Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

Iran confident nuclear deal can be salvaged

November 19, 2018

Tehran has expressed hope that the Iran nuclear deal can be saved despite the US pulling out of the agreement. Iran’s statement came during a visit of the British foreign minister to Iran.

British and Iranian flags (picture-alliance/dpa/epa/A. Taherkenareh)

The Iranian foreign ministry said on Monday that the Iran nuclear deal can be saved, despite the withdrawal of the United States.

“We remain hopeful that the Europeans can save the deal,” ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi told a news conference broadcast live on state TV.

The comments came ahead of British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Tehran. Hunt said the United Kingdom remained committed to plan before leaving for Iran.

“The Iran nuclear deal remains a vital component of stability in the Middle East by eliminating the threat of a nuclearized Iran,” Hunt said. “It needs 100 percent compliance though to survive.”

Hunt is the first European foreign minister to visit the country since the US pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Read more: Iran nuclear deal: Germany’s special role and plans

Europe against the US

The JCPOA — a deal between Iran and the United States, Germany, Britain, China, Russia and France, as well as the European Union —  was concluded in 2015 after years of painstaking negotiation. It lifted international sanctions against Iran in exchange for the country dismantling its nuclear program.

The deal’s European signatories consider it the best option to avoid nuclear proliferation and to prevent Iran getting a nuclear weapon.

But they have been scrambling to save it since US President Donald Trump followed through on a campaign promise to withdraw the US from the JCPOA in May. He had described the pact as “the worst deal ever.”

British-Iranian prisoners 

Hunt is also expected to discuss Iran’s role in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen and call for the immediate release of detained British-Iranian dual nationals on humanitarian grounds during his visit.

“I arrive in Iran with a clear message for the country’s leaders: putting innocent people in prison cannot and must not be used as a tool of diplomatic leverage,” he said.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual national, is serving a five-year prison term for allegedly planning the “soft toppling” of the Iranian government.

kw/amp (AFP, dpa, Reuters)


After US-China clash at APEC, all eyes shift to the Trump-Xi meeting in Argentina

November 19, 2018
  • Investors will watch the upcoming meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Argentina for clues of any easing — or escalation — in tensions between the two countries, analysts said on Monday.
  • Differences between the world’s two biggest economies were on full display at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit over the weekend, resulting in the group’s failure to agree on a joint communique for the first time in its history.

Image result for china, u.s., flags

November 19, 2018

Trade war is the number one risk to global outlook, S&P says  

Investors and world leaders alike will be glued to the upcoming meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Argentina, hoping for clues to what’s next.

“One gets the sense that he’s (Trump) going to be a bit tougher with China” compared with Mexico and Canada, said Paul Gruenwald, chief economist at S&P Global Ratings. The G-20 meeting of the world’s developed economies takes place in Buenos Aires from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1.

Trump criticized Mexico and Canada for months, claiming they took advantage of U.S. companies through trade, but the three countries reached a new trilateral deal at the end of September to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The approach to China has been different. Trump has repeatedly attacked the country for stealing intellectual property, creating barriers to American companies that try to operate in China, and for the massive trade imbalance between the two countries.

“I’m not particularly optimistic about a walk-back in trade tensions in the next six months.”

-Hannah Anderson, global market strategist, J.P. Morgan Asset Management

Differences between the world’s two biggest economies were on full display at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit over the weekend, resulting in the group’s failure to agree on a joint communique for the first time in its history.

Gruenwald said he’s not surprised there were no new developments between the U.S. and China at the APEC summit in Papua New Guinea. He called the G-20 “a better forum” to discuss such issues.

“I really think the big action’s going to be in Argentina in a couple of weeks, so let’s see what happens,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday, adding that “no one really knows” what will come out of the meeting.

In Buenos Aires, the two presidents are expected to meet each other with trade high on their agenda. Tensions between the two countries have dominated economic headlines this year, with both sides imposing tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s products.

U.S. and China could make trade progress, but long-term problems remain: Stephen Roach

U.S. and China could make trade progress, but long-term problems remain: Stephen Roach  

The trade fight has resulted in the International Monetary Fund downgrading its global growth outlook for this year and next. American banking group Citi said some of its biggest clients have made plans to shift elements of their supply chains to circumvent those additional tariffs, because they expect negotiations between the U.S. and China to last more than a year.

Worries that U.S.-China tensions could impede growth have also rattled global markets. Hannah Anderson, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, advises investors to prepare for the rift between the two economic giants to drag on.

“I’m not particularly optimistic about a walk-back in trade tensions in the next six months,” Anderson told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday.

“If there is an agreement or if there are some positive headlines out of G-20, it’s much more likely that it’s an effort to cool tensions and a symbolic statement of intent, rather than actual substantive change in resolving the trade tensions between the two countries,” she said.

Includes videos:


  (Monday’s Asian Markets Up)


China’s former top trade negotiator questions China’s trade war strategy

November 19, 2018

“China’s economy and economic policies have been on a divergent course from market economics… accelerating in the last four or five years…” — “fundamental conflict between China and the United States and other countries Europe, Japan, Australia”

China’s former top trade negotiator has questioned Beijing’s strategy in the trade row with Washington, offering a rare window into a policy disagreement in the Communist-ruled country.

Long Yongtu, who paved the way for the country’s admission to the World Trade Organization, suggested the government erred by immediately retaliating against Washington tariffs by imposing levies on soybeans from the United States.

“I hope when you start hitting back you’ll avoid hitting agricultural products,” and leave them for last, Long said he advised before the trade war’s first tariff volley this summer.

Image result for china, cargo, ship, photos

“Instead from the very start we hit their agricultural products and soybeans,” China’s former chief representative for trade negotiations said at a a Caixin media business forum on Sunday.

China slapped 25 percent tariffs on American soybeans — its single largest import from the US — and other products in July immediately after Donald Trump fired at $50 billion in Chinese imports.

The move was widely seen as an attack on Trump’s agricultural base of electoral support, and tacitly acknowledged as such by Chinese officials.

“I said from my experience in China-US trade, agricultural products are very sensitive, soybeans are very sensitive,” Long said.

When China was negotiating its WTO entry, the US wanted to bring politics into the discussion, said Long.

“But if you talk politics you will never reach a deal,” Long warned, recommending the world’s top two economic giants engage narrowly on trade and avoid the larger strategic rivalry to strike a deal.

But Long’s interlocutor on stage, and during the WTO negotiations nearly two decades ago, former US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, cautioned that the gulf between the two powers was expanding.

“China’s economy and economic policies have been on a divergent course from market economics… accelerating in the last four or five years,” Barshefsky told the Caixin forum.

The shift to a state-led system is a “fundamental conflict between China and the United States and other countries Europe, Japan, Australia”, she said.

“It is difficult to resolve.”


Want To See Your Dystopian Future? Look at China — Creeping China-style surveillance state in the U.S. and Europe

November 18, 2018

Image result for china, flag, map,

South Koreans are worried about the surveillance state. At a recent conference that was supposed to be about protests — such as pro-democracy demonstrations and the #MeToo movement — journalists invariably asked me one question: How do we maintain democracy in an age when governments and companies are collecting ever more data on everything we do?

They’re right to be concerned. If people don’t recognize the danger, they might eventually be unable to protest at all.

Thanks to their proximity to China, South Koreans are witnessing up close that country’s efforts to deploy big data technology as a tool of social control. Omnipresent surveillance cameras, trained in facial recognition, record people’s whereabouts. The ubiquitous social credit score monitors how people behave on the train, whether they pay their bills on time, and whether they participate in undesirable organizations.


This is a real threat. The potential accuracy and reach of government surveillance will only increase as the data pile up and the technology improves — particularly in places such as China, where there are few if any privacy protections. Worse, in many cases, it doesn’t even have to work as advertised. The mere knowledge that they are being watched will often be enough to keep people in line. And if mistakes are made — if, for example, the system misidentifies criminals or wrongly dings someone’s social score — repressive governments won’t necessarily be held to account.

China’s heavy-handed approach is spreading. Venezuela is reportedly using Chinese technology to create its own social credit score. The Saudi government has been monitoring Twitter to identify and punish political dissidents — an effort in which the consulting company McKinsey may have (perhaps inadvertently) played a role.

Governments will wage the next cold war with technology, in large part against their own citizens, but the nature and ideology of that conflict are still uncertain. So far, China’s version appears to be in the lead, in part because the world’s great superpower, the U.S., still hasn’t figured out what its strategy will be. Discussions about the use of big data and artificial intelligence in the U.S. and China tend to frame it as a technology race, rather than a clash of values. From that perspective, privacy protection is merely a pesky constraint to the innovation that will bring about the brave new world.

Trying to compete with China in developing social control technology would be a terrible mistake. Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation explicitly disavows such an approach, choosing instead to defend human dignity and freedom. In the U.S., though, people are too distracted by the political circus to take on a creeping surveillance state, starting with big tech firms such as Facebook, which have demonstrated their incapacity to promote democratic values over profit.

We need to do better, and soon.

Libya is ‘hell’: Migrants barricaded in cargo ship refuse demands to leave

November 18, 2018

Migrants on the Nivin ship tell MEE they are injured and having to urinate into bottles

Migrants still on board the Nivin cargo ship in the port of Misrata (MEE)
Francesca Mannocchi's picture

TRIPOLI –  They left Libya in a rubber raft 10 days ago. From Ethiopia, Pakistan and beyond, they sought to take the well-worn passage across the Mediterranean to Europe and, as one passenger said, escape hell.

Now more than 70 migrants, including children, are in a stand off with Libyan authorities in the northwestern port of Misrata, refusing to disembark from the Nivin, the Italian cargo ship that rescued them.

‘We won’t get off this ship. We won’t return to that hell’

– Dittur, 19, migrant from South Sudan

Many have already spent months travelling across dangerous terrain at the whims of smugglers or been detained in Libyan detention centres. Some, say aid workers, have been tortured by traffickers trying to extort money.

Barricaded inside the ship, using plastic containers in place of toilet facilities, with the crew on the upper decks, and surrounded by Libyan armed forces awaiting orders from Tripoli, they now refuse to return.

“We won’t get off this ship,” Dittur, a 19-year-old from South Sudan who remains onboard, told Middle East Eye by phone. “We won’t return to that hell.”

In the Mediterranean, where there are no longer NGO rescue ships on patrol, the incident sheds light on the moral maze in which merchant ships now find themselves in the absence of aid workers. It may be easier for crews to pretend not to see rubber boats rather than lose time on their course. Six ships passed the migrants before the Nivin rescued them, migrants told MEE.

Injured migrants on board the Nivin ship (MEE)

However, human rights advocates said on Friday, the standoff is also a testimony to the continuing problems within Libya’s detention centres, which the UN described earlier this year as horrific. One of the migrants told MEE smugglers picked him up from one of the centres with full knowledge of authorities.

The protest, said Middle East and North Africa director for Amnesty International, Heba Morayef, “gives a clear indication of the horrifying conditions refugees and migrants face in Libya’s detention centres, where they are routinely exposed to torture, rape, beatings, extortion and other abuse”.

As the standoff continues, there are concerns that the protest may end in violence.

Like six ships in the night

The migrants’ journey began on 6 November when 95 people, including 28 minors, set off in a raft from the coastal Libyan city of Khoms.

Dittur, one of those on board, told MEE that the group had been at sea for several hours when they realised they were in danger and tried to get help from passing ships.

‘Six ships passed by us that night and no one rescued us. They have seen us without saving our lives’

– Dittur, 19, migrant from South Sudan

“We called the emergency number saying we were on the rubber boat, which was already in very bad condition. Six ships passed by us that night and no one rescued us. They have seen us without saving our lives,” he said.

Finally, he said, a merchant ship arrived. It was the Nivin, a cargo ship flying a Panamanian flag, which had left the Italian city of Imperia on 7 November with a load of cars destined for the North African market.

The crew helped everyone on board. “‘We wil bring you to Italy. Do not worry,'” Dittur said they were told.

Intead, several hours later, the Libyan coastguard arrived. “It was our nightmare,” the migrant from South Sudan said. As the coastguard started to attempt to transfer people off the boat and the migrants realised they would be returning to Libya, they refused to disembark, a Nivin crew member and passengers told MEE.

Communication between the Nivin and Italy’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) reviewed by MEE shows the MRCC acting on behalf of the Libyan coastguard.

In their first contact via a cable seen by MEE, the MRCC told the Nivin to rescue the migrants on board the rubber raft and urged the crew to contact the Libyan coastguard. The number the MRCC gave for the coastguard, however, was Italian.

Copy of cable sent from Italy’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre to Nivin

At 7.39pm on 7 November, MRCC writes to Nivin: “On behalf of the Libyan Coast Guard… please change course and drive at maximum speed at the indicated latitude.” The MRCC shared another Italian phone number as a point of contact.

At 9.34pm in an email seen by MEE, the Libyan Navy, with the Maltese navy, Eunavfor Med and the Italian Navy copied in, tells Nivin: “As a Libyan authority, I order you to recover the boat and we will give instructions to disembark.”

‘They are desperate’

The cargo ship arrived in Misrata on 9 November. On Wednesday, after days-long mediation between Libyan authorities and the migrants, a Somali woman and her three-month-old baby, along with 12 others, disembarked.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff at the port of Misrata negotiated with Libyan authorities, who carried food and medicine on board to injured migrants who have burns and abrasions. Now 70 remain barricaded in the ship.

A patient in serious condition refused to be taken to a medical facility in Libya. He said he would rather die on the merchant ship

– Julien Raickman, MSF

“They are desperate,” Julien Raickman, MSF’s head of mission, told MEE. “In the group, there are several people, including children, tortured by traffickers to extort money. A patient in serious condition refused to be taken to a medical facility in Libya. He said he would rather die on the merchant ship. ”

There are no toilets, so the migrants are using plastic bottles to urinate. Journalists have not been allowed to access the ship, the port or even the city of Misrata. Outside at the port, armed forces wait for instructions from Tripoli, according to a source inside the port.

From Tripoli, Libyan naval commander Anwar El Sharif told MEE: “They are pirates, criminals. We do not consider them migrants and this is no longer a rescue operation for people in danger. They set fire to the ship’s cargo and attempted to kill the crew,” he said.

“We will treat them as they deserve, that is, as terrorists. It is a work of special forces, counterterrorism. They will be in charge of evacuating the ship.”

Migrants without access to bathrooms on the Nivin are urinating in plastic bottles (MEE)

But those still onboard deny that they set cars on fire or tried to kill anyone. Instead, they say that they were burned by fuel from the rubber raft they originally set sail on.

They also sent photos to MEE showing scratches and scars which they say are wounds they sustained in detention centres in Tripoli and Tajoura, a nearby town that many of them, including Dittur, were trying to flee.

Impossible escape

Two years ago when he was 17, Dittur said he escaped from South Sudan, crossed a desert and was arrested the first time he tried to cross the Mediterranean. He was imprisoned for seven months in Bani Walid detention centre in Libya.

That first attempt, he said, was followed by another. And then another, even as he continued to be extorted by smugglers.

“Every time, more torture, and more money to ask my family to let me go, and every time, they [the smugglers] let me go. I worked, free, to try to leave again,” he said.

When [Libyan authorities] held me again in a prison, I asked to be able to give my documents to humanitarian organisations, they told us that they would help us out, to get away from there. But months went by, no one showed up,” he said.


Italy accused of bribing Libyan militias to stop migrants reaching Europe

Passengers with him on the raft, he said, were kept in a shed in the countryside before smugglers transported them to the coast.

Dittur said he had been picked up by smugglers at the Tariq al-Sikka detention centre in Tripoli, which is managed by the Government of National Accord’s Ministry of the Interior.

“Smugglers can enter whenever they want in prisons,” he said. “They come to make arrangements with those who want to leave and enter to take away who can pay his share, with me they did so, two weeks ago.”

Macron, Merkel meet amid WWI centenary debate on European army

November 18, 2018

The leaders of France and Germany meet in Berlin on Sunday to jointly remember the victims of European wars, presenting also a united front in countering global turmoil stoked by the mercurial US President Donald Trump.

President Emmanuel Macron will visit France’s former enemy turned key EU partner from 1000 GMT for a wreath-laying ceremony on its Day of Mourning for victims of war and tyranny, a parliamentary address and talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Macron and Merkel are both committed pro-Europeans and internationalists who have resisted rising populist, eurosceptic and anti-immigration forces in Europe and Trump’s isolationist ‘America First’ stance.

© POOL/AFP | Macron and Merkel are both committed pro-Europeans and internationalists

During their second meeting in a week, the pair will likely delve deeper into the idea of a future European army, a proposal that has raised Trump’s hackles.

As the world has remembered World War I, which ended a century ago this month, Macron has repeatedly invoked its horrors to drive home his message that rising nationalism around the globe is again destabilising the world.

He has suggested building a future European army as a symbol of a united continent.

The proposal has been backed by Merkel although Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Friday said France and Germany were jumping the gun, asserting that the continent’s safety could be guaranteed only through NATO.

On Tuesday the US leader mocked both European powers by tweeting that “it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France?” and adding that “they were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along”.

– Weakened leaders –

A week after world leaders attended the Armistice centenary events in Paris, Merkel and Macron are also due to meet again one-on-one to resume their dialogue on ways to boost the EU.

Since their joint cabinet meeting on Europe in June, challenges have piled up, with Brexit nearing and a budget conflict escalating between Brussels and Italy.

The talks also come at a time when both leaders are politically weakened, reducing the traditional driving power of the Franco-German engine at the heart of the bloc.

As Trump gleefully tweeted days ago, Macron’s once stellar approval ratings have dropped off into the mid-twenties.

And Merkel, after 13 years in power, has in recent weeks announced the beginning of the end of her reign, by declining to stand again as leader of her centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU).

She has vowed to serve out her fourth term, which runs until 2021, but many observers expect Merkel could be brought down earlier by infighting within her CDU or the unhappy three-party coalition she leads.

All this has made substantial reform initiatives by the Franco-German power couple even less likely.

There is already much frustration in Paris about Merkel’s perceived foot-dragging on Macron’s bold reform plans, especially forging a eurozone with a major common budget and finance minister.

– Tricky questions –

The joint army plan too faces tricky questions, among them post-war Germany’s traditional reluctance to send combat troops abroad, and the fact that it is the parliament that must approve military missions.

The next major political test for both Macron and Merkel will be European Parliamentary elections in May, when their centrist parties will do battle with populist and far-right forces.

Macron’s trip to Berlin first sees him join President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at 11:00 am (1000 GMT) at the “Youth for Peace” event where youngsters will present “100 ideas for peace”.

From 1130 GMT Macron, Steinmeier and Merkel will attend the ceremony at the Neue Wache, a neoclassical former Prussian military guardhouse that serves as Germany’s Central Memorial for the Victims of War and Dictatorship.

At 1230 GMT Macron delivers a speech in the glass-domed parliamentary chamber of the Bundestag, housed in the historic Reichstag building that still bears the scars of World War II.

When Macron again meets Merkel at the chancellery at 1410 GMT, they will deliver statements to the media but not give a joint press conference.



Have European Leaders Lost The Will To Defend Western Civilization?

November 16, 2018

Image result for emmanuel macron, world war I centennial, photos, podium

The Western world would have succumbed over 1,000 years ago had its leaders and citizens not made a brave stand in the face of foreign invasion.

Today, no less dangerous invaders than those from the past have succeeded where their forebears could not, and without the force of arms.

The history of Western civilization has been interspersed with episodes of military conflict on such a monumental scale that any defeat would have reversed the course of history forever.

Consider the Battle of Tours. Beginning in 711 AD, a Muslim army under the Umayyad caliphate conquered a large swath of what is known today as Spain and Portugal, or the Iberian Peninsula. The tide began to recede only in 732 when the Germanic statesman and military leader, Charles Martel, with a force of some 20,000 men, emerged victorious against Muslim forces on a battlefield in southwestern France in what is known as the Battle of Tours.

Military historian Victor Davis Hanson emphasized the importance of the conflict when he wrote that“most of the 18th and 19th century historians, like [Edward] Gibbon, saw (Tours), as a landmark battle that marked the high tide of the Muslim advance into Europe.”

Martel’s victory represented the first chapter in a protracted effort – known as the Reconquista – a 780-year campaign on the part of the Christian kingdoms to uproot the Moors from the Iberian Peninsula. And it wasn’t until 1492, the year Columbus set sail to discover the New World, that the peninsula was fully controlled by Christian rulers.

It makes for a compelling thought experiment to consider how a powerful historic figure, like Charles Martel, one of the founding figures of the European Middle Ages, would be received by today’s mainstream media, which has a acquired a very particular way of reporting on those modern European leaders – like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban – who are simply motivated by the desire to strengthen Europe’s borders from illegal aliens. For an answer, one need only consider the breathtakingly biased BBC interview where Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó was told that his government was guided by “xenophobia” in its decision to prevent illegal migrants from entering the country.

Judging by its blood-stained history, however, Hungary has good reason for being concerned about foreign invasion. That’s because the threat of foreign invasion against the European continent did not end in 1492. In fact, overlapping the defeat of the Muslim invaders in Western Europe, a concomitant development was occurring in Eastern Europe with the rise of the Ottoman Empire, which defeated the Byzantine Empire in 1453.

By 1541, the Ottoman Turks had conquered Hungary and at this time were on their way to creating one of the largest empires of all time. After declaring Hungary a vassal state, the Ottoman army marched up the Danube towards the famed ‘Gates of Vienna.’ It was here the Ottomans would meet their match, thanks to the timely intervention of King John Sobieski of Poland.

Upon reaching Vienna on September 12, 1683, with the Ottoman army about to breach the city walls, Sobieski ordered his roughly 75,000 troops to charge at the very heart of the enemy force, which numbered some 350,000. Sobieski’s plan worked and he successfully routed the Ottomans, a momentous event that began the liberation of Eastern Europe from the Turkish yoke.

To understand the significance of the victory, the Pope hailed Sobieski as the “Savior of Vienna and Western European civilization.”

Once again, we must ask: how would the Western media today treat such a historic figure, who led Europe and Western civilization to ultimate triumph against a foreign invader? After all, Sobieski didn’t merely construct a barbed-wire fence against an invading horde as Hungary’s Orban did, and too much outcry and even retribution from his European peers. Sobieski went so far as to put an intruder to the sword.

In a letter to his wife, Queen Marie-Louise, Sobieski described the sheer mayhem and bloodshed that accompanied the battle:

“Our Lord and God, Blessed of all ages, has brought unheard victory and glory to our nation. All the guns, the whole camp, untold spoils have fallen into our hands…They left behind a mass of innocent Austrian people, particularly women; but they butchered as many as they could…”

Now of course some will argue that we are talking about apples and oranges here. A marauding army simply cannot be compared to an influx of desperate migrants looking to better their lot in life.However, I would argue that the two groups, while employing radically different methods, nonetheless produce roughly the same results: both groups have a massive impact upon the native population in terms of problems with assimilation, as well as the expenses involved in playing ‘host’ to people from radically different cultures, religions and backgrounds.Most importantly, however, is that in both cases the native population suffers the risk of being completely displaced by the influx of foreigners, especially if the latter is more prolific when it comes to reproducing its numbers.

There is yet another point to consider. As the Hungarian foreign minister emphasized in his interview, much of the migrants who entered Europe arrived by ‘invitation’ of sorts in that they knew the larger European countries, namely Germany, England and France, in tandem with non-profit organizations like George Soros’ Open Society, would provide them with a relatively respectable stipend once they breach the borders of some European country(it should be no surprise that Germany is viewed as the ‘Holy Land’ as far as these economic migrants are concerned). In a report detailing the outlays provided to migrants arriving in Germany, it was reported that “a single adult receives € 408/month on average for everything but rent and health insurance, which the state pays for.” Now if that doesn’t set the conditions for a full-blown exodus into Europe I really don’t know what will. And it has. To date, millions of undocumented migrants have spread out to the four corners of Europe, the consequences of which nobody can predict.

One thing can be said with certainty, however. The great sacrifices of great European men, like John Sobieski and Charles Martel, seem to have been utterly wasted by modern leaders who simply do not have the best interest of their state, not to mention Western civilization, at heart.The site of German Chancellor Angela Merkel snatching the German flag from one of her colleagues during a political assembly, or French President Emmanuel Macron insisting that there is “no such thing as French culture” tells us everything we need to know about these so-called ‘leaders,’ who have betrayed the spirit of European fortitude that allowed Europe to survive and flourish in the first place. Europe should be thankful there are leaders like Hungary’s Viktor Orban or Sebastian Kurz, 31, the new Austrian chancellor who soared to victory by campaigning on stricter border controls in Europe.

Why is common sense in such short supply these days in the Western world?

It cannot be denied that much of Europe’s problems with the migration crisis are the result of it hitching its wagon to the falling star of US foreign policy. However, that does not serve as a reasonable argument for Europe to open its doors to a migrant invasion.  If Europe, as well as some of the more notorious NGOs, really want to help migrants from the Middle East, they could start by demanding their governments stop supporting military operations abroad. This is exactly what our modern ‘social justice warriors’ should be demanding, yet they are absolutely silent on the war front. And if they insist on paying these war victims, who are certainly deserving of sympathy, then better to send the humanitarian assistance to those war-torn places instead of inviting hordes to European shores.

As things stand, or fall, Europe’s ultimate survival will come down to brave and courageous men, the Martels and Sobieskis of our times, to thwart any new foreign invasions being delivered to Europe’s doorstep inside the Trojan Horse of ‘good intentions,’ which we all know where ultimately leads.

Is Europe Falling Apart?

November 16, 2018

The EU: “No. We’re not in negotiation. We’re not in a discussion. The rules are the rules.”

Brussels is standing tough, but moderates like Theresa May are gradually being pushed out of power in Europe.

British Prime Minister Theresa May at a press conference at 10 Downing Street in London on Nov. 15. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)

British Prime Minister Theresa May at a press conference at 10 Downing Street in London on Nov. 15. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)

One thing you can say: The center is holding. For now at least, Brussels is standing tough. After all, one could not always say that about Europe, where so rarely in history has there been a firm center at all. But this time the falcons can surely hear the falconer.

The falcons in this case are two major, wayward countries, the United Kingdom and Italy. The first wants to leave the European Union painlessly (and many would say delusionally) while the second simply wants to break its rules—also painlessly. Like a tag team, Britain and Italy have been trading crisis headlines day by day, while Brussels’s bemused bureaucrats hold their ground.

Late this week it was London’s turn as Prime Minister Theresa May’s Tory government all but imploded over her Brexit proposal, which both Conservatives and Labourites dismissed as too beholden to EU rules. After a five-hour cabinet meeting that followed two years of fitful negotiations with Brussels, four high-profile ministers including Brexit secretary Dominic Raab quit the cabinet on Thursday, and pundits expressed doubts May could get the deal through Parliament or even survive politically herself.

Waiting in the wings was Britain’s version of U.S. President Donald Trump (albeit a far more erudite one), MP Boris Johnson, the passionately nationalist Brexiteer who quit as foreign secretary last July, claiming in his resignation letter that the U.K. was “headed for the status of a colony” if May’s Brexit compromise plans are adopted.

Like most of May’s critics, Johnson has not offered an alternative plan. Even so, despite May’s pledge on Thursday to fight for her deal “with every fiber of my being,” speculation is rife that Johnson could take her place. If that happens, it would almost certainly mean a “hard” exit that might leave the British economy in shambles. Already the pound is plunging.

Farther south, the Italian government is pushing for greater deficit spending, which the European Commission said is not permissible because it would ostensibly violate the rigid rules laid out in the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact. Commission officials rejected Italy’s budget because it increases the deficit to 2.4 percent while Italy’s government debt is more than double the eurozone limit of 60 percent. Italy’s populist government, in a response Tuesday, made a couple of minor adjustments and then defied Brussels to fine it.

Asked last week whether a compromise might be found, EU Economy Commissioner Pierre Moscovici responded, “No. We’re not in negotiation. We’re not in a discussion. The rules are the rules.”

Which, of course, is a pretty good opening position in a negotiation (because that’s what it was). Italy may now suffer the first penalties ever imposed under the budget rules, putting all that Italian debt at risk and the eurozone’s integrity in crisis at a time when Italy has the fourth-largest sovereign debt in the world.

Fortunately, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is Italian and has proven in the past he’s willing to buy up a lot of debt. According to Harold James, a Princeton University historian who specializes in Europe, what both the Italy and U.K. cases “really show is how absolutely impossible it is to try to leave the EU. And what bad things would happen if you try to do that.”

So perhaps these national flare-ups shouldn’t be terribly concerning to the outside world, except that it’s all happening at a time of economic slowdown and rising right-wing populism that could further fracture the EU politically. That’s especially true in Europe’s biggest economy, Germany, where it was the EU’s previous bailout of Greece, pushed by Chancellor Angela Merkel, that turned the far-right Alternative for Germany party into a major player.

According to German commentator Stephan Richter, the attitude in Berlin now is “if Britain and Italy want to commit seppuku, we can’t stop them.”

Worse, this is happening as other renewed right-wing forces are mounting while prominent moderates are leaving the stage.

Until now the far-right in power has been largely confined to Eastern European countries such as Poland and Hungary. That’s no longer true: One half of Italy’s coalition government is the right-wing, anti-immigration Lega. The moderates, by contrast, are embattled. Merkel recently announced she’s stepping down as party leader in Germany, May is crippled, and in France President Emmanuel Macron—who after his 2017 election was seen as Europe’s centrist, liberal antidote to Trump—is deeply unpopular while his right-wing rival, Marine Le Pen, is surging back into contention in the polls.

And of course, Donald Trump is loving it—and openly encouraging it. After Macron, speaking in Paris last week at a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, indirectly criticized Trump’s proud declaration that he is a “nationalist” by saying “nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,” Trump all but called on French right-wing forces to defeat the French leader.

“The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%,” Trump tweeted. “By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people-and rightfully so!……..”

During her failed presidential campaign in 2017, Marine Le Pen described Trump’s election as “an additional stone in the building of a new world.”

Or perhaps in a vast pile of rubble. Only the months ahead will tell.


Migrant arrivals in EU set to reach 5-year low

November 15, 2018

Illegal border crossings have continued to drop, putting this year on track to be the lowest rate since 2013, Frontex has said. Despite the trend, an EU dispute over the arrivals continues to feed anti-migrant sentiment.

Refugees and migrants sit on a rescue boat after being pulled from the sea off of Italy (Getty Images/C. McGrath)

Unauthorized migrant arrivals in the European Union are down significantly compared to last year, with 2018 likely to hit a five-year low, the EU’s border agency, Frontex, announced on Wednesday.

Frontex logged 118,900 illegal border crossings in the first 10 months of the year, which is more than 30 percent lower compared to the same period in 2017.

The agency attributed the trend to a steep drop in migrants and refugees taking the dangerous central Mediterranean route between Libya and Italy. The number of people arriving in Italy is down 87 percent compared to last year.

Italy’s populist government has taken a hard-line stance on immigration, with Interior Minister Matteo Salvini vowing to stop arrivals and banishing migrant rescue boats from the country’s ports.

Rise in Spain arrivals

While Italy’s stance may have helped dissuade some from taking the dangerous crossing, Frontex noted there has been a rise in the number of people crossing the Mediterranean to enter Spain.

In October, almost 60 percent of all unauthorized migrant arrivals in the EU took place along the route between Morocco and Spain.

Some 9,400 people used the western Mediterranean route this October — over double the number at the same time last year.

Despite the steady drop in arrivals, EU member states continue to fiercely disagree over how to handle migration in the bloc. The dispute has continued to stoke anti-migrant sentiment across Europe.

Last month, the UN’s refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration warned that the “political discourse concerning refugees and migrants, particularly those arriving by boat, has become dangerously toxic.”

They added that although the rates of boat arrivals had fallen, the number of deaths at sea had risen.

rs/aw (AP, dpa)

EU defence efforts musn’t hurt transatlantic bond: NATO chief

November 12, 2018

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned Europe against undermining transatlantic ties, following a defence spat between US President Donald Trump and French leader Emmanuel Macron.

Trump had tweeted on Friday that Macron’s call for a “real European army” was “insulting”.

The US leader’s criticism came after Macron spoke about the need for a European army and listed the US along with Russia and China as a threat to European security.

© AFP/File | Stoltenberg warned European members against duplicating NATO’s work and jeopardising relations with the United States

Without referring specifically to Macron’s call for a European army, Stoltenberg said he welcomed stronger EU efforts on defence that could strengthen NATO.

But he warned European members against duplicating the alliance’s work and jeopardising relations with the United States.

“More European efforts on defence is great but it should never undermine the strength of the transatlantic bond,” said Stoltenberg at a forum in Berlin.

“This is partly about substance but also partly about perception because perception matters.

“If we speak too much about a phrase like, for instance strategic autonomy? it sounds like you’re going to do these big strategic things alone and I don’t think that’s wise.

“Two World Wars and a Cold War taught us the importance of doing things together,” he said.

If they so wish, European allies can choose to carry out operations with or without the US within the framework of NATO, said Stoltenberg.

But he would oppose the EU developing structures that duplicated the alliance’s work.

“The reality is that we need one strong and capable command structure, we can’t divide those resources in two,” said the NATO chief.

Trump has repeatedly berated European NATO members like Germany for failing to meet spending targets set by the alliance.

But in an interview aired on Sunday, Macron said Europe should not raise their defence budgets in order to purchase US-made weapons.