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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 8th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

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

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.info)

 

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.

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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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

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.info)

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.info)

 

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.info)

 

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.info)

 

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.

 

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

 

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.info)

 

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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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

The territory of Eastern Europe on which the present state of Ukraine is located was first mentioned in history in the 9th century as Kievan Rus which is in effect the cultural birthplace of Russia of today – one could say that it parallels to the West Bank of the Palestinians that was the birthplace of the historic Israeli kingdom. I am sure that lots of people will disagree with this. But it is true nevertheless and we say it is of no practical importance today.

After the Partitions of Poland (1772–1795) and conquest of Crimean Khanate, Ukraine was divided between Russia and Austria, thus the largest part of the territory of Ukraine was integrated into the Russian Empire, with the rest, since 1849  under the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

After the Russian Revolution, there was created an internationally recognized independent Ukrainian People’s Republic that emerged from its own civil war. The Ukrainian–Soviet War followed, which resulted in the Soviet Army establishing control in late 1919 – this Soviet victory was in effect the end of a short lived Ukraine. The conquerors created then the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which on 30 December 1922 became one of the founding republics of the Soviet Union.

Then there was a genocide of Ukrainians by Stalin: millions of people starved to death in 1932 and 1933 in the Holodomor. After the 1939 invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and Soviet Union, the Ukrainian SSR’s territory was enlarged westward. During World War II the Ukrainian Insurgent Army tried to reestablish Ukrainian independence and fought against both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. But in 1941 Ukraine was occupied by Nazi Germany, being liberated in 1944. In 1945, the Ukrainian SSR became one of the the two Soviet Republics (the other being Belarus) to bolster the voting power of the Soviet Union in the founding of the United Nations – the assumption was that their territories were under Nazi occupation.

From above, it can be concluded that real first steps of a modern Ukrainian statehood came when the Ukraine per se got set up around WWII as an enlarged soviet republic by Stalin’s Soviets  –  The Ukr.SSR,  Before that – in 1918 there were attempts at creating several Ukrainian States but they got suppressed swallowed up. To the Ukrainian SSR Stalin added later Hotin and South Bessarabia (AkermanRegion) taken from Bessarabia, the Chernivtsi region that was part of  Bukowina and the whole Eastern Galicia that was annexed from Poland. That Ukrainian SSR became in 1991 the Independent State of Ukraine by brake-up of the USSR in 1991. The UN membership was extended to them naturally
on basis of the latest Soviet geography.

  The Akerman region makes Ukraina a Danube Conference state  denying Moldova outlet to the sea. This area includes the Gagauz people. They proclaimed the Gaugazia State.

tribuna.md/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/img-gagauzia-2.jpg

Moldova was given the Tiraspol area East of the Dniester instead.

This enclave  refused to become Moldova after the breaking up of the Soviet Union.

 After a war  with the the Russian Tank division  stationed there which were victors, they  formed a breakaway  illegal state that named itself Transnistria (Trans-Dniester River) – that  included de facto the twin town of Tiraspol – Bender. Bender is on the west bank – the Moldova side of the Dniester.

Moldova it thus next hub of breakaway States – but now without bordering Russia it stands to reason that they will just freeze this reality.

Crimea was passed by Nikita Krushchev from the larger Soviet Union part that is now the Russian Federation to Ukraina SSR only in 1954. Crimea was now claimed by Russia and it stands to reason that even in honest voting there would have been a pro-Russian majority. The West can claim that in a civilized world one should go about secessions the way Scotland is doing it and it takes years in peace – not days at gun point.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

QUOTATION OF THE DAY

“They cheated us again and again, made decisions behind our back, presenting us with completed facts. That’s the way it was with the expansion of NATO in the East, with the deployment of military infrastructure at our borders.”

VLADIMIR V. PUTIN, listing grievances against the West as he reclaimed Crimea as a part of Russia.

 

Putin Reclaims Crimea for Russia and Bitterly Denounces the West

By STEVEN LEE MYERS and ELLEN BARRY

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said he was reversing what he described as a historical mistake, declaring, “Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia in the hearts and minds of people.”

News Analysis

If Not a Cold War, a Return to a Chilly Rivalry

By PETER BAKER

Tensions over Crimea may not bring a new Cold War, but analysts worry about a long period of confrontation and alienation.

OPINION | Room for Debate

Ukraine’s Effect on a Deal for Syria

How will deteriorating relations between the West and Russia affect Syria?

Op-Ed Columnist

From Putin, a Blessing in Disguise

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

If this is Cold War II, let’s make this race an Earth Race.

—-

Today’s Editorials

Post-Crimea Relations With the West

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

President Obama is right to warn Vladimir Putin that further provocations by Russia could isolate and diminish its influence.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

HUMAN RIGHTS TALK ON THE UKRAINE IN VIENNA March 25th 2014: Ukraine quo vadis?

The question is what effect will the current developments in the Ukraine have on Human Rights in the Ukraine and what ought to be the stand of the EU? The reality being that the coming to power of Stepan Bandera Nationalists might in effect decrease Human Rights in Ukraine by feeding Xenophobia to people that had good reason to want their freedom from the Russian bear but are yet blinded by the Nationalist feelings that the rebellion has brought to the forefront. With much of the EU falling also into a re-Nationalization trap, the Ukrainians might not even realize the dangers in being mislead – something making Maidan very much like the Egyptian Tahrir – a path to further loss in Human Rights and a step back from true democracy that includes minorities and differing points of view. Vienna these days is the place where serious debate can be witnessed on these problems and where denial of the dangers of Nationalism is radiating from pro-Maidan Ukrainian representatives.

 

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren, liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen,

wir möchten Sie hiermit herzlich zum HUMAN RIGHTS TALK: Ukraine quo vadis? einladen, der am Dienstag, den 25. März 2014 um 19:00 Uhr in der Aula des Universitätscampus Altes AKH (1. Hof, Spitalgasse 2-4, 1090 Wien) stattfindet.

Die Veranstaltung wird vom Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Menschenrechte organisiert und findet in Kooperation mit derStandard.at, juridikum, zeitschrift für kritik | recht | gesellschaft und zige.tv statt. Die Einladung finden Sie hier.

Seit Wochen befindet sich die Ukraine im Aufruhr, bei dem ersten HUMAN RIGHTS TALK des Sommersemesters 2014 gehen Richard KÜHNEL (Vertreter der Europäischen Kommission in Österreich), Kateryna MISHCHENKO (Herausgeberin und Übersetzerin aus Kiew dzt. Institut für die Wissenschaft vom Menschen), Susanne SCHOLL (ehem. ORF-Korrespondentin in Moskau) und Hannes TRETTER (Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Menschenrechte) der Frage nach, welche menschenrechtlichen Auswirkungen die derzeitigen politischen Entwicklungen in der Ukraine haben und welche Rolle und Verantwortung die Europäische Union dabei hat. Moderiert wird das Gespräch von Anna Giulia FINK (Nachrichtenmagazin profil).

Das Gespräch findet in deutscher Sprache statt.

Im Anschluss an die Podiumsdiskussion lädt die Forschungsplattform “Human Rights in the European Context“ und das Ludwig Boltzmann Institut zu einem kleinen Umtrunk ein.

Der Eintritt ist frei, aus logistischen Gründen bitten wir um Anmeldung an humanrightstalk@univie.ac.at.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

Stepan Andriyovych Bandera  (1 January 1909 – 15 October 1959) was a Ukrainian politician and  leader in the Western Ukraine that fought for the Ukrainian independence via a nationalist movement that had no scruples in its allies – the goal overruling any other concerns.

Stepan Bandera was responsible for the proclamation of an Independent Ukrainian State in Lviv on June 30, 1941, eight days after Germany’s attack against the USSR. Members of Bandera’s Ukrainian nationalist movement thought that they had found a new powerful ally in Nazi Germany to aid them in their struggle to free themselves from the Soviet Union.

But NAZI Germany leaders thought differently and arrested his newly formed government, and sent them to concentration camps in Germany. Bandera  himself was imprisoned by the Nazis until September 1944. Eventually he was assassinated in 1959 by the KGB.

On 22 January 2010, President Viktor Yushchenko awarded Bandera the title of Hero of Ukraine (posthumously). The award was condemned by the European Parliament, and Russian, Polish and Jewish organizations, and was declared illegal by the pro-Russian Ukrainian government and court in April 2010. In January 2011, the award was officially annulled. Consequently, Stepan Bandera remains a controversial figure both in Ukraine and internationally – but the new Nationalism of the 2014 Ukraine is again trying to restore him to a pedestal of national Hero – and this ought to be enough for many outsiders that fear a new Neo-Nazi Ukraine. Bandera’s flag was the red and black flag – not the commonly accepted Yellow and Blue flag – and my seeing on TV his flags on the Maidan made us hesitant in accepting the new Ukraine.

Bandera was jailed by the Polish government and released in 1939 when Poland caved in to the advancing Germans. He moved to Krakow – the seat of Germany’s occupational General Government. He caused a split in the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN)
searching support in Germany’s military circles under his OUN(B for Bandera). In November 1939 about 800 Ukrainian nationalists began training in Abwehr‘s military camps. In the first days of December, Bandera, without co-ordination with the leader of the other OUN group led by Melnyk, and referred to as OUN(M), sent a courier to Lviv with directives for preparation of an armed uprising. The courier was intercepted by the NKVD, which had captured some of the OUN(M)’s leaders. Another such attempt was prevented in Autumn 1940.
He also organized “Mobile Groups”  which were small (5-15 members) groups of OUN-B members who would travel from General Government to Western Ukraine, and after German advance to Eastern Ukraine, to encourage support for the OUN-B and establishing the local authorities ruled by OUN-B activists.  These small groups also incited the Ukrainian peasants to kill the Jews that lived in their midst.I happen to have lost a grand-mother and an aunt to the knives of these murderers who crossed the Cheremush river from former Polish held Galizia to former Rumanian held Bukowina in what is now the Chernivtsi Oblast of the Ukraine. My grandmother and aunt were butchered by the “Banderevtses.”

The intermittently close relationship between Bandera, the OUN and Nazi Germany have been described by historians such as David Marples as “ambivalent”, tactical and opportunistic, with both sides trying to exploit the other unsuccessfully.

Prior to Operation Barbarossa, according to the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and other sources, Bandera held meetings with the heads of Germany’s intelligence, regarding the formation of “Nachtigall” and “Roland” Battalions. In spring the OUN received 2.5 million marks for subversive activities inside the USSR.

Gestapo and Abwehr officials protected Bandera followers, as both organizations intended to use them for their own purposes.

On June 30, 1941, with the arrival of Nazi troops in Ukraine, Bandera and the OUN-B declared an independent Ukrainian State. Some of the published proclamations of the formation of this state say that it “will work closely with the National-Socialist Greater Germany, under the leadership of its leader Adolf Hitler which is forming a new order in Europe and the world and is helping the Ukrainian People to free itself from Moscovite occupation.” – as stated in the text of the “Act of Proclamation of Ukrainian Statehood“.

In 1941 relations between Nazi Germany and the OUN-B soured to the point where a Nazi document dated 25 November 1941 stated that “… the Bandera Movement is preparing a revolt in the Reichskommissariat which has as its ultimate aim the establishment of an independent Ukraine. All functionaries of the Bandera Movement must be arrested at once and, after thorough interrogation, are to be liquidated…”.
On July 5, Bandera was arrested and transferred to Berlin. On July 12, the president of the newly formed Ukrainian state, Yaroslav Stetsko, was also arrested and taken to Berlin. Although released from custody on July 14, both were required to stay in Berlin.

In January 1942, Bandera was transferred to Sachsenhausen concentration camp‘s special barrack for high profile political prisoners Zellenbau.

In April 1944 Bandera and his deputy Yaroslav Stetsko were approached by an RSHA official to discuss plans for diversions and sabotage against the Soviet Army.

In September 1944  Bandera was released by [the German authorities] which hoped that he will incite the native populace to fight the advancing Soviet Army. With German consent Bandera set up headquarters in Berlin Germans supplied OUN-B and UIA by air with arms and equipment. Assigned German personnel and agents trained to conduct terrorist and intelligence activities behind Soviet lines, as well as some OUN-B leaders, were also transported by air until early 1945.

Views towards other ethnic groups:

Poles

 

 

In May 1941 at a meeting in Krakow the leadership of Bandera’s OUN faction adopted the program “Struggle and action for OUN during the war” (Ukrainian: “???????? ? ?????????? ??? ??? ??? ?????») which outlined the plans for activities at the onset of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and the western territories of the Ukrainian SSR.  Section G of that document –”Directives for first days of the organization of the living state” Ukrainian: “???????? ?? ????? ??? ??????????? ?????????? ?????» outline activity of the Bandera followers during summer 1941 In the subsection of “Minority Policy” the OUN-B ordered the removal of hostile Poles, Jews, and Russians via deportation and the destruction of their respective intelligentsias, stating further that the “so-called Polish peasants must be assimilated” and to “destroy their leaders.”

 

In late 1942, Bandera’s organization, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, was involved in a campaign of ethnic cleansing of Volhynia, and in early 1944, these campaigns began to include Eastern Galicia. It is estimated that nearly 70,000 Poles, mostly women and children along with unarmed men, were killed during the spring and summer campaign of 1943 in Volhynia  by the OUN-Bandera which bears primary responsibility for the massacres.

Despite the central role played by Bandera’s followers in the massacre of Poles in western Ukraine, Bandera himself was interned in a German concentration camp when the concrete decision to massacre the Poles was made, and when the Poles were killed. During his internment, from the summer of 1941, he was not completely aware of events in Ukraine and moreover had serious differences of opinion with Mykola Lebed, the OUN-B leader who remained in Ukraine and who was one of the chief architects of the massacres of Poles.

Bandera was thus not directly involved in those massacres, although it cannot be ruled out that they would have occurred had he been present.

Jews

Unlike competing Polish, Russian, Hungarian or Romanian nationalisms in late imperial Austria, imperial Russia, interwar Poland and Romania, Ukrainian nationalism did not include antisemitism as a core aspect of its program and saw Russians as well as Poles as the chief enemy with Jews playing a secondary role.  Nevertheless, Ukrainian nationalism was not immune to the influence of the antisemitic climate in the Eastern and Central Europe,  had already become highly racialized in the late 19th century, and had developed an elaborate anti-Jewish discourse.  However, Ukrainian nationalistic Jews were welcome in the Banderivtsy, provided their adoption of the identity of the Galician Karaites, who were regarded as loyal compatriots.

The predominance of the Soviet central government, rather than the Jewish minority, as the principal perceived enemy of Ukrainian nationalists was highlighted at the OUN-B’s Conference in Krakow in 1941 when it declared that “The Jews in the USSR constitute the most faithful support of the ruling Bolshevik regime, and the vanguard of Muscovite imperialism in Ukraine. The Muscovite-Bolshevik government exploits the anti-Jewish sentiments of the Ukrainian masses to divert their attention from the true cause of their misfortune and to channel them in a time of frustration into pogroms on Jews. The OUN combats the Jews as the prop of the Muscovite-Bolshevik regime and simultaneously it renders the masses conscious of the fact that the principal foe is Moscow.”  In May 1941 at a meeting in Krakow the leadership of Bandera’s OUN faction adopted the program “Struggle and action of OUN during the war” (Ukrainian: “???????? ? ?????????? ??? ??? ??? ?????») which outlined the plans for activities at the onset of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and the western territories of the Ukrainian SSR.  Section G of that document –”Directives for first days of the organization of the living state” Ukrainian: “???????? ?? ????? ??? ??????????? ?????????? ?????» outline activity of the Bandera followers during summer 1941. In the subsection of “Minority Policy” the OUN-B ordered: Moskali, Poles, Jews are hostile to us must be exterminated in this struggle, especially those who would resist our regime: deport them to their own lands, importantly: destroy their intelligentsia that may be in the positions of power … Jews must be isolated, removed from governmental positions in order to prevent sabotage, those who are deemed necessary may only work with an overseer… Jewish assimilation is not possible.”  Later in June Yaroslav Stetsko sent to Bandera a report in which he indicated – “We are creating a militia which would help to get remove the Jews and protect the population.” Leaflets spread in the name of Bandera in the same year called for the “destruction” of “”Moscow”, Poles, Hungarians and Jewry. In 1941-1942 while Bandera was cooperating with the Germans, OUN members did take part in anti-Jewish actions.

In 1942 German intelligence concluded that Ukrainian nationalists were indifferent to the plight of the Jews and were willing to either kill them or help them, depending on what better served their cause. Several Jews took part in Bandera’s underground movement, including one of Bandera’s close associates Richard Yary who was also married to a Jewish woman. Another notable Jewish UPA member was Leyba-Itzik “Valeriy” Dombrovsky. According to a report to the Chief of the Security Police in Berlin dated March 30, 1942, “…it has been clearly established that the Bandera movement provided forged passports not only for its own members, but also for Jews.”. The false papers were most likely supplied to Jewish doctors or skilled workers who could be useful for the movement.

When Bandera was in conflict with the Germans, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army under his authority sheltered many Jews. and included Jewish fighters and medical personnel. In the official organ of the OUN-B’s leadership, instructions to OUN groups urged those groups to “liquidate the manifestations of harmful foreign influence, particularly the German racist concepts and practices.”  In summary, Bandera’s movement sometimes harmed and sometimes helped Jews depending on particular circumstances and on Bandera’s relationship with Germany.

Bandera’s execution by the Soviets.

On 15 October 1959, Stepan Bandera collapsed outside of Kreittmayrstrasse 7 in Munich and died shortly thereafter. A medical examination established that the cause of his death was poison (cyanide gas).   On October 20, 1959 Stepan Bandera was buried in the Waldfriedhof Cemetery in Munich.

Two years later, on 17 November 1961, the German judicial bodies announced that Bandera’s murderer had been a KGB defector Bohdan Stashynsky who acted on the orders of Soviet KGB head Alexander Shelepin and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.  After a detailed investigation against Stashynsky, a trial took place from 8 October to 15 October 1962. The sentence was handed down on 19 October in which Stashynsky was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. The Federal Court of Justice of Germany confirmed at Karlsruhe that in the Bandera murder, the Soviet secret service was the main guilty party.

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

Above tells us about Bandera – a strong activist against Polish and Soviet domination over Ukrainians – and in the process he also put in motion the killing of Jews by Ukrainians. Exceptions were made for Jews that could help his troops – such Jews as medical personnel.

By the end of WWII many surviving Banderivtsy found their way to British Columbia in Canada  and some of their children turned up in Lviv (Western Ukraine) with Bandera red&black flags and Canadian flags and marched to cellebrate the independence of Ukraine after the fall of the Soviet Union. Now the same flags showed up on the Maidan in order to free Ukraine of Russia’s stooge – Viktor Yanukovych.

What we find unacceptable is that proponents of the Maidan movement see only the nationalism of Bandera but turn a blind eye at his prejudices and crimes against humanity. Yes, we know that Jews are bellweather to racism – that is that Nationalist revolutions do not mind spilling Jewish blood.  Transparency and rejection of such elements are a must for the acceptance of present day Ukrainian Nationalism, and the fact that none of this was part of the presentations made by Ukrainians at a meeting we attended in Vienna where three different aspects of the Maidan spoke, only one speaker mentioned Bandera but without feeling that he had to reject the Xenophobism of the man,
and the potential danger to the present movement. No, we cannot cheer for the Ukrainian side as long as they do not profess strict adherence to Human Rights of the minorities in their midst.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

Europe

Russia Seizes Gas Plant Near Crimea Border, Ukraine Says.

Photo

Armed forces patrolled a checkpoint on a road between Sevastopol and Simferopol in Crimea on Saturday. Credit Uriel Sinai for The New York Times

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — Tensions mounted on the eve of a secession referendum here in Crimea as helicopter-borne Russian forces made a provocative incursion just outside the peninsula’s regional border to seize a natural gas terminal, while American and European officials prepared sanctions to impose on Moscow as early as Monday.

The military operation by at least 80 troops landing on a slender sand bar just across from Crimea’s northeast border seemed part of a broader effort to strengthen control over the peninsula before a referendum Sunday on whether its majority Russian-speaking population wants to demand greater autonomy from Ukraine or break away completely and join Russia. Whatever its tactical goals, the seizure of the terminal sent a defiant message to the United States and Europe and underscored that a diplomatic resolution to Russia’s recent takeover of Crimea remains elusive.

The raid came as American and European diplomats at the United Nations pushed for a vote on a resolution declaring the Sunday referendum illegal, essentially forcing Russia to veto the measure. In the end, Russia cast the only vote against it; even China, its traditional ally on the Council, did not vote with Moscow but abstained, an indication of its unease with Russia’s violation of another country’s sovereignty. Western diplomats hoped the result would reinforce Russia’s growing international isolation over Ukraine.

American and European officials worked through the day readying lists of Russians to penalize after the referendum, including possibly vital members of President Vladimir V. Putin’s inner circle. Among the Russians who have been on at least some lists circulated for consideration for Western sanctions, according to officials, are Sergei K. Shoigu, the defense minister; Aleksandr V. Bortnikov, director of the Federal Security Service; Nikolai P. Patrushev, the secretary of the security council; Sergei B. Ivanov and Vladislav Surkov, two of Mr. Putin’s closest and most powerful advisers; Dmitri O. Rogozin, a deputy prime minister; Aleksei Miller, the chief executive of Gazprom, the state energy giant; and Igor Sechin, head of the oil company Rosneft.

President Obama and his European counterparts may start with only some of the Putin confidants in whatever sanctions are imposed immediately after the referendum, so as to have the means to further escalate their response should Russia continue to press its seizure of Ukrainian territory. Instead, they may focus at first on lower-level officials, military leaders, business tycoons or parliamentarians.

The sanctions would ban the targets from traveling to Europe or the United States and freeze any assets they had in either place. Western officials said they do not plan to sanction Mr. Putin himself, at least at this point, because he is a head of state, nor do they intend to target Sergey V. Lavrov, the foreign minister, because he needs to travel if there are any future diplomatic talks.

Mr. Obama’s cabinet secretaries and top advisers huddled in the White House on Saturday to discuss their strategy, joined by Secretary of State John Kerry, who returned from a fruitless last-ditch diplomatic trip to talk with Mr. Lavrov in London.

The degree of sanctions and the exact timing may depend on how Moscow reacts immediately after the referendum, which is almost universally expected to approve seceding from Ukraine and becoming part of Russia, officials said. If Mr. Putin moves promptly to initiate annexation, that would trigger immediate action, but if he holds back and leaves room for talks, Washington and Brussels may defer the tougher actions.

Photo

Samantha Power, the American ambassador to the United Nations, and her Russian counterpart, Vitaly I. Churkin, before voting on a Security Council resolution. Credit Emmanuel Dunand/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Russia left little impression of backing down on Saturday. Russian forces made a show of added strength here in Simferopol, the regional capital, stationing armed personnel carriers in at least two locations in the city center and parking two large troop carriers outside the headquarters of the election commission. Before Saturday, the heavy equipment had largely been kept out of the city.

The more provocative move, however, was the seizure of the gas terminal in the Kherson region near a town called Strelkovoye, which drew new threats of a military response from the Ukrainian government. Until now, it has refrained from responding in force to Russian actions, but it sent troops Saturday to surround the gas terminal, according to a Ukrainian news service quoting local police, though there were no immediate indications of any shots being fired.

In Kiev, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Ukraine “reserves the right to use all necessary measures” to stop what it called “the military invasion by Russia.”

The White House suggested the move by Russia only increased the likelihood of sanctions. “We remain concerned about any attempt by Russia to increase tensions or threaten the Ukrainian people, and as we have long said, if Russia continues to take escalatory steps, there will be consequences,” said Caitlin Hayden, a White House spokeswoman.

The pro-Russian government in Crimea issued a statement saying its “self-defense” forces had seized the gas terminal because Ukraine had turned off the supply of fuel, leaving homes, hospitals and schools without heat or electricity. The government also said that it found the terminal rigged with explosives “with the goal of totally destroying it,” which would cut off gas to eastern cities in Crimea.

Photo

Ukrainian servicemen guarded a checkpoint near the village Salkovo, in Kherson region, on Saturday. Credit Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

Those claims, carried by the Interfax news service, were impossible to verify independently. Power in some parts of Crimea appeared to be disrupted in recent days, although it was possible that was because of power lines downed by high winds.

Although the Crimean government sought to take responsibility for the operation, there was little doubt that it was conducted by Russian forces, given the involvement of helicopters and other sophisticated equipment.

The move appeared to fit the pattern of deployment on Crimea. The Ukrainian Unian news agency cited local residents saying soldiers without identifying insignia had landed near the gas terminal in helicopters with Russia’s red-star tail art.

Officials in Ukraine have worried Russia would begin to take steps to ensure it could continue to provide services to Crimea, including trying to secure gas supplies that come from outside the peninsula. Such steps would be expected to diminish Ukraine’s leverage over Crimea.

The showdown at the United Nations was dramatic in its own way. The Russian ambassador, Vitaly I. Churkin, preceded his veto by saying that Moscow would respect the results of Sunday’s referendum, but he did not say what it would do afterward. He described the referendum as an “extraordinary measure,” expressing the Crimean people’s right to self-determination, made necessary by what he called an “illegal coup carried out by radicals” in Ukraine, referring to the street protests that led to the ouster of President Viktor F. Yanukovych, a Russian ally.

Photo

Armed men left the Moscow Hotel in Simferopol after taking over some floors. Credit Uriel Sinai for The New York Times

Western officials crafted the language to persuade China not to side with Moscow. China is sensitive about talk of secession since it has its own worries about restive regions, including Tibet.

“China has always respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states,” said Liu Jieyi, the Chinese ambassador, explaining his abstention before adding a jab at the West: “At the same time, we have noticed foreign interference is also an important reason leading to violent clashes on the streets of Ukraine.”

The officials meeting in Washington and Europe working on sanctions saw three scenarios for Monday and beyond: Mr. Putin does not act; he moves to begin the legal processes of annexation; or, in the worst case, he moves to seize parts of eastern Ukraine.

Also on Saturday, amid the tensions between the West and Russia, NATO announced that several of its websites had been hit by cyberattacks. A spokeswoman said on Twitter that the sites had been hit by a denial of service attack, but that there had been no operational effect. A former Obama administration official said  responsibility for the attack was claimed by a group called cyber-Berkut. Ukraine’s riot police are known as the Berkut.

Ukrainian officials have been worried about an escalation of Russian military actions, reporting shifting tanks and troops in the north of Crimea, near the Ukrainian mainland. A spokesman in Crimea, Vladislav Seleznyov, said troops and trucks towing artillery pieces moved from Kerch, a city near the strait of the same name separating Crimea from Russia, to the north.

In one episode on Saturday night, masked gunmen stormed into the Hotel Moskva in Simferopol where foreign journalists are staying. The heavily armed men, many in plainclothes, searched some rooms. Some journalists said their flash drives had been taken.

Crimean officials insisted it was a training exercise.

Mr. Putin on Saturday was in the southern Russian resort city of Sochi, where he watched the open relay in cross-country ski racing in the Paralympics. Russia won the gold; Ukraine won the silver. The Kremlin issued a statement saying Mr. Putin had congratulated both teams.

——————

David M. Herszenhorn reported from Simferopol, Ukraine; Peter Baker from Washington; and Andrew E. Kramer from Kiev, Ukraine. Somini Sengupta contributed reporting from the United Nations, Steven Lee Myers from Moscow, Noah Sneider from Simferopol and Scott Shane from Washington.

———————

Some Comments:

KJ

The pipeline capacity to China would not make up for the cutoff of Russian natural gas to Western Europe and the Chinese would not even buy…

EAL

It’s been more than a week since this all started. What good will it do to freeze Russian bank accounts here and in Europe? I would think…

rkasper

Mr. Putin,How is seizing a gas distribution facility in another nation’s territory “protecting the Russian citizens” therein? We all know…

———–

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

 

 

The New York Times – QUOTATION OF THE DAY:

 

“We don’t have a common vision of the situation.”

 

SERGEY V. LAVROV, Russia’s foreign minister, on the failure of talks with Secretary of State John Kerry to ease tensions over Russia’s insistence that a referendum on Crimean independence proceed as scheduled.

 

But in Washington the Republicans think the World is just an intra-US-political game. Quite disgusting that Senator McCain does not accept his defeat, and his party’s defeat at the polls. Simply, in his case the results were not good enough for the Republican Supreme Court to move in and overturn the polls. He is quoted:

 

 

OPINION | Op-Ed Contributor to the New York Times

Obama Has Made America Look Weak

By JOHN McCAIN

 

The Crimea crisis offers Americans a chance to restore our country’s credibility on the world stage.

BUT ABOVE TWO FIGURES SHOW CLEARLY THAT RUSSIA IS RATHER AN EU PARTNER AND CLEARLY NOT A US PARTNER.   AS RUSSIA IS RATHER UNIMPORTANT TO US BUSINESS – BUT MUCH MORE IMPORTANT TO EU BUSINESS – LET THE EU FIGURE OUT HOW TO REACT TO RUSSIA’S INCURSION TO THE UKRAINE. THERE IS RATHER A CHANCE THAT COMMON GROUND WILL EVENTUALLY BE FOUND WITH THE EUROPEANS BUT IT WILL BE DISASTER IF CRIMEA BECOMES THE SUBSTANCE OF US INTERNAL POLITICS AS SENATOR McCAIN WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT.

BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? SENATOR McCAIN ACTUALLY SAYS HE WANTS THE US TO GO IN THE EXACT DIRECTION PRESIDENT OBAMA IS TRYING TO TAKE IT – BUT INTERFERES WITH HIM.  HE SAYS THAT HE – McCAIN SEES THIS POLICY  AND OBAMA DOES NOT.

McCAIN  JOINS THE OBAMA-BASHERS AND BY DOING SO HE IN EFFECT BACKS THOSE THAT WANT TO REVISIT AND RELIVE VIETNAM, IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN … THE BIG ARMS INDUSTRY … THE COLD WARRIORS … AND WE REFUSE
TO BE FOOLED.

Furthermore – ask the East Europeans, now part of the EU, about the price they paid at the 1945 Yalta meeting for America’s interest in Middle East oil – specifically in Iranian oil. They became after WWII that was fought on their back – the payment to Stalin for his giving up communism’s  incursion in Iran – which may have in effect also after some other cycles led to the present US-bashing by Iran. Whatever the Obama moves and non-moves – they are at least more honest then this inter-party bashing by Americans.

His words in that OP-ED Opinion piece:

Should Russia’s invasion and looming annexation of Crimea be blamed on President Barack Obama? Of course not,  just as it should not be blamed on NATO expansion, the Iraq war or Western interventions to stop mass atrocities in the Balkans and Libya. The blame lies squarely with Vladimir V. Putin, an unreconstructed Russian imperialist and K.G.B. apparatchik.

But in a broader sense, Crimea has exposed the disturbing lack of realism that has characterized our foreign policy under President Obama. It is this worldview, or lack of one, that must change.

For five years, Americans have been told that “the tide of war is receding,” that we can pull back from the world at little cost to our interests and values. This has fed a perception that the United States is weak, and to people like Mr. Putin, weakness is provocative.

 

 

That is how Mr. Putin viewed the “reset” policy. United States missile defense plans were scaled back. Allies in Eastern Europe and Georgia were undercut. NATO enlargement was tabled. A new strategic arms reduction treaty required significant cuts by America, but not Russia. Mr. Putin gave little. Mr. Obama promised “more flexibility.”

Mr. Putin also saw a lack of resolve in President Obama’s actions beyond Europe. In Afghanistan and Iraq, military decisions have appeared driven more by a desire to withdraw than to succeed. Defense budgets have been slashed based on hope, not strategy. Iran and China have bullied America’s allies at no discernible cost. Perhaps worst of all, Bashar al-Assad crossed President Obama’s “red line” by using chemical weapons in Syria, and nothing happened to him.

For Mr. Putin, vacillation invites aggression. His world is a brutish, cynical place, where power is worshiped, weakness is despised, and all rivalries are zero-sum. He sees the fall of the Soviet Union as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” He does not accept that Russia’s neighbors, least of all Ukraine, are independent countries. To him, they are Russia’s “near abroad” and must be brought back under Moscow’s dominion by any means necessary.

What is most troubling about Mr. Putin’s aggression in Crimea is that it reflects a growing disregard for America’s credibility in the world. That has emboldened other aggressive actors — from Chinese nationalists to Al Qaeda terrorists and Iranian theocrats.

Crimea must be the place where President Obama recognizes this reality and begins to restore the credibility of the United States as a world leader. This will require two different kinds of responses.

The first, and most urgent, is crisis management. We need to work with our allies to shore up Ukraine, reassure shaken friends in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States, show Mr. Putin a strong, united front, and prevent the crisis from getting worse.

This does not mean military action against Russia. But it should mean sanctioning Russian officials, isolating Russia internationally, and increasing NATO’s military presence and exercises on its eastern frontier. It should mean boycotting the Group of 8 summit meeting in Sochi and convening the Group of 7 elsewhere. It should also mean making every effort to support and resupply Ukrainian patriots, both soldiers and civilians, who are standing their ground in government facilities across Crimea. They refuse to accept the dismemberment of their country. So should we.

Crimea may be falling under Russian control, but Ukraine has another chance for freedom, rule of law and a European future. To seize that opportunity, Ukrainian leaders must unify the nation and commit to reform, and the West must provide significant financial and other assistance. Bipartisan legislation now before Congress would contribute to this effort.

More broadly, we must rearm ourselves morally and intellectually to prevent the darkness of Mr. Putin’s world from befalling more of humanity. We may wish to believe, as President Obama has said, that we are not “in competition with Russia.” But Mr. Putin believes Russia is in competition with us, and pretending otherwise is an unrealistic basis for a great nation’s foreign policy.

Three American presidents have sought to cooperate with Mr. Putin where our interests converge. What should be clear now, and should have been clear the last time he tore apart a country, is that our interests do not converge much.  He will always insist on being our rival.

The United States must look beyond Mr. Putin. His regime may appear imposing, but it is rotting inside. His Russia is not a great power on par with America. It is a gas station run by a corrupt, autocratic regime.  And eventually, Russians will come for Mr. Putin in the same way and for the same reasons that Ukrainians came for Viktor F. Yanukovych.

We must prepare for that day now. We should show the Russian people that we support their human rights by expanding the Magnitsky Act to impose more sanctions on those who abuse them. We should stop allowing their country’s most corrupt officials to park ill-gotten proceeds in Western economies. We should prove that countries like Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova have a future in the Euro-Atlantic community, and Russia can, too.

 

We must do all we can to demonstrate that the tide of history is with Ukraine — that the political values of the West, and not those of an imperial kleptocracy, are the hope of all nations. If Ukraine can emerge from this crisis independent, prosperous and anchored firmly in Europe, how long before Russians begin to ask, “Why not us?” That would not just spell the end of Mr. Putin’s imperial dreams; it would strip away the lies that sustain his rule over Russia itself.

America’s greatest strength has always been its hopeful vision of human progress. But hopes do not advance themselves, and the darkness that threatens them will not be checked by an America in denial about the world as it is. It requires realism, strength and leadership. If Crimea does not awaken us to this fact, I am afraid to think what will.

John McCain is a Republican senator from Arizona.

 Some Comments

 

V

Hahahahaha.Ha.Hahahaha.Thanks for the good laugh, Senator McCain. By the way, thanks also for all your “insight, expertise and wisdom” on…

stu freeman

Thank you, Sen. McCain, for your service and heroism during the Viet-Nam period (a conflict from which we would have most certainly emerged…

david

John McCain continues to refight the Vietnam War.He like many of the neo-cons believes that only if the US had fought harder in Vietnam the…

AND THE EUROPEANS WRITE:

***** EUobserver – 15.03.2014 ******************************

****************

UKRAINE MATTERS!

Conference, Tuesday 18th March from 15:00 to 18:00 at the Renaissance Hotel
brought to you by the EU Ukraine Business Council with live feed to
Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv.  What measures can the EU take to stabilise the
situation and bring Ukraine out of crisis?

To book, register at www.planetReg.com/UkraineMatters.

***** THE NEWS *************************************************************

1. EU undecided on Russia sanctions ahead of Crimea vote – 14/03/2014 20:15:12

Ukraine’s ambassador to the EU has appealed for European unity ahead of
Sunday’s tinderbox “referendum” in Crimea.

euobserver.com/foreign/123472

———–
2. Europe looking at alternatives to Russian gas – 14/03/2014 20:04:06

EU leaders meeting in Brussels next week will look at ways to lower the
bloc’s dependence on Russian gas as they prepare economic sanctions against
Moscow.

euobserver.com/economic/123466

———–
3. [Agenda] Russia sanctions to dominate this WEEK – 14/03/2014 20:11:41

Possible EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine are set to dominate this
week’s agenda as leaders gather in Brussels to discuss the implications of
the referendum in Crimea.

euobserver.com/agenda/123469

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

 

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 We wonder that anti-EU British and Dutch Right-Wingers were not mentioned among the invitees – perhaps that was an oversight of the reporter?

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

Russia invites EU far-right to observe Crimea vote.

from the EUobserver – 13.03.14

By Benjamin Fox

 

BRUSSELS – The Russian government has invited some of Europe’s far-right parties to observe this weekend’s referendum in Crimea.

The leader of France’s National Front party, Marine Le Pen, told press at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday (12 March) that her executive has not yet decided whether to go.

The Austrian Freedom party, a National Front ally, also got an invitation.

Crimeans will go to the polls on Sunday to pick one of two options: “Are you in favour of Crimea becoming a constituent territory of the Russian Federation?” or “Are you in favour of restoring Crimea’s 1992 constitution? [on semi-autonomy inside Ukraine].”With Russian soldiers and paramilitaries in control of streets and public buildings, the vote will effectively be held at gunpoint.

EU leaders have said the referendum is illegal.

The G7 club of wealthy nations, which also includes Canada, Japan, and the US, described it as a “deeply flawed process which would have no moral force.”

The OSCE, a Vienna-based multilateral body, has also declined to send observers because the vote was called in violation of Ukraine’s constitution.

But for her part, Le Pen voiced sympathy for Russia, even if it opts to annex the territory after Sunday’s result.

“Crimea is not like the rest of the country … it is very closely linked to Russia,” she said, adding: “We have to take account of the history of Crimea.”

“From the outset of the crisis we [the National Front] have said that Ukraine should maintain its sovereignty but allow the three main regions to have a lot of autonomy.”

She described the prospect of EU economic sanctions against Russia as “dangerous” and echoed Russian propaganda on the new authorities in Kiev.

“We should have some qualms about the new government because it was not elected … We know that there are neo-Nazis and extremists in this government,” she said.

With Europe’s far-right keen to play up the Ukrainian crisis as an EU foreign policy blunder, Austrian MEP Andreas Moelzer, from the Freedom Party, told Austrian news agency APA also on Wednesday that he is considering Putin’s offer.

“We are among the few who try to understand Russia,” he said.

———–

The Soviet Union made Crimea part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954.

Some 58 percent of its 2 million people are ethnic Russians.

But ethnic Russians became the majority only in World War II, when Stalin deported hundreds of thousands of Armenians, Bulgarians, Jews, Germans, Greeks, and Tatars from the region.

The 800,000 or so Ukrainian speakers who live there now form the majority in nine districts.

The 250,000 or so Tatars in Crimea have appealed for EU, US, and Turkish help to keep them from falling under Putin’s rule.

 

Crimean Tatars Face Uncertain Future

Seventy years after Stalin brutally deported thousands of Crimean Tatars to Central Asia, the descendants of those who returned fear repression as Russia tightens its grip on the peninsula.

. Related Article

 

Amid Preparations, Mediator Says Syria Vote Would Doom Talks

By SOMINI SENGUPTA

Lakhdar Brahimi said there were many signs that Syria’s government was planning an election, though that would be counterproductive for talks.

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

OUR CONCLUSION:
ELECTIONS AT GUN-POINT ARE A FAKE DEMOCRATIC WAY TO HELP DESPOTS ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS. WE THINK THE US TEA-PARTY COULD ALSO TAKE A BREAK BY GOING TO THE CRIM.  WE SAY THIS WITHOUT
JUDGEMENT OF THE MERITS OF THE ISSUE AT HAND – RATHER BY THINKING ONLY OF THE SUSTAINABILITY OF THE APPROACH OF CALLING FOR DISPUTED ELECTIONS WITHOUT A WIDE RANGE OF OBSERVERS.

 ======================

THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF INFORMATION ABOUT US-RUSSIA DISCUSSIONS IS AS FOLLOWS:

Remarks

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Winfield House
London, United Kingdom
March 14, 2014

 


 

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. My pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Lavrov to Winfield House, the American Embassy residence here in London. Obviously, we have a lot to talk about. I look forward to the opportunity to dig into the issues and possibilities that we may be able to find about how to move forward together to resolve some of the differences between us. And we look forward, I know, to a good conversation.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) Well, I’m also satisfied to have this meeting today. This is a difficult situation we are in. Many events have happened and a lot of time has been lost, so now we have to think what can be done. Thank you.

AND THAT IS HOW IT IS.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

Statement by UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant to the UN Security Council on the situation in Ukraine – 13 March 2014.

I welcome Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to the Security Council today. The United Kingdom stands side-by-side with the Ukrainian people in this time of crisis.

We commend Mr Yatsenyuk, his government, and the people and armed forces of Ukraine, for the remarkable restraint they have shown in the face of repeated provocation. Because of their strength of will, there is still a chance for a peaceful, diplomatic solution.

Mr President,

Over the past week, we have heard in this chamber, and elsewhere, an attempt to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the transitional government in Ukraine. This is entirely unwarranted. Mr Yanukovych deserted his office and his people in the midst of a crisis. Rather than work to implement the 21 February Agreement, he abandoned his post. He was disowned by his own party and his removal approved by an overwhelming majority of Members of Parliament.

The transitional Government which replaced him has already taken important steps, steps which uphold the spirit of the 21 February Agreement and which lay the foundations for the future of Ukraine. They have restored the 2004 Constitution; they have begun the process of constitutional reform; and they have scheduled elections for 25 May.
These forthcoming elections will enable all Ukrainians to choose their own leaders. International monitors stand ready to ensure that these elections are free and fair. We urge all parties to support this effort.

We all agree that Ukraine needs our support in this time of transition. We all acknowledge that Ukraine has a pressing need for reform, for improvements to its political culture, for political stability, for inclusiveness and for an end to corruption. We all support the call for investigations into the violence of the past three months. We all back fresh elections under international observation. And we all agree on the importance of protecting minority rights. These points of agreement could form a basis around which we could coalesce to find a way forward.

But in order to move from away from confrontation, the Russian Federation needs to accept that the cause of current instability in Ukraine lies not in Kiev, nor in Donetsk.

It comes from the actions of the Russian Federation in the Crimean Peninsula where, against the expressed wishes of the Ukrainian Government, Russian military forces have taken control of a large part of the sovereign territory of Ukraine.

We utterly condemn this blatant violation of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine and this flagrant breach of international law.

Russia claims that it is acting to protect its citizens. We have heard claims of Russian speakers and nationals under threat, the Russian language outlawed, rampant anti-semitism, hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Ukraine. All these claims have been shown to be unfounded. The only part of Ukraine where minorities are under threat is in Russian occupied Crimea, where Ukrainian forces are besieged in their bases and hundreds of members of the Tartar community are fleeing Crimea in fear. Where, as we have heard just now from Mr Feltman, ASG Šimonovic has been denied access, denied the opportunity to investigate the disturbing developments taking place in Crimea. But those international observers who have visited Crimea, including Astrid Thors, the OSCE Commissioner on National Minorities, have found no evidence of any violations or threats to the rights of Russian speakers. They have, however, reported that, as a consequence of Russian actions, tensions between ethnic communities have increased.

Mr President,

We are deeply concerned by the decision by the so-called Crimean government – installed by an armed Putsch accompanied by Russian military intervention – to hold a referendum on 16 March to ascertain whether Crimea should become part of the Russian Federation. We are equally concerned by the legislative steps Russia is taking to facilitate this referendum.

It is absolutely clear that the proposed referendum would violate the Ukrainian Constitution. Article 73 sets out that any alteration to the territory of Ukraine must be resolved by an All-Ukrainian referendum. This is manifestly not an all-Ukrainian referendum.

Moreover, a free and fair referendum cannot possibly be held while Russian troops and Russian-backed militias dominate Crimea, where there is no electoral register, where there are restrictions on press freedom, and where voters are casting their ballots under the barrel of a gun.

Under such conditions, it is clear that any referendum vote in Crimea this weekend would be farcical. Worse, it would reopen ethnic divisions and risk a serious escalation in tensions. Such a referendum will not be recognised by the international community.

Mr President,

A window of opportunity remains to find a peaceful resolution to this crisis. The window is narrow, but it exists. But finding this solution requires Russia to take a number of important steps. It must de-escalate. Its forces must return to their bases in Crimea and to the force levels stipulated in the Black Sea Fleet basing agreements. International monitors must be allowed into Crimea. Their presence will ensure that the rights of people belonging to minorities are fully respected by all parties. Russia should distance itself from the proposed referendum, clearly indicate that it will not seek to use the result as a pretext for annexation, and publicly reaffirm its commitment to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. And Russia must agree to proposals for a dialogue with the Ukrainian Government either directly or through meaningful international diplomatic process.

Mr President,

The Council is meeting today in the gravest possible circumstances.

A referendum is set to take place on Sunday which is illegal under Ukrainian law and the consequences of which will clearly be inflammatory and destabilising – with serious implications for the UN charter and international norms.

There is no need for this. What we have just heard from Prime Minister Yatsenyuk confirms what many of us have been repeatedly emphasising in this Council: that there is a clear willingness on the part of the Ukrainian Government to address Russia’s stated concerns through peaceful dialogue, discussion and negotiation.

When there is a readiness for dialogue it makes no sense – indeed it would be dangerous and irresponsible – for Russia to take unilateral actions or to collude with unilateral actions of the Crimean authorities.

The United Kingdom urges Russia to refrain from such unilateral actions and to distance itself from the referendum set to take place on Sunday.

And the United Kingdom urges this Security Council to make clear that Ukraine’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity must be respected and that any attempt to modify Ukraine’s borders through unlawful means will not be tolerated.

Kind regards,
Press Office l UK Mission to the UN

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

 

Seeking An Exit From the Ukrainian Cul-de-Sac.

Posted:

German chancellor Angela Merkel came away from a phone conversation with Russian president Vladmir Putin this week convinced that he is living “in another world,” she told Barack Obama — an Orwellian alternative universe, perhaps, in which freedom is slavery and lies are propagated by a Ministry of Truth. The political crisis that is consuming Ukraine has re-ignited the embers of cold war hostility and paranoia.

Yet as the West and Russia square off, Merkel has been reluctant to sanction and isolate Russia for destabilizing Ukraine. This only reinforces Washington hardliners’ disdain for Europe’s supposed ineffectuality: it was the European Union’s trade initiative that Putin torpedoed, triggering the Ukrainian upheaval — and now the E.U. expects the Americans to deal with Russia’s hardball reaction?

Europhile Henry Kissinger caustically blames E.U. “bureaucratic dilatoriness” for “turning a negotiation into a crisis.” The last disciple of Metternichian realpolitik, Kissinger at least recognizes the perils of reacting intemperately and urges a compromise with Moscow involving “Finlandization” of Ukraine. But his fellow Republicans have seized on Ukraine to launch a full-throated assault on Obama as a “weak indecisive leader” whose “feckless foreign policy” invited Russian aggression and who lacks the backbone to force Putin into ignominious retreat.

If cold-war reflexes still come quickly to life in conservative quarters in Washington, they are far more deeply ingrained in Russia. Putin famously told the Duma that the dissolution of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical disaster of the last century.” NATO’s expansion eastward and its war with Serbia over Kosovo propelled his ascension to power in 1999, and what he sees through the Moscow looking-glass is an implacable Western drive to hem in Russia and impose Western economic and political models worldwide.

Russian rhetoric about Ukraine bitterly parodies the language of current Western internationalism. Russian military forces are undertaking a “humanitarian intervention,” just as the Western countries did in Libya and have proposed for Syria (though in Ukraine no one has been killed or remotely threatened by the current Kiev authorities).

The Crimean autonomous region has the right to secede from Ukraine, just as the Western countries asserted for Kosovo (juridically an uncomfortably snug parallel, though missing the small detail of internationally certified lethal repression by Belgrade).

Ejection of sitting government officials from their posts by militant protesters in Russified districts of Ukraine is an expression of the popular will, a just riposte to the “Euro-Maidan” protesters who finally forced the flight of president Viktor Yanukovych.

Sergey Aksyonov, whose fervently Russian party won four percent of Crimeans’ votes in regional elections, could then be legitimately installed as the region’s leader, while it was illegitimate for the national parliament, including Yanukovych’s own party members, to appoint Oleksandr Turchynov, whose Fatherland party had garnered 26 percent of Ukrainians’ votes for the Rada in 2012, to fill the purportedly vacant presidency.

All this pretended symmetry is simply pretextual. The bottom line is that Putin deemed even a modest European link for Ukraine as a serious threat to Russia, perhaps a first step toward NATO. He gambled that he could prevent it.

The gamble backfired badly, mobilizing legions of protesters and knocking Yanukovych, who had walked a fine line between Ukrainians’ European aspirations and Russian sympathies, off balance and finally out of power. While Obama does not see “some cold war chessboard,” Moscow concluded it had just lost its queen, and riskily upped the ante.

The confrontation, however, actually poses more danger to Putin’s economically brittle regime than to the West. And for a leader who craves international respect–basking in hosting the G-20 summit last September, sulking in the absence of his peers at the Sochi Olympics–Russia’s deepening isolation is a blow.

Last year the Pew Research Center found barely a third of citizens across 38 countries had a favorable view of Russia, compared to the half that saw China favorably and the nearly two-thirds favorable to the United States. Without bonds of amity, every relationship becomes transactional. Now, Putin’s tough talk and rough action are only exacerbating the international distaste. Even China, often an ally in the United Nations Security Council, is warning Moscow “not to interfere in others’ internal affairs.”

The militiamen in Crimea who blocked U.N. envoy Robert Serry’s way sent a particularly disquieting signal. The United Nations provides one of the few international mechanisms of ingrained impartiality that can walk everyone back from confrontation.

Presumably a deal can be made. Putin had evinced no interest in Russian control of Crimea so long as the government in Kiev was neutral between East and West, and permanently detaching it from Ukraine tilts the country’s electoral balance decisively toward the Russoskeptics. An international accord that guarantees a democratic Ukraine’s territorial integrity and bars it from any military alliance, on the Finnish and Austrian model, will likely be at the heart of a resolution. And if Putin decides to proceed with Crimea’s incorporation into Russia, he is signing off on NATO membership for Kiev, and other countries can permanently reject visa applications from Crimea or economic transactions with it.

The United States has proved itself essential to mobilizing the political pressures most persuasive to Putin, and Secretary of State John Kerry is managing the diplomacy with admirable firmness and nuance. But this is really a European affair. It is Europe that has the economic leverage that matters to Russia, and Europe whose prosperity Ukrainians want to share. Let Europe lead.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

A DISCLOSURE:

THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST READ – IT HELPS ME UNDERSTAND MY OWN FEELINGS AS WELL – SPECIALLY AS I LOST A GRANDMOTHER AND AN AUNT TO THE BUTCHER KNIVES (LITERALLY) OF THE UKRAINIAN BANDERA  NATIONALISTS IN MILLIE – (THE BUKOWINA OF OLD AND NOW IN THE CHERNIVTSI OBLAST OF THE UKRAINE TAKEN BY THE SOVIETS FROM ROMANIA) – THAT WERE INCITED BY A PRIEST THAT CAME FROM KUTTY (UKRAINIANS LIVING THEN UNDER POLAND BEFORE BEING ANNEXED BY THE SOVIETS), ACROSS THE CHEREMUSH RIVER in 1941. THOSE UKRAINIANS THAT SURVIVED THE WAR ENDED UP IN BRITISH COLUMBIA AS RESPECTED WAR REFUGEES LIKE THE SURVIVORS OF MY MOTHER’S FAMILY ENDED UP IN TORONTO. THE CANADIAN UKRAINIANS MARCHED WITH THE RED&BLACK FLAG THEN NEXT TO CANADA FLAG IN LVIV WHEN I WITNESSED THERE THE UKRAINIAN INDEPENDENCE – AND THEY WONDERED WHY I DO NOT MARCH WITH THEM ALSO. I SAW NOW THOSE SAME  RED/BLACK FLAGS ON THE MAIDAN VIA TV.

INTERESTING HOW AVNERY REMINDS US THAT I MIGHT BE A DESCENDENT OF THE UKRAINIAN KHAZARS – PERSONALLY I KNOW THAT FATHER AND ME LOOK LIKE THAT – BUT HE ALSO TELLS US THAT BINATIONALISM DOES NOT WORK, AND THAT NETANYAHU IS BUILDING THE DESTRUCTION OF ISRAEL AS A JEWISH STATE – AND THAT HURTS VERY MUCH. YES – ABSOLUTELY A MUST STUDY ARTICLE.

————————

Uri Avnery

March 8, 2014

 

                                                God Bless Putin

 

BINYAMIN NETANYAHU is very good at making speeches, especially to Jews, neocons and such, who jump up and applaud wildly at everything he says, including that tomorrow the sun will rise in the west.

 

The question is: is he good at anything else?

 

 

HIS FATHER, an ultra-ultra-Rightist, once said about him that he is quite unfit to be prime minister, but that he could be a good foreign minister. What he meant was that Binyamin does not have the depth of understanding needed to guide the nation, but that he is good at selling any policy decided upon by a real leader. 

 

(Reminding us of the characterization of Abba Eban by David Ben-Gurion: “He is very good at explaining, but you must tell him what to explain.”)

 

This week Netanyahu was summoned to Washington. He was supposed to approve John Kerry’s new “framework” agreement, which would serve as a basis for restarting the peace negotiations, which so far have come to naught.

 

On the eve of the event, President Barack Obama gave an interview to a Jewish journalist, blaming Netanyahu for the stalling of the “peace process” – as if there had ever been a peace process.

 

Netanyahu arrived with an empty bag – meaning a bag full of empty slogans. The Israeli leadership had striven mightily for peace, but could not progress at all because of the Palestinians. It is Mahmoud Abbas who is to blame, because he refuses to recognize Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People.

 

What…hmm…about the settlements, which have been expanding during the last year at a hectic pace? Why should the Palestinians negotiate endlessly, while at the same time the Israeli government takes more and more of the land which is the substance of the negotiations? (As the classic Palestinian argument goes: “We negotiate about dividing a pizza, and in the meantime Israel is eating the pizza.”)

 

Obama steeled himself to confront Netanyahu, AIPAC and their congressional stooges. He was about to twist the arms of Netanyahu until he cried “uncle” – the uncle being Kerry’s “framework”, which by now has been watered down to look almost like a Zionist manifesto. Kerry is frantic for an achievement, whatever its contents and discontents.

 

Netanyahu, looking for an instrument to rebuff the onslaught, was ready to cry as usual “Iran! Iran! Iran!” – when something unforeseen happened.

 

 

NAPOLEON FAMOUSLY exclaimed: ”Give me generals who are lucky!”  He would have loved General Bibi.

 

Because, on the way to confront a newly invigorated Obama, there was an explosion that shook the world:

 

Ukraine.

 

It was like the shots that rang out in Sarajevo a hundred years ago.

The international tranquility was suddenly shattered. The possibility of a major war was in the air.

 

Netanyahu’s visit disappeared from the news. Obama, occupied with a historic crisis, just wanted to get rid of him as quickly as possible. Instead of the severe admonition of the Israeli leader, he got away with some hollow compliments. All the wonderful speeches Netanyahu had prepared were left unspeeched. Even his usual triumphant speech at AIPAC evoked no interest.

 

All because of the upheaval in Kiev.

 

 

BY NOW, innumerable articles have been written about the crisis. Historical associations abound.

 

Though Ukraine means “borderland”, it was often at the center of European events. One must pity Ukrainian schoolchildren. The changes in the history of their country were constant and extreme. At different times Ukraine was a European power and a poor downtrodden territory, extremely rich (“the breadbasket of Europe”) or abjectly poor, attacked by neighbors who captured their people to sell them as slaves or attacking their neighbors to enlarge their country.

 

The Ukraine’s relationship with Russia is even more complex. In a way, the Ukraine is the heartland of Russian culture, religion and orthography. Kiev was far more important than Moscow, before becoming the centerpiece of Muscovite imperialism.

 

In the Crimean War of the 1850s, Russia fought valiantly against a coalition of Great Britain, France, the Ottoman Empire and Sardinia, and eventually lost. The war broke out over Christian rights in Jerusalem, and included a long siege of Sevastopol. The world remembers the charge of the Light Brigade. A British woman called Florence Nightingale established the first organization to tend the wounded on the battlefield.  

 

In my lifetime, Stalin murdered millions of Ukrainians by deliberate starvation. As a result, most Ukrainians welcomed the German Wehrmacht in 1941 as liberators. It could have been the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but unfortunately Hitler was determined to eradicate the Ukrainian “Untermenschen”, in order to integrate the Ukraine into the German Lebensraum.

 

The Crimea suffered terribly. The Tatar people, who had ruled the peninsula in the past, were deported to Central Asia, then allowed to return decades later. Now they are a small minority, seemingly unsure of where their loyalties lie.

 

 

THE RELATIONSHIP between Ukraine and the Jews is no less complicated.

 

Some Jewish writers, like Arthur Koestler and Shlomo Sand, believe that the Khazar empire that ruled the Crimea and neighboring territory a thousand years ago, converted to Judaism, and that most Ashkenazi Jews are descended from them. This would turn us all into Ukrainians. (Many early Zionist leaders indeed came from Ukraine.)

 

When Ukraine was a part of the extensive Polish empire, many Polish noblemen took hold of large estates there. They employed Jews as their managers. Thus the Ukrainian peasants came to look upon the Jews as the agents of their oppressors, and anti-Semitism became part of the national culture of Ukraine.

 

As we learned in school, at every turn of Ukrainian history, the Jews were slaughtered. The names of most Ukrainian folk-heroes, leaders and rebels who are revered in their homeland are, in Jewish consciousness, connected with awful pogroms.

 

Cossack Hetman (leader) Bohdan Khmelnytsky, who liberated Ukraine from the Polish yoke, and who is considered by Ukrainians as the father of their nation, was one of the worst mass-murderers in Jewish history. Symon Petliura, who led the Ukrainian war against the Bolsheviks after World War I, was assassinated by a Jewish avenger.

 

Some elderly Jewish immigrants in Israel must find it hard to decide whom to hate more, the Ukrainians or the Russians (or the Poles, for that matter.)

 

 

PEOPLE AROUND the world find it also hard to choose sides.

 

The usual Cold-War zealots have it easy – they either hate the Americans or the Russians, out of habit.

 

As for me, the more I try to study the situation, the more unsure I become. This is not a black-or-white situation.

 

The first sympathy goes to the Maidan rebels. (Maidan is an Arab word meaning town square. Curious how it travelled to Kiev. Probably via Istanbul.)

 

They want to join the West, enjoy independence and democracy. What’s wrong with that?

 

Nothing, except that they have dubious bedfellows. Neo-Nazis in their copycat Nazi uniforms, giving the Hitler salute and mouthing anti-Semitic slogans, are not very attractive. The encouragement they receive from Western allies, including the odious neocons, is off-putting.

 

On the other side, Vladimir Putin is also not very prepossessing. It’s the old Russian imperialism all over again.

 

The slogan used by the Russians – the need to protect Russian-speaking people in a neighboring country – sounds eerily familiar. It is an exact copy of Adolf Hitler’s claim in 1938 to protect the Sudeten Germans from the Czech monsters.  

 

But Putin has some logic on his side. Sevastopol – the scene of heroic sieges both in the Crimean War and in World War II, is essential for his naval forces. The association with Ukraine is an important part of Russian world power aspirations.

 

A cold-blooded, calculating operator, of a kind now rare in the world, Putin uses the strong cards he has, but is very careful not to take too many risks. He is managing the crisis astutely, using Russia’s obvious advantages. Europe needs his oil and gas, he needs Europe’s capital and trade. Russia has a leading role in Syria and Iran. The US suddenly looks like a bystander.

 

I assume that in the end there will be a compromise. Russia will retain a footing in the coming Ukrainian leadership. Both sides will proclaim victory, as they should.

 

(By the way, for those here who believe in the “One-State Solution”: Another multicultural state seems to be breaking apart.)

 

 

WHERE WILL this leave Netanyahu?

 

He has gained some months or years without any movement toward peace, and in the meantime can continue with the occupation and build settlements at a frantic pace.

 

That is the traditional Zionist strategy. Time is everything. Every postponement provides opportunities to create more facts on the ground.

 

Netanyahu’s prayers have been answered. God bless Putin.

 

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