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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 6th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Andrei Kolesnikov is a senior Associate, and the Chair of the Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions Program, at the Carnegie Moscow Center.
More from this author…
Why Sanctions on Russia Don’t Work
A Blast From the Past
Russian Opposition “in a Great Depression” After Nemtsov Murder

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The Russian Middle Class in a Besieged Fortress.

Andrei Kolesnikov, Carnegie Moskow Center, Russia.
Article April 6, 2015
 carnegie.ru/2015/04/06/russian-mi…

Summary
There is little reason to believe that the Russian middle class will react to the ongoing financial and economic crisis with protests or renewed calls for change. Instead, it seems almost certain that it will opt for strategies of survival and perseverance.

Introduction

How will the Russian middle class react to the effects of low oil prices, Western sanctions, and deep-set economic problems, a state of affairs that some economists have dubbed the “triple whammy”? Unfortunately, these problems are only part of the broader systemic crisis that plagues Russia today. Yet there is little reason to believe that the Russian middle class will react to the ongoing financial and economic crisis with protests or renewed calls for change. Instead, it seems almost certain that this dynamic segment of society will opt for strategies of survival and perseverance rather than articulating a political agenda that challenges the Russian government or its current policies.

The nature and consequences of Russia’s current crisis cannot be reduced to economic issues. Sberbank President German Gref argued in his January 14, 2015, speech at the Gaidar Forum in Moscow that it is important not to overlook the impact of critical governance shortcomings. But instability or gaps in the quality of the state’s administrative capabilities—however important—are not a root cause. Rather, they are one of the effects of a deeper institutional and values-based crisis. All other aspects of the crisis, including the current political situation, merely stem from it. And there should be no question that Russia is indeed in a political crisis, despite outward manifestations of calmness and the consolidation of society and elites around the head of state.

Unfortunately, the triple whammy is not unleashing the forces of “creative destruction” or disruption that some reformist voices had been pinning their hopes on. In many cases, crises enable states to reform political life and move forward. In this sense, the 2008–2009 financial crisis was a lost opportunity for Russia. The crisis did not change behavior among state capitalism’s elites nor did it spur structural reform. Rather, the struggling economy was simply flooded with money from the state’s reserve funds. The state’s playbook conformed with former U.S. president Ronald Reagan’s old axiom: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

The Economy After Crimea

Russia’s economic problems are certainly significant.

Economic analysts generally agree that Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) will decline by at least 3–7 percent in 2015 while annual inflation will soar. Inflation is forecast by the central bank to peak at 17.0–17.5 percent in the second quarter of 2015.

Headline inflation was 15 percent in January 2015 (from January 2014 to January 2015), and increasing at a rate of 3.9 percent a month—the highest rate since February 1999. The disaggregated components of the inflation numbers also tell a powerful story. Prices for medicine and medical equipment grew 6.6 percent in January (19.4 percent year-on-year). Food prices, excluding fruit and vegetables, were up 3.7 percent in January (18.4 percent year-on-year). Fruit and vegetable prices increased by 22.1 percent in January (40.7 percent year-on-year).

Assessments of the effect of sanctions on overall GDP vary. Experts from FBK Grant Thornton, a business consultancy, suggest that the sanctions will shave off 1.2 percent of Russian GDP by mid-2015.1 The effect of the sharp decline in oil prices on GDP is even greater. Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy experts Sergey Drobyshevsky and Andrey Polbin estimate that a decrease in oil prices to $40 per barrel would translate into a 3.7 percent decline in GDP in constant prices.


Structural problems, for example, state intervention on behalf of favored industries and companies and the blocking of pension reform, are in part linked to the Russian economy’s dependence on oil and gas. They are also tied to the lack of reform in the sectors of the economy (such as healthcare and education) that are human-capital-intensive as well as the lack of resources allocated to these sectors due to inadequate government financing.


As the labor force has shrunk, economists have begun to notice a decline in the skill level of Russian workers. The rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Vladimir Mau, has pointed out that “the unemployment rate in Russia is rather low due to the effects of demographic factors. However, a conflict is brewing: on the one hand, the army of retirees is on the rise; on the other, there are young people who are unwilling to fill the jobs being vacated.”2 ?he low-skilled segment of the labor market is also changing. Inflation and a weak ruble have made Russia unattractive even to migrants—the most unpretentious part of the workforce; there was a 70 percent decrease in the number of migrants arriving in Russia in the beginning of 2015.

Another factor contributing to the current situation is the large percentage of workers who are employed in the shadow economy, which, according to official statistics, accounts for 12.5 percent of GDP. According to Rosstat data, in 2011, 22 million Russians—almost a third of the 71-million-person workforce—were employed in informal sectors of the economy. (This sector comprises, for example, many entrepreneurs and their employees, those providing paid services off the books, and agricultural workers.)3 The number is expected to increase as a result of the ongoing decline in real incomes, worsening labor market conditions, employee realignment and reductions at various large-scale enterprises, and other crisis-related factors. Workers in the informal economy pay no taxes and therefore will not be able to contribute to the Pension Fund. According to data from the Russian Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, 20 percent of the able-bodied population is missing from the Pension Fund databases.4
Politics and Policy

While oil price volatility is certainly not a by-product of current Russian economic policy, the other two components of the triple whammy—sanctions and structural problems—have a lot to do with decisions made by the government. Moreover, they are directly related to the nature and content of domestic and foreign policy decisionmaking. In a nutshell, such decisions are increasingly the province of an extremely close-knit and ever-shrinking circle of decisionmakers around Russian President Vladimir Putin, known as “Putin’s friends,” a description that has become increasingly literal.


It is telling that Russia’s economic downturn worsened after the annexation of Crimea in the spring of 2014. Macroeconomic indicators looked dreadful by the end of the year. The ruble was the world’s worst-performing currency against the dollar.5 Former finance minister Alexei Kudrin has suggested that the drop in oil prices only accounts for 25 percent of the ruble’s recent depreciation. Kudrin claims that sanctions account for 25 to 40 percent of the currency’s slide with the dollar’s overall surge contributing an additional 5 to 10 percent. Kudrin also highlights the negative effects of “risks, expectations, and fears,” including investors’ lack of confidence in the government’s efforts to improve the investment climate and support economic growth.6

Economic policymaking is increasingly held hostage by a new and unexpected set of actors. For example, any attempts by the government to mount superhuman policy changes in the economic sphere or complex diplomatic maneuvers could be blown to bits if Donetsk People’s Republic leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko were to order his troops to move on the city of Mariupol. Russia’s investment climate, financial stability, and economic development depend more on the actions of separatist leaders in Donetsk and Lugansk, the chief prosecutor, and the Investigative Committee than the central bank’s official monetary and interest rate policies or deputy prime ministers’ declarations at the Davos World Economic Forum. Amid growing isolationism, nationalism, and anti-Western sentiments, the “Zakharchenko Factor” may not be the sole determinant of current developments, but it plays a very important role.

Taxpayer’s Democracy: An Unattained Ideal

Meanwhile, Russians remain quite passive about their economic situation, even as the consequences of the triple whammy gradually emerge.

Both Hegel and Marx wrote about alienation (Entfremdung), specifically, the mutual alienation of the people and their government. On a conceptual level, governments seek to exploit the benefits from GDP, economic rents, and tax revenues for the sake of self-preservation. This goal in turn leads to unproductive government expenditures on defense, law enforcement, and operations that significantly exceed productive government expenditures in other areas, say, education and healthcare.

In Russia, the clique of Putin-era oligarchs is not constrained by political institutions that would ordinarily help relay public opinion to the government. Of course, the Russian political system has never fully subscribed to the principle of “no taxation without representation.” However, under Russia’s particular brand of state capitalism and heavy dependence on oil and gas profits, closed channels of political representation have practically obliterated it.


The president’s inner circle views economic rent as its personal revenue stream or private property, as evidenced by state-owned oil company Rosneft’s request for substantial subsidies from the National Wealth Fund, which was created in order to accumulate oil-based revenues to compensate for a projected state-backed Pension Fund deficit. This is quite logical for a system in which having power is synonymous with owning property; this so-called power-property relationship is also sanctified by the authority of the Russian Orthodox Church. The church is increasingly playing a role geared toward maximizing the effect of pro-government propaganda and ensuring greater conformity inside Russian society with its socially conservative goals and values. (The persecution of the band Pussy Riot is only the most well-known example of these efforts.)


However, such an arrangement contradicts the Russian constitution, which states that “land and other natural resources shall be utilized and protected in the Russian Federation as the basis of the life and activity of the peoples living on the territories concerned.” Those resources were not intended to be the basis of life and activity for a handful of beneficiaries of state capitalism and their families.


?conomic rent is alienated from the people, and so is the government. People believe that they have no way to advocate meaningful change in their country and thus allow the establishment to make decisions on its own. The classic Putin-era social contract (“freedom in exchange for sausage”) that emerged during the period of high oil prices gave way in 2014 to “freedom in exchange for Crimea and national pride.”

The government is also alienated by virtue of the fact that elections now distort the principles of representation more than ever before. This fact triggered the street protests in 2011–2012, when some in the middle class demanded democracy and fair elections. These demands were perfectly in line with Seymour Lipset’s theory that higher living standards, education, and income are the foundations for a realization by increasingly affluent members of society of the need for greater democracy.7

In 2011, Russia’s urban middle class offered some support for Lipset’s hypothesis by advancing their demands for democracy. Yet in 2014, after failing to achieve their original goal, they set aside such political interests in favor of the “Crimea is ours” (Krym nash) concept. In essence, they agreed that the concoction of hybrid and trade wars was better for the motherland than its presence, to put it pompously, in the family of European nations.

The year 2014 marked the degradation and militarization of state policies and mass consciousness. These policies were a striking contrast to the recent behavior of modern democratic societies, which consider military losses unacceptable and regard appeals to an entity’s sacred status as a relic of bygone theocratic eras.8

Along with the post-Crimean consolidation of Russian society, sociologists have found that Russians stayed true to a core belief: “We cannot have an impact on anything so therefore we do not want to impact anything.” According to a Levada Center poll, about 60 percent of the population agree with the statement that they are unable to affect the situation in the country. Close to 50 percent believe that they can do nothing to influence events in their own city or town.9

Such views give rise to paternalistic attitudes like “let the state decide everything for me.” These attitudes correlate with the relatively insignificant contribution that taxpayers make to federal and local budgets compared with the budget revenues derived from sales of oil and gas.

Kudrin has described the public’s alienation from the decisionmaking process in the following terms. “In the 2000s, the country’s prosperity grew largely due to the revenue from natural resources,” he wrote. “But the people were not the ones benefiting from it. In terms of GDP, out of 37 percent of all collected taxes and other payments, rents constituted more than a third, while individual income tax accounted for only about 3 percent. . . . Officials easily and freely redistributed easy money—as a result, no feedback mechanisms were created.”10

While the Russian citizen is alienated from the rent revenues, he knows that his livelihood depends on them. He is willing to accept them from the state, but at the same time he develops an inferiority complex about his material wealth, knowing that he did not exactly earn the money. This belief allows pro-redistribution coalitions—which divide rent among those close to the authorities’ clans as well as lobbyists and pressure groups—to claim their “right” to “their” share in the redistribution of public funds. This stance seems extremely provocative in the midst of the economic crisis but clearly indicates who holds the keys to the house of Russian politics. For example, Nikolai Podguzov, the deputy minister for economic development, recently announced that “Rosneft requests a total of 1.3 trillion rubles from the National Wealth Fund (NWF) for 28 projects. . . . Rosneft proposes that the NWF finance projects worth over 3 trillion rubles.”11 Not surprisingly, such a state of affairs angers the members of other pro-redistribution coalitions.

Out of this emerges a level of passivity among the public and acceptance of the consequences of the triple whammy as they gradually materialize. It appears that there never was and never will be a taxpayer democracy in the current rentier system—after all, individual contributions to the national well-being are quite small when contrasted with what is received from hydrocarbon-based rents. The public’s impact on government decisions, their own political participation, and their involvement in civic life are just as insignificant. The process of spending taxpayer money does not concern the taxpayers themselves.

But when the oil-oozing, ostensibly collective pie is complemented by the mantra “Crimea is ours,” it destroys both consensus-based and participatory democracy, along with any sense of civic duty or collective effort. Crimea was not a collective effort by any stretch—the Russian public stormed the peninsula while sitting in front of their televisions. Rather, Crimea was a gift from the government.

In their heart of hearts, Russians do not consider themselves creators of national wealth. That further discourages most forms of political participation, which should ideally be directed at achieving a more rational, honest, and equitable distribution of the goods and services produced by the economy.

This reality explains the public’s willingness to tolerate just about everything and its unwillingness to protest. It also explains the lack of incentive for private initiative, for private investment, for innovation, and for the protection of private property. For their part, state investments further discourage private economic activity and fail to spur economic growth. Generally speaking, state-generated investment produces a pool of money that either provokes inflation or encourages capital flight to countries with more attractive investment climates. The Russian economy needs state investment as much as Soviet-era enterprises needed foreign machinery, most of which was never unpacked and rusted away in leaky warehouses.
The Class Pyramid

The triple whammy is a blow to all income levels of Russian society, but it especially affects lower- and middle-income groups who are more sensitive to price increases. The general level of inflation that took off in early 2015 severely impacted the middle class, the major consumer of various services and durable goods. Real disposable incomes fell 7.3 percent in December 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. According to a January 2015 Public Opinion Foundation poll, 62 percent of the population describes the situation as an economic crisis and sees “dreadful inflation” as the main manifestation of the crisis.12

Research on the middle class by the director of the Independent Institute for Social Policy at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Tatyana Maleva, suggests that the social structure of Russian households has not undergone significant change in recent years. According to Maleva, about 70 percent of the population are below the middle class. Approximately 40 percent of households belonging to that group are at risk of poverty, while 30 percent could potentially join the middle and upper-middle class.

The size of the middle class can be measured in a number of ways based on different criteria. A rough estimate of the size of the middle class puts the number at around 20 percent of the population.13 While some other studies have come up with different numbers, an approach based on analysis of 2012 Eurobarometer data supports Tatyana Maleva’s conclusions.14

In a political sense, the group at risk of poverty makes up the regime’s social and electoral base. Not coincidentally, they are also the main recipients of public funds. Even amid the constraints imposed by the triple whammy, the government will therefore strive to ensure that this group does not end up below the poverty line. Humanitarian considerations play a fairly minor role in these efforts, which are based on cold political calculations and the regime’s desire to discourage the creation of social tensions. Social mobility from the middle to the upper-middle class, which has been long stifled by the highly monopolistic economy controlled by a small number of political-business elites, may cease altogether as a result of the current crisis.

Thus, the regime’s social goal is to preserve the class pyramid, which emerged during the oil boom and economic recovery of the 2000s and has enabled the system of power-property and crony capitalism to reproduce itself. Evaporating material gains are being replaced with spiritual appeals, which will involve using cruder and more archaic propaganda, including indoctrination by the top brass of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the increasingly selective application of repressive laws.
The Estate Structure of the Resource State

This is only a slight correction of the regime’s principal course of action, which Higher School of Economics Professor Simon Kordonsky describes as “the suzerain takes care of his people—the amalgamation of estates—by distributing resources in a way that ensures that the privileged estates don’t get too brazen and the underprivileged ones don’t die from hunger.” Notably, this theory views modern Russian society as estate-based rather than class-based. And, as Kordonsky explains, “The distribution of resources is at the core of estate-based society, in contrast to class society, whose economy is mainly based on converting resources into capital and their broader reproduction.”15 In essence, this is status commercialization.

Status can be acquired by assuming high office (hence all the talk of regime figures buying top positions, seats in parliament, and so on). It can also be bestowed by the suzerain (look at the members of the Kremlin’s inner circle, who share similar security and intelligence backgrounds with Putin), and it can be inherited. Children of high-ranking officials and state capitalists from the redistributional coalitions take charge of high offices and even receive government decorations. Naturally, concludes Kordonsky, “Such a system does not need democracy as an institution for reconciling interests, nor does it focus on the needs of individuals who fall outside of the estate system.”16

Privatization in the 1990s was a way to utilize (and increase) resources within the market framework. The “re-privatization” of the 2000s in favor of state capitalism and figures from the president’s inner circle was a way to escape the market framework and return to a system based on estates.

Instead of encouraging middle-class growth, this type of estate structure actually slows it down. Quite often, one can only join the middle class—at least in terms of income levels—by working in a system dominated by the most privileged estates, for example, state-run corporations and companies that live off of government contracts or tenders.
The Conformist Class: Survival Instead of Change

How will the Russian middle class respond to the triple whammy? How will its political behavior and socioeconomic well-being be affected?

Some researchers point out that the middle class has been “the main actor of socioeconomic adaptation” in recent years.17 At the same time, it is still not large enough, strong enough, or confident enough in its future well-being to clearly formulate a political outlook or to insist on proper representation in government bodies and decisions. Other economists also talk about its “low bargaining power.”18

This bargaining power decreased even more after the failure of the 2011–2012 protests. After Dmitry Medvedev left the president’s office, both society and the loyal, liberal political elite lost incentives to construct political, lobbying, and civic coalitions in favor of modernization. Thus, modernization coalitions were replaced with redistributional, estate-based ones.

The big question is whether the middle class, which is quite adaptable, even wants such coalition-based bargaining power. In reality, its political behavior and positions are far removed from the romantic image that took shape in Moscow’s streets and squares and in the independent media during the democratic illusions of late 2011 and the first half of 2012.

In a 2014 book, Francis Fukuyama argues that the middle class has been the engine behind practically every recent protest in various countries across the world.19 What’s more, even a fairly elected but ineffective or corrupt government does not enjoy sufficient legitimacy in the eyes of the most advanced segments of the population. As Fukuyama writes, “Government actually had to deliver better results if it was to be regarded as legitimate, and needed to be more flexible and responsive to changing public demands.”20

That was exactly the chief motivation behind the 2011–2012 protests. Russians were dissatisfied with the government, and its legitimacy was diminishing as a result of dishonesty and ineffectiveness.

But the political protests that grew out of the public’s stance against the regime’s corruption were mostly limited to Moscow and involved only a very small part of the educated, urban middle class (although some upper- and lower-income segments of the population joined at times). This social stratum was immediately named the “creative class,” which, in turn, led to the shorter and more derisive word, “creatives.” While this concept does have something in common with the term coined by Richard Florida, the Russian meaning of the term does not actually cover people who are engaged in creative work. It refers instead to a small segment of Russian citizens who are dissatisfied with the regime and its authoritarian rule, predominantly for political and ethical reasons. In their beliefs and goals, creatives today somewhat resemble the democratic intelligentsia of the late 1980s.

Nor is the creative class always synonymous with the middle class, especially in terms of income levels (although its behavior does correspond to that of the middle class). In addition, its opposition activities sharply contrast with the conformism exhibited by the majority of the middle class. Contrary to expectations, this conformism will only grow or remain unchanged as a result of the triple whammy. Despite some sporadic protests, the majority will more readily embrace the strategies and tactics of survival instead of protests and demands for change, at least in 2015.

Consider the 2012 Eurobarometer survey of the middle class.21 According to the data, against the backdrop of blatantly dishonest elections that provoked protests in 2011, the middle class actually voted for United Russia—the pro-regime party. And at higher strata of Russian society, the level of support for the regime actually increased. The motivations underlying voting behavior varied: some voters had benefited handsomely during the economic boom of the early 2000s while others became complacent with their lot. Either way, conformism became the overarching trend.

The middle class was only slightly more active in terms of participation in opposition rallies (2.3 percent versus 1.9 percent at lower-income levels). The upper-middle class seemed to be the most active (11.7 percent), but this stratum was also quite active when it came to attendance at pro-government rallies (6.7 percent versus 1.0 percent of the middle class).

The lack of participation by the middle class—either in opposition to or in support of the government—suggests that its conformism is inherently passive. It does not express passionate or unequivocal support for the government; rather, the middle class is simply not ready to struggle for change. (It seems that active support for the regime manifested itself only after the referendum in Crimea and did not diminish much, if at all, as the Ukraine crisis worsened.)

According to the Eurobarometer survey, the middle class was evenly split in its assessment of the political situation (43 and 44 percent were satisfied or dissatisfied with it, respectively). In fact, the majority of respondents wanted no change to the political situation, while 12 percent preferred radical change.

The middle class’s relationship to the European Union (EU) is further proof of its conformism: 18.2 percent of the middle class and 27.8 percent of the upper-middle class wanted Russia to distance itself from the EU as much as possible. It is quite indicative of the mood in the country that the lower-middle class was the biggest supporter of EU integration, at 23.4 percent. These numbers have changed in the direction of greater “patriotism” for the time being. A January 2015 Levada Center poll, for example, demonstrated an increase in negative attitudes toward the United States and EU countries to 81 and 71 percent, respectively.


Conclusion

In his 1997 work “Anomalies of Economic Growth,” Yegor Gaidar, the architect of Russian reform, noted that two main social groups are interested in liberal market reforms in Russia: “The middle class, which needs a level playing field, effective protection of private property, and a government that is not cumbersomely involved in economic affairs; and the intelligentsia—those who are connected to the science, education, healthcare, culture, and other such sectors—to whom the redistribution of resources objectively reflects the economic needs of the country.” Russia’s developmental perspectives depend on the combined resources of these two groups.

In the nearly two decades since Gaidar began his work, by and large, very little social change has come to Russia: those in the middle class are considered the agents of change. The creative class can be considered the new intelligentsia.

Nevertheless, the coalition for modernization that began to emerge under Dmitry Medvedev was never realized. The signal from above that permitted the very existence of such a coalition was unceremoniously cut off, while the politician who had the best chance to launch perestroika 2.0 surrendered power based on his own free will.

The Russian model of change can only work if the demand for modernization expressed from below is noticed and clearly approved from above. In such a case, the notorious middle-class conformism toward official government policy could yet play a constructive role. If the higher-ups allow democracy, this brand of conformism implies that citizens will recognize that it must be supported and taken advantage of. As for the creative potential of the Russian middle class, it may very well serve as the engine of economic liberalization and political democratization, if it receives a level of representation in the government.

However, the creative forces among the agents of change can lie dormant for extremely long periods of time. After all, modernization coalitions in Venezuela and Iran have never really gained momentum, and those countries have experienced their own analogues to the triple whammy. So far, these forces have not yet fully shaken the Russian middle class.

We are now anxiously waiting for the agents of modernization, who have turned into the agents of mobilization, to finally come to their senses. But we probably will need to wait quite a bit longer. Give it a year or two.


Notes

1 “??????? ????? ?????? 1,2% ??? – ???????????? ???????? ???,” [The price of sanctions to Russia—1.2% of GDP: The research of the FBK company] FBK Grant Thornton, January 12, 2015, www.fbk.ru/press-center/news/sank….

2 “?????? ????????? ?????????????? ????? «????????»: ????????????? ?????? ? ?????–2015,” [The discussion club “Academy” first meeting: The economic challenges and risks in 2015] Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy, December 19, 2014, www.iep.ru/ru/19-12-2014-pervoe-z….

3 Maxim Tovkaylo, “???????: 38 ??? ??????? ?????? ‘????????? ??? ? ???,’” [Golodets: It’s incomprehensible what 38 million of Russians are doing and where] Vedomosti, April 3, 2013, www.vedomosti.ru/career/news/1072….

4 Lyudmila Klimenteva, “???????: ????? 20% ????????? ????? ???????? ??? ????????? ??????,” [Topilin: Approximately 20% of the population can remain without noncontributory pension] Vedomosti, January 26, 2015, www.vedomosti.ru/finance/articles….

5 Henry Meyer and Irina Reznik, “The Chilly Fallout Between Putin and His Oligarch Pals,” Bloomberg, January 22, 2015, www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-22….

6 Gaidar Institute, 2014.

7 A number of researchers have found empirical evidence for this controversial modernization hypothesis put forward by Seymour Lipset. For instance, Robert J. Barro, Determinants of Economic Growth: A Cross-Country Empirical Study, (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997).

8 Michael Howard, The Invention of Peace (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), 99.

9 Denis Volkov and Stepan Goncharov, ????????? ???????????? ??????? ? ??????? ?????????? ??????? [The potential of the civic participation in solving social problems] (Moscow: Levada Center, 2014), www.levada.ru/books/potentsial-gr….

10 Alexei Kudrin, “????????? ? ???????? ? ??????? ???????” [Economy and politics in search of a balance] ????? ???????, no. 2-3 (Moscow: Moscow School of Civic Education, 2014). otetrad.ru/article-763.html.

11 Margarita Lyutova, “‘????????’ ????????? ?? ??? 1,3 ???? ?????? ?? 28 ????????” [Rosneft asked for 1.3 billion rubles from the National Wealth Fund] Vedomosti, January 28, 2015, www.vedomosti.ru/companies/news/3….

12 “???????? ? ??????????? ?????????????? ???????” [Russians about manifestations of the economic crisis] Public Opinion Foundation, January 21, 2015, fom.ru/Ekonomika/11919.

13 Tatyana Maleva and Lilia Ovcharova, ?????????? ??????? ?????? ???????? ? ?? ???? ?????????????? ????? [Russian middle classes on the eve and at the peak of economic growth] (Moscow, 2008), 73.

14 Svetlana Misikhina, ?????????-????????????? ?????????????? ? ?????????-???????????? ????????? ???????? ?????? ? ?????????? ????????? [Socioeconomic characteristics and value-political choices of the middle class in the Russian Federation] preprint edition (Moscow: Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, 2014).

15 Simon Kordonsky, ????????? ????????? ????????????? ?????? [The estate structure of the post-Soviet Russia] (Moscow: Public Opinion Foundation, 2008), 28.

16 Ibid., 34.

17 Tatyana Maleva et al., ???????????? ????????? ?????????? ???????? ?????????? ????????? ?? 2050 [The long-term concept of social policy of the Russian Federation until 2050] preprint edition (Moscow: Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, 2014), 43.

18 Alexander Auzan et al., ??????? ????? ? ????????????: ???????? ? ???????????? ????????????? ? ?????????-???????????? ?????????? ? ?????? [The middle class and modernization: Hypotheses on the formation of economic and sociopolitical institutions in Russia] (Moscow: 2009), 264.

19 Francis Fukuyama, Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2014), 6.

20 Ibid.

21 The data are cited from Svetlana Misikhina, ?????????-????????????? ?????????????? [Socioeconomic characteristics].

Read more at: carnegie.ru/2015/04/06/russian-mi…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 10th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Argument
The Kremlin Pulls on Georgia

It’s time for the West to stop taking Tbilisi for granted.

By Michael Cecire
Foreign Policy Magazine, March 9, 2015

As Russian forces consolidate their gains in Ukraine over the flat protests of Western leaders, the specter of Russian revanchism is keeping much of Eastern Europe on edge. But lumbering tanks and legions of insta-separatists aren’t the only concern. Ukraine isn’t Russia’s only target.

Perhaps most alarming are the warning signs going off in Georgia, a steadfast Euro-Atlantic partner where a pro-Western political consensus has long been a foreign-policy calling card. A long-standing opponent of Russian military adventurism, Georgia sought escape velocity from Russian regional dominance by courting membership in Euro-Atlantic structures and earned a reputation as an enthusiastic and credible Western partner. But

Western quiescence in the face of Russian territorial aggression is starting to have an effect.

Western quiescence in the face of Russian territorial aggression is starting to have an effect. After decades of acrimony in which Georgians have watched Russian proxies occupy 20 percent of their territory and ethnically cleanse some 300,000 of their compatriots, certain groups are starting to ask if maintaining close ties to the West is worth all the loss. Increasingly, Georgians are beginning to think that it isn’t.

The groups spearheading Russian influence operations in Georgia fly beneath the international radar under the cloak of local-language media and the oft-repeated surety of pro-Western sentiment. But they can be seen protesting in Tbilisi streets, preaching in Georgian churches, and holding improbably well-funded campaign rallies ahead of elections. The evidence shows that Russian influence in Georgia is growing stronger. (In the photo, a Stalin impersonator poses at a memorial service for the Soviet dictator in his Georgian hometown of Gori.)

But at Washington roundtables and in private conversations, Western officials and experts tend to downplay the possibility of Russian-exported propaganda taking root in Georgia. The root of this complacency is tied to regular polling from the U.S.-funded International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) that has consistently showed public support for Euro-Atlantic integration at between 60 and 70 percent. Successive governments have relied on this popular approval to justify their Western-facing foreign-policy agendas.

So support for Euro-Atlantic integration is broad. But is it deep? Those who have spent time with ordinary Georgians say the reality, as is often the case, is far more complex.

There, in a scene in the popular Georgian soap opera Chemi Tsolis Dakalebi (My Wife’s Best Friends), revelers at a wedding reception are interrupted by an announcement that Georgia has just been awarded a long-coveted “MAP” (membership action plan), a prelude to NATO membership. The announcement shocks the crowd into a stunned silence, which then gives way to raucous cheers. One character, while clapping and celebrating along with the others, turns to another partygoer and asks: “What’s a MAP?”

While the scene colorfully illuminates NATO’s outsized social, and even civilizational, pull among Georgians, it also suggests a harsher truth: that Georgian society’s Western moorings may be more emotive than well-informed. The headline numbers from public opinion polls don’t tell the whole story. Look deeper into the data, and the picture is much more worrisome.

According to an NDI poll last August, integration with the West was at best a tertiary issue for Georgians. Instead, “kitchen table” issues dominated respondents’ concerns, with worries about jobs (63 percent) and poverty (32 percent) eclipsing other issues. NATO and EU integration came in far behind at 10th and 17th, respectively. And of 21 issues polled, Georgians picked NATO and EU membership as the top issues the government spent too much time discussing.

But most concerning, buried deep in the survey results, were signs of growing support for joining the Eurasian Union, a Moscow-led EU “alternative.” A full 20 percent favored the idea of Georgian membership. This percentage has risen steadily from 11 percent in late 2013 to 16 percent in mid-2014. Who are these Georgians who would surrender their country’s sovereignty to the same power that keeps a steely grip on Georgian territory and carves other neighboring states with impunity?

Part of the answer can be found in a budding segment of the nongovernmental sector, consisting of innocuously named pro-Russian groups like the “Eurasian Institute,” “Eurasian Choice,” and “The Earth Is Our Home.” Many of these organizations pop in and out of existence as needed — the “Peace Committee of Georgia” one week, something else the next — but they are often tied to the same group of pro-Russian ideologues and policy entrepreneurs who make regular pilgrimages to Moscow and, according to Georgian officials in the ruling party and the opposition, almost certainly receive Kremlin funding. Their common message isn’t high-church Russian apologia or Soviet nostalgia, but rather “Eurasianism” and “Orthodox civilization” — Kremlin shorthand for Putinism. Appeals to Georgian social conservatism, economic vulnerability, and lingering anger over past government abuses are winning converts within a population increasingly impatient with Georgia’s unrequited love affair with the West.

In mid-2014, Eurasianist groups made headlines for their raucous opposition to an anti-discrimination bill making its way through the Georgian parliament. Their opposition centered on language in the bill banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which opponents claimed was tantamount to promoting non-heterosexual lifestyles. But they didn’t come to the protests alone — accompanying the pro-Russian activists were unmistakably garbed clerics from the Georgian Orthodox Church.

The church, too, was nonplussed over the anti-discrimination bill and called for language protecting sexual minorities to be ejected. One of the oldest existing Christian churches in the world, the Georgian Orthodox Church is both a touchstone for Georgian nationalism and reliably polls as the most trusted institution in the country. But the church’s common cause with the Eurasianists was not limited to tactical alliances over anti-gay rhetoric. Although nominally in favor of Georgian membership in the European Union, influential factions within the Orthodox hierarchy openly stoke religious nationalism and express admiration for Russia.

Today, church representatives are increasingly seen as a vanguard for reactionary activity. In mid-2013, clergy members were on the front lines of a horrifying anti-gay pogrom in central Tbilisi. Church officials have justified protests against and attacks on Georgian Muslims. And church leaders have called the West “worse than Russia,” sometimes describing the 2008 Russian invasion as a kind of heavenly intervention against Western integration. Such language is echoed by Georgia’s Eurasianist NGOs.

The growing profile of pro-Russian organizations and the sharpening anti-Western stance of the church is converging with a third leg in an emerging pro-Russian triad: the revitalization of anti-Western political parties.

Since the 2012 change in power, pro-Russian politicians have risen from the darkest margins of Georgian political life into an increasingly viable political force.

Since the 2012 change in power, pro-Russian politicians have risen from the darkest margins of Georgian political life into an increasingly viable political force.

Onetime pro-Western advocate turned pro-Russian political agitator Nino Burjanadze has fashioned a political coalition aimed squarely at breaking Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic consensus. In presidential and local elections in 2013 and 2014, respectively, Burjanadze managed to get about 10 percent of the vote, armed with Eurasianist rhetoric and fueled by massive influxes of what was likely Russian money. And the rapidly growing Alliance of Patriots — a populist party with anti-Western leanings, which recently held a major rally in Tbilisi — won almost 5 percent in June 2014. If these numbers hold, parliamentary elections in 2016 could very well yield a very differently oriented Georgian government. A 15 percent result would be more than enough to send pro-Russian deputies into parliament in force, shattering cross-partisan foreign-policy unity and potentially playing kingmakers in coalition talks.

Irakli Alasania, Georgia’s former defense minister, has Russia on his mind. “There are very active pro-Russia groups and thousands of protesters who are against Western integration,” he told me recently, referring to the Alliance of Patriots rally. He expressed worry that the current government is downplaying a growing Russian threat. With his own Free Democrats now part of the parliamentary opposition, the ruling Georgian Dream coalition’s ranks of solidly pro-Western parties has noticeably thinned, and the leverage of socially conservative, protectionist factions within the coalition has increased.

But this is probably only the beginning. If trends hold, Georgia’s foreign-policy consensus — long taken for granted in the West — could begin to unravel in earnest. Although Georgian Dream, to its credit, has managed to skate the knife’s edge between geopolitical pragmatism and Euro-Atlantic enthusiasm, it is increasingly losing popularity among once-hopeful voters. As things stand, parliament in 2016 looks like it will be very different from today’s parliament. The pro-Western opposition United National Movement will likely see its 51 seats slashed by half or more. In its place is likely to be a collection of openly anti-Western deputies from Burjanadze’s coalition and the Alliance of Patriots. If it stays together, Georgian Dream may well remain the largest parliamentary bloc, but the introduction of large anti-Western groupings into parliament could compel it to dilute, or even abandon, its pro-Western policies out of political necessity.

This trajectory ought to be a cause for deep concern. Even a Georgia that tried to split its orientation between the West and Moscow would likely sink into the quicksand of Russian dominance, as have each of the other paragons of this strategy — Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. This result would mean the consolidation of Russian geostrategic supremacy over the Caucasus and, with it, a complete Russian monopoly over trans-Eurasian energy and trade flows.

There are ways the West could throw a much-needed lifeline to Georgian liberals.

There are ways the West could throw a much-needed lifeline to Georgian liberals. While the association agreement with the European Union signed last June is surely a welcome symbol, and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area has great future potential, the real prize for most ordinary Georgians is the prospect of visa-free travel to the EU. If this is introduced this year, as widely hoped, this could be a real boon for Western credibility. And if not outright NATO membership, other strong gestures, such as U.S. major non-NATO ally status, would be a relatively painless upgrade that would enshrine what is essentially the status quo while recognizing Georgia’s long-outsized dedication and contributions to the Euro-Atlantic space.

What is clear is that the days of taking Georgia’s pro-Western consensus for granted are quickly coming to a close. Russian influence is resurgent across its periphery, from Eastern Europe to the Caucasus to Central Asia, and Georgia remains a long-coveted prize. It may have taken successive military interventions, information warfare, and influence operations, but Moscow looks to be turning a corner in its bid to regain Georgia — both by hook and by crook.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 21st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Israel offers to mediate talks between Ukraine, Russia.

by Maxim A. Suchkov – posted February 1, 2015 – Al-Monitor.

Maxim A. Suchkov, a former Fulbright visiting fellow at Georgetown University (2010–11), is currently a fellow at the Institute for Strategic Studies at the North Caucasian city of Pyatigorsk, Russia, and a contributor to the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Eurasia Outlook. On Twitter: @Max_A_Suchkov

Read more: www.al-monitor.com/pulse/original…

Summary? – Print Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman believes his country is uniquely positioned to negotiate with Russia and Ukraine.

On Jan. 26, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman visited Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. While the encounter took place during the 70th anniversary observance of the Soviet liberation of Auschwitz, the two diplomats took the opportunity to check up on their busy bilateral agenda. They touched primarily on six main issues — the overall situation in the Middle East, Russia’s role in the region, the course of the “5+1” negotiations on Iranian nuclear program, Lebanon, the situation in Syria, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the eve of his meeting with the Russian foreign minister, in an interview with the Russian media agency RIA Novosti, Liberman said Israel would be prepared, if necessary, to mediate peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.

The statement drew mixed reactions from both Israel and Russia, but the very intent, if it is at all serious, could be interesting to think about.

Over the more than yearlong conflict in Ukraine, Israel turned out to be neutral when it comes to Russia’s actions in its neighboring country. Israel’s diplomats were not present during the vote on the US-supported UN resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which made it look as if Israel were avoiding showing its stance on the issue. Although Tel Aviv explained that the vote coincided with a strike of Israel’s foreign affairs workers, few believed this explanation. Later, Israel refused to join the US-led sanctions regime against Russia. In both instances, the Obama administration, which cannot boast good relations with the Netanyahu government, took it as a sign of ingratitude toward Israel’s prime strategic ally at a time when America needed it most.

Essentially, while certainly not an act of support for Russian policies, it also was a sign of no opposition. At the initial stages of the war in Ukraine, in early 2014, the Israeli foreign minister, speaking on a TV program, said that “everybody understands that the situation [in Ukraine] is about standing up for the interests of each party [Russia and the US] in accordance with their own foreign policy courses.” That was a message that Israelis see the situation as a conflict of interests, not a conflict of principles. At the same interview, he declined any meddling with this conflict as a mediator between Russia and the US over Ukraine, saying Israel had enough to worry about with its own challenges.

The Israelis insisted, however, that neutrality didn’t mean inaction. A year hence, Tel Aviv wants to raise its political profile as a peacemaker, not between the Kremlin and the White House, but between Moscow and Kiev.

Indeed, as surprising as it may sound, Israel is uniquely positioned to mediate the conflict and ease the “Ukraine-Russia fatigue” that dominates the European security agenda. In this regard, Israel has three principal advantages. First, it clearly enjoys equally good relations with both Russia and Ukraine — a political luxury few nations can boast in today’s much-polarized context. Certainly, Russian-Israeli relations are far from being ideal, with the majority of the discrepancies lying in different priorities in the Middle East rooted in their own vision of national interests and historic political trajectories. At the same time, the Israeli leadership believes good relations with Russia are a “perceived necessity.”

Second, Israel possesses a key foreign policy resource — the large Jewish diaspora both in Russia and Ukraine. The number of Jews in the two countries is hard to estimate. Due to a well-known history of oppression, many had to flee, while others decline to identify themselves. Current estimates vary: in Russia from 190,000 to 228,000 to 380,000. That represents approximately 0.14% of Russia’s population and 1.7% of the global Jewish population, making Russia the country with the seventh-largest Jewish population. In Ukraine, the Jewish population was historically greater. At present, the figures range from 67,000 to 80,000 (0.16% national share and 0.6% global share). Other accounts say the Jewish population is as high as 300,000.

Most important, many Jewish figures occupy top positions in politics and business and have had significant influence on the two spheres. Therefore, Tel Aviv has a direct interest in their security and peaceful settlement of the crisis. Several influential Israeli public figures and politicians, including some from the Knesset, are actively raising awareness against more frequent instances of anti-Semitism in Ukraine.

Finally, the number of Israelis of Ukrainian and Russian descent in Israel itself is high. Many Israeli natives of the post-Soviet states occupying top political leadership positions have contributed to shaping a balanced stance on the conflict. While opinions on the crisis in Ukraine within this group are split, their expertise and action helped the State of Israel shape a policy that remained firm to outside pressure, including that of the US.

Liberman, a native of the Republic of Moldova, said, “It is precisely because we are from these countries that we can understand both parties. … If someone told me some time ago that Russia and Ukraine would become enemies, I would have told them to see a doctor.” Therefore, for a large group of Israeli policymakers, the crisis in Ukraine has a clear-cut personal connection. Yet at the same time, being foreign statesmen, they take a neutral position that potentially makes them “natural mediators.”

This is the benchmark data. In the end, however, the proposal represents the intent of only a fragment of the Israeli political spectrum and society — those coming from the post-Soviet space — and finds opposition from other Israeli groups.

In truth, taking the mediator’s burden in the conflict that already involves — in one form or another — a dozen actors carries high risks for Israel’s reputation and would engender an enormous, perhaps impossible, responsibility; in other words, it is a thorny path that may bear little fruit. At the same time, when no negotiation format seems to be working, Israel offers a straw that Russia and Ukraine could consider grabbing. Israel’s image as a middleman in a conflict may be something not many are accustomed to, and it does have some legitimate limitations. But what it can do is offer an important channel of communication.

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Bennett, Liberman battle for defense portfolio
Ben Caspit

Read more: www.al-monitor.com/pulse/original…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 29th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the Offices of George Soros:

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Yesterday, the New York Times carried an op-ed by George Soros and Bernard-Henri Lévy on the remarkable experiment underway in Ukraine. They write, “Maidan’s supporters have moved from opposition to nation building” — launching radical reforms and taking on entrenched state bureaucracy and the business oligarchy. If these reforms are to succeed, the new Ukraine first must survive its ongoing conflict with Russia. To do so, it urgently needs financial assistance from the West.

In today’s New York Times, columnist Thomas Friedman quoted George’s view that, “there is a new Ukraine that is determined to be different from the old Ukraine. … What makes it unique is that it is not only willing to fight but engage in executing a set of radical reforms. It is up against the old Ukraine that has not disappeared … and up against a very determined design by President Putin to destabilize it and destroy it. But it is determined to assert the independence and European orientation of the new Ukraine.”

All best,

Michael Vachon

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Save the New Ukraine
New York Times
George Soros and Bernard-Henri Lévy

A NEW Ukraine was born a year ago in the pro-European protests that helped to drive President Viktor F. Yanukovych from power. And today, the spirit that inspired hundreds of thousands to gather in the Maidan, Kiev’s Independence Square, is stronger than ever, even as it is under direct military assault from Russian forces supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The new Ukraine seeks to become the opposite of the old Ukraine, which was demoralized and riddled with corruption. The transformation has been a rare experiment in participatory democracy; a noble adventure of a people who have rallied to open their nation to modernity, democracy and Europe. And this is just the beginning.

This experiment is remarkable for finding expression not only in defending Ukraine’s territorial integrity from the separatists, but also in constructive work. Maidan’s supporters have moved from opposition to nation building.

Many of those in government and Parliament are volunteers who have given up well-paying jobs to serve their country. Natalie Jaresko, a former investment banker, now works for a few hundred dollars a month as the new finance minister. Volunteers are helping Ukraine’s one million internally displaced people as well as working as advisers to ministers and in local government.

The new Ukraine, however, faces a potent challenge from the old Ukraine. The old Ukraine is solidly entrenched in a state bureaucracy that has worked hand in hand with a business oligarchy. And the reformers are also up against the manifest hostility of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, who wants at all costs to destabilize Ukraine.

One drawback is that the new Ukraine is a well-kept secret, not just from the rest of the world but also from the Ukrainian public. Radical reforms have been hatched but not yet implemented.

It is instructive to compare Ukraine today with Georgia in 2004. When he became president that year, Mikheil Saakashvili immediately replaced the hated traffic police and removed the roadblocks used to extort bribes from drivers. The public recognized straight away that things had changed for the better.

Unfortunately, Ukraine has not yet found a similar demonstration project. Kiev’s police force is to be restructured, but if you need a driver’s license, you must still pay the same bribe as before.

Mr. Saakashvili was a revolutionary leader who first stamped out corruption but eventually turned it into a state monopoly. By contrast, Ukraine is a participatory democracy that does not rely on a single leader but on checks and balances. Democracies move slowly, but that may prove an advantage in the long run.

The big question is, will there be a long run? Although Russia is in a deepening financial crisis, Mr. Putin appears to have decided that he can destroy the new Ukraine before it can fully establish itself and before an economic downturn destroys his own popularity.

The Russian president is stepping up the military and financial pressure on Ukraine. Over the weekend, the city of Mariupol came under attack from forces that NATO said were backed by Russian troops, undermining the pretense that the separatists are acting on their own.

Ukraine will defend itself militarily, but it urgently needs financial assistance. The immediate need is for $15 billion. But to ensure Ukraine’s survival and encourage private investment, Western powers need to make a political commitment to provide additional sums, depending on the extent of the Russian assault and the success of Ukraine’s reforms.

The reformers, who want to avoid the leakages that were characteristic of the old Ukraine, have expressed their wish to be held accountable for all expenditures. They are passing extensive legislation but also want the International Monetary Fund to go on exercising oversight.

Unfortunately, just as democracies are slow to move, an association of democracies like the European Union is even slower. Mr. Putin is exploiting this.

It is not only the future of Ukraine that’s at stake, but that of the European Union itself. The loss of Ukraine would be an enormous blow; it would empower a Russian alternative to the European Union based on the rule of force rather than the rule of law. But if Europe delivered the financial assistance that Ukraine needs, Mr. Putin would eventually be forced to abandon his aggression. At the moment, he can argue that Russia’s economic troubles are caused by Western hostility, and the Russian public finds his argument convincing.

If, however, Europe is generous with its financial assistance, a stable and prosperous Ukraine will provide an example that makes clear that the blame for Russia’s financial troubles lies with Mr. Putin. The Russian public might then force him to emulate the new Ukraine. Europe’s reward would be a new Russia that has turned from a potent strategic threat into a potential strategic partner. Those are the stakes.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We find it astonishing how not even the Alternate Media sees the whole picture. The Glenn Greenwald following article is surely a great further contribution to his efforts to open hidden content – but even he missed a more up-to date point – the fact that January 27, 2015 happens to be the date much of Europe commemorates the freeing 70 years ago, January 27, 1945, of the Auschwitz death camp by the Russian Army. Simply put – even at the UN – January 27 is HMD – Holocaust Memorial Day while quite a few Muslim/Islamic States are effectively Holocaust deniers something outlawed in civilized States. I am just not sure where the Saudis present and past stand on this issue.

Many European leaders will be at Auschwitz that day but Putin will not be there. Oh well – he just was not invited by the Poles! Now come the news that President Obama will be in Ryadh! Ryadh of all places? A town where Jews are not allowed even as tourists – in 2015?

We did not condemn President Obama for not going to the Paris reunion of Heads of State after the ISIS/AQAP attacks on that Jewish supermarket and Charlie Hebdo. We felt that he was right to let the Europeans deal with this by themselves – rather then make a token appearance – but Auschwitz is just another matter. It was the US that took on the responsibility to save Europe from itself, and at that time the World at large as well. And that is something that calls for the US participation at highest level at this 70th commemoration that happens to be when the World is threatened again – and this time by Islamic fanatics – and don’t forget it – that started out in Saudi Arabia – and the White House and Congress choices seem all wrong.
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So far we read that Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck, France President Francois Hollande, King Willem-Alexander of the Niederlands and Queen Maxima, Crown Princess Viktoria of Schweden, and Crown Prince Haakon von Norway are among the Heads of State that are going to Auschwitz for the January 27, 2015 memorial. Then the announcement that President Obama and Vice-President Biden go to Ryadh. President Obama even shortened his all-important trip to India to pass on the way back through Ryadh. This seemingly detours now also President Hollande and Prime Minister Cameron who seemingly will switch from going to Auschwitz and go to Ryadh instead. Oh well – this smells of oil. Today this means that the new Saudi King will be asked to reciprocate by continuing the policy of cheap oil that hurts mainly Iran and Russia while being a boon to short-sighted industrial economies.

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It seems like somebody had an after-thought in the White House – and voila:

The White House – Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
January 17, 2015
President Obama Announces Presidential Delegation to Attend the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau

President Barack Obama today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to Oswicim, Poland, to attend the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27, 2015.

The Honorable Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of the Department of Treasury, will lead the delegation.

Members of the Presidential Delegation:

The Honorable Stephen D. Mull, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Poland, Department of State

The Honorable Crystal Nix-Hines, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Department of State

The Honorable David Saperstein, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Department of State

Dr. Charles A. Kupchan, Senior Director for European Affairs, National Security Council

Mr. Nicholas Dean, Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, Department of State

Ms. Aviva Sufian, Special Envoy for U.S. Holocaust Survivor Services, Department of Health and Human Services

Mr. Israel Arbeiter, Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivor

Mrs. Irene Weiss, Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivor

Mr. David Harris, Executive Director, American Jewish Committee

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But this is a Jewish delegation headed by the White House Jewish appointee – this is not the political delegation that the hour demands. Why is the trip to the family of the Tyrant King more important to President Obama and then – seemingly also Congress – did not yet think of sending someone to the Auschwitz Memorial?

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Another e-mail we just got is from Antony Beevor of the Guardian
–  www.theguardian.com/commentisfree…he tells us that Putin does not go to the Auschwitz Memorial because the Poles did not invite him – and this is a terrible mistake of the Europeans – to let the Poles take such a stand.

The note starts: “Why Vladimir Putin should be at the Auschwitz memorial ceremony.
We should forget neither the Soviet Union’s role in liberating the camps nor its antisemitic blind spots.”

It continues: “On 27 January 1945 a reconnaissance patrol from the Soviet 107th Rifle Division emerged from the snow-laden forest 70km west of Kraków. The soldiers were mounted on shaggy ponies, their submachine guns slung across their backs. In front of them stood Auschwitz-Birkenau, the grimmest symbol of modern history. Officers gazed around in disbelief, then called in medical teams to care for the 3,000 sick prisoners left behind.

It is a great shame that Vladimir Putin, having not been invited, won’t be present at a memorial ceremony next week to mark the 70th anniversary – at the very least, it would have reminded the world that the advance of Stalin’s Red Army forced the SS to abandon the extermination camps in the east. And yet the muted row over the Russian president’s absence is a reminder that this particular chapter in Russia’s second world war history was, and remains, full of contradictions.

. The first death camp to be liberated by the Red Army was Majdanek just outside Lublin, in July 1944. The novelist and war correspondent Vasily Grossman was on the spot with the 8th Guards Army, which had defended Stalingrad, but an order came down that he was not to cover the story. The job was given instead to Konstantin Simonov, a favourite of the regime, who managed to avoid mentioning that any of the victims in Majdanek were Jewish. Grossman, despite warnings from his friend Ilya Ehrenburg, had been slow to believe that antisemitism could exist within the Soviet hierarchy during the death struggle with Nazism. But in 1943 he had noticed that any reference to Jewish suffering was being cut from his articles. He wrote to complain to Aleksandr Shcherbakov, the chief of the Red Army political department. Shcherbakov replied: “The soldiers want to hear about [Russian military hero of the Napoleonic era] Suvorov, but you quote [German 19th-century poet] Heine”. Grossman joined Ehrenburg on the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee to chronicle Nazi crimes, unaware of how dangerous this might prove to be. Several of their colleagues were murdered by the secret police.

Certain truths about the Shoah could never be published in the Sovet Union. When Grossman wrote about the extermination camp of Treblinka, he could not reveal that the auxiliary guards were mostly Ukrainian. Collaboration with the enemy was a taboo subject since it undermined the rhetoric of the Great Patriotic War.


As the end of the war approached, controls became even stricter. Auschwitz may have been liberated at the end of January 1945, but no details were released until the final victory in May. The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee soon found that its work was in direct opposition to the party instruction: “Do not divide the dead!” Jews were not to be seen as a special category of suffering. They were to be described only as citizens of the USSR and Poland. Thus in a way Stalin was the first Holocaust denier, even if his antisemitism was not quite the same as that of the Nazis. It was probably based more on a xenophobic suspicion of international connections than on racial hatred.

Soviet propaganda, while designating those killed at Auschwitz in collectively anonymous terms as “victims of fascism”, also portrayed the extermination camp as the ultimate capitalist factory, where the workers were murdered when no longer useful.

And there was a further twist away from the truth. The Stalinists emphasised how many Poles had died there to distract attention from their own crimes against the Polish people, both following the Red Army’s unprovoked invasion in 1939 under the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and its brutal occupation from 1944. They portrayed Auschwitz as the place of martyrdom for the Polish nation. By talking only of the Polish Catholics who had died there, they hoped that the Poles might focus any anger at their bitter fate entirely against Germany and not against the Soviet Union.

Few Poles were taken in during those postwar years of Soviet oppression. And now Putin’s ill-disguised attempts to reassert Russian control over Ukraine have of course reminded the Polish people all too clearly of what Soviet “liberation” meant for them in 1945. It is not therefore surprising that we should be seeing a certain amount of diplomatic shadow-boxing in the background, while both sides insist everything is normal.

The Kremlin is pretending not to have been snubbed by the fact that President Putin has not been asked to the commemoration event; meanwhile, the Polish government insists it was not issuing formal invitations. The Auschwitz international committee, which includes a Russian representative, was simply asking each government who would be representing them.

Putin made a speech at Auschwitz 10 years ago on the 60th anniversary, and no doubt he will again proclaim in Moscow on 9 May – Russia’s Victory Day – that the Red Army’s defeat of “the fascist beast” saved Europe from Nazi slavery. {and we think he is right to claim that but this is obviously only a half truth as the Soviets did in effect exchange one slavery for another.}

But those countries, especially Poland and the Baltic states, that experienced the ensuing 40 years of Communist dictatorship glance nervously now east once more.

Russia, obsessed for centuries by a fear of encirclement and surprise attack, has always felt justified in dominating its “near abroad”. It was Stalin’s shock at Hitler’s invasion in 1941, and his consequent determination to create a defensive cordon, that led to the cold war. Putin, fortunately, is a very pale imitation of his hero.

• Antony Beevor’s next book, Ardennes – 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble, is out in May 2015.

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AND THE VIEW FROM THE ALTERNATE MEDIA THAT GOT US INTERESTED IN THIS – WHY INDEED DID PRESIDENT OBAMA AND MEMBERS OF CONGRESS NOT CHOSE TO GO TO OSWIECIM (Auschwitz-Birkenau) AND ARE GOING TO RYADH INSTEAD? This being written after reading next story:


Glenn Greenwald | Compare and Contrast: Obama’s Reaction to the Deaths of King Abdullah and Hugo Chavez

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, 24 January 2015

Greenwald writes: “The effusive praise being heaped on the brutal Saudi despot by western media and political figures has been nothing short of nauseating; the UK Government, which arouses itself on a daily basis by issuing self-consciously eloquent lectures to the world about democracy, actually ordered flags flown all day at half-mast to honor this repulsive monarch.”

Hugo Chávez was elected President of Venezuela four times from 1998 through 2012 and was admired and supported by a large majority of that country’s citizens, largely due to his policies that helped the poor. King Abdullah was the dictator and tyrant who ran one of the most repressive regimes on the planet.

The effusive praise being heaped on the brutal Saudi despot by western media and political figures has been nothing short of nauseating; the UK Government, which arouses itself on a daily basis by issuing self-consciously eloquent lectures to the world about democracy, actually ordered flags flown all day at half-mast to honor this repulsive monarch. My Intercept colleague Murtaza Hussain has an excellent article about this whole spectacle, along with a real obituary, here.

I just want to focus on one aspect: a comparison of the statements President Obama issued about the 2013 death of President Chávez and the one he issued today about the Saudi ruler. Here’s the entire Obama statement about Chávez (h/t Sami Khan):

Statement covering the reaction from President Obama regarding the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (photo: The Guardian)

Statement covering the reaction from President Obama regarding the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (photo: The Guardian)

One obvious difference between the two leaders was that Chávez was elected and Abdullah was not. Another is that Chávez used the nation’s oil resources to attempt to improve the lives of the nation’s most improverished while Abdullah used his to further enrich Saudi oligarchs and western elites. Another is that the severity of Abdullah’s human rights abuses and militarism makes Chávez look in comparison like Gandhi.

But when it comes to western political and media discourse, the only difference that matters is that Chávez was a U.S. adversary while Abdullah was a loyal U.S. ally – which, by itself for purposes of the U.S. and British media, converts the former into an evil villainous monster and the latter into a beloved symbol of peace, reform and progress. As but one of countless examples: last year, British Prime Minister David Cameron – literally the best and most reliable friend to world dictators after Tony Blair – stood in Parliament after being questioned by British MP George Galloway and said: “there is one thing that is certain: wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator in the world, he will have the support of [Galloway]”; last night, the very same David Cameron pronounced himself “deeply saddened” and said the Saudi King would be remembered for his “commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.”

That’s why there is nobody outside of American cable news, DC think tanks, and the self-loving Oxbridge clique in London which does anything but scoff with scorn and dark amusement when the US and UK prance around as defenders of freedom and democracy. Only in those circles of tribalism, jingoism and propaganda is such tripe taken at all seriously.

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And Some of the Comments:

+37 # wrknight 2015-01-24 10:53
Democracy has never been a factor in determining whether a nation and its ruler are allies or enemies of the U.S.. All that matters is whether or not the ruler of that country allows U.S. Corporations to exploit their resources and/or their people.

Witness the fact that the U.S. has engineered the overthrow of numerous democratically elected presidents, while simultaneously supporting numerous ruthless dictators. The difference? The “allies” opened their markets to U.S. Corporate exploitation while the “enemies” put constraints on U.S. Corporations, nationalized U.S. Corporate assets or closed their markets entirely.

The pattern is consistent throughout U.S. history, is easily verified, and clearly tells who really dictates U.S. foreign policy.

+17 # reiverpacific 2015-01-24 11:22

So when has the US EVER NOT supported or imposed upon other nations trying to establish Democracy, a feudalist, regressive, violent or right-wing death-squad-enf orced regime, before but figuratively starting with Mossadegu’s Iran in 1953, Arbenz’s Guatemala in 1954 and almost annually since, most recently supporting the Oligarchy-drive n removal of Zelaya in Honduras, whilst high-handedly proclaiming it’s superiority, democracy and exceptionalism worldwide (for exceptionalism, substitute “‘Cause we can and if you don’t like it, we’ll do it to you too”, or “selective self-definition”).

I’m glad that Greenwald brought this up but unfortunately, the US owner-media will probably just ignore it all. In this case though, I can’t imagine even the average American somnambulistic infotainment-in formed citizen shedding any tears for this “Sheik of Arabee” leader of the oppressive Wahabist interpreters of much-abused Islam, whilst “Chop-chop square” continues as #1 public entertainment in Riyadh.

Very disappointing from Obama: I’d have expected it from Dimwits/Cheney after these revolting photos of Shrub the dumbest holding hands with the Royal Petroleum-pumpe rs, wielding a scimitar but being a lifelong incurious, clueless pinhead about the world in general.

None of them were fit to wipe Chavez’s boots!
This is proof, if any were needed, that much of International Diplomacy is forked-tongue bullshit and hypocrisy.
Good job Mr. Greenwald!

+2 # cordleycoit 2015-01-24 11:50

One has to be careful licking depots boots, Blood carries a price on the boot licker’s health. Mr. Chavez was not blameless as a leader. Of course the king shed rivers of blood to appease religious bigots men women it didn’t matter. Obama gets to supplicate to the late butcher.

+5 # Guy 2015-01-24 12:21
Nauseating is the most accurate wording for this behavior in the West .I can’t believe what I am seeing .A severe case of blindness has affected the Western view of reality.

+4 # Anonymot 2015-01-24 12:25
Well observed. Thanks.

What everyone has forgotten or never knew was how and why Abdulazis and his family became so rich. They were not poor, ever. Then came who? Richard Nixon! Wha?

After his successful re-election in 11/1973 Nixon owed a great debt to Texas oilmen who had financed his campaign. They wanted an oil pipeline from Alaska. I remember it as in the State Of The Union address, Jan. 1973 that Nixon promised to get the pipeline approved. Using the usual fear tactics he pointed out that oil prices had gone from $3 to $12 per barrel. “We cannot let OPEC have this Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.” Nixon said.

Well, the Arabs looked at each other, Abdulaziz included. They were smart like desert foxes. We didn’t realize we were a Sword of Damocles, they said – or something like that – and that was the end of cheap oil. Nixon had just given them the arms to destroy the West and they have used them ever since.

You won’t find this documented anywhere, not even in Wikipedia. I just happened to put several disparate things together when I was sitting on a veranda on the Kenya coast and said, “Whoa!!”

It was one of those great “unintended consequences” that our brilliant politicians make, like the little Vietnam War or the little topple Saddam incursion or the Arab Spring regime changes. The Ukraine, Venezuela, Putin, and China are waiting to be played out.

-9 # daruten1 2015-01-24 12:27

Why is it necessary to evaluate every ruler and country through the lenses of our own experiences and values? Mr Greenwald is ethnocentric, judgmental and unable to perceive where other cultures are coming from given their past historical cultures and experiences. Who is he to tell other countries that they do not measure up to the Western world’s values? The world is a complicated place and diplomacy is but one instrument of getting along with people and countries whose views differ from our values and who are difficult. The trick in life is getting along with people whether you agree or disagree with them. Obama has shown intelligence and emotional intelligence in this instance.

+1 # reiverpacific 2015-01-24 12:58
Quoting daruten1:

Why is it necessary to evaluate every ruler and country through the lenses of our own experiences and values? Mr Greenwald is ethnocentric, judgmental and unable to perceive where other cultures are coming from given their past historical cultures and experiences. Who is he to tell other countries that they do not measure up to the Western world’s values? The world is a complicated place and diplomacy is but one instrument of getting along with people and countries whose views differ from our values and who are difficult. The trick in life is getting along with people whether you agree or disagree with them. Obama has shown intelligence and emotional intelligence in this instance.

“Mr Greenwald is ethnocentric, judgmental and unable to perceive where other cultures are coming from given their past historical cultures and experiences.”
Au contraiare, it’s his job as an investigative and world-respected reporter, who has had his own share of Imperialist persecution and fingers pointed at him, to comment on what he perceives as inter-cultural hypocrisy!

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from: Martin Indyk
please reply to:  foreign_policy at brookings.edu

Subject: Brookings Search for a New Energy Security and Climate Initiative Director

THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION – FOREIGN POLICY
 www.brookings.edu/about/employmen….

Please share this job posting with qualified candidates. We appreciate your help in getting the word out to qualified candidates in the energy security and climate policy communities.

Best Regards,

Martin Indyk
Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy
The Brookings Institution

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Crude Oil Dips Under $50 A Barrel, A Price Last Seen In 2009.
January 05, 2015

The price for a barrel of U.S. oil benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell below $50 Monday, matching levels seen in the spring of 2009. The drop is linked to both OPEC’s boosted production and a stronger dollar.

Oil’s latest fall came along with a dip on Wall Street, as the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 330 points to finish at 17,501 — a drop of 1.86 percent that’s also seen as a reaction to new instability in Europe.

Petroleum has been in a free fall: In the U.S., the average cost for a gallon of regular gasoline has fallen from above $3.60 to below $2.20 since June, according to AAA.

The sharp drop has come as OPEC member nations seek to protect their market share by raising production levels to undercut profits for U.S. oil companies.

Both Iraq and Russia are now producing crude at record levels, as Bloomberg News reports.


“People are thinking about promises from OPEC, mostly Saudi Arabia, that they’ll continue to produce at very high levels,” TD Securities commodity strategy chief Bart Melek tells Agence France-Presse. “On the demand side of the equation, what we’re getting is basically a lack of demand growth … as Europe is potentially in crisis.”

The cheaper oil and gas prices come along with a surging dollar, which reached a nine-year high against the euro earlier Monday.

As Krishnadev reported for the Two-Way, the reasons for that gain include renewed instability in Greece and the possibility that the European Central Bank “could introduce quantitative easing to stimulate the eurozone.”

For many in the American oil industry, a central question has been whether companies can keep developing oil fields, even as the financial incentive to do so keeps shrinking.

As the industry site Fuel Fix notes today, the number of working U.S. oil rigs has fallen more in the past two weeks than in any similar period since 2009.

“The number of rigs operating in the United States declined by 29 last week to 1,811,” the site reports, “marking the fourth consecutive weekly decrease for the U.S. count, published by oil field services company Baker Hughes.”

—————

The euro fell by 1.2% against the dollar to $1.1864, marking its weakest level since March 2006, before recovering slightly to $1.19370.

The drop follows ECB president Mario Draghi’s comments indicating the bank could soon start quantitative easing.

Greek political turmoil also weighed on the currency.

Although the ECB has already cut interest rates to a record low level, and also bought some bonds issued by private companies, a full-scale programme of quantitative easing QE has not yet been launched.

But on Friday, Mr Draghi hinted in a newspaper interview that the bank might soon start a policy of QE by buying government bonds, thus copying its counterparts in the UK and US.

The purpose would be to inject cash into the banking system, stimulate the economy and push prices higher.

Speaking in an interview with the German newspaper Handelsblatt, Mr Draghi said: “We are making technical preparations to alter the size, pace and composition of our measures in early 2015.”
Greek turmoil

Political turmoil in Greece also weighed on the euro, with fears that the general election on 25 January, could see the anti-austerity, left-wing Syriza party take control of the country.

The possibility has sparked fears about whether Greece will stick to the terms of its international bailout and stay in the eurozone.

On Saturday, Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine said the German government believes the eurozone would be able to cope with a Greek “exit” from the euro, if the Syriza party wins the Greek election.

Reacting to Der Spiegel’s report, a spokesman for German Chancellor Merkel said there was no change in German policy and the government expects Greece to fulfil its obligations under the EU, ECB and IMF bailout.

French president Francois Hollande also commented, saying it was now “up to the Greeks” to decide whether to remain a part of the single currency.

“Europe cannot continue to be identified by austerity,” he added, suggesting that the eurozone needs to focus more on growth than reducing its deficit.

Analysts said the euro was likely to remain volatile for the next few weeks.

“The market is readying itself for action from the ECB. The first meeting of the year takes place on 22nd January, so the euro is likely to remain in focus and see heightened volatility as we approach that date, which is also a few days before the Greek General Election,” said FxPro senior analyst Angus Campbell.

——————–

We go back to our base – the question what all this means to the answer of Clean Energy from Renewable Sources and Energy Independence in all parts of the World?

Our answer is that we are still optimists – now as the “Internet of Things” and our “Super-Connectivity” a la Rifkin – that we just posted – will help us get away from the reliance on fossil fuels. It seems thus that Russia may work in its best long term interest by squandering now its oil resources. I would not say that they do this because they have that foresight.

###

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

Dr. Josef Ostermayer is Chancellery Minister, in Chancellor Faymann’s office, since December 16, 2013, but also Federal Minister for Arts and Culture, Constitution, and Media and thus the face of Austria on many issues – he perhaps is now the third most important person in government.

From 2008 to 2013 Josef Ostermayer had been active as State Secretary for Media and Coordination at the Federal Chancellery. Prior to taking over his new position, he was Head of Office at the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT).

Now he speaks for the government on such touchy topics like the upcoming Islamic Law – the Austrian Law that will not allow outside funding of Islamic cultural activities in Austria. The law will close at the end of this school year a Saudi funded school in Vienna that was found using school-books defaming Jews and generally advocating disorder. Ostermayer announced today that the spokesman for the Islamic Community of Austria (the IGGiOE) will not have the Veto right on these issues that Sunni Muslim Mr. Fuat Senac seems to claim for himself. Besides, he is not backed by Austria’s Shiite Muslims as well.

We had the honor of attending this week two events where Minister Ostermayer announced the year-end government funding forward- looking cultural programs.

Oh well, there will always be those that will criticize expenditures without having the vision of the important positive aspects of there expenditures.

The two events weres

A. Monday December 22, 2014 at the Federal Chancellery at Ballhausplatz 2, 1010 Wien, in the Kongressaal (the Congress Hall),
an announcement about “THE NEW VIENNA CONGRESS.”

B. Tuesday December 23, 2014 at the Museum of Natural History, at Maria-Teresien-Platz, 1010 Wien, in the new Mammuth Hall,
“Plans for the Museum of Natural History for the years 2015-2020.”

I will start from the latter.

The Museum is in one of two Symmetric old buildings situated on the sides of Empress Maria-Theresa Monument with the modern Art Culture Complex on one side, and the old Imperial Palace on the other side. The symmetric building is the Museum of Art History.

The collection was started 1750 by the husband of Maria-Theresa – Emperor Franz I Stephan of Lorraine and the Natural Museum founded in 1889 is today one of the richest in exhibits in the World with 30 million objects and 750,000 visitors per year, but the Mammuth Hall exhibit, recently established with Russian help, to be shown until March 2, 2015, includes Copies of Siberian findings, is too new to be mentioned in the floor plan – but figures on this year’s Christmas Card of the Museum. In the list of future events I found of interest the lecture to be given January 14, 6:30 PM by Ursula B. Goerlich on “Mammuth, Man, and Permafrost.”

The Minister explained the programs the museum plans for 2015 and then announced that considering the 125th anniversary since the museum was established, there will be a new digital planetarium and there is going to be funding of research and cooperation with other institutions on Planetary-, Bio-, and Human-, Science. Further, Directors from the Museum told us that further finances will come from the Mellon Foundation of the US, and the fact that halls of the second floor will be turned into further research areas for the use of local and foreign young people, with equipment to be acquired for these activities under a five year plan. The Vienna University will be involved in this as well – “and we are proud of it.”

I chose to start with this activity first because it shows elements similar to what we consider a much deeper project regarding a Model for a “Vienna Congress II.” The common elements are in our opinion:

- involvement of the Chancellor and his office;
- Minister Ostermayer’s hands-on involvement;
- end of year budget outlays;
- cooperation with Russia;
- a role for the University of Vienna;
- accent on youth;
- an offer to work with other EU States.

VIENNA AT THE CENTER OF A EUROPEAN POLITICAL TENT:

Looking at - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congress_of… (map there) – The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September 1814 to June 1815. The objective of the Congress was to provide a long-term peace for Europe by settling critical issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The goal was not simply to restore old boundaries, but to resize the main powers so they could balance each other off and remain at peace. The leaders were conservatives with little use for republicanism or revolution. France lost all its recent conquests, while Prussia, Austria and Russia made major territorial gains. Prussia added smaller German states in the west and 40% of the Kingdom of Saxony; Austria gained Venice and much of northern Italy. Russia gained parts of Poland. The new kingdom of the Netherlands had been created just months before, and included formerly Austrian territory that in 1830 became Belgium.

The Congress of Vienna, 1 November 1814- 8 June 1815
The system established in 1815 in Vienna lasted amazingly until 1814 – a neat 100 years.

By 1914 we saw the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires fall apart, a new Nationalism appeared and the new Colonial Empires started evolving economic power. Seemingly there was a need for a new rearrangement of power and like 100 years earlier it seemed that war was the way to achieve this. Just note – this is the half-time of the 200 years since The Vienna Congress.

This year – 2014 – we kept commemorating the 100 years since the eruption of WWI. In this scheme of things WWII was just a continuation of WWI as that war was not settled fully and an unhappy Germany with its Austrian sister having been left out of Colonial riches, wanted to see a global reset – and got it in 1945 though not according to their original intent.

Now, 2014, we have again a situation where some show unhappiness with their lot. Putin’s Russia, now a small economy, brings up memories of past physical greatness, Egypt – the natural hegemon of the Arab Muslim World is in trouble and what some thought mistakenly that it was going to be an Arab Spring, turned rather into a throw back to the dark ages of religious wars.
Then the US seems to want to wash its hands from the old allies and to reset for new ones – starting with those in East Asia and perhaps eventually Turkey and Iran. In this scenario it seems that the Russian-Ukrainian clash might lead to unexpected consequences and Austria that had heavily invested in Russia, would like to bring Russia back to the fold, and wishes to find a way to revive the spirit of the Vienna Congress of exactly 200 years ago.

Here comes the great idea that rather then calling for governments to send emissaries to Vienna for a renewed Congress, in this year of many other forward looking global events – like the Global Climate meetings and the effort on Sustainability aiming at the Global Environment and a Global Sustainable Economy based on a concept of Sustainable Energy for All that has its headquarters in Vienna, why not create a think-tank enclave of young people from Civil Society just for the European Space and ask them to figure out how their generation would like to live in harmony. The hope being that having this as an ongoing operation – an enclave of bright young people producing ideas and concepts with doable propositions – that will then be made public – and hopefully generate a movement that might then push governments to positive action.

So, on December 22, 2014, I found myself sitting in the hall where the 1814-1815 first enclave took place – the one that we call THE VIENNA CONGRESS. Minister Ostermayer, supported by Secretary of State in the Economy Ministry with oversight on Science, Technology, and Research Dr. Harald Mahrer  harald.mahrer at bmwfw.gv.at who is also President of the Julius Raab Foundation established to promote ideas that help maintain old values; Actor Harald Krassnitzer who is actively involved with Civil Society and was picked as a leader of this budding idea  www.moritzauer at aol.com he shuttles between Wuppertal (Germany) and Tirol (Mieming; and FASResearch Activist whose target is to reinvent media Dr. Harald Katzmair also picked for his involvement with civil Society  www.Harald.Katzmair at FAS.at .

Rather then summarizing what was said – I will try to present the event as it unfolded.

MINISTER OSTERMEYER: Chancellor Faymann and him discussed a year ago what to do about the anniversary of the Vienna Congress.
It was decided not to have just a commemoration but rather a look to the future. The challenge is how to bring young people from all over Europe committed to stay 30 days and discuss how they want to see their future evolve. They will have to come up with doable propositions. The event will happen in July 2015. Katzmair and Mahrer will present details. The concept was agreed also as part of the coalition negotiations – so it is bi-partisan or non-partisan so far as the government is concerned.

Mr. KRASSNITZER: The 1815 Congress was just an event but came up with 125 points that led to a revision of Europe under internationalism. It led to an order that exploded in 1914. So where is Europe now? Where does our travel go now? It is no more just National and European – it has become Global. This new century needs a new dialogue – we will have 150-160 young people plus from Russia and others. The outcomes will be presented to the European Parliament. A RELOADING – A RENAISSANCE – Culturally based.

Mr. KATZMAIR: We all have the feeling that Europe is stuck – and we must discuss the direction we want to develop.
It will be a rediscovery of what Europe was intended to be – not really just springing new ideas. This is how he sees it – but acknowledges that some might see this differently. The intent of this Congress will be – What tools exist for next generations to move on?
How do we get these 150 young people that will be able to discuss this – and in a short time come up with proposals for actions that are arrived at by consensus?

Mr. KRASSNITZER: There are other living platforms – like the Peace Platform for Europe, and we believe that the 21st Century will lead Europe to Free Life – like no need of Passports. The Peace Project needs to have present conflicts removed – those because of cultural differences that we forgot to deal with when dealing with the Economic Project.

Mr. KATZMAIR: We did not discuss the alternatives of how Europe should evolve. Alternatives are Democratization or re-Nationalism. He is President of a Communities Foundation (Gemeinde Stiftung) that is not a one-time thing – but a base for future follow-ups. He addresses the Minister that he hopes the Government will back this. So, what I heard here is that Mr. Katzmair is approaching the government to make clear that this exercise will have follow-ups.

MINISTER OF STATE MAHRER: This is what the Government wants – the establishing of a European model. That is why we invite people from the other Europe as well.

Why is Austria a base for such discussion? Good neighboring has to be our future.
The Government made available 300,000 Euro and an additional 300,000 Euro will come from the Private Sector.

Now for the Q & A time:

Q: How will you find the youth and what will be their age? Russia and others – very interesting. What about 40 year olds?
With 7 million unemployed – how do you bring this into your politics?

A. from Minister Ostermayer: There is a Youth Forum. On the Agenda of the youth is youth unemployment. There is a Peace Project, there is the issue of Travel Freedom – we really have no recipe book.

THE ACTION ITSELF WHEN TRIED IS ALREADY A CONTRIBUTION TO THE FUTURE OF EUROPE
– he said.
The 150 people will meet for 30 days here. We will then make sure they continue the story in their own countries.

Among the organizers of this election process will be:
- The Network of The European Youth Council,
- The Network of The Forum Alpbach,
- The help of Franz Vranitzky and the Yoyh-Karlprize Aachen social network
all these will be involved. We want most participants to be from Civil Society not to get a selection of Socialists and Christian Democrat networks. We prefer unaffiliated thinkers that were not yet indoctrinated by old ideas.

Where are we? What do we think? Three weeks of day and night of this is a first. Up to now such mind storms lasted only 3-4 days with maximum a 5th day thrown in.

The University of Vienna has its own Jubilee next year. With all this coming to Vienna next year – it is all very attractive.
We hope for a positive dialogue between the political and social platforms.

Q FROM A RUSSIAN JOURNALIST – It brought the following answer:

The age group – 18 to 28 and Russia is a very important part of this dialogue. WE ARE CONVINCED THAT EUROPE WITHOUT RUSSIA IS UNTHINKABLE. The extent of the Europe we envision includes eastwards Kazakhstan. So we have many cultures and there must be solutions to new conflicts.

The Location – A Schloss near Vienna was mentioned but I did not note it correctly and did not get yet to check on it.
the time is June-July 2015.

Q FROM AN AUSTRIAN JOURNALIST (I think from the Falter): What about the young people that were not born in Europe?
The strong influence from the Arab Space. Will such be invited as observers, but will those born in Europe be part of the discussion? It is not about language – it is about living together.

A. The people elected to be participants will include representatives of immigration.
Mr. Katzmair: The renaissance involved the Islamic Culture with the Greco-Roman Europe.
Minister Mahrer: There are hundreds of thousands young people social entrepreneurs in Europe.

Q. On the Islamic Law in Austria.

A. The Vienna Congress did forbid slavery and it talked of Human Rights. Yet now, 70 years since the end of WWII and the official end of Nazism, 60 years after the Austria State Treaty and we encounter negative attitudes. So, this is part of our trying to learn from history and see how the young look to the future. The young who not exactly remember the past.

There are four aspects to the Islamic Law Issue. These include the demand their communities to be run according to their own law and want the Islamic organization to be recognized as in charge of carrying them out. They want the creation of an Islamic religious faculty and want to be funded by interested outsiders.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 9th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

ON THIS DAY The New York Times reminds us in its only notion: On Nov. 9, 1965, the great Northeast blackout occurred as several states and parts of Canada were hit by a series of power failures lasting up to 13 1/2 hours.

Also, Nov. 9, 1989 – the Fall of the Berlin Wall – After 28 years, East Berliners were giddy with marvel that they could now visit the West. This rated today an article in The World Section of the New York Times – under title “On Berlin Wall Anniversary, Somber Notes Amid Revelry.” Also a link to a video: Video Video: Berlin’s Wall of Light
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, artists created a border of lights. Related Article

But then there was another event – and this one did not rate an article by The New York Times – Nov.9. 1938 – the infamous exercise in terror that would be called “Kristallnacht,” or “the Night of Broken Glass,” because of the cost of broken glass in looted Jewish shops—$5 million marks ($1,250,000). This was when Synagogues were burned and some Jews killed – the beginning of the Holocaust Germans and Austrians imposed on Europe’s Jewry.

In Heydrich’s report to Hermann Goering after Kristallnacht, the damage was assessed: “…815 shops destroyed, 171 dwelling houses set on fire or destroyed… 119 synagogues were set on fire, and another 76 completely destroyed… 20,000 Jews were arrested, 36 deaths were reported and those seriously injured were also numbered at 36…”

The extent of the destruction was actually greater than reported. Later estimates were that as many as 7,500 Jewish shops were looted, and there were several incidents of rape. This, in the twisted ideology of Nazism, was worse than murder, because the racial laws forbade intercourse between Jews and gentiles. The rapists were expelled from the Nazi Party and handed over to the police for prosecution. And those who killed Jews? They “cannot be punished,” according to authorities, because they were merely following orders.

To add insult to massive injury, those Jews who survived the monstrous pogrom were forced to pay for the damage inflicted upon them. Insurance firms teetered on the verge of bankruptcy because of the claims. Hermann Goering came up with a solution: Insurance money due the victims was to be confiscated by the state, and part of the money would revert back to the insurance companies to keep them afloat.

The reaction around the world was one of revulsion at the barbarism into which Germany was sinking. As far as Hitler was concerned, this only proved the extent of the “Jewish world conspiracy.”

In effect one can say that the Kristallnacht and the Austrian “Anschluss” (Mar 12, 1938 when German troops marched into a willing Austria) set in motion the Hitler’s campaign to impose Germany on Europe.

Yes, the German lost WWII and a US/British/French/Soviet Peace was imposed over Europe. Germany’s occupation by the four “Victors” was a division into four Sectors and it ended up as two divided states – the former US, British, and French Sectors turned into West Germany, the former Soviet Sector into East Germany.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall – a development started by a Hungarian Government that was ready to help East Germans escape, at a time that a Soviet Government under President Mikhail Gorbachev did not think it was worth opposing it, helped reunite Germany and make possible a renewal of German strength. Germany became a motor for the unification of Europe and eventually history will show that what the Germans could not achieve by going to war against Europe – they did eventually achieve since the the Fall of the dividing Berlin Wall and the creation of the EU. But does this allow others to forget the Holocaust? Strangely, it seems today that Germany and Austria are not afraid of recognizing their people’s past savagery, it is the American media that does not see the way those historical events connect.

—————————————————–

We pick some other historical events that occurred on November 9th – our choice was so that we looked to some relevance to above mentioned three events. The list we found had 173 listings.

Historical Events on 9th November


694 – Spanish King Egica accuses Jews of aiding Moslems/sentenced to slavery

1282 – Pope Martinus IV excommunicates king Pedro III of Aragonorth
1313 – Louis the Bavarian defeats his cousin Frederick I of Austria at the Battle of Gamelsdorf.
1330 – Battle of Posada, Wallachian Voievode Basarab I defeats the Hungarian army in an ambush
1492 – Peace of Etaples (Henry VII of England & Charles VIII of France)
1494 – Family de’ Medici become rulers of Florence
1526 – Jews are expelled from Pressburg (Bratislava), Hungary, by Maria of Hapsburg

1620 – After a month of delays off the English coast and about two months at sea, the Mayflower spots land (Cape Cod)

1681 – Hungarian parliament promises protestants freedom of religion
1720 – Rabbi Yehuda Hasid synagogue set afire
1794 – Russian troops occupy Warsaw
1799 – Napoleon Bonaparte becomes dictator (1st consul) of France
1821 – French Emperor Napoléon BonaparteFrench Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte 1842
1848 – Robert Blum, a German revolutionary and MP (Liberal), is executed in Vienna.
1851 – Kentucky marshals abduct abolitionist minister Calvin Fairbank from Jeffersonville, Indiana, and take him to Kentucky to stand trial for helping a slave escape.
1857 – Atlantic Monthly magazine 1st published
1862 – US General Ulysses S. Grant issues orders to bar Jews from serving under him

1888 – US President & Union General Ulysses S. GrantUS President & Union General Ulysses S. Grant 1900 – China has resumed nominal control of Manchuria, but in a secret agreement the Chinese governor of Manchuria grants Russia such rights as keeping troops along the railroad lines and controlling civil administration
1906 – Theodore Roosevelt is 1st US President to visit other countries (Puerto Rico and Panama)
26th US President Theodore Roosevelt26th US President Theodore Roosevelt 1912
1914 – Off Cocos Island, near Sumatra, the Australian cruiser ‘Sydney’ sinks German cruiser ‘Emden’, which has been attacking ships in the Pacific
1915 – Italian liner Ancona sinks by German torpedos, killing 272
1918 – Bavaria proclaims itself a republic
1918 – Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates after German defeat in WW I
1918 – Republic Germany proclaimed
1921 – Partito Nazionalista Fascista, forms in Italy by Mussolini

1922 – Dictator of Nazi Germany Adolf Hitler 1923 – Beer Hall Putsch-Nazis fail to overthrow government, 16 die/Hitler flees
1925 – German NSDAP form Schutzstaffel (SS)
1932 – Riots between conservative and socialist supporters in Switzerland kill 12 and injure 60.
1937 – Japanese army conquers Shanghai
1938 – Kristallnacht, Nazi Germany’s first large-scale physical act of anti-Jewish violence, begins.

1939 – “Ninotchka,” with Greta Garbo premieres
1939 – Nobel for physics awarded to Ernest O Lawrence (cyclotron)
1942 – German occupiers put Erik Scavenius as Danish premier
1942 – Transport number 44 departs with French Jews to Nazi-Germany

1944 – Red Cross wins Nobel peace prize – 33rd US President Harry Truman 1950
1953 – Cambodia (aka Kampuchea) gains independence from Fance, within the French Union
1955 – UN disapproves of South Africa’s apartheid politics
1961 – PGA eliminates caucasians only rule
1961 – Paddy Chayefsky’s “Gideon,” premieres in NYC
1962 – US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
1963 – “Tovarich” closes at Broadway Theater NYC after 264 performances
1965 – Hurricane hits north east US/Canada
1965 – Several U.S. states and parts of Canada are hit by a series of blackouts lasting up to 13 hours in the Northeast Blackout of 1965.
1966 – John Lennon meets Yoko Ono at an avante-garde art exposition at Indica Gallery in London
1966 – “Let’s Sing Yiddish” opens at Brooks Atkinson NYC for 107 perfs
1967 – Surveyor 6 soft lands on Moon
1967 – The unmanned Saturn V rocket is launched on its first successful test flight into Earth orbit – USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
1970 – Trial of Seattle 8 anti-war protesters begins
1972 – US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site – Beatles Drummer Ringo StarrBeatles Drummer Ringo Starr 1973 – Ringo Starr releases “Ringo” album
1976 – UN General Assembly condemns apartheid in South Africa

1980 – Iraqi President Saddam Hussein declares holy war against Iran
1983 – Discovery flies from Vandenberg AFB to Kennedy Space Center
Iraqi President Saddam HusseinIraqi President Saddam Hussein 1984 – )
1989 – East Berlin opens its borders
1998 – Brokerage houses are ordered to pay 1.03 billion USD to cheated NASDAQ investors to compensate for their price-fixing. This is the largest civil settlement in United States history.
2003 – A suicide-terrorist attack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, kills 17 people.
2012 – 25 people are killed and 62 injured after a train carrying liquid fuel bursts into flames in Burma
2013 – María Gabriela Isler, a 25yo Venezuelan, is crowned Miss Universe 2013 – Isler visited Austria to help crown the winners of Miss Austria on July 3, 2014 – she probably is a descendant of a Jewish refugee who escaped the NAZI world.
Her complete name is María Gabriela de Jesús Isler Morales

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We received the following and are posting it as we are open to any exchange of ideas – specially when the subject is theories.
This one is surprising as it lambasts the Russian semi-god Lomonosov and comes out backing his Western opponents that in general
used to be lambasted by the Soviets that credited all science to Lomonosov.


We wonder if this Houston new line is another Koch/Singer sponsored pseudo-science outlet – but as said – we will let true non-political modern scientists decide which theory has a backing from fossil material that comes with the oil. Truly amazing is that the use of the word MODERN in this mailing refers to the USSR and originates from a Houston padded with Republicans.

Please let me suggest that whatever the merits of these papers regarding exhaustability of petroleum – and note how the paper distinguishes between the origins of petroleum and natural gas, all this is totally irrelevant to the Climate Change//Global Warming debate and the issue that this calamity in MAN MADE because of MAN’S USE OF PETROLEUM AND NATURAL GAS thus increase the CO2 content in the atmosphere. So – really what is here the beef?

LAST OF OUR COMMENTS – Are we seeing here hope for new Russian-Ukrainian understanding?

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An introduction to the modern petroleum science, and to the Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins.

J. F. Kenney

Russian Academy of Sciences – Joint Institute of The Physics of the Earth.

Gas Resources Corporation, 11811 North Freeway, Houston, TX 77060, U.S.A.

The following articles take up, from different perspectives, the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins. Because that subject is one of which most persons outside the former U.S.S.R. are not familiar, a short synopsis of it and of its provenance and history, are given now.

1. The essence of the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins.

The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins is an extensive body of scientific knowledge which covers the subjects of the chemical genesis of the hydrocarbon molecules which comprise natural petroleum, the physical processes which occasion their terrestrial concentration, the dynamical processes of the movement of that material into geological reservoirs of petroleum, and the location and economic production of petroleum. The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins recognizes that petroleum is a primordial material of deep origin which has been erupted into the crust of the Earth. In short, and bluntly, petroleum is not a “fossil fuel” and has no intrinsic connection with dead dinosaurs (or any other biological detritus) “in the sediments” (or anywhere else).

The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of petroleum is based upon rigorous scientific reasoning, consistent with the laws of physics and chemistry, as well as upon extensive geological observation, and rests squarely in the mainstream of modern physics and chemistry, from which it draws its provenance. Much of the modern Russian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum genesis developed from the sciences of chemistry and thermodynamics, and accordingly the modern theory has steadfastly held as a central tenet that the generation of hydrocarbons must conform to the general laws of chemical thermodynamics, – as must likewise all matter. In such respect, modern Russian-Ukrainian petroleum science contrasts strongly to what are too often passed off as “theories” in the field of geology in Britain and the U.S.A.

As will be shown explicitly in a following articles, petroleum has no intrinsic association with biological material. The only hydrocarbon molecules which are exceptions to this point are methane, the hydrocarbon alkane specie of lowest chemical potential of all hydrocarbons, and to a lesser extent, ethene, the alkene of the lowest chemical potential of its homologous molecular series. Only methane is thermodynamically stable in the pressure and temperature regime of the near-surface crust of the Earth and accordingly can be generated there spontaneously, as is indeed observed for phenomena such as swamp gas or sewer gas. However, methane is practically the sole hydrocarbon molecule possessing such thermodynamic characteristic in that thermodynamic regime; almost all other reduced hydrocarbon molecules excepting only the lightest ones, are high pressure polymorphs of the hydrogen-carbon system. Spontaneous genesis of the heavier hydrocarbons which comprise natural petroleum occurs only in multi-kilobar regimes of high pressures, as is shown in a following article.

2. The historical beginnings of petroleum science, – with a touch of irony.

The history of petroleum science might be considered to have begun in the year 1757 when the great Russian scholar Mikhailo V. Lomonosov enunciated the hypothesis that oil might originate from biological detritus. Applying the rudimentary powers of observation and the necessarily limited analytical skills available in his time, Lomonosov hypothesized that “… ‘rock oil’ [crude oil, or petroleum] originated as the minute bodies of dead marine and other animals which were buried in the sediments and which, over the passage of a great duration of time under the influence of heat and pressure, transformed into ‘rock oil’.” Such was the descriptive science practiced in the eighteenth century by Lomonosov and Linnaeus.

The scientists who first rejected Lomonsov’s hypothesis, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, were the famous German naturalist and geologist Alexander von Humboldt and the French chemist and thermodynamicist Louis Joseph Gay-Lussac who together enunciated the proposition that oil is a primordial material erupted from great depth, and is unconnected with any biological matter near the surface of the Earth.

Thus both ideas were delivered with powerful pedigrees: the wrong biological notion having been put forward by the greatest Russian scientist of his time; and the abiotic proposition approximately a half century later by, respectively, two of the greatest German and French scientists.

Historically, the first scientific repudiation Lomonosov’s hypothesis of a biological origin of petroleum came from chemists and thermodynamicists. With the nascent development of chemistry during the nineteenth century, and following particularly the enunciation of the second law of thermodynamics by Clausius in 1850, Lomonosov’s biological hypothesis came inevitably under attack.

The great French chemist Marcellin Berthelot particularly scorned the hypothesis of a biological origin for petroleum. Berthelot first carried out experiments involving, among others, a series of what are now referred to as Kolbe reactions and demonstrated the generation of petroleum by dissolving steel in strong acid. He produced the suite of n-alkanes and made it plain that such were generated in total absence of any “biological” molecule or process. Berthelot’s investigations were later extended and refined by other scientists, including Biasson and Sokolov, all of whom observed similar phenomena and likewise concluded that petroleum was unconnected to biological matter.

During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the great Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev also examined and rejected Lomonosov’s hypothesis of a biological origin for petroleum. In contrast to Berthelot who had made no suggestion as to where or how petroleum might have come, Mendeleev stated clearly that petroleum is a primordial material which has erupted from great depth. With extraordinary perception, Mendeleev hypothesized the existence of geological structures which he called “deep faults,” and correctly identified such as the locus of weakness in the crust of the Earth via which petroleum would travel from the depths. After he made that hypothesis, Mendeleev was abusively criticized by the geologists of his time, for the notion of deep faults was then unknown. Today, of course, an understanding of plate tectonics would be unimaginable without recognition of deep faults.

3. The enunciation and development of modern petroleum science.

The impetus for development of modern petroleum science came shortly after the end of World War II, and was impelled by recognition by the government of the (then) U.S.S.R. of the crucial necessity of petroleum in modern warfare. In 1947, the U.S.S.R. had (as its petroleum “experts” then estimated) very limited petroleum reserves, of which the largest were the oil fields in the region of the Abseron peninsula, near the Caspian city Baku in the present country of Azerbaijan. At that time, the oil fields near Baku were considered to be “depleting” and “nearing exhaustion.” During World War II, the Soviets had occupied the two northern provinces of Iran; in 1946, the British government had forced them out. By 1947, the Soviets realized that the American, British, and French were not going to allow them to operate in the middle east, nor in the petroleum producing areas of Africa, nor Indonesia, nor Burma, nor Malaysia, nor anywhere in the far east, nor in Latin America. The government of the Soviet Union recognized then that new petroleum reserves would have to be discovered and developed within the U.S.S.R.

The government of the Soviet Union initiated a “Manhattan Project” type program, which was given the highest priority to study every aspect of petroleum, to determine its origins and how petroleum reserves are generated, and to ascertain what might be the most effective strategies for petroleum exploration. At that time, Russia benefited from the excellent educational system which had been introduced after the 1917 revolution. The Russian petroleum community had then almost two generations of highly educated, scientifically competent men and women, ready to take up the problem of petroleum origins. Modern Russian petroleum science followed within five years.

In 1951, the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins was first enunciated by Nikolai A. Kudryavtsev at the All-Union petroleum geology congress. Kudryavtsev analyzed the hypothesis of a biological origin of petroleum, and pointed out the failures of the claims then commonly put forth to support that hypothesis.
Kudryavtsev was soon joined by numerous other Russian and Ukrainian geologists, among the first of whom were P. N. Kropotkin, K. A. Shakhvarstova, G. N. Dolenko, V. F. Linetskii, V. B. Porfir’yev, and K. A. Anikiev.

During the first decade of its existence, the modern theory of petroleum origins was the subject of great contention and controversy. Between the years 1951 and 1965, with the leadership of Kudryavtsev and Porfir’yev, increasing numbers of geologists published articles demonstrating the failures and inconsistencies inherent in the old “biogenic origin” hypothesis. With the passing of the first decade of the modern theory, the failure of the previous, eighteenth century hypothesis of an origin of petroleum from biological detritus in the near-surface sediments had been thoroughly demonstrated, the hypothesis of Lomonosov discredited, and the modern theory firmly established.

An important point to be recognized is that the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of abiotic petroleum origins was, initially, a geologists’ theory. Kudryavtsev, Kropotkin, Dolenko, Porfir’yev and the developers of the modern theory of petroleum were all geologists. Their arguments were necessarily those of geologists, developed from many observations, and much data, organized into a pattern, and argued by persuasion.

By contrast, the practice of mainstream, predictive modern science, particularly physics and chemistry, involves a minimum of observation or data, and applies only a minimum of physical law, inevitably expressed with formal mathematics, and argues by compulsion. Such predictive proof of the geologists assertions for the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins had to wait almost a half century, for such required the development not only of modern quantum statistical mechanics but also that of the techniques of many-body theory and the application of statistical geometry to the analysis of dense fluids, designated scaled particle theory.

3. The organization of these papers.

The papers collected on the following public-access pages of this web site are organized into several categories and sub-categories: The principle categories are the Scientific Publications; the Economic Publications; and the Political and Sociological Essays. The organization of the following papers does not follow the historical development of the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins but instead orders them according to the different aspects of modern petroleum science. A number of these papers were delivered at the International Conference on the Production of Petroleum from the Crystalline Basement, held in Kazan, Russia, June 2001, in celebration of the half-century commemoration of the enunciation of that theory by Nikolai Kudryavtsev.

3.1. The scientific and technical papers.

The Scientific Publications are further divided into two sets of articles dealing, first, with the rigorous scientific foundations upon which rests the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins, and, second, with applications of modern petroleum science to petroleum exploration and production.

In the first subsection are several published articles concerned directly with the statistical thermodynamics of the evolution of the hydrocarbon molecules and the origins of petroleum. The first paper in this section reviews the constraints of irreversibility upon the evolution of the hydrogen-carbon [H-C] system as determined by the second law of thermodynamics. In this article, the formalism of modern thermodynamics is applied freely, and the prohibition of spontaneous genesis of hydrocarbons heavier than methane in the regimes of temperature and pressure of the near-surface crust of the Earth is easily noted. A following paper reviews, and refutes, the claims for “evidence”[sic] for a biological origin of petroleum (commonly asserted in typical British and American textbooks on petroleum geology), – e.g., the “biomarkers,” the observation of optical activity, the slight differences in the abundances of linear molecules with odd (or even) numbers of carbon atoms, the presence of porphyrins, etc. The claims for each (as evidence of a biotic connection for petroleum) are refuted, with unchallenged evidence published in first-rank scientific journals often as long as thirty or forty years ago. The continued, egregious claims of such as “evidence” of a biological origin of petroleum are acknowledged to be fraudulent. A recent paper describes very recent analysis of the thermodynamic stability of the hydrogen-carbon system in circumstances most favorable to the evolution of hydrocarbons, and shows that the hydrocarbons which comprise natural petroleum cannot evolve spontaneously at pressures less than approximately 30 kbar, which pressures correspond to the depths of the mantle of the Earth. In the second instance, this paper describes experimental demonstration of the foregoing theoretical predictions, whereby laboratory-pure solid marble (CaCO3), iron oxide (FeO), wet with triple-distilled water, are subjected to pressures up to 50 kbar and temperatures to 2000 C. With no contribution of either hydrocarbons or biological detritus, the CaCO3-FeO-H2O system spontaneously generates, at the high pressures predicted theoretically, the suite of hydrocarbons characteristic of natural petroleum.

3.2 The economic publications.

The second main group of papers deals with the important issues connected with the economic consequences of modern Russian petroleum science. In these papers are reviewed both some of the pseudo-economic fables (e.g., “the human race is going to run out of natural petroleum”) which have been traditionally connected with the error that petroleum is some sort of “fossil fuel,” for reason (supposedly) of having evolved from biological detritus, – albeit in violation of the laws of chemical thermodynamics.

3.3 The political and sociological essays.

The third main group of papers deals with diverse sociological and political aspects which have involved the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins, and which have too often obstructed persons, and governments, in the U.S.A. from learning it. In this section, are examples of some of the published efforts to misrepresent modern Russian petroleum science.

The modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins is extraordinary in almost every way, including the bizarre circumstance that it has been the object of probably the most daring attempt of plagiarism in modern science. The attempted plagiarism of modern Russian petroleum science is reviewed also in this section.

reference:  gasresources.net – specifically  www.gasresources.net
and www.gasresources.net

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

From George Soros, October 23,2014

In an essay published in the New York Review of Books entitled Wake Up, Europe George Soros says that European leaders are failing to show adequate financial and military support for Ukraine. The situation there, he argues, presents Europe with what amounts to an existential threat from Russia. “Neither the European leaders nor their citizens are fully aware of this challenge or know how best to deal with it.” he says. Soros goes on to propose a set of actions that Europe and US could take to assist Ukraine and, ultimately, further their own interests.

All best,

Michael Vachon

*****

Wake up, Europe

New York Review of Books

By George Soros

Europe is facing a challenge from Russia to its very existence. Neither the European leaders nor their citizens are fully aware of this challenge or know how best to deal with it. I attribute this mainly to the fact that the European Union in general and the eurozone in particular lost their way after the financial crisis of 2008.

The fiscal rules that currently prevail in Europe have aroused a lot of popular resentment. Anti-Europe parties captured nearly 30 percent of the seats in the latest elections for the European Parliament but they had no realistic alternative to the EU to point to until recently. Now Russia is presenting an alternative that poses a fundamental challenge to the values and principles on which the European Union was originally founded. It is based on the use of force that manifests itself in repression at home and aggression abroad, as opposed to the rule of law. What is shocking is that Vladimir Putin’s Russia has proved to be in some ways superior to the European Union—more flexible and constantly springing surprises. That has given it a tactical advantage, at least in the near term.

Europe and the United States—each for its own reasons—are determined to avoid any direct military confrontation with Russia. Russia is taking advantage of their reluctance. Violating its treaty obligations, Russia has annexed Crimea and established separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine. In August when the recently installed government in Kiev threatened to win the low level war in eastern Ukraine against separatist forces backed by Russia, President Putin invaded Ukraine with regular armed forces in violation of the Russian law that exempts conscripts from foreign service without their consent.

In seventy-two hours these forces destroyed several hundred of Ukraine’s armored vehicles, a substantial portion of its fighting force. According to General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, the Russians used multiple launch rocket systems armed with cluster munitions and thermal-baric warheads (an even more inhumane weapon that ought to be outlawed) with devastating effect. * The local militia from the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk suffered the brunt of the losses because they were communicating by cell phones and could thus easily be located and targeted by the Russians. President Putin has, so far, abided by a cease-fire agreement he concluded with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on September 5, but Putin retains the choice to continue the cease-fire as long as he finds it advantageous or to resume a full-scale assault.

In September, President Poroshenko visited Washington where he received an enthusiastic welcome from a joint session of Congress. He asked for “both lethal and nonlethal” defensive weapons in his speech. However, President Obama refused his request for Javelin hand-held missiles that could be used against advancing tanks. Poroshenko was given radar, but what use is it without missiles? European countries are equally reluctant to provide military assistance to Ukraine, fearing Russian retaliation. The Washington visit gave President Poroshenko a façade of support with little substance behind it.

Equally disturbing has been the determination of official international leaders to withhold new financial commitments to Ukraine until after the October 26 election there (which will take place just after this issue goes to press). This has led to an avoidable pressure on Ukrainian currency reserves and raised the specter of a full-blown financial crisis in the country.

There is now pressure from donors, whether in Europe or the US, to “bail in” the bondholders of Ukrainian sovereign debt, i.e., for bondholders to take losses on their investments as a pre-condition for further official assistance to Ukraine that would put more taxpayers’ money at risk. That would be an egregious error. The Ukrainian government strenuously opposes the proposal because it would put Ukraine into a technical default that would make it practically impossible for the private sector to refinance its debt. Bailing in private creditors would save very little money and it would make Ukraine entirely dependent on the official donors.

To complicate matters, Russia is simultaneously dangling carrots and wielding sticks. It is offering—but failing to sign—a deal for gas supplies that would take care of Ukraine’s needs for the winter. At the same time Russia is trying to prevent the delivery of gas that Ukraine secured from the European market through Slovakia. Similarly, Russia is negotiating for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to monitor the borders while continuing to attack Donetsk airport and the port city of Mariupol.

It is easy to foresee what lies ahead. Putin will await the results of the elections on October 26 and then offer Poroshenko the gas and other benefits he has been dangling on condition that he appoint a prime minister acceptable to Putin. That would exclude anybody associated with the victory of the forces that brought down the Viktor Yanukovych government by resisting it for months on the Maidan—Independence Square. I consider it highly unlikely that Poroshenko would accept such an offer. If he did, he would be disowned by the defenders of the Maidan; the resistance forces would then be revived.

Putin may then revert to the smaller victory that would still be within his reach: he could open by force a land route from Russia to Crimea and Transnistria before winter. Alternatively, he would simply sit back and await the economic and financial collapse of Ukraine. I suspect that he may be holding out the prospect of a grand bargain in which Russia would help the United States against ISIS—for instance by not supplying to Syria the S300 missiles it has promised, thus in effect preserving US air domination—and Russia would be allowed to have its way in the “near abroad,” as many of the nations adjoining Russia are called. What is worse, President Obama may accept such a deal.

That would be a tragic mistake, with far-reaching geopolitical consequences. Without underestimating the threat from ISIS, I would argue that preserving the independence of Ukraine should take precedence; without it, even the alliance against ISIS would fall apart. The collapse of Ukraine would be a tremendous loss for NATO, the European Union, and the United States. A victorious Russia would become much more influential within the EU and pose a potent threat to the Baltic states with their large ethnic Russian populations. Instead of supporting Ukraine, NATO would have to defend itself on its own soil. This would expose both the EU and the US to the danger they have been so eager to avoid: a direct military confrontation with Russia. The European Union would become even more divided and ungovernable. Why should the US and other NATO nations allow this to happen?

The argument that has prevailed in both Europe and the United States is that Putin is no Hitler; by giving him everything he can reasonably ask for, he can be prevented from resorting to further use of force. In the meantime, the sanctions against Russia—which include, for example, restrictions on business transactions, finance, and trade—will have their effect and in the long run Russia will have to retreat in order to earn some relief from them.

These are false hopes derived from a false argument with no factual evidence to support it. Putin has repeatedly resorted to force and he is liable to do so again unless he faces strong resistance. Even if it is possible that the hypothesis could turn out to be valid, it is extremely irresponsible not to prepare a Plan B.

There are two counterarguments that are less obvious but even more important. First, Western authorities have ignored the importance of what I call the “new Ukraine” that was born in the successful resistance on the Maidan. Many officials with a history of dealing with Ukraine have difficulty adjusting to the revolutionary change that has taken place there. The recently signed Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine was originally negotiated with the Yanukovych government. This detailed road map now needs adjustment to a totally different situation. For instance, the road map calls for the gradual replacement and retraining of the judiciary over five years whereas the public is clamoring for immediate and radical renewal. As the new mayor of Kiev, Wladimir Klitschko, put it, “if you put fresh cucumbers into a barrel of pickles, they will soon turn into pickles.”

Contrary to some widely circulated accounts, the resistance on the Maidan was led by the cream of civil society: young people, many of whom had studied abroad and refused to join either government or business on their return because they found both of them repugnant. (Nationalists and anti-Semitic extremists made up only a minority of the anti-Yanukovych protesters.) They are the leaders of the new Ukraine and they are adamantly opposed to a return of the “old Ukraine,” with its endemic corruption and ineffective government.

The new Ukraine has to contend with Russian aggression, bureaucratic resistance both at home and abroad, and confusion in the general population. Surprisingly, it has the support of many oligarchs, President Poroshenko foremost among them, and the population at large. There are of course profound differences in history, language, and outlook between the eastern and western parts of the country, but Ukraine is more united and more European-minded than ever before. That unity, however, is extremely fragile.

The new Ukraine has remained largely unrecognized because it took time before it could make its influence felt. It had practically no security forces at its disposal when it was born. The security forces of the old Ukraine were actively engaged in suppressing the Maidan rebellion and they were disoriented this summer when they had to take orders from a government formed by the supporters of the rebellion. No wonder that the new government was at first unable to put up an effective resistance to the establishment of the separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine. It is all the more remarkable that President Poroshenko was able, within a few months of his election, to mount an attack that threatened to reclaim those enclaves.

To appreciate the merits of the new Ukraine you need to have had some personal experience with it. I can speak from personal experience although I must also confess to a bias in its favor. I established a foundation in Ukraine in 1990 even before the country became independent. Its board and staff are composed entirely of Ukrainians and it has deep roots in civil society. I visited the country often, especially in the early years, but not between 2004 and early 2014, when I returned to witness the birth of the new Ukraine.

I was immediately impressed by the tremendous improvement in maturity and expertise during that time both in my foundation and in civil society at large. Currently, civic and political engagement is probably higher than anywhere else in Europe. People have proven their willingness to sacrifice their lives for their country. These are the hidden strengths of the new Ukraine that have been overlooked by the West.

The other deficiency of the current European attitude toward Ukraine is that it fails to recognize that the Russian attack on Ukraine is indirectly an attack on the European Union and its principles of governance. It ought to be evident that it is inappropriate for a country, or association of countries, at war to pursue a policy of fiscal austerity as the European Union continues to do. All available resources ought to be put to work in the war effort even if that involves running up budget deficits. The fragility of the new Ukraine makes the ambivalence of the West all the more perilous. Not only the survival of the new Ukraine but the future of NATO and the European Union itself is at risk. In the absence of unified resistance it is unrealistic to expect that Putin will stop pushing beyond Ukraine when the division of Europe and its domination by Russia is in sight.

Having identified some of the shortcomings of the current approach, I will try to spell out the course that Europe ought to follow. Sanctions against Russia are necessary but they are a necessary evil. They have a depressive effect not only on Russia but also on the European economies, including Germany. This aggravates the recessionary and deflationary forces that are already at work. By contrast, assisting Ukraine in defending itself against Russian aggression would have a stimulative effect not only on Ukraine but also on Europe. That is the principle that ought to guide European assistance to Ukraine.

Germany, as the main advocate of fiscal austerity, needs to understand the internal contradiction involved. Chancellor Angela Merkel has behaved as a true European with regard to the threat posed by Russia. She has been the foremost advocate of sanctions on Russia, and she has been more willing to defy German public opinion and business interests on this than on any other issue. Only after the Malaysian civilian airliner was shot down in July did German public opinion catch up with her. Yet on fiscal austerity she has recently reaffirmed her allegiance to the orthodoxy of the Bundesbank—probably in response to the electoral inroads made by the -Alternative for Germany, the anti-euro party. She does not seem to realize how inconsistent that is. She ought to be even more committed to helping Ukraine than to imposing sanctions on Russia.

The new Ukraine has the political will both to defend Europe against Russian aggression and to engage in radical structural reforms. To preserve and reinforce that will, Ukraine needs to receive adequate assistance from its supporters. Without it, the results will be disappointing and hope will turn into despair. Disenchantment already started to set in after Ukraine suffered a military defeat and did not receive the weapons it needs to defend itself.

It is high time for the members of the European Union to wake up and behave as countries indirectly at war. They are better off helping Ukraine to defend itself than having to fight for themselves. One way or another, the internal contradiction between being at war and remaining committed to fiscal austerity has to be eliminated. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Let me be specific. In its last progress report, issued in early September, the IMF estimated that in a worst-case scenario Ukraine would need additional support of $19 billion. Conditions have deteriorated further since then. After the Ukrainian elections the IMF will need to reassess its baseline forecast in consultation with the Ukrainian government. It should provide an immediate cash injection of at least $20 billion, with a promise of more when needed. Ukraine’s partners should provide additional financing conditional on implementation of the IMF-supported program, at their own risk, in line with standard practice.

The spending of borrowed funds is controlled by the agreement between the IMF and the Ukrainian government. Four billion dollars would go to make up the shortfall in Ukrainian payments to date; $2 billion would be assigned to repairing the coal mines in eastern Ukraine that remain under the control of the central government; and $2 billion would be earmarked for the purchase of additional gas for the winter. The rest would replenish the currency reserves of the central bank.

The new assistance package would include a debt exchange that would transform Ukraine’s hard currency Eurobond debt (which totals almost $18 billion) into long-term, less risky bonds. This would lighten Ukraine’s debt burden and bring down its risk premium. By participating in the exchange, bondholders would agree to accept a lower interest rate and wait longer to get their money back. The exchange would be voluntary and market-based so that it could not be mischaracterized as a default. Bondholders would participate willingly because the new long-term bonds would be guaranteed—but only partially—by the US or Europe, much as the US helped Latin America emerge from its debt crisis in the 1980s with so-called Brady bonds (named for US Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady).

Such an exchange would have a few important benefits. One is that, over the next two or three critical years, the government could use considerably less of its scarce hard currency reserves to pay off bondholders. The money could be used for other urgent needs.

By trimming Ukraine debt payments in the next few years, the exchange would also reduce the chance of a sovereign default, discouraging capital flight and arresting the incipient run on the banks. This would make it easier to persuade owners of Ukraine’s banks (many of them foreign) to inject urgently needed new capital into them. The banks desperately need bigger capital cushions if Ukraine is to avoid a full-blown banking crisis, but shareholders know that a debt crisis could cause a banking crisis that wipes out their equity.

Finally, Ukraine would keep bondholders engaged rather than watch them cash out at 100 cents on the dollar as existing debt comes due in the few years. This would make it easier for Ukraine to reenter the international bond markets once the crisis has passed.

Under the current conditions it would be more practical and cost-efficient for the US and Europe not to use their own credit directly to guarantee part of Ukraine’s debt, but to employ intermediaries such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development or the World Bank and its subsidiaries.

The Ukrainian state-owned company Naftogaz is a black hole in the budget and a major source of corruption. Naftogaz currently sells gas to households for $47 per trillion cubic meters (TCM), for which it pays $380 per TCM. At present people cannot control the temperature in their apartments. A radical restructuring of Naftogaz’s entire system could reduce household consumption at least by half and totally eliminate Ukraine’s dependence on Russia for gas. That would involve charging households the market price for gas. The first step would be to install meters in apartments and the second to distribute a cash subsidy to needy households.

The will to make these reforms is strong both in the new management and in the incoming government but the task is extremely complicated (how do you define who is needy?) and the expertise is inadequate. The World Bank and its subsidiaries could sponsor a project development team that would bring together international and domestic experts to convert the existing political will into bankable projects. The initial cost would exceed $10 billion but it could be financed by project bonds issued by the European Investment Bank and it would produce very high returns.

It is also high time for the European Union to take a critical look at itself. There must be something wrong with the EU if Putin’s Russia can be so successful even in the short term. The bureaucracy of the EU no longer has a monopoly of power and it has little to be proud of. It should learn to be more united, flexible, and efficient. And Europeans themselves need to take a close look at the new Ukraine. That could help them recapture the original spirit that led to the creation of the European Union. The European Union would save itself by saving Ukraine.

* I am deeply disturbed by a report in the NY Times quoting the Human Rights Watch that subsequently – on October 2 and 5- Ukrainians also used cluster bombs, which I condemn. NATO should clarify both alleged Ukrainian and Russian use of such munitions.

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EU leaders gear up for heated climate summit

The EUobserver – October 23, 2014

By Peter Teffer

Brussels – The EU’s 28 leaders are meeting on Thursday (23 October) in Brussels for what are expected to be tough negotiations on climate targets.

The so-called climate and energy framework is expected to contain specific targets for 2030 in the form of percentages.

While the European commission, which did a sort of opening bid in January, emphasizes its targets are “in line with science”, the figures fall victim to political bargaining.

At least seven of the EU’s 28 member states, mostly central and eastern European countries, want a 25 percent target for energy efficiency by 2030, instead of the 30 percent proposed by the commission and laid down in the draft conclusions.

They fear too ambitious goals will harm their competitiveness towards non-EU states.

A diplomatic source from one member state predicted the negotiators will end up with an efficiency figure in the middle: “I guess it will be 27 percent.”

The talks of Thursday focus on three targets for 2030. In addition to the efficiency target, EU leaders will discuss what share of the EU’s energy should come from renewable sources in 2030, and by how much greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced.

However countries come with a shopping list of ‘wants’. The UK wants only a greenhouse gas target. Ireland wants its heavy dependence on agriculture taken into account. Central and easter European countries want “conditional targets” which can be adjusted depending on the outcome of global climate talks in Paris in 2015.

This is because the EU by itself cannot limit global warming – it will need to convince other countries to also cut back on emissions.

The average global temperature has already risen about 0.85 degrees Celsius between 1880 and 2012, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The European Commission, the EU’s executive organisation, believes that to achieve the goal of not having the global average temperature increase by more than 2 degree Celsius (seen by experts as the minimum that needs to be achieved) the EU should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent in 2050 – compared to the level in 1990.

The commission says that a 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emission by 2030 – again, compared to 1990 levels – will put the bloc on track for the 2050 goal of an 80 percent reduction, athough this is disputed by environmental groups.

Brigitte Knopf, researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, emphasizes that science alone cannot be the only basis for policy-makers.

“How to distribute the burden? Who has to reduce how much of the emissions? These are ethical questions which clearly belong to the policy side.”

These questions will be discussed in Brussels starting Thursday afternoon, evening and possibly night.
Economy

While EU leaders will tackle climate change on Thursday, tomorrow will see them talk about the economy amid heightened concerns about the health of the Eurozone.

A special meeting of the 18 single currency leaders, as well European Central Bank Chief Mario Draghi, will begin at lunchtime.

Worries about the eurozone have begun to increase again amid fears of deflation and with Germany, the biggest economy, suffering a slowdown.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund warned there is a 40 percent chance of the eurozone falling into recession again.

The meeting also comes against the backdrop of highly sensitive assessments of national budgets to be taken by the European Commission, with France particularly on Brussels’ radar.
Ebola

EU leaders are also due to discuss how to increase their support for Ebola-stricken countries in west Africa.

UK leader David Cameron is set to ask EU leaders to follow the UK in screening air passengers coming from the outbreak zone. Only France and Belgium have screening at their main airports.

Earlier this week foreign ministers agreed to more co-ordination of resources to fight the disease.
European Commission

Finally, in what is mostly a formality, the council wll appoint the new European Commission under the leadership of Jean-Claude Juncker.

This summit thus also is a send-off for Juncker’s predecessor, Jose-Manuel Barroso. It is also the last council summit chaired by Herman van Rompuy, who will be succeeded by Donald Tusk.

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Lobbying for Sustainable Development and Sustainability in general go on in parallel – like in:

“Beim Europäischen Rat am 23. und 24. Oktober werden die Staats- und RegierungschefInnen der EU über einen neuen Rahmen für die EU-Klima- und Energiepolitik bis 2030 entscheiden. In einem Lobbybrief an Bundeskanzler Faymann weist die AG Globale Verantwortung auf die Auswirkungen der EU-Klimapolitik auf internationale Entwicklung hin und fordert ambitionierte Zielsetzungen.

Der Lobbybrief der AG Globale Verantwortung erging gemeinsam mit einem Brief des europäischen Dachverbands CONCORD an Bundeskanzler Faymann sowie in Kopie an Vizekanzler Mitterlehner, Bundesminister Kurz und Bundesminister Rupprechter.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Die Ukraine im Ersten Weltkrieg
19. September 2014
Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften der Ukraine Kiew, Wolodymyrska 54

Veranstalter: O?sterreichisches Kulturforum Kiew, Deutsche Botschaft Kiew Kuratoren: Ukrainische Akademie der Wissenschaften, LBI fu?r Kriegsfolgen-Forschung Kooperationspartner: Tschechisches Kulturzentrum Kiew, Polnisches Institut Kiew.

Die heutige Ukraine geho?rte im Ersten Weltkrieg zu den Staaten, die am schwerwiegendsten und tiefgreifendsten von diesem Jahrhundert-Ereignis betroffen war: Die Ostukraine und die Nordbukowina, die heute Teil der Ukraine und damals Kronla?nder O?sterreich-Ungarns waren, wurden zwischen 1914 und 1919 mehrfach waren heftig umka?mpft. Insbesondere ab 1917/18 wird am ukrainischen Beispiel die in den letzten Jahren in der Historiographie vielfach diskutierte neue Chronologie sichtbar, die den Ersten Weltkrieg und den Russischen Bu?rgerkrieg als gemeinsames Ereignis, als „Neue Zeit der Wirren“ ansieht. Denn, es ist nahezu unmo?glich, die Ereignisse des Ersten Weltkrieges von den folgenden in Osteuropa und insbesondere im Bereich des ehemaligen zarischen Russland zu scheiden. Aus diesem Grund verfolgt die vorliegende Tagung einen integrativen Ansatz, mo?chte die Ereignisse zwischen 1914 und 1922 in die langfristigen Linien des spa?ten 19. Jahrhunderts und der folgenden Jahrzehnte einbetten.

Tagung

Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften der Ukraine, Wolodymyrska 54 9:00 Uhr Ero?ffnung
17:00 Uhr Ende der Tagung

Buchpra?sentation mit Empfang

Ab 18 Uhr
Deutsche Botschaft, Wul. Bogdana Khmelnitzkoho 25 Mit Helmuth Kiesel, Petro Rychlo und Julia Eichenberg

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Here at SustainabiliTank we find above interesting in the sense of a retroactive effort to create history – the facts being that like in the Palestinian case, there really was never before an Ukrainian State – though undeniable the ethnicity of the people was different then that of their neighbors, but not until Stalin were they hammered together and called a Republic even though they had differences among themselves in religion, language, and aspirations. Interesting also that the German Government representation is part of the September 19th effort.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

With  Interference from Breaking News from the battle fields in the Ukraine and the Muslim World – the US and Russia are at Cold War level; Israel has already 20 dead (two civilians) and dozens wounded – Fareed Zakaria on CNN/Global Public Square did his best this Sunday July 20, 2014, to try to make sense from the present global wars.
I will try to reorganize the material into a neat tableau that can be viewed as a whole.

Fareed’s own introduction was about what happened in recent years is a “democratization of violence” that created an asymmetry like in Al Qaeda’s 9/11 where each of their one dollar generated the need for  7 million dollars to be spent by the US in order to counter-react. Thus, before, it was armies of States that were needed to have a war – now everyone can cause it with a pauper’s means.

Then he continued by saying that this is NOT what happened in Ukraine. There Putin was trying to fake it, by using his resources large State resources to create from former Russian soldiers a “rebel force in the Ukraine.”  The Kremlin is operating the rebels in a situation where the military expenditures by Russia, which are 35 times larger then those of the Ukraine, take care of the expenditures of this war.

But where Vladimir Putin miscalculated – it is that he did not realize that when he takes the ginny of Nationalism out of his dark box, he will never be able to cause it to go back. Putin unleashed both – Russian and Ukrainian Nationalism and it might be that by now he is no boss over the outcome anymore.

Let us face it – G.W. Bush played a similar game in Iraq and Afghanistan and the US will not be  master in the Middle East anymore.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was asked on the program what should Obama do?

He thinks this is a historical defining moment that allows still to Putin to redeem himself. It is for him – rather then somebody else – to call for an International tribunal and allow open investigation by telling the pro-Russians in the Ukraine, whom he supported and provided them with arms, that they crossed the line.  Brzezinski says this is a situation for Europe like it was before WWII.

The issue is that the Europeans are not yet behind the US. London is a Las Vegas for the Russians, France supplies them military goods, it was a German Chancellor before Merkel who made Europe dependent on Rusian gas.
Without being clearly united behind the US, the West will get nowhere.

On the other hand – Russia, seeing the sanctions coming, sees the prospect of becoming a China satellite if sanctions go into effect. Not a great prospect for itself either.

So, the answer is Obama leadership to be backed by the Europeans and Putin making steps to smooth out the situation and redeem himself. This is the only way to save the old order.

Steven Cohen, Professor on Russia at Princeton: The US is in a complicated situation by having backed fully the Ukrainian government.

It is the US that pushed Putin to take his positions. The Ukraine is a divided country and the story is not just a recent development. Putin cannot just walk away from the separatists in the Ukraine – they will not listen to him. The reality in the Ukraine, as per Professor Cohen, is very complex and there are no good guys there – basically just a complex reality that was exploited from the outside.

Christa Freeland, a famous journalist, who is now a Canadian member of Parliament, and traveled many times to the Ukraine, completely disagrees with Cohen and says a US leadership is imperative.

Our feeling is that all this discussion goes on as if it were in a vacuum – the true reality is that in the Globalized World we are far beyond the post WWII configuration that was just Trans-Atlantic with a Eurasian Continental spur going to China and Japan.  What has happened since is the RISE OF THE REST OF THE WORLD – with China, india, Brazil, and even South Africa, telling the West that besides dealing with Russia the West must deal with them as well !!
 The BRICS meeting in Fortaleza (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) where this week they established a $50 Billion alternative to the World Bank and a $100 Billion alternative to the IMF, ought to be part of the negotiation in the US and at the EU Member States  when talking about a post-Ukraine-flare-up World. The timing may have been coincidental – but the build-up was not.

These days there is the celebration of 70 years (1–22 July 1944) of the establishing of the Bretton Woods agreements system that created the old institutions that can be changed only with the help of US Congress – something that just will not happen. Those are the World Bank and the IMF – but In the meantime China has become the World’s largest economy and they still have less voting power at the World Bank then the three BENELUX countries.
The BRICS do not accept anymore the domination of the US dollar over their economies. If nothing else they want a seat at the table, and detest the fact that three out of five are not even at the UN Security Council.

So, the New World Order will have to account for this Rise of the Rest having had the old order based just on the West.

   Further on today’s program, Paul Krugman a very wise man, a Nobel Prize holder in Economics, was brought in to show  a quick take on the economy. He made it clear that there is an improvement but it is by far not enough.

It is more half empty then half full because by now it should have been better. But he stressed that despite the interference, Obamacare works better and ahead of expectations. Even premiums rise slower then before.

Yes, there are some losers, but this is a narrow group of young and healthy, but people that were supposed to be helped are helped.

On energy – yes – renewable costs are lower then expected.

Obama’s grade? Over all B or B-, but on what he endured from the opposition A-. Yes, we can trust Obama to decide the correct moves – and on International and Foreign Policy the White House has freer hands then in Internal, National, policy. His presidency is the most consequential since Ronald Reagan – whatever we think of Reagan – but in Obama’s case, he will leave behind  a legacy of the country having been involved in less disasters, but leaving behind more achievements – be those in health-care, environment, finances, energy, migration, etc. then any President of the last 40 years. But where does this leave him in relation to the Rest of the World?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Giant Mystery Hole Appears in Siberia, But No One’s Sure What Caused It

By Lindsay Abrams, Salon

Scientists think global warming might have something to do with it. READ MORE»


Fracking Old Faithful? Republicans Want to Tap Our National Parks for Energy

By Cliff Weathers, AlterNet

A Wyoming gubernatorial candidate wants the U.S. to give Yellowstone Park to Wyoming, which would lease it for energy development. READ MORE»

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program – as reported by Irith Jawetz who participated at the UN in Vienna Compound July 15th Meeting .

 

The Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) and Search for Common Ground  invited us to attend a panel discussion titled “A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program,” which was held on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 13:00 at the Vienna Center for Disarmament & Non Proliferation (VCDNP).

 
As P5+1 and Iran are meeting in Vienna at Foreign Ministers level to resolve the outstanding issues preventing a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program before the 20 July deadline, a group of renown experts on the technical and political aspects of the negotiations have met at VCDNP to discuss and identify possible compromises.

 

Panelists: 
 
Dr. Frank von Hippel, Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security 
 
Mr. Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Coalition to reduce Nuclear Dangers, and the Director of Security Programs for Physicians for Social Responsibility.
 
Ambassador (ret.) William G. Miller, Senior Advisor for the US-Iran Program, Search for Common GroupHe is a Senior Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Middle East Institute. He is the co-Chairman of the Kyiv Mohyla Foundation of America and a Director of The Andrei Sakharov Foundation. He has also been a senior consultant for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

This was a very timely event, as the Foreign Ministers of the P5+1 group of Nations – the U.S., U.K., France. Germany, China, and Russia – spent the weekend in Vienna  discussing follow ups to the interim agreement reached between them and Iran in advance of this July 20th deadline.


At the start of the Panel discussion, it was announced that at that very moment Secretary of State John Kerry is giving his Press Conference before flying back to Washington to report to President Obama about the negotiations. He is willing to come back next weekend for the July 20-th continuation of the discussions.

———–

Ambassador Miller was the first speaker, and he gave a rather optimistic view of the situation. His presentation had more of a political nature.  In his presentation he said that the basic principles of the negotiations is to assure that Iran has no nuclear weapons . Iran has the capability, brain, expertise and knowhow but has no strategic moral or ethical reason to develop nuclear weapons to be used as weapons of mass destruction.
It is a fact, though, that the Iranians insist on use of peaceful nuclear energy – to what extent it is peaceful and how can the rest of the world be sure that it will be peaceful, this is why the negotiations have to succeed. Ambassador Miller is hopeful that, after 35 years of the current regime in Iran, those negotiations will result in a positive answer.
Ambassador Miller commended all the participating teams, the Press and Academia. First he mentioned the top quality Iranian team at the negotiations, many of the participants he knows personally. They were able, motivated, and anxious to find a solution. The US team, led by Secretary Kerry did a  remarkably good job, as did the rest of the teams. He commended the Press who were persistent – fully covered the negotiations and were very professional – and academia who helped with background information.
—————

Mr. Daryl G.Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association talked about a solution for the Iranian Uranium-Enrichment Puzzle. In his presentation he stressed that “Solutions that prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, lower the risk of yet another major conflict in the region, and still provide Iran with the means to pursue a realistic, peaceful nuclear program are within reach” – he said.
Progress has already been achieved on several key issues – stregthening International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections and oversight at existing and undeclared sites.  …   Iran has agreed to modify its Arak heavy-water reactor to drastically cut its plutonium output, and a general framework has been developed to waive, and eventually lift, sanctions against Iran.   …  Nevertheless, the two sides have more work to do to bridge differences on the most difficult issue: limiting Iran’s uranium-enrichment capacity.As part of a comprehensive deal, Iran and the P5+1 have to agree on several steps to constrain Iran: limit uranium enrichment to levels of less than 5% – keep stocks of its enriched uranium near zero – and halt production-scale work at the smaller Fordow enrichment plant and convert it to research-only facility.

He shares Ambassador Miller’s hope and positive outlook that the negotiations will succeed. Anything less than success will be a catastrophe.

—————-
The last speaker was Dr. Frank von Hippel who is a Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.Dr. von Hippel gave a very technical presentation about the Possible elements of a compromise on Iran’s Nuclear Program.

Potential sources of fissile material from Iran’s nuclear energy program are:

1. Plutonium presence in reactor fuel (current issue is Arak reactor)

2. Iran’s centrifuge enrichment complex.

There are two stages in rationalizing the Current situartion:

Stage I

Iran currently has installed 18,000 IR-1 centrifuges  – the compromise would be:

1) to retire IR-1  and replace it with already installed IR-2ms to support research-reactor LEU needs.

2) Continued transparency for Iran’s centrifuge production – possibly as a template for enhanced transparency for centrifuge production worldwide.

3) Continued minimization of stocks of low enriched UF6.

Stage 1 will provide time to cool down an inflamed situation and would provide Iran and the West an opportunity for a cooler assessment of the costs and benefits of diferent possible paths.

In stage II, negotiations might agree on a solution currently beyond reach and also lay a base for a new global regime for enrichment.

Stage II

 

National or Multi-National enrichment? A global Issue.

National – Every  state has the right to enrich fuel for power reactor fuel. However today only Brazil, China, Iran, Japan and Russia have completely independent national civilian enrichment programs.

Multinational – Urenco (Germany, Netherland, UK) . Today Urenco owns the only operating U.S,. civilian enrichment plant.

Building in Flexibility for Iran:

1. Iran should have access to nuclear reactor and fuel vendors worldwide – to ensure that it is getting a good price and reliable delivery.

2. Iran could build up stockpile of fabricated fuel for Bushehr. That would take care of Iran’s fuel security concerns and make it easier for Iran to postpone a large domestic enrichment capacity or depend on a multinational enrichment plant – perhape equiped with Iranian centrifuges in another country in the Middle East.

Dr. von Hippel COPLIMENTED his theory with  charts.

The consensus at the end of the discussion was that the negotiations seem to go well, and all panelists, as well as some members of the audience expressed their hope that they will indeed succeed. Ambassador Miller even went as far as to state that Iran at the moment is the most stable nation in the region, and we have to take advantage of it, make sure the negotiation succeed,  and bring Iran back to the International community.

In the news today it was reported that Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Washington to brief President Obama on the negotiations – rather then on a prior advertised new effort in the Israel-Palestine arena. He was hopeful, but also said there are still some points which need to be clarified.

==========================
Further last comment by SustainabiliTank editor – we add – taken from a Thom Friedman article about a different issue:
We accept that in the future the World true powers of today – The US, China, India, Russia, Japan and the EU – and we like to add Brazil as well – will have to meet their minds and harmonize what ought to be a global leadership for a safe future planet. Just ad hoc chaperoning specific issues will be proven to be not enough.

The way to find a solution to the issue of a nuclear Iran shows that in the globalized world of today there must be an international guiding force. But on this much more has to be written for the sake of Sustainability.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 13th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Ukraine: four crises, one country.

    • The Ukraine Neighbourhood

      by Nicu Popescu -  senior analyst at the EU Institute for Security Studies in Paris, where he deals with the EU’s eastern neighbourhood and Russia.

    For most of the last two decades virtually every Ukrainian election or opinion poll has displayed two Ukraines – one Western-leaning and another looking to Moscow; one voting Timoshenko or Yushchenko and another pro Yanukovich; one against Putin and another in favour of him. Unsurprisingly, many feared that the ousting of Yanukovich, the Russian annexation of Crimea, and the infiltration of eastern Ukraine by Russian military intelligence would lead Ukraine to split in two or collapse altogether like a house of cards.

    Ukraine still faces four interconnected existential crises: economic, political, territorial and diplomatic (with Russia). It is also clear that even if the country manages to overcome these challenges, it will not be left unscathed. The past three months, however, have shown that Ukraine was not a powder keg waiting to explode, despite several matches having been thrown at it.

    The country’s resilience has proven stronger than many assumed (both in Russia and the rest of Europe) and while its blend of problems might be poisonous, they are not insurmountable. Petro Poroshenko’s unexpectedly smooth popular election – with support drawn evenly across Ukraine – represents a potential turning point in the spiral of overlapping crises that have characterised its recent past.

     

    One Ukraine, not two

    Both Sunday’s elections results and the localised nature of the armed insurgency in east suggest there is neither two Ukraines nor a distinct ‘southeastern’ Ukraine. Although electoral preferences in Ukraine may have differed in the past, there is overwhelming popular and elite support for maintaining Ukraine as one state in the majority of its regions.

    For all the worrying images of what looks like a descent into civil war, the armed insurgency is affecting just parts of two Ukrainian regions, or oblasts – Donetsk and Luhansk. The other regions of the ‘southeast’ – Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Mykolaiv, Odessa, Kharkiv and Kherson – have more or less remained stable. None of these regions witnessed the overnight implosion of the state apparatus that occurred in Crimea or parts of Donetsk and Luhansk, although it is not impossible that further Russian inroads could destabilise the situation further.

    This relative stability is partly due to attempts by Ukrainian elites – in Kiev and in the east – to find a new post-Yanukovich modus vivendi. But the wider public also seems to be on a similar path: an opinion poll conducted last month by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology revealed that over 70% of people in the south and east of the country no longer consider Yanukovich their legitimate president; 79% do not support secession from Kiev (and only 25% support federalisation); and 45% would be happy with decentralisation. Although in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk there are greater levels of support for Yanukovich, the armed insurgency, and for joining Russia, even there such support hovers around 20%-30% (in the other regions it is under 10%). In short, there is no broad-based support for either armed separatists or a Russian intervention.

    Finally, the recent election results are indicative of a country that has significant regional variations but is, nonetheless, one country. Poroshenko, who was born in south Ukraine not far from Odessa, came first in the presidential race in every single region of Ukraine.

    Localizing the armed insurgency

    In response to the takeover of public buildings in parts of eastern Ukraine, the government deployed military and police units in an attempt to fight the armed challenge to state authority. The start of the operation was, however, a disaster. Local police and intelligence in the Donetsk and Luhansk area refused to obey orders or simply disbanded: in one instance, a group of soldiers surrendered several armed personnel carriers to a protesting crowd. In Mariupol, the army, not trained in the ways of managing large, mostly unarmed crowds in urban settings, opened fire on civilians. Now several weeks into the operation, several towns in the two regions remain outside governmental control.

    Yet in another sense, the operation has been a qualified success. Although its maximalist goal of quickly defeating the separatists was not achieved, its minimalist goal – containing the insurgency, preventing its geographic spread, and holding the 25 May presidential elections in most parts of Ukraine – has been achieved. Elections were properly organised and carried out in 22 out of 25 regions (people were denied the opportunity to vote in Donbas and Luhansk, as well as in annexed Crimea). Despite the intensified fighting and additional bloodshed since the elections, the chances that Kiev can prevent the contamination of other parts of Ukrainian territory look reasonable.

    A key player in containing and even rolling back the insurgency is one of Ukraine’s most prominent oligarchs and leader of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine: Igor Kolomoisky. Upon being appointed governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region in March, he quickly stabilised the situation by asserting control over the law enforcement agencies. Parts of the Donetsk region, unhappy with the descent into separatist chaos, are now seeking protection from the Kolomoisky-led Dnipropetrovsk administration. And when around 40 people died after clashes in Odessa between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian activists, a Kolomoisky protégé was quickly appointed local governor.

    Avoiding an economic crash

    Thanks to Western assistance, a total economic collapse seems to have been averted, and the self-styled ‘Kamikaze government’ led by Yatseniuk has already begun to undertake certain reforms. An all-out assault on vested interests is unlikely, but a lower-key war of attrition against some of the more corrupt elements of the state is underway.

    Partly thanks to strong IMF and Western conditionality, some progress is being made. A new, World Bank approved public procurement law was adopted in parliament (albeit on the second attempt and with a one vote majority). An anti-discrimination law, paving the way to EU visa liberalisation, has also been passed. The government has increased the cost of the hitherto subsidised energy prices, which should help redress some of Ukraine’s gas debt. Pavlo Sheremeta, the economy and trade minister (a graduate from Harvard Business School and former advisor to the Malaysian government), boldly aims to bring Ukraine closer to the top 10 countries with the best business environment – according to the Cost of Doing Business report, where Ukraine held the 145th place in 2013. Admittedly this is no small task, but setting ambitious goals is having the positive effect of focusing minds in Kiev.

    For a government that is three months old, and has spent most of its time managing an armed challenge to its statehood, localising separatism, organising presidential elections and taking steps to deal with the country’s economic mess, this is a decent start. Yet success is far from assured, since the remedy for one type of crisis often aggravates another. In this respect, the central question for Ukraine in the following months will be how to maintain internal unity while reforming the oligarchic economy that triggered the revolution in the first place.

     

    Disempowering the oligarchs?

    The system whereby oligarchs made their fortunes by looting the state through corrupt public procurement, various subsidies (including gas), and the privatisation of law enforcement agencies – which allowed the most powerful business sharks to take over assets of their competitors through administrative pressure, in what is called ‘reiderstvo’– had long undermined the Ukrainian state. Reform means conflict – with vested interests, a bloated public sector, and the subsidised sectors of the economy which are driving the whole country to bankruptcy. The system survived for so long precisely because it has so many stakeholders, with a handful of oligarchs being only the most visible beneficiaries.

    Though tackling corruption was supposed to be a key priority for the post-Yanukovich government, the focus on internal reform shifted to territorial defence following the armed intervention on its eastern borders. Confronted with an military conflict, Kiev took steps to co-opt (rather than squeeze) the oligarchs – not least because most of them have their power bases in eastern Ukraine – and to offer them a stake in the new political system as a way of maintaining the country’s unity. Declaring war on the oligarchs could have led to even greater destabilisation of eastern Ukraine. Igor Kolomoisky was appointed as governor of Dnipropetrovsk, and Serhiy Taruta as governor of Donetsk, while other oligarchs such as Dmitri Firtash, or regional ‘barons’ like Genady Kernes in Kharkiv, positioned themselves as relatively constructive players in order to retain as much (and as many) of their fiefdoms as possible. Petro Poroshenko, the new president of Ukraine, is one of the country’s richest individuals and has served in various governments under both presidents Yushchenko and Yanukovich.

    Co-opting the oligarchs has yielded success in the short term, helping to confine the armed insurgency in the east to just two regions. Yet this short-term success could turn into a mid-term failure if the oligarchic system remains the same. Since the government is not in a position to launch an all-out Saakashvili-style assault on corruption and vested interests, the best-case scenario would be to embark on a series of ‘salami’ reforms conducted by technocrats in the government with as much external support as possible and strong conditionality from international donors in order to strengthen the hand of the reformists. While such a piecemeal approach could be an arduous task and could easily fail, it appears to be the only real possibility given the current environment.

     

    Federation or separation?

    Ukraine’s territorial crisis will not be resolved soon. Short of a Chechnya-style, large-scale military assault on urban areas – which would risk the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians – Ukraine is not in a position to defeat the armed insurgents as long as they receive (tacit) Russian support.

    For the time being, two possible models of a ‘non-solution’ have been floated. One is labelled ‘Finlandisation’, i.e. the creation of a neutral state which – as the theory goes – would offer credible guarantees that NATO will not grant membership to Ukraine and thus assuage Russia. The other is labelled ‘Bosnia-isation’, i.e. the creation of a federalised entity with large veto powers for its constituent regions. The two models do not appear incompatible, and could even be combined.

    On paper, both options have their merits. Finland has done well since the end of the Second World War, is prosperous and secure and joined the EU in 1995. For its part, while Bosnia might appear a rather dysfunctional federation but its constituent parts have at least prevented further bloodshed. Unfortunately, neither option is likely for Ukraine.

    Should Ukraine become either neutral or federal – or both – it would end up nothing like either Bosnia or Finland. Bosnia might be still divided internally, but it sits in the middle of the single most benign international environment on earth. Finland’s neutrality throughout the Cold War was agreed upon and respected: none of these two conditions are likely in Ukraine. It suffices to look at Moldova, which adopted neutrality in 1994 in the hope that this would persuade Russia to cease their support for secessionist Transnistria. Not only this has not happened, but Moldova has been under constant and growing Russian pressure not to move closer to the EU. Even Ukraine under President Yanukovich – who gave up trying to move closer to NATO – was placed under constant pressure not to sign the Association Agreement with the EU. Similarly, a neutral Ukraine would be unlikely to bring about a new era of Russian-Ukrainian-Western cooperation, for now Russia perceives it to be in direct competition with not just NATO but also the EU.

    Another scenario, almost by default, would be the transformation of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions into a bigger ‘Transnistria’ – a secessionist territory that is not recognised by anyone, but which creates de facto state structures with Russian support. Moscow’s logic would be that, at a later stage, this could be used as a bargaining chip with the government in Kiev to push for federalisation and/or neutrality.

    These tactics has been employed several times before – in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria itself – but without much success for Russia. The presence of these frozen conflicts made Georgian and Moldovan moves away from Russia more, rather than less, likely. Both countries have now learned to live without their former regions and are on the verge of signing Association Agreements with the EU despite Russian threats and at the risk of complicating relations with their secessionist regions further. While Georgia and Moldova might lag far behind the EU in political and economic terms, they nevertheless have score reasonably well for resource-poor countries manoeuvring in a very difficult geopolitical environment.

    There is already a growing sentiment among Kiev elites that, if it comes to it, losing the Donbass would not be catastrophic and might actually lead to a more cohesive and reform-oriented Ukraine. Against all odds, Ukraine is managing to survive as a country: it now needs to build a state.

    EUISS Brief, May 2014

    ###

    Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 2nd, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

     

    UN Says It’s Ukraine’s Call If Pulls 600 Troops, UN’s Call on If-Asked.

     

    By Matthew Russell Lee, The Inner City Press at the UN.

     

    UNITED NATIONS, May 30 — After Ukrainian defense official Andriy Ordinovych said that the country’s 18 helicopter crews might be recalled from UN Peacekeeping missions to take part in operations in Eastern Ukraine, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it. Video here.

     

      On helicopters, Dujarric said he was not aware of any talks. Later on May 30 his office sent this to Inner City Press:

     

     

    From: UN Spokesperson – Do Not Reply [at] un.org
    Date: Fri, May 30, 2014 at 2:59 PM
    Subject: Your question on Ukraine
    To: Matthew Russell Lee [at] innercitypress.com

     

    The UN relies on the voluntary contributions of Member States for boots on the ground and equipment. Decisions as to whether specific units are withdrawn belong, ultimately, to the responsible national authorities. Approximately 600 Peacekeepers from Ukraine continue to serve in our various operations around the globe. Ukrainian personnel are valuable and highly-skilled and play important roles in implementing our mandates in our Missions, and we continue to remain grateful for their service and contributions.

     

      Inner City Press also on May 30 asked UN Spokesman Dujarric why he had confined Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s comment on the May 25 election to an “if-asked” he read out only part of when Inner City Press asked on May 27.  Dujarric replied, “I’m the one at the podium, it’s my call.” Video here.

     

    Background: On May 27, the first UN work day after the voting in Ukraine, Inner City Press went to the UN’s noon briefing and asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric:

     

    Inner City Press: I wanted to know if the UN has any position on the jets bombing and strafing around Donetsk in Ukraine and the ultimatum to surrender or be killed that’s been issued by Government, as well as the death of an Italian and Russian journalist over the weekend.

     

    Spokesman Dujarric: The Secretary-General is alarmed by the continuing violence that we’ve seen in the east over the weekend where clashes in Donetsk, as you said, left dozens dead. The Secretary-General urged that the restoration of State control over Government facilities be achieved through exclusively peaceful means, including an inclusive political dialogue. And obviously, we very much regret the deaths of the journalists who were killed covering the story.

     

    Inner City Press: Does that mean that “surrender or die”… by the Government or the Government waiting for the new President, that this is something that the UN doesn’t support?

     

    Spokesman Dujarric: I think what I’ve just said is that the Secretary-General urged that restoration of State control over Government facilities be achieved through exclusively peaceful means, including an inclusive political dialogue.

     

      During the May 27 briefing, Dujarric made no comment on the election in Ukraine, and no comment or “off the cuff” statement from Ban Ki-moon went up on the UN’s website.

     

      But the UN News Center reported:

     

    27 May 2014 – While welcoming the “generally peaceful” nature of Ukraine’s weekend presidential elections, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed concern that eligible voters in some parts of the county’s crisis torn eastern region were not allowed to participate in the national poll.

     

    The Secretary-General welcomes the fact that polling in most of Ukraine took place in a generally peaceful and orderly manner and largely in line with international standards and fundamental freedoms, according to a number of national and international monitors,” according to a statement read out be a UN spokesperson.

     

    At the same time however, Mr. Ban is concerned that eligible voters were denied the right to vote in parts of eastern Ukraine, said the statement, echoing media reports suggesting polling irregularities and disruptions in the east, which has seen a wave of anti-Government sentiment over the past two months.

     

    The SG is alarmed by continuing violence in the east, where clashes in Donetsk left dozens dead yesterday,” the statement went on to say, adding that the UN chief urged that restoration of State control over Government facilities be achieved through exclusively peaceful means, including an inclusive political dialogue.

     

    This line, “generally peaceful,” was picked up by the Saudi Press Agency; the UN News Center (English) article was quickly put up on the website of the UN in Ukraine.

     

      But where was the line said, or “read out b[y] a UN spokesperson”?

     

      Inner City Press looked on the UN Spokesperson’s website: not there. So at the May 29 noon briefing, as spokesman Dujarric tried to end the briefing after only two questions, Inner City Press asked.

     

      Dujarric replied that the statement was read out to “some of your colleagues” in the hallway. Moments later he e-mailed this to Inner City Press, as “shared language” –

     

    The Secretary-General welcomes the fact that polling in Ukraine took place in a generally peaceful and orderly manner and largely in line with international standards and fundamental freedoms, according a number of national and international monitors.

     

    The Secretary-General is concerned, however, that eligible voters were denied the right to vote in parts of eastern Ukraine.

     

    The Secretary-General is alarmed by continuing violence in the east, where clashes in Donetsk left dozens dead yesterday. He urged that restoration of state control over government facilities be achieved through exclusively peaceful means, including an inclusive political dialogue.

     

      Inner City Press asked, If this was a prepared statement, why was it not read out in the briefing room and put on the SG’s or Spokeperson’s web site?

     

      Dujarric replied, “It was an if asked.”

     

      But why would the UN make its statement on the Ukraine election an If-Asked?

     

      It appears that when no one asked in the briefing room, somehow Dujarric got asked by… UN News Center? So, a cynic might conclude, the UN can arrange to be asked by its own media.

     

      Note that the UN News Center Russia page reversed the If-Asked “shared language” to start with the last part, more palatable to Russia:

     

    27/05/2014 – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is alarmed by reports of continued violence in the east of Ukraine, particularly in Donetsk, where dozens of people were killed. This was announced by his press secretary Stephen Dyuzharrik. “Secretary-General strongly resembles that restoration of state control agencies should be only through peaceful means, including an inclusive political dialogue” – a spokesman said at a press briefing on Tuesday. Secretary General welcomed the fact that “the vote in many parts of Ukraine took place in a peaceful manner, in accordance with international standards and ensuring fundamental freedoms, as reported by a number of national and international observers.” Meanwhile, the head of the UN is concerned that in some parts of eastern Ukraine. legitimate voters were denied their right to vote. Dyuzharrik Stephen noted that the United Nations deeply regrets the deaths of journalists covering the events in Ukraine. He expressed hope that the issue of protection of journalists will be reflected in the next report of the UN mission to monitor the situation of human rights in the country. According to media reports, in eastern Ukraine were killed Italian journalist Andrea Rokkelli and his Russian translator Andrei Mironov.

     

    This is a scam, that the Free UN Coalition for Access is opposing.

     

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

     

    At World Cup in Brazil, 60% of UNSC But Only 16% of UN Members Will Play.

     

    By Matthew Russell Lee

     

    UNITED NATIONS, June 1 — In the upcoming World Cup in Brazil later this month, nine of the 15 members of the UN Security Council will participate. So 60% of the Security Council’s members will be there, while only 16% of the UN’s 193 member states will be.

     

      Of the five Permanent members of the Security Council, only China won’t be there. Of the Group of 4, only India will be absent. Of countries on the Council’s agenda, present in Brazil will be Iran and Cote d’Ivoire, Bosnia and Greece (arguably on due to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia “name” issue).

     

      In Group B, Security Council members Australia and Chile will face off, June 13 in Cuiaba. In Group H, Russia and South Korea will play there on June 17 (South Korea was president of the Security Council for May; Russia is president in June.)

     

      There are few ideological battles, at least in the first round. Iran is not in in Group G with the United States — G is for Germany, and Portugal too — and the UK and Argentina and the Malvinas / Falkland Islands dispute are in different groups.

     

      In Group E, France and Ecuador might at least disagree when they play June 25 in Rio about regime change and the treatment of migrants on which Inner City Press asked the UN on May 28, and Paris’ new mayor Hidalgo on May 29… Watch this site.

     

    Footnote: In New York, recently Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s golf buddy (along with the UK and South Korea) San Marino’s ambassador set up another pick-up game, seemingly including Ukraine’s long-time Permanent Representative Yuri Sergeyey, next to Ban’s legacy striker Kim Won-soo. To some, there seems to have been even less diversity in this group that at the World Cup…


     

    ###

    Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 1st, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

     

    In the Ukraine — the Crimea, the Eastern and Southern Oblasts (States) – the locus of the kerfuffle – seem to give birth to a growing butterfly effect that has landed on the Russian Dynosaurus Rex back, and finally got it to act in ways it was not prepared  to act originally.

    This is an analysis inspired by a programmed  presentation at the Concordia Press Club in Vienna – that seemed to focus merely on a Freudian analysis of the Putin mind, but turned eventually into a very good  wide conversation about the topic as originally advertised. We recognized fully the change in the discussion having had to do something with this redirection of the event as it proceeded.

    We found the Press conference exciting, but decided to write up what was NOT said originally and what we thought was going to be said, but came out only later. So, was my original expectation just wrong? My topic here is rather the second part of that Press Conference that was originally unsaid by the speaker.

    So, let us start with the title of the original ICEUR Class of May 23, 2014, with Sergei Medvedev of the Higher School of Economics, Faculty of Political Science, of the Moscow State University with the title: “THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT: HOW CRIMEA WILL TRANSFORM RUSSIAN DOMESTIC POLITICS” – held at the Concordia Press Club in Vienna, Austria. 

    The Class chaired by Hans Georg Heinrich who with Ludmilla Lobova are since the 201 beginnings the Responsible Editors of the ICEUR “Strategic & Business Intelligence” product.

    Prof. Hans-Georg HEINRICH is professor emeritus for Political Sciences at the University of Vienna, Vice-President and manager of ICEUR-Vienna. Dr. Lubmilla Lobova is the Scientific Director of ICEUR-Vienna.

    ICEUR-Vienna – the International Center for Advanced EU-Russia Research – is an independent brain trust providing analysis, intelligence and customized services for clients in business, economic decision making and the academia.

    I did not write this up earlier – but left more then a week go by to make sure I do not just shoot from the hip. Since then we had the results of the Presidential elections in the Ukraine and it seems that the team – of President Petro Poroschenko, a western style businessman, and Boxing Champ Vitali Klitschko, Mayor of Kiev (Kyiv), are holding in solid hands all areas west of Kyiv, with strong backing in most of the rest of the Ukraine – except the Krim (Crimea) which the Russian will never return to the Ukraine.

    What seems very interesting is that seemingly Mr. Putin has indeed drawn for his use a chart of plus and minus for further action in the Ukraine – this after it sunk in that there were some enormous losses in economic terms and in goodwill – mainly in the US and in some other OECD countries – and what is worse – among his own oligarchs. After all, it was not nice to hear of further acquisitions in the west made with money that flew out of Russia – be it even such things as buying part of Pirelli by Roseneft albeit – Pirelli’s chief Marco Tronchetti-Provera came to St. Petersburg to sign the agreement with Rosneft’s chief Igor Sechin in Putin’s presence – thus honoring Putin – but the money left Russia and went to banks in the west the likes of Bank-Austria-Mutter, UniCredit and Banca Intessa Sampaio.

    Putin is also aware of the results in the May 25, 2014, elections for the European Parliament. Mme. Le Pen in France, some Anti-Unionists in the UK – and others that will not even be able to form an internal united opposition in the EU, but infuriate whoever will lead the EU seemed to like Putin’s Russia. But this is only a foot-note. The EU will worry about the Ukraine rather then about Russia.

    In effect the first result of these elections that has a big impact on Russia is that this last Thursday, May 29, 2014, the EU Commissioner of Energy, Mr. Guenther Oettinger, declared null and void any attempt by the Austrian oil company OEMV and Russia’s Gasprom to build the South Stream pipeline that would have reinforced Europe’s dependence on Russia’s gas supplies.  Oettinger made it clear that a pipeline with its sole reason the bypassing the Ukraine in order to avoid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, is not ethical and not in the EU’s interest. Now, that was a blow Putin had anticipated, and the tactician he is, he used his visit with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to sign an agreement to sell gas to China – building a new pipeline to China instead. This agreement was being negotiated for the last three years, but it did not reach the signing stage because the Chinese were not ready to pay to the Russians more for the gas then what they pay to Turkmenistan for the gas that gets delivered to them from Central Asia. Finally – now – under conditions of duress – Putin signs the equivalent of a $400 Billion 30 years agreement with China with exact details hidden. Above happened May 21, 2014 and we learned that though he got more then what was offered before, but still much less then what he gets from the EU – the real disaster for him might be in the fact that he will be payed in Yuans rather then US dollars. He is thus forced to move in part away from the World Trade that uses the dollar currency, to the new bloc being created by Brazil and China that will use BRIC currencies for trade. Someone having called this a switch from a Petro-Dollar driven World economy to a Gas-o-Yuan new system. As a new comer to this very successful bloc of upstart industrializing economies, with his underdeveloped, resource-exports State – this in effect makes him dependent of his buyers – now China – while before these Ukraine adventures he was in a long-range friendlier environment of Europe. That is why we think that the Crimea adventure was indeed that BUTTERFLY that landed n the dynosaurus back and started a process that might lead to the unraveling of Russia without a drama of a Cold War and nuclear weapons focused on each other.

    But we are not complete pessimists in regard to Russia – and looking at Brussels were we see in the cards a grand coalition that will put in charge of the EU the Black and Red parties in tandem – this like it is done nearly always in Austria, and sometimes in Germany.  These moves in Brussels might  allow eventually Mr. Putin to come back to the negotiations’ table after making sure he forgets about his troika ambition – that meant for him the harnessing of the Ukraine and hitch it together with Belarus and Kazakhstan to his beloved troika. He will then  have to resign himself  to a two horses wagon only.

    Regarding South Stream, that was a figment of OEMV’s 31.5% Austrian Government owned Corporation (24.9% owne dby IPIC – the  International Petroleum Investment Company – formed by the Abu Dhabi government in 1984 to invest in the energy and related sectors across the globe. Today it manages a portfolio of investments in more than 18 leading companies across the hydrocarbon value chain, including exploration and production, shipping and pipelines, downstream retail and marketing, petrochemicals, power and utilities as well as industrial services. IPIC is an exponent of international oil and as such can be counted of trying to derail any plans to make a country or the world less dependent on fossil fuels. OEMV is thus against renewable energy and its influence on the Austrian Government weakens the freedom of action by Austria. Austria has thus not contributed fully yet to the EU green efforts. Mr. Oettinger, who himself was backing the European production of fracking gas (shale gas) in order to decrease imports from Russia, has yet to be convinced to move in the direction of Renewable Energy, but then – we do not know yet who will be next European Commissioner on Energy beyond what we can say – Russia will never be allowed to be as influential in the energy supply of European countries  after the Crimea takeover as they were before that.

    Professor Medvedev might have been right in his analysis of Putin the man – but the final words were with the “butterfly” nevertheless.

     

     

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

    See Also from   —   

    ICEUR Mission statement

    ICEUR-Vienna is an independent brain trust providing analysis, intelligence and customized services for clients in business, economic decision making and the academia. Drawing on a wide network of experts and partner institutions, it conducts joint projects with the objective to promote business, economic, political and cultural cooperation between partners from the EU and Eastern Europe. ICEUR strives to fill the gap between the declarations of intent resulting from high-level meetings and realities on the ground by identifying problems and proposing smart

    solutions. Its geographical core area spans Eastern Europe and, specifically, the entire post-Soviet space. ICEUR´s commitment to non-partisan, issue-oriented applied research and consulting ties in with the Austrian tradition of a neutral go-between which respects the vital interests of the parties as a precondition for conflict resolution and enhanced cooperation.

    ICEUR´s approach is comprehensive in that it is based on the insight that neither economic, nor political nor social problems can be resolved independently of each other. Its span of activities ranges from political to market analysis, and the expert meetings organized by the center convene specialists from various fields.

    ICEUR´s institutional and company membership assures a solid presence in industrial and financial circles. Its lean management and flexible operation mode makes it more mobile and capable of rapid reaction than many large companies and institutions. Read more

    23.05.2014

    Upcoming ICEUR Master Class with Sergei Medvedev
    “The butterfly effect: How Crimea will transform Russian domestic politics”
    Time: 23 May 2014, 10:00
    Venue: Presseclub Concordia, Bankgasse 8, 1010 Vienna
    Lecturer: Sergei A. Medvedev, Professor HSE Moscow, Deputy Dean for International Affairs
    Language: English
    Please register: office@iceur-vienna.at

    17.03.2014

    “Ukraine-A new departure?”
    A Touch of High Politics: The ICEUR Round Table on Ukraine
    ICEUR-Vienna´s statutory mission is to support and promote the dialogue between the post-Soviet area and the other European states. The rapidly escalating Ukrainian crisis has clearly evidenced the need for an institution that provides a meeting place for the business-like discussion of relevant issues. For the Ukrainian Round Table, we had deliberately invited panelists with different backgrounds and political convictions. Events in the Crimea loomed large over the agenda, which made diversity management difficult, but feasible. Despite the sharp conflict lines and the emotions generated by the recent tragic events (one speaker was a participant at the Maidan demonstrations, another had, among other things, consulted past presidents), the outlines of a common ground became visible. All panelists agreed on the goal of a future civilized Ukraine, preferably in a federal format. When it comes to issues of state and nation building, opinions diverged: Mr. Pogrebinskyyi came out strongly against presidential elections in May. He argued that such a move would polarize the nation and went with the hazard of re- introducing presidential authoritarianism through the back door. According to him, parliamentary elections should take precedence, and the new constitution should drastically curb the powers of the president. Mr. Vysotskiy supported the views of groups represented by the Maidan. They pursue a different strategy and believe that a strong elected president would guarantee stability. Mr. Fesenko, who is an advisor of the government in power, pleaded for fair elections that would reproduce a representation of the major political forces and reduce the political weight of marginal groups Unsurprisingly, the panelists as well as the discussants (among them members of the Russian Embassy) had widely divergent views about who was to blame for the violence in Kiev and elsewhere. Yet, they agreed that the truth could not be established at this point. It was also pleasant to hear that the discussants felt a follow-up to be held in Vienna would yield even more concrete and tangible results. ICEUR stands ready to act as a focal point for such initiatives. Panelists from Ukraine:
    Mikhail B. Pogrebinskiy,
    Director, Kiev Center for Political and Conflict Research. Analyst, advisor of all Ukrainian presidents since 1991

    Sergey Vysotskiy,
    journalist, LIGABusinessinform, participant in the Maidan demonstrations

    Vladimir Fesenko,
    analyst, director, Center for Applied Political Research “Penta”, advisor of the present Ukrainian government

    03.03.2014

    Business Seminar in Vienna “The Russian Economy After Sochi”

    Summary of findings of the ICEUR Business Seminar, 3 March 2014-03-10
    The two speakers, Mikhail Dmitriev and Segey Afontsev, dealt with the dynamic of the Russian economy from different perspectives, but arrived at more or less the same conclusions. They both presented a gloomy outlook for the near future. The period of high growth rates is over and recession may be around the corner. The impact of the Ukrainian crisis can be felt already, particularly in the ballooning exchange rate and the rapid decay of the securities market. Yet, they maintain that the downslide of the Russian economy has structural causes which are merely reinforced by the Ukrainian conflict. Mr. Dmitriev predicts the stalling of growth figures because of the fact that a relatively high level of consumer saturation has been reached and income growth has ground to a halt. In fact, consumption growth has outdistanced income growth during the boom years. The shrinking of the working age populations worldwide is bound to hobble productivity and economic growth. Mr. Afontsev drew the attention to the fact that since 2009, outward FDI has surpassed inward FDI. Almost 40% of the capital leaving Russia is invested in EU countries (as opposed to 9% in Ukraine). Conversely, most investment capital coming to Russia originates in Cyprus and the Netherlands (together, 36% of total FDI). This ties in with the observation that the share of energy carriers in total exports has been growing in recent years (from a low of 37% in 1994 to almost 68% in 2013). The speaker was also skeptical about the economic benefits of megaprojects: As a rule, they drain important reserve funds, stimulate corruption and are not sustainable. Both speakers agreed that in order to preserve and improve the achievements of the boom years and to avoid wide-spread dissatisfaction and protests, the Russian economy must be radically modernized. There is no other option than the dehabituation from the addiction to oil and gas.
    M. Dmitriev. The new Russian consumer: Preferences, socio-economic situation, consumption patterns (Power Point)
    S. Afontsev. The Russian Economy: Situation and Outlook (Power Point)

    ###

    Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 21st, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

     

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

     

     

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Polish gender wars:

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

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

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

     

    ‘We are Slavs’ vs. Wurst

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

     

    War on gender and European Parliament elections

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

     —————————————-

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

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

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

     

     

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    Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 20th, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

     

     

    Photo

    Ukrainian soldiers guarded a base outside Izyum on Monday, as Russia announced another pullback of its forces from the border. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

    MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin said Monday that he was withdrawing Russian troops from the border with Ukraine, the second time he has said that in less than two weeks. He also praised the government in Kiev, which he had previously called an illegal, fascist junta, for its willingness to negotiate structural changes.

    But the intended audience for these conciliatory remarks may not have been the United States and Europe, who would distrust them in any event. No, Mr. Putin’s gaze was more likely fixed on China, where he arrives on Tuesday by all accounts determined to show that he, too, wants to pivot to Asia.

     

    While Mr. Putin has been casting an eye eastward practically since he returned to the presidency in 2012, the crisis in relations with the West over Ukraine has made ties to Asia, and particularly relations with its economic engine, China, a key strategic priority. With Europe trying to wean itself off Russian gas, and the possibility of far more serious Western sanctions looming should the crisis deepen, Moscow needs an alternative.

    Mr. Putin has stressed repeatedly in recent weeks that Russia sees its economic future with China, noting that its Asian neighbor was on track to surpass the United States as the leading global economic power. A tilt to the East is also in keeping with Mr. Putin’s recent turn to a conservative nationalist ideology, emphasizing religion, family values and patriotism in contrast to what he sees as the increasingly godless, relativist and decadent West.

    “Today, Russia firmly places China at the top of its foreign trade partners,” Mr. Putin said in an interview with Chinese journalists on the eve of his visit, according to a transcript released Monday by the Kremlin. “In the context of turbulent global economy, the strengthening of mutually beneficial trade and economic ties, as well as the increase of investment flows between Russia and China, are of paramount importance.”

    Mr. Putin’s announcement of a pullback of Russian forces from the Ukraine border was likely to help calm the situation there before presidential elections scheduled for Sunday. But it could also be seen as a gesture to Chinese sensitivities about separatism, given Beijing’s continuing troubles with Tibet, the Uighurs and scores of lesser-known ethnic and religious minorities.

    It was also the third time Mr. Putin had announced a pullback without any evidence of troops actually departing, the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, noted Monday at a news conference in Brussels.

    The centerpiece of Mr. Putin’s two-day visit to China could well be a long-stalled deal with Russia to ship natural gas from new Siberian fields to China starting around 2019. The two have been haggling over the deal for a decade, but could not agree on a price for the gas.

    Experts anticipate that Russia is finally prepared to come to terms, if only to let Washington and Western Europe know that it has other markets for its gas and important friends in the world.

    “Because of this current disaster in our relations with the West, they have no alternative,” said Vasily B. Kashin, a China expert at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a Moscow policy organization. “They need to go to Asia to make any deals possible as quickly as possible.”

    Mr. Putin is due in Normandy on June 6 for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. He is likely to meet with President Obama and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to discuss the Ukraine crisis. Brandishing a new gas deal with China would strengthen Mr. Putin’s hand, helping deflate the threat of Western sanctions.

    In the interview with Chinese journalists, Mr. Putin noted that bilateral trade with China last year was close to $90 billion. Although Russian trade with the European Union as a bloc is far larger, amounting to some $370 billion in 2012, trade with China is on par with leading individual partners like Germany. Trade with the United States was only $26 billion in 2012.

    Russia needs new markets because it is hugely dependent on commodity exports, earning some 67 percent of its export income from oil and gas alone. Financing from China would also help offset reluctance by Western banks to extend new loans, given the threat of sanctions.

    “There will be a natural gas agreement, which is very important not for the agreement itself, but because it will open the road for further, much bigger agreements in natural gas and other raw materials,” Mr. Kashin said.

    Mr. Putin said Russia would try to increase trade volume with China to $100 billion next year and double that by 2020.

    Aside from what he described as a “strategic energy alliance,” Mr. Putin mentioned possible joint projects in airplanes and helicopters, mining, agricultural processing and transportation infrastructure. Other technical and military cooperation agreements will also be discussed, but both sides tend to keep those secret, so details might not emerge for some months, experts said.

    Russia and China, which share a border of more than 2,600 miles, have long had uneasy relations. Russia, wary about the economic gorilla along its southern borders, blocked Chinese investment, particularly in fields considered strategic like energy, except for two small deals. Mr. Putin on Monday clearly enunciated a more welcoming message.

    “That is a big shift,” said Clifford Gaddy, of the Brookings Institution in Washington and the author of a book on Mr. Putin, “and indicates how serious they are in taking a step toward China.”

    Mr. Gaddy added, “It is a shift in rhetoric, and we will see if it is followed up with a shift in action.”

    In highlighting that the sanctions are helping to disrupt the Russian economy, the Obama administration has virtually ignored that it is pushing Russia toward greater dependence on China, Mr. Gaddy noted.

    The Russians are hoping that China will also agree to help build a bridge linking the mainland to the Crimean port of Kerch, lending not only valuable expertise but also tacit endorsement of an annexation that much of the world considers illegal. There is no current land link to the annexed territory.

    China abstained from a United Nations Security Council vote in March rejecting the referendum that Russia organized in Crimea before annexing it. That earned China special praise from Mr. Putin in his speech announcing the annexation.

    Russia and China are also scheduled to hold joint naval exercises in China toward the end of the month, and President Xi Jinping was one of the few world leaders to put in an appearance at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

    There is, of course, no guarantee that the two sides will come to terms on the gas deal. Alexei Miller, the chief executive of state-run Gazprom, announced over the weekend that Russia and China had agreed on everything in the 30-year contract except the price.

    Experts noted that the price gap had endured for years, although it is generally believed to have shrunk from hundreds of dollars per thousand cubic meters to $50 or less. Before, Moscow’s bargaining strategy was to wait out the Chinese, figuring that their insatiable appetite for natural resources would bring them to Russia’s doorstep at favorable terms.

    But analysts believe that passive strategy is over.

    “There is no more time, with sanctions escalating,” said Ildar Davletshin, the head of oil and gas research at Renaissance Capital, an investment bank. “Russia has become more desperate to get a real outlet.”

    Mr. Davletshin also noted that as negotiations had dragged on, Russia gradually lost market share to other suppliers in Central Asia.

    Russia, with its massive resources, is attractive to the Chinese. “Russia is just across the river and it is vast and underpopulated, so it is attractive for China to own a piece,” Mr. Davletshin said.

    That also puts its resources out of reach of American sanctions and the United States Navy, analysts noted.

    As initially conceived, Russian gas was to enter China in its far west, where the demand was lowest, and in the ensuing years China negotiated deals for other, cheaper sources.

    So the current deal concentrates on selling 38 billion cubic meters of gas, worth about $14 billion if they agree to a price of around $380 per thousand cubic meters, as analysts expect. Part of the bargaining also concerns the financing China might provide to build the nearly 1,500 mile pipeline, estimated to cost $30 billion.

     

    Andrew Higgins contributed reporting from Brussels.

     

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