Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Syrian opposition calls on Trump and EU to put pressure on Russia and Iran

January 16, 2018

LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and European Union leaders should increase pressure on President Bashar al-Assad and his allies Russia and Iran to return to talks to end Syria’s civil war, Syria’s chief opposition negotiator said on Monday.

Image result for Nasr Hariri, photos, january 16, 2018

Nasr Hariri, chief negotiator for Syria’s main opposition, poses for a photograph in central London, Britain January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

Nasr Hariri said that unless the West forced Assad and his big power allies to seek peace then Syrian civilians would continue to be killed.

“I would like to ask all those countries that promised they would support the Syrian people and their aspirations for democracy and peace: why didn’t they fulfil their promises?” Hariri, speaking in English, told Reuters in London.

The chief negotiator for Syria’s main opposition grouping, Hariri called for Trump and EU leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May to get tougher with Assad.

All diplomatic initiatives have so far failed to yield progress in ending the war, which is now entering its eighth year having killed hundreds of thousands of people and driven 11 million from their homes.

The map of Syria’s conflict has been decisively redrawn in favor of Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies during the past two years. They have recaptured major population centres in western Syria from rebels seeking to overthrow him and pushed back Islamic State in the east.

In the face of the collapse of rebel-held territory, most Western countries have quietly softened their positions that Assad must leave power as part of any peace deal. But the opposition entered the last formal talks last month without softening its demand Assad go, prompting the government to declare the talks pointless.

Nevertheless, Hariri suggested Western powers still had enough influence to push the government to negotiate.

“It is time for President Trump, Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister May to say: ‘Stop’,” the former cardiologist said.

“It is time for Trump, Merkel and May to increase pressure and bring the international community together to get a genuine and just political situation in Syria.”

Hariri represents the Saudi-backed umbrella group of Syrian opposition groups which are opposed to Assad and supported by the West. He said the next round of the so-called “Geneva talks” on the fate of Syria would take place in late January, probably around Jan. 24-26 in Vienna.

A spokesman for Hariri said the opposition would attend those talks.

MORE TALKS?

Hariri said discussions in Washington, including with White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster, had been positive and that the Trump administration understood the situation.

”Iran and Russia are trying to deprioritise the transition,“ he said. ”We need the international community’s help to put pressure on the regime and their backers, Russia and Iran.

“The Americans want to test the Russians and the regime in the next round of talks. They want to move the Geneva process forward,” Hariri said.

When asked about U.S. plans to help support a 30,000-strong force dominated by the mainly Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), he said it could lead to Syria’s partition.

“What are the benefits of establishing such an army?” he asked. “It will open the door wide for a future struggle in the region. It could open the door to the future partition of Syria.”

Assad has responded to the plan by vowing to drive U.S. troops from Syria. Turkey has called the force a terrorist army and vowed to crush it. Iran said on Tuesday creation of the SDF force would “fan the flames of war”, echoing the vehement response of Syria, Turkey and Russia.

Hariri said it was very unlikely that the Syrian opposition would attend a meeting on Syria organized by Russia in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. The opposition had received no invitation so far, and no final decision on attendance had been made.

“We have not been invited yet,” he said. “The general mood is not to go to Sochi. My personal view is that in its current shape, it is unacceptable to attend Sochi.”

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Russia’s Sergei Lavrov slams US for ignoring ‘multipolar’ world

January 15, 2018

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has sharply criticized the US for trying to dismantle the Iran nuclear deal. Washington is still using ultimatums and failing to recognize the emerging “multipolar world,” he said.

 Image result for lavrov, photos

Moscow will work to preserve the Iran nuclear deal despite Donald Trump’s recent pledge to change it,Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at his annual news conference.

Russia also hopes that France, Germany and the UK would also resist US pressure to alter the arrangement, Lavrov added. The three European powers, alongside US, Russia, and China, reached the 2015 deal to limit Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions after years of laborious talks.

Read more:What is the Iran nuclear deal?

“Unfortunately, our American colleagues still want to operate only on the basis of dictating policy, issuing ultimatums,  they do not want to hear the perspectives of other centers of world politics,” Lavrov said on Monday.

Read moreIran rebuffs Trump’s demand for more nuclear negotiation

The US is refusing to “acknowledge the reality of the emerging multi-polar world,” he added.

Lavrov’s annual conference is designed to give an overview of Russia’s diplomatic efforts in the past year and provide a lookahead for 2018.

Iran failure – a message to North Korea?

Several days ago, US President Donald Trump said he would waive sanctions against Tehran only to give US and Europe more time to fix the “terrible flaws” of the Iran arrangement.

However, Iran has been fulfilling its part of the deal, Lavrov said on Monday.

“The US is requiring for Iran to stop developing its ballistic rockets, but that was never a topic of the talks and Iran has never taken up any obligations about it,” according to the official.

Read more: Tehran says nuclear deal relies on ‘full compliance’ from US

The Russian foreign minister said that statements coming from the US also “seriously aggravated” tensions in other parts of the world, including the Korean Peninsula.

The collapse of the Iran deal would also undermine any arrangement with Pyongyang, Lavrov added.

“If they put this agreement aside and tell Iran: you keep within the arranged limits and we’ll bring back the sanctions anyway – just put yourself in North Korea’s shoes. They have been promised that the sanctions would be removed if they give up their nuclear program.”

Read moreNorth Korea missile launch prompts Hawaii nuclear attack warning test

Lavrov  also criticized the US over their plans to provide Greece with US natural gas, and other energy initiatives clashing with Russia’s interests in Europe.

“When it comes to [Trump] administrations actions, there is a fear of healthy competition,” he said.

Commenting on the US actions in Syria, he said that Washington’s priorities had not changed under Trump. According to Moscow’s standpoint, Washington is focusing on regime change over ending the civil war.

In some areas, US foreign policy even became “more saturated, more assertive” under Donald Trump, “regardless of his positions during the electoral campaign,” Lavrov said.

dj/ng (AFP, Reuters, Interfax)

http://www.dw.com/en/russias-sergei-lavrov-slams-us-for-ignoring-multipolar-world/a-42150394?maca=en-Facebook-sharing

Germany: Conservatives reject coalition deal amendments

January 15, 2018

Angela Merkel’s conservatives rule out amendments to preliminary coalition deal

Angela Merkel’s conservatives have insisted they won’t make any more concessions to the Social Democrats before formal coalition negotiations begin. SPD delegates are set to vote next week on the preliminary agreement.

Abschluss der Sondierungen von Union und SPD (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Gambarini)

Senior figures in Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) called on Sunday for amendments to the party’s preliminary coalition agreement with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc.

SPD lawmakers said they hoped that the parties could still agree on a new social security scheme and firmer employee contracts in the would-be coalition’s policy blueprint.

Read more: Critics weigh in on Germany’s coalition talks ‘breakthrough’

However, Germany’s conservative bloc — made up of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) — swiftly dismissed the calls, insisting that the SPD first vote on whether to move on to formal negotiations before demanding more concessions.

“The CDU/CSU and the SPD were in serious talks and not singing ‘Ring a Ring o’ Roses’ in the playground,” CDU lawmaker Thomas Strob told the German media group RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland. “What we have agreed upon with each other is valid,” he said, adding that anything not discussed during the week of preliminary talks “won’t become part of a coalition contract.”

Meanwhile, deputy CDU leader Julia Klöckner took to Twitter to call out the SPD. “We’re counting on reliability,” she tweeted. “Everything was negotiated in a package, no cherry picking please!”

Das Sondierungspapier ist von CDU/CSU und SPD einstimmig am Freitag Morgen angenommen worden. Diejenigen, die aus der SPD-Sondierungsgruppe nur wenige Stunden danach massive Änderungen darin fordern, stellen sich selbst ein sehr schlechtes Arbeitszeugnis aus!

Wer dem Sondierungspapier zugestimmt hat, aber nun nachverhandeln will, war wohl nur körperlich bei den Sondierungsverhandlungen anwesend. Macht keinen guten Eindruck. Wir setzen auf Verlässlichkeit. Alles wurde im Paket verhandelt, kein Rosinenpicken bitte!

On Friday, SPD leader Martin Schulz heralded the 28-page policy blueprint that leaders of the CDU, CSU and SPD drew up after five days of negotiations. Key policies included a freeze on tax hikes, limiting the influx of asylum seekers to between 180,000 and 220,000 per year, and supporting France’s push for comprehensive eurozone reforms.

SPD split?

Nevertheless, major figures within the SPD remain very reluctant to enter into another coalition with Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc, particularly after all three parties suffered their worst election results in decades in last September’s vote.

Schulz has promised to let the party have the final say on whether to re-enter a grand coalition. On Sunday, 600 delegates will be asked to give the green light to enter formal talks, while party members are expected to get a vote on a deal if and when it is finalized.

Infografik Weg zur Koalition ENG

Several SPD figures said they wanted to make some of the outstanding issues front and center at Sunday’s party conference.

Malu Dreyer, an SPD member and premier of Rhineland-Palatinate, told Germany’s Funke media group, “We will try to make more gains in the coalition negotiations.” SPD General-Secretary Lars Klingbeil said social security and employee rights had to be “part of the conversation.”

Read more: Opinion: German coalition talks, a tale of success and reluctance

Berlin’s mayor, Michael Müller, meanwhile, said that the preliminary talks fell well short of party expectations, particularly when it came to living conditions, immigration and integration. Speaking to Berlin’s Tagespiegel newspaper, Müller also refused to rule out the possibility of talks collapsing and the need for new elections.

In a further sign of the difficulties that lie ahead before next week’s votes, the SPD delegates in Saxony-Anhalt on Saturday rejected the would-be coalition’s policy blueprint and narrowly voted against starting formal talks with Merkel’s conservatives.

 http://www.dw.com/en/angela-merkels-conservatives-rule-out-amendments-to-preliminary-coalition-deal/a-42143734

dm/sms (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

Dementia Villages: A New Way of Caring for The Vulnerable Old

January 15, 2018

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

The Netherlands pursues a promising (but costly) experiment

The Economist

ANJA, who is in her 80s, says she has lived here for one hour. In fact, it has been almost a year. Like all of her neighbours, she has severe dementia. But if she is feeling particularly perky, she can buy lagers at the local supermarket, get coiffed at the hair salon and play bingo as night falls. She can dip her feet into the local fountain, or even cycle into it. She lives in Hogeweyk, thought to be the world’s first “dementia village”, near Amsterdam.

Dementia villages are gated communities designed for people who suffer from dementia, a term used to describe a set of symptoms (such as memory loss and confusion) that are caused by a variety of brain diseases. Hogeweyk’s 150 residents live in six-room houses, each designed around one of four “lifestyles”. These are selected for patients after tests and interviews alongside their families. Anja (not her real name) and her housemates live in a “traditional” home. They eat starchy stamppot stews and have a sewing machine that says it is “Made in West Germany”. “You won’t find Danish [modern or minimalist] design here,” says Eloy van Hal, who founded the village in 2008. The neighbouring house is furnished with pink floral wallpaper and kitschy plastic chandeliers; all part of the “urban” style.

Hogeweyk’s allowance of small freedoms gives peace of mind to people who have lost a part of theirs. Grouping residents by lifestyles is meant to establish continuity between their former lives and the nursing facility. The idea is based on reminiscence therapy, which holds that anxiety in dementia patients can be reduced by creating a familiar environment. It is catching on. A dementia home in Rotterdam has built a “remembrance museum” in its basement where residents can ogle over childhood artefacts. In Dresden, one nursing home has a room set up to recall the former East Germany. A poster of Erich Honecker, a former leader of the East German communist party, looms over communist paraphernalia and bulky cassette tapes playing 1960s hits. Sometimes fakery keeps residents safe. One home in Düsseldorf has a fake bus stop. Residents who decide, in their confusion, that they want to go somewhere else tend to line up patiently there. After they have waited for a bus that will never come, a carer lures them back to their homes.

Hogeweyk received over 1,400 visitors in 2017, keen to copy the concept in their own countries. It is not hard to see why. In 1993, when it was still a regular nursing home, 50% of patients were being given antipsychotic drugs. In 2015, only 8% were. In a client satisfaction survey from 2010, the home scored 9.1 out of 10, compared with 7.5 countrywide.

Hogeweyk exists because the Netherlands can pay for it. Like all care homes in the country, it is primarily state-funded. A national insurance system covers the hefty €6,000 ($7,160) monthly cost for each patient, with the richest people paying up to €2,400 into the scheme each month. In all, the Netherlands spends 4.3% of its GDP on long-term care, the highest in the OECD. It may take a village to help dementia patients. But it takes a country to pay up.

This article appeared in the Europe section of the print edition under the headline “Village people”

https://www.economist.com/news/europe/21734412-netherlands-pursues-promising-costly-experiment-new-way-caring-vulnerable

EU more dependent on Russian gas despite bid to diversify

January 14, 2018

Warships of Ukrainian navy fleet, which remained in Crimea after it was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, moor at Streletskaya Bay in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol. The conflict has unsettled European gas markets. (Reuters)
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MOSCOW: Despite repeatedly vowing to reduce its energy dependency on Moscow, Europe is more reliant on Russian gas than ever before — and there are few signs of this trend reversing.
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Russian gas giant Gazprom said this month it had completed record deliveries to Europe and Turkey in 2017 at a total of 193.9 billion cubic meters — 8 percent higher than its previous record, set in 2016.
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This result was not only a financial victory for the company, whose exports are its main source of profit, but also a political one at a time when diplomatic relations between Russia and the EU are at their worst since the Cold War.
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The numbers “show the increasing demand from European countries for Russian gas, but also the reliability of these deliveries in the required amount,” Gazprom’s chairman Alexei Miller said.
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Deliveries to Germany and Austria reached a historic high and exports to France rose by 6.7 percent from 2016, according to Gazprom’s figures.
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Brussels set goals to diversify its energy sources following a series of gas crises between Moscow and Kiev that affected deliveries to Europe. But the percentage of Russian gas in Europe has only increased in recent years and now represents a third of the total gas consumption in the EU.
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That goal was reinforced by tensions between Brussels and Moscow following the start of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014 that led to fears of Moscow using its gas leverage for geopolitical means.
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According to Valery Nesterov, an oil and gas analyst at Russian bank Sberbank CIB, EU demand for gas is rising because of “economic recovery” in Europe and thanks to gas prices being “more competitive” than those of coal.
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Other factors pushing up demand include cold winters, the decline of European (mainly Dutch) gas output and the closure of nuclear power plants, such as in Germany.
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If Nesterov envisages a possible reduction of Russian exports to EU this year after record results in 2017, he nonetheless says the general tendency will not change: “Gazprom will likely keep its market share in the EU.”
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Strong European demand has allowed Gazprom to increase production after weak results in recent years because of decline of its market share on its home market and the loss of Ukraine, an important client which stopped buying Russian gas in 2015.
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Gazprom is also looking to develop new pipelines with the support of major European companies to maintain its part in the market. But the EU is wary.
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Brussels blocked South Stream, a Russian project to ease exports to southern European nations, and has been resisting other projects such as TurkStream, a pipeline planned via Turkey, and North Stream 2, via the Baltic Sea, which Gazprom justifies as necessary for the increased European demand in the future.
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“A sort of schizophrenia exists between Europe’s diplomacy and its market. The market chooses the cheapest gas to produce and use in Europe, which is Russian gas. Europe is said to be too dependent but nothing has been done to change this,” said Thierry Bros, researcher at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
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“We could say that the speed limit signs are in place but they are ineffective because there is no speed check. There are mechanisms for regulation but there is nothing to verify that they are respected,” he added.
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And Russia is not content with just pipelines. The country recently took a major step into the liquefied natural gas (LNG) market by launching the Yamal LNG terminal in the Arctic, financed by Russian gas producer Novatek with the help of France’s Total. The Yamal project will supply both Europe and Asia via sea routes.
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Diversification for the EU is prevented by a simple obstacle, said Thierry Bros: It “requires additional costs and the question is: who is going to pay?”

Berlin and Paris step up push for euro zone reform deal

January 14, 2018

German chancellor Angela Merkel (AFP)
BERLIN/PARIS: Emboldened by a preliminary coalition deal between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Social Democrats (SPD), Germany and France will try to inject new momentum into their stalled EU reform efforts this week when their finance ministers meet in Paris.
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Peter Altmaier, one of Merkel’s closest party allies, will pay a visit to his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire on Thursday, a day after leading French and German economists unveil new recommendations for a reform of the euro zone.
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The meeting is a sign that Berlin is prepared to negotiate with Paris in parallel to Merkel’s coalition talks with the SPD, which could begin later this month if members of the center-left party give a green light at a party congress next Sunday.
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“We have an acting government which can act and must continue to work,” Achim Post, deputy leader for the SPD in parliament, told Reuters. He said the coalition blueprint clinched on Friday would pave the way for a “paradigm shift” on Europe away from austerity and toward more investment and jobs.
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The 28-page document was also welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron, whose plans for an ambitious reform of the EU, including an overhaul of euro zone governance, were dealt a blow by an inconclusive German election in September and the political limbo that followed.
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The draft, which could form the basis for Merkel’s third “grand coalition” government since taking power in 2005, raises the prospect of an “investment budget” for the single currency bloc, a nod to Macron’s call for a budget to help the euro zone cope with external economic shocks.
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It also calls for the ESM bailout mechanism to be turned into a full-blown European Monetary Fund under parliamentary control and anchored in EU law.
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In a sign of lingering divisions between Berlin and Paris, Macron on Friday questioned the logic of such a fund and stressed the need to complete the EU’s “banking union,” a vital project designed to sever the link between troubled banks and sovereign lenders. Berlin has been reluctant to move to the final stage by establishing a common deposit insurance scheme.
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As Merkel was celebrating her deal with the SPD on Friday, Paris was rolling out the red carpet for Mario Centeno, the new president of the Eurogroup forum of euro zone finance ministers, in a signal to other countries that Macron means business.
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“It’s not insignificant and certainly not innocent in terms of the message,” a French finance ministry source said of the visit by Centeno, who met with Macron, Le Maire and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.
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Berlin and Paris now face a race against time to reconcile differences over how to make the euro zone crisis-proof after years of financial trauma that nearly tore the 19-nation bloc apart. Merkel and Macron have promised to come up with a joint position by March.
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“2018 is a crunch year,” said the French source. “You’re moving into the European election period from early 2019 and onwards so the objective is to have something to show people.”
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To help break the deadlock, a group of 14 economists, including Clemens Fuest, president of the Ifo Institute, and Jean Pisani-Ferry, a former adviser to Macron, will unveil new proposals on Wednesday that attempt to bridge German demands for more discipline and France’s insistence on more risk-sharing.
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Their paper calls for an overhaul of euro area fiscal rules, which they call “complex and unreliable,” the creation of an independent fiscal watchdog, and a synthetic euro area “safe asset” that offers investors an alternative to sovereign bonds.

Angela Merkel’s conservatives rule out amendments to preliminary coalition deal

January 14, 2018

Angela Merkel’s conservatives have insisted they won’t make any more concessions to the Social Democrats before formal coalition negotiations begin. SPD delegates are set to vote next week on the preliminary agreement.

Abschluss der Sondierungen von Union und SPD (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Gambarini)

Senior figures in Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) called on Sunday for amendments to the party’s preliminary coalition agreement with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc.

SPD lawmakers said they hoped that the parties could still agree on a new social security scheme and firmer employee contracts in the would-be coalition’s policy blueprint.

Read more: Critics weigh in on Germany’s coalition talks ‘breakthrough’

However, Germany’s conservative bloc — made up of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sisterparty, the Christian Social Union (CSU) — swiftly dismissed the calls, insisting that the SPD first vote on whether to move on to formal negotiations before demanding more concessions.

“The CDU/CSU and the SPD were in serious talks and not singing ‘Ring a Ring o’ Roses’ in the playground,” CDU lawmaker Thomas Strob, told the German media group RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland. “What we have agreed upon with each other is valid,” he said, adding that anything not discussed during the week of preliminary talks “won’t become part of a coalition contract.”

Meanwhile, deputy CDU leader Julia Klöckner took to Twitter to call out the SPD. “We’re counting on reliability,” she tweeted. “Everything was negotiated in a package, no cherry picking please!”

Das Sondierungspapier ist von CDU/CSU und SPD einstimmig am Freitag Morgen angenommen worden. Diejenigen, die aus der SPD-Sondierungsgruppe nur wenige Stunden danach massive Änderungen darin fordern, stellen sich selbst ein sehr schlechtes Arbeitszeugnis aus!

Wer dem Sondierungspapier zugestimmt hat, aber nun nachverhandeln will, war wohl nur körperlich bei den Sondierungsverhandlungen anwesend. Macht keinen guten Eindruck. Wir setzen auf Verlässlichkeit. Alles wurde im Paket verhandelt, kein Rosinenpicken bitte!

On Friday, SPD leader Martin Schulz heralded the 28-page policy blueprint  that leaders of the CDU, CSU and SPD drew up after five days of negotiations. Key policies included a freeze on tax hikes, limiting the influx of asylum seekers to between 180,000 and 220,000 per year, and supporting France’s push for comprehensive eurozone reforms.

SPD split?

Nevertheless, major figures within the SPD remain very reluctant to enter into another coalition with Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc, particularly after all three parties suffered their worst election results in decades in last September’s vote.

Schulz has promised to let the party have the final say on whether to re-enter a grand coalition. On Saturday, 600 delegates will be asked to give the green light to enter formal talks, while more than 400,000 rank and file SPD members will give their say at a special party conference in Bonn the following day.

Infografik Weg zur Koalition ENG

Several SPD figures said they wanted to make some of the outstanding issues front and center at Sunday’s party conference.

Malu Dreyer, an SPD member and premier of Rhineland-Palatinate, told Germany’s Funke media group, “We will try to make more gains in the coalition negotiations.” SPD General-Secretary Lars Klingbeil said social security and employee rights had to be “part of the conversation.”

Read more: Opinion: German coalition talks, a tale of success and reluctance

Berlin’s mayor, Michael Müller, meanwhile, said that the preliminary talks fell well short of party expectations, particularly when it came to living conditions, immigration and integration. Speaking to Berlin’s Tagespiegel newspaper, Müller also refused to rule out the possibility of talks collapsing and the need for new elections.

In a further sign of the difficulties that lie ahead before next week’s votes, the SPD delegates in Saxony-Anhalt on Saturday rejected the would-be coalition’s policy blueprint and narrowly voted against starting formal talks with Merkel’s conservatives.

dm/sms (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

China in talks for sale of jet engine technology to Germany

January 14, 2018

Export of state-of-the-art machinery to a country known for its high-quality products would improve the international image of China’s manufacturing industry

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 January, 2018, 9:33pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 January, 2018, 11:28pm
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South China Morning Post
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China is in talks to sell Germany state-of-the-art machinery and technology critical in the manufacture of high-performance jet engines, a senior government scientist has revealed.

The machinery produced turbine blades capable of withstanding temperatures several hundred degrees Celsius higher than the melting point of metallic alloys, the scientist said.

The scientist, who is involved in the negotiations, asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Turbine blades convert heat generated by combusted fuel into the energy that propels a plane. The blades are one of the most important components in modern aircraft, both military and civilian, and their quality determines how safe, powerful and durable a jet engine will be.

The technological progress could be a very important step for made-in-China jet engines, with China now the world’s largest market for commercial aircraft. Thousands of planes are on order from Airbus and Boeing, and China is also developing its own C919 passenger jet.

In recent years, tremendous leaps in blade-processing technology, combined with breakthroughs in alloy casting and aerodynamic design, have allowed China to produce a brand-new series of powerful military jet engines.

The most notable example is the WS-15 turbofan jet engine, designed for use in China’s J-20 stealth fighter. The WS-15 has experienced reliability problems, but state media boasted last year that its performance matched that of the Pratt & Whitney F119, the world’s most advanced jet engine in military service, which was developed in the United States for the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor stealth fighter.

China and the US are the only countries in the world with tactical stealth jets in service.

“We are willing to share with industrial partners in Germany our latest hardware and technology,” the scientist said. “Industrial representatives from the two sides have finished the first round of contact.”

The export of state-of-the-art machinery to Germany – traditionally known for its high-quality products – would improve the international image of China’s manufacturing industry, he said.

A delegation from Xian, the capital of China’s northwestern Shaanxi province and the main production base for China’s military aircraft engines, would visit Berlin early this year to draft an export proposal with German counterparts, the scientist said.

The scientist asked that the government and business bodies involved not be named because the negotiations were still in their initial stage. The deal would require both Chinese and German government approval given the sensitivity of the machinery and technology involved, which could be used for both military and civilian purposes.

Beijing has expressed support for the possible deal.

“The collaboration between China and Germany is continuing to deepen in multiple sectors, the positive progress achieved is broadly recognised, which reflected the high level of Sino-German relations,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday in response to South China Morning Post questions about the negotiations.

“The prospects for cooperation between the two sides in the fields of hi-tech and intellectual property are very promising … we would like to work together with Germany to promote new progress in cooperation in the relevant fields under the principle of mutual openness, mutual benefits and mutual development.”

The German embassy in Beijing did not respond to a request for comment.

Professor Chen Jiang, from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, who was involved in the development of new jet engines for China’s air force, said he would not be surprised if China provided military jet engine technology to Germany, which built the world’s first jet fighter at the end of the second world war and supplies many jet engine components, including turbine blades, to American and British manufacturers.

“It is quite possible,” he said. “China’s manufacturing has achieved some remarkable progress on numerous strategic sectors in recent years.”

But another Beijing-based jet engine scientist, who worked in Germany for years, said the deal might not eventuate.

“Germany is an ally of the United States,” he said. “It will face many restrictions to work with China in this sensitive field of technology.”

The German government and German companies had also voiced concerns about China’s infringement of intellectual property rights through reverse engineering or direct copying, he said.

China’s turbine blade breakthroughs have won numerous top national science and technology prizes since 2010. They include the development of a unique hollow structure to make lighter and stronger blades; new single-crystal alloys capable of withstanding high temperatures; and a special membrane that can be applied to a blade’s surface to accelerate cooling. Two of the national science and technology prizes announced by Beijing this week were awarded for work on turbine blades: one for single crystal alloys and the other to do with mechanical grinding.

The Chinese machinery being discussed with the Germans uses ultra-fast laser beams to bore extremely small holes or other fine structures on a turbine blade that allow air to flow through it and take away harmful heat.

The scientist in Xian said laser processing was widely used in making jet engines, but China was using a new technical approach that differed from the traditional methods adopted in the US and Britain.

The US, Britain and France are home to the world’s four dominant jet engine makers: General Electric (GE), Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce and CFM.

He said one challenge was to achieve high output while keeping defect rates low. GE, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce had been researching the manufacture of turbine blades for decades and guarded the technology as one of their top business secrets.

“Our machine has outperformed theirs on some benchmarks,” the scientist said. “The Germans have seen and grown interested in our technology.”

Another researcher involved in the negotiations said the export of the blade processing machine would be part of wider jet engine collaboration between the two countries.

“We will buy something else from them in return,” he said. “It can be either hardware or technology. The Germans are very good at the design and engineering of compressors [which send fresh air into the combustion chamber].”

Professor Peng Jiahui, who studied laser processing technology in Huazhong University of Science and Technology, said many Chinese researchers and engineers who had worked at GE, Pratt &Whitney and Rolls-Royce had returned to China and significantly increased the pace of jet engine development.

But a more important factor driving China’s technical innovation was the size of market, he said.

China had more than 1,700 military planes in service, second only to the US. The demand for turbine blades from China’s air force, which was still expanding rapidly, required the industry to come up with better manufacturing methods.

“China can make the best mobile phones because there is huge demand,” Peng said. “The same applies to jet engines.”

 http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2127796/china-talks-sale-jet-engine-technology-germany

Merkel could join Macron in Davos for epic clash with Trump

January 14, 2018

By Noah Barkin

Image result for Macron, Merkel, Photos

BERLIN, Jan 14 (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel is considering joining French President Emmanuel Macron at the World Economic Forum in Davos next week in what could turn into an epic clash of competing world views with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Merkel, who has been struggling to put together a government since a German election in September, had been expected to skip the annual gathering of leaders, CEOs, bankers and celebrities in the Swiss Alps for a third straight year.

But after clinching a preliminary coalition agreement with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) on Friday, German officials said Merkel could travel to Davos after all, possibly setting up a major confrontation with Trump, who is expected to speak on the final day of the forum.

An appearance would signal Merkel’s return to the world stage after months of political limbo in which she has avoided the limelight and been dismissed by some in the German and international media as a spent force.

It would also allow her and Macron, who is scheduled to speak at the forum on Jan. 24, two days before Trump, to reaffirm their commitment to reforming the European Union after Britain’s decision to leave, and to defend liberal democratic values in the face of Trump’s “America First” policies.

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert was coy last week when asked whether she might attend the WEF, which will run from Jan. 23-26 under the banner “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World” and will attract some 60 heads of state and government.

But after clinching a preliminary deal with the SPD, the chances that she could attend appear to have risen. German officials said no final decision had been taken and that Merkel may wait for the outcome of an SPD congress in Bonn next Sunday – where the party will formally decide whether to enter coalition talks with her conservatives – before committing.

Officials at the WEF said they believed Merkel was still considering whether to attend. If she does, it is unlikely that she or Macron would overlap with Trump, who is expected to arrive on the afternoon of Jan. 25.

This year’s forum will be opened by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Jan. 23. Britain’s Theresa May, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu are also expected, as well as celebrities such as actress Cate Blanchett and musician Elton John.

Last year’s gathering took place in the week leading up to Trump’s inauguration and was headlined by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who signalled his readiness to fill the vacuum in global leadership created by America’s shift inward.

UNITED IN ANTIPATHY

Since then, Trump has pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade deal with Asian countries, announced a withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and threatened to torpedo an agreement between Western powers and Iran aimed at curbing its nuclear programme.

He has stirred fears of conflict with North Korea by engaging in an escalating war of words with its leader Kim Jong Un. Last week, he stirred international outrage by referring to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries”, according to members of Congress who attended a meeting in the White House.

On Saturday, some 500 demonstrators marched in the Swiss capital Bern to protest against Trump’s plans to attend the WEF.

“There are very few things in the world that unite countries as much as their antipathy towards Trump and what he is doing,” said Ian Bremmer, president of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group , and a regular at Davos.

“In the United States he may have 40 percent who approve of what he’s doing. In the Davos crowd it is closer to 5 percent.”

The visit by Trump will be the first by a U.S. president since Bill Clinton in 2000. He will be accompanied by a large delegation that is expected to include his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Merkel has had a frosty relationship with Trump, who accused her during his campaign for the presidency of “ruining Germany” by allowing hundreds of thousands of refugees, many fleeing war in the Middle East, into the country in 2015.

She was hailed in some Western media as the last defender of liberal democratic values after Trump’s victory. Since then, the election of Macron, a pro-European centrist who, like Merkel, supports free trade and the global rules-based order, has given her a powerful ally in the confrontation with Trump.

Macron is slated to speak for 45 minutes in the evening of Jan. 24 in Davos, a ski resort in eastern Switzerland.

“My instinct tells me that Macron will go big,” said Robin Niblett, director of the Chatham House think tank in London. “He won’t just talk about Europe. He will try to take up the mantle of the free world under Europe’s wing.”

If he is joined by Merkel, who has made seven appearances at the WEF since becoming chancellor in 2005, that message may resonate even louder. (Reporting by Noah Barkin; Editing by Dale Hudson)

 

Trump’s new sanctions ‘a blow and a warning to Iranian regime’

January 14, 2018

A man looks at Iranian-made missiles at Defense Museum in Tehran on Sept. 23, 2015. (Reuters)
JEDDAH: Tough new sanctions imposed by US President Donald Trump on 14 Iranian individuals and organizations are a political blow and a warning to the regime in Tehran, a leading analyst told Arab News on Saturday.
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Among those targeted are the powerful politician Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, the head of Iran’s judiciary and a close ally of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Groups facing sanctions include the cyber unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
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The US move is a significant move and “a critical victory for human rights defenders and the Iranian people,” said Majid Rafizadeh, a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist.
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The sanctions on the IRGC cyber unit were also a step toward peace and stability by combating the Iranian regime’s attempts to hack other governments’ systems and organizations, he said.
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Announcing the new action on Friday, Trump said he would continue the suspension of US sanctions on Iran under the 2015 nuclear deal — but only for 120 days. In the intervening time, he has demanded a separate agreement to restrict Iran’s ballistic missile program, which is not explicitly covered by the nuclear deal, and to make the 10-year curb on Iran’s nuclear program permanent. If he sees no progress on such an agreement, the president will withdraw from the nuclear deal.
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Trump was sending a message that the Iranian regime “will be monitored not only for its nuclear defiance, development, research and proliferation, but also for its human rights violations,” Rafizadeh said.
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Trump, who has sharply criticized the deal reached under Barack Obama’s presidency, had chafed at once again having to waive sanctions on a country he sees as a threat in the Middle East.
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“Despite my strong inclination, I have not yet withdrawn the United States from the Iran nuclear deal,” he said on Friday. The options were to fix “the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw. This is a last chance.”
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Contrary to the view of his critics, Rafizadeh said, Trump had used diplomacy to address the loopholes in the nuclear deal. “This will give the administration a more robust platform to persuade the EU nations to fix the nuclear agreement or to abandon it.
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“If other parties do not take necessary and adequate action to address the shortcomings of the nuclear agreement, Trump has buttressed his position and laid out the groundwork to reimpose sanctions, as well as withdrawing from the deal.”
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Trump is also giving the US Congress additional time to work on legislation to fix loopholes in the deal, such as requiring Iran to allow its military sites be inspected for nuclear development, research, weaponization and proliferation, Rafizadeh said.
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“Iran is not adhering to the spirit of the nuclear deal due to its heightened interventionist and expansionist policies in the Arab world and to its human rights violations domestically.”
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Rafizadeh said the deal had empowered the IRGC and its militias in the region through sanctions relief. This, he said, had further radicalized, militarized and destabilized the region. “Iran continues to ratchet up its antagonistic policy toward Arab nations, the US, and the West.”
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Iran’s Foreign Ministry said sanctions on Larijani were “hostile action” that “crossed all red lines of conduct in the international community and a violation of international law, and will surely be answered by a serious reaction of the Islamic Republic.”
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Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the nuclear deal was “not renegotiable” and Trump’s move “amounts to desperate attempts to undermine a solid multilateral agreement.”
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James Jeffrey, distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and former US ambassador to Iraq, told Arab News: “Ignore the rhetoric. Zarif is simply reflecting the truth about Iran’s refusal to change the nuclear deal, and all other parties including Europeans agree. But what Trump and his advisers, in background talks with me, seem to be looking for is an agreement with France, Germany and the UK to deal with the problems Trump cites — long-range missiles, inspection flaws and Iranian enrichment breakout after 10 years, without necessarily new negotiations.
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“These are real problems that, for example, French President Emmanuel Macron has cited, and do not necessarily require modifying the agreement which, as Zarif says, understandably Iran rejects.
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“Missiles and sanctions related to them are not part of the agreement, but a separate Security Council resolution that Iran did not formally agree to.
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“Inspection problems involve a mix of the International Atomic Energy Agency not using powers the agreement gives it, and inspection procedures and deals outside of the agreement.
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“Unchecked enrichment after 10 years is a serious problem, but could be dealt with through European/US carrots and sticks and cooperation by a future Iranian government, without changing the agreement.”
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Speaking by phone to Arab News, Aaron David Miller, vice president for New Initiatives at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former senior US peace negotiator, said that the Trump administration will face “great odds” convincing European signatories of the JCPOA to agree to change the “internal architecture’ of the agreement.
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Miller also maintained that despite the strong rhetoric from the Trump administration, he does not see its policy on Iran as fundamentally different from that of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
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Nevertheless, when asked whether he had expected the JCPOA to compel Iran to moderate its behavior in the region or whether he expected it to be emboldened, Miller said the JCPOA was not meant to be “transformational. It was transactional.”

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