New EUFAJ 1 / 2016: From EU-China relations to Corruption in the Balkans

The 1st quarter issue 2016 of „European Union Foreign Affairs Journal“ can be downloaded now. EUFAJ, an eQuarterly is a non-profit project and edited by LIBERTAS – European Institute GmbH, a pro-European Integration acting think tank, and an Editorial Advisory Board. The editors have experience in working in EU or EU Member State institutions, or from universities  We will put it gradually on a commercial basis, but it will remain available for free.

Please, have a look at the new EUFAJ issue no. 1 / 2016 which is available under this link: http://www.libertas-institut.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/EUFAJ-1-2016.pdf.

This time with the following articles, among others

  • European Union – China Relations
  • The Asia-Pacific Region and the European Union
  • How to Work for EU Foreign Policy Goals in the UN
  • Lessons for the EU from Denmark’s Relations with Greenland and the Faroe Islands – Secession on the State and Supra-State Level
  • Does Russia Have an Imperialistic Foreign and Security Policy? – A Discourse on Empires
  • Is Russia Withdrawing from Rule of Law Principles?
  • Azerbaijan: Searching for the ‘Armenian Lobby’
  • Corruption in the Western Balkans: Its Impact on Governance
  • The Conduct of the Constitutional Referendum in Armenia on 6 December, 2015
  • Rural Development in Armenia: Significance of Non-Farm Activity
  • Strategic Challenges for a New Model of European Economic Development
  • Intellectual Property in Kosovo: The Case of Musical Works
  • Response of Arctic Temperature to Changes in Emissions of Short-lived Climate Forcers

If you want to see the older issues (incl. a Special with the English text of the Boris Nemtsov Report), please see under www.eufaj.eu. There you find also other information about EUFAJ and its editors.

We welcome contributions – scientific ones or policy-focused, on international, comparative subjects, or views of EU /  third country relations. You can always ask if a special subject would be convenient or just send them to eufaj@libertas-institut.com.  Word format would be appreciated. We do not raise any fees for published articles.

We are also accessible on Facebook, where you can be informed about our publications and many other activities: www.facebook.com/eufaj. EUFAJ can also be reached via LinkedIn – under http://linkedin.com, then under „EUFAJ“  in the Search Box.

With this publication, we offer a permanent analysis of Europe’s foreign, international and comparative policy in all its facets – 4 x a year, with 100-260 pages each time. This subject is getting more and more important – without doubt.

 

The EU should establish a real Intelligence Service

Since several years, the European diplomatic service (European Extermal Action Service, EEAS) disposes of a small intelligence service unit, where less tan 100 people work, called INTCEN. It is jealously „supervised“ by national governments. These are not the „European spies“, and there is no James Bond smell in the air, anyway. The studies made are sometimes questioned, and there is a lot work done on the basis of open sources (which is indispensable for intelligence Services, too). The work of INTCEN is hardly discussed, and the work which could be done by them not either.

However, the terrorist events since mid-November 2015 in Paris, and elsewhere, brought a new push to these discussions. The ALDE chairman in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, pleaded in the meantime for a European Intelligence Service, and some Member States‘ ministers of interior pleaded, for evident reasons, for a closer cooperation between the EU intelligence services. This is indeed necessary – only a minority of services has effectuated a necessary information exchange about possible terrorists by the end of the year, which had been approved on governments‘ level.

What we need in the European Union, is a real military and extremist-oriented Intelligence Service, in addition – and in cooperation with – all the national services. A permanent informaton exchange, in the sense of a two-way traffic, has to be anchored legally, in order to have it at all. The same also for a parliamentary supervision, for which a special committee of the European Parliament should be created, based on the experience of some Member States. Art. 42-47 Treaty of the European Union(TEU) allow this, in my provisional legal opinion, even without treaty changes; art. 42 (6) allowing also activities of a part of Member States. It would just need the courage of some of them to launch an activity. We do do not need a new EU agency or similar, we just need to upgrade INTCEN, give them a reasonable legal framework, give them reasonable tasks which may consist of the coordination and compulsory information exchange between Member States‘ agencies. Whoever observes the external policy analytics capacity of the EU should not say „forget it“ and be allowed for closure of activities – just in contrary. We need also here „more Europe“ – an intelligence centre at least for coordination, with significantly more staff than now (could be also seconded from Member States‘ agencies), and with reasonable competences, and a permanent finetuning of own and Member States‘ activities, of own and other personnel, of own analyses and those of the EU Member States.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka

Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal

http://www.eufaj.eu

 

 

 

Is Russia Withdrawing from Rule of Law Principles?

Between 2013 until mid-2015, around 45.000 Russians have turned to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg (Moscow Times, 10.12.2015). The majority of cases was decided against the Russian administration, for the protection of Russian citizens. The ECHR can rule also against a constitution of a signatory state – which was the case e.g. in an equality and nin-discrimination case aganst Germany where the Constitution had ruled that women cannot fight in the army, resp. nit fight in combat troops. A female future helicopter pilot had this examined legally, and won finally. The German Constitution had to be changed. So, the ECHR is a (not only constitutional) watchdog, with many judgments in favour of judicial rights of the citizens. Since Eastern European states are subject of ECHR decisions, there is a certain tendency in favour of a liberal society, abiding to the rule of law. It is good to have international courts in Europe, and the ECHR and its EU counterpart, the Court of European Justice (CEJ) in Luxembourg have all confidence of the citizens. These courts are a guarantee of the sum of all positive legal traditions.

But now Russia has managed to adopt a new law, and this within days:. The Federal Constitutional Law of 14.12.2015 № 7-FKZ: „On Amendments to the Federal Constitutional Law“ – On the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation. The law has been initiated in the parliament on 18.11.2016 and was approved on 4.12.2015 State (Duma) resp. 9.12.2015 (Federation Council), then signed by the president on 14.12.2015. This speed says it all; only  semi-auhoritarian and authoritarian regimes can afford to whip a law through parliament that fast, without gathering any feedback by civil society (which hardly exists in Russia). The law says that its Constitutional Court can exempt Russia of international judgments, if this judgment is against the Russian Constitution. So Russia is, again, alone.

This cannot be compared to the case of the United States who did not want their military staff responsible before an international court. The ECHR concerns civilians. Russia evidently took the Yukos case to trigger its new policy, also to save 1,9 billion EUR compensation to be paid to former Yukos shareholders. This case has to do with arbitrary use of procedural rights, as well as with the case against Michail Khodorkovsky, another example which can show very contestable Russian standards of the rule of law.

Russia should know that this new law is considered by the Rule-of-Law community of the world as being against its own interests, against foreign Investment in the country which would be needed so urgently. But it goes hand in hand with the laws about „foreign agents“. It is the point on the „i“ which should defer all relevant decisions to a post-Putin era, as at present Russia is far away from the rule of law.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka

Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal

http://www.eufaj.eu

Frankreich beantragt den „EU-Bündnisfall“ gemäß Art. 42 (7) EU-Vertrag – Was sind die Folgen?

Nach den Attentaten von Paris vom 13.11.2015 hat die französische Regierung an die EU den Antrag nach Art. 42 (7) EU-Vertrag gestellt, die Beistandsklausel in Kraft zu setzen. Art. 42 ist die allgemeine Bestimmung über die EU-Sicherheits- und Verteidigungspolitik. Der Absatz 7 des Art 42 ist insoweit neu, als er bisher nur die EU-Staaten band, die NATO-Mitglieder oder solche der Westeuropäischen Union (WEU) waren. Seit dem Vertrag von Lissabon bindet er jedoch alle EU-Mitgliedstaaten. Er wurde jetzt zum ersten Mal in der Geschichte der EU angerufen.

Der Artikel sagt schlicht und einfach: Im Falle eines bewaffneten Angriffs auf das Hoheitsgebiet eines Mitgliedstaats schulden die anderen Mitgliedstaaten ihm alle in ihrer Macht stehende Hilfe und Unterstützung. Wie weit diese Hilfe gehen kann, ist nicht definiert; in Zweifel ist es bewaffneter Beistand. <wie erwähnt, handelt es sich um die erste Anrufung überhaupt gemäß Art. 42 (7) EUV und somit um einen bedeutenden Schritt in Richtung einer EU-Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik. Es ist demnach völlig gleichgültig, ob die EU als solche von Terroristen angegriffen wird, die ihre Pläne im Ausland oder wo auch immer geschmiedet haben, oder von einem Land. Die Worte „ein bewaffneter Angriff“ im EU-Vertragstext sind auf beide Alternativen anwendbar.

Somit ist eine Art „Doppelgleisigkeit“ des EU-Vertrags zu Art. 222 (1) AEUV (Vertrag über die Arbeitsweise der Europäischen Union) gegeben, die nach diesem Artikel sogar innerhalb eines Mitgliedstaats nach terroristischen Akten tätig werden kann.

Auf das Ersuchen der Franzosen haben alle 27 anderen EU-Länder sofort mit ihrer Solidarität reagiert. Dennoch dürfte diese Aktion wahrscheinlich nur symbolischen Charakter haben, wenn man von einer weiteren Koordinierung der Geheimdienste absieht (in diesem Zusammenhang sollte man in der EU dringend arbeiten an einem EU-eigenem Geheimdienst mit zumindest teilweiser Koordinierungskompetenz, wie schon in der Vergangenheit mehrfach angedacht – wer als die EU sollte z.B. nationale Geheimdienste in Sachen Da’esh/IS koordinieren?). Bei allem darf man sich jetzt aber nicht allzu viel erwarten: Ausgerechnet das deutsche Bundesverfassungsgericht schrieb in seinem Urteil zum Lissabon-Vertrag, die Beistandspflicht mit militärischen Mitteln sei eine politische und keine rechtliche Schuld (BVerfGE 123, 267, Rn. 365 et al.).

Diese Attacke, wenn es eine Krise ist, wird so aussehen wie alle zuvor: Die EU wird gestärkt aus ihr herausgehen. Nicht so, wie ich von einem Journalisten am Tag nach dem Attentat las: „Der europäische Traum ist zu Ende …“. Eine solche Attacke braucht eine klare, europäische Antwort. Diese braut sich soeben zusammen.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chefredakteur, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ), http://www.eufaj.eu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

„Disinformation Review“ – An EU Tool against Myths of and for the Russian Government

The EU Commission has the pleasure to present as from 4.11.2015 a new EU information product called „Disinformation Review“. pdf - 389 KB [389 KB]. This is a weekly publication, which collects as many examples of the Russian disinformation attacks as possible, and in real time.

Its objective is to show the European public the high amount of such disinformation attacks that target European audience every single day, to expose the number of countries targeted, and, thus, to explain to the European audience the breadth of this problem. The data and information collected would help to conduct a better analysis and, thus, be ready to counter and pre-empt possible misinformation attacks in the future. Some EU-based right wing populist groups often took up the argumentation of this disinformation. Finally, the EU reacts – in a very cool style.

The review is being prepared by the recently established special EU Task Force (StratCom East) countering the Russian disinformation campaign which was and is prevailing. Who is interested in receiving this review pdf - 389 KB [389 KB] , should send a request to STRATCOM-EAST@eeas.europa.eu.

New EUFAJ 4 / 2015 – and our editorial programme in 2016

The new EUFAJ issue no. 4 / 2015 is available under this link: http://www.libertas-institut.com/eufaj/eufaj-4-2015/ .

This time with the following articles, among others:

  • Presidential Elections in Belarus of  11.10.2015: What an Election Observer Mission Could Find Out
  • The Systematic Roots of Russia’s Recession
  • Debate on Presidential Versus Parliamentary Systems: Should Armenia Opt for the Parliamentary System?
  • Europe’s True Immigration Capacity: What We Can Learn from the US Green Card System
  • Trafficking in Human Beings in Conflict and Post-conflict Situation
  • Foreign Labour Force in the Economy of Modern Russia: Tendencies and Prospects
  • The Democratic Peace Theory
  • From Rapporteur to Coordinator: The Different Roles Taken on by MEPs
  • Gazprom: Seeking a Rapprochement with the EU?
  • Council of Europe’s Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize 2015 for Ludmilla Alexeeva

It is very easy: EUFAJ is available free of charge, It has been launched some years ago as a non-Profit project by LIBERTAS – Europäisches Institut GmbH. Just send an informal e-maail (if possible also with your postal address and your activities) to eufaj@libertas-institut.com. If at a later date you want to unsubscribe, you just send an e-mail to the same address with „unsubscribe“. If you want to see any older issues, please, see also under www.eufaj.eu.

And this is an extract from our editorial programme 2016 (the headlines may be different, and we reserve all rights in withdrawing any Intention to publish, or to publish in other form than in EUFAJ, or to add any other subject):

  • the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and ist Impact on EU third countries,
  • Azerbaijan and Human Rights,
  • Turkey after the elections in November 2015,
  • Local government in developing countries,
  • the New EU Foreign Trade Policy,
  • the Faroe Islands and Greenland, Denmark and the EU – in context with plurinationality,
  • a comparison between the Eurasian Economic Union and the EU,
  • what means „Eurasianism“,
  • and many other subjects more …

It’s Time to Update the Lisbon Treaty

The Lisbon Treaty is in power since November 2009. Since the dynamisationof EU poltics in the mid-1980s, there were only few years without Scratching at existing treaty structures. We had in power

  • 1986/1987 in power – the European Single Act,
  • 1992/1993 in power – the Maastricht Treaty,
  • 1997/1999 in power –  the Amsterdam Treaty,
  • 2001/2003 in power – the Nice Treaty,
  • 2007/2009 in power – the Lisbon Treaty

Between the two latter we had the attempt to adopt a European „Constitution“ which for petit-bourgeois reasons was rejected by the people – but only in two countries, Netherlands and France, both voting not under too rational considerations.

Before 1986, there were not really treaty adaptations of the 1957 Treaty of Rome, besides „cosmetic“ ones. One can say that the real dynamisation of the EU started with the Single Market inf the mid-80s.

Now it is time to prepare the successor treaty for the Treaty of Lisbon. This treaty we have at present needs urgently to be revised:

  1. The „Greek Drama“ has shown clearly that we need a common fiscal policy and a common budget policy. This means of course that every EU Member State should have ist own budget policy, but the Framework, i.e. the Maximum aberaation figures should be set by the EU. If These should be a common currency – and it should, of course – then Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus etc. have shown clearly that not only an EMS remedy should exist but also an effective prevention mechanism.
  2. In this context we also have to say „yes“ to a horizontal financial support mechanism in the EU. If we have federalism in Germany, which has a strong and effective likewise mechanism (which is attacked by the one or other region = Land, all couple of years – but this is legitimate and a permanent task of politicians to discuss about percentages) , then it must be legitimate for the EU, too, as this grows into more and more federalism (or call it different, if one it ins countries where federalism is occupied negatively, by tradition. But tradition as such can not be valid for serious political reforms.).
  3. The next version of the EU Treaty must radically delete the legal necessity of unanimous votes in the Council, thus ending a preponderance of this instrument of national egoism. This may have been useful in the first time of the EU, when we had six founding members, but with 28 and possibly more in the future it is harmful. One state should not blackmail all the others just with a veto.
  4. In particular, we need a clear enabling of the EU for a common foreign policy. This may end in common embassies and consulates in third countries, which will bring many billions € of savings, but also a qualitative improvement of the EU representation and of ist Member States.
  5. We also need urgently to establish European Army structures, at first for outward interventions. This has been a taboo for a long time, which is ridiculous in view of the necessities.
  6. What came into everybody’s mind during the last weeks and months: Europe needs a real refugee policy, as well as an immigration policy. What we have now as a result is urgently to be changed and Europeanized.
  7. We also need an effective sanctions mechanism against EU Member States who evidently follow a corrupt policy or follow policies diametral to European values. While Hungary, still officially under communist regime!, cut a hole into the Iron Curtain, literally, the successor government under Viktor Orban sets up a fence against Syrian and Eritrean refugees – this is not only hard to swallow, this is frankly unacceptable and cries for sanctions.

All this is for a future Lisbon Treaty. Maybe it is called then the Rangendingen-Höfendorf Treaty, or Horndon-on-the-Hill Treaty, or St.Moulinex-les-bains Treaty – it is the content which counts. And the time should be over that European federalists discuss only from the defensive side.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka

Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal

 

New Issue 3 / 2015 of EUFAJ is out: From West Balkan to Vietnam

The new issue 3/2015 of „European Union Foreign Affairs JournTal“ (EUFAJ) is out; the link is http://www.libertas-institut.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/EUFAJ-3-2015.pdf.

Among the articles:

  • Western Balkan Countries and their Potential towards the EU
  • Landlockedness as a Challenge for Development: The Case of Armenia
  • Armenia’s Economic and Security Relations with Russia
  • Georgia’s Trajectory on South Ossetia and Russia’s Creeping Occupation
  • Union for the Mediterranean: €5 Billion Urban Investment in 27 Projects
  • EU agri-food trade in 2014: EU-US Interaction strengthened
  • New Free Trade Agreement between EU and Vietnam
  • Information Technology Agreement (ITA): WTO agreed to trillion-euro global high-tech trade deal
  • For Species Protection in the Balkan: Unknown Flies from Macedonian Mavrovo National Park Threatened by Hydropower Extension

Georgia’s Trajectory on South Ossetia and Russia’s Creeping Occupation

By Ofelya Sargsyan, Editor of European Union Foreign Affairs Journal

 

As the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs state on July 10 the Russian troops moved the demarcation line between South Ossetia and the rest of the Georgian territory, placing the so-called “border” on the territory close to the village of Tsitelubani of Gori municipality and the village of Orchosani in occupied Akhalgori district adjacent to the Tbilisi-Gori central highway.

The incident occurred soon after Georgia concluded and air defense treaty with France and NATO launched its “Fragile Spirit” multi-national trainings in the country. The movement of the “state border” markers for 450 meters further into Georgia from the South Ossetia demarcation line by the Russian troops, assumes that the local Georgian farmers will lose 10 hectares of wheat fields and cattle pastures[2]. Furthermore, it means that a 1.6 km-long segment of the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline will fall under the control of Russia. Owned by the British Petroleum (BP), the pipeline is also known as the Western Route Export Pipeline (WREP). Running from Azerbaijan to the Georgian Black Sea terminal of Supsa, it has 833 km in length and a capacity of 145,000 barrels a day. However, BP Chief Spokesman in Georgia Gia Gvaladze stated that the change would mean nothing, with them needing no physical access to preserve the pipe. Another spokesperson of BP Georgia; Tamila Chantladze, stated on July 13 that WREP was operating was operating as normal and along the international standards. In his turn, Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze assured that Georgia will reroute the Baku-Supsa pipeline around the de-facto border in case there is any problem to its functioning

While both Georgia and the international community keep accusing Russia on breaking international law and violating the territorial integrity of another state, Russia rejects its role, stating that its troops had been patrolling the same administrative border since the 2008 Russian Georgian war over South Ossetia.

As such during the phone conversation between Head of Georgian Delegation in the Geneva International Discussions David Dondua and Head of Russia’s delegation in Geneva Discussions, Grigori Karasin on 13 July 2015, Mr Karasin stated that the banners marking the “state border” were exactly on the same place where they stood until April 18, 2015, when they were shown during a TV show of the Georgian TV Channel “Imedi”. Furthermore, the diplomat highlighted that the Georgian side was well aware that there was no border movement.

On the other hand, Georgia condemns Russia on illegal replacement of banners. Furthermore, the MFA of Georgia considers the Russian action as a continuation of the so-called “borderization” process within Georgia which breaches the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and the fundamental principles of the international law. Hence, Georgia calls the international community for support and measures against Russia for violating the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

As mentioned above, solidarity with Georgia has also expressed the international community.

To the point the EU reaffirmed its support for Georgia’s territorial integrity. Describing Russian step as “provocative” the Union and its monitoring mission (EUMM) called for deploying such tools as the Geneva International Discussions and the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) to neutralize tensions. This is also in line with the UN statement, made on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who highlighted the negative impact on the daily lives of the locals because of the developments on the demarcation line.

The President of the Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Jean-Claude Frécon, also apart from condemning Russia, expressed the concern that “The moving of the demarcation line beyond the villages of Tsitelubani and Orchosani placing the Baku-Supsa pipeline under the control of the Russian forces creates a further risk of destabilising the whole Region”.

Furthermore, in her statement Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), acknowledged the alarming aspect of the actions and reiterated the Assembly’s support for the territorial integrity of Georgia.

Russian actions were officially criticized also by a number of individual states, such as Latvia, Lithuanian, Ukraine, Romania, Japan.

Reaction to the issue came also from the USA. To the point, while the US ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland, described the land-grab as a step to “humiliate and provoke” Georgia’s pro-Western government[11], John Kirby, spokesperson of the US department of State, urged Russia to implement the provisions of the 2008 ceasefire agreement and withdraw its forces to pre-conflict positions, recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as Georgian regions as well as enable free entry for humanitarian aid to these regions.

Meanwhile, on July 19, 2015, the Georgian Minister of Defence Nina Khidasheli declared that Russia us testing Georgia’s patience, attempting to enroll it into a conflict which is unacceptable for the Georgian government.

Yet, the situation has generated a number of protest by activists and journalists. To the point, on July 14 more than 50 Georgian journalists held a protest “NO to Occupation” in the village of Khurvaleti and crashed the newly-established border sign saying “Republic of South Ossetia” and set there a Georgian flag which was however replaced by the Russian and South Ossetian armed forces two days later. Another demonstration with thousand protesters took place outside the State Chancellery building in central Tbilisi on July 18. Apart from the slogans like “Stop Russia”, the protestors also criticized Irakli Garibashvili’s government for being week and incompetent to withstand the Russian creeping occupation. Moreover, several of the protest organizing groups – among them the television station Rustavi-2, magazine Tabula and NGOs Georgian Democracy Initiative and Georgia’s Reforms Associates – seem to be in favor of the United National Movement (UNM), the party of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. Notable is also the fact that also a number of well-known public figures participated and were even among the organizers of the rally. As such, Salome Samadashvili, once Georgia’s ambassador to the EU, talked against the Russian politics, highlighting that it is time for Georgia to become a modern European state. Also, Giga Bedinishvili, editor-in-Chief of Tabula magazine, mocked the current set-up of the Georgian-Russian bilateral relations which presupposes face-to-face meetings between Georgia’s special envoy for Russia Zurab Abashidze and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin, whose last meeting was in on 15 July in Prague. He stated that the framework was suggested by UNM parliamentarians, coining the Garibashvili government as “defeatism”

Yet, some locals expressed concerns regarding the protests, stating that they further exacerbate the living conditions in the immediate vicinity of the administrative border. Moreover, on July 17 the police limited the entry of non-locals to the territory.As a resonse, the Prime Minister of the country, Irakli Garibashvili, accused the UNM of leaving the country with 25,000 internally displaced people and 150 villages out of central government control. He also called to come and urged the opposition not to intervene in the government’s efforts in settling the Problem.o solve the situation a meeting was held on July 20 in Ergneti under the auspices of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM), co-facilitated by Kęstutis Jankauskas, the Head of the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM), and Ambassador Angelo Gnaedinger, the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-office for the South Caucasus. The Georgian Interior Ministry officials and representatives of the de-facto authorities of South Ossetia agreed that the local Georgian population can have access to their farmlands which are now within the within the territory of South Ossetia. Additionally, the return of Vazha Totladze, a Georgian citizen of the village of Knolevi in Kareli district who was kidnapped from his garden by armed men and taken into South Ossetia on 18 July, was agreed upon. Yet, the South Ossetian side refused to remove the border signs, installed by the Russian troops as well as declined to return the Georgian flag that the Russian forces had taken down.

As seen, while the current Georgian Dream coalition government came to power promising to improve the relationship with Moscow, the latest developments demonstrate, that Russia even furthered its positions in South Ossetia with the new border signs having been set and so far seem to remain there. To note, this is not the first incident of line-drawing in South Ossetia – it has been separating itself from Georgia, installing wired fences since 2008. However, notwithstanding its claims for independence, as a matter of fact it lacks autonomous infrastructures, with its budget, economy, and almost all political processes being controlled by the Russian Federation. Furthermore, the Russian border guards control and detain trespassers along the demarcation lines. Russia finances its border signs, fences as well as tracking cameras. South Ossetia also concluded a military agreement with Russia, entitling the latter to protect the disputed territory. With these aspects at stake, Georgia has limited options to act.

It cannot set border forces since it does not recognize the South Ossetian independence, thus, that border being nonexistent to it. The country does not want another military upheavel, either. Hence, it remains for the country to talk against the situation, present its concerns and describe the actions as illegal and provocative and call for international reactions and actions. Yet, there seems to be little opportunity, if ever, that Georgia will be able to regain the 20% of its territory. It looks like everyone will eventually accept the new borders as in the Crimean case. But Germany was also reunited after 45 years.

This article will be updated and published in EUFAJ 3/15, appearing in the first half of August 2015. See then http://www.eufaj.eu

 

New LIBERTAS Paper 80 by Ofelya Sargsyan: Selected EU Foreign Policy Areas …

Since mid-July 2015 a new Ofelya Sargsyan book is available, which is a sampler based on her previously written papers on EU foreign policy. It contains an article about „European Foreign Policy: its nature, issues, Sccpe and potential“ – ranging from defense interventions of the EU (which are not too well known, in general) until the possible savings by a common foreign and defense policy. It explains also what „OCTs“ are – overseas countries and territories, all over the world, belonging to France, UK, Netherlands and Denmark – from Wallis & Futuna in the South Pacific until Greenland. And it covers the regional integraton in the Arctic Region and the relations with  the EU, as well, in a methodological approach to external „soft power“ of the EU, the concept of plurinational states, of participatory democracy and of the role of non-state actors for human security.

The paper – see its cover below – contains 148 pages and is available as print paper (15,00 EUR) via verlag@libertas-institut.com, or in all bookshops (from 20.7.2015), or as e-book (4,99 EUR) via the same e-mail, and from 1.8.2015 in all e-book portals.

The full bibliographical data:
Ofelya Sargsyan: Selected EU Foreign Policy Areas and Instruments, LIBERTAS Paper 80, LIBERTAS – Europäisches Institut GmbH, Rangendingen – July 2015. 148 p., ISBN (e-book/PDF) 978-3-937642-63-5; ISBN (print version) 978-3-937642-64-2.

LIB_Pap_80_Ofelya

Neues Observatorium für Eurasische Wirtschaftsunion

Die Eurasische Wirtschaftsunion (Eurasian Economic Union; EEU) ist ein neues, zum 1. Januar 2015 gestartetes Gebilde, das unter der Führung von Russland zu stehen scheint und aus Belarus, Kasachstan und Russland besteht, ebenso aus Armenien, das zunächst einen Assoziationsvertrag mit der EU unterschreiben wollte, und auch dem zentralasiatischen Kirgistan, das im Verlauf des Sommers 2015 dazu stoßen soll. Was dahinter steht, wer die dortige „Kommission“ ausmacht (die der EU-Kommission nachempfunden wurde), was die offiziellen Politikbereiche und die faktischen Einschränkungen betrifft, das wird seit einigen Wochen in einem neuen Observatorium, einer Beobachtungsstelle, festgehalten. Dieses Observatorium ist untergebracht bei m „European Union Foreign Affairs Journal“ (EUFAJ), einer derzeit nicht-kommerziellen, von LIBERTAS – Europäisches Institut GmbH gesponserter Vierteljahresschrift, die nur auf Englisch erscheint und von einem multinationalen Herausgeberbeirat unter Leitung von Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, ehemaliger Europaabgeordneter und langjähriger Regierungsberater für die EU, UNDP usw., ediert wird. Das EEU-Observatorium steht unter der Leitung der in Deutschland lebenden Armenierin Ofelya Sargsyan M.A., die diesen Teil ihrer Tätigkeit in fließendem Russisch absolviert, in Yerevan/Armenien und Flensburg politikwissenschaftliche Master-Abschlüsse erlangt hat und als Redakteurin bei EUFAJ sowie als Analystin bei LIBERTAS – Europäisches Institut GmbH tätig ist.

In dem neuen Observatorium werden nicht nur Stimmen aus den Mitgliedstaaten der EEU, die sich oft mit der Europäischen Union vergleicht, was aber sehr mit Vorsicht zu genießen ist, gesammelt, sondern auch Quellen zum sog. „Eurasianismus“. Dieser ist eine imperiale Ideologie, wenn auch nicht am Zarismus orientiert, und drückt eine streng antiwestliche Haltung aus. Einer ihrer Hauptvertreter ist heute der Philosoph Alexander Dugin, ein Mann von schillernder Vergangenheit, der dafür plädiert, dass die gesamte Ukraine wieder Russland einverleibt werden soll. Auch der „Eurasianismus“ lehnt sich an der Eurasischen Wirtschaftsunion an, die z. B. in Kasachstan eine ganz andere Zielrichtung kennt.

Das EEU-Observatorium hat jetzt den ersten Teil des EEU-Vertrages auf Englisch übersetzt (siehe http://www.eufaj.eu, Ausgabe 2/2015); Schritt für Schritt werden die anderen Teile des Vertragswerks übersetzt und kurz kommentiert und – aus Sicht der EU – bewertet werden. Dabei kommen auch Unternehmen zu Wort, die gebeten werden, ihre eigenen Erfahrungen dem Observatorium mitzuteilen – es gibt noch sehr wenig Erfahrungen mit der EEU. Das Observatorium will auch Publikationen zum Thema herausgeben – insoweit ist jede Kooperation oder Erfahrung willkommen (eufaj@libertas-institut.com).

New EUFAJ 2/2015 – with articles from South Pacific via Ukraine to the Caribbean

The new issue of „European Union Foreign Affairs Journal“ (EUFAJ) is out; the link is http://www.libertas-institut.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/EUFAJ-2-2015.pdf.

Among the articles:

– plurinational states in the EU and third countries (Ofelya Sargsyan),

– interview with Niels Jorgen Thogersen, president of 80 million Europeans („Europeans throughout the world“),

– Turkey – with several articles after the Armenian Genocide, and on the stalling EU process,

– Lilit Mkhitaryan on Armenian local elections (shortcomings and perspectives),

– Marek Dabrowski on the reality of Ukraine’s fiscal arithmetic,

– a short interview with Henri Malosse, EESC President, on his visa ban to Russia – one of the 89, by Carmen Aguilera García,

– short contributions on Russia’s new language minorities, Bosnia’s new SAA, EP targeting tax evasion in developing countries,

– EU – South Pacific: When comes CEPA?, EU – Dominican Republic relations could be intensified (Matthias Major),

– as documentation: the English text of part 1 of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU),

– social inclusion strategy of labour migrants in Russia (Tatyana Bezborodova),

– human development indicators for innovation management in Russia (Sergey Elkin), and many others ,,,

 

The Boris Nemtsov Report on Russia/Ukraine – Now in English

Some days ago only, the Russian-Troops-in-Ukraine Report by Boris Nemtsov – or better, after his death on 27th February, 2015, this report finished by his friends and colleagues – has been released. Its subject is is the Russian direct participation in the Ukraine conflict, both on Crimea and in East Ukraine (this was, by the way confirmed by OSCE investigators only yesterday).

European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ) is happy to present only some days after its release in Russian language this report now in an unofficial English translation. This is the very first Special Issue of European Union Foreign Affairs Journal.  It can be downloaded under http://www.libertas-institut.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/EUFAJ-Special-NemtsovReport-150521.pdf:

The special issue also contains the original Russian text.

The Report covers the Crimea annektation, the „vacationing“ Russian troops in Ukraine and their status, interviews with soldiers, the „Load-200“ issue, i.e. the coffins with dead Russian soldiers, the Malaysian Airlines Boeing MH17 shot down over Ukraine, and the economic crisis to which Russia is „striving for“.

Boris Nemtsov should have presented this report a day after he was shot. The person(s) who did this have not yet been found.

EWIV und Steuern

Dies ist das Thema eines Workshops des Europäischen EWIV-Informationszentrums bei LIBERTAS – Europäisches Institut GmbH am Freitag, dem 26.6.2015, ab 13 h, an der Hochschule Merseburg. Merseburg in Sachsen-Anhalt, nahe Leipzig und Halle, ist Hochschulort für einen attraktiven Masterstudiengang für Steuer- und Rechnungswesen, und der Workshop findet eingebettet in eine Studiengangtagung statt. Die Referenten: neben dem Leiter des Europäischen EWIV-Informationszentrums, Assessor jur. Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, auch die langjährige EWIV-Steuerexpertin und Hochschullehrerin in Merseburg, Dr. Petra Sandner, die auch den erwähnten Master-Studiengang koordiniert.

EWIV steht für Europäische wirtschaftliche Interessenvereinigung, eine EU-Kooperationsrechtsform, die überall in den nationalen Handelsregistern eingetragen wird. Die wohl bekannteste EWIV ist der deutsch-französische Fernsehsender ARTE. Es gibt ca. 2.600 EWIV mit ungefähr 16.000 Mitgliedern in der EU (und Norwegen, Island und Liechtenstein, mithin also 31 Ländern!). Eines der Hauptprobleme ist, dass oftmals auch steuerberatende Berufe falsch beraten – dann sind alle Vorteile einer EWIV (sie muss keine Unternehmenssteuer zahlen, wie KSchSt und GewSt) dahin. Aber auch Finanzämter wissen manchmal nicht, wie sie eine EWIV behandeln müssen. Dies alles behandelt der Workshop – für Wirtschafts- und Rechtsstudenten, Hochschulangehörige, Geschäftsführer von EWIV und Mitgliedsfirmen, Kammer- und Verbandsmanager, Steuerberater, Wirtschaftsprüfer, Rechtsanwälte und Unternehmensberater. Von 17-20 h findet dann eine allgemeine Studiengangtagung statt, bei der man sich auch die staatliche Förderung von einem Masterstudium Steuer- und Rechnungswesen, aber auch die Förderung von Praxispartnern erklären lassen kann. Denn dieses Studium ist eine duale Angelegenheit, d.h. die Studenten, die alle einen Bachelorgrad oder Ähnliches haben müssen, können in einer parallelen Tätigkeit (z. B. einer Steuerkanzlei) Fragen des Studiums behandeln, und im Studium Fragen der Praxis. Der erste Teil zu „EWIV und Steuern“ ist gebührenpflichtig, der zweite frei.

Das Programm ist herunterladbar unter http://www.libertas-institut.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/EWIV-Merseburg-6-15.pdf. Näheres über das Masterstudium auch bei www.hs.merseburg.de, und über die EWIV unter www.ewiv.eu.

Permanent Index of EUFAJ is now up to date

The Permanent Index of European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ) is now up to date – from the first issue 1/2009 (November 2009) until 1/2015 (1st quarter 2015).Proud 116 pages, 1,1 MB, several sections:

– key words

– names

– articles with authors

– articles without authors

– documentation

– book reviews

As everything in life, it will be improved every time, after every evaluated issue. But if one looks for anything, it is practical if you can look in one central, permanent index instead of in one per year.

The index can be downloaded under http://www.libertas-institut.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Index-eufaj.pdf

 

Türkei, der Völkermord an den Armeniern und der Papst

Der jüngste Bärendienst an der türkischen Sache stammt von der türkischen Regierung selbst, wie schon so oft vorher. Papst Franziskus hatte am 12. April 2015 im Vatikan an den „Völkermord an den Armeniern“ erinnert, worauf sich über ihn ein Sturm osmanischer Entrüstung ergoss. Der Botschafter des Vatikan wurde zum türkischen Außenministerium bestellt, der türkische Botschafter im Vatikan nach Ankara zurückberufen (er dürfte nach einigen Wochen wieder an seinem Posten sein). Letzteres gehört zum diplomatischen „Spiel“ und ist nicht weiter schlimm. Schlimm ist aber, dass die türkische Regierung (und die oppositionelle CHP) meint, dem Papst in Fragen, die die Ethik in der Politik betrifft, einen Maulkorb verpassen wollte. Wer die Zahl von 1,5 Millionen Opfern des Völkermordes an den Armeniern 1915 absenken will, muss sich vergleichen lassen mit jenen Holocaust-Leugnern, die sagen, nicht sechs Millionen Juden seien in Nazi-KZs umgekommen, „sondern nur drei“. Im Übrigen ist lediglich die ebenfalls oppositionelle MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) bereit, für die Redefreiheit des Papstes einzutreten, sagt aber auch, dass religiöse und politische Führungspersönlichkeiten kein Recht hätten, so schwere Beschuldigungen wie Völkermord gegen ein Land zu erheben. Es scheint also mehr oder weniger einmütig zu sein, wie die Türkei reagiert – allerdings gibt es heute viele Intellektuelle, Autoren, Journalisten, Geschäftsleute, die – mehr als je zuvor – eine Aufarbeitung dieses Geschichtskapitels wollen.

Natürlich war es 1915 ein Völkermord – dies hatten Experten und Wisscnschaftler hinreichend oft festgestellt. Aber warum stellt sich keine türkische Regierung hin und sagt: Wir haben, verdammt noch mal, vor 100 Jahren einen Völkermord initiiert, wir bedauern dies zutiefst, wir entschuldigen uns hierfür, und wir wollen mit unseren Nachbarn, den Armeniern, eine gute und bessere Nachbarschaft. Gerade, dass es hieran fehlte, ergab bei den Armeniern jenes Trauma, das darin gipfelte – was in der EU nicht immer verstanden wurde, dass man ständig eine Völkermord-Entschuldigung forderte. Es ist ein bezeichnendes Symptom für die mangelnde Souveränität der Türkei, sich mit diesem Thema, allein aus nationalistischen Gründen, nicht auseinander setzen zu wollen. Es spricht Bände, dass aus der vom Staat drangsalierten türkischen Zivilgesellschaft die einzigen Stimmen dringen, die für eine solche Entschuldigung eintreten. Armenien hat übrigens keine Kompensationsansprüche gestellt.

Im Übrigen steht es gerade Deutschland an, sich hier zu erklären: Das Deutsche Kaiserreich war vor 100 Jahren mit dem Osmanischen Reich verbündet. So wie Deutschland sich dazu bekannte, als Nazi-System den Holocaust initiiert zu haben, muss es sich dazu bekennen, als Verbündeter des Osmanischen Reichs damals offiziell die Behandlung der Armenier unterstützt zu haben. Etliche Zeitzeugen, wie von Lepsius, Werfel und andere, haben damals einen anderen Kurs gefahren.

Armenien, das in einer seltsamen Zwangslage zwischen der EU und Russland liegt, re-orientiert sich derzeit wieder an der EU – im klaren Gegensatz zur Türkei. Deren unwürdige Leugnung des ersten Völkermords im letzten Jahrhundert unter Erdogan III ist in einem eklatanten Gegensatz zur europäisch orientierten Reformpolitik von Erdogan I. Damals war auch der Autor dieser Zeilen ein überzeugter Anhänger eines türkischen EU-Beitritts; unter der heutigen Regierung in Ankara kann davon keine Rede sein.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka

Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (www.eufaj.eu)

New Observatory on the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU)

Within LIBERTAS – European Institute GmbH, there is from beginning of April 2015 an observatory on Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) affairs – ranging from the history of Eurasianism until the most topical developments like e.g. the possible preparations for a common Eurasian currency. It is mainly intended for access out of the European Union and for scientific purposes, but it is open for requests and cooperation throughout the world. The EEU is at present composed of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia (since 1.1.2015); Kyrgyzstan will join on 1.5.2015. The Russian president V. Putin has said he wants the whole former Soviet republics, except the Baltic Republics, to form the Eurasian Economic Union.

This EEU Observatory will start working on an informal basis, and is headed by Ofelya Sargsyan M.A. The Armenia-born political scientist is also Junior Editor of European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ); see http://www.libertas-institut.eu/de/EUFAJ/Ofelya_Sargsyan.pdf. The output will be an archive and database, articles, discourses and lectures, advice and papers for government level, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), conferences, company purposes etc. Any later news will be published on Facebook, on the blog https://libertasblogs.wordpress.com, or on www.eufaj.eu as well as in EUFAJ.

The EEU cannot be compared directly to the European Union, neither with its background, nor with the political system of its member states and the degree of voluntary participation. There is a strong knowledge deficit about it in the EU and other countries. While it is totally legitimate to integrate also economies of CIS countries, there is, however, also sometimes the call for a new ‚empire‘ behind the attempts to set up a Eurasian Economic Union.

The Content of the New EUFAJ 1 / 2015: From Minsk II to South Pacific

EUFAJ 1/2015 has appeared now. This is the link: http://www.libertas-institut.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/EUFAJ_1_2015.pdf,  with articles on:

  • Basics of European Foreign Policy (incl. the money which could be saved!),
  • the South Stream pipeline after Russia cancelled it, and the perspectives for Russian oil & gas,
  • property in post-Soviet space (example: Georgia),
  • the Minsk II agreements verbatim – just to check them,
  • disinformation and Ukraine politics,
  • the EU Fundamental Rights Charter in Russian (just to pass it on),
  • currency crises in the CIS area,
  • Altyn or Euraz – a currency for the Eurasian Economic Union?,
  • Russian crisis indicators,
  • South Caucasus between Russia and the EU,
  • European Kurds fighting IS,
  • Central America and journalists,
  • Pacific regional integration,
  • Russian expenditure control of legal entities, etc.

EUFAJ appears quarterly, online and in English. It is an open, pluralist paper, with different contributions – but its tendency is very clear: a strong, consistent and human rights-based foreign policy of Europe in the world. Please see the website – for all older issues, for information about the editorial board, for the permanent index etc.: http://www.eufaj.eu

Central America: The Life of a Journalist

María del Carmen Aguilera García

 

Carmen Aguilera García, from Honduras, lives in the Bonn area, Germany. She is – after different baby breaks – studying political and administrative science at UNED (Spanish University for Distance Education). She has also a Spanish and German blog under  https://mariaaguiler.wordpress.com/

The life of a journalist can often be difficult in some countries and this is especially applicable to such Central American countries as Mexico and Honduras. The number of the journalists who lost their lives because of their professional work is internationally rather high. To this end it is worth observing the human rights breaches in the above mentioned countries.

The reality is very clear, i.e. being a journalist means to face both the good and bad sides of the work, which many do for passion. Problems can emerge when their research, investigations and findings bring forward something inappropriate, in the eyes of other persons.

In recent years Honduras has passed the limit of the killed journalists. According to the report by „Periodismo humano“ in August 2013 Honduras had more than 29 killed journalists and as the calculations of September 9, 2014 indicate, more than 37 jo

Journalists were killed since 2003. As of 2015, in total more than 51 journalist were killed, including Herlyn Espinal. As security minister Arturo Corrales says, journalism is one of the most dangerous professions in Honduras.

It can be noted that Mexico has the same problem. As such, according to reports from the Mexican Human Rights Commission (CNDH), in the period from 2010 to 2015 more than 97 journalists were killed.  Unfortunately some of the cases are almost never revealed and this challenges the journalists’ right of expression.

The newest figures on the past year: „The year 2014 has been the second deadliest  year  for journalists during the past decade: 138 media workers were killed in the line of duty in 32 countries. The most dangerous countries in 2014 were  Syria (19 killed), Gaza (16), Pakistan (12), Iraq (10), Ukraine (9), Mexico (8), Afghanistan (7), Honduras (6), Somalia (5), Brazil (5), and Central African Republic (4).

Middle East was on the top of the list, with 52 journalists killed, followed by Asia with 32, Latin America with 29, Sub-Saharan Africa with 15 and Europe 10.

The situation is deteriorating rather than improving. As of today, 33 journalists have already been killed in 2015, which represents a significant increase compared to the same period of last year, with 12 more killed in only 2 months and a half.“[1]

Unfortunately, in many of these countries basic human rights are not respected. While some of them have signed treaties on human rights, in reality they hardly ensure their implementation, among them being the right to life and freedom of expression. „In reference to the first article„, there must be equal rights and respect to dignity for all human beings. States must ensure respect, protection and force of human rights:

„Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom. Among them is Article 3, 5 and 19″:

  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Valuing and fulfilling the signed agreements is a warrant that people will give their vote of confidence for a politician and government in favor of this, and that human rights are respected.

[1] See also: http://www.pressemblem.ch/10399.html. Extracts from: 17.03.2015. HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL – 28th session – PEC statement delivered on situations that require the Council’s attention – PEC requires the Human Rights Council to send a very strong message to all criminals that there would be no impunity for perpetrators of crimes against the freedom of expression; General  Assembly, Human Rights Council, 28th session – Item 4 – Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, General  Debate

 

The Eurasian Economic Union’s Plans for a Common Currency: Altyn or Euraz?

The Eurasian Economic Union is a Russian-led project. On the way of forming it, then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that from January 1, 2012 the Common Economic Space of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan would be created, which would pave the path for the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union. Thus, the Custom Union (CU) of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, launched in 2010[1] was evolved into the Single Economic Space (SES) on January 1, 2012 with Armenia announcing about its interest to join the project on September 3, 2013.

The Eurasian Economic Union was put into force on January 1, 2015. Its purpose can be correlated with Russia’s competitive disposition with the EU, regarding the post-Soviet Union countries. Additionally, the initiative can be Russia’s attempt to counterbalance the EU’s appeal and influence.  Hence, whereas Russia claims that integration is beneficial for all the parties engaged, in reality the picture is not that clear-cut. One of the causes are the political systems and structures of the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union – they are not democratic, disposed to corruption and instrumentalization of law. Another evidence is Russia’s aggressive policy of recent years. Moreover, the country’s superior position in shaping the EEU also comes to prove that the project is actually a simulation of integration. The EEU seems to be driven forwards by forceful integration, which is becoming less and less favorable for the member states except for Russia, per se.

Hence, the EEU’s functioning will mainly be dependent on Russia which seeks to push integration involving more and more spheres from which it can get utmost benefits. Such an opportunity appears to be the introduction of a common currency within the EEU. Thus, while other founding members states of the project have been less supportive to such a plan and have been increasingly imitating integration rather than opting for it[2], on March 10, 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the Central Bank of Russia and the Government „to determine the potential dimensions of the integration in the monetary and financial sectors in the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union with a study of the feasibility of establishing a monetary union in the future.“ Putin’s this instruction is to be worked out together with the central banks of the member states of the EEU by September 1, 2015. And the new currency can appear already in 2016[3].

Among many issues the establishment of a monetary union presupposes introduction of a common currency.  Hence, according to the documents ratified by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in May, 2014 in Kazakhstan, a Eurasian Central Bank and a common currency was supposed to be established by 2025[4]. To the point still in 2014 Rinat Abdullin, the chairman of „Altyn Kara“ Bank, stated: „Personally, I see absolutely nothing wrong with the introduction of a single currency for our three countries. Many of us lived in the Soviet Union, and they remember that there was a single currency such a large area – the ruble, which was accepted everywhere. No matter whether you were going to the Far East, Siberia or Georgia – it was very convenient, because there was a confidence that all prices are formed in a common currency. This situation is much easier for business, as well as for the calculation of ordinary people“[5].

Yet, the Russian president decided to accelerate the process and this at a time when Russia faces a serious economic crisis and the ruble has practiced a severe depreciation[6] as a result of which the amount of mutual settlements among the member states of the EEU in dollars has increased. Moreover, the West speculated to turn off Russia from the interbank payment system SWIFT, yet to make transactions, say from Russia to Kazakhstan, it is necessary to obtain confirmation from the American settlement centers. Obviously enough, the tense foreign policy pushed Putin to rush with the initiative.

In reaction to the initiative, Armenian Central Bank Board member Armenak Darbinian stated, “there is no document among those signed [by Armenia] within the framework of its accession to the EEU that would concern the feasibility study or prospects related to this matter (introduction of the common currency)… There have been no negotiations, no formal discussions in this direction yet. I would say more: the issue of forming a single financial market regulator was discussed within the framework of the EEU and it should happen after 2025. During this time, national laws and regulations should be harmonized and only then the issue can be put on the agenda. It cannot be an administrative decision. This requires relevant developments in the economy and in the financial markets”[7].

Yet Prosperous Armenia Party former MP, economist Vardan Bostanjyan considers it quite feasible that Armenia incorporates a common currency with the EEU. He adds that it will have a favorable impact on the country, saying that “solely by the fact that quite a number of Armenians are in that [EEU] region; the word is about the migrants who are having losses in the case of [currency] exchange rates. But, now, they will not have that”[8].  However, there are also contra opinions. As such Armenian economist Ashot Yeghiazaryan said, “If we switch to the ruble, or another Eurasian currency, and if our Central Bank begins to keep its funds in that currency, discrepancies will arise between the currency loans, and our entire microeconomics will deviate”[9].

It is to be mentioned that the idea of establishing a common currency has not been accepted straightforwardly also in Belarus and Kazakhstan. The director of the Institute of the Global Political Economics of Kazakstan, analyst Akimbekov Sultan said that the instrumentalization of a common currency should not be an issue of a near future. He states that while the idea is interesting there are apparent problems – all the member states have different levels of development. Moreover, Belarus has not yet undergone those market reforms that, say Russia and Kazakhstan went through.

Belarusian columnist from the Belarusian Radio Liberty and political scientist for the „Strategy“ center Valery Karbalevich stated, “And if we are talking whether the Member States of the EEU in general should have a single currency, I do not think that Kazakhstan and Belarus will agree. This would mean that these countries lose their sovereignty”[10]

With all the events, facts and discussions at stake, it is still to be mentioned that it is totally unthinkable that, for example, during the creation of the euro in the years 1990-1999 (Maastricht Treaty to book-money introduction[11]), and this since the Pierre Werner Plan from 1970, one president would have given a commando to „his“ central bank ordering a study on the possible common currency, predicting its effective introduction for the next year, while the order to the central bank has gone out in March of the current year. Observers from European Union sources, asked privately, have the presumption that the Russian president has an „economic psychogram“ being somehow „actively jealous of the EU acquis communautaire“ which he wants to be caught up rapidly, and „while common currencies are to be welcomed in general, any too fast introduction can damage the participating states considerably“, even if the central bank of the integration is not de facto independent.

As for the idea of the Eurasian currency, on the whole, it dates back to 1994 when the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed the notion. In 2012 Vladimir Putin endorsed the idea. The Kazakh President has never been suspicious to reset Soviet Union or Soviet Union 2.0., he was however all the time for economic integration, until a certain time in Central Asia[12]. Concerning the currency within the framework of the EEU, it is said to be similar to the Russian ruble. As for the name of the forthcoming common currency two options, are being discussed – Altyn and Euraz. The first name – Altyn, mentioned by Nazarbayev in 2014, meant a three penny coin in Old Russian and the word itself stems from the Golden Horde. The second name – Euraz, is parallel to, or a kind of imitation of the Euro[13].

It is envisaged that the key element in sustaining the new currency will be raw oil exports from Russia and Kazakhstan. Therefore, it has been decided to base the Central Bank of the EEU in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Evidently, the involved EEU governments want to rely more than ever on oil and gas exports, which is diametrically opposed to what also Russian economists preach. The potential market will include about 180 million people, with the total volume of GDP being more than $ 2 trillion.[14]

Yet, it is under a question whether the member states of the EEU, can indeed make the functioning of a common currency a reality. All the currencies of the member states currently face fluctuations and to avoid this in the event of a common currency additional resources will be required. Moreover, the efficient functioning of the EEU per se is also dubious.

Ofelya Sargsyan

Ofelya Sargsyan M.A. (AUA Yerevan), M.A. (Univ. Flensburg) is Junior Editor with European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ) and a Political Analyst with LIBERTAS – European Institute GmbH.

 

[1]Rilka Dragneva & Kataryna Wolczuk, Russia, the Eurasian Customs Union and the EU: Cooperation, Stagnation or Rivalry?, Russia and Eurasia Programme,  Chatham House, Briefing Paper, August 2012, p. 4, http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/public/Research/Russia%20and%20Eurasia/0812bp_dragnevawolczuk.pdf.

[2] Aleksandra Jarosiewicz, Ewa Fischer, cooperation: Tomasz Bakunowicz; The Eurasian Economic Union – more political, less economic, Centre for Eastern Studies NUMBER 157,  20.01.2015, p. 1-7

[3]TASS Russian News Agenccy, (Информационное телеграфное агентство России (ИТАР-ТАСС), Putin instructed the Central Bank and the Government to work out the possibilities of creating a monetary union in the EEU (Путин поручил ЦБ и кабмину изучить возможность создания валютного союза в ЕАЭС), March 10, 2015, http://tass.ru/ekonomika/1817884,

Radio Azatutyun, Armenia Not To Attend Meeting Of Trade Bloc Partners, March 18, 2015, http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/26891807.html

Naviny.by, Putin instructed to work out the possibilities of creating a monetary union in the EEU (Путин поручил проработать вопрос о создания в рамках ЕEU валютного союза); March 18, 2015, http://naviny.by/rubrics/finance/2015/03/10/ic_news_114_455255/

Читать полностью: http://naviny.by/rubrics/finance/2015/03/10/ic_news_114_455255/

[4]Banknoteinfo.net, Eurasian Economic Union plans to adopt common currency unit , August 13, 2014, http://banknoteinfo.net/eurasian-economic-union-plans-adopt-common-currency-unit/

[5]East Time, Introduction of Altyn will Be Useful for a Eurasian Union, Tuesday, May 13, 2014, http://easttime.info/news/kazakhstan/introduction-altyn-will-be-useful-eurasian-union

[6]Pravda-TV.ru, By Putin’s instruction a common currency of the EEU  will be launced  in 2016: Altyn or Euraz? (Единая валюта ЕАЭС по поручению Путина появится в 2016 году: «алтын» или «евраз»?) http://www.pravda-tv.ru/2015/03/10/129883

[7] Asbarez.com, ‘No Plans Yet’ for Armenia to Adopt Single EEU Currency, March 11, 2015, http://asbarez.com/132864/%E2%80%98no-plans-yet%E2%80%99-for-armenia-to-adopt-single-eeu-currency/

[8]News.am, Economist: Armenia will benefit from Eurasian Economic Union single currency, March 13, 2015, http://news.am/eng/news/256734.html

[9]News.am, Armenia economist: EEU single currency is foolish, March 14, 2015, http://news.am/eng/news/257002.html

[10]Mariam Grigoryan, 1am, (The approach to the single currency of the Eurasian Union is ambiguous in Belarus and Kazakhstan) Բելառուսում և Ղազախստանում միասնական արժույթի վերաբերյալ կարծիքը միանշանակ չէ, March 14, 2015, http://www.1in.am/1572943.html

[11] Before the Euro has been introduced as cash currency in 2002, it had been at disposition as book-money, on bank accounts only, since 1999.

[12] Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, Strategy Options for Central Asian Integration –For a Central Asian „Cecchini Report”, EUFAJ 1 / 2010, p. 116,  www.eufaj.eu

[13]Interpolit, Oil altyn against the dollar banknote (Нефтяной алтын против бумажного доллара);  11.03, 2015, http://politobzor.net/show-47317-neftyanoy-altyn-protiv-bumazhnogo-dollara.html

[14] Russian Telegraphic Agency (Русское Телеграфное Агентство), „Instead of the ruble – Altyn. Eurasian Economic Union opts into a new currency (Вместо рубля – алтын. Евразийский союз переходит на новую валюту), March 12, 2015, http://www.riata.ru/ekonomika/item/716-vmesto-rublya-altyn-evrazijskij-soyuz-perekhodit-na-novuyu-valyutu.html

 

Nouvelle coopération avec l’Université européenne de Tbilisi/Géorgie

Il y a une nouvelle coopération entre LIBERTAS – Institut europeen GmbH et la European University (Université européenne) de Tbilisi/Géorgie. Ces jours, Hans-Jürgen Zahorka a signé pour LIBERTAS – Institut européen un „Memorandum of Understanding“, un accord de cadre sur la coopération, avec le Recteur de l’Université européenne, M. Lasha Kandelakishvili. La personne clé dans cette université sera le Doyen de la faculté de droit, des sciences économiques et sociales, M. Sosso Kelenjeridze, qui a fait une partie de ses études en France, avant d’obtenir une reputation de juriste avec une portée internationale. Dans le passé, il avait des postes diverses dans des ministères géorgiens. Chez LIBERTAS – Institut européen GmbH la personne compétente sera Mme. Ofelya Sargsyan M.A., qui est une des éditrices de „European Union Foreign Affairs Journal“  et avait atteint un mastère de l’AUA à Yerevan/Arménie et un (études européennes) à l’Université de Flensbourg/Allemagne.

 

150112_Drapeau_europ_EuropUniv_Tbilisi

Dans une des réunions sur la coopération, un drapeau européen pour l’Université européenne est décerné aux Recteur, M. Lasha Kandelakishvili (à droite).

 

Cette coopération s’étendra du dévéloppement de curriculum (par example pour un Mastère aux études européennes) aux conférences scientifiques, universités d’été et aux cours divers, par exemple par des enseignants européens. Dans cette coopération universitaire le tandem franco-allemand va jouer un rôle prominent.

New Cooperation with the European University in Tbilisi/Georgia

There is new European cooperation focussing on the European University in Tbilisi: For LIBERTAS – European Institute GmbH, Hans-Jürgen Zahorka signed these days a Memorandum of Understanding with Lasha  Kandelakishvili, Rector of the European University. The relevant person there is the Dean of the Legal, Economic and Humanities Faculty, Sosso Kelenjeridze, who himself had studied also in France, is a reputated lawyer and has in the past worked in different government ministries; at LIBERTAS – European Institute GmbH the coordinator for this cooperation is Ofelya Sargsyan M.A., who is Junior Editor at European Union Foreign Affairs Journal and had been awarded two Master degrees, one in Yerevan/Armenia (AUA) and one at Flensburg University/Germany.

The cooperation will range from curriculum development (e.g. a Master in European Studies) to scientific conferences, summer schools and a cooperation for single courses (with e.g. compact courses by EU university teachers).

150112_Round_Table_EuropUniv_Tbilisi

The picture shows the initial round table discussion at the European University in Tbilisi about the possibilities of the cooperation.

Happy 2015 by a persona non grata

I want to tell  that I have discovered (again) my name on a list of personae non gratae – unwanted persons for entry in the state territory – in Azerbaijan:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_declared_personae_non_gratae_in_Azerbaijan

My „crime“ consisted in 2013 in being embedded, as Chief Editor of „European Union Foreign Affairs Journal“ (EUFAJ), into a delegation of presidential election observers in Nagorno Karabakh, composed by EuFoA (European Friends of Armenia), a Brussels-based office which works for closer contacts between the peoples of the EU and Armenia. I am not a member of EuFoA, but always open for talks, contacts and other journalistic démarches towards everybody. I had also published in EUFAJ several articles by Azerbaijani authors, which were directly working for the government there or glorified the present government – I never had a problem with this, as my whole work is in favour of press freedom and free expression of opinions, also within a paper which is e.g. led by myself.

However, for being kept on this list which is often called a „list of shame“ for the Baku government, I am very grateful. It will give me the possibility, if asked (or not), to mention the persecution of journalists, bloggers, critical civil society representatives, to mention the fact that Azerbaijan is at present probably the European champion in corruption and in manipulative diplomacy („caviar diplomacy“). After all, it is a honour for me to be included on this list – I am in very nice company, with e.g. the former EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus, with many distinguished scientists and members of different parliaments – and with Montserrat Caballé, the Spanish singer.

Rests only to state that the Azerbaijani personnel files need an urgent update. What I have been attributed, to be a „German Member of European Parliament“, was finished in my first youth on 31th July, 1989. It is recommended therefore to every person likely to come „on the list“ to travel with topical bio notes, to help the helpless Azerbaijani authorities.

If one knows that e.g. the former Council of Europe rapporteur on Azerbaijan, Mr. Strässer M.P./Germany, has been barred to enter the country because he was a rapporteur (now he is charged with Human Rights for the German Federal Government), I cannot feel bad but feel a great honour to be included on this list. Unfortunately, I cannot travel now to Azerbaijan any more, but this won’t prevent me to publish remarks at every possibility and where it is appropriate on the Human Rights‘ situation in the country, and about the „specificities“ of the reign of Mr. Ilham Aliev (whom I cannot address as „Mr. President“ as he had faked all the election results in the past).If this is too „subjective“ for the Azerbaijani authorities, they always can invite me, but please do not forget then to change the list before.

All the best for a happy 2015,

 

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, LIBERTAS – Europaeisches Institut GmbH

Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ)

www.libertas-institut.eu, EUFAJ: www.eufaj.eu

Facebook: European Union Foreign Affairs Journal

 

New EUFAJ 4/2014: From Moldova to Model European Union

EUFAJ (European Union Foreign Affairs Journal) 4 / 2014 is out, with articles on

  • Moldova, its economic situation, Russia and the EU,
  • what does Russia want with Abkhazia; the new Abkhazia-Russia treaty,
  • migration and Armenia: Genocide, inflow, brain-drain,
  • Turkey and the recognition of Armenian Genocide,
  • Nagorno-Karabakh and the situation after the helicopter downing in November 2014,
  • first Nagorno-Karabakh group in the European Parliament,
  • the Trade Roadmap for the EU Commission, by the EU Business umbrella organisation,
  • Chinese capital and European real estate
  • new political framework for the European bio-based economy,
  • ethical and ethno-religious background of cyclical crises,
  • participatory democracy,
  • uniting Europe’s youth: Model European Union.

Please go to  http://www.libertas-institut.com/de/EUFAJ/EUFAJ_4_2014.pdf  (on the website temporarily available only under the German flag while the language of all the four flags is English. All the previous EUFAJ numbers can be downloaded from www.eufaj.eu)

European Court of Human Rights deals with cases concerning Crimea and Eastern Ukraine

On 25 November 2014 the European Court of Human Rights invited the Russian Government to submit its observations on the admissibility of two inter-State applications lodged by the Government of Ukraine under Article 33 (Inter-State cases) of the European Convention on Human Rights against the Russian Federation. The first application concerns the events in Crimea from March 2014 and developments in the Eastern regions of Ukraine; the second application concerns the alleged abduction of three groups of children in Eastern Ukraine and their temporary transfer to Russia on three occasions between June and August 2014.

An interim measure applied by the Court in the first case, calling upon both Russia and Ukraine to refrain from taking action which might lead to violations of the Convention rights of the civilian population, in particular Article 2 (right to life) and Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment), remains in force.

In addition to the two inter-State applications, there are more than 160 individual applications pending before the Court, lodged against Ukraine or Russia or both. More than 20 of these applications are related to the events in Crimea. The remaining applications are related to the developments in Eastern Ukraine.

The case Ukraine v. Russia (application no. 20958/14) was lodged on 13 March 2014. It relates to events leading up to and following the assumption of control by the Russian Federation over the Crimean peninsula and subsequent developments in Eastern Ukraine.

The Government of Ukraine maintain that, from 27 February 2014, Russia – by exercising effective control over the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, an integral part of Ukraine, and by exercising control over separatists and armed groups operating in Eastern Ukraine – exercised jurisdiction over a situation which resulted in numerous violations of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Government of Ukraine rely on Articles 2 (right to life), 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment), 5 (right to liberty and security), 6 (right to a fair trial), 8 (right to respect for private life), 9 (freedom of religion), 10 (freedom of expression), 11 (freedom of assembly and association), 13 (right to an effective remedy) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) and Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 (freedom of movement) to the Convention.

In particular, according to the submissions of the Government of Ukraine, between March and September 2014, Ukrainian military servicemen, officers of law-enforcement bodies and civilians were killed as a result of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Russian support of separatist armed groups in Eastern Ukraine. They allege that the killings amounted to a widespread and systematic practice. They also refer to cases of torture or other forms of ill-treatment of civilians and of arbitrary deprivation of liberty. A number of Crimean Tatars were subjected to ill-treatment on account of their ethnic origin or their attempts to protect Ukrainian national symbols. Ukrainian nationals living in Crimea and Sevastopol were automatically recognised as Russian nationals and pressure was exerted on those who expressed the wish to remain Ukrainian nationals. There were cases of attacks against, abductions of, ill-treatment and harassment of journalists doing their work.

Property belonging to Ukrainian legal entities was subjected to unlawful control, namely by being taken by the self-proclaimed authorities of the Crimean Republic, this action later being validated by Russian legislation. Finally, the Government of Ukraine maintain that as a result of the new State border between Crimea and Ukraine, entry to Crimea by Ukrainian nationals was unlawfully restricted.

Following the introduction of the application on 13 March 2014, the Court decided to apply Rule 39 of the Rules of Court (interim measures), calling upon both Russia and Ukraine to refrain from taking any measures, in particular military action, which might bring about violations of the Convention rights of the civilian population, notably under Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention. The Interim measure remains in force.

The case Ukraine v. Russia II (no. 43800/14) was lodged on 13 June 2014. It concerns the abduction of three groups of Ukrainian orphan children and children without parental care, and a number of adults accompanying them. The groups were allegedly abducted by armed representatives of the separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine, on three occasions, in June, July and August 2014 respectively, and subsequently transported to Russia. In each case, following diplomatic efforts by the Ukrainian authorities in coordination with the Russian authorities, the children and adults were returned to the territory of Ukraine one day or, in the third case, five days after their abduction.

An interim measure applied by the European Court of Human Rights, under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, following the introduction of the case after the first incident – indicating to the Russian Government that it should ensure respect for the Convention rights of the people abducted and ensure their immediate return to Ukraine – was lifted after the group had been returned to Ukraine.

The Government of Ukraine complain that the abductions and illegal border-crossings were in violation of Articles 2 (right to life), 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment), 5 (right to liberty and security), 8 (right to respect for private life) and Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 (freedom of movement) to the Convention.

The European Court of Human Rights invited the Russian Government to submit its observations on the admissibility of both applications, Ukraine v. Russia (20958/14) and Ukraine v. Russia II (43800/14), within 16 weeks, and to comment in particular on the questions of whether the alleged violations of the Convention fall within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation within the meaning of Article 1 of the Convention (States’ obligation to respect the rights guaranteed in the Convention), what legal remedies were available to the people concerned by the alleged violations of the Convention and whether these remedies were accessible and effective.

In addition to the two inter-State applications, in the same context, there are more than 160 individual applications pending before the Court, lodged against Ukraine or Russia or both. More than 20 of those applications are related to the events in Crimea. They concern complaints about: the deprivation of liberty of persons; the impact which the assumption of control by the Russian Federation over Crimea has had on the applicants’ right to respect for their private life, their peaceful enjoyment of their possessions, their freedom of movement; or various aspects of criminal proceedings which were resumed by the authorities of the Russian Federation in Crimea.

More than 140 of the individual applications are related to the developments in Eastern Ukraine. Most of them were lodged against both Ukraine and Russia and involve complaints about various forms of ill-treatment and unlawful deprivation of liberty. They also include cases of alleged violations of Article 2 (right to life), involving alleged wounding and disappearances. A smaller group of cases concerns the destruction of property and the impact of the hostilities on the applicants’ rights under Article 8 (right to respect for private life).

In 104 individual applications, interim measures under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court have been applied inviting the respective Government/s – of Russia and/or Ukraine – to ensure respect for the Convention rights of people deprived of liberty or people whose whereabouts are unknown. In 14 of the cases, individuals were released from detention and the respective interim measure was subsequently lifted.

 

India’s call for ‘change’: The country needs a higher participation from women

By Sourajit Aiyer

The author is a finance professional in India. Views expressed are entirely personal. Sourajit Aiyer is also the author of „Flying with the Winged Elephant – Niche Opportunities for Global Businesses that May Emerge in India“, LIBERTAS Paper 79; see also under www.libertas-institut.com/de/PDF/Flyer_Sourajit.pdf. In his Blogs and other articles, but also in the above mentioned book (and a longer, multi-faceted contribution on „India: New Business Opportunities“, in EUFAJ 3/2014, p. 88-111, see under http://www.eufaj.eu or directly: www.libertas-institut.com/de/EUFAJ/EUFAJ_3_2014.pdf), he raises awareness for India from outside, also pointing not only on inter-cultural issues but also emphasizing the excellent economic cooperation perspectives for all sides, and also awareness for e.g. European perceptions within Indian society.

Controversy rakes up a lot of noise, especially when its cause threatens gender equality. India’s new establishment cannot afford to ignore the challenge a recent such controversy has created, given that Indians voted for this government in the hope of ‘change’. One hopes that the call for ‘change’ includes changes in gender issues as well. The Prime Minister has an economic vision for India, which would need increased participation from women to come into the economic mainstream. However, continued gender issues might just threaten the realization of that end.

Hindu Mahasabha, a right-wing Hindu nationalist group of which Nathuram Godse was once a member, created news in Haryana province by allegedly commenting that young girls should not wear jeans or skirts as that ‘provokes’ mean leading to rape, mobile phones can lead to immoral activities amongst young people, and western clothes spoil Indian culture. The defence given by a prominent member of the group, during a new-debate show on a leading Indian news channel, was that wouldn’t Indian parents want their children to dress in decent, cultural clothes.

However, these controversial comments raise questions on gender issues. One feels it is not so much about whether girls should wear jeans/skirts or talk on mobile phones, as much as it is to do with the tactics of a section of men trying to dominate women by ordering them what they should do or not do. The male ego finds soft targets to boost itself and asserting control over women is one seen in several nations, not just India. One cannot help but think that such comments by right-wing groups might have had similar motivations in mind, as much as they may justify it by talking of protecting cultures. If more Indian women are to enter education and job avenues, and participate in India’s economic vision, then such sections of Indian men need to stop asserting dominance over women, even if they are feeling insecure or threatened by the rise of socioeconomic independence amongst the women.

The alleged comment that appals the most is about the girl’s clothes ‘provoking’ men, thus leading to incidents of rape. While the Mahasabha’s member may defend himself on the TV show by saying wouldn’t Indian parents want their children to dress in decent, cultural clothes, it is horrifying to observe that he did not accord the primary cause for rape to the man’s misconduct. I am sure no parent would want to see their son commit a heinous crime like rape, even more than which clothes are worn. Such comments which potentially indicate that the primary instigator of rape incidents is what the girl wears, raises serious questions on the safety of women. India is already infamous for crimes against women, and it is worrying if men who commit such heinous crimes are not hauled up for their wrongdoing and instead end up finding defence in such immature comments. Another aspect is that if the girl’s tight, western clothes are the main instigator of rape, then how does it explain rape incidents with old women and minors?

No culture is perfect. Every culture has positive as well as decadent aspects, be it western culture or any other. Perhaps that was the sentiment which the right-wing group had in mind when they initially spoke out their views. It can be said that young teenagers specifically may not always have the maturity to understand the possible ramifications that the fast adoption of convenient technology, social media and different clothing has on societies which are ‘in-transition’ – like India. Some boys might interpret wrongly what a girl says, does or wears, due to immaturity of age. Peer-pressure amongst young people is another challenge. One might argue it can sometimes lead to unsavoury situation, even if only as an exceptional case. However, the two observations, about men asserting dominance over women due to feelings of insecurity and placing the primary fault of rape on the girl’s dress instead of the man’s misconduct, are indeed causes for concern.

It was change that Indians wanted when they voted in the federal elections. That change also includes the way in which the society treats its women. If change does not happen, then Indians may get disgruntled. The new federal government cannot afford to ignore such controversies, since the people hope for change from it. It has to swallow the bitter pill by taking on such right-wing groups. Vote-bank politics has already necessitated political parties to appease the rural, ruling communities like ‘khap panchayats’, who are powerful communities when it comes to vote equations. As it is, a leading politician from Samajwadi Party had also courted controversy recently due to immature comments of ‘boys will make mistakes’ while addressing the issue of rape. The new federal government needs to ensure that the hopes and confidence of modern-thinking Indians does not get diluted, as their role is critical for the new government to realize its ambitions for this country. Women comprise almost half of the country, and if their safety, independence and involvement cannot be ensured, then those ambitions will struggle to get realized.

But on a second thought, it might be better to abide by such comments, immature as they may seem. After all, if the Indian society is so immature that it cannot handle women becoming independent socio-economically due to feelings of insecurity, and if it cannot guarantee basic safety and justice to its women against heinous crimes by punishing the perpetrators for their misconduct, then it is better to abide by such comments just so our women stay safe. Safety is something which every Indian todays prays for his daughter, sister, wife and mother in this country. But it will be a sad day indeed, if things really do come down to a situation where abiding is the only alternative.

It is not entirely surprising since this controversy occurred in Haryana province. It has one of the worst gender statistics on aspects like female foeticide and female:male ratio. In any case, any group whosover has no right to order what the people should or should not do. Only the federal and provincial governments have that right. It is ironical to see that same member admitting on that news show that he also carried a mobile phone. The federal government recently had a meeting with the chief of a leading garments maker from Japan, so one expects it does not view western attire as entirely decadent. But one does expect it to act against illogical and immature comments. Right-wing extreme thoughts are a challenge in several countries, including secular, Islamic and Christian nations.

As an ending-note, one might add that the women participants on that same TV news-debate show included Saba Naqvi, Advaita Kala and Shazia Ilmi – each one being an accomplished professional in their own right. India is proud to have daughters like them, and its aspiration should be to have even more daughters like them.

 

Burkina Faso: l’Union africaine fait pression sur le régime militaire

3 novembre 2014

Publié par Catherine MAIA

(Sur notre blog partenaire http://reseau-multipol.blogspot.fr)

 

Trop c’est trop pour les Burkinabés. Les 28 et 29 octobre 2014, des milliers d’entre eux exprimaient dans les rues de Ouagadougou leur refus de voir leur président, Blaise Compaoré, prolonger un règne déjà long de vingt-sept années, le faisant figurer en sixième position des présidents africains en terme de longévité.

L’ancien militaire putschiste de 63 ans entendait briguer un cinquième mandat en novembre 2015 et, pour parvenir à ses fins, modifier l’article 37 de la Constitution, qui l’en empêche. L’opposition craignait que cette modification de la Loi fondamentale permette à Blaise Compaoré de s’accrocher au pouvoir, et d’accomplir jusqu’à trois mandats supplémentaires, soit quinze ans de plus à la tête du pays.

PUTSCH ET AMENDEMENTS DE LA CONSTITUTION

Blaise Compaoré a longtemps tardé à dévoiler ce projet de « coup d’Etat constitutionnel ». Fidèle à sa réputation d’homme secret, le chef d’État burkinabé ne s’est jamais montré empressé de prendre sa retraite, se posant en garant de la stabilité de ce pays sahélien.

Né le 3 février 1951 à Ouagadougou, Blaise Compaoré a accédé à la plus haute marche du pouvoir à 36 ans, après un coup d’État qui lui a permis d’éliminer ses opposants. Au cours de ce putsch était également tué son frère d’armes et ami d’enfance, le capitaine Thomas Sankara, père de la «révolution démocratique et populaire», un héritage que Blaise Compaoré s’est vite chargé de reléguer au second plan, affichant sa volonté de tourner la page des années Sankara.

Il rétablit le multipartisme en 1991, ce qui ne l’empêcha pas de modifier l’article 37 de la Constitution six ans plus tard, pour pouvoir participer aux élections présidentielles. En 2000, l’article 37 de la Constitution était à nouveau amendé : le septennat devint quinquennat, renouvelable une fois. Au nom de la non-rétroactivité d’une révision de la Loi fondamentale, et au mépris de la Charte de l’Union africaine de la démocratie, des élections et de la gouvernance de 2007, le Conseil constitutionnel autorisa la candidature de Blaise Compaoré en 2005.

En 2014, le scénario est autre. La vigueur de la contestation populaire a été telle qu’elle a contraint Blaise Compaoré à démissionner le 31 octobre, puis à prendre la fuite en direction de la Côte d’Ivoire où il s’est réfugié.

Depuis lors, c’est l’armée burkinabé qui a assis son pouvoir dans le pays. Les soldats du lieutenant-colonel Isaac Zida, un ancien responsable d’une unité militaire d’élite désigné par l’armée comme chef du régime de transition, ont pris le contrôle, dès le 2 novembre, de la radiotélévision nationale et de la place de la Nation à Ouagadougou, à coups de tirs de sommation et de gaz lacrymogène pour chasser les milliers de manifestants qui contestaient leur prise du pouvoir. S’il n’y a eu aucun affrontement avec les militaires, un homme est toutefois mort, victime d’une balle perdue.

TRANSITION « DANS UN CADRE CONSTITUTIONNEL »

Le 3 novembre au matin, le calme semblait revenu dans les rues de la capitale. Mais la situation reste explosive et susceptible de basculer à tout moment. Le nouvel homme fort du Burkina est très contesté par la rue et l’opposition – qui a le sentiment de s’être fait « confisquer » sa victoire par les militaires – et sous forte pression internationale : la communauté internationale a, en effet, largement condamné cette prise de pouvoir et exigé un retour à l’ordre constitutionnel.

Lors d’une rencontre avec le corps diplomatique dans la capitale le 3 novembre, le lieutenant-colonel Isaac Zida a promis une transition « dans un cadre constitutionnel », laissant entrevoir qu’un civil – et non plus un militaire – pourrait prendre la tête de la transition : « Le pouvoir exécutif sera conduit par un organe de transition dans un cadre constitutionnel (…). Cet organe de transition sera dirigé par une personnalité consensuelle désignée par tous les acteurs de la vie nationale ». « Nous ne sommes pas là pour usurper (…) le pouvoir », a-t-il ajouté. S’il n’a pas précisé de calendrier d’action devant les diplomates, il a souhaité un délai « le plus bref possible ».

L’Union africaine, quant à elle – réunie pour un Conseil de paix et de sécurité en Ethiopie – s’est chargée de fixer une date butoir, donnant quinze jours aux forces armées pour rendre le pouvoir aux civils, faute de quoi elle imposerait des sanctions.

CINQ QUESTIONS POUR COMPRENDRE LA SITUATION AU BURKINA FASO

Des manifestations, le départ du président au pouvoir depuis 27 ans, puis la prise en main du pays par l’armée. Depuis une semaine, les événements se succèdent au Burkina Faso, pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest peuplé par 17 millions d’habitants. Trois jours après la démission du président Blaise Compaoré, à la tête du pays depuis 1987, et deux jours après la nomination d’un militaire, Isaac Zida, pour mener la transition, la Situation est toujours confuse et tendue.

Pourquoi la situation-a-t-elle dégénérée ?

Les tensions ont commencé le 21 octobre, quand le gouvernement burkinabé a déposé un projet de loi visant à réviser l’article 37 de la Constitution. Objectif : porter le nombre de mandats présidentiels autorisés de deux à trois, pour que le chef d’Etat en place, Blaise Compaoré puisse se représenter en novembre 2015. Arrivé au pouvoir à la suite d’un putsch, le président avait déjà fait modifier, à deux reprises, la Constitution, en 1997 et en 2000. La population descend en masse dans la rue, et les manifestations quotidiennes entraînent, le 31 octobre 2014, sa démission.

Quel est le bilan de ces manifestations ?

Le bilan des manifestations est lourd : une trentaine de personnes seraient mortes, et des dizaines d’autres auraient été blessées. La situation est toujours tendue : un civil est mort dimanche 2 novembre, après l’arrivée de manifestants à l’intérieur de la radio télévision nationale.

Qui est le nouvel homme fort du régime ?

Le nouvel homme fort du pays s’appelle Isaac Zida. C’est lui qui a été nommé, par l’armée, à la tête du régime de transition. Jusqu’à présent, ce lieutenant-colonel de 49 ans avait plutôt fait sa carrière dans l’ombre. Il était commandant en second du Régiment de sécurité présidentielle, qui assurait la sécurité de Blaise Compaoré. Titulaire d’un master en management international, il a fait ses études en France, à Lyon plus précisément.

Que va-t-il se passer maintenant ?

L’opposition accuse l’armée de lui avoir confisqué le pouvoir. Isaac Zida s’est engagé, dimanche 2 novembre, à conduire un processus de transition en concertation avec toutes les forces de la société du pays. Il n’en a pas, toutefois, préciser les modalités. La communauté internationale a d’ores et déjà mis en garde le nouveau régime. Après la démission du président, l’Union européenne a appelé à l’organisation d’élection „démocratiques, inclusives et transparentes“, tandis que l’Union africaine a donné, le 3 novembre, 15 jours aux militaires burkinabés pour restituer le pouvoir aux civils, sous peine de sanctions.

Où est le président déchu ?

Une fois sa démission annoncée, le 31 octobre, Blaise Compaoré a quitté le Burkina Faso. Après plusieurs heures de flottement, ses proches ont confirmé que le président déchu se trouvait en Côte d’Ivoire, plus précisément à Yamoussoukro, la capitale politique du pays. Il s’est installé, avec son épouse, dans une résidence d’Etat mise à disposition pour les hôtes étrangers.

India: Flying with the Winged Elephant

The winged elephant symbolizes the India of the future – a creative, market-oriented but also social India which is open for foreign business. Time for a book which describes this situation!

elephant

Mr.Sourajit Aiyer who has published already several blogs here and articles in „European Union Foreign Affairs Journal“ (EUFAJ) has now published this book, as LIBERTAS Paper 79. In this book the young banker who works for a leading capital company of India in Mumbai/India pleads for a knowledge society in his country, for an India „that can…“ and delivers many – also unconventional – ideas for an economic engagement of European (and American) business people who want to diversify their foreign presence. In addition, the business language in India is English, and the legal system is similar to the British common law. Be it SME investment or common activities in Indian infrastructure (highways, inland waterways etc.) or in taking care of retirees from other countries and many others – his hints are valuable and merit to be read.

sourajit

See more of the booklet under http://www.libertas-institut.com/de/PDF/Flyer_Sourajit.pdf. The book is available as e-Book as well as in print edition as LIBERTAS Paper 79. In some days it will also be present for Kindle at Amazon.

La Cour pénale internationale (CPI) annonce l’ouverture d’une enquête en République centrafricaine

Kadidiatou HAMA

Kadidiatou Hama est Docteure en droit international public, travaillant à la Faculté de droit de l’Université de Reims/France.

La Procureure de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI), Fatou Bensouda, a annoncé le 24 septembre 2014 qu’elle avait pris la décision d’ouvrir une deuxième enquête en République centrafricaine concernant des crimes présumés commis depuis 2012.

« J’ai indiqué très clairement dès le départ et avec la plus grande fermeté, dans des communiqués réguliers et sans équivoque, que les attaques visant la population civile ne seraient pas tolérées et que les auteurs de tels crimes pourraient être amenés à rendre des comptes devant la Cour pénale internationale. Le droit est clair à cet égard et la décision de passer à ce jour au stade de l’enquête découle de mes obligations juridiques au regard du traité fondateur de la Cour, le Statut de Rome », a dit Mme Bensouda dans un communiqué de presse.

En février 2014, face à la recrudescence de la violence en République centrafricaine, la Procureur de la CPI avait amorcé un examen préliminaire pour déterminer si elle pouvait procéder à une enquête à propos de la situation désastreuse qui prévalait en République centrafricaine. Le Gouvernement de transition de ce pays a décidé de renvoyer cette situation devant son Bureau le 30 mai 2014 et lui a demandé d’enquêter sur les crimes relevant de la compétence de la Cour, présumés commis sur son territoire à compter du 1er août 2012.

« Mon Bureau a rassemblé et analysé scrupuleusement les informations pertinentes émanant de diverses sources fiables. Au terme de cette analyse indépendante et approfondie, je suis parvenue à la conclusion qu’il était justifié de procéder à une enquête. Les informations en ma Possession fournissent une base raisonnable permettant de croire que la Séléka et les groupes anti-balaka ont commis des crimes contre l’humanité et des crimes de guerre, notamment le meurtre, le viol, le déplacement forcé, la persécution, le pillage, les attaques contre des missions d’aide humanitaire et le fait de faire participer des enfants âgés de moins de quinze ans à des hostilités. La liste des atrocités commises est interminable. Je ne peux pas ignorer ces crimes présumés », a déclaré Mme Bensouda.

Selon elle, le renvoi de la situation du 30 mai 2014 par les autorités centrafricaines démontre une volonté de lutter contre l’impunité pour les crimes commis à grande échelle et de rendre justice aux victimes. « Nous escomptons leur coopération totale lors de notre enquête sur ces crimes », a-t-elle dit.

Le Bureau de la Procureur va désormais s’atteler à recueillir directement des éléments de preuve afin d’identifier les auteurs des crimes les plus graves et d’engager des poursuites à leur encontre.

« Je tiens à dire ceci aux criminels en puissance en République centrafricaine et ailleurs : de tels crimes ne sauraient être tolérés et la loi sera pleinement appliquée contre leurs auteurs », a conclu Mme Bensouda.

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Contexte

La République centrafricaine (RCA) a déposé son instrument de ratification du Statut de Rome le 3 octobre 2001. La Cour pénale internationale est par conséquent compétente pour juger les crimes visés par le Statut commis sur le territoire centrafricain ou par des ressortissants de ce pays à compter du 1er juillet 2002. Le 7 février 2014, le Procureur de la CPI, Fatou Bensouda, avait annoncé l’ouverture d’un examen préliminaire sur des crimes présumés commis depuis septembre 2012 en République centrafricaine, dans le cadre d’une situation distincte de celle déférée par les autorités centrafricaines en décembre 2004. Le 30 mai 2014, les autorités centrafricaines ont renvoyé au Procureur la situation sur leur territoire depuis le 1er août 2012. Il s’agit du deuxième renvoi émanant de ce pays après celui qui avait été adressé en décembre 2004 au sujet des événements survenus en 2002 et 2003 et du sixième émanant d’un État partie depuis l’entrée en vigueur du Statut de Rome, le 1er juillet 2002. Auparavant, l’Ouganda en décembre 2003, la République démocratique du Congo en avril 2004, le Mali en juillet 2012 et l’Union des Comores ont également déféré des situations à la Cour. En décembre 2010 et mai 2011, la présidence de la République de Côte d’Ivoire a confirmé accepter la compétence de la Cour et invité le Procureur à ouvrir une enquête sur des crimes présumés commis dans ce pays.

* * *

Ce texte est apparu dans MULTIPOL, le blog spécialisé en droit international public et son environnement politique. Nous vous recommandons de regarder sa site http://reseau-multipol.blogspot.de/

EUFAJ 3 / 2014 is out and online. This is the content:

This is the European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ) link to the new issue of 3rd quarter 2014. In this issue which can be downloaded under this link: http://www.libertas-institut.com/de/EUFAJ/EUFAJ_3_2014.pdf you can find, among others, the following contributions:

Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs): Their Current Positions and Relationship with the EU – Ofelya Sargsyan

Ukraine: Can Meaningful Reform Come Out of Conflict? – Marek Dabrowski

Too Blind to See the Threat We Pose to Russia – Andreas M. Bock

The Latest 2014 Standard Eurobarometer: The European Elections Made a Difference

European Year for Development 2015 – The First European Year Dealing with EU External Policy

The Strategic Culture of Authoritarian Regimes: Mountainous Karabakh Conflict in the Limelight –  Grigor Boyakhchyan

Spanish Regional Parliament Recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh’s Self-Determination

EU Commission: New Cooperation Priorities for the Eastern and the Southern Neighbourhood – 5.5 Billion EUR for 2014-2020

Adapting to Arctic ChangeMonica Bjermeland

India: New Business Opportunities – Sourajit Aiyer

Value Africans Place on Education Varies Widely by Country: Africans Often Perceive Personal Connections as More Important to Success – Steve Crabtree 

The whole EUFAJ website can be seen under www.eufaj.eu.

 

India: Packaging the “Package-Tour” Tourism Opportunity

By: Sourajit Aiyer

The author is a finance professional in India. Views expressed are entirely personal. For other contributions of Sourajit Aiyer who lives in Mumbai/India, see the recent blog entries.

 

Ironically, India features high amongst the Must-See countries of the world, but Inbound and Domestic tourist flows are far less than the potential. Increasing ‘Package-Tours’ for niche tour experiences might be a potential solution to counter some of the challenges to grow Inbound and Domestic tourism in India (Inbound refers to foreign tourists visiting India, while Domestic refers to resident-Indians travelling within India).

Its advantages may counter the industry’s current challenges: The purpose is to stress the advantages of growing the package-tour business. Package-tours may give a more organized look to the industry, which is still largely unorganized and fragmented in India. It may address the opaqueness of practical information that often challenges prospective tourists while planning for Indian destinations. This difficulty in prior planning of an itinerary causes dilemma in the minds of prospects and delays their decision to travel. More often than not, this is a reason why prospects drop India and instead opt for other destinations which have ample planning resources, even if they have fewer sights to offer than India. A more organized industry might reduce harassment that individual travellers often face from local service-providers/touts. Package-tours may deepen the B2B business, which can create incentives for quality adherence and further investments. The potential pie for each service-provider can be bigger due to synergies that B2B business can give, unlike now when the market is too fragmented. Cash-based transactions are common at many Indian destinations and this limits the government’s taxation earnings. Not to mention that cash-based transactions increase the risk for individual travellers due to the need to carry cards/cash. Even the loss of travel cards or travellers’ cheques is a potential loss. Package-tours may increase the transparency and accountability of the earnings of the industry. That would benefit the governments’ earnings and its ability to invest back into developing tourism infrastructure. Investments into much-needed infrastructure like highways, transport and airports in Tier 2 towns would improve the connectivity and access to popular spots. Inbound tourism is a key source of foreign exchange, something which India’s government sorely needs for its current account deficit. Everyone knows tourism is a large employment generator and a more organized industry might make the employment (and related skilling/training) more sustainable and stable. That may also reduce the need of low-skilled temporary workers to constantly migrate in search of livelihood, a major reason for social unrest and crime in India today. As it is, local crime and national security issues are negative publicity. India’s Tourism Ministry has made several initiatives, including overseas promotion from its 14 overseas offices through brochures/collaterals, trade fairs/industry forums, outdoor advertising/TV commercials; E-Recognition facilitation systems for travel service-providers; Campaigns like Incredible India, Colors of India; and a comprehensive National Tourism Policy. However, it needs to ensure faster movement on regulatory issues and project approvals.

Main USP and target customers for this business: The USP of the package-tour business has to be the convenience factor, rather than costs. Target customers for package-tours are often the mid/high-end tourists, as they have a higher propensity to spend. That works well for the business since package-tours can end up being priced higher than an individual budget travel. Budget/backpacker tourists would prefer individual travel as their cost might be lower. But there may be a chunk in this segment too, who may prefer the convenience of a package-tour to visit India. It might open the market to an entire segment of prospects, who are currently undecided about visiting Indian spots. Many expats work in Corporate India today. But many are unable to visit as many Indian spots as they would want, due to the inconvenience of planning and travelling. These expats, and their families who visit them, form a significant chunk of target customers for package-tours. To put all this into the price multiplied by quantity formula, the objective of this article is to increase the quantity variable. Economies of scale might benefit operators in terms of their ROE, while travellers might benefit from competitive pricing in a larger B2B business landscape. One might also add that Services sector typically has higher operating leverage. This would maximize the throughput for the service-provider at lower-than-proportionate incremental cost and Investment.

Niche tours for experiential travel may create differentiation in a mass market: In a mass business like package-tours where customization might be limited, experiential travel might give a scope for more targeted travel plans as per what an individual customer may want. The objective would be that such niche plans provide some degree of customization in terms of what the tourist wants to see and experience in India. That would mean niche tours targeting specific customer groups, rather than a mass bucket of customers that a typical package-tour concept would entail.

Niche, experiential travel that might find favor in India are Ayurveda/Yoga tourism for healthcare addicts, Rural tourism for experiencing customary ways of life, traditional crafts and culture (it would also be alternative to agriculture earnings for the village communities), MICE tourism for trade fairs, events, conferences, sales incentive trips which combine the event with visiting attractive Indian spots, Sustainable Living/Wellness tourism for high-end customers who want an experience of alternate and stress-free living, Medical tourism for patients who prefer high-quality healthcare and facilities at prices more affordable than developed countries, Historical Sites tourism for those interested in history and culture, Buddhist Circuit to Buddhist sites like Sarnath, Bodh Gaya, Kushinagar, Sanchi, Dharamsala, Rumtek, Tawang and Leh for East Asian tourists from Japan, Thailand, Laos, Singapore, etc, and Extreme/Adventure tourism including treks, hikes, camps across extreme terrain which test human endurance.

Educational tourism to familiarize the aspirants to Indian universities/international schools with a first-hand look at the educational facilities India offers. This may require attracting educational consultants and agents from the target markets rather than the prospective students, due to the cost. Economic tourism is another area worth exploring, given that Corporate India is gaining importance amongst global business circles. The objective would be to facilitate first-hand interactions with the Indian industry which would create awareness amongst global businesses of Corporate India’s capabilities in a specific industry. This is something on lines of corporate roadshows/familiarization trips. Homestay tourism is a concept for tourists who seek a more personal and local experience. This is quite similar to a Bed & Breakfast concept, which is quite popular in the UK.

Marketing campaigns by leveraging on Word-of-mouth, Referral prizes, B2B networks, Digital initiatives and Bollywood locales: While trade fairs and industry forums would be conventional platforms for B2B businesses, utilizing word-of-mouth marketing from existing, satisfied travellers might be useful for targeted marketing within the travellers’ community, which would include several prospects. This presupposes that the quality of service standards and expectations of existing travellers were met, since dissatisfied customers can also cause severe negative publicity. A way to incentivize existing travellers towards word-of-mouth marketing might be prizes for referrals who do convert. Incentives for referrals might make word-of-mouth marketing more impactful.  The B2B aspect of this business means extending the reach of marketing by using the network of the various stakeholders, which might be a more targeted outreach. The job of marketing would be shared by more than one, which is always desirable. The stakeholders in a B2B relationship like this would typically be entrepreneurs working on the ground, and their commitment to grow their business would be a critical driver to deepen the industry. Opportunities for tie-ups between stakeholders to form a value-chain of offerings would firm up competition, make pricing and quality more transparent. Digital marketing would be emailers which include comprehensive information for planning, instead of just showing fancy pictures of the Taj Mahal and elephants. This also includes travel planning portals which help prospects explore options, listen to videos of experiences and actually take their final decision to travel. Bollywood shooting locales have been famous for promoting Indian Outbound tourism to Switzerland, New Zealand and Malaysia, and there is no reason to believe the same could not work for boosting Inbound tourism to attractive Indian destinations. Bollywood movies are being viewed globally, not just by the Indian diaspora, but also by a global audience as they are being dubbed in various languages. It can catch as much eyeballs as any other advertising campaign can.

Imperatives for the government and other stakeholders: The Government’s National Tourism Policy has stressed on speedy implementation of projects, developing integrated circuits, capacity building and new marketing strategies. The Reserve Bank of India has made suggestions regarding monitoring the end-usage of foreign receipts and completion of projects within a stipulated period. The Visa-on-Arrival and E-Visa scheme has also gained popularity. E-Visas issued grew from 9,328 in the Jan to Jun 2013 period to 11,953 in the Jan to Jun 2014 period. Other possible facilitations can include single-window clearance for projects to minimize the time taken for approvals, faster decision-making on existing proposals, investment into roads, airports and transport that improve connectivity between key tourism destinations, ensuring that land acquired for hotel projects is not diverted for resale as it can cause a real estate bubble, increasing the supply of hotel rooms across high-end and budget hotels, keeping the pricing of India tours competitive to Asian peers like Thailand, Malaysia, China, and building information channels that reduce opacity of relevant planning information. Last but not the least, a major social imperative that is required is a change in the attitude of local Indians towards foreign travellers (especially women travellers) so that they do not feel uncomfortable, as well as in maintaining the cleanliness of their own tourism destinations.

Investment opportunities abound for foreign investors and strategic partners: Growing the package-tour business would create investment opportunities into several segments. Investment would be useful from strategic partners in the global tourism business, who can bring in specialized knowledge and service platforms which would benefit this business in India. Opportunities can abound for hotel and resort chains, travel planning providers especially those using e-commerce platforms, event planning companies and experiential travel providers, restaurants chains across fine dining, QSR and coffee shops, hard and soft infrastructure like roads, transport and broadband networks, airport developers for smaller, lower cost airports and training centers for skill-creation and knowledge training in the catering and tour services.

In conclusion, the package-tour business can create opportunities for several more segments apart from those mentioned above. If the tourism footfalls grow, it would enhance income, earnings and employment for the industry, and promote further investments into the sector. Global providers might do well to explore this opportunity in India.

Complete your collection of EUFAJ issues: Now another number online!

Please find here a new EUFAJ (European Union Foreign Affairs Journal) link to a 232 page double number we have not given to the Internet before. But as you have seen, we have worked hard to fill the gaps during the last months.

In this issue which can be downloaded under this link: http://www.libertas-institut.com/de/EUFAJ/eufaj_2_3_2011.pdf you can find, among others, the following contributions:

– Democracy and Human Rights (Sosso Kelenjeridze, Georgia),

– a famous speech by EU Commission President Barroso – State of the Union Address,

– What about Human Rights in Azerbaijan? After the European Song Contest in Baku,

– EU Integration: Armenia and its strategic orientation (Christine Maydossian, Canada),

– Features of Modern Terrorism as a form of conflict expression (Giorgi Bakholdin, Georgia),

– Causes and Development of Terrorism and How It Should Be Fought (Sergei Metelev, Russia),

– Metropolisation in the Former Soviet Union: Temptative Measurement through Hyperlinks Notoriety (Uljama Agibetova, Ivan Samson),

– Tibet – Time is Running Out (Wangpo Bashi),

– Call for an EU Special Coordinatpr for Tibetan Affairs (Kelsang Gyaltsen),

– EU Highlights Trade-Led Growth as Central to Modern Development Agenda

– Most Egyptians Oppose US Economic Aid, Favor Aid from Arab Nations (Ahmed Younis, Mohamed Younis),

– The Systematics of Global Failure and Success (Alec Schaerer, Switzerland),

– Corporate Social Responsibilty Concept and its Implementation in Serbia (Nebojsa Vujkovic),

– Financial and Material Support Obligations in Kyrgyz Family Networks (Altyn Kapalova)

– Europe – a Model for World Wide Democracy? (Olivier Védrine)

+ conference reports, + book reviews.

 

The General Website is: http://www.eufaj.eu

 

India’s unique business opportunity: Becoming a potential destination for affluent retirees from across the globe

By: Sourajit Aiyer

The author is a finance professional currently living in India. He has contributed to this blogsite and also to EUFAJ (forthcoming issue 3/2014). Views expressed are entirely personal.

 

For many who have not realized, India faces a unique business opportunity as a potential destination for affluent pensioners/retirees from across the globe. Whether India can grab this opportunity or not, it is imperative to appreciate why this is an opportunity for India in the first place.

Home-countries are expensive and inconvenient at old-age: Old-age living in most developed countries is expensive, and moreover, inconvenient. The social structure of extreme nuclear living means many pensioners go through the cycle of daily living by themselves. There are retirement homes and a social system that supports pensioners. However, daily living in the old-age remains expensive and inconvenient for many. To sound anecdotal from my own observations, a visit to any department store in UK or European cities on a typical Sunday morning would vouch this. In contrast, India is a comparatively cheaper place to live in. This is despite the fact that cost of living in India has also grown leaps and bounds in recent years than historical levels. The recent movement in the Indian Rupee also means that every US Dollar can fetch more in Rupee terms now.

Demand for premium, convenient and secure townships: Real estate townships have come up in Indian cities which feature every convenience and facilities that one can imagine. Living in such complexes is relatively secure since professional security agencies are appointed along with daily maintenance of people entering/exiting. Many of these townships are expensively priced and only the affluent fraction of India’s population can afford to pay that premium. Influx of foreign affluent retirees would help enlarge the demand pool for such developers, and help them avoid situations of unsold stock of apartments or condominiums. If demand actually swells, it may incentivize developers to initiate more projects, which would give a fill-up to ancillary industries like steel, cement, transport, materials–which are high employment generators in themselves.

Generics-pharma and Medical-tourism aspirations: India aspires to become a leading generics-pharma manufacturer, as many drugs are nearing the end of their patent periods in Western countries. This means India is competitively placed to cater to the pharmaceutical demands, as one assumes that generics would lower the cost of medication significantly. High cost of medicines is a challenge for the old-aged across the world, and local generics manufacturing might help bring down this cost for global retirees. In the context of medical tourism, India houses state-of-the-art specialty hospitals which offer the whole range of medical care. Indian doctors have made their mark globally. While India was a destination for patients from Asian and African countries historically, focus on medical tourism is now bringing in patients from Europe, USA and Japan as well. So why not get them to live here, so that taking care of their medical needs would become convenient for both the parties concerned.

Employment for professional care-givers: India has adequate manpower to cater to caring for such people. In Indian families, the family members themselves act as care-givers to old-aged ones as most professional care-giver agencies are expensive for Indians. However for foreign retirees, who have typically made their money at comparatively higher income levels in USA, UK, EU, Japan or Singapore might not face this affordability concern in India that Indian families face. Moreover, this serves a major employment opportunity for the country’s vast semi-skilled population.

Rationale for global affluent retirees: Foreigners who want to live relatively inexpensively and maximize the utilization of their corpus should look at relocation. They can stretch their local currencies further in Indian Rupee terms. India now has the infrastructure and facilities to cater to such a population, all of which is available relatively cheaper. With interest rates in developed countries are at lows, the yield earned on their risk-free financial assets is minimal. It makes financial prudence to spend in a relatively low-cost country, so that the earnings-expense equation is favourable. This is the basic rationale why global affluent retirees should look at India. Affluent retirees might be live in India only from the interest income they earn, without even touching their capital or reallocating it to riskier financial assets. Secondly, India is officially home to a number of religions including Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, which most global retirees from Europe, USA, Japan would belong to. One does not envisage issues arising in foreign tourists practicing their own religions. Thirdly, English is the main business language of India. Local media, road signs, information materials are in English, apart from vernacular languages. Even low-skilled workers can converse in broken English. Next, the advantages of care-givers, medical facilities and secure townships have been discussed in above sections. Lastly, India houses fascinating tourism destinations, which might attract foreign visitors. That would incentivize Indian tourism authorities to spruce up their destinations and infrastructure for foreign visitors.

Better quality for foreign visitors: Every country likes affluent tourists as they will spend more on local products and services, as compared to budget tourists. Visa policies of most developed countries are skewed towards this mind-set. But that is correct– since such affluent tourists bring in more foreign currency which supports the local tourism infrastructure. Extending preferential treatment for such long-term visitors within India’s visa policies would help bring in people who will address tourism, medical care, real estate and employment areas for the country. Such long-term visas are issued on showcasing a certain level of financial security, which also gives a level of comfort to the visa authorities on the genuineness of visitors. Competing countries like Malaysia, Thailand, etc have special visa plans to enable long-term stay for elderly retirees from Japan etc.

Addressing risk factors: The biggest risk that tourists face in India is of safety. The good news is that large-scale advocacy by common-Indians has shaken up the government to address this. Safety and security are risks even common-Indians face, not just foreigners. The new government has made the right noises to address women’s safety, etc. But still a lot is still needed. However, one might also add that like any smart traveler, one needs to know which places to avoid. The second risk is availability of information and literature. Tourism websites need to provide information on infrastructure, processes and facilities that global retirees can use to build their decisions, and make their transition smooth. India might team up with professional agencies that cater to people looking to live abroad. Lastly, the investment into local real estate poses a risk. Many retirees might not want to sell their houses in home countries as they may want to return after few years. Garnering the capital to buy units in India might involve liquidating some financial assets which may not be desirable either, despite the outlook on residential prices in India. In such a situation, taking units on rentals is the only way out. But that assumes there are enough affluent Indians available to buy the lot of premium units in the first place.

In conclusion, there is significant business case for India to pursue this opportunity, although a lot is needed yet. Affluent foreign retirees should also look at this option for their advantage. As an ending note, one might add that many global retirees have been business-owners. Being in a high-growth market in India might make them rethink about setting up a business again. India can also gain from the knowledge and insights of their business experiences. All that might sound far-fetched, but the 21st Century is the Knowledge-Century, after all.

Next Ramadan Must Be More Memorable – „The Audacity of Hope!“

By Sourajit Aiyer

This contribution has been written by Sourajit Aiyer, who will provide in the next issue of EUFAJ 3-14 which will appear in September 2014 an article about the South East Asian ASEAN countries and why they are so popular now with young professionals.  The author has written many contributions to Asian economic papers and is a finance professional in India. The views expressed here are entirely personal.

Seeing the recent events across some of the Muslim countries during the last Holy Month and imagining how these events might impact their future, one is tempted to use the phrase of Barack Obama – “the audacity of hope” (made famous during his Boston Convention speech in 2004). It is said humans remember good things. But more humans remember the bad things, and recent events made this Ramadan memorable for the wrong reasons. It might be opportune to see if one can hope whether their future can be better than their present and how so – i.e. hoping if the next Ramadan might be a better memory. The text concentrates mainly on Palestine and Pakistan, but it looks at seven other Muslim countries as well.

In the Israel-Palestine conflict, or rather the Israel-Hamas conflict, the common-man in Gaza paid a price as Israel and Hamas tossed the ping-pong on who started it – Hamas for firing rockets, or Israel for its Gaza blockade and not releasing some prisoners. Israel justified with its right to defend itself. Hamas alleged that Israel’s exit from Gaza in 2005 under Ariel Sharon was a practical sham, as Israel still maintained controls around Gaza’s borders. To which Israel cited examples of weapon-smuggling secret tunnels, or the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) apprehending a Gaza-bound Iranian ship carrying missiles as evidence of Hamas’s murkier objectives. All is not well within Palestine either. Internal bickering for power, with a violent confrontation between Fatah and Hamas in 2007, left them “divided” by Palestinians themselves – Hamas in Gaza and Fatah (and Palestine Authority) in West Bank. But where does this leave Gaza’s common-man? Lives of Palestinians in West Bank might not be perfect (be it in Area A, B or C) due to limited jobs, education and movement difficulties. However, violence has been relatively lower in West Bank recently. Salman Fayyad as Prime Minister (though his appointment by Mahmoud Abbas was debated) won some kudos due to his focus on economics, infrastructure and building institutions for governance in West Bank. While Israel is partly to blame for its offensive against Gaza’s innocents, somewhere Hamas’ way of working also seems a reason aggravating violence which made basic survival for Gaza’s residents difficult. At least the Palestinians in West Bank do not live in constant fear for daily survival. Many may not agree and may choose to defend Hamas’ ideology. But the current conflict does seem more to have as much to do with Hamas’ actions, as much about Israeli high-handedness, and less about the Palestinian cause itself. After Hamas fought Fatah and seized control of Gaza in 2007, it was not just Israel that up-ed its ante. Even Egypt closed its Rafah-border at various times since 2007 as secret tunnels smuggling weapons were discovered, except during when Hamas’ ally, the Muslim Brotherhood, ruled Egypt. It is alleged that Hamas still does not see eye-to-eye on many aspects with Fatah (and Palestine Authority), and doubts persist on who is the one leader of “all” of Palestine.

How does one make the next Ramadan a better memory for Palestinians? I have no right or authority to opine on the posturings of Hamas or IDF. Each side has its own rationale. But it is high-time the common-people of Gaza decide what is good for their future. They need to resolve their own internal politics first. Either they see a progressive future under Hamas, which did win the 2007 elections. The years from 2007 to 2014 should give some colour on Hamas’ governance abilities, especially after Israel eased its blockade for non-military goods in 2010. Otherwise, if they want to relocate to West Bank, then the authorities should facilitate it. However, allegations surfaced that Hamas recently forbid residents from fleeing Gaza, effectively putting them in the path of death. While images of corpses would be excellent public-relations for Hamas to defend its ideology and elicit sympathy, it would be sheer injustice on the very people they are supposed to govern. This does not paint a positive picture of Hamas – and it might be as much to blame as Israel for the suffering of Gaza’s innocents. Such a comment on Hamas is controversial and many may disagree. But incidents since 2007 do put question-marks on Hamas’ intentions. Allegations that Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ Palestinian Prime Minister, made a fortune taking a 20% unofficial tax on goods coming through Rafah’s secret tunnels and built palatial homes for himself and some of his 13 children around Rimal while most Gaza residents remain economically backward, tarnish Hamas’s intentions to govern in an institutionalized manner. Palestinians need to put their own house in order and stabilize Fatah-Hamas relations, or else its internal politics would be disastrous. The entire world rightly sympathizes with Gaza’s plight. But they also need to decide if their sympathy is for Hamas, or for Gaza’s common people or for Gaza’s identity within a united Palestine (which the Hamas-Fatah bickering is overshadowing). Even amongst regional powers, Gaza seems just a pawn. As per media reports, Iran and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood are alleged to support Hamas, while Saudi Arabia seems opposed as it remains watchful of its rival – Iran. Even oil-rich Qatar finds itself in this tussle for influence over Hamas, as it tries to garner a bigger role in regional politics as a key mediator. Hamas’ Khaled Mashaal is already residing in the Qatari capital, Doha, after he had to shift base from Syria following the civil war there.

Next, an equally critical aspect is enhancing economic opportunities for Palestinian people so that their quality of life improves. Most Palestinians are uneducated and unskilled, and capable only for blue-collared jobs. Many are shop assistants in handicraft/garment/trinket/food stalls, as per Christian pilgrim tourists who visit the historical towns of Bethlehem, Hebron and Jericho in southern West Bank. The world should understand that, despite all their sympathies, till the time all Palestinians are able to access secondary, university or vocational education, they will not progress ever. They will remain economically backward and may be susceptible to radical groups due to the lack of adequate education and income opportunities. The only way out is if they get access to education and better jobs. One solution is night-schools for working adults, as it can make them capable for higher-paying work by developing skills related to communication, arithmetic and vocations. College enrolment for the students is another, through scholarships to universities abroad. This would make them capable for higher-level of work than their parents – albeit in other countries for now until opportunities pick up in Palestine’s economy. Even then, remittance from foreign workers can be a key source of revenue – case in point being Bangladesh, India, Philippines and Pakistan. Its neighbours can offer practical support. India itself has been a destination for university students from many conflict-ridden Asian and African countries, including Palestinian students. A criticism to these suggestions is that even if Palestinians become capable for better jobs or set up own businesses, Israeli control over West Bank’s Area B and C means opportunities for Palestinian commerce to flow freely would be severely restricted. However, a practical guess is that any effort towards economic development might be welcomed by all concerned, as this would mean gainful employment for Palestinians and steady income for its government. This would make its establishment more stable and less susceptible to internal disturbances and regional influences. Such a situation might be encouraged by the world, including Israel, as it would make the region more peaceful. Economics and commerce is often the best solution, and can achieve what politics and military cannot.

Moving to economic opportunities for the government itself – income opportunities for Palestine are few. Tax receipts from Israel have been a key source – i.e. custom duties on Palestine-bound imports into Israel and taxes from Palestinians who work in Israel. But this is susceptible to sanctions, which depends on incidents of violence. Ismail Haniyeh had in the past ignored such sanctions, which raises questions if Hamas had non-legitimate income due to which the loss of tax income did not matter to him. This again raises doubts on Hamas’ intentions to govern properly. Another vital source of income for Palestine is foreign aid. According to Global Humanitarian Assistance, Palestine was amongst the Top-5 recipients of global aid in 2011, along with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Ethiopia. In fact, the Muslim world is partly to blame for Palestine’s plight here. Despite all the solidarity, actual aid from Muslim countries has actually been far less than Western nations. For instance, during the 2007 Donor Conference in Paris, Europe led with over 50% of the pledges, and USA-Canada about 11%. The Arab countries together made 20% of the pledges. Even if one contends that the West acted due to its own selfish interests, it is also true that many Arab nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are enormously prosperous on a “per capita basis” due to oil spoils. Higher commitments from them would show their solidarity for Palestine in more practical terms. Higher assistance to development projects can win goodwill, in the same way US assistance to Egypt is believed to have helped normalize Israel-Egypt relations in 1979.

Lastly, Israel needs to concentrate more on the Palestinians in Israel-Proper. The Palestinian cause has often centered around those in the Occupied Territories and abroad, and the Palestinians in Israel remained neglected. They make up 20% of Israel’s population, but still remain marginalized. It might be in Israel’s interests to assimilate them even more inclusively within their society – be it in schools, colleges, markets, offices, etc. This might help improve their standard of living and well-being, and “contented people make peaceful nations”!!!  Jews have a paranoia that their community is reducing, while Palestinians have a higher reproduction rate (common in poverty-stricken communities globally where families earn lower income with inadequate healthcare, hence an ill-placed perception that larger families mean more working hands). However, as families grow prosperous and expenses increase to maintain higher standard of living, education tuition, medi-care etc, the family size reduces due to affordability concerns. One hopes the experience of Palestinians in Israel might be the same if they do become prosperous, and this might help quell the fear of population numbers that Jews have. It would also create an incentive for Palestinians and Jews to regard each other with lesser hostility. In conclusion, one cannot say if the One-State or Two-State dilemma for Israel-Palestine will ever be resolved. Tenders for Jewish housing development in West Bank settlements have increased in Benjamin Netanyahu’s current term, as compared to his earlier term or those of Sharon and Olmert earlier. This does not raise optimism on Israel’s intentions of ever eventually granting Palestinians control over West Bank in entirety. But seeing the Israel-Hamas events, it must be understood that improvement in education and income opportunities as well as resolution of internal politics is absolutely imperative for Palestine to avoid unrest and make their future brighter. Just sympathies will not do. Otherwise, they continue to stare at a bleak future, and some might become easy poaching for radical groups in case such groups are the only avenue offering them a source of income.

Amongst other Arab-Muslim nations, Egypt, Iraq, Libya and Syria continue to struggle in the post-Arab Spring world. It is a tragedy tearing the legacies of historical cities like Damascus, Aleppo, Cairo and Baghdad to tatters. In Syria, Bashar Assad starting his 3rd term means the conflict would continue until a ceasefire is announced or till the rebels (and their foreign backers) drop their guns. Foreign aid is the only way for any normalcy ahead, given the abject destruction to homes, basic facilities and normal economic life. In Libya, opposing forces across Tripoli, Sirte and Benghazi continue to battle. Weapons have found their way in the hands of civilians, creating continued lawlessness. Some years back, Lebanon addressed its issue of civilian weapons with a scheme to replace them with free mobile phones. But mobiles were a novelty then, not so much now. Libya needs to take weapons out of civilian hands and take the people out of its cities’ battlefields by employing them, maybe in oil or infrastructure projects. Till then, Libya would burn. In Iraq, while Shia-Sunni sectarianism was always a thorn for Nouri Maliki, recent weeks saw it worsen. ISIS, the Salafi/Sunni group, increased its hold across areas of Nineveh and Anbar, including key towns like Mosul and Fallujah. Anbar has strategic importance, as the province borders Jordan and a vital access route. The future holds a long-drawn offensive. But with western armies weakened by years of fighting, mediation by regional Middle East biggies might hold some weight instead for Iraq’s future – especially those who have sway over Salafi/Wahabbi entities. Egypt might be the only one out of these four which can hope of a better Ramadan next time. After tumultuous years of civil disturbance as Hosni Mubarak’s regime and Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamist government were ousted, Abdel Fattah might provide some stability. Tensions remain, given the depth of Muslim Brotherhood’s penetration into villages through its network of social services built over few decades. With an over 80 million population, Egypt is a sizable middle-income consumer market. A stable government would put Egypt back on the road to development (albeit with some foreign assistance into projects). It was seeing economic and income opportunities for its youth, if commercial developments like Smart Village near 6th of October City/Giza are any indication. Economic revival from here on should spell a better Ramadan for Egypt next time.

Amongst non-Arab Muslim nations, Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia and Malaysia need a mention. Malaysia’s case is truly saddening. Many of its citizens lost their lives in two plane crashes, for no fault of theirs. The first crash remains a mystery. In the second, Malaysians still ask why they got caught in the Ukraine-Russia tussle. Given the nature of the incidents, its citizens did not even get a dignified death. While the memories of the lost ones would plague its next Ramadan, one hopes a swift conclusion to the investigations and apprehending of the actual culprits might offer some justice. Iran and Indonesia can look forward to some positivity. A furniture exporter turned city-mayor, Joko Widodo just became Indonesia’s President. It is the first time that someone outside the military or elite won the top office. His grassroots style of functioning by going within the people endeared him to the population. The result remains a debate due to the legal challenge filed by the opposing contender, former army-man Subianto, on the Election Commission. Nevertheless, the world’s largest Muslim nation, and world’s 4th most populous at about 250 million, can look at its future with optimism after a lackluster 2nd term under President Susilo. Indonesia’s economic potential is enormous, given its young population and vast natural resources. It has to play a bigger role among emerging-economies, and in ASEAN and G-20. Countries seeking to invest in projects in Indonesia or market their products to its growing workforce will keep a watch now on Widodo’s upcoming policies and reforms. Overall, Indonesia spells good news. Iran saw some good news under Hassan Rouhani’s leadership. After undergoing years of harsh sanctions, 2013-end saw Iran reach an interim deal with 6 super-powers to reduce some of those sanctions in return for a short-term freeze on some of its nuclear programme. The deal unlocked few billions of relief from sanctions for Iran, an economy that was in dire straits indeed. Though the 6-month deadline for the final deal had to be extended by another 4 months since the two sides could not agree on certain aspects despite negotiations ongoing through Ramadan, one hopes that some concessions would be agreed upon eventually before the November deadline. That may bode better news for Iran in the months ahead.

For Pakistan, its armed operation in North Waziristan could not have come at a worse time. There was criticism that the government delayed the offensive, but giving peace talks a chance first was also needed. While it aims to put legislations in place to address the Internally Displaced People (IDP) issue, it should look to build formal settlement colonies for them. Informal refugee camps are prone to crime and health risks. Formal colonies might be a durable long-term solution. Such colonies would ensure basic standards of living, housing and essential services to the IDPs. Of course, it presupposes that they may not want to return to the conflict areas in the near-future, as only then would the government’s investment be worth it. If the government’s resources are inadequate to fund such colony projects, it may use external assistance. Apart from the $6 billion IMF loan, $12 billion World Bank funding, $2 billion of Eurobonds, China has also agreed to invest $32 billion over the next 5-years in energy, transport and infrastructure through its EXIM Bank. This additional $52 billion is estimated to double its existing level of external debt –a worry for repayment. A portion of China’s infrastructure assistance could be utilized to develop settlement colony projects. South Asian political expert Christine Fair suggested in an interview related to her book “Fighting to the End, Pakistan Army’s Way of War” that this offensive was done simply for the country to make a case to continue receiving military assistance and support cheques from USA. This was based on US Senator Carl Levin’s proviso in the National Defense Authorization Act for financial year (FY) 2015 that suggested making further assistance contingent to an operation in TTP areas. Pakistan might try allocating some of these US cheques to fund IDP settlement projects. In any case, the time-period of displacement that the IDPs are staring at is questionable. There is criticism that many insurgents might already have crossed into the Afghan province of Khost before the offensive started, given the governments’ prior warnings. Those extremists might return to haunt Waziristan. Or else they might head for other restive regions like Xinjiang, Kashmir, Nuristan or Paktika, in which case Pakistan’s neighbours should beware. Another aspect is easing IDPs’ movements between provinces. There were allegations of Sindh restricting entry for IDPs, although it maintained its objective was to scrutinize militants passing off as IDPs. Another is of assistance to the host communities. These are the families who play host to the displaced people. They have to share their resources, often meager, with many more mouths. At such times, the government should subsidize some essential resources for the hosts. A challenge is to track the households as they are scattered, unlike in refugee camps. Another is checking if they are genuine IDPs. Full coverage of IDP registration cards would help, as well as centers in towns where IDPs are headed. Subsidizing resources for host communities might help settle the lives of the IDPs and hosts, and minimize the added burden. It is essential that Pakistan settles this conflict. Much-needed foreign/private investment will flow in only when its issue of internal security is adequately addressed. The country has a sizable workforce, intelligent graduates and natural resources, and can achieve much more than its current track-record. Its local industries will have to compete with cheap Chinese imports, as China might want access to Pakistan’s consumer base in return for its generous assistance. This might limit opportunities for local Pakistani industries and job creation. Nevertheless, even some addition to economic activity would be useful, given the gap between its supply of graduates and demand from companies. Currently, some Pakistani youth seem to find employment in aid agencies or as self-employed contractors. As the US exits Afghanistan, some aid agencies might opt to shift base to worse-hit regions like Ukraine, Syria etc, thus impacting local jobs. In short, Pakistan has no choice but to create more jobs, entrepreneurship and revitalize its local industries. Dependence on US support cheques might keep the government solvent, but it will not create adequate economic opportunities for all its educated youth, who will continue to struggle to find enough good-paying jobs unless economic activity picks up. For this, achieving sustained internal security would give a definite hope for the future.

In conclusion, the recent experiences of these nine Muslim countries discussed above have been a mixed bag during this recent Holy Month. Some seem to be on the road for a better tomorrow, while some seem quite far from it. How the next few months actually turn out is anybody’s guess. The attempt in this text was to list some of those guesses. Irrespective, the hope still remains that the next Holy Month would be memorable one for the right reasons, and would spell a better future for ALL the nations even though such a hope seems audacious now for SOME of these countries.

Another EUFAJ: From Arctic to Zambia

Another European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ) issue is now available online.

http://www.libertas-institut.com/de/EUFAJ/EUFAJ_3_4_2013.pdf

With articles on

  • the Arctic region and its regional integration and the relations with the European Union (Ofelya Sargsyan),
  • official norms and traditions in Kyrgyzstan in view of some violations of fair elections (Gulnaz Baiturova),
  • taxing for Human Rights – fiscal rights monitoring in Zambia and the right to education (Marijana Ilic),
  • advantages from religion for politics – a study for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (Ani Harutyunyan),
  • the reasons for democratization in transition countries – based on Acemoglu’s model (Gohar Yeranyan).

See the whole „collection“ also under http://www.eufaj.eu!

EU Peacekeepers for Nagorno-Karabakh?

The Armenian and the Azerbaijani media are full, at present, with speculations about a possible war in the South Caucasus. This is, unfortunately, not excluded, although all logical thoughts lead not to a war – but what means logic in this context. Fact is that many soldiers have already lost their lives and even civilians have been shot or wounded. So creative solutions are requested.

This leads to the possible call for peacekeeping troops. Indeed, they should be deployed rather sooner than later, when there is still a bit of peace existing; otherwise they would have to overcome a lot of difficulties, if those could be overcome at all. As usual, it is better to intervene at an early stage than too late. Of course, there should be a consent who should come. This consent should include Armenia and Azerbaijan.

There is much discussion now about Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh. This would if at all accepted with a grim face of the two mentioned countries, and by Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia has a security agreement with Armenia, and at the same time sold weapons for four billions USD to Azerbaijan – so its credibility can be heavily criticised. No country could have better expressed its interest in having no peaceful settlement.

NATO or US troops would not be accepted by Russia, and everything including US troops even as peacekeepers may be considered as too much of an „intruder“. Although of course possible, it may be perceived as a certain provocation which might need a lot of efforts to explain. OSCE troops as such are not likely; the OSCE has observers only in likewise conflicts. UN troops are theoretically possible, but if one looks to some African missions by the UN I think under efficiency criteria it should be avoided, if possible, that the UN which otherwise is also rather inflexible (UN Security Council) should be switched in in an operative way.

However, the EU – which has not yet been asked but can submit the offer to Armenia and Azerbaijan – could and should be ready for a new role as peacekeeping power. The region is limited, the task as well, the supply ways to it may lead via Turkey which is not only NATO Partner but also associated to the EU. Another way could lead via Georgia. The EU is, from outside and inside, more and more asked to take over a higher responsibility in world politics, above all in its own backyard. It is not suspect to remain too long in comparable missions – just in contrary. Its mandates are repeatedly discussed, also in parliaments and this on EU and Member State level. EU troops would be accepted as nobody can have anything against the EU, and this in Azerbaijan, in Armenia, but also in Nagorno-Karabakh. As long as nobody would start shooting, it can be expected that any EU peacekeeper force would behave as much „gentlemen-like“ as imaginable, including cooperation of the troops in civil reconstruction, and this on both sides of the front line.

There is also one more reason for an EU-led peacekeeping force: the Eastern Partnership. This could be the first real opportunity for the Eastern Partnership to prevent actively any conflicts on its territory. And if Georgian ,Moldovan or even Belarusian troops should be included (the latter do not include the President), why not? Ukraine may be too heavily charged with its troops at present, and Azerbaijani and Armenian inclusion into the peacekeeping forces should normally be excluded.

Of course, this makes only sense if both sides are ready to negotiate at the same time. This could be a task for the summit meeting in Sotchi/Russia on 8th August 2014. Russia should have all interest to return to the table with the EU and prove that its government can also be rational. It may make sense also for the OSCE Minsk Group, and if not possible there, also for a new round, this time under the auspices of the EU.

And it needs a keen but realistic vision for the EU, which here could show it can look beyond its Member States‘ horizons. The Eastern Partnership framework is, of course, the backyard of the EU, even explicitly.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka

Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal

http://www.eufaj.eu

 

 

New topical issue: EUFAJ 2 / 2014 is out

Please find here the link of the latest, topical issue of „European Union Foreign Affairs Journal“ (EUFAJ), 2 / 2014, which is now online: http://www.libertas-institut.com/de/EUFAJ/eufaj_2_2014.pdf

With
• an article on the reasons and political forces who are against a Moldovan accession to the EU,
• an alternative to the Association Agreement Armenia / EU, written by a former government advisor of Armenia from the EU,
• a historical overview about the process of Georgia’s statehood building,
• a fact sheet about the topical relations EU / Ukraine,
• and another fact sheet about EU sanctions – whoever may be concerned,
• as well as an article – especially on agriculture and fisheries – on Iceland and the EU,
and contributions on
• a Berlin conference between Armenians and Azerbaijanis on the economic future of Nagorno Karabakh and the region,
and some other shorter articles and reviews …

The whole context and other issues since 2009 can be downloaded under http://www.eufaj.eu.

 

 

EUFAJ 1 – 2 / 2013 is online: Here is the content

Please find here the link of  another issue  of the European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ),  1/2-2013, which is now online:

http://www.libertas-institut.com/de/EUFAJ/no1_2_2013.pdf

With

– an article on the Macedonian party system (compared to Slovakia),

– a breathtaking article about child marriages among the Roma,

– an article about the Elders of the Indian tribes in Canada (First Nations),

and contributions on

– migration and security issues,

– the LLDC character, and conflict prevention in South Sudan,

– the 24 official languages of the EU

– an EU study on protectionism

The Homepage of the Journal is http://www.eufaj.eu.

New issue of EUFAJ (1-2014): Here are the Headlines

A new number of European Union Foreign Affairs Journal is out: 1-2014. With the following content:

– The EU Internal Market in 10 Years Perspective from Accession of Ten Central and Eastern European Countries in 2004 – Lessons Learned for Eastern Partnership Partner States
– Russia under Putin and the Eurasian Union: An Impossible Possibility?
– Belarusian Identity: The Impact of Lukashenka’s Rule
– The Commonwealth of Independent States in Sequence of the Former USSR: A Tool for the Formation of the Eurasian Union?
– Forming a New Energy Security Alliance in North-Eastern Europe
– Transitioning from a Fossil-Fuel to a Green Economy: Government Policy for Private Sector Participation in Trinidad and Tobago
– The Right to Development and Rights-Based Approach to Development: Two Mutually Reinforcing Concepts?
– Stabilizing the Dynamics in the Global Socio-Economic System: Categorial Clarification for Exhaustive Transparency and Sustainability
– With book reviews on Nagorno Karabakh, Cuba and Africa

With authors from Belarus, Ukraine, Trinidad and Tobago, Switzerland, Armenia, Germany, and the USA (book reviews).

Go to the link: http://www.libertas-institut.com/de/EUFAJ/no1_2014.pdf.

Russia and the Eurasian Union: Mission Impossible?

By Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ)
http://www.eufaj.eu

The Russian president Putin may be a political chess player, but he will fail at the very end. He wants to restore glory for his country, and therefore he undertakes a lot:
– blaming the Americans and the Europeans for anything which does not function in his country, including a growing authoritarianism and repression of non-violent opposition, including as well the stigmatisation as „foreign agents“ of any non-governmental organisation which has contacts abroad (and all open-thinking NGOs have them), and following a media policy which is absurd and where critical journalists often have to pay with their lives and health,
– gathering a lot of compliments from most of his compatriots after the conquest of Crimea, and the intended destabilisation of Eastern Ukraine – and in both cases the troops there turned out to be Russian ones, although this has been denied by Putin, who did not say the truth to the world.

This is why Russia is now isolated more than ever. Even China did not veto the trend of a discussion in the UN Security Council on 12.4.2014.

All the efforts by Putin go in this mentioned direction. It is to be crowned by the project of the „Eurasian Union“ which is to see the light of the world in 2015. Since his article in Izvestiya some years ago, it is evident that this Eurasian Union should become a kind of counterpart to the EU. No problem with this; the EU is very much in favour of regional integration in the world. And nobody in the EU or elsewhere would have anything against the Eurasian Union. However, this Project is not about economic or political Integration only. It will never be possible as an integration in the worldwide sense, alone as the EU has been a totally voluntary integration. The same for all other integrations in the world. The Eurasian Union, however, is definitely not: its predecessor and economic centerpiece, the Eurasian Customs Union is going bonkers — even if this is not seen by the protagonists. Consisting of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan (all three beacons of democracy and human rights, as everybody knows), a lot of transborder operations go better with the help of corruption. I don’t want to mention the ranking in the Corruption Perception Index, as everybody also in Russia knows that there is still a lot of corruption in the administration. The customs tariffs are three times as high, on an average, as the import tariffs for new member countries: Armenia has either to raise its customs considerably, or get several hundred of exemptions, which makes a customs union ridiculous. Normally a customs union in economic history has always served to decrease customs, and not to increase! The Armenian government has been squeezed – under which circumstances ever – to welcome this and to tell its people that this would be a success. At the same time, newspapers write at the same page of many possible insolvencies of various sectors and drop-outs, which will lead to a continuation of the Armenian nightmare, the brain-drain by emigration. Every integration – see e.g. the accession of Spain, Portugal, Greece as well as Central and Eastern Europe to the EU – has led so far to a short to medium-term re-integration of former emigrants.

The biggest problem for Russia is her relations with Ukraine. Here every possible Eurasian Union member state can see at first hand, how they can be treated. No chance to hope that this can be changed: Russia has in all Eurasian structures since many years the absolute majority of votes. No way with a qualified majority, which in the EU can easily serve as an instrument of balancing the interests and of creating a compromise.

The result of the Crimea action has been to suspend Russia’s voting rights in the Council of Europe and to be subject of a negative assessment by the UN Assembly.

And nobody will invest at present in Russia, if he is mentally normal (except some big operators who are of strategic interest for Russia): The Moscow government had declared that it might confiscate foreign investmnt. This is against all rules, the rule of law, the rule of any international economy and above all the interests of Russia herself. Every small and medium enterprise will refrain from investing – and this in an era of positive globalization. Only a former KGB chief who never saw a company from inside can ride on such a wave. Russia is also dependent of its raw material and energy sales. The EU, including Germany, as main client are working since a while to diversify their purchases, a step which is getting momentum, and of developing alternative energy.

As the present macroeconomic trends indicate, Russia’s economy goes slowly but safely down, like the ruble currency, thus problemizing all foreign purchases which will be necessary also for domestic investment.

There are some people – like the author of these lines – who remember the hospitality, the fine humour, the philosophical discussions even with non-philosophers, the great nature, the food, the interesting history, the excellent education of Russian people. Their economy could become more and more efficient, corruption could go down, a numerous middle-class could emerge, Russians (all, not some) would go for holidays to the EU and worldwide, and will not flee their country, NGOs could form a vital civil society, art and music could thrive, and all problems could be discussed – why not controversially – and then solved in a free parliamentary vote. And the parliaments are correctly elected, and why not letting all parties admitted for this? Towards the outside, Russia could have excellent relations with its neighbours, with the EU (there are many years homework on what has been proposed and not done, like a free trade agreement etc.), with NATO, just to name some. In such a climate, NATO could become a historical structure – maybe with Russia as a member.

Instead of this, the former KGB chief in the Kremlin does not refrain from lying to the world, from attacking Crimea (at least. until tonight, 14.4.2014), and arresting many people who demonstrate against this in Moscow these days.

It is, simply speaking, ga-ga that at the beginning of the 21st century Russia, while all the others, or most of them, try to cooperate, falls back into the 19th century. If these ideas cannot convince the people (who should not behave like a flock of sheep), they feel a minority complex, manipulate the media and threaten other countries with tanks at their borders. They also are misled by this foreign activity from domestic and grave deficits. With this, the Eurasian Union will never function. It might be launched, but it will be a sick structure from the beginning – like many others who have been launched after 2001 in the former Soviet Union. There are brillant heads e.g. in the Eurasian Development Bank which is a kind of think-tank for regional integration and where many concepts for economic integration have been conceived. But in their concepts you do not read anything about the necessity of a free will of the member states to follow this integration. What their people have, the Russian government has not: sovereignty. The sovereignty to live and to let live. You should take it easy, Vladimir Vladimirowich. If you would, your people would also. But I have lost any hope that this is possible under your reign, although I am an eternal optimist. So drive your country to the beton wall, including following countries. Like the system of the USSR, this „Soviet 2.0“ system, although not under Communist auspices, will be rejected by a majority of People involved when they see the middle and Long-term results – first in the partner countries, then in Russia. By educated, young people who will see how dysfunctional their own system will be, also due to their Facebook and Twitter accounts and the Internet in general. Like the integration of the USSR, of Yugoslavia which both burst in bubbles. The result will always be smaller than the original. Because of this, perhaps for the sake of its own corruption?, the Moscow government will end up similarly, in the most positive way with four or five former and present European CIS countries in or near the EU, and Central Asia may later form a kind of integration themselves. It would, after all, need another and sympathetic leader in Moscow (not only to most of the Russians but also to the world) to break up this isolation and inefficiency.

Putin’s Russia: „Sorry, we have withdrawn our investment intentions“…

In context with the Crimea crisis the EU and US consider various sanctions. However, one kind of sanction will come – for sure – by the markets themselves, i. e. by thousands of big and small investors who until now have considered an investment to Russia.

First, investment is a huge global market. Every state, every region, every municipality dreams of big factories, hotels, company headquarters, or of small and medium sized companies‘ investment into their territories. So investors, who want to conquer another market or want to place a factory closer to their existing markets, also for service reasons, are pampered wherever they might be. It is no accident that very many states, regions or local governments run own offices or agencies in order to attract Investment, and some of them really do a good work. States or regions often have special laws with implicit positive discrimination of foreign investors.

Second, foreign direct investment makes a lot of sense: it brings new technologies, new ways of management, new jobs, new clients, and whoever is the investor also opens a bilateral trade runway between his own country and the investment destination. The WTO takes this into account with the TRIMs Agreement from 15.4.1994 (TRIMs = Trade-related investment measures), the WTO to which Russia acceded only recently. Of course, foreign direct investment may be restricted or excluded in sensitive fields (and Russia has a lot of them), but in principle Russia has less FDI than a „normal“ country, which should have – passively – around a third of the capital in foreign hands (and should also – actively – participate accordingly).

Third, investment decisions are not only a matter of figures, facts and data. Investment decisions are today for around 50% based on emotional Facts. A little town in French Vosges mountains got the Japanese factory because it is a nice region, a beautiful location, near rivers and lakes, near bigger cities, but otherwise like in a fairytale movie, with wild storks etc.. And the wife of a West German owner of a manufacture forced him not to go to Apolda/Thüringen but to Weimar, as this is culturally more interesting and the kids could go there in better schools, etc. After all, the investment destination must be sympathetic to the investor.

Russia has now a problem. In the discussion about sanctions and counter-measures and counter-counter measures, they said among others that it would not be excluded that in retaliating any sanctions Russia may confiscate foreign Investment. Russians who said this may not have worked at any time in any privately held shop or company, otherwise they would have known what immense damage this not too wise formulation brings. It brings … nothing, in the sense that then really nobody will invest anymore. I was advising a German medium-sized enterprise who was convinced to invest in tourism in Siberia. They wanted to acquire or build a lodge. Now came a phone call: „Sorry, we have withdrawn our investment intentions…“. Not because of Crimea, but because of the above mentioned phrase. This phrase has not been used by any of the EU institutions or member states – it would also hit the wrong. But by using this or having it used in an open way, Putin shows either that he does not care at all about the Russian economy, or does not know anything about economy, or both. He has just imposed the biggest sanction against himself, but also against his own people. Another „collateral“ damage in addition to the political and diplomatical damage because of his Crimea action.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal
http://www.eufaj.eu

Neuer EWIV-Workshop am 16.5.14 in Berlin

In welcher Rechtsform sollten Unternehmen, Freiberufler, Vereine usw. in Europa zusammenarbeiten? Eine der möglichen Antworten ist: in der einer EWIV, einer Europäischen wirtschaftlichen Interessenvereinigung. Von manchen als skurrilste europäische Rechtsform bezeichnet, ist die EWIV zwischenzeitlich zwar ohne Seltenheitswert (mit ca. 2.500 EWIV in der EU, mit insgesamt ca. 16.000 Mitgliedern), aber immer noch meistens Gegenstand von Unkenntnis. Mindestens zwei Mitglieder (egal, welche Rechtsform) braucht man dazu, aus mindestens zwei verschiedenen EU-Ländern (dazu kommen noch die EFTA-Länder minus Schweiz, also Norwegen, Liechtenstein und Island). EWIV bezahlen auch keine Unternehmenseinkommensteuer (in Deutschland also keine Gewerbe- oder Körperschaftssteuer). Ein Instrument, das Unternehmen und dem Dritten Sektor (Vereine, Verbände usw.) viel Geld sparen kann – wenn der Vertrag dies erlaubt sowie das Verhalten der Mitglieder.

Das Europäische EWIV-Informationszentrum bei LIBERTAS – Europäisches Institut GmbH führt am Freitag, dem 16.5.2014, von 10 – 16.30 h, einen Workshop zum Thema „Die Europäische Wirtschaftliche Interessenvereinigung (EWIV): „Gründungs-, Rechts- und Steuerfragen der EU-Kooperations-Rechtsform“ in Berlin (Köpenick, pentahotel) durch. Die Referenten: Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, Assessor jur., Leiter des EWIV-Informationszentrum (seit Beginn der 1990er-Jahre), und Dr. Petra Sandner, Vertretungsprofessorin an der Hochschule Merseburg und ebenfalls Expertin für EWIV-Steuerrecht. Hier ist das Programm und die Anmeldeunterlagen: http://www.libertas-institut.com/de/EWIV/16_EWIV_Workshop_Programm_Einladung.pdf.

Näheres zur EWIV (die in jeder EU-Sprache anders heißt!) auch bei http://www.ewiv.eu.

The „Soviet Union 2.0“, the Crimea Peninsula, Ukraine and the EU

Whatever the news are and will be, whoever will have been the masked, uniformed people, the whole world looks and above all will look to the Crimea Peninsula and the South of Ukraine in the next days. It all depends how Putin will act or react – and it cannot be believed that what happened the last two days was a matter of some local commanders of the Russian Black Sea troops while he, Putin, did not know anything. He still tries to play the „good cop“, but nobody believes him anymore. Furthermore he might orchestrate a bigger operation than in Georgia, with Abkhasia and South Ossetia, in 2008, with revealing pictures repeating themselves in Crimea.
Since 1954, Crimea has been submitted by then Soviet Union to the Ukrainian authorities. In May 1992, the region was a punching ball between Russia, the Crimean parliament and Ukraine, with the result that it got a high degree of self-government. It became a kind of decentralised part of Ukraine, with an own constitution and a relatively high degree of self-government. While Russian President Yeltsin and Ukrainian President Kravchuk managed to divide the Soviet Black Sea fleet, Crimean Communists wanted an even more distinguished status of the Peninsula, which had at this time around 2 million of citizens (which decrease from year to year). The Crimean Parliament, however, anchored a clear phrase in the Constitution that the Peninsula was part of Ukraine.

Since this time there were numerous attempts in Crimea to be integrated into Russia and to leave Ukraine. In 2008, Russian passports have been given to Crimea residents, to create citizens to be protected then by Russia – at the same time when Russia did exactly the same in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which were until then provinces of Georgia. Unlike Georgia’s Saakashvili however, the new Ukrainian government will not be torn into a provocation by Russia.

It was evident that „something“ had to happen in the Crimea Peninsula, in which southern part the Russian Black Sea fleet is based. Nothing against this fleet (and most Ukrainians could also live with this), but the Russian action seems to be a clear act of aggression, as another country has partly been occupied now, as Russia has made a no-flight zone over the Crimea, and as light tanks and an army staff of at least 2.000 has been sent to the peninsula to „protect“ (or take) local strategic institutions. Sure, the Crimea has been populated always by a majority of ethnic Russians, and there are ten thousands of Crimea Tatars who came only back to their former residences on Crimea recently, after they have been sent by Stalin in the mid-1940s to Siberia or Central Asia. This population group, of Muslim belief, is committed to live in Ukraine.

Since some street riots, without the loss of lives (except one casualty due to a heart attack), since 26.2.2014 in Simferopol, the Russian president Putin has ordered more than 150.000 Russian troops near the Ukrainian border on alert. Evidently, Russian forces have occupied parts of the Ukraine, which is, to put it mildly, illegal. This is indicated also by flights of helicoter gunships over the Crimea, and the persons which were partly masked and without uniform signs have been Russians, according to local population. Maybe the whole coup is what Moscow wants – but it will have to calculate now with heavy political and probably also economic replies:

1. The Ukraine could cancel the Black Sea Agreement regarding the navy bases in Ukraine. Maybe there is no effect upon this, but the claims could be pursued by international tribunals, and this would contribute to a growing isolation of Russia, which has – in 2014, and not any more in Soviet Union or before, when these things have been undertaken frequently – revived unilaterally a kind of Cold War. Another of course than the one which was held on an ideological basis, but a Cold War not of the old Soviet Union, but of „Soviet Union 2.0“, which evidently is Putin’s Russia today.
2. There will be a heavy consequnce for any country where the possible accession to Putin’s invention, the Eurasian Union and even the Eurasian Customs Union, is considered. The hit to Crimea will cost a lot of credibility, and from now on, the Kremlin is on the defensive regarding this project.
3. It will drive Ukraine much faster into the European Union than foreseen, and it will also set free thoughts about integrating Ukraine into NATO – and this above all from Ukraine.
4. It may bring a further drop of economic relations between the EU and Russia, and therefore contribute to an ever more stagnating economy of Russia – which is one of the biggest problems of the future. Putin cannot, today, calculate any more with the capacity to suffer of the Russian People.
5.In this context, I want to advocate the abolition of visas between the EU and Russia. Thus, Russians can see how Europeans live, how they think, how the EU and the Member States‘ governments and parliaments work. This, and millions of personal contacts and talks will have a long-term effect on Russia.
6. There will be a middle-term effect of free speech in the Crimea. Until now, the Peninsula has been led by Russian propaganda which is considerably different to the facts.
7. We are not anymore in talks between Yeltsin and Helmut Kohl – these times are over. There is an ex-KGB Boss now running the Kremlin, and he clearly wants to create somehow a superpower glory like in Soviet times. This is possibly followed with the same means as in Soviet times, namely with lies, like what Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov said to John Kerry two times during a phone talk these days: that the territorial integrity of Ukraine will not be touched. This means clearly, that there cannot be any more trust and reliance in Russian declarations.
It is evident that the sagas of „fascists“ etc. who „took now power in Kiev“ are nonsense; These are people who wanted to get rid of Yanukovich who marched his own „Berkut“ police units and his secret service against protesters, who did on the long term not accept Yanukovich’s way of retiring from the EU, of accruing personal fortunes and of having a rude leadership, with big deficits in the rule of law and heavy corruption. It has been no miracle that exaggerated expressions of nationalism could grow in this climate, but the Ukrainians are, like all other Europeans who do appreciate that they can live under European values, no fascists. The yet existing democratic deficits can be wiped out easily and in a fast way – this was shown e.g. by the Maidan Council etc.
8. There will be on the next EU summit on 20./21.3.2014 the new government of Ukraine coming to the EU heads of state and government to sign the Association Agreement with the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. This will induce, if not done already, payments of the EU, but wisely bound to reforms and to conditionality. Of course, this may bring problems for the Ukraine and its citizens as well, but only temporarily. The more open the UA government and parliament says this to its own people, the better. After all, this is a heritage from a Person who has cheated his people for millions and billions. It can be looked on the money laundering procedures not only in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, but probably also in other countries.
9. And last but not least, what Putin has done, arranged or accepted in Crimea must have a political, soft-power adequate reply. The EU is and will remain a soft power, in contrat to the Soviet Union 2.0 which is at present Russia – and where people who took part in anti-Putin protests 2 years ago were thrown up to 4 1/2 years to labour camp prison only one day after the Sotchi Winter Olympics ended. The power of weakness, or soft power, has always a longer breath than the weakness of power, or hard power. But above all, the EU has to follow now an articulate policy towards this kind of authoritarian, aggressive rulers in its environment. Doing nothing is no solution for the EU, and Putin and the UA government would be well advised, to settle the question of the Black Sea fleet – an Instrument of only regional and not of strategic importance – in a Guantanamo way, maybe with the rental agreement of a base on eternity“.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal

http://www.eufaj.eu

Lessons from Ukraine’s Maidan for the Eastern Partnership Countries

By Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal

http://www.eufaj.eu

Today night, Saturday, 22.2.2014, Yulya Timoshenko spoke for the first time after her release on the Kiev Maidan, and the questions about the whereabouts of ex-president Yanukuvich and about what he declares now reach the field of the ridiculous. He undergoes the fate of other dictators who have been chased away, and from which fates he did not learn anything.

Now those who have political responsibilities in the EU (and not only of the EU) should however discuss what may or will happen in the next future, i. e. the impact of the Kiev Maidan on Russia and on the other European Partnership Partner states of the EU, as well as on the West Balkan and on Turkey. All these countries, except Russia, have one thing in common: they are possible EU Member States, in the making, in the waiting room. Of course, with different individual distance yet to the European Union.

First, it must be congratulated and thanked to the Ukrainian people, to the heroes – and the dead – of Maidan. This was the latest European revolution which became accelerated by the horror of those who were marched by the government against the protesters, and who felt – on their own or upon the opinion of their families, relatives, colleagues etc. – that this was too much. It is not possible to excuse the Ukrainian government of the deadly snipers who killed by one single shot protesters in an arbitrary way. We will all be witnesses to trials who will be necessary, and – for the sake of the rule of law oif Ukraine – it must be hoped that they are fair. Yanukuvoch must be aware that he might come in a similar situation as Ceaucescu of Romania. Because the state Forces who served him without thinking on their role may become disappointed in a way that they might take revenge.

The impact of the Ukraine events may be also a heavy load on the present Russian government. What e.g. Foreign Minister Lavrov said shortly before and after Yanukovich was lifted out of his position by the Ukrainian parliament, went into a direction, which implied that he has not learnt anything. While Russian (state) TV was a bit more diplomatic, it can be expected now that the Kremlin tries out (again) the collective intelligence of its own people, civil servants and politicians. That means without doubt, that there will be also protests, demonstrations etc. in Russia. But the Kremlin would be totally wrong to react with the usual hard measures: police, arrests, trials, the modern gulag etc. The way, the Kremlin will react on the next demonstrations will indicate if they have learnt anything. It they react as harsh as ever, this may end up in a similar situation like in Ukraine, especially after Sotchi. Of course, the EU played a bigger role in the Ukraine, with its Draft Association Agreement, than in Russia, as Russia is not waiting ante portas of the EU – but it is clear that the so-called „European values“ will now play a bigger role: pluralism, democracy, participative democracy, tolerance, human rights, the rule of law (in all its facets), solidarity, equality, non-discrimination etc. Article 2, 3 et al. EU Treaty (Lisbon Treaty) will be a guiding line for all the countries which are or were foreseen for Putin’s Eurasian Union.

This Eurasian Union, if it were a pragmatic integration tool alone, would not be a problem for the EU. But evidently Putin wants to restore „Soviet Union 2.0“. And the predecessor of the Eurasian Union, the Eurasian Customs Union, is, I am sorry, „ga-ga“. Because e.g. Armenia has to raise its import tariffs from the member countries now from 2,7 to 6,5% to become a member of this Customs Union. There are moer than 800 kinds of goods which should be exempted. This is a huge task to negotiate, and then the Armenian government has to allow to be asked why they want at all into this Customs Union. Any integration System which raises tariffs and therefore prices works against the people – for whom it is originally intended to exist. The EU knows this perfectly, and the Armenian government knows this, but they act against all reasons. It is difficult to understand the Armenian people to swallow this, and above all the government in Yerevan to accept this in principle. The Association Agreement would not have jeopardized any close cooperation between Yerevan and Moscow. The objective of the Association Agreement EU / Armenia would have been the decrease – until zero! – of any custom tariffs, and a free access to the EU Single Market, which is a unique success story for every participant country. The other member states of the Eurasian Customs Union Belarus and Kazakhstan, who take this Customs Union as serious as it merits, sometimes shake their head in view of the Armenian eagerness to join this. Nota bene: Armenia had declared their attachment to the Customs Union on 3rd September 2013, after having celebrated the end of negotiations of the EU Association Agreement/DCFTA only on the 24th July, 2013. Both are imcompatible. This, of course, is the product of pression by Russia,and of nothing else, except an evident weakness in negotiations with Russia from the Armenian side. How this was communicated afterwards, was not subject to any beauty contest, and many European politicians ask themselves now, if they can trust any Armenian declaration. But to complete this, it must be said in the same moment that also Azerbaijan policymaking has many deficits, like e.g. the breach of Council of Europe conventions.

From the Eastern Partnership countries, Georgia and most probably Moldova will continue their way to the EU. Of course sometimes with small curves, but here may be optimism the appropriate position. Armenia will, if it really implements the Customs Union laws, soon be disappointed, and I do not exclude a kind of civil society-based movement there pleading openly for an accession to the EU. This would, of course, also help Armenia towards its problems with Turkey (and also Turkey with Armenia), and with Azerbaijan, including the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan will probably not be the Primary subject of any Maidan fallout, as the president, Ilham Aliev, has the Country in not too democratic grips – but in general, the opposition against the present system will be encouraged as well, and nothing can be excluded – and Azerbaijan may be the most corrupt Council of Europe Member State.

Rests still Belarus, the 6th Eastern Partnership Partner state. In Belarus, where many activists helped on the Maidan (and some of them have even been killed by the Berkud Police Forces and/or the Secret Service sniper units), this may become an issue. Above all, the economic situation of this country is deplorable, and it can not be expected that Russia feeds open-end barrels without bottom. So Belarus will soon have another look for more EU support. Belarus is a country which cooperates already now, so far it does cooperate, correctly with the EU. This is not the way its president Lukashenko preaches, but it – and he – does.

After all, there will be further centripetal power of the European Union. The EU is not a nationalist event, nor a military or likewise system (as the German party „Die Linke“ recently said), but a chance for all of the Eastern Partnership countries to join. Sooner or later this will happen, and we are now exactly in the situation when the Soviet grips have been loosened to the e.g. Baltic countries in the early 1990s – states are today seasoned, experienced and very positive European Union members. After all, the EU enlargement policy will get a new boost, even if the issue of enlargement is not explicitly pronounced – as the EU often had fears to tell it to its own people. This has to finish, and in the EU everything which has to come has to be discussed. The Ukraine events have probably woken up the EU citizens, or a great deal of them, and the fact that the next Ukrainian election will be held on the same date as the 2014 European Parliament elections, namely the 25th May, indicates that Ukraine is now ante portas as well. Maybe not in the next 5 or 10 or even more years. But nobody should forget that e.g countries like Latvia have been a EU Member State exact 10 years after the application was made. And that the economic development of all new Central and Eastern Member States went into the right direction. It is not necessary that the same economic Level has been reached by any future member state immediately – it is only important that the economic policy follows the right direction, to join the EU which has also high disparities within its Member States.

So, nobody should be astonished, if in other Eastern Partnership states, like e.g. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, or in Russia, or in Bosnia-Herzegovina or Turkey, similar movements like on Maidan might occur.

Ukraine: The Decisions of the EU Council from 20.2.2014 against the Responsibles of the Kiev Bloodshed

It could now be written more and in very clear words about the sSituation in Ukraine. In particular, why dictator Yanukovich did not yet sign the unanimous decision of the Parliament, where 34 members of his Party of Regions have contributed to a Lifting of the „Anti-Terror rules“ for the Police, enabling also the army to take part (whch is not likely now). This Parliament decision Needs the signature of Yanukovich to become valid. We could also write that the Parliament press Speaker has evidently left Ukraine, together with his fsmily, another sign of Dissolution, and that the whole Police in various cities has pledged not to fight against the protesters thus showing Support for them. In this context, it is cynical what a German M.P. from „Die Linke“ has said on the Events in Ukraine, quasi excusing what Yanukovich’s death squadrons did today.

But we want today to help the EU getting a bit more public by distributing the text of their Council decision from today’s 20.2.2014:

„COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
EN
Council conclusions on Ukraine
FOREIG AFFAIRS Council Meeting, Brussels, 20 February 2014

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

1. The European Union is appalled and deeply dismayed by the deteriorating situation in
Ukraine. No circumstances can justify the repression we are currently witnessing. We
condemn in the strongest terms all use of violence. Those responsible for grave human rights
violations should be brought to justice. Our thoughts are with the families of those who have
lost their lives and with the injured. We call for an immediate end to the violence, full respect
of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right of access to medical
assistance, and for urgent independent investigations into Human Rights violations, notably
through the Council of Europe International Advisory Panel. We call upon the Government to
exercise maximum restraint and opposition leaders to distance themselves from those who
resort to radical action, including violence. It urges the Ukrainian government to abide by its
obligations under international Human Rights instruments to which it is a State party. Any
further escalation, including the introduction of a State of Emergency, or the use of the armed
forces against protesters must be avoided.

2. We call on all sides to engage, without further delay, in a meaningful dialogue, to fulfil the
legitimate democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people. Recalling its conclusions of 10
February, as well as statements by the President of the European Council, President of the
European Commission, and the EU’s High Representative, the Council remains fully
committed to offering its assistance to promote political dialogue between the sides and help
de-escalate the situation. We expect Ukraine’s elected representatives to assume their political
responsibilities, including in the Verkhovna Rada. The Council underlines that the prime
responsibility for the current situation, and for taking the first step to enable such a dialogue
lies squarely with President Yanukovych and the Ukrainian authorities.

3. The European Union continues to believe that any lasting solution to the political crisis must
include constitutional reform, the formation of a new inclusive government and the creation
of the conditions for democratic elections. We remain ready to support Ukraine in the process
of reform to deliver a stable, prosperous and democratic future for its citizens. Our offer of
political association and economic integration remains on the table. The Council recalls that
the Association Agreement, including a DCFTA, does not constitute the final goal in EUUkraine
cooperation. Furthermore, the European Union stands ready to offer assistance and
support humanitarian organisations for the replenishment of stocks of medicine and medical
equipment for the treatment of people affected by the violence.

4. In light of the deteriorating situation, the EU has decided as a matter of urgency to introduce
targeted sanctions including asset freeze and visa ban against those responsible for human
rights violations, violence and use of excessive force. Member States agreed to suspend
export licences on equipment which might be used for internal repression and reassess export
licences for equipment covered by Common Position 2008/944/CFSP. The Council tasked the
relevant Working Parties to make the necessary preparations immediately. The scale of
implementation will be taken forward in the light of developments in Ukraine.

5. Faced with such grave crisis in Europe, the EU will continue to work in close cooperation
with the international community, including in support of both the OSCE and the Council of
Europe, to find a lasting, inclusive solution that respects the rights of all Ukrainians.

6. The Council underscores the importance of a vibrant civil society for ensuring the democratic
and prosperous future of Ukraine. It reiterates the commitment to enhance people-to-people
contacts between the EU and Ukraine, i.a. through the visa liberalisation process, along with
agreed conditions in the framework of the VLAP. Meanwhile, the Council encourages
Member States to make optimal use of the Visa Facilitation Agreement provisions and of flexibilities offered by the Visa Code.“

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal

En Tunisie, l’Assemblée nationale constituante adopte la nouvelle Constitution

Ce blog est apparu le 27 janvier 2014 à MULTIPOL. Voyez sous: http://reseau-multipol.blogspot.pt/.

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Par David ROY

Trois ans après la chute de Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, la Tunisie a enfin une nouvelle Constitution. Le 26 janvier, l’Assemblée nationale a adopté la Loi fondamentale avec une majorité écrasante de 200 voix pour, 12 contre et 4 abstentions, dépassant largement la majorité nécessaire de 145 votes.

Les élus ont célébré l’événement en chantant l’hymne national, brandissant des drapeaux tunisiens et les doigts en signe de victoire. Ils ont ensuite scandé „fidèles, fidèles au sang des martyrs de la révolution“ de janvier 2011, qui chassa Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali du pouvoir. „Nous sacrifions notre âme et notre sang pour toi, Tunisie“, ont-ils également crié dans un moment d’unité rare dans cet hémicycle, marqué pendant plus de deux ans par les disputes, les échanges d’invectives et les controverses.

„Dans cette Constitution, tous les Tunisiens et Tunisiennes se retrouvent, [elle] préserve nos acquis et jette les fondements d’un État démocratique“, a déclaré Mustapha Ben Jaafar, le président de l’Assemblée, qui avait annoncé juste avant le vote que „l’Histoire [retiendrait] avec beaucoup de fierté cette journée“.

L’adoption de ce texte a été saluée par le Secrétaire général des Nations Unies, Ban Ki-moon, pour qui la Tunisie vient de vivre une „étape historique“, offrant un „modèle pour les autres peuples aspirant à des réformes“.

Un exécutif bicéphale et une place réduite à l’Islam

La nouvelle Constitution consacre un exécutif bicéphale et accorde une place réduite à l’islam. Elle introduit aussi pour la première fois dans le monde arabe un objectif de parité homme-femme dans les assemblées élues. Ce compromis vise à éviter toute dérive autoritaire, mais aussi à rassurer ceux qui craignaient que les islamistes n’imposent leurs positions dans un pays à forte tradition séculière.

Élue en octobre 2011, l’Assemblée devait achever la loi fondamentale en un an mais les crises à répétition, opposant notamment les islamistes d’Ennahdha majoritaires et leurs détracteurs, ont été la cause d’un retard considérable. „Je me sens pour la première fois réconciliée avec cette Assemblée“, a déclaré Nadia Chaabane, députée du parti Massar, opposée aux islamistes, en référence aux multiples controverses qui ont marqué les travaux de l’Assemblée constituante (ANC).

Ce 27 janvier, deux cérémonies sont prévues, l’une ce matin à l’Assemblée où la Constitution sera paraphée par les dirigeants tunisiens, et une seconde, dans l’après-midi, à la présidence. L’adoption de ce texte intervient quelques heures après l’annonce de la composition d’un Gouvernementd’indépendants devant conduire la Tunisie vers des élections législatives et présidentielle en 2014. Les islamistes d’Ennahdha ont, en effet, accepté de quitter le pouvoir pour laisser un cabinet politique sortir la Tunisie de la profonde crise déclenchée par l’assassinat du député d’opposition Mohamed Brahmi, attribuée à la mouvance jihadiste, en juillet dernier.

La compétence, l’indépendance et l’intégrité

Le nouveau Gouvernement, qui doit recevoir, cette semaine, la confiance de la Constituante, a été composé par le ministre de l’Industrie sortant, Mehdi Jomaâ. Six semaines auront donc été nécessaires à la classe politique pour accepter de lui laisser les rênes. „J’ai formé ma liste sur la base de trois critères : la compétence, l’indépendance et l’intégrité“, a-t-il annoncé, après avoir remis la liste des ministres au Président Moncef Marzouki. Ce cabinet est „une équipe extraordinaire qui a conscience des défis“, a-t-il ajouté, „la mission n’est pas facile“, la Tunisie étant sans cesse déstabilisée par l’essor de jihadistes, les batailles politiques et les conflits sociaux, déjà moteur du soulèvement de 2011.

Le Gouvernement regroupe aussi bien des hauts fonctionnaires, des magistrats que des personnalités venues du privé. Le ministre de l’Intérieur, Lotfi Ben Jeddou, a par ailleurs été maintenu, bien que ses détracteurs aient lutté jusqu’au bout pour qu’il quitte ses fonctions. Mehdi Jomaâ a souligné enfin que „les élections représentent la priorité des priorités“.

À ce titre, les travaux de l’ANC ne sont d’ailleurs pas finis puisqu’une législation électorale doit encore être adoptée. Par ailleurs, le gouvernement devra faire face à une situation économique très difficile, la croissance restant en berne et le chômage très élevé, notamment en raison de l’incertitude et de l’instabilité dans le pays depuis 2011. Des vagues de violences, nourries par la misère, éclatent régulièrement. La Tunisie, berceau du Printemps arabe, a cependant réussi, jusqu’à présent, à ne pas basculer dans le chaos.

New Series of Fiction Literature (Which Helps to Understand the World)

LIBERTAS – European Institute GmbH (LIBERTAS Press + Publishing) starts in mid-February 2014 a new project:
• Until Spring 2014 we have only published economic, legal and social science non-fiction publications, as eBooks and print books. Now we intend to publish eBooks / books with short stories (or longer ones) in fiction – this is the new deal of our publication division.
• The publications shall have a title of e.g. „Short stories from … (here the author’s country/region’s, or group of people, name)“ or „Short stories from young authors in …“ (but young authors can also be elder people who are not yet on the European or German book market; we also can think of publications in French language). But every other title may be possible as well, and we are not restricted to short stories only.
• If short stories, we would also try to collect several into one book, but if one author wants to publish several himself, then he would be, of course, published alone.
• We prefer unpublished texts, but – as you never should say never – we do not exclude that we publish also published texts, provided the author has kept the copyright for other languages, or are open to a percentage-oriented license fee participation.
• We intend to publish books on the German speaking market, but also on the English speaking or French speaking market (maybe together with another publishing company).
• We do not exclude that this will be a series of publications (short stories from different countries).
• There should be envisaged first an eBook, and possibly later a print book.
• The texts will be accepted in the relevant mother language of the authors, but also (with) translations in English, German or French.
• The translations would otherwise be tried to be taken in charge by relevant government external culture policy funds, or by EU literature translation funds, or by special arrangements which can be discussed individually between us and the authors, or by ourselves or a sponsor.
• If there are no special arrangements, there is no planning for a one-shot honorary fee or advances, but for a permanent participation from the very beginning, however until a threshold lower than after this threshold. This can be much more honorary fee altogether than any one-shot payment.
• We can publish also texts under a pseudonym (alias name), if this is useful. As we are based in the European Union, we have full freedom of expression and can quasi publish all we want.

Please contact by e-mail (if possible with [some of] your texts, otherwise with a short description): zahorka@libertas-institut.com (send an open security copy to zahorka@gmx.de).
LIBERTAS – European Institute GmbH / Press + Publications, attn. Mr. Hans-Juergen Zahorka, Lindenweg 37, 72414 Rangendingen, Germany.
Website: http://www.libertas-institut.eu, phone +49-7471-984996-13, or Skype „zahorka“.

Switzerland May Face Problems with the European Union

Today Switzerland has approved by a referendum with slightly more than 50% and a turnout of 56% in the vote the limitation of Immigration, although it is obliged to keep free circulation with European Union workers. Although business circles have warned of such a result as Swiss economy Needs and will Need many foreign workers, it had been predicted by polls. Evidently, the Swiss voting population has followed xenophobic arguments rather than voices of European solidarity and economic rationality.

Now Switzerland will have to change its legislation into the restricted direction within three years. We will see what comes out. In any way, the European Union has to react somehow, as free movement of people cannot be separated from free movement of goods, services and capital – this is evident and every Swiss knows it. Also, Switzerland may become now, on the explicit request of its own population (which was not shared by the Government) a kind of „paria“ in European politics. As the „Bilaterals“, how the Bilateral Agreements with the EU are called in Switzerland, might soon be not worth the paper they are written on, the question will arise what an Agreement with Switzerland is worth at all if it is recalled by an immediate referendum, and how reliable this state is – although the state has only given good examples for reliability. But as the EU is snubbed now, there must and will be a retaliation by the EU. There will be very many examples for this; one of the best examples for this might be the case when the EU does not speak with Switzerland in some fields. There may be also an EU legislation where Switzerland is not consulted beforehand. The damage may, however, be limited. I personally do regret the result of this vote very strongly, as I have many contacts to Swiss Europeans and live quite close to the Swiss border and therefore know a bit about this country. Maybe this provincialist vote may have an effect, namely to bring those Swiss more into the offensive who advocate a full membership in the EU. We have learned that either present or new Member States of the EU have restrictions in free movement, without problems, which of course is not not the case in Switzerland. Switzerland has outed themselves now as a country whose population tries to „pick out“ only the goodies, but is not willing to carry any responsibilities – as I mentioned, this does not concern the government, but the overall population. About the ethical background of this vote there will be written more in the near future; in any case this goes very well in the direction of the famous public vote where the set-up of new mosques in Switzerland has been limited. This has been confirmed now by the open xenophobic and not very far-looking vote today.

Of course, this popular vote has to and will vbe respected. But it will not be accepted, and Switzerland will have to carry ist Long-term consequences.

It confirms that today a public vote or referendum in the middle of a legislative term is more and more abused as a punishment for the government or as an outbreak of populist tendencies. This is the real morality to EU citizens who are confronted with likewise requests and political programmes almost everywhere. In Switzerland it shows a structural problem of direct democracy: While it may have been justified in the times of Wilhelm Tell more than 700 years ago, a modern information society (which is always claimed for Switzerland, but one can really doubt this) with a partly contested government form is clearly sensible for populist arguments, which always come from a political extreme, and this mainly from the right. In addition, it shows also the end of the „example Switzerland“ for any other Country. From today, Switzerland is a third country for the EU like all the others.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
http://www.eufaj.eu

Ukraine – EU: The full text of the Draft Association Agreement, and a EU paper on myths in this context

Since a while already we have published the full text of the Draft Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU, and it has turned out to be dery popular. So once more, if you want to see the more than 900 pages in detail, go on http://www.libertas-institut.com/de/EUFAJ/EU_Ukraine_Association_Agreement.pdf. Here you can find what has been first welcomed by the Ukrainian government – and some days before the signing date in November 2013 in Vilnius/Lithuania has been canceled by Ukrainian president Yanukovich. The EU would have helped in smoothly reforming the Ukrainian economy, contributing also to democratisation and the rule of law in this country (and our readers from Armenia can see what also to them has been deprived by a unilateral move by President Serzh Sargsyan’s on 3rd Sept. 2013).

Furthermore, also on the webpage of European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ), http://www.eufaj.eu, there is a EU Commission paper entitled „Myths about the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement – Setting the facts straight“, with all kind of negative voices and prejudices as used or lanced by government sources in Ukraine, but also with the relevant counter arguments of the EU. Finally the Impression seems justified that the EU does not accept any longer that „someone pees on their legs, and then wonders why the legs are wet“. See on the EUFAJ Website under: http://www.libertas-institut.com/de/EUFAJ/140122_UA-EU_AA_Myths_tradoc_152074_COM.pdf.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka

New German Language Policies

These days new provisions on language policy have been enacted in Germany, which is a good example for diversity. Although I use to be very thrifty to write too positive things about my own country, I feel, however, that these two examples are absolutely positive:

First, the Sorbian language in East Germany: The Sorbians are a Slavic minority in Saxonia/Brandenburg, around Bautzen and Cottbus, with approx. 50-60.000 People altogether. In Brandenburg, the Landtag (regional parliament) decided now a new version of the relevant minority law. Sorbians will be able in the future to write in their language to authorities, and the language of Lower Sorbian in kindergartens and schools will be enhanced. Lower Sorbian (closer to Polish) thus shall be protected of being extinguished in the course of time (while Upper Sorbian, closer to Czech, is spoken by more people, south of Cottbus). However, three local Administrations are still in yesterday’s dimensions: Forst, Lübben, Senftenberg. They fear the expenses on their local budget if they would have to implement a second language. So, there must be hope that mere budgetary concerns will not overcome legitimate diversity considerations in favour of a very interesting minority.

Second, French in the German Region of Saarland, with its capital Saarbrücken. The Grand Coalition of CDU and SPD just have presented their „Strategy on French“ („Frankreich-Strategie“). Within one generation, French shall be the second colloquial language. Saarland belonged, until a referendum in 1957, to France, and borders France and Luxemburg. It is among the smallest German federal states with approx. one million of citizens. The strategy includes, among others, French courses in kindergartens and elementary schools. With this, Saarland wants to obtain more sole competences among the German regions – which makes a lot of sense in a two-way street between France and Germany.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
http://www.eufaj.eu