Greece’s Referendum: The Price of Five Years of Cowardice – BY SPIEGEL

 

 

Much of Europe is outraged by Alexis Tsipras’ decision to hold a referendum on reforms in Greece. But how did the euro zone allow an economically irrelevant country of 11 million to bring the common currency to the brink? Through cowardice.

You had it coming, Europe. And how!

 

The decision over the weekend by the Greek government to hold a referendum on Sunday on the reform measures being demanded by its creditors threatens — within just a few days — to destroy the illusions of five years of policies aimed at saving the euro. The easy way out is to cast blame on Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his government.

After months of negotiations and just before the expiration of the deadline in question, the Greek government has now decided that it is unable to take responsibility for a clear “yes” or “no” to the results of negotiations on its own. Why didn’t the Greeks says weeks ago that they wanted to put the negotiations up for a vote? That would have been the democratic way to go about it. In the very best case scenario, Tsipras’ about-face on the referendum is a populist move (assuming the decision was taken with any political calculation). In the worst case scenario, it is a cowardly one (if the head of government got cold feet about making such a difficult decision).

But “constant cowardice” is also the answer to another question — namely how the rest of the euro-zone members, Germany above all, could have allowed a situation to develop in which the erratic leaders of an economically insignificant country with a population of just 11 million people could bring the currency union to the verge of collapse?

Protracting the Problems

For the past five years, politicians within the euro zone, under German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s unofficial leadership, have shirked painful decisions that might have helped to solve the debt crisis in Greece. The consequence has been that the problems have been protracted rather than solved.

This trend began with the first Greek bailout program in 2010. In order to prevent a Greek default, the euro-zone states provided their first credit guarantees to Athens at the time. To do so, they used tricks to circumvent clauses in European law that prohibited precisely this kind of shared liability within the currency union. Even then, the more courageous act would have been to force Greece’s private creditors to absorb their losses. Under that scenario, even if banks had fallen into financial difficulties, one could have still used tax money to either partly nationalize these banks or to refinance them with fresh capital. During the financial crisis, Great Britain showed precisely how that could be done.

The cowardice continued with the 2012 debt haircut for Greece. At the time, euro-zone officials lacked the courage to force Greece’s private creditors to accept the total loss of their capital. They only had to accept losses of half. And it was already clear back then that Greece’s debt load would remain unsustainable despite the 50 percent cuts. But the politicians ignored the uncomfortable figures and instead prescribed unrealistic savings and reform targets for Athens. They also entertained the comfortable illusion that a handful of troika officials could somehow rid Greece of its inefficiencies.

With these harsh policies, the creditor states contributed significantly to the fact that the Greeks voted at the beginning of 2015 for a new left-wing government. The way in which this new government was treated was demonstrative of the third case of cowardice. European politicians have refused to even negotiate a debt hair cut that Athens has continued to insist upon. The reason is clear: They are afraid of their own voters, to whom they would have to admit that the billions that have flowed into Greece have now vanished.

In all likelihood, that is exactly what has happened. Most voters will have suspected as much for some time now.

Christian Rickens is the head of SPIEGEL ONLINE’s business and economics desk.

Conclusion:
A real question for many economists, however, is why Europe is forcing Greece to do any more austerity at all. It’s already done so much that, before this latest showdown, it actually had a budget surplus before interest payments. And, in this view, that’s all it should shoot for, really: the point at which it doesn’t need any more bailouts from Europe. Anything more than that, though, could just inflict unnecessary harm to the economy. When interest rates are zero, like they are now, budget cuts of 3 percent of gross domestic product would, by Paul Krugman’s calculation, make the economy shrink something like 7.5 percent. So even though you have less debt, your debt burden isn’t much better since you have less money to pay it back.

Endgame: Power Struggle in Brussels and Berlin over Fate of Greece

European Commission President Juncker wants to keep Greece in the euro zone, no matter what the price. Member states, though, are beginning to lose their patience. Who will ultimately have the final say?

Jean-Claude Juncker, Alexis Tsipras

Jean-Claude Juncker understands the importance of symbols in politics. When he became president of the European Commission last fall, he surprised the political powers that be in Brussels with a mini-coup. One of the privileges reserved for the new head of the European Union executive is that of promoting a close confidant to be his spokesman. After all, the position of spokesman is crucial for ensuring that the Commission president is seen in a positive light.

But Juncker tapped a man named Margaritis Schinas, a 52-year-old lawyer from Thessaloniki who had until that moment been just another in the unremarkable army of bureaucrats that walk the Commission halls in Brussels. Even today, Schinas remains astonished at his huge promotion. What made him, a rather reserved bureaucrat, qualified to explain the daily work of the Commission to journalists from around Europe and the world? But for Juncker, the gesture was the important thing. He wanted to show that oft-reviled Greece was a crucial part of the European Union.

It was a farsighted decision, that much can be said today. In Brussels, the endgame over Greece’s continued euro-zone membership has begun. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is trapped between his campaign promise to put an end to EU-imposed austerity and his rapidly emptying state coffers. Meanwhile, his government’s tone has become increasingly shrill. Most recently, Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos threatened to auction off the Goethe Institute in Athens in accordance with his government’s demands for World War II reparations from Germany. And this Thursday, the Greek government lodged an official complaint with Berlin, accusing Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble of insulting his Greek counterpart.

Acts of Desperation

They are acts of desperation. In recent weeks, the European Central Bank once again tightened the thumbscrews on Athens and is only approving small amounts of money at a time. At ECB headquarters in Frankfurt, officials have begun speaking more or less openly about the looming Grexit.

Now, Juncker has become Tsipras’ last hope. Last week, the Commission president made clear that Greece’s departure from the euro zone is out of the question. “The European Commission’s position is that there will be no Grexit,” he said in an interview with the German weekly Welt am Sonntag.

On Friday, prior to a meeting with Tsipras in Brussels and in the context of Greece’s possible departure from the common currency union, Juncker said, “I am totally excluding failure.” The comment pleased Tsipras, who said later he was “optimistic,” because he was discussing Greece’s future with good friends. The politicians then agreed during a two-hour meeting that the government in Athens would appoint a high-ranking politician to handle the coordination of Greece’s cooperation with the European Commission.

The Greek government also wants to set up a task force of its own to serve as a partner to a similar body on the Commission, which has been providing development aid to Greece for several years now. “The moment has come — parallel to the Euro Group process, we have to establish this track to help with jobs and growth in Greece,” Juncker spokesman Schinas later said, describing the goals of this cooperation after the meeting.

image-823255-panoV9free-inug

Graphic: Who holds how much Greek debt?

As such, the Greece crisis has moved beyond being merely a poker game with billions at stake. It has now become a question of who holds power in Brussels. The Commission president isn’t the only one leading negotiations with Greece. The Euro Group, under the leadership of Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, is instrumental in the talks too. And in the end, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will also have a decisive word to say. Germany, after all, is Greece’s largest creditor, with €63 billion having been loaned to Athens thus far. Publicly, however, Juncker has presented himself as being master of the common currency.

Protecting His Reputation

Political leaders in Berlin understood Juncker’s words just as he meant them: as a challenge. Merkel too, to be sure, would like to prevent Greece from leaving the euro zone. She is concerned about the chaos that would ensue in Greece — and from a practical perspective, a Grexit would mean that Germany would have to write down the billions it has loaned Athens for good.

Merkel, though, sees Juncker’s categorical promises as undermining efforts to force the Greek government to see reason. Merkel’s advisors in the Chancellery are wondering how it is possible to take a tough negotiating stance with Tsipras when the most severe penalty has been ruled out by the Commission president. But Merkel’s team suspects that Juncker also may be trying to protect his own reputation: Should Greece ultimately be forced out of the euro zone, it would be clear to all that Merkel, rather than Juncker, is to blame.

The relationship between the two is so tense that it is hard to miss during joint appearances they make. During Merkel’s visit to Brussels last week, Juncker gushed that it was “a delight, a pleasure and an honor” to welcome the chancellor. He said he didn’t understand the “obduracy” of some in the German media who continue to report about alleged disputes between him and the chancellor.

Merkel was so taken aback by Juncker’s unctuous charm that she sought refuge in metaphor. First, she used a German saying, asserting that underscoring her tight bond with Juncker was as superfluous as bringing owls to Athens. But the reference to Greece didn’t sound quite right, so she said: “or, as they say in English, refrigerators to the Eskimos.” Juncker grinned impishly.

Both know that Greece’s fate is in their hands. At first glance, everything seems to currently depend on the European Central Bank and its head Mario Draghi. But both Merkel and Juncker are certain that Draghi will shy away from pushing Greece out of the common currency area. Several months ago, Draghi told the chancellor that such a decision had to be made by politicians and not by a central banker.

Stricter Guidelines

That, though, hasn’t prevented Draghi from continually increasing the pressure on Greece. Athens is only able to keep its head above water at the moment because Greece’s central bank, the Bank of Greece, is providing Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) to financial institutions in the country and because euro-zone members have allowed Athens to issue €15 billion worth of short-term T-bills, most of which are bought up by Greek banks.

On Thursday, the ECB only approved ELA aid for another seven days. Previously, approvals have always been made at 14-day intervals. Furthermore, the European banking supervisory body, which is part of the ECB, issued a written warning to Greek banks two weeks ago to avoid taking on additional risk by purchasing the T-bills. Now, the supervisory authority appears ready to issue stricter guidelines to specific banks, which will further intensify the Greek government’s predicament. The ECB Governing Council must still authorize this step.

Many in the ECB are aware that they are operating at the very fringes of legality. French Executive Board member Benoît Coeuré issued a public warning a few days ago that the ECB is not allowed to finance the Greek government. Doing so, he said, is illegal. Draghi, said an official in Berlin, “could cut Greece off at any moment.” But, the official added, he doesn’t dare.

Which means it is up to the politicians to find the way forward. And finding that path has become dependent on the ongoing conflict between Juncker and the EU member states, led by the chancellor. It has long been apparent that the Commission president wants to prevent a Grexit at all costs, at least since he received the Greek prime minister in Brussels five weeks ago as though welcoming a long lost friend. Two weeks after that, Economic and Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici presented a plan that looked more like a package for growth than like strict requirements for Greece. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had nothing but praise for the paper.

The other Euro Group finance ministers weren’t nearly as enthusiastic. In the end, the Moscovici paper proved largely irrelevant, but it had, from Juncker’s perspective, had its effect. It was a demonstration of power; he had simply wanted to send a message to Merkel.

Breaking with the Kohl Line

The conflict between Brussels and Berlin is a fundamental one. Juncker is taking the position that Christian Democrats have supported for decades. The European Union, in his view, is the answer to the horrors of the wars that destroyed Europe in the first half of the 20th century — and the Continent’s salvation, he believes, lies in further deepening the ties that bind the European Union together. It is no accident that he presented former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s book last fall. The book is called “Out of Concern for Europe,” and many have interpreted it as indirect criticism of Merkel’s approach to the EU.

Though Merkel is a Christian Democrat herself, she has broken with the Kohl line. For her, Europe is not a matter of war and peace, but of euros and cents. Merkel has used the euro crisis to reduce the European Commission’s power and to return some of it to member-state capitals. From this perspective, she could be seen as a 21st century de Gaulle.

Juncker would like to get in her way and the Greece crisis is the instrument that has presented itself. “We have to keep the shop together,” Juncker has said repeatedly in background sessions with journalists in recent weeks. This Friday, Juncker received Tsipras in Brussels yet again, with the Greek prime minister also holding talks with European Parliament President Martin Schulz.

Juncker entered office wanting to make the Commission, the European Union’s executive body, more powerful and more political — and thus far, he has been successful. He defanged the European Stability Pact, that German invention that was to prevent euro-zone member states from taking on too much debt. And he has ensured that France’s Socialist government receive an additional two years to reduce its budget deficit. Juncker’s introduction of the deal with Paris was so deft that Merkel had little choice but to reluctantly approve it.

Now, though, it is Greece’s turn and Merkel wants to keep the country in the euro zone. But even if the chancellor has had to make plenty of concessions since the euro crisis began in earnest in 2010, the core of her position has remained unchanged: Those needing aid must agree to reforms. She doesn’t intend to be budged from this conviction, neither by Tsipras nor by Juncker.

‘Get to Work’

Merkel has plenty of allies at the moment. The finance ministers of the rest of the euro-zone member states have all begun losing patience with Varoufakis and his orations at the frequent Euro Group meetings. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has furthermore made clear that he can imagine a euro zone without Greece and has negotiated accordingly.

Not even France or Italy, natural allies to Greece when it comes to the desire for a weaker Stability Pact, are jumping to Athens’ aid. Indeed, some euro-zone finance ministers have begun complaining of Varoufakis’ vanity. “We told the Greek finance minister that he should stop giving interviews and get to work,” says Finnish Finance Minister Antti Rinne.

For many euro-zone governments, the conflict with Greece is also a question of survival. If Tsipras is able to get what he wants, Spain’s conservative government is concerned it might lose to the left-wing protest party Podemos in elections at the end of this year.

The Finnish governing coalition, meanwhile, faces elections in April and must defend itself against the anti-EU party True Finns. The right-wing populists believe that the euro-zone is already being too understanding of Greece. As such, Finance Minister Rinne is happy that he can point to guarantees his government negotiated in return for helping Greece. “We don’t want a Grexit. But if the country can no longer pay back its loans, we have the securities that we pushed through in 2011 negotiations with Greece and the euro zone,” he says. Forty percent of the Finnish loans are guaranteed by bonds issued by countries like France and the Netherlands.

As such, Merkel and Schäuble don’t lack for powerful allies in their battle with Juncker. Member states, who guarantee the money made available to Greece, do not want to see the Commission deciding over the fate of their taxpayers’ money. “It is easy to be generous with other people’s money,” said a senior Finance Ministry official in Berlin.

Schäuble believes that Juncker is being far too indulgent of the Greeks. When, for example, Athens once again sought to conflate debt negotiations with the debate over war reparations, Juncker refrained from censure. The issue, he said via a spokesperson, is a “bilateral one.”

The Cyprus Model

Merkel’s problem is that she can’t shove Juncker aside quite as easily as she could his predecessor. José Manuel Barroso was, to be sure, just as indulgent with Greece and even threw his support behind the communalization of EU debt. But when things got serious, he would acquiesce to Merkel in the knowledge that he was only still in office because of the protection provided by the German chancellor.

That is not the case with Juncker. He is the first Commission president to have campaigned as his party’s lead candidate in European elections, thus allowing him to claim a modicum of direct democratic legitimation. He also enjoys the support of a majority of the delegates in European Parliament — and works closely together with the Social Democratic Parliament President Schulz, who likewise wants to prevent a Grexit at any price.

And Juncker is determined to play a role in the Greece negotiations. Partially for that reason, he had his staff speculate about when Athens might need a third bailout package. He only backed down following fierce protests from the Spanish government. Economic and Financial Affairs Commissioner Moscovici said that a third bailout package would only be discussed once the current negotiations over Greece’s reform plans are completed.

But will they ever be concluded? Central bankers across Europe are planning for a rapid Greek withdrawal from the euro zone. “In this special situation, governments and parliaments have to decide if they are prepared to further extend their Greece risks,” says Jens Weidmann, president of Germany’s central bank, the Bundesbank. In other words, if it were up to him, Greece would long since have ceased being a problem. It has also been reported that the Spanish central bank believes that the Grexit will take place sometime in the next several weeks.

The chance that the “risk scenario” — as the Grexit is occasionally called — becomes reality is now well over 50 percent, say central bankers. Though the word “risk” is not entirely accurate. Central bankers believe that dangers relating to Greece’s exit from the euro zone could be contained. Other debt-laden countries, they point out, are in much better shape than they once were and the ESM euro bailout fund is ready and waiting should it be needed. Furthermore, the ECB’s sovereign bond-buying program would soften the blow. Many believe that were Greece to leave the euro behind, the common currency zone would be much more homogenous and stable than it is now.

In the end, though, it is up to the politicians, like Merkel and Juncker. The chancellor is now certain that a “Graccident,” or exit-by-accident, is no longer much of a danger. Her advisors have taken a closer look at the Cyprus crisis, which saw the country come within a hair of leaving the euro zone two years ago. At the time, the ECB threatened to cut off emergency aid to Cypriot banks because the country’s parliament refused to accept EU austerity demands. Banks had to shut teller windows for several days and impose limits on withdrawals and transfers abroad. But even in such an extreme case, there was still enough time for the political process to run its course. In the end, the Cypriot government gave in during a dramatic nighttime meeting.

Maybe, say some in the German government, Greece needs just such a “shot over its bow.”

By Nikolaus Blome, Martin Hesse, Christoph Pauly, René Pfister, Christian Reiermann and Gregor Peter Schmitz

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.

Watch Ukraine Peace Talks LIVE

LIVE: “Normandy format” Ukraine peace talks start in Minsk

 

Started on Feb 11, 2015

France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine hold a new round of talks on February 11 in Minsk, Belarus in order to attempt to find a political solution regarding the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The summit was arranged after leaders of the four countries discussed the ongoing conflict by telephone on February 8 and after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande visited Moscow last Friday for crisis talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Genocide of the People of Donbas, E. Ukraine, must be stopped

WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT

 Bodies Pile Up in Donetsk Morgue as Ukraine Ceasefire Continues to Crumble

 

 

 

 

 

 

War Resumes in Ukraine. Kiev Violates OSCE Ceasefire Agreement, Re-Invades Donbass

Ukraine’s President Says All Ukrainians Who Reject His Government Should Die

The EU has finally admitted that Kiev had violated the cease fire and the Ukrainian Government was now in open and public violation of it, and in public contempt of it.  But at the same time the EU called for continued adherence to the truce’s terms,

“We are worried that the truce has been breached. We count on the truce to be respected because it is a necessary condition allowing the peace process to move forward, the OSCE and the Red Cross employees to work there,” Soren Liborius, the head of EU information department said, according to RT.

Ukrainian troops had resumed their heavy shelling of towns in the former Luhansk and Donetsk Republics, two regions which had been joined together as a new nation Novorussia.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel “Wall of Hypocrisy” regarding the crimes committed by the fascists in power. 

To add to her hypocrisy, after the “elected” president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko order the terrorist attack against the people of Donbas, East Ukraine, the horror Kiev’s war crimes, the destruction of the homes of thousands of families in Donbas who are struggling with the consequent trauma, the grief and survival with winter and the slow death by starvation declared to them by the Hitler of Ukraine.  But Chancellor Merkel did not condemned the atrocities of his friend Poroshenko. Instead she blamed Russia for all that is happening in Ukraine.

There was no stopping the Chancellor’s banal posturing,

“We can change things for the better – for the people in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and in many, many other regions of the world where liberty and human rights are threatened or being trampled.”

Glaringly omitted was Palestine, the longest trampling of human rights and freedom in modern political history by Israel and western governments. Mentioning Ukraine, Syria and Iraq was a free plug for US imperial ventures.

Merkel goose-steps in time to the U.S’s war drums and interests vis-à-vis support for sanctions against Iran, Russia, and arming Saudi Arabia.  She lacks the nationalistic  pride of former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder  who, in line with the majority of Germans, opposed the unsanctioned and unjustified US military intervention in Iraq opting instead for a peaceful solution.

Merkel penitentially made reference to November 9th‘s shared anniversary with ‘Kristallnacht,’ the 1938 Nazi pogrom against Jews and synagogues, which she condemned as a ‘day of shame and disgrace’.

In September, she publicly condemned antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment, “Anyone who hits someone wearing a skullcap is hitting us all. Anyone who damages a Jewish gravestone is disgracing our culture. Anyone who attacks a synagogue is attacking the foundations of our free society.”

But, during the past weeks and present days, no such condemnation was heard from the German government over the destruction of people in Donbas, East Ukraine, the shelling of civilians, and the slow-death by starvation of the people of Donbas by the Nazi government of Kiev. 

If Merkel genuinely felt ‘the responsibility of German history’ she would ensure Germany never again participates in state terror and therefore would not have revoked the safeguards restricting arms exports to areas of conflict and to dictatorships.

Germany supplies Israel with nuclear capable Dolphin-class submarines,  anti-armour weapons systems made by German Dynamit Nobel Defense (became a subsidiary of Israel’s RAFAEL in 2004) which also combined with Israel’s Corner Shot  to create the CSP in 3 versions: a pistol, assault rifle  and grenade/ teargas launcher that fire around corners. Germany also supports the Nazi government in Kiev, and is a key player in funding the government.

The UN estimates more than 3,000 people have been killed since violence ignited in the region in April, while up to a million have fled their homes.

The United Nations is helpless in Ukraine. They don’t have a strong leader to come forward and denounce that the mass murder of civilians in Donbas, East Ukraine is a war crime.

If Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the UN had been in charge, he would have done it. Annan openly criticized the decision by the U.S. and Britain to attack Iraq without a UN mandate. Once the war was underway, he turned his focus to the plight of the Iraqi citizens and urged member nations to promptly respond to Iraq’s pressing humanitarian needs.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been accused of commitment to a strategy of war against Syria. The reason behind this statement was the presentation of the report of the UN Commission on the use of chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21. A clear tendency to lean towards pushing the Western position is typical of Ban Ki-moon, but other people are not chosen for such positions.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, acted as a prosecutor and the world judge, and was in the service of a military strategy rather than peace, France Presse quoted his words.

The UN Secretary General’s  statement accompanying the report has caused controversy. On Monday, September 16, Ban Ki-moon announced the conclusion of UN experts that on August 21 near Damascus a sarin gas attack took place. The experts did not identify the perpetrators, as this was not part of the investigation, the Secretary General said and showed the world the cover of the document depicting fragments of a Soviet missile that allegedly delivered the sarin.

Ban Ki-moon’s stance in the war of Ukraine is weak and most of the time his only sources of information are the members of Kiev’s fascist government. Never had he made an effort to send unbiased UN officials to talk to the self-defense forces in Donbas, East Ukraine. 

The UN’s “human rights” envoy that went to the Ukraine blamed the self-defense forces for the war going on and totally ignored the Kiev fascists in power. 

The genocide of the people of Donbas, East Ukraine, must be stopped. Their slow-death by starvation must be condemned by the United Nations and those countries whose leaders are constantly pounding their chests in defense of democracy when in reality they are a clan of HYPOCRITES.

The only country that can stop the genocide of ethnic Russians is RUSSIA. And if it takes to invade Ukraine to stop the mass murder, by all means let it be!

 

 

 

From Rose Garden Obama Endorses Nazi Shock-Troop Terrorism

President Barack Obama gives German Chancellor Angela Merkel a kiss on the cheek on arrival for the G8 Summit Friday, May 18, 2012, at Camp David, Md. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

President Barack Obama gives German Chancellor Angela Merkel a kiss on arrival for the G8 Summit Friday, May 18, 2012, at Camp David, Md.
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

By Open Salon

During her visit to the White House, Barack Obama held a press conference in the Rose Garden with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during which the U.S. President expressed full support for a harsh crackdown against “pro-federalism”, pro-Russian, anti-coup Kiev government protesters in eastern Ukraine at the same time threatening Russia.

Bill Van Auken in “Appearing with Germany’s Merkel, Obama backs Ukraine crackdown” quotes Obama:

“As Ukrainian forces move “to restore order in eastern Ukraine”, it is obvious to the world that these Russian-backed groups are not peaceful protesters.” 

snip

“The Ukrainian government has the right and responsibility to uphold law and order within its territory.” [with indiscriminate bombs and shelling, right?]

snip

[The onus falls on Moscow, of course] “to use its influence with these paramilitary groups [I call them freedom fighters] so that they disarm and stop provoking violence.”

snip

… Obama praised Kiev for its “remarkable restraint” and placed the full blame for the violence wracking the country on Russia [of course!]. He made no call for the Ukrainian regime to disarm the fascist paramilitary groups such as the Right Sector that brought it to power and now comprise its shock troops for the assault on the east. [ Kiev loves Nazis]

snip

As Obama spoke, a fascist mob led by the neo-Nazi Right Sector was carrying out a massacre of pro-Russian demonstrators in Odessa, killing dozens. In the east of the country, fully armed troops and Right Sector thugs, backed by armor, artillery and helicopter gunships, attacked centers of the anti-Kiev protests in Slovyansk and other cities, setting the stage for a bloodbath.

———————————————-

Eric Sommer in “The Day US-Supported Fascists began Murdering Civilians A Day that will Live in Infamy”:

In reality and on the ground, the U.S. government — with no mandate from the American people — is supporting a fascist/oligarch unelected Ukrainian ‘government’ installed in a coup spear-headed by two openly fascist parties, Svoboda and Right sector.

Now, in actions highly reminiscent to Hilter and his brown shirts, right-sector oriented hooligans aided by military forces have just beaten with chains and baseball bats, and burned to death in the Trade Unions building of Odessa 31 civilians who were engaged in a peaceful occupation in their own city — civilians who are opposed to and do not recognize, the new oligarch/fascist ‘government’.

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On May 5th Alex Lantier in “US puppet regime in Kiev escalates violence after fascist massacre in Odessa” updated reporting of this nightmare:

Some 1,000 well-armed football hooligans from Kharkiv and fascist thugs from the Right Sector militia attacked pro-Russian protesters, forced them into the city’s trade union hall, then besieged the building, shooting at it with small arms and torching it with Molotov cocktails. In all, 42 people died and 170 were wounded, making it Kiev’s single bloodiest act of repression against the protests. Odessa police allowed the assault to proceed, then jailed pro-Russian protesters who managed to survive both the flames and Right Sector thugs who attacked anyone they saw jumping from the building.

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Amos Howard of the Guardian via Jon Queally in “Dozens Reported Dead in Odessa as Ukraine Chaos Spreads” offers more details:

The Guardian’s Amos Howard was in Odessa, and sent this report from city:

Odessa’s large Soviet-era trade union building was set alight as pro-Ukrainian activists mounted an assault as dusk fell. Police said at least 38 people choked to death on smoke or were killed when jumping out of windows after the trade union building was set on fire.

Bodies lay in pools of blood outside the main entrance as explosions from improvised grenades and Molotov cocktails filled the air. Black smoke from the building and a burning pro-Russian protest camp wreathed the nearby square.

Pro-Russian fighters mounted a last-ditch defence of the burning building, tossing masonry and Molotov cocktails from the roof on to the crowd below.

Medics at the scene said that the pro-Russian fighters were also shooting from the roof. At least five bodies with bullet wounds lay on the ground covered by Ukrainian flags as fire engines and ambulances arrived at the scene.

Some people fell from the burning building as they hung on to windowsills in an attempt to avoid the fire that had taken hold inside. Pro-Ukrainian protesters made desperate efforts to reach people with ropes and improvised scaffolding.

“At first we broke through the side, and then we came through the main entrance,” said one pro-Ukrainian fighter, 20, who said he was a member of the extreme nationalist group Right Sector.

“They had guns and they were shooting … Some people jumped from the roof, they died obviously,” he said.

Riot police arrived on the scene as hand-to-hand fighting was already underway inside, but did not enter the building and stood formed up in ranks outside.

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Russia Today 5-4-14 in “Odessa Slaughter: How a Odessa slaughter: How vicious mob burnt anti-govt activists alive (GRAPHIC IMAGES)”:

What triggered the tragedy were violent clashes, which erupted on Friday afternoon between two rival rallies in Ukraine’s port-city of Odessa.

Around 1,500 supporters of the Kiev authorities, accompanied by aggressive fans of the local football club, Chernomorets, tried to march through the center of the city chanting “Glory to Ukraine,” “Death to enemies,” “Knife the Moskals [derogatory for Russians].” Some of the people in the group were wearing ultra-nationalist Right Sector movement insignia, were armed with chains and bats and carried shields.

Several hundred anti-government activists eventually confronted the procession. Fighting broke out as a result, with members of the rival groups throwing stones, Molotov cocktails and smoke grenades at each other and at police. The pavements were spattered with blood.

The police failed to draw the rival groups apart. As a result, 4 people were killed and 37 wounded in the violence. Police were among the injured.

Street clashes appeared to be only the beginning of the Odessa Friday nightmare, as radicals started to drive anti-government activists back to their tent camp in front of the local House of Trade Unions. Many anti-Kiev protesters eventually hid inside the building.

“Women and children were hiding in the Trade Union’s building,” an eye-witness told RT. “First the armed men set fire to tents, then they started throwing Molotov cocktails and grenades at the building. We heard shots fired and saw smoke,” she added.

The first floor of the Trade Unions building was soon engulfed in flames. The people inside appeared to be trapped.

Dozens eventually burnt alive or suffocated to death. To escape the fire and smoke, people were hanging out of windows and sitting on windowsills. In sheer desperation, some of them eventually jumped to the ground.

Many of those who managed to escape the fire were then brutally beaten by armed men, believed to be from the ultra-nationalist Right Sector group, who had the building under siege.

As people were dying in the burning building, some of the pro-Kiev activists jeered on Twitter that “Colorado beetles are being roasted up in Odessa,” using a derogatory term for pro-Russian activists wearing St. George’s ribbons.

About 50 people got to the roof of the burning building and waited for help there. RT managed to speak to one of them, after they were later rescued by police.

“We were hiding there [on the roof] from this angry mob, which forced us inside this building and threw Molotov cocktails and stones at us,” he said. “People were burned alive inside the building, they couldn’t get out. We couldn’t go down, we were seeing people from other floors being brought down and then those rioters down there attacked them like a pack of wolves. We were escorted from the roof and from the building. We had to step over dead bodies when we were descending the stairs.”

A total of 46 people died in Odessa’s violence on Friday and almost 200 others sustained injuries, Odessa Region prosecutor Igor Borshulyak told journalists on Saturday.

39 of the dead lost their lives in the fire at the Odessa Trade Unions House, according to the Ukrainian emergencies agency, which released a statement saying that “31 of the dead were found inside the building, eight more were found outside by law enforcement officers.”

Odessa announced on Saturday a three-day mourning for the victims of the tragedy.

Later, Ukraine’s acting President Aleksandr Turchinov signed a decree signaling two days of national mourning for those who died in the special military operation in eastern Ukraine and in mass clashes in Odessa.

Residents of Odessa have since Saturday morning been laying flowers outside the burnt out Trade Union building.

Russians have been bringing candles to the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow to commemorate the dead in Odessa.

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Barry Grey in “New York Times covers up fascist atrocity in Odessa”:

The anti-Kiev regime protesters had retreated into the building after the Ukrainian nationalist mob set fire to their nearby tent encampment. Authorities say 30 people died from smoke inhalation and another eight were killed when they jumped from windows and balconies in an attempt to escape the blaze.

According to eyewitness accounts, those who dropped from the building and survived were surrounded and beaten by Right Sector fascists. Video footage shows bloodied survivors being attacked.

This massacre occurred on the same day that government military forces, including armored personnel vehicles and helicopter gunships, attacked towns in the southeast of the country under the control of pro-Russian opponents of the regime, which was illegally installed last February in a coup led by Right Sector paramilitaries and backed by Washington and the EU.

snip

Even as Ukrainian military forces were attacking protesters in the east and fascist mobs allied to the government were burning and killing in Odessa, President Barack Obama was giving his unconditional support to the actions of the regime at a joint White House press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “The Ukrainian government has the right and responsibility to uphold law and order within its territory,” he declared, and went on to praise Kiev for its “remarkable restraint.”

At a meeting Friday of the United Nations Security Council, US Ambassador Samantha Power put the entire blame for the violence on Moscow and called the military crackdown in the east “proportionate and reasonable.”

snip

The United States has worked closely with the neo-fascist Svoboda party as well as the Right Sector, and signed off on their incorporation into the government it installed in Kiev after the February 22 putsch that overthrew the elected, pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych. Initially, the head of Right Sector, Dmytro Yarosh, was offered the post of deputy head of internal security, but he turned it down in order to operate more freely while providing the regime with a pretense of separation from the fascist militia.

Nevertheless, the Kiev government set up a new National Guard, recruited largely from the Right Sector and other ultra-nationalists and fascists, and has thrown it, as well as the Right Sector directly, against pro-Russian oppositionists in the east to supplement the operations of the Ukrainian military.

In an interview last month with the German publication Spiegel Online, Yarosh boasted of state support for his forces, saying, “Our battalions are part of the new territorial defense. We have close contact with the intelligence services and the general staff.”

The handprints of Washington are all over the fascist massacre in Odessa, and the New York Times, along with the rest of the “mainstream” media, is exposed as an accomplice.

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Robert Parry in “Will Ukraine Be NYT’s Waterloo?” quotes a passage from a New York Times article by C.J. Chivers and Noah Sneider on the Odessa atrocity and notes the “spin”.

“Violence also erupted Friday in the previously calmer port city of Odessa, on the Black Sea, where dozens of people died in a fire related to clashes that broke out between protesters holding a march for Ukrainian unity and pro-Russian activists. The fighting itself left four dead and 12 wounded, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said. Ukrainian and Russian news media showed images of buildings and debris burning, fire bombs being thrown and men armed with pistols.”

Note how the Times evades placing any responsibility on the pro-coup mob for trying to burn the “pro-Russian activists” out of a building, an act that resulted in the highest single-day death toll since the actual coup which left more than 80 people dead from Feb. 20-22. From reading the Times, you wouldn’t know who had died in the building and who had set the fire.

Normally, I would simply attribute this deficient story to some reporters and editors having a bad day and not bothering to assemble relevant facts. However, when put in the context of the Times’ unrelenting bias in its coverage of the Ukraine crisis – how the Times hypes every fact (and even non-facts) that reflect negatively on the anti-coup side – you have to think that the Times is spinning its readers, again.

Parry’s take on the horror:

The criminal character of the US-European Union intervention in Ukraine was tragically exposed for all to see Friday ….

snip

The Obama administration, along with the governments of Germany, France, Britain and the other European imperialist powers, bears political responsibility for Friday’s atrocity. They have sponsored the Right Sector, as well as the neo-fascist Svoboda party, and seen to it that they were integrated into the new anti-Russian regime in Kiev.

snip

Along with almost the entire U.S. mainstream media, the Times cheered on the violent overthrow of Yanukovych on Feb. 22 and downplayed the crucial role played by well-organized neo-Nazi militias that surged to the front of the Maidan protests in the final violent days. Then, with Yanukovych out and a new coup regime in, led by U.S. hand-picked Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the IMF austerity plan was promptly approved.

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Alex Lantier in “Ukraine reinstates military draft as NATO threatens Russia” reveals that conscription now is being mandated for all able-bodied males between 18 and 25 in Ukraine “to boost the crackdown in predominantly Russian-speaking areas.” Lantier speculates this agenda was arrived at by the coup-government after discussions with US officials such as CIA Director John Brennan, who visited there recently under an assumed name, and Vice President Joe Biden.

Some Ukrainian army and police units reports Lantier are refusing to shoot protesters. He adds that the Kiev junta government is relying on the private militias of business oligarchs or fascist paramilitaries from the Right Sector to attack anti-government protesters.

This is the “freedom-loving” new government of legitimacy and integrity Obama is championing?

Lantier:

The conscription order is a desperate attempt to bolster the tottering Kiev regime amid deepening political crisis and rising popular opposition. If obeyed in parts of the country still under Kiev’s control, it would provide back-up to the fascist forces spearheading the repression of the protests.

And then, of course, you have all the military person-power and sophisticated weaponry of the US and NATO behind the curtain to support this illegitimate new fascist government in its attempts to repress all righteous protests in Ukraine. Pretty much a David vs. Goliath situation. Though Obama lies easily about who’s the David and who’s the Goliath.

One final note. If you think the bloodbaths in Odessa and elsewhere in Ukraine and the inevitable ones to come (that were and are predictable to those not lost to the fog of US-NATO propaganda) will be considered tragic and “unintended” consequences by this anti-humanitarian Obama administration, think again.

Obama in his rose garden is not distressed, say, by pro-Russians being burned alive or some clubbed to death after miraculously escaping the burning, or of any who miraculously managed to survive both burning and clubbing then being arrested. Amoral Obama and his strategists want to subordinate not just contain Russia in their “new world order” gamesmanship. They hope the savagery against the pro-Russian citizens of Ukraine by the new regime of fascist thugs will draw Russian involvement — the Russian people demanding Putin help fellow ethnic Russians in Ukraine. Then this violent and repressive new junta government and the war-mongering Obama administration and its NATO cohorts can accuse Russia of MORE AGGRESSION and an attempt at occupation. Intimidation and manipulation of Russia is their goal. Even war with Russia is on the table. Obama and neocon and neolib war-mongerers want nothing less than “full spectrum dominance”. Global world insecurity with them in control.

Remember, ends-justify-the-means! Craven ends justify craven means!!

One more sea of lies and blood. Are we Americans going to seriously go with the flow of it one more time?

Breaking news Poroshenko: Ukraine, Russia fail to reach agreement on gas dispute

‘Difficult, full of disagreements’: No breakthrough in Milan talks on Ukraine crisis

(L to R) France's President Francois Hollande, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko sit during a meeting on the sidelines of a Europe-Asia summit (ASEM) in Milan October 17, 2014. (Reuters/Daniel Dal Zennaro)

(L to R) France’s President Francois Hollande, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko sit during a meeting on the sidelines of a Europe-Asia summit (ASEM) in Milan October 17, 2014. (Reuters/Daniel Dal Zennaro)

RT news

Published: October 17, 2014

The talks on the Ukrainian crisis, where the presidents of Russia and Ukraine have met with their European counterparts, have resulted in “no breakthrough,” according to Chancellor Merkel, but were still labeled “positive” by most participants.

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine met on Friday morning in Milan on the sidelines of the summit of Asian and European leaders in Italy. They were joined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

I cannot see a breakthrough here at all so far,” Merkel said after the meeting, according to Reuters.

We will continue to talk,” she added. “There was progress on some details, but the main issue is continued violations of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”  – Ms Merkel’s favorite song lyrics.

A political solution to the conflict in Ukraine has not yet been found, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy commented on the talks and urged both Russia and Ukraine to follow through on the peace agreement reached in Minsk, Belarus at the beginning of September.

What we agreed was the protocol of Minsk on the ceasefire, and the peace plan is of crucial importance,” Rompuy said. “We have to implement this. This would guarantee again a future for Ukraine. So implementation, implementation, implementation — those are the key words.”

 

 

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has so far been laconic in his assessment of the talks’ outcome.

It was good, it was positive,” the smiling president told reporters after the event, Reuters reported.

It was Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, who eventually elaborated on the negotiations, describing them as “difficult” ones.

The negotiations are really difficult, full of disagreements, full of misunderstandings,” Peskov said. “Nevertheless they are still taking place. There’s an exchange of opinions.

The participants have discussed in detail the implementation of the Minsk agreements,” Peskov said.

Unfortunately, some of the breakfast participants demonstrated their complete reluctance to understand the real situation in the southeast of Ukraine.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko complained to Austria’s chancellor Werner Faymann later in the day, that the morning talks did not leave him hopeful about achieving a breakthrough in the crisis.

Unfortunately, I am not very optimistic,” Reuters cited Poroshenko as saying.

(L to R) Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron talk during a meeting on the sidelines of a Europe-Asia summit (ASEM) in Milan October 17, 2014. REUTERS/Daniel Dal Zennaro/Pool (ITALY - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR4AJ1R

(L to R) Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron talk during a meeting on the sidelines of a Europe-Asia summit (ASEM) in Milan October 17, 2014. REUTERS/Daniel Dal Zennaro/Pool (ITALY – Tags: POLITICS) – RTR4AJ1R

Other European leaders, who participated in the talks, seemed to be more encouraged by their outcome. “Positive” has been the most frequently used definition.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who hosted the meeting said he was “really positive” after it, although he also acknowledged “a lot of differences” remained.

It was a very positive meeting,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron, according to AFP. “Vladimir Putin said very clearly that he doesn’t want a frozen conflict and he doesn’t want a divided Ukraine.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko had one more meeting later in the day trying to resolve the crisis. This time they were only accompanied by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko had one more meeting later in the day in an effort to resolve the crisis.

Putin was once again concise, commenting on the outcome.

The results of the talks are good,” he told journalists when he left the negotiations room, TASS reported.

Petro Poroshenko announced that the meeting had resulted in a preliminary agreement on Russian gas supplies to Ukraine.