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APEC leaders will continue the formation of a free trade zone in the area

BreakingNews @en/Policy di

Participants in the 2016 summit conference of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum have reaffirmed their intention to continue the formation of a free trade zone in the area. APEC economies will stay committed to the accords made in the format of the World Trade Organization. Leaders of APEC economies will refrain from devaluations of their national currencies and manipulations with exchange rates. They also reaffirmed the important role of mutually-reinforcing policies to buttress our efforts to achieve strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.

OSCE doesn’t think Ukraine is ready to implement the political portion of the Minsk agreement

BreakingNews @en/Policy di

According to Russian ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Alexander Lukashevich, Ukraine is not ready to implement the political portion of the Minsk agreement and is trying to sabotage efforts in all areas. Speaking at a meeting of the OSCE’s Permanent Council ,Lukashevich affirmed that Wednesday’s meeting of the Contact Group clearly demonstrates that Kiev is sabotaging the work in all directions. Lukashevich emphasized the fact that the dialogue on a political settlement has been blocked under the pretense of ongoing clashes.

Pakistan-Indian tensions at LoC have escalated 

BreakingNews @en/Policy di

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday expressed concerns over escalated Pakistan-India tensions at the Line of Control (LoC) urging the two nuclear-armed neighbours to resolve all their outstanding issues through dialogue. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, in a media briefing said, “United Nations is keeping a vigil eye on the escalation in tensions at LoC.” “Ban Ki-moon has appealed Pakistan and India to resolve their all outstanding issues through dialogues,” the spokesman for the world body added.

Kosovo criticizes the European Union’s policies on the liberalization of visas

BreakingNews @en/Policy di

Kosovo’s speaker of parliament, Kadri Veseli has addressed criticism against the policies of the European Union regarding the liberalization of visas. Kosovo criticizes the European Union’s policies on the liberalization of visas Veseli declared that Kosovo has met all the criteria set out in the guideline of the European Commission for the liberalization of visas.

France: from Postcolonialism to Nice

Policy/Politics di

Nice is the umpteenth terrorist attack in France. This Islamist offensive concerns all Europe. Within Paris attacks on January and November 2015, about 230 people were killed in the last one year and half. So, it’s indispensable to clarify why France became an ISIS recurring target and observe the French military interventionism.

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Excepting Iraq and Syria, France conducted its military operations in Africa in the last five years: Libya, Mali, Chad, Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Central African Republic. Colonialist past produce an effect on Hollande current foreign policy. 19,000 soldiers in all external operations, 10,000 troops in internal one (Operation Sentinel): nearly 30,000 French troops are active against terrorism and in several crisis contexts.

Air-bombs on Syria were the reaction after November 2015. At the same time, terrorist actions between January 2015 and July 2016 are not only an Islamist reaction headed by Daesh top brass. They hide a deep-rooted conflict which begins during the Postcolonialism in the 1950s.

Indeed, after the Second World War, a lot of French operations took place in Middle East and in former African colonies as Benin, Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Guinea or Djibouti. OAS (Organisation de l’armée secrète), PLF (Palestinian Liberation Front), Hezbollah, Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, ISIS: about 320 people killed by terrorism since 1950s.

Algerian question, Israel-Palestine conflict, French integration policy, Postcolonialism strategy are the most important reason of several terrorism attacks until 2000s. Now, the last two causes are interconnected with ISIS issue.

So, the fundamentalism becomes a social revenge of socially excluded young Muslims, how Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told Canal Plus television after the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris: “Exclusion is a fact of life in France. I am not saying that this explains or excuses what has happened, but those young people who have been radicalized … often have no more faith in society.”
Giacomo Pratali

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The political-economic strategy of Syriza

Policy/Politics di

This is the second of five articles in the series “Athens: The Crisis Within the Crisis” (click here)

The people of Greece have found ways to care for themselves, when the state entered a welfare crisis, as a result of the financial crisis. This article series shows some striking examples of community self help among citizens in Athens, even involving migrants. While the Greek people have helped themselves, their government has been stuck in an impossible political game. What was the grand strategy?

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Solidaric citizens take responsibility

Some of the most striking community efforts are found in the hands-on efforts management of the migration crisis, where citizens and migrants combine old resources in innovative ways, covering basic needs without money, and thus, generating value. In our article series, we have documented two complimentary efforts, one directed by the Syriza government, another led by the Anarchist movement. In line with recent studies in economic anthropology, we have turned the attention to “the other side” of the crisis: how do common people, out of necessity, innovate alternative infrastructures and currencies, and how do they generate economic value from scratch? One may have hope in this grass roots political economy. This undergrowth spreads unnoticed, in the shadow of the elitist political economy, with its investors, governments, banks and treaties.

Irresponsible deals between banks and elites

While recognizing the grass roots political economy, one should also not forget the elitist political economy, because its failure has caused everyday suffering and practical problems. The middle class in Greece is striving to keep up their way of life. In this situation, some of my friends are establishing a family. The father has gained a full time job, which hardly covers their expenses, while the toddler is being looked after by his mother. She also re-schools herself to qualify for jobs with predictable payment, while the kid stays with his grandparents. As in most families, care work is done on a voluntary basis, mostly by women, also by retired or unemployed men. Informal economy covers welfare needs, and generates value – but not without costs. Common people in Greece ask the simple question of why they have to pay for the irresponsible deals between Greek elites and European banks. The reformist government was voted in power in order to keep the irresponsible parties responsible of their actions. Why did it fail?

Keeping peace with the Greek elites

Why did not the irresponsible elite in Greece pay for the economic crisis? Why did the reformist government refrain from a Robin Hood policy – stealing back what the rich had taken from the poor, in order to return it to the poor? One reason might be the need to maintain peace in a country where old people still remember civil war. When the reformist Syriza Party became the largest party, their election campaign was supported by a host of radical socialist and anarchist movements. These were known for spectacular street clashes with the special police force Delta. Most members of this police force voted for the fascist Golden Down Party, according to election research. The Fascists believe in the unity of the ethnic nation, while the Anarchists are loyal to the unity of the social class. Thus, the two movements suggest two opposing ways to overcome the destructive effects of financial capitalism. In both blocs, the activists have grandparents who risked their lives in civil strife during the World War II and after. In between these two blocs, it may have been difficult to be the Syriza Party: on the one hand, trying to be loyal to the socialist bloc, on the other hand, trying to avoid antagonizing the nationalist bloc. This may explain why the Syriza Party chose to create a coalition government with the conservative nationalist Anel Party. Perhaps this move prevented civil strife? Perhaps it also made it impossible to keep the old elite responsible of their corruption?

Keeping peace with the European banks

Why did not the irresponsible European banks pay for the economic crisis? During the negotiations about the debt crisis, the media attention was won by the Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who looked like a rock star. But the power game was won by his German counterpart Wolfgang Schäuble, a hard liner. He demanded that the Greek tax payers should pay for the Greek debt crisis – against the suggestions from those who have tried this recipe before, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and former World Bank leader Joseph Stiglitz. These suggest more social liberal policies. From such a viewpoint it is rather absurd that the European Central Bank has a shared currency, the Euro, without any shared monetary policy, to counter low conjunctures. Instead of keeping the European and Greek elites responsible of their irresponsible money lending policies, the Greek tax payers are forced to pay. Drinking water is a basic human right, but the Greek government has been forced to sell this public service to private corporations based in Germany. Thus, the drinking water is no longer under democratic control. The policy making is left to a social darwinist principle of the survival-of-the-strongest – completely against the visions of Adam Smith, a founder of economic liberalism, who believed that the state should ensure equal opportunities for everyone. When the rule of the financial oligarchy is called “neoliberal”, then the language is counter-factual, and diverts attention away from the actual violence of the regime. Why could not minister Varoufakis and the IMF together turn the tide? Did they under-estimate the extremism of all the Schäubles who follow in the footsteps of Reagan and Thatcher – and Pinochet? When someone say “there is no alternative” to financial capitalism, then they actually refer to the Diktat of financial capital.

Is this a coup?

When the baby sleeps, his mother tells me that the solidarity movement talks positively about Merkel, it is not her, but Schäuble, that is seen as the enemy. When I ask her where the class struggle within Greece has gone, after the new government, she is positive about keeping the nation together. The young mother talks about civic “patriotism”, like the historical Republican movement in Latin Europe. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, a reformist Republican government was elected into power in Spain, but failed dramatically. Armed reaction from the nationalist bloc, combined with passive acceptance from liberal states, led to the Spanish Civil War. Of course, Greece in 2016 is a specific place and period, different from Spain in 1936. Nevertheless, one similarity is that in contemporary Greece, the reform movement gained governing position through a coalition between socialist parties and anarchist movements, similarly to the Republicans in Spain. However, one of the differences is that in contemporary Greece, the reformist socialist party chose to form a coalition government with a conservative nationalist party, whereas in historical Spain, the entire nationalist bloc became part of an armed reaction. Thus, with Spain during the Great Depression, the neighbouring liberal governments could sit passively and watch the Spanish Civil War. But in contemporary Greece, the reformist prime minister was forced by neighbouring liberal governments to sign “the third memorandum” – which implied that the Greek reform government had to surrender to all demands from the counterpart, even giving up democratic control over drinking water. “This is a coup!” was the shout from the socialist and anarchist movements. “The only progressive action today is to bleed”, prime minister Alexis Tsipras said recently. The good news is that even though the Syriza Party has failed, it nevertheless failed much less dramatically than others.

 

 

Helge Hiram Jensen

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NATO-FRONTEX, joint in the Aegean Sea

We note that Frontex and NATO reached yesterday a common understanding  on the modalities of their cooperation in the Aegean Sea.

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In accordance with a EU press release, these operational modalities will maximise the effectiveness, ensure consistency and complementarity of the FRONTEX operation “Poseidon Rapid Intervention” in the area and the efforts of NATO’s support activities.

“The decision of NATO to assist in the conduct of reconnaissance, monitoring and surveillance of illegal crossings in the Aegean Sea is an important contribution to international efforts to tackle smuggling and irregular migration in the Aegean Sea in the context of the refugee crisis”.

Today’s common understanding is another example of the relevance of EU-NATO practical cooperation, already present in many crisis theatres. The EU, in facts, officially declared its trusts that its joint efforts with NATO will contribute to address the many challenges raised by the current migration crisis, and reduce the dangers of irregular crossings in the Aegean Sea.

On the other hand, NATO ships are already collecting information and conducting monitoring in the Aegean sea. Their activity will now be expanded to take place also in territorial waters.

Employed naval commanders have defined the area of activity in close consultation and coordination with both Greece and Turkey Authorities, also for access in their respective national waters.

The purpose of NATO’s deployment is not to stop or push back migrant boats, but to help Greece and Turkey, as well as the European Union, in their efforts to tackle human trafficking and the criminal networks that are fueling this crisis.

NATO’s Maritime Command has also agreed with FRONTEX on arrangements at the operational and tactical level. NATO and FRONTEX will be able to exchange liaison officers and share information in real time, to enable FRONTEX, as well as Greece and Turkey, to take action in real time.

This is an excellent example of how NATO and the EU can work together to address common challenges. Europeanaffairs.media also praises the quickness and the rapidity of this joint decision and believes that in facing the crisis, “time is the essence, and cooperation is key”.

 

Domenico Martinelli

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New people inserted in the anti-North Korea “Black list”

 

Today, the Council of the European Union – which, we remember is the Union’s executive body – has added 16 persons and 12 entities to its “black list” of individuals and companies affected by restrictive measures taken by europe against the conduct of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

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The decision reflects the new requirements imposed by the 2270 resolution of the United Nations Security Council adopted on the 2nd March 2016 in response to the test launches of nuclear rockets by North Korea, which took place on January 6 and 7 February.
The formal proceedings of this diplomatic initiative will be published in the EU Official Journal tomorrow. The EU’s restrictive measures against North Korea have been introduced for the first time on 22 December 2006. Current measures comply with all the resolutions of the UN Security Council adopted after the launches and nuclear tests performed by North Korea, using ballistic missile technology, and also include additional measures taken by the EU autonomously. Such decision is to hit the North Koreans launch program policies.

 

 

The most important measures include import and export bans for weapons, and every object or technology that could contribute to such activities. Both the UN and the EU, independently, have also imposed restrictive measures for financial and commercial activities and transport services.

With this initiative, today, the European Union has strengthened its latest measures, which were decided on 22 April 2013, implementing the UN Security Council Resolution. 2094.

 

Domenico Martinelli

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Security and privacy: the eternal dilemma

Europe/Innovation/Policy di

“Security and privacy. The eternal dilemma “. Sometimes it is so. Sometimes not. From a relative and business perspective, privacy is one of the fundamental aspects of security, meaning that a bug in the privacy system will involve considerable damage to the company and its customers.

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In the enterprise field, and in almost the whole world, the issue of privacy is recognized as one of the fundamental ones, which may imply – in the larger companies, the separation of the post of privacy “officer” or “consultant” from the most generic post of “security manager”. But from an absolute point of view, privacy and security are two titans destined for confrontation. What and how you oppose? Undoubtedly in Europe there is a double need: on one hand making Europe citizens grow and progress in terms of human rights and individual rights, and perhaps privacy, at first glance it would seem one of the most important individual rights almost to rise, nowadays, in the category of natural rights.

From another point of view, it is necessary that national and European institutions literally invade the privacy of residents and foreigners who apply to reside in the old continent. This, of course, for clear reasons of public order and security, in order to counteract the sad phenomenon whom every day we hear and read: from illegal immigration to migrants smuggling, from terrorism to money laundering.

And that’s why Europe is taking on regulatory instruments to govern on the one hand the duties / rights in the field of private citizens and, secondly, the duties / rights of the institutions towards the citizens. We are talking, respectively, of the Regulation and the Directive on Data Protection. “Regulation” and “directive” are two very general words, which bear far more complex legal and long nomenclatures, but, in the data protection background, interested people can immediately understand what they refer to.

In both normative sources, upcoming promulgation – it  seems that both measures have passed the steps of the discussion in trilogue – roles, responsibilities, recipients and “actors” of the data protection system and, consequently, privacy are defined and soon they will cover Europe, the United States and Third Countries. Much importance will be obviously assumed by the national controller authorities, which are already partly coordinated by the European Data Protection Supervisor.

From an operational point of view and spare change, however, it should change little, but it will be very useful once and for all to give uniformity to the individual national laws and procedures to provide common data access and litigation systems.

In any case, to date, the European and national institutions acting in the field of security are – in extreme and deep synthesis – legitimate holders of power related to the use, collection and retention of data, to fulfill their purposes and founding their institutional purposes. The so called “Swedish Initiative”, the “Prüm Decisions” are nothing more than legal attempts, already adopted or in the process of transposition in national law, in order to provide a better use of these information and their exchange between Authorities.

And this is the knot of the question: according to the European and national case-law, the compression of the right to privacy has so far been generally considered correct, if the same interest conflicts with higher interests, such as the right to life, or the principle that it must a crime must be prevented or brought to completion. In fact these – let’s call them philosophical – principles, are underlying the legislative existence of disparate databases – even if, some of them, are not yet operational – that support justice and European police forces in their daily mission of prevention and contrasting crime.

In this specific sector there have been fundamental judgments of the European Court of Justice who have disciplined and completely redesigned the architecture of data protection, especially in the economic relations with major US giants, which are in fact the monopoly of social communication and service providers online.

For example, think about the famous sentence on the “Data Retention” (to Security-vs-Privacy-420x300which we refer integrally) that made completely skip the agreements so far perfectly and “efficient” between EU and US. Before the sentence, every non-EU state, which managed European citizens’ data was in fact free to manage by itself: or rather, despite having to ensure an adequate data protection regime, it was quite free from forms of controls and inspections by the EU institutions. The  so called principle of the “Safe Harbour” proved to be insufficient to protect the privacy of citizens who entrusted to the giants of the global telematics their data, their own interests and their own photographs. Following the judgment, the “Safe Harbour” has been completely revised and replaced by a safer agreement called “Privacy Shield “.

European institution which is tasked with signing these agreements is the Commission. The agreement has developed has developed a new legal system putting, so to speak, “the stakes” for the United States, providing clear guarantees and transparency requirements applicable to access to data from the government of the US, by imposing specific obligations on companies and a robust application, providing effective protection of the rights of EU citizens with different possibilities of litigation and devising a mechanism of annual joint review of the effectiveness of the shield.

So, to sum up, Europe is not in contrast with common sense: on the one hand provides for the guarantee of the right to privacy issues and fundamental rights, on the other manages to balance strongly her action of collecting information necessary to safeguard of its citizens, defending its interests and its autonomy from friends across the Atlantic.

On this dilemma some very strong doubts remain, especially with regard to national legislation. Consider, for example, in countries where prostitution is illegal. Many political movements or currents of thought are clamoring for the legalization and the drafting of specific rules. A writer’s opinion is that a law in matter can never be enacted, precisely for reasons of privacy, even if the “prostitution” topic is touches many others: human rights, gender-based violence, exploitation, immigration, acts of disposal of his own body and so on.

If a law to regularize and reinstitute prostitution would issued, the same would conflict – without limitation – with rules requiring the accommodation lists to be communicated to the authorities (and thus to enter into the databases). Inevitably a client and a prostitute would be identified, and a profile of the people who attend the same prostitute or who usually frequents that area could equally be traced or, worse, sexual habits (which are, for now, quite rightly, a as sensitive) could be profiled. Again, it is essential for the authorities to know hotel customer records (that can be crucial in resolving judicial and investigation cases) and hotel owners are oblige to communicate them.

Here the dilemma: to protecting the public interest or  the individual interests?

Domenico Martinelli

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EU rejects 308 refugees

The EU Commission confirmed that Greece is rejecting 308 irregular migrants in Turkey. The European Union is in fact intensifying its efforts to ensure that those who did not qualify for international protection in Europe are rapidly and actually driven back to their countries of origin or sent back to the countries of transit.

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The Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said: “Under the EU-Turkey joint action plan we agreed to accelerate return and readmission procedures with Turkey. The European Commission has reinforced its support for cooperation on return between EU Member States and Turkey and today’s transfers of returnees from Greece to Turkey show that our efforts are starting to bear fruit. If we want to address the challenges of the refugee crisis successfully we need to get back to an orderly management of the migration flows: We have to make sure that those who are in need of protection will receive it, but it has to be clear as well that those who have no right to stay in the EU will be quickly and effectively returned“.

According to the Commission, to ensure that the European Common Asylum System will work, it is essential that the return policy is fully functioning. While fully respecting fundamental rights and the principle of reception, repatriation to countries of origin or to transit countries by irregular migrants who are not entitled to remain in the EU constitutes an essential part of overall efforts of EU to address the phenomenon of migration and, in particular, to reduce the regular immigration.

It is for this reason that the strengthening of cooperation on refoulement with Turkey is considered today as one of the main priorities of the European Commission. As part of the Joint Action Plan EU-Turkey, activated on November 29, the EU and Turkey have pledged to strengthen cooperation in the field of migration management – including the prevention of irregular migration flows towards EU – and in order to speed up the procedures for denial of entry of illegal immigrants, in line with the provisions specifically designed.

So yesterday and today, the return of illegal immigrants, mostly from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia started.

A clear and unequivocal signal to those who know in advance to be not entitled to international protection.

 

Domenico Martinelli

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Domenico Martinelli
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