Posts Tagged ‘Sigmar Gabriel’

Germany: New ‘Grand Coalition’ Not a Sure Thing as Saxony-Anhalt votes against its own leaders

January 14, 2018

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A coalition with Angela Merkel’s conservatives? No thanks! That’s how the regional SPD conference in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt voted, against its own leaders. Sabine Kinkartz reports from Wernigerode.

When German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel arrived at Wernigerode’s congress center to attend the annual conference of Saxony-Anhalt’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) on Saturday, the youth branch of the party had already made its position clear. “Grand coalition, no thanks!” was the title of a two-page paper calling on the conference to officially oppose a new coalition with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU).

Image result for 3No GroKo, Germany, photos

The fact that Saturday’s conference did indeed decide against such a coalition does not have a binding effect, because the final decision will be taken at a national SPD conference on January 21. But it does send a clear signal to the entire party.

Gabriel’s mission was clear: He thinks the outcome of exploratory coalition talks between the three parties, which have just been concluded in Berlin, was a good one, and he wanted to gain support for it. The agreements made at the talks were collated in a 28-page document, copies of which were hastily distributed among the 120 delegates attending Saxony-Anhalt’s SPD party conference. And unlike Gabriel, many, it seems, were disappointed.

Anne Fiebig heads the party’s youth organization, the so-called Juso, in Halle (Saale) and complained that “many decisions made at the last party conference were simply ignored.” She said “the document does not afford any importance to social justice at all.” Fiebig sported a large red button-shaped badge reading “#NoGroKo,” indicating her opposition to yet another “grand coalition” (“GRosse KOalition” or “GroKo” in German).

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

 Sigmar Gabriel in Wernigerode (DW/S. Kinkartz )

Former party leader Sigmar Gabriel (center) hopes his SPD comrades will vote in favor of the coalition plans

‘Refugees pay the price’

Many other delegates wore this badge, too. Susi Möbbeck, who serves as a state secretary at Saxony-Anhalt’s Ministry for Labor, Social Affairs and Integration and acts as the regional integration officer, did not. But she, too, was skeptical whether her party should form a new coalition government.

Möbbeck said the document contained “several new approaches” that could be “further developed,” but thinks the paper’s stance on “migration politics is catastrophic.” She did not expect this, she said. “It’s shocking to see that the CSU has largely been able to dictate its tough stance on migration.” This, she thinks, is the concession that the CDU and CSU demanded from the SPD. Now, “refugees pay the price.”

Gabriel understands this criticism, but showed he was largely content with the agreements outlined in the paper. For almost an hour, he addressed his fellow party members, denying that the CDU and CSU had dictated the terms of the exploratory agreement.

“The document contains many sensible things. The fact that it lacks other things is clear, but we shouldn’t act as though everything is bad,” he said. He bemoaned the fact that merely considering any form of political compromise today already meant “falling into disrepute” inside his own party. “It’s instantly equated with betrayal,” he said.

Maintaining a distinct profile

“What we can debate is whether this is enough to give us a distinct profile,” Gabriel said. “Do we get enough from it to maintain our individuality and to assist us on the path of renewal that we must take to become stronger once more?”

Gabriel’s core message was that being in opposition is not a recipe for success. “Do we think we will become stronger if we say […] that we won’t ensure health insurance is equally financed by employees and employers? And if we don’t oppose state pensions being lowered? Will we gain strength if we don’t fight for all-day schools or if we don’t see to it that the EU gets more money?”

Gabriel said he was certain SPD voters would not understand if the party completely rejected any cooperation. “I would not want to risk such an experiment because it leads to fresh elections,” he said.

Bonn delegates to decide

Gabriel said he did not welcome the fact that a special party conference in Bonn would decide on whether to start formal coalition talks. He thinks it would have sufficed to ask party members after formal talks were concluded.

A vote of no-confidence could further obstruct things, he said, complaining in his speech that there was a “growing distrust between the rank and file and the SPD’s leadership.”

That could destroy the party in the long run, he said.

 (DW/S. Kinkartz)

The issue of the grand coalition has split the SPD. Yes or no?

Juso leader opposed new ‘grand coalition’

Young SPD members in particular have rejected this reasoning. The party’s youth wing, the Juso, hopes delegates in Bonn will vote against forming a new “grand coalition.” Juso chairman Kevin Kühnert has declared he will tour through Germany prior to the Bonn party congress to drum up opposition against a new “grand coalition.” That’s why he also stopped by in Wernigerode, he said.

Over the course of 20 minutes, Kühnert dissected and dismissed the agreement fleshed out in the exploratory coalition talks. He claimed the SPD’s leadership was touting the deal as a success because negotiators put in an all-nighter to finish the paper.

“That’s understandable from a psychological perspective — but the agreement should be judged on its content and not on how strenuous negotiations turned out to be,” he said.

Tough stance on migration

Kühnert complained that not enough typical SPD issues were included in the deal, while others were things the CDU and CSU had already promised the SPD in the 2013 coalition agreement but were never realized.

 Kevin Kühnert (picture-alliance/dpa/K.D. Gabbert)Kühnert is a vehement opponent of the ‘grand coalition’

Kühnert also said the document de facto enshrines a cap on the number of refugees allowed into Germany. “It says that no more than 180,000 to 220,000 individuals will be let in per year. It does not say ‘should not be let in’ or that this ‘could’ be so. It stipulates a maximum of 220,000 individuals and that essentially means a cap,” he said.

Kühnert’s arguments struck a chord with the Wernigerode delegates, who feverishly applauded his talk. They particularly welcomed his criticism of the party leadership’s behavior after the exploratory talks were concluded. “I would have appreciated it if they hadn’t issued a jubilant Power Point presentation and some whitewashed press release, but instead had been open about what worked out and what didn’t,” he said.

All options no longer on the table

Kühnert believes SPD leaders abandoned their earlier promise to hold talks with the CDU and CSU without any particular outcome in mind. “That was a way to ensure support at last December’s party conference,” he said. There was no more talk of possibly tolerating a CDU/CSU-led minority government, Kühnert noted, simply because the conservatives had rejected the idea. “I would have liked to see the SPD make it much tougher for the CDU/CSU to get out of that tricky situation.”

Two hours later, the delegates in Saxony-Anhalt voted on the motion opposing the “grand coalition” that had been presented by the Juso. One out of two delegates cast ballots supporting the motion.

The vote is a warning to SPD leaders in Berlin, as it shows that the party is completely split. Those in favor and those against the “grand coalition” will use the week ahead of the Bonn conference to argue their cases. The suspense continues.

 http://www.dw.com/en/prospect-of-new-grand-coalition-threatens-to-split-germanys-spd/a-42139207
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Germany Allows Iranian Mass Murderer To Leave The Country

January 12, 2018
BY BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
 JANUARY 11, 2018 18:08

Iranian dissidents protest at Hamburg airport.

Mahmoud Shahroudi

Mahmoud Shahroudi in 2007. (photo credit: REUTERS/RAHEB HOMAVANDI)

Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi – considered a successor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei – fled Germany on Thursday for Iran amid criminal complaints filed against him for crimes against humanity, after the cleric received medical treatment for a brain tumor.

Critics accuse Shahroudi, the who headed Iran’s judiciary system from 1999 to 2009, of imposing executions on 2,000 people, including adolescents.

“Germany has a choice,” Dr. Michael Rubin, an Iran expert with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. “Does it want to be a safe haven for terrorists and mass murderers? Alas, for Sigmar Gabriel [Germany’s foreign minister], it seems that the answer was and is ‘yes.’ But why should principle matter if German businesses can make an extra million euros?”

Shahroudi’s presence in Hanover prompted protests and widespread calls on social media for Germany’s government to arrest and prosecute the religious leader.

Shahroudi is believed to have fled on Iran Air’s flight 722 that departed Hamburg for Tehran.

A diverse group of around 80 Iranian dissidents demonstrated at the Hamburg airport, chanting “Arrest Shahroudi!” and “Down with Khamenei! Down with Rouhani!” Video footage of the protest was posted on Twitter and YouTube.

The German Kurdish community and the prominent German Green Party politician and human rights activist Volker Beck filed criminal complaints against Shahroudi.

The state prosecutor in Lower Saxony opened an investigation into the allegations of widespread crimes against humanity conducted by Shahroudi in the Islamic Republic.

The federal prosecutor also initiated a probe into Shahroudi. The German government said it provided a visa to Shahroudi for medical treatment. The 69-year-old ayatollah has been in Germany since December 21.

The Left Party deputy Niema Movassat wrote on Twitter that it would be better if the “federal prosecutor conducted an investigatory process against Shahroudi” rather than a mere probe.

Beck told the Post: “Germany should not be a sanctuary for such people, who in their country persecute people for political or religious reasons and threaten them with death. The Iranian regime persecutes women who were raped, homosexuals, Baha’is, Kurds and atheists.”

He added: “It would be a big mistake if the federal government provides diplomatic immunity here to the organizer of mass murders through Iran’s justice system. We should not be a health resort for human rights violators, rather they should be held accountable.”

The human rights NGO Stop the Bomb urged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration in early January to end its support for Iran’s clerical regime.

Gabriel is widely considered one of the most zealous supporters of boosting trade with Iran’s regime and preserving the controversial nuclear deal. In 2015, Gabriel brought Dr. Madjid Samii, the president of the International Neuroscience Institute in Hanover where Shahroudi was treated, on his trip to Iran with representatives of major German companies to drum up business deals.

Gabriel made the first of his two trips with business groups to Iran in 2015, a few days after the nuclear deal was reached.

German exports to Iran increased in 2017 by 19%, amounting to just under €2.4 billion in export volume.

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Call out Iran but keep nuclear deal, Germany says to U.S.

January 11, 2018

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe and the United States should confront Tehran about its ballistic weapons program and its role in Syria’s civil war but a 2015 deal to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb must be preserved, Germany’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

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FILE PHOTO: German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. Getty Images

Speaking before a meeting with his counterparts from Iran, Britain and France and the European Union, Sigmar Gabriel said the United States was right to address concerns about Iran’s strategy in the Middle East.

But he said: “We should separate two things from each other: we want to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran… and the difficult role Iran has in the region.”

“We want to speak with Iran about its role in the region, which is more than problematic,” he said, citing Iran’s influence in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.

On the eve of a deadline for U.S. President Donald Trump to decide whether to reimpose oil sanctions lifted under the agreement, the EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini convened the meeting with the European powers to show support for the nuclear deal in a message to Washington, diplomats and officials said.

Tehran has always denied seeking nuclear arms.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, in a statement released before the start of the meeting in Brussels, called the nuclear deal “a crucial agreement that makes the world safer.”

Trump’s October decision not to certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal has put Washington at odds with all other signatories of the accord – Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union.

European allies have warned of a split with the United States over the nuclear agreement and say if Washington reimposes sanctions on Iran, the pact could fall apart.

Trump must decide by mid-January whether to continue waiving U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil exports under the terms of the pact. The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday the Trump administration was expected to decide on Friday.

The decision comes as Iran’s government deals with protests over economic hardships and corruption that are linked to frustration among younger Iranians who hoped to see more benefits from the lifting of sanctions.

Additional reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

Europe casts a wary eye on China’s Silk Road plans

January 7, 2018

AFP

© AFP / by Jacques KLOPP | Is the New Silk Road simply a path to prosperity or a Chinese power grab in disguise?

PARIS (AFP) – Depending on who you ask in Europe, China’s colossal East-West infrastructure programme is either an opportunity or a threat — and when French President Emmanuel Macron visits next week, Beijing will be watching to see how keen he is to jump on board.Since China launched the New Silk Road plan in 2013, the hugely ambitious initiative to connect Asia and Europe by road, rail and sea has elicited both enormous interest and considerable anxiety.

“It’s the most important issue in international relations for the years to come, and will be the most important point during Emmanuel Macron’s visit,” said Barthelemy Courmont, a China expert at French think-tank Iris.

The $1 trillion project is billed as a modern revival of the ancient Silk Road that once carried fabric, spices, and a wealth of other goods in both directions.

Known in China as “One Belt One Road”, the plans would see gleaming new road and rail networks built through Central Asia and beyond, and new maritime routes stretching through the Indian Ocean and Red Sea.

Beijing would develop roads, ports and rail lines through 65 countries representing an estimate 60 percent of the world’s population and a third of its economic output.

Macron, who heads to China for a three-day state visit on Sunday, will notably be accompanied by some 50 company chiefs keen to do business with the Asian powerhouse.

So far France has been cautious on the Silk Road plan, but Courmont said Chinese leaders were “waiting for a clear position” from Macron at a time when they view the young leader as an “engine” for growth in Europe.

“If Macron takes a decision on how to tackle the Chinese initiative, all of Europe will follow,” Courmont predicted.

But, as Courmont acknowledges, Europe is divided on what to make of China’s ambitions.

The continent could potentially benefit handsomely from increased trade over the coming decades, but in some corners there is suspicion that it masks an attempted Beijing influence grab.

“They are notably asking themselves about the geopolitical consequences of this project in the long-term,” Alice Ekman, who covers China at the French Institute of International Relations, said of France and Germany.

– Win-win? –

In Central and Eastern Europe the programme has been met with altogether more enthusiasm, given the huge infrastructure investment that China could bring to the poorer end of the continent.

“Some consider the awakening of China and Asia as a threat,” Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban told a summit in Budapest in November which gathered China with 16 Central and Eastern European countries.

“For us, it’s a huge opportunity,” he said, with Beijing using the summit to announce three billion euros of investment in projects including a Belgrade-Budapest railway line.

Bogdan Goralczyk, director of the Centre for Europe at the University of Warsaw, noted there were divisions even within eastern Europe, with Poland hesitant due to its right-wing government’s “strong anti-communist stance”.

Others to the west have made little effort to hide their concern.

Former Danish premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen fretted in a column for Germany’s Zeit newspaper that “Europe will wake up only when it’s too late, and when swathes of central and eastern Europe’s infrastructure are dependent on China.”

The former NATO chief noted that Greece — a major recipient of Chinese largesse — had in June blocked an EU declaration condemning Chinese rights abuses.

It came just months after Athens’ Piraeus port, one of the biggest in the world, passed under Chinese control.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, is favourable to Chinese investment, but has reservations.

“If we do not develop a strategy in the face of China, it will succeed in dividing Europe,” Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned in August.

France is meanwhile seeking to “rebalance” relations with China during Macron’s trip, according to his office — eyeing a trade deficit of 30 billion euros, its biggest with any partner.

“Our Chinese partners would prefer a win-win situation. Why not? On the condition that it’s not the same party that wins twice,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday.

“It is not France’s intention to block China,” he said.

“But we should establish a partnership based on reciprocity when it comes to the opening of markets.”

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by Jacques KLOPP

Let’s make up, Turkish foreign minister tells wary Germany

January 5, 2018

BERLIN (Reuters) – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called on Friday for a fresh start in his country’s rocky relationship with Germany, holding out the prospect of closer economic cooperation if ties improved.

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

But his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel, who will host Cavusoglu for talks in his hometown of Goslar in central Germany on Saturday, made clear Turkey must first release a German-Turkish journalist detained for more than a year without charge.

“Both sides have an interest in a new start in the bilateral relationship as we live in a time full of challenges,” Cavusoglu wrote in a column for Germany’s Funke media group of newspapers. “It is not the time for bullhorn diplomacy.”

His comments underlined Turkey’s desire to mend fences with Germany, its biggest trade partner and an important NATO ally, following a series of acrimonious disagreements.

Cavusoglu urged Germany to develop a more “empathetic” tone in its dealings with Turkey. Berlin did not seem to fully understand the “trauma” caused by a failed coup against President Tayyip Erdogan in 2016, he said.

Gabriel struck a more cautious note in remarks on Friday.

“If we do not speak to one another the situation can certainly not improve – neither between our countries nor for individuals still being held in custody,” he told the weekly magazine Der Spiegel.

But, noting that Germany has refused to authorize “a large number of arms exports” to Turkey, he added: “That will remain so until the case of (Deniz) Yucel has been solved.”

Turkish authorities have accused Yucel, a correspondent for the German daily Die Welt, of spreading propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). He denies the charge.

TURKISH CRACKDOWN

Turkey also detained dozens of other German citizens amid a much wider security crackdown since the failed 2016 coup.

But since Gabriel visited Turkey last year, it has released six of them, prompting the minister last month to express hope that bilateral relations could start to improve.

German politicians have been outspoken critics of Turkey’s post-coup crackdown, in which some 50,000 people have been arrested pending trial and 150,000, including teachers, judges and soldiers, have been sacked or suspended from their jobs.

Turkey says the crackdown, targeting alleged supporters of a Muslim network it blames for the coup, is necessary on security grounds. Ankara has criticized Germany’s refusal to hand over asylum seekers it says were involved in the failed putsch.

Cavusoglu said improved ties would allow the two countries to work more closely in areas including security and trade.

He said trade between Germany and Turkey amounted to 174 billion euros ($209.91 billion) in the last five years, with major opportunities in the coming decade from big infrastructure projects, in particular in transport and renewable energy.

Cavusoglu also stressed Turkey’s role in stemming a wave of migrants to Germany under a deal with the European Union in 2016 and said he hoped the EU would live up to its commitments to make it easier for Turks to get visas to visit the bloc.

A thaw in bilateral ties would bring relief to Turkey’s vital tourist industry, badly hit by a series of militant attacks as well as warnings from Germany and other European governments about the risk of arbitrary detention there.

Additional reporting by Emma Thomasson and Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara; Editing by Gareth Jones

Iran: German Urges Restraint for Both Sides — Protests Intensify

January 1, 2018

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has called on authorities and protesters in Iran to exercise restraint. Protests have broken out again in Iran after 10 people were killed in clashes the night before.

 Image result for Iran protests, burning, Photos, January 2018
 Above: Pro-government demonstration in Iran

More deaths in Iran as protests continue – AFP correspondent Eric Randolph

The German Foreign Ministry on Monday called on Iranian authorities and anti-government protestors to refrain from violent acts, a day after 10 people were killed in clashes with security forces across the country.

The plea from Germany’s top diplomat Sigmar Gabriel came as fresh demonstrations broke out in the Iranian capital of Tehran as night fell on Monday, despite Iranian President Hassan Rouhani having vowed that authorities would deal with “rioters and lawbreakers.”

Read more: Iran warns of crackdown as 200 protesters arrested

The Foreign Ministry in Berlin, citing Gabriel, posted on Twitter: “We appeal to the Iranian government to respect the demonstrators’ rights to freely and peacefully speak their voice. Following the confrontations in recent days, it is increasingly important that all sides refrain from violence.”

AM @sigmargabriel zu Demonstrationen in Iran: Appellieren an iranische Regierung, Rechte der Demonstranten zu respektieren, frei u. friedlich ihre Stimme zu erheben. Nach Konfrontation der vergangenen Tage umso wichtiger, allseits von gewaltsamen Handlungen Abstand zu nehmen.

US President Donald Trump also weighed in on the escalating crisis in Iran on Monday, posting on Twitter that it was “time for a change” in the country. “The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years,” Trump tweeted. “They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted.”

What a year it’s been, and we’re just getting started. Together, we are MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! Happy New Year!! pic.twitter.com/qsMNyN1UJG

Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!

Rouhani downplays unrest

Rouhani on Monday tried to play down Sunday’s violent unrest, dismissing it as “nothing.”

In a statement published on the Iranian government’s website Monday, the Iranian president said: “Our nation will deal with this minority who chant slogans against the law and people’s wishes and insult the sanctities and values of the revolution.”

The rallies are some of the largest in the Islamic Republic since a series of nationwide anti-government protests broke out following the country’s disputed 2009 presidential election.

Many protesters have complained that the reforms promised by Rouhani have failed to significantly improve the economy since he took office in 2013.

Reports: One officer killed

According to an Iranian police spokesman on Monday, one police officer was shot dead and another three were wounded shortly after Monday night’s protests erupted.

“A rioter took advantage of the situation in the city of Najaf Abad and fired shots at police forces with a hunting rifle,” Iranian state television quoted a police spokesperson of saying. “As a result, three were wounded, and one was martyred.”

Read more: Iran’s Rouhani: We accept protesters’ anger over economy

It marks the first reported security force fatality since anti-government protests broke out in the second city Mashhad last Thursday.

Although the Iranian government has imposed strict restrictions on reporting out of the country, a number of semi-official news agencies reported late on Monday that a heavy police presence lined the streets of Tehran, as small groups of protesters were seen running and chanting slogans denouncing Rouhani and his regime.

dm/tj (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

 http://www.dw.com/en/german-fm-sigmar-gabriel-urges-iran-to-respect-peoples-right-to-protest/a-41992338

Merkel’s deputy: Germany must give refugee-hosting cities more to prevent growing anti-migrant sentiment

December 23, 2017

Towns should not have to decide on whether “to integrate refugees or renovate their swimming pool,” said Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. Otherwise, he said, using resources to help refugees could foster resentment.

Sigmar Gabriel speaks with asylum seekers in Frankfurt am Main

German Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel on Saturday told German publisher Funke Mediengruppethat the federal government must increase financial support for cities who take in refugees to prevent growing anti-migrant sentiment.

“Municipalities should not face the decision whether to integrate refugees or renovate their swimming pool. Instead, the federal government must give them the opportunity to do both,” said Gabriel, who also serves as foreign minister.

Read more: Germany’s empty refugee shelters: Sensible backup or waste of money?

Refugee integration has been a stumbling block in talks aimed at forming a government in the wake of divisive elections that took place in September. The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) partymade its debut in parliament this year, riding on a wave of anti-migrant sentiment.

“We can also prevent that citizens get the impression: Everything is done for refugees, but nothing for us,” added Gabriel, who’s Social Democrats witnessed one of its worst electoral performances during the September elections.

Germany is ‘what America was’

For many of the refugees, Germany is “what America was in the 19th century – a place of longing,” Gabriel said. However, Germany cannot “fulfill all longings.”

Since 2015, Germany has received more than one million refugees as part of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy for those fleeing armed conflict, most notably in Syria.

In order to adequately integrate one million refugees, Gabriel said the country needs an additional 25,000 teachers and 15,000 nursery school teachers, along with thousands of new homes.

Read more: How refugees are settling into Germany, two years on

“We have to reward cities and communities for taking in refugees,” Gabriel said. “The costs of integration should be replaced by the federal government.”

Gabriel’s Social Democrats are currently in exploratory coalition talks with Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).

http://www.dw.com/en/merkels-deputy-germany-must-give-refugee-hosting-cities-more/a-41914988

Sigmar Gabriel: To survive, the EU must become more assertive — or risk becoming irrelevant — US will “never be the same” after Trump — United Nations failed in their stated mission

December 5, 2017

Sigmar Gabriel declared at a foreign policy forum that relations with the US will “never be the same” after Trump. He warned institutions like the EU and the UN that they were running the risk of becoming irrelevant.

Sigmar Gabriel speaks at Berlin Foreign Policy Forum (Imago/photothek/F. Gärtner)

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel offered a bleak view of international relations and Germany’s place in the new world order at the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum on Tuesday. In his half-hour speech, Gabriel spoke of how the West, liberalism and institutions like the United Nations had failed in their stated missions.

First, however, the vice chancellor spoke about strained relations with the United States under the administration of President Donald Trump.

“The US no longer sees the world as a global community, but as a fighting arena where everyone has to seek their own advantage,” Gabriel said.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Trump effect is noticeable in Germany, Germans are less optimistic about US-German relations than Americans says @paulsen_thomas check out all results at http://www.theberlinpulse.org 

The Social Democrat argued that German foreign policy must be more daring, and not simply follow the line from Washington.

“Germany can no longer simply react to US policy but must establish its own position…even after Trump leaves the White House, relations with the US will never be the same.”

Read more: Gabriel slams Donald Trump’s ‘national selfishness’ in UN speech

‘A new nuclear arms race’

But, Gabriel suggested, an inward-looking White House was no boon to Europe if the EU did not do enough to define its own interests.

“As the US has withdrawn from the international stage, nobody has turned to the European Union,” Gabriel argued, claiming that the bloc no longer stood for a specific set of values and accusing members of treating the EU “as if they have a second one in their hip pocket.”

“We could stand right now in front of a new nuclear arms race in Europe,” Gabriel said, unless European countries stand up for the progressive ideals they claim to represent.

Gabriel viewed the UN of having similar failings in its lack of clarity and ability to get anything done. Western liberal elites have failed to understand “the desire for order and clarity,” that was driving waves of populism around the world, he said.

He used the example of the Ukraine, and how after over three years the frozen conflict showed no sign of resolution as no one, including the UN, was bold enough to take serious steps. He also accused western countries of failing Syria.

“At no time during the last 7 years did the West achieve a reasonable balance between its very ambitious goals [in Syria,] and its very limited willingness to invest,” he told the crowd.

Read more: Gabriel emphasizes need for cooperation after G20 summit in Bonn

Germany prefers to stay in the middle

Gabriel also remarked on the place of his own country in a changing global arena. He said that Germany did not want to take a leading role, but rather stay in the middle of an international order led not by a “G20, or a G0 with no leadership,” but by a “GX” where all nations that may want to leave their mark are welcome to.

Gabriel brushed off criticism that after 72 days without a new government,  Berlin could hardly be called upon to take a prominent role in shaping global policy.

“Some countries have a government without working institutions — Germany has the opposite right now,” he said.

http://www.dw.com/en/sigmar-gabriel-to-survive-the-eu-must-become-more-assertive/a-41654557

France, Germany want Iran to reverse ballistic missile program

December 4, 2017

Reuters

Image may contain: 1 person, sky and outdoor

PARIS (Reuters) – France and Germany agree that Iran must reverse its ballistic missile program and end its “hegemonic temptations” across the Middle east, the French foreign minister said on Monday.

“We also have the same view on the necessity for Iran to go back on its ballistic missile program and its hegemonic temptations,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said at a news conference alongside his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel.

 Image result for photo, Jean-Yves Le Drian ,Sigmar Gabriel
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and France’s FM Jean-Yves Le Drian

Reporting by John Irish; editing by Richard Lough

German Judge Compares Israel to State Sponsors of Terror Iran, North Korea

November 26, 2017
BY BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
 NOVEMBER 25, 2017 18:32

 

The same judge ruled last week that it was legal and just for Kuwait Airways to bar an Israeli passengers from flying on their planes.

Berlin

German flag flutters half-mast on top of the Reichstag building, the seat of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, March 25. (photo credit: REUTERS)

German judge Wolfram Sauer, who ruled last week in Frankfurt that Kuwait Airways can bar an Israeli passenger from flying on the Gulf country’s airline because of his nationality, juxtaposed the Jewish state with the US classified state-sponsors of terrorism, Iran and North Korea, to justify his legal decision.

The Jerusalem Post obtained the 13-page legal ruling by Sauer on Saturday, in which he lays out his reasoning in favor of Kuwait’s state-owned airline boycotting Israeli passengers.

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Wolfram Sauer  — Foto: Rolf Oeser — German judge Wolfram Sauer ruled in favor of Kuwait Airways – the airline refuses to carry Israeli passengers

Nathan Gelbart, the German lawyer who represented the Israeli passenger Adar M., told the Post that it was “unconscionable that the judge” would reference “Israel, the only Middle East democracy” in the same breath as the terrorist-sponsoring states Iran and North Korea. Gelbart, who is acting on behalf of the US-based human rights organization The Lawfare Project, said the comparison was “quite insulting,” and will appeal the Frankfurt court’s decision against Adar in the next few days.

Sauer wrote in his legal defense of the Kuwaiti boycott law of Israel that “such rules, in different expressions, are not foreign to Germany’s legal system,” linking his decision to sanctions regulations against the Islamic Republic of Iran and North Korea.

Gelbart, one of Germany’s most prominent attorneys, said “the German justice system is helping Kuwait to implement its own racist boycott against Israel.” Kuwait passed a law in 1964 barring commerce with Israelis.

Writing in the mass-circulation BILD on Friday, the journalist Antje Schippmann said that “The antisemitic [Kuwait] boycott law is merely being rated as an embargo ‘imposed on one state by another state.’”

She added: “So, the German judge is putting sanctions against terrorist states on the same level as discrimination against people from Israel… It obviously did not occur to the judge that such discrimination against Jews living in Germany is quite unbearable.”

Gelbart said Germany is not obligated to implement foreign economic laws like Kuwait’s boycott law against the Jewish state. Sauer “made the case fur Kuwait Airways,” including introducing arguments in favor of the Arab state that Kuwaiti Airways did not initiate. The Frankfurt-based judge argued that Germany’s anti-discrimination law did not cover Adar’s Israeli nationality.

Germany has a relatively weak anti-bias law, in contrast to many Western European and American anti-discrimination laws.

Kuwait Airlines banned Adar in 2016, from one of its flights from Frankfurt to Bangkok that had a stopover in Kuwait. The Israeli man was stripped of the ticket he purchased when the airline saw his Israeli nationality.

Germany’s Minister of Transport Christian Schmidt said he plans to review the Kuwait case and expressed dismay about the discrimination. Germany’s Foreign Ministry held a conversation with Kuwait’s Ambassador to Germany but it was not an official summoning that would spell a form of rebuke.

The Parliament of the German state of Hesse, where the Frankfurt court is located, passed a cross-party resolution on Friday slamming Kuwait’s boycott law against the Jewish state.

According to the resolution, Kuwait’s boycott law against Israel “stands in contradiction to the principles of an open society, and is not only an anti-Israel policy, but clearly antisemitic.”

The Hesse legislature called on Kuwait’s government to change its 1964 law. The lawmakers also urged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration to use economic levers of pressure against Kuwaiti services to change the Gulf state’s anti-Israel conduct.

Germany’s Social Democrat Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Chancellor Merkel have not weighed in on the dispute.

Volker Beck, a former Green Party MP and head of the German-Israel parliamentary group, tweeted to his 85,000-plus followers on Friday about the Kuwait Airways ban of Israelis: “What does Ms. Merkel have to say? And where is our raison d’état? Months of silence?” Germany considers the Jewish state to be part of its raison d’état – usually translated as “reason for being” or “national interests.”

In a similar case in New York City, Kuwait Airways pulled the plug on its route between New York City and London because the US Department of Transportation determined the Gulf airline engaged in discrimination by barring Israelis citizens from service.

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 http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/German-judge-compares-Israel-to-state-sponsors-of-terror-Iran-North-Korea-515168