Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα Germany. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα Germany. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Τρίτη, Αυγούστου 08, 2017

Παρασκευή, Μαρτίου 20, 2015

Greece to present new reform plan (20/3/15)

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has agreed to accelerate a list of economic reforms in order to avoid running out of money within weeks following a three-hour meeting with the leaders of France and Germany, the president of the ECB and the head of the eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers.

Τετάρτη, Φεβρουαρίου 18, 2015

Germany says peace plan for Ukraine 'damaged' not dead

Germany condemned the seizure of a strategic east Ukrainian town by pro-Russian rebels on Wednesday as a "massive violation" of a ceasefire, but said it was too early to call the broader Minsk peace plan dead or ratchet up sanctions against Moscow.

The withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the encircled town of Debaltseve on Wednesday was a blow to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's efforts to clinch a negotiated solution to the year-long conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

But Berlin appears to be hoping that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who the West accuses of actively supporting the rebels, will respect other aspects of a peace plan agreed last year in the Belarus capital, now that the rebels have achieved their goal of capturing Debaltseve.
Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert pointed to a resolution by the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday as a positive signal. Backed by Russia, the resolution called on all parties in eastern Ukraine to stop fighting and to implement the Minsk peace deal.

"The German government resolutely condemns the military actions by the separatists in Debaltseve. It is a massive violation of the ceasefire that went into effect on Sunday," Seibert said.
"We believe the Minsk process is under strain, it has perhaps been damaged, but we still believe it makes sense to continue working. The UN resolution appears to send a signal in the right direction."

Merkel, speaking later at a gathering of her conservative party in eastern Germany, did not mention the developments in Debaltseve, but said she wanted to work with Russia, not against it, to restore peace in Europe.

Some German politicians, including Juergen Hardt, a defense expert in her Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said the siege of the town was reason to consider tough new sanctions against Moscow.
But Merkel's spokesman was more cautious, saying more punitive measures hinged on developments on the ground in eastern Ukraine.
"If the fighting doesn't stop after the fall of Debaltseve, new sanctions are likely," said Ulrich Speck of the Carnegie Europe think tank.
"I don't think yet that the 'nuclear economic option', cutting off Russia from SWIFT, is going to happen," he added, referring to the international bank transaction system.
Although Merkel's pursuit of dialogue with Putin is popular at home, the rebel advance has left her vulnerable to critics abroad, among them hawks in the U.S. Congress, who have accused her of naively persisting with diplomacy in the face of repeated broken promises by Putin.
In a statement on Tuesday, Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham accused Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, who negotiated the ceasefire last week with Putin and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, of "legitimizing the dismemberment of a sovereign nation in Europe".
They have called on President Barack Obama to send defensive arms to the Ukrainian army, a step Merkel opposes and cautioned against during a visit to Washington earlier this month. The rebel siege of Debaltseve could increase pressure on the president to ignore her warnings and send such weapons.
"The open question is what Putin does now," said a senior German official who requested anonymity.
"Is Debaltseve another step in a process that goes even further or does Putin now have an interest in sticking to the other aspects of the Minsk agreement? If Minsk does fall apart then there will have to be consequences." 

Κυριακή, Φεβρουαρίου 01, 2015

Greece offers olive branch as search for allies begins

Greece sought to repair relations with its international creditors on Saturday (Jan 31) as the new anti-austerity government began a charm offensive in European capitals, even as Germany insisted it would not support any debt relief...

Just hours before Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis headed to Paris to seek support for a renegotiation Greece's massive loans, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he believed a deal could be reached with the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"No side is seeking conflict and it has never been our intention to act unilaterally on Greek debt," Tsipras said in a statement issued to the Bloomberg news agency.

In its first meeting with creditors since it took office, the Greek government clashed with the head of the Eurozone finance ministers on Friday over its plans to rethink its rescue package and to halve Greece's debt.

Tsipras, who will himself visit Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and French President Francois Hollande next week, said Greece had no intention of reneging on its commitments to the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

"My obligation to respect the clear mandate of the Greek people with respect to ending the policies of austerity and returning to a growth agenda, in no way entails that we will not fulfil our loan obligations to the ECB (European Central Bank) or the IMF," he said. "On the contrary, it means that we need time to breathe and create our own medium-term recovery programme."

This includes aiming to balance the budget - excluding debt repayments - and clamping down on tax evasion, corruption and policies which favour only a wealthy few, he said.

"I am absolutely confident that we will soon manage to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, both for Greece and for Europe as a whole," Tsipras said.


Varoufakis was to leave for Paris on Saturday night with talks scheduled with French finance minister Michel Sapin and economy minister Emmanuel Macron on Sunday. Neither he nor Tsipras are intending to visit Germany, which has shouldered the bulk of Greece's loans and which strongly objects to Athens' plans.

Merkel on Saturday ruled out fresh debt relief for Greece, telling the Hamburger Abendblatt daily: "There has already been voluntary debt forgiveness by private creditors, banks have already slashed billions from Greece's debt."

"I do not envisage fresh debt cancellation," she said, as a new poll for broadcaster ZDF found 76 per cent of Germans oppose any reduction in debt.

Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho also opposes any renegotiation of Greece's debt, saying it would "go against the interests of Portugal and the Portugese people".

Despite a restructuring in 2012, Greece is still lumbered with a debt pile of more than 315 billion euros, upwards of 175 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) - an EU record.

But in its first week in power, the government scrapped the privatisation of Greece's two main ports and the state power company and announced a major raise in the minimum wage.

Varoufakis also raised the stakes by saying that Greece wanted direct access to its EU-IMF creditors and would no longer work with their widely hated fiscal audit staff team, known as the "troika".

Martin Schulz, the German head of the European Parliament, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine on Saturday that this position was "irresponsible".


Varoufakis's comments followed a strained meeting on Friday with Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who represents finance ministers from the 19-nation Eurozone. Dijsselbloem warned Athens that "taking unilateral steps or ignoring previous arrangements is not the way forward".

Greece has been promised another 7.2 billion euros (US$8.1 billion, S$10.9 billion) in funds from the EU, IMF and European Central Bank (ECB), but this is dependent on the completion of a review of reforms at the end of February.

  • Varoufakis has said his government does not want the loans, but there are concerns Greece cannot survive without them. These concerns are focused on Greece's banks, which are helping the state stay afloat by purchasing its treasury bills - and which are being supported by the ECB.
  • "If the ECB turns the tap off, it's over," Alexandre Delaigue, economics professor at the elite French military academy Saint-Cyr, told AFP.
The stunning success of Syriza in last Sunday's polls sent shockwaves through Europe and gave encouragement to other anti-austerity parties.

Tens of thousands of people, meanwhile, took to the streets of Madrid on Saturday in support of the Spanish party Podemos, which has been surging in polls ahead of elections later this year. Like Syriza, Podemos has found popular support by targeting corruption and rejecting austerity programmes aimed at lifting the countries out of deep economic crisis.

- AFP/fl

31/1/15 --1/2/15


Τετάρτη, Ιανουαρίου 28, 2015

Greek PM Tsipras pledges radical change, markets tumble

Leftwing Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras threw down an open challenge to international creditors today by halting privatisation plans agreed under the country's bailout deal, prompting a third day of heavy losses on financial markets...

A swift series of announcements signaled the newly installed government would stand by its anti-austerity pledges, setting it on course for a clash with European partners, led by Germany, which has said it will not renegotiate the aid package needed to help Greece pay its debts.

Tsipras told the first meeting of his cabinet members that they could not afford to disappoint the voters who gave them a mandate in Sunday's election, which his Syriza party won decisively.

After announcing a halt to the privatisation of the port of Piraeus yesterday, for which China's Cosco Group and four other suitors had been shortlisted, the government said on Wednesday it would block the sale of a stake in the Public Power Corporation of Greece (PPC).

It also plans to reinstate public sector employees judged to have been laid off without proper justification and announced rises in pension payments for retired people on low incomes.

Uncertainty over the new government's relations with the European Union went beyond economic policy. A day before the EU is expected to extend sanctions against Russia for six months, it was unclear if Athens would back its European partners on this move, after dissenting over a joint statement from the bloc on Ukraine yesterday.

Tsipras, who met Russia's ambassador to Athens on Monday and the Chinese envoy the next day, told ministers that the government would not seek "a mutually destructive clash" with creditors. But he warned Greece would not back down from demanding a renegotiation of debt.

"We are coming in to radically change the way that policies and administration are conducted in this country," he said.

Financial markets have taken fright. Greek bank stocks plunged more than 22 percent today, taking their cumulative losses since the election to 40 percent.

The overall Athens stock market fell almost 8 percent , while Greek five-year government bond yields hit around 13.5 percent. This marked their highest level since a 2012 restructuring which wrote off a large proportion of Greek debt held by private investors.

Newly-appointed Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who meets Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the euro zone finance ministers' group on Friday, said negotiations would not be easy but he expected they would find common ground.

"There won't be a duel between Greece and Europe," he said, in his first meeting with reporters since taking office.

Varoufakis said he would meet the finance ministers of France and Italy - both countries which have pressed for a change of course in Europe from rigid budget orthodoxy - in the coming days.

France has ruled out straight cancellation of Greece's debt, about 80 percent of which is held by other euro zone governments and multinational organisations such as the IMF. However, Paris has said it would be open to talks on making Greece's debt burden more sustainable and Tsipras is expected to meet President Francois Hollande before an EU summit on Feb. 12.

The response from Germany was frosty. Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Athens should have discussed the halt to privatisations with its partners before making an announcement.

"Citizens of other euro states have a right to see that the deals linked to their acts of solidarity are upheld," he said, adding that it would be the "wrong solution" for Greece to quit the euro but that it was up to Athens to decide.

Fears that talks between the new government and its creditors would break down, with unforeseeable consequences for Greece's future in Europe, fuelled the third successive day of f turmoil on the markets.

Tsipras said the government would pursue balanced budgets but would not seek to build up "unrealistic surpluses" to service Greece's massive public debt of more than 175 percent of gross domestic product.

Priorities would be helping the weakest sections of society, with policies to attack endemic cronyism and corruption in the economy, reduce waste and cut Greece's record unemployment.

The new government also confirmed it would stop the planned sale of state assets, in line with its election pledges.

Shares in PPC, which is 51 percent owned by the state and controls almost all of Greece's retail electricity market, were down nearly 13 percent, while Piraeus Port stock fell nearly 8 percent.

"We will halt immediately any privatisation of PPC," Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis told Greek television a few hours before officially taking over his portfolio. "There will be a new PPC which will help considerably the restoration of the country's productive activities," he said.

The previous government of conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras passed legislation last year to spin off part of PPC to liberalise the energy market under a privatisation plan agreed under the EU/IMF bailout.


Κυριακή, Ιανουαρίου 04, 2015

Germany: Greek euro exit is now possible, report says

 Germany is prepared to accept a Greek exit from the euro, the magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday.

"The German government considers a Eurozone exit by Greece to be almost inevitable if opposition leader Alexis Tsipras leads the government after the election and abandons budgetary discipline and does not repay the country's debts," Der Spiegel reported on its website, citing unnamed government sources.

Tspiras’ radical left coalition SYRIZA is the most likely winner of the upcoming elections on Jan. 25, according to the polls. SYRIZA has strongly criticized the unpopular austerity measures imposed by the terms of the bailouts that the Greek government accepted in 2010 and 2012.

The German government had considered a Greek exit from the euro in 2012, but ultimately rejected the idea out of concerns for the threat it would pose to the entire European Monetary System. There was a danger that "contagion," or credit risk, would spread to other EU nations, like Spain and Ireland and Portugal, which were also struggling with financial crisis at that time.

According to the report, the German government believes that reformed financial regulations in the EU will ring-fence Greece, and control contagion risk.

The German government has neither confirmed nor denied Der Spiegel’s story on Sunday.

" Greece has fulfilled its obligations in the past. The federal government assumes that Greece will continue to meet its obligations,” government spokesman Georg Streiter said in a brief statement to German media.

The years of austerity imposed by the bailout programs have soured sentiment against the coalition government of the New Democracy and Panhellenic Socialist Movement political parties. The coalition has cut wages and social services, increased taxes and laid off public sector workers.

Germany’s opposition Left Party has blamed Chancellor Merkel’s coalition government for deliberately triggering crisis and instability in Greece ahead of elections on Jan 25.

The Left Party’s co-chairman Bernd Riexinger described the move as “lighting a bomb.”

“Greece would be destabilized ahead of the elections with such open blackmail in public,” Riexinger said. He warned that following speculation in the press, Greek citizens might rush to the banks.


Κυριακή, Δεκεμβρίου 21, 2014

Economic slump in Russia to wield telling impact on Germany companies

Economic slump in Russia poses an increasingly serious threat to the German companies operating in that country, the President of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), Dr. Volker Treier said in an interview published by Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

The crisis in the Russian economy is putting an increasingly bigger brake on the business operations of German companies in Russia, Dr. Treier said, adding their activities were suffering in the first place from the falling exchange rate of the ruble.
A poll taken among the 300 or German companies in Russia showed that one company in three would have to cut their staffs if the situation did not improve shortly.

Executives of as many as 36% companies believed they would have to cancel the previously planned projects, Dr. Treier said.

In addition, he indicated that 10% companies reported their time-tested Russian partners were reorienting to the Asiatic markets.

To round out the rather discouraging picture, one company in eight was pondering withdrawal of its business from Russia, Dr. Treier said.

Δευτέρα, Οκτωβρίου 13, 2014

European Commission welcomes electricity subsea cables linking Norway to Germany and UK (EC - 13.10.14)

European Commission, Statement, Brussels, 13 October 2014:

"The EU Commission welcomed the announcement made today by the Norwegian government to licence the construction of two subsea cables linking Norway to Germany and UK. The two 1400 MW subsea cables will enable the three countries to exchange electricity and use the Norwegian hydropower potential.
Vice-President of the EU Commission, responsible for Energy, Günther H. Oettinger said: "This will help enormously to integrate renewable energy in North-West Europe. Germany and UK can sell renewable energy to Norway when weather conditions are such that they produce a lot and Norway can sell electricity from hydropower. This will benefit both sides and balance the system."

The licence granted today is a further step towards building the two subsea cables. The NORD.LINK interconnector will run between Norway and Germany and the North Sea Network (NSN) will run between Norway and UK with a goal to be operational by 2020 at the latest. 

The integration of the Norwegian, German and UK electricity markets, which at the moment are not connected directly, will ensure improved security of supply in the two countries, increase market efficiency and further integrate renewables.
In June 2012, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg agreed a partnership between the three countries to secure sustainable long term energy security through interconnectors connecting Norway to Germany and UK."

Τετάρτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 17, 2014

Report: Poland receives 20% less Russian gas per day. (Qualcuno ruba il gas alla Polonia)

Late on Wednesday, PGNiG reported receiving 20 million cubic meters of gas per day, which is slightly less than the planned volume...

WARSAW, September 17. /ITAR-TASS/. Poland has been receiving 19 million-20 million cubic meters of Russian gas per day, which is 20% less than Polish energy company PGNiG requested from gas giant Gazprom, Bloomberg reported Wednesday referring to CEO of the country’s pipeline operator Gaz-System Jan Chadam.

Late on Wednesday, PGNiG reported receiving 20 million cubic meters of gas per day, which is slightly less than the planned volume.

  • Since September 8, gas pipeline operators in Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Romania, and Italy have separately reported on declines in Russian gas supplies varying from 5% in Romania to 45% in Poland.

On September 11, Gazprom’s representative Sergei Kupriyanov said that the company’s gas exports to Poland remain intact, and they are going with the same daily amount as through all the previous days - 23 million cubic meters.

On Monday, Gazprom said that cuts in Russian gas deliveries to Europe are caused by gas pumping into domestic underground storage facilities.

Δευτέρα, Σεπτεμβρίου 15, 2014

European Commission postpones decision on OPAL pipeline until October 31

The delay was provoked by the upcoming trilateral gas talks between Russia, the European Union and Ukraine, the date of which has not been determined yet...

MOSCOW, September 15. /ITAR-TASS/. The European Commission has postponed the decision on the OPAL pipeline, which links Russia and Europe via Nord Stream bypassing transit countries, until October 31, the Russian Energy Ministry said on Monday.
The ministry confirmed it had received the Commission’s postponement note.

The delay was provoked by the upcoming trilateral gas talks between Russia, the European Union and Ukraine, the date of which has not been determined yet.
By delaying the decision, the European Commission is trying to give Kiev better positions in the negotiations with Gazprom, taking into account the latter’s interest in preserving a viable transit route via Ukraine, a source told ITAR-TASS.

The European Commission was expected to decide by September 15 whether Gazprom could fill up the whole of the OPAL pipeline, which is the final distribution link of the Nord Stream pipeline.

Under the Third Energy Package, some of OPAL’s capacities should be reserved for gas from independent suppliers. In practice, this will limit Gazprom’s gas supplies to Europe by Nord Stream, which appears to be the most reliable route amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on August 29 after talks with EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger that the working group on access to OPAL would meet shortly.

The OPAL (Ostsee Pipeline Anbindungs-Leitung) is a natural gas pipeline in Germany alongside the German eastern border. The OPAL pipeline is one of two projected pipelines to connect the Nord Stream pipeline to the existing pipeline grid in Middle and Western Europe, the other one being the NEL pipeline.

The OPAL will pick up the natural gas in Lubmin near Greifswald from the Nord Stream pipeline and transport it 470 kilometres south to Olbernhau on the Czech border. The OPAL will not only provide connecting points for discharging the gas into the existing pipeline network, it will also link up the current natural gas transit lines. That will strengthen Germany's position as a focal point in Europe for the growing natural gas market.
Nord Stream will transport 27.5 billion cubic metres of natural gas from late 2011, and up to 55 billion cubic metres from 2012. This amount of gas corresponds to the energy produced by 55 coal power plants pr 20 new nuclear reactors.
The Shtokman gas and condensate field will be a resource base for gas deliveries via Nord Stream.

Δευτέρα, Αυγούστου 11, 2014

Germany asks Ukraine not to block Russian gas and oil supplies to Europe

Germany has urged Ukraine not to block Russian gas and oil supplies to Europe. 

“The federal government hopes that Ukraine is not going to implement a measure which Prime Minister (Arseniy) Yatsenyuk announced on Friday,” German government’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert said on Monday.

Yatsenyuk threatened to put an end to Ukraine’s gas dependency on Russia after a government meeting last Friday.

“It’s not going to be easy but we simply do not have another choice,” he said, adding the Ukraine government was suggesting imposing sanctions against any transit via Ukraine’s territory, including air flights and gas transits.

Σάββατο, Μαΐου 10, 2014

Ukraine president warns of 'step into abyss'

As two of the most tense regions in eastern Ukraine prepare to vote on declaring sovereignty, the country's acting president has warned them against self-destruction.
Ukrainian acting president Oleksandr Turchynov, in comments posted on the presidential website on Saturday, said the pro-Russian supporters of independence for the Donetsk and Luhansk regions "don't understand that this would be a complete destruction of the economy, social programs and general life for the majority of the population".
"This is a step into the abyss for the regions," Turchynov said.

Sunday's ballots will seek approval for declaring so-called sovereign people's republics in Donetsk and Luhansk, where pro-Russians have seized government buildings and clashed with police and Ukrainian troops.
The referenda, in 53 locations across the regions, are being conducted by the pro-Russian movements and are not regarded as legitimate by Kiev or the West.

Early voting reports

The elections chief of the independence movement in Donetsk, Roman Lyagin, was quoted by news agencies as saying voting in the city of Mariupol and one other district had begun early because of rising tensions there, but this has not been confirmed by Al Jazeera.
At least seven people died on Friday in clashes in Mariupol. The city remained on edge on Saturday, with barricades of tyres blocking some streets in the city centre.
The hastily arranged referenda are similar to the March referendum in Crimea that approved secession from Ukraine. Crimea was formally annexed by Russia days later.
But organisers of the eastern vote have said that only later will a decision be made on whether they would use their nominal sovereignty to seek full independence, absorption by Russia or to stay part of Ukraine but with expanded power for the regions.
News agency Reuters reported that election officials in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slaviansk were checking voter registration lists and loading boxes full of ballots on Saturday.
"The main problem would be if we are attacked tomorrow, that would be the main problem. Otherwise now we already have ballots. Ballot boxes as you can see are being loaded in (trucks), we have places (to hold the vote)," Slaviansk election official Anatoly Khmelevoy said.
Of course in order to organise everything in a normal way and according to the law local polling stations get three weeks, but we have only three to four days. So, obviously there will be some minor problems, but the will of people to take part in the vote is overwhelming," Khmelevoy said.
Ballot papers have been printed for more than three million eligible participants in the vote. The voting was initially supposed to run between 8am and 10pm (0500-1900 GMT), when counting will begin.
Reuters was also reporting that the list of voters was two years old and there would be no minimum turnout required for the result to stand. Nor have any outside observers been invited to the area which pro-Russian rebels have declared a "People's Republic".
"Do you support the act of self-rule of the People's Republic of Donetsk?" the ballot paper asks, using a vague term which could also mean sovereignty.
Except for a small illustration at either end of the ballot paper, the black-and-white printed page contained no special markings that might prevent it from being duplicated, Reuters said.

Russia warned on poll

Meanwhile, France and Germany warned Russia on Saturday of possibly expanding sanctions if Moscow continued to sow unrest ahead of the official Ukrainian elections later this month, on the eve of the "illegal" referenda.
In a joint statement, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also urged Ukraine's security forces to stop their offensive on rebel-held positions ahead of the planned May 25 presidential election.
"We consider the referendum scheduled for Sunday illegitimate and are focusing on the election on May 25 in the entire Ukraine. If that is not happening that would lead unavoidably to further destabilisation of the country. And then the measure adopted by the European Council comes into play. And we are ready to take further sanctions against Russia," Merkel said.

  • Paris and Berlin also said that "proportionate" force should be used to protect people and buildings as Kiev battled to wrest back control of rebel-held areas.

However, they stressed that "the Ukrainian security services should refrain from offensive actions before the election".
Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan, reporting from Donetsk, described the mood around Mariupol as "tense".
"On the view of the security, the chairman said the polling stations were going to be manned and staffed and guarded by volunteers. Now, the volunteers we very often see in the streets here and in Luhansk are armed with pistols and rifles and wear balaclavas," our reporter said.
"It's hardly a reassuring volunteering presence, put it that way."

Τετάρτη, Μαρτίου 12, 2014

History repeats itself: Russia faces off with Nazis in Ukraine

With ultra-nationalism and anti-Jewish sentiment rife in Western Ukraine, it looks like history is repeating itself, this time with the West trying to pit Ukraine against Russia, just like it did back in the days when Nazism was on the rise in Germany.

In the 1930s, Third Reich was all the rage in Europe and overseas in the United States, with Anglo-American elites pinning their hopes on Hitler who they believed could end the Soviet menace. Russia was reviled and the Nazi Germany was not. In fact, US corporations and banks supported and financed the Nazis, while their officials and businesses respected the Nazi regime. Mackenzie King, the union-busting advisor of the Rockefeller family and tenth prime minister of Canada, even admired Hitler openly, as did Edward VIII, who abdicated from the British throne in favor of his brother.
But the ultimate goal was, of course, to get Berlin and Moscow to mutually destroy one another. This is the same strategy that Washington used against Baghdad and Tehran when it encouraged Saddam Hussein to attack Iran and launch the Iran-Iraq War.

Now the West is comparing President Putin with Adolf Hitler, with Hillary Clinton and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird drawing parallels between the deployment of Russian troops in the Crimea and the Nazi invasion into Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland. The propaganda war is in full swing as the media are doing their best to demonize Russians and to pave the way for US’s long-term objective of isolating and neutralizing Russia as an international rival and Eurasian actor.

Truths are being turned on their heads. The heirs of the Soviets, which defeated the Nazi and liberated Europe at a great price, are now vilified, while fascist forces and Western militarism are on the march again. But behind the fascists stand the neoliberals and organized capital who really pull the strings, just like it was before WWII.

It should come as no surprise that Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the Wall Street-supported coup-imposed prime minister of Ukraine, is collaborating with ultra-nationalist admirers of Nazi collaborators in Ukraine. In a twist of fate, it is Russian again who is standing against the fledgling Nazi state.

And the events in Ukraine are not just being spun: they are heavily tied to the past and the future. George Orwell actually said the following about the discursive process tied to the way that history is framed: “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

Like the Western Ukraine that collaborated with the Nazis of the Second World War, Kiev is again overrun by neo-fascists that hate Russia and in their turn are used by the US and the European Union to bring down Russia.

Voice of Russia, Global Research

Κυριακή, Μαρτίου 09, 2014

Ukraine Making sense of sanctions

Visa bans, freezing assets, boycotts: There is no lack of suggestions of how to tone down Russian aggression. But what good would sanctions do? Politicians are growing increasingly skeptical. DW takes a look. 

The European Union has said it is halting visa talks with Russia following an emergency summit of the bloc's leaders where they discussed ways to punish Russia for its recent exploits on the Crimean Peninsula. If Russia continues to reject negotiations, further measures are to be taken, which could entail economic sanctions.

It didn't take long for the Kremlin to respond. Any sanction will be met with countermeasures from Moscow, an official government statement declared. The United States has already imposed visa bans on targeted Russians and warned of freezing their assets. In response, Russia has threatened to stop reciprocal weapons inspections.

The chimes of boycotts flashin'
According to news magazine Der Spiegel, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said her attendance at the upcoming G8 summit in Sochi depends on developments in Crimea. If the Moscow-backed referendum on whether Crimea should join Russia, which Merkel has openly called "illegal" and in "violation of Ukraine's constitution," goes ahead, the chancellor won't be in Sochi in June.

Michael Fuchs, conservative politician and deputy parliamentary head of Merkel's CDU, has suggested another form of sanction to force Putin's hand: take away, or at least call into question, Russia's hosting of the 2018 Soccer World Cup. That suggestion has been criticized by left-leaning Social Democrat and Left Party politicians as "soccer diplomacy."
But calls for some kind of sanctions are growing ever louder; at the same time, criticism is also reverberating that this form of conflict resolution is simply wrong. Even EU Parliament President Martin Schulz, himself a German Social Democrat, has expressed doubt as to whether such words will ultimately bring Putin to the negotiating table.

Watered down sanctions?
Be that as it may, the sanctions that have been addressed are seen by many as rather mild. In a commentary in the Swiss daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung, one journalist remarked that the proposed measures are weaker than those hurled at Switzerland following its referendum on capping immigration.
Some German politicians have said that any sanctions at all would miss the mark, resulting merely in further dividing the two sides. Gregor Gysi, parliamentary head of the Left Party, rejects imposing sanctions against Russia altogether: "You can perhaps impress a weak partner with sanctions, but not Russia. It has China on its side, and we must not underestimate this," Gysi told German public radio.
"Such a situation lends itself to saber rattling, and as soon as we shout 'sanctions' then Putin will make his own threat," Gysi added, pointing out that the EU should also keep in mind its dependency on Russian gas.
The EU's careful stance on the accelerating Ukraine crisis has garnered praise from German economic representatives. "It's quite right to promote de-escalation," said Martin Wansleben, head of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
"We are communicating not only with Putin but with all of Russia," he added. "I think it's smart to say that we're in a position to talk, but at the end of the day we are willing to compromise." Wansleben also pointed out that the dive taken by the rouble since the outbreak of the crisis can be seen as an indirect effect of the sanctions already pledged.

Close economic ties
Economic sanctions would be senseless for Germany, because they would endanger billions in investments. Trade volumes between Germany and Russia in 2013 were over 75 billion euros ($104 billion). Around 6,000 German companies currently do business in Russia, and around 300,000 jobs could be jeopardized. And then there is the financial sector: European banks have around 180 billion euros in Russia at the moment.

EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger's concerns of a potential escalation between Russia and Europe are perhaps the most acute. Sanctions, he said, "would negatively affect Europe's fragile economic renewal," adding that Europe needed to find alternatives to Russian gas. As far as Germany's transition to renewable energy is concerned, Oettinger said it would be impossible without Russian gas. At the moment, Germany receives 35 percent of its oil and gas imports from Russia.
Germany is divided as to whether the West should impose sanctions on Russia. A recent Emnid survey indicates that 45 percent of Germans are against the sanctions, with 44 percent in support. The results were significantly different when the question was put differently: 54 percent of Germans said they wouldn't be willing to help Ukraine if sanctions led to higher gas bills.

Τρίτη, Φεβρουαρίου 11, 2014

EU allows cultivation of new US genetically modified corn

BRUSSELS: EU ministers allowed the controversial cultivation of a new genetically modified crop, US firm Pioneer's TC1507 corn, after opponents failed on Tuesday to muster enough support against the move.
A meeting of European Affairs ministers could not establish a majority either way, Greek chairman Evangelos Venizelos said.
Accordingly, TC1507 was allowed through, after Venizelos asked for legal advice.
The rules require that "if the Council (of member states) does not take a decision, then the measure has to be adopted by the European Commission", a legal adviser said.

The Commission, the EU's executive arm, was on the spot after a European Court ruled late last year that the company's 2001 request for approval had to be dealt with without further delay.
Cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms stokes widespread suspicion in the 28-nation EU on health and environmental grounds.
GM crops, however, have won repeated safety approvals and several ministers noted on Tuesday that they are imported into the EU in large amounts, and having been fed to animals, had by now entered the human food chain.
The General Affairs Council of ministers had to decide the issue on Tuesday under what is known as "qualified majority voting".
  • This complex system weighs member states according to their size to ensure that it is a majority of the EU's 500 million population which decides an issue, not the simple number of countries for or against.
  • In this instance, some 19 member states opposed, mustering 210 votes out of a required 260 to block the measure.
Britain, Finland, Estonia, Spain and Sweden were in favour but abstentions proved crucial.
  • Germany, the EU's most powerful and biggest country with 19 votes, changed its position to abstain from against, thereby taking itself out of the balance.
  • Also abstaining were Belgium, Portugal and the Czech Republic with 12 votes each.
France and Hungary led the opposition and the arguments, saying ministers would not be able to easily explain the outcome to the public.

Σάββατο, Φεβρουαρίου 01, 2014

Germany seeks bigger role on global issues

Following years of restraint in foreign policy, Germany seemed to be rethinking its role on international issues, as shown by remarks of its leaders and senior officials on Friday, the first day of the 50th Munich Security Conference.

"Are we doing what we can to stabilize our neighborhood in the east and in Africa? Are we doing what we should to counter the dangers of terrorism? What role do we want to play in crisis in distant parts of the world?" asked President Joachim Gauck at the opening of the three-day conference.

Addressing top decision-makers from around the world, the president said that despite domestic debates that more responsibilities would mean more trouble, Germany should do more to guarantee global security.

"There are people in Germany that use the guilt for the past as a shield for laziness or desire for disengagement in the world," he said, adding that Germany could not hope to be spared of world conflicts and that consequences of inaction could be as serious as, if not worse than, the consequence of taking action.

"Germany should make a more substantial contribution, and should make it earlier and more decisively if it wants to be a good partner," Gauck said.

His remarks was echoed by Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who said in the conference that Germany was ready to shoulder more responsibilities.

Germany would remain engaged in the north of Afghanistan "to support Afghanistan on its own path towards stability and peace," she said, adding that her country was also willing to support an upcoming mission of the European Union (EU) in the Central African Republic.

"Indifference is not an option for Germany," said von der Leyen. "As a major economy and a country of significant size, we have a strong interest in international peace and stability. Given these facts, the federal government is prepared to enhance our international responsibility."

Earlier this month, the minister said she aimed to increase German armed forces deployed abroad. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also said in an interview on Thursday that Germany should be more involved in handling conflicts.

In a speech scheduled for Saturday in the conference, Steinmeier will explain more about Germany's foreign policy.

German top officials' recent remarks are expected to be welcomed by the country's western allies, which have been annoyed by Germany's military restraint. A recent poll, however, showed that more than half of Germans do not want to send troops abroad. 


Τρίτη, Ιανουαρίου 21, 2014

Germany seeks to trim subsidies for renewable energy

Germany's economy and energy minister laid out Tuesday proposals to curb renewable energy subsidies and cap electricity prices but opponents fear they could jeopardise the country's much vaunted green energy transition.
Just weeks after taking over as Economy and Energy Minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel's left-right "grand coalition", Social Democrat Sigmar Gabriel presented a blueprint to meet what he described as "the biggest challenge currently facing our country."
He wants to start by trimming subsidies for renewable sources of energy, a keystone in the so-called energy transition that Europe's top economy embarked on 15 years ago under its then Social Democrat chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

The strategy has been pursued with even greater intensity by his conservative successor Merkel after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan persuaded her to gradually abandon nuclear energy completely.
Generous subsidies -- financed via an energy tax -- have meant that renewables now account for around a quarter of energy production and consumption in Germany. And the aim is for renewables to meet as much as 80 percent of the country's energy needs by 2050.
But the tax has caused energy prices to shoot up, adding as much as 24 billion euros ($32 billion) to industry's power bills, according to Gabriel.
"We must be careful not to bite off more than we can chew," he argued, pointing out that the manufacturing industry remains the backbone of the German economy.
By the summer, the subsidy system has to be revamped to target "the most promising technologies," namely wind and solar power. And the pace of development in those sectors should be monitored more closely.
In the medium term, the Social Democrat minister hopes to introduce market mechanisms to the subsidy system.
That will help keep a lid on price rises but will not force prices down, Gabriel insisted.
Industry is satisfied
"It's a big step in the right direction," said the BDEW industry federation for the energy sector.
And Leonard Birnbaum, board member at Germany's biggest power supplier E.ON, said the proposals were "clearly positive."
The powerful BDI industry federation, which has been highly critical of the current system, also hailed "the first sensible steps."
It welcomed in particular the government's commitment to exempting high-consuming industries from all or part of the energy tax.
But such exemptions have come under fire from the EU Commission in Brussels and Berlin has been ordered to take action to appease the EU's competition authorities.
EU Energy Commissioner, Guenther Oettinger, gave Gabriel's plans the thumbs up.
"I fully back the plans of Mr Gabriel. They're important and are the right ones," Oettinger said.
By contrast, the head of the opposition Green party, Simone Peter, claimed that "Gabriel's proposals ... are putting the energy transition in jeopardy."
Fossil fuel is still the biggest energy source for Germany, and Gabriel's proposals will mean that the country will not meet its goals in reducing carbon emissions, warned Hermann Falk of the BEE industry federation for renewables.
"The planned measures are so radical that they resemble open heart surgery," the left-leaning Frankfurter Rundschau wrote in an editorial, expressing concern about the development of wind power.
Nevertheless, a revamp of the system of subsidies for renewables is just the first of many steps that Gabriel will have to take.
The minister must find a solution that allows fossil-fuel fired power stations to remain profitable. Many of them cannot compete with subsidised renewable energy sources. But Germany needs a guaranteed power supply on days when there is no sun or wind.
Peter Terium, head of Germany's number two power supplier RWE, urged the minister to tackle the problem.
"The situation for industry is catastrophic," he said.
RWE is planning to axe 7,000 jobs by 2016 as competition from renewables pushes the group into heavy loss. 

Πέμπτη, Ιανουαρίου 09, 2014

German charged over infamous French WWII massacre

An 88-year-old German former soldier was charged Wednesday for his part in the infamous 1944 Oradour-sur-Glane massacre - one of the worst Nazi atrocities to take place on French soil during the Second World War.

The former member of a Nazi armored division was charged with 25 counts of murder for his role in the slaughter, in which 642 men, women and children were killed in reprisal for the French Resistance's kidnapping of a German soldier.

Cologne’s state court said that Werner C, whose last name was not given in accordance with German privacy laws, was also charged with hundreds of counts of accessory to murder in connection with the massacre.
The suspect is believed to have belonged to a unit that attacked the tiny village in western France, around 25 kilometres (15 miles) northwest of Limoges, on June 10, 1944.

"The prosecutor's office in Dortmund has charged an 88-year-old pensioner from Cologne in connection with the murder of 25 people committed by a group, and with aiding and abetting the murder of several hundred people," a court statement said.

The Oradour massacre, as it is known, left a deep scar in France that lasted long after the war had finished.

Virtually the entire population of the village was wiped out in the atrocity, which began when close to 200 German soldiers of the SS “Das Reich” division encircled the town and rounded up its population in what residents thought was a routine identity check.

Church and barn set ablaze

First the men were separated and moved to barns, while the women and children were forced inside the town’s church.

German soldiers then set the church ablaze and used machine guns to mow down anyone that tried to escape.

At the same time, the SS fired their machine guns at the men crowded in the barns, deliberately firing at their legs so that they were wounded but not dead. The soldiers then doused the barns with petrol and set them on fire.

Of the 642 people killed, 246 were women and 207 children. Only six survived.

The village has been a ghost town ever since the atrocity, deliberately preserved in that state as a memorial to those who died on one of the darkest days for France during World War II.

The presidents of Germany and France travelled to the village last September and joined hands with a survivor in a moment of reconciliation.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)

Πέμπτη, Νοεμβρίου 21, 2013

Allemagne: Merkel se résoud à un salaire minimum généralisé. -De 8,50 euros (horaire).....

AFP - La chancelière allemande Angela Merkel a affirmé jeudi que l'Allemagne allait se doter d'un salaire minimum généralisé, une concession faite à ses futurs partenaires de gouvernement sociaux-démocrates.

"Nous allons décider des choses que, au vu de mon programme, je ne considère pas comme justes, parmi elles un salaire minimum généralisé", a dit la chancelière dans un discours à Berlin, évoquant les négociations en cours entre son parti conservateur et les sociaux-démocrates (SPD) pour former un gouvernement.

"Une appréciation réaliste (de la situation) montre que les sociaux-démocrates ne vont pas conclure les négociations sans" un salaire minimum, une de leurs revendications centrales, a-t-elle dit, ne livrant aucun détail sur son niveau ou sa date d'introduction.
"Je vais tout faire, le (parti conservateur) CDU va tout faire" pour minimiser les effets sur l'emploi d'un tel salaire minimum, a ajouté la chancelière, qui s'adressait à un parterre de patrons allemands. Elle a aussi rappelé que le gouvernement de coalition en gestation n'était "pas la constellation rêvée" des intéressés mais "le résultat du vote" des électeurs allemands, le 22 septembre.

Elle a martelé que son parti n'allait pas céder sur un autre point cher au SPD, une hausse des impôts pour les plus nantis. Ni sur la priorité donné à l'allègement de la dette allemande, un "projet central" du gouvernement allemand pour les quatre prochaines années.

  • L'Allemagne n'a pas de salaire minimum pour tous pour le moment. Les salaires sont négociés branche par branche entre les partenaires sociaux et dans certains secteurs les salariés touchent moins de cinq euros. Le SPD a fait campagne pour un salaire minimum horaire de 8,50 euros.

Οι νεκροί Έλληνες στα μακεδονικά χώματα σάς κοιτούν με οργή

«Παριστάνετε τα "καλά παιδιά" ελπίζοντας στη στήριξη του διεθνή παράγοντα για να παραμείνετε στην εξουσία», ήταν η κατηγορία πο...