By Diana Simeonova Published September 13, 2013 AFP
People attend a service marking 35 years since the death of Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian disident killed in London in 1978, in a church in Sofia on September 11, 2013. Bulgaria is set to close a 35-year probe into the spectacular “umbrella killing” of Markov. Markov’s murder has gone down as one of the most daring and extraordinary crimes of the Cold War. (AFP)
Bulgarian dissident Georgy Markov is shown in this undated photo. Markov died on September 11, 1978 after being stabbed with an umbrella while walking across London’s Waterloo Bridge. Markov, 49, developed a high fever and died in hospital four days later. An autopsy revealed a miniscule metal pellet in his thigh that could have contained ricin or some other powerful poison. (AFP/File)
Shirt badge/Association crest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For over a week now, the people of Romania have been out in the streets to protest against the construction of an open-pit gold mine and gas fracking.
Via our comrades at the Centrul de Cultur? Anarhist?.
Sunday, September 1 marked the beginning of a new age in the social struggles unfolding in Romania. Protests occurred in more than 25 cities across the country — against gold mining and shale gas fracking. The same thing happened in more than 20 cities across Europe and even in North America.
For more than 15 years, there has been a struggle against a Canadian gold mining corporation that wants to exploit gold and silver from the Apuseni Mountains, in the Western part of the country, which would represent the biggest open-pit mining project in Europe. The corporation wishes to erase the village of Ro?ia Montan? and four mountain tops, only to be replaced by a lake full of cyanide. The estimations are that about 200.000 tons of cyanide will be used, only to process 200 tons of gold and a couple hundred tons of silver! What will be next is a regional environmental catastrophe, with extremely high chances of toxic contamination across Romania, Hungary, the Danube River and even the Black Sea.
English: Insignia of the European External Action Service (EAS) Norsk (bokmål)â¬: Emblemet tilhørende Den europeiske avdeling for agering utad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Posted on 26/11/2012
Climate change has until now only received limited attention from national governments, EU policymakers and analysts in the framework of international security. A European Parliament report entitled “The Role of the CSDP in case of climate driven crises and natural disasters” was adopted on 23 October 2012. This is a timely moment to provide some clarification and insight on how climate change can impact international security and to describe the position of the international community, especially the European Union (EU).The present Security Review focuses on the definition of a new challenge for international and regional cooperation, military and civilian, in order to target the main problems and thus, to find adequate political, strategic and institutional responses. The impact of climate change is not a problem the international community has to tackle in the future but today.
Formally introduced by the Lisbon Treaty in January 2009, the mutual assistance and solidarity clauses now enshrined as Article 42(7) of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) and Article 222 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), have, until now, only received limited attention from national governments, EU policymakers and analysts. As these clauses are currently under discussion at the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defence, this is a timely moment to provide some clarifications and insight on clauses that arguably challenge Member States’ sovereignty claims and that could potentially constitute a basis for the further development of the Union’s defence cooperation. The present Security Review focuses on the origins, scope, interpretation and technical aspects of the mutual assistance and solidarity clauses and argues that EU and national policymakers should promptly establish operational mechanisms that would give credibility to these clauses, before their symbolic dimension and concrete potential lose their appeal.
The EU neighborhood (Photocredit: European Commission)
The first day of the “Neighbours of the EU’s Neighbours” conference, hosted by the Department of EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies at the College of Europe in Bruges, focused on rising geopolitical dimensions and challenges in regions adjacent to the European neighbourhood, mainly in the Sahara and Horn of Africa, as well as Western and Central Asia.
The notion of “neighbours of the neighbours” was introduced by the European Commission in 2006 in a Communication on strengthening the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) stating: “We must also look beyond the Union’s immediate neighbourhood, to work with the ‘neighbours of our neighbours’.” In light of recent changes in the Middle East and the growing instability in the Sahel, one of the key questions addressed on 15 November 2012 was how the EU can create bridges between the different policy frameworks and models of co-operation, in order to elaborate new comprehensive strategies that would facilitate the stabilisation and development of the broader neighbourhood.
Map of the districts of Cyprus, with English annotations, and showing the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, United Kingdom Sovereign Base Areas, and United Nations buffer zone. The TRNC section illustrates the current de facto district boundaries following this map as a guide. The northern districts are labelled in Turkish. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
June 9, 2012: Turkey announced that it will give the Tunisian government $100 million. The money is for economic and social development projects but will probably be spent very quickly since Tunisia is experiencing a severe economic crunch. Turkey will also loan Tunisia $400 million at a low interest rate. Tunisia’s Ennadha Party is a moderate Islamist party which models its political program on Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Several Tunisian politicians are warning that the country could face another political explosion unless it can revive the stalled economy and put people back to work. The AKP has told the Tunisian government that it strongly favors a secular democracy and that Turkey will try to help the Tunisian people manage the transition from dictatorship to democracy. At the moment that means providing economic aid.
June 8, 2012: Maps stir passions in the Balkans. Bulgaria’s foreign minister and Turkey’s Bulgarian ambassador met to discuss a map that appeared with educational materials published for schools in Istanbul three years ago. The map showed a Greater Turkey of a sort, with parts of Bulgaria (including Sofia) and Greece’s Thessalonica (Salonika) included as Turkish territory. All of Armenia, part of northern Iraq, and part of Georgia were also labeled as Turkish territory. Cyprus was also included as Turkish territory. The government of Turkey has assured Bulgaria that it does not have any territorial claims on any neighboring nations. Turkey has disavowed the map and said the maps, which appeared on a compact disk, were withdrawn from the schools when they were discovered and publicized.
Greece acknowledged that it now faces an energy crisis because it cannot pay its electricity, gas, and oil bills. The government and Greek energy corporations are looking for up to $400 million in emergency bridge loans in order to avoid power cuts during the summer tourist season. Though overall demand for energy has been declining, due to the economic crisis, Greece imports most of its power, including electrical power. Tourism is a major industry in Greece and despite numerous travel and tourist bargains, tourists have been reluctant to visit Greece because of the riots and other social turmoil accompanying the economic crisis.
When European Union leaders meet in late June, they will weigh ideas that point to more political unity as a way to stem the euro crisis. Will Europeans give up more national sovereignty?
By the Monitor’s Editorial Board / June 5, 2012
People in Pamplona protest May 31 against cutback plans by Spain’s government. The European Union urged Spain to come clean on how it plans to finance the overhaul of its banking sector.
Alvaro Barrientos/AP Photo Enlarge
The answer may start to become clear at a European Union summit June 28-29. Leaders will weigh proposals to create a binding political union as a way to prevent a collapse of the euro – as well as to prevent the effects to the world economy.
The euro crisis began because too many countries, such as Greece, acted on old national impulses under the umbrella of a single currency. They spent too much money – borrowed from other EU countries – with little regard for the new European rules on fiscal discipline.
Instead of one for all and all for one, it was more often simply all for one.
Financial markets finally gagged on the red ink and now insist that the euro’s 17 member states create a political authority as strong as their economic union.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, agrees, in large part to justify helping Europe’s wobbly banks. But this would mean that each nation would need to give up a lot more sovereignty, such as control over spending on health and education.
Europe, which invented the nation-state, is faced with diminishing it for the sake of an elusive United States of Europe. Up to now, however, much of the EU’s unity was based on a negative identity. In 1945, Europe didn’t want to be like its fascist past. Then during the cold war, it rallied around not being like the communist Soviet Union. And it has long tried not to be like America.
17 May 2012
Gas pipeline ‘pig trap’
By Sonia Rothwell
Yesterday we began charting how Russia seeks to maintain economic and geopolitical leverage across the former Soviet space. Our analysis inevitably reflects that it is now over two decades since the former USSR splintered into its constituent parts. Yet the return of Vladimir Putin to the Russian Presidency nevertheless provides us with insights into how Moscow might attempt to increase leverage in its former sphere of influence over the next 5-10 years. It is currently estimated, for example, that almost 70% of Russia’s export receipts are made up of transfers of natural resources, with the former Soviet space being a major recipient of end-products. A very healthy trade-surplus of more than $500bn provides Putin with opportunities to use Russia’s finances to its flex geopolitical muscle. During his election campaign, Putin pledged to invest approximately $750 million in Russia’s defense sector.
But to what extent do the former Soviet republics look to their old imperial master for security and economic cooperation? To answer this question, today we focus upon three sub-regions of the former Soviet Union – the Baltic States, Ukraine and Moldova. While each of these regions are forging economic and political relations that look beyond Russia, Moscow has the potential to use its energy supplies – and to a lesser extent its ethnic ties – to maintain a strategic foothold in Central and Eastern Europe.
A Changed Eastern Europe
From an economic and geopolitical perspective, the Baltic States have done the most out of all the former republics to distance themselves from their Soviet past. Each state is now a fully-fledged member of the European Union (EU) with Estonia (whose trade and cultural links have traditionally favored Finland) taking a step further away from Moscow after it joined the Eurozone in 2011. Like the Baltic States, Moldova also aspires to closer economic ties with the West in general and Europe in particular. Recently, Moldova’s Prime Minister and President re-affirmed their commitment to membership of the EU. Moldova’s efforts to also join NATO are largely encouraged by Romania and underpinned by linguistic and cultural affiliations between the two countries.
Russia nevertheless maintains a significant strategic foothold within Moldova. Its 14th army is stationed in the self-proclaimed majority Russian state of Trans Dniestra with Moscow also providing financial assistance to the government in Tiraspol. Strategically, it is in Russia’s interests to safeguard Trans-Dniestra’s independence to maintain Moscow’s influence within the region and divert Moldova’s attention away from full EU membership. Nevertheless, Russia maintains strong bilateral trade links with Moldova and there are calls for the country to join Russia’s nascent Customs Union. So in sharp contrast to the Baltic States, Moldova is seemingly pulled in two directions by its near- neighbor Romania and an economically significant Russia.