Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα Spain. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα Spain. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Κυριακή, Ιανουαρίου 25, 2015

Spain's anti-austerity Podemos hails Greek ally Syriza

Spain's anti-austerity party hailed on Sunday its Greek radical left-wing ally Syriza which appeared on course for a stunning election victory.
"Hope is coming, fear is fleeing. Syriza, Podemos, we will win," said Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias shortly before exit polls were issued in Greece showing Syriza leading Sunday's vote.

"In Greece tonight, we are already hearing that. We are hoping we will hear the same thing in Spain soon," he told a gathering of about 8,000 party faithful in the eastern city of Valencia.

"We are going to be smiling tonight."

According to exit polls, Syriza took between 35.5 percent and 39.5 percent of the vote, ahead of the conservative New Democracy party of incumbent Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

Spain's conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy earlier Sunday warned austerity-weary voters against the temptation to back Podemos in elections due this year.

He said that hard-won economic recovery must not be lost by a voter "leap in the dark".

"We can not bet our future and that of our children in a frivolous game of Russian roulette," Rajoy told a congress of his Popular Party in Madrid.

Like Syriza, Podemos has found considerable popular support by rejecting austerity programmes adopted to try to lift the countries out of deep economic crisis.

Σάββατο, Δεκεμβρίου 13, 2014

Boat protest against Canaries oil prospecting

LANZAROTE, Spain: Protesters plunged half-naked into the icy sea and unfurled banners on Saturday (Dec 13) to try to stop oil prospecting near Spain's Canary Islands, a major tourist destination.

Ten boats from the archipelago took protesters eight nautical miles from where Spanish firm Repsol is exploring with a view to possibly drilling off the islands in the Atlantic ocean.
Protesters warn the oil and gas project is a threat to the environment and the tourist industry on which the Canary Islands rely. They say drilling would raise the risk of an oil spill like the Deepwater Horizon disaster that struck at a BP oil prospect in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

The government says finding oil could create thousands of jobs and reduce Spain's dependency on energy imports. The country currently imports 80 per cent of its energy. The beaches on the archipelago off northwest Africa are a popular draw for tourists from Britain, France and elsewhere.

Opponents of Repsol's operations are furious at the Spanish government for authorising Repsol to probe below the sea bed 50 kilometres from the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.

Environmentalists have branded it a threat to dolphins and other local fauna and flora. "I have been a boat owner for 10 years and what they are doing here pains me. I am sick of seeing the sea polluted and destroyed," said Samuel Rocio Garcia, 32, a protester who dived into the water.

On board one of the boats was the leader of the local government from the island of Lanzarote, Pedro San Gines Gutierrez. He said the protest was "a symbolic act of vigilance" to try to monitor the activities of the Rowan Renaissance, the ship Repsol is using to probe below the sea bed.

Spanish authorities last month temporarily impounded a boat of the environmental campaign group Greenpeace after it protested at the Repsol project in the same area. Spain said the crew had defied orders to leave a restricted zone.

On Nov 15, three Spanish navy boats rammed vessels in which Greenpeace activists were approaching the Rowan Renaissance, a video distributed by Greenpeace showed. An Italian protester fell in the water and was injured, Greenpeace said. It said its activists were protesting peacefully.

Πέμπτη, Οκτωβρίου 16, 2014

Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela elected to serve on UN Security Council

UN, 16 October 2014 – In three rounds of voting the United Nations General Assembly today elected Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela to serve as non-permanent members on the Security Council for two-year terms beginning on 1 January 2015.
The new members will serve on the Council until 31 December 2016.
Angola Malaysia, Venezuela and New Zealand were elected in the first vote. The Assembly then held two rounds of restricted balloting to elect Spain to fill the remaining seat on the Council open to the Western European and Other States Group. Turkey was the other contender for that seat.

The five overall seats available for election in 2014, distributed regionally, were: one seat for the African Group (currently held by Rwanda); one seat for the Group of Asia- Pacific Group (currently held by the Republic of Korea); one seat for the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, (currently held by Argentina); and two seats for the Western European and Others Group (currently held by Australia and Luxembourg). Lithuania will maintain for another year, the seat for the Eastern European Group.

The five permanent Council members, which each wield the power of veto, are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Along with Lithuania, the non-permanent members that will remain on the Council until the end of 2015 are Chad, Chile, Jordan, and Nigeria. 

  • Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Each of the Council’s members has one vote. Under the Charter, all UN Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.
  • The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.
The Security Council also recommends to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and the admission of new Members to the United Nations. And, together with the General Assembly, it elects the judges of the International Court of Justice.
[ un.org]

Σάββατο, Σεπτεμβρίου 27, 2014

Catalan president announces independence referendum

 Catalan President Artur Mas has signed a decree calling for an independence referendum on November 9, defying the Spanish national government’s vow to halt such a vote.

Mas said on Saturday that semi-autonomous Catalonia wanted to "vote and decide."

Calls for an independence vote have grown in the wake of fiscal crisis that hit Spain and led to austerity measures.

On September 19, a day after Scotland voted against independence from the U.K., the region’s parliament in Barcelona passed a law allowing a referendum with the approval of more than two-thirds of its members.

The central government has pledged to stop such a bid, claiming the Spanish constitution does not allow referenda that exclude other regions of the country.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told journalists during a recent visit to China that insisting on a referendum would cause chaos because the decision to hold one could not be taken legally.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the government had taken the first step to prove the referendum's illegality, consulting with the Spanish State Council on Saturday following Mas's announcement.

Rajoy's government is expected to appeal to the constitutional court over Catalonia's decision following a cabinet meeting on Monday.

Catalans, who polls show are largely in favor of seceding from Spain, took to the streets of Barcelona to celebrate the decision.


Δευτέρα, Ιανουαρίου 06, 2014

Spanish minister in Panama to end US$1.6b canal row

PANAMA CITY: A Spanish cabinet minister launched mediation efforts in Panama on Monday to resolve a US$1.6 billion dispute threatening to halt the expansion of the Central American nation's vital canal.
Public Works Minister Ana Pastor held separate meetings with Panama's president and executives of the Spanish-led consortium that has threatened to stop the project this month unless local authorities pay for the massive cost overruns.
After the two meetings, Pastor said the Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) consortium wanted to negotiate a way out of the impasse.
"The commitment of GUPC is to resolve everything within the contract and for that reason they will sit down for dialogue," she said.
"We are trying to reach an agreement that will be good for everybody," Pastor said after talks with Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli.

Martinelli said the consortium and the Panama Canal Authority need to find a solution, even if it means going through international arbitration.
"Surely solutions will be found within the meeting. This is a project of global scope for Spain, Panama and the maritime community," he said.
Pastor met first with 16 GUPC executives, including the head of Spanish builder Sacyr, Manuel Manriquez. She will meet later with canal authority officials.
"The Spanish government will not support Sacyr with money. This is an issue between a company" and Panamanian authorities, Spain's ambassador Jesus Silva told reporters.
The construction group, which includes Impreglio of Italy, Belgium's Jan de Nul of Belgium and Constructora Urbana of Panama, warned on December 30 that it would suspend work in 21 days if authorities failed to pay for extra "unforeseen" charges.
  • The expansion project aims to make the 80-kilometre (50-mile) waterway, which handles five per cent of global maritime trade, big enough to handle new, giant cargo ships that can carry 12,000 containers.
  • Currently the canal can handle ships large enough to carry 5,000 containers.
The United States built the canal between 1904 and 1914 and had full control of the waterway until handing it over to Panama in late 1999.
The consortium began work on a third set of larger canal locks in 2009 and expects to complete construction in June 2015, already nine months over the contractual date. Work is about 70 per cent complete.
The overall cost of the project has been estimated at US$5.2 billion.
A year ago, GUPC demanded that the Panama Canal Authority pay the extra US$1.6 billion for the extra costs.
Sacyr says the extra charges are related to technical and geological matters, cement ingredients, weather conditions as well as tax, labour and financial issues.
Jose Pelaez, in charge of building the third set of locks, said Saturday that the rising price tag was partly due to problems in the regional geology that the Canal Authority had not detected.
On Sunday, the Panama Canal Authority said that the contractor's claims "have no legal standing and are not clear," and are not reason enough to halt the project.
"We're being cornered," canal administrator Jorge Quijano said, adding that Panama cannot become "hostage to a contractor."
Canal officials say there was already a four-month delay shortly after the project began caused by the reversal of a GUPC plan to use lower-quality cement.
Moreover, the consortium had "14 months before submitting their bid to closely study the components of the project" in order to submit a "solid" bid.

Τρίτη, Νοεμβρίου 26, 2013

Court ruling on Tibet raises concerns over Spain-China relations

[Source: Financial Times]
By Tobias Buck in Madrid and Simon Rabinovitch in ShanghaiThere is rising concern in Spain over a diplomatic and economic backlash from China, after a criminal court in Madrid called for the arrest of five former Chinese leaders for their role in alleged crimes of genocide in Tibet.The ruling, handed down last week, is aimed at Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese president, Li Peng, the former prime minister, and three other high-ranking ex-officials. The men are said to have held “political or military responsibility” in periods when the Chinese authorities are alleged to have committed human rights abuses against the Tibetan population.

All five now face the risk of detention should they travel to Spain or to countries that recognise Spanish arrest orders. However, former Chinese top officials almost never travel abroad, which means it is highly unlikely that the five former officials will ever appear in court in Madrid.

Beijing reacted angrily to the move all the same, denouncing the Tibetan support groups in Spain that initiated the case. The Chinese authorities called in the Spanish ambassador last Thursday to convey their displeasure, a message that was repeated at a meeting between Chinese diplomats and Spanish government officials in Madrid last week.
Hong Lei, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, said Beijing had sought clarification from Spain about the ruling. He added that China expressed “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition” to Tibetan activist groups in Spain for “repeatedly manipulating the issue”.
José Manuel García Margallo, the foreign minister, has insisted publicly that Madrid has no desire to interfere in the country’s judicial process. But Spanish diplomats made clear the government is seriously concerned about the impact the spat could have on the country’s normally trouble-free relationship with a key trading partner.

“This is a very complicated situation,” one Spanish diplomat said.
Analysts said the diplomatic rift came at a particularly awkward time for Spain, which is hoping to deepen its economic relationship with China in the midst of afragile economic recovery.
Spain is trying to attract Chinese investment and big Spanish companies are trying to establish a foothold in China,” said Charles Powell, the director of the Real Instituto Elcano, a Madrid-based think-tank. “Given that the Chinese authorities have a major say in who wins contracts and who doesn’t Spain obviously fears that the Chinese authorities will not take kindly to this initiative [by the court].”

The criminal complaint that started the case was filed by a pro-Tibetan pressure group seven years ago. It made use of Spain’s relatively broad universal jurisdiction provisions, which allow judges to pursue criminal cases even if they took place outside Spain.
  There was next to no coverage of the arrest orders or Mr Hong’s response in Chinese state media, suggesting that Beijing is itself trying to contain fallout by limiting public discussion.
Speaking before the arrest orders, Zhu Weiqun, head of the religious affairs committee in the Chinese parliament’s advisory body, angrily denounced foreign courts for accepting such cases.
“It is absurd and ridiculous behaviour,” he said in an interview with European journalists in October. “People who think like this will only humiliate themselves. Whatever country’s courts accepts these lawsuits is also humiliating itself.”
He added that Western nations had in the past burnt, looted and pillaged China, but now that such actions do not work some are turning to lawsuits to pressure China. “If a country’s courts accept these cases, all it is doing is inviting enormous embarrassment for itself,” he said. “Go ahead if you dare.”

  • Spain´s universal jurisdiction provisions have previously been used by investigating judges to pursue Israeli officials for alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip. They also formed the basis for a high-profile Spanish attempt in 1998 to prosecute Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator.
  • Stung by the repeated diplomatic and political backlash against such legal moves, Spain tightened its universal jurisdiction provisions in 2009. The Chinese case, however, predates that change.


Τρίτη, Ιουλίου 23, 2013

Spain’s solar industry to collapse as govt introduces draconian profit caps

One of the main producers of renewable energy in Europe, Spain’s solar industry, is edging toward bankruptcy. Producers say they’ll be unable to repay credits after the government’s decision to cut subsidies. Banks will suffer and jobs will be lost.
Energy Minister José Manuel Soria has introduced a new compensation plan for calculating levels of "reasonable profitability" for renewable-energy production, distribution and transportation. It will reduce payments to companies serving the nation's electrical system by up to 2.7 billion euro annually. It’s hoped the move could help cope with the electricity system deficit that has been growing since 2005 and now exceeds 25 billion euro.

To sap the annual deficit, which has been estimated by the government at 4.5 billion euro this year, Spain is set to raise consumers' electric bills by about 3.2 percent starting from August, contributing about 400 million euro in extra revenue for the system this year and 900 million euro next year, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Experts are warning that with the increased levies on self-consumed solar energy so high many households will have to pay more for the electricity they generate themselves than they would for regular grid power. 

The main trade association for Spain's electric utilities which distribute most the country's electricity said "the cuts will compel our member companies to undertake a drastic reduction in jobs and review their investments in Spain," Asociación Española de la Industria Eléctrica (Unesa) warned.

Spain has over 4GW of installed capacity. For several years the government reportedly pushed electricity retailers to pay above-market, unaffordable prices to renewable-power producers.

This handout picture released by Gemasolar shows the Torresol Energy Gemasolar thermasolar plant in Fuentes de Andalucia near Sevilla, southern Spain. (AFP Photo/Gemasolar)
This handout picture released by Gemasolar shows the Torresol Energy Gemasolar thermasolar plant in Fuentes de Andalucia near Sevilla, southern Spain. (AFP Photo/Gemasolar)

Big subsidies triggered a boom in solar-power installations that, according to the Wall Street Journal, far exceeded official government targets. Between 2006 and 2012, when renewable-energy output doubled, Spain boasted the fourth-largest such industry in the world, according to the Economist.

In 2012 clean energy subsidies in Spain hit 8.6 billion euro, nearly 1 percent of GDP. To fund the expansion, Spanish banks lent the solar-energy companies nearly 30 billion euro. Potential loan defaults could worsen the already heavy burden on Spanish banks. The government is said to be in talks with banks to forestall bankruptcies, with five of the biggest utilities saying the new reforms will jointly cost them 1 billion euro a year.

With the new plan brought into action, the government has capped profits for the solar energy sector at 7.5 percent before tax to 5.5 percent after tax. Spanish trade associations have been shocked by the decision saying the new rate is less than the rate that industry insiders are able to borrow at, leading many to “bankruptcy because they won't be able to repay the credit that financed them.”

According to the energy minister, "this reform is not wedded to any part of the electric sector."

"We did what we had to do," Soria said. 


Παρασκευή, Απριλίου 26, 2013

'Wasting a whole generation of people in Europe is stupid'

The “stupid” austerity measures imposed after the 2011 EU bailout may see Portugal losing all the gains of the Carnation Revolution, European MP, Rui Tavares, told RT on the anniversary of the peaceful coup of 1974.
Frustration with austerity is deepening among Europeans, with one in five of the workforce without a job in Portugal and Spain's unemployment jumping to a record of 27.2 per cent.

People in the two heavily-indebted nations are launching fresh protests against their governments and international lenders.

Member of European Parliament from Portugal, Rui Tavares, believes having so many young and educated people out of jobs is Europe’s biggest tragedy.

RT: More anti-austerity protests are planned for Thursday. What's fuelling the anger now among the Portuguese?

Rui Tavares: Today is the day of the 39th anniversary of our revolution (the Carnation Revolution of 1974). This revolution for us means a bloodless coup. The flowers were put in the rifles of the soldiers that not a single bullet was fired. But for us, it means the power of democracy – for prosperity, for dialogue, for a better education for everybody, for access to the universities – to overcome the illiteracy that we had in Portugal in those years. And what austerity means for us today is the possibility that we’ll lose it all. That our best generation will emigrate to Brazil and Angola, and the UK, and the US. That the investments that we did will be lost and that we’ll go back in history. 

RT: We’ve heard people talking about the “financial fascism” being imposed upon the Portuguese?

Rui Tavares: Upon the Portuguese and the Europeans, at large. I think that when you talk about fascism there’s a split in the European consciousness. People in Germany are living in a different world now, but we don’t renounce our rights to persuade them, to convince them that this austerity is stupid. Not because the Portuguese can’t live with scarce means. We can. But because it’s not working and it won’t work. 

RT: We see demonstrations not only in Portugal, but in neighboring Spain as well where the people took to the streets, following the announcement of huge unemployment figures (27.2 per cent). Is there a fear that this could spread to Portugal? Is there solidarity between the Portuguese and their Spanish brothers?   

Rui Tavares: Yes, of course. Our youth live in a very similar situation. One third of our youth is unemployed. The other third have very bad jobs. And that’s what you want to tell Europe: ‘isn’t it stupid to waste a whole generation of people – to have it not working’. These are very bright people, very educated people. If you go around Lisbon, you’ll see what they can do. Isn’t it stupid to have them out of a job? Today I think that’s the worst kind of waste that you can have on the continent, in the EU that we have today. 

RT: As a European parliament member, you have a chance to put your ideas forward. If you could speak to your colleagues from Germany, France and the Netherlands – what would you say to them right now?

 Rui Tavares:
I speak to them every day. I tell my Dutch colleagues that 20 of our biggest companies are paying taxes in the Netherlands, not here. They’re making their money here, but paying their taxes there. I tell my German colleagues that it’ll be much better if they want to close down their nuclear power plants to have solar energy, coming from Portugal to the North. So there’s a way that we can work together. It’s not just the way that’s Berlin and Frankfurt on to the South. But there is a more intelligent, a more clever way that we can work together. And, you know, finally build this European Union.


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