24 - 30 March, 2013
(editorial p. 2)
EUhand forpost-war Iraq
CroatianPrimeMinisterIvicaRacan wasrecentlyinvolvedintalksconcerningthelatestinternationaleventswithUS Ambassador to Croatia LawrenceRossin. Racan noted that relationsremainedonafriendlybasisdespitecer-taindisagreementthatexistespeciallyinthecaseoftheIraqcrisis.
EU mulls actionfor the day after
The ombudsman,guarantor oftransparency
Outgoing European Ombudsman JacobSoderman presented hisAnnual Report for2002 to theCommitteeon Petitionsof theEuropean Parliament last week. The report givesan overview oftheombuds- man'sbusiest yearto dateand highlightstheresultsachieved forEUcitizens. Thisisthelast report bySoderman, asNiki- forosDiamanduroswill takeoverthe post. TheEuropean Parliament elected Diamanturos to this position unani- mously and his prestige will thus be strengthened. So everybodyexpectsa lot fromhim. It iscertain that thenew ombudsman will work to servethecomplaintsand peti-tions of the European citizens. New Europebelievesthat theinstitution ofthe ombudsman can serveasa guarantorof good conduct oftheEUapparatusand Diamanturoswill certainlywork towardsthisdirection too. It isinteresting to notethat thenumberof citizens' complaintsexceeded forthefirsttimethebenchmark numberof2,000 in 2002. Complaintssent via theInternet roseat an exceptional paceand account now foralmost halfofthetotal. The ombudsman opened moreinquiriesin 2002 than everbefore(up by8 percent compared to 2001)and handled them beforetheend oftheyear. All but four inquirieshad been closed within theone- yeartarget. Muchwasachieved forEuro- pean citizensin 2002.Theombudsman can exert strongerpres- sureon all European institutionsand makeclearto everybodythat itspowers will beexercised to thefullest. TheEC and theCouncil should understand they haveto work underfull transparencyand considerthecitizens' complaints. The ombudsman must continue to apply pressureon theEUinstitutionsto imple- ment theCharterofFundamental Rights.
hewarisonandthedimen-sionoftheemerginghuman-itariancrisisisalreadybeingcalculatedbyvariousaidagencies.AlthoughtheUnitedStates wenttowaronlywithahandfulofallies,thedomesticpressureonBritishPrimeMinisterTonyBlairisalreadyevidentashehasjoinedthedovesinWashingtontopressureUSPresidentGeorgeW.Bushnottofurtheralienatetheinterna-tionalcommunity.ThetopUSofficialsarealreadycourtingtheEuropeanUnionsupportforapost-SaddamorderinBaghdad.ButitisstillnotclearhowmuchofthatsupportisforpoliticalequationstosetupthenewregimeorjusttoopentheEUmoneycoffersinthenameof humanitarianaid.ThebestquoteonthesubjectcamefromAnnaDiamantopoulou,thesoft-spokenEuropeancommissionerforSocialAffairs:"TheUSfights,Europefeeds."WhileattendingasessionwiththeForeignPressAssociationof Greece,thecommissionerwasanswer-ingaquestionfromNewEuropeabouttheCatch-22situationofEuropeanciti-zensnotwantingawarandthenpayingtorebuildthedamages.FrenchPresidentJacquesChiracrecentlysetthetonesaying,"Francewillnotacceptaresolutiontolegitimisemil-itaryinterventionandgivethebelliger-ents-theUnitedStatesandBritain-therighttoadministerIraq,"addingwryly,"Wearecurrentlydestroyinganddonotknowwhatwewillhavetoreconstruct."
March 30-April 5,2003
Serbianpolice turna new leaf
SerbiaactedswiftlywithanironhandtotrackdownthekillersofPrimeMinisterZoranDjindjicresultinginfinallyclaimingthatthepolicedefi-nitelyhadtheweapon,whichfiredtheshotsthatkilledDjind- jic.Ballisticexpertsconfirmed"beyonddoubt"thattheHeck-lerandKochsniperriflefoundburiedinNewBelgradewasthemurderweapon,theInteri-orMinistrysaidinastatement. AtopofficeroftheSerbianpolicespecialoperationsunit(JSO),ZvezdanJovanovic,38, wasarrestedwhenthegovern-mentorderedJSOtodisband.Theunitwasformedin1991bySerbianstatesecurity.Thegov-ernmentproclaimedastateof emergencyimmediatelyafterthekillingandallowedpoliceexpandedauthoritytoinvesti-gateanddetainsuspectsbehindlockeddoors.Themassivecrackdownoncrimeapparent-lyunearthedplentyofevidenceprovingthenexusbetweenJSO,mafiabosses,politicians, judiciaryofficialsandevencelebrities.Forthewar-tornBalkanscaughtinthewebof corruptionthesuccessfulcrack-downissomethingnewandishailedasanewstepintherightdirection.
Anidyllic setup ofthe American dream
US steps up efforts to open EU purse strings
Russia to pressure USto honour oil contractsin post-war Iraq
ussia has vowed to defend the interests of its oilcompanies suffering damage from the Iraq war.Unlike many foreign oil companies, Russian oil companiesare already suffering direct damage from the Iraq war,Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko said."Surely, in this context, we should do everything possi-ble to defend Russian oil companies' interests," Khris-tenko said. But this is an issue for the future, as theseefforts are now being hampered by the "roar of bombs andthunder of rockets," he added. Many Russian companieshave evacuated their personnel from the Persian Gulf after the start of attacks on Iraq and Russian tankersoperating in the area have also been recommended not toapproach Iraq's seaports in the near future. The head of YUKOS, one of Russia's biggest oil companies, has saidthat Russia would have to negotiate business in Iraq withthe regime that emerges there after the military operationhas finished. Russia will have to negotiate involvement inthe restoration of Iraqi oil fields.
Basically, I’m for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels. - Frank Sinatra |
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After the Iraq war began, thoughts finally turned to winning the peace. Steadfast Bush ally, Tony Blair was trying to reposition himself as a humanitarian, but it was becoming clear that Europe, which failedto offer much in the way of troops, was expected tohelp with clearing up the mess afterwards. This wassummed up by then Social Affairs commissioner, Anna Diamantopoulou as „US fights, EU feeds.“France‘s President Chirac said he wouldn‘t accepta resolution that allowed the „belligerents“ UK andUS to administer Iraq. Moscow, meanwhile, wasconcerned about its oil contracts in Iraq.The US was also concerned about peace... in Cyprus, where Congressmen were asking Turkey to resolvethe divided island peacefully, and without noticingthe irony, through the UN.
n e 1 0 Y e A R S A GO
The Eurogroup has a communications problem. At least according to Jeroen Dijsselbloem,the president of the Eurogroup – the member go- vernments of the single currency, who told a meeting of the EuropeanParliament’s economic and finance committee on 21 March that thegroup had fudged, if only from a public relations point of view, the hand-ling of the Cyrus bailout affair.Those Cypriot citizens on the ground, the ones who have been frozen outfrom accessing money from their banks accounts owing to a stalemate inthe political process – that is, the negotiations between Cyprus and theEuropean Union – may not feel so acquiescent in the official explanation.The financial establishment, fearing a run on the banks, has shut-down.Likewise businesses dealing in credit cards, such as petrol stations, whofear that they may not be guaranteed the money, leading to the situationof Cyprus being a cash-only economy.There has been lots of scrambling around, both before and afterDijsselbloem’s appearance before the committee, an obligation he has toface in his capacity as head of the Eurozone, which happened to be co-in-cidentally complicated by the recent deal between international creditorsand Cyprus, which said that the EU, ECB and IMF would provide around€10 billion to prop-up the economy, if the Cypriot government stumped-up around €6 billion. They decided to do this by raiding bank accounts.Initial reports were that it was an imposed necessity of being given fi-nancial help by international creditors, organisations dominated by Ger-many. Wolgang Schaüble, the German finance minister, denied such anaccusation, saying that it was not a centrally-mandated imposition, andthat the precise terms of the bailout agreement, which necessitated thatthe Cypriot government stumped-up about €6 billion of their own. Therejection of the bailout terms by the parliament, on was therefore, a re- jection of domestic policy, not an EU, federally-imposed, policy. The twosides, with Russia looking eagerly on from the sidelines, have decided tocome to another arrangement.The Eurogroup president admitted that the panic spread in the press, so-cial media and elsewhere, was the result of bleary-eyed negotiations in theearly hours of 16 March, a meeting which followed on from the Springsummit, in which EU leaders gathered the discuss the Cypriot economiccrisis, as well ans other pressing issues. The communication people, ap-parently driven by a kind of narcoleptic autopilot, didn’t quite explain the work of the group.This wasn’t to suggest that the story wasn’t largely true, and that the ci-tizens wouldn’t have to shell out of their own hard-earned cash reserves, but that, it wasn’t the fault of the dreaded EU. Amid all the other problems brought about by the crisis, communicationmay seem to be a diminished issue; but increasingly proper communica-tion is a massive part of decision making, from wearing the right kind of shirt in public to verbal nuances. In serious situations, like those increa-singly dominating the Eurozone, it is essential; a word out of place canlead to all sorts of panic, which, in turn leads to panic upon panic.Members of the European Parliament have been quietly murmuring,suggesting that the questionable, possibly non-transparent deals, madeat 6AM, are undermining faith in EU decision-making. At a time whenarguments against the Union are increasing, largely in reaction to fiscalpolicies imposed by the central powers on national governments, theremay be a legitimate reason t alter the way things are done at the top level.No more all-nighters, maybe; after all, clearer heads prevail.
Panic in the streets