Everyone’s talking about Europe’s economy. But at the heart of the crisis is a very different problem.
Greece is on the brink yet again. It has to pay the International Monetary Fund (imf) us$1.7 billion by the end of the month. And that’s the start of a gauntlet of loan repayments—it owes €10 billion by the end of September. Meanwhile, it has not agreed to a deal to get that money. With time running out, European officials are reportedly preparing for a catastrophe. “The Greek saga is finally reaching its climax, we think,” said Morgan Stanley’s head of foreign exchange strategy.
What will happen? Will Greece leave the euro? Will it submit to Europe’s bailout conditions? Will it trigger a financial crisis? I don’t know. But I do know that in the long term Greece is going to remain under the European Union’s influence.
China’s outsized latticework of global infrastructure is said to be rooted in a fierce sense of competitiveness which they claim they learned from 19th century America.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the sun famously never set on the British empire. A commanding navy enforced its will, yet all would have been lost if it were not for ports, roads, and railroads. The infrastructure that the British built everywhere they went embedded and enabled their power like bones and veins in a body.
Great nations have done this since Rome paved 55,000 miles (89,000 km) of roads and aqueducts in Europe. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Russia and the United States established their own imprint, skewering and taming nearby territories with projects like the Trans-Siberian and the Trans-Continental railways.
Now it’s the turn of the Chinese. Much has been made of Beijing’s “resource grab” in Africa and elsewhere, its construction of militarized artificial islands in the South China Sea and, most recently, its new strategy to project naval power broadly in the open seas. Continue reading
December 2014 saw the reemergence of competition between rival pipeline projects in Eurasia—similar to the earlier competition between the Nabucco natural gas pipeline, proposed by a consortium of European companies, and Russia’s South Stream. Currently, Russia’s new proposed pipeline project—Turkish Stream—is challenging the Azerbaijani-initiated Southern Gas Corridor, which will carry Caspian-basin gas to Europe via the South Caucasus, Turkey and then across Southeastern Europe.
Turkey is already signed on to the Southern Gas Corridor—the Corridor’s longest pipeline segment, the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), will cross Turkey from east to west—but it is also being strongly courted by Moscow to host Turkish Stream (see EDM, December 17, 2014; February 20, 2015). This growing significance of Turkey in competing large-scale energy transit projects across Europe and Eurasia has also opened up a discussion domestically regarding which prospective energy union the country should become part of—European or Eurasian. Continue reading
As a reminder, don’t count Greece out mainly due to the energy factor. They could very likely be a regional oil & gas hub for the European continent that’s too important to let go. Therefore, don’t be surprised if the Troika gives a few concessions towards the increasingly desperate and belligerent Greeks. Where the energy supplies actually come from, be it from Russia or another Mediterranean land such as Cyprus, is yet to be seen — although the latter would break Europe free from Russia.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Turkish Stream gas pipeline could help Greece become one of the main power distribution centers in Europe, President of Russia Vladimir Putin said. Continue reading
German power is now mostly seen in economic terms. Given its 20th century past, the dream of simply being a bigger Switzerland still holds a strong appeal to the German public: a country without any serious external security concerns, focused on prosperity and wellbeing.And yet recently Angela Merkel has put her country on a new course. She is redefining German power. This is not happening via grand speeches, but through concrete steps and sometimes discreet messages. And it is happening as a result of circumstances, not because of a comprehensively pre-prepared plan. Last year, in quick succession, war broke out in Ukraine, populist and extremist parties made strong gains in European elections, and the Greek conundrum returned to the eurozone. Because of all these crises, Merkel has been reappraising what her country should be doing as Europe’s powerhouse. Continue reading
Greece’s exit from the eurozone could lead to the establishment of very close relations between the two countries and contribute to the expansion of Russian influence in the Balkans, “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” reports. Continue reading
The Austrian government has unveiled a sweeping overhaul of the country’s century-old “Islam Law” that governs the legal status of Austria’s Muslim community.
The proposed revisions—which are aimed at cracking down on Islamic extremism in Austria—would regulate the training and hiring of Muslim clerics, prohibit the foreign funding of mosques, and establish an official German-language version of the Koran, among other changes.
The government says the modifications would give Muslims legal parity with other religious groups in Austria. But the leaders of Austria’s Muslim community counter that the contemplated new law amounts to “institutionalized Islamophobia.” Continue reading
RIGA – The Latvian government will have a closed meeting on Sept. 24, during which it will listen to an analysis of military invasion possibilities against the country, reports LETA. The analysis of possible military threats to Latvia’s security was prepared by the Defense Ministry, and will be presented to the government by Defense Minister Artis Pabriks.
The government meeting will be held at a time when Russian and Belarusian soldiers are carrying out large-scale military maneuvers near Baltic borders. Continue reading
MOSCOW Baltic officials said Friday regional security had been weakened as Russia led military exercises on their doorstep involving almost 12,000 troops.
A week of land and sea manoeuvres began Friday as part of biennial exercises with Belarus, Russia’s Defence Ministry said on its website.
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which regained independence in 1991 after half a century of Soviet rule, joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2004 amid Russian opposition. Continue reading
Vladmir Putin once called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” But in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, a new economic union, aimed at collecting the scattered pieces of the Russian Empire, is growing. Should Putin’s Eurasian Union succeed by incorporating all of Central Asia and Eastern Europe minus the Baltic States and Balkans, Russia will effectively hold sway over some of the largest concentrations of natural gas, oil, and uranium in the world. Continue reading
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China is making significant strides toward developing a global military power large enough to protect its rapidly increasing global economic interests, an author of a new book on China explained Wednesday.
“Chinese military planners really seem convinced that their most likely enemy and their greatest potential threat is the United States,” Wortzel said his analysis of PLA journals showed. “Things aren’t great with Russia, and things are a lot worse with Japan, but they focus on us and our technology.”
The transformation began less than a decade ago when in 2004 leader Hu Jintao announced that the PLA’s mission must be to go global in order to safeguard the country’s expanding national interests. Continue reading
In 1998, Zbigniew Brzezinski argued that “a power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent”. His book The Grand Chessboard was indeed a major contribution to geopolitical studies. Depicting the new challenges for US foreign policy in a multipolar world, Brzezinski identifies the geopolitical Achilles’ heel of the 21st century in the area he designated as the Global Balkans, i.e. “the swathe of Eurasia between Europe and the Far East.” Continue reading
President Vladimir Putin yesetrday launched construction of the long-awaited South Stream pipeline that the Kremlin hopes will pump Russia’s gas to Europe while avoiding its unpredictable neighbour Ukraine
The pipeline will flow underneath the Black Sea and through the Balkans to supply energy giant Gazprom’s big European clients with Russian gas and ensure the security of its energy exports. Continue reading
What has been kept in the dark is the exact same plan was used on Lybia, Egypt and a few other countries. They were portrayed as random events with innocents looking for freedom, when in fact undermining forces were planned and created for some while — roughly three years in the making since Obama took office. Respective governments were caught in a catch-22. They either have to quell the uprisings that continue in escalation and won’t cease by killing their own, or cave in and give way to the new ruling class.
The current US administration is overturning the entire Middle East, and as you see now, consequently has traded in regional stability for chaos with more extreme terrorist organizations taking over, all in order to whittle away at Iran’s growing hegemony. In the larger scheme of things, these countries are all pawns of Russia and China as a proxy/economic weapon against the West. Therefore, it’s also an attempt on their influence.
“We are not ‘king-making’ in Syria. The UK and the US are moving cautiously to help what has been developing within Syria to improve the capabilities of the opposition,” said a British consultant overseeing the programme. “What’s going to come next? Who is going to control territory across Syria. We want to give civilians the skills to assert leadership.”
Foreign intervention in civil wars has proven to be a perilous undertaking since the end of the Cold War but in Syria where an invasion has proven unfeasible, diplomats have had to resort to creative thinking.
“This has been a generational coming of age,” said the consultant, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The Foreign Secretary started this as a way to make sure that people who committed crimes in Syria would be held to account. Those of us with experience of the Balkans have taken the lessons of that conflict very much as a formative experience.”
“There are groups inside and outside Syria beginning to plan for that day-after and beginning to plan for how they might quickly stand up at least that first stage of transition so that we could move on when Assad goes, because he will go.”
Full article: Britain and US plan a Syrian revolution from an innocuous office block in Istanbul (The Telegraph)
The term Balkanization is an interesting one. By definition it refers to the process of dividing a large politico/geographic region into smaller groups of states or nations. It originally applied around the turn of the 19th century to the carving up of the formerly Ottoman-ruled Balkan Peninsula into a number of small, opposing nation-states.
The process was repeated in the1990s when Germany and the Vatican’s recognition of Slovenia and Croatia as sovereign states separate from Yugoslavia stimulated the entire breakup of greater Yugoslavia ending in its virtual colonization by the German-led EU.
A valid comparison can today be made between the breakup and colonization of Yugoslavia and a similar tactic German elites are now using to virtually Balkanize the whole EU.
The instrument they are using is the forthcoming eurozone treaty that will endorse a fiscal union of top-tier states—destined to number exactly 10—and result in a second tier of nation states enjoying lesser recognition than the 10.
On present indications, the second tier will comprise some states that willingly accede to the authority of the governing power of the 10, and others that are so economically weakened and culturally resistant to the dominating power that they will become virtually enslaved within the union. Greece risks falling into the latter category.
One observer who is quite familiar with the effects of this process is Serbian journalist Momcilo Pantelic. In a recent piece, Pantelic observed that “we have seen a flare-up between financially responsible and spendthrift countries and between the more developed and less developed members of the EU. All of this has a lot in common with the process that led to the breakup of Yugoslavia” (Politika, January 15).
Continue reading article: Germany’s Angela Merkel and the Balkanization of Europe (The Trumpet)