With Japan against China

 

TOKYO/BRUSSELS/BERLIN(Own report) – With the conclusion of their free trade agreement, the EU and Japan are about to establish the world’s largest free trade zone. As was reported, the agreement between the two highly export oriented economic blocks, generating nearly 30 percent of the global economic output, could already take effect in early 2019. According to the EU Commission and German economic institutes the Japan-EU Free Trade Agreement (JEFTA) could lead to significant economic growth and the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs. On the one hand, the agreement is aimed at making up for eventual slumps on the US market and, on the other, is part of the containment strategy against China, the emerging powerhouse. Despite their differences, Berlin and Washington continue to cooperate in their opposition to Beijing. Parallel to the JEFTA agreement, the EU, Japan and the USA have declared that they will jointly take on China more aggressively over trade issues.

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Launching the Military Union

BERLIN/BRUSSELS(Own report) – The German government has announced that the EU Military Union will be officially launched this Monday, with the European Council formally adopting 17 projects aimed at creating joint EU military structures. Germany is in charge of the establishment of a European Medical Command, considered an indispensable element of future EU military operations, alongside the European Air Transport Command, which has existed since 2010. Berlin is also establishing logistical structures that would facilitate rapid interventions. The German Bundeswehr is also active in both fields within the NATO framework. The operational preparation for future military missions is influenced by a fierce power struggle between Germany and France. According to the German ministry of defense, the military union is not only aimed at reaching more “independence” from the United States, but also at advancing EU “integration,” which is difficult to achieve with civilian means. Continue reading

Berlin’s Beacon Policy

BERLIN(Own report) – Germany and the three remaining major West European EU member countries should formulate a joint foreign policy and implement it even without an EU-wide consensus, demands Norbert Röttgen, former Chair of the Committee of Foreign Affairs in the German Bundestag. Such an approach would be inevitable, because a foreign policy consensus in the EU is impossible “within the foreseeable future,” although rapid and resolute activity is needed to reach an “equal footing with the USA and Russia.” Experts are proposing, as an alternative, the introduction of foreign policy decisions being taken at majority votes. This would mean that EU countries – against the will of their respective governments – could, for example, be forced into serious conflicts with third countries. Reflecting major shifts in the global political fabric, these proposals have become elements of an intense debate within Berlin’s political establishment. The German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) is warning against the escalation of conflicts, for example, with China, and the military does not rule out the possibility of Berlin’s loss of power, through the potential disintegration of the EU.

Armed with German Help

 

BERLIN/RIYADH(Own report) – Germany is helping Saudi Arabia establish an independent arms industry. Via its South African subsidiary, the Rheinmetall Group has already set up an ammunition factory in Riyadh, in which Saudi Arabia can produce artillery shells and bombs for its Air Force. Next month, a Rheinmetall manager will be appointed chair of the new arms producer – SAMI (Saudi Arabian Military Industries). Saudi Arabia, which competes with Russia for the third place of countries with the highest military budgets, is seeking to buy half its weaponry eventually from domestic companies. SAMI should thus become one of the 25 most important arms manufacturers in the world – with close contacts to US arms manufacturing giants and the EU’s military industry. This project is being launched at a time when Riyadh is on an extremely aggressive course, to win a power struggle with Iran for predominance in the Middle East.

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EU takes step towards closer defence cooperation

 

The EU will move towards closer defence ties Monday with more than 20 states signing a landmark pact that aims to boost cooperation after Brexit and counteract Russian pressure.

Similar efforts to deepen military links have been frustrated for decades, partly by Britain’s fierce opposition to anything that might lead to a European army. Continue reading

Merkel in chaos: Germany without government SEVEN WEEKS after Chancellor’s election disaster

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel hopes to get preliminary talks out of the way be the end of the week [EPA]

 

GERMAN leader Angela Merkel is yet to form a government seven weeks after the country went to the polls.

Voters went to the polls on September 24 in an embarassing election for Mrs Merkel’s conservatives who bled support to the far right.

If coalition talks stall Berlin would face a lengthy period of uncertainty at a time when many in the European Union are looking to Germany for leadership on issues ranging from euro zone governance to trans-Atlantic relations. Continue reading

The Militarization of the Sahel (II)

 

BERLIN/PARIS/BAMAKO(Own report) – Nearly five years after the European military mission was launched in Mali, experts are describing the country’s situation as a disaster and warning against Berlin and Paris’ further militarization of the Sahel. Mali “has never” seen “such a level of violence” as “currently,” says a former French diplomat. The regional conflicts cannot be solved militarily, explained the International Crisis Group, a pro-western think tank, using the example of a Burkinabe province at the border with Mali, where, even though it was possible to suppress jihadi unrest, for the time being, the conflict can again flare up at any time, because the reasons for the unrest have not been dealt with. Nevertheless, the German government supports the creation of an intervention force of the “G5 Sahel” group of countries, which launched its first military operation yesterday. Despite the disastrous consequences of militarization, the Bundeswehr is using the Mali mission as the focus of its PR campaign.

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Analysis: West should prepare for chemical attacks by the Islamic State

Biochemical terrorism

 

A German newspaper reported last week that at least one European intelligence agency has already warned that the Islamic State is exploring the use of chemicals for attacks in Europe. Such an eventuality would be a radical departure from prior attacks by the Islamic State in the West. In the past, the militant group has shown a strong preference for low-tech means of dispensing violence, such as firearms, vehicles and knives. But it has utilized chemical substances in Iraq and Syria, and its technical experts have amassed significant knowledge about weaponized chemicals. Continue reading

Fresh Wind Down the Silk Road (II)

BERLIN/DUSHANBE (Own report) – German government advisors are considering a strategically oriented cooperation with China in Central Asia. Rather than rely solely on its own independent operations to win influence, “dialogue” with Beijing should be “intensified,” to learn “to what extent goals could be pursued in cooperation,” according to a recent study by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). The EU could thus “emphasize its foreign policy objectives in the region.” This must be seen in light of the fact that Germany and the EU have failed to significantly expand their influence in the five former Soviet Republics spanning from Turkmenistan to Tajikistan. This failure is particularly evident in Tajikistan. Whereas Russia and China are economically predominating over the country and – parallel to the United States – are currently intensifying their military activities, in spite of all its efforts, Berlin is only playing an independent role in the field of humanitarian and development aid.

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Austerity and Secession

BERLIN/MADRID (Own report) – The escalating Catalan secessionist conflict is upsetting Spain, a country hard hit by Berlin’s austerity dictate. Spain – occasionally praised in German media as a showcase for an alleged successful austerity policy – is still confronted with enormous social and economic problems, in spite of a modest economic growth. Unemployment and poverty remain at high levels. Crisis policies over the past few years have also increased the economic gap between Spain and the euro zone’s centers of prosperity. One still cannot speak of debt reduction – the official objective of Germany’s austerity policy within the EU. The poor economic situation, the high debt burden level and the distribution of federal and regional debts are fueling Catalonia’s secessionist conflict.

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Fresh Wind Down the Silk Road (I)

BERLIN/TASHKENT (Own report) – To secure its influence in Central Asia in rivalry to Russia and China, Berlin is taking new initiatives toward Uzbekistan, the most populous country in the region. Among the five post-Soviet Central Asian countries, Uzbekistan has been Germany’s key partner for the past 25 years, even hosting a Bundeswehr base over an extended period of time. Now the German government seeks to reinforce it position in Uzbekistan by expanding economic relations. Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, in office since one year, is initiating a neo-liberal policy in his country. At the same time, Russia’s rise in influence in the economic and military sectors, alongside China’s greatly enhanced economic advances has put Germany under pressure. If Germany does not want to lose ground in Central Asia, it must act quickly.

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Berlin Calls for a “One-Europe Policy”

BERLIN/BEIJING (Own report) – Berlin sees China’s growing economic presence in the EU’s eastern periphery as an increasing threat to German predominance over Eastern and Southeastern Europe. During his visit to Paris at the end of August, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned against the People’s Republic’s alleged “division of Europe.” Beijing’s cooperation with 16 Eastern and Southeastern European countries is threatening the EU’s “unity” and must be stopped. China should follow a “one-Europe policy.” German media and think tanks have been sharply criticizing Chinese economic activities in Eastern and Southeastern Europe since years. In a recent analysis, the Friedrich-Naumann Foundation (FDP) assailed the Czech government for signing a “declaration on the territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China” in view of comprehensive Chinese investments in that country. Beijing has reacted to these attacks by pointing to Germany’s dominant status in the EU.

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Opinion: Why is the EU so vindictive about Brexit?

Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief negotiator for Brexit, says the British are going backwards in exit talks with the EU.

 

Voluntary withdrawal from the EU treaty does not have to be painful

In case you’re wondering where the belligerent spirit went that pushed Europe into centuries of warfare, two major conflicts last century, numerous regional skirmishes in recent decades, and a Cold War lasting nearly half a century, rest assured it is alive and well, albeit channeled into a “peaceful” version in the European Union’s remorseless vindictiveness.

After brutalizing Greece for lying to join the euro and then daring to violate the strictures of membership, the EU has now turned its focus to punishing Britain for having the audacity to reject the stifling bureaucracy of Brussels and the increasingly assertive dominance of Berlin. Continue reading

Talks in the Chancellery

BERLIN/CARACAS (Own report) – Chancellor Merkel will meet one of Venezuela’s leading government opposition politicians today in the Chancellery. Julio Borges, who, according to reports, supported the 2002 putsch attempt in Caracas, will discuss the political development in Venezuela with the chancellor. Fierce power struggles are being waged in that country. The opposition, mainly composed of representatives of the traditional wealthy elites, has ties to Western powers und is also supported by Berlin. With its operational assistance, for example in advising Borges’ Primero Justícia (Justice First) party in “political communication,” the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation has been playing a special role. Primero Justícia had also participated in the 2002-attempted putsch. Berlin is pursuing an approach similar to that used in other Latin American countries, wherein it regularly supports the traditional elites. This resembles the German authorities’ interventions in the run-up to the putsch in Ukraine.

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German-Russian Oil Cooperation

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) – The Russian petroleum company, Rosneft, is expanding its activities in Germany, thereby reducing Germany’s dependence on the transatlantic oil industry. While public discussion is focused on ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s candidacy for the chair of Rosneft’s board of directors, the company has increased its share to 25 percent of Germany’s crude oil imports, and has become the third largest oil processing enterprise in Germany. It has plans to further strengthen its position in the country, inspired by the close German-Russian natural gas cooperation, which provides Germany significant influence over Western Europe’s supply of Russian gas. Achieving predominant influence over the EU’s supply and a growing independence vis-à-vis the energy giants of the transatlantic era, facilitates Berlin’s pursuit of an independent German-EU global policy.

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