Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 29/05/15

Massenbach-Letter. News

· American Institute for Contemporary German Studies-Conference 23 June 2015, Frankfurt-OPEN TO THE PUBLIC- “The Great Divergence” *Britain Resigns as a World Power

· STRATFOR: The Problems Foreign Powers Find in the Balkans * Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria embark on gas pipeline project

· Der wahre chinesische Traum* Weshalb China auf eine globale statt auf eine sinozentrische Zukunft setzen könnte * Deutsche Bank Research – Asien und der Finanzsektor

· Syrian dissidents to form new coalition at Cairo meet * Attacks on Syrians in Turkey increasing * Project Syndicate: Escaping the Middle East’s Violence Trap

Massenbach* International Conference, Frankfurt: T*The Great Divergence*

*How Much are the U.S. and European Economies Diverging?*

*Open to the Public*

Date: 06/23/2015 Time: 11:30am — 3:00pm
Location: Deutsche Börse AG

Börsenplatz 4
Frankfurt, 60313 Germany

Register: https://www.z2systems.com/np/clients/aicgs/eventRegistration.jsp?event=406&

The AICGS Business & Economics Program is pleased to invite you to attend our Annual Symposium in Germany, this year in Frankfurt, on “The Great Divergence: How Much are the U.S. and European Economies Diverging?” on Tuesday, June 23, 2015, at the Deutsche Börse AG.

Together with an extraordinary panel of speakers and a keynote speech by the U.S. Ambassador to the EU Anthony Gardner, we will look at the impact of diverging monetary policies on the real economies in the U.S. and Europe and assess the ongoing efforts to make the financial system, and within it, banks, safer and more efficient. The event is graciously hosted by Deutsche Börse Group.

Click here to view the draft agenda. http://www.aicgs.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/June-23-Draft-Agenda.pdf

AICGS works hard to strengthen the German-American relationship in an evolving Europe and changing world. Throughout the recent economic turbulence, the U.S. still remains Germany’s principal trading partner outside the EU, and Germany the U.S.’ most important trading partner in Europe. This Symposium is one part of a continuing project to examine the impact of financial and economic policies, and to increase cooperation and understanding. We look forward to gathering a group of American and German experts from the private and public sectors for a high-level dialogue, and we hope that you can be a part of it.

Please contact Kimberly Hauge at khauge with any questions.

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Al-Monitor: Attacks on Syrians in Turkey increasing*

The government of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu continues to maintain Ankara’s open door policy for Syria refugees and to allocate state monies to support them. Although the government remains welcoming toward the refugees, it is hard to say the same for ordinary Turks, who believe their government’s resources should be spent to alleviate poverty among themselves. The increase in the number of demonstrations against the refugees and attacks on them across the country, in cities as socially diverse as Istanbul and Gaziantep and Izmir and Urfa, attest to this.

At a May 13 address to NATO foreign ministers in Antalya, Davutoglu put the figure of Syrians currently in Turkey at more than received toward the effort was only around $365 million.

The past few weeks brought an upsurge in protests and acts of violence against the Syrian refugees. Some of these actions are said to be in response to the criminal activities of some of them, who are trying desperately to eke out a living to sustain their families.

Most Turks believe that there are far more Syrians currently in Turkey than Ankara acknowledges, because the majority of them are not registered. The government provides food and shelter for around 300,000 Syrians in official camps, mostly near the Syrian border, and the conditions there have been deemed to be more than adequate by international experts and concerned groups. The overwhelming majority of Syrians, however, are scattered around the country, many of them roaming from city to city in search of work or simply begging on the streets.

Public anger is not only being stirred by Syrian beggars becoming permanent features on the streets of cities and towns, but also because the refugees are undercutting already low wages and forcing up rents in mainly lower-income districts because of the increased demand for housing they create.

Recent surveys indicate that many Turks still view helping the needy Syrians as philanthropic, but these same surveys also reveal a significant amount of resentment. More and more people think there is a limit to how philanthropic Turkey can afford to be when millions of Turks are also facing unemployment and poverty.

According to a report issued at the end of April by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Turkey has already spent $5.5 billion from its general budget on the refugees. It also incurred a loss of nearly $6 billion in exports during 2011-2014 due to the war in Syria.

The CHP report underlines the increasing unemployment rate resulting from the influx of refugees. As an example, it points to the city of Mardin, in southeastern Anatolia, where the unemployment rate stood at 12.3% in 2011 but jumped to 20.6% in 2013. It is thought to be even higher today.

Most of the Syrians choose to head for Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, or to Gaziantep, in southeastern Anatolia, near the Syrian border. According to official figures from the Ministry of Interior, the number of Syrian refugees in Istanbul alone stood at 500,000 in August 2014. The number in Gaziantep was estimated at more than 200,000, while others put the number at 250,000.

Confrontations between local people and the Syrians living outside official refugee camps appear to be inevitable given these large numbers. An angry crowd in the southeastern city of Sanliurfa, reportedly organizing through social media, tried recently to demonstrate against the Syrians, but was prevented from doing so after the city’s governor mobilized the riot police to protect the refugees.

A group of 20 youths, angered over the ban, attacked three Syrian passersby, stabbing one in the leg. The Syrians took refuge in a local shop whose owner protected them from what turned into a lynch mob. The police detained 10 people, but such a response is unlikely to deter additional attacks on Syrian refugees.

May alone has witnessed violence against Syrians in Izmir, Gaziantep and Hatay. Some incidents are said to have taken place after Syrian involvement in attacks on locals and alleged accosting of local girls. These days, even rumors to this effect are sufficient to gather a crowd chanting “Syrians out!” or “We don’t want Syrians here!”

Pro-government analysts claim that most of the perpetrators of attacks are opposition party sympathizers, not supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). For example, Yusuf Ozkir, from the Ankara-based Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research, maintains in a March article that the AKP’s welcoming attitude toward the refugees is shared by the majority of the party’s supporters. Ozkir wrote, “Politicians who are in solidarity with the regime in Damascus, and media groups that maintain an editorial line supporting them, have a different attitude toward the refugees and criticize the AKP government for extending a helping hand to these refugees.”

A study by Murat Erdogan, head of the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies in Hacettepe University in Ankara, appears, to an extent, to corroborate Ozkir’s clearly partisan assessment. Erdogan’s study, “The Syrians in Turkey: Social Acceptance and Integration,” maintains that AKP followers are more inclined to be compassionate toward the Syrians than followers of other parties. He warns, however, that the xenophobia among some groups increases the risk of spreading enmity toward the Syrians in Turkey unless the government deftly manages this situation.

“The attitude displayed to date is a credit to Turkish people, but there is the risk that this situation could change rapidly,” Erdogan wrote. His survey, conducted in 20 provinces, indicates that 64% of those questioned believe it is an ethical duty to help the Syrians. The majority of these people nevertheless expressed serious concern over problems Turkey potentially faces because of the refugees.

The survey shows, for example, that 70.7% of respondents believe that the refugees are doing serious harm to the economy, and 61.2% feel that poverty-stricken Turks should be helped before the Syrians.

Meanwhile 62.3% think the refugees are disrupting the social order through involvement in violence, theft, smuggling and prostitution. In addition, those who say the Syrians are stealing employment opportunities from Turks fall between 56% and 69%, depending on the town or city.

More than 70% believe that the Syrians will create lasting problems for the country, while nearly 50% think the government’s management of the refugee crisis has not been satisfactory. These figures appear to suggest that most of those who believe it is right to help the Syrians also feel the refugees should be sent home as soon as conditions in Syria permit.

What is clear is that if Ankara continues to maintain an open door policy toward the Syrians without introducing concrete measures to counter the policy’s adverse social and economic effects, tensions between locals and refugees will continue to boil over, resulting in ugly scenes across the country like those of the past few weeks.

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Project Syndicate: Escaping the Middle East’s Violence Trap*

OXFORD – The Arab world and its neighbors are stuck in a violence trap. The fighting in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq, together with the predations of groups like the Islamic State, is destroying the economic links needed to ensure long-term political stability. Indeed, by redrawing the region’s economic boundaries, the latest wave of violence has brought about a veritable trade shock, the true scale and significance of which has largely gone unnoticed.

Even as the proliferation of armed groups makes borders more porous to conflict, it is hardening them against trade. The consequences are being felt most acutely in the Levant, where improved transport and trade reforms had strengthened economic ties between Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

Trade among these countries had been higher, on average, than among their Arab peers, but it has collapsed as violence has mounted. Syria’s border closures, in particular, have impeded regional trade, by cutting off a key route connecting the wider Levant, the Gulf States, and Turkey. The unnoticed casualties include Lebanon’s apple growers, who survive on exports. Since 2011, Lebanon has lost almost all of its export markets in Jordan, Iraq, and the Gulf.

With the closure of Jordan’s last border crossing with Syria, that country faces a similar fate. Iraq and Syria were key export markets for Jordan, and border closures have wreaked economic havoc among its farmers and manufacturers. Farms in northern Jordan, effectively disconnected from Syria, can no longer sell their produce.

Turkey’s growing trade linkages with the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula have suffered as well. Five years ago, Syria’s northern border towns were reaping the dividends of Turkey’s fast-growing economy. Now they are effectively cut off. Turkish imports from Syria have fallen by some 74% since 2010.

The region desperately needs new trade opportunities to address unemployment; instead, what it is getting is trade diversion. Turkish exports have been bypassing the conflict zones by using alternative routes, relying, for example, on the Suez Canal. A recent World Bank study estimates that the Greater Levant region has lost nearly $35 billion over the first three years of Syria’s civil war.

The consequences for the region’s political economy are profound. Whatever weak constituency existed in support of regional trade has been marginalized by conflict. For example, the closure of the last border crossing between Syria and Jordan means that the free-trade zone that thrived along the frontier is facing dissolution. Warehouses and factories – investments worth millions of dollars – are being dismantled, and nearby communities confront the specter of mass unemployment and rapid economic decline.

This poses a fundamental dilemma for policymakers. As conflict destroys local economic linkages and unravels well-established supply chains, it is also demolishing the very foundation on which a peaceful and prosperous social order can be built. As the Nobel laureate economist Douglass North has argued, long-term conflict resolution usually requires enduring economic relations, which are best cultivated through specialization and trade. This dynamic is easy to grasp: By increasing the cost of violent conflict, dense economic networks and multiple exchange relationships provide powerful incentives for actors to prefer peaceful solutions.

A new economic order will therefore be necessary to create and sustain a stable new political order in the region. Such a scenario might appear to be a distant dream today, given the region’s myriad conflicts. But the ruthless logic of survival is already pushing many in the region toward cooperation with their neighbors on issues such as water, energy, and trade.

In Kurdistan, for instance, authorities are setting aside political, ideological, and historical animosities to engage with Iraq’s central government, Iran, and Turkey. Similarly, economic self-interest has forced the government of South Sudan to cooperate with Sudan, from which it gained independence, following a brutal civil war, in 2011.

In today’s turbulent Middle East, economic cooperation is no longer a matter of choice; it has become a necessity. The well-recognized relationship between economic cooperation and political stability will be crucial for charting a way out of the current quagmire. Ignoring it is a recipe for continued violence and fragmentation.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/middle-east-violence-escape-by-adeel-malik-and-bassem-awadallah-2015-05

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Valdai Paper #16: Rising Powers and Revisionism in Emerging International Orders*

The 16th Valdai paper “Rising Powers and Revisionism in Emerging International Orders” is devoted to issues of co-operation between established and emerging powers in international systems being in transition.

The author assesses one of the important reasons why some world crises are resolved peacefully while others through a war, considers the factors why rising powers may not be revisionist, and marks main dimensions that taken together determine whether the revisionist state poses a dangerous threat to the established powers. Finally, the author comes to the conclusion that the fundamental problem of international morality and of international politics is to establish methods of peaceful change.

The author of the paper is Randall Schweller, Professor of political science at The Ohio State University.

Download Valdai Paper #16 in English (PDF)

http://valdaiclub.com/publication/77600.html

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster*

„Der USA-Präsident Nixon erklärte 1971 den „Krieg gegen den Krebs“– seitdem sind mehrere hundert Milliarden US-Dollar in Tumorforschung allein in den USA investiert worden. Wir sollten uns aber fragen: „Wie kann man einen Krieg führen, wenn der Feind in der Mehrheit der Fälle unbekannt ist?“ Das würde doch keine Regierung der Welt tun, oder?“

Nicht das Entwickeln einer neuen Hypothese, sondern das Verstehen-wollen zeichnete den Ansatz aus, den Prof. Dr. med. Brücher gewählt hatte, um unvoreingenommen nach möglichen Ursachen für die Entstehung von Krebs zu suchen.

Die Herangehensweise erwies sich als erfolgreich: Entstanden ist nicht nur eine neue Theorie, die die bisherigen Hypothesen von Grund auf in Frage stellt, sondern auch eine neue, Outcome-orientierte Krebs-Strategie. Welche Auswirkungen die neuen Erkenntnisse auf die Prävention von Krebs, auf die Ursachen-orientierte Grundlagen-Versorgungsforschung und die Erarbeitung innovativer Versorgungsforschungskonzepte in der Indikation Krebs haben, erklärt Brücher im Gespräch mit „Monitor Versorgungsforschung“. Und last but not least blickt der Mediziner auch retrospektiv auf die Geschichte und die größten Errungenschaften in der Versorgungsforschung selbst.

Prof. Dr. med. Björn Brücher

>> Herr Prof. Brücher, zunächst eine grundsätzliche Frage an Sie als Mediziner: Wie definieren Sie Versorgungsforschung?
Vielen Dank für die spannende Frage. Im Jahr 1999 wurde Versorgungsforschung von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) als ein Aspekt von dreien definiert, sie wird allerdings politisch noch stiefmütterlich behandelt.
Die Versorgungsforschung umfasst die Forschung auf dem Gebiet der Krankenversorgung (Betreuung, Pflege, Diagnose und Behandlung sowie Nachsorge), der Gesundheitsforschung (einschließlich Prävention und Gesundheitsförderung) und Pflegeforschung. Damit ist die Versorgungsforschung fachübergreifend. Daraus sind in letzter Zeit Folgezentren (Darmzentren, Vaskuläre Zentren, Diabetes-Zentren, kardiologische Zentren etc.) entstanden. (contd./ see att.)

http://www.monitor-versorgungsforschung.de/kurzfassungen/versorgungsforschung-und-krebs

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* IDSA – Central Asia: India’s Northern Exposure*

May 20, 2015 It is time for India to reconnect with a rapidly-changing

Central Asia—increasingly the focus of world attention, and rivalry among the great powers over security and energy stakes. India too has high stakes in Central Asia, and a cogent policy outlook is long overdue. Partition and the subsequent Pakistani occupation of parts of Kashmir led to a direct physical cut-off on India’s northern flank. In reviving these links, India will find plenty of competition. Political uncertainty looms over the region, arising from the succession issues of its leaders. With the exception of Kyrgyzstan, the politics of Central Asia are unpredictable.

The region is also the northern frontier of the Islamic world, hitherto unaffected by a fundamentalist wave. But behind the secular setting, a shift to a far more religious society is underway, and Central Asia is emerging as the next radical Islamic region. Chechnya, Ferghana, and Xinjiang, with their 100 million Salafi Muslims, could form a new arc of instability. Even the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has heavily recruited from Central Asia. Central Asians had for long considered India a legitimate stakeholder in the region. To move ahead, India needs strategic clarity. It requires out-of-the-box thinking to foster regional economic integration in the North—even if it means cooperating with China to enlarge regional connectivity and trade, rather than struggling to find a model for itself. India must quickly recognise the evolving changes, challenges, and opportunities in this region to avoid being relegated to the periphery of Eurasian politics …

Chapter I WHAT STOPS INDIA PLAY IN THE GREAT GAME?

Chapter II CONNECTIVITY AND REGIONAL INTEGRATION

Chapter III STRATEGIC FOCUS ON KAZAKHSTAN Chapter IV OPPORTUNITIES IN CENTRAL ASIA

Chapter V STRATEGIC ASSETS

Chapter VI INDIA’S CENTRAL ASIA SOFT POWER Chapter VII BENEFITS OF JOINING THE SCO CONCLUSION AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS …

Central Asia is now rapidly changing after the world has started taking more notice of this energy-rich region. Already the flow of capital and expansion of trade is triggering large-scale infrastructure, shipment of goods and flow of people across the region – a phenomenon aptly being compared with the waves of transformation earlier occurred in Europe and Southeast Asia.

Owing to this, great powers rivalry over security and energy stakes in the region has also increased.

The major powers have responded in many ways to benefit from region’s strategic and energy resources …

The main contestant in the region is China, which has been waiting in the wings, since the Soviet collapse, for fully entering into the region with multiple motives. China considers this region as a source of energy and a critical partner for stabilizing its restive Xinjiang province. China has fully used its geographical proximity to the region and while pursuing an ingenious soft-power policy, it has successfully converted every challenge in Central Asia into an opportunity …

In fact, China’s swift foray in Central Asia has gained an air of respectability and an image of reliable partner in the region. Beijing’s latest Silk Road Economic Belt scheme envisages $40 billion fund for promoting infrastructure, industrial and financial co-operation from Asia to Europe through Central Asia. The countries have quickly pledged support to the ‘Silk Route Belt’ idea for deepening their ancient ties with China.

In the words of Gen. Liu Yazhou of the PLA, “Central Asia is the thickest piece of cake given to the modern Chinese by the heavens” … Central Asia is likely to become the center of economic, political and military power play in the 21st century. The great powers are following multiple policies to expand their footing in Central Asia. Broadly, they use financial measures and trade incentives with the aim to pursue energy and regional security cooperation measures …

http://idsa.in/system/files/monograph44.pdf

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W A T E R I N T A K E

4/2015

April / Mai

21.05.2015

WASSERSTANDSMELDUNGEN

Puerto Rico orders water-rationing measures amid dry spell

May 16 2015 … Puerto Rico imposed strict water-rationing measures … that will make daily showers a challenge for tens of thousands of people and force businesses such as restaurants and car washes to brace for a summer expected to be drier than usual … "This is not the time to be filling up pools, washing cars or using hoses to clean," said Alberto Lazaro, executive president of Puerto Rico’s water and sewer company. He said rationing could be extended to an additional 70,000 people if rain doesn’t fall soon. Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla recently declared a state of emergency given the increasingly dry conditions …

http://www.sltrib.com/home/2521150-155/story.html

Rethinking the water cycle – How moving to a circular economy can preserve our most vital resource

May 15 2015 … three basic beliefs:

• All durables, which are products with a long or infinite life span, must retain their value and be reused but never discarded or down cycled (broken down into parts and repurposed into new products of lesser value).

• All consumables, which are products with a short life span, should be used as often as possible before safely returning to the biosphere.

• Natural resources may only be used to the extent that they can be regenerated.

Even countries with advanced water-management systems violate these fundamental rules. They often fail to purify water before discharging it back into the environment because cleanup costs are high or prohibitive, even when energy or valuable chemicals could be extracted. The substances contained in the water then become pollutants. Equally troubling, any volume of water removed from the system is seldom replaced with return flow of the same quality … We are witnessing significant improvements in membrane-based treatments that separate water from contaminants, allowing for reuse and commercialization at grand scale … Innovators, responsible operators, and committed system developers are spearheading the creation of new technological solutions, pilot cases, and initiatives to improve water management. Many of the technologies are already generating profits or will be soon. These include the bespoke polymers that are created during the biological digestion of wastewater, as well as vapor-transfer irrigation systems that use low-cost plastic tubes that allow water vapor to pass but not water or solutes, making saltwater irrigation possible. Equally important, leaders are also rethinking their institutional approach to water management. Many of their solutions are only being applied at small scale, however, and this must change over the next ten years to meet the water-resource challenge … The shift to a circular water economy holds much promise. It would replace scarcity with abundance and greatly reduce the resources needed to run our global water infrastructure. At some point, a circular water economy might even eliminate rapidly growing cleanup costs because no harmful substances would ever be added to the water supply. Since water is the single most important shared resource across all supply chains, and wastewater is the largest untapped waste category—as big as all solid-waste categories taken together—it is the natural starting point for the circular revolution. The water sector’s advanced technologies and proven record of multistakeholder agreements also lend themselves to circular solutions. We must capture this unique opportunity now, before localized droughts and shortages become a global crisis …

http://www.mckinsey.com/Insights/Sustainability/Rethinking_the_water_cycle?cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck-oth-1505

contd. see att.

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Neuer Wehrbeauftragter startet mit Forderung nach mehr Geld und Gerät*

Am 21.5.2015 wurde der bisherige SPD-Abgeordnete Hans-Peter Bartels als neuer Wehrbeauftragter des Bundestages vereidigt; wenige Stunden später hatte er vor der Bundespressekonferenz einen sozusagen programmatischen Auftritt. Und dabei war auffällig, dass Bartels zwar zunächst die Probleme beim und fürs Personal ansprach (Pendlerarmee, Beförderungsstau, Kasernensanierung), aber sehr schnell ein grundsätzliches Problem der Streitkräfte in den Mittelpunkt stellte: die Mangelverwaltung, im Fachsprech: die fehlende Vollausstattung der Bundeswehr.

Aus Bartels’ Eingangsbemerkungen (den kompletten Mitschnitt der Pressekonferenz unten):

Wenn nicht länger Out-of-area-Einsätze die real einzige Aufgabe der Bundeswehr darstellen, sondern daneben die glaubhafte Befähigung zur kollektiven Verteidigung in Europa, wenn diese einen neuen Stellenwert gewinnt, dann ist das so genannte dynamische Verfügbarkeitsmanagement der letzten Bundeswehrreform kein akzeptables Konzept. Auch zur Attraktivität des Dienstes in unseren Streitkräften trägt diese Art der Mangelverwaltung nicht bei.

Die Soldatinnen und Soldaten brauchen nicht 70 Prozent ihrer Soll-Ausstattung, sondern tatsächlich 100 Prozent. Das betrifft Großgerät wie den Leopard2, wo inzwischen eine entsprechende 100-Prozent-Ausstattung getroffen ist, Schützen- und Transportpanzer und Artilleriesysteme des Heeres, aber auch Ausrüstung der einzelnen Soldaten wie Schutzwesen oder Nachtsichtgeräte.
Das wird Geld kosten. Dafür muss das Ministerium erst einmal wirklich das ausgeben, was im Haushalt zur Verfügung steht. Darüber hinaus ist die im Eckwertebeschluss der Bundesregierung nominal leicht ansteigende Finanzlinie hilfreich. Aber ab 2017, wenn es keinerlei Einspareffekte durch die dann abgeschlossene Bundeswehrreform mehr gibt, wird zusätzliches Geld erforderlich sein. Die letzte Steuerschätzung zeigte, dass dies nicht zu Lasten anderer Ressorts gehen muss. Das Verteidigungsministerium sollte darlegen, welche zusätzlichen Mittel für die Vollausstattung erforderlich sind, damit das Parlament entsprechende Entscheidungen treffen kann.

Das ergänzt sich wie zufällig (aber wohl eher nicht) mit den Forderungen des scheidenden Heeresinspekteurs.

http://augengeradeaus.net/2015/05/neuer-wehrbeauftragter-startet-mit-forderung-nach-mehr-geld-und-geraet/

BPK_Wehrbeauftragter_21mai2015.mp3 (30 MB)
http://augengeradeaus.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/BPK_Wehrbeauftragter_21mai2015.mp3

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Atlantic Council: Britain Resigns as a World Power*

S]pending a few days recently in Britain, I was struck by just how parochial it has become. After an extraordinary 300-year run, Britain has essentially resigned as a global power.

Over the next few years, Britain’s army will shrink to about 80,000. A report from the Royal United Services Institute predicts that the number could get as low as 50,000, which, the Daily Telegraph points out, would be smaller than at any point since the 1770s — and, as David Rothkopf of Foreign Policy magazine notes, about the same size as the New York Police Department.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies concludes that over the past five years "the 8 percent to 9 percent decrease in the U.K. military defense budget . . . has led to a 20 percent to 30 percent reduction in conventional capability." No wonder, then, that Britain has been a minor, reluctant ally in the airstrikes against the Islamic State. Britain’s 30-year-old Tornado fleet of planes is a generation behind the American F-22s it flies alongside. The Royal Navy, which once ruled the waves, operates without a single aircraft carrier (although two are under construction).

NATO members are supposed to maintain defense spending at 2 percent of their gross domestic product. Britain is hovering around that mark and has refused to commit to maintaining budgets at that level. (It should be said that most other European countries are worse, which means that the United States accounts for more than 70 percent of NATO’s military spending.) The same is true of other elements of Britain’s global influence. In Cameron’s first term, the Foreign Office budget was cut by more than a quarter, and further trims are likely. The BBC World Service, perhaps the most influential arm of the country’s global public diplomacy, has shuttered five of its foreign-language broadcasts, and the organization’s entire budget has been slashed, with more cuts to come….

Britain is not Luxembourg. It is, even now, a country with the talent, history and capacity to shape the international order. Which is why the inward turn of the United Kingdom is a tragedy not just for it but for all of us.

http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/natosource/britain-resigns-as-a-world-power

Full text: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/britain-resigns-as-a-world-power/2015/05/21/d89606f8-fff1-11e4-805c-c3f407e5a9e9_story.html?postshare=1921432276058817

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Middle East

US and Hizballah coordinate spy drone flights over Qalamoun, share US combat intelligence*

Another strange pair of bedfellows has turned up in one of the most critical Middle East battlefields: the United States is helping Hizballah, Iran’s Lebanese surrogate, in the battle for control of the strategic Qalamoun Mountains. debkafile’s intelligence sources disclose that a US special operations unit, stationed at the Hamat air base on the coast of northern Lebanon, is directing unarmed Aerosonde MK 4.7 reconnaissance drone intelligence-gathering flights over the Qalamoun Mt arena, 100 km to the west.
Washington set up the base originally in line with an assurance to Beirut of military assistance for the next three years to counter any threatened invasion by extremist elements.

However, it turns out that the data the US drones pass to Lebanese army general staff in Beirut goes straight to Hizballah headquarters – and on to the Iranian officers in Syria running Bashar Assad’s war effort.

The Aerosonde MK 4.7 can stay aloft for 10 to 12 hours at a stretch at an altitude of 4.5 km. It functions day or night, equipped with an advanced laser pointer capability. It is capable of carrying ordnance but US sources say they the aircraft in Lebanon are unarmed.

Since Hizballah is also operating Ababil-3 surveillance drones of its own over Qalamoun, coordination had become necessary between the American team and the Shiite group. The consequence is that for the first time, the US military is working directly with an internationally-designated terrorist organization – a development with earthshaking ramifications for Israel’s security. This partnership has in fact become a game-changer for the worse in terms of Israel’s security ties with the US and has caused an upheaval in its military and intelligence disposition in the region, in at least six respects:

1. To counter US-Hizballah intelligence collaboration, Israel is obliged to reshuffle the entire intelligence mechanism it maintains to protect its northern borders with Lebanon and Syria.
2. Israel finds itself forced to monitor the progress of the US special unit’s interface with Hizballah, its avowed enemy.
3. Israel can no longer trust American intelligence coming in from Lebanon because it is likely tainted by Hizballah sources.

4. Hizballah is gaining firsthand insights into the operating methods of US special operations forces, which Israel’s methods strongly resemble and must therefore revamp.

5. The Hizballah terrorist group is winning much needed prestige and enhanced status in the region from its collaboration with the US.

6. Hizballah’s Ababil drones are in fact operated by the hostile Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which leaves Israel with no option but to overhaul from top to bottom the intelligence-gathering systems employed by its surveillance drones to track Iranian movements in the region.

At the Washington Adas Israel synagogue Friday, May 22, President Barack Obama wearing a kipah "forcefully" objected to suggestions that policy differences between his administration and the Israeli government signaled his lack of support for the longtime US ally.
This raises a question: How do Obama’s repeated commitments to Israel’s security square with close US military and intelligence cooperation with an organization whose vow to destroy Israel is backed by 100,000 missiles – all pointed south?

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Hassan calls for full Hizballah mobilization for Syria

DEBKAfile May 23, 2015, 11:08 AM (IDT)

"This is the time for everyone to mobilize, everyone who can participate," said Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah Saturday. He added. "The danger facing us is an existential one that is similar to that in 1982." If the organization had not fought in Syria, it would have found itself fighting inside Lebanese territory, he said ,in an attempt to justify the heavy losses the organization has sustained in fighting alongside Bashar Assad’s army.

http://www.debka.com/newsupdate/11464/

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Syrian dissidents to form new coalition at Cairo meet*

Agence France Presse

CAIRO: A number of Syrian opposition factions will gather in Cairo next month to form a new coalition as an alternative to an exiled West-backed alliance, officials said Saturday.

More than 200 figures from the armed and civilian opposition factions are to attend the June 8-9 gathering and discuss a roadmap aimed at ending the four-year war in Syria.

The new grouping would offer an alternative to the National Coalition, the exiled opposition bloc that is widely recognized and supported by Western and Arab countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

"Arab, Kurdish and all faiths will attend the meeting to elect a political committee to adopt a roadmap and a policy charter," Haytham Manna, a veteran opposition figure and a key organizer of the event, told AFP.

The new coalition would be called the Syrian National Opposition and would be "totally different" from the National Coalition, he said.

"It will be a Syrian-Syrian meeting, 100 percent financed by us, not controlled by anyone, and managed by someone with a pure Syrian agenda," Manna said of the June conference.

Egypt confirmed the meeting, saying it would be a gathering of "broad Syrian opposition and national forces".

The objective of the conference was to "express a broader vision of the Syrian opposition spectrum… to work towards ending the Syrian crisis," said the foreign ministry.

Manna said Egypt would only host the conference and "not interfere" in it.

He said the new grouping would be ready to negotiate with representatives of President Bashar Assad’s government.

The talks would be "on the basis of the Geneva declaration, which is based on the transfer of all military and civilian authorities… to a transitional government," he said.

Members of the new group would also meet with the U.N. mediator for Syria, Stefan de Mistura, after the Cairo conference.

The conference was planned during a meeting in January that was attended by the opposition tolerated in Damascus, as well as members of the exiled National Coalition.

At that meeting, participants had said the goal of the new alliance would be "to agree on a unified political vision and to unify the opposition’s efforts".

Manna said that Saudi Arabia, a key backer of Syria’s opposition, also wants to host a separate meeting in June or July of different Syrian political and military opposition groups, except jihadis, to prepare for a post Assad era.

The Syrian conflict has killed more than 210,000 people, uprooted half the population and left the country in ruins since it erupted as a peaceful protest movement in March 2011.

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/May-23/299096-syrian-dissidents-to-form-new-coalition-at-cairo-meet.ashx

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Deutsche Bank Research – KONZEPT Ausgabe 04: Asien und der Finanzsektor

Unser Hauptfeature zu Asien analysiert die volkswirtschaftlichen und geopolitischen Hintergründe der umstrittenen Asiatischen Infrastrukturinvestmentbank unter der Führung Chinas und die potenzielle Umstrukturierung des globalen Finanzsystems, die nach Einschätzung volkswirtschaftlicher Beobachtungen folgen wird. Chinas Finanzmärkte haben sich in den letzten Jahren vollständig gewandelt. Deshalb zeichnet unser zweites China-Feature den Weg der Liberalisierung des Finanzmarktes in China nach. Der Weg in die Zukunft wird gleichermaßen beleuchtet, insbesondere das Szenario der Konvertierbarkeit des Renminbi. Außerdem gibt es zwei Artikel zu Indien: Der erste Beitrag analysiert die florierende Schattenwirtschaft, während das zweite Feature der Frage nachgeht, ob E-Commerce in Indien ebenso als Katalysator für neue Entwicklungen wirken kann wie in China. In unserem letzten Beitrag befassen wir uns mit der Zukunft Singapurs nach dem Tod von Premierminister Lee Kuan Yew im März.

Die Artikelserie zum Finanzdienstleistungssektor enthält einen Kommentar unseres Bankanalysten, wonach die Rechnungslegung der Banken heutzutage zu komplex und daher unverständlich ist – und das sogar für Experten. Unser Bergbauanalyst leitet aus seiner Erfahrung als Mitarbeiter eines Bergbauunternehmens Lösungen für die Compliance-Problematik im Bankensektor ab. Andere Artikel beschäftigen sich mit den neu eingeführten TLAC-Regeln sowie mit der Frage, ob Versicherer ein systemisches Risiko darstellen. Zum Schluss ein wenig Magie – die des Credit Investment-Geschäfts, wenn wir uns mit der scheinbar ungewöhnlichen Performance von Anleihen nach einer Rating-Herabstufung beschäftigen.

Ebenfalls in der aktuellen Publikation enthalten sind unsere bekannten Kolumnen – so etwa eine Buchrezension und die Infografik zu Verkehrsverbindungen zwischen den asiatischen Städten.

http://www.dbresearch.de/MAIL/DBR_INTERNET_DE-PROD/PROD0000000000356070.pdf

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*Massenbach’s

Recommendation*

Der wahre chinesische Traum* Weshalb China auf eine globale statt auf eine sinozentrische Zukunft setzen könnte.*

© Picture Alliance

„Dass Xi Jinping das Land zurück in die Zeit von Maos China führen könnte, ist wenig plausibel.“

Die Situation in Ostasien wird gerne mit der in Europa vor 1914 verglichen. Zwar will heute keine der Parteien in Ost- oder Südostasien einen bewaffneten Konflikt – ein gewichtiger Unterschied – doch als „Unfall“ oder auch ausgelöst durch nordkoreanische Provokationen ist er nicht auszuschließen. Denn während China die ersten dreißig Jahre seiner Reform- und Öffnungspolitik bestrebt war, sich ein friedliches regionales Umfeld zu schaffen, tritt es jetzt durchsetzungswilliger und risikobereiter auf. Damit stellt es die bestehende regionale Ordnung in Frage. Die Konsequenz lässt sich an Meinungsumfragen weltweit ablesen: Die Furcht vor durch China verursachten bewaffneten Konflikten nimmt zu. Schädliche Auswirkungen auf die Weltwirtschaft und auf Europa wären unvermeidbar.

Mit Xi Jinping steht seit 2013 ein Mann an der Spitze der Volksrepublik, der mit großer Verve versucht, das Land an stabilitätsgefährdende Verwerfungen im Innern und sein gewachsenes Einflussvermögen nach außen anzupassen. Xis China ist durch eine Konzentration der Macht in seinen Händen und bei der Partei charakterisiert sowie durch Korruptionsbekämpfung, Re-ideologisierung, Medien-, Internet- und Diskurskontrolle, funktionale Verbesserungen des Wirtschaftssystems durch eine größere Rolle des Markts, den Aufbau eines sozialen Sicherungssystems sowie eine aktivere Außenpolitik. China will sich nicht binden, sondern ein günstiges Umfeld durch bilaterale Beziehungen schaffen. Es bestraft unfreundliche, belohnt freundliche Staaten.

Neue chinesische Initiativen

Die Einflussmöglichkeiten des Landes sollen dabei durch neue chinesische Initiativen für internationale Einrichtungen verbessert werden. Zu dieser auf das eigene Land ausgerichteten geoökonomischen Neuerungen gehören die „Neue Seidenstraße“ (von China mit 50 Milliarden Dollar ausgestattet), die „Maritime Seidenstraße“, die Asiatische Infrastruktur-Investitionsbank (mit 40 Milliarden Dollar Gründungsgeldern versehen), oder die New Development Bank (NDB) der großen Schwellenländer. Sie unterfüttern das von Xi eingeführte Konzept des „chinesischen Traums“, der (unter anderem) als Wiedereinnahme von Chinas historisch rechtmäßigem Platz in der Welt definiert wird.

Dazu gehört die robuste Vertretung von Chinas – auch territorialen – „Kerninteressen“, eine militärische Aufrüstung sowie die Schaffung einer „maritimen Großmacht“. Dabei bietet Xis China den USA ein Einverständnis der beiden Weltmächte mit der Vorstellung einer neu zu etablierenden hierarchischen und sinozentrischen Ordnung in Ost- und Südostasien an – „Der Pazifik“, so heißt es, „ist groß genug für beide“. Die Folge wäre eine amerikanisch-chinesische „G2“.

Dass Xi Jinping diesen Prozess mit seinen ungeheuren Kräften aufhalten und das Land zurück in die Zeit von Maos China führen könnte, ist wenig plausibel.

Aus Perspektive der USA, die mindestens so stark wie Europa vom Aufstieg Ostasiens profitiert, ist die Fortsetzung der dynamischen Entwicklung Chinas ebenso wünschenswert wie die der anderen Staaten Ost- und Südostasiens. Sie beruhte bislang allerdings auf einem internationalen Regelsystem, wie es sich seit dem Ende des Zweiten Weltkriegs als normativer Rahmen der Globalisierung herausgebildet hat. Mit der Gründung der Vereinten Nationen im Jahr 1945 hat die internationale Gemeinschaft das Prinzip der Gleichheit der Staaten festgeschrieben. Hiervon profitieren die demokratisierten Nachbarn Chinas. Sie haben die Möglichkeit, innerhalb internationaler Organisationen, Allianzen und Staatengruppen die Politik auch anderer Staaten zu beeinflussen und damit die Entwicklung der sich globalisierenden Welt im eigenen Interesse mitzubestimmen.

Der von Robert Zoellick geprägte Begriff eines responsible stakeholders am internationalen System war zwar auf China gemünzt, gilt aber grundsätzlich für jedes Mitglied der internationalen Gemeinschaft. So sehr die Staaten Asiens von dem wirtschaftlichen Aufstieg Chinas profitieren, könnte ihnen ein sinozentrisches Modell der asiatischen Staatengemeinschaft eine solche Teilhabe nicht bieten. Schon das aktuelle offensive chinesische Vorgehen im Südchinesischen Meer wirkt abschreckend genug.

Zwar werden die Staaten ungern zwischen der sicherheits- und wertepolitischen Nähe zu den USA und der Wirtschaftsbindung an China wählen wollen, zu einer solchen Wahl könnten sie jedoch gezwungen werden. Dann wären Konflikte programmiert. Daraus folgt, dass sich die USA nicht auf die von China vorgeschlagene Partnerschaft zulasten anderer US-Partner einlassen können, ohne Friktionen mit ihren asiatischen Partnern zu riskieren.

Japanisches Gefühl der Bedrohung

Im Falle Japans, der stärksten, stabilsten und reichsten Demokratie Asiens, kommt ein weiterer Faktor hinzu: Japan war Chinas engster westlicher Partner bis Chinas jüngste Wachstumsphase mit dem WTO-Beitritt im Jahr 2001 einsetzte. Allerdings war Japans Haltung bereits seit dem Ende des Wirtschaftsbooms 1990 angesichts des chinesischen Machtzuwachses von zunehmender Unsicherheit gekennzeichnet. Die seit 2010 andauernden Auseinandersetzungen um die Inseln im Ostchinesischen Meer verbunden mit dem wiederholten Eindringen chinesischer Militärkräfte in japanische Hoheitsgebiete haben das japanische Gefühl der Bedrohung verstärkt.

Die Folge ist eine grundlegende Neuabstimmung der japanischen Verteidigungspolitik mit den USA und die Intensivierung auch der sicherheitspolitischen Beziehungen zu den als demokratischen Wertepartnern verstandenen Staaten Südost- und Südasiens. Zudem rüstet Japan nach Jahrzehnten zurückgehender Militärausgaben nun wieder auf. Friktionen im Verhältnis zu China, die unkontrolliert eskalieren und noch verschärft werden könnten durch den derzeitigen bitteren Disput über die Vergangenheitsbewältigung Japans, sind daher nicht auszuschließen.

Letzten Endes liegt aber der Schlüssel zu Frieden und Sicherheit im pazifischen Zeitalter in der Aussicht, die bisherige Modernisierung und Demokratisierung der internationalen Beziehungen fortführen zu können. Die Welt ist moderner, als dass sie dem „Traum“ von einem anachronistischen sinozentrischen Staatenmodell entsprechen könnte. China wandelt sich kontinuierlich. Dass Xi Jinping diesen Prozess mit seinen ungeheuren Kräften aufhalten und das Land zurück in die Zeit von Maos China führen könnte, ist wenig plausibel.

Die derzeitige Vorstellung von Xis China dient möglicherweise eher der Selbstvergewisserung der herrschenden KP in Zeiten einer kaum kontrollierbaren Modernisierungsdynamik. Der wahre chinesische Traum unterscheidet sich jedoch nicht von dem westlichen: Es ist der einer globalisierten Welt wachsenden Wohlstands und der Freiheit des Individuums. Für die Europäer und Amerikaner ist daher eine klare eigene Positionierung dort wichtig, wo die Prinzipien des internationalen Systems berührt werden, ob im Süd- oder Ostchinesischen Meer oder bei institutionellen Fragen. China wandelt sich durch Einbeziehung. Die Involvierung Chinas in eine Welt gegenseitiger Verantwortung hat dieses Land bereits zu einem in den meisten Fragen noch nicht aktiven, aber bereits kooperativen Partner gemacht. Die Chance ist daher groß, dass China als normative Kraft mit der gesamten Staatengemeinschaft nicht auf ein sinozentrisches Jahrhundert, sondern auf ein globales hinarbeitet.

Von: Volker Stanzel
Veröffentlicht am 17.05.2015

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Serbien

moderated by Srecko Velimirovic

STRATFOR: The Problems Foreign Powers Find in the Balkans*

Summary

Russia, Turkey and the West all share one rival in the Balkans: political instability. Located at the confluence of three historic empires, the strip of land between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea has long been the focus of competition among global powers. Now it is just one arena in the standoff between Russia and the West. Yet, with both sides attempting to buy influence with investments and energy projects, and with Turkey struggling to keep pace, internal political challenges threaten to undermine outside efforts to develop and shape the region. As major powers use their financial and political clout to gain influence in the Balkans, weak local governments will continue to balance among competing nations.

Analysis

Regional and world powers have paid an inordinate amount of attention to Balkan countries lately. On May 15, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Serbia, just a few days after the Chair of the Russian Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, met with Serbian leaders in Belgrade. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Bosnia-Herzegovina on May 20 — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan have paid similar visits in the past month. Western leaders have also demonstrated an interest in the region, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond visiting Bulgaria in January, while high-ranking U.S. officials regularly visit Romania.

Strategic Investments From the West

Western governments have two major goals in the Balkans: to maintain stability in the western part of the region and to minimize Russian influence. To that end, the United States and the European Union have been involved in the internal politics of the Balkans since NATO committed troops in the aftermath of the Bosnian war and the conflict in Kosovo in the 1990s. Western troops continue to serve in Kosovo in a peacekeeping capacity. The European Union has used considerable amounts of resources and political capital to bring reform and economic development to the region, but with mixed results.

The West has the advantage of access to ample development and defense funds that can be divided out among countries hungry for economic growth. Countries such as Serbia and Macedonia are unlikely to join the European Union in the next decade; they are held back by internal divisions and face resistance from current EU members. Yet they still have access to the economic benefits that come from close ties with Europe. Between 2014 and 2020, the European Union plans to grant 1.5 billion euros (around $1.7 billion) to Serbia, a prospective EU member, and 11.4 billion euros to Bulgaria, a current EU member. (Bulgarian citizens benefit from the ability to travel freely and work in the European Union.) In addition, there is significant defense assistance coming into Bulgaria as part of an effort to strengthen NATO members along the Russian borderlands.

The Ukraine crisis galvanized the United States into boosting defenses along NATO’s eastern edge. NATO has enlarged its multinational response force, created a new spearhead force that can mobilize quickly and established a chain of outposts in the eastern Balkans called force integration units, which could serve as command centers during a conflict.

At the same time, fighting in Ukraine prompted the European Union to prioritize its Southern Corridor natural gas project, which would bypass Russian energy giant Gazprom in the European energy market and reduce Europe’s reliance on Russia. In addition, the West strongly discouraged Bulgaria from participating in Russia’s South Stream project. When Bulgaria opted out, Russia canceled the project in December.

Russia Counters the West

For its part, Russia has used its influence in the Balkans, where it has close historical and cultural ties with countries such as Serbia and Greece, to threaten Western interests. However, the Kremlin’s interest in the region in the past year stems in large part from its deteriorating relationship with the West. Russia’s goal in the Balkans is to prevent the expansion of Western troops and military infrastructure in the region while maintaining sufficient strength to implement strategic energy infrastructure projects.

Although the West has greater resources to invest in the Balkans, Russia owns several regional energy assets and holds a number of outstanding loans to Balkan governments. Moscow has managed to retain good diplomatic relationships with some local oligarchs, especially in Bulgaria. In 2008, Gazprom bought a majority stake in Serbian oil firm NIS. Like the European Union, Russia has provided funding to Serbia — about $1.5 billion in over the past two years. The Kremlin also sealed energy and loan deals with the Republika Srpska, the ethnic Serb entity in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Western pressure may have ended the South Stream project, but the pipeline Russia plans to build in its place, Turkish Stream, could help Gazprom counter European energy diversification efforts. The pipeline would bring natural gas across the Black Sea to the Turkey-Greek border. To help Gazprom reach Central European markets, Russia has advocated the construction of a pipeline that would run from Greece to Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary. In addition to Turkey, these four countries are at the center of a Russian diplomatic offensive. Nevertheless, with Russia struggling to manage internal financial and political challenges, its leverage in the Balkans is relatively limited.

Turkish Interests

Turkey has its own cultural links and economic interests in the Balkans, but it currently lacks the resources and military power to rival Russia or the West.

One of Turkey’s strategic objectives is to maintain influence in the Black Sea. Historically, Ankara has achieved this by anchoring itself on the Danube. By extension, this objective entails managing relations with other Black Sea states in the Balkans. But Turkey is also attempting to grow closer to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where Ankara means to enhance its influence through cultural and historical ties. These connections are important: Muslim Bosniaks started migrating to Turkey in the 17th century, and a few million Turkish citizens claim Bosniak roots today. This ethnic affinity has prompted popular government initiatives to invest in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Turkey cannot match the level of financial investment Western powers and Russia commit to the Balkans. But as the gatekeeper to the Black Sea and as a NATO member, Turkey plays a significant role in Bulgarian and Romanian efforts to boost defense cooperation in response to the crisis in Ukraine. Moreover, Turkey has been able to use financial and political tools to curry favor with Bosnia. Turkey is among the top five investors in the country. In fact, Turkish officials claim that Turkey has invested $1.1 billion in Bosnia since 1995 — a significant sum for a country with a gross domestic product of about $18 billion.

The Turkish Stream pipeline, if built, would no doubt empower Turkey. Ankara would play a central role in its construction, and it would use that role to improve its relationships with countries that would receive Turkish Stream natural gas, including Macedonia and Serbia.

Violence in Macedonia

Despite the attention they command from larger powers, the Balkans are often unstable, and their instability can impede the influence of foreign powers. For example, deadly violence erupted in Macedonia on May 9, when Interior Ministry personnel cracked down on alleged ethnic Albanian militants in Kumanovo, culminating in the death of eight police officers and 14 alleged militants. Nearly 40 policemen were injured and 30 militants were arrested. There are also unconfirmed reports of civilian casualties.

The Macedonian government argued that its operation in the town was to prevent militants from carrying out planned terror attacks inside the country. However, the timing of the operation led many to believe the crackdown was politically motivated — a distraction that could divert attention from a recently discovered illegal government wiretapping program.

The bloodshed in Kumanovo, coupled with revelations of the illegal acquisition of information of citizens, further undermines the credibility of a government that is already distrusted by its people. On May 17, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Macedonia’s capital city, Skopje. Western-sponsored talks the following day failed to bring about a compromise between the government and opposition parties, and the government’s hold on power remains tenuous.

Russia is counting on running its extension of Turkish Stream through Macedonia into Central Europe, but the country’s instability threatens to derail these plans at a time when countries along alternative routes are not receptive to Russian proposals. The incumbent Bulgarian government, under pressure from the United States and the European Union, is opposed to participation in a Russia-led energy project, while Albania retains a pro-Western foreign policy orientation.

With so much at stake, the Russian Foreign Ministry came out forcefully in support of the Macedonian government in response to the protests. The ministry criticized opposition parties and non-governmental groups alike, accusing them of being in league with Western powers and choosing to follow a chaotic "color revolution" ideology. Macedonia’s incumbent government is nominally in favor of NATO and EU accession but has been open to Russia’s Turkish Stream proposals. A weak government, as well as growing instability in Macedonia, is preventing the country from becoming a staunch Western ally or a reliable partner for Russia.

A Broader Regional Challenge

Clashes in Macedonia raise the specter of renewed ethnic tension and violence in the Balkans, where political borders do not coincide with ethnic boundaries. Though recent violence probably will not spill over into nearby countries in the immediate future, Macedonia’s problems are a concern in the region. Serbia raised its combat alert status, and Bulgaria sent troops to reinforce the border.

Since 1999, Western governments have worked to stabilize Kosovo and the surrounding area through the presence of peacekeepers and large-scale development programs. Brussels is also pressuring Serbia to normalize relations with Kosovo as a precondition for EU accession. A potential increase in militancy along the Kosovo-Macedonia border would threaten this stability and undermine the West’s long-standing efforts in the region.

Ultimately, no matter how much time and external political power is invested in the Balkans, success depends on the presence of strong, stable governance. But Balkan governments are notoriously weak. In Bulgaria, social unrest in 2013 forced the government to resign. Since then, the country has gone through several weak, short-lived governments that have been beset by internal disputes. Meanwhile in Bosnia-Herzegovina, political paralysis has prevented the introduction of much-needed economic and political reform. Protests over corruption in 2014 highlighted the Bosnian political system’s inability to address the country’s inherent problems.

The tumult of Balkan politics enables foreign powers to make certain inroads, boosting their influence through financial and political support for local governments. But the fragility of Balkan states prevents them from swinging decisively toward one outside power. Like other nations in Europe’s borderlands, many of the Balkan countries have attempted to retain a degree of neutrality. A balancing strategy means that Balkan governments can access advantageous economic agreements, financial assistance packages and political support from multiple external powers.

Geopolitical rivalries and local disputes in the region have historically formed an explosive combination, fueling military conflicts like World War I as well as numerous Balkan armed struggles. Today, a more nuanced competition is taking place as foreign powers use economic influence, defense cooperation, and political support to further their goals in the region.

The conflict in Macedonia — and the potential it has to upset Russia’s plans in the region — embodies the problems foreign powers find in the Balkans. While the West, Russia and Turkey are all eager to pump capital into the region for their own betterment, weak governments will continue balancing among outside powers.

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Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria embark on gas pipeline project

At the Riga summit yesterday (21 May) Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania signed a Joint Declaration backing the idea of building the Eastring gas pipeline, designed to link Central with Southeastern Europe. However the name Eastring doesn’t appear in the document.

In an exclusive interview with EurActiv on 7 May, Mirek Topolánek, former Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, provided ample explanation of the project.

Eastring is a proposed pipeline, a version of which is 832 kilometres long, and runs across Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, while another version is 1274 kilometres long, and reaches Bulgaria.

>>Read: Former Czech PM promotes Eastring gas pipeline

One of its advantages is that Eastring uses the existing infrastructure of Eustream on Slovak territory, which was completely renovated after the 2009 gas crisis.

It is designed to transport gas in both directions, with a capacity of 20 billion cubic metres a year (bcm/y) at the first stage and 40 bcm/y at the final stage. Potential gas sources for forward flows are Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Cyprus and Russia, while for the reverse flow, it is gas from Western European hubs. The optimistic target date for building the first stage of the pipeline is 2018.

At the time of the interview, the support of Bulgaria and Romania was not yet certain. But now it appears that all countries are on board. EurActiv obtained a copy of the signed memorandum by the foreign ministers of the four countries, in which the name Eastring doesn’t appear.

The Parties to this document hereby declare their support for the implementation of interconnection and substantial bidirectional capacity of existing infrastructure for natural gas supply on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and the Slovak Republic and for joint efforts to seek new sources and routes of diversification. The present document records political intent only. No provision of this Declaration shаll be interpreted and implemented as creating legal rights or commitments for the States of the Parties,” the document reads.

External links:

http://www.euractiv.com/sections/energy/slovakia-hungary-romania-and-bulgaria-embark-gas-pipeline-project-314793?utm_source=EurActiv+Newsletter&utm_campaign=90e08ec6b7-newsletter_daily_update&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_bab5f0ea4e-90e08ec6b7-245781381

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Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Hasim Taci said at Tuesday’s United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Kosovo-Metohija that Pristina will soon bring a genocide claim against Serbia and request damages

http://www.tanjug.rs/full-view_en.aspx?izb=181088

Rama: Albania, Serbia together on EU integration path

http://www.tanjug.rs/full-view_en.aspx?izb=180950

Vucic: Serbia committed to dialog, cooperation in region. Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday that Serbia is committed to the renewal of trust, dialogue and cooperation in the region.

http://www.tanjug.rs/full-view_en.aspx?izb=180574

Dacic: EU membership as Serbia’s main foreign policy goal. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic said in Tirana on Friday that the main foreign policy goal of Serbia embodied in EU membership remains unchanged.

http://www.tanjug.rs/full-view_en.aspx?izb=180481

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Kurdistan

http://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-middle-east-and-north-africa-2015

Barzani in Jordan for World Economic Forum*

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – President Masoud Barzani a Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation has arrived in Jordan to meet top officials and take part in the World Economic Forum, the office of the presidency announced Thursday.

The World Economic Forum will be held from Thursday to Saturday in the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center near the Dead Sea banks. According the website, a raft of issues will be discussed, including regional governance, human rights and the current drop in oil prices.

Among the top leaders expected to attend the event are Egyptian President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the president of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas .

Issues related to the region’s stability and refugee crisis will be also be discussed, said Imad Fakhouri, Jordan’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation.

Last year, Barzani met Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Jordan to strengthen economic and political relations.

http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/21052015

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see our letter on:

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

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UdovonMassenbachMailJoergBarandat

50515 Versorgungsforschung und Krebs — Monitor Versorgungsforsch ung.pdf

05-22-15 PROD00356070-Asien -Finanzmärkte.pdf

150521 WATERINTAKE 04_2015.pdf

05-21-15 World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa 2015.pdf

AICGS-June 23,2015 Draft Agenda.pdf

05-20-15 Valdai Rising-Powers-and-Revisionism-in-Emerging-International-Orders.pdf

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