The Group of Eight (G8) summits have traditionally been seen more for their vanity than substance, and the one that opens today (June 17) in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, will not be an exception. The members of this privileged club—the United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany, Japan, Italy and Russia—see no particular need to overcome their differences in managing the world’s slow-burning crises, from the economic slowdown to Syria. Besides the photo-ops, the main content of these tightly scripted get-togethers is supposed to be generated in the back rooms, and the most private of those is this time reserved for the meeting between US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which should have happened a year ago, had Putin not opted to skip the May 2012 G8 summit in Camp David. The key figures in the Obama administration have far outdone their Russian counterparts in preparing an agenda for this tete-a-tete but succeeded only in downplaying the criticism of Putin’s persecution of political dissent, while no breakthrough in arms control is in the making (Kommersant-FM, June 14). Expectations that Russia could show some flexibility on Syria are arrested by the long-postponed announcement in Washington on providing military aid to the rebels. And what little understanding there was on issues looming over the wider Middle East is shattered by Putin’s statement that he has “no doubt that Iran is compliant with the rules” in executing its nuclear program (Gazeta.ru, Moscow echo, June 14; Forbes.ru, June 12). Continue reading
Despite massive spending on Western weapons, the Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf are “unable to secure themselves from any external threat” — meaning Iran — and are running up huge public and foreign debt, a Gulf think tank says.
Omar al-Shehabi, director of the Gulf Center for Development Policies in Kuwait, said that even though the defense expenditure of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states is the highest in the world, exceeding the combined military spending of Israel and Britain, they still have to “rely on Western countries to provide military protection and security.” Continue reading
Three top European defence firms called Sunday on governments to launch a program to manufacture drones that European countries are currently having to buy from Israel or the United States. Continue reading
Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel has a simple message for the millions young people in the eurozone who are out of work – move.
In an interview, Mrs Merkel said the high levels of youth unemployment in Europe represent a “huge crisis”, comparing the eurozone’s difficulties with post-Communist eastern Germany.
Speaking to the BBC, she said that when unemployment soared after the fall of the Berlin Wall, “many young people … only had jobs because they moved to the south.” Mrs Merkel said: “I think it’s unfair that it is the young people especially who have to pay the bill for something they didn’t do. Continue reading
As Germany’s presence in the Middle East continues to grow, have they emerged as the “new America” over the region?
Give Germany credit. As America unwisely abdicates its leadership role in the Middle East, Berlin is quietly and steadily positioning itself to play a decisive role in the future of this important region. Right now, German foreign policy in the Middle East isn’t controversial, dramatic or eye-catching. Especially not compared to recent events in Egypt, Gaza, Syria and Iran.
The New America
Germany’s presence there, politically, commercially and militarily, is already more significant than most people realize. Continue reading
After claiming for years that austerity was “right thing to do”, before eventually admitting growth was in everyone’s best interests, you’d have thought Brussels would have learnt its lesson by now.
Not so … it seems.
For this week eurocrats went a step further and— having already exasperated many of the EU’s own members— they managed to alienate the one of the block’s biggest trading partners too, by slapping tariffs on cut-price Chinese solar panels. Continue reading
Deutsche Bank has launched its second-biggest gold-storage vault in Singapore that can hold up to 200 tonnes of the metal as it looks to capture surging global demand for physical bullion.
“There is a growing interest to buy physical gold for investment purposes,” Mark Smallwood, head of wealth planning at Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management for the Asia-Pacific region, told Reuters in an interview. Continue reading
BERLIN/KIEV/MOSCOW (Own report) – The struggle between Berlin and Brussels, on the one side, and Moscow, on the other, for the predominating influence in the Ukraine is growing sharper. Since the end of 2012, the German RWE company has been systematically expanding its natural gas deliveries to this East European country. Its objective is to break Kiev’s dependence on Russian natural gas, by reversing the flow in the pipelines already in place, to deliver large quantities of the gas from the West. However, these efforts – also being supported by the German EU Energy Commissioner, Günter Oettinger – are not advancing rapidly enough. According to reports, pro-western circles in the Ukraine are complaining that Slovakia – without whose pipelines, a breakthrough would hardly be possible – is opposing the project. Brussels, therefore, should exert pressure on that country, because time is running out. The Ukrainian government signed a memorandum last week, which is considered an important step toward its integration in the Russian-dominated EurAsian Economic Community, about to be established. In Berlin, Ukrainian participation in this community is perceived as incompatible with Kiev’s integration into EU structures. This conflict, which in principle, has been going on for twenty years, is being fueled by this new accentuation. Continue reading
Germany’s largest gas supplier E.ON plans to taper its dependence on Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned gas major and Norway, instead developing ties with the Canadian company Pieridae Energy.
The contract was finalized on June 3rd, and Pieridae Energy will supply five million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Western Europe for an unspecified several billion euros, Deutsche Welle reported. Continue reading
This is no time to be complacent. Massive economic problems are erupting all over the globe, but most people seem to believe that everything is going to be just fine. In fact, a whole bunch of recent polls and surveys show that the American people are starting to feel much better about how the U.S. economy is performing. Unfortunately, the false prosperity that we are currently enjoying is not going to last much longer. Just look at what is happening in Europe. The eurozone is now in the midst of the longest recession that it has ever experienced. Just look at what is happening over in Asia. Economic growth in India is the lowest that it has been in a decade and the Japanese financial system is beginning to spin wildly out of control.
One of the only places on the entire planet where serious economic problems have not already erupted is in the United States, and that is only because we have “kicked the can down the road” by recklessly printing money and by borrowing money at an unprecedented rate. Unfortunately, the “sugar high” produced by those foolish measures is starting to wear off. We are going to experience a massive amount of economic pain along with the rest of the world – it is just a matter of time.
But for the moment, there are a lot of skeptics out there. Continue reading
Three of the world’s nuclear powers — China, India and Pakistan — have increased their arsenals over the past year, while the other five have cut their strength or kept it stable, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said Monday.
China now has 250 nuclear warheads against 240 in 2012, while Pakistan has increased its warheads by about 10 to between 100 and 120 and India has also added roughly 10 for a total of 90 to 110, SIPRI said in its annual report. Continue reading
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande want to install a government for the Eurozone. This could change the EU’s structure, according to the press in both countries, but only if the leaders’ understanding is sustainable.
Angela Merkel and François Hollande have made up. The “Franco-German contribution,” announced on May 30, shows that the German Chancellor now supports the French President’s proposals concerning the governance of the Eurozone. French financial daily Les Echos notes that: Continue reading