Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 19/12/14

Massenbach-Letter. News

*Herausgegeben von Udo von Massenbach, Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster, Joerg Barandat*

· Dialogue with Russia on South Stream must continue, Merkel tells Bulgarian PM Borissov

· Bulgaria to send delegation to Moscow to discuss South Stream – reports

· STRATFOR (George Friedman): Viewing Russia From the Inside

· Chechnya and the threat of ISIS militants coming home

· AG Sicherheits- und Verteidigungspolitik der SPD-Bundestagsfraktion (AGSV)-Positionspapier: Europäische Armee

· Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe: Energiestudie 2014

· Oil prices are now unsustainably low: John Kemp

· Saudi-Arabia- Energy Personality of the Year: Ali al-Naimi

· Joerg Barandat :WATERINTAKE 12/2014

Massenbach* “Die Welt“: Wie die große Koalition die Freiheit wegreguliert

Im Namen der Gerechtigkeit schränkt die Regierung individuelle Rechte ein. Mit Frauenquote, erzwungener Tarifeinheit, Mietpreisbremse und Mindestlohn nähern wir uns der durchregulierten Wirtschaft.

Mangelnden Fleiß kann man dieser Bundesregierung nicht vorwerfen. Emsig arbeiten die Kabinettsmitglieder den Koalitionsvertrag Punkt für Punkt ab. Viele Großprojekte wie das Rentenpaket oder der Mindestlohn wurden bereits abgehakt. Nun kommt das Gesetz zur Frauenquote an die Reihe. Wieder einmal wird eine vermeintliche Gerechtigkeitslücke bekämpft. Die Politik will nicht länger hinnehmen, dass an der Spitze deutscher Unternehmen Männer dominieren.

Um mehr Frauen den Weg in die Führungsebene großer Firmen zu ebnen, schreibt der Gesetzgeber künftig börsennotierten Konzernen vor, jeden dritten Aufsichtsratsposten für Frauen zu reservieren. Was für Familienministerin Manuela Schwesig ein historischer Durchbruch im Kampf um die Gleichstellung ist, bezeichnet die Opposition von Grünen und Linken spöttisch als "Quötchen".

Tatsächlich werden von der starren Regel zunächst lediglich 100 Frauen profitieren, die einen der gut dotierten Dax-Aufsichtsratsposten ergattern. Doch die Idee, dass der Gesetzgeber Arbeitnehmern und Anteilseignern das Recht nimmt, frei zu entscheiden, wen sie in das Kontrollgremium entsenden, hat sich damit durchgesetzt: In Zukunft müssen Männer von Rechts wegen diskriminiert werden. Es ist nur eine Frage der Zeit, bis auch Vorstandsposten und kleinere Betriebe an der Reihe sein werden. Und was ist eigentlich mit ethnischen Minderheiten, Ostdeutschen und anderen Gruppen, die sich auf Chefposten unterrepräsentiert fühlen?

Die Gefahren des "Tarifeinheitsgesetzes"

Um die Einschränkung der Freiheit zugunsten eines vermeintlich höheren Ziels geht es auch bei einem weiteren Gesetzesvorhaben, das vom Kabinett abgesegnet wurde. Arbeitsministerin Andrea Nahles will die Streikmacht kleinerer Gewerkschaften eindämmen. Mit dem "Tarifeinheitsgesetz" sollen Zustände, wie sie derzeit bei der Deutschen Bahn herrschen, verhindert werden.

Bei dem Staatsbetrieb konkurriert die kleine Zugfahrergewerkschaft GDL mit der handzahmen Eisenbahnergewerkschaft. Spartengewerkschaften würden nicht im Interesse der Gesamtbelegschaft handeln, sondern Rosinenpickerei betreiben, argumentieren die Befürworter des Gesetzes. Nicht nur die GDL, sondern auch die Gewerkschaft der Klinikärzte Marburger Bund und die Pilotenvereinigung Cockpit fürchten um ihre Existenz und kündigen Verfassungsklage an.

Juristen streiten, ob das von Arbeitgebern und einem Teil der Großgewerkschaften verlangte Gesetz die bestehenden Spartengewerkschaften bedroht. Klar ist jedoch, dass die im Grundgesetz verankerte Koalitionsfreiheit der Arbeitnehmer massiv eingeschränkt wird, wenn sie nicht mehr selbst entscheiden dürfen, von welcher Organisation sie sich vertreten lassen wollen.

Angesichts der rasanten Veränderung der Arbeitswelt wird es immer wieder Berufsgruppen geben, die sich durch die Mehrheitsgewerkschaften in einem Betrieb nicht repräsentiert fühlen. Doch der Weg, den Piloten, Lokführer und Ärzte eingeschlagen haben, soll ihnen künftig verbaut sein. Die Koalitionäre stärken die Macht der Großgewerkschaften, weil sie um deren Gunst buhlen. Dass sie dabei die Freiheit vieler Bürger beschneiden, nehmen SPD und Union billigend in Kauf.

Nach einem Jahr großer Koalition ist die Liste der Dinge, die uns künftig verboten sein werden, schon erschreckend lang geworden. Der Gesetzgeber schreibt demnächst vor, wie viel man seinen Mitarbeitern – unabhängig von allen Rentabilitätsrechnungen – mindestens zu zahlen hat. Dabei steigt die gesetzliche Lohnuntergrenze in der Zukunft nach Vorgaben, die die großen Tarifparteien für angemessen halten. Der gesetzliche Mindestlohn wird deshalb selbst in den strukturschwächsten Regionen Deutschlands und für die einfachsten Hilfsarbeiten stetig steigen.

Dass manche Arbeitnehmer dabei ebenso auf der Strecke bleiben werden wie Betriebe, die günstig produzieren müssen, um am Markt bestehen zu können, ficht die Koalitionäre nicht an. Um "Ordnung auf dem Arbeitsmarkt" (Andrea Nahles) geht es auch, wenn demnächst die Zeitarbeit und die Werkverträge schärfer reguliert werden und somit weitere Eingriffe in die unternehmerische Freiheit drohen. Je mehr der Gesetzgeber reguliert, desto mehr muss in den Betrieben dokumentiert und kontrolliert werden. So wächst nicht die Wirtschaft, sondern nur die Bürokratie.

Ob Frauenquote, Mietpreisbremse oder Mindestlohn – stets fordern Linke und Grüne noch viel stärkere Regulierungen, als SPD und Union beschließen.

Auch der Wohnungsmarkt ist vor der Regulierungswut dieser Regierung nicht sicher. Die angestrebte Mietpreisbremse werde dafür sorgen, dass Wohnraum bezahlbar bleibe, versichert die Koalition. Doch das Versprechen wird sie nicht halten können. Im Gegensatz zu Italien oder Frankreich wohnt hierzulande die Mehrheit der Bevölkerung zur Miete.

Für diese Gruppe etwas zu tun, ist somit populär. Doch wer bei stark steigenden Immobilienpreisen die Mieten deckelt, sorgt dafür, dass Investoren weniger bauen. Der Eingriff in das Eigentumsrecht der Vermieter verknappt langfristig den Wohnraum und schadet am Ende allen. Derartige Erfahrungen hat man in Deutschland in der Vergangenheit schon zur Genüge gemacht. Doch SPD und Union bedeutet die soziale Geste mehr als die wirtschaftliche Vernunft.

Keine im Bundestag vertretene Partei stört sich an der permanenten Beschneidung individueller Freiheitsrechte. Schlimmer: Ob Frauenquote, Mietpreisbremse oder Mindestlohn – stets fordern Linke und Grüne noch viel stärkere Regulierungen, als SPD und Union beschließen. Und die FDP, die in der vergangenen Legislaturperiode vieles von dem verhindert hat, was jetzt meist völlig reibungslos durchgeht, wird als außerparlamentarische Opposition kaum mehr wahrgenommen.

Dass CDU-Chefin Angela Merkel die Wirtschaftspolitik auf dem Kölner Parteitag in den Mittelpunkt rückte, um zurück in Berlin sogleich die Frauenquote durchzuwinken, ist absurd. Das Gleiche gilt für die Bemühungen des SPD-Vorsitzenden Sigmar Gabriel, sich als legitimer Erbe Ludwig Erhards zu positionieren. Markteingriffe und die Beschränkung des Wettbewerbs waren dem Vater des deutschen Wirtschaftswunders ein Gräuel. Den heutigen Koalitionären scheint dagegen nichts ferner zu liegen, als dem Markt zu trauen. Im Zweifel entscheiden sich SPD und Union in Wirtschaftsfragen heute gegen die Freiheit.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

COLUMN-Oil prices are now unsustainably low: John Kemp

Oil prices have now fallen to an unsustainable low level. Futures contracts for Brent and WTI have fallen below $60 and $55 per barrel respectively but many crude producers are receiving much lower prices.

Plains Marketing, for example, is now offering just $39.69 per barrel for Williston Basin Sweet crude and less than $50 for a wide range of other U.S. crude oils, according to its latest pricing bulletin, published on December 15.

At these prices, shale production on most leases across the United States cannot breakeven. Only a few of the most favourable areas with the best geology and low transport costs remain profitable. Even in these cases profit margins are razor thin.

If posted prices remain at current depressed levels, almost all shale drilling activity will eventually cease, and U.S. oil production would start to fall rapidly towards the end of 2015 and into 2016 as output from existing wells starts to decline.

Just as prices were unsustainably high when Brent was trading above $100 throughout most of 2011-2014, encouraging too much drilling and conservation, oil prices have now plunged to an unsustainably low level.

Billions of dollars of capital expenditure projects have been or will be postponed by the major international oil companies, independents and shale producers, which, if they all remained cancelled, would generate an enormous shortfall in oil supplies by the end of the decade.

The market has over-reacted to signs of an impending surplus in production in 2015 by cutting prices to a level that will cancel not just marginal projects but almost all new drilling given enough time.

It is a classic bubble — the mirror image of the frenzied rise in prices towards their peak at $147 per barrel in July 2008 (“Oil market is trapped in a negative bubble” Nov 14).

Like any bubble, it is impossible to predict how long it will continue to inflate or how far prices might eventually be distended before the bubble bursts.

In a bubble, prices tend to become far more distorted than rational observers thought possible before correcting, so there is no reason why oil prices cannot fall further in the short term.

But bubbles also tend to be fairly short-lived because their internal dynamics are so unstable and the divergence between market prices and underlying supply/demand fundamentals becomes too stretched to ignore (“Behavioural explanations make sense of oil’s plunge” Dec 1).

In 2007/08, it took Brent prices nine months to double from around $75 in Oct 2007 to peak just below $150 in July 2008. In 2014, it has so far taken six months to halve from $115 to $59.

If it is impossible to predict how low prices might fall before correcting it is at least possible to surmise the turning point is not far off in terms of time.

The four previous plunges in oil prices over the last four decades (1985/86, 1997/98, 2000/01 and 2008/09 were all quickly followed by substantial price rises after the market over-reacted on the downside ().

The market appears to be headed for something similar in the current environment as prices fall to levels which are simply unsustainable for more than short period of time.

John Kemp

Senior Market Analyst

Reuters

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR)

Dienstbereich Berlin

Die neue Energiestudie der Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe heute veröffentlicht wurde.

Sie können die Studie unter folgendem Link abrufen:

http://www.bgr.bund.de/DE/Themen/Energie/Downloads/Energiestudie_2014.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=6

**********************************************************************************************************************

STRATFOR (George Friedman): Viewing Russia From the Inside

Last week I flew into Moscow, arriving at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 8. It gets dark in Moscow around that time, and the sun doesn’t rise until about 10 a.m. at this time of the year — the so-called Black Days versus White Nights. For anyone used to life closer to the equator, this is unsettling. It is the first sign that you are not only in a foreign country, which I am used to, but also in a foreign environment. Yet as we drove toward downtown Moscow, well over an hour away, the traffic, the road work, were all commonplace. Moscow has three airports, and we flew into the farthest one from downtown, Domodedovo — the primary international airport. There is endless renovation going on in Moscow, and while it holds up traffic, it indicates that prosperity continues, at least in the capital.

Our host met us and we quickly went to work getting a sense of each other and talking about the events of the day. He had spent a great deal of time in the United States and was far more familiar with the nuances of American life than I was with Russian. In that he was the perfect host, translating his country to me, always with the spin of a Russian patriot, which he surely was. We talked as we drove into Moscow, managing to dive deep into the subject.

From him, and from conversations with Russian experts on most of the regions of the world — students at the Institute of International Relations — and with a handful of what I took to be ordinary citizens (not employed by government agencies engaged in managing Russia’s foreign and economic affairs), I gained a sense of Russia’s concerns. The concerns are what you might expect. The emphasis and order of those concerns were not.

Russians‘ Economic Expectations

I thought the economic problems of Russia would be foremost on people’s minds. The plunge of the ruble, the decline in oil prices, a general slowdown in the economy and the effect of Western sanctions all appear in the West to be hammering the Russian economy. Yet this was not the conversation I was having. The decline in the ruble has affected foreign travel plans, but the public has only recently begun feeling the real impact of these factors, particularly through inflation.

But there was another reason given for the relative calm over the financial situation, and it came not only from government officials but also from private individuals and should be considered very seriously. The Russians pointed out that economic shambles was the norm for Russia, and prosperity the exception. There is always the expectation that prosperity will end and the normal constrictions of Russian poverty return.

The Russians suffered terribly during the 1990s under Boris Yeltsin but also under previous governments stretching back to the czars. In spite of this, several pointed out, they had won the wars they needed to win and had managed to live lives worth living. The golden age of the previous 10 years was coming to an end. That was to be expected, and it would be endured. The government officials meant this as a warning, and I do not think it was a bluff. The pivot of the conversation was about sanctions, and the intent was to show that they would not cause Russia to change its policy toward Ukraine.

Russians‘ strength is that they can endure things that would break other nations. It was also pointed out that they tend to support the government regardless of competence when Russia feels threatened. Therefore, the Russians argued, no one should expect that sanctions, no matter how harsh, would cause Moscow to capitulate. Instead the Russians would respond with their own sanctions, which were not specified but which I assume would mean seizing the assets of Western companies in Russia and curtailing agricultural imports from Europe. There was no talk of cutting off natural gas supplies to Europe.

If this is so, then the Americans and Europeans are deluding themselves on the effects of sanctions. In general, I personally have little confidence in the use of sanctions. That being said, the Russians gave me another prism to look through. Sanctions reflect European and American thresholds of pain. They are designed to cause pain that the West could not withstand. Applied to others, the effects may vary.

My sense is that the Russians were serious. It would explain why the increased sanctions, plus oil price drops, economic downturns and the rest simply have not caused the erosion of confidence that would be expected. Reliable polling numbers show that President Vladimir Putin is still enormously popular. Whether he remains popular as the decline sets in, and whether the elite being hurt financially are equally sanguine, is another matter. But for me the most important lesson I might have learned in Russia — "might" being the operative term — is that Russians don’t respond to economic pressure as Westerners do, and that the idea made famous in a presidential campaign slogan, "It’s the economy, stupid," may not apply the same way in Russia.

The Ukrainian Issue

There was much more toughness on Ukraine. There is acceptance that events in Ukraine were a reversal for Russia and resentment that the Obama administration mounted what Russians regard as a propaganda campaign to try to make it appear that Russia was the aggressor. Two points were regularly made. The first was that Crimea was historically part of Russia and that it was already dominated by the Russian military under treaty. There was no invasion but merely the assertion of reality. Second, there was heated insistence that eastern Ukraine is populated by Russians and that as in other countries, those Russians must be given a high degree of autonomy. One scholar pointed to the Canadian model and Quebec to show that the West normally has no problem with regional autonomy for ethnically different regions but is shocked that the Russians might want to practice a form of regionalism commonplace in the West.

The case of Kosovo is extremely important to the Russians both because they feel that their wishes were disregarded there and because it set a precedent. Years after the fall of the Serbian government that had threatened the Albanians in Kosovo, the West granted Kosovo independence. The Russians argued that the borders were redrawn although no danger to Kosovo existed. Russia didn’t want it to happen, but the West did it because it could. In the Russian view, having redrawn the map of Serbia, the West has no right to object to redrawing the map of Ukraine.

I try not to be drawn into matters of right and wrong, not because I don’t believe there is a difference but because history is rarely decided by moral principles. I have understood the Russians‘ view of Ukraine as a necessary strategic buffer and the idea that without it they would face a significant threat, if not now, then someday. They point to Napoleon and Hitler as examples of enemies defeated by depth.

I tried to provide a strategic American perspective. The United States has spent the past century pursuing a single objective: avoiding the rise of any single hegemon that might be able to exploit Western European technology and capital and Russian resources and manpower. The United States intervened in World War I in 1917 to block German hegemony, and again in World War II. In the Cold War the goal was to prevent Russian hegemony. U.S. strategic policy has been consistent for a century.

The United States has been conditioned to be cautious of any rising hegemon. In this case the fear of a resurgent Russia is a recollection of the Cold War, but not an unreasonable one. As some pointed out to me, economic weakness has rarely meant military weakness or political disunity. I agreed with them on this and pointed out that this is precisely why the United States has a legitimate fear of Russia in Ukraine. If Russia manages to reassert its power in Ukraine, then what will come next? Russia has military and political power that could begin to impinge on Europe. Therefore, it is not irrational for the United States, and at least some European countries, to want to assert their power in Ukraine.

When I laid out this argument to a very senior official from the Russian Foreign Ministry, he basically said he had no idea what I was trying to say. While I think he fully understood the geopolitical imperatives guiding Russia in Ukraine, to him the centurylong imperatives guiding the United States are far too vast to apply to the Ukrainian issue. It is not a question of him only seeing his side of the issue. Rather, it is that for Russia, Ukraine is an immediate issue, and the picture I draw of American strategy is so abstract that it doesn’t seem to connect with the immediate reality. There is an automatic American response to what it sees as Russian assertiveness; however, the Russians feel they have been far from offensive and have been on the defense. For the official, American fears of Russian hegemony were simply too far-fetched to contemplate.

In other gatherings, with the senior staff of the Institute of International Relations, I tried a different tack, trying to explain that the Russians had embarrassed U.S. President Barack Obama in Syria. Obama had not wanted to attack when poison gas was used in Syria because it was militarily difficult and because if he toppled Syrian President Bashar al Assad, it would leave Sunni jihadists in charge of the country. The United States and Russia had identical interests, I asserted, and the Russian attempt to embarrass the president by making it appear that Putin had forced him to back down triggered the U.S. response in Ukraine. Frankly, I thought my geopolitical explanation was a lot more coherent than this argument, but I tried it out. The discussion was over lunch, but my time was spent explaining and arguing, not eating. I found that I could hold my own geopolitically but that they had mastered the intricacies of the Obama administration in ways I never will.

The Future for Russia and the West

The more important question was what will come next. The obvious question is whether the Ukrainian crisis will spread to the Baltics, Moldova or the Caucasus. I raised this with the Foreign Ministry official. He was emphatic, making the point several times that this crisis would not spread. I took that to mean that there would be no Russian riots in the Baltics, no unrest in Moldova and no military action in the Caucasus. I think he was sincere. The Russians are stretched as it is. They must deal with Ukraine, and they must cope with the existing sanctions, however much they can endure economic problems. The West has the resources to deal with multiple crises. Russia needs to contain this crisis in Ukraine.

The Russians will settle for a degree of autonomy for Russians within parts of eastern Ukraine. How much autonomy, I do not know. They need a significant gesture to protect their interests and to affirm their significance. Their point that regional autonomy exists in many countries is persuasive. But history is about power, and the West is using its power to press Russia hard. But obviously, nothing is more dangerous than wounding a bear. Killing him is better, but killing Russia has not proved easy.

I came away with two senses. One was that Putin was more secure than I thought. In the scheme of things, that does not mean much. Presidents come and go. But it is a reminder that things that would bring down a Western leader may leave a Russian leader untouched. Second, the Russians do not plan a campaign of aggression. Here I am more troubled — not because they want to invade anyone, but because nations frequently are not aware of what is about to happen, and they might react in ways that will surprise them. That is the most dangerous thing about the situation. It is not what is intended, which seems genuinely benign. What is dangerous is the action that is unanticipated, both by others and by Russia.

At the same time, my general analysis remains intact. Whatever Russia might do elsewhere, Ukraine is of fundamental strategic importance to Russia. Even if the east received a degree of autonomy, Russia would remain deeply concerned about the relationship of the rest of Ukraine to the West. As difficult as this is for Westerners to fathom, Russian history is a tale of buffers. Buffer states save Russia from Western invaders. Russia wants an arrangement that leaves Ukraine at least neutral.

For the United States, any rising power in Eurasia triggers an automatic response born of a century of history. As difficult as it is for Russians to understand, nearly half a century of a Cold War left the United States hypersensitive to the possible re-emergence of Russia. The United States spent the past century blocking the unification of Europe under a single, hostile power. What Russia intends and what America fears are very different things.

The United States and Europe have trouble understanding Russia’s fears. Russia has trouble understanding particularly American fears. The fears of both are real and legitimate. This is not a matter of misunderstanding between countries but of incompatible imperatives. All of the good will in the world — and there is precious little of that — cannot solve the problem of two major countries that are compelled to protect their interests and in doing so must make the other feel threatened. I learned much in my visit. I did not learn how to solve this problem, save that at the very least each must understand the fears of the other, even if they can’t calm them.

http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/viewing-russia-inside#axzz3M8w6DXfA

**********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Jetzt 4.000 Euro Zuschuss für Wohnungsumbau bei Pflege:

Am 1. Januar tritt das erste Pflegestärkungsgesetz in Kraft. Dabei verbessern sich die Leistungen für Pflegebedürftige. Wer die eigenen vier Wände altersgerecht umrüstet, kann künftig mit bis zu 4.000 Euro Zuschuss pro Maßnahme rechnen. Bisher waren es maximal 2.557 Euro.

das-aendert-sich-2015.de

*********************************************************************************************************************************************

Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* China water diversion starts to flow

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our ftsales.support to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/96310a28-81d0-11e4-a9bb-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz3LfxoJmYN

China officially inaugurated one of the world’s largest and most controversial engineering projects on Friday as water from the Yangtze River valley finally arrived in the parched capital, Beijing.

The $60bn South-North Water Diversion project will eventually bring an annual 44.8bn cubic meters of water — equivalent to a second Yellow river — from humid central China to the North China plain, where state-sponsored heavy industry, rapidly growing cities and heavy dependence on irrigation are severely depleting underground water supplies.

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our ftsales.support to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/96310a28-81d0-11e4-a9bb-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz3LfxydhZ3

“Our goal is to preserve economic development and preserve the ecology,” Shen Fengsheng, chief engineer for the project at the Ministry of Water Resources, told the Financial Times in October. Increasing water supply from the south should alleviate “funnels” — large areas where the ground is subsiding because of the depletion of underground water.

Opposition to the project centres on its size and expense, the displacement of up to 400,000 people, and concerns it will exacerbate growing shortages of water in the middle of the country. Environmentalists believe large water-transfer projects allow China to avoid adopting more water-saving measures, including pricing reform and better technologies.

“Each time when ideas are exchanged and people engage in a battle of opinions, the research and policy making will be more sufficient and scientific, and the hard issues will become clearer,” the official People’s Daily newspaper said this week, in a veiled allusion to the controversies surrounding the project.

The water that officially began flowing on Friday coursed through the so-called central route. The Danjiangkou reservoir in Hubei province was expanded so water could flow via canals and tunnels to the North China plain, including Beijing.

Technically, the most difficult part of the project was stabilising the soil to prevent the canal walls from caving in. Engineers visited major US water transfer projects but the American solution of coating the walls with lime caulk turned out only to work on some types of soil. The Chinese team had to sink supports into the ground and inject concrete into the swelling soil in some portions, Mr Shen said.

A second challenge was raising the level of the Danjiangkou reservoir, by constructing a second dam to encase the original dam. The two were attached to allow for seasonal expansion and contraction of the concrete.

The eastern route, bringing water from the mouth of the Yangtze River to the northern port city of Tianjin, is already partially in operation.

The western route, the most ambitious of the three, would drill through the Tibetan plateau to divert water to the Yellow river, which irrigates most of the north China plain. The completion of the eastern and central routes has given new ammunition to those who say the western route is needed for industrialisation of China’s arid northwest.

***********************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Joerg Barandat :WATERINTAKE 12/2014

https://udovonmassenbach.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/joerg-barandat-waterintake-122014/

******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

*Dialogue with Russia on South Stream must continue, Merkel tells Bulgarian PM Borissov*

The European Union has not given up on the South Stream gas pipeline project and therefore the dialogue with Russia must continue, German chancellor Angela Merkel told visiting Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov during talks in Berlin on December 15.

The talks took place two weeks after Russian president Vladimir Putin said that he was shelving the project, pinning particular blame on Bulgaria.

Ahead of the talks with Merkel, Borissov said that he would seek a clear position from the EU on the South Stream issue.

Merkel told Borissov that Germany had good experience with Russia as a reliable partner and had received assurances from Bulgaria that it too was a partner that could be trusted.

The German chancellor said that many contracts had been concluded and the most important thing now was to examine very carefully the legal side of the issue, which should be decided in compliance with EU rules.

“With the support of the chancellor, we expect that we will soon have clarity from the European Commission, what is required of us and what they will negotiate on our behalf, if they negotiate in Moscow,” Borissov said.

He said that he believed that he and Merkel were unanimous that the governments of Bulgaria and of Russia should continue their contacts and activities regarding South Stream, otherwise Bulgaria could be a defaulting party to the contracts, where there is no reference to Brussels as a party or to the Third Energy Package being in effect at the signature of the agreements in 2006,” Borissov said.

Borissov said that at the European Council in Brussels later this week, Bulgaria would present its idea to build a gas distribution hub in the country.

“Our proposal is precisely in the spirit of an energy union in the European Union – the gas to be in the ownership of the EU, and so this flow does not mean dependency, while through interconnectors, the gas is distributed in every direction,” he said.

Borissov said that it was difficult to explain to the Bulgarian people why gas, if it goes through Turkey and Greece, is good, but if it goes via the Black Sea to Bulgaria, it was not good. “Why if Nord Stream is good, South Stream is not good.”

Bulgaria continued to pay and to be taken to court over the Bourgas-Alexandoupolis project, Belene nuclear power station project and the extension of the lifespan of the fifth and sixth units of Kozloduy nuclear power station, “and now also over South Stream,” Borissov said.

Merkel pledged to Borissov that Germany would support Bulgaria in his country’s tough economic climate.

She promised to send German experts to Bulgaria to provide support for judicial reform, energy projects and the use of European Union funds.

“Bulgaria is in a difficult economic environment, it is important to co-operate very closely. In the coming months we will co-operate very intensively when it comes to investment projects, spending of EU funds, structural funds,” Merkel said after the talks in Berlin.

Merkel gave Borissov no guarantee that the issue of Bulgaria entering the EU’s Schengen visa zone would be resolved soon.

A succession of governments, including the previous 2009/13 one headed by Borissov, have insisted that Bulgaria is technically ready to enter Schengen.

But Bulgaria has been blocked by EU countries that point to unfavourable reports on the country under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) put in place by the European Commission when Bulgaria entered the EU in January 2007 to bring the country up to the bloc’s standards in the judiciary and law enforcement, notably against organised crime and corruption.

Recently, hopes have been pressed by senior members of Borissov’s 2014 cabinet that the country could enter Schengen in early 2015, probably by stages.

Bulgaria also has repeated its insistence that the question of being admitted to Schengen and the CVM process are two separate and unrelated processes.

But reports from the Borissov-Merkel meeting said that the German chancellor said that whether Bulgaria’s sea and air borders would be included in Schengen would be decided only in February 2015, when the next CVM reports on Bulgaria and Romania are due.

Merkel said that she had the impression that the new government “wanted to approach things that need to be improved, with more determination – such as the fight against corruption and organised crime”.

Borissov’s new government took office in early November 2014, after an interval in which the country was first under a caretaker cabinet pending May 2013 elections, then a Bulgarian Socialist Party-Movement for Rights and Freedoms ruling axis that left office after months of widely-supported public protests and electoral thrashings for the BSP, and then again a caretaker cabinet until a centre-right coalition cabinet was formed with mixed-bag party support in Parliament.

Borissov said that he had asked Merkel to extend by a further year the deadline for the absorption of EU funds from the previous budget framework.

He said that Bulgaria relied on European Commission assistance in the rapid provision of the billions lost by Bulgaria. Borissov said that Merkel said that she would consider whether Bulgaria also could use some of the opportunities, as Borissov put it, that the EC had given Slovakia, Romania and Greece.

A Bulgarian government media statement said that Merkel had promised that at the European Council, she would endorse the requests of Bulgaria and “see what could be achieved”.

A day earlier, on December 14, Borissov told the Bulgarian community at a meeting in Berlin that he that was hoping that Germany would declare readiness to help Bulgaria overcome the problems that had accumulated over the previous government’s (the BSP-MRF ruling axis from May 2013 to August 2014) term in office.

“Corporate Commercial Bank was deliberately bankrupted by the previous government. (Plamen) Oresharski, (then-finance minister Petar) Chobanov and (central bank governor Ivan) Iskrov are the people who caused and allowed the bank to go bankrupt”, Borissov said.

“This is why we started to repay people through the Insurance Fund. Two billion leva was needed so that people can get their money back. Moreover liabilities of the National Electricity Company amount to four billion leva,” Borissov told his audience of Bulgarians.

“In the meantime, there are millions of Bulgarian leva in unpaid contracts of municipalities. While for four years Berlin was giving our economic policy as an example to Europe and the world, the Oresharski government led to record debts and bankruptcies over the past year. This is the aftermath of the Oresharski experiment,” Borissov said.

With regard to the South Stream gas pipeline project, Borissov told the meeting that there was a signed contract for gas transmission, but no profit for Bulgaria.

Borissov said that up until now documents on the project had been deliberately kept hidden, but once the new government had been made familiar with all the agreements, it became clear that revenues from indirect activities would be larger than transit fees.

He told the Bulgarian community that he would raise the topic of the Northern and Southern Gas Corridors with the German chancellor and would insist on a clear position from the European Union on the South Stream case.

http://sofiaglobe.com/2014/12/15/dialogue-with-russia-on-south-stream-must-continue-merkel-tells-bulgarian-pm-borissov/?utm_source=The+Sofia+Globe+Daily+Bulletin&utm_campaign=5803ef0821-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8c38ec575a-5803ef0821-66164713

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

*Total-led consortium to postpone drilling for gas on Bulgarian sea shelf – reports – till 2016 *

Sofia, December 16, 2014/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Clive Leviev Sawyer of the Sofia Globe

A consortium led by French oil firm Total has said that it would delay the start of drilling gas wells on Bulgaria’s Black Sea shelf, reports in Bulgarian media said on December 16.

Falling oil prices on global markets have prompted a review of corporate budgets, mass-circulation daily Trud quoted Total E&P Bulgaria managing director Xavier Faugeras as saying. Faugeras said that Total had no intention of abandoning the project and that the delay would give the consortium more time to evaluate its preliminary geological findings.

Total, alongside Austria’s OMV and Spain’s Repsol, were awarded the exploration licence for the Khan Asparoukh 1-21 block, covering 14 400 sq km, in 2012. Since then, the consortium has focused on exploration activities and had planned to begin drilling in mid-2015, but has now decided to postpone such activities until early 2016.

The delay could also lead to the postponement of exploration, which, Bulgarian authorities had hoped, could start as soon as 2018. It could also prove a bad omen for the Bulgarian Government’s plans to issue exploration licences for two other blocks on its Black Sea shelf, Silistar and Teres, the tenders for which were announced earlier this month, news website Mediapool.bg said.

The size of potential gas reserves in the Khan Asparoukh block remains uncertain, but Romania estimates gas reserves ranging from 40 billion to 80 billion cubic metres in its own Black Sea shelf across the border from the Khan Asparouh block, currently being explored by OMV and ExxonMobil.

Bulgaria hopes that its own Black Sea shelf will hold comparable amounts – should those hopes are proven true, it would go a long way towards ensuring Bulgaria’s energy independence, Bulgarian officials have said.

Bulgaria currently buys almost 90 per cent of its gas from Russia and its hopes of securing an alternative source of gas via the Nabucco pipeline were dashed when the developers of the Shah Deniz 2 gas field in Azerbaijan opted for a different route – using the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and then the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) to ship gas to Italy – although Bulgaria did sign a deal to buy one billion cubic metres of gas from Shah Deniz last year.

Bulgaria is also heavily reliant on the Ukrainian transit route and the ongoing stand-off between Moscow and Kyiv has led to fears that Bulgaria could see a new disruption in gas supplies this winter – similar to those experienced in 2006 and 2009.

Officials in Sofia had hoped that the alternative route offered by Russia – the South Stream pipeline meant to bypass Ukraine – would offer security of supplies, but Bulgaria’s unwillingness to breach EU regulations requiring the separation of gas trading and gas shipping activities have prompted Russian president Vladimir Putin to announce the cancellation of South Stream during a visit to Ankara on December 1. In a bid to revive the pipeline project, Bulgaria has offered the European Commission to build a gas hub on its territory, suggesting that Russia only build the offshore stretch of South Stream under the Black Sea.

http://www.balkaneu.com/total-led-consortium-postpone-drilling-gas-bulgarian-sea-shelf-reports/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bulgaria to send delegation to Moscow to discuss South Stream – reports *

Sofia, December 17, 2014/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of the Sofia Globe

Bulgaria’s Cabinet plans to send a government delegation to Moscow on December 19 to discuss the prospect of reviving the South Stream gas pipeline project, Russian and Bulgarian media quoted Economy Minister Bozhidar Loukarski as saying in Belgrade on December 16, following meetings with Serbian officials.

“Bulgaria never intended to give up on the South Stream project and would like to hear the official position of the Russian Energy minister on it,” he is quoted as saying. He also said that the pipeline could be brought in line with the EU regulations, although it remains unclear to what extent Russia is willing to do so, given that EU rules were one of the main obstacles cited by Russian president Vladimir Putin when he announced the project’s cancellation in Ankara on December 1.

It is unclear, also, whether Russia has agreed on holding such a meeting, with Russian news agency Itar-Tass reporting on December 17, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation, that Russian energy minister Alexander Novak was still deliberating on the issue of a meeting.

In the wake of Putin’s announcement – when he also blamed Bulgaria for failing to issue a construction permit, saying that it was “prevented from acting as a sovereign country” – there has been virtually no officially confirmed talks between Sofia and Moscow on South Stream, with Bulgarian officials saying that they are yet to receive official confirmation of South Stream’s cancellation.

Moscow did confirm the cancellation of South Stream to the European Commission, while Putin also spoke about future plans in the aftermath of his announcement with officials in Serbia and Hungary, the two other main transit countries on South Stream’s planned route.

These developments have prompted some analysts to describe Moscow’s actions as an attempt to put pressure on Bulgaria to cave in and approve construction against EU objections and in breach of EU rules, as Hungary has done – Serbia, not being a EU member state, does not need to implement EU’s unbundling rules that prevent Gazprom from selling gas and operating gas pipelines at the same time.

This case is strengthened by the fact that the only tangible step taken towards wrapping up work on South Stream was the suspension of the contract with Saipem, a subsidiary of Italian energy firm Eni, which was hired to build the first line of the pipeline under the Black Sea. On December 17, Russian business daily Vedomosti reported that Russian pipe manufacturers were still making and shipping pipes for the first line of South Stream’s offshore section, with all but 10 000 tonnes of pipes (out of 680 000 tonnes) already delivered to Bulgarian Black Sea port of Varna.

Meanwhile, in Bulgaria – where the project has raised some public ire in the summer, when state institutions continued preparatory work for South Stream even after the now-departed prime minister Plamen Oresharski ordered the project frozen – new controversy stirred after it emerged that the top executives of South Stream Bulgaria, the company meant to build the Bulgarian stretch of the pipeline, were getting large salaries.

The main focus of the controversy appears to be on Igor Elkin, the Russian co-executive director, whose monthly salary was reported at 15 500 euro, with additional bonuses like free housing and plane tickets. The reports have prompted some calls from political parties to investigate the matter, given that the state-owned Bulgarian Energy Holding owns 50 per cent in the company.

******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Middle East

*Saudi-Arabia- Energy Personality of the Year: Ali al-Naimi*

There were two contenders for this year’s award. The most obvious, and certainly the man who has won the most coverage in this (and every other) publication, is Vladimir Putin. Mr Putin has certainly been highly visible, but he has actually changed very little in the energy market. Russian gas still flows to Europe and to Ukraine, helped by western payments of outstanding debts. Europe may be rethinking its energy mix and opening new and more diverse sources of supply, but any change will be very gradual. Russia will trade more with China and India, but that was coming anyway and is a natural and logical balancing of supply and demand.

The other contender, by contrast, has transformed the world energy market in a matter of months. On June 19, the Brent oil price was $115 a barrel. Now Brent crude is selling for just over $63. The price of West Texas Intermediate and other crude oil benchmarks have fallen by comparable amounts. The man responsible is Ali al-Naimi, who has been the Saudi oil minister for the last 20 years. He deserves the award not for what he has done — but for the fact that he has done nothing.

According to the conventional analysis of Saudi power, Mr Naimi could at any point in the last six months have decided to cut Saudi production to stabilise the market at whatever level he chose. The fact that he has not done so opens up a cascade of consequences which are only just beginning to work through the system.

Countries such as Venezuela, Nigeria, Iran, Russia and many more had come to rely on prices of $100 a barrel or more. National budgets are now being rewritten, with significant consequences for political stability in the months ahead. The coming year will also bring fewer new projects, and even the collapse of some existing ones. For projects like those in the North Sea, the price fall is an unwelcome reminder of the fact that rising costs cannot be covered by increasing oil prices.

For investors, the immediate result of inaction has been a dramatic fall in value. Some $280bn has been wiped off the market capitalisation of the oil and gas sector in the last six months. Energy companies which had pitched their business model around $100 oil are already starting to cut spending and to delay new projects. ConocoPhillips announced a 20 per cent cut in capital spending last week, and there is much more to come in the next few months. For some of the smaller players, already sinking under the weight of debt, the fall in prices could be terminal. A rash of companies, including several in the US shale sector, have been looking for new owners of late, and 2015 will be a year of significant mergers and acquisitions activity.

The price fall is also contagious, affecting prices in other energy markets like gas and coal. This occurs because of provisions, such as that included in energy contracts between Russia and Europe, tying gas prices to the global price of oil. These connections have accelerated the decline already initiated by the growth of US shale gas production. Expensive gas projects from British Columbia to Australia are now under immediate threat, and many more will be postponed or abandoned next year. The contagion in turn undermines assumptions about rising fossil fuel prices on which so many national energy policies are based. Nuclear and wind now look much less competitive, particularly in the absence of a functioning carbon market.

Every whiskery conspiracy theory has been wheeled out to explain Mr Naimi’s inaction. Some say the fall in prices is the result of a concerted plan to put pressure on Russia or Iran. Others that it is just a matter of Saudi Arabia showing its determination to maintain market share and to discourage tight oil production in the US or elsewhere. If any of these theories are true, the desired impact is clearly going to take a long time to work through — with huge collateral damage along the way.

The truth may be simpler, though no more comfortable for the industry or investors. Saudi Arabia could have simply lost control, and may now lack the ability to halt the fall. An interesting article by Michael Fitzsimmons on the website Seeking Alpha spells out the current situation in detail. Saudi Arabia has confirmed its determination to maintain its current market share of 10.5 per cent. But can they afford to do that? With production of about 9.6m barrels a day and with 3m b/d of domestic consumption (which produces little or no revenue), the Kingdom has little room to further reduce its exports for any length of time. Commitments that have gradually built up to fund an unproductive, rentier economy and to maintain the stability of its regional allies could be too great to allow for a cut of 1-2m b/d, the reduction which would be necessary to reset the market at, say, $100 a barrel.

The case for believing that Saudi Arabia has indeed lost control is strengthened by a straightforward recognition of what has happened this year. The current price slide undoubtedly began with a surplus of supply over demand. As Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil, said a few days ago, the consequences of that surplus are inescapable. If more is being produced than is being consumed “you fill storage up, you fill inventories up, and at some point, it has to show up in the price”.

This sounds quite small and eminently manageable. But once the fall in prices got going, the pace accelerated because the market discovered that the Saudis were not responding. The notion of Opec and Saudi power, which has sustained the price for so long, was revealed to be no more than a myth.

Next year will show which of the above theories are true. Some still believe that the Saudis will soon get frightened by the instability they have unleashed, particularly in the Middle East. Some think that the US shale industry will obligingly shut down. Others believe the price will fall until it finds the level where the market clears and supply matches demand. Mr Tillerson of ExxonMobil recently said that his company would remain resilient even if the price fell to $40 a barrel.

If Mr Naimi succeeds in restoring the dominant power of the Opec cartel by single-handed inaction that bankrupts his competitors, he will have proven himself a master in the manipulation of a complex global market. Such success would come at the price of intense resentment, not least in the US. If it turns out that the inaction is driven by Saudi weakness, and that Mr Naimi and his royal masters are emperors without clothes, he will go down in history as the person who passively presided over the transformation of the oil industry into a normal business. In that case, the political and economic consequences will be enormous — not least in Saudi Arabia itself. 2015 will not be boring.

http://blogs.ft.com/nick-butler/2014/12/15/energy-personality-of-the-year-ali-al-naimi/

******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

*Massenbach’s

Recommendation*

*Chechnya and the threat of ISIS militants coming home*

Georgian national Tarkhan Batirashvili known as Abu Omar al-Shishani with ISIS fighters in Syria. Photo: AFP

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Security forces in Russia’s Caucasus region hit back against militant groups following an attack in the Chechen capital Grozny last week that killed 14 police officers.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov vowed this week to punish families of suspected militants by deporting the relatives and demolishing their homes.

“Those who helped it [attack in Grozny] happen or failed to stop it would be held harshly accountable,” Russian media quoted Kadyrov as saying.

According to Soufan Group, a New York-based security and intelligence firm more than 2,500 Muslims from Chechnya and the Caucasus have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State (ISIS).

“The primary threat to Russia from the Islamic State is the prospect of North Caucasian volunteers who return from the battle fronts and rejoin local terrorist networks,” said a Soufan report on Russia last month.

Russia’s federal service for supervision of communications has blocked access to Vimeo, an online video hosting site which ISIS has used to promote its brand of jihad and recruit new members.

"We will liberate Chechnya and the Caucasus, Allah willing,” said ISIS in a video in August, threatening to bring the war to Russia.

"This is a message to you, oh Vladimir Putin, these are the jets that you have sent to Bashar, we will send them to you, God willing, remember that," said one ISIS fighter in a video transcribed by AFP.

Abu Omar al-Shishani is known as the most prominent ISIS Chechen fighter. In October he was sent by the group to lead the fight against the Kurds in Kobane.

Reports from Kobane, and a statement by Chechen President Kadyrov last month said that al-Shishani was killed by the Peoples Protection Units (YPG).

The Soufan group wrote that al-Shishani’s success as an ISIS commander may have served as a recruitment tool to bring more Russian Muslims into the radical group.

Kurdish fighters in Syria and Kurdistan Region have in the past three months killed a significant number of foreign fighters, including a dozen Chechen militants near the Mosul dam last month.

In August Kurdish security forces in the Garmiyan region captured an ISIS Chechen militant who failed to detonate his truck bomb.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

AG Sicherheits- und Verteidigungspolitik der SPD-Bundestagsfraktion (AGSV)

Positionspapier: Europäische Armee

5 Dez. 2014 … Es ist an der Zeit, eine neue Definition und Beschreibung der GASP zu erarbeiten und durch das Europäische Parlament wie die Kommission zu vereinbaren. Die EU-gemeinsame Perspektive der Landesverteidigung und das dafür vorzuhaltende Streitkräftedispositiv bis auf die taktische Ebene birgt die Chance, die gemeinsame Sicherheits- und Verteidigungspolitik mit einer neuen Säule zu versehen, die bis weit in die industrielle Basis in den Mitgliedsstaaten reicht. Der Zeitpunkt dafür ist günstig: Angesichts knapper Mittel in allen europäischen Verteidigungshaushalten ist die Arbeitsteilung bei den militärischen Fähigkei-ten ohne Alternative … Bei der letzten Neustruktur der Bundeswehr spielte eine integrierte euro-päische Sicherheitspolitik keine Rolle, die Reform war eine rein nationale Weiterentwicklung. Auch in den gültigen Verteidigungspolitischen Richtlinien … werden keine Maßnahmen aufgezeigt, wie die GSVP weiterentwickelt und verbessert werden kann. Mit einem neuen Weißbuch besteht jetzt die Möglichkeit, die Ziele deutscher Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik in Europa weiter zu entwickeln … Konkret schlagen wir folgende Maßnahmen vor:

– Bildung eines eigenständigen Ministerrats für Militärfragen in der EU

– Ein Verteidigungsausschuss im Europäischen Parlament …

– Eine europäische Koordinierung und Steuerung der zur Verfügung

stehenden Fähigkeiten …

– Vorbereitung eines gemeinsamen europäischen Weißbuchs zur

Sicherheits- und Verteidigungspolitik.

– Die Einrichtung eines ständigen militärischen Hauptquartiers der EU …

– Weiterentwicklung existierender Ressourcen und Fähigkeiten in der

Informationstechnologie mit dem Ziel der europäischen

Interoperabilität …

– Ausbau des bestehenden europäischen Lufttransportkommandos…

– Ein Marinehauptquartier Ostsee, aufbauend auf der erprobten

Zusammenarbeit der baltischen Staaten …

– Schaffung einer Europäischen Militärakademie oder –universität …

– Ausbau der Europäischen Gendarmerie …

Wir als Sozialdemokraten wollen in Europa die treibende Kraft auf dem Weg zu einer parlamentarisch kontrollierten europäischen Armee sein und diesen konsequent beschreiten. Wir sind bereit, in einen Prozess einzutreten, an dessen Ende wir unsere nationale Armee in eine neue, bessere, supranationale Armee – eine europäische Armee – einfügen. Dieses, im Koalitionsvertrag verankerte Ziel, sollte nach unserem Verständnis ein Projekt der gesamten Bundesregierung werden.

http://thomas-hitschler.de/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Positionspapier-Europaeisierung-AGSV-final-2014-11-14.pdf

**********************************************************************************************************************

Kurdistan

The following articles reflect the opinion of “European Geostrategy” and are not in any way a hint to the publishers of “Massenbach-Letter. News”

European Geostrategy (EG)

… an online magazine that focuses on European foreign, security and military issues from a geostrategic standpoint … http://www.europeangeostrategy.org/

From maritime security to European seapower 3rd December 2014 … Maritime security is the new buzz-phrase in Brussels policy circles.

2014 has witnessed the publication of the EU’s first maritime security strategy. This strategy is premised upon the assumption that maritime security is a comprehensive business that covers a wide range of issues, from harbour safety, biodiversity conservation and the control of illegal fishing, through to piracy, all the way up to the support of crisis management operations.

This emphasis on comprehensiveness is hardly surprising. The comprehensive approach is part of the European Union’s (EU) DNA, and it permeates through pretty much every instance of the newly adopted maritime security strategy.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) understanding of maritime security is quite similar to that of the EU. Admittedly, the Alliance lacks the kind of competencies the EU has … places much emphasis on the fact that the sea’s status as a global common means that maritime security is a comprehensive business that can only be achieved through cooperation between military and civilian actors, between international organisations and partner nations … as maritime security is a concern, the unfolding crisis of crisis management heralds a transition into a less hospitable maritime environment for Europe and for the West.

This means Europeans should perhaps move away from the assumption of unhindered Western access and freedom of movement at sea and think harder about how to help preserve Western supremacy at sea, and how to use the sea to project power in an increasingly contested maritime environment.

In other words, Europeans should move from a ‘maritime security’ to a ‘seapower’ mindframe. This means they should spend less time thinking about those kind of capabilities that assume unhindered access to and from the sea – such as sealift or offshore surface patrol – and a little more time thinking about sea-combat, underwater capabilities or air and missile defence at sea. More broadly, it means Europeans should move away from the notion of indiscriminate partnerships with every possible country and international organisation and focus more on those partners who have a strong stake in underpinning a rules-based order at sea. That includes first and foremost the United States, but also countries like Australia, India, Japan, Turkey or Brazil.

http://www.europeangeostrategy.org/2014/12/maritime-security-european-seapower/

Asian partnerships for European grand strategy 19th November 2014 … There is a lot of thought going into the need for a European grand strategy. Some of it is very good but much of it focuses on the small stuff, ignoring the evidence that we are at a turning point and need to think big. Russia is back, China is rising, and our old ally America – whose protection had made an independent European strategy hard to imagine – is pivoting to Asia.

Strategy – grand or otherwise – needs just three things: a vision of what you want, honest and accurate understanding of the environment, and a set of actions that get you to your objective, taking account of environmental factors. Better still, taking advantage of them. What do Europeans really want? Safety and prosperity.

Europe’s only real security threat? Russia. The main driver of global prosperity? Asia, centred on China. So Europe should do two things:

outflank Russia by partnering with China, and partner with Indo-Pacific powers to insure against dependence on China … Nixon went to China and opened up a new flank against the Soviet Union. Today again Europe’s main security problem is Russia … We do not have to look so hard. Xi Jinping told the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit of China’s silk roads by land and sea. China is determined not to be contained by the United States

(US) Pivot. The Silk Road Economic Belt through Central Asia crosses former republics of the Soviet Union and prospective members of Putin’s Eurasian Union.

Since the whole point of this project is to connect China and Europe economically, it is incompatible both with the re-establishment of the old Russian ‘sphere of influence’ and with the Eurasian autarchy model. This and Sino-Russian competition over resources in the region makes it ideal as a ‘seam’ in the Russia/China axis.

The Silk Road Economic Belt is the natural basis for Sino-European common interest. Partnering with Beijing on this project helps achieve both of Europe’s strategic objectives.

First, it offers a basis for strategic cooperation that will create a balance against Europe’s only major security threat – Russia.

Second, it offers a way to lock in trade interdependence with China. Europe should pour diplomatic and economic resources into partnering with China to establish the Economic Belt around Russia and to develop market and strategic opportunities in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East. The maritime silk road also represents a strategic opportunity … A quadrilateral alliance (US, Japan, Australia and India) is forming to prevent Chinese regional naval hegemony.

If China’s neighbours continue to feel intimidated they will be joined by the Philippines, Vietnam and perhaps others. No matter how far and how fast China rises, it would be futile to oppose such a coalition, so the object should be to give the broader Indo-Pacific group the credibility to deter anyone from starting a fight … It is not self-evident that a more purposeful European approach to Asia would be welcome in the context of Obama’s ‘rebalance’ …

Strategy has been defined as ‘making power’ out of what you have. In the case of Europeans, the things that give us leverage in the context of military competition in Asia are mainly maritime. We should develop defence cooperation relationships that have been budding over recent years and intensify them in areas where costs imposed by geography tend to be low, such as intelligence sharing, cyber, and joint development programmes in high-tech areas such as radar, missile defence, and submarine and anti-submarine technologies … there is a contradiction here that has to be addressed. How can Europe be China’s friend on the Eurasian continent but an adversary at sea?

The answer lies in our values, which influence our views on world order and our relationship with a rising China in Asia. The message is simple, but requires us to be resolute. We would embrace the expansion of peaceful development and trade but oppose any breach of the peace or the rules of international order. We would not take a side in any territorial dispute, but we would respond to or anticipate a threat to change the status quo by force by tipping the balance in favour of defence and punishing aggression.

http://www.europeangeostrategy.org/2014/11/asian-partnerships-european-grand-strategy/

*************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

*************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

see our letter on:

Wir wünschen Ihnen ein angenehmes Wochenende. Ihr Team.

*****************************************************************************************************************
Udo von Massenbach – Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster – Jörg Barandat

UdovonMassenbachMail

JoergBarandat

12-10-14 PM Energiestudie 2014.pdf

Advertisements