Tag archive


New round of Syria talks set for March 23, UN Envoy says

BreakingNews @en di

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura called for holding new round of UN-backed intra-Syrian talks in Geneva on March 23. “Talks will be indirect and will focus on governance, constitutional process, elections and counter-terrorism and there may also be discussions on reconstruction”, De Mistura added. The UN Envoy pointed out that he briefed the UN Security Council, in a closed door meeting, on the outcomes of the fourth round of the intra-Syrian dialogue, recently held in Geneva, calling on the participants in Astana and the sponsoring sides to enhance the cessation of hostilities in Syria.


The Japanese prime minister trusts Trump

Americas/Asia @en di

“Trump is a trustworthy leader.” After Thursday’s meeting in the Trump Tower in Manhattan, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the first world leader to meet President-elect Trump, said he’s confident that the new US administration will prove to be a reliable partner for his country. In front of reporters the Japanese Prime Minister has described as “frank and sincere” his meeting with Trump. ” The talks – he said – made me feel sure that we can build a relationship of trust”

Probably the Japanese government was hoping for a victory of Hillary Clinton to the US elections last November 8, also because of some alarming statements made by Trump during the election campaign, about the need for Japan to contribute more, in economic terms, to assist American troops on Japanese soil and to acquire a nuclear arsenal as a deterrent to North Korea’s threats . Another problematic point emerged during the campaign concerns the opposition declared by Trump to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, on which the Japanese government strongly pointed, instead. Abe therefore wanted to meet Trump to express his concerns and, at the same time, reaffirm the commitment of his government to strengthen the alliance with the US, more than ever central today to Japan in diplomatic and strategic terms, especially to contain China and its hegemonic aims on the Pacific area.

Prime Minister Abe did not provide too many details on the talks content. Basically it was a preliminary meeting, for mutual knowing, in which the two leaders have avoided going into detail. It’s been, however, agreed that after January 20, the day of the settlement of Trump at the White House, will be scheduled a new meeting to ”  to cover a wider area in greater depth”. ” Any deeper conversations about policy and the relationship between Japan and the United States – reiterated Kellyanne Conway, an influential member of the electoral team of Trump – will have to wait until after the inauguration”.

It seems however that the meeting served to resize the Japanese concerns about future initiatives of the new US president on the Asian chessboard. Katsuyuki Kawai, an adviser to President Abe, has conducted talks with several members of the transition team, and some legislators, receiving assurances about the future of US-Japan relations. ” We don’t have to take each word that Mr. Trump said publicly lite rally”.

The meeting, in the protagonists declarations, thus served to reaffirm the strength of the bond between the two allies. Some analysts, however, consider premature the initiative of the Japanese Prime Minister, since Trump has not officially assumed the presidency and is completely absorbed by the formation of his government team. Koichi Nakano, a Sophia Univesrity political scientist interviewed by CNN, expressed his skepticism about Abe’s move: ” What is there to gain, I have no idea?” Abe) is not talking to a president yet.”

Less categorical was Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Japan’s Temple University, who, when asked again by CNN, gave a positive reading of the interview, at least from the Japanese prime minister’s point of view. According to Kingston, in fact, Abe would have a particular sympathy for a certain category of leaders, which Trump is likely to belong to. ” If you look at who Abe admires around the world, he likes strong leaders like Putin, Modi and Erdogan, who have despotic tendencies “.

Beyond the personal sympathies, the new administration Trump will have to look very carefully to Asia in coming years and will face a China increasingly strong. In this context, the alliance with Japan will play a strategic and indispensable role.

Prime Minister of Kosovo: no on holding early elections

BreakingNews @en/Politics di

Prime Minister of Kosovo, Isa Mustafa has once again refused the request made by opposition parties for early elections. According to Mustafa, the elections are being requested for political reasons and not for the issue of the border demarcation. Meanwhile, the opposition continues insist on the holding of fresh elections. According to it, now there are more reasons than ever to head to the polls.

Syria would like to cooperate with USA

BreakingNews @en di

Damascus is ready to cooperate with US President-elect Donald Trump if his policies are in line with Damascus’ expectations, the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s Political and Media Adviser Bouthaina Shaaban said on Thursday. Shaaban said that Damascus hopes the United States to become an active participant in the fight against terrorism. She added that Syria is not interested in the elections’ result, confirming that what concerns Damascus is the new President’s policies and how it would coincide with Syria’s expectations.

The publication of the Progress Report on FYROM rises criticisms

BreakingNews @en di

The European Commission Progress Report on FYROM continues to trigger debates in Skopje. According to experts, this report was expected and it could have been more negative. With this report, Brussels gave a conditional recommendation to Skopje for the launch of accession talks, but this condition relates to the 11 December elections, which are required to be fair and democratic and for the work of the Special Prosecution to be respected.

From Cambodia and the Hindu-American community voices are raised in favor of Trump

Americas/Asia @en di

A few days before the US presidential elections, while the more corrosive election campaign in living memory come to end, in an atmosphere of absolute uncertainty, the candidate Trump collects the support of Cambodia’s prime minister and a Republican Hindu group. The origin of these positions, in both cases, is the fear that a Clinton victory could lead to a foreign policy contrary to the interests of Cambodia and India. Let’s order.

Hun Sen, cambodian Prime Minister, strong man of the small country in South-East Asia, in power for nearly three decades, today expressed its wish to be Donald Trump to emerge victorious from the polls next Tuesday. His election, argues Sen, would guarantee an easing of tensions between the US and Russia and the maintenance of peace globally. Hun Sen is under pressure ahead of internal elections of 2018, accused by US, UN and the European Union of not ensuring respect for human rights in the country and lack of commitment in the fight against corruption. A Trump victory would lead to a softening of positions by the United States? Sen, obviously, wishes it.

During a speech in front of the national police academy, the prime minister has thus explained his endorsement: Frankly speaking, for me, I really want to see Trump win the election. If Trump wins, the world will be changed and will be better because Trump is a businessman and as a businessman he never wants war,”. In addition, the tycoon would be a good friend of Vladimir Putin and Russia, strategic ally of Cambodia since the fall, in 1979, of the Pol Pot regime.

Clinton, with whom Hun Sen met several times when she served as Secretary of State, would represent a risk to the future of relations between the US and Russia and would promote an aggressive foreign policy on all international theaters. The American intervention in Syria would have been determined, according to Sen, by the pressure from Clinton on President Obama. A precedent that would give the measure of the risks posed by a possible Democratic victory at next Tuesday elections.

The voices raised by some sectors of the Hindu community in the US in favor of Donald Trump are less influential, perhaps, but still represent an interesting element of analysis to understand how the different communities of the American melting-pot fare watching to the presidential election through the lens of their specific interests.

The Hindu Republican Coalition (RHC), a ‘pro-republican organization of Hindu inspiration, released on American TV channels a commercial directed against Hillary Clinton, accused of being too pro-Pakistani. The Democratic Candidate, when she was Secretary of State, would have directed to the historic enemy of India billions of dollars in aid, would have sold weapons to the Islamabad regime and would now accept funding from Pakistani pro-Islamist individuals and organizations. Finally, the RHC lashes out against her husband and former president Bill Clinton, considered too close to the Pakistani positions on the Kashmir issue, and against Hillary’s personal assistant, Huma Abedin, half Indian and half Pakistani, accusing her of indirectly supporting Islamic terrorism in the sub-continent. ” Vote Republican – great for you, great for US-Indian relations and great for America.”

Not all of the Indo-American community is in favor of candidate Trump, of course. The Indian American Supporters of Clinton attacked the RHC organization’s commercial, calling it ” misleading, incorrect and false.”

Both inside and outside US borders, the world looks to the presidential elections of 8 November 2016 expressing its different points of view.

Aung San Suu Kyi wants to release political prisoners

Asia @en di

After the oath of Htin Kyaw, the first democratically elected president of Myanmar after 56 years of military dictatorship, continues the path of change in the country of Southeast Asia.


Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner and leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), of which the new government is a direct expression, could not assume the role of prime minister because of a constitutional provision which was introduced by the junta military to avoid the risk of her coming to power. The “Steel Orchid”, however, since the election campaign ended with the last November elections, had promised the citizens of Myanmar that, if victorious, she would have ruled the country “above” the President.

To enable her to fulfill this commitment, the new Parliament has created an ad hoc position for San Suu Kyi, assigning her the role of the State Consultant. In this official position, the party leader can directly contact and summon ministers, departments, organizations, associations and individuals to discuss the main of government agenda. A role that, in fact, allows Suu Kyi to rule indirectly, through the “delegate” President Htin Kyaw.

One of the first issues on which Aung San Suu Kyi intends to assert its weight is that of political prisoners. Last Thursday the Nobel prize, with a post on Facebook, has stated his intention to push for a mass amnesty that allows the release of political prisoners, activists and students imprisoned by the military junta in recent years.

The arbitrary imprisonment of thousands of activists for democracy has been a dramatic constant during the decades of dictatorship, and the same Suu Kyi had been living for 15 years under house arrest. Many of the recently elected MPs, as well, have tried the hard repression of the regime and the hardships of prison life.

The semi-civilian transition government, which was in power from 2011 to 2015, had already granted the freedom to hundreds of political prisoners, but it is estimated that there are still 90 imprisoned activists and another 400 awaiting trial. About 70 of these are students arrested before last November’s elections, charged of having participated in illegal meetings or taking part, in March 2015, in the street protests against the educational reform, harshly repressed by the police. After more than a year, the trials in many cases have yet to come to sentence.

The decisive initiative of Suu Kyi, which portends a direct intervention, in short, by the prime minister Kyaw, could push the prosecutor to drop the charges against the students. But the difficulties are still many, considering the deep inefficiency of the judicial system in Myanmar.

The first problem, again, is represented by the army, to which the current constitution guarantees a quarter of parliamentary seats and the control of some of the most important ministries. The power of the military, in Myanmar, has been mutilated but is still strong and widespread. Every democratic reform will inevitably have to deal with its opposition.


Luca Marchesini


Myanmar: finally the first elected president

Asia @en di

For Myanmar’s finally the turning point. After 56 years of military rule, in the country of Southeast Asia took office a democratically elected government, thanks to the victory of the National League of Democracy (NLD) in the last November consultations.


The first civilian president of the new course is called Htin Kyaw. Initially indicated by the Western media as the simple driver of Aung San Suu Kyi, Kyaw has always been, in fact, the closest collaborator of the NLD leader and has accepted the role of prime minister only in consequence of the constitutional ban that prevents people married into a foreign national to hold the office of prime minister.

Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize and a symbol of the struggle for democracy against the military junta, was married until 1999 with the Briton Michael Aris, with whom she had two children with dual citizenship. The law therefore prevents her from formally assume the powers and responsibilities of the presidency, but the ” Iron Orchid “, as she was renamed during the years of militancy and imprisonment, has already made clear that she intends to govern through the figure of his loyal collaborator . It therefore constitutes a sort of indirect premiership.

Htin Kyak, 69, has vowed loyalty, with its ministers and two vice-presidents, to the people of Myanmar, in front of the Parliament, in a plenary meeting, in the capital Nay Pyi Taw. In the list of new members of the government stands the name of Aung San Suu Kyi, who will deal directly with foreign affairs, education, energy and the Bureau. Just to clarify that all important decisions will pass anyway from his desk.

Three other key ministries, such as defense, interior affairs and border affairs, will remain under the control of the military, which also nominates a quarter of members of parliament and keep the veto power on constitutional reforms. Those inevitable limitations, to ensure a peaceful change of power, was agreed in talks between Aung San Suu Kyi and former President Thein Sein, in power for five years and expression of the military junta.

About San Suu Kyi, symbol of the country, we know practically everything. But who is the new president Kyaw? He and the leader of the NLD have attended high school together and have been since then tied by a strong friendship. He studied computer science in the United Kingdom and Japan, and has always maintained a low profile, being appreciated, once back at home, for honesty and loyalty to the cause of democracy. During the fifteen long years of detention, he was among the few to have access to the prison house of Suu Kyi and, after the liberation, was often seen by his side, even in the guise of a driver. He’s married to the daughter of one of the founders of the National League of Democracy, also Member of the National Parliament, and in the past was involved in the management of the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, a charity whose name is dedicated to the late mother of the Nobel Prize.

In his inaugural speech, the new President Kyaw has referred to the complex challenges facing the country, first of all the need for a cease-fire to end, as soon as possible, to armed conflicts that for decades opposed the central power to several ethnic minorities. Kyaw also stated that the new government plans to introduce constitutional changes, to make the fundamental law of the country in line with modern democratic principles.

This last commitment is certainly the most difficult to achieve because the army, to which the current constitution guarantees vast powers, does not appear willing to permit other democratic changes. But just five years ago, Myanmar was forced to face severe economic sanctions, because it was considered by the international community as an obscurantist military regime, with thousands of political prisoners and the total absence of freedom of expression.

Many things have improved since then, largely through the efforts of Aung San Suu Kyi and her movement. The future, today, appears full of promise to which it is permissible to believe.


Luca Marchesini


Iran: the country of Ayatollahs at the polls

26 February 2016. An historical date for Iran that, for the first time after the end of the international sanctions, calls its citizens to the polls for a double vote, Parliament and Assembly of Experts. This vote is also a test for President Hassan Rouhani, who, since 2013, has been promoting political and social reforms, characterised by openness towards the West. The outcome of these elections, indeed, will show both to what extend the reformist line of the President is rooted in the society and which could be the future developments for the Republic.

The first vote will be cast for the Parliament, Majlis, consisting of 290 seats, 5 of them allocated to non-Muslim religious minorities. The Parliament is the legislative body, responsible for passing legislation, approving the annual budget and signing international treaties. To date, its majority, conservative and fundamentalist, has sharply contrasted Rouhani’s policies. It is clear how a different arrangement may influence the country’s future actions, as well as its posture in the international arena. “You have created a new atmosphere with your vote” tweeted president Rouhani after the elections.

The Assembly of Experts, instead, is composed of 88 members, exclusively Islamic scholars, serving eight-year terms. In fact, it is the most important body in the country, as it elects the Supreme Leader, the most powerful political and religious position. Considering the poor health condition for the current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, it is very likely that the newly elected Assembly will select his successor.

Therefore, it is not just a nomination of candidates: it is a choice between two opposite political paths. The first is headed by president Rouhani and characterised by openness –especially economic openness- towards the West and by an attempt to promote a positive image of the country in the world. On the other hand, Ayatollah Khamenei, conservative and openly against the West, is the spokesman of a policy that aims to pursue a resistance economy and a political system based on the power of the Revolutionary Guards.

The results of the elections, which was attended by nearly 60% of the electorate (about 33 million Iranians), could have relevant consequences for the future of the Islamic Republic. Reformists won, controlling 96 seats in Parliament, while fundamentalists and independents won respectively 91 and 25 seats. However, two aspects should be pointed out. First, the concept of “reformism” should be seen through the lens of Iranian culture. Their reformism is far away from our reformism. It’s always about fundamentalism, though hidden behind a curtain of openness towards the West. Suffice to say that the real reformists have been disqualified from the list of eligible candidates in both the Parliament and the Assembly.

Secondly, we should consider the electoral base. Reformists have gained ground in metropolitan areas, while fundamentalists obtained more consensus in rural districts, home for one third of the population. However, the eight major cities, where almost half of the Iranians lives, won only 57 of 290 seats in Parliament. Given that 52 of these seats will be allocated in a runoff in late April, it seems that games are still open.

So what next?

Perhaps greater openness, yes, but it doesn’t mean, as some people think (or hope), that Iran will turn into a Western democracy. It is likely, and desirable, a détente in the relations between Iran and the West. However, we should bear in mind that Iran is still a fundamentalist regime, based on Shari’a, which, to date, refuses to give voice to the real reformists, who advocate a significant change in the political, economic and social system. Reformism, indeed, does not mean democracy.

Moreover, it is hard to believe that fundamentalists will easily give up. As percentages show, their ideas are mainly rooted in the rural society, which can still significantly affected the final composition of the Parliament. More than this. If Teheran celebrated the outcome of the elections, the reaction in Qom, Iran’s Shiite heartland, was different. “People in the real Iran are the ones here, we respect and follow the path laid down by Ayatollah Khomeini and we must protect our values”, said a 23-year-old clerical worker.

Questions remain about the future of the country. Despite the victory of reformists, fundamentalist strands are still eradicated in both the political élite and the society. Inevitably, there will be a change: however, we should keep our feet on the ground. It remains to be seen, indeed, whether the path of reformism will actually shape an Iran closer to Western democracies, or whether the hard-line fundamentalism will find a way to regain the support lost, thus hampering the openness towards the West promoted by Rouhani in recent years.

Paola Fratantoni
0 £0.00
Vai a Inizio
× Contattaci!