The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri will begin tomorrow a European tour starting from the French capital Paris, where he will meet with the French President François at the Elysee Palace. Hariri will deliver a speech during which he will address the plan of the Lebanese government to strengthen stability and development, and face the pressure on the infrastructure and public services as a result of the displaced Syrians crisis, Lebanon’s needs in this respect and the role of the international community in increasing the required aid to face this crisis.
In the early morning of yesterday, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has launched a ballistic missile, another violation of multiple UN Security Council Resolutions, including Resolution 2321 adopted in November 2016.
“The DPRK’s repeated disregard of its international obligations is provocative and unacceptable. The DPRK must halt all launches using ballistic missile technology and abandon once and for all its ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, as required by the UN Security Council. We call on the DPRK not to raise tensions further and to re-engage in a credible and meaningful dialogue with the international community, in particular the Six-Party Talks“. That’s what the European Union External Action Service (EEAS) Spokeperson said, from Brussels.
The High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini will speak in the coming days to the Foreign Ministers of international partners to further discuss the international response.
DKPR’s behaviour continues to worry all the international community. Of course, Brussels seems to be so far from Pyongyang, but is a common opinion thet the nuclear tests and, generally speaking, the nuclear proliferation in the northern part of the Korean peninsula constitues a real danger for all countries.
Of course, the game hides some differents and complicated balances: first of all, the role of China, which in facts is the only trade partner for the DKPR. Also Putin’s Russia aims to keep the remote control of the region and – despite of the Trump’s russia – fliendly policy – does not like very much the american “temporary” presence in South Korea… and also american missiles and army in the area. Anyway, the Kim’s last launch makes some doubts rise. It is not a secret that one of the Trump’s ideas for the region was to reduce the american military contingent in the peninsula. So, this launch could seriously put in danger all the plans and political efforts to reduce Uncle Sam’s troops.
According to some geopolitical studies, North Korea and South Korea will never fight – directly – one each other. This, because the goals for each contendant in a new war, beetween the two enemies, could cancel each other. The common opinion – extremely summing – is that the DKPR has a strong defensive asset and a very well-motivated army, that could easily face attacks from south also using old planes, cold-war subarines and very obsolete boats. The South Korean Army is well trained and equipped, with new systems, boats and submarines, but her weakness is in the leadership (some units are entirely directed by american officers in charge), in the ideological motivation and, of course, in the potential feeling of loneliness without a clear american guidance and support. And we all know the political scandal that recently hit the Southkorean political leadership. That’s why this missile launch, in an moment while academics started to speculate about a progressive and slow american withdrawal, change the scene of play. Of course, the launch is a muscles demonstrations, but its meaning seems to be changed.
From an european point of view, we can only wait the next days. For sure, since now, the EU has been supporting international efforts to promote peace, stability, denuclearisation and an improvement in the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Since 1998, the EU has been conducting regular political dialogue with the DPRK. The European Community established diplomatic relations in May 2001 and some EU countries have diplomatic relations with the DPRK. As far as we can read on the official EU institutions’ websites and portals, the EU has been involved in providing assistance to some of the most vulnerable communities in the DPRK since 1195. Current activities are mainly oriented towards support for the agricultural sector and are financed under the Food Security Thematic Programme of the Development Cooperation Instrument.
Released six political opponents a few months before elections. Lukashenko tries a timid rapprochement towards Brussels, but, fearing a repetition of Maidan, he has reinforced military alliance with Moscow.
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has declared release of six political opponents, including Mykalai Statkevich, presidential candidate in 2010: “I did not think that Lukashenko would have had the courage to break free me before the election (on November 20, ed) – Statklevick said-. Maybe government has not more money to the prison. Now the situation is optimum for them. The opposition is in a stalemate. It can not disrupt the consultation and is not able to support even its own candidate. That’s why they let me go. ”
In addition to the charges about the difficult economic situation, these six opponents, as well as many activists, have always accused Lukashenkoto be too pro-Russia and to be too far from European Union.
The news was welcomed as “a big step forward,” EU High Representative Federica Mogherini affirmed. While Italian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Benedetto Della Vedova said that this according could be an “improvement in relations between Belarus and the European Union is moving in the hoped for direction of human rights protections and civil liberties. “The liberation of these six prisoners”, Della Vedova observed, “meets the expectations that, both bilaterally and within the broader dialogue between the EU and Minsk, have been repeatedly demonstrated by the Belarus authorities”.
Considered Europe’s last dictator, Lukashenko, in office since 1994, has always moved their pieces based on political convenience of the moment. As in 1997, the year of the agreement, “Union State” with Russia. As today, with release of the six detainees like reconciliation towards Brussels, in order to reduce sanctions against Belarusian oligarchs decreed in 2004.
But also the Ukrainian issue exists. Beyond agreement between Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France set out in the capital Minsk, Lukashenko is fearing for another Maidan 2 in his country, especially because all the European chancelleries have always marginalized him. Aware of this risk, he has reach, last August 19, a military agreement with Putin about the common space of short-range air defense.
Greece’s debt crisis is one of the hottest geopolitical issues at the moment. Germany imposed a rescue package last week. The United States played a role of political deterrence towards the EU, to avoid the possibility that Athens could go into Moscow’s sphere of influence. To talk about these issues, European Affairs interviewed Andrew Spannaus, journalist and Director of Transatlantico.info.
With Tsipras’s full-scale surrender, has Greece essentially become a protectorate of Brussels, or better, of Berlin?
“Europe wasted a great opportunity. After talking about the need to shift from austerity to growth, in essence nothing has changed. The European establishment – led by Germany, but don’t let the others off the hook – doubled down, using every weapon possible rather than admit to the failure of its economic policy over the last twenty years.
This is a defeat not only for Greece, but for Europe itself, which has shown 1. that it is unwilling to recognize its own mistakes, and refuses to question the fanatical adherence to budget parameters; and 2. that in this form Europe is not compatible with democracy.
The biggest question is: who’s giving the orders in Brussels and Berlin? Why does the EU insist on a policy that doesn’t work? It’s one thing to have to clean up problems and inefficiencies from the past, but the decision to make the situation worse through a policy of budget cuts and new taxes shows that something else is afoot. Europe has abandoned the best parts of its own history and now answers to other interests.”
“Despite the mistakes made in the past five months, I am proud that I have defended our people.” This is what Tsipras said to the Greek Parliament, at the time of the vote on the measures imposed by Europe. In your view, Did Syriza betray its electoral mandate and the result of the referendum?
“Over the past few months the Greek government alternated between a hardline position and a softer one. The goal was always to influence the negotiations and obtain some concessions. At a certain point it looked like Tsipras had decided to get serious: first with the opening towards Russia, and then the referendum. In the end though, he gave in to the blackmail and demonstrated that he wasn’t willing to risk the consequences of a full break-up.
The Greek people clearly rejected austerity; the problem is that in theory they wanted to remain in Europe as well. So while Tsipras certainly deserves some criticism, the fact remains that the two goals were incompatible: Europe = austerity, so there was no solution.
It’s not over yet. If the plan that Greece has accepted is actually implemented then the situation will get even worse; things could flair up again soon. Moreover, the political debate has changed: it’s impossible now to hide the contradictions and weaknesses of the current economic policy. Sooner or later there will be political leaders, and maybe entire countries, who will refuse to continue in this direction.”
The International Monetary Fund has said that Greece’s debt is unsustainable. Will the EU plan go forward anyway?
“The plan will go forward, but it won’t work. The first “rescue” packages for Greece – in which public money was used to save the private banks, in particular those in Germany and France – were supposed to create the conditions for economic recovery. The same was said for Italy. In reality the result was a drop in GDP, at catastrophic levels in Greece (-30%).
The notion that this type of debt can be repaid through spending cuts is simply absurd. The solution is to restructure and cancel part of the debt, and above all to implement a policy of investment to spur growth. This means ignoring certain dogmas, for example by increasing productive public spending. The part of the debt which is real, and not just due to speculative maneuvers, can be repaid only if the economy is actually growing; the current policy prohibits this, and thus can only fail.”
How big a role did the United States play in facilitating the negotiations between the EU and Greece? Was there, and is there, a real possibility that Athens could get closer to Moscow?
“A myth exists in Europe, about how the United States is against the Euro and afraid of the European Union. However, even if we were to grant the premise that the U.S. sees Europe only as a competitor, there is nothing to be afraid of as long as the current economic policy remains in place.
In the name of political union the strength and cohesion of the nations of Europe is being destroyed. The foundation of the EU was quite different, but starting in the 1990s a shift was made to the so-called “free market” policy that allowed large financial interests to dominate the economy. This is good for a few, not for the many.
Secondly, this myth has been debunked by the American position in this crisis: the U.S. didn’t want to see Europe break up, precisely due to the risk of a geopolitical shock. Tsipras showed that he understood the stakes when in St. Petersburg he said that a “new economic world is being formed,” while “the center of gravity of economic development is shifting.”
The West decided to close ranks, to avoid giving an opening to our “enemy” Putin. However the reality is that Europe’s policy of continuous austerity risks making the alternative of the BRICS even more attractive: numerous countries are already breaking away from the Western financial institutions precisely in order to avoid being controlled by a system dominated by large financial interests.”
Backwars step about migrants’ redistribution. Yesterday, Eu’s 28 member decided to reshuffle about 32,000 people instead 40,000 (arrived in Italy and Greece in 2015), like set last 26 June by the European Commission. To these, over 20,000 refugees, Syrians and Eritreans, will be received.
The tough negotiation between 25 and 26 June looks very far. The position taken by the President of the EU Council Tusk opposed to the President of Commission Juncker a month ago were probably a dramatise. As well as the quotas, proclaimed at the time as “compulsory”, are nothing more than “voluntary”.
Therefore about 20,000 migrants miss. Meanwhile, in October, about 32 thousand people arrived in Italy and Greece will be relocated to other countries. In addition to the announced “no” from Austria and Hungary, surprised the “yes” of Ireland to receive 600 people. To the top, however, there are Germany with about 10,000, France with almost 7000, with Netherlands about 2000.
On the refugees’ redistribution, numbers are different. As well as Italy, Germany and France, the UK, Austria and Spain, in addition to the presence of non-EU countries such as Switzerland and Norway, have specially decided to accept Syrians and Eritreans.
In addition to the loewst agreement, the 28 countries have not delivered yet on the quotas for 2016. The Italian Minister of the Interior Alfano believe that this deal is “good for Italy”. But this speech clashes Prime Minister Renzi’s words a months ago to Eu Council assembly: “If you do not agree on the distribution of 40,000 migrants, are not worthy to call Europe. If you want the voluntary, Keep it”. What has changed in the meantime?