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Ukraine:

 

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 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

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    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…


     

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    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.

     

     

    ###

    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.

     

    ###

    Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 18th, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

     

    Europe

     

    In Taking Crimea, Putin Gains a Sea of Fuel Reserves.

     

     

    Photo

    Vladimir V. Putin of Russia visiting a Lukoil oil platform in the Caspian Sea in 2010. Credit RIA Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin, via Pool, via Reuters

     

    When Russia seized Crimea in March, it acquired not just the Crimean landmass but also a maritime zone more than three times its size with the rights to underwater resources potentially worth trillions of dollars.

    Russia portrayed the takeover as reclamation of its rightful territory, drawing no attention to the oil and gas rush that had recently been heating up in the Black Sea. But the move also extended Russia’s maritime boundaries, quietly giving Russia dominion over vast oil and gas reserves while dealing a crippling blow to Ukraine’s hopes for energy independence.

    Russia did so under an international accord that gives nations sovereignty over areas up to 230 miles from their shorelines. It had tried, unsuccessfully, to gain access to energy resources in the same territory in a pact with Ukraine less than two years earlier.

    “It’s a big deal,” said Carol R. Saivetz, a Eurasian expert in the Security Studies Program of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It deprives Ukraine of the possibility of developing these resources and gives them to Russia. It makes Ukraine more vulnerable to Russian pressure.”

    Gilles Lericolais, the director of European and international affairs at France’s state oceanographic group, called Russia’s annexation of Crimea “so obvious” as a play for offshore riches.

    In Moscow, a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin said there was “no connection” between the annexation and energy resources, adding that Russia did not even care about the oil and gas. “Compared to all the potential Russia has got, there was no interest there,” the spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Saturday.

    Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and other major oil companies have already explored the Black Sea, and some petroleum analysts say its potential may rival that of the North Sea. That rush, which began in the 1970s, lifted the economies of Britain, Norway and other European countries.

    William B. F. Ryan, a marine geologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, said Russia’s Black Sea acquisition gave it what are potentially “the best” of that body’s deep oil reserves.

    Redividing the Black Sea.

    Russia’s annexation of Crimea also gives Russia control of a large swath of the Black Sea, including deep oil reserves.

    THE “BEFORE” and “AFTER” ECONOMIC ZONE MARITIME MAPS:

    The RED is the newly acquired expanse.

     

     

    Oil analysts said that mounting economic sanctions could slow Russia’s exploitation of its Black and Azov Sea annexations by reducing access to Western financing and technology. But they noted that Russia had already taken over the Crimean arm of Ukraine’s national gas company, instantly giving Russia exploratory gear on the Black Sea.

    “Russia’s in a mood to behave aggressively,” said Vladimir Socor, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, a research group in Washington that follows Eurasian affairs. “It’s already seized two drilling rigs.”

    The global hunt for fossil fuels has increasingly gone offshore, to places like the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and the South China Sea. Hundreds of oil rigs dot the Caspian, a few hundred miles east of the Black Sea.

    Nations divide up the world’s potentially lucrative waters according to guidelines set forth by the 1982 Law of the Sea Treaty. The agreement lets coastal nations claim what are known as exclusive economic zones that can extend up to 200 nautical miles (or 230 statute miles) from their shores. Inside these zones, countries can explore, exploit, conserve and manage deep natural resources, living and nonliving.

    The countries with shores along the Black Sea have long seen its floor as a potential energy source, mainly because of modest oil successes in shallow waters.

    Just over two years ago, the prospects for huge payoffs soared when a giant ship drilling through deep bedrock off Romania found a large gas field in waters more than half a mile deep.

    Russia moved fast.

    In April 2012, Mr. Putin, then Russia’s prime minister, presided over the signing of an accord with Eni, the Italian energy giant, to explore Russia’s economic zone in the northeastern Black Sea. Dr. Ryan of Columbia estimated that the size of the zone before the Crimean annexation was roughly 26,000 square miles, about the size of Lithuania.

    “I want to assure you that the Russian government will do everything to support projects of this kind,” Mr. Putin said at the signing, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

    A month later, oil exploration specialists at a European petroleum conference made a lengthy presentation, the title of which asked: “Is the Black Sea the Next North Sea?” The paper cited geological studies that judged the waters off Ukraine as having “tremendous exploration potential” but saw the Russian zone as less attractive.

    In August 2012, Ukraine announced an accord with an Exxon-led group to extract oil and gas from the depths of Ukraine’s Black Sea waters. The Exxon team had outbid Lukoil, a Russian company. Ukraine’s state geology bureau said development of the field would cost up to $12 billion.

    “The Black Sea Hots Up,” read a 2013 headline in GEO ExPro, an industry magazine published in Britain. “Elevated levels of activity have become apparent throughout the Black Sea region,” the article said, “particularly in deepwater.”

    When Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine on March 18, it issued a treaty of annexation between the newly declared Republic of Crimea and the Russian Federation. Buried in the document — in Article 4, Section 3 — a single bland sentence said international law would govern the drawing of boundaries through the adjacent Black and Azov Seas.

    Dr. Ryan estimates that the newly claimed maritime zone around Crimea added about 36,000 square miles to Russia’s existing holdings. The addition is more than three times the size of the Crimean landmass, and about the size of Maine.

    At the time, few observers noted Russia’s annexation of Crimea in those terms. An exception was Romania, whose Black Sea zone had been adjacent to Ukraine’s before Russia stepped in.

    “Romania and Russia will be neighbors,” Romania Libera, a newspaper in Bucharest, observed on March 24. The article’s headline said the new maritime border could become a “potential source of conflict.”

    Many nations have challenged Russia’s seizing of Crimea and thus the legality of its Black and Azov Sea claims. But the Romanian newspaper quoted analysts as judging that the other countries bordering the Black Sea — Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania — would tacitly recognize the annexation “in order to avoid an open conflict.”

    Most immediately, analysts say, Russia’s seizing may alter the route along which the South Stream pipeline would be built, saving Russia money, time and engineering challenges. The planned pipeline, meant to run through the deepest parts of the Black Sea, is to pump Russian gas to Europe.

    Originally, to avoid Ukraine’s maritime zone, Russia drew the route for the costly pipeline in a circuitous jog southward through Turkey’s waters. But now it can take a far more direct path through its newly acquired Black Sea territory, if the project moves forward. The Ukraine crisis has thrown its future into doubt.

    As for oil extraction in the newly claimed maritime zones, companies say their old deals with Ukraine are in limbo, and analysts say new contracts are unlikely to be signed anytime soon, given the continuing turmoil in the region and the United States’ efforts to ratchet up pressure on Russia.

     

    “There are huge issues at stake,” noted Dr. Saivetz of M.I.T. “I can’t see them jumping into new deals right now.”

    The United States is using its wherewithal to block Russian moves in the maritime zones. Last month, it imposed trade restrictions on Chernomorneftegaz, the breakaway Crimean arm of Ukraine’s national gas company.

    Eric L. Hirschhorn, the United States under secretary of commerce for industry and security, said sanctions against the Crimean business would send “a strong message” of condemnation for Russia’s “incursion into Ukraine and expropriation of Ukrainian assets.”

     

    Alexandra Odynova contributed reporting from Moscow.

     

    ###

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

     

     

     

    Ukraine’s Heart of Steel.  Workers Quiet Unrest in Cities in East Ukraine.

    In Mariupol, Ukraine, thousands of steelworkers patrol city streets, routing out pro-Russian militants who seized control several weeks ago.

     

     

    MARIUPOL, Ukraine — Thousands of steelworkers fanned out on Thursday through the city of Mariupol, establishing control over the streets and banishing the pro-Kremlin militants who until recently had seemed to be consolidating their grip on power, dealing a setback to Russia and possibly reversing the momentum in eastern Ukraine.

    By late Thursday, miners and steelworkers had deployed in at least five cities, including the regional capital, Donetsk. They had not, however, become the dominant force there that they were in Mariupol, the region’s second-largest city and the site last week of a bloody confrontation between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian militants.

     

     

    While it was still far too early to say the tide had turned in eastern Ukraine, the day’s events were a blow to separatists who recently seized control here and in a dozen or so other cities and who held a referendum on independence on Sunday. Backed by the Russian propaganda machine and by 40,000 Russian troops just over the border, their grip on power seemed to be tightening every day.

    Photo

    An almost deserted Ilyich Iron and Steel plant in Mariupol on Thursday. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

     

    But polls had indicated that a strong majority of eastern Ukrainians supported unity, though few were prepared to say so publicly in the face of armed pro-Russian militants. When President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia withdrew support for the separatists last week, calling for a delay in the referendum and for dialogue on Ukraine’s future, the political winds shifted, providing an opening that the country’s canny oligarchs could exploit.

    The workers who took to the streets on Thursday were among the hundreds of thousands in the east who are employed in metals and mining by Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov, who only recently went beyond paying lip service to Ukrainian unity and on Wednesday issued a statement rejecting separatism.

    Critics say Mr. Akhmetov could have prevented much of the bloodshed in the east if he had taken a strong stance sooner. But his lieutenants say he decided to confront the separatists out of a deep belief that independence, or even quasi-autonomy, would be disastrous for eastern Ukraine. Mr. Akhmetov urged his employees, whose jobs were at risk, to take over the city.

    The workers, who were wearing only their protective clothing and hard hats, said they were “outside politics” and were just trying to establish order. Faced with waves of steelworkers joined by the police, the pro-Russian protesters melted away, along with signs of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and its representatives. Backhoes and dump trucks from the steelworkers’ factory dismantled the barricades that separatists had erected.

    Metinvest and DTEK, the metals and mining subsidiaries of Mr. Akhmetov’s company, System Capital Management, together employ 280,000 people in eastern Ukraine, forming an important and possibly decisive force in the region. They have a history of political activism stretching back to miner strikes that helped bring down the Soviet Union. In this conflict, they had not previously signaled their allegiance to one side or the other.

    It remains possible that the separatists could regroup and challenge the industrial workers, though few were to be found in and around Mariupol on Thursday, even in the public administration building they had been occupying.

    “We have to bring order to the city,” Aleksei Gorlov, a steelworker, said of his motivation for joining one of the unpaid and voluntary patrols that were organized at Ilyich Iron and Steel Works. Groups of about six steelworkers accompanied two police officers on the patrols.

    “People organize themselves,” he said. “In times of troubles, that is how it works.”

    Workers from another mill, Azovstal Iron and Steel Works, took one side of the city, while the Ilyich factory took the other. Both groups were trying to persuade longshoremen to patrol the port, Mr. Gorlov said.

    The two steel mills fly Ukrainian flags outside their headquarters, though like so much else in Ukraine, the lines of loyalty are muddled. At least a portion of the police in the city mutinied last Friday, leading to a shootout with the Ukrainian National Guard that killed at least seven people.

    The chief executive of Ilyich Steel Works, Yuri Zinchenko, is leading the steelworker patrols in the city. He said the company had remained on the sidelines as long as possible, while tacitly supporting unity with Ukraine by conveying to workers that a separatist victory would close export markets in Europe, devastating the factory and the town.

    Though the workers had differing views of the new government in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, on the whole they supported the patrols to restore order, employees and managers said. “Everybody can have their own opinion, but not at work,” Sergei Istratov, a shift boss at the factory, said. “At work, you have to do what the factory demands.”

    Yuri Ryzhenkov, the chief executive of Metinvest, which is ranked among the top five steel producers globally, said managers had been conveying to workers: “The most important thing you have is the steel mill. If you have the steel mill, you have jobs, salaries and stability for your families.”

    Once patrols began, he said, representatives of the Donetsk People’s Republic visited the Ilyich factory, demanding to know what was happening. “They were not very friendly at first,” Mr. Ryzhenkov said. But the patrols were welcomed in town, he said, and militants had little option but to acquiesce, at least in Mariupol.

    “The Donetsk People’s Republic understands if they attack unarmed local people, they will lose all support here,” he said.

    The effort is more than ad hoc. The coal and steel workers will soon have uniforms for the street patrols, Metinvest executives said, with patches identifying them as members of the “Volunteer People’s Patrol.”

    If the patrols are successful, they said, they will try the tactic in most major cities in the Donetsk region, though not in Slovyansk, a stronghold of pro-Russian militants where Metinvest and DTEK have no factories or mines.

    Ilyich Iron and Steel, a grimy scene of mid-20th-century industrial sprawl, is one of Ukraine’s most important factories, producing five million tons of slab steel a year. About 50,000 people work in the steel industry in Mariupol, a city of 460,000. So far, 18,000 steelworkers have signed up for the patrols, Metinvest executives say.

    “There’s no family in Mariupol that’s not connected to the steel industry,” Mr. Zinchenko said in an interview at his desk, which was decorated with a miniature Ukrainian flag. He said he had negotiated a truce with local representatives of the Donetsk People’s Republic, but not with the group’s leaders.

    Mr. Akhmetov’s statement detailed the daunting problems facing the regional economy — and his assets — if the Donetsk People’s Republic were to win its struggle with Kiev.

    “Nobody in the world will recognize it,” he said in a videotaped statement. “The structure of our economy is coal, industry, metallurgy, energy, machine works, chemicals and agriculture, and all the enterprises tied to these sectors. We will come under huge sanctions, we will not sell our products, cannot produce. This means the stopping of factories, this means unemployment, this means poverty.”

    Russia itself exports steel, so it has never been a significant market for the output of the Donetsk region.

    Residents welcomed the steelworker patrols for bringing an end to chaos and insecurity. They said masked men had robbed four grocery stores, a shop selling hunting rifles and a jewelry store, and that they had burned down a bank.

    The crowds of pro-Russian protesters who had jeered and cursed Ukrainian soldiers last week were nowhere to be seen. On the city’s central square Thursday afternoon, a pro-Russian rally drew a few dozen protesters, who were watched over by a group of steelworkers.

    The government in Kiev rebutted reports that the police chief had been found hanging and dead in the town. He had indeed been kidnapped by gunmen and was severely beaten, the Interior Ministry said, but he was eventually rescued.

    “There are a lot of idiots with guns in my city,” said Aleksey Rybinsev, 38, a computer programmer who added he welcomed the new patrols, though he feared they might develop into another informal militia group. “I haven’t seen a policeman all day. I didn’t see them, and I didn’t want to see them.”

    —————–

    Some Comments

     

    Bob

    There are a couple of holes in the story:1. Mr. Akhmetov, the richest oligarch in Ukraine and the man behind sending his employees to secure…

    Ares

    Am I the only one who think this worked in Putin’s favor? Putin was attempting to call for a cease fire just last week and the pro-Russian…

    Judyw

    Donetsk proclaims itself parliamentary republic with two official languages.”he ?onstitution of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s…

     

    • ———————–

    A version of this article appears in print on May 16, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Workers Quiet Unrest in Cities in East Ukraine.

    ———============================———

    Related Coverage

     

    • Villagers atop a destroyed Ukrainian Army armored personnel carrier on the outskirts of Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine.

      Talks on Ukraine Crisis Open in Kiev Without Representation for Separatists

    • The Vladivostok warship, one of two ships ordered by the Russian Army, in France last week.

      France’s Sale of 2 Ships to Russians Is Ill-Advised, U.S. Warns –

    ###

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

     

    Here’s what’s going on at the White House today.
    The White House, Washington

    DAILY SNAPSHOT
    Friday, May 16, 2014

    Featured
    “The Faces of Nearly 3,000 Innocent Souls”Yesterday, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum opened its doors to the families of those who lost their lives in the 2001 attacks, as well as the first responders and recovery workers that helped save the lives of others that day.

    “Here, at this memorial, this museum, we come together,” said President Obama. “We look into the faces of nearly 3,000 innocent souls — men and women and children of every race, every creed, and every corner of the world. … Here we tell their story, so that generations yet unborn will never forget.”

    Read more of the President’s remarks at yesterday’s dedication.

    Read more about the 9/11 museum dedication ceremony.

     

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the National September 11 Memorial & Museum dedication ceremony in New York, N.Y., May 15, 2014.

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the National September 11 Memorial & Museum dedication ceremony in New York, N.Y., May 15, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

     

     

    President Obama said that the site is now a “sacred place of healing and of hope.”

    “Here, at this memorial, this museum, we come together.  We stand in the footprints of two mighty towers, graced by the rush of eternal waters.  We look into the faces of nearly 3,000 innocent souls — men and women and children of every race, every creed, and every corner of the world.  We can touch their names and hear their voices and glimpse the small items that speak to the beauty of their lives.  A wedding ring.  A dusty helmet.  A shining badge.

    Here we tell their story, so that generations yet unborn will never forget.  Of coworkers who led others to safety.  Passengers who stormed a cockpit.  Our men and women in uniform who rushed into an inferno.  Our first responders who charged up those stairs.  A generation of servicemembers — our 9/11 Generation — who have served with honor in more than a decade of war.  A nation that stands tall and united and unafraid — because no act of terror can match the strength or the character of our country.  Like the great wall and bedrock that embrace us today, nothing can ever break us; nothing can change who we are as Americans.”

    In his remarks, the President also told the story of Welles Crowther, a young man who gave his own life in order to save others:

    “On that September morning, Alison Crowther lost her son Welles.  Months later, she was reading the newspaper — an article about those final minutes in the towers.  Survivors recounted how a young man wearing a red handkerchief had led them to safety.  And in that moment, Alison knew.  Ever since he was a boy, her son had always carried a red handkerchief.  Her son Welles was the man in the red bandana.

    Welles was just 24 years old, with a broad smile and a bright future.  He worked in the South Tower, on the 104th floor. He had a big laugh, a joy of life, and dreams of seeing the world.  He worked in finance, but he had also been a volunteer firefighter.  And after the planes hit, he put on that bandana and spent his final moments saving others.

    Three years ago this month, after our SEALs made sure that justice was done, I came to Ground Zero.  And among the families here that day was Alison Crowther.  And she told me about Welles and his fearless spirit, and she showed me a handkerchief like the one he wore that morning.

    And today, as we saw on our tour, one of his red handkerchiefs is on display in this museum.  And from this day forward, all those who come here will have a chance to know the sacrifice of a young man who — like so many — gave his life so others might live.”

    “Those we lost live on in us,” said the President. “In the families who love them still. In the friends who remember them always. And in a nation that will honor them, now and forever.”

    ——————-

    The President kept his words tight and dignified without mentioning the perpetrators, but we allow ourselves to be more outspoken and remind our readers that the Bin Ladens are products of our insistence on using their Saudi Arabia as a mere oil-source, and do not dare to talk of human rights or other such banalities as democracy. We also would never speak up against religious Islamic Arab racism as long as the Arab world just persists in harming their own. It is only when they step out of line and harm American or Israeli citizens that we wake up – but still continue to buy their oil and gas.

    Now, while we mourn the civilized world’s victims “of all races and creeds” as per the 9/11 beast-made cataclysm – our papers talk of a “Black Bin Laden” by the name of Abubakar Shrkau, the boss of the Islamic Terror-group Boko Haram who has it out against the Christian Nigerians – killing them and abducting their daughters. This is no less then a “cleansing” operation in the Islamic World, and the results are clear in the Middle East and are now being extended to Africa – this along the “oil-road” – be it in Sudan or Nigeria.

    When will the US and the EU finally realize that energy is not a synonym for oil?

    If Climate Change, and now also the fate of the Ukraine are no eye openers – what will ever awaken a dormant US Congress or a dormant EU Parliament that can think only oil and gas?

    On 9/11 2001, the day the UN General Assembly was to start their meetings, I was supposed to participate and being inducted at a ringing of the Peace Bell. Obviously, looking at the clouds of dust hovering over down-town, that were visible even at the 42 Street at the UN, the event was postponed by several days, and when held it was more like a wake not an inspiration. I, and everyone involved in this, will never forget or forgive. (PJ)

     

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

    And from today’s mail from The Council of Foreign Relations:

    Crisis in Nigeria

    Why One Nigerian Crisis Attracted Notoriety

    John Campbell

    Boko Haram’s kidnapping of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria has claimed more international attention than any other atrocity of the ongoing insurgency. A Boko Haram warlord’s video claiming responsibility for the kidnapping and threatening to, in effect, sell the girls into slavery appears to have fed the media storm, tying the tragedy to larger issues of human trafficking, child marriage, and girls’ education. Read more on Africa in Transition »

    Beating Boko Haram

    Isobel Coleman and Sigrid von Wendel

    Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates to “secular education is a sin,” has been committing heinous attacks across Nigeria’s north for years, frequently targeting schools. To fight back, Abuja must double down on education even as it rethinks its counterterrorism strategy. Read more on ForeignAffairs.com »

    Get Girls’ Education Out of the Crosshairs

    Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

    Education has long been in the crosshairs of extremists, but only recently came to light via Boko Haram’s kidnapping of nearly three hundred school girls. More than seventy million school-aged children do not attend elementary school. This statistic will need to change to ensure prosperity, stability, and security. Read the op-ed »

    Will the “Civilized World” do anything if the present rage subsides? (PJ)

    ###

    Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 8th, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

    from: yara-mailing@brama.com

    We have a beautiful show Dark Night Bright Stars

     

    in Kyiv May 9-11, in New York May 18, 2014

     

     

    In 1858 the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko was set free after 10 years imprisonment.

     

    He met the great African American actor Ira Aldridge and drew his portrait.

     

     

     

     

    created by Yara Arts Group with Julian Kytasty, Maria Pleshkevich, Mykola Shkaraban,
    Jeremy Tardy, Barak & Shona Tucker – conceived & directed by Virlana Tkacz

     

     

    Tell your friends in and in Kyiv May 9, 10 & 117 PM at the Kurbas Theatre Center in Kyiv

     

    Reservations (050) 385-2758

     

    in New York May 18 at 3:30 PM  the Ukrainian Museum in New York

     

    Details & photos  www.brama.com/yara

     

    Virlana

     

    ###

    Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 7th, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

     

     

    Europe

     

    Kiev Struggles to Break Russia’s Grip on Gas Flow.

     

     

    Photo

    A natural gas worker in Chaslovtsy, the largest transit point in Ukraine for Gazprom exports to the European Union. Credit Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times

     

    CHASLOVTSY, Ukraine — As Ukraine tries to contain a pro-Russian insurgency convulsing its eastern region, a perhaps more significant struggle for the country hinges on what happens beneath the ground here in a placid woodland in the far west, on the border with Slovakia.

    This is where about $20 billion worth of Russian natural gas flows each year through huge underground pipelines to enter Europe after a nearly 3,000-mile journey from Siberia. It is also, the pro-European government in Kiev believes, where Ukraine has a chance to finally break free from the grip of Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled energy behemoth.

    In an effort to do this, Ukraine has for more than a year been pushing hard to start so-called reverse-flow deliveries of gas from Europe via Slovakia to Ukraine, thus blunting repeated Russian threats to turn off the gas tap.

    An agreement signed last week between Slovak and Ukrainian pipeline operators opened the way for modest reverse-flow deliveries of gas from Europe, where prices are much lower than those demanded by Gazprom for its direct sales to Ukraine.

    But the deal, brokered by the European Union and nudged along by the White House, fell so far short of what Ukraine had been lobbying for that it left a nagging question: Why has it been so difficult to prod tiny Slovakia, a European Union member, to get a technically simple and, for Ukraine and for the credibility of the 28-nation bloc, vitally important venture off the ground?

    Some cite legal and technical obstacles, others politics and fear of crossing the Kremlin, but all agree that a major obstacle has been the power and reach of Gazprom, which serves as a potent tool for advancing Russia’s economic and geopolitical interests, and is ultimately beholden to President Vladimir V. Putin.

     ————————————

    ———————————-

    Gazprom not only dominates the gas business across the former Soviet Union, but also enjoys considerable clout inside the European Union, which gets roughly a third of its gas imports from Russia and is itself vulnerable to Russian pressure.

    Major Gas Lines

    Uzhgorod and Chaslovtsy are the most West-Side dots in above map of The UKRAINE.

    All the same, a fog of mystery surrounds the reluctance of Slovakia to open up its gas transit corridor — through which Russia pumps a large portion of its gas to Europe — for large reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine.

    Built during the Soviet era to link Siberian gas fields with European markets, Slovak pipelines, according to Ukrainian officials and experts, could move up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas from Europe to Ukraine a year — more than all the gas Ukraine is expected to import from Russia this year.

    Instead, the majority state-owned Slovak company that runs the system, Eustream, has offered only a small, long-disused subsidiary pipeline that still needs engineering work before it can carry gas to Ukraine. Once the work is finished in October, Eustream will provide just a tenth of the gas Ukraine has been looking for from Europe. The company says that small amount can be increased sharply later.

    Here in Chaslovtsy, in southwestern Ukraine, where technicians from Ukraine’s pipeline company, Ukrtransgaz, and Gazprom monitor the flow of Russian gas into Slovakia, the Ukrainian head of the facility, Vitaly Lukita, said he wondered if gas would ever flow the other way.

    “We are all ready here, but I don’t know why the Slovaks are taking so long,” Mr. Lukita said. “Everyone has been talking about this for a very long time, but nothing has happened.”

    Andriy Kobolev, the board chairman of Naftogaz, Ukraine’s state gas company, said he was particularly mystified by the recalcitrance of Eustream because in 2011 the company had put forward the idea of using spare capacity in its trunk pipelines for reverse-flow supplies to Ukraine.

    He said the Slovaks had rejected this option in recent negotiations, citing secret contracts with Gazprom. He added that he did not know what the problem was exactly, because he had not been allowed to see the contracts.

    Eustream executives declined repeated requests for interviews. Vahram Chuguryan, the company’s spokesman, declined to comment on the apparent change of heart or on whether it was related to an ownership shuffle in early 2013, when a group of wealthy Czech and Slovak businesspeople purchased a 49 percent stake in Eustream. At the time, Czech news media speculated that they were acting as a stalking horse for Gazprom.

    Daniel Castvaj, a spokesman for Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding, the company that made the purchase, denied Ukrainian assertions that Eustream has sought to limit reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine, describing these as “not only untrue but nonsensical” since the pipeline operator, which makes its money off transit fees, has a strong commercial interest in boosting flows regardless of direction.

    He said he was unaware of any 2011 offer by Eustream to use the trunk transit system to deliver gas to Ukraine, but added that such an option has always been technically and legally impossible “without the consent of Gazprom,” which has not been given.

    European Union officials, frustrated by months of haggling and worried about possible legal problems raised by Gazprom’s contracts with Slovakia, hailed last week’s modest deal as offering at least an end to the logjam. José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, described it as a “breakthrough” but also called it a “first step,” signaling hope that Slovakia may, over time, allow more substantial reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine.

    Ukraine’s dependence on Gazprom to heat homes and power factories — it buys more than half its supplies from Russia — has not only left the country vulnerable to sudden price changes, which fluctuate depending on whether Moscow wants to punish or favor the authorities in Kiev, but has also helped fuel the rampant corruption that has addled successive Ukrainian governments.

    When Gazprom raised the price of gas to Ukraine by 80 percent last month and threatened to cut off supplies if Kiev did not pay up, Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, blasted Moscow for “aggression against Ukraine.”

    “Apart from the Russian Army and guns, they decided to use one of the most efficient tools, which are political and economic pressure,” he said.

       Ukraine Crisis in Maps

    By pushing to buy the bulk of its gas from Europe instead of from Gazprom and murky middlemen endorsed by Gazprom, Ukraine hopes to protect what it sees as a dangerously exposed flank from Russian attack.

    The best-known of those middlemen, the Ukrainian businessman Dmytro Firtash, was detained in Austria in April and has been fighting extradition to the United States.

    “Imagine where you’d be today if you were able to tell Russia: Keep your gas,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told Ukrainian legislators during a visit to Kiev last month. “It would be a very different world you’d be facing today.”

     

    Nearly all the gas Washington and Brussels would like to get moving into Ukraine from Europe originally came from Russia, which pumps gas westward across Ukraine, into Slovakia and then on to customers in Germany and elsewhere. Once the gas is sold, however, Gazprom ceases to be its owner and loses its power to set the terms of its sale.

     

    Russia is currently demanding $485 per thousand cubic meters for the gas Ukraine buys directly — instead of the price of $268 it offered the Ukrainian government under President Viktor F. Yanukovych before his ouster — while “Russian” gas sold via Europe, which should be more expensive because of additional transit fees, costs at least $100 per unit less.

    Russia denies using gas as a political weapon and says all Ukraine needs to do to secure a stable supply at a reasonable price is pay its bills on time and clear its debts, which Gazprom said total $3.5 billion.

    Ukraine has already started taking reverse-flow deliveries from Poland and Hungary. But the quantities, around 2 billion cubic meters last year, have been too small to make much of a difference. Only Slovakia has the pipeline capacity to change the balance of forces.

    “We have been struggling for a long time to convince them to find a solution,” said Mr. Kobolev, the Ukrainian gas chief. “We have now identified the problem, which was obvious from the beginning — restrictions placed by Gazprom.”

    Ukraine’s energy minister, Yuri Prodan, dismissed Gazprom’s legal and technical arguments as a red herring. “I think the problem is political. We don’t see any real objective obstacles to what we have been proposing,” he said.

    Opposition politicians in Slovakia, noting that 51 percent of Eustream belongs to the Slovak state, attribute the pipeline company’s stand to the country’s prime minister, Robert Fico, a center-left leader who has sometimes seemed more in sync with Moscow’s views than those of the European Union.

    “Fico thinks that it is necessary to be very nice and polite to Mr. Putin,” Mikulas Dzurinda, a former prime minister of Slovakia, said in a telephone interview. “This is the heritage of old communists in a new era: The big guys are still in Moscow,” he said.

    At a news conference in April, Mr. Fico insisted that Slovakia was “really ready” to help assist reverse-flow deliveries to Ukraine. But he added, “We naturally protect our own interests” and will not risk punishment by Gazprom for moves that violate Slovakia’s own deals with the Russian energy giant.

    Slovakia depends on Gazprom for around 60 percent of its gas supplies and worries that upsetting the Russian company would lead to higher prices for itself or even cuts in supplies.

    Alexander Medvedev, the head of Gazprom’s export arm, said he had no problem in principle with reverse-flow supplies to Ukraine but said such arrangements “require the agreement of all parties involved,” including Gazprom.

    “Normally, you can’t arrange a physical reverse flow without a new pipeline,” he added, indicating Gazprom’s opposition to the use of existing Slovak pipelines.

    Watching over workers in Chaslovtsy as they laid new underground pipes, Ivan Shayuk, a Ukrainian engineer for Ukrtransgaz, shook his head when asked why the scheme was taking so long.

    “What is the problem? The problem is simple — Putin,” he said.

    ——————————–

    Hana de Goeij contributed reporting from Prague, and Alison Smale from Berlin.

    A version of this article appears in print on May 5, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Kiev Struggles to Break Russia’s Grip on Gas Flow.

    ———————————

    comment from: orbit7er

    Here is another piece of the farce being pushed by the plutocratic elite in denial of the realities of Peak Oil and Climate Change. To ship…

    And you know – the comment is right – it is those that refuse to let Europe move away from the use of gas that keep watch the umbilical cord to Russia is not broken. This umbilical cord to an unpredictable Russia is the undoing of the EU, and EU member-States that stand up for to hang on this umbilical cord are the un-doers of Europe.
    Strange, as it might seem, Austria may be one of these European States that like Slovakia take real interest in conserving the is. Our eyes opened up Sunday May 2nd thanks to two articles in the Austrian news-papers:

    (a)  “A Pipeline that Splits Europe” by Veronika Eschbacher, in the venerable and historic Wiener Zeitung, and

    (b)  “How Russia wants to Renew its Might via Gas” by Guenther Strobl in the respected Business pages of Der Standard

    Both articles give the facts about the Austrian National Oil Company OEMV, that is in the process of planing with the Russian Gazprom to build a new pipeline – “The Southern Stream” – that will shoot directly under the Black Sea, from Russia’s Caucasus near Socchi, to Bulgaria’s port at Varna. Then from there go directly through Serbia and Hungar to Austria – the town of Baumgarten on the border with Slovakia. The achievement here is that this line does not touvh the Ukraine, Moldova, Poland or Rumania which are inclined to be most reluctant to stay under the Russian boot.

    So where in this is the Austria of the very active young Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz who is laboring at finding an amicable solution in the conflict between The Ukraine and Russia?

    Will an Austrian Government that listens to its own Oil Company be so influenced by it that it works against the better interests in Europe – that try to distance themselves from too close relationship with Russia and understand that Energy Independence in Europe means independence of imports of gas – specially if this gas originates in Russia – pipeline A or Pipeline B – there is no inherent difference in this?

    The media has yet to explain this, and the politicians running in Austria for the European Parliament have yet to mention it.   Absolutely – not a single politician in Austria has yet had the courage to say that OEMV is not the source of Foreign policy or the guru of futurology and sustainability for Austria, the EU …  for Europe.

    ————————–

    May 5, 2014, at the Wirtschaftsmuseum (the Economy Museum) at Vogelsanggassee 36, 1050 Vienna, Austria, a panel chaired by Dr. Patrick Horvath, included the Editor of the Wiener Zeitung, Mr. Reinhard Goeweil and titled “EU-Elections 2014 – The Role of the Media” gave me the opportunity to raise the importance of the OEMV in Austrian Government policy and the fact that the media just does not point it out. Dr. Horvath, PhD in Social Studies of Communication, is Head of the Union of Scientists dealing with Economic Policy (WIWIPOL) and the panel included as well Mr. Wolfgang Greif (a last minute addition) – Head of the Europe Section at the Employees and the Employers involved in Company Boards and wrote the book on the subject fighting for the right of the Employees to get information about their Companies; Professor Fritz Hausjell of the Vienna University Faculty of Journalism; and Mr. Wolfgang Mitterlehner – Head of Communication at the Viennese Workers’ Union Central Office.

    Professor Hausjell pointed out that the Wienner Zeitung is the best provider of information among the Austrian Media and this is something I argue as well, so it made it easier for me to formulate my question by starting with my own congratulation with the paper’s editor right there on the panel. In effect, founded in 1703 under the name “Vienna Diarium” the WZ is worldwide the oldest newspaper still in print(!) (it appears now 5 times a week with Friday and Sunday excluded and carries the official announcements of use in legal Austria); Mr. Goeweil is editor since 2009 and by background a writer on economics.

    As excited as I was by the paper’s expose last weekend of the “Southern Stream” pipeline plans intended to keep the Russian gas flowing to Europe under conditions that exclude the Ukraine, Moldova, and Rumania, while using Russian friendly Serbia, and safeguarding the position of Slavic Slovakia – a multibillion project that might become active by 2017, but can kill all development of Renewable Energy in Europe right now, I realized that further involvement in the subject, even by a paper like WZ, will not come as long as even the good people of that paper take for granted the oil lobby arguments that there is not possible to replace the gas because there is not enough sun, wind, hydro-power etc. If nothing else, the Fossil and Nuclear lobbies have numbed the inquisitiveness of even the good media in the EU States, like they did in the US. Why not bring Jigar Shah over here and have him talk of CLIMATE WEALTH?  Why are not more active businesses that stand to flourish ? Are we the only ones to still say YES WE CAN?

    ———————————–

    And Vienna is again the Center of Europe!

    May 5-6, 2014 the Council of Europe is meeting in Vienna. 30 Foreign Ministers, including those of Russia and the Ukraine, are meeting here under the chairmanship of Mr. Thorbjorn Jagland, the second most popular politician of Norway and a person that has held all possible political positions in Norway and many in all of Europe who is trying to manage the States of all of Europe with the help of the resourceful Austrian Sebastian Kurz.

    Norway is not part of the EU and is an outside gas supplier to the EU. Interesting that Mr. Kurz started his meetings on Sunday with meeting first the current Norwegian Foreign Minister – was this a line-up on gas policy? Is that what the New York Times had in mind when publishing their article? Is it all about lining up interests with Russia and Norway so gas continues to flow in those pipelines and The Ukraine pushed aside, isolated and neutralized?

    We shall see and so far as Europe is concerned, we will keep a close eye on these developments because in them we see
    a make or break not just for the Ukraine but even more important – for the European Energy Policy that some, like the Prime Ministers of Poland and Slovakia, think of as just a gas policy.

     

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    Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 3rd, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

     

    PLEASE VOTE NEVERTHELESS !
    WE ALL KNOW THAT THE FOLLOWING IS TRUE BUT BY NOT VOTING AT ALL YOU DO NOT ACHIEVE A THING BEYOND ASSURING THAT DECISIONS WILL BE TAKEN WITHOUT ANY CONSIDERATION TO  WHAT YOU HAVE IN MIND. IF YOU VOTE YOU MIGHT OPEN THE DOOR FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

     

    This is the eighth elections to the European Parliament – and perhaps the forst really important election as it will lead to the establishment of the FIRST PRESIDENT of the EU.
    There are many subjects of first line importance that will have to be decided by the new Parliament but some of the most important topics are not mentioned in the election campaigns – this because they might be too controversial  for the constituencies.
    We will deal here just with one such topic – the need for an European energy policy that is not based on imports of gas.The insecurity of Russian supplies ought to teach Brussels that best energy policy is one of efficiency in the use of energy and supplies that are local and from Renewable Energy sources. If this lesson is not forthcoming in days of constraints applied who is full enough to believe in promisses that such policies will be made posible in a calmer future – if this ever comes?
    Just see:

    Russian gas supplies ‘not guaranteed’, EU commissioner warns.

    The EUobserver May 2, 2014.

    By Valentina Pop

     

    BRUSSELS – A first mediation attempt by the EU between Russia and Ukraine on their gas price dispute on Friday (2 May) in Warsaw ended with no results other than the willingness to meet again.

    • Guenther Oettinger at a press conference after meeting the Russian and Ukrainian energy ministers (Photo: European Commission)

    “It is with concern that we see the security of supply for end consumers in EU and non-EU states like Ukraine is not guaranteed,” EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger told press after the meeting.

    The energy ministers of Ukraine and Russia, for the first time at a table since the annexation of Crimea and the Russia-backed separatist movements in eastern Ukraine, decided to hold separate press points rather than join Oettinger in a common press conference.

    Still, when asked about the atmosphere in the meeting, Oettinger responded that “we are all adults” and emphasised the willingness of both sides to meet again mid-May.

    “The European Commission will stabilize Naftogaz [Ukraine's state-owned gas company] and Ukraine and will be a fair mediator for justified and fair gas prices,” Oettinger said.

    At the core of the current dispute is how much Ukraine owes and has to pay for current and future gas deliveries from Russia: 485 US dollars per cubic meter of gas as Gazprom demands or roughly half of it, the price Kiev used to pay before the political turmoil that started late last year.

    For the Russian side, the price is “clear, set in the contract signed until 2019″ and any negotiations are “odd”.

    Russian energy minister Alexander Novak told press after the meeting that Ukraine has not paid for any gas it imported in the last quarter of 2013 and the first three months of this year.

    “There is a 16 May deadline when an invoice will be issued to pay for the gas by 31 May and to prepay for the consumption in June. If by June these payments are not made, Gazprom will have the possibility to restrict supplies to Ukraine,” Novak said.

    He added that European supplies should not be affected as they are paid for until September 2014. Any disruptions in gas flows to the EU during this time should only be blamed on Ukraine, if it “illegally” taps these supplies or diverts them to storage.

    Novak also questioned plans by the EU to reverse the flow of gas and supply Ukraine with Russian gas via Slovakia.

    “If such contracts are executed, we’ll look at them very attentively and reserve our right to address courts and institutions of arbitration,” he said.

    As for Ukraine, its energy minister Yuriy Prodan said the doubling of the gas price by Russia was “discriminatory” and “abusive” and that Kiev will take the matter to the international court of arbitration in Stockholm.

    “It is possible that in arbitration we can change the volume of our debt to Gazprom, possibly no debt at all,” Prodan said.

    He insisted that “Ukraine is a reliable partner, a transit country and it will fulfil all its obligations to its European partners.”

    Ukraine is the main transit country for Russian gas supplies to EU countries, with previous price disputes having translated into gas cuts at the height of cold winters, leaving citizens in Bulgaria and Slovakia in the cold.

    The situation has since improved, with increased reserves and the capacity to reverse the gas flow from less-dependent EU countries to the ones totally relying on Russian imports.

    But with pro-Russian separatists shooting down two Ukrainian helicopters and with Russian President Vladimir Putin declaring a Geneva peace deal “no longer valid”, the chances of a solution to the gas dispute are low.

    Related   —  Ukraine signs gas deal with Slovakia.

    ——————————————–

    Above is a fine description of the situation when all what Brussels is ready to talk about is the supply of new gas to old pipelines – “in reverse.”  we find this ridiculous because we did not hear of any of the parties running in the elections for the European Parliament saying in full light that Energy Policy is not a synonim for Gas Policy. Where is the call for investment in a long term solution that makes the gas unneeded? YES, THEY CAN – AND IT IS POSSIBLE TO DO IT!

    In Austria we follow this topic closely by monitoring the position of the top people in the various parties – and even having picked up in private this topic with them – we found something that until today I used to call a Chicken’s attitude.

    I said that “until today” and this because my eyes opened up when the papers today  wrote about -
    “A PIPELINE SPLITS EUROPE” – it is the Austrian Oil Company OEMV that has a contract with the Russian GAZPROM to build the SOUTH STREAM PIPELINE to bring Russian Gas under the Black Sea to Bulgaria – and from there via Serbia, Hungary to a branch to Austria -  that will link to Central Europe,  and another branch to Slovenia – that will supply Italy and West Europe.

    The First leg is to follow the route: Bergowaja near Sochi in Russia – all the length of the Black Sea to Varna in Bulgaria -Pleven in Bulgaria – Subotica on the Serbian/Hungarian border – to Baumgarten in Lower Austria.

    The idea is to bypass the Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania. This is an answer the Russians think to apply to their relations with their pesky Ukrainian neighbors,  and Austria is playing the European partner in this scheme.  With OEMV having strong connections to the Austrian political system – voila – the reason the Austrian parties are not keen to do more then just speak with low voice about true ENERGY INDEPENDENCE. I find this very disturbing, and though I do not want to be the first to point fingers – suffice to say that this might undermine many good positions Austria has in its attempt to help solve in a logic way the Ukraine/Russian controversy – something that becomes impossible if the government ends up speaking for the National Oil Company.

    ###

    Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

     

    TRANSPARENCY: In Austria – meetings of the Cabinet with the Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor happen with the Press present in the ante-room and waiting for a Follow-up Sit-down Press-Conference at the End of the Meetings – and immediate information can be forth-coming.

    On Wednesday April 23rd I had the honor to witness such an event. It was on the preparation of the budget under directives that in order to hold the increase in the deficit there must be a decrease in expenditures at all ministries. The most publicly controversial Ministry in this is the Ministry of Education (Learning, Art, and Culture). That domain is held now by Ms. Gabriele Heinish-Hosek of  the Social Democratic Party of Austria (OESP) that is the Party of  Chancellor Werner Faymann. She came early and met people of the Media to clarify that she will have to save 117 million Euro.

    She was at first the Party Spokesperson for Women and Youth (2001-2009) – then in government  Austrian women’s and civil service minister (2009-2013) – and with the establishment of the newest government in December 2013 she got this new position at Education in clear knowledge she will be on the firing line. 

    In Austria, like in the US, Education is an area where conservatives and progressives are bound to clash. Will there be a strong central government position and a National education system, or will anyone with a stake in the formulation of the minds of the young get a piece of the action – and his hand in the pot of money?

    Like in the US, the more Conservative Party – the Austrian Peoples Party – is the second largest party but holds State Governorships, and in the Austrian Federal Coalition the Vice-Chancellor position with Finance Minister Michael Spindelegger. They can be counted with being inclined to see a more decentralized education system with more power to State Governments.

    On the other side, teachers’ unions will push for jobs – large in numbers and small in working hours with great pay for extra-hours. Much of this is waste and the more Conservative political elements want no part of it. These are universal facts – good in Austria like in the US – only that here they play above the table and not under the table.

    After the “entrance of the actors” suite – which included mainly the Education Minister and the Finance Minister, we were left to wait for the end of the meetings that went on with closed doors. Then the Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor  came out and we all sat down for the Press Conference. Next to me was sitting the proud correspondent for the Egyptian Al-Ahram. Not trying to play it up – I will acknowledge it was a learning experience for both of us. (Today I read that in a political trial 683 members of the Muslim Brotherhood Party were condemned to death without any proof that they were involved in a real act of crime. I did not ask my new friend about rights and budgeting in his country – we just watched both of us how this is done in Austria.)

    The SPOE Chancellor spoke first and the VOEP Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister spoke after him. When questions were allowed both answered in the same order. The general feeling was one of agreement, but clear difference of nuances were present to please the separate constituencies. At times there were also clearer differences. The subject is not easy – neither were the other topics that were loped at the Head of State by the eager, but well behaved, and friendly, Media. Present was also a group of Students of Journalism sponsored by the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, that came as observers to learn how this is done.

    To the point:

    The Chancellor said that new full-day schools have to be built but the total budget on education must be reduced. Austria is now the second most expensive country in Europe, and the third most expensive among the OECD countries, when it comes to expenses per student.  Austria does not aim to be the most expensive country in its education system but the one with best education, he said.  He praised the Minister that has proposed she continues to meet with all stakeholders and will come back at next meeting of the cabinet with concrete proposals. The Chancellor promised there will be savings due to improvements in management, but there will be new expenditures where they are needed. He noted that 50 Million Euro were set aside by the government in the previous budget for education, science and research that were not utilized by the State Governments. These will be retracted. The total amount of money that will be spent in the 2015 budget will be equal to the amount spent in 2014 despite the decrease in budgeting. Expanding Full Day Schools to 2018 will continue as planned in the past. He noted that the 2009 – 2013 raise in the budget was 13% and that did not lead to the wished results. The criticism of the system was the undertone.  Also it seems that some of the States just were not interested in executing the Federal Program.

    {It seemed to me that this was it where the dog was buried – we will get back to it when I will report further on about a symposium that went on the whole day at the “ArbeitsKammer” or the building where the employees have their seat.}

    But now let me continue with the Press Event at the Parliament building, today, Tuesday April 29, 2014 8 am.

    This was a Cabinet Meeting before the Chancellor submits the the budget to Parliament. It seems that it was a very short formal meeting because after 10 minutes the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor, who happens now to be the Finance Minister, came to meet the Press.

    The Chancellor opened by telling us that the “cake of income” became larger so there is a plus in income but that money will be saved rather then turned over to the increased expenses in the budget. He still talks of efficiency in expenses and of investments where it creates jobs.

    The Chancellor said that he is thankful to the Vice-Chancellor for having taken over the leadership on the shaping of th budget     (after all – that is his nominal job – isn’t it?) and passed on to a different subject - “The intensity of the discussions on Sanctions in the Ukraine/Russia arena could be used instead in finding a way out as suggested by the Foreign Minister of Germany.” He did not mention his own Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz who is now in Iran  who has been the first to say that Ukraine can be stabilized peacefully when all sides interests are taken into account – including the Russians – and via elections a federal State created covering these interests. The papers today say that a conference can be called for Vienna where above can be discussed.

    We will first react to the Ukraine issue by quoting from Fitch:  “Vienna’s private bankers and real estate agents say they are now on the front line of escalating tension over the future of Ukraine after the European Union imposed sanctions on Russia and threatened to tighten them further.  Austrian Finance Minister Michael Spindelegger said yesterday that the economic effect on his country of new measures “won’t be negligible.”

    “It has become a challenge,” said Klaus Requat, who runs investment banking at Meinl Bank AG based in the Austrian capital. “The Ukraine crisis is especially aggravating because it came at a time when investors began to notice positive effects in the region. Now, uncertainty rules again.”

    Business with eastern neighbors flourished after the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, when Viennese lenders opened up in Moscow and Kiev and wealthy Russians and Ukrainians sought havens in the city’s banks and property market. With 38 billion euros ($52 billion) of “exposure” to Russia, Austrian bankers have the most at stake of any State in Europe, the US or in Asia.”

     Further – looking at Ukraina we found: “the two large Austrian Banks still active in the Ukraine (a third one, Erste Bank, wisely shut up shop in Kiev in late 2012).

    The two banks concerned are Raiffeisen International (OTCPK:RAIFY) and Bank Austria, which together have exposure of 8 billion euro (approx. $10.9 bn.) in the Ukraine. This is only a small percentage of their total loan book, but still, it is quite a bit of money for  Austrian Banks. Guess what – 70% of the credit extended to Ukrainian borrowers is denominated in foreign currencies. Right now there is no foreign currency against which the hryvnia is not crashing. Evidently, European banks have learned nothing from foreign currency lending debacles suffered elsewhere, from Hungary (where the government forcibly converted the loans into Forint and saddled the banks with huge losses), to the extremely popular Swiss franc loans they have extended just about everywhere they are doing business.

    In the context of the once highly popular CHF loans, the customers the banks favored with these “excellent opportunities to save money” were as a rule not sophisticated financial market wizards, and so were relying on the “expert advice” dispensed along with the banks’ sales pitch. They were told that the Swiss franc would always remain stable against the euro. Since Swiss interest rates were considerably lower than euro interest rates at the time most of these loans were peddled, there was “free money” waiting to be picked up.  And then the crisis hit, and suddenly the Swiss Franc became worth a lot more.  Instead of saving money, borrowers suddenly found themselves in dire straits.”

    Now part of the Austrian Budget Problems are actually the Hypobank problem. This is something that the government had some original involvement with but then the main problem came about when the government needed funds to save those banks and money became unavailable to the regular budget needs. This is part of the large chunk of ice that hides under the iceberg-tip we view when listening to the budget debate. Some in the opposition – like the Green Party – want to see the establishment of a function of a Parliamentary Investigative Committee to be operated by the MINORITY PARTIES as part of their democratic obligation to be watchdogs of government.

    I just had last night the opportunity to sit in at THE STANDARD newspaper’s organized debate on: “MORE DEMOCRACY VIA INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEES AND PETITIONS?” (U-Ausschuesse und Petitionen). The very high level of the debaters – the Heads of the Green, Black (OEVP – the Vice-Chancelor’s party), and Red (SPOE – the Chancelor’s party) Parties – Ms. Eva Glawischnig, Mr. Reinhold Lopatka, and Mr. Andreas Schieder – as well as a Member of the Parliament who belongs to the surprisingly ascending new Pink Party (the NEOS) – Ms. Beate Meinl-Reisinger – and Journalist and co-author of the recently published excellent volume – “Supermarkt Europa” (Europe Super Market) – Mr. Robert Misik – made sure there was a highly principled debate in EU context with Germany as a model. This prompted me to speak up and suggest they look at what one Joe McCarthy in the name of a minority did to the US Congress and how he managed to destroy decent lives. Surely the subject deserve much thoughts but it must lead to very well limited rights of digging into a witnesses soul when hoping to unearth unknown but irrelevant facts.  I mention this here in order to say that my initial enthusiasm when starting to write this original article led me to see also that many in Austria believe that my optimism is not well placed.

    After this digression – let us get back to Vice-Chancellor Spindelegger’s statement following the Chancellor: “I will today speak of the budget in a larger presentation – so I cannot go into details now – I beg for your understanding. We are having the figures with the Parliament.”

    Then he proceeded saying the basic questions are Ukraine/Russia and Ukraine besides Russia to become the reality.

    To a softball question he answered that the big reforms are already in the budget as started in 2012 – Management, Pensions, Health Reforms are on the way even if not seen immediately.

    This budget is presented today also to the EU that is looking very carefully at it – the deficits – we will zero them by 2016 and will be very well bellow the EU mark of 3% of the GDP for now.

    There was no second question – so I decided I will ask one – but the lady that handled the event seemed to be happy to end it there.

    What I had prepared was to the point- but not on the list as released to papers ahead of the event. I would have wanted to ask about where in the budget appear investment in the Energy Sector that ought to be intended to free Austria and the EU of the Russian gas umbilical cord. There is nothing hinting to it in the budget lines and I did pick up in rivate with the Finance Minister and former Foreign Minister on this at the April 23rd event. But I guess my question will wait – and I know the Minister knows that the question will come up.

     

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    Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

    PERIL

    The New York Times,   April 29th, 2014

    www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000002847044/nuclear-power8217s-promise-and-peril.html?emc=edit_th_20140429&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=47157637

    More than three decades after the accident at Three Mile Island cast a shadow on the atomic dream, is America again ready to give nuclear energy a chance?

    ###

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

     

    Report: Ukraine Synagogue Firebombed Just Days After Distribution of Anti-Semitic Flyers (VIDEO)

    April 20, 2014 12:00 pm 21 comments
    A vandal firebombing the Noklayev Synagogue, in Ukraine, on April 19, 2014, as recorded by closed-circuit security cameras. Photo: Screenshot / Yisroel Gotlieb.

    A vandal firebombing the Nikolayev Synagogue, in Ukraine, on April 19, 2014, as recorded by closed-circuit security cameras. Photo: Screenshot / Yisroel Gotlieb.

    The Nikolayev Synagogue in Ukraine was reportedly firebombed by vandals at approximate 2 AM on Saturday morning, according to Chabad blog Shturem and closed-circuit footage of the attack, uploaded to YouTube at the weekend.

    The footage was posted by Yisroel Gotlieb, son of the city’s chief rabbi, Sholom Gotlieb.

    One firebomb was thrown at the door of the synagogue, which was unoccupied at the time, and another was lobbed at a window, according to the blog.

    The junior Gotleib told Shturem that “miraculously a person passing by the shul was equipped with a fire extinguisher, and immediately put out the fire that had erupted, preventing massive damage.”

    In February, the Giymat Rosa Synagogue, in Zaporizhia, southeast of Kiev, was also firebombed.

    Reports of rising anti-Semitism in the Ukraine after Russia’s recent occupation of Crimea were highlighted last week when fliers, reminiscent of the pogroms of a century ago, were distributed outside of a synagogue on Passover. The origin of the fliers is yet unknown, and debate has focused on whether they were from Russian or Ukrainian groups, from officials or designed to appear so, or if they were intended as some kind of a KGB-style subterfuge created to use anti-Semitism as a lever in the conflict.

    The fliers, distributed in Donetsk, were addressed to “Ukraine nationals of Jewish nationality,” alerting Jews to pay a fee to register their names on a list and to show documentation of property ownership, or face deportation.

    ————————————–

    From the 21 Comments

    • If one hair from one Jewish head will fall, the IDF will take good care of those anti-semities Bastards!! They really don’t know who are they dealing with?? What happend 70 years ago will NEVER happen again!!

    • What is it about this you don’t understand? Israel must always be there!

    • chaim yosef levi

      This behavior is expected from Ukrainians. The Breslovers must stop patronizing Ukraine by peregrinating there. Better rremove the remains of Rabbi Nachman and bury him in Israel.
      Stop going there to drink their Vodka and to use the Ukrainian hookers. Other jews must leave that G-d forsaken land.p

    • Many of us regrettably have such short memories. We should ask ourselves why so many concentration camp guards and auxiliary troops were Ukrainian and were often more ruthless than their German compatriots. This part of the world has been a hot bed of anti-semitism for centuries past and anti-Jewish animus remains well entrenched in the psyche of the populace. Not one Jew should have taken up residence in the Ukraine after the Second World War.

    • Adele Mischel MSW

      Those of us who went through the Holocaust, know from personal experience, when the ugly demon of anti-Semitism once again rears its head. The Ukraine is no longer a home for a proud people…the Jewish people.
      It is difficult to leave a homeland, but in this situation, the real homeland is Israel..

    • A message from On High to get out of there.

    • A message from On High to get out of therre.

    • I thought the flyer and all the antisemetic stuff from the Ukraine was fake. Ha–I do not want to say that I told you that those Ukranian bastards were bad, but I told you so.

      This is precisely why I have said from the beginning, that I hope the Ukraine-Russia situation becomes the same as the Iran-Iraq War–for 9 years. If you think this Ukranian firebombing of a synagogue is bad for Jews, you should only know what their hero–Bohdan Chmelnitzky did to the Jews in the 1600?s. A whole lot worse than the Nazis and Hitler–yet that mother f***** Chmelnitzky, is on their $5 bill today; and the Ukranians are obviously proud of him.

      The Russians and the Ukranians should all drop dead–and I will celebrate those events!!!

    • REMEMBER: The sad sacks who perpetrated this sick act were nursed by their mothers’…
      Cowardly perversion by a few with lesser brains. Decency…Respect was never their strong suit..

    • Lucille Kaplan

      Even if these events are sinister contrivances of Russian annexationists wanting to make ethnic Ukrainians look bad, the fact that either side, in this conflict, feels free to resort to anti-Semitism, and that both sides know full well that anti-Semitism catches on like wildfire in this region,confirms what others have already said here: That it is folly for Jews to remain in this part of Eastern Europe. The mass exterminations of Jews in the forests of Volhyn (including 2 of my sisters), often at the hands of Ukrainian Nazi collaborators, bespeaks what appears to be nearly a genetically programmed hatred of Jews, in that region. . .I wish it were otherwise. .The time to evacuate is now.

    • It is time to get out of any country were Jews lives are threaten, Israel is the homeland and today there are no excuses for a big tragedy. “Never Again means Never Again.” One more reason for Israel to remain a Jewish State…a Jewish Nation… a Jewish Country.

    • pity we did not have a sniper on place to shoot him down

    • This is precisely why Israel must be the Jewish homeland.

      • Dr. abraham Weizfeld

        Just one fascist and so many frightened chickens? My uncle Meyer Goldsheider did not run away, he fought the Nazi occupation as a partisan.

    • Not a moment too soon for Jews to leave this country that has persecuted Jews for over 100 years. Nothing will change there until the last one is out. Then the Ukrainians will be able to blame us anyway, but can’t hurt anyone. They murdered 100?s of thousands of Jews during WWII, why does anyone think this was a passing fad.

    • NOW IS THE TIME FOR JEWS TO MAKE ALYAH TO ISRAEL BEFORE ITS TO LATE

    • An Easter greeting perhaps?

    • It is time for the Jews to get out of Russia, the Ukraine and any of the countries in the former Soviet Union.

      • You only encourage other mindsets to add to the shame…As you sit smug else wear.  Not helpful in the least.

     

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    Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 15th, 2014
    by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

     

    The Ottoman Revival Is Over.

     

    NEW YORK — For Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s embattled prime minister, a win in Sunday’s local elections will be a Pyrrhic victory. While his Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P., will likely retain a majority of municipalities, Turkey as a whole, particularly as an international player, has lost.

    Mr. Erdogan’s decade-plus grip on power has been weakened by anti-government protests, corruption allegations, and an ugly confrontation with the powerful and admired Muslim religious leader Fethullah Gulen. In a desperate effort to prevent any further hemorrhaging of his power, Mr. Erdogan has abandoned the ambitious foreign policy that was the basis for Turkey’s regional resurgence in recent years and has resorted to attacking his enemies. The prime minister is now so fixated on his own political survival that he recently attempted, in vain, to shut down Twitter across the country.

    It’s a far cry from 2003, when Mr. Erdogan ascended to the premiership and announced a determined and democratic agenda to strengthen Turkey’s economic and global standing.

    (The author says) I visited him soon afterward in Turkey’s capital, Ankara. He told me then, “There are approximately 72 million people in this country — and I represent each and every one.”   To represent everyone, he pushed for the passage of laws that granted increased freedoms to Turkey’s minorities, particularly the Kurds. He implemented economic policies to increase foreign investment. He reached out to far-flung capitals in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, opening more than a dozen embassies and many new markets. He even secured a rotating seat for Turkey on the United Nations Security Council in 2009 and made contributions to Washington’s “war on terror.”

    Nearly every road that has been fixed, public transportation project approved, school built and reform passed has been done so with an eye to extending Turkey’s regional and global influence.

    In 2009, Mr. Erdogan began to advance a “zero problems” foreign policy. The brainchild of his foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, that policy was predicated on the idea that Turkey isn’t merely a “bridge” or “crossroads” between East and West, but an integral player in international diplomacy, security and trade. Turkey sought closer relations with neighbors in the Balkans, Russia, and especially the Middle East. “Zero problems,” guided Mr. Erdogan to deepen ties with Turkey’s southern and eastern neighbors, including Iran and Syria. Both became major trading partners and, in Iran’s case, a vital source for Turkish energy.

    Some have called it “neo-Ottomanism” — an attempt to restore the former Ottoman Empire and its vanished regional glory. Whatever the label, Turkey managed to become a key foreign policy player in the eyes of American and European leaders.

    President Obama traveled to Turkey in 2009 and spoke about the country’s strategic importance and increasing global role. During the Arab Spring, Western leaders held Turkey up as a progressive and prosperous democratic model for other Muslim-majority nations. Mr. Erdogan even took Turkey further toward European Union accession than any leader before him.

    Beset by domestic crises, Mr. Erdogan has turned his focus toward his core constituency, a largely conservative, anti-Western population in the heartland. In doing so he has reverted to a tactic that has resonated with them: aggression.

    Frantic to recreate the enthusiasm he garnered after storming off a panel with Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, in Davos in 2009 and his decision to cut ties with Israel after Israel attacked a Turkish flotilla in 2010, Mr. Erdogan has ramped up hostile rhetoric against his opponents — abroad and at home. He has attacked what he calls the “interest rate lobby,” called last summer’s protests a “dirty plot by foreign-backed elements,” and blamed the “provocative actions” of “foreign diplomats” for concocting corruption allegations. Recently, he slammed Mr. Gulen and his followers as a “spy ring” seeking to overthrow the government.

    Moreover, Mr. Erdogan’s current governance strategy has gutted the country’s foreign policy. Nearby Crimea, a former Ottoman stronghold and the native land of the Tatars, an ethnic Turkic people, is a case in point. When Russia invaded and annexed the Black Sea peninsula, Mr. Erdogan failed to come to the defense of his cultural and religious brethren, as he did in Egypt. Indeed, after the Egyptian military ousted Mohamed Morsi in July, Mr. Erdogan dismissed their actions as “illegal,” refused to recognize the new government and recalled Turkey’s ambassador to Cairo. On Crimea, the Turkish prime minister has restricted himself to grunts of disapproval despite the fears of the Tatars who will now fall under Russian control just 70 years after Stalin deported hundreds of thousands of Tatars to Siberia.

    Mr. Erdogan may believe that his tactics have worked. But in the long run, he’ll have to accept that his increased belligerence has isolated his country. When it comes to regional issues like Egypt, Iran and Iraq, the United States has now largely marginalized Turkey.

    Not too long ago, the common question posed in Western capitals was “Who lost Turkey?” Many fingers pointed at Brussels and Washington. But today, as the prime minister steers Turkey away from its path of prosperity and international relevance toward antagonism and repression, the answer seems to be Mr. Erdogan himself.

    Elmira Bayrasli is the co-founder of Foreign Policy Interrupted and a fellow at the World Policy Institute.

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

    We added to this article about Turkey as follower of the Ottomans, in our title, also the Soviet Empire with a similar feeling that Putin is losing now in his effort to revive it under Russian leadership.

    What we see in Putin’s stirring the Ukraine is just that – an attempt to extend Russia to the Soviet borders and this will cause economic retreat to the people of Russia, the surveillance of the internet and eventually unhappiness of Russian citizens. It will also impact the whole neighborhood.

     

     

    ###

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

     

    Using Copyright to Censor, from Turkey to Svoboda to Ban’s UN & Reuters.

     

    By Matthew Russell Lee, The Inner City Press (ICP) at the UN in New York.

     

    UNITED NATIONS, March 20 — Turkey has now blocked Twitter citing a prosecutor’s decision, drawing ire in the US from Press Secretary Jay Carney and State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in order to get his leaked phone calls removed from Google’s YouTube has reportedly “copyrighted” his calls.

     

       This use of copyright to try to censor has echoes in the United Nations — and in Ukraine, where the Svoboda Party tried to get videos of its Members of Parliament beating up a news executive taken down as violations of copyright.

     On the Guardian website on March 21, where the video had been was a notice that “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim.”

    The New York Times reported that late on March 20, YouTube copies of the video were taken down “for violating the copyright of the Svoboda party spokesman, who seems to be working to erase the evidence from the Internet through legal means.”

     

       This is a growing trend. As set forth below, an anti-Press complaint to the UN’s Stephane Dujarric, now Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson, has been banned from Google’s Search by an invocation of copyright similar to Erdogan’s.

     

      On March 21, Dujarric from Kyiv told Inner City Press neither he nor, he assuumed, Ban had seen the Svoboda beat-down video. This seems noteworthy, given its prominence in Ukraine. Now we can add: perhaps Ban and Dujarric didn’t see it due to the same censorship by copyright that has for now banned an anti Press complaint to them from Google’s Search.

     

      And as to Twitter, Dujarric in his previous post in charge of UN Media Accreditation grilled Inner City Press about a tweet mentioning World War Two – the basis for example of France’s veto power in the Security Council, which it parlayed into essentially permanent ownership of the top post in UN Peacekeeping, now though Herve Ladsous (coverage of whom Dujarric tried to dictate, or advise, Inner City Press about.)

     

       Dujarric’s now bipolar tweeting has intersected with a recently revived anonymous trolling campaign which originated in the UN Correspondents Association, in support of the Sri Lankan government, alleging that any coverage of the abuse of Tamils must be funded by the now defunct Tamil Tigers.

     

      These outright attempts to censor are echoed, more genteelly, even as part of the UN press briefings these days. When Dujarric took eight questions on March 20 on Ban’s essentially failed trip to Moscow, fully half went to representatives of UNCA’s 15 member executive committee, including state media from Turkey, France and the United States. Other questions — by Twitter — were not answered, except those from explicitly pro-UN sources. These are the UN’s circles.

     

       Google has accepted and acted on DMCA complaints about leaked e-mails, for example from Reuters to the United Nations seeking to get the investigative Press thrown out, and has then blocked access to the leaked documents from its search.

      Of this abuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Electronic Frontier Foundation‘s Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry told Inner City Press about the Reuters case:

     

    “Unfortunately, it is all too easy for a copyright holder (assuming that the person that sent this notice actually held copyright in the email) to abuse the DMCA to take down content and stifle legitimate speech. As countries outside the US consider adopting DMCA-like procedures, they must make sure they include strong protections for free speech, such as significant penalties for takedown abuse.”

     

      In this case, copyright is being (mis) claimed for an email from Reuters’ Louis Charbonneau to the UN’s chief Media Accreditation official Stephane Dujarric — since March 10 Ban Ki-moon’s new spokesperson — seeking to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN.

     

      Access to the document has been blocked from Google’s search based on a cursory take-down request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

     

     If this remains precedent, what else could come down?

     

      Why not an email from Iran, for example, to the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency? Why not a sanctions filing by a country? Here is Reuters logic, accepted if only automatically by Google:

     

    The copyrighted material is a private email I wrote in April 2012 and for which I never gave permission to be published. It has been published on a blog and appears in on the first page of search results for my name and the firm I work for, Reuters. It can be seen here: www.innercitypress.com/reutersLC3unmalu.pdf

     

      But this is true of ANY leaked document: it can be said that the entity or person exposed “never gave permission [for it] to be published.” Does that mean Google can or should block search access to it?

     

      Can a complaint to a Media Accreditation official against a competitor legitimately be considered “private”? In any event, the DMCA is not about protecting privacy.

     

      Iran or North Korea could say a filing or status report they make with the IAEA is “private” and was not intended to be published. Would Google, receiving a DMCA filing, block access to the information on, say, Reuters.com?

     

      Charbonneau’s bad-faith argument says his complaint to the UN was “published on a blog.” Is THAT what Reuters claims makes it different that publication in some other media?

     

      The logic of Reuters’ and Charbonneau’s August 14, 2013 filing with Google, put online via the ChillingEffects.org project, is profoundly anti free press.

     

      The fact that Google accepts or didn’t check, to remain in the DMCA Safe Harbor, the filing makes it even worse. The request to take-down wasn’t made to InnerCityPress.com or its server — it would have been rejected. But banning a page from Search has the same censoring effect.

     

      The US has a regime to protect freedom of the press, and against prior restraint. But this is a loophole, exploited cynically by Reuters. What if a media conducted a long investigation of a mayor, fueled by a leaked email. When the story was published, could the Mayor make a Reuters-like filing with Google and get it blocked?

     

      Here is the text of Charbonneau’s communication to the UN’s top Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit official Stephane Dujarric and MALU’s manager, to which he claimed “copyright” and for now has banned from Google’s Search:

    ———————————————————-

    Hi Isabelle and Stephane,

    I just wanted to pass on for the record that I was just confronted by Matt Lee in the DHL auditorium in very hostile fashion a short while ago (there were several witnesses, including Giampaolo). He’s obviously gotten wind that there’s a movement afoot to expel him from the UNCA executive committee, though he doesn’t know the details yet. But he was going out of his way to be as intimidating and aggressive as possible towards me, told me I “disgust” him, etc.

    In all my 20+ years of reporting I’ve never been approached like that by a follow journalist in any press corps, no matter how stressful things got. He’s become someone who’s making it very hard for me and others in the UN press to do our jobs. His harassment of fellow reporters is reaching a new fever pitch.

    I just thought you should know this.

    Cheers,

    Lou
    Louis Charbonneau
    Bureau Chief. United Nations
    Reuters News Thomson Reuters reuters. com

    This email was sent to you by Thomson Reuters, the global news and information company.

    ————————————————-

    “UNCA” in the for-now banned e-mail is the United Nations Correspondents Association. The story developed here, as to Sri Lanka; here is a sample pick-up this past weekend in Italian, to which we link and give full credit, translated into English (NOT for now by Google) –

    The fool of Reuters to the UN

    by Mahesh – 12/27/2013 - calls for the removal of a letter from the head of his bureau at the United Nations, pursuing a copyright infringement on the part of the competition.

    Try to make out a small competitor from the UN press room and then, when these publish proof of intrigue, invokes the copyright to release a letter from compromising the network.

    MOLESTA-AGENCY  Inner City Press is a small non-profit agency covering the work of the United Nations for years, with an original cut, which become distasteful to many. Unlike other matching its founder master sent never tires of asking account of inconsistencies and contradictions and often refers to unpleasant situations involving colleagues and their reportage, too often twisted to obvious political contingencies.

    THE LAST CAVITY – In this case the clutch is born when Matthew Lee, Inner City Press ever since he founded and made famous in the 90 ‘s, challenged the screening of “Lies Agreed Upon” in the auditorium of the United Nations, a filmaccio of propaganda in which the Sri Lankan regime tries to deny the now tested massacres (and destroyed by International Crisis Group). In the piece, in which denounced the incident, Lee also announced that the screening was organized by the President of the United Nations Correspondents (UNCA), Italian Giampaolo Pioli, skipping the normal consultation procedure for this kind of events. Pioli then, was also accused of being in a conflict of interest, given that he rented an apartment in New York an apartment to the Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in Sri Lanka, named Palitha Kohona and is suspected of war crimes.

    TRY WITH THE COPYRIGHT- So he comes to the letter with which Louis Charbonneau, Reuters bureau chief at the United Nations, wrote to the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit (MALU) calling for the ouster of Lee, which the UN being there for years as his colleagues, but we see that this was not done. Lee, however, comes into possession of the letter and publish it, and then writes to Google millantando Charbonneau the copyright on the letter and asking for removal pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That is a bit like if a company request the removal of a compromising document from a journalistic investigation, in the name of copyright, a claim clearly absurd and disingenuous.

    HARASSMENT AND THREATS - In the letter published, Charbonneau complained about the aggressive behavior of Lee and cited among the witnesses to cases where Lee had been “aggressive” towards him even Pioli. Lee with that piece has gained throughout a hail of protests from Sri Lanka and an investigation by the UNCA, along with death threats and other well-known amenities the refugees away from the clutches of the regime, but it is still there. Behold then the brilliant idea of Charbonneau, improperly used copyright law to censor the objectionable publications to a colleague and competitor. Pity that Lee has already resisted successfully in similar cases, in 2008 was the same Google to remove your site from being indexed in the news in its search engines, it is unclear what impetus behind, only to regret it soon after that even Fox News had cried scandal.

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

    And further – to the place of UN as restricting flow of information – Matthew Lee has the following:
    www.innercitypress.com/ukraine2svobodaunseen032214.html

    In Ukraine, List of Parties UN’s UNSG Ban Ki-moon Met With Still UNdisclosed, Visa Ban.

    By Matthew Russell Lee

     

    UNITED NATIONS, March 22 – With UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Kyiv for a second day, it remained unclear if he met with representatives from the Svoboda Party, whose “freedom of speech” parliamentarian was filmed beating up a news executive and then sought to get the video removed from YouTube.

     

      Inner City Press on March 21 asked Ban’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, video here

     

    Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about sanctions. I know that in his opening remarks, the Secretary-General talked about provocative actions and counter-reactions and obviously there have been, the US announced sanctions on a slew of individuals and one bank, and another bank, SMP, has been cut off from the Visa and Mastercard system. Russia has its own sanctions. Was this discussed, was this discussed while he was in Moscow? Does the Secretary-General think that sanctions should be done through the UN? And will he meet with representatives of the Svoboda party while he’s there, if they were to request it?

    Spokesman Stephane Dujarric: There was a — I will share with you as soon as I get it — the list of party leaders that attended the meeting with the Secretary-General. So we will see who exactly was there and, you know, I’m not going to get into detailed reactions to sanctions and counter-sanctions and so forth. But what I will say is that, you know, everybody needs to kind of focus on finding a peaceful, diplomatic solution and lowering the tensions.

    Inner City Press: Has he or you seen the video of the Svoboda party MPs beating up the television executive?

    Spokesman Stephane Dujarric: I have not and I doubt that he has.

     

      But more than 24 hours later, the “list of party members” who met with Ban was still not provided or shared, nor was an explanation provided. What should one infer from that?

    … … ….

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s race to Russia for relevance didn’t work as he’d hoped. Just after his meetings with Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov, Lavrov went to the Duma for the next step on Crimea.

      Then Ban’s spokesperson did a call-in Q&A to the UN press briefing room in New York where only questions pointing one way were selected and allowed. Thus, there were no questions to Ban’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric about the new unilateral sanctions, or the trade embargo allegations.

       On March 19 after US Ambassador Samantha Power said Russia’s Vitaly Churkin was creative like Tolstoy or Chekhov, Churkin asked for a right of reply or additional statement at the end of the March 19 UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine.

       Churkin said that from these two literary references, Power has stooped to tabloids, and that this should change if the US expected Russian cooperation. The reference, it seemed, was to Syria and Iran, and other UN issues.

       One wanted to explore this at the stakeout, but neither Power nor Churkin spoke there. In fact, no one did: even Ukraine’s Yuriy Sergeyev left, down the long hallways with his leather coat and spokesperson. One wondered why.

       There were many questions to ask. Why did Ivan Simonovic’s UN human rights report not mention the Svoboda Party MPs beating up the head of Ukrainian national television?  Will France, despite its Gerard Araud’s speech, continue selling Mistral warships to Russia? What of France’s role in the earlier referendum splitting Mayotte from the Comoros Islands?

      Araud exchanged a few words with those media he answers to while on the stairs, then left. The UK’s Mark Lyall Grant spoke longer, but still left. Why didn’t Simonovic at least come and answer questions? Perhaps he will, later in the week.

        When Security Council session began at 3 pm on March 19, Russia was listed as the tenth speaker, after other Council members including not only the US but France. (The order, however, would soon change: Argentina and Russia switched spots.)

      Speaking first, Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson recounted dates and events, such as the US and European Union sanctions of Marcy 17. Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric if there was any UN comment on or view of such unilateral sanctions. There was no comment.

       UN human rights deputy Ivan Simonovic spoke next, saying that attacks on ethnic Russians have been neither widespread nor systematic. Simonovic did not mention the widely publicized assault on a national TV executive by Svoboda Party MPs.

      Ukraine’s Yuriy Sergeyev mocked the referendum, saying that those who didn’t vote were visited at home.

      France’s Gerard Araud said that if there are fascists in this story, it is not where they’re said to be — but he did not address the Svoboda Party and its attack on the TV executive. Nor has he addressed the analogy to the referendum France pushed to split Mayotte from Comoros, nor France’s ongoing sale of Mistral warships to Russia.

      After Nigeria spoke, Argentina’s listed place was taken by Russia, in what has been confirmed to Inner City Press as an exchange. Russia’s Vitaly Churkin zeroed in on Simonovic not mentioning the Svoboda MPs’ assault, nor evidence that the same snipers should police and protesters in Kyiv.

      US Ambassador Samantha Power called this an assault on Simonovic’s report, and said Churkin had been as imaginative as Tolstoy or Chekhov, echoing an earlier US State Department Top Ten list. So what is the US, one wag mused, John Updike or Thomas Pynchon? It was a session meant for words.


    Now that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon races to Russia for relevance, the news was handed out selectively by UN Moscow three hours before Ban’s new spokesperson, after a request, confirmed it.

       It’s worth remembering Moscow’s anger at who called Ban’s tune on Kosovo. What will be different now? After Russia, Ban will head to Kyiv to meet Yatsenyuk and the UN human rights monitors.

      It was at 6:20 am in New York when BBC said that “UN Moscow office confirm that Ban Ki Moon coming to Moscow tomorrow. Will meet Putin and Lavrov.”

      But no announcement by Ban’s Office of the Spokesperson, which has repeatedly refused to confirm Ban trips even when the country visited has already disclosed it.

      And so the Free UN Coalition for Access wrote to Ban’s new spokesperson Stephane Dujarric:

     

    “Will you confirm what BBC says UN Moscow told it, that the Secretary General is traveling to Russia tomorrow to meet President Putin and FM Lavrov — and is so, can you explain why and how this UN news was distributed in that way first, and not through your office, to all correspondents at once? The latter part of the question is on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access as well.”

     

       Forty five minutes later, after a mass e-mail, Dujarric replied:

     

    “Matthew, The official announcement was just made. The UN office in moscow did not announce anything before we did. I did see some leaked reports this morning from various sources but nothing is official until it’s announced by this office.”

     

      But it wasn’t a “leaked report” — BBC said that UN Moscow had CONFIRMED it. We’ll have more on this. For now it’s worth reviewing Ban Ki-moon’s response to Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008…

     

       The day after the Crimea referendum, the US White House announced new sanctions and Russia said Ukraine should adopt a federal constitution.

     

       Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric for Ban’s or the UN’s comment on either, if Ban thinks sanctions should ideally be imposed through the UN and not unilaterally, and if this might lead to a tit for tat.

     

      Dujarric said Ban’s focus is on encouraging the parties to “not add tensions;” on Russia’s federal constitution proposal he said the UN is “not going to get into judging every step.”  Video here.

     

      With Serry gone from Crimea and Simonovic called unbalanced by Russia, what is the UN’s role? Is it UNrelevant?

     

    … … … and there is much more on our link.

     

    ———————————————————————-

    ###

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

     

    George Soros
    See this link for an excerpt of George Soros’ new book,
    The Tragedy of the European Union (PublicAffairs, publisher)
    which was just published in the New York Review of Books today.

    The Future of Europe: An Interview with George Soros.

    Parts of the following interview with George Soros by the Spiegel correspondent Gregor Peter Schmitz appear in their book, The Tragedy of the European Union: Disintegration or Revival?

     


    soros_1-042414

    Maxim Shemetov/Reuters    Supporters of the Russian annexation of Crimea at a rally in Red Square, March 18, 2014.
    Gregor Peter Schmitz: The conflict in Crimea and Ukraine has changed the shape of European and world politics, and we will come to it. But let us first talk about a subject on which you’ve taken a critical position over the years: the crisis of the European Union: With regard to the euro, isn’t the worst over?George Soros: If you mean that the euro is here to stay, you are right. That was confirmed by the German elections, where the subject was hardly discussed, and by the coalition negotiations, where it was relegated to Subcommittee 2A. Chancellor Angela Merkel is satisfied with the way she handled the crisis and so is the German public. They reelected her with an increased majority. She has always done the absolute minimum necessary to preserve the euro. This has earned her the allegiance of both the pro-Europeans and those who count on her to protect German national interests. That is no mean feat.

    So the euro is here to stay, and the arrangements that evolved in response to the crisis have become established as the new order governing the eurozone. This confirms my worst fears. It’s the nightmare I’ve been talking about. I’m hopeful that the Russian invasion of Crimea may serve as a wake-up call. Germany is the only country in a position to change the prevailing order. No debtor country can challenge it; any that might try would be immediately punished by the financial markets and the European authorities.

    Schmitz: If you said that to Germans, they would say: Well, we have already evolved a lot. We are more generous now and have modified our policy of austerity.

    Soros: I acknowledge that Germany has stopped pushing the debtor countries underwater. They are getting a little bit of oxygen now and are beginning to breathe. Some, particularly Italy, are still declining, but at a greatly diminished pace. This has given a lift to the financial markets because the economies are hitting bottom and that almost automatically brings about a rebound.

    But the prospect of a long period of stagnation has not been removed. It’s generally agreed that the eurozone is threatened by deflation but opposition from the German Constitutional Court and its own legal departments will prevent the European Central Bank (ECB) from successfully overcoming the deflationary pressures the way other central banks, notably the Federal Reserve, have done.

    The prospect of stagnation has set in motion a negative political dynamic. Anybody who finds the prevailing arrangements intolerable is pushed into an anti-European posture. This leads me to expect the process of disintegration to gather momentum. During the acute phase of the euro crisis we had one financial crisis after another. Now there should be a series of political rather than financial crises, although the latter cannot be excluded.

    Schmitz: You say that current arrangements are intolerable. What exactly needs to change? What needs to be reformed?

    Soros: At the height of the euro crisis, Germany agreed to a number of systemic reforms, the most important of which was a banking union. But as the financial pressures abated, Germany whittled down the concessions it had made. That led to the current arrangements, which confirm my worst fears.

    Schmitz: As we speak, European finance ministers are in the process of concluding an agreement on the banking union. What do you think of it?

    Soros: In the process of negotiations, the so-called banking union has been transformed into something that is almost the exact opposite: the re-establishment of national “silos,” or separately run banks. This is a victory for Orwellian newspeak.

    Schmitz: What’s wrong with it?

    Soros: The incestuous relationship between national authorities and bank managements. France in particular is famous for its inspecteurs de finance, who end up running its major banks. Germany has its Landesbanken and Spain its caixas, which have unhealthy connections with provincial politicians. These relationships were a major source of weakness in the European banking system and played an important part in the banking crisis that is still weighing on the eurozone. The proposed banking union should have eliminated them, but they were largely preserved, mainly at German insistence.

    Schmitz: That is a pretty drastic condemnation. How do you justify it?

    Soros: In effect, the banking union will leave the banking system without a lender of last resort. The proposed resolution authority is so complicated, with so many decision-making entities involved, that it is practically useless in an emergency. Even worse, the ECB is legally prohibited from undertaking actions for which it is not expressly authorized. That sets it apart from other central banks, which are expected to use their discretion in an emergency.

    But Germany was determined to limit the liabilities that it could incur through the ECB. As a result, member countries remain vulnerable to financial pressures from which other developed countries are exempt. That is what I meant when I said that over-indebted members of the EU are in the position of third-world countries that are overindebted in a foreign currency. The banking union does not correct that defect. On the contrary, it perpetuates it.

    Schmitz: You sound disappointed.

    Soros: I am. I left no stone unturned trying to prevent this outcome, but now that it has happened, I don’t want to keep knocking my head against the wall. I accept that Germany has succeeded in imposing a new order on Europe, although I consider it unacceptable. But I still believe in the European Union and the principles of the open society that originally inspired it, and I should like to recapture that spirit. I want to arrest the process of disintegration, not accelerate it. So I am no longer advocating that Germany should “lead or leave the euro.” The window of opportunity to bring about radical change in the rules governing the euro has closed.

    Schmitz: So, basically, you are giving up on Europe?

    Soros: No. I am giving up on changing the financial arrangements, the creditor–debtor relationship that has now turned into a permanent system. I will continue to focus on politics, because that is where I expect dramatic developments.

    Schmitz: I see. Obviously, people are concerned about the rise of populist movements in Europe. Do you see any opportunity to push for more political integration, when the trend is toward disintegration?

    Soros: I do believe in finding European solutions for the problems of Europe; national solutions make matters worse.

    Schmitz: It seems the pro-Europeans are often silent on important issues because they are afraid that speaking up might increase support for the extremists—for example, in the case of the many refugees from the Middle East and Africa who hoped to reach Europe and were detained on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

    Soros: Like it or not, migration policy will be a central issue in the elections. We must find some alternative to xenophobia.

    Schmitz: What do you propose to do about it?

    Soros: I have established an Open Society Initiative for Europe—OSIFE for short. One of its first initiatives is Solidarity Now, in Greece. The original idea was to generate European solidarity with the plight of the Greek population that is suffering from the euro crisis and Greek solidarity with the plight of the migrants, who experience inhuman conditions and are persecuted by the ultranationalist Golden Dawn party. It took us some time to get the project off the ground, and by the time we did, it was too late to generate European solidarity with the Greeks because other heavily indebted countries were also in need of support. So we missed that boat, but our initiative has had the useful by product of giving us a better insight into the migration problem.

    Schmitz: What have you learned?

    Soros: That there is an unbridgeable conflict between North and South on the political asylum issue. The countries in the North, basically the creditors, have been generous in their treatment of asylum seekers. So all the asylum seekers want to go there, particularly to Germany. But that is more than they can absorb, so they have put in place a European agreement called Dublin III, which requires asylum seekers to register in the country where they first enter the EU. That tends to be the South, namely, Italy, Spain, and Greece. All three are heavily indebted and subject to fiscal austerity. They don’t have proper facilities for asylum seekers, and they have developed xenophobic, anti-immigrant, populist political movements.

    Asylum seekers are caught in a trap. If they register in the country where they arrive, they can never ask for asylum in Germany. So, many prefer to remain illegal, hoping to make their way to Germany. They are condemned to illegality for an indefinite period. The miserable conditions in which they live feed into the anti-immigrant sentiment.

    Schmitz: Looking at other European issues, aren’t your foundations also very involved in the problems of the Roma (Gypsies)?

    Soros: Yes, we have been engaged in those issues for more than twenty-five years. The Roma Education Fund has developed effective methods of educating Roma children and strengthening their Roma identity at the same time. If this were done on a large-enough scale it would destroy the hostile stereotype that stands in the way of the successful integration of the Roma. As it is, educated Roma can blend into the majority because they don’t fit the stereotype but the stereotype remains intact.

    This is another instance where the European Commission is having a positive effect. I look to the European Structural funds to scale up the programs that work.

    Schmitz: What do you think of Vladimir Putin’s recent policies with respect to Ukraine, Crimea, and Europe?

    Soros: Now you are coming to the crux of the matter. Russia is emerging as a big geopolitical player, and the European Union needs to realize that it has a resurgent rival on its east. Russia badly needs Europe as a partner, but Putin is positioning it as a rival. There are significant political forces within the Russian regime that are critical of Putin’s policy on that score.

    Schmitz: Can you be more specific?

    Soros: The important thing to remember is that Putin is leading from a position of weakness. He was quite popular in Russia because he restored some order out of the chaos. The new order is not all that different from the old one, but the fact that it is open to the outside world is a definite improvement, an important element in its stability. But then the prearranged switch with Dmitry Medvedev from prime minister to president deeply upset the people. Putin felt existentially threatened by the protest movement. He became repressive at home and aggressive abroad.

    That is when Russia started shipping armaments to the Assad regime in Syria on a massive scale and helped turn the tide against the rebels. The gamble paid off because of the preoccupation of the Western powers—the United States and the EU—with their internal problems. Barack Obama wanted to retaliate against Syria’s use of chemical weapons. He asked for congressional approval and was about to be rebuffed when Putin came to the rescue and persuaded Assad to voluntarily surrender his chemical weapons.

    That was a resounding diplomatic victory for him. Yet the spontaneous uprising of the Ukrainian people must have taught Putin that his dream of reconstituting what is left of the Russian Empire is unattainable. He is now facing a choice between persevering or changing course and becoming more cooperative abroad and less repressive at home. His current course has already proved to be self-defeating, but he appears to be persevering.

    Schmitz: Is Russia a credible threat to Europe if its economy is as weak as you say?

    Soros: The oligarchs who control much of the Russian economy don’t have any confidence in the regime. They send their children and money abroad. That is what makes the economy so weak. Even with oil over $100 a barrel, which is the minimum Russia needs to balance its budget, it is not growing. Putin turned aggressive out of weakness. He is acting in self-defense. He has no scruples, he can be ruthless, but he is a judo expert, not a sadist—so the economic weakness and the aggressive behavior are entirely self-consistent.

    Schmitz: How should Europe respond to it?

    Soros: It needs to be more united, especially in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine. Putin prides himself on being a geopolitical realist. He respects strength and is emboldened by weakness. Yet there is no need to be permanently adversarial. Notwithstanding the current situation in Ukraine, the European Union and Russia are in many ways complementary; they both need each other. There is plenty of room for Russia to play a constructive role in the world, exactly because both Europe and the United States are so preoccupied with their internal problems.

    Schmitz: How does that translate into practice, particularly in the Middle East?

    Soros: It has totally transformed the geopolitical situation. I have some specific ideas on this subject, but it is very complicated. I can’t possibly explain it in full because there are too many countries involved and they are all interconnected.

    Schmitz: Give it a try.

    Soros: I should start with a general observation. There are a growing number of unresolved political crises in the world. That is a symptom of a breakdown in global governance. We have a very rudimentary system in place. Basically, there is only one international institution of hard power: the UN Security Council. If the five permanent members agree, they can impose their will on any part of the world. But there are many sovereign states with armies; and there are failed states that are unable to protect their monopoly over the use of lethal force or hard power.

    The cold war was a stable system. The two superpowers were stalemated by the threat of mutually assured destruction, and they had to restrain their satellites. So wars were fought mainly at the edges. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a brief moment when the United States emerged as the undisputed leader of the world. But it abused its power. Under the influence of the neocons, who argued that the United States should use its power to impose its will on the world, President George W. Bush declared “war on terror” and invaded Iraq under false pretenses.

    That was a tragic misinterpretation of the proper role of hegemonic or imperial power. It is the power of attraction—soft power—that ensures the stability of empires. Hard power may be needed for conquest and self-protection, but the hegemon must look after the interests of those who depend on it in order to secure their allegiance instead of promoting only its own interests. The United States did that very well after World War II, when it established the United Nations and embarked on the Marshall Plan. But President Bush forgot that lesson and destroyed American supremacy in no time. The neocons’ dream of a “new American century” lasted less than ten years. President Obama then brought American policy back to reality. His record in foreign policy is better than generally recognized. He accepted the tremendous loss of power and influence and tried to “lead from behind.” In any case, he is more preoccupied with domestic than foreign policy. In that respect America is in the same position as Europe, although for different reasons. People are inward-looking and tired of war. This has created a power vacuum, which has allowed conflicts to fester unresolved all over the world.

    Recently, Russia has moved into this power vacuum, trying to reassert itself as a geopolitical player. That was a bold maneuver, inspired by Putin’s internal weakness, and it has paid off in Syria because of the weakness of the West. Russia could do what the Western powers couldn’t: persuade Assad to “voluntarily” surrender his chemical weapons. That has radically changed the geopolitical landscape. Suddenly, the prospect of a solution has emerged for the three major unresolved conflicts in the Middle East—Palestine, Iran, and Syria—when one would have least expected it.

    The Syrian crisis is by far the worst, especially in humanitarian consequences. Russia’s entry as a major supplier of arms, coupled with Hezbollah’s entry as a supplier of troops, has turned the tables in favor of Assad. The fighting can be brought to an end only by a political settlement imposed and guaranteed by the international community. Without it, the two sides will continue to fight indefinitely with the help of their out-side supporters. But a political settlement will take months or years to negotiate. In the meantime, Assad is following a deliberate policy of denying food and destroying the medical system as a way of subduing the civilian population. “Starve or surrender” is his motto.

    This raises the specter of a human catastrophe. Unless humanitarian assistance can be delivered across battle lines, more people will have died from illness and starvation during the winter than from actual fighting.

    Schmitz: What about Iran?

    Soros: There has been an actual breakthrough in the Iranian crisis in the form of a temporary agreement on nuclear weapons with the new president Hassan Rouhani. The sanctions imposed by the Western powers have been very effective. The Iranian revolution itself advanced to the point where it fell into the hands of a narrow clique, the Revolutionary Guard; the mullahs were largely pushed out of power. As head of the mullahs, the Supreme Leader could not have been pleased. He must also be aware that the large majority of the population has been profoundly dissatisfied with the regime. In contrast with previous attempts at negotiations, he seems to be in favor of reaching an accommodation with the United States. That improves the prospects for a final agreement. We must take into account, as Vali Nasr recently wrote, that Iran has, after Russia, the world’s second-largest reserves of natural gas; and it potentially might compete with Russia in supplying gas to Europe.

    Schmitz: That leaves the longest—lasting crisis, Palestine.

    Soros: Recent developments in Egypt have improved the chances of progress in the long-festering Palestinian crisis. The army, with the active support of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, has removed the legally elected president and is engaged in the brutal suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood. This otherwise disturbing development has a potentially benign side effect: it raises the possibility of a peace settlement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, to the exclusion of Hamas. This would have been inconceivable a few months ago. Secretary of State John Kerry became engaged in the Palestinian negotiations well before this window of opportunity opened, so he is ahead of the game. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is very suspicious but, for all his intransigence, cannot openly oppose negotiations because, having openly supported Mitt Romney in the American elections, he holds a relatively weak hand. Negotiations are making progress, but very slowly indeed.

    If all three crises were resolved, a new order would emerge in the Middle East. There is a long way to go because the various conflicts are interconnected, and the potential losers in one conflict may act as spoilers in another. Netanyahu, for instance, is dead set against a deal with Iran because peace with Palestine would end his political career in Israel. Nevertheless, the broad outlines of a potential new order can already be discerned, although we cannot know the effects of the current crisis in Ukraine. Russia could become more influential, relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States may become strained, and Iran may emerge as America’s closest ally, second only to Israel. But the situation remains fluid and may change from one day to the next.

    Schmitz: Recently the crisis in Ukraine has overshadowed all the others.

    Soros: Indeed. Ukraine and in particular Crimea are of much greater interest to Russia than anything in the Middle East. Putin woefully misjudged the situation. Last autumn he had no difficulty in outmaneuvering the European Union, which was hamstrung by its internal political and financial problems. Under German leadership it offered too little and demanded too much. Putin could easily offer a better deal to Ukrainian President Yanukovych. But the Ukrainian people rebelled, upsetting the calculations of both sides.

    The rebellion wounded Putin in his Achilles heel. The idea of a spontaneous rebellion simply did not enter into his calculations. In his view the world is ruled by power and those in power can easily manipulate public opinion. Failure to control the people is a sign of weakness.

    Accordingly, he made it a condition of his assistance that Yanukovych should repress the rebellion. But the use of force aroused the public and eventually Yanukovych was forced to capitulate. This could have resulted in a stalemate and the preservation of the status quo with Ukraine precariously balanced between Russia and Europe, and a corrupt and inept government pitted against civil society. It would have been an inferior equilibrium with the costs exceeding the benefits for all parties concerned.

    But Putin persisted in his counterproductive approach. Yanukovych was first hospitalized and then sent to Sochi to be dressed down by Putin. Putin’s instructions brought the confrontation to a climax. Contrary to all rational expectations, a group of citizens armed with not much more than sticks and shields made of cardboard boxes and metal garbage can lids overwhelmed a police force firing live ammunition. There were many casualties, but the citizens prevailed. It was a veritable miracle.

    Schmitz: How could such a thing happen? How do you explain it?

    Soros: It fits right into my human uncertainty principle, but it also reveals a remarkable similarity between human affairs and quantum physics of which I was previously unaware. According to Max Planck, among others, subatomic phenomena have a dual character: they can manifest themselves as particles or waves. Something similar applies to human beings: they are part freestanding individuals or particles and partly components of larger entities that behave like waves. The impact they make on reality depends on which alternative dominates their behavior. There are potential tipping points from one alternative to the other but it is uncertain when they will occur and the uncertainty can be resolved only in retrospect.

    On February 20 a tipping point was reached when the people on Maidan Square were so determined to defend Ukraine that they forgot about their individual mortality. What gave their suicidal stand historic significance is that it succeeded. A deeply divided society was moved from the verge of civil war to an unprecedented unity. Revolutions usually fail. The Orange Revolution of 2004 deteriorated into a squabble between its leaders. It would be a mistake to conclude that this revolution is doomed to suffer the same fate. Indeed the parties participating in the interim government are determined to avoid it. In retrospect the resistance of Maidan may turn out to be the birth of a nation. This promising domestic development was a direct response to foreign oppression. Unfortunately it is liable to provoke further pressure from abroad because successful resistance by Ukraine would present an existential threat to Putin’s continued dominance in Russia.

    Schmitz: You are referring to the Russian invasion of Crimea. How do you see it playing out?

    Soros: If it is confined to Crimea it will serve as a further impetus to greater national cohesion in Ukraine. Crimea is not an integral part of Ukraine. Khrushchev transferred Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 by an administrative decree. The majority of its population is Russian and it is the base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. That is exactly why Putin is liable to put military and economic pressure on Ukraine directly and they are not in a position to resist it on their own. They need the support of the Western powers. So Ukraine’s future depends on how the Western powers, particularly Germany, respond.

    Schmitz: What should the Western powers do?

    Soros: They should focus on strengthening Ukraine rather than on punishing Russia. They cannot prevent or reverse the annexation of Crimea. They are bound to protest it of course because it violates the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 that guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea, but they are not in a position to oppose it by military means. Even sanctions ought to be used sparingly in order to preserve them as a deterrent against the real danger, namely of direct military or economic assault on Ukraine. Russian forces have already occupied a gas plant in Ukraine supplying Crimea and may take more territory unless they are stopped.

    Fortunately economic sanctions would be a potent deterrent provided they are used judiciously. Freezing the foreign assets of Russian oligarchs is the opposite of smart sanctions. Oligarchs sending their profits and their children abroad weaken the Russian economy. Until now capital flight was more or less offset by foreign direct investment. Effective sanctions would discourage the inflow of funds, whether in the form of direct investments or bank loans. Moreover, the US could release oil from its strategic reserve and allow its sale abroad. That could put the Russian economy into deficit. The Russian economy is fragile enough to be vulnerable to smart sanctions.

    Schmitz: Wouldn’t that be cutting off your nose to spite your face? Germany has a lot of investments in Russia, which are equally vulnerable.

    Soros: Effective sanctions against Russia should be threatened at first only as a deterrent. If the threat is effective, they wouldn’t be applied. But Chancellor Merkel faces a fundamental choice: should Germany be guided by its narrow national self interests or should it assert its leadership position within the European Union and forge a unified European response? On her choice hinges not only the fate of Ukraine but also the future of the European Union. Her passionate speech to the German Parliament on March 13 gives me hope that she is going to make the right choice.

    Schmitz: What is your idea of the right choice?

    Soros: A large-scale technical and financial assistance program for Ukraine. The EU and the US, under the leadership of the International Monetary Fund, are putting together a multibillion-dollar rescue package that will save the country from financial collapse. But that is not enough: Ukraine also needs outside assistance that only the EU can provide: management expertise and access to markets.

    Ukraine is a potentially attractive investment destination. But realizing this potential requires improving the business climate by addressing the endemic corruption and weak rule of law. The new regime in Ukraine is eager to confront that task. But only the EU can open up its domestic market and provide political risk insurance for investing in Ukraine. Ukraine in turn would encourage its companies to improve their management by finding European partners. Thus Ukraine would become increasingly integrated in the European common market. That could also provide a much-needed fiscal stimulus for the European economy and, even more importantly, help to recapture the spirit that originally inspired the European Union.

     

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

     

    Uri Avnery

     

    March 22, 2014

     

     

     

                                                    A Hundred Years Later

     

     

     

    THERE IS an old Chinese curse that says: “May you live in historic times!” (If there isn’t, there should be.)

     

     

     

    This week was a historic time. The Crimea seceded from Ukraine. Russia annexed it.

     

     

     

    A dangerous situation. No one knows how it will develop.

     

     

     

     

     

    AFTER MY last article about the Ukrainian crisis, I was flooded with passionate e-mail messages.

    { We posted the first Uri Avnery article on Crimea under our title - www.sustainabilitank.info/2014/03… that implied we did think this was a very good and honest article. So, it is interesting to see other reactions. We also followed up with several articles on Stepan Bandera that slowed our enthusiasm about Ukrainian independence unless it is made clear that the Maidan leaders and followers understand that “Nationalism Ueber Alles” is nothing to be happy about.}

     

     

    Some were outraged by one or two sentences that could be construed as justifying Russian actions. How could I excuse the former KGB apparatchik, the new Hitler, the leader who was building a new Soviet empire by destroying and subjugating neighboring countries?

     

     

    Others were outraged, with the same passion, by my supposed support for the fascist gangs which have come to power in Kiev, the anti-Semites in Nazi uniforms, and the American imperialists who use them for their own sinister purposes.

     

     

    I am a bit bewildered by the strength of feeling on both sides. The Cold War, it seems, is not over. It just took a nap. Yesterday’s warriors are again rallying to their flags, ready to do battle.

     

     

    Sorry, I can’t get passionate about this side or that. Both, it seems to me, have some justice on their side. Many of the battle cries are bogus.

     

     

     

     

    THOSE WHO rage against the annexation of the Crimea by the Russian Federation and compare it to Hitler’s “Anschluss” of Austria may be right in some sense.

     

     

     

    I remember the newsreels of ecstatic Austrians welcoming the soldiers of the Führer, who was, after all, an Austrian himself. There can be no doubt that most Austrians welcomed the “return to the fatherland”.

     

     

     

    That seems to be the case now in the Crimea. For a long time the peninsula had been a part of Russia. Then, in 1954, the leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian himself, presented the Crimea as a gift to Ukraine. It was mostly a symbolic gesture, since both Russia and Ukraine belonged to the same Soviet state and were subject to the same oppression.

     

     

     

    But the main point is that the people of the Crimea were not consulted. There was no referendum.  {that seems to be the outsiders argument – those that look on this as they were looking on the Austrian Case – but really – in crimea there was a gun point referendum in the set up voting that did probaby present the results that the population of today wanted – PJ}

    The majority of the population is Russian, and undoubtedly wishes now to return to Russia. It expressed this wish in a referendum that, on the whole, seems to be quite authentic. So the annexation may be justified.

     

     

     

    Vladimir Putin himself brought up the precedent of Kosovo, which seceded from Serbia not so long ago. This may be a bit cynical, since Russia strenuously objected to this secession at the time. All the Russian arguments then are now contradicted by Putin himself.

     

     

     

    If we leave out cynicism, hypocrisy and great power politics for a moment, and stick to simple moral principles, then what is good for the goose is good for the gander. A sizable national minority, living in its homeland, has a right to secede from a state it does not like.

     

     

     

    For this reason I supported the independence of Kosovo and believe that the same principle applies now to Catalonia and Scotland, Tibet and Chechnya.

     

     

     

    There is always a way to prevent secession without using brute force: to create conditions that make the minority want to stay in the majority state. Generous economic, political and cultural policies can achieve this. But for that you need the wisdom of farsighted leaders, and that is a rare commodity everywhere. 

     

     

     

     

     

    BY THE same token, Ukrainians can be understood when they kick out a president who wants to bring them into the Russian orbit against their will. His golden bathroom appliances are beside the point.

     

     

     

    Another question is what role the fascists play in the process. There are contradictory reports, but Israeli reporters on the scene testify to their conspicuous presence in the center of Kiev.

     

     

     

    The problem has confronted us since the Tunisian Spring: in many of the “spring” countries the uprisings bring to the fore elements that are worse than the tyrants they want to displace. The revolutions are started by idealists who are unable to unite and set up an effective regime, and then are taken over by intolerant fanatics, who are better fighters and better organizers. 

     

     

     

    That is the secret of the survival of the abominable Bashar al-Assad. Few people want Syria to fall into the hands of a Taliban-like Islamic tyranny. That is also the fate of Egypt: the liberal democrats started the revolution but lost the democratic elections to a religious party, which was in a haste to impose its creed on the people. They were overthrown by a military dictatorship that is worse than the regime which the original revolution overthrew.

     

     

     

    The emergence of the neo-Nazis in Kiev is worrying, even if Putin uses their presence for his own purposes. If they are supported by the West, overtly or covertly, that is disturbing.

     

     

     

     

     

    EQUALLY WORRYING is the uncertainty about Putin’s intentions.

     

     

     

    In many of the countries surrounding Russia there live large numbers of Russians, who went to live there in Soviet times. Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Moldova, Kazakhstan and other countries have large Russian minorities, and even majorities, who yearn to be annexed to the motherland.

     

     

     

    No one really knows Putin. How far will he go? Can he control his ambitions? Will he be carried away by his successes and the lack of wise policies in Western capitals?

     

     

     

    Addressing his parliament about the annexation of the Crimea, he seemed restrained, but there was no mistaking the imperial trimmings of the event. He would not be the first leader in history who overestimated his successes and underrated the power of his opponents.

     

     

     

    And on the other side – is there enough wisdom in Washington and the other Western capitals to produce the right mixture of firmness and restraint to prevent an uncontrollable slide into war?

     

     

     

     

     

    IN THREE months the world will “celebrate” the hundredth anniversary of the shot in Sarajevo – the shot that ignited a worldwide conflagration.

     

     

     

    It may be helpful to recount again the chain of events that caused one of the most destructive wars in human history, a war that consumed millions upon millions of human lives and destroyed an entire way of life.

     

     

     

    The shot that started it all was quite accidental. The assassin, a Serb nationalist, failed in his first attempt to kill a quite insignificant Austrian archduke. But after he had already given up, he came across his intended victim again, by chance, and shot him dead.

     

     

     

    The incompetent Austrian politicians and their senile emperor saw an easy opportunity to demonstrate the prowess of their country and presented little Serbia with an ultimatum. What could they lose?

     

     

     

    Except that Serbia was the protégé of Russia. In order to deter the Austrians, the Czar and his equally incompetent ministers and generals ordered a general mobilization of their vast army. They were quite unaware of the fact that this made war unavoidable, because…

     

     

     

    The German Reich, which had come into being only 43 years earlier, lived in deadly fear of a “war on two fronts”. Located in the middle of Europe, squeezed between two great military powers, France and Russia, it drew up a plan to forestall this eventuality. The plan changed every year in the wake of military exercises, but in essence it was based on the premise that one enemy had to be crushed before the other enemy had time to join the battle.

     

     

     

    The plan in place in 1914 was to crush France before the cumbersome Russian mobilization could be completed. So when the Czar announced his mobilization, the German army invaded Belgium and reached the outskirts of Paris in a few weeks. They almost succeeded in defeating France before the Russians were ready.

     

     

     

    (25 years later, Hitler solved the same problem in a different way. He signed a sham treaty with Stalin, finished France off and then attacked Russia.)

     

     

     

    In 1914, Great Britain, shocked by the invasion of Belgium, hastened to the aid of its French ally. Italy, Japan, and others joined the fray. So did the Ottoman Empire, which ruled Palestine. World War I was underway.

     

     

     

    Who wanted this terrible war? Nobody. Who took a cool-headed decision to start it? Nobody. Of course, many national and international interests were involved, but none so important as to justify such a catastrophe.

     

     

     

    No, it was a war nobody wanted or even envisioned. The flower of European youth was destroyed by the sheer stupidity of the contemporary politicians, followed by the colossal stupidity of the generals.

     

     

     

    And in the end, a peace treaty was concocted that made another world war practically inevitable. Only after another awful world war did the politicians come to their senses and make another fratricidal war in Western Europe  unthinkable.

     

     

     

    A hundred years after it all started, it is well to remember.

     

     

     

     

     

    CAN ANYTHING like this happen again?  Can an unintended chain of foolish acts lead to another catastrophe? Can one thing lead to another in a way that incompetent leaders are unable to stop?

     

     

     

    I hope not. After all, during these hundred years, some lessons have been learned and absorbed.

     

     

     

    Or not?

     

     

     

     

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