Palestine in the face of Palestinicide

15 Jan 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

Susana Khalil

Today, some Arab tyrannies, in order to perpetuate themselves in power, seek to submit to this colonial-imperial force, putting the Arab-Persian world at risk.

Palestine in the face of “Palestinicide”

Zionism is a European colonial movement. The English historian Keith Whitelam conceptualizes it as the continuation of Colonial Europe. In 1948, Zionism succeeded in imposing a colonial regime in Palestine called “Israel”. It is classic colonialism, but it differs from historical colonialism in that it does not come from a people, but from a movement that aromatically falsifies history and disguises itself as a people, i.e. the “Jewish people”. Jews, Muslims, and Christians are not peoples, they are religions, and it is sad to have to explain this, at this point in human history and to a supposedly enlightened, educated, and secular world.

The West supposedly has to its credit a worthy history of fighting for secular values, which cost them blood. Secularism is today part of its identity and culture and is a sentiment, but it is inept and structurally ignorant to believe and feel that Jews are a people. To address this issue is to be discriminated against, even by pro-Palestinians. Beyond being a rotten Western taboo, it has its reckless consequences due to sophisticated totalitarian censorship, clear Western obscurantism.

The ideologues of Zionism foresaw that in their colonial enterprise, the day the native achieves his independence, they, as colonizers who do not come from a people but from a movement that seeks to become a people, do not have a point of return as happened in classical colonialism, that they as Jews would return to their respective original homelands. That is why Zionist colonialism has as its nature the very end of that native people in order to settle and ensure the foundations of a “nation-state” called “Israel”. This principle not only remains in force but also advances. Today, some Arab tyrannies, in order to perpetuate themselves in power, seek to submit to this colonial-imperial force, putting the Arab-Persian world at risk.

The colonial and expansionist regime of “Israel” withdrew from the Sinai territories in Egypt, conditioning and subjugating the Egyptian dictatorship. There is a false withdrawal from the Palestinian territories, conditioning and subjugating a caste of Palestinian traitors of the so-called Palestinian Authority. They maintain a military invasion in the Golan Heights in Syria. They unilaterally withdrew from South Lebanon, without conditioning and subjugating the Lebanese government or any Lebanese caste, and this exception is because they were overthrown by the Lebanese armed resistance of Hezbollah. The international Zionist lobby is the mastermind of the barbaric US imperial military invasion of Iraq, for the alleged establishment of democracy, and for the alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There will be no justice in the Arab-Persian world, except through the abolition of “Israel’s” colonial expansionist anachronism.

The worst thing about the Oslo Accords is not Zionist colonialism that managed to infiltrate through the Palestinian Authority, but the “memoricide” exercised by that Palestinian Authority, erasing the essence or the raison d’être of what the cause of liberation of the native Palestinian people against the Israeli colonial yoke is. And this “memoricide” takes place when the armed struggle is abandoned, so people are encouraged to follow the “peaceful” approach of struggle, which already existed, that is to say, the cultural, legal, academic, political, financial, economic, media, intellectual, humanitarian, religious, artistic, culinary, and historical struggle, which already existed and must exist; it is vital and magical. But the point is that on the stage, in the peaceful universe, the raison d’être of the Palestinian Cause is censored, evaded. In fact, almost nobody talks about the PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organization, anymore.

I do not remember the author of the phrase: “If you want peace, prepare for justice.” The Palestinian people are facing the most powerful fascist movement of our historical time. Zionism is neoliberal and non-neoliberal imperialism itself.

Armed struggle is not easy and neither is it a guarantee for the liberation of historic Palestine. The peaceful struggle is not easy; it focuses on human rights, and in many cases, it does not address the essence of the Palestinian Cause. Both fronts are important, all fronts of struggle are important.

From the peaceful stage, as a native Palestinian from the Diaspora, the daughter of peasant survivors of Al-Nakba, I fight against the colonial yoke of Israel, I fight for the National Liberation of my Palestinian people against a colonial force.

From the peaceful scenario, does the colonial regime of “Israel” have the right to exist? From the noblest of my soul, I say no. The so-called Israeli population would become Palestinian. Just to raise this is outrageous. I do understand and comprehend the reaction of not understanding; comprehending and accepting the right of native people to decide for themselves. I understand the atheists of freedom and justice.

Some might defend the existence of that colonial, imperial regime and anachronism and believe they have the right to do so, but what is not morally acceptable and constitutes an outrage to human dignity is censoring defending the others’ right to voice their rejection in the universe of debate. That is contrary to the free-thinking world.

There are those who lovingly state, I support “Israel”, and to those I say, support it in your country. why don’t you give it your homeland? There must be a debate, and this is part of the human condition.

I believe that we Palestinians must reposition ourselves, renaissance the root of our cause, be reiterative, not fall into distractions, and not submit to the reality of a contour or conjuncture. This implies intellectual courage and deep human fortitude in the face of so much censorship, fear, demonization, and threat. We must make our intellectual peaceful revolution. We must kick the table and be a rebellion of lucid intellectual light. Therein lies not only the beauty of the Palestinian Cause, but the beauty of being Palestinian.

… More than an intellectual challenge, it is to liberate intellectual fear, for Zionism itself is an intellectual, academic, media, legal, historical, moral, aesthetic, religious, archeological, sociological and philosophical fraud.

The Palestinian Liberation Cause is a direct cause for the protection of the Arab, Persian, and Kurdish world from Israeli expansionist colonialism. As I heard, it was said in the neighborhood of El Guarataro, in Venezuela, the liberation of Palestine is the liberation of the world.

Let us free ourselves from the self-censorship that sets the trap for us. We must be strategic, intelligent, and subtle. We will not receive any subsidy, if we do so, we will be rejected, demonized.

They operate an extermination plan against the Palestinian people; they not only colonized the homeland, but also its history, its cuisine, and its most popular artistic expression. And it is logical to say that, for example, they colonized the falafel and the embroidery. That is proof and sample that it is colonialism that does not come from a people, it needs to disguise itself as a people and take it from the native people. They are extermination modalities; they must expel Palestine from history.

It is all about being honest, the world, yes, the world is at risk in the face of Zionism. The Palestinians have an appointment with history and it is to liberate today, in the 21st century, their people from the anachronistic and expansionist colonial regime of “Israel”. Likewise, the Palestinians have a debt with humanity itself and it is to extirpate Zionism, the most powerful fascism of our time, for this we need everybody in, which is the struggle of our time.

Let me be riddled and demonized with the filthy and bastard accusation of the Zionist supremacy of anti-Semitism. Anyway, as Ernesto Guevara used to say, “How can my life matter if what is in danger is humanity.”

Yes, the liberation of Palestine is the liberation of the world, that is to say, taking steps against imperial, colonial atrophy and barbarism synchronized by Zionism.

The gloomy thing is that if we let the Palestinian people disappear, they will sadly exist in the echo of humanity as the cursed people, that by not liberating its noble cause, humanity remains in darkness. In this case, the outcome would be a cursed Palestinian, a traitor Arab.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Russian envoy talks to media after OSCE meeting English

January 13, 2022

Russia’s Permanent Representative to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Alexander Lukashevich gives a press conference following the OSCE regular meeting in Vienna on Thursday, January 13. The meeting marks the third stage in a series of talks between Russia and the West on Russia’s proposals for European security. The first stage was the talks between Russia and the US that took place in Geneva on January 10, followed by the Russia-NATO Council meeting in Brussels on January 12.

This is still live so kindly forward the video to start time.

Update:  The live stream is now complete.  Please forward video to 19:45  (It is English).

Russia says Nord Stream 2 ready for commissioning

Dec 30 2021

Net Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen

After several western attempts to block its construction, citing “dependence on Russia”, Russia’s Nord Stream 2 is complete and ready for commissioning.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a session of the SPIEF in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 4, 2021 (Reuters)

Russian Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline is ready for commissioning after its second line from Russia to Germany has been filled with gas, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller announced Wednesday.

According to Miller, the Russian energy giant has met all long-term gas supply contracts.

“Today at 12:58 Moscow time [09:58 GMT], Gazprom completed the filling of the second thread of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with gas. The first and second threads of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline are under operational pressure and are fully ready for operation,” Miller declared.

The CEO also revealed that the company had fulfilled its obligations to transit gas through Ukraine.

“Gazprom fully fulfilled its obligations under the contract for gas transit via Ukraine, our planned volume of 40 billion cubic meters of gas. Today we have already transited 41.5 billion cubic meters through Ukraine,” he said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia ready to supply gas to Europe

President Putin announced that Russia would be ready to immediately start supplying Europe with Gas if the European countries decide to launch Nord Stream 2.

Now, of course, he said, everything depends on Moscow’s partners, European consumers, and Germany.

“As soon as they decide to start work, large volumes, additional volumes of Russian gas will immediately begin to flow to Europe. Let me remind you that this is 55 billion cubic meters per year.”

According to Putin, the launch of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will see gas prices decreasing, not only for Europe but also for Ukraine.

The Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of Economic Cooperation said Wednesday Washington’s sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 project were pointless, as the construction of the gas pipeline had been completed.

“To be honest, we see no point in Washington’s sanctions policy in conditions when the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has already been built,” the diplomat declared.

In light of the Russian-Ukrainian tensions, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Sunday Russia’s Nord Stream 2 would not be allowed to operate in Ukraine, citing an agreement between Washington and Berlin.

The pipeline, which has been backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the one hand and Scholz’s predecessor Angela Merkel on the other in recent years, has been criticized by several sides. 

The US and several Eastern European countries are worried that Europe would be too dependent on Russia. 

In mid-November, the German energy regulator had suspended the certification procedure for Nord Stream 2 by requiring the Swiss-based consortium in charge of its operation to create a company under German law.

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NATO expansion to Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova a life-or-death situation: Kremlin

26 Dec 2021

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen Net

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stressed the sensitivity of Ukraine’s issue to Russia, and that conflict can threaten Ukraine’s statehood.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, Moscow, Russia, on October 2, 2019 (Anadolu Agency)

According to Russian presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, NATO’s expansion to Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova is a matter of life and death for Russia.

Peskov told Rossiya 1 about the issue: “Of course, for us, this is, well, essentially a matter of life and death already, ” talking about NATO’s extension to include nations like Ukraine and other former Soviet Union members.

The Kremlin spokesperson stated, “The equipment is beginning to make its way into Ukraine, military instructors are coming there, there are several thousand of them already,” adding that “NATO is gradually making its way into Ukraine and then, the only thing left will be to make it official.”

When asked if a military escalation could be hazardous to Ukraine’s statehood, Peskov responded “undoubtedly,” adding that “this is something President Putin talked about on multiple occasions and this is something that Kiev knows perfectly well and Washington knows perfectly well.”

Russia released its proposals for security agreements with the US and NATO earlier this month. The draft documents included a proposal to avoid deploying intermediate- and short-range missiles in areas where they could endanger either party to the agreement, as well as other measures.

Lavrov: US approach toward Russia creates a toxic atmosphere

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on December 24 that the US unfriendly approach toward Russia creates a toxic atmosphere and prevents the creation of peaceful contact between the two countries. 

In an interview for Oslobođenje newspaper, Lavrov pointed out that Moscow’s interactions with Washington have led to unfavorable scenarios, revealing that there have been many tensions between the two.

The Russian FM accused the US of being “overtly antagonistic” as it continues to impose sanctions, be hostile, and “make baseless charges against Russia.”

Putin: Russia will not be part of the conflict in the Donbas region

During his annual press conference, Putin stressed, on December 23, that Russia is ready to work with Ukrainian sides who are looking to build good-neighborly relations with Moscow.

On his part, the Russian President said Russia will not be part of the conflict in the Donbas region.

It is worth noting that the Minsk Agreement is an agreement to stop the war in the Donbas region, signed by Ukraine, Russia, the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Luhansk People’s Republic, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe on September 5, 2014.

2021 in its Last Quarter, the End of the Erdogan Miracle 2021 في ربعه الأخير.. نهاية المعجزة الإردوغانية

Turkish Erdogan Economy – the End of the Development Miracle

ARABI SOURI 

The “remarkable successes” achieved by Turkey during the first years of the “Justice and Development” rule turned out to be just myths that are expected to turn into hurricanes at the beginning of the new year.

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

When the West marketed the Justice and Development Party as an “Islamic party that democratically took power in a secular Muslim country” in the countries and peoples of the Arab region, it, also, had to prove to them the impressive successes of its “experience” in economic development that made Turkey the focus of everyone’s attention.

The leader of this “Islamist” experiment, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, achieved wide popularity, not only in the region, but among all Muslims in the world, and together they praised these successes, which they wished to bring them back the memories of the Caliphate and the Ottoman Sultanate that ruled large areas of the world.

The policies of openness to the countries of the region under the slogan “zero problems with neighboring countries”, which Erdogan pursued in the first eight years of his rule (2003-2011), contributed to gaining more popularity for him, his party, and Turkey, and achieved great economic gains thanks to this openness and positive relations with everyone, this will have repercussions on Ankara’s international relations, particularly with Europe, America, and Russia.

And the ‘bloody spring’ (Arab Spring) came to reveal what was hidden in Erdogan’s calculations, who believed that the time was right to impose his experience on the countries of the region, especially after the Muslim Brotherhood took power in Tunisia, Egypt, and Morocco, and partly in Yemen and Libya, so that neighboring Syria would be Erdogan’s main target in all his calculations, ideologically, nationally and strategically.

This was the beginning of the decline in the Erdogan project with its repercussions on the internal reality, especially after the failed coup attempt carried out by the followers of Fethullah Gulen (a former strategic ally of Erdogan) on July 15, 2016. Erdogan took advantage of this attempt, which, at the time, was said that “America, Israel, and the UAE stand behind it,” so he changed the political system from parliamentary to presidential, and took control of all state institutions, facilities, and apparatuses, the most important of which were the army, intelligence, security, judiciary, media, and even the central bank.

This was the beginning of revealing the mysteries and secrets of “the economic development”, which the Turkish opposition proved to be a lie after having had dire consequences for the economic and financial situation a year after Erdogan declared himself absolute ruler of the country, after the rigged referendum of April 2017, according to the words of Kilicdaroglu, leader of the opposition People’s Party.

Erdogan became president in June 2018, and appointed himself as chairman of the board of directors of the sovereign fund, and appointed his son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, as minister of finance and treasury and his deputy on the board of directors of the fund, this would be the beginning of the economic and financial collapse. The opposition accused Erdogan of privatizing $70 billion of public sector institutions, including airports, ports, dams, factories, military industries, forests, and highways, without anyone knowing where these billions went. The opposition also proved the involvement of Erdogan and those around him in serious corruption cases worth tens of billions of dollars, during the construction of bridges, tunnels, and airports by foreign companies that implemented their projects in hard currencies, and obtained their guarantees in hard currencies for long years as well.

All of this caused severe damage to the Turkish treasury, estimated at hundreds of billions of Turkish liras, which no longer has any notional value in foreign transactions. The opposition also proved the disappearance of 128 billion dollars (some say 150 billion) from the reserves of the Central Bank, without there being any logical explanation from Erdogan about the fate of these sums, because the state has not executed any strategic projects. The opposition said that Erdogan has spent some of these billions on his foreign adventures, especially in Syria, Libya, and other regions in which Erdogan wanted to promote his ideological, political and historical ideas, “while he lives in a fantasy world,” a quote by opposition leader Kilicdaroglu.

As for the volume of external debts, which exceeded 460 billion dollars, with larger amounts of internal debts, they, in turn, proved the collapse of development slogans that finally collided with the lira crisis that Turkey has been suffering since the past three months after it suffered from similar crises last year, and in 2018, albeit with less powerful tremors.

The value of the lira depreciated within only one month by thirty percent (60% since the beginning of the year, and it may reach 65% before the end of the year) and this was reflected in the prices, which increased by between 50 and 100%, which thwarted the government’s efforts to control inflation, which statistics indicate that it will not be less than 60%, to bring President Erdogan and his economic miracles to the end of the dark tunnel, and there is no escape from it for many reasons.

Experts, led by the former Minister of Economy and the current leader of the Democratic and Progress Party, Ali Babacan, all blamed President Erdogan for this economic and financial disaster, with its repercussions on Turkish society, which is experiencing its most difficult and darkest days. Babacan, who was one of the builders of “the development”, considered Erdogan’s foreign and domestic policies the main reasons for all that Turkey suffers from, accusing him of ignoring the simplest laws and rules of the economy and money. Babacan says that Erdogan is acting unilaterally, far from any legal and constitutional oversight or accountability, which has made Turkey lose the confidence of foreign capital after Erdogan took control of the judiciary and eliminated the independence of the central bank.

CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu and former Prime Minister and Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoglu supported Babacan’s words, and together they refuted the statements issued by the State Institute of Statistics regarding development rates, which were always according to the mood of Erdogan and his media and all those who were and still are admired about “the brilliant successes” Turkey achieved during the first years of the “Justice and Development” rule, finally, it turned out that they are just myths that did not withstand the bitter winds of truth that some expect to turn with the beginnings of the new year into storms and hurricanes, and no one knows how Erdogan will deal with them before they are accompanied by earthquakes that destroy all his “successes” before the so-called “Arab Spring,” when his experience, at the time, was a successful model that many praised, and some of them are now setting an example of its abject failure.

Others, at home and abroad, remain in their sentimental opinion of Erdogan’s miracles, either for self-interest or an ideological consensus that will not benefit any of them, as long as the truth has become completely exposed. The last three months of 2021 demonstrated the fragility of the Turkish economy and the “developmental miracles” that it has achieved, which “Islamists” have emotionally drummed and trumpeted about, as they are now emotionally defending them, they say that “Turkey’s economy is strong and its development is great, and it is exposed to a global war waged by imperialist, colonial, Zionist and Arab hostile countries and powers,” ignoring that Erdogan is courting all of these (countries and powers) in order to help him save Turkey, which will be very difficult by all standards and measures because Erdogan is absolutely indifferent to them, otherwise he would not have emphasized more than once his commitment to “religious texts” during his handling of the current crisis because “what matters to him is staying in power no matter what it costs him,” his former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says.

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2021 في ربعه الأخير.. نهاية المعجزة الإردوغانية

الاثنين 20 كانون الأول 2021

المصدر: الميادين نت

حسني محلي

“النجاحات الباهرة” التي حققتها تركيا خلال السنوات الأولى من حكم “العدالة والتنمية” تبيّن أنها مجرد أساطير يتوقع أن تتحول مع بدايات العام الجديد إلى أعاصير.

أصبح إردوغان رئيساً للجمهورية في حزيران/ يونيو 2018

عندما قام الغرب بتسويق حزب العدالة والتنمية “كحزب إسلامي تسلّم السلطة بشكل ديمقراطي في بلد مسلم علماني” في دول المنطقة العربية وشعوبها، كان عليه أن يثبت لها أيضاً النجاحات الباهرة “لتجربته” في التنمية الاقتصادية التي جعلت من تركيا محط أنظار الجميع. 

وحقّق زعيم هذه التجربة “الإسلامي” رجب طيب إردوغان شعبية واسعة، ليس فقط في المنطقة، بل بين جميع المسلمين في العالم، وتغنّوا معاً بهذه النجاحات التي تمنّوا لها أن تعيد إليهم ذكريات الخلافة والسلطنة العثمانيتين اللتين حكمتا مساحات واسعة من العالم. 

وأسهمت سياسات الانفتاح على دول المنطقة تحت شعار “صفر مشاكل مع دول الجوار”، والتي انتهجها إردوغان في السنوات الثماني الأولى من حكمه (2003-2011)، في كسب المزيد من الشعبية، له ولحزبه ولتركيا، وحققت مكاسب اقتصادية عظيمة بفضل هذا الانفتاح والعلاقات الإيجابية مع الجميع، بانعكاسات ذلك على علاقات أنقرة الدولية، وفي مقدمتها مع أوروبا وأميركا وروسيا. 

وجاء الربيع الدموي ليكشف المستور في حسابات إردوغان، الذي اعتقد أن الوقت بات ملائماً لفرض تجربته على دول المنطقة، وخاصة بعد تسلّم الإخوان المسلمين السلطة في تونس ومصر والمغرب، وجزئياً في اليمن وليبيا، لتكون الجارة سوريا هدف إردوغان الرئيسي في مجمل حساباته، عقائدياً وقومياً واستراتيجياً. 

وكان ذلك بداية التقهقر في المشروع الإردوغاني بانعكاساته على الواقع الداخلي، وخاصة بعد محاولة الانقلاب الفاشل الذي قام به أتباع فتح الله غولن (وهو الحليف الاستراتيجي السابق لإردوغان) في الـ 15 من تموز/يوليو 2016. واستغلّ إردوغان هذه المحاولة التي قيل آنذاك “إن أميركا وإسرائيل والإمارات تقف خلفها”، فقام بتغيير النظام السياسي من برلماني إلى رئاسي، وسيطر على جميع مؤسّسات الدولة ومرافقها وأجهزتها، وأهمها الجيش والاستخبارات والأمن والقضاء والإعلام، بل حتى البنك المركزي. 

وكان ذلك بداية الكشف عن خفايا “التنمية الاقتصادية” وأسرارها، والتي أثبتت المعارضة التركية كذبها بعد أن انعكست بنتائجها الوخيمة على الوضع الاقتصادي والمالي بعد عام من إعلان إردوغان نفسه حاكماً مطلقاً للبلاد، بعد استفتاء نيسان/أبريل 2017 المزوّر بحسب كلام كليجدار أوغلو زعيم حزب الشعب المعارض.

وأصبح إردوغان رئيساً للجمهورية في حزيران/ يونيو 2018، وقام بتعيين نفسه رئيساً لمجلس إدارة الصندوق السيادي، وتعيين صهره برات البايراك وزيراً للمالية والخزانة ونائباً له في  مجلس إدارة الصندوق، ليكون ذلك بداية الانهيار الاقتصادي والمالي. واتهمت المعارضة إردوغان بخصخصة ما قيمته 70 مليار دولار من مؤسسات القطاع العام، بما فيها المطارات والموانئ والسدود والمعامل والمصانع العسكرية والغابات والطرقات السريعة، من دون أن يعرف أحد أين ذهبت هذه المليارات. كما أثبتت المعارضة تورّط إردوغان ومَن حوله في قضايا فساد خطيرة بعشرات المليارات من الدولارات، خلال بناء الجسور والأنفاق والمطارات من قبل شركات أجنبية نفّذت مشاريعها بالعملات الصعبة، وحصلت على ضماناتها بالعملات الصعبة أيضاً ولسنوات طويلة. 

وألحق كل ذلك أضراراً جسيمة بالخزانة التركية تُقدّر بمئات المليارات من الليرات التركية التي لم يعد لها أي قيمة اعتبارية في التعاملات الخارجية. كما أثبتت المعارضة اختفاء 128 مليار دولار (البعض يقول 150 ملياراً) من احتياطي المصرف المركزي، من دون أن يكون هناك أي توضيح منطقي من إردوغان حول مصير هذه المبالغ، لأن الدولة لم تنفّذ أي مشاريع استراتيجية. وقالت المعارضة إن إردوغان قد صرف البعض من هذه المليارات في مغامراته الخارجية، وخاصة في سوريا وليبيا ومناطق أخرى أراد إردوغان أن يسوّق فيها أفكاره العقائدية والسياسية والتاريخية، “وهو يعيش في عالم الخيال”، والقول لزعيم المعارضة كليجدار أوغلو. 

وأما حجم الديون الخارجية التي زادت على 460 مليار دولار مع مبالغ  أكبر من الديون الداخلية، فقد أثبتت بدورها انهيار شعارات التنمية التي اصطدمت أخيراً بأزمة الليرة التي تعاني منها تركيا منذ ثلاثة أشهر، بعد أن عانت من أزمات مماثلة في العام الماضي، وفي عام 2018، ولو بهزّات أقل قوة. 

فتراجعت قيمة الليرة خلال شهر واحد فقط بنسبة ثلاثين في المئة (منذ بداية العام 60% وقد تصل إلى 65% قبل نهاية العام) وانعكس ذلك على الأسعار التي زادت بنسبة تراوح بين 50 و100%، وهو ما أفشل مساعي الحكومة في السيطرة على التضخم الذي تبيّن الإحصاءات أنه لن يكون أقل من 60%،  ليوصل الرئيس إردوغان ومعجزاته الاقتصادية إلى نهاية النفق المظلم، ولا نجاة منه لأسباب عديدة. 

فالخبراء، وفي مقدمتهم وزير الاقتصاد الأسبق والزعيم الحالي لحزب الديمقراطية والتقدم علي باباجان، حمّلوا جميعاً الرئيس إردوغان مسؤولية هذه الكارثة الاقتصادية والمالية بانعكاساتها على المجتمع التركي، الذي بات يعيش أصعب أيامه وأحلكها. واعتبر باباجان، وكان من بُناة “التنمية”، سياسات إردوغان الخارجية والداخلية سبباً رئيسياً لكل ما تعاني منه تركيا، متّهِماً إياه بجهل أبسط قوانين وقواعد الاقتصاد والمال. ويقول باباجان إن إردوغان يتصرف بشكل فردي، بعيداً عن أي رقابة أو محاسبة قانونية ودستورية، وهو ما أفقدَ تركيا ثقة الرساميل الأجنبية، بعد أن سيطر إردوغان على الجهاز القضائي، وقضى على استقلالية المصرف المركزي. 

وأيّد زعيم حزب الشعب الجمهوري كمال كليجدار أوغلو ورئيس الوزراء السابق وزعيم حزب المستقبل أحمد داود أوغلو كلام باباجان، وكذّبا معاً البيانات التي تصدر عن المعهد الحكومي للإحصاء في ما يتعلّق بنسب التنمية، وكانت دائماً وفق مزاج إردوغان وإعلامه وكل الذين كانوا وما زالوا يتغنّون “بالنجاحات الباهرة” التي حققتها تركيا خلال السنوات الأولى من حكم “العدالة والتنمية”، وتبيّن أخيراً أنها مجرد أساطير لم تصمد أمام رياح الحقيقة المرّة التي يتوقع لها البعض أن تتحول مع بدايات العام الجديد إلى عواصف وأعاصير، ولا يدري أحد كيف سيتصدّى لها إردوغان قبل أن ترافقها زلازل تدمّر كل ما حققه من “نجاحات” قبل ما يُسمّى “الربيع العربي”، حيث كانت تجربته آنذاك نموذجاً ناجحاً يتغنّى به الكثيرون، وبدأ البعض منهم الآن يضرب المثل بفشله الذريع. 

ويبقى آخرون في الداخل والخارج عند حسن ظنهم العاطفي بمعجزات إردوغان، إما لحسابات مصلحية أو لتوافق عقائدي لن ينفع أحداً منهم، ما دامت الحقيقة قد أصبحت مكشوفة تماماً. فقد أثبتت الأشهر الثلاثة الأخيرة من 2021 هشاشة الاقتصاد التركي وما حققه من “معجزات تنموية” طبّل وزمّر لها “الإسلاميون” عاطفياً كما يدافعون عنها الآن عاطفياً وهم يقولون إن “اقتصاد تركيا قوي وتنميتها عظيمة وهي تتعرض لحرب كونية تشنها دول وقوى أمبريالية واستعمارية وصهيونية وعربية معادية”، غافلين عن أن إردوغان يتودد إليها جميعاً كي تساعده لإنقاذ تركيا وهو ما سيكون صعباً جداً بكل المعايير والمقاييس، ذلك لأن إردوغان غير مبال بها على الإطلاق، وإلا لما أكد أكثر من مرة على التزامه “بالنصوص الدينية” خلال معالجته للأزمة الحالية لأن “ما يهمه هو البقاء في السلطة مهما كلفه ذلك” والقول لرئيس وزرائه السابق أحمد داود أوغلو.  

Riad Salameh: Washington’s man in Lebanon; a suspect in Europe

December 22 2021

Washington’s man in Lebanon, Banque du Liban Governor Riad Salameh, is responsible for Lebanon’s financial collapse.Photo Credit: The Cradle

Europe has launched a flurry of criminal investigations into the United States’ most valuable Lebanese financial asset, the country’s Central Bank Governor

By The Cradle’s Lebanon Correspondent

On 27 November 2020, Lebanon’s Banque du Liban (Central Bank) Governor Riad Salameh was charged on suspicion of embezzlement, money laundering and abuse of influence in Switzerland, Britain, Luxembourg, Germany, the Netherlands, and Lebanon.

European judicial scrutiny over Salameh’s financial dealings first began in Bern, Switzerland, where legal authorities began investigating Lebanese bank transfers totaling about $400 million, the source of which is suspected to be Salameh, his brother Raja Salameh, and the governor’s assistant Marianne Howayek.

The Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Office subsequently wrote to Lebanon’s discriminatory Public Prosecution, requesting legal assistance from state authorities to investigate information that the Central Bank of Lebanon had laundered money and conducted embezzlement operations between 2002 and 2015.

These ‘suspicious’ transfers had been carried out through a company by the name of Forry Associates, owned by the two Salameh brothers.

On 26 December 2001, the Central Council of the Banque du Liban approved the governor’s request to sign a financial services contract between Forry and the Central Bank related to foreign currency debt bonds.

According to the Swiss Federal Prosecutor, the money was laundered in European and Lebanese banks, and was used to purchase real estate in several countries. Forry is, according to the Bern investigators, a shell company and a fraudulent front for the Salameh family.

This discovery represented the first fall of the domino for Riad Salameh, known to be ‘America’s man’ in the Lebanese financial sector.

Washington’s ‘criminal’ in Lebanon

The relationship between Riad Salameh and the US began to be revealed publicly in April 2019 when Lebanese daily newspaper Al-Akhbar published minutes of a meeting between the US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism Financing and Financial Crimes, Marshall Billingsley, and the (former) Lebanese Economy Minister, Mansour Bteish.

The minutes reveal a US official saying:

“We need a governor of the Banquet du Liban and a deputy governor who we can trust, and who is sensitive and with whom confidential information about terrorist financing and money laundering can be exchanged. The situation today is that we trust Governor Riad Salameh and (former) Deputy Governor Muhammad Baasiri.”

Switzerland began its investigation in November 2020, and in February 2021, Lebanon’s discriminatory Public Prosecution launched a special investigation into Forry Associates and its relationship to the Salameh brothers.

The result of the investigation led by Lebanese Public Prosecutor Judge Jean Tannous (under the supervision of Public Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat) led to a raid on Raja Salameh’s Beirut office in April 2021.

Then, on 26 May 2021, German and Swiss authorities ordered a freeze on the funds of Riad and Raja Salameh, and the same request was sent to France on 1 June.

French authorities immediately responded and began implementing procedures, while in Switzerland, citing the slow pace of judicial procedures, officials have yet to respond to Lebanese judiciary requests for assistance and information.

Surprisingly, given that Switzerland initiated this whole process, the Swiss have refused to send a copy of the contract signed between the Banque du Liban and the Forry company to the discriminatory Public Prosecution in Lebanon.

Bags of cash and financial sleaze

Thus far, three European states are leading criminal investigations against Riad Salameh: Switzerland, France and Luxembourg. The Netherlands, Germany, Britain, and Belgium are still examining complaints and follow-ups to files, and have not yet launched their own criminal investigations.

In July 2021, French airport customs authorities arrested Riad Salameh after discovering an undeclared amount of 84,430 euros and 7,710 dollars in his private bag, far more cash than is legally allowed to physically enter France without a permit.

Salameh’s initial response was to deny knowledge of the money, but shortly after being taken to an interrogation room, he confessed to have ‘forgotten’ that he had placed the money in his bag.

The scandal in France and the penalty slapped on Salameh have been added to the two complaints filed against him in Paris.

The first complaint was submitted on 16 April 2020 by Accountability Now, an NGO organization focused on Lebanon’s financial and political crimes against the Lebanese people, established by both Lebanese and Swiss human rights activists.

The second complaint was submitted on 30 April by the French ‘Sherpa’ organization, which specializes in combating economic and financial crimes around the world.

Investigations have progressed in France, leading to the interrogation of Raja Salameh, and the dispatch of a French police force on 21 October to raid apartments and real estate suspected of belonging to Riad and Raja Salameh and a certain Anna Kozakova, who the French press described as “the mother of Riad Salameh’s illegitimate daughter.”

The main objective of these raids was to gain access to an apartment located on the French Champs-Elysées, rented by Riad Salameh from Kozakova.

This apartment is officially leased by the Banque du Liban as a “reserve center” in case a force majeure event prevents it from working from its headquarters in Beirut’s Hamra district, or its secondary headquarters in Bikfaya, the Matn district of Mount Lebanon.

The raid revealed that the Banque du Liban rented the apartment for a whopping $500,000 per year – basically, it seems, to house only an electronic server no more than two square meters in size.

A deluxe suite of lawsuits 

The prosecution of the central bank governor is not limited to France, as Accountability Now has also filed a complaint in Britain.

On 14 October, a meeting was held in The Hague, which included representatives of the Public Prosecution Office in Lebanon, France, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg and Britain, with the intention “to coordinate the investigation steps into the wealth of Riad Salameh, Raja Salameh and Kozakova.”

The wealth of these three individuals is also being pursued in Belgium; while Luxembourg has frozen Salameh’s accounts after launching a criminal investigation against him on 12 November.

Media investigations have revealed three companies registered in Luxembourg in the name of Riad Salameh with combined assets of about $100 million, while a further entity is registered in the name of Raja Salameh.

Discoveries from previous investigations also show that Riad Salameh owns real estate amounting to 150 million dollars, about half of which is in Britain, and no less than 35 million euros invested in French real estate purchases, mostly between 2007 and 2014.

Lebanese lawsuits against its criminal ‘strongmen’ are gaining importance in the country. While the European legal clampdown on Riad Salameh is unprecedented, the most important implications are the lawsuit filed against him in Lebanon, handled by the discriminatory Public Prosecution.

Salameh collaborates closely with most Lebanese political forces and parties, enjoys the cover of the Maronite Patriarchate, and is carefully promoted by the majority of local media outlets.

Nevertheless, Judge Jean Tannous has questioned Salameh twice, as well as employees of two financial auditing firms, Ernst & Young and Deloitte, both of which audit the accounts of the Banque du Liban, a number of its managers, and former members of the bank’s Central Council.

Meanwhile, Salameh’s assistant, Marianne Howayek, was arrested for a few hours at Beirut airport last May, during which documents and electronic devices were confiscated before her release.

Riad Salameh is not just one of ‘Washington’s men’ in Lebanon; he is also the most powerful employee of the Lebanese state.

The Monetary and Credit Law, which regulates the work of the Lebanese banking sector, bestowed broad powers upon the central bank governor in terms of preserving money and the nation’s economy, but Salameh expanded his sphere of influence by taking advantage of the successive failures of political authorities to carry out their duties and to define the financial and social policy of the state.

Salameh’s crimes against Lebanon … with US blessing

Since 1997 to date, Salameh has personally taken all the measures and made all the decisions that led to Lebanon’s economic collapse.

These include fixing the exchange rate, borrowing US dollars from the Banque du Liban, and luring Lebanese banks to bring in deposits from correspondent banks abroad and placing them in the Banque du Liban with high interest rates.

Salameh’s actions also includes executing financial engineering that doubled the profits of bank owners and increased the state’s indebtedness; concealing the losses of the banking sector; applying subsidies to the importation of fuel, medicine and wheat, and then raising prices before finding an alternative for the Lebanese citizenry; disrupting the financial plan of the government of former Prime Minister Hassan Diab; and finally, participating in currency market speculation which contributed to the collapse of the Lebanese Lira currency, wiping out depositors’ life savings.

In its report issued in the spring of 2021, the World Bank described Salameh as “the exclusive policy maker” in Lebanon’s economy. Today, he is a suspect, having refused since February 2021 to provide the discriminatory Public Prosecution with his personal account statements in order to investigate the Forry case.

But instead of suspending Salameh from his position as the Central Bank’s governor until investigations were completed, the Council of Ministers expanded his authority, making him a ‘partner’ in the development of a financial rescue plan and IMF negotiations for Lebanon.

Today, Riad Salameh continues to be protected by the political, religious and media establishments of Lebanon, and by a US administration that refuses to allow him to be dismissed.

Specifically, it was the US embassy in Beirut which directly intervened against former Lebanese PM Hassan Diab’s decision to sack Riad Salameh and reset Lebanon’s collapsing financial system on a different path.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Why U.S. Security Talks With Russia is Invite to Hall of Mirrors

December 22, 2021

Finian CUNNINGHAM
Former editor and writer for major news media organizations. He has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages

Finian Cunningham

Washington and its partners are the problem. Any engagement being offered to Moscow is an invite into a hall of mirrors while on the outside the threat continues to lurk.

The United States and Russia appear to have reached an agreement to hold talks early in the new year to avert the mounting security tensions over Ukraine. But Moscow must be realistic. The talks will yield little to offset confrontation.

Russia last week unveiled a comprehensive set of proposals for security guarantees from the United States and the NATO military alliance. It called for no eastward expansion of NATO or deployment of U.S. strike weapons in countries bordering Russia. Moscow warned if there was not a reasonable reciprocation over its stated “red lines” then counter military measures would be taken instead. Such measures may include deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus which Minsk has agreed to facilitate.

The combined Russian move seems to have gotten Washington’s attention. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this week that a forum for talks had been agreed by the Biden administration and that negotiations would begin sometime during January.

However, getting Washington’s attention and the latter actually listening are two different things. And, unfortunately, the signs are that the United States is not taking Russia’s existential security concerns seriously nor is it capable of framing the situation accurately.

While appearing amenable to holding early talks with Russia on the security stand-off over Ukraine, nevertheless the Biden administration is still provocatively blaming Moscow as the cause of the entire problem. The State Department continues to accuse Russia of “aggression” towards Ukraine and insists that Moscow must “deescalate” the tensions as a condition for any forthcoming talks to be productive.

Furthermore, the Biden administration is continuing its supply of weapons to the anti-Russian regime in Kiev as well as threatening to deploy economic sanctions in concert with the European Union that are designed to cripple Russia.

In other words, the security talks that Washington appears to be willing to hold with Russia in the coming weeks are not based on proper respect nor on a premise of genuinely trying to resolve security concerns. The United States is persisting in peddling its distortion that Russia is to blame when the opposite is true. It is the United States and its NATO allies who are weaponizing the Kiev regime to foment dangerous tensions with Russia. It is the U.S. and its partners who are threatening and aggressing Russia, not the other way around. That distortion is in itself provocative.

There’s another reason why talks with the United States under current circumstances are doomed to yield little progress towards sustainable peace.

The Biden administration says that it will engage with Russia on its security proposals. But, and this is the giveaway, in consultation with NATO allies and partners. That will ensure that Washington’s scope for reciprocating with Moscow is blinkered by the lowest denominator of Russophobia among NATO partners.

The Kiev regime is backed by Poland and the Baltic states who have all condemned any “concessions” to Russia. Polish President Andrzej Duda after meeting with Ukrainian and Baltic counterparts this week declared that NATO should step up military forces and sanctions to “prevent Russian aggression”. Duda accused Russia of “blackmailing” Europe.

Given this array of gross distortion about the source of tensions in Ukraine and Europe generally – Russia is incriminated, rather than the U.S. and its NATO war machine – it is futile to expect any dialogue between Washington and Moscow to produce a badly needed reduction in confrontation and a modus vivendi.

The U.S. and NATO are plying Ukraine with lethal weapons and military advisors. This week, Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu claimed that over 100 American private mercenaries were preparing some sort of false flag provocation in the Donbass region with chemicals. Ukraine is being set up for a proxy war in the well-worn U.S. modus operandi of Syria and other nations where covert dirty war was inflicted by the American imperialists and their European accomplices.

Alongside that, the NATO forces continue their large-scale buildup of forces, battalions, and strike weapons near Russia’s borders. And the jackals in NATO, like Poland and Baltic states, are howling for blood.

Yet, the Biden administration continues to insult common intelligence by accusing Russia of aggression and demanding that it must de-escalate for talks to proceed – talks, that is, that will be limited by the input of the most Russophobic mindsets in NATO as well as the unhinged anti-Russia regime in Kiev.

Russia has superb diplomats. They are more than capable of wiping the floor with U.S. and European counterparts when it comes to legal argumentation and logical reasoning. But even the most formidable diplomats can’t vanquish a falsified framework that is loaded like a gun to the head.

The signs are that Russia is being lured into a trap. Washington and its accomplices are not serious about respectful negotiations to resolve security problems. Washington and its partners are the problem. Any engagement being offered to Moscow is an invite into a hall of mirrors while on the outside the threat continues to lurk.

Russia may be better off using different tactics for more effectively communicating its concerns.

By this author

Germany’s Traffic Light Coalition Blinks Green for NATO Hostility to Russia

December 17, 2021

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation

Finian Cunningham

Former editor and writer for major news media organizations. He has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages

If there is a new traffic light in Berlin it’s showing no stops for further U.S. and NATO aggression in Europe.

The new German coalition government headed up by Chancellor Olaf Scholz is only one week in power but already the signals are pointing to Berlin being more amenable to U.S.-led NATO hostility towards Russia.

The “traffic light” coalition (based on party colours) comprises the Social Democrat Party led by Scholz in partnership with the Greens and pro-business Free Democrats. Scholz gave an inaugural address to the Bundestag this week as the new chancellor having replaced Angela Merkel of the Christian Democrats after her 16 years in power.

Following Merkel’s reign, which was hallmarked by stability and her dominant personal style, all eyes will be on the new government in Berlin and its impact on transatlantic relations. Scholz, who is relatively unknown, and his administration could hardly be met with a more challenging time given the heightened tensions between, on the one hand, the U.S.-led NATO military alliance and the European Union, and on the other, Russia.

Berlin’s new foreign minister Annalena Baerbock (who takes over from Heiko Maas) brings to her post a more vociferous, critical position towards Russia. Baerbock, a leading Green lawmaker, announced this week that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany is being put on hold due to alleged Russian aggression towards Ukraine. The pipeline was already being held up since completion in September by an industrial certification process. But now Baerbock has introduced a geopolitical factor to cancel the project. Before her ministerial post, she was known as a trenchant critic of Nord Stream 2, opposing it because she provocatively claimed, it allowed Russia to “blackmail Europe”, and also apparently on environmental grounds. Ironically, the alternative to Russian gas supply would be the import of American shale gas which is more expensive and dirty owing to its environmentally destructive extraction method. In her latest Nord Stream 2 pronouncement, the German foreign minister is sounding remarkably like U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in linking the project’s future to tensions over Ukraine and putative Russian invasion plans.

Baerbock has also been a long-standing advocate of expanding NATO eastwards and of closer transatlantic ties with the United States.

This eastward expansion of the military alliance is exactly what has caused apprehension in Moscow which views the bloc as threatening Russia’s national security from the potential for advanced positioning of nuclear missiles on Russian borders. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has urged U.S. President Joe Biden as well as British and French counterparts to implement legal guarantees to safeguard Russia’s security. Those guarantees would include a prohibition on NATO’s further eastward expansion to include membership access for former Soviet republics Ukraine and Georgia.

With Baerbock as Germany’s top diplomat, it is likely that Russia’s concerns will be given short shrift. As the strongest political force in the European Union, a more hardline German policy will ramify across the entire EU and reinforce the position of Russophobic members like Poland and the Baltic states.

As for the new chancellor, 63-year-old Scholz was formerly the finance minister in Merkel’s last coalition government. That administration was robustly supportive of the Nord Stream 2 partnership with Russia. Under Merkel, Berlin rebuffed Washington’s objections to the pipeline saying that it was a sovereign matter for Germany. Scholz himself had in the past spoken out against American meddling over Germany’s energy policy. The Biden administration appeared to respect Berlin’s independence on the issue by dropping threats of sanctions against participating companies. That background might suggest that the chancellor’s office would hold Baerbock’s foreign ministry in check.

However, the recent escalation of tensions over Ukraine fuelled by Washington’s claims that Russia is planning to invade the country has hardened Germany’s stance towards Moscow, in particular on the issue of expanding economic sanctions as “severe consequences” for alleged Russian aggression. Moscow has repeatedly dismissed the U.S. claims of invasion plans, but disconcertingly Germany and the rest of the EU have gone along with Washington’s narrative, accepting dubious American “intel” as if good coin, reminiscent of the WMD propaganda leading up the war on Iraq. That paradigm shift suggests a premeditated, orchestrated objective for the U.S. The Europeans have been suitably suckered into the ploy. And, at last, the Nord Stream 2 project is within target of Washington’s policy torpedoes.

In his address to the Bundestag this week, Scholz called for “constructive dialogue” with Russia to “stop the spiral of escalation”. He also called for “mutual understanding”. That may sound like an enlightened policy of diplomatic engagement. But then, disappointingly, Scholz vowed that Germany would “speak with one voice with our European partners and transatlantic allies”. That means Berlin is henceforth deferring to the position of Washington and Kiev in terms of determining response to the accepted narrative of “Russian aggression”.

Whatever the shortcomings of Merkel – she was no radical critic of Washington – but she at least was capable at times of exerting a modicum of independence. Her unwavering support for Nord Stream 2, for example, despite American pressure. Also more recently, it has emerged that Merkel reportedly blocked supplies of NATO weapons to Ukraine much to the annoyance of the Kiev regime.

Olaf Scholz does not come across, at least so far, as a strong leader. His mealy-mouthed talk about “sharing one voice” with the U.S. and “partners” like Ukraine, as well as his ready acceptance of spurious allegations about Russian aggression, indicate that the new Berlin government will be a pliable tool for Washington’s policy of hostility towards Russia.

Historically, it is ominous that the first German overseas military action since 1945 occurred in 1999 under an SPD-Green coalition. That was when Germany joined in the NATO bombing of Serbia. These parties are coalition partners again at another crucial time for Europe.

If there is a new traffic light in Berlin it’s showing no stops for further U.S. and NATO aggression in Europe.

Putin Is Right, The West’s Anti-Chinese Policy Is Indeed Repulsive

14 DECEMBER 2021

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Whether it’s the West’s trade and tech wars that they provoked against the People’s Republic, their fake news-driven information warfare campaigns against that country, or the AUKUS military alliance which aims to aggressively contain it through nuclear-related means, every aspect of their policy towards Beijing is indeed repulsive.

Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed the West’s anti-Chinese policy as “repulsive” while recently speaking at the “Russia Calling!” annual investment forum. He criticized the sanctions and restrictions against China as “completely unjustified” and said that “they contradict international law.” The Russian leader also condemned the Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) military alliance, which he said “does not help improve the situation in the region, it escalates tensions.” He’s right about everything that he said.

What’s so repulsive about all of this isn’t just that it’s illegal, but that it’s so hypocritical and dangerous. The West preaches a policy of so-called “democracy” and “human rights”, yet there’s nothing “democratic” or “humane” about a gang of countries such as the AUKUS states teaming up against anyone else like China. It’s anti-democratic and inhumane, especially since the sanctions are meant to hurt the Chinese people. These policies are the opposite of what the West says that it stands for.

They’re also dangerous too because they unnecessarily raise the risk of war. Two of AUKUS’ three countries are nuclear powers and are plotting to controversially proliferate nuclear submarine technology to the Asia-Pacific member of their alliance. All three have provoked differing levels of tension with China in recent years so it’s clear that this nuclear pact is aimed against the People’s Republic. The AUKUS states arrogantly assume that China will sit back and not defend itself.

Every defensive move that China takes, both in the past and in the future, is misportrayed as a so-called “unprovoked act of aggression”. This is also extremely repulsive. President Putin defended China’s military policy during his talk when he remarked that “it has the right to build its defense policy in a way to ensure the security of that huge country. Who can deny it [China] this right? It is natural that the military might grows along with the rise in the economic potential. This is a natural process.”

Taking this insight into consideration, it becomes clear that the West’s repulsive anti-Chinese policy is also unnatural. Nevertheless, delusional Western officials perversely claim that it’s actually “natural” because they say that there’s no alternative to their countries trying to keep China in check. That’s the wrong way to look at the world since mutually beneficial cooperation is the way of the future, not the zero-sum thinking that’s responsible for two World Wars and countless comparatively smaller ones.

President Putin elaborated on the reason why he isn’t concerned by China’s growing military capabilities. In his words, “why do we have to show any concern over the growing defense potential of our nearest neighbor, with which we enjoy an unprecedentedly high level of inter-state relations?” Put another way, if countries focus on cooperating in areas of shared interest like China and Russia do instead of provoking conflict like the West does, then there’s no reason to fear one another.

This is a pragmatic and natural way to conduct international relations. If the West only followed China’s and Russia’s lead by respecting other countries’ rights to govern themselves in accordance with their people’s wishes, defend themselves, and develop with whatever model they believe is best, then the world would be so much more peaceful. Instead, the West continues to cling to its reprehensible, hypocritical, and dangerous policies against China, which are endangering world peace.

President Putin advised in a different part of his speech that “We need to build such a model of international relations where all members of the international community could feel equal and where common rules are adopted. Not to live by somebody else’s rule established by no one knows who and how, but to live by common rules, agreed and adopted by the world community. It means to live by stable rule.”

The core of the problem is that the West doesn’t abide by the rules-based order legitimized by the same United Nations Charter that its governments formally agreed to respect by participating in that global body. This is the real root of its repulsive policies against China and all other peace-loving countries that respect international law. These double standards contradict the “democratic” and “human rights” rhetoric spewed by their governments. All the trouble that they cause can be traced back to this.

Whether it’s the West’s trade and tech wars that they provoked against the People’s Republic, their fake news-driven information warfare campaigns against that country, or the AUKUS military alliance which aims to aggressively contain it through nuclear-related means, every aspect of their policy towards Beijing is indeed repulsive. Raising awareness of this objective observation like President Putin did will hopefully get the West to wake up and realize how counterproductive this all is before it’s too late.

What is the European Union For?

DECEMBER 10, 2021

After all the initial euphoria and hopes placed upon the original concept of a non-aligned, social-democratic Euro-bloc, the reality has turned out somewhat differently.

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

In 2011 I drafted an article in an obscure publication called ‘Chartist’. It was entitled: ‘’Europe: The Unfinished Project’’. It ran as follows.

‘’At the present time the EU project seems to be stuck in no-man’s land, unable to press ahead with full political integration, or retreat back into a northern European protectionist Deutschmark zone and leaving the peripheral member states to the tender mercies of unfettered, globalized capitalism. However there seems to be a sufficient residue of the original EU idealism in the present stage of development to persevere further with the political struggle taking place.’’ (Ibid, page 19)

But alas one lives and learns.

I now believe that this view, justifiable and plausible enough at the time of writing, has now become difficult, if not actually impossible, to sustain. And the reason for this came in the next sentence, viz.

‘’One only has to consider the Anglo-American alternatives (to the Euro model) and globalization more generally to make this choice.’’

This was, however, based on the tacit assumption that the Euro model of capitalism was somehow fundamentally different from the Atlanticist model, a paradigm exemplified by the US/UK/EU axis. It was not. In the fullness of time this turned out to be a fundamental misconception. The UK of course has always been bound hand and foot to the US in terms of both foreign and economic policy with the ending of the system of imperial preference demanded by the US as the quid pro quo for the American loan negotiated by Keynes, shortly before his death in 1946; next came the American intervention in the Suez crisis in 1956 which effectively ended any independent UK foreign policy. This dog-like British devotion to American imperatives – the so-called ‘special-relationship’ – then extended with the neo-liberal turn and the Reagan-Thatcher counter-revolution of the 198Os. True, the UK was always more Atlanticist in its outlook than its European neighbours. However, continental Europe was to become as enamoured of Atlanticism as is the UK – and those more recent EU ex-communist states, probably even more so.

‘’It is not only the UK, which is Atlanticist, the continental European states are no less so … proof of this is given by the central position of NATO in this political construction. That a military alliance with a country outside the union (the US) has been integrated de facto into the European constitution – in terms of a common foreign and security policy – constitutes an unparalleled anomaly. For some European countries (Poland, and the Baltic States) NATO’s protection – that is, that of the United States against their ‘Russian enemy’ is more important than their adhesion to the European Union.’’ (Samir Amin – The Implosion of Capitalism – 2014)

Jens Stoltenberg – Head of NATO – Warmonger in Chief

This Americanization of Europe – this invisible annexation – was achieved by a combination of soft and hard power – a cultural, political, economic and militaristic assimilation of the old world by the new. It should be understood that the US does not do ‘partnerships;’ any geo-political relationships the US enters into with other states is always on the basis of ‘Me Tarzan, You Jane.’

‘’ It follows from this that the European Union nor any of its component states any longer have an independent foreign policy. The facts show that there is one single reality: alignment behind whatever Washington (perhaps in agreement with London) decides on its own.’’ (Amin – Ibid)

European Economic policy is similarly aligned to US interests and US practises. This is hardly surprising since the US has been the dominant economic force (although now in a declining trajectory) for the last 100 years. It has control of the world’s reserve currency which allows it to run persistent deficits on its current account since it can simply pay for its imports by printing its own currency. The US also tends to dominate the multilateral institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and WTO and having the largest bloc of votes in the IMF. American policymakers have used their influence in the IMF to pursue American financial and foreign policy objectives. The IMF offers larger loans to countries heavily indebted to American commercial banks than to other countries. In addition, the IMF offers larger loans to governments closely allied to the United States. (International Politics (2004) 41, 415–429). New York is the second largest financial centre (after London) with the most deeply liquid capital markets, and in absolute terms the US is – in nominal terms at least – the largest economy in the world. (Although in terms of purchasing power parity, the Chinese economy is now larger.)

Canary Wharf on the Thames. The world finance centre. (This is where my father who was a fireman in 1940 was trying to put out fires whilst the Luftwaffe were dropping incendiary bombs all around him. Somehow he survived and so did I!)

Additionally, the ‘soft power’ of the US (and UK) which includes, university economics departments, economic think-tanks, publications – The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Economist – Business and Financial circles, and the universal language of business and diplomacy – English – have effectively dominated and structured the global ideological discourse. The ‘Washington Consensus’ along with the deadly weapons of financial mass destruction – the lethal weapons of financialization – have come to dictate policy and policy making in the western world.

However, the neo-liberal, neo-conservative project was to run into difficulties as instanced in the twin crises besetting the Euro-Atlanticist bloc: namely, Greece and Ukraine.

Greece.

At the outset it was wholly predictable that the accession of Greece into the eurozone was going to lead to trouble. In order to qualify for admission Greece needed to demonstrate that it conformed to the Maastricht Criteria. The Maastricht rules threaten to slap hefty fines on euro member countries that exceed the budget deficit limit of three percent of gross domestic product. Additionally, total government debt mustn’t exceed 60 percent. It is interesting to note that both France and Germany both exceeded the Maastricht criteria, but there was a mute silence on this.

The Greeks had never managed to stick to the 60 percent debt limit, and they only adhered to the three percent deficit ceiling with the help of blatant balance sheet cosmetics.

Not to worry, in 2010 some creative accounting was supplied by the premier (infamous?) US Investment Bank, Goldman Sachs. GS’s selling point for financial legerdemain is well known; in this instance cross-currency swaps where government debt issued in dollars and yen was swapped for euro debt for a certain period – and then exchanged back into the original currencies at a later date. Hey, presto! The figures added up (for a while at least). Goldman Sachs collected a $15 billion kickback for their labours.

As members of the eurozone the Greeks then had access to cheap credit from eurozone banks, particularly French and German. But any deal between borrower and lender means that both should act responsibly. The creditworthiness of the borrower has to be assessed before the loan is made. But such rigorous investigations of this sort were not conducted; with the deregulation of finance such tiresome procedures had been done away with and banks lent to almost anyone who had a pulse

The rest as we say is history.

But if these lenders knew that borrowers would not be able to repay the loans, this would have amounted to ‘odious debt.’ That occurs when the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation, should not be enforceable. Vulture capitalism is another equally unprepossessing term for the policy toward Greece. Vulture funds target distressed firms and/or countries and buy their bonds and stocks at knock-down prices, then when the company fails, they sue the owner not only for the interest but also the principal. The Troika policy toward Greece has been one of Loan and Foreclosure.

If Greece remains in the eurozone it will continue to be bled white, privatised and ultimately dismembered. An example must be made to stop others in the southern periphery from getting ideas. And just as Mrs. Thatcher was the junior partner of Reagan in shaping the EU, Merkel was Obama’s enforcer in the Euro’s restive provinces.

It is interesting to note that one, Victoria Nuland, rabid neo-con – more of which below – Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State, visited Athens on 17 March 2015 and had talks with the Greek PM Tsipras regarding the present turmoil. Suffice it to say it was geopolitics and the retention of Greece in the EU and NATO she was concerned with, rather than debt. She no doubt reminded Tsipras that there might be consequences if Greece did not toe the EU line. As Assistant Secretary for regime change in the State Department the redoubtable Ms Nuland’s brief has been to threaten or bring about regime change in countries of which the US and its vassals disapprove.

Ukraine

Earlier the peripatetic Ms Nuland was also busy in Ukraine – which was not and is not an EU member – promoting regime change, a process which had been going on since 2004, with the so-called Orange Revolution, and later was responsible for the events on the Maidan which resulted in the installation of the oligarch-fascist regime paid for ($5 billion according to Ms N) in 2014, and whose leaders were hand-picked by herself and the US Ambassador in Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt. Since this the IMF largesse has kept on flowing and kept the Ukraine on a drip feed of IMF subventions with no end in sight.

It was interesting to note how the IMF’s treatment of the Kiev regime differs significantly to that meted out to Greece. Firstly a $40 billion aid package was granted to Ukraine over the next 4 years. Secondly Madame Lagarde has stated that “In the event that a negotiated settlement with private creditors is not reached and the country determines that it cannot service its debt, the Fund can lend to Ukraine consistent with its Lending-into-Arrears Policy” (12 June 2015) In other words when the Ukraine defaults, the IMF will – in violation of its constitution – come up with the cash. Moreover, the IMF is also not mandated to lend to states which are at war. Of course this is hardly an even-handed way of operating, but of course the IMF is a highly politicised and partisan institution and a key part of the neo-liberal, neo-conservative global establishment. Ukraine missed a bond coupon payment 17 July 2015, setting off a default on about $19 billion of debt, as a standoff with creditors shows no sign of abating – it was interesting to see what happened in light of Madame Lagarde’s statement. (1) See below

Well in the Spring of 2016 the Poroshenko regime was gifted yet another 600-million-euro loan to Ukraine. But of course it didn’t stop there. Considering this loan the overall amount of EU assistance to Ukraine added up to 2.8 billion euros since the Maidan events of 2014. This ‘assistance’ had been forthcoming in the same year, and this was the largest macro-economic assistance ever sent to a non-EU country. But it didn’t seem to make any difference.

Things are so bad in Ukraine that in spite of all the IMF largesse it now vies with Moldova as being the poorest country in Europe. The United Nations predicts that the country will lose a fifth of its population by 2050.
Moreover, Ukraine has also one of the highest crude death rates in the world. Poor health conditions and the widespread abuse of alcohol and drugs have led to a rise in Ukraine’s death rate. The country also has the highest global mortality rate from infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, meaning that inadequate medical care has contributed to the rise in Ukraine’s mortality rate. The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated these health care Issues.

Ukraine’s fertility rate has also declined. According to the World Bank, Ukrainian families were having two children per household during the 1990s. Recent economic hardships, however, have forced families to have only one child per household. The effects of Ukraine’s struggling economy and the Donbass conflict have also discouraged many young couples from having children, and this has contributed to the decline in Ukraine’s fertility rate. I could go on, but it would be indecent to do so. Let’s just say that the EU-NATO meddling in the internal affairs of this beleaguered nation has resulted in an economic-political catastrophe.

Conclusions

The decision to expand the EU, and along with NATO, right up to Russia’s borders, initially under the guidance and policies of the Clinton administration, was a clear indication that the governments of the EU had come under American domination. With this decisive shift the EU project was over. It has been replaced by a North Atlantic military project under American command.

The hegemonistic strategy of the US – made abundantly clear in both the Wolfowitz doctrine and the more recent enunciations and actions of the dominant US war party, a coalition of neo-cons, liberal hawks and liberal interventionists – is clearly visible behind the disappearance of what was once the European project.

However it is quite possible that even against US wishes and geopolitical imperatives the EU might well fracture internally due to inter-state tensions and economic contradictions. One thing is certain: in its present structure the EU cannot endure, nor does it deserve to.

This 20/21st century ‘Great Game’ is being played out with one party getting stronger – the Eurasian bloc – and the other party – the Atlanticist bloc – becoming weaker.

It reminds me of a scene in the film ‘Apocalypse Now’ where Captain Willard (played by Martin Sheen) sums up the deteriorating US geopolitical situation (I can’t remember the exact words) but it went as something like this:. ‘’Charlie (the Vietcong) sits in the Jungle getting stronger, and I sit in the hotel room getting weaker.’’

True, very true.


NOTES

(1) When it comes down to enforcing nations to pay inter-governmental debts, the IMF and Paris Club hold the main leverage. As co-ordinator of central bank ‘stabilization’ loans (the neo-liberal euphemism for imposing austerity and destabilising debtor economies, Greece style) the IMF is able to withhold not only its own credit but also that of governments and global banks participating when debtor countries need refinancing. Those states who do not agree to privatise their infrastructure and sell it to western buyers are threatened with sanctions, backed by US sponsored ‘’regime change’’ and ‘’democracy promotion’’ Maidan-style. (Michael Hudson)

Western officials in a hurry to wrap up Vienna talks with Iran: Report

December 02 2021

ByNews Desk

Iran’s negotiators say they are ready to continue intensive talks and are not beholden to “artificial deadlines or time tables”

On the third day of long-awaited Vienna nuclear talks, European representatives reportedly urged an “immediate conclusion” to this round of negotiations.

According to Iranian media reports on 1 December, this call by several of the signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is due to their “insistence” to receive case-by-case directives from the US, which continues to disrupt and prolong discussions.

Despite this apparent snag, the Islamic Republic’s delegation has maintained they are ready to engage in talks for “as long as needed.”

“The Islamic Republic has come to Vienna with full seriousness and is negotiating with transparent demands and proposals,” a senior member of Iran’s negotiating team told Press TV on 1 December.

“[Iran] stands prepared to continue intensive talks as long as needed, [but] it will not be ready to sacrifice its principled demands and the Iranian nation’s rights for mere artificial deadlines or time tables,” the unnamed source went on to add.

Israeli media have quoted Biden administration officials as saying that they expect to wrap the talks up “on Thursday or Friday.”

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian took to Twitter to say that talks are continuing and that a good deal is “within reach if the west shows good will.”

Officials from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries — Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany — arrived in the Austrian capital on 29 November to negotiate the removal of unilateral US sanctions placed on Iran.

US officials are also present in Vienna but are not taking part in the talks directly.

Regarding the possibility of an agreement during this round of negotiations, Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, told reporters on Wednesday that he sees “a real chance” for an agreement despite the difficulties and serious disagreements between Iran and the US.

“The situation is very difficult, and it is clear that there are a lot of differences between the Americans and the Iranians,” Ulyanov said. “Both in previous rounds of negotiations and in the current round.”

“Nevertheless, we think there is still a real chance to resolve all issues through diplomacy and negotiation,” he continued.

The Russian diplomat went on to explain that most of these differences stem from Iran’s ongoing work on its nuclear energy program, which was done “not out of malice, but in response to the irresponsible policy of maximum US pressure in the form of extraterritorial sanctions.”

“The Americans must first lift the sanctions, and Iran must align its nuclear program with the provisions of the IAEA Board,” Ulyanov added.

Amid all these developments, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh has accused Israel of trying to “poison” the negotiation process, tweeting that: “All parties in the room now face a test of their independence & political will to carry out the job — irrespective of the fake news designed to destroy prospects for success.”

This comes in response to several media reports saying Israel has shared intelligence over the past two weeks with the US and several European allies alleging that “Iran was taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90 percent purity, the level needed for a nuclear weapon.”

Europa Scorned and Forsaken

October 8, 2021

By Alastair Crooke

Source

alia however, was a centrepiece to Paris’s strategy for European ‘strategic autonomy’. Macron believed France and the EU had established a position of lasting influence in the heart of the Indo-Pacific. Better still, it had out-manoeuvred Britain, and broken into the Anglophone world of the Five Eyes to become a privileged defence partner of Australia. Biden dissed that. And Commission President von der Leyen told CNN that there could not be “business as usual” after the EU was blindsided by AUKUS.

One factor for the UK being chosen as the ‘Indo-Pacific partner’ very probably was Trump’s successful suasion with ‘Bojo’ Johnson to abandon the Cameron-Osborne outreach to China; whereas the big three EU powers were perceived in the US security world as ambivalent towards China, at best. The UK really did cut links. The grease finally was Brexit, which opened the window for strategic options – which otherwise would have been impossible to the UK.

There may be a heavy price to pay though further down the line – the US security establishment are really pushing the Taiwan ‘envelope’ to the limit (possibly to weaken the CCP). It is extremely high risk. China may decide ‘enough is enough’, and crush the AUKUS maritime venture, which it can do.

The second ‘leg’ to this global inflection point – also triggered around the Afghan pivot into the Russo-Chines axis – was the SCO summit last month. A memorandum of understanding was approved that would tie together China’s Belt and Road Initiative to the Eurasian Economic Community, within the overall structure of the SCO, whilst adding a deeper military dimension to the expanded SCO structure.

Significantly, President Xi spoke separately to members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (of which China is not a part), to outline its prospective military integration too, into the SCO military structures. Iran was made a full member, and it and Pakistan (already a member), were elevated into prime Eurasian roles. In sum, all Eurasian integration paths combined into a new trade, resource – and military block. It represents an evolving big-power, security architecture covering some 57% of the world’s population.

Having lifted Iran into full membership – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt may also become SCO dialogue partners. This augurs well for a wider architecture that may subsume more of the Middle East. Already, Turkey after President Erdogan’s summit with President Putin at Sochi last week, gave clear indications of drifting towards Russia’s military complex – with major orders for Russian weaponry. Erdogan made clear in an interview with the US media that this included a further S400 air defence system, which almost certainly will result in American CAATSA sanctions on Turkey.

All of this faces the EU with a dilemma: Allies who cheered Biden’s ‘America is back’ slogan in January have found, eight months later, that ‘America First’ never went away. But rather, Biden paradoxically is delivering on the Trump agenda (continuity again!) – a truncated NATO (Trump mooted quitting it), and the possible US shunning of Germany as some candidate coalition partners edge toward exiting from the nuclear umbrella. The SPD still pays lip service to NATO, but the party is opposed to the 2% defence spending target (on which both Biden and Trump have insisted). Biden also delivered on the Afghanistan withdrawal.

Europeans may feel betrayed (though when has US policy ever been other than ‘America First’? It’s just the pretence which is gone). European grander aspirations at the global plane have been rudely disparaged by Washington. The Russia-China axis is in the driving seat in Central Asia – with its influence seeping down to Turkey and into the Middle East. The latter commands the lions’ share of world minerals, population – and, in the CTSO sphere, has the region most hungry and ripe for economic development.

The point here however, is the EU’s ‘DNA’. The EU was a project originally midwifed by the CIA, and is by treaty, tied to the security interests of NATO (i.e. the US). From the outset, the EU was constellated as the soft-power arm of the Washington Consensus, and the Euro deliberately was made outlier to the dollar sphere, to preclude competition with it (in line with the Washington Consensus doctrine). In 2002, an EU functionary (Robert Cooper) could envisage Europe as a new ‘liberal imperialism’. The ‘new’ was that Europe eschewed hard military power, in favour of the ‘soft’ power of its ‘vision’. Of course, Cooper’s assertion of the need for a ‘new kind of imperialism’ was not as ‘cuddly’ liberal – as presented. He advocated for ‘a new age of empire’, in which Western powers no longer would have to follow international law in their dealings with ‘old fashioned’ states; could use military force independently of the United Nations; and impose protectorates to replace regimes which ‘misgovern’.

This may have sounded quite laudable to the Euro-élites initially, but this soft-power European Leviathan was wholly underpinned by the unstated – but essential – assumption that America ‘had Europe’s back’. The first intimation of the collapse of this necessary pillar was Trump who spoke of Europe as a ‘rival’. Now the US flight from Kabul, and the AUKUS deal, hatched behind Europe’s back, unmissably reveals that the US does not at all have Europe’s back.

This is no semantic point. It is central to the EU concept. As just one example: when Mario Draghi was recently parachuted onto Italy as PM, he wagged his finger at the assembled Italian political parties: “Italy would be pro-European and North Atlanticist too”, he instructed them. This no longer makes sense in the light of recent events. So what is Europe? What does it mean to be ‘European’? All that needs to be thought through.

Europe today is caught between a rock and a hard place. Does it possess the energy (and the humility) to look itself in the mirror, and re-position itself diplomatically? It would require altering its address to both Russia and China, in the light of a Realpolitik analysis of its interests and capabilities.

The Ukraine claims to be ready for an imminent war, today or tomorrow :-)

September 10, 2021

The Ukraine claims to be ready for an imminent war, today or tomorrow :-)

by Andrei for the Saker blog

Well, we heard that, what, 10’000 times already?  Probably.

But is this a reason to simply ignore yet another tsunami of hysterics coming out of Kiev?

I mean, I get it: North Stream 2 has been completed today, all that’s left is a bunch of paperwork (which the Poles and Ukies are still trying to sabotage by offering to “participate” in the bureaucratic processes). Barring any last-minute “creative solutions” by the 3B+PU gang, the gas itself should start flowing on October first.  And since the “Turkish stream” is already working, it is true that Russia has successfully bypassed all the crazies and is now offering its energy to Europe directly.

As for the “West” and its values, well, let’s just say that greed is far more sacred to the West than its own propaganda.  How do we know that? Nobody offered the Ukies any “compensation” or, even less so, “security guarantees”.

The US/NATO/UK/EU have clearly shown that while they love to act like the infamous “civilized” “White Man” with his famous “burden”, they have no stomach for screwing around with Russia for real, not in the Black Sea, not in the Ukraine, not in the Baltic and not in the North or anywhere else.

In other words, the Ukronazis feel ditched and are watching the events in Afghanistan in utter horror.

Also, since the Ukronazis always said that Russia will attack the Ukraine as soon as NS2 is completed, so in a way, there is a logic here: since NS2 was completed today, therefore Russia must attack today.  Especially since the Zapad 2021 military maneuvers have started (and they are involving a bigger and much more capable military force than the entire military power of the 3B+PU countries).

In the Ukie logic, this all means that Russia will attack today or tomorrow at the latest, from both Belarus and Russia.  BTW – Lukashenko was in Moscow yesterday and the two countries signed 28 documents further integrating Russia and Belarus economically and militarily.  As for political integration, Putin and Lukashenko both said that first, the two countries must align their economies before going into stuff like a single currency or even a single Parliament.  So that is for the (not too far away) future.

Then there are the various statements from top Ukro officials.

Zelenskii declared that a war is now inevitable.  He also stated that the Ukronazi armed forces were now amongst the most formidable on the planet and that NATO would “lose” without the Ukraine and the EU would become very weak (he was not joking).

The head of the Ukronazi Security Council, Danilov, not only agreed, but he said that if the Ukies see an impending Russian attack, the Ukies would attack first and “liberate” the Donbass.  He got a standing ovation from the Ukronazi corner.

The head of the Ukrainian military admitted that he daydreamed about, listen to this, a Ukrainian military parade on the Red Square in Moscow, with Ukie flags and all (that old Polish wet dream again…).

Remember the other “NATO candidate” Saakashvili who lost a war against a small Russian military force in 3 days only?  He now declared that if Russia attacks the Ukraine, all the US would send, at best, is warm blankets and inflatable boats.  He is right.  Welcome to reality Ukies!

As for the official Ukie media (all non-regime-run TV channels have now been banned), let’s just say that they “further amplified” the feelings of Ukie politicians and leave it at that.

Foreign Minister Lavrov reacted to all that by saying that the folks in Kiev were “schizophrenics”.  Peskov also spoke of mental problems.

So, will we have a full-scale war in Europe today or tomorrow?

Probably not.  HOWEVER

First, never say never, especially when dealing with schizophrenics.  Normal deterrence theory assumes what is called “a rational actor” on all sides.  The one thing which the Ukronazis sure ain’t is “rational”!

Second, you have to stop thinking like you normally do and imagine yourself in, say, Ze’s skin.  Objectively, for them, a continuation of, well, maybe not “peace”, that has not happened since the Ukronazi coup, but at least “low simmering” war might well be WORSE than a full-scale war with Russia.  The kind of “non-full-war” which the Nazi-occupied Ukraine has been (barely) surviving is a surefire way to a final, total, collapse.  Not only that, but Ze & Co. probably do realize that even if Russia does openly intervene, it would at most be to liberate the rest of the Donbass and probably move towards the Mariupol direction.  Sure, the Russians would probably do to the Ukies something similar to what they did to Saakashvili and basically defang the Ukraine, but remember that in 08.08.08 the Russians were already advancing on Tbilissi and stopped not because the “invincible Georgian army” stopped the invader, but because the Russians have ZERO need for anything Georgian once their fangs have been removed, least of all any need to enter their capital.  In fact, the Russians quickly packed and left, leaving just enough forces in South Ossetia and Abkhazia to make darn sure that they would never be attacked again.  This is most likely what the Russians would do in case of a war with the Ukraine, only at a larger scale.  But now think like Ze: Saakashvili himself is not in power, but he is alive, got plenty of money and basically is living a good life (in their minds, at least).  He did not get lynched by angry Georgians (who did put him on an international wanted list for many of his crimes).  Ze would much rather be the future Saakashvili than the future Mussolini, and that goes for a lot of them.  Sure, the Ukronazi true believers will all be killed by Russians, but the top folks will do what ex-President Ashraf Ghani did and pack their money and run.

Third, dumb and desperate (D&D) rulers always see war as a solution to get the flag-waving kind to blindly support them.  I vividly remember how Argentinian General and dictator Galtieri pulled off exactly that with his ill-fated liberation of the Malvinas/Falklands from the Brits (which, of course, I support 110% on principle, but the execution was nothing short of terrible, by the fault of Argentinian politicians and Galtieri himself (and the local commander too, Mario Menendez).  And that is a trick which every President except Trump pulled at least once while in office (and he basically also did that with the murder of Soleimani which was an act of war).

The Neocons still seem to be dreaming of attacking somebody, anybody, but following the monumental faceplant in Afghanistan, there are very few nations out there that the US can seriously take on (Monaco?  Lichtenstein?  Costa Rica (which has no military to begin with)?  Grenada (no military either, but lots of very bad and even traumatic memories for the US)?  Not the Vatican, the ceremonial Swiss guard might do what it did during the insurrection of 1792 and declare “We are Swiss, the Swiss do not part with their arms but with their lives. We think that we do not merit such an insult. If the regiment is no longer wanted, let it be legally discharged. But we will not leave our post, nor will we let our arms be taken from us” (yes, tiny Switzerland had a proud and very interesting history, and she only became the Empire’s cheap prostitute in 1990).  And today’s Swiss guards at the Vatican could change their (rather silly) ceremonial uniforms, but on real fatigues and fight to the end.  I don’t see these genius super-warriors taking them on 🙂

So – war later today or tomorrow?

No, probably not.

But the fact is that the Ukies simply have no other choice than to try all they can to trigger a war sooner or later (but preferably sooner).  For these Nazi schizophrenics war is, REALLY, preferable to peace.  Remember for all the butthurt crazies on other websites who were going into hysterics every time I spoke of “Nazis” in the Ukie context, the fact remains that while Ze initially came to power as a total NON-Nazi (while Poroshenko’s gang was “the real deal”), the fact that Ze is, literally, a clown and has no real power base other than the pro-peace Ukrainians whom he totally betrayed, resulted into the Ukie Nazis taking de facto control of the Ze regime.

Just like the Neocons are a minority in the USA, but one which sets the agenda no matter who is in power in the White House, so are the Ukronazis: a minority, but one which sets the agenda.  And “their” Ukraine is, truly, an anti-Russia, something which Putin publicly declared a “red line” which Russia will never allow.

See any venues for compromise here?

Me neither.

Finally, a war would allow the Ukronazis to “consolidate” their power in the western regions of the (historically real) “Ukraine” which Russians will certainly stay away from (Lvov, Ivano-Frankovsk, etc.).  Most of the locals *truly* are non-Russians and have never been Russians in the past.  The Ukronazi ideology is still popular there, so the Ukronazis can create their little and landlocked “Nazi Taiwan” and give up a country they cannot control, if only because it is entirely artificial, and accept a smaller country, but once which makes more sense and which they can control.

So “something” is definitely coming.  It might be a stupid stunt like trying to pass under the bridge to Crimea or some major terrorist attack (that is the one thing which the SBU is actually pretty darn good at, we should not dismiss them too quickly!).  Or this, the Ukies are regularly flying all types of drones over the Donbass and even over Crimea.  What if they sent a manned aircraft of some kind?  It will be shot down for sure (even over the LDNR).  They can also set off a false flag very very easily (just like the Czechs recently did): blow up some major civilian infrastructure object which the cannot be maintained (no money, all the specialists gone) anyway and blame it on Putin and, of course, “Petrov and Boshirov”.

I think of that as a “home made MH-17” (the initial one was clearly a US operation like KAL007 many years ago).

We cannot predict what “it” will be, but we can be sure that will be 1) very visible 2) very ugly 3) very bloody.

Yes, the Russians are as ready as can one can be.  But the Ukies will have the advantage of choosing the time and place.  This means that the SVR/GRU must now carry the burden of making darn sure that the Ukronazis authorities are chock full with SVR/GRU agents and even officers: it is vital for Russia to make sure that the Kremlin gets any such Ukie plans even before they are finalized in Kiev.  Удачи вам, ребята! (good luck guys!).

Andrei

Nuances of a silent expansive explosion

Nuances of a silent expansive explosion

September 09, 2021

By Fabio Reis Vianna for TheSaker blog

When the world system was still in its infancy in that appendix of the Eurasian continent we know today as Europe, Babur, the King of Kabul, entered India from the northwest to establish the Mughal Empire in 1526, outlining an empire that would later be consolidated by his grandson Akbar (1556 – 1605).

The splendor of the great Eastern civilizations took place in a historical period when the world’s economy, cultural activities, and military power were concentrated in places such as China, India, and the ancient Persian Empire, now known as Iran.

The strategic withdrawal of China of the Ming – the most advanced civilization among the great pre-modern empires – from the great expansionist game, may have been the delimiting point between the before and the after of the geopolitical rise of those, as historian Paul Kennedy would say, “dispersed and relatively unsophisticated peoples who occupied the western part of the Eurasian landmass”, namely, the Europeans.

The Chinese vacuum still remains a great mystery to many historians: Why would Admiral Cheng Ho have withdrawn his fleet and that great rising civilization have given up its expansion toward an undisputed hegemonism in the Eurasian world system?

More than five hundred years after these events, we see the current hegemon of the modern world system, heir to the violent and predatory expansionism invented by the Europeans, withdrawing in an impromptu manner from that territory that in the past was part of the great Mughal Empire of King Babur and his grandson Akbar, Afghanistan.

According to most Western media analysts, the US withdrawal from Afghan territory should have been done in a coordinated manner with the puppet government, allies, and after all the Afghans who collaborated with the invasion and occupation had already left the scene.

It so happens that both the abrupt exit from Afghanistan, and Biden’s first speech justifying the exit, would confirm something that analyses centered on an American leadership of the past no longer follow.

The current expansive explosion of the world system, which began in the 1970s and shaped itself into imperial contours after the collapse of the Soviet Union, seems to be at a unique moment and certainly generated by pandemic chaos.

It is true that even before the Covid-19 crisis the increase in competitive pressure was already visible, reflecting the entry into the game of the new emerging powers, especially Russia and China.

The intensification of interstate competition, therefore, would have led the United States to give up its global leadership based on the diffuse values of the so-called “Liberal Order” instituted after World War II.

The 2017 national security strategy published during the Trump administration, which in practice had already been outlining and deepening since the first incursion into Iraq in 1991, would now reveal itself without masks.

The tearing of the fantasy of the old benevolent hegemon had come true.

The big news of what happened in Afghanistan would be revealed at the last G7 meeting, when the European leaders demanded from the United States a more responsible posture in its global leadership.

However, what is still hard for the European allies to understand, or accept, is that the United States has given up any global leadership, and in this new strategic configuration – which was not a point out of the curve created by the erratic Trump administration – the national interest, and only the national interest of the United States, will be the priority.

This being so, and taking into consideration that the United States’ military presence in Afghanistan, paradoxically, would not be negatively affecting the Chinese economic projects, and, on the contrary, favored them by guaranteeing stability in the region, it is absolutely plausible the line of reasoning that would justify the way out: to establish chaos in a region where the Eurasian enemies would be interested in stability.

The fourth expansive explosion of the world system reveals itself in frightening appearances by indicating, besides the increase in competitive pressure and the escalation of conflicts in itself, a displacement of what the professor of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, José Luís Fiori, would call a “black hole” of destructive force.

The black hole, therefore, would be at this very moment moving to a new war epicenter, which would probably be the Indo-Pacific, as well as previously unthinkable regions such as South America itself.

In a recent poll, USA Today indicated a rise in Joe Biden’s unpopularity rating after what happened in Afghanistan, which could have erroneously indicated a possible step backwards in the American exit. However, what is likely to happen is just the opposite: the bid for more systemic chaos and global destabilization.

The world system feeds on the permanent expansion of power, and this becomes even clearer when those at the top of the system find themselves challenged and losing ground to their adversaries.

More than ever perhaps the time has come for the Eurasians to fill that void left by Admiral Cheng Ho’s squadron in 1433.

Fabio Reis Vianna, lives in Rio de Janeiro, is a bachelor of laws (LL.B), MA student in International Relations at the University of Évora (Portugal), writer and geopolitical analyst. He currently maintains a column on international politics at the centennial Brazilian newspaper Monitor Mercantil.

أولويات جديدة لواشنطن تصيب الحلفاء بالذعر


أيلول 1 2021

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 ناصر قنديل

لم يعد مهماً النقاش مع الذين حاولوا بحسن نية ومخاوف مشروعة، أو بسوء نية لتجميل صورة الهزيمة الأميركية، بالقول انّ واشنطن انسحبت من أفغانستان ضمن خطة هجومية لتفجير ألغام بوجه روسيا والصين وإيران، فكل ما جرى منذ الإعلان الأميركي بدء الإنسحاب يظهر حجم الارتباك الأميركي، وحجم الانهزام السياسي الذي تتحرك تحت وطأته، وجاء المثال غير المسبوق في كيفية التعامل الأميركي مع ما بعد تفجيرات مطار كابول وسقوط الجنود الأميركيين بين قتلى وجرحى، وخروج القيادة الأميركية بعدها لتسريع الإنسحاب غير آبهة بمعنويات جيشها وسمعتها ومهابتها، التي كانت إصابتها بأضرار أقلّ مما حدث في مطار كابول كافية لغزو دول وإشعال حروب، ونصف النفوذ في العلاقات الدولية يقوم على المعنويات والمهابة، ويظهر في المقابل أنّ الثلاثي الروسي الصيني الإيراني يتفاعل إيجاباً مع ما بعد الانسحاب الأميركي من أفغانستان، ورغم كل الحذر الذي حكم تاريخ العلاقة بحركة طالبان، تبدو علاقات الثلاثي مع طالبان وأفغانستان ما بعد الإنسحاب مفتوحة على المزيد من الإيجابية، ويكفي كمثال، بقاء السفارات العائدة لهذه الدول في كابول تقوم بمهامها، في ظل سيطرة طالبان وعدم شعورها بالذعر الذي اجتاح السفارات الغربية، وتالياً الامتناع الروسي الصيني عن التصويت على المشروع الفرنسي البريطاني الذي أقرّه مجلس الأمن، والذي يخاطب طالبان بلغة التحذير والشروط.

لم تعد واشنطن تخفي الخلاصة الرئيسية التي حكمت قرارها بالانسحاب من أفغانستان، وتحملها الجراح المعنوية لتبعات الانسحاب، والجراح المادية التي رافقته، وجوهر هذه الخلاصة كما بكرر الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن، أن القوة العسكرية لم تعد أداة صالحة للتأثير في نوعية أنظمة الحكم في الدول التي كانت تلجأ واشنطن الى الحرب لإلحاقها بمعسكر التبعية، وفرض المثال الغربي عليها، ورسم سقف جديد لمبررات التدخلات العسكرية يجعل الأمن القومي الأميركي هدفاً وحيداً تستخدم القوة العسكرية في حمايته، والمقصود هو حماية الداخل الأميركي من أي خطر حصراً، وهو هدف وجود القوة العسكرية في الدول الصغرى، بعكس كلّ نظريات المدى الحيوي للمصالح الذي قامت عليه نظريات التوسع والهيمنة، وتمييز الدول الكبرى والدول العظمى عنها، واللجوء الى الأدوات السياسية والاقتصادية والحروب الناعمة لتحقيق المصالح الاستراتيجية الأميركية، وفقا لما يرسمه بايدن وإدارته، في الحديث عن مواجهة قادمة مع الصين أو مع روسيا، وخصوصا مع إيران، وبالبداهة فإن من عجز عن تغيير أفغانستان بالقوة لا يمكن أن يفكر بالحرب مع إيران.

يثير المنهج الجديد لرسم الأولويات الأميركية عاصفة من التداعيات، لدى أقرب الحلفاء لواشنطن، ولا يحتاج المرء الى التنقيب عن المواقف الصارخة والمتكررة في دول حلف الناتو الأهم، سواء بريطانيا أو فرنسا أو سواهما، ليكتشف مصطلح الخيانة الأميركية، أو أن واشنطن ظهرت حليفاً لا يمكن الاعتماد عليه، أو حليفاً غير جدير بالثقة، والوصول لاستنتاجات من النوع الذي صاغه جوزيب بوريل مفوض السياسة الخارجية للاتحاد الأوروبي عن الحاجة لبناء قوة عسكرية أوروبية مستقلة عن واشنطن والناتو للدفاع عن المصالح الخارجية لدول الاتحاد، وهو كلام كاف للتعبير عن الذعر الذي يصيب الحلفاء الذين بنوا سياسات دولهم على الاستثمار المشترك في الحروب تحت الراية الأميركية، ويسمعون بالتغيير الأميركي من الإعلام، وهو ما قصده بوريل بعدم سؤال أوروبا عن رأيها، والقصد ابعد من قرار الانسحاب من أفغانستان، وهو جوهر التخلي عن الرهان على القوة العسكرية لفرض المصالح السياسية، وهذا يكشف حجم الذعر الأوروبي من الاستراتيجيات الأميركية الجديدة، بمعزل عن مدى قدرة أوروبا على بلورة تدخلات عسكرية مؤثرة دون الاستناد على القوة الأميركية، وهو ذعر لا يخص أوروبا وحدها، بل يصيب كل الحلفاء الذين بنوا علاقتهم بواشنطن، على حجم تأثير قوتها العسكرية، وبنوا سياساتهم وعدواتهم وصداقاتهم على إعتبار هذه القوة وتأثيرها عاملاً غير قابل للتغيير.

في طليعة المذعورين في المنطقة، ثلاثة، كيان الاحتلال الذي سارعت نخبه السياسية للحديث عن قلق مصيري ووجودي في ضوء الاستراتيجية الأميركية الجديدة، التي عبر عنها قرار الانسحاب من أفغانستان، والذي يتوقع «الإسرائيليون» أن تليه انسحابات، ولو تأخرت قليلا، من العراق وسورية، ويبشرون بمرحلة مقبلة عنوانها «إسرائيل» وحيدة، أمام موازين قوى تغيّرت بعكس صالحها في المحيط القريب والبعيد، الطرف الثاني الذي بدأ يستشعر بالخطر هو القيادات الكردية التي عملت في سورية تحت راية الاحتلال الأميركي، وقطعت كل جسور التواصل مع الدولة السورية بوهم أبدية الحماية الأميركية، أما الطرف الثالث الذي لا يخفي ذعره فهم عرب التطبيع الذين يشعرون بأنهم قد يكون عليهم دفع فواتير سيرهم وراء النصائح الأميركي بالتطبيع، فيما الأميركي غير مستعد لحماية توقيعه وموقعه في الصور التذكارية، مستعيدين تجربة الانسحاب الأميركي من لبنان وما رافقه من تداعيات يرويها الرئيس السابق أمين الجميّل في مذكراته، وتركه يواجه وحيداً التركة الأميركية المسماة بإتفاق السابع عشر من أيار الذي لم يصمد طويلاً بعد هذا الانسحاب، بعدما صار إلغاؤه شرطاً لاستعادة الحدّ الأدنى من الاستقرار مع الداخل اللبناني والجار والشقيق السوري الذي أخذ الأميركي على عاتقه تحجيمه لحماية الاتفاق، كما وعد دول التطبيع بتحجيم إيران.

البعض يضع قمة بغداد بين قوسين، بصفتها قمة المذعورين، لوصل منخفض مع إيران استعداداً للآتي، كي لا يكون أعظم، بعد انسحابين متوقعين للقوات الأميركية من كلّ من سورية والعراق.

The ‘Great Reset’ in Microcosm: ‘Data Driven Defeat’ in Afghanistan

August 30, 2021

Alastair Crooke

There is little mystery as to why the Taliban took over Kabul so quicklyAlastair Crooke writes.

Nation-building in Afghanistan arrived in 2001. Western interventions into the old Eastern bloc in the 1980s and early 1990s had been spectacularly effective in destroying the old social and institutional order; but equally spectacular in failing to replace imploded societies with fresh institutions.  The threat from ‘failed states’ became the new mantra, and Afghanistan – in the wake of the destruction wrought post-9/11 – therefore necessitated external intervention.  Weak and failed states were the spawning ground for terrorism and its threat to the ‘global order’, it was said. It was in Afghanistan that a new liberal world vision was to be stood-up.

At another level, the war in Afghanistan became another sort of crucible. In very real terms, Afghanistan turned into a testbed for every single innovation in technocratic project management – with each innovation heralded as precursor to our wider future. Funds poured in: Buildings were thrown up, and an army of globalised technocrats arrived to oversee the process.  Big data, AI and the utilization of ever expanding sets of technical and statistical metrics, were to topple old ‘stodgy’ ideas.  Military sociology in the form of Human Terrain Teams and other innovative creations, were unleashed to bring order to chaos. Here, the full force of the entire NGO world, the brightest minds of that international government-in-waiting, were given a playground with nearly infinite resources at their disposal.

This was to be a showcase for technical managerialism. It presumed that a properly technical, and scientific way of understanding war and nation-building would be able to mobilize reason and progress to accomplish what everyone else could not, and so create a post-modern society, out of a complex tribal one, with its own storied history.

The ‘new’ arrived, as it were, in a succession of NGO boxes marked ‘pop-up modernity’.  The 18th century British statesman Edmund Burke, of course, had already warned in Reflections on the Revolution in France, as he witnessed the Jacobins tearing down their old order: “that it is with infinite caution” that anyone should pull down or replace structures that have served society well over the ages.  But this managerial technocracy had little time for old ‘stodgy’ ideas.

But, what last week’s fall of the western instituted regime so clearly revealed is that today’s managerial class, consumed by the notion of technocracy as the only means of effecting functional rule birthed instead, something thoroughly rotten – “data-driven defeat”, as one U.S. Afghan veteran described it – so rotten, that it collapsed in a matter of days. On the extended blunders of the “system” in Afghanistan, he writes:

“A retired Navy SEAL who served in the White House under both Bush and Obama reflected,[that]  “collectively the system is incapable of taking a step back to question basic assumptions.” That “system” is best understood, not simply as a military or foreign policy body, but as a euphemism for the habits and institutions of an American ruling class that has exhibited an almost limitless collective capacity for deflecting the costs of failure.

“This class in general, and the people in charge of the war in Afghanistan in particular, believed in informational and management solutions to existential problems. They elevated data points and sta­tistical indices to avoid choosing prudent goals and organizing the proper strategies to achieve them. They believed in their own provi­dential destiny and that of people like them to rule, regardless of their failures”.

Whatever was not corrupt before America arrived, became corrupt in the maelstrom of that $2 Trillion of American money showered on the project. American soldiers, arms manufacturers, globalised technocrats, governance experts, aid workers, peacekeepers, counter-insurgency theorists and lawyers – all made their fortunes.

The flaw was that Afghanistan as a liberal progressive vision was a hoax in the first place: Afghanistan was invaded, and occupied, because of its geography. It was the ideal platform from which to perturb Central Asia, and thus unsettle Russia and China.

No one was truly committed because there was really no longer any Afghanistan to commit to. Whomsoever could steal from the Americans did so. The Ghani regime collapsed in a matter of days, because it was ‘never there’ to begin with: A Potemkin Village, whose role lay in perpetuating a fiction, or rather the myth of America’s Grand Vision of itself as the shaper and guardian of ‘our’ global future.

The true gravity for America and Europe of the present psychological ‘moment’ is not only that nation-building, as a project intended to stand up liberal values been revealed as having ‘achieved nothing’, but Afghanistan débacle has underlined the limitations to technical managerialism in way that is impossible to miss.

The gravity of America’s present psychological ‘moment’ – the implosion of Kabul – was well articulated when Robert Kagan argued earlier, that the ‘global values’ project (however tenuous its basis in reality) nonetheless has become essential to preserving ‘democracy’ at home:  For, he suggests, an America that retreats from global hegemony, would no longer possess the domestic group solidarity to preserve America as ‘idea’, at home, either.

What Kagan is saying here is important – It may constitute the true cost of the Afghanistan débacle. Every élite class advances various claims about its own legitimacy, without which a stable political order is impossible. Legitimating myths can take many forms and may change over time, but once they become exhausted, or lose their credibility – when people no longer believe in the narrative, or the claims which underpin that political ‘idea’ – then it is ‘game over’.

Swedish intellectual, Malcolm Kyeyune writes that we may be “witnessing the catastrophic end of this metaphysical power of legitimacy that has shielded the managerial ruling class for decades”:

“Anyone even briefly familiar with the historical record knows just how much of a Pandora’s box such a loss of legitimacy represents. The signs visibly have been multiplying over many years. When Michael Gove said, “I think the people in this country have had enough of experts” in a debate about the merits of Brexit, he probably traced the contours of something much bigger than anyone really knew at the time. Back then, the acute phase of the delegitimization of the managerial class was only just beginning. Now, with Afghanistan, it is impossible to miss”.

There is therefore, little mystery as to why the Taliban took over Kabul so quickly. Not only did the project per se lack legitimacy for Afghans, but that aura of claimed expertise, of technological inevitability that has protected the élite managerial class, has been exposed by the sheer dysfunctionality on display, as the West frantically flees Kabul. And it is precisely how it has ended that has really drawn back the curtain, and shown the world the rot festering beneath.

When the legitimating claim is used up, and people no longer believe in the concepts or claims that underpin a particular system or claim to rule, the extinction of that particular élite, Kyeyune writes, becomes a foregone conclusion.

The Afghanistan Debacle: When Will They Ever Learn?

August 24, 2021

British and Australian armies’ veteran, former deputy head of the UN military mission in Kashmir and Australian defense attaché in Pakistan

Brian Cloughley

President Biden should reset in the Marshall mode and concentrate on forging amity and cooperation while combating the real enemies of humanity

Following World War Two, Europe was reeling from the devastation of so many years of savagery that it seemed it might never recover. The casualty figures are staggering, with, in addition to the Soviet Union’s some 25 million, about seven millions were killed in each of Germany and Poland, and 800,000 in France, 1.7 million in Yugoslavia, and half a million in each of Austria, Italy and Greece. The majority of these people were civilians and the surviving citizens of all these countries were suffering gravely from the catastrophe, not the least hazard being actual starvation.

The United States had only a handful of civilian casualties and prospered greatly from the commercial demands of war. In consequence it was in a position of immeasurable economic and military ascendancy and fortunately was governed by an administration that, by and large, was sympathetic and prepared to be supportive in alleviating the misery of the countless millions in Europe who seemed to have nothing in their future but endless hardship.

President Truman and his State Department brought their considerable talents to bear and constructed a scheme whereby shattered Europe could be best assisted. As noted by the History website, the 1948 European Recovery Plan was “The brainchild of Secretary of State George C Marshall, for whom it was named.” It was “crafted as a four-year plan to reconstruct cities, industries and infrastructure heavily damaged during the war and to remove trade barriers between European neighbours — as well as foster commerce between those countries and the United States.” In its final essence it didn’t entail a great deal of actual sacrifice on the part of the U.S., and in fact benefitted the agricultural community and the economic furnace that had been so effective in winning the war.

Nevertheless it was based on good will, charitable feeling, and concern for humanity, as expressed by Marshall himself in June 1947 in a speech delivered at Harvard University where he declared “It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace. Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.”

If only there had been more Marshalls in later years, the world would be a better place. Certainly, the United States would be in a position of international economic supremacy — but it wouldn’t have invaded and almost destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq and blitzed Libya into an even worse shambles than it created further east.

And as the U.S.-Nato military alliance staggers out of Afghanistan, defeated but grovelingly defiant, it should be giving thought to what has happened in that benighted country and planning for the future on the basis of what it has learned. The problem is that Nato doesn’t seem to have learned anything by its absurd foray, and is indeed intent on widening its horizons in order to attempt to justify its existence. The best lesson from Nato’s Afghanistan debacle (and its eight month bombing fandango that destroyed Libya’s economic infrastructure and encouraged home-basing of terrorist groups where none had formerly dared set a foot) is that it would be globally beneficial if Nato were to disband, but we have to be realistic and accept that common sense will not prevail in that regard.

Along the same lines, it would be sensible for Washington to objectively assess the value of the vast number of U.S. military bases around the globe, and inform U.S., openly and without qualifications or caveats, exactly what benefit their existence is supposed to offer to the U.S. and to the rest of the world. But again the signs are not good, as indicated on August 16 when an anonymous White House official spoke about a visit to Singapore and Vietnam by Vice President Kamala Harris and told the Washington Post that in spite of the concurrent Taliban takeover in Afghanistan she would continue with her trip because “Given our global leadership role, we can and we must manage developments in one region while simultaneously advancing our strategic interests in other regions on other issues. The United States has many interests around the world, and we are well-equipped to pursue them all at the same time.”

When will they ever learn?

Does President Biden genuinely believe that his Administration is “managing developments” in Afghanistan? Why is he determined to continue pursuing the supposed strategic interests of the U.S. by deploying increasing numbers of troops and ships and planes and missiles all round the globe to confront China and Russia and provoke them to react against the “global leader”?

The Washington establishment may have heard or read the latest pronouncement from the European Union concerning the wider effects of the Afghanistan debacle, but unfortunately it is unlikely it will prompt an objective analysis. On August 19 Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, affirmed to the European Parliament and the world at large that “this is a catastrophe… Let me speak clearly and bluntly: This is a catastrophe for the Afghan people, for Western values and credibility, and for the developing of international relations.”

What the rest of the world is waiting for is an alternative use of the word “reset” by the Administration in Washington. Instead of conducting another “reset” aimed at military domination and increasing confrontation with China and Russia, President Biden should reset in the Marshall mode and concentrate on forging amity and cooperation while combating the real enemies of humanity as a whole. An Economist/YouGov poll in early 2021 indicated that “Most Americans think of China and Russia as our country’s greatest enemies. Of the two, China is the most frequently mentioned threat, followed closely by Russia”, and it is disconcerting that the U.S. President appears to be making no effort whatever to reduce international tensions.

President Biden should reflect on the civilised declaration by General George Marshall that “our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos” and consider how much better a world he could help forge if he concentrated the mightiness of the United States against the challenges presented by so many desperate problems besetting the peoples of the world.

Imagine what a Marshall Plan could achieve today.

But it seems unlikely that the U.S. Administration will consider any such thing, and it is painfully evocative of the 1960s folk-song “Where have all the flowers gone” which contains the evocative phrase “When will they ever learn?” When, indeed?

Joint Declaration of the International Crimea Platform participants

August 23, 2021

Joint Declaration of the International Crimea Platform participants

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

Adopted and opened for joining on August 23, 2021, Kyiv, Ukraine

The Participants in the International Crimea Platform,

being guided by the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Paris Charter for a New Europe, as well as rules and principles of international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law, taking into consideration the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 68/262 “Territorial Integrity of Ukraine” and subsequent resolutions on the human rights situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, and on the problem of the militarization of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, as well as parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov,

recalling that the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 3314 (XXIX) of 14 December 1974, entitled “Definition of aggression” states, inter alia, that no territorial acquisition or special advantage resulting from aggression is or shall be recognized as lawful,

taking into account the provision of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 75/192 which calls upon Member States to engage constructively in concerted efforts, including within international frameworks on Crimea,

emphasizing the universal and unified character of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and reaffirming that the Convention sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out,

taking into consideration the order, delivered on 19 April 2017 by the International Court of Justice on the request submitted by Ukraine for the indication of provisional measures, while the case is pending, in the case concerning the Application of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Ukraine v. Russian Federation), which imposes on the Russian Federation the obligation to refrain from maintaining or imposing limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatar people to conserve their representative institutions, including the Mejlis, and to ensure the availability of education in the Ukrainian language,

taking into consideration the decision, given on 14 January 2021 by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Ukraine v. Russia (re Crimea) (application nos. 20958/14 and 38334/18), which concludes that Russia exercised effective control over Crimea as to the period from 27 February to 18 March 2014 and in respect of the period after 18 March 2014,

reaffirming commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters,

reiterating that the Participants in the International Crimea Platform do not recognize and continue to condemn the temporary occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea, which constitutes a direct challenge to international security with grave implications for the international legal order that protects the territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of all States,

The Participants in the International Crimea Platform condemn

the continued violations and abuses and systematic undue restrictions of human rights and fundamental freedoms that residents of Crimea face, such as the right to peaceful assembly, the rights to freedoms of expression and opinion, religion or belief, association, restrictions on the ability to seek, receive and impart information, as well as interference and intimidation that journalists, human rights defenders and defence lawyers face in their work,

the ongoing militarization of Crimea that undermines security and stability in the wider Black Sea region,

impediments to navigational rights and freedoms exercised in accordance with international law, including obstructing free passage of ships through the Kerch Strait to and from the Sea of Azov, and underlining that such impediments have negative economic consequences for Ukraine’s ports in the Sea of Azov and international trade flows,

the continued change of the demographic structure in the occupied peninsula by the resettlement of Russian citizens to Crimea,

The Participants in the International Crimea Platform decided 

to establish the International Crimea Platform as a consultative and coordination format with the aim of peacefully ending the Russian Federation’s temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and to restore control of Ukraine over this territory in full accordance with international law,

to continue implementing the policy of  non-recognition of the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation,

to consider further political, diplomatic and restrictive measures towards the Russian Federation, if provided for by the legal jurisdiction of each Participant and in line with respective procedures, when appropriate and should Russia’s actions so require,

to address emerging challenges and evolving hybrid threats resulting from the ongoing militarization of Crimea and to support joint efforts to strengthen resilience to those threats in the context of growing threats to security and stability in the Black Sea region,

to recommit to strongly opposing any unilateral attempts to challenge and change an international order based on the rule of law, and express determination to protect, maintain and strengthen the rules-based international order, including a legal order for seas and oceans, based on respect for the international law of the sea including as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,

to urge the Russian Federation to comply with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law and other applicable international law, to urge the Russian Federation to bring an immediate end to all violations and abuses of human rights of residents of Crimea and to provide full and unimpeded access to Crimea for established regional and international monitoring mechanisms, in particular the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, as provided for in their existing mandates, which cover the entire territory of Ukraine, including Crimea, as well as for human rights non-governmental organizations,

to unite efforts aimed at protecting the rights and freedoms of the civilian population living in the occupied Crimea and achieving the immediate and unconditional release of Ukrainian citizens unlawfully detained or convicted for political reasons by Russia and its state agents, both in the territory of the occupied Crimea and in the territory of the Russian Federation,

to urge the Russian Federation to ensure that all persons belonging to ethnic and religious communities in the peninsula, including ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars, are fully able to enjoy their human rights and given the possibility to maintain and develop their culture, education, identity and cultural heritage traditions, which are currently severely threatened by the temporary occupation,

to use appropriate mechanisms of the UN, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, other international and regional organizations to address issues related to the temporary occupation, to consider implementation of other mechanisms, as appropriate, and to consult, exchange and coordinate their efforts within international organizations as appropriate, at international conferences, forums and other events where Crimea is discussed,

to consider supporting economic, infrastructure and environmental projects that would contribute to the further development of Ukraine’s regions adjacent to the temporarily occupied Crimean peninsula,

to establish a network of constant and rapid communication between the representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (to set up Crimea focal points),

to recognize the role of national parliaments in addressing the temporary occupation of Crimea and to encourage the coordination of activities on Crimea between national parliaments as well as within inter-parliamentary assemblies,

Participants finally

welcome necessary joint diplomatic efforts aimed at restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,

underline that any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as an integral part of the sovereign territory of Ukraine is not and will not be recognized, and that Russia’s efforts to legitimize the temporary occupation and illegal seizure are unacceptable,

reiterate their commitment to maintaining pressure on Russia to end the temporary occupation by Russia of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and to restore Ukraine’s control over the territory,

welcome the establishment by Ukraine of the national Office of the Crimea Platform,

welcome the establishment of the International Crimea Platform Expert Network with a view to supporting its activities, and invite international and national non-governmental organizations, think-tanks and the expert community to contribute to the network’s activities,

look forward to the eventual return of the temporarily occupied territories of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to Ukraine and restoration of their autonomous status as stipulated in the Constitution of Ukraine, and pledge their support to the residents of this territory with regard to restoring their rights and freedoms, enshrined within the Constitution of Ukraine, and improving the socio-economic situation in the peninsula,

call on the Russian Federation to engage constructively in the activities of the International Crimea Platform aimed at ending the temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.


Ed: It is difficult to find a definitive list of participants by name and country.  The following was reported:
Forty-four foreign delegations will take part in the inaugural summit of the Crimea Platform.Fourteen foreign delegations will be led by heads of state and government.

“On August 23, 44 countries and international organizations, including 14 heads of state, government, and the European Union, will become the founders of the Crimea Platform,” Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba said at an online briefing on Thursday, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

In particular, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Moldova, Slovenia, and Finland will be represented at the level of presidents. The President of the European Council will also take part in the Crimea Platform.

Romania, Georgia, Croatia, and Sweden will be represented at the level of prime ministers.

Two countries – Switzerland and the Czech Republic – will be represented by the speakers of parliaments.

Fourteen countries will attend the summit at the level of foreign ministers: Turkey, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Ireland, Denmark, Bulgaria, Montenegro, and North Macedonia.

Britain and Portugal will be represented by defense ministers, while the United States will be represented by the transportation secretary, a special envoy of President Joe Biden.

Norway will be represented by the Secretary of State to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The European Commission will be represented by Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, NATO – the Deputy Secretary General, the Council of Europe and GUAM will be represented at the level of the Secretary General.

Seven countries – New Zealand, Malta, Japan, Australia, Cyprus, Canada, and Greece – will be represented by ambassadors.

“So, a total of 44 foreign delegations and 45 participants together with Ukraine. I want to emphasize that these countries become the founders of the Crimea Platform regardless of the level of representation,” the Ukrainian minister emphasized.

He also noted that the Crimea Platform had already surpassed all previous international events hosted by Ukraine in the number of high-level delegations represented at the summit.

“Ukraine has never hosted such an international event before,” Kuleba said.

The Crimea Platform is a new consultative and coordination format initiated by Ukraine to step up the efficiency of international response to the occupation of Crimea, respond to growing security challenges, increase international pressure on Russia, prevent further human rights violations, protect victims of the occupation regime, and achieve the main goal: to de-occupy Crimea and restore Ukraine’s sovereignty over the peninsula.

The Platform is to operate at several levels: heads of state and government, foreign ministers, inter-parliamentary cooperation, expert network.

The activity of the Crimea Platform will be officially launched at the inaugural summit in Kyiv on August 23, 2021.

https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-polytics/3300438-fortyfour-countries-and-organizations-full-list-of-crimea-platform-participants-announced.html


Ed: These are the only speeches that can be found at time of writing:By Zelensky: Crimea is Ukraine’: Zelenskyy opens inaugural Crimea summit – https://www.euronews.com/2021/08/23/crimea-is-ukraine-zelenskyy-opens-inaugural-crimea-summit

by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană at the Crimea Platform Inaugural Summit – https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_186167.htm?selectedLocale=en

by President Charles Michel, the Office of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe – https://www.coe.int/en/web/secretary-general/-/inaugural-summit-of-the-crimea-platform


Reported from Tass: Kremlin castigates Crimea Platform forum as anti-Russian event – https://tass.com/world/1329101

Moscow views the so-called Crimea Platform summit that opened in Ukraine as an unfriendly act towards Russia, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

“We regard this event as extremely unfriendly towards our country. We absolutely do not accept such assertions relative to the Russian region, to Crimea. In this regard, the attitude is absolutely clear: we view it as an anti-Russian event,” the Kremlin spokesman affirmed.

After the Western-backed state coup that occurred in Ukraine in February 2014, the authorities in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol held a referendum, in which 96.7% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and reunite with Russia.

On March 18, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the treaty on the reunification of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol with Russia, which was ratified by Russia’s Federal Assembly (parliament). Despite the convincing results of the referendum, Kiev refused to recognize Crimea as part of Russia.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky who spoke at the UN General Assembly in September 2020 revealed his plan to establish this so-called Crimea Platform. According to Kiev’s intent, the forum must become a platform “for coordinating international efforts aimed at returning Crimea to Ukraine.” As its organizers announced, delegates from about 40 countries and international organizations had agreed to come to the forum.

Commenting on the gathering initiated by Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov lambasted it as “a coven where the West will continue to groom neo-Nazi and racist attitudes of the current Ukrainian authorities.”

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated on August 21 that Russia will “take note” of the position of the countries that would take part in the forum and “will make corresponding conclusions.”.

Wither Germany?

Wither Germany?

August 21, 2021

Germany has been the keystone of the failing EU. Does it intend to remain so, or is it time to pursue its own interests?

by Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

Germany has been and still is the most important economy in Europe, the export-driven colossus and if not yet the most important imperial power; that designation belongs to France with its Force de Frappe (Nuclear Strike Force), and additionally the UK which is also a member of the nuclear club but has since left the EU remains as a loyal – and oh so loyal! – member of NATO. (1) However, Germany is without question the most dominant country in Europe and still the main creditor and funder of euro states. Looking back to the rise of (West) Germany was a key presence in the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951. These various states pooled the coal and steel resources of six European countries: France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg which became known by the acronym – BENELUX. These states would be collectively known as “the Six”. It was argued that the pooling of coal and steel resources greatly reduced the threat of war between France and (West) Germany.

It was perhaps entirely predictable that Germany with its system of Bismarckian style guided capitalism would emerge to poll position in this imperial club. At the time France had other, imperial and pressing commitments in Algeria and Indo-China, the British had commitments more or less everywhere East of Suez, and even little Belgium had problems in the Congo (Zaire). Germany had no such incumbrances on its economic development and was thus free to power ahead with its version of guided, bank-funded capitalism, and avoid the pitfalls of Anglo-American financialised capitalism. Under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and Economics Minister Ludwig Erhard Germany’s rebirth was dubbed the Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle). A far-reaching contract between business and labour unions allowed the rapid rebuilding of industry and strong growth, creating the foundations of an economic powerhouse.

THE GERMAN MODEL

The centrality of Germany and German economic policy in this shifting economic montage requires attention to the gradual increasing dominance of what is the de facto European economic dynamo. It was perhaps inevitable that Germany would – in economic terms at least – become the regional hegemon in this continental configuration. After all,

‘’ … it had a globally competitive industrial base, pivoting on automobiles, chemicals and machine tools. Its exports enabled it to command vast surpluses on current account thus providing the wherewithal to lend globally.’’(2)

The peculiarities of the Anglo-American financialised system has not been replicated in Germany. To be sure Germany has a large and growing service sector similar to the financialised Atlanticist models this much is true; but Germany has also systematically defended its industrial sector, not least by manipulating the exchange rate to protect its exports of which many go to the other member states of the EU. The German manufacturing sector enjoys high levels of productivity, is export-based with relatively strong labour unions in wage negotiations compared to the rest of the private sector. But this did give rise to a two-tier labour market. The ‘good’ jobs were to be found in the export industries and the not so good jobs tended to be located in the internal domestic service sector.

‘’What happened from 2003 onwards to enable German capitalism to exploit its workers more intensely than before? In 2003-2005 the Social-Democratic Party (SPD) government implemented a number of wide-ranging labour-market reforms, the so-called Hartz Reforms, after one Herr Peter Hartz. The first three parts of the reform package, Hartz I-iii, were mainly concerned with, (i) mainly creating new types of employment opportunities (ii) introducing additional wage subsidies, (iii) instructing the Federal Employment Agency. The final parts of Hartz (iv) was implemented in 2005 and resulted in a significant cut in the unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. Between 2005 and 2008 the unemployment rate fell from almost 11% to 7.5%, barely increased during the Great Recession of 2008 and continued its downward trend reaching 5.5% at the end of 2012, although it is still higher than was the case during the global period of expansion in the 1960s.’’ (3)

GERMAN BANKING – FUNDS INDUSTRY AND DEVELOPMENT AT ALL LEVELS.

Perhaps what was more important has been the banking system in Germany and its relationship to German industry.

1.1 Savings banks (Sparkassen and Landesbanken)

German savings banks are usually owned by the cities and villages. Formerly, each city had its own savings bank. Over the past 20 years, many savings banks have merged due to the competitive situation. As opposed to the big private Banks – Deutsche Bank, Commerz Bank whose main interests are in housing and stock market investment – the small and medium banks operate with a local focus.

Although the savings banks have been losing customers for a number of years, they are still among the best-known. Often, the accounts are open, because the savings bank is “on the spot”. Later, when one has to deal with more finances, then there is often a change to another bank that is more cost-effective or offers better services. These banks provide funds to industry at good rates of interest, and this particularly applies to small start-up firms.

1.2 Volksbanken / Raiffeisen Banken (cooperative banks)

This is the next best-known bank organization in Germany. VR-banks – their abbreviation – are cooperative banks (Genossenschaftsbanken). They are organized similar to associations and are owned by their members. Members may only purchase very few shares of the bank so that no single person is enabled to have too much influence on the business of the bank.

Just like the savings banks, the Volksbanken have to deal with a loss of customers. Although they have many branch offices, they can often not keep up with the price and service of the modern direct banks. In Germany, there are several hundred different VR-banks. They belong to the cooperative banks. Another successful innovation and feature of German development was the technical education of the German labour force.

GERMAN TECHNICAL EDUCATION – SMEs AND THE MITTELSTAND

The success of the German economy is driven by its small and medium Enterprises ( SMEs), a group to which more than 99 per cent of all firms in Germany belong. These companies account for more than half of Germany’s economic output and almost 60 per cent of jobs. Approximately 82 per cent of apprentices in Germany do their vocational training in an SME.

These small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), also known as the ‘Mittelstand’, (4) are the country’s strongest driver of innovation and technology and are renowned across the world. Companies that want to keep their competitive edge must be at the forefront of new developments. A study on SMEs commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy shows that innovative SMEs will continue to drive the success behind the ‘Made in Germany’ trademark. Provided that they embrace new trends, particularly digitisation, and that they find ways of recruiting the skilled labour they need, even in times of a skills shortage, SMEs have every opportunity to remain successful in their chosen specialised niche markets.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy wants Germany’s SMEs to embrace new challenges and remain vibrant, strong, and innovative. This is why the ministry is working on many levels to strengthen the Mittelstand’s competitiveness, its capacity to innovate, and its ability to create jobs.

SMALL, DIVERSE, DYNAMIC, PIONEERING

Germany’s small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) play a defining role in the country’s economy. Germany’s economic model derives its strength not from a small number of dominant players, industries, or industrial regions, but from the fact that Germany has a wide range of companies – small, medium-sized and large – that are based in locations all across Germany, specialise in all sorts of different sectors, and often form close networks with one another.

Germany’s Mittelstand, is extremely diverse. Family-owned companies that were established generations ago, trendy start-ups, traditional crafts firms, self-employed people and service providers, retailers and freelancers, pioneering high-tech companies, regional suppliers and global players. The size of these  SMEs ranges from one person to several hundred employed across the globe. The Mittelstand has many well-established brands, but also newcomers and lesser-known brands that still deliver the same standard of quality, precision and innovation. It is this high level of diversity that makes it so strong.

The Mittelstand also acts as a strong partner for large corporations, across the entire value chain. Mittelstand companies are often highly specialised and produce the type of up and downstream products that enable large corporations to create innovative and complex products, services and systems solutions

Moreover, the Mittelstand is global in its reach. Some 44 per cent of German companies export their capital goods or intermediate goods to other markets, thereby contributing to the success of the German economy. At least one in two German firms that turn over 2 million euros or more per year are exporting companies. Even small companies benefit from venturing on foreign markets. This is attested by the fact that even very small firms generate an average of over 20 per cent of their turnover from exports.

THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY AND THE DOUBLE WHAMMY

The German Economic model which had performed so well compared to its competitors – during the period from the Wirtshaftwunder until the 21st century – outmatched both European and North American rivals. But of course this golden age was to stutter in the late 1990s – the dot com bubble – and collapse completely during the 2008 and the property price debacle. For all its efficiency the German economy was, like the rest of the world, engulfed in the double whammy of the EU/euro crisis and the 2008 blow-out. Figures for growth make interesting reading.

(These are World Bank figures for declining growth rates in both the developed and developing economies for the period of 1960s through 2009.

1960s = 4.9%

1970s = 3.93%

1980s = 2.95%

1990s =2.7%

2000/09 = 2.58%

It should be by now common knowledge that the global economy has been on a downward path for decades as can be seen from the above figures. Moreover, with the possible exception of China and some other East Asian dynamos, these figures did not improve in the post-2008 era, quite the contrary.

Suffice it to say that the 2007/2008 explosion of the speculative bubble was avoided with massive injections (hmmm, sounds familiar) of ‘liquidity’ basically the extension of credit to the banking sector. Starting in 2008 the European Central Bank (ECB) lent the European banks money at an interest rate of 1%. (As did the Fed on the other side of the pond.) Predictably these same banks used that liquidity for speculation rather than lending to the productive sectors. In passing, we may say the Anglo-American financialised model – at least for Europe – didn’t work and given the objective situation shows no signs of working. In addition, the euro was stillborn with different rates of growth and trade between sometimes diverse member states. The euro was extended to other euro states, and particularly those in the southern bloc, which were far from enjoying the levels of productivity of the northern bloc. Europe’s weaker and less productive countries and thus of international competitiveness could not live with Germany’s productivity levels and low costs. The southern bloc could not devalue the euro – the centre-piece of the euro economy – and they ran up trade deficits with the German-dominated northern bloc which consistently ran up trade surpluses. Most commentators knew this apart from the brain-dead euro-elites who seemed impervious to the situation.

Given these fundamental geopolitical and economic changes Germany would be wise to now examine its options.

At the present time, another deeper and all-encompassing economic and financial crisis has occurred. The EU has, for better or worse, already had to swallow the departure of the UK from the EU; and it is not too difficult to imagine that this is only the beginning of a process of dissolution, particularly in light of the present and future possible political/economic developments. Moreover, the whole brouhaha which has already been instanced by the Nordstream-2 episode represented a win for one particular German faction – in this instance the business class – which now appears to be reorientating to a longer-term strategy of a pivot to Eurasia. It would appear to have won against the political class – including those lovely Greens who seem hot for a war against Russia. The German political and ideological class would appear to inhabit a different time-warp, circa 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall and moreover being hopelessly fixated with NATO, liberalism, globalism and everything American, including woke ideology.

The same German business elite, however, seeks parallel factions together with other similar groupings in other financially strong and reliable countries, who wish to seek the expansion of Germany toward China and Russia. There are obvious reasons for this move. Both these countries have immense reserves of raw materials. Secondly, the level of Chinese economic growth and the size of its market is way above those of the EU. Thirdly, Germany’s relative technological superiority is an ideal for the inter-trade appropriation of Chinese surplus value. Fourthly, if bilateral trading relations continue at the current pace, Beijing will become Germany’s main trading partner by early 2023 at the earliest. Fifthly, for China, Germany, is the optimal country for the best investment opportunities.

So this is the current situation with the Nordstream-2 instalment concentrating the minds of those who have read the runes of Germany’s future development with newer and dynamic trading partners east of the Oder-Neisse line. We shall wait and we shall see for such developments.

NOTES

(1) In this respect the French and British nuclear deterrents should be seen as little more than geo-political phallic symbols by two second-rate declining powers.

(2) Costas Lapavitsas – The Left’s case against the EU – pp, 33, 35)

(3) The Long Depression – Michael Roberts – The Hartz Reforms – The Failing Euro Project – pp.153-155.

(4) Mittelstand – commonly refers to small and medium-sized enterprises in the German-speaking world, particularly in Germany, Austria and parts of Switzerland,

News conference following Russian-German talks

August 20, 2021

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/66418

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With Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel at a news conference following Russian-German talks. Photo: TASS

With Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel at a news conference following Russian-German talks. Photo: TASS

(The formal transcript is not fully released yet, but this page will be updated as it gets released.)

Update: The formal transcript is now complete on this page.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Today’s talks with Madam Federal Chancellor were traditionally constructive and business-like.

We had an in-depth discussion, including with the participation of the delegations, on the current state of Russian-German relations and their prospects and exchanged views on a wide range of issues.

As you are aware, this visit by Ms Merkel is special since she is about to step down as Federal Chancellor after the parliamentary elections in the Federal Republic in September. But I want to say right away that we will always be delighted to see Ms Merkel in Russia as a welcome guest.

The fact that Angela Merkel has been heading the government of the Federal Republic for as long as 16 years inspires respect. She has been leading one of the largest, leading European countries with confidence, and she is rightfully among the most authoritative European and world leaders.

Over many years of working side by side, we have developed a good business relationship. We maintained regular contacts and close communication, discussed pressing bilateral matters and strived to coordinate our positions on challenges of global politics.

Occasionally, of course, we saw thing differently, but our dialogue has always been candid and meaningful and was aimed at reaching compromises and solving the most complicated challenges.

Importantly, Germany is indeed one of Russia’s priority partners in politics and the economy.

Speaking about Russian-German trade and economic ties, I would like to note that despite the coronavirus pandemic, which remains a major hindrance to restoring our business contacts in full, mutual trade has begun to expand. In January-May, this figure reached almost 33 percent to exceed $21 billion. Counter capital investment has come close to the $30 billion mark.

Russian-German Economy and Sustainable Development years are being held in 2020–2022. Businesspeople and entrepreneurs of the two countries are communicating at numerous events held as part of this campaign, and a number of promising joint projects in trade, the manufacturing industry and agriculture are being discussed in the process.

We have major projects that everyone is aware of. They are being implemented, and we very much hope that we will have more of them.

Of course, many pressing issues of international politics were touched upon during today’s talks.

Due to the rapidly unfolding events in Afghanistan, we prioritised this issue. The Taliban now controls almost the entire territory of that country, including its capital. This is the reality, and we must proceed from this reality as we strive to avoid the collapse of the Afghan state.

It is imperative to put an end to the irresponsible policy of imposing outside values ​​on others, to the desire to build democracies in other countries according to other nations’ “patterns” without regard to historical, national or religious specifics and totally ignoring the traditions of other nations.

We know Afghanistan, and we know it well enough to understand how this country functions and have had the opportunity to learn first-hand the extent to which trying to impose unusual forms of government or social life on it is counterproductive.

There has not been a single time when socio-political experiments of this kind succeeded. All they do is destroy states and degrade their political and social fabric.

At the same time, we see that the Taliban has already put an end to hostilities and is now seeking to ensure order, promising to guarantee safety for both local residents and foreign missions. I hope that this is how things will go.

The international community should keep a close eye on these developments with the UN Security Council playing a coordinating role.

There is one more point I wanted to make in this regard. We believe that it is essential at this point to prevent terrorists of all kinds from spilling over into Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours, including under the guise of refugees.

Among other international topics, we had a detailed discussion on promoting a settlement in southeastern Ukraine. As you know, Ms Merkel has done a lot to bring about a resolution to Ukraine’s internal crisis. She was at the origins of the Normandy Format, and we all worked together on ways of restoring peace in Donbass.

Unfortunately, so far we have not been able to accomplish this. Today, the Russian and German side expressed serious concern about the growing tension along the line of contact. We talked this over, and I hope that we follow up on this conversation in the nearest future. More than a thousand ceasefire violations have been reported since the beginning of August, and Donbass towns and villages face artillery fire every day.

Another matter of concern is that Ukraine has adopted a number of laws and regulations that essentially contradict the Minsk agreements. It is as if the leadership of that country has decided to give up on achieving a peaceful settlement altogether. In this connection, we ask Ms Federal Chancellor once again to exercise her influence over Ukraine, including during her upcoming visit to Kiev, to see that Ukraine honours its obligations.

Of course, we covered the situation in Belarus. Madam Chancellor touched on this issue as well. We believe that the differences in Belarusian society can only be resolved within the constitutional and legal framework and solely by the Belarusians themselves without any external interference.

When discussing the situation with the Iranian nuclear programme, Madam Chancellor and I expressed hope that once the new government in Iran has been formed, vigorous efforts to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will resume. I informed Madam Federal Chancellor of my recent telephone conversation with the newly elected President of Iran.

As you are aware, Ms Merkel is committed to promoting an intra-Libyan settlement. Last January, I also took part in the Berlin Conference on Libya, which was convened on the initiative of Madam Chancellor, and the decisions it adopted helped improve the situation on the ground.

We believe that the international community should maintain a dialogue with all influential political forces in Libya in order to retain and build on the positive achievements that have yet to come.

We shared our vision of the state of affairs in Syria with our German partners. The ceasefire is in force throughout most of the country; the ruined economy and infrastructure are being rebuilt, but the terrorist threat still persists. Due to the illegal sanctions imposed on Damascus and the coronavirus pandemic, the socioeconomic situation there remains challenging.

We attach great importance to UN Security Council Resolution 2585, which was approved in July, on providing comprehensive humanitarian assistance to Syria. This is largely the outcome of the agreements reached during the Russia-US summit held in Geneva in June. We hope that the European countries, including the Federal Republic, will join in the efforts to help the Syrian people.

I would like to close by once again thanking Madam Federal Chancellor for our productive joint work – not only during today’s talks, but also during the previous years. I said it before, and I will say it again: we will always be delighted to see Ms Merkel in Russia.

Thank you.

Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel (retranslated)Thank you.

President Putin, dear Vladimir, ladies and gentlemen,

Earlier today, at the beginning of my visit, I laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to honour the memory of the fallen and as a reminder that 80 years ago Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union.

Today, we are very pleased to know that there is a dialogue going on between our governments, and our dialogue is constructive. Of course, we talked about different views and approaches to our joint decisions.

With regard to the nature of our bilateral relations, it is important to highlight a number of positive developments. I would like to mention economic relations, namely, the Year of Germany in Russia, which Mr President mentioned, during which a large number of meetings have taken place. In addition, there is an economic initiative involving the 1,000 Trainees project, which makes it possible for thousands of young Russians to take internships at German enterprises. These are the relationships that are very gratifying to have.

But, of course, we discussed the very depressing situation with Alexei Navalny. From our perspective, his sentence and imprisonment in a correctional facility were based on a court ruling that the ECHR found unobvious and disproportionate. This is unacceptable to us. I once again demanded that the President of Russia release Alexei Navalny and stressed that we would continue to monitor this case.

I also said that we are disappointed to see three German NGOs that have done a lot of work as part of the Petersburg Dialogue for cooperation between civil societies included on the list of objectionable organisations. I would like to know if it is possible to take these organisations off the list and to have the Petersburg Dialogue continue as before. From my perspective, this would send a very important message.

We also talked about bilateral economic relations, which are moving forward. In this regard, of course, we talked about Nord Stream 2. I would like to emphasise that this is not a bilateral German-Russian project, but a project of European dimension, because companies from other countries are also part of it.

In this context, we talked about the document concluded between the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany, and Mr President and I emphasised that Georg Graf Waldersee would act as a highly experienced negotiator with regard to gas transit through Ukraine beyond 2024. This is his assignment. We bear certain responsibility in this regard despite the economic developments that need to be taken into account.

In this context, we also discussed relations between Russia and the EU. It became clear that Russia is interested in entering an exchange with the EU on the “Fit for 55” climate package with account taken of cross-border carbon regulation and other problems. And I also noted that I am in favour of this approach.

Afghanistan was also among the current issues that we discussed today. This is a very important issue. We exchanged views, and I emphasised that it is very unfortunate that the Taliban are back in power in the country. However, this is how things stand. I also said that Germany believes helping people who had worked with Germany over the 20 years of NATO operations and missions in Afghanistan is currently a priority. We need to provide them refuge and ensure their safety in Germany and to take as many people as possible to Germany over the next few days.

I asked the Russian side to raise during the talks with the Taliban the question of UN humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, to make sure that it can be provided. The people who helped us, including those who assisted the Bundeswehr and the federal police, should be able to leave Afghanistan.

We also discussed developments in Ukraine. The Normandy Format is the only political framework we have for discussing these contentious issues. Currently the situation is in a deadlock. Unfortunately, Ukrainian service personnel are dying on the line of contact. I have always advocated reviving this format and giving it more weight. The last meeting was in December 2019, in Paris, and the goals we set back then were achieved both by the separatists in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, and by Ukraine.

I pointed out that I am ready to make further progress on this matter in the interest of the people of Ukraine, so that everyone can live in peace in Ukraine. This is what we stand for.

For us, the annexation of Crimea constitutes a violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, we will insist on this point, and I will continue supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Speaking of Belarus, I stated that I firmly condemn the use of people, refugees from other countries who find themselves in a dire situation, as a hybrid weapon of sorts. I am referring to the situation on the border between Belarus and Lithuania.

Of course, we discussed developments in Libya and Syria. On Libya, we need to implement the outcomes of the Libyan conference, which called for a proportionate and reciprocal withdrawal of foreign mercenaries, while empowering Libyan forces to shape a future for the country they want. On this issue, Germany and Russia have a number of points in common.

We also talked about the challenges posed by climate change. Both Germany and Russia have suffered from natural disasters. In Russia, Siberia, even north of the Arctic circle, was especially hard hit. For this reason alone, we are convinced that we need to fight climate change, which calls for close cooperation. The same applies to a number of other international matters.

I wanted to say that over the past 16 years I have been to Russia 16 times, which is to say that I was open to contact. Talks between us have not always been easy. There has been a lot of debate and controversy around them, including on the international stage, but I always sought compromise. I think that there is no alternative, at least no reasonable one, to dialogue and the exchange of opinion. This invariably requires a lot of work. Everything could have been a lot easier, but our dialogue should continue. I have no doubts about this.

Thank you.

Question (retranslated): Madam Chancellor, you said you spoke in support of Alexei Navalny and in favour of his release today. Here is a question for you, President Putin: what is needed to set Alexei Navalny free and what is needed to put an end to the persecution of Alexei Navalny’s supporters?

And a question for both of you. Today is the anniversary of the attempted poisoning of Alexei Navalny. He published an article in which he demands fighting corruption, since it is the root of all evil. What do you think about this proposal, Mr Putin? For example, he demands imposing sanctions on the oligarchs that are close to you.

Vladimir Putin: With regard to the person you just mentioned, he was not convicted for his political activities, but a criminal offense against foreign partners.

As far as political activity goes, no one should be using political activity as a front to carry out business projects, which, on top of that, violate the law. This is the first part of what I have to say to your question.

Second, with regard to non-systemic opposition in general. I don’t remember seeing in Western countries, Europe or the United States – Occupy Wall Street in the United States or the Yellow Vests in France – these people enjoying much support on their way to representative bodies, including parliament. We do not see anything like that. Moreover, when, following the US elections, people entered Congress with political demands, more than 100 criminal cases were brought against them. And judging by the charges brought against them, they are facing long prison terms anywhere from 15 to 20–25 years, maybe even more. To be completely objective, please pay attention to this side of the problem as well.

As for us, our political system is evolving, and all citizens of the Russian Federation have the right to express their opinions on political issues, form political organisations, and participate in elections of all levels. However, this must be done within the limits of applicable law and the Constitution. We will do our best to keep the situation in Russia stable and predictable. Russia exhausted its limit on revolutions back in the 20th century. We do not want revolutions. What we want is evolutionary development of our society and state. I hope that this will be so. As for the decision of the judicial authorities of the Russian Federation, please treat these decisions with respect.

Fighting corruption is critically important, but it should not be used as a tool in a political struggle. We, as well as you, are well aware that this toolkit is used to achieve political goals and is recommended for achieving political goals by the organisations that are in charge of activities by people of this kind. Indeed, fighting corruption is critically important in and of itself, and it is our top priority, and we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to eradicate corruption in the broadest sense of the word.

Angela Merkel: I would like to emphasise that we have talked at length about the way we understand political systems and freedoms. I believe that the questions of good governance and fighting corruption are actually entwined.

Regarding Alexei Navalny’s call for more sanctions, I would like to say that today the European Union imposes sanctions in the face of the relevant facts but linking economic corruption to sanctions is never easy. Still, within the European Union we believe in the need to discuss these matters, since there is a genuine link between corruption and political activity, no matter where it takes place. This includes Germany, I believe. Fighting corruption requires independent courts, a free press, as well as non-profit organisations that refuse to play along.

Vladimir Putin: Overall, who should be fighting corruption? People who fully abide by the law themselves. This is an essential prerequisite for ensuring that these efforts are effective.

Question: Taking into consideration the ongoing developments in Afghanistan, what is your assessment of the 20-year operation by the US and its allies and its outcome? Can this be called a total failure and will it result in the US-led West to rethink its approach to imposing democracy on third countries?

I also have a question or rather a request for Madam Chancellor. You probably know that RT is preparing to launch a German-language channel, but unfortunately, the German authorities are doing everything they can to obstruct this project. First, the German banks were advised to close all RT accounts and not to open new ones. Now the German government is pressuring Luxembourg not to issue RT a broadcasting licence, and everyone knows this since the German media have been reporting on this issue.

Madam Federal Chancellor, please, help us enjoy freedom of expression.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Regarding the operation in Afghanistan, it can hardly be described as a success. Quite the contrary, but concentrating on it for too long, emphasising this failure does not serve our interests.

We were interested in having stability in this country. But the situation is what it is. I think that many politicians in the West are beginning to realise what I just said in my opening remarks: you cannot impose political standards or behaviour on other countries and peoples, while ignoring their special nature, which includes the ethnic and religious structure and historical traditions. I think that eventually they will understand this, and this understanding will become the guiding principle in their realpolitik.

We saw what happened during the Arab Spring, now Afghanistan. However, it is important for our partners to make this rule universal and treat their partners with respect and be patient, whether they like something or not, they should still give these peoples the right to determine their future, no matter how long it may take them to bring democracy to their countries and regardless if they like what is happening in these countries or not. They must build neighbourly relations and respect each other’s interests in the international arena.

I think that this is the lesson we should learn from Afghanistan, and we should team up with our other partners – the United States and the European countries – we, that is Russia, must do whatever it takes to join our efforts today in order to support the Afghan people with the aim of normalising the situation in that country and establishing neighbourly relations with it.

Angela Merkel: With regard to Afghanistan, I would like to remind everyone about the starting point – the 9/11 attacks 20 years ago, in 2001. Back then, terrorist attacks on the United States were masterminded from Afghanistan. This started the fight against terrorism followed by NATO operations and missions.

The situation with terrorism in Afghanistan has improved since then, but the international community must fight the resurgence of terrorism in Afghanistan. With regard to the other project, that is, the Afghan people’s overall stance regarding their own future, we failed to achieve our goals; I am openly admitting this.

In December 2001, [German] Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer convened a conference with all Afghan representatives at the Petersberg hotel and urged Afghans to find a common shared solution. While trying to cooperate for development, we did not want to impose our position on the Afghan people, but we saw millions of happy girls who were allowed to go to school and empowered women. Many people find the current situation upsetting. However, it should be noted that the Taliban received more support than we would like. We will now need to talk with them and try to save the lives of the people who are now in harm’s way so they can leave the country, and we can continue to work for the benefit of Afghanistan.

It would be disappointing to see progress in these areas taper off. I hope we will find entities that can help Afghanistan find a path of its own, and that we will not be exposed to the threat of international terrorism.

As for RT, Germany did not put any pressure on Brussels or the decisions it made. In Germany, neither the federal government nor the state governments engage in matters like that.

Question (retranslated): Madam Federal Chancellor, the Minsk agreements are 6 years old now, but Ukraine remains divided, and you yourself said that people along the demarcation line in Donbass are dying. Following your talks today, are there any concrete plans to hold new talks at the heads of state or government level, or should we conclude that the Normandy format has failed?

And a question for you, Mr President. Once the Nord Stream 2 is completed, can you guarantee that gas transit across Ukraine will remain in place, and if so, will this arrangement remain in force after Ms Merkel leaves the post of chancellor?

Angela Merkel: With regard to the Minsk agreements: we have failed to achieve the goals that we wanted to achieve. But this is the format we have, including the trilateral contact group, and talks with the separatists in Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

So, this format needs to be handled with care, but progress is not as good as I would like it to be. However, if we identify an agenda, we can make arrangements for high-level meetings and talks. But we need to know what to discuss. During my visit to Ukraine, I will be pushing for identifying this agenda, because any minor progress can be decisive. However, this represents a very ambitious goal and a very challenging task. There are many inputs here. I still recommend this format, even though it is taking more time than we wanted, but we still need to avoid a dead end.

Vladimir Putin: I agree with the Federal Chancellor regarding the Minsk agreements and the Normandy format. We have no other tool to achieve peace, and I believe that it should be treated very carefully and with respect, despite the fact that we have so far failed to achieve the ultimate goals of the settlement.

The Minsk agreements are enshrined in a corresponding UN Security Council resolution, and in this sense, the Minsk agreements have become international law.

We are concerned that during the official talks and in their contacts with the media, the Ukrainian side says one thing, but inside the country it says something very different. In fact, and I want to emphasise this, it is enough to look at what the top public officials are saying, and they are saying that they are not going to comply with the Minsk agreements.

Today, I informed the Federal Chancellor that another draft law has been submitted by the Ukrainian government. If this law is adopted – please read it, it is not a classified document, it is probably available online – it means that Ukraine will, in fact, withdraw from the Minsk process unilaterally. Because it is not just that only certain things contradict the Minsk agreements, everything there contradicts the Minsk agreements. This will mean Ukraine’s de facto withdrawal from these agreements. I hope that during her visit, the Federal Chancellor will use some of her influence and exert some pressure on the Ukrainian authorities, and that this law will not be adopted.

Now, with regard to gas transit. Indeed, the Federal Chancellor has always advocated this approach. Always, mind you, even during construction, which is about to be completed. There are 44 or 45 kilometres left to go. (Addressing Alexei Miller.) How many, Mr Miller? 15? There are 15 more kilometres across the sea to go. We can safely assume that this project is nearing completion. But the Federal Chancellor has always raised the issue of continuing transit across Ukrainian territory even after the expiry of the transit contract.

The first thing I want to say in this regard. First, today this issue was raised again by the Federal Chancellor during the talks. I assured the Federal Chancellor that we will fully comply with our obligations under the transit contract even after she leaves the office of Federal Chancellor. Russia will fulfil all its obligations. We are doing so now and we will continue to do so going forward.

Next, Nord Stream 2. Some people claim the project is politically motivated. This is a fallacy or an attempt to mislead people. It is 2,000 kilometres shorter than the Ukrainian transit route. And it is a modern environmentally friendly system, and I mean it. It uses innovative equipment which, I believe, cuts carbon emissions into the atmosphere during the transit of our hydrocarbons to Europe by five times. We just need to be aware of it and know it. And it is much cheaper than transit across Ukraine.

However, we stand ready, and I’ll say it again, I have already said it publicly before and I want to make a point of it now, that we stand ready to transit gas across Ukraine beyond 2024. But we must understand the timeframe and volumes. And for this, we must know, and our European partners must tell us, how much they are willing to buy from us. This is obvious.

We cannot sign a transit contract if we have not signed supply contracts with our consumers in Europe. With the green agenda, which is already underway in Europe, we are wondering whether anyone will be buying gas from us altogether and, if so, how much. This needs to be discussed.

In any case, this is a purely business matter. I mean there is yet another component that is the technical condition of the pipeline system. To reiterate, we are not only willing to discuss this, we are really willing to get there. This is especially true of our supplies to Southern Europe. Consumption is on the rise, and I hope it will keep rising in the years ahead. Today, there is no other, more reliable source than Russian gas for German and other European consumers.

Question: Mr President, Ms Merkel,

You have been in close contact during the past 16 years: you have met and have spoken by phone. There have been ups and downs in relations between Russia and Germany during those 16 years. In general, what is your appraisal of the results achieved over 16 years and what is your vision of the future of Russian-German relations?

Vladimir Putin: The question is not quite pertinent. I would rather not appraise the performance of the Federal Chancellor, as only the German people can do this, including at the upcoming elections to the Bundestag.

Indeed, our relations have lived through different times. We just noted that we have taken different approaches to assessing various situations. Nevertheless, cooperation between us over these years, despite the difficulties we faced throughout this fairly lengthy period, has expanded and become more diverse.

Today, we talked about the economic aspect [of our relations]. The Federal Republic is our second largest trade and economic partner next to China – over $7 billion… We invested about $7.5 billion – it is even $9.5 billion – in Germany, while our German partners invested $18 billion [in our economy]. Importantly, German companies largely operate in the industrial sector. We appreciate this.

Today, Madam Chancellor put forth some concrete questions in connection with – I understand this, as I do the same on our behalf – the need to safeguard the interests of German businesses in the Russian market. This has to do with the level of domestic content and the like. All these are current issues. Generally, the quality of our relations has changed fundamentally, getting, of course, better. Hopefully, after the elections and the change of government, this trend will remain in place.

Angela Merkel: I believe that, despite different political systems, we need to keep communications channels open and exchange opinions. This is evidenced by the global situation and the history of relations between Germany and Russia. Our countries have lived through different periods, some of them terrible and some very pleasant.

Of course, during my term as chancellor, the political systems in our two countries have developed in different directions, so there are some vital matters that need to be discussed. All these differences notwithstanding, we have always managed to keep the negotiating channel open. I hope I have managed to contribute to this. I will always say that a failure to maintain dialogue is a poor choice.

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