Europe Revolts: “What Is Happening Now Is A Defeat For Germany”

 

Angela Merkel reacts before a party board meeting in BerlinChancellor Merkel

 

In Spain, only Vladmir Putin is more disapproved of than Angela Merkel. Such is the level of polarization that Germany’s chancellor has created in Europe that, as WSJ reports, even domestically she is being deriled for saddling Greeks with “soup kicthens upon soup kitchens.” As Marcel Fratzscher, head of the German Institute for Economic Research, a leading Berlin think tank notes, “Germany has, at the end of the day, helped determine most of the European decisions of the last five years,” and therefore, “what is happening now is a defeat for Germany, especially, far more than for any other country.”

“They want to humiliate Greece to send a warning to Spain, Portugal and Italy,” Hilario Montero, a pensioner at a pro-Greece demonstration in Madrid recently, said of Berlin and Brussels. “The message is you are not allowed to cross the lines they set.”

As The Wall Street Journal reports,

 Ms. Merkel’s power after a decade in office has become seemingly untouchable, both within Germany and across Europe. But with the “no” vote in Sunday’s Greek referendum on bailout terms posing the biggest challenge yet to decades of European integration, risks to the European project resulting from Germany’s rise as the Continent’s most powerful country are becoming clear.

On Friday, Spanish antiausterity leader Pablo Iglesias urged his countrymen: “We don’t want to be a German colony.” On Sunday, after Greece’s result became clear, Italian populist Beppe Grillo said, “Now Merkel and bankers will have food for thought.” On Monday, Ms. Merkel flew to Paris for crisis talks amid signs the French government was resisting Berlin’s hard line on Greece.

 

“What is happening now is a defeat for Germany, especially, far more than for any other country,” said Marcel Fratzscher, head of the German Institute for Economic Research, a leading Berlin think tank. “Germany has, at the end of the day, helped determine most of the European decisions of the last five years.”

 

In Greece last week, it was the stern face of 72-year-old German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble that appeared on some of the posters urging voters to reject Europe’s bailout offer. “He’s been sucking your blood for five years—now tell him NO,” the posters said.

 

“They want to humiliate Greece to send a warning to Spain, Portugal and Italy,” Hilario Montero, a pensioner at a pro-Greece demonstration in Madrid recently, said of Berlin and Brussels. “The message is you are not allowed to cross the lines they set.”

 

And she is left stuck between a rock and hard place…

 “Germany is in this hegemonic role in Europe because we have no relevant right-wing populist parties,” Mr. Münkler said.

That is why Europe’s current showdown with Greece is critical for the future of Germany’s place in Europe, analysts say.

If Ms. Merkel approves a new lifeline for Athens after weeks of vitriolic debate, she is likely to face a furor from Germany’s right and stoke the country’s incipient euroskeptic movement.

If Greece careens out of the euro, Ms. Merkel will face blame for an episode that has further polarized Europe at a time when controversies over the U.K.’s EU membership and how to treat migrants and refugees are adding to the tensions wrought by the Ukraine crisis.

Claudia Major, a security specialist at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said: “If Greece were to leave the eurozone, this may someday be seen as the beginning of the end of the project of European integration—when the Germans were not in the position, as the leading power in shaping Europe, to be able to resolve things with the Greeks.”

As they conclude…

With every crisis in which Ms. Merkel acts as the Continent’s go-to problem solver, the message to many other Europeans is that for all the lip service about the common “European project,” it is the Germans and faceless bureaucrats in Brussels who run the show.

The pushback against German power in Europe is likely to grow if the eurozone crisis worsens or if Berlin’s policies grow more assertive.

Germany’s Merkel Now Comes Out as Basically a U.S. Proxy

 

In-depth Report:

 

Fracking-CETA-TTIP

Fracking-CETA-TTIP

On Wednesday, April 1st, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approved a measure to bring fracking (the patents for which are owned mainly by “large American companies, including Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Schlumberger”) into Germany. This is a prelude not only to U.S. President Obama’s secret Trans-Atlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) pact with Europe to subordinate national laws and regulations to trans-national mega-corporate panels that will be dominated by U.S. firms and that will override the participating nations’ environmental and labor regulations and consumer protections (and harm European economies generally), but it is also a major step toward removing Europe from Russia’s energy-market, and bringing U.S. and European oil companies to dominate there instead.

German Economic News headlined on April 1st, “Precursor to TTIP: Federal Government brings Fracking to Germany,” and reported that:

The controversial shale gas extraction (fracking) process is coming to Germany: In order not to provoke excessively large protests at home, the federal government highlighted that fracking is initially allowed only for testing purposes. But in fact, the draft law of the Federal Environment and the Federal Ministry of Economics, approved today by the the Cabinet, also allows subsequent large-scale extraction of shale gas….

The American interest in a continuing conflict simmering in Ukraine also causes Europeans to fear that Russian gas could stop and thus drive Europe to give up our still considerable resistance against fracking. Some US politicians have personal interests, such as the US Vice President Biden, whose son works for a Ukrainian fracking company.

Last year [U.S. agent, friend of Angela Merkel, and EU Council President, Donald] Tusk wrote in a commentary in the Financial Times that ‘excessive dependence on Russian energy’ is an EU weakness. Currently, the EU countries derive 44 percent of our natural gas from Russia and 33 percent from Norway. … Objectively, there is no reason to be afraid of the Russians: Even Angela Merkel acknowledged a few months ago that Russians have always accurately fulfilled their gas contracts and therefore are a reliable partner.

Halliburton and Baker-Hughes have merged, and are the two major owners of fracking patents. Schlumberger is third. ExxonMobil is a distant fourth. So, this could produce a huge boost to those stocks.

The fact that the only independent economic analysis of the impact of the TTIP finds that, without a doubt, it will harm European economies, and especially will increase the inequality of wealth in both the U.S. and EUsuggests that the U.S. aristocracy’s control over European aristocracies must be rather strong in order for the TTIP to be moving forward toward approval by, apparently, people such as Merkel and Tusk. Merkel has already shown that she is the EU’s enforcer of austerity (“the Washington Consensus”) upon the residents in Greece and Spain in order to guarantee payments to the bondholders of those countries; but in the present instance, the aristocrats whom she is serving are specifically, if not only, American ones. And, in particular, the oil companies that will be primary beneficiaries of her pro-fracking maneuver are mainly American ones. She comes from the former East Germany, and, apparently, hates Russia just as the CIA-connected Barack Obama does.

After the Cabinet meeting, a joint press conference was held with Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, in which he said and she seconded, that Ukraine was ready to join the EU and was making the required progress toward rooting out corruption, and toward other matters. He said that the only barriers against that are Russian aggression, and a shortage of money from Germany and from other Western nations. The two leaders stated that the front-line against the threat from Russia is Ukraine, and Merkel promised to do what is needed in order to help.

As a Russian news report put it:

“Reassuring each other in their heartfelt friendship, mutual hatred of Russia, and the bright prospects of Ukraine being on the way into Europe, the heads of Government remembered their shared history. Yatseniuk again accused Russia of trying to ‘privatize the history of Ukraine’, referring to the debate on the participation of Ukrainians in the victory over Nazi Germany. The Prime Minister of Ukraine proposed to celebrate 8 May as a day of reconciliation and European solidarity.”

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

Greece demands Nazi war reparations and German assets seizures as creditor squeeze continues

BankofGreece_3227862b

The Telegraph – March 11, 2015

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras revives claims for compensation in return for the crimes carried out by the Third Reich

Greece’s prime minister has demanded Germany pay back more than €160bn (£112bn) in Second World War reparations as his country is squeezed by creditors to overhaul its economy in return for vital bail-out funds.

In an emotive address to his parliament, Alexis Tsipras said his government had a “duty to history, to the people who fought and to the victims who gave their lives to defeat Nazism.”

The Leftist government maintains it is owed more than €162bn – nearly half the value of its total public debt – for the destruction wrought during the Nazi occupation of Greece.

“The government will work in order to honour fully its obligations. But, at the same time, it will work so that all of the unfulfilled obligations to Greece and the Greek people are met,” said Mr Tsipras on Tuesday at a parliamentary debate on the creation of a reparations committee.

Syriza’s leader added the atrocities of the Nazi occupation remained “fresh in the memory” of Greek people and “must be preserved in the younger generations.”

Greece’s demand for reparations centers on a war loan of 476m Reichsmarks the Greek central bank was forced to make to the Nazis. Athens is also calling for wider compensation for the destruction and suffering caused by the occupation.

 

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

Prime Minister Tsipras addressed his parliament at a debate on establishing a Greek war reparations committee

The country’s justice minister went further, threatening the seizure of German assets in order to compensate the relatives of Nazi war crimes.

Nikos Paraskevopoulos told Greek television he was willing to back a supreme court ruling which would lead to the foreclosure of German assets in Greece.

A spokesman for the German Finance Ministry dismissed the threats, saying there would be no negotiation over the war-time debts.

“We won’t be conducting any talks or negotiations with the Greek side,” said Germany’s Martin Jaeger when asked about the latest Greek demands.

“Making these emotional and backward-looking allegations doesn’t help in the context of the work we need to tackle together with the Greeks.”

The Third Reich famously subdued Greek resistance in a matter of weeks in 1941, after the country had held out for months against Mussolini’s Italian army.

The occupation that followed saw more than 40,000 civilians starved to death in Athens.

Germany maintains it has paid up all of its reparations to Greece in a post-war accord agreed in 1960.

chart

The rhetoric comes as Athens prepares to open its books to its lenders in a bid to release €7.2bn in bail-out funds the country desperately needs to stay afloat.

Inspection teams from the “Brussels Mafia”, the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Commission, who have now been officially renamed as the “Brussels Group”, are due to cast their eyes over the country’s finances and begin technical work over the terms of the bail-out extension in the coming days.

Athens is scrambling to pay €1.3bn in loans to the IMF before the end of the month.

 

Madame Merkel – Between Munich, Moscow, Washington and Minsk — Jet-setting for Peace or Propaganda?

Region:
In-depth Report:

 

Angela-MerkelMadame Merkel attended on 6 February the 6-7 February NATO security Conference in Munich. Then, not listening to what Mr. Lavrov had to say to the conference on 7 February, she jetted with ‘General’ (as in Napoleon) Hollande of France to Moscow to meet ‘urgently’ with Mr. Putin on 7 February to initiate new peace / truce talks on Ukraine. Keeping the results largely under wraps, not to divulge to her own people or the rest of Europe, she stopped briefly over in Germany where she finally talked to Sergei Lavrov, before jetting on to emperor Obama for reporting and consulting.

What does the master say? We don’t know yet – eagerly awaiting the mainstream media spin. It should be hitting us shortly. – Next stop Minsk. Merkel with Holland in tow, for talks with Putin and Poroshenko. What else is new? Poroshenko can’t budge without a nod from Washington – which he will not get, of course. Peace is not part of Obama’s and his henchmen’s game plan. He needs war, and he wants Ukraine.

Does this look like a serious attempt by Europe to reach peace in Ukraine or sheer propaganda? – Taking hapless Hollande along to Moscow and Minsk, makes it look graver, more serious, but is likely just another propaganda stunt, replaying the odd, old German- French tandem; of course, as a new lie campaign, eventually serving to vilify Vladimir Putin. If it all fails. And fail it will, since Washington has no intention to reach an agreement.

The Kremlin will not give in handing over Ukraine on a silver platter to the emperor and his European vassals, nor on any platter for that matter. And rightly so. Everybody knows that, except for the msm-enslaved populace; a vast majority. Unfortunately.

Almost certainly, Mr. Putin stressed again, what he said since the beginning of the conflict, that there are no Russian troops fighting in Ukraine, humanitarian aid is all that Russia delivers to the cruelly bombed and massacred people of Neorussia, the Donbass area. This was recently confirmed by Chief of Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, General Viktor Muzhenkohttp://www.globalresearch.ca/ukrainian-government-no-russian-troops-are-fighting-against-us-sanctions-against-russia-based-on-falshoods/5428523.

Of course, no msm has picked up this little detail. How could they? It would throw out all justification for western sanctions – and it would lay bare the western, Washington-driven lies about Russian military intervention in Ukraine. People may start wondering, who if not Russia, is responsible for the bloody civil war in Ukraine, that has already left more than 5,400 people dead, hundreds of thousands without shelter and heating in the midst of winter – and millions of refugees? – And for downing the Malaysian airliner MH17? – Could we have been hoodwinked by the Empire of Chaos and its European vassals?

Mr. Putin may also have laid out to the odd couple, Merkel-Hollande, what he did since the beginning of the conflict as a condition of peace, or at least a truce – a relative large autonomy for eastern Ukraine, with Russian as an official language – and NO NATO base in Ukraine.

That sounds very reasonable, given the fact that the war was entirely instigated and the Nazi putsch government (sic) put in place by Washington. Madame Nuland, Kerry’s sidekick, testified to this in a telephone conversation on January 28, 2014, about three weeks before the coup, with US ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt. The conversation was published on YouTube. She knew whom she wanted to replace the democratically elected Victor Yanukovitsch with, namely with “Yats”, as she calls him endearingly, the ultra-right wing, fascist Arseniy Yatsenuik, today’s PM of the Kiev junta of thugs and murderers. She later bragged about it at the Washington Press Club.

Again, the msm-lie and deceit machine is as of this day silent about it, lest Mr. Putin could no longer be demonized and his country ‘sanctioned’ – sanctions, which badly backfire especially on Europe – who has built up close and friendly business and trade relationships with Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This was a logical step, not only from a geographic point of view; but also seen from an economic development ‘growth’ perspective.

Now – is Ms. Merkel seriously brokering for peace, because the German economy and the Euro may be at stake if Germany is shut out of Russia and the rest of the Eastern markets – all of Central Asia and China?

Keep in mind, there is already the Eurasian Customs Union, to become the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) as of 2015, with the member states including Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. In addition, there is the overlapping Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, with potentially new members of Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia, and Pakistan.

Turkey and India are also SCO contenders, but with India betraying the BRICS and seemingly rapidly defecting into the lush neoliberal Obama camp, and Turkey being torn apart, on the one hand as Europe’s key NATO base, and on the other, disgusted by Europe and increasingly leaning towards Russia and China – their SCO membership remains in suspense for now.

The SCO, created in 2001, is a politico-economic and military association. Together the EEC and the SCO account for about 25% of the world population and close to 30% of the world’s economic output. The eastern alliance under Russian-Chinese leadership is well on course of establishing its own monetary system, detached from the fraudulent dollar scheme.

Then there are the remaining BRICS, plus Argentina, Venezuela and possibly others that would gladly be migrating out of Washington’s oppressive fangs into a friendly economic environment, where national sovereignty still counts and is respected.

Given all these facts, is it too farfetched to assume that Madame Merkel may have seen the light after all, racing to Obama, telling him the obvious? That without a change of Washington’s policy towards Russia not only the European economy may collapse, but that the US economy may not survive either? – That with WWIII or even a new Cold War over Ukraine, the world as we know it may eclipse? – That he, Mr. Obama, the emperor of the exceptional nation, should put his bets on other horses than conflict and eternal war, and instead start thinking of peace and cooperation?

It would be fair to assume that Washington knows all that. There has been a pattern for the last 35 years, the hegemonic implementation of a neoliberal dogma; controlling energy, food, money and people under a one world order, be it as it may, through financial and economic subjugation as with Greece and other southern European states, or with endless outright military aggression directly or by proxy (as in bought (mis)leaders and mercenaries), à la Afghanistan, Iraq, Indonesia, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, Sudan, Thailand, Yemen, and-so-on – and Ukraine. They, the master and his cronies, will not let go, no matter what concessions Putin would be willing to make. Pursuit of the PNAC’s (Plan for a New American Century) objective, Full Spectrum Dominance, knows no mercy. Obama himself is a mere marionette of corporate empire, led by the military industrial complex and the Zionist-Anglo-Saxon banking system.

Madame Merkel, regardless of the tenor and contents of your discussion in Washington, it is up to you, whether you want to lead Europe out of her conundrum – of her wavering between prosperity and submission – between war and peace.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik News, the Voice of Russia / Ria Novosti, TeleSur, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.

Cameron Says Britain’s EU Membership Not Carved in Stone

David Cameron and Angela Merkel: Is this the end of their affair?

Fond gazes: Angela Merkel and David Cameron in February

Fond gazes: Angela Merkel and David Cameron in February

11-10-2014

UK Prime Minister David Cameron stated that Britain would not stay in the European Union “come what may”, specifying that the immigrations issues of the country should be considered to keep it in the bloc.
 
 
MOSCOW, November 10 (Sputnik) — UK Prime Minister David Cameron vowed on Monday that Britain would not stay in the European Union “come what may”, saying Brussels needed to address immigration concerns of the British public if it wanted to keep London in the bloc.
 
 
Speaking at a meeting of the Confederation of British Industry, a UK economic pressure group, Cameron said that, “Britain’s future in Europe matters to our country.” He added, however, that it was not working properly for Britain at the moment, “and that is why we need to make changes”.

He said further that, simply saying, Britain would stay in the European Union and stick with Europe “come what may” “is not a plan and that won’t work”.

The European Union must put additional controls on migration, Cameron said. He called for reforms in the welfare system, which has been in the spotlight in the United Kingdom due to the abuse of welfare benefits by the increasing flow of migrants.

The speech was aimed at allaying the concerns of British business, which fears to lose a free market estimated at 500 million people in the event of an in-out vote on the EU membership.

Cameron’s Conservative party has adopted a firmer stance on migration ahead of the May 2015 general election. The ruling party is currently losing to the most eurosceptic party in Britain — UK Independence Party (UKIP) — that has been gaining ground both domestically and in the European Parliament recently.

Cameron has claimed he would hold a referendum on the British membership in the European Union in 2017 if he wins the May national election.

Mr Cameron believed he had wooed his German maiden and won her over to Britain’s point of view. Then came his plan to introduce EU migrant quotas. Now he must remember that Mrs Merkel is a political realist first and foremost.

There are two ways to understand the relationship between David Cameron and Angela Merkel. One way is very German. The other is classically British. The irony is that many people in Britain take the Germanic interpretation, while most in Germany see things through a British lens.

The Germanic interpretation comes from the operas of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Siegfried, the hero, is a handsome young man who does not know fear. He passes through a ring of fire to win the love of Brünnhilde, a warrior-goddess who renounces her immortal heritage to be with him. Listen to the story of modern Anglo-German relations sometimes told by Downing Street today and you’ll be left in no doubt over who is playing which role.

Rather less romantic is the vision of foreign policy articulated in 1848 by Britain’s greatest foreign secretary, Viscount Palmerston: “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.” If ever there was a way to understand the inscrutable Mrs Merkel’s ultra-realist approach to European diplomacy, this was it.

Mrs Merkel looms large in British politics because of reports in the German press that she has warned Mr Cameron over his attempts to curtail the European Union’s right of free movement. From that legal right springs large-scale European migration to Britain, the UK Independence Party, and Mr Cameron’s biggest political problem.

But if Mr Cameron thinks he can put quotas on EU nationals’ right to enter Britain, Mrs Merkel suggested at a Brussels summit last month, he may have to take Britain out of the EU. She also bluntly told the Prime Minister to pay an extra £1.7 billion to the EU, a demand that Mr Cameron equally bluntly said makes it harder to justify Britain’s continued membership of the union.

Are we seeing the end of the affair, the final failure of Mr Cameron’s long attempt to woo his German counterpart? It’s easy to understand why he began that attempt, since his promise to recast Britain’s relationship with the EU is surely doomed without her support.

From afar, it is easy to see Mrs Merkel as some sort of German empress or even Queen of Europe. Chancellor since 2005, she dominates German politics just as Germany dominates the modern EU. Her approval ratings are close to 80 per cent and she has co-opted almost every major German political party into her ruling grand coalition.

Yet Mrs Merkel’s dominance is deliberately unspectacular, even unambitious. Having amassed great political power, she rarely uses it; there is no grand Merkel agenda of domestic reform or diplomacy. She makes deals, not speeches, and puts compromise ahead of controversy. Like the thrifty Swabian housewife she likes to invoke, she has built up political capital but hates to spend it – especially on behalf of foreign leaders.

The curious domestic caution of such a strong leader has caught Britain by surprise in the past. Earlier this year, Mr Cameron believed – not unreasonably, since she told him so – that Mrs Merkel was backing his attempt to prevent Jean‑Claude Juncker becoming head of the European Commission.

But when German politicians and newspapers united in support of Mr Juncker – partly in reaction to Mr Cameron’s aggressively bold position — Mrs Merkel tacked with the wind, leaving Mr Cameron to a very public defeat. The message was clear – or should have been: no matter how strong their personal relations, there are limits to how far Mrs Merkel can and will go to accommodate Britain.

Yet Mr Cameron and some of those around him have a history of overestimating the influence of his personal charm over Mrs Merkel, and its political importance. Perhaps the sharpest example came in February this year, when Mrs Merkel was due in London for a state visit. Days before the event, one of Mr Cameron’s team briefed a friendly columnist that Mrs Merkel was in the bag. The Chancellor, it was said, couldn’t do enough for a prime minister she fondly regards as a sort of “naughty nephew”. She would come to London to announce her wholehearted support for his renegotiation campaign. Siegfried had won his maiden!

This romantic tale was read with both confusion and concern in Berlin, and led to a painful lesson in Palmerstonian realism. In London, Mrs Merkel offered only limited, conditional support, carefully deflating No 10’s optimism. Anyone expecting her to satisfy “all kinds of alleged or actual British wishes” was “in for a disappointment”.

As well as overstating the importance of personal chemistry, Mr Cameron’s team have sometimes shown a tin ear for German domestic politics. Almost his first promise as Conservative leader – to pull Tory MEPs out of the European People’s Party group in the European Parliament – offended the Chancellor, whose Christian Democrats are the backbone of the group. The scab was torn off the wound again this year when those Tory MEPs formed a parliamentary alliance with the Alternative for Germany (AfD), the country’s first Eurosceptic party and fierce critics of the Chancellor.

In both cases, the German irritation at Mr Cameron was the same: he was putting domestic politics and party management ahead of diplomacy. Yes, there’s more than a hint of hypocrisy in that. But dominant politicians can make rules without following them.

That tension between the domestic and the diplomatic is the origin of Mrs Merkel’s recent frostiness with Mr Cameron. She is concerned at how far he will go to placate Conservative MPs and Ukip voters.

Last month, when it first emerged that Downing Street was planning a “game-changing” speech on European immigration, alarm bells started ringing in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Diplomats told ministers that altering the right to free movement would not be acceptable to other European governments – especially Mrs Merkel’s, which sees Personenfreizügigkeit as a cornerstone of the EU.

But Mrs Merkel’s latest warning is not a final ultimatum; the Chancellor is, it turns out, not some operatic diva given to dramatic gestures. Rather, it was a reminder to Mr Cameron that while she prefers Britain to stay in the EU, she can and will only follow him so far down his current path.

A close reading of those latest German reports shows that they amount to saying only that Mr Cameron’s present course makes it “possible” that Britain could end up leaving. That’s a serious warning, but still a far cry from saying that exit is inevitable or desirable. If Mr Cameron and Mrs Merkel are partners in a diplomatic waltz, she has given him a gentle shove to keep him on course. She has not walked off the dance floor – yet.

Just as she did on her visit to London, Mrs Merkel is trying to lower British expectations of what is possible from a new European deal, and to gently encourage Mr Cameron not to raise the stakes too high. Ever the deal-maker, the Chancellor is not telling the Prime Minister that their negotiation is over, merely asking him to come up with a more realistic offer. That means focusing on changing EU migrants’ access to welfare to reduce the incentive to come to Britain, not banning them outright.

Is it just possible that Mrs Merkel’s warning will help Mr Cameron persuade Conservative MPs and Ukip voters to accept more realistic goals for his renegotiation? Could Mrs Merkel’s interventions actually help Britain’s Siegfried find a European dragon small enough to slay? The Prime Minister’s “Big Speech” on Europe next month will be read as closely in Berlin as at Westminster.

So the dance continues, but so too does the gulf in perception between the two sides. Mr Cameron may have strapped on his magic referendum-sword and set off on a quest to decide Britain’s European destiny, but Mrs Merkel is not a maiden to be wooed. She is the ultimate political realist, always willing to strike a deal, but never at any price. She doesn’t do quests or grand strategy. She has To Do lists, ticking off tasks as they arise, and always according to circumstance. Her support is never categorical or unqualified.

The theatrical types around Mr Cameron might ponder the conclusion of the Ring Cycle: Siegfried ends up dead and the kingdom of the gods goes up in smoke. When dealing with Mrs Merkel, realism is surely a better course than romance.

Ukrainian President Poroshenko’s Major Decisions in Office

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree dissolving the country’s parliament

 

MOSCOW, September 14 (RIA Novosti) – As Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is marking Sunday his first 100 days in office, the nation is looking back at what has been done so far.

He took the post of Ukraine’s fifth president with firm intentions to integrate Ukraine with Europe and NATO, bring back Crimea, and become a strong rival to Russia’s Vladimir Putin in the eyes of his Western allies. However, the cordial welcome Poroshenko received from the West has so far failed to net him any tangible financial aid.

EU ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT

On June 27, President Petro Poroshenko signed the economic part of the EU Association Agreement at the EU summit in Brussels. The agreement is designed to gradually bring Ukraine and the EU closer together on the basis of common values, promote trade and economic relations, and enhance cooperation in upholding freedom, justice, and security.

The economic component is the top priority, in particular the provision on the Ukraine-EU free trade area, which will ensure the gradual integration of the Ukrainian economy into the EU internal market. The agreement also outlines principles of cooperation in a number of areas, such as energy, industrial policy, entrepreneurship, taxation, and tourism, as well as the procedures for granting EU financial assistance to Ukraine.

AMENDMENTS TO CONSTITUTION

On June 26, Poroshenko submitted to parliament draft amendments to the Constitution that would decentralize power by replacing local state administration with elected district councils and executive committees. The president would appoint an envoy to each district or region, and local authorities would have the right to grant special status to Russian and other languages within their administrative borders, though what this status involves is not explained.

Poroshenko also proposed enshrining in the Constitution the concept of “the parliamentary opposition” and abrogating the imperative mandate. He wants to give the prime minister the right to submit to parliament nominees for the positions of defense and foreign minister, and to authorize the president to dismiss the prosecutor general and the head of the Ukrainian Security Service without the approval of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament.

PEACE PLAN FOR SOUTHEAST

On June 20, Poroshenko signed an executive order on the peaceful settlement of the situation in Ukraine’s Southeast as part of a process that would last from 10 p.m. (18:00 GMT) on June 20 to 10 p.m. on June 27, 2014.

The plan consists of 15 steps and provides security guarantees to all participants in the talks, including the release of hostages and amnesty for those who have laid down arms and have not committed serious crimes.

EARLY ELECTIONS TO VERKHOVNA RADA

On August 27, Poroshenko signed an executive order dissolving the Rada, with early elections scheduled for October 26. He has spoken repeatedly on the need for early elections, because in his view the current Rada does not reflect the political attitudes of Ukrainian society.

ENDING BENEFITS FOR OFFICIALS

On August 4, Poroshenko rescinded a number of resolutions from 1992 to 2010 on material support and security for top government officials. Resolution № 977/2014 of August 4, 2014 declassifies and rescinds resolutions on services and security for Ukraine’s former Prime Ministers Viktor Yanukovych, Mykola Azarov, Viktor Yushchenko, Yevhen Marchyuk, Pavlo Lazarenko, Valeriy Pustovoitenko, Vitaliy Masol and Anatoliy Kinakh.

The resolution of May 17, 2006, providing a life-long stipend as well as financial, medical, transportation and other services to former Rada Speaker Volodymyr Litvin, was also rescinded, and benefits were canceled for the former head of the National Bank Vladimir Stelmakh, former Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko and the former head of the Supreme Court Vasyl Malyarenko.

On August 4, Poroshenko also signed an executive order ending benefits for army and internal service generals, as well as councilors in justice that were dismissed upon completion of their service. They will no longer receive stipends and the transportation and medical services they were entitled to in their government positions, or free stays at health resorts.

On August 1, Poroshenko ended benefits for residents of elite neighborhoods in the suburbs of Kiev. About 40 million hryvnyas had been spent on them every year.

REFORMING GAS TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM

On September 8, the media reported that Poroshenko signed a law on reforming Ukraine”s gas transportation system (GTS). The law retains state ownership of the GTS and underground depots but allows specially created companies to run them.

FOREIGN POLICY

According to experts, no Ukrainian president has been in such close personal contact with world leaders as Poroshenko. According to his official website, from the moment of his inauguration to September 11, Poroshenko has spoken by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel 32 times; US Vice President Joe Biden 15 times; President Vladimir Putin 10 times; French President Francois Hollande 9 times; Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko 4 times; President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso 3 times; British Prime Minister David Cameron 2 times and US President Barack Obama 2 times.

On August 26, Poroshenko held talks with the presidents of the Customs Union countries – Vladimir Putin, Nursultan Nazarbayev (Kazakhstan) and Alexander Lukashenko (Belarus) – which were also attended by EU officials. Putin and Poroshenko held a bilateral meeting.

On August 30, Poroshenko traveled to Brussels where he met with Barroso, Merkel, Cameron, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, Finnish Prime Minister Alex Stubb, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz.

On September 4, Poroshenko took part in the NATO summit in Wales and held meetings with five G7 leaders on the sidelines: Obama, Cameron, Merkel, Renzi and Hollande. He also had a separate conversation with President Obama.

 

US Intelligence Veterans Say Merkel Information on Russia’s Invasion to Ukraine Unreliable

Situation in Donetsk region.© RIA Novosti. Guennady Dubovoy

Situation in Donetsk region.© RIA Novosti. Guennady Dubovoy

 

Topic: Situation in the South-East of Ukraine

MOSCOW, September 2 (RIA Novosti) – Members of US Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) movement wrote an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying that the NATO’s information about the invasion of Russian troops in Ukraine is unreliable.

“You need to know, for example, that accusations of a major Russian “invasion” of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence,” a letter published on warisacrime.org website reads.

The letter, signed by ten former US intelligence officers also says that “the images, released by NATO on August 28, provide a very flimsy basis to charge Russia with invading Ukraine.”

Moreover, the veterans are certain that NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s speeches are drafted by Washington.

The letter aims to brief Merkel on the alleged Russian invasion to Ukraine prior to the NATO summit scheduled for September 4-5.

Earlier in May, the movement’s members signed a memorandum addressed to US President Barack Obama, asking him to take steps towards the de-escalation of the Ukrainian crisis and urged him to officially announce that NATO will not integrate Ukraine and Georgia.