations system think.
***

Payback time for Russia by Ramesh Thakur, Saturday, August 23, 2008.

You have to admire the chutzpah of the neocons for their castigation of Russia for attacking another country and emulating, in the Caucasus, NATO’s behavior in the Balkans. Who does Vladimir Putin think he is — U.S. President George W. Bush?

It was U.S. and NATO actions that set the precedent for flouting the rule of international law and violating long-settled collective norms of the international community against unilateral military interventions. Those who challenge or evade the authority of the United Nations as the sole legitimate guardian of international peace and security in specific instances undermine the principle of a world order based on international law and universal norms under U.N. authority.

If U.N. authorization is not a necessary condition for waging war lawfully and legitimately, then we must accept the resulting international anarchy and the law of the jungle in world affairs.

We no longer cede the right to any one state to use massive force within its borders free of external scrutiny or criticism. Claims for reversing the progressive restrictions on the right to interstate armed violence will be met with even more skepticism. To argue that NATO alone has the right to determine whether military intervention, by itself or any other coalition, is justified against others outside the coalition, is a claim to unilateralism and exceptionalism that will never be conceded by the “international community.” The claim that NATO should be set up as the final arbiter of military intervention by itself and every other coalition is breathtakingly arrogant.

In justification, Russia has pointed to Georgian complicity in killing thousands of South Ossetians, the fact that many of these are Russian citizens, the responsibility of Russia to protect its nationals, and the responsibility of the international community to protect South Ossetians from genocidal attacks by Georgia. Moscow is wrong to invoke the norm in this case, but no more so than the Americans and British were wrong in Iraq five years ago. Both actions prove the risks of unilateral interpretations and actions and the wisdom of channeling action through the U.N. Otherwise, the only certain end result is vigilante justice, which is no justice at all.

The U.N. Charter encapsulates the international moral code and best-practice international behavior. The urge to “humanitarian intervention” by powerful states, coalitions of the willing or regional organizations outside their own area of operations must be bridled by the legitimizing authority of the U.N. as our only available international organization for this purpose.

The second problem is the opposite one — of behaving as if geopolitics and realism belong on history’s shelf and have no relevance or applicability anymore. As Henry Kissinger is reported to have said after the Argentine invasion of the Falklands that roused the slumbering British lion into action to retake the islands by force, “a great power does not retreat forever.”

The end of the Cold War saw a very rare phenomenon in human history. Russia acknowledged its defeat and the new world order that came out of it. But instead of demonstrating grace in victory and some sensitivity to Russia’s legitimate fears, interests and national dignity, the West has repeatedly rubbed Russian noses in the dirt of their historic Cold War defeat.

Kosovo was detached from Russia’s Serbian ally and its declaration of independence readily recognized earlier this year. Instead of being dismantled with victory in the Cold War, NATO, an alliance in search of a role and mission, has progressively expanded its borders and reach steadily closer to Russia, slowly but surely encroaching on some areas that are part and parcel of Russian historical soul and identity.

Great powers have core vital interests that they will defend. Repeated warnings from Russia of red lines that must not be crossed were serially dismissed as the angry growls of a Russian bear in deep and permanent hibernation.

Russia has been encircled by Western bases, missiles and allies, while alternately taunted, ignored and dismissed. Champion chess players that they are, the Russians bided their time before checkmating the West brutally but brilliantly in South Ossetia and firing a warning shot across the bows of other former parts of the now forgotten Soviet empire.

No two situations are exactly alike. Still, much as most Westerners dismiss any analogy between Russia’s actions to pry South Ossetia and Abkhazia away from Georgia and NATO actions to detach Kosovo from Serbia, most others do accept the basic parallel.

Those who wish to back rebel movements and internationalize a crisis by intervening militarily had better be prepared for payback time in other places and conflicts. And for the moral hazards to come home to roost.

The wreckage of Georgia’s towns and countryside proclaim the ruins of the Bush administration’s foreign policy that has so recklessly squandered the hard won fruits of the Cold War in terms of both moral authority and geopolitical gains.

Ramesh Thakur is distinguished fellow at the Center for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Canada. His book “The United Nations, Peace and Security” recently won the ACUNS 2008 Award for the best recent book on the United Nations system.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ukrainian politicians concede there are problems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

The author is editor of EuropaWorld.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

###

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Colonial power?

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

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

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

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

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

——————–

EU remains split on Kosovo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————-

EU fudges Kosovo independence recognition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————-

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

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

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

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

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

 —————–

 

Rift Emerges at the U.N. Over Kosovo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

###

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Kosovo join the EU?

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

###

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

At the Noon Briefing to the Press, on Monday 28, 2008, The Spokesperson to the UN Secretary-General addressed the item: **Holocaust Commemoration

“Events to commemorate the Holocaust started today and will last all week here at UN Headquarters. In addition to the launching of a new UN postage stamp, which took place moments ago in this room, there will be a Holocaust memorial ceremony and a concert tonight in the General Assembly Hall from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Performing tonight will be the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Zubin Mehta, along with musicians from Tel Aviv University.

US Congressman and Holocaust survivor Tom Lantos will be represented by his daughter, Katrina Swett, who will read a keynote address.”

The launching of the stamps was mentioned further in:
unlogo_blue_sml_en.jpg

Press Release
OBV/681

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
UNITED NATIONS, ISRAEL POST ISSUE HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE STAMPS.

Today, the United Nations Postal Administration is launching a new stamp in observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

The stamp, incorporating the award-winning logo of the United Nations Department of Public Information’s “Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme”, is being launched simultaneously for the very first time with a national stamp issued by the Israel Postal Company.                       The United Nations Offices in Geneva and Vienna will also issue a first day cover for the stamp.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the stamp “demonstrates the commitment of the United Nations to pay tribute to all the victims of the Holocaust, honour the survivors, and reaffirms its efforts to help prevent future acts of genocide. In this way, we can help inspire succeeding generations to overcome hatred and bigotry. I am proud Israel joins us by issuing of a national stamp carrying the same design, encouraging us to revere remembrance and look to a century free of barbarism,” he said.

Welcoming this new partnership with the United Nations, Ariel Atias, Israel’s Minister for Communication, said, “The joint issue of a stamp by the United Nations and Israel in observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust represents an important step in worldwide efforts to ensure that the Holocaust will not be forgotten. That event stands as a warning to us all that if we are not vigilant, hatred and racism could emerge once again. The State of Israel deeply appreciates the actions of the United Nations and the United Nations Secretary-General to combat anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.”

The United Nations stamp will be issued in denominations of 41 cents, 0.85 Swiss francs and €0.65 at United Nations Headquarters in New York, and the United Nations Offices in Geneva and Vienna, respectively. The national stamp, issued by the Israel Postal Company in Hebrew, is in a denomination of 4.6 shekels.

United Nations Postal Administration has also made available a joint silk first day cover sheet featuring all three United Nations stamps in English, French and German, cancelled with the first day of issue postmarks.

The stamps were designed by the United Nations Department of Public Information utilizing the logo of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, which, as mandated by General Assembly resolution 60/7 of 1 November 2005, aims to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide. Please see www.un.org for more information.

The United Nations Postal Administration issued its first stamps in dollar denominations on 24 October 1951. The stamps were an immediate success and sold out within days. The United Nations is the only organization in the world which is neither a country nor a territory that is permitted to issue postage stamps.

Contacts: Kimberly Mann, Chief of the Advocacy Unit, tel.: 212 963 6835, e-mail:  mann at un.org; Robert Gray, Chief of the United Nations Postal Administration, tel.: 212 963 0827, e-mail:  gray3 at un.org; Merav Lapidot, Spokesperson, Israel Post Company, tel.: 972 54 288 8808, e-mail:  meravla at postil.com

* *** *

We came to the UN at 4:30 p.m. in order first to buy the stamps with the first day cancelations, we had a preview of an exhibit that will open on January 29, 2008, and displays facts about Albanian/Kosovarian Muslims (BESA) who saved Jews during the Holocaust and, and were recognized as such by the Jerusalem based Yad V’Shem; then we stayed for the evening events at the Hall of the UN General Assembly, and the concert. In the process we learned how much the UN officials missed from the deeper meanings of what went on that day at the UN.

The UN did release also the following information:

Memory of Holocaust victims honoured through series of UN events

28 January 2008 – Marking the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, United Nations offices worldwide are holding a series of events this week, including concerts, exhibitions and the issuance of a special stamp, to raise awareness about the tragedy and to honour those that perished.

The annual Holocaust Remembrance Week kicked off today at UN Headquarters in New York with the launch of a special postal stamp by the UN Postal Administration. Incorporating the award-winning logo of the Department of Public Information’s “Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme,” the stamp will be issued in New York, Geneva and Vienna, simultaneously with a national stamp issued by the Israeli Postal Company. “Both stamps bear the same design and will carry the same call that we must remember the victims of the Holocaust and continue to stand in solidarity with them,” Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, told reporters at the launch.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon felt strongly that the new stamp demonstrated the UN’s commitment “to pay tribute to all the victims of the Holocaust, honour the survivors, and reaffirms its efforts to help prevent future acts of genocide,” Mr. Akasaka added.

Ariel Atias, Israel’s Minister of Communications, said he was “deeply inspired” by the UN’s decision to issue the stamp and bring it to the public to help ensure that a holocaust would never occur again. That was especially important today, he stated through a translator, when there is a member of the world body calling for Israel’s destruction.

It was in November 2005 that the Assembly designated 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, as an annual International Day of Commemoration to honour the victims of the Holocaust, and urged countries to develop educational programmes to instill the memory of the tragedy in future generations.

Ambassador Dan Gillerman of Israel today voiced appreciation for the fact that the Assembly’s resolution designating the International Day has become an ongoing process in an outreach programme whereby people worldwide were taught the lessons and horrors of the Holocaust and made to become part of the army of goodwill committed to the words “never again.”

As part of the activities to mark the Day, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim took part in an event at the Consulate General of Italy in New York at which he read the names of the Jews deported from Italy and the former Italian territories.

Mr. Kerim will also be among the speakers at the Holocaust Remembrance Day memorial ceremony and concert to be held tonight, featuring the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Zubin Mehta, along with musicians from Tel Aviv University. He is expected to stress that the Day must be more than a commemoration or a remembrance, and serve as a call to action in honour of the victims and survivors. “The Holocaust fed man’s ego with delusions of supremacy, and tried to erase the bonds that all human beings share. We must spare no effort to ensure that we never again witness such evil.”

Other events marking the Day include the unveiling on 30 January by the Department of Public Information of the first permanent exhibit on the Holocaust and the UN, which presents an overview of the tragedy in the context of World War II and the founding of the Organization.

In Vienna, UN staff marked the Day at a solemn ceremony on Friday which brought together representatives of the Jewish community, the Romanis and other affected groups, as well as politicians, the diplomatic community, students and civil society. A key feature of the event was the unveiling of a reproduction of a series of postcards depicting life in a labour camp, originally created by Holocaust victim Karl Schafranek in Eisenerz, Styria in 1940. They are now on display for the first time since being smuggled out of the camp. The exhibition also included paintings by Holocaust survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Adolf Frankl, as well as by Dvora Barzilai from the Exhibition “Shalom Peace Pace.”

In Brazil, an observance was held on 25 January with President Jose Inacio Lula da Silva and the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, César Maia.

In Madagascar, a permanent exhibit on the Holocaust will be unveiled at the UN Information Centre.

The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme is also coordinating a video conference for students with the UN information centres in Antananarivo, Madagascar, and Lomé, Togo, and educators at the “Memorial de la Shoah” in Paris.

In Tokyo on 29 January, an educational workshop targeting young students will focus on the links between the Holocaust and human rights issues. This year’s observance focuses on the need to ensure the protection of human rights for all, and coincides with the 60th anniversary year of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

And the UN Secretary-General, who is now on a trip to Slovenia and Slovakia, that has to do mainly with the forthcoming independence of Kosovo, and then he follows up with a visit to Rwanda, and to the African Union meeting in Addis Ababa, left behind his own statement – released on the 28th, but dated 27th, the correct date of the liberation by the Soviet Army of the death factory of Auschwitz.

—– * —- * —-* —–

Holocaust Remembrance Day is a time to teach tolerance – Ban Ki-moon

27 January 2008 – As the global community today marked the third International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the occasion should serve to honour the victims and educate future generations.

In a message on the Day, the Secretary-General said it is not enough to remember, honour and grieve for the dead. “As we do, we must also educate, nurture and care for the living.”

He called for a special focus on the younger generation. “We must foster in our children a sense of responsibility, so that they can build societies that protect and promote the rights of all citizens,” he said.

Children must gain a respect for diversity before intolerance has a chance to take root, “and a sense of vigilance in case it threatens to do so,” he said. “We must give them the courage and tools they need to make the right choices, and to act in the face of evil.”

Mr. Ban also refuted Holocaust deniers. “To those who claim that the Holocaust never happened, or has been exaggerated, we respond by reiterating our determination to honour the memory of every innocent man, woman and child murdered at the hands of the Nazis and their accomplices,” he said.

“We mourn the systematic genocide of one third of the Jewish people, along with members of other minorities, which deprived the world of untold contributions.”

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said the Day provides the international community with a sober moment of reflection and remembrance. “We can truly honor the victims of the Holocaust by pursuing all efforts to extend the real protection of international human rights law to all those who fall victim to its violations.”

By honouring the memory of those who fell victims to the most “horrendous manifestations of discrimination, hatred and intolerance,” she said the international community reaffirms their dignity as human beings, and its collective failure to protect them.

In the face of continued manifestations of anti-Semitism, “this Day is a call on the world’s conscience and a reminder of the acute necessity to confront intolerance, bigotry, prejudice, ignorance and hatred, early and unequivocally.”

On Saturday, the President of the UN General Assembly said the Day must serve as a global call to action to prevent future carnage. “For the dignity of all humanity, we must strengthen our ability, our collective resolve, to prevent such atrocities, whenever and wherever they might occur,” Srgjan Kerim told congregants at the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan.

Numerous activities are scheduled to be held this week in connection with the Day, including a concert and a joint exhibition, “The Holocaust: Stories of Rescue” at UN Headquarters in New York.

In 2005, the General Assembly designated 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, as an annual International Day of Commemoration to honour the victims of the Holocaust, and urged Member States to develop educational programmes to instill the memory of the tragedy in future generations.

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One of the underlying events that, even if not mentioned by the country’s name – Iran – or the perpetrators name – Ahmedi-Nejad – was the issue of Holocaust denial, and the recurrence of Anti-Semitism under the guise of Anti-Israeli attitude at the UN coined as Anti-Zionism. As such, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon left his signature on the stamp cachet – saying:

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The Israeli Stamp was not issued by an “Israeli Stamp Company” as the UN release says – but by a branch of the UN Member State – Israel – its government as represented by its Minister of Communication.

Furthermore, the first day cancellation in Israel, was done, as usually accepted, in the capital city of Israel – Jerusalem. The real significance of this joint release of stamps between the World Three UN Cities, New York, Geneva, and Vienna, is the fact that it very unceremoniously recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – AND THIS IS CLEARLY A TREMENDOUS FIRST WHEN ONE ANALYZES THE UN ATTITUDE TOWARDS ISRAEL.

First let us see the Israeli cachet:

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NOW THIS CLEARLY SAYS ISRAEL POST – THAT IS THE ISRAELI POSTAL SERVICE. The cancellations mention January 27, 2008 which was a Sunday – the correct day of the UN Memorial Day for the Holocaust that being this year on a Sunday, it fell on a working day in Israel, but on a non-working day in the three UN cities. This led to the cancellation in correct time in Jerusalem but a release on January 28, 2008, a Monday, in New York City. But funny, the hand cancellation, in pure UN bumbling fashion, carries the date February 1, 2008, which is clearly a philatelic mistake based on someone’s incompetence. (Philatelically, above mistake makes this numbered envelope with the wrong cancellation – more valuable!)

The page from the UN Philatelic Bulletin for January – March 2008 is as follows:

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Having Dealt with the Important UN Precedent of The Joint Issuance Of A Stamp And A Jerusalem Cancellation – Let Us See Now What Else Did The UN Department Of Communication and Public Information – Miss Or Misinterpret In this January 28, 2008, Third UN Official Commemoration Of The Memory Of The Inhumanity Of Man.

THE EVENING EVENTS:

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THE EVENING PROGRAM WAS AS FOLLOWS:

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LOOKING AT THE PROGRAM IT IS QUITE OBVIOUS THAT ISRAEL DID NOT SEND ITS WORLD RENOWN ISRAEL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA TO ENTERTAIN THE UNITED NATIONS – IN EFFECT THERE WAS SOMETHING MUCH MORE IMPORTANT HERE AT PLAY. The virtuoso Maestro Zubin Mehta, who manages simultaneously the New York Philharmonic and the Israeli Philharmonic, is also the head of the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel-Aviv.

The Israeli Philharmonic came into existence when the best musicians of Europe escaped Nazism. They were not all Jewish – it was the pair of the German Jew Huberman and the Italian non-Jew Toscanini that started the orchestra. What the Israeli Ambassador, Dan Gillerman had in mind at the UN Hall of the General Assembly, a usually very inhospitable place for Israel, was to ask the audience that those that were survivors of Nazi camps stand up – and some 50-70 people did. Then he asked the young people on stage – an orchestra of about 100 youngsters – who is a descendant of Holocaust survivors to stand up – and half of the young people stood up.

So, what the UN DPI did not understand – this concert was not intended as entertainment to them – but rather as a celebration of life. These young people, under the baton of Zubin Mehta, came to show to the UN that Israel has survived and will live – this without having to be intimidated by the high walls of the UN General Assembly.

The present President of the UNGA, Minister Srgjan Kerim, a person whose father helped Jews during the war, knew why he was there that night. We understood him well on Saturday when he spoke at the Park East Synagogue, and we understand that earlier on Monday he stood in front of the Italian Consulate on Park Avenue in New York and recited names of Italian Jews that lost their life in camps.

The music was about the future – Beethoven’s 5th, the Kol Nidrei of Max Brod, and the Psalms of the Israeli Paul Ben-Haim.

The two prayers by the in-house cantor of the Park East Synagogue, Cantor Itzhak Meir Helfgot, reminded us how the past came about as highlighted by Katrina Swett, one of the two daughters of US Congressman Tom Lantos, a survivor of Auschwitz, and his wife, also a survivor of concentration camps. In between Katrina, and her sister Annette, the Lantos have now 17 grandchildren.

Tom Lantos is now ill and could not come, but the words he sent, as read by his daughter, were sharp about the past, unforgiving of the UN’s Durban exercises, but full of expressions of hope. His daughter actually got an ovation for her words, as did Cantor Helfgot for the prayers. We intend to attach Tom Lantos’ statement when we manage to obtain it.

UNSG Ban Ki-moon spoke via video, and the evening was managed at first by the present USG for Communications and Public Information, and then by Ambassador Gillerman.

The only non student on the orchestra was Israel Philharmonic’s cellist – Hillel Zori – who got his musical education with the help of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation.

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

Netherlands says it will block EU deal with Serbia.
Associated Press January 28, 2008 from Brussels.

The Netherlands said Monday it would block a European Union pre-membership accord with Serbia until Belgrade brings key war crimes suspects to trial at a UN tribunal.

Such a deal has been supported by some EU nations that argue there is a necessity to reach out to Serbia, rather than isolate it, especially as Serbs prepare to elect a president and the southern province of Kosovo looks set to declare independence.

But opposition from the Netherlands would block the accord, which needs unanimous approval from all 27 EU nations.

“We will not sign an agreement until there is full co-operation” from Belgrade with the UN’s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, deputy Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans said on arrival at an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.

The ministers were to discuss the pre-membership deal on Monday. Some countries have held it up as a way to mitigate anti-Western sentiment in Serbia fuelled by European and U.S. support for Kosovo’s independence. Serbia is fiercely opposed to letting go of the predominantly ethnic Albanian territory.

But the Netherlands wants Belgrade to first hand over Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, who led the Serb faction during Bosnia’s civil war in the early 1990s, to the UN tribunal in The Hague.

“We think its really important that Serbia becomes part of the European family,” Mr. Timmermans told reporters.

He added the EU must only sign a so-called Stabilization and Association Agreement “when there is full co-operation [from Belgrade] with the Yugoslav tribunal. We have not yet reached that situation.”

Belgrade says it is doing all it can to co-operate with the tribunal but that it cannot find Mr. Mladic and Mr. Karadzic. While there is sympathy for that view in some EU capitals, the Dutch insist only their arrests would constitute full co-operation.

Most EU nations favour a pre-membership deal that would offer trade and co-operation advantages to Serbia and set it on track to open membership talks with the EU.

Olli Rehn and Javier Solana, the EU’s enlargement commissioner and foreign affairs chief, stressed the need to sign the agreement quickly.

“What is at stake is that the Serbian people are choosing between a European future and their nationalist past,” Mr. Rehn said. “We should today send a very strong signal [for] a European future for the Serbian people by deciding to sign this Stabilization and Association Agreement.”

Similarly, Solana urged EU governments to be “very constructive [and] show our commitment to get Serbia as close as possible to the European Union.”

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband insisted the bloc must “send a clear signal that we continue to see Serbia’s future with the European Union. Rather than against it.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 25th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Eurovision winner’s links to Serb radical worries Brussels.

24.01.2008 By Elitsa Vucheva for The EUobserver from Brussels.

The EU has expressed concern after Serbian pop star appointed as European ambassador for intercultural dialogue has shown support for the country’s Radical candidate for the presidential elections.

Marija Serifovic, who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007, was selected as one of 15 EU ambassadors for the European year of intercultural dialogue – an initiative launched by the European Commission in 2008.

However, the singer now appears to support Tomislav Nikolic, the eurosceptic nationalist candidate of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), who won the first round of the Serbian presidential elections last Sunday (20 January).

Ms Serifovic participated in rallies organised by Mr Nikolic, including one in December in the Serbian town of Kragujevac and one on 15 January in Belgrade, singing her winning song, “Molitva” (Prayer).

On Thursday (24 January) the European Commission expressed concern regarding Ms Serifovic’s ties with the radical party.

The commission “will examine whether there is evidence of Ms Serafovic making statements which run counter to the aims of the European year of intercultural dialogue in which case we have to review her further activities as an ambassador for the European year”, John Macdonald, a spokesman for the EU executive, said.

“Her political affiliation and activities in no way express the political position of the EU in the context of the Serbian presidential elections which are a matter for the people of Serbia”, he added.

She was also seen next to Mr Nikolic at the celebrations following the SRS candidate’s victory last Sunday.

“This is a prayer for a different and above all a more honest Serbia,” the singer had said after performing “Molitva” at the December rally, according to Serbian news site Press Online.

At that same event, Mr Nikolic had vowed Serbia would only join the EU as an integral state – including Kosovo as part of its territory, and had called the forthcoming elections decisive for “Serbia’s fate”.

He also recently told French daily Le Monde that “Brussels does not respect us [Serbia] and we are therefore under the obligation to turn ourselves to Russia,” adding that cutting ties with the EU would not be “a big loss” for Belgrade anyway, as “all we lose are European funds.”

The second round of the elections will take place on 3 February, with Mr Nikolic facing the current pro-Western president of Serbia, Boris Tadic.

The elections are viewed as crucial for the country’s further EU integration process.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 17th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

An independent Kosovo can never join U.N.-Russia Says.

By Louis Charbonneau for Reuters, January 17, 2008

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Russia on Wednesday backed its ally Serbia, saying Kosovo will never become a member of the United Nations or other international organizations if the breakaway province unilaterally declares independence.

The two million Albanians in the Serbian province are expected to declare independence sometime after Serbia’s presidential elections later this month.

Serbian President Boris Tadic said in a speech to the U.N. Security Council that his country would never recognize a sovereign Kosovo, a view the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, made clear Moscow shared.

“They (Kosovo) would not become members of the United Nations, they would not become members of international political institutions … if they go down the road of unilateral declarations,” Churkin told reporters.

As a permanent veto-wielding member of the 15-nation Security Council, which would have to approve Kosovo’s U.N. membership, Moscow would have the power to block any request from Pristina to join the United Nations.

But Churkin would not directly say whether Russia was prepared to block Kosovo’s U.N. membership.

Both Churkin and Tadic urged the Security Council to continue working to find a solution to the Kosovo problem that is acceptable to both Belgrade and Pristina. But diplomats say the time for such talks is over.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters the Security Council was blocked and no longer had any role to play on the issue of Kosovo’s future status.

Churkin disagreed. “The matter is firmly locked in the Security Council,” he said.

Western diplomats say Russia has prevented the council from passing a resolution that would open the door to independence for Kosovo. But Churkin made clear that Moscow did not feel responsible for the impasse and hoped the council would discuss his idea of a “roadmap” that could resolve the Kosovo issue.

‘TWO INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES’

The United States and the vast majority of the 27-nation European Union would recognize Kosovo immediately after it announces it has become a sovereign state, Western diplomats say.

“Serbia will never recognize Kosovo’s independence and will preserve its territorial integrity and sovereignty by all democratic means, legal arguments and diplomacy,” Tadic told the council, adding “Serbia will not resort to violence and war.”

Khalilzad welcomed Tadic’s assurances and urged Belgrade not to use economic weapons like restricting the region’s access to water or electricity.

Kosovo’s newly elected prime minister, ethnic Albanian former guerrilla Hashim Thaci, also addressed the council. Afterward he said Pristina would not wait much longer to declare independence. “I am sure that the decision will be taken very soon,” he said.

Thaci shook hands with Tadic in the council chamber. A reporter asked him to describe the moment.

“We shook hands as the leaders of two independent countries,” Thaci said.

As the role of the United Nations in Kosovo shrinks, the EU plans take over U.N. police and justice functions, with NATO troops continuing to maintain order in an independent Kosovo.

Joachim Ruecker, the chief U.N. administrator in Kosovo, indicated the province could to stand on its own.

“Kosovo’s institutions are now ready for the next step,” he said. “If all sides have good will, I think we can achieve this.”  

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 8th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

SECRETARY-GENERAL’S PRESS CONFERENCE – Monday, January 7, 2008

UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK.

First let us give the “boiler plate statement, then the verbatim Q&A, and at the end a little further insight.

The Secretary-General: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. First of all, I would like to send my best wishes for a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. I hope that 2008 will bring to all of you and your families best wishes, happiness and prosperity. It has been a great privilege for me to work with you during last year, my first year, and I count on continuing such a good relationship and friendship and exchange of ideas, including constructive criticism, even. Thank you very much.

By tradition, this is the season for taking stock—and for looking ahead.

We mourn the loss of 42 UN colleagues during the year 2007, including 17 killed in the Algiers terrorist bombing. Yet we enter 2008 with new determination—and new opportunities—to strengthen the UN’s role in the world.

You know that I am not one to speak easily of successes. The past year was one of immense challenges. But I think we have made certain progress. We opened a new chapter on climate change. We took on new and daunting challenges in peacekeeping, most specifically in Darfur.

We must build on this foundation. Protecting our planet and its people—our global commons—requires all our best efforts. So does the task of securing economic wellbeing, social justice, security and other global public goods. This requires sustained and coherent international action beyond what nations or markets can provide by themselves.

That is why I believe so strongly in the United Nations. Only the United Nations can take on the issues that affect us all, that shape the fate of the earth and its peoples.

These are powerful concepts: the “global commons” and “global public goods.” They are the basic building blocks of modern globalized society. If they are to have meaning, we must be mindful of the responsibilities they impose upon us.

We must address ourselves to the needs of the weak, the disadvantaged, those who have been excluded from the mainstream international community. I speak here of those who are most vulnerable to climate change. Those who suffer the most grinding poverty. Those who do not enjoy basic human rights.

And so I say, let 2008 be the year of the “bottom billion.”

That’s the phrase some economists use to describe the poorest of the world’s poor. They are the forgotten ones, the nearly one billion left behind by global economic growth. Most live in Africa or the small developing islands of Asia, eking out lives of hardship on incomes of less than $1 a day.

We must pay careful attention to these nations with special needs. We must heed the voices of the world’s poorest people, who too often go unheard.

For this reason, I shall work over the coming year to strengthen the UN’s role in development. We are at the mid-point of a great campaign to end world poverty, set forth in the Millennium Development Goals. Too many nations have fallen behind. We need fresh ideas and fresh approaches.

That is why, last year, I established the MDG Africa Steering Group. In April, world leaders will gather in Accra, Ghana, for the UNCTAD summit on trade and development. In September, we will host a high-level meeting at the beginning of the General Debate. The goal: to re-energize the world’s commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, with special attention to the poorest of the poor.

Last year, we used a similar forum to galvanize world action on climate change. This year, we will do the same for the bottom billion.

In the pursuit of the global good, human rights must be a core principle. It is fitting, then, that 2008 should also mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As I have said before, I say again. Economic and social advancement is an implicit human right. I will use this milestone year, therefore, to call for the universal ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

I am determined to press ahead with the special tribunal in Lebanon and to work with the international courts to promote justice and oppose impunity. We will launch a new global awareness campaign on human rights, push more aggressively to better protect women and children against violence, and strengthen the office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights.

The demands on the UN grow ever greater. If anything, the coming year promises to be even tougher than the last. Look how it has begun, with turmoil in Kenya and renewed violence in Sri Lanka. We must nurture a fragile peace process in the Middle East. We must do more to help the people of Iraq emerge from conflict and rebuild shattered lives. We must stay the course in Afghanistan, so that it does not again fall into lawless anarchy.

In Darfur, we must do our utmost to push the peace talks to a successful conclusion. We must manage the very complex deployment of UN-African Union forces. To succeed, we need the full cooperation of the government of Sudan. We also need the Member States—including the Security Council—to live up to their commitments.

The road from Bali will be difficult as well. Two years is not a long time to win a climate change deal that all nations can embrace. I intend to keep up the momentum. We need a global grassroots public awareness campaign to focus political pressure and keep global warming at the forefront of public consciousness.

We therefore move into the new year with renewed commitment to our ultimate mission—building a stronger UN for a better world. As ever, I seek results, not easy rhetoric. Our watchword must be effectiveness. I will continue my push to modernize, revitalize and streamline the UN system, upholding the highest standards of ethics, performance and accountability.

I want to stress this word. Accountability is not a technicality. It must be the fundamental operational principle of the UN—for the Secretariat, the agencies and Member States alike.

We will continue our work to stiffen procurement and management procedures. I will shortly ask all senior executives to sign management compacts with me, laying out specific and measurable benchmarks for performance. Last year we re-organized our Department of Peacekeeping Operations. This year, we will do the same with our development-related bodies and the Department of Political Affairs. I want it to become more proactive in tackling global crises, especially in the realm of preventive diplomacy.

Member States, too, must hold themselves accountable. They must put up the resources to deliver on their mandates. We must deliver on our promises—openly, effectively and promptly.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since my first day in office, I have sought an open and active dialogue with you in the UN press corps. You were the first people I met last year on my first day, and you are the first – after my Town Hall meeting with the staff this year – that I am meeting in this new year.

I look forward to our healthy, frank exchanges. They are valuable and, often, fun. Let me start by taking your questions. And again, my best wishes to you all for a very successful, rewarding 2008.

Q & A :

Question 1 – by tradition – from the UN Correspondents Association President (UNCA): Thank you very much for your kind wishes to the United Nations Correspondents Association.

On behalf of all my colleagues here, I would like to wish you and Madame Yoo Soon-taek all the best — and, of course, a very successful second year, despite the slow activities and results of the last year. You have set a lot of high expectations for this year.

So I wonder if you can tell us: First, there is a new crisis in Africa, in Kenya, where accusations of genocide and ethnic cleansing have become more and more visible now and heard all over the world. I wonder what the United Nations is doing to prevent another case of Rwanda in 1994, where the United Nations is limited to providing relief services while the killing went on?

The Secretary-General: I have been in close contact with Kenyan leaders, including President [Mwai] Kibaki and opposition leader [Raila] Odinga, and President [John] Kufuor of Ghana, in his capacity as Chairperson of the African Union, and many other international leaders to, first of all, calm down and stabilize the situation. I urged them strongly to avoid further killings of civilians. That was unacceptable, as I have stated in my two previous statements. I will continue to do that.

The United Nations has been doing our best efforts to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance to many people there who have been unfortunately displaced because of this situation in Kenya. Protecting human rights is very important and paramount for us. We are taking all necessary measures to prevent the further deterioration of the situation.

As for the specific question you raised, that will always be a high priority in my mind. We will try our best to ensure that no further casualties will happen there. And as the leaders of Africa – including President Kufuor, who is expected to have consultations with the Kenyan leadership — as well as some former presidents are also expected to visit there — I hope, through those international interventions, the Kenyan leaders will sit down together and resolve this issue in a peaceful manner.

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Question 2 from the UN Correspondent for The New York Times, Warren Hoge, a paper favored by the UN: Mr. Secretary-General, both you and the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping last month said that the force going in to Darfur would be at risk unless the Sudanese Government agreed to some of the troop assignments that you were requesting, and unless other countries gave you the transportation and logistics you needed. Neither of those two things has happened. You have had a formal change of command in Darfur, which basically is just changing the colour of the helmets. My question is: If this force is, as you say, at risk, how can you deploy them when they don’t have the capacity to protect civilians and don’t have the capacity to protect themselves?

The Secretary-General: That is exactly why I, as Secretary-General, and the United Nations as a whole, and the international community – Member States – must ensure a rapid deployment of the Hybrid Operation as agreed, to the level of 26,000, as soon as possible. We now have 9,000 re-hatted soldiers in Darfur. That is not sufficient. That is why we are very much concerned about this ongoing deteriorating situation in Darfur.

I had a long telephone discussion with President [Omar al-] Bashir last Saturday, and we agreed to meet again in Addis Ababa. Before that, before we meet again at Addis Ababa on the occasion of the African Union summit meeting, we will have a high-level consultation to resolve all these pending issues. There are, as you rightly said, two areas of pending issues, one to be done by the Sudanese Government. There are still many technical or administrative issues, to which the Sudanese Government must commit themselves as agreed, including a status of forces agreement and also composition of forces and other technical issues.

Then there are resources to be provided by the Member States in general, including critical assets like helicopters and heavy transport equipment. These are to be done by both sides: by the international community as a whole and the Sudanese Government. I will do my best to expedite this process. In fact, we have made a good framework to resolve these Darfur as well as Sudanese issues as a whole, including a peace process and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

All those three tracks will move hand in hand. And we are also looking at the possibility of resuming the second peace process. But that may take a little bit of time. My Special Envoy Mr. Jan Eliasson and African Union Envoy Mr. [Salim Ahmed] Salim, they are working very hard. Jan Eliasson is also going to visit Khartoum next week.

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Question 3 from a correspondent from Morocco: Mr. Secretary-General, there have been statements threatening war in the African continent lately. The POLISARIO has been saying that this is the last chance that they give the Moroccans in the Western Sahara; otherwise the preparation for war is afoot. Also, we have the worrying aspect of Chadian aeroplanes bombing areas of Sudan, Darfur, in chase of Chadian rebels, so they allege. And there are obvious and frank threats from the President of Chad to enter Darfur to chase the Chadian rebels. Your thoughts on both subjects, please.

The Secretary-General: On the Western Sahara issue: As you may know already, I am going to issue a statement this morning that there is going to be another consultation in Manhasset, in Greentree, between the parties concerned. I appreciate all the parties concerned to have accepted my invitation. Mr. [Peter van] Walsum is going to organize as well as facilitate this dialogue. This is a painstaking and very complex issue, and I hope that this time they will be able to make good progress on these issues.

On the situation in Darfur and, again, the Sudanese relationship, I am going to discuss with African leaders, including President [Idris] Deby of Chad. I have spoken with President Bashir. But I would really urge the leaders and countries concerned to refrain from all these exercises – refrain from using military forces. This will only aggravate the situations in Africa. I am very much concerned about all these ongoing deteriorating situations – not only here but elsewhere, including Kenya, Sudan, Chad and other areas.

I really hope that this new year, 2008, will see bright hope. We have started with gloomy prospects: the situation in Kenya and elsewhere. I really hope that, with active cooperation and dialogue among the leaders of the world, we will see some better world this year. This is my firm commitment as Secretary-General.

Question – a follow up: But the POLISARIO is saying frankly, and their statements are very clear, that this is the last chance they are giving the Moroccans. Your thoughts on that; are you having any contacts with the POLISARIO? I understand that you hope that they will reach an agreement, but it seems the obstacles are too high and, in the face of these threats, it sounds like dire straits to me.

The Secretary-General: I would not make any comment on such kinds of very definitive declaration by any one of the parties. All the issues, they have their background and very complex nature of the issues. And it needs the parties concerned to be, first of all, patient and persistent and consistent and faithful in resolving this issue through dialogue.

——–

Question 4 from Japan: We know that you are a very humble person, but if you were to rate your first year’s performance on a scale of 1 to 10, how much would you give yourself, and why?

The Secretary-General: I am the sort of person – as you said, modest. I am the sort of person who is very strict to myself, officially and personally. Even in my home and my private life, I really want to be very strict to myself. When you set a guideline or rule, I want to be bound by that. I stick to that.

The assessment of my performance as Secretary-General during the last one year will be the role and duty of you and Member States and other public and private organizations, including many NGOs. I think that I have made certain progress. As I said, I am not a person who easily speaks about success, because one year may be too long or may be too short for anyone to assess my performance. All the issues which you may have seen last year, they are all ongoing projects, including reform of the United Nations, Darfur, climate change or all these Lebanese situations. All are ongoing and very complex, so we need to continue and step up our efforts. I think I have established good tracks on the basis of which I can move ahead on these projects.

———

Question 5 from Frank Ucciardo of CBS: Mr. Secretary-General, in your opening statement you talked about pressing on with the investigation in the Hariri assassination and the Lebanon tribunal. As you know, the family of Benazir Bhutto has asked for United Nations participation in the investigation of her murder. I would like to get your thoughts about that. And do you feel that the United Nations should be the one organization or agency in the world that is the place to go for such political assassination investigations?

The Secretary-General: In other places, you mean?

Question: Yes. In other words, Benazir Bhutto’s family has asked for the participation of the United Nations to investigate her murder and her assassination, and as you know, Scotland Yard has been invited in by the Government. But do you feel that the United Nations should be the place where the buck stops and where investigations start in such political assassinations?

The Secretary-General: First of all, the United Nations has not received any formal request from the Government of Pakistan, and as you may very well be aware, Scotland Yard are now providing technical assistance in the investigation process of this very tragic assassination case. Therefore, I am not in a position to comment on any request on a private, personal level. All this kind of establishing Special Tribunals should be, first of all, based upon the formal request of the Government concerned. And then that should be decided by the Security Council. That means that all Member States should decide. The assassination of Hariri case, which has been establishing this Special Tribunal, was a very special one, where the whole Security Council has made a consensus agreement on this.

——-

Question 6 from Ms. Raghida Dergham from Al-Hayat, London: Mr. Secretary-General, Happy New Year to you and your family, and thanks for welcoming constructive criticism. Actually, this is praise of what you have done in Paris, when you chaired the meeting in Paris on Lebanon. I am wondering if you are satisfied with the follow-up to that meeting you have chaired. And since you said you are pressing ahead with this tribunal on Lebanon, are you going to name the judges? You said you will accept the recommendations, but are you going to be naming the judges, and is the tribunal pretty much ready to be operational in February, as we have heard from the American ambassador? And is this tribunal now unstoppable?

The Secretary-General: We have made good progress on the establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The United Nations remains committed to the search for truth and justice in this case. On 21 December, after three months of negotiations, we signed a headquarters agreement with the Dutch Government on the Special Tribunal, to be headquartered at The Hague. I have also received and adopted the recommendations of the selection panel created to help me recruit judges for the tribunal. It is a panel of international judicial experts, which includes my Legal Counsel, Mr. Nicolas Michel. I will announce the names of those selected at an appropriate time in the future. The judges will assume their functions on the date I will also determine soon.

In this regard, I would like to speak more broadly on the situation in Lebanon, if you will allow me to say a few words. I continue to be in close contact with Lebanese leaders and, more broadly, with international and regional leaders to try to find a solution to the prolonged political crisis. I am deeply disappointed by the current situation, in which the Lebanese people have not been able to elect their own President for such a long time. There has been a prolonged constitutional vacuum by not having a President yet.

Failure to reach an early agreement would represent a betrayal of the expectations of both the Lebanese people and the international community. You have seen the international donors conference, which was held in January last year in Paris, which committed almost $8 billion, and you have seen this meeting which I convened last December in Paris on the occasion of the other international meeting. I am, at the same time, encouraged by the efforts of the League of Arab States, announced yesterday.

I once again call on Lebanese leaders to think about the future of their country, transcending sectarian and individual interests. And, on the neighbouring countries, I urge them to help the Lebanese people, so that they will be able to overcome this crisis on their own will, without outside interference.

Question: A follow-up for you, Mr. Secretary-General: Have you been in touch with a particular neighbour who is thought to be interfering in Lebanon, and there is a Syrian presidency or Syrian Government: have you had any recent contacts with them? And what do you mean when you say that in due time you will announce the names of the judges? Do you mean when the tribunal becomes operational? And will that be in February, like the American ambassador said?

Secretary-General: The tribunal is making good progress, including the funding. We have been receiving necessary funding from many, many countries. Therefore, first of all, the headquarters agreement should be ratified by the Dutch parliament. We need to have sufficient funding. We are talking about $120 million for the period of three years, out of which we may need at least $40 million or $45 million, I am not aware of the exact amount, for the first year. I think necessary preparations are going on well. As soon as all these administrative and legal measures are finalized, then I will be in a position to announce the names of the judges.

Question: And Syria?

The Secretary-General: As you know very well, I have been in close contact with many leaders in the region, including President [Bashar al-]Assad of Syria. I think I have spoken with him last month, and I will continue to discuss this issue with whoever is known to have influence or interest in the future of Lebanon.

——–

Question 7 – from Nigeria or Cameroon: Thank you, Secretary-General, and happy New Year. I wanted you to give me your perspective – or the perspective of the United Nations Secretariat – regarding the Greentree accord between Nigeria and Cameroon. The Nigerian Senate keeps saying that the treaty has not been ratified, but the treaty is already being implemented. Now, did that decision, or did the information that the treaty was not ratified, did it come to the United Nations, as a surprise? Is the United Nations supposed to implement a treaty that has not been ratified by the competent authority in one of the countries that signed the treaty?

The Secretary-General: I will continue to discuss this matter and urge the leaders of Nigeria and Cameroon to abide by this Greentree agreement, which has provided a good framework for resolving all these pending issues.

Question: Let me follow up with you. Are you surprised that the Nigerian Government did not ratify the treaty before it was implemented?

The Secretary-General: That was a source of concern last year, which I have been discussing with the countries concerned.

——-

Question 8 – ?: Mr. Secretary-General, are you watching any of the US presidential debates, and who do you think is going to win, and will it make any difference to the United Nations?

The Secretary-General: I hope you will be able to tell me what are your own views. I am watching and closely following all these debates, but I have to wait until the final choice of the American people, who will be elected as the President of the United States. I will be very happy to work with anybody chosen by the American people.

——-

Question 9 – From a Francofone from Africa: If you allow me, I will ask my question in French, and you can answer in either English or French.

The Secretary-General: In French? Yes.

Question (spoke in French): You referred, in your introductory remarks, to the attack that took the lives of 18 United Nations employees, and you mentioned other recent attacks in the region, which received less media attention. There was an attack carried out against French tourists, another against Mauritanian soldiers and a further attack against Italian soldiers, and also a recent attack targeting police officers in Algiers. Do you share the view that is held by numerous individuals in the region who believe that the Sahel region is an area of arms trafficking, and therefore constitutes a base for the various terrorist groups that are threatening the region, and, beyond that, threatening neighbouring countries?

The Spokesperson: The question, for those of you who were not following in French, is about Algeria: the recent bombing in Algeria, and the prospect of –

Question: I am actually talking about the Sahel region as a zone of lawlessness and the smuggling of arms. And a lot of countries and people in the region are worried that those attacks mean that the region may be considered as ground for terrorist groups that may threaten the region. Given the recent attacks in Algiers and also the attacks in Mauritania that led to the cancellation of a major sporting event, the Dakar rally, do you share the views of those who think that this Sahel region is becoming ground for terrorist groups that may threaten the stability in the region?

The Secretary-General: Let me practice my French.

(spoke in French)

Thank you very much for putting that question to me in French. I think you are well aware of my passion for the French language. Now, if you will allow me, I am not fully prepared – but if you will allow me to continue in English. I discussed matters with President [Abdelaziz] Bouteflika when I was in Algiers last month, last year.

(spoke in English)

These are serious issues for any country in the world, including those in the Sahel area. It is not only Algeria. I told President Bouteflika that, while it was a very tragic – and I was so sad and so shocked, and they were also embarrassed very much by not having been able to protect the United Nations staff and United Nations premises – this should be a global issue, not Algeria or any countries in the Sahel area. Therefore, this needs a global, concerted effort to address, fight against international terrorism. I think the international community must do more. Regardless of what their belief may be, there cannot be any justification whatsoever when it comes to terrorism. Terrorism is terrorism, and therefore that bombing in Algiers really strengthened my resolve to work more. I again express my strong commitment to work for that.

Question: I think the talks start today on the Sahara issue. Don’t you think that this issue is also contributing to this instability, since there is no prospect for a solution? Do you expect a breakthrough in this round, or whether those talks will …

The Secretary-General: All sorts of grievances coming from these conflict issues may be the source of some elements of terrorism. That is why we must resolve all the conflict issues through peaceful means, through dialogue. I cannot but be general on your questions.

———

Question 10 – Benny Avni from the New York Sun: This is also about Algiers, Sir. In the wake of the bombing, the Algerian interior minister said that there were warnings against bombing of international institutions, including the United Nations. There are also all kinds of reports about internal warnings that came around. The question is, why doesn’t the United Nations, as it did with the Ahtisaari case in the aftermath of the Baghdad bombing, why doesn’t the United Nations create its own independent investigation, as opposed to just investigate by [David] Veness?

The Secretary-General: First of all, the United Nations has never received any advance warnings from whatsoever sources on this issue. Then, I have instructed the Under-Secretary-General for the DSS [Department of Safety and Security] to report to me by 11 January, this week, about his own investigation and findings of this terrorist bombing incident. On the basis of that, we are going to strengthen the measures for the safety and security of our staff and premises, and I’m going to discuss with Member States in general about how to strengthen the safety and security of staff. This is a very paramount issue, as we have seen four years ago in Baghdad. This was the second such terrorist bombing attack against the United Nations.

At the same time, the United Nations also needs to do more in communicating with the international community in general: why the United Nations is there and what the United Nations is doing. We need to make the international community appreciate more what the United Nations stands for. The United Nations is not working for any group of nations over another. The United Nations is working for the benefit and well-being of many developing countries; we are working for the promotion of human rights and peace and security. So this must be correctly understood and communicated to the world. And in that regard, I have been doing, on my own, efforts to communicate with the international community in general.

Question: Don’t you think it’s imperative for the credibility of the United Nations that there will be an independent investigation that is not being done by the person who was in charge of security, to see whether security procedures were actually followed?

The Secretary-General: I will see; I will reserve my judgement until I have a full report from DSS.

———–

Question 11 by a correspondent from the Middle East also following up on algiers: Happy New Year, Mr. Secretary-General. Just to follow up on that, on the Algiers issue, were you ever made aware during 2007, or the time since you became Secretary-General, that the head of United Nations security in Algiers, Babacar Ndiaye, had made repeated requests to his superior in Algiers – that also reached New York – that there were, in his view, likely to be attacks on Algiers, not maybe making a specific date or a specific warning, but saying that they were a target of Al-Qaida and asking for specific precautions to be taken, such as the erection of concrete barriers or the raising of the phase level? Were you ever aware of that, that it had ever reached your office? And if that’s the case, that he did make these warnings, why wouldn’t that, combined with the Ahtisaari report after the Baghdad bombing and the threat that the United Nations is under, really compel an independent investigation?

The Secretary-General: That’s a good point. That is why we are now working very hard. I have talked at length with President Bouteflika. First of all, as host Government, the Algerian Government is responsible for taking all measures to strengthen United Nations safety and security, and he assured me that he will find accommodations for UNDP and UNHCR. And this is not only to the Algerian Government; this is what I am going to discuss with Member States in general. I will keep in mind what you suggested.

Question: Well, can I get an answer to my question? Did warnings and requests for greater protection from Babacar Ndiaye, who was the head of the United Nations security in Algiers and who died in the bombing, ever reach your office, ever come to your attention?

The Secretary-General: I’m not going to tell you anything on these internal procedures. But I’m very closely looking at this matter, and I have instructed Mr. Veness to look into this issue very seriously and carefully to make an overall report for me.

———

Question 12 – someone with a Latin accent: It’s about Darfur. Last 21 December, the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly approved the budget about the hybrid force, and they were very concerned about the Lockheed-Martin contract, because it was without bids, and they asked for an investigation. And I don’t know now in what point is the process of this investigation. What are you going to do, and what do you think about this statement, this resolution of the General Assembly?

The Secretary-General: On what?

Question: On the Lockheed-Martin contract. You know, at the General Assembly, the members of the Fifth Committee said that they didn’t agree with the process used for doing this contract. And I only am wondering: what do you think about that?

The Secretary-General: I have answered this question, I think, at least two or three times already before. The situation in Darfur and all these preparations and constructions or procurement: the situation is a very difficult one there. You don’t have many vendors who are readily available to provide such service at a limited time. And that is why, in accordance with the necessary rules and regulations bestowed upon me as the Secretary-General, I have taken an exceptional decision. I am allowed to do that. And at the same time, I made it quite clear, when it comes to transparency and accountability, I will make sure that there should be a very transparent process of executing this procurement.

Question: When do you think you are going to inform the General Assembly about the process of the contract? I don’t know, because they asked, they made a request.

The Secretary-General: When they ask that question, as you do – Member States – this may happen in many national Governments too. You cannot always have all these open biddings, 100 per cent open biddings, as required. But this should not make any precedents, of course. But all the regulations – even in national Governments or other organizations, they have certain exceptional cases when you have to make such a decision. So I hope you will understand. But I’m not making to generalize this one.

——–

Question 13 from someone with a Slavic accent: Talking about strengthening the United Nations role in the world and the Security Council members to live up to their commitments, I was wondering, Sir, why it took you 10 days or a couple of weeks, to express your position towards the final status of Kosovo. And also, Sir, I remember last time, while you were in Portugal, as far as I remember, you advised them not to take any premature step by declaring their independence. I was wondering, what can you tell them this time?

The Secretary-General: I was mentioning in general, when there is a resolution, a mandate, for me to implement, there should be accountability, both for Member States and the countries concerned – and the party concerned. The Security Council has a particular responsibility: when they take necessary resolutions and decisions to deploy peacekeeping operations or any other security measures, then, in addition to my own work as Secretary-General, they should also help mobilize the necessary resources and funding. That is what I tried to mean.

Question: Would you tell us clearly, Sir, what is your position towards the issue of Kosovo? Do you still support Mr. [Martti] Ahtisaari’s plan? Do you call for new negotiations, and if so, on what basis? And is there a time schedule for these negotiations?

The Secretary-General: I will have to see and assess the situation as the situation unfolds on the Kosovo issue.

——

Question 14 – from Matthew Lee, of Inner City Press: There seems to be a difference of opinion between yourself and the Security Council on the issue of Somalia, where they’ve called repeatedly for an advance team to go in for, really, for exploring, dealing with this issue that [Ahmedou] Ould Abdallah has called more serious than Darfur, very serious. So can you tell us where things stand in terms of the Secretariat’s following up on what the Council has asked it to do in terms of Somalia?

And one follow-up on my colleague’s question about that contract: PAE. The General Assembly itself put into its resolution that it noted with concern and asked for an investigation of the process. So I know you’ve said transparency, and I believe you, but since you’ve said transparency, we haven’t had any briefing by the people that pushed for the contract, by Jane Holl Lute. We haven’t had the contract disclosed. So I think the reason that you have been asked the question three or four times is that it doesn’t seem there’s been any transparency, and the General Assembly in its resolution on UNAMID seems to agree with that. So I just wanted to make sure you understand what the question is, and that it is not an attempt to ask the same thing again and again, but to say “where is the transparency?”

The Secretary-General: On Somalia, I don’t think there is any difference between me and the Security Council. I have been continuously consulting with the members of the Security Council on these very important issues. I have suggested to Security Council members that there should be a two-track approach. One is, first of all, the Somalis themselves: they should engage in a broader political dialogue at the leaders’ level for national reconciliation. And secondly, on the security track, the international community should help AMISOM so that they can have a better capacity to address the security situation there.

As for this advance team, I have made it quite clear, even, I think, to you some time last year, that we are considering dispatching a technical assessment team some time early this year. On the basis of the report of this technical assessment team, we will discuss again with the Security Council what measures should be taken to help the situation in Somalia.

On this transparency and contract fraud: transparency is one of my top mottoes to make this Organization work as a trusted organization by the Member States. You should not have any question about my commitment, personally and officially and organizationally.

As for some reports about procurement fraud which have appeared in some of the media, I would like to make it quite clear that I do not agree with all that has been reported. It is true that there was some fraud, which was found, investigated by our own OIOS teams. The amount which has been the subject of procurement fraud was sort of an aggregate sum, not the fraud itself, so there were some exaggerations and incorrect reporting. I feel it unfortunate that the United Nations has been perceived in that way. It was not in the amount of several hundred million dollars. That several hundred million dollars was the total aggregate sum of the project fund. So I hope there should be no misunderstanding. But this issue was also discovered and investigated by our own.

At this time I think the United Nations needs some strengthened investigative capacity. We have many different mandates, different organizations and different agencies, starting from the ombudsman, OIOS, the Ethics Office; and there are all the specialized agencies and funds and programmes. In November of last year, with my consistent efforts, we were able to have a standardized ethics rule which will be applied to all the agencies, funds and programmes. That was very good progress in terms of ensuring and strengthening transparency and accountability. That effort will continue this year and in coming years.

But I hope that Member States one day will consider how we can strengthen the investigative capacity. We don’t have such investigative capacity in the United Nations. We have been relying upon this Procurement Task Force. Fortunately, that mandate has been extended for another year.

Thank you very much. Again, I wish you all the best: happy New Year to you.

————————-

So what we see here is that the Secretary General, in his presentation, says that 2007 was the Year of Climate Change, “I say, let 2008 be the year of the “bottom billion.” This because it is all about the “global commons” and “global public goods.” The intent is to make 2008 about development and to remember human rights also, because this year we celebrate 60 years to the Declaration on Human Rights. The other key word is “Accountability.” Otherwise the world is a work in progress.

In 2007 there was something talked about Darfur, Lebanon, the tribunal on the killing of Rafik Hariri, Kosovo, Somalia, Western Sahara and a few other places but the results are yet to show.

But a press conference is not really about what is presented before the journalists but what questions the journalists put before the presenter. So it is the Q & A that really counts and here we saw an interesting gradation in the questions put and the mood that the answers created.

The first question, by the president of UNCA, in our opinion was actually the worst question as it compared the killings in Kenya with the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. We argued in one of our previous postings that what goes on in Kenya is a political issue, it did not start out as the African endemic post-colonial tribal conflict. Actually it was created by Kibaki’s transgressions and his isolating himself from the country with the members of his own tribe the Kikuyus. The Kenya problem can be settled in the same way as the Iraq problem could have been settled five years ago – just tell the minority that usurped the government what is their right place on the national totem-pole. If you continue backing the usurper because you think this is better for you – you neither help ending the conflict, nor stop the killings. From here to genocide the distance is like from the understanding of a situation to the creation of a false image.

Two more questions were a bit of   line: One funny question asked the UNSG to rate himself, and he nicely avoided doing so, a second question asked him what he thinks of the contest in the US presidential primaries, and he very cleverly gave the only answer that he could give – that he will work with any US President that will be elected eventually.

There were a total of 14 questions including the above three. Some of the journalists had two follow ups, some asked a double question.

There was no question whatsoever on climate change and there was no question on development. The Journalists had pinpointed questions on what their outlets tend to publish.

We counted and found that among the remaining 11 questions – four questions contained elements of the Darfur problem, two about Lebanon, two about the Algeria/Sahel/arms traffic/terrorism issues, two about Western Sahara/Polisario, two about the Nigeria/Cameroon area, and one each about Chad, Pakistan, Kosovo, and Somalia.

The first questions passed by smoothly, but as time progressed, and questions came from a vaster net of journalists, follow up questions insisted on an answer, and the UNSG is a master at evading giving an answer, and it cannot be attributed to a conflict of language, but it might rather look like good diplomatic maneuvers when indeed there is no answer – this not because the SG does not want to answer – but rather because there is no answer that will cover on the intrinsic paucity of action at the UN. But then some subjects cannot be pushed under the UN red carpets easily.

17 people were killed in Algiers and the UN had warning that something is bound to happen. yes there was probably not a specific warning with a date attached – but there was a warning nevertheless – a head of security in algiers asked for reinforced walls and it was denied from headquarters – the man was among the dead.   A sequence of two journalists tried to extricate an answer – what will the UNSG do to investigate the security of the UN personnel that is being sent in the harms way without protection. This happened clearly in Baghdad, and the journalists want to know if this was the case also in Algiers.

In above process we also saw the following exchange:

“The Spokesperson: The question, for those of you who were not following in French, is about Algeria: the recent bombing in Algeria, and the prospect of –

Question: I am actually talking about the Sahel region as a zone of lawlessness and the smuggling of arms.”

We do not intend simply to pound on Spokesperson Michelle Montes, but this shows what happens quite often in Room 226 at the UN. The Spokesperson jumps at saying what she wants to say, and does not try to answer clear questions. In effect this is a rather common trend within the UN Information system, and it works counter-productive to Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s own stand, as we pointed out many times in regard to the topic of climate change.

Darfur has produced a lot of wind at the UN, but were are the helicopters to ferry the non-existent troops? And why was there a contract given to Lockheed without others having access to compete? There is a lot of money in this, and the fame of oil-for- food was not forgotten. It took four journalists in Sequence to hammer on this point and to make the UNSG quite uncomfortable. It showed eventually on his face.

Why can he not intervene in Pakistan to find a way to investigate the Bhutto killing, is the UN so restrictive that for even such events they have to wait for the invitation of the transgressing government in order to tell the truth to the world, and to the country that was hit – this might indeed be the only way to stop internal riots and killings. What will it take to turn the UN into an element of truth?

So, what will bring 2008? You can bet on it – more States will start to unravel – this because of climate change induced environmental disasters, and a decline in the world economy. The moment people suffer they tend to act and they may tend to take the wrong actions, kill and justify later. Will the UN be allowed to reorganize so that it can intervene even without invitation?

And What Did The Morning Papers Write About the Press Conference? What I can say for now – I did not see an article on Darfur in the New York Times, neither an article on any other item from the above.

——————-

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 12th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 www.friendsofeurope.org/Events/20…

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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

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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 July 17th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A very interesting menu on the UN Secretary-General’s trip to Washington. It allows for balancing out acts. How about for moving the UN to accept the US Administration’s position on slow disengagement from Iraq, while enhancing the pace of US involvement on climate change and sustainable development of alternate sources of energy?

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UN Head: US Should Be at Climate Meeting

By EDITH M. LEDERER
The Associated Press
Tuesday, July 17, 2007; 12:25 AM

UNITED NATIONS — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he will ask President Bush on Tuesday to have a top U.S. official attend a high-level U.N. meeting on climate change in September because “American participation is crucially important.”

The secretary-general told a news conference Monday before he headed to Washington to meet Bush that he wants the September meeting to provide “strong political (momentum) and guidelines” for a major meeting in Bali, Indonesia in December on a new global climate pact.

SPECIAL REPORT

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Read complete Post coverage on
the science and politics surrounding
the threat of human-induced
climate change.
» FULL COVERAGE

Ban, who has made climate change a top priority since he became secretary-general on Jan. 1, has called the meeting on Sept. 24, the day before the annual General Assembly ministerial meeting begins. Bush traditionally addresses the opening session as the representative of the host country.

“I would like to discuss this matter with President Bush, and would expect President Bush and the American administration will be represented at the highest possible level,” he said.

Ban was scheduled to meet Bush at the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

Delegates to the meeting of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bali are expected to launch formal negotiations on a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

The Kyoto agreement, adopted in 1997, aims to limit the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted from power plants and factories in industrialized countries. The United States is not a party to the agreement and developing countries such as China and India are exempt from its obligations.

Ban said he was “encouraged by the initiative President Bush has taken vis-a-vis … global warming issues, and particularly during the Heiligendamm summit meeting of the G-8 last month.”

At the summit in the German city, leaders of the Group of Eight   –   the U.S., Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Russia   –   agreed to call for substantial global emissions reductions to fight global warming and cited a goal of a 50 percent cut by 2050.

Bush followed that with a call for a summit of nations that emit the most greenhouse gases, led by the United States, to set a long-term global strategy for reducing emissions.

The White House said Bush’s proposed summit also would address “life after” the Kyoto Protocol expires. Bush wants to bring India, China and other fast-growing countries to the negotiation table so they are part of the solution, not the problem, the White House said.

Ban welcomes the initiative but said he wants to ensure that the U.S. plan will reinforce the international community’s efforts, led by the United Nations.

In another climate-related move, the secretary-general announced that he will visit California next week, which he noted “is at the very forefront of the global war against climate change.”

During his visit to San Francisco on July 26-27, 2007 Ban said, he will meet Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Last year, Schwarzenegger signed legislation written by Democrats that requires California to reduce emissions by an estimated 25 percent by 2020, or 191.8 million tons.

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